As part of the IMMORTALIS series tour sponsored by Virtual Book Tour Cafe, I am excited to bring my readers an excerpt of the book, as well as a giveaway!
EDIT: Thanks to the author, Katie Salidas, I am able to offer BOTH books in the IMMORTALIS series so far, CARPE NOCTEM and HUNTERS AND PREY! Anyone who has left a comment thus far is entered, and any new commentors with have their entry count toward winning both novels in e-book format. See my reviews of IMMORTALIS: CARPE NOCTEM here and HUNTERS AND PREY here.
By Katie Salidas
Darkness surrounded me. A voice spoke softly in my head. Do not die, young one. Be strong. Do not die.
I became painfully aware of liquid pouring down on me, each drop like an icy hammer hitting my sore skin. Movement echoed in my ears, telling me that I wasn’t alone. Slowly, I opened my eyes. Harsh light blinded me. My mind was fuzzy. I struggled to recall any small detail that might clue me in to what had happened and where I was.
I reached up to wipe the splattering water from my face. I chanced opening my eyes again. As I looked up, I spotted the source of the water, a showerhead on the opposite wall. Confused by this odd location, I struggled to penetrate the blackness of my memory and figure out how I had ended up in a bathtub.
Where the hell am I?
I tried to focus on the bright, unfamiliar surroundings.
My vision, it seemed, had become remarkably sharp while I was unconscious. I couldn’t remember ever noting so many details in such simple surroundings as these before.
Cream-colored tiles covered the walls, each rippled with tiny imperfections. Each held an individual pattern, making them unique and special. Yellowing, porous grout, framing the tiles, appeared to be littered with dots from small air bubbles that had come to the surface, creating different patterns and shapes.
Even the plain white curtain that separated me from the rest of the room seemed unusually detailed and perfectly woven. I saw each tiny strand that had been tightly bound together to form this heavy, durable cloth.
Small specks of mold building up in the corners of the porcelain basin weren’t able to escape my new sight either.
The amazing level of detail I experienced didn’t hold my attention for long. Freezing water still poured down on me. I needed to reach the handle and end the cold assault, but it seemed so far out of my reach. I eased myself up to a sitting position, my muscles aching with each small movement. Looking down, I saw my beaten body. The water had washed away some of the grime, but what was left of my shredded clothes was stained and clinging to my skin.
“Uggh!” I moaned.
“Oh, good, you’re alive,” said a male voice from behind the white curtain.
The voice seemed strange and yet somehow familiar. I searched my fuzzy memories to place the voice with a face. A wave of fear came over me as I remembered the attack.
Had I been kidnapped? Was I a hostage of some kind? I struggled to recall the events of the evening.
“You’ve been out for a few hours. I was worried I might have lost you,” continued the voice.
“What?” I called, still not sure who I was talking to.
“It doesn’t always work. Some people can’t be turned,” the voice said matter-of-factly.
“Turned?” What the hell is that supposed to mean?
I again tried to run through my memories of what had happened. I remembered blood, and the feeling of my body burning from the inside.
“I’ll explain it when you’re done in there. I’ve left some clothes on the toilet. I hope they fit.” The voice trailed out of the bathroom.
I tried to stand. My muscles ached. Gripping the edge of the tub, I moaned as I pushed myself up. My legs didn’t want to cooperate; they shook as they tried to support my weight. It was as if I was learning to stand for the first time.
I felt weak and a little dizzy. I leaned against the wall, using it as a crutch to help me to balance while I removed what remained of my shredded and bloodstained clothes. I shuddered, seeing more of the wounds that covered my body.
I remembered the two men. Flashes of memory showed me images of the struggle: the man on my stomach laughing, the knife waving in front of my face, teeth biting me, a stranger drinking my blood.
Each bruise I saw invoked a terrible memory. I turned the shower handle to hot and let the water run down my back. The warmth soothed my sore skin. I rested my head against the wall and tried to rationalize what had happened. I blamed myself for walking alone. I knew better. I should have asked someone to walk with me or drive me. I cursed myself for relying on a stupid keychain of pepper spray as my protection.
Some of the events that flashed in my memory were so bizarre I could hardly believe they had happened. I saw myself lying on the ground, drinking blood from a strange man’s arm.
What was his name? Was I really drinking blood? Why was I even alive? Did that man save me?
The thought of blood caused an ache in the pit of my stomach.
I pinched myself a few times.
Maybe this was all just a really bad dream and I just needed to wake up.
None of it made sense
Maybe someone had slipped something into my coffee at the café. I hadn’t really been drinking blood, had I?
My mind wouldn’t stop focusing on the blood I had drunk. A sweet, sticky taste crept up from the back of my throat. I gulped at the water pouring down from the showerhead, trying to smother the flavor. My stomach retched as I swallowed, causing me to sputter and spit the water to the ground. I tried to ignore the nagging ache in the pit of my stomach. I needed answers first. I needed to know why I was here and where here was. I needed to know what the hell had happened to me.
I finished rinsing, turned off the water, and slid open the shower curtain. The light seemed brighter in the rest of this room. I squinted, letting my eyes adjust a little. The rest of the bathroom was small and narrow. Nothing more than a simple toilet, shower, mirror, and vanity sink. The only real color in the room came from the red towels hanging on the towel bar and the bath mat on the floor.
I grabbed one towel and wrapped it around myself and then noticed the clothes left on the toilet seat. They appeared to be new and for a brief moment, I wondered where he had gotten them.
“I guess this will have to do,” I mumbled as I pulled on a simple green spaghetti strap tank top. I slid my legs into a pair of blue jeans and pulled them up. Fastening the button, I felt a small pinch in my back. I reached around, touched a hard scab, and winced, remembering the pain of the knife that had been stabbed into my back.
How was I even alive? I certainly shouldn’t have been after the ordeal I’d been through.
I checked myself out in the mirror. Most of my wounds were already healing. Bruises that weren’t covered by clothing had started turning yellow. The cuts on my back and face had scabbed over too. I noticed something on my neck. Brushing away the wet strands of my red hair, I saw a half ring of small bruises and two very deep looking holes.
Lysander, I thought, suddenly remembering the stranger’s name.
My memory flashed again. I remembered the pinch as his teeth sunk into my neck. I shuddered again as a chill danced down my spine.
What…who was this Lysander? He couldn’t be a…No. That’s silly; they aren’t real.
I gave the rest of my body a quick onceover in the mirror and suddenly I stopped in shock.
“My eyes,” I gasped. “Oh, my God!”
I couldn’t believe it.
How is this possible? Those are not my eyes.
Rule number one: humans and vampires don't co-exist. One is the hunter and one is the prey. Simple, right? Not for newly-turned vampire Alyssa. A surprise confrontation with Santino Vitale, the Acta Sanctorum's most fearsome hunter, sends her fleeing back to the world she once knew, and Fallon, the human friend she's missed more than anything. Now she has some explaining to do. However, that will have to wait. With the Acta Sanctorum hot on their heels, staying alive is more important than educating a human on the finer points of bloodlust.
Interested in more? Here's the giveaway:
1. One winner will receive an e-copy of IMMORTALIS: CARPE NOCTEM and HUNTERS AND PREY
2. Must be over 18
3. Comment with your favorite vampire character, male or female, from a book, television, graphic novel, etc... (this is your entry)
4. Leave an email or way to contact you
5. Contest ends June 26th, 6pm edt