Monday, January 21, 2008

New Release: EMERGENCE

EMERGENCE by Marie Harte
now available from Amber Quill.

The past and the future collide when Deacon, a member of the Nox Squad, meets his destiny—a vampire with dangerous secrets to protect.

Since humanity accepted the existence of vampires in their midst, life has become impossibly more difficult for Deacon Cain, former Marksdale police officer and current member of the Nox Squad. Nox Liberi, Latin for Night Children—the politically correct term for vamps—are running amuck in the city turning humans into mindless addicts. Vamps have turned their alluring pheromones into a profitable enterprise, a rising street drug known as vamp venom. And for an ex-cop like Deacon, the existence of vamp venom is one he can’t and won’t tolerate. Joining Perimore Corporation to fight in the Nox Squad, Deacon spends his time putting rogue vamps behind Perimore’s bars and ridding the streets of venom. But a mission gone wrong leads Deacon to Hope Bradley, a Nox with secrets that might be Perimore’s downfall. Because Hope is Deacon’s future, and she’ll lead him on the path to a truth that will change his life and his world forever.

Read below for an excerpt:

Marksdale, Illinois

Crouched behind an overturned crate covered in refuse and an ungodly stench better left alone, Deacon Cain stemmed the flow of blood at his neck with the heel of his left palm while also gripping the silenced .44 tight with his fingers. In his right hand, he held a two-way radio tightly and snarled, “I don’t give a shit what Genaro said about you keeping out of this. Get your ass down here and help me nail this one. The cops have gaps all over the perimeter, doing more harm than good. At this rate, our mark is going to skate. And there was another one…a female not like the others. We’ll need to pick her up too.”

“Didn’t fall for your pretty face, eh?” The humor in his partner’s voice set him on edge, and not for the first time did Deacon feel the need to bust that once-broken nose yet again.

“Dammit, Oz. She nicked me, and I’m bleeding like a sieve. It’s only a matter of time before they’ll be coming out of the woodwork.” Deacon glanced around the seedy alley in one of Marksdale’s worst slums. He could feel the press of hungry gazes upon him.

“Shit. I hear you.” On the phone, what sounded like keys and scuffling followed the slam of a car door. “I’ll be there in five. Had a feeling you might need me.”
Thank God none of them followed their boss’s orders.

I don’t need you. Genaro needs you if we’re going to nab this particular vamp. I’m just lonely for your ugly-ass company. Now hurry the hell up before the mark bolts,” Deacon growled before shoving his high-tech walkie-talkie back into his jacket.

He cursed the mysterious female again, pissed he’d let her catch him unaware. He thought he’d been so quiet, undetected as he watched their mark interact with more of his kind for over an hour. Just as the vamp had done twice a week for the past four months. Like clockwork, Magellan Fiero always met with the same fanged buddies, in groups of three and four, in this dangerously crime-ridden section of town. Why Genaro insisted they wait to bag him, Deacon had no idea.

But he had a job to do, so like any other night on this miserable case, Deacon had watched and waited in his spot across the alley in the rundown apartment building on the ground floor. Deacon glanced behind him at the now-burning building, then across from him at the warehouse alive with the sounds of bullets, bare-knuckled brawling and inhuman screeching.

What the hell had he run into tonight? He tried to piece everything together as he waited for Oz to show. Everything had seemed normal up until a half hour ago… until a rush of unknown vamps entered the run-down warehouse. The minute Deacon had recognized one of them from Perimore’s Most Wanted sheets, he’d finally understood why Genaro had wanted them to wait. Magellan, apparently, had ties to the factious Underground, a clan of vampires who’d been striking at the very heart of Perimore Corp—Deacon’s employer.

Excited at his find, Deacon had quietly gathered his transceiver to alert his squad when in the span of a heartbeat, the few lights in the warehouse had gone dark and vamps scattered like roaches. Focused on the warehouse, Deacon hadn’t heard or sensed anyone behind him in the apartment. A surprise attack had nearly decapitated him, and if Deacon hadn’t possessed such quick reflexes, he’d now be dead. Fortunately, he always kept his weapon close. Two shots to the forehead had killed a tall, blond vamp. And another bullet through the ear into the brain had taken care of the brooding hulk who normally watched over Magellan.

Unlike the movies, killing vampires wasn’t all that hard with the right equipment. They hated silver and sunlight and couldn’t survive without a brain. Stakes through the heart, unfortunately, did nothing more than piss them off. And at the speed vamps healed in conjunction with their superior strength, Deacon had always felt a silver bullet to the brain the wisest course of action.

After dispatching his attackers, and knowing he’d be a fool to sit where the vamps knew he waited, Deacon had bailed out an open window, just in time to avoid a small detonation that lit the room and several unlucky vamps howling inside. Before he could question why the vamps would take out their own in pursuit of him, bullets had sprayed the alley and he ducked for cover.

Once the noise cleared, Deacon had risen to take a shot in the direction of the shooters. But his instincts forced him to lean back and something stung his neck. Glancing up toward the roof of the warehouse, Deacon had locked gazes with the mysterious female who’d shown up tonight to meet Magellan. Covered in a hood that shadowed her face, her eyes, however, glowed like rubies in the dark. She’d held up a blade—much like the one currently embedded in the wooden crate by him stained with his blood--and through a blaze of moonlight, he saw her motion, as if blowing him a kiss.

She’d faded back into the shadows, no noise or movement to identify her whereabouts.

His neck throbbed where the knife had bit into his skin, and Deacon cursed the situation, wishing Genaro had briefed them about the whole of it. Because despite the weapon in his hand and the strength he always held in check, Deacon felt curiously vulnerable as he waited for his partner. Blood attracted vamps like nothing else on the planet, and Deacon had unwittingly stumbled into what appeared to be a huge part of the underground vamp community. Or, as the press like to call the group, The Nox.

Nox Liberi, Latin for “Night Children”--the politically correct term for bloodsuckers. Utter bullshit, in his opinion. If it had fangs and drank blood, walked and talked like a vampire, it was a vampire. Hell, he ought to know. But God forbid you say the word “vamp” around the liberal do-gooders and PR asswipes at Perimore. The company’s public relation hounds were sticklers for nice and tidy, two characteristics Deacon and everyone in the Nox Squad were sorely lacking.

Scurrying footsteps sounded just above him, forcing him to once more concentrate on the situation at hand, something he was finding increasingly difficult to do. Danger surrounded him, yet Deacon’s mind wandered when it should have been alert. And with his distraction came the realization that he’d reached a critical point in the month… and had gone without. Gone without and now faced a horde of angry vamps out for his blood. Shit. Talk about going from bad to worse. Glancing around, Deacon noted a few of the predators clinging to the walls above him, and he swore he could feel their hunger wrapping around him like bony fingers of need.

He consciously ground his palm deeper into his wound, cherishing the contact with his own mortality. An adrenaline junkie, Deacon was never as happy as he was when immersed in a life or death situation. And he clearly understood that tonight would be much more than surveillance gone wrong, but a brush with death if he didn’t find his way out of this one.

The next attack, when it came, knocked him on his ass, coming from out of nowhere. But a firm grip on his weapon proved advantageous, and Deacon fired one shot pointblank into the head of bloodsucker number one.

Brain-dead, the guy laid there, his features obscured by the shadows and the overturned garbage cans littering the tarmac with more trash.

Deacon met his second and third attackers, however, sensing them just before they landed on top of him. He fired again, plugging one in the neck and the other in the chest, narrowly dodging the bodies dropping out of the sky. The vamps hit hard but managed to find cover, disabled but not down, not yet.

The female who’d nicked him, however, had yet to make another appearance, and the same with Magellan, whom Deacon hadn’t seen since the bullets had started flying. He feared that if he gave them much more time, they’d vanish. Four months of surveillance down the drain. No, he had to find Magellan and tag him before he could bury himself deeper in the Underground.

Magellan… and the female. The female Deacon couldn’t see but could sense with every fiber of his being. He knew she was still out there, watching, waiting. As he stared at where she’d been, he wondered about her. Her hair color, her scent, the feel of her fangs as she pierced her victims’ necks while they shuddered in orgasmic ecstasy…

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