Date Published: May 9, 2017
With an old war raging between vampires and shifters, Ria must learn to refocus her life if she’s going to survive.
Her renegade fight was just the beginning. The queen is recruiting new soldiers. Ria’s going on vicious missions with her battle buddy. And her explosive abilities are malfunctioning at inopportune moments.
So now, Ria must forgo her selfish desires to compartmentalize her life, but what’s she to do when she can’t save everyone she wants to? One girl may not be capable of taking down an empire. Good thing Ria’s got help.
From Chapter Ten:
“I got in a lot of trouble when I was a young vamp. My maker didn’t like it much. Or he liked me too much. Either way, I’m glad the fucker is gone.”
A note of unease hit my chest. “Gone?”
“Yeah, I killed him.”
“And almighty queen bee didn’t slaughter you for that?”
“Couldn’t. Killed him when I fought my way free. He didn’t want to let me go.” Tahe picked at one of her ruby nails. “So, I made him.”
She sighed, peeling off a patch of polish. “Damn, I’m gonna have to repaint these again. Being lipstick is harder than it looks, red. But when you can kick ass, it’s good to let them think you ain’t on par with them, ya know?”
Yeah. I knew.
Tahe messed with the radio for a few minutes, but the stations were heavy on commercials and gospel. Finally, she set it low on a country station—nothing too twangy. When she sat back, her focus made the hair on the back of my neck salute.
“So, I may have ulterior motives for this little road trip.”
My fingers curled firmly on the wheel, and my foot hovered above the break. “As long as you don’t plan to murder me, I think I can handle it.”
She snorted. “No. I ain’t gonna hurt you none, red. As I see it, we’re sisters in this place. At least, morally and shit.”
I tapped the brakes, waiting to pass the person in front of me. “Yeah. We’re not the majority.”
“You don’t know the half of it.” Peering out the window, she seemed more sad, more her age, whatever that was. It didn’t really matter anymore; how old anyone was. They all had secrets and lives and tragedies that passed a long time before I came along.
And we were all bound to keep having them.
“I wanted to get something off my chest. And you’ve just got…one of those faces. Like I can trust you to keep a secret. Ya know?”
I nodded. I’d been playing with the thought that my phoenix made me this way. Others confided in me so easily. Emily Baxter, the most popular girl in school, used to talk to me in gym class about her older brother. He came out to her family, and their parents blew up, sending him off to a straight camp. I don’t know why she trusted me to give her advice, especially since I was only sixteen, but Emily often felt better after our talks even when she’d start off so distressed.
That is until he hanged himself in their backyard.
Then we stopped talking.
“I did something bad, red. Really bad. But I didn’t have a choice.”
I cruised into the right lane as a sports car readied to kiss my bumper. He zoomed past without much effort.
“I killed her.”
Shock slammed me in the gut. Tahe’s words drowned in anguish, and she looked more like a little girl than I’d ever seen her.
“So I made her one of us. I couldn’t just let her die. I loved her.” Wild emotions flared in her eyes as she begged me to understand. “I love her.”
Bright red taillights flashed in the windshield as a truck swung close into my lane. I slammed the breaks, sliding into the guardrail and bouncing across the two lanes and back, spinning past the first and down a hill into brush.
Metal crunched and screeched. We pin-balled between a few trees.
My head cracked against the window.
The impact jarred the wheel into my jaw, smashing my teeth together and submerging me in sleep.
Bio: Alisha Costanzo is from a Syracuse suburb. She earned her MFA in creative writing from the University of Central Oklahoma, where she currently teaches English. She’s the author of BLOOD PHOENIX: REBIRTH, BLOOD PHOENIX: CLAIMED, BLOOD PHOENIX: IMPRINTED, and LOVING RED, and co-editor of DISTORTED. UNDERWATER, and AFTER THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER. She’s currently editing her new 2017 fire-themed anthology, writing about Ria’s father, and crafting her new YA novel for its 2018 release. In the meantime, she will continue to corrupt young minds, rant about the government, and daydream about her all around nasty creatures.
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