Violet Midnight, page 1
PRAISE FOR LYNN RUSH AND HER NOVELS
"If you're looking for an action-packed, edge-of-your-seat ride through the paranormal, Lynn Rush is the author for you. With epic battles between good and evil, light and dark, angels and demons, her books appeal to a wide audience. Lynn has the fresh, new voice paranormal romance readers have been waiting for."
-Kendall Grey, author of the Just Breathe trilogy
“Rush hooked me from page one! Fast-paced, gripping, this tale of vampire hunters is full of action and suspense. A great read! Buffy had better watch out…Emma Martin is one hunter to watch!”
-Cynthia Eden, National Best-selling Author
“Prepare for an exciting paranormal roller coaster ride as feisty and courageous vampire hunter Emma meets Jake, a college student who is much more than he appears to be. Buckle up for this sweet, action romance where good triumphs over evil and love saves the day! Lynn Rush does it again!”
-Lynda Hilburn, author of Kismet Knight, Vampire Psychologist series
"Violet Midnight had me at the start and wanting more in the end. Love, danger and excitement plus so much more we love in a paranormal read! I loved it and it's a for sure read of 2012!"
-Paranormal Book Club
"A pulse-pounding adrenaline surge brimming with poetic pyrotechnics, Rush’s story caresses your heart. WASTELAND is a game-changer in the ho-hum angel/demon world. Beautifully written prose, strong characters and a compelling plot will keep readers hooked until the last page." -RT Book Reviews
“Her writing is vivid, descriptive, and the dilemmas the characters face are maddeningly real.” -Destiny Philipose from Totally Bookalicious
"WASTELAND is a fantastic novel. The characters are alternately sexy, funny, and sweet. In addition, the storyline and concepts surrounding the book's reality are excellently rendered, making it a fast-paced and heartwarmingly romantic tale." -Fresh Fiction
“A positively refreshing read; I recommend Wasteland to paranormal fans who crave just a bit more out of their YA novels. You can expect a hot romance, captivating storylines and a fantastic world- which, by the way, holds awesome fight scenes that would be brilliant on the big screen!” -Giselle from Xpresso Reads
"WASTELAND is a fast paced, sexy, romantic tale with characters who instantly capture your attention...and your heart.” -Rebecca Zanetti, Author of FATED
“From the first action-packed scene, AWAITED grabs you and doesn't let go until its awesome conclusion.” -Caridad Piñeiro, NY Times Best-Selling Author
“Step aside Edward and Bella! We now have two new immortals, Russell and Annabelle to embrace.” -Carla Gallaway, Book Monster Reviews
"Awaited is wonderfully written, action packed and true to the power of love!” -Nikki Brandyberry: Ramblings From A Chaotic Mind
“Awaited will keep you on the edge of your seat, waiting for more at every page turn!!” -Katrina Whittaker, Page Flipperz Reviews
“Lynn Rush masters a tale of honor, faith and a love beyond reason.” -Jean Murray, Author of Soul Reborn
© Copyright Lynn Rush 2012 www.LynnRush.com.
All rights reserved
Cover Art: Jeannie Ruesch
Editor: Theresa Cole
Crescent Moon Press
1385 Highway 35
Middletown, NJ 07748
Ebooks/Books are not transferable. They cannot be sold, shared or given away as it is an infringement on the copyright of this work.
All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.
Crescent Moon Press electronic publication/print publication: October 2012 www.crescentmoonpress.com
To God, thank you for walking beside me on this journey
To my husband, Charlie, for being my rock
To Lynn Boeyink, you are missed, Mom II
I love you all
This book wouldn’t exist without the help of so many people. So a big thank you to the following people: My editor, Theresa Cole; Michele Trent, who offers me unrelenting support and encouragement; Kendall Grey, an amazing person and critique partner; My fellow CMP authors, who support one another through this amazing writing journey; To those who suffer cancer—I admire your strength. The battle you face is a tough one. That’s why a portion of my proceeds from this novel supports cancer awareness and research.
Emma Martin had never killed a human, at least not intentionally, but her best friend, Ava, might be the first. “No. I told you. I’m not going on a blind date, so drop it already.”
Considering she battled demons on a regular basis, few things in the world scared Emma. But the one thing she feared most was giving her heart away, then losing that person.
Been there, done that. Never again.
“Fine. You’re so stubborn. At least come to the party.” Ava wove her arm through Emma’s and dragged her across the campus, toward their dorm. “Your arms are freezing, Em, why are you wearing a tank top? I know we live in the desert, but we’re up north.”
“It’s not that cold out.” Then again, Emma didn’t feel the cold, or heat for that matter, but Ava didn’t know that.
No one did.
No one could ever know.
“Whatever,” Ava said. “So, come on, already. I’ve got two hours to beautify you. The football game will be over soon, and I’m in the mood to have some fun.”
“Ava, no. I said no more blind date—” Pulsing pain stabbed Emma’s wrist. She stopped and doubled over, clutching her wrist to her stomach to hide the glowing mark on her skin. Darn Vamp detector hadn’t ignited in over three months. What the hell?
“What’s wrong?” Ava grabbed Emma’s shoulder.
She hugged her midsection. Now that the initial surprise had passed, she had to keep the pulsing light hidden from Ava. Otherwise, there’d have to be another mind-wipe.
Wonder if too many mind-wipes can harm a brain?
“Nothing. Just a cramp.” Emma stood straight, scanning the area. She never got cramps, but she had to cover when her wrist morphed into a freaky orange lighthouse beam. “I’ll be fine in a second.”
Everyone thought Emma’s mark was a normal tattoo, but they didn’t know how it came to life when the bloodsuckers were near. She slipped her hand over the piercing orange flare, silently chastising herself for not wearing her thick-band watch.
Three months, no Vamps—she’d gotten lazy.
Time to snap into Hunter mode to keep Ava safe. No way was Emma about to lose her best friend to one of those fanged beasts. She’d already lost too much.
Emma scanned the empty courtyard. The dark fence of trees encircling the campus seemed calm. No bobbing red orbs—a tell-tale sign of a hungry Vamp. Until they fixed their sights on dinner, their eyes stayed black as coal.
Ava whipped out her massive, pink leather purse. “Here, I’ve got Advil.”
“Never mind. We’re almost to the room. I’ll grab some there.” Emma straightened and rubbed her wrist while scanning the
Movement to her right caught Emma’s attention. Her heart stuttered. Every muscle tensed. She needed to get Ava out of here.
“Let’s go.” Emma latched onto her elbow and hurried her along the sidewalk. Emma caught a flare of orange against the leg of her denim jeans. The Vamps must be closing in.
Bushes to the left, silent academic buildings behind them and the open courtyard to their right. She glanced over her shoulder at the mazes of deserted sidewalks leading to the various campus buildings. Slate-colored clouds rolled in, chasing away the remaining light of the setting sun. That didn’t help, despite her heightened vision.
“What’s the rush? Jeez. I’m not one of your workout buddies, Em.” Ava stumbled. “If I break a heel on these Jimmy Choos, you and I are going to have words.”
“Oh, sorry. I just want to get back to the room and get ready for the party. You said Todd was going to be there, right? I bet you’re anxious to see him again. It’s what, your third date? That’s a record for you.”
“Jerk. But you’re right. I want to look nice for him. And remember, you said I can get you prettied up a little, too.”
“I did not say you could pretty me up.” Thankfully, Ava was easily distracted.
Emma continued to hurry her roomie along. Another flare of orange pulsed. Only a hundred feet to the dorms. One more cluster of bushes to pass.
A fist that could have passed as a sledgehammer slammed into Emma’s face as a gust of wind whipped by her. An explosion of metallic-tasting blood burst into her mouth. Damn Vamps were fast. Emma toppled into Ava. Her friend yelped and tumbled to the ground. Her purse shuffled to the side along with one of her shoes when she made impact.
Emma spun, working to locate the Vamp. Only darkness. Shadows from the cluster of five, three-story dormitories up ahead provided ample amounts of darkness. Not to mention the light flickering out. Or did a rock just hit that light bulb?
“What the hell was that?” Ava pushed herself up and reached for her purse.
“Quiet. Stay there. Don’t move.”
Emma’s friend shot her a wide-eyed glare. “What—”
Emma put her hand up, silencing her, and crouched. She held up her free hand, and whispered, “Crossbow.”
In a flash of white light, the steel weapon appeared in her palm. She stroked the smooth, otherworldly, silver metal, confirming the magazine of bolts was secure and ready to fire.
She touched her throbbing cheek. Dumbass was going to pay for that. And more.
“Okay, where are you?”
Drawing in a deep breath, Emma willed her pulse to slow, then stood. The gravel crunched beneath her trainers as she stepped off the sidewalk toward the bushes. Ava sat on the ground watching Emma with wide, disbelieving eyes. Her platinum-blond hair glowed beneath the light of the lamppost beside her, giving her an angelic halo.
This’ll be a big mind-wipe for sure.
The hairs on Emma’s neck prickled. Instinct demanded she duck. Air whooshed above her, a fist narrowly missing her face. She jabbed an elbow into the creature’s soft mid-section.
She lunged forward into a summersault, then turned and crouched.
Two bolts shot out and sank into the Vamp’s chest.
White, elongated teeth flashed as the wounded creature’s mouth opened. A throaty roar rent the air as he squirmed, writhing in anguish, then vanished in a poof of dust.
As ashes settled over the gravel beside a blooming bush, she spotted another creature slithering toward her best friend. Emma trained her weapon on the beast.
Before she could fire, two gigantic hands squeezed her shoulders and yanked her into the bushes. Her crossbow clattered to the rocky ground. The creature snarled. Foul breath wafting over her triggered her gag reflex.
Lifting her hand in front of her, she said, “Dagger.”
The weapon landed in Emma’s palm. She spun it to aim the blade downward and plunged it into the creature’s thigh. His grip loosened. Emma snapped her head back and cracked the Vamp’s nose, then pivoted out of his grip. Blood gushed from his leg onto the dusty earth, but it wouldn’t keep him down for long.
The Vamp quirked his head to the side and drew in a breath. He glanced past Emma but didn’t move.
He took in another breath. “Can’t smell you. What are you?”
She flipped the knife, blade up. “The last thing you’ll be seeing tonight.”
He leapt, and she rammed the dagger into his chest cavity. Dust plumed.
They’d picked the wrong girls for dinner.
“Dagger: home.” It vanished in a flash of light. She called the crossbow to her grip and took aim as she barreled toward the creature approaching Ava.
Eight bolts left in the clip. Just can’t hit Ava.
Ava showed her palms and backed away. “Wait. What are you—”
The Vamp was now less than three feet from her best friend, razor-sharp teeth down and ready to rip into her jugular. Emma squeezed the trigger twice.
The bolts pierced the right shoulder and bicep. The beast stumbled back, but then lunged for his meal.
“Ava, down,” Emma yelled, now only six feet from her. She could hit an ant dead on from that distance.
Instead of moving, Ava froze as if shocked into paralysis. But the creature’s lunge had exposed his chest.
This bolt slammed home.
Ava flinched. Ashes settled over her shiny, blond hair.
Emma’s glowing wrist faded along with the accompanying twinge. Three Vamps after months of none. That couldn’t be a good sign.
She stopped three feet in front of Ava and sucked in fresh air to calm the adrenaline-induced shakes, refueling her burning muscles. A hint of metallic coated her tongue. That bastard had hit her hard enough to cut her cheek against her molars.
But she’d showed him. For Ava.
For Gabriel. All of Emma’s kills were for him. Least she could do since she let him die.
“Crossbow and bolts; home,” she said, keeping her gaze secured on Ava’s wide, ice-blue eyes. The weapon vanished, and Ava’s French-tipped fingernails grazed her shaking, bottom lip.
Emma reached toward a small twig wedged in Ava’s half-up bump hairstyle and plucked it out. Ava didn’t move.
She’s in shock.
A tear streaked through her ash-covered cheek, and her jaw went slack. A kaleidoscope of emotions, ranging from fear, disgust, to awe, swirled over Ava’s face. “What the hell are you?”
Those five, whispered words stabbed at Emma’s chest like the dagger she’d used to kill the Vamps. She’d only found out two years ago she was a Hunter. She hadn’t asked for it. Didn’t want it. But couldn’t change it.
“Doesn’t matter,” Emma said. She scoured the still-deserted campus courtyard and guided Ava to the sidewalk.
“You—glowing wrist—super strong—”
“Look. Don’t try to talk.” Emma caressed the wild hair shifting in the subtle breeze. It carried Ava’s signature coconut and lime body spray scent. “You’re safe.” Emma bumped her forefinger beneath Ava’s chin to meet her line of sight for the mind-wipe.
She pivoted out of Emma’s grasp. “No. What are you?”
Emma sighed. It sure would be nice to tell Ava everything—and let her remember—so Emma wouldn’t be so alone, isolated. Since Gabriel, she’d had no one to confide in. “I’m a Hunter. Vamps were about to drain you. I stopped them. It’s what I do…sometimes.”
“And that’s why I never eat, drink, use the bathroom—don’t need to. And why I fake going to sleep every night, only to sneak out later and hang out around campus to fight off the boredom of being awake twenty-four-seven.” Emma cupped Ava’s face, forcing her to look into Emma’s eyes. “But you can’t know that stuff, hon. It’s too big of a burden.”
“But…” Ava’s creased forehead smoothed as her mind opened to Emma.
“We were walking home and your heel broke. You took a tumble, hence all the dust on your face. You didn’t see any of my special gifts or the Vamps. We’re just heading back to the room to get beautified for the Frat party.”
Emma’s pulse spiked as she held Ava’s gaze, letting the mind-wipe take hold. She hated clearing Ava’s mind like this. Like she had done so many times. But Ava wouldn’t understand. Emma couldn’t risk bringing her into this Hunter business.
Couldn’t risk losing another person she loved to those things. And those things were back, hunting in packs no less.
A few breaths later, Emma stepped away and snatched Ava’s shoe from the sidewalk. Ava stared forward, lids hanging low over her eyes and bottom jaw ajar.
Maybe they were back suddenly because school started up again. But it hadn’t happened last year like that or at the start of winter semester. No. This was something different. Especially the way this Vamp eyed her, telling her he couldn’t smell her. They never took time to chat.
Emma inched toward her dazed friend.
Attacking in a group of three like that? Out of the blue. It didn’t add up. Usually it was one here and there, picking off a human for some food.
Guess the rest period was over.
Emma inspected Ava. At least she wasn’t hurt. That was all that mattered right now. Emma would figure out what was up with the Vamp appearance later. After the party, once Ava was tucked safe in bed, Emma would scour the campus for any more pockets of bloodsuckers.
Emma gripped the spendy shoe. “Sorry, buddy,” she said as she snapped off the narrow heel.
Ava blinked and brought her hand to her forehead. “Whoa. What the heck?”
Emma handed her the broken shoe. “You sure these aren’t knock-off Choos? The heel snapped.”
Ava gawked at the broken footwear in Emma’s hand and reached for it. “Oh. Yeah.” She looked at Emma. “But your face. What—”