A small bar in California
Mike tilted his head back, swallowed the last of his whiskey, and contemplated turning his car around and going home while he was still sober enough to drive.
He looked at the clock, then called to the bartender and ordered another. Fuck it, he'd get a room and sleep before getting on the road again. He kind of wanted to get drunk anyway. Anything to put off the visit to his family's new ranch.
He couldn't even remember the name of the town he'd stopped in. Did he even see a welcome sign?
Alcohol did that to him. Blurred everything. Which was exactly how he wanted it.
Mike took some much needed vacation time and left Griffon City. He hadn't planned to make the trip to California to visit his family until after the woman he loved had settled down with someone else.
He hoped Jackie was enjoying planning her wedding to McKane.
God damn. Losing her stung. Though she'd promised to always be his friend and all that shit, he needed to make himself scarce for the wedding.
Watching Jackie prepare to have a family with vampire boy made Mike think about his own family.
He hadn't seen them in years. It was time to make peace. The problem was they were the ones to kick him out.
But he was tired of having nothing. Maybe they'd welcome him home, ask for forgiveness.
If they didn't then at least he could use them as an outlet for all the hatred and screaming he felt like exploding out into the world.
Not knowing what to expect, he stressed himself out the entire trip. Mike had seen the bar and felt his mouth go dry as though he'd dumped a bucket of salt down it. He promptly stopped.
Now, with several depressing drinks inside him and maybe an hour or so left before he reached his destination, driving the day and a half back to his empty apartment in New York seemed appealing.
God damnit. Courageous Officer Carter, scared of facing the family that disowned him.
Mike tipped his hat up with the rim off his glass and rested his hot forehead into the cool sweat building there.
He sighed. He would go and see them. Hopefully Bud would still want to see him.
Damn, he really needed to relax. Maybe while he was here he could have a little fun. Mike lifted his head and scanned the bar.
The place was mostly empty against the slow Country playing in the background. Probably because it was a weeknight and people had to go to work in the morning. That didn't stop the patrons who were in the bar tonight from drinking up.
Of the few women in the bar, one who drank alone and appeared to be in her sixties and another who celebrated her twenty-first birthday with two of her girlfriends—though he doubted it was her first time having a drink—only one caught his eye.
Late twenties, slim with curly hair, rose-pink lips and big eyes. Nice.
The problem was that she already had the attention of two men focused solely on her.
Her thick, pale blonde hair framed her tiny body as she quietly spoke to her companions. Her voice was so low he couldn't catch what she said, her face and eyes were alight, as though she were having a passionate discussion.
Mike squinted his eyes for a better look. One of the men who nodded along intently with what she said could very well be related to her, a twin even.
His pale blond hair was cut short and gelled to spike out at the top of his forehead. Though they were both sitting, he estimated that they were of the same height. And while he wore a blue striped shirt compared to her white tank, they both sported jeans that were fading at the stress points.
The other man with them couldn't be more different. The fact that he was sitting in this bar meant he had to be of age, but was likely no older than that.
Baggy black jeans were accented with a metal chain around his waist. His spiked hair matched his blood red T-shirt, which revealed a European style red dragon tattoo on his arm.
As if sensing his eyes on her, the woman stopped talking, turned her head in movie-style slow motion, and looked directly at him.
His eyes met her blue ones. Lust shot like lightning in all the right places. Her mouth dropped at the shock of being watched. Then she smiled, revealing sexy white teeth.
He smiled back.
This was looking promising already.
Both men turned to see where her attention had gone. The one with ruby red hair glared fire at him. The blond who looked like he could be her brother, to nudge him with his elbow. It worked and the riled up kid turned his attention back to the conversation they were having with the woman.
While his head was turned, Mike caught sight of the crescent moon birthmark on the blond man's right cheek.
What was a werewolf doing in this bar?
Curious, Mike tried dipping into their thoughts. Something he tried to avoid ever since he became a psychic, but he was buzzed enough to not care so much about the ethics.
He couldn't get far into their heads. Figured.
The woman and the punk rocker kid may or may not be wolves, but they were definitely something. Rocker Kid and Twin Brother were also adamant that he stay the Hell away from the woman, he could tell that much even without seeing into their heads.
Hopes of hot, sweaty, fleshy sex shot to shit, Mike returned to his drink.
Bloodthirsty thought-waves, like someone was hungry to kill a human being and eat the corpse slithered through Mike's head. He leapt from his chair as it exploded.
The patrons screamed, as did their chairs as the people knocked them over and swarmed to the exit, pushing against each other in an effort to squeeze out the suddenly small doors.
Mike rolled to his knees and lifted his head. Another fireball like the one that destroyed his seat flew at him like a meteor.
He rolled to the side and heard the crash before he saw the hole it blew into the counter behind him. Flaming wood splinters flew into his face like burning matches. He shielded his eyes with his arm.
He took shelter behind one of the overturned tables, put his back to it. His hand went for his gun holster and found it missing.
Oh yeah. Vacation. No weapons. Son of a bitch.
Sarcastic hate swelled inside him. "Go back to California, get away from magic and relax." He shook his head at himself, wondering how he would escape and call for help without getting killed. "Stupid."
The laughing voice of his attacker made him grit his teeth. "You will not escape me this time."
This time? "Listen pal, I don't know what your problem is but I've never seen you before in my life." In fact he had yet to see what the guy looked like at all. He was too busy getting out of the way of heavy fire.
Hopefully no one was hurt by it, but so far it seemed his attacker had eyes only for him.
Mike lifted himself enough to gaze over the table. No sign of any patrons injured or otherwise. Maybe someone called the local law enforcement. Which was good.
No sign of his attacker. Which was bad.
He had to move. There weren't many places a man could hide in such a small place, but he stayed low as he made his way back to the bar.
No sign of the suspect. Mike strained his ears but detected no sounds of footsteps. He snatched his black Stetson from the floor and returned it to its rightful place on his head. The fact that it hadn't been burned in all the blasting was a miracle. It was his favourite hate.
The hairs of the back of his neck fizzed and stood on end.
"A thousand years and you still haven't changed."
Mike spun and launched his heavy fist at the ratty voice whispering into his ear.
And hit only air.
He unclenched his hand and stared stupidly at the empty space.
Right. The guy had magic. Mike should've seen this coming, but the ability to appear and disappear like that wasn't common.
"You must be a pretty strong guy to do magic like that." Mike called.
A long, pointed shard of wood from a bar stool sat on what was left of the bar. He picked it up and held it close, ready to use it if needed. "Must've practiced for years."
He didn't believe for a second what this psychopath said about a thousand years. Even vampires didn't live so long. Mike had come across a few crazies in his career but none ever thought they were immortal.
"No matter how many times I kill you, you always return."
Mike spun again, holding the stake out to strike but this time the man stood well out of reach and didn't bother teleporting himself anywhere.
Now that Mike could see him he could say with complete certainty that he was not familiar with him.
The man was short, at least five, five, with thinning black hair that he gelled over his balding head. The man wore loose fitting black robes, like something out of Harry Potter. He linked his long fingers together in front of him, staring calmly as though he couldn't see all the destruction he'd caused lying around his feet.
Mike's body remained tense, waiting for a fight. "Where did you come from?"
"As I expected, you remember nothing. You never do."
He glared and bared his teeth. "My memories are fine. Now who the Hell are you? You're attacking a Griffon City cop. The law doesn't look kindly on that."
The suspect shrugged. "Only if we are in that particular city. I was made to understand that men of the law who hail from cities that do not exist are not men of the law outside of them."
Shit. He knew. Mike hoped this guy wouldn't have put that together. But now that he had, Mike's scare tactic was blown. This was not supposed to happen on his vacation time.
The small man in black pulled a round, fist sized stone from the folds of his robe. It glowed in his hand and he stared at it lovingly. Mike knew it could only mean trouble.
"So many years have passed since she left us. I can still remember her face, but you cannot. You can never understand why we continue with this game."
Mike inched closer while the man in black spoke into the stone. If he could apprehend him, fine, if not, then at least he could claim self defence. Though how he would explain how a scrawny man with a glowing orb and a need to kill destroyed this bar all by himself, Mike didn't know.
"It's the full moon tonight. Perhaps if I kill you while under the moon she will return. I've never tried that before."
She? Like a vortex that he was being sucked into, Mike was pulled against his will into a vision.
It was him. Or at least, a man who looked a lot like him. The differences were noticeable though.
His hair was longer, reaching his shoulders, and the clothes were old and worn. Practically rags. Medieval. Tunic, hose, and leather boots that were not properly sewn.
He stood in a clearing surrounded by trees in the moonlight. The most beautiful woman he'd ever seen stood before him. She glowed like a Goddess. Their hands clasped together, and the way they gazed into each other's eyes sent a clear message of their feelings.
Mike blinked and shook his head. Freeing himself from the image. He'd figure out what it had to do with the suspect later.
Mike tucked the pointed end of his weapon away and lunged to tackle the man. A shadowy figure leaped at him mid-way to his target, caught him in the air, and pushed him to the cement floor.
Mike punched desperately. None of his hits got their mark. Could he be that fast? Another punch, and his hand sailed right through the head of the image like smoke. The shadowy figure actually was a shadow. Mike was fighting something he couldn't touch.
Another shadow took the shape of a human, captured his wrist and wrestled the stake from his hand while another grabbed his ankles and held them securely to the floor.
Mike strained his muscles fighting against them until his face burned with the effort. They would not release him, they were too strong for him, holding him down like he was nothing, which was an accomplishment considering his size and build.
"I am your lord Hadrian Vaughan, and you my servant. Struggle all you like, it will do you know good. These creatures can touch but cannot be touched, and they will only obey my command."
Mike hated the calm note in the man's voice. How he stared down at him impassively. He wanted to punch him just to see the reaction. "Then command them to release me before I make you regret it. I am not your servant."
Hadrian sniffed loudly, waving a limp hand at his shadow soldiers. "Take him outside."
Mike was lifted in the air by his hands and feet. His violent struggles were like a child struggling against a parent for all the good they did. "Stop it! I'm not who you think I am!"
"You never are." Hadrian muttered as Mike was carried to the parking lot and set down in the center. The lot was void of cars now that everyone had fled.
Please God let someone have phoned the cops.
His hands and feet were pressed into the asphalt. He groaned as rocks cut into his flesh and his circulation was cut off. Again, without meaning to, his thoughts wandered into the mind of his attacker turned kidnapper.
He saw Hadrian, in the same black clothes with the same uncaring look on his pinched face holding the same round stone. Though it did not glow this time. He stood over a dying man.
Again the man looked like Mike, but this version was different from the medieval one. He was tall with broad shoulders, short cropped black hair. The tight breeches tucked into leather boots and waist coat suggested that the victim had either came from a costume party, or had been killed in the regency era.
The man turned on his back and coughed blood. Red speckles dotting his face. Mike forgot to breathe when he saw himself die.
"No!" Mike was yanked from his vision when the shadow hands left him. He shot to his feet, ready to fight but was blinded by a piercing light in his eyes.
"Come on!" A woman's voice screamed to him. Though red spots coloured his eyes he followed the sound of her voice. A hand grabbed his shoulder, stopping him. Through his leather jacket he felt small, feminine fingers and knew not to attack.
He forced his eyes to squint open wider. At first he could only make out a small black silhouette, then a curly head of blonde hair as his vision returned, and he recognised the woman from the bar.
She had a powerful, huge flashlight in her hand and was directing its beam at the shadow men.
They advanced, she hit them with the light, they retreated. They advanced, she hit them with the light, and the dance went on like that.
"Who are you?" He demanded.
"Don't you sound grateful. I'm the one saving your ass!"
Mike's eyes searched for Hadrian.
"He killed me. I saw him kill me." But no, it was impossible. The man in the vision was a look-alike.
Mike was going to bring that weasel-faced warlock to justice for it.
"He killed you? What did you say?"
Mike ignored her. He hadn't realized he spoke out loud.
Hadrian struggled on his back, clawing, twisting, and fighting against the jaws of a grey wolf and too distracted by the teeth to use his magic.
The glowing orb was thrown from his hands in the struggle. Mike ran away from the safety of the girl with the powerful flashlight and snatched it up.
"Thanks pal." He ducked as one of the shadows leaped for him. Hadrian screamed his rage, but Mike ignored him, too busy dodging the rest of the shadows like a football player until he made it back beside his rescuer.
An arrest would have to wait until he could figure out how to get beat those shadows.
"Are you crazy? What did you leave for?" She screamed, still fighting against the onslaught of shadow men who got back up as soon as she knocked them down.
He couldn't explain it, but if the stone in his hand had something to do with Hadrian's power to kill then he had to take it. "I went to get this."
He put the rock under her nose, and she froze the second her eyes landed on it.
It still glowed in his hand, but when he looked to see what had her so transfixed he saw the crescent moon engraved in the round orb.
One of the shadows slinked up to her side. She was so drawn to the stone that she didn't see it. Mike did see it, and he grabbed her arms and thrust her around so the beam of light hit the creature. The shadow disintegrated as though it had been melted with a laser.
Her chest heaved like she'd just ran a marathon. "Thanks." She breathed.
The screech of tires drew them from the fighting as a red truck fishtailed through the small army of shadows, temporarily dissipating them. It stopped directly in front of Mike and his new best friend.
Before the driver flashed on the high beams, Mike caught sight of the red haired kid with the dragon tattoo.
He stuck his head out the window. "Get in!"
The woman ran to the truck and Mike obediently followed. He put it back in drive and yelled out the window again. "Westley! Get over here!"
He started to drive before the silver wolf jumped from his victim. But he managed to run fast enough that he jumped into the back of the truck before they turned the corner.
The red head checked behind him to make sure the wolf named Westley was securely in place before hitting the gas, shooting them well over the speed limit. "We need to get out of here. Who was that guy?" As if remembering that Mike was in the truck with them, he stared at him. "And who are you?"
"Look, I don't want any trouble. I don't even know who that was." He searched for the moon rock again to show him, ask if they knew what it was since they were obviously paranormal and one was definitely a werewolf. But he didn't have it.
Where did …?
He looked up as the woman smashed the rock into his head. A flash of white blinded him before it was replaced with black.
He hadn't entirely passed out when she said: "I think I know who they are. Take us home."
"Whatever you say, princess."
To Be Continued…
A.N: Sorry it took longer to get this out than I thought it would. I already wrote somewhere on my blog the reason for it, which is also the only bit of advice to writers I can give.
And that is to never ever read J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I got addicted to it and ended up putting off a lot of writing time just to get through those books.
So if you're working on something you might want to wait until you finish your project before picking them up. If you're otherwise unattached, then go nuts and enjoy them because they are awesome :)
Updates on this story will be made daily unless some force outside my control (Power outs, family emergencies, I forget) prevents me from doing so.
Hope you enjoy this first chapter