Kinsley Preston's life is good: she has her fabulous best friend, Rachel, loving parents, and a solid career choice. When a series of devastating events leave Kinsley the inheritor of the “Book of Protection” and crazy Aunt Marie, Kinsley learns that a normal life isn’t part of her future.
Thrown into a world she’s not even sure she believes in, Kinsley discovers a past, present, and future filled with vampires, shape shifters, and tragedy. As she learns her roll in all of this, she realizes that her life will never be the same – luckily she has crazy Aunt Marie and Rachel to help her along.
Oh, and that gorgeous college professor who lives next door.
The University of Washington campus is beautiful in the daylight and downright creepy at almost midnight.
Shelly Wright walked briskly from the library to her dorm room, mentally cursing herself for ending up alone and walking. She also cursed herself for being scared. She was on a safe campus, it wasn’t like someone was going to attack her.
There was no sound as the man moved from the shadows and stalked Shelly. If he didn’t want her to see him, she wouldn’t. This time he wanted her to see him. To feel and fear him. It increased his fun to hear their hearts beat faster, feel their blood pump rapidly, and taste their fear. That was what he really wanted: the taste of her fear.
He moved quickly. Anyone watching Shelly would have thought she just disappeared. He pulled her into the shadows, fisting his hand into her dark brown hair, ripping her head back. Resting the knife at the carotid artery on the side of her neck, he put his nose into her hair and breathed in her essence.
“Don’t make a sound.” His menacing voice echoed in her skull. He dragged the knife lightly across Shelly’s throat and the thin line of blood looked black in the shadows. The cut was deep enough to escalate her fear and cause her to whimper. Closing his eyes, he relied on thousands of years of evolution to take over. His tongue snaked out to lick away the blood and the small slice instantly healed, leaving behind only a welt-like mark. He decided to show her exactly what he was capable of. Exactly what he was.
It took over an hour for Shelly to die. She never did make any noises above the terrified pleading sounds he loved to hear. Her bloodless corpse would be found propped against one of the many trees that dotted the UW campus, her naked body entirely covered in welt-like burn marks. The first mark on her throat would never be seen because most of her neck was now missing. It would also be blamed for her death by bleed-out. Seattle didn’t know that Death had come to the Emerald City. But soon His wrath would be known to all. Seconds from the end, Shelly’s pale lips had tried in vain to mouth the impossible word. “Vampire.”
It was my 21st birthday. Hot damn! I was celebrating at Seattle’s newest nightclub, Screamers. Aptly named, the place was kind of Goth meets Grunge meets Seattle Preppies. I know, sounds strange. However, it seemed to be popular. Screamers had only been open for a month, and on a Wednesday night in May, the place was packed.
I was with my best friend, Rachel, my parents, and my aunt. My parents and aunt had driven in from our hometown of Paradise. Yes, I said Paradise. Forty-two miles north of Spokane. Population 2,471. My parents own a small farmhouse that has been passed down in my dad’s family. My mom is a seventh grade teacher and my dad runs a consulting company from home. I don’t actually know what he does. How there is even a thriving consulting business in Paradise is beyond me. Dad says he gets a lot of out of town business from cities in the Pacific Northwest. People have certain problems and he helps solve them. He wants me to work with him this summer and learn the business. I don’t have any desire to move back to Paradise. That place is not exactly my idea of a paradise. Rachel grew up there, too. She’s going to be a lawyer and I’m going to be a teacher. I watched my mom sip her soda and my dad order a shot to do with me. I don’t know why they stay in Paradise. They don’t fit in with anyone in that town. Their only real friend is my Aunt Marie. She’s not really my aunt, though. She’s my mom’s best friend who has always lived with us.
She’s somewhere around my parents’ age of forty, doesn’t look a day over eighteen, and is completely, totally, insane. No, really. I’ve seen the court documents that declare her legally incapacitated. She was at the bar with my parents because they can’t leave her alone. You never know what kind of trouble Marie will get into. She was currently doing a little bump and grind on the dance floor with a couple of college guys I secretly think would have kidnapped her if my dad hadn’t been watching so closely. They had Aunt Marie sandwiched between them and I was afraid I was going to have nightmares for a month.
“Come on, Kinsley, let’s have our traditional birthday shot!” I could barely hear my dad over the noise. I stepped to the bar and eyed the shots. There were eight.
“I can’t drink all of these, Dad. Where did they come from?”
“All the gentlemen at the bar bought them when I mentioned you were single,” Dad said. My mom winked at me. “I figure you can do four and Marie can do four.” Dad laughed. “Pick your poison.”
Marie has super hearing. She floated up to the bar. “Did I hear something about shots?” She knocked back each one with barely a breath in between.
The bar was so caught up in chanting and cheering, they didn’t see Rachel take two of my shots for me. I did pretty well for the rest of the night. I kept a soda in my hand and sipped at it. Even though I like to drink, I really don’t like to get drunk. When I drink too much I have these bizarre dreams about people dying.
I knew we’d be going back to our room soon and Mom, Dad, and Marie would be going back to their hotel. Mom wanted me to stay with them, but I couldn’t. Rachel and I still live in the dorms because we’re resident advisors. We monitor floors, mentor students, and keep order in our section. It’s a new thing the university is trying.
Mom and Dad are so overprotective. Mom says it’s because I don’t know how dangerous the rest of the world can be. She didn’t even want me to go to college. She wanted me to stay with her and get a job as a para-educator at the school. Dad finally convinced her I needed to go out on my own and that I would be safe. In the beginning, Mom wanted to see me every weekend possible. Since I’d made it two whole years without being attacked in the ‘big city’, we were down to once a month visits. Because of Rachel’s and my job in the dorm, they had to drive to Seattle to see us. I don’t know where my parents came up with the money for gas and hotels. Apparently Dad’s consulting business was going better than I ever gave him credit for. I knew Mom’s teaching salary wasn’t supporting their ‘smother our daughter’ campaign.
We left Screamers at almost two in the morning. Mom, Dad, and Marie had to get back home the next day. They would be back in two and a half weeks to help Rachel and me move our belongings home for the summer. Not only did Mom and Dad need to get some sleep before their drive back, Rachel and I had classes in a few hours. It was going to be a long rest of the week; all two days of it. We also had finals coming up. Rachel and I said our goodbyes and took a cab back to campus. Pulling up to our dorm, we noticed several police cars and crowds of people.
As we got closer, we overheard comments like: “Did you see her body?” “It’s crazy! Her throat is missing but there’s no blood.” “My roommate saw it; she said it was awful!” “This is so awesome! Wait till I call my parents. They’re gonna freak!”
The police were asking people to return to their rooms and Rachel and I joined in and ushered a group of pajama-clad girls back to the dorms. At four in the morning, the ASB and University Presidents issued the protocol for the remainder of the school year. No one was to go anywhere alone, there was a strict curfew to be in rooms by midnight, and everyone with a cell phone and defense spray needed to have it on their person at all times.
Someone had been murdered on the UW campus.