Raging Chaos - Book 4 in The Vampire and Werewolf Chronicles is out now!
Read a sample below!
Book 5 is coming out June 1st, 2018!
This is a spinoff of the Crush series with Crush characters!
The Vampire & Werewolf Chronicles
“How could an entire town of werewolves just…vanish?” I asked. “Are they in captivity or, um…dead?” The questions haunted me. My gut feeling told me they were still alive, just hauled off by someone for some sinister reason. I was certain no one would go to all the trouble of moving them just to kill them in the end. What I couldn’t figure out was why they took the children and babies too. Why would they take whole families, innocent kids? My heart ached, and I couldn’t make sense of the sad, senseless kidnapping as Cindy and I sat outside in the gardens behind the castle.
Logan and Fred had immediately left the scene to search for clues, interrogate other immortals, and use any Immortal Council resources they could to find them.
“I thought it was best to just let them go,” Cindy said. “Fred is the only one who can calm Logan down right now.”
“I know. That’s why I didn’t press the issue of going with them. Logan is crazed with grief, just beside himself.”
“Yes, he takes all werewolf issues very seriously and personally.”
“Who would kidnap the entire town like that?”
“I don’t know, Sophie,” Cindy said, shaking her head. “No one seems to have any idea why this happened, and everyone is shocked. The Immortal Council doesn’t take things like this lightly either though. They’re on top of it already. Whoever did this will be sorry.”
“It’s baffling, to say the least, like the plot of some insane sci-fi movie, a small town in the middle of nowhere suddenly vacant,” I said with a shudder. “That’s some spooky stuff. If I didn’t know better, I’d blame the little green men from Mars.”
Cindy somehow managed to laugh at that. “They couldn’t have just vanished off the face of the Earth. There has to be some kind of clue, and we’ll find it. You know Logan won’t give up till we do.”
“I know, but as usual, I’m afraid we’re running against the clock. If they are still alive, who knows how long we have to help them? Do they have any known enemies?” I asked.
“As far as we know, they’re a very peaceful pack, and they have always kept to themselves. I can’t imagine who would want to hurt them.”
Cindy and I couldn’t just sit around and do nothing, so we hopped in my car and drove back to the place where the abduction happened. We’d already combed the area, but we thought we might see something the second time around.
On the way there, I only half-listened to Cindy’s rambling; I had too many thoughts in my head to pay much attention to what she was saying.
“Anyway, are you glad you joined up with us?” she suddenly asked.
“The group. You’re part of a team now.”
“Oh, that. Well, the truth is, I’m not sure I fit in, Cindy,” I admitted. “See, I’m living in a world most people don’t believe in, a world that barely exists in the minds of many. It was hard to hang out with my friends and relatives when I couldn’t talk about my new life, and I sometimes envied them.”
“Because they only have one life to live, not a confusing double-life like mine. They had the luxury of disbelief. While all my friends were worried about what was on sale at the mall or which football team was going to win, I had to think about battling Falcar. While they were off watching movies about sparkling vampires or TV shows about teenage witches or two hot brothers driving around in an Impala hunting monsters, I had to accept that there are real beasts in the world, some far worse than anything Hollywood can ever drum up. It’s like they live in a black and white world, but mine’s psychedelic, almost blinding.”
“It is a lot to learn and a lot to accept,” Cindy said. “You are doing fine, Sophie.”
“I know, but I’m a rookie, so new to all this. I mean, everyone else—all of you—are old pros. I’m just not up to speed with you. I can’t flap my wings and fly like you. I can’t transform into a wolf like Logan or a lethal vampire like Fred. All of you have earned the respect of the Immortal Council because of the dangerous missions you’ve been on. You’ve got killer résumés, so to speak, and I’ve got nothing to boast about.”
“You belong here with us,” Cindy consoled. “Things are changing, and so are you. Don’t worry if you feel a bit off balance.”
“I do. I mean, I’ve accepted my fate, and I know I’m on a new journey. Instead of heading off to college, I’m in warrior princess training, like some kind of newbie X-Man just learning to control my extraordinary superpowers. Instead of hanging out at the movie theater or mall with my normal friends, I’m surrounded by a bunch of freaks.”
“Freaks, huh?” Cindy said with a wink.
“The good kind,” I quickly corrected. “It’s just… Well, I never expected to personally know any gargoyles, vampires, or werewolves, and I sure as hell didn’t think I could actually talk to my dearly departed sister. I know everything has changed, and I’m doing my best, but I’ve been rerouted to a long, hard road, and I have no idea where it leads.”
“You’re adapting well, Sophie, and we all adore you. Why, you’re the sweetest thing invented since the Twinkie! Plus, the last time I checked, cream-filled sponge cake couldn’t conquer Falcar or summon blazing fireballs.”
“Thanks, Cindy. It’s so nice of you to say that.”
“I do not say things I do not mean,” she said.
“Am I too sweet to be a bad ass?”
“Nope. You’re the best of both worlds, like Taylor. She is a dear friend of mine and one of the sweetest people I know. On the other hand, she’s also a powerful Petal witch, potentially lethal and dangerous in action. You’re very similar to her.”
“I take that as a compliment.”
“You should. In time, Sophie, you’ll be a kickass superhero like the world has never seen. Just be patient with yourself.”
“That means a lot, especially coming from you.”
“Change is scary, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. You have to decide what’s important, then build your life around that. I know how you feel though. I felt the same way when I first arrived in the States.”
I cocked a brow, surprised that a gargoyle could ever feel inferior in any way. “You did?”
“Yes. The modern world was new to me. Did you know I’d never even eaten a hamburger before I got here?”
“Nope,” she said, shaking her head, “but the immortals took me in, and I found a life here.”
“A life and a McDonald’s!” I teased.
“Yes, of course,” she said with a smile. “In time, I proved to be a valuable asset to the team, and they grew to respect me. I’d been searching for my tribe for a long time, and I realized that here, I have peace and happiness. It takes a while to gain their trust and for everything to fall into place, but if I did it, so can you. Look how far you’ve come already.”
“Thanks, Cindy. As weird as all this is, I’m so glad I got a chance to meet all of you.”
“Scary stuff, huh?”
“Maybe at first. You guys were a little intense, kidnapping me and all.”
“I’m still sorry about that, but we knew you wouldn’t come willingly if we would have said, ‘Hey, little girl, the gargoyle has some candy. Get in before some freaky vampires stab you in the heart.’”
“You have a point,” I said. “I was taught not to talk to strangers, and you people are stranger than most!”
“We did what we had to do to save your life.”
“Just for the record, you might’ve gotten me in the car with some creamy chocolate Lindor truffles.”
She laughed. “So now I know your weakness.”
“I’m sure it isn’t the only one,” I said, blushing a hit as I thought about Logan.
“Well, anyway, we’ve grown on you, haven’t we?”
“Yes, you have.”
“Good. Then my mission is complete. Also, I’ll make a mental note of the truffles, so when Logan asks what your favorite candy is, I can tell him.”
I smiled. “Does that mean he pisses girls off a lot, needs a lot of peace offerings?”
“No, silly. I just want him to bring the right thing when he takes you on a date.”
“A date, huh?” I shook my head. “That Lycan is a whole other subject.”
“Hmm. I didn’t realize we were limited to one topic. You can talk to me about anything, you know. In fact, I think I’d make an excellent immortal therapist.”
“Please continue. I charge by the minute,” she joked.
I smiled. “It’s just that I don’t feel normal, even if I look that way at first glance.”
“Can’t we all say that? You may look over here and see a blonde in the driver seat, but underneath that façade, there’s a monster that is the stuff of nightmares. Normal is overrated, Sophie, and I don’t think anyone really knows what it means. We can’t control or change what we were born to be. All we can do is make the most of who we are and try to make the world a better place.”
“It’s so hard to fit in though. I feel like I can’t be myself. I don’t want to appear as weak and pathetic as I feel. Everyone expects me to take down all Falcar, so I have to put on this tough persona that is really not me.”
“When I first got here, I talked too much about ancient books and artifacts, a love of mine. I used to scold myself, Shut up, Cindy! Quit being such a nerd. Try to act more normal! I spent way too much time worrying about what others thought of me and trying to hide the real me. Fred gave me the best advice. ‘What the world truly needs is you. Be yourself. Be confident in who you are. We are all our own person,’ he said, and he was right.”
“I love that,” I said.
“I do too, and I listened to him. You should heed that advice as well. Why hide your personality and try to look and sound like everyone else? Don’t change just to get others to like you, Sophie. The right people will love the real you, even if it is a bunch of crazy supernaturals. My gargoyle heritage makes me who I am, just as being an Ankh witch makes you who you are. You shouldn’t want to fit in. You should only want to belong. Fitting in means adjusting to meet the expectations of others. Belonging means being accepted for who you really are.”
I couldn’t help but let out a chuckle at the motherly tone of her voice.
“We’re here for you, so don’t be a lone wolf, okay?” She shot me a quick smile. “Besides, that title belongs to Logan.”
I chuckled again.
“Oh! I love this song!” Cindy squealed. She excitedly turned up the music and sang along for a moment, then shot me a side glance. “See? This is me being me, and I don’t care one tiny bit about my hideous croaking voice.”
I smiled as we drove on, and I joined her in the off-key karaoke.
“Okay, we’re here,” Cindy said as she parked. “Let’s take a second look and see if we can gain a new perspective on what happened.”
I grabbed my purse, then stepped out of the car. “I doubt we’ll find anything new,” I said, and we didn’t, even after looking for hours and hours. It was beyond frustrating that we didn’t turn up any new leads, but at least I had an opportunity to get to know a good friend better. We didn’t find hide nor hair of the werewolves, but I was starting to find my place in the world, and that felt great.
The next day, a bright ball of light flashed as Julie and Taylor teleported into the kitchen with two men.
Julie waved. “Hi, Sophie. It’s just me.”
“Yeah, Werewolf Barbie,” Grant teased.
“Stop calling me that, or I’ll go wolf on you all right,” Julie snarked.
Grant shrugged. “Fine. Barking Blondie?”
Julie sighed and rolled her eyes. “Anyway, this is Grant, my not-so-funny husband, and this guy here is Jesse, Taylor’s ball and chain.”
“Hmm. I didn’t know Taylor was into chains,” Grant joked.
“Hush, you,” Julie scolded, then gave her equally blond spouse a loving peck on the cheek.
Julie stepped toward me. “You’re, uh…mopping?”
“Yes. It’s a chore that must be done, whether you live in a castle or not.”
“Well, you need to trade your apron and rubber gloves for some pants and hiking shoes, buddy. We’ve got a mission to go on. Of course, it’s your choice to join us or not.”
“Right now? Where?”
“More like Arizona.”
“And exactly what’s in Arizona?” I asked chirpily as I wrung out the mop.
“The Grand Canyon, for starters.”
“Look, a tour of the Seven Wonders of the World might be fun sometime, but I’m not sure we have time for sightseeing right now.”
“Don’t worry. No mule rides to the bottom,” Julie said, trying to hurry things along by grabbing the bucket of dirty water and dumping it into the sink.
“What? No donkey tours?” Grant asked, jutting his bottom lip out in the most adorable pout. “But, babe, you promised adventure.”
“Acting like a jackass won’t land you a free ride on one,” she teased. “Anyway, you get to go whitewater rafting instead,” she said, turning her attention toward me.
“Whitewater rafting? Seriously?”
“Trust me on this one, Sophie. We’re going to visit an ancient lost civilization, this secret underground city below the canyon.”
“A subterranean metropolis? Wow. I guess I should check out the History Channel more often. Then again, that Ancient Aliens show always sounds like a bunch of Hollywood hooey.”
“You didn’t used to believe in vampires and werewolves either,” my friend pointed out.
“Right. Look, I admit I’m learning new stuff all the time, so maybe you’re right. Maybe there is something down there.”
“There’s no maybe about it. It’s there.”
“And just why are we going on this little field trip?”
“We have to find the room that contains the prophecies, walls upon walls of them.”
“Of course. And I’m sure they’ll be written in twenty-first-century English, right?”
Julie laughed. “Nope.”
“Chat lingo? Did the ancient ones LOL? TTYL? ROFL?”
She laughed again. “I won’t be able to read them, but Jesse and Grant can. It’s one of their specialties.”
“Cindy’s a really good interpreter too. Why not take her?”
“She’s currently occupied elsewhere, on another mission with Dead Fred and Logan. We can’t wait for them to wrap that one up. This, is uh…urgent.”
“Why do you need me though? Tell me you aren’t dragging me down there just to conjure up a fireball to read by. You guys can do that yourselves. Heck, just take a flashlight with some of those pink bunny batteries in it,” I suggested, grabbing the mop from her again.
“Sophie, you need the practice, and this will be a pretty simple mission for training purposes, if nothing else. Besides, we were just there, and we can’t get inside. We need you and that rare blood of yours.”
“Wait. You want my blood?”
“Not much. A few drops. Easy-peasy. What’s a little bloodlust between friends?” she asked with a smirk.
“How deep is this place exactly?” I questioned, not quite sold on the idea yet.
“About a mile underground. It’s a labyrinth of passages and corridors, laid out like the spokes of a wheel,” Taylor explained. “As Julie said, we haven’t been in the room with all the ancient prophecies, but others visited about 200 years ago, including an Ankh witch, before they were all wiped out by the Falcar. We think you can get us in.”
“I still don’t see how that works,” I argued. “Me?”
She playfully nudged me. “Yes, you. We’re looking for some information, some clue about what’s going on. So far, all our sources haven’t turned up anything.”
“The room is top secret,” Julie said. “No ordinary person can get in.”
I looked down at the dirty floor, then at the mop bucket, then up to my friends. “Fine. Let’s go.”
“I knew you’d say that!” Julie squealed as she pulled me into a hug.
It didn’t take long for me to change into mission-worthy clothes, and we left in a ball of light. Before we departed, Julie informed me that the place was shrouded in much magic to protect the ancient writings, so we couldn’t just beam right in, but she could get us close, and a boat was ready and waiting for us.
“Wait. That’s our ride?” I asked when we teleported to a patch of rocky beach.
“Hey, I never promised you a luxury cruise!” Taylor said.
Jesse pulled the flimsy yellow raft into the water, and Taylor instructed us to get in. We put on helmets and were given paddles to help us maneuver down the fast-flowing Colorado River. Minutes later, we were crashing through the surging, foamy current, bypassing rugged canyon walls and soaring sandstone cliffs. The gang knew what they were doing, so I just followed their lead, trying to avoid cracking any of my traveling companions in the head with my oar and doing my best to stay balanced and centered.
I was definitely out of my comfort zone, but the scenery was postcard perfect. The mist and spray of the river water cooled us from the blazing sun, and a gentle breeze teased the little of my hair that was sticking out from under my helmet. Birds soared overhead as we bucked off the surface of the angry river, and it turned out to be a real adrenaline rush. I just hoped I wouldn’t be thrown out of the big yellow raft as we barreled down the river; as gorgeous as the place was, I didn’t want the rocky shore to be my cemetery.
Eventually, the current slowed, and we all enjoyed the gentle, smooth ride as we looked around at the serene landscape and caught glimpses of the local wildlife. As we were talking and laughing, mostly about the horrified look on Grant’s face when we were nearly split in two by a particularly toothy boulder, we noticed a disturbance in the distance.
“Look!” I said, when I noticed something happening up ahead on the beach. I pointed at a group surrounding a girl on the beach, two of them on their knees, attempting to administer CPR. Oh my gosh! What a tragedy! I thought as I tried to swallow past the knot in my throat and hoped it wasn’t a bad omen of things to come. Just like that, our little dream vacation to the Grand Canyon had turned into a nightmare.
Taylor squeezed her ebony-haired husband’s hand. “Honey, we should help.”
Jesse nodded, and none of us bothered to disagree. Without a second thought, the boys jumped out and pulled the raft ashore.
I was the first of the girls out of the raft, and I hurried over to the frightening scene. My heart broke when I saw the little girl lying there, her long, curly locks of hair soaking wet and her eyes closed. She couldn’t have been more than eight years old, and she was entirely unresponsive.
“No! No! My baby!” a woman shouted hysterically, struggling against her husband’s grasp as tears rolled down her face.
“She’ll be okay, honey,” he said. “Don’t give up hope.” He was trying desperately to console his wife, but his own voice trembled with every word, and his eyes were wide with horror.
“Where are the paramedics? Didn’t anyone call 911?” another yelled.
“Can we help?” Julie asked.
Another woman ran over to us, also crying. “W-We capsized, and now she… Gosh, my niece isn’t breathing! We’ve been giving her CPR for thirty minutes. Is she going to d-die?”
Julie and Taylor shot sad looks at one another.
“They can’t do anything,” Jesse whispered to me.
“Why not?” I asked.
“They’re healing powers won’t work on the already dead.”
I felt a warmth on my cheek as I shed a tear of my own. “If only we got here sooner. We should have paddled faster, but now it’s too late.”
“Maybe not. I said they can’t help her.”
“Huh? What do you mean?” I asked, wiping my face and looking at him curiously.
“We have you, but we have to act quickly. She’s newly dead, so it should be easy for you to bring her back.”
“But how? I-I can’t do that.”
“Sophie, you have a gift none of the rest of us have. Sure, Julie and Taylor are Petal witches with amazing powers that shocked the entire immortal world, but they can’t be the heroes in this situation. Grant and I are strong enough to take down a whole army, but we can’t bring that little girl back. Only you can do that.”
“You’re so bright, so shiny!” a young voice said.
Startled, I jumped back. I looked over at the dead girl on the beach, then at the girl in front of me. I grabbed Jesse’s arm as I tried to catch my breath. “Jesse!”
“It’s okay. It’s only her spirit. She’s attracted to you, like a moth to a flame.”
“So how do I do it? Also, how do I break it to the family that I’m a necromancer? I’m thinking that will freak them out, and the last thing I need is this going viral on YouTube,” I whispered.
“You don’t have to blow your cover. Just offer to do CPR,” Jesse said. “Heck, lie and tell them you’re a lifeguard or something. You don’t even have to mention your credentials as a certified witch.”
“But CPR isn’t working,” I argued. “They’ve been trying for half an hour.”
“Our CPR is different, just theatrics. The CPR isn’t going to save her life. You are,” he said with a reassuring grin.
Shaking, I nodded. I wasn’t sure just touching her lips would help. In fact, I was sure Jesse’s hopes were a bit too high. “Don’t we need something more, uh…elaborate, some huge ritual or something. Sorry, but I forgot to pack the big black book and candles.”
“Are you going to help me?” the little spirit asked.
“Then please tell my mom. She’s ignoring me. Plus, I can’t stand to see her crying.”
“She’s not ignoring you. She just doesn’t see you,” I answered with a smile.
“Well, help her see me again please. I didn’t mean to scare Mommy, and I’ve never seen my Daddy cry before either.”
I walked over to the body on the beach, with the ghostly girl in tow.
To my surprise, Taylor walked over and put her arm around the girl. “Come over here, sweetie.”
“You can see me?” the little girl whispered to her.
“I see dead people,” she said with a wink, “and Bruce Willis has nothing to do with it.”
“Hey, do you know how to skip rocks?” Grant asked, trying to get the spirit’s attention.
Julie nudged him. “Honey, she can’t even hold rocks at this point.”
Ignoring her, Grant picked up a flat stone.
“Oh!” the girl squealed. “That one’s perfect.”
“Watch,” he said, then gave it a toss. “I bet I can skip this rock all the way down the river.”
I was glad they distracted her from seeing her own dead body, but I was still a ball of nerves as I approached. I didn’t know what I was doing or if it was even possible. I just wanted to get it over with, one way or another, but everything seemed to be happening in slow motion. The air echoed with forlorn cries and screams, heavy with grief, and my heart hurt. It was so painful that I wanted to scream myself.
“Can we try?” Jesse said calmly, tugging on the father’s elbow. “We’re well trained in the newest procedures.”
“Well, I… Uh…”
“We’re lifeguards,” I fibbed.
The man on the ground stopped the chest compressions, certain there was nothing more anyone could do. “I don’t think anybody can help her now,” he said, his eyes moist with the shame of his failure.
“No!” the girl’s mother cried again, tucking her head into her husband’s shoulder.
Jesse softly touched her father’s arm. “Please let us try.”
“I don’t recommend it,” said the man on the ground, sniffling. “You’ll only crack more ribs. You have to accept that she’s gone.”
“If we act right now, we might be able to turn things around,” Jesse argued.
“She’s gone!” he shouted, paled by grief and sadness. “Go away. Her life was cut short today, and there’s nothing we can do about it,” he said as he stood, wiped the sand off his knees, and pushed his way through the screaming, sobbing crowd.
I looked down at the little body, her limbs and lips and inhuman shade of blue. It was an ugly, violent death, one no one deserved.
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Raging Chaos is available now!
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/raging-chaos-chrissy-peebles/1128072666?ean=2940155431213