Author Charlie Richards
Now Available at eXtasy Books!
Claiming the Hunter
A Paranormal's Love: Book Fifteen
Into the Paranormal World: To everything there is a season, including a time to lay down arms and to love.
Jeremiah Tully lost his sister when a shifter attacked them while camping with friends. He blames himself...and rogues, believing they are a danger to society. When he finds a group of like-minded people who call themselves hunters, he joins up and spends three years helping them hunt, capture, and sometimes even kill shifters and vampires. Then a few new guys show up, telling tales of demons, and how they want help capturing some. Jeremiah doesn't believe their tales, but when the demons attack, Jeremiah quickly turns into a believer. He flees the building, but then is chased down by one of the monsters when he crashes his dirt bike. When he wakes in some kind of clinic run by gargoyles, he thinks he's a dead man. Instead, he learns that some humans live side by side with the gargoyles as mates, and one of the gargoyles, Grateman, is claiming him. While Jeremiah realizes he does have an odd attraction to Grateman, can a mating between a gargoyle and a hunter really work?
Excerpt - Claiming the Hunter
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Something flashed in the dark beyond the open bay door.
Pausing, Jeremiah squinted into the inky blackness. Had something moved out there? He strode to the edge of the cement bay that the truck was backed up to, peering through the narrow strip between the edge of the bay door and the side of the truck. When he didn’t spot anything, he rounded the truck to the man-sized door at the end of the bay and opened it.
“Hey.” Quinn called from where he stood beside the short ramp stretching from the back of the truck to the dock. “What’s up?”
“I don’t know,” Jeremiah murmured.
Before the words were completely out of his throat, something big and red with black wings leaped through the crack between truck and wall. It landed in a crouch on the side of the truck, the screech of metal giving away where the beast’s claws tore through the metal to hold it in place. The creature’s red eyes seemed to glow where they peered out of a skeletal face.
At that exact moment, an alarm klaxon blared. A female with a clearly electronic voice saying, “There has been a breach,” cut through the deafening sound. Another blare of the alarm sounded. “This is a Delta level evacuation.” A klaxon. “There has been a breach.”
Jeremiah found himself frozen in place as the cycle of speaking and alarm continued. His heart pounded in his chest as sweat beaded his brow. Never in his thirty-four years had he seen anything like the creature peering around the loading dock.
Quinn, evidently, didn’t have the same problem.
Jeremiah saw Quinn pivot and sprint to the wall where they’d left their weapons. Even in the loading dock, they were supposed to be armed. However, it was tough to lift and move boxes while holding a gun.
As soon as Quinn began running, the red creature moved. It leaped to the floor, changed directions, then lunged after Quinn. The pop-pop-pop of the weapon snapped Jeremiah out of the trance-like state that had taken a hold of him.
Jeremiah sprinted across the loading dock, through a door, and into a garage. His movement took him in the opposite direction of Quinn, but that couldn’t be helped. There was no way he could get through the creature to his gun, so he needed to obey the evacuation order.
Delta level indicated fleeing the building…by any means possible. That even meant no one should bother trying to take any shifters in holding with them. Delta was a ditch and run order, every man for himself, then whoever was left was supposed to regroup at a farmhouse thirty miles away.
Jeremiah planned to do just that. As he swung his leg over a dirt bike used to chase down wounded shifters, he knew he had to try, at least, to help his buddy. Bringing the bike to life, he gunned the engine, swung the back tire around to change directions, and headed back toward the door to the loading dock.
Keeping his knees in, Jeremiah shot through the doorway. He put down a foot and spun the bike again, this time toward the still-open man-door next to the truck. At the same time, he swept his gaze over the bay as he yelled, “Quinn? You still in here? We gotta go!”
Just as Jeremiah finished speaking, he spotted his friend. Quinn lay sprawled on the floor near the wall. His gun lay a few feet away, bent beyond any hope of use. Blood covered Quinn’s face, his chest, and the wall…a whole lot of blood.
Not only that, but a second creature was in the loading dock. It had a black-clawed hand on the red beast’s shoulder where the other creature crouched over Quinn’s fallen body. Both turned to peer at him at the sound of his vehicle’s engine and his words.
To Jeremiah’s shock, the black creature spoke. “I got him.”
“Oh, hell no,” Jeremiah ground out.
Jeremiah gunned the bike’s engine. He shot across the floor, weaving between a couple of pallets. Shooting through the door, he bumped down the stairs. Cursing under his breath, he barely managed to keep from wiping out.
Once Jeremiah found enough balance, he cranked the throttle and shot forward again. None-too-soon, too, for he heard a thud come from almost directly behind him. The sound of claws on dirt and the sweep of wings on air seemed loud, even over the whine of the dirt bike’s engine.
Roaring away from the barn converted into a compound, Jeremiah zipped down the driveway. He thought he saw shapes in the trees, but they were there and gone. Then, he was clear of them and he chanced a glance over his shoulder.
Jeremiah had never been the greatest on the bikes. Maneuvering the damn things always seemed to pull at his scars, making it hard to balance. Still, he managed.
Unfortunately, at that same second, the black form of the flying…well, demon, since Jeremiah didn’t have another name for the beasts that had attacked them, swooped past him.
“Stop the bike,” it roared. It actually kept pace with him, flying through the air. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
“Yeah, right,” Jeremiah muttered, glancing over at it.
Jeremiah swept his gaze over the clear road, then at the flying beast. It was obvious it had plenty of room to follow and seemed to have no trouble keeping up with him, even on the bike. He glanced toward the trees, a plan forming.
Braking, Jeremiah lowered his left foot and swung the bike in a one-eighty. Hitting the throttle, he searched the darkness for what he knew was there. He spotted the single-track path used for training just as he heard the distinctive sound of wing-beats. Aiming for it, he imagined he could feel the creature’s hot breath on his neck.
Zipping between the trees, Jeremiah tried to remember the several different turn offs. He knew a couple of the branches on the dirt path led to the main road. If he could get there, maybe he could find traffic. Surely, the beast wouldn’t follow him into traffic.
With that plan in mind, Jeremiah took a chance and glanced around again. He spotted his pursuer a ways behind him. It seemed that it had had to slow down, since it couldn’t spread its wings as wide.
Jeremiah refocused on the track he followed. Going as fast as he dared, he jumped over ditches, ducked under branches, and tore around trees. Sweat beaded on his face and he clenched his jaw as he concentrated.
Hearing the deep-throated cry just as Jeremiah leaped a ditch, he glanced up. He realized his mistake too late. His front wheel landed in mud, sliding out of control. Pitching sideway, Jeremiah tumbled away from the bike.