Monday, June 25, 2018

Sneak Peek at Blessed Union - Book 7 - The Vampire & Werewolf Chronicles

Wanna a sneak peek at book 7? Blessed Union releases August 1, 2018. 

Blessed Union
The Vampire and Werewolf Chronicles
Book 7

Chrissy Peebles

Copyright 2018 Chrissy Peebles

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher of this book.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

Chapter 1

The cardio alone from the constant movement and all that boxing made for a mega-intense workout. We jumped rope, jogged, did knee lifts and butt kicks, then worked on magic and a little fencing, followed by making like Jack Be Nimble and jumping over an obstacle course of cones in the courtyard. We even ran laps through the rungs of a ladder laid in the lush grass.
“Follow the sway of the bag like it’s a moving opponent,” Dylan, my tiger shapeshifting instructor, said.
I punched with all my might, then kicked it just for good measure, but I couldn’t move without panting. “I’m beat,” I confessed between heaving breaths.
“We’re almost done for the day,” Dylan said.
“Sure thing, Boss,” I said, wiping the sweat from my brow with my equally sweaty arm. “I bet by now, I could give any Marine recruit or NFL draftee a run for his money.”
 “Do I sense a little hostility from you?”
“Gee, I don’t know. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think you held back when we were sparring earlier.”
“Listen, I know I’ve pushed you hard today, but—”
“That’s putting it lightly!” I interrupted. “If you ask me, it seems a little…personal.”
“No, by no means. I cannot afford to mess around and let emotions get in the way. I have to be hard on you if you are going to have any chance to survive out there. That’s precisely why Tabby hired me. Not to sound arrogant, but I know what I’m doing, and I’ll do what it takes to make you the best there is.”
“Yeah, yeah,” I said with a roll of my eyes and a dismissive wave of my hand. “You’ve trained kings and queens and yada, yada, yada...”
“There is no need for theatrics.”
I punched the bag harder.
He stepped closer. “You did really well with your magic today. You’re learning to control it, and I’m impressed.”
“Well, it’s nice to know I can electrocute humans without killing them.”
“Yes, that can be quite beneficial.”
“I talked to Julie today.”
“Look, I know the monks are in the dark about these little training sessions of ours,” I said. “They want me to be a bridezilla, not the ultimate Godzilla.”
“You must be properly trained to take down the Falcar. They know you must be able to defend yourself, especially when your fiancé is out…well, doing whatever wolves do.”
“I’m not sure I’m cut out for all the roles I’m supposed to play,” I admitted.
“Sophie, they chose you.”
“Well, I never asked to be the poster child for this cause, and I sure as hell know Logan doesn’t wanna be either. As for what wolves do, he’s out on a day mission right now, but knowing how things are going with the case he is on, he’ll probably be gone for a week.”
“The marriage will generate peace across the land and…”
“And what? You know as well as I do that I’m not going to be some immortal high-society wife. I’m sorry, but I’m not the Stepford wife type, and Logan is more stubborn than I am. They won’t be able to clip his wings or mine. If they try, he’ll only be bitter, and then I’ll have to deal with his pent-up werewolf rage.”
“Don’t you want to be with Logan?”
“Yes, but I don’t want it to be forced,” I said. “I wanted a normal proposal, one that comes from someone seeing me as the love of his life.”
“Regardless of the motives behind his proposal now, everyone knows Logan is in love with you. He’s very territorial. I’m surprised he’s not marking his territory all over the castle.”
“Wow. Thanks for that visual,” I said, shaking my head. “I’m just scared my heart will be broken.”
“Why? You don’t think even you can tame him?”
“I honestly don’t know. You know what a wildcard he is.”
“Hmm. Maybe you should have stuck with the good boy instead of going for the rebel with all the paws,” he said with a smile.
“Funny kitty,” I teased.
I stopped punching the bag and looked at him. “Yes?”
“Do you love Logan?”
I pondered, then glanced up. “Yes, with all my heart.”
“So what’s the problem? If you both love each other, you don’t have anything to worry about.”
“I just can’t figure out how and when it happened. I knew better. Heck, I even tried to break it off with him and see other people.”
“But it never worked, right?”
“Right. I just couldn’t get him out of my system, no matter how hard I tried.”
“I knew you were holding back when we kissed. I never had a shot, because even then, you were wishing your lips were on him.”
“I’m sorry, Dylan. At that time, I honestly thought I was free of him. I was trying to make a clean break.”
“Some bonds just can’t be broken,” he said, with a tinge of sadness in his voice. “I saw the look in his eyes when I was dancing with you at the ball. He felt genuine pain and heartbreak, no matter how hard he tried to play it cool with Cindy. That wolf loves you.”
I nodded as he quietly left the room, then wiped more sweat off my face and returned to hitting the bag. As exhausted as I was, I still found it therapeutic in some way, a great way to work out my frustration.
“Whoa, there,” Al said as he walked in.
Ignoring him, I continued pummeling the unfortunate mass in front of me, like some kind of modern-day, female Rocky Balboa.
“What’s wrong?” he asked. “You’re worked up. I can sense it.”
I stopped only long enough to give him a shrug. “We’re out of groceries again.”
“Nonsense,” the elf said. “No one gets that angry over empty egg cartons. Now what’s got you so riled up?”
I stopped again, and sweat dripped down my back. “Nothing. I choose to persevere, overcome, and survive. It’s what I was born for, right? Sometimes that means blowing off a little steam, that’s all. Besides, Dylan says I have to train hard every day.”
“C’mon, Winters. Give it to me straight.”
I sighed. “Fine. It’s Logan.”
“Ah, the wolf. Of course.”
“Dylan says Logan loves me.”
Al paused and stared at me in confusion. “I’m not sure why you’d be upset that the lad you’re engaged to is in love with you.”
“I know you haven’t been around here that long, but the truth is, Logan is sort of a…uh…”
“A cad?”
I had to snicker at that. “Yes, a cad, or, as modern humans would put it, a player. I swear, he’s dated every immortal woman there is, even the one I helped to rescue from that mental institution.”
“Everyone has a past.”
“Yeah, some more adventurous than others.”
“Perhaps you should think of it a different way. Perhaps Logan dated all those women because he was really looking for you. He’s not playing the field anymore. He’s with you and only you.”
“Yes, because it’s sort of a job requirement. I mean, I know he loves me, but I’m sure he wouldn’t have asked me to marry him, at least not for another five years. What if he resents me later, because he’ll be stuck with me?”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Al said, shaking his head. “From the moment I got here, I could see in your eyes and his how much you want to be together. No matter how you tried to deny it, I knew. Why do you think I never courted you?”
I blinked at him, shocked. “Huh? You would’ve asked me out?”
“Maybe,” he answered, a bit shyly, “but I would never get in the way of such a special and obvious bond. Besides, we’re great friends and roommates. I’d never risk messing that up with any romantic entanglements.”
“I agree,” I said, then gave him a fist-bump, something I just taught him to do the week before. “I just wish Logan and I could have dated like a normal couple. There’s something weird about being forced into a marriage, no matter who I’m marrying.”
“My dear, you basically saved him from being shackled to that gargoyle for the next 100 years. Not only would he have been miserable being married to his best friend’s lover, but he also doesn’t get along with her that well. She is now out of the picture, and you’re in it. The wolf wants to marry you, because he loves you. It might not seem like it, but the choice was his.”
“I just don’t think he’s ready for marriage.”
“He’ll be ready enough. Love does that to a man.”
I threw down my gloves. “I’m gonna take a shower, then head to the grocery store.”
“Mind if I join you?”
“Hmm. I’m not sure my fiancé would like that much. With that temper of his, he might tear off a limb or two.”
He laughed. “No, silly! I only meant for the shopping. I promised you I’d help out around here, and I can lift more bags with these thin arms than you might think!”
“Thanks. And I promise not to make any jokes in the Keebler cookie aisle.”
“Please don’t,” he said with a roll of his eyes. “Your sister teases me about that enough already!”

Chapter 2

Just after I dressed and was throwing my damp hair up in a loose ponytail, everything went dark. That didn’t make any sense, since it was the middle of the day, but I couldn’t see a thing. I fumbled around for my phone, but I couldn’t even find that.
“Screw you, phone,” I muttered, then turned to run out, only to find myself paralyzed by fear when I sensed a presence in the bathroom with me. If it was even possible, my terror only escalated when I felt a clawed hand touch the top of my head. Next, another hand tilted my chin up, and the stench of rotting death invaded my nostrils. Then, a puff of hot air blew across my neck. 
Vampire? Hell no!
I opened my hand, and a smoldering ball within it filled the room with yellow light. A mysterious shadow flitted above me, but I ignored that and ran to the door. Of course a jiggle of the doorknob did nothing; it was locked by some sort of supernatural force.
Suddenly, arms wrapped around my waist and pulled me back a few feet in a violent jolt. Even when I threw volts of electricity at the poltergeist, it would not let go. Instead, it only hissed in my ear, as if mocking me.
“Help!” I screamed, pounding on the door. I turned and saw my tormenter, a dark shadow with horns on its head and a devilish, evil, cartoonish smile on its nasty face.
Flabbergasted and horrified, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, conjuring up all the magic I could to blast the door off its hinges. However, when I opened them, everything was normal again.
Sun filtered in through my window. After another deep, cleansing breath, I walked out of the bathroom and stood in the hallway, trying to regain my composure. Al was downstairs, and I heard the most alluring music drifting out of the living room. For once, it soothed instead of annoyed me. In fact, I stopped halfway down the stairs to listen to the impromptu concert for a few minutes, as I wasn’t quite ready to ruin my friend’s peaceful moment with my ghost story.
I sneaked past the living room and out the back door, so I could call Tabby and tell her all about it.
“Everything will be all right,” she assured me. “You are just under a great deal of stress, and the supernatural forces will toy with you.”
When I walked back in, not feeling so reassured at all and wondering if it was the right decision for me to leave the asylum, I heard Al singing a sweet love song. It was an indescribable feeling, seeing him lazily strum his guitar and sing those beautiful notes. It spoke volumes about the elf and his deep-lying passion. He looked up at me but didn’t seem to actually see me as he continued to croon. It was as if his huge heart had carried him to some faraway place, to another time. He was a gentle soul, not at all like the other males in the house.
“Sam…” I said gently.
“Oh, hi Sophie,” he said, stopping and looking at me with a smile. “Are you ready to go shopping now?”
“Yeah. Hey, you’re really talented. I could listen to you for hours.”
He laughed as he set his guitar down. “You probably expected me to play a flute or harp, huh?”
“Maybe…an ocarina or piccolo,” I joked. “Can you though?”
“Yes,” he said with a nod, “and a violin too. Of all the instruments, I enjoy the guitar the most. I’m not a fan of tubas.”
“Logan guitars as well,” I said.
“Yes, but his style is…different. He played with me once on the patio. He has a wonderful voice.”
“Huh?” I asked, taken aback. “Logan sings?”
“Like an angel,” Al replied.
“Wow. You guys will have to perform a duet for me sometime. You know, it’s a scientific fact that a perfectly executed G chord will make women swoon. We should get you a gig in a singles bar with that guitar of yours!”
He laughed. “Wouldn’t that be a sight!?”
“Musically inclined people are creative souls, often quite romantic,” I said.
“Yes, I believe I am. I enjoy writing soulful, profound lyrics. That one I just sang is about finding the love of one’s life. I was married for a long time, until… Well, you know. I suppose I’m different from your wolf because I must have a deep connection with someone before I will pursue her.”
“So you’re just waiting for that special someone to come into your life, huh?”
“Yes…another special someone.”
“Aw. That’s sweet. Do you ever think about getting remarried?”
“I would love to join with someone again someday, if the right one comes along. It’s been many years, and I’m just beginning to feel my heart beating again.”
“You’re a whole different breed than the men I’ve known.”
“Yes, I know. I’m an elf.”
“No, I mean you’re sensitive, romantic, artistic, and intelligent. Not only that, but you’re a rock star with that long, blond hair of yours. A little crazy gel job, and the eighties would have loved you. Have you ever considered leopard-print spandex?”
“I love nature and would never kill a leopard for pants,” he said, totally missing the point.
“Never mind,” I said with a chuckle.
“Are you flirting with me, Mrs. Wolf-to-Be?” he teased with a smile.
“Maybe just a little,” I admitted, “but please don’t tell my fiancé. I just find it intriguing that you actually look forward to marriage someday. I can’t say the same for him.”
“Someday, yes.”
“Well, at least you’re open to it. I’m like you in that regard. I don’t have a lot of experience with guys.”
“Did you not have a flung with your instructor?” he asked, blinking his eyes innocently at me.
“A flung?”
“Yes, a flung, with the tiger.”
“Oh! You mean a fling!”

“Yes, that.”
“No. Dylan and I only went out once. Yeah, we fell into a kiss as well, but we both know that was a line we should not have crossed.”
“Are things between you awkward now?”
“Not really. I’ve managed to put it behind me, and he doesn’t come around much, except to train me. I’m assuming he’s over it too.”
“Hmm. You’re right. He doesn’t linger about, does he? Maybe he’s banished you to emotional Siberia.”
 I couldn’t help but chuckle at that. “Yeah, well, if he has, it’s my fault. I’m just glad the two of us never kissed.”
“As I told you before, I wasn’t sure whether the wolf or the tiger would end up with you, but I didn’t want to be the middle of that sandwich. It’s best for us to be friends…though I thank you for the thought.”
Smiling, I clapped a hand on his shoulder. “Well, what can I say? You’re fun to be around, passionate about your music, and so full of life. You’re also spontaneous in the most extreme sense. I’m glad I met you.”
“Spontaneous? Are you referring to our trip to those terrifying caverns?”
“What else?” I asked, laughing as I grabbed my purse. “Now, are you ready for our shopping trip? They can be pretty terrifying too. Just hope we don’t get behind one of those grouchy ladies with a checkbook and a coupon binder.”
He looked at me quizzically, then set his guitar down. “If you say so. Let’s go.”
“What would you like for dinner?” I asked when we stepped inside the market.
“We elves must be light on our feet. Salad sounds nice to me.”
“Oh, that does sound good,” I agreed. “We probably can’t go vegan, though, or the wolf and gargoyle will complain.”
“With all the complications Logan’s having on that case, you’re not even sure if the wolf will make it home tonight.”

“But he might. So let’s be hopeful.”
“Chicken it is, then,” he said. “You go find the poultry, and I’ll harvest the vegetables.”
“Teamwork, huh? I like that! We’ll be out of here in no time.”
I heard Al laughing over my shoulder as I walked away with the cart. As I tossed packs of skinless, boneless chicken and a few filets of fish in it, I thought about my friends and hoped they were okay. Logan, Cindy, and Fred were out on a day mission with Tabby herself, accompanied this time by my sister and her friend John. I really wanted to go with them, especially when I found out Taylor and Julie were in tow, but Tabby insisted that I stay behind to work with Dylan on fine-tuning my powers and getting them under control.
I sighed at the thought. Dylan had worked me out rather violently from five a.m. till two. Emotional Siberia is right, I thought, reflecting on Al’s wise summation, or more like emotional Mars! I learned a very valuable lesson in it though: Never, ever mix business and pleasure. I picked up an extra pack of thick chicken breasts for the tiger, but at that point, I didn’t even know if I should expect him for dinner.
Seemingly out of nowhere, a woman in her thirties smiled at me, approached my cart, then reached in, grabbed one of the packs of fish, and tore it open. My jaw dropped in shock as she put one of the raw filets in her mouth and bit into it.
“A big sushi fan, huh?” I said, arching a brow at her.
Rather than answering me, she just licked the fish juice off her lips and tore into another package. I almost gagged when she snatched an egg out of my carton, cracked it open, tilted her head back, and let it ooze into her mouth and down her throat.
“Wow. Impressive. Rocky Balboa would be proud of you,” I said.
Still, she said nothing.
Slowly, I backed away from the crazy woman who was snacking from my cart. As I did, I saw Al charging toward me, his eyes narrowed and his lips pressed into grim lines. He dropped a head of lettuce, a bundle of carrots, and a clutch of radishes as he ran, but he paid no mind to the plummeting produce as he made a beeline toward me.
 “She’s definitely a carnivore, maybe a wolf,” I said when he was within earshot.
“Not a wolf at all! Get away from her!” he cautioned.
“What? What’s her problem then?”
“Obviously, she’s being compelled to act like a lunatic. Who knows what else she’ll be forced to do.”
“Wh-What is sh-she?” I stuttered, staring at her in horror as egg yolk and smelly fish chunks rolled down her chin and dripped onto the checkered linoleum in front of the meat counter.
Before Al could answer me, a little boy ran up to her in a soccer uniform and tugged on her arm.
“Soccer mom,” Al answered.
“Oh. Well, that’s a whole different kind of monster,” I said. “Tell me, why she’s plundering my cart?”
Staring at the woman, he opened a small box, and retrieved two sets of earplugs. “I snagged these a few isles over.”
“You have to pay for those first! And why do we need these to grocery shop?”
Ignoring me, he stuffed some in his own ears, then reached toward mine.
“What are you doing? What’s going on? We still have groceries to get…and some to replace, so—”
Before I could finish, he shook his head and pulled me away from my cart, dragging me toward the entrance.
“What’s wrong with you? Are you being compelled to act insane too?” I then pulled out one earplug so I could hear. “I worked retail for a while, and I know it can be nuts, but—”
“He’s here! Put that earplug back in right now! It’s for your own good.”
“Who’s here? Vincent?”
“No! Dominic, our unfriendly puppet master at play. He told her to do it.”
My eyes widened, my throat felt dry, and I darted my eyes around at the other shoppers and wondering how many of them were zombefied by Dominic’s magic. It did nothing to unsettle my nerves when my gaze settled on the man behind the meat counter, brandishing a humongous cleaver and wearing a sinister, Jack-o-lantern grin on his face.

Chapter 3

“Ladies and gentlemen,” came an announcement over the loudspeaker, “I’d like to announce a special sale, today only. Please visit the front of the store for your flyer.”
“I can’t believe this!” I yelled. “Isn’t Dominic supposed to be in immortal jail?”
Al just shook his head, as if he had no idea what I was saying.
Suddenly, a horde of customers came my way, waving flyers around. When one fell near my foot, I picked it up and was appalled to see my picture on it, with my name below it, and instructions: “Chuck it, one-buck it sale! Any customer who hurls grocery items and produce at this shopper will receive special pricing of a full cart for one dollar!”
“As a special bonus,” Dominic continued with his announcements, “everyone will receive a fifty-dollar gas voucher if Sophie’s adorable elf friend Al slaps her in the face with fish from her cart. Al, I command you to do it. Now!”
“Shit,” I said.
Luckily, Al’s ears were still plugged, so he didn’t follow through with the hali-butt-kicking he was commanded to do.
“Sophie, dearest, I’d like you to—”
Quickly, I stuffed the plugs in my ears so I couldn’t hear the awful thing he wanted to compel me to do.
When a can grazed my shoulder, I turned and saw a redhead pitching corn and peas at me, with an evil scowl on her face. I ducked as the next one flew over my head, but when I tried to use my magic, Al put my arm down.
“No!” he said, pulling out my earplug and pointing up at the security cameras. “We cannot risk it being on the news.”
I covered my face as a barrage of kohlrabi and cauliflower flew at me from every direction. An old lady on a motorized scooter lobbed oranges my way, then put her pedal to the metal and drove in my direction as fast as the thing would go, determined to run me over, I dodged to the left, and the woman crashed into a towering display and was quickly buried in a pile of E.L. Fudge cookies.
“Not a word,” Al said as her fingers poked through one of the little elves on the packages. “Not one word!”
“Dear shoppers, please note the stipulation on the bottom of your flyer. Sophie Winters and her companion cannot leave this store, under any circumstances,” Dominic announced.
I put the earplug back in and motioned to the exit. “Let’s get the hell out of here!”
We sprinted down the diapers aisle, but just as we turned the corner, we noticed that the exit was blocked by a huge gathering of people, with a wall of shopping carts in front of them. I wasn’t sure what else Dominic had brainwashed them with, but they looked at us with pure hatred in their eyes, as if they were possessed.

End of sample. 

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