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Awakened by Blood

Blood Series Book I




Lauryn L Hill

Awakened by Blood

Blood Series- Book I

Copyright ©2018 Lauryn L. Hill

Published 2018 by Novel Ideas, LLC


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief use of quotations in a book review.





http://www.laurynlhill.com


~ Dedication ~


I want to thank my husband for putting up the many, many nights of my writing and editing process. His patience with me have surpassed my expectations. And I want to thank him for not being a lover of books; I'd hate for him to read this.


Table of Contents


The Blood Series Main Characters & Notes

The Phoenix Council (Founders of The Alliance) and their Mates

  • Zander Hanok ~ Ariana

  • Alek Hanok ~ Daryn

  • Dane Lemek ~ Roan

  • Gage Gallegos ~ Sofia

  • Ambrose Kane ~ Melina

The Alliance

  • Zander Hanok: Runs The Alliance, the Phoenix Teams, (the supernatural teams) and the Seattle Special Forces (the human teams)

  • Dustin Marshall: Oversees the Seattle Special Forces under Zander.


The Phoenix Teams

Gage’s team Terminators

  • Jando

  • Pedro

  • Callisto

  • Wren

  • Connor, AKA White Boy

  • Zuri

  • Azim

  • Derrick

Ambrose’s team Rebellion

  • Jericho

  • Raphael

  • Davis

  • Cameron

  • Nathan

  • AJ

  • Kyle

  • Peyton

Alek’s team Stooges

  • Jessup

  • Marco

  • Daniel

  • Kade

  • The remaining four are not mentioned

Dane’s team Frankenstein

  • Brody

  • Jasper

  • Sam

  • The remaining five are not mentioned



Seattle Special Forces Team Leaders

  • Jake Bender

  • Todd Walsh

  • Tim Talbert- only mentioned in book 1

  • Brian Cooper- only mentioned in book 1

The Breeds

  • A full blood hybrid-vamp is born of one hybrid parent and one vampire. They need blood to survive.

  • A full-blood hybrid is born of two hybrid parents. While they had retractable fangs, they do not need blood to survive, they take it for pleasure only.

  • A made-hybrid started out as a human who was bitten by a vampire, not saved from death and not infused with vampire blood. But the vampire venom changed their body's chemistry making them nearly as strong as a vampire. They, like the full-blood hybrids, have fangs, but do not need blood to sustain them.

  • A made-vamp is a human who was near death and saved by being infused with vampire blood. They need blood to survive.



~ Chapter 1 ~



Twenty-five years ago

Twenty-five years ago

The early morning fog misted off the forest floor as the sun peeked through the treetops, in Northern Washington, giving it an eerie feeling. It crawled over foliage, rocks and the fallen logs as if it were seeking for prey.

The aroma of a campfire tickled the nose of the hunter sleeping after his night shift watch. Sure, he needed little sleep, but the cold had a way of making him tired and sluggish. James groaned, rubbed his eyes, refusing to move. "You'd better have some fucking coffee ready."

"Good morning to you too, sunshine." His friend, Marino, said in a dry tone poking at the fire with a stick. "Get your ass up and get some. I'm not your maid or momma."

"Prick. Just so you know, my shift was noisy last night. Every damn nocturnal animal out there was snooping around us. Fucking opossums are creepy as shit." Sitting up he shivered, cracking his neck he stood and stretched.

"What? The big bad vamp is afraid of a large rat? They don't bother me."

James turned his dark gaze on his friend. "Screw you, Marino. And they are giant ass rats. If we're out here another night I'll be sure to catch one and put it in your sleeping bag with you."

Marino grinned at his friend. He and James had been friends a long time, for at least fifty years, yet they appeared to be in their early thirties. The perks of being a born-vampire, you stop aging by your mid-thirties. If you were a made-vampire you stopped aging when the bite occurred or the person was turned.

At sixty, they were young vampires by all standards. They had met in school in the mountainous region of Washington as boys. Vampire children stuck together since they had recently made themselves known a few years prior. Humans were still weary or vicious toward them. Witch hunts begun again in a different century. So, they remained together, always having each other's back out of necessity.

Now they were in the woods hunting down a rogue vampire who raped and bled three girls dry, and he had to die. A vampire like this couldn't be allowed to live; he gave them all a bad name. This asshole made humans terrified of vampires. Since these crimes happened in their hometown, the sheriff called them to see if they could track this vamp. And they were happy to oblige.

They tracked the bastard for the past four days before killing him last night and burning his body. They could have caught him anytime, but like cats, they liked to play with their prey. It helped to satiate their need to hunt and kill plus it was a hell of a lot of fun. The fucker knew he was being hunted, which was what they wanted. He was fearful and when you were fearful you made mistakes. When he tried to outsmart them, he walked right into a trap they laid.

After the bastard died, they stayed in the woods one more night, but the damn wildlife was spooked by their presence. After all, they were the most lethal hunters out there.

James poured a cup of coffee, breathing in its essence. "Shit, this smells like heaven. You make some damn good coffee, Marino, you'll make someone a good wife someday."

"I hope it scalds your throat, you bastard."

James laughed as he blew on the hot liquid, just in case. "Damn, I'm ready to get home. I miss a soft bed and a hot shower."

"Me too, but I prefer a woman in both." He grinned, thinking of his latest fling, a pretty, petite blonde.

"I hear you-"

Their mouths snapped shut, cocking their heads to the east. Neither sensed anything in their vicinity, yet sounds of leaves crunching and twigs snapping had them holding their breath. They were shocked to hear something walking toward them. How did it sneak up on them? With their hearing and sense of smell, it was impossible. Or should have been.

They both stood, sniffing the air, neither smelled a predator. They split up and each took a different path. Armed with a huge hunting knife that could take down an elephant and their fangs, they were ready to pounce on whatever was coming their way.

Marino stalked, heading to the left, listening as the footsteps came closer. James went right, staying hidden by the trees. They were small feet, just two feet and they showed no signs of slowing. Didn't this animal sense them or the danger they were in? Wait, what animal walked on two feet? And why the hell was it still advancing on them? Did it not sense them either?

They both stepped out from behind the tree that provided cover for them, knives ready they stopped, their eyes wide and stared. Slowly they turned to look at each other in shock, then back to the small child that stood before them.

A little girl of about seven looked at them with huge brown eyes in a filthy, raggedy dress and bare feet. She didn't move, only glanced between both men deciding whether they would hurt her. Her eyes landed on their knives she took a slow step back.

"Fuck, Marino, put the knife away." James quickly sheathed his blade, inspecting the small trembling girl. He extended his hands out showing her there was nothing to fear.

Marino also put away his knife and knelt, figuring they'd seem less scary if they were closer to her height. At six-four, they must have seemed like giants to her. He held out his hand to her. "It's okay sweetheart, we won't hurt you. Are you lost?"

James snorted at his question. "Of course she's lost, you idiot." He too lowered himself to the ground. "Where are your parents, honey? Do you need help finding them?"

Her large doe eyes watched the two with intensity and curiosity. She took one small step closer to them and stopped. Her hair was matted, caked with dirt, leaves and twigs and whatever the hell else was in the woods.

"Shit, she looks like she's been out here a damn long time. She doesn't even have a coat or any fucking shoes on."

Looking down at her dirty feet, James grimaced. "Damn. She's gotta be freezing." He stood and she flinched. "Well, fuck this shit. Sweetheart, we're not going to hurt you, okay?" He made a move for her and she spun around to run when James swept her up in his big arms.

She screamed like she was set on fire, but he held on while she bellowed, kicked and clawed at him to get free.

Marino walked up and touched the girl's face. "Shh, sweetheart, it's okay. We're going to help you, it will be okay." She turned her head and bit his finger. "Sonofabitch!" He pulled his hand back as James laughed at him.

The girl stopped fighting James when he laughed. Frowning at him she cocked her head, craning her neck to see his face.

He winked at the dirty child in his arms. James shifted her against his body so he could see her face and he smiled. "Good girl, I've wanted to bite him on occasion too. Let's get you warm, baby." He walked over to the fire and sat down with her.

She squirmed to get free, moving closer to the flames. She reached out and stuck a finger in the fire and screamed once again, falling back into James's big body when a flame licked her finger.

"Shit, baby, you can't touch it." He looked at her little finger that already had a welt forming on it. "Dammit, Marino, give me some water to clean her hand."

Marino squatted down in front of the girl with a clean rag and a bottle of water. James held her hand out to him as he poured cold water on her finger and wiped the dirt away with a rag. Carefully, he dabbed the burn. She hissed in a breath, but let him tend to her finger, watching his every move. Marino looked up at her and grinned as she scowled at him. "See, not so bad. But we're going to have to do more than pour water on it, sweetie."

James pulled her into the warmth of his body shielding her frail body from the chilly morning while Marino held her small hand in his. "I promise this won't hurt, okay? Nod if you understand what I'm saying." Marino waited until she gave the smallest of nods.

Grinning at her, he took her only dirt-free finger and placed it in his mouth and licked it. She frowned as his tongue caressed the tip of her finger. When he pulled her finger out of his mouth, Marino showed it to her. "See, good as new. Now, no more touching fire, got it?"

Nodding, she took her finger back and looked at it, inspecting it from all angles. Offering Marino a small smile, she remained in James's protection.

"Well, damn, James, I just got a smile from this little beauty." He winked at her and stood while she burrowed into James.

"Here, sweetheart," James said as he reached over and grabbed the blanket on his sleeping bag and wrapped her in it. He pulled her back into his body to offer warmth from his body and the fire. "Hey man, get her some socks, her feet must be freezing."

Marino dug through his backpack and pulled out a pair of socks. He kneeled in front of her he picked up each foot and pulled his huge socks on her. They went half way up her little leg, but that was a good thing, she was ice cold.

He sat back on his feet and looked up at James. "Man, she is thin. She looks like she hasn't eaten in quite a while. And we didn't bring much real food with us. I think I have a granola bar and maybe some nuts left."

What the fuck? Is she lost or was she dumped out here? James said in Marino's head.

No damn clue, but she is skin and bones and filthy as hell. She's been out here a while. It's another couple day's walk out of here and we don't have enough to feed her... not human food anyway.

I know. James rubbed her arms over the blanket trying to get her blood moving again. Why don't you take her and I'll go hunt something up. Protein should do wonders for her.

Let me give her something to hold her over. We need to give her some of our blood too. I'll have to knock her ass out for that though. Marino grabbed his backpack and rummaged for a granola bar, opening one end, he held it out to her. She pulled back, settling herself deeper into James's arms. Marino chuckled and took a small bite to show her it was safe to eat.

Shifting her gaze from Marino to the food he held to her, she pulled her hand out of the warm blanket to accept his offer. She brought it to her nose and sniffed the granola bar before she took a tiny bite. As she chewed her expression changed, her eyes lit up, almost smiling at him. When she finished, she handed Marino back the empty wrapper.

"How about a drink, sweetie?" He sipped the water first before handing it to her to copy. "Let me hold you for a while, beautiful. James is going to go get you some breakfast."

With a nod, James handed over the small bundle. "We can take turns giving her blood. Between that and the food, she should bounce back fast. Try not to get bit by her again while I'm gone." He winked at the frail little girl in his friend’s arms.


~ Chapter 2 ~

Present Day

She sat on a filthy bench waiting for the bus. Groaning, she assumed the bus probably wasn't any cleaner than the uncomfortable metal bench where she sat.

The neighborhood resembled something out of a bad movie. Two young men, with low hanging pants looked like they were aspiring drug dealers or gang bangers, lingered nearby. No doubt they'd be on the bus with her.

She almost laughed at the predicament she was in, but quickly decided to chalk this up to a life experience, one she hope never to relive… if she lived to talk about it.

Damn her car for breaking down in Everett, Washington. She went that morning to go see a college friend and the damn thing decided it was a good time to have transmission problems. Her car wasn't a piece of shit either, no, she had a two-year-old sporty Dodge Challenger. A bright orange beauty with black racing stripes, her baby. Now her baby was sick and had to be towed to Seattle. This meant she had no other way back to Seattle except for on a bus. Sure, she could take Uber, but she didn't like the thought of getting into a vehicle at night with only one person for such a long distance. Her parents always told her there was safety in numbers.

Somehow, she didn't think this was what they meant.

But a damn bus. Really? This was what her night consisted of?

No one decent rode buses anymore, and yeah, that sounded like profiling, but true. Buses were sketchy at best.

Even though it took about a thirty-minute drive in a car, or twenty the way she drove, the bus would be fifty minutes of sheer terror. She watched people load back on the bus after it stopped for dinner. It appeared she got on in a long trek through Washington.

The travelers filtered back on the bus after eating at a less than appealing roadside diner. They seemed full and sleepy from meatloaf, burgers and fries. To top it off, they all smelled like old fry grease.

It just got better and better.

She sat in the middle of the bus, on the aisle, hoping no one would try to sit beside her. If someone did, there would be a quick escape route. The last thing she needed was a creep trying to strike up a conversation and hitting on her, because, yeah, a bus is where she'd look for love.

No one noticed they were four people heavy. Two new men took seats in the far back while the other sat in front row seats. They formed a trap around oblivious passengers.

Looking up, she saw a tall, well-muscled man stand, walk over to the driver and whispered something in his ear. The bus swerved hard before he regained control. The passengers gasped as they were jolted looking around frantically for the cause.

Ducking down, she moved to the window seat and pulled her hood up over her head. Something bad was about to happen, uneasiness like she never experienced before, weighed heavy on her chest.

The man looked at the passengers, revealing a jagged scar across his face and smiled. "May I have your attention?" He yelled and waited until all eyes were on him. "My name is Tillman. I have commandeered the bus. Please stay calm and everything will be okay." Instantly his powder blue eyes turned black and his smile revealed fangs. "I am sorry to inform you will not make your destination." His pleasantness sent shivers through the passengers. "And if you behave, you won't be hurt. At least not yet." He studied the terrified faces, then grinned and winked at a young mother clutching her small child.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

A rogue vampire. Just her stupid-ass luck.

Rogue vamps had become a problem over the past two years in the Seattle area, ever since she moved there. Hell, they did this in Portland two years ago, right before she moved. They had pillaged and plundered and were real a threat after almost seventy years of living openly among humans. No one understood the recent change in their behavior.

A middle-aged woman near the back shrieked, jumped up and ran toward the front of the bus. Run where? They were trapped in a rolling cage, yet she didn't seem to notice. She saw the door and bolted for it.

"Lady, sit down, please." A tattooed man with jet black hair that hung to his shoulders reached for her. When she didn't listen, he shook his head.

She looked at the tattooed man from between the crack in the seats. He sat two rows back on the opposite side of the bus. He looked damn dangerous, which was why she never rode buses, she reminded herself. Though, he resembled a biker and she knew bikers wouldn't be caught dead on a bus. Which was ironic since they'd all be dead soon.

The lady stumbled toward the front a second tattooed man with short black hair grabbed her wrist. "Lady, we'll get through his. I promise. Please go back to your seat." Again, she yanked free.

Her seat was between these two big men who acted as Good Samaritans. When she peeked through the seat again, she saw the one behind her with the long hair with a day's worth of stubble, sniffing the air. It was a subtle gesture, but she noticed it. He was smoking hot, yet looked like he could peel the skin from her bones. His chiseled face, with a strong jaw and piercing blue eyes merited him a second look. When his eyes landed on the back of her seat, she moved away and put her shoulder as close to the window as possible.

The vampire, Tillman, nodded to his partner in the front row. He stood up, caught the screaming woman closing his teeth closed around her soft, warm throat, cutting off her screams only to hear thirty more.

Her head dropped, tucked her hair in her sweatshirt and burrowed deeper under her hood. Though she knew it wasn't impossible, but her goal was to be invisible.

Blood sprayed the closest passengers causing instant panic and chaos. The young mother clutched her child tighter as the warm liquid sprayed across her face, tears streamed down.

"Shut up!" Tillman roared, as his two partners in the back jumped up. "Now, as you may have figured out by now, we are vampires, not those sissy Alliance assholes you stupid humans worship. That means we have no regard for your lives whatsoever." He smiled, his fangs reflecting in the light, "Well, I suppose we do have some regard for you."

The Alliance was a supernatural and human police unit. A group of hybrids, which were half human, and half vampire, vampires and humans had joined forces. They dealt with the vampires and hybrids that went rogue. And the past two years had kept them busier than usual.

There was no point begging for their freedom or their lives, they all understood their fate. They knew that they had to recourse against vampires, especially four. Whimpers and cries swept through the bus as it roared down the highway. It slowed, heading through the dense fog off the main roads into the eerie darkness that even the moon hid from.

This turned into a cheesy horror film, rolled into a shitty nightmare, one she couldn't escape. Her heart sank. This was it. She would die by being sucked dry by psychotic vampires on a goddamned fucking nasty-ass bus or worse. Yes, there was always a worse possibility.

Perfect.

Her mother would have smacked her if she heard the stream of curse words that entered her head. Once again, her heart ached, thinking about her parents and older brothers. She wouldn't get the chance to say goodbye, or that she loved them.

After what seemed like twenty miles of a rough dirt road, the bus stopped in front of an old, rundown barn. "Welcome to our humble home." Tillman flashed his canines. "Please step off the bus in an orderly fashion."

Shit, she hated the woods. They were creepy as hell at night, but the woods at night plus four vampires made her stomach roll violently. Her eyes closed, trying to slow down her breathing, calm herself. Not sure why, she felt safe after her calming breath, like she made herself invisible.

One by one the terrified travelers stepped off the bus, knowing they had no way to save their own lives. This was their fate and literally the end of the road, with nowhere to run to and no one to save them.

She noticed the second man with black hair that tried to stop the woman was three people ahead of her. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw the one with the shoulder length black hair, two people behind her. His eyes scanned his surroundings, briefly landing on her. Once again, she turned away from him. Something seemed off with these two with black hair and tattoos. They were big bastards, bigger than the four vamps, so what were they? Super vamps? Was there even such a thing as a super vamp? And if they were vampires, were they in on it or just damn cowards?

The cool night air hung heavy in the fog. The darkness and fog hid everything in its midst while the utter silence made the hair on the back of her neck tingle. Again, this is why she hated the fucking woods!

"Line up against the bus," Tillman ordered.

"I hope the Phoenix Council catch you and rip your fucking heads off!" A teenage boy with facial piercings yelled.

The Phoenix Council or The Phoenix Five, were the five men who founded The Alliance. They policed the hybrid and vampire community. Stories were told about these five. The Phoenix warriors gained the reputation as mean sons-of-bitches. She heard rumors they were handsome as sin too, now she'd never know if those rumors were true.

"You have too much faith in those sissy hybrids, boy. They can't help you now. One more word from you and you'll be the first to die." Tillman sneered at the kid.

"Well, hell, Ambrose. That's the second time he's called us sissies." The man with the shoulder length black hair spoke up, cocking his head at Tillman.

She was still positioned between these two big men in the execution line. With her head down, she continued to watch them from under the protection of her hoodie.

His friend Ambrose nodded, a few people down on her left. "Yep. And I'm a little offended, Gage. How about you?"

"Oh, snap, asshole!" The teen yelled. "The Phoenix Council is here!"

Hmm, these two big-ass men were from The Alliance and they were on the Phoenix Council? This was either the best damn luck or… a set up.

Tillman hissed as the other three vampires leapt to his side. She got the feeling that Tillman recognized their names, which was why he appeared worried.

Gage's sapphire eyes turned black in an instant, like the vampires. "The nice thing about being half human and half vampire is you vampires are too stupid to figure out what we are. Being a hybrid does have its advantages." Gage was not half human, but the vamps couldn't tell what he was. His genetics made him invisible to all species when he wanted to be, though he wasn't sure why.

"Be fair brother, assholes like this aren't often known for their brains. And their plans are weak." Ambrose's vivid green eyes narrowed on the vampires as he pulled out two swords from the undercarriage of the bus. He tossed one to Gage and kept the other for himself.

"True, which means they didn't recognize that this was a trap we set for them." Gage twirled the sword in his hands. "Research and planning boys, you ought to try it sometime." He tapped the sword to the side of his head as he flashed them a fanged smile.

A sinister laugh left Tillman, trying not to look worried that two Phoenix warriors were in his presence. "Do you have any idea how many others are inside? You won't make it out of here alive. And they'll still be dead," he nodded to the scared passengers.

Gage nodded toward the barn. "My guess would be zero."

Twelve other Phoenix warriors stepped out of the barn. All carried a sword in each hand, each dripping with the blood of a vampire. Two similar looking hybrids with green eyes were behind Tillman and his three vamps in an instant.

Gage snarled at the four vampires. "Your hunting days are over, Tillman. You've been hunted."

"You want to tell us who you're working for before we do this?" Ambrose asked.

Tillman snorted his response.

"Yeah, didn't think so."

The trembling passengers kept their backs plastered to the bus. Gage and Ambrose started toward the four vampires as the two hybrids closed in on them from behind. For the first time, Tillman knew what it was like to be a human; to be given little or no choice. He would die with no options for survival and no one to help him.

The passengers barely saw a blur as Gage and Ambrose leapt forward viciously slicing the two middle vampires' heads off where they stood. There was no time for Tillman and his vampires to react. Their friends in the back got the two on each end. Four heads hit the ground and rolled.

A mixture of screams, gasps and praises filled the cold damp night. Four bodies missing their heads lay at the feet of the hybrids. Crimson blood soaked the ground, seeping into the earth. Gage lit a match and set the vampires on fire, watching as they turned into ash. The stench forced the passengers to hide their faces inside their shirts, coughing and sputtering.

"Sissy hybrids? My ass." Gage sneered. His black soulless eyes turned back to ice blue as he glanced at the humans, with their backs pressed into the bus still afraid to move.

She kept her head low, wishing she had Jedi powers that made her invisible. She sucked in a breath and held it, afraid to breathe and almost choked before pulling her sweatshirt over her nose.

"Forty down and fuck knows how many more to go." Alek, said as he slapped his brother Zander's shoulder. "You know, I never get tired of this. Though, I could do without their stench," he wrinkled his nose at the burning vampires.

Gage looked at the two biological brothers Zander and Alek who helped them take out the four vampires, his brothers. "I assume all the vamps in the barn are ash?"

Zander, the leader of The Alliance, grinned. "Burning as we speak. You think it smells bad out here, at least you can't taste the bastards like we did in there." He nodded toward the barn.

Gage, hands down, was the deadliest looking hybrid; his eyes alone would send a man scrambling for his life. His and Ambrose's lethal looks were the reason they rode on the bus instead of Zander and Alek. They both looked like thugs while the other two looked like two male models.

Gage sniffed his black T-shirt, made a face and coughed. "Fuck, this stench better come out. I'm getting tired of throwing shirts away." He glanced at the passengers again and caught the pierced faced teen grinning at him. Gage frowned, then turned back to Zander and Alek. "One of you driving them into the city?"

"I hoped I could get you or Ambrose to do it for me." Zander answered.

"Fuck that," they said in unison.

Gage turned, sniffing the air once again, toward the passengers, those vivid blue eyes scanning the terrified people.

She wondered what he smelled. Was he looking for something? Was another vampire on the bus, maybe he picked up a scent among them?

"We smell like shit, and we helped take out close to forty vamps. I think you or Ambrose can handle this. All you did was take a bus ride." Alek grumbled and nodded to his brother Zander.

"We sniffed out the tip that lead us here." Gage, scanned the faces of the passengers once again.

Gage and Ambrose ignored Alek's plea and walked off into the bank of trees where their Tahoe waited. "We're out of here." Ambrose said.

After walking about fifteen feet, Gage turned back; his eyes scanned the area one more time before following Ambrose.

Zander shook his head as his brothers walked away. "The sad truth is, is these forty or so may be the tip of the iceberg. We may just be getting started." He said to his brother Alek as he watched the weary passengers climb back on the bus.

Alek took a deep breath. "Yeah." He looked up at the sky, the stars masked by the damp dense fog. "I hate the darkness, it's spooky, and it's eerie. Why can't they do their plundering during the day?"

"Scum of the earth always comes out at night." Zander shook his head, "Tillman was right, you are a sissy."

The brothers laughed as they ushered the passengers on the bus to drive into Seattle.


~ Chapter 3 ~


Zander walked up to his brother lying by their pool, soaking up the sun that finally made a brief appearance. He kicked his brother's foot; Alek almost fell off the chaise lounge at the attack.

"Shit, Zander," Alek bolted up catching his beer before it met an untimely demise with the brick pavers.

"You should have heard me coming. Get up. I've called a meeting. The gang will be here in a minute." Zander shoved his hands in his front pockets and studied the crystal blue water. Zander knew when the others arrived; he caught their scent and listened to their muttering in his head.

Dane Lemek, their doctor slash big brother was who everyone talked too. His mate Roan, a chef, kept them fed and away from McDonald's and Oreos. Ambrose Kane, was the resident asshole, every family had to have one and Ambrose was happy to provide his services. He married the extreme opposite of him, Melina, a sweet woman with an even sweeter spirit. Melina preferred plants to people, and was the reason the grounds around their home looked like a professional took charge. Alek Hanok, the class clown, was Zander's biological younger brother. Alek was mated to Daryn, a woman with infinite wisdom and their voice of reason. She often stopped them from going bat-shit crazy on each other. Gage Gallegos, the one most humans, hybrids and vampires alike avoided at all costs. And the most lethal vampire any of them had ever known. Gage's ruthlessness stemmed from him being half Original Vampire, which was more viscous than normal vampires. He was the only one not mated.

Zander Hanok had a little of them all in him, fearless, quiet and calm with a smile that could melt any heart, yet fierce when needed. His mate Ariana or Ari, a high-strung beauty, was OCD about the housecleaning kept them all on their toes, most days fearing for their lives.

Together, his brothers and their mates were a family, a family with unbreakable bonds. They had killed for each other and protected each other's women with their lives. They were The Phoenix Council, the five men who founded The Alliance. The Alliance also formed the Seattle Special Forces unit, a group of highly trained humans that worked under their command.

The Seattle Special Forces consisted of ex-military, SWAT, ATF agents and other asshole types. The number of hybrid and vampire soldiers equaled the humans. When you put almost seventy alpha males together proved to be a bad idea many days, but no one had killed each other yet. And this meant that Zander was doing his job better than even he had expected. They had been so successful with the Seattle Alliance, they had opened more along the West Coast in Oregon and California.

Zander paced around the great room while the others sat there and watched him.

"For god sakes, sit down. You are making us dizzy." Ambrose said as he threw his leg over the arm of the chair, reaching for his mate, Melina. Tugging her into his lap, he nibbled on her neck, making her giggle before kissing her lips.

"He's right, sweetie. Come sit down, please." Ariana, Zander's mate patted the love seat.

"And if you wear a spot out on the rug and give her something else to get all OCD over, we're going to have to kill you." Melina said with a grin as she looked at Ariana.

"Two buses, three night clubs in seven weeks with two hundred and sixteen people dead over the past two years. Half of them weren't drained of their blood, just killed. What the fuck is going on?" Zander growled. "And why have these attacks escalated?"

Dane leaned forward on his elbows. "It seems that they are looking for something. But what?"

"Who, you mean." Alek said, catching Zander's eyes. "They are looking for a woman to the best of our knowledge. All the living witnesses seem to agree on that point. A young female to be exact."

Zander rolled his neck, then his shoulders. "I've been hearing rumors of Galen, the Vampire King, being in town. And it got me thinking. If the rumors are true, he has a child out there somewhere, and he could be looking for them now. We've all heard the stories about how powerful this kid would be. And recently, his name has come up more than once. Is this a coincidence?"

Galen, the self-proclaimed vampire King, was said to be almost a thousand years old. And yet none had ever encountered him. Stories of his ruthlessness had been told for centuries. The man took down entire villages on his own. The rumors were that Galen was an Original Vampire. That meant they had more power than a made-vampire or even a full-blood vampire. They were stronger and faster, their eyes weren't sensitive to the sun, some could teleport among other talents. The bloodlines vampires weakened over the centuries and lost the ability to teleport. Original Vampires also could mask their scent to other vamps, or so they were told.

Ambrose frowned. "Is it possible for an Original Vampire left after all these years?" He tossed Gage quick glance. Most Original Vampires didn't live past a few hundred years. Hunters had killed a large quality of vampires before they integrated into society, much like the Salem witches were destroyed.

Dane shook his head. "Galen would have had to be extremely cunning to live this long and hide his identity. But you have Original vamp in you. So, I guess anything is possible, especially if they can mask their scent." He tipped his head to Gage.

"It still raises the question, if he's behind this, what's he really after? If he's searching for his kid, then we'd have to assume his kid is damn powerful too. Or more powerful than him." Alek added as he rubbed his mate, Daryn's thigh.

"If Galen had a kid with anyone, it'd be powerful." Gage muttered.

Dane scowled at Gage. "How do we know the rumors about him are true in the first place?"

Zander turned around to face the guys. "The story goes, he had a kid and things went sideways and lost track of is child. The question is why? Why after all these years does he want his kid?"

"She has something he wants or needs?" Alek said as he looked back at Dane, their doctor, for answers.

"I have no idea. It's not like he'd need a kidney or something. He would need her for some other reason." Dane answered.

No one noticed how quiet Gage had become or that he moved away from the group and conversation.

"The real question now is how do we find her before Galen and his murdering vamps? We have to stop the killings, we need leverage." Zander said.

Dane rubbed the back of his neck. "Wait. Galen would know what his daughter looks like, so this still doesn't make sense. From what we understand so far, they don't know what the girl looks like that they're looking for."

Zanders frowned, Dane had a point.

"Bait. Galen is the big dog, right? The vampire king or whatever he is. We need bait to lure Galen out." Alek said, "But we'd need female hybrids or vamps for it."

Zander narrowed his eyes at his brother. "Have you lost your mind? We can't risk any more lives. Too many humans have been lost already."

"We need to try something. We can round up twenty or so women to-"

Zander shook his head. "Now I know you've lost your mind. We are not using bait! No way is a female going out there as bait."

Gage picked up a tennis ball and threw it against the wall and caught it. "I'm with Zander on this. Bait is a fucking bad idea." He earned a frown from Ariana when he continued to throw the ball at the wall.

"I think we could pull it off," Dane said. "We'd plan it carefully and cover all our bases like we did with the bus and the barn."

They were getting nowhere fast.

Zander rubbed the back of his neck. "Dane and Alek, come up with a plan, then we'll decide as a group with the Special Forces team leaders."

Gage took up Zanders pacing. "Wait." Gage said as he tossed the tennis ball into the hall. "I can't let you all waste time with this stupid Galen idea."

"Why is it stupid? It's the best lead we have so far. We've all heard he's in town and I'm not sure I believe in coincidences."

"It's not a lead, Z, it's an idea. And it's a dumb one that won't pan out." Gage stopped pacing to face Zander.

Zander narrowed his eyes on Gage. "You're not telling us everything. What is it that you know that we don't?"

Gage glanced at Ambrose, the brother he'd known longer than the rest.

Ambrose nodded to him. "I think it's about time you tell them, brother."

"Tell us what?" Zander snapped.

Gage took a deep breath, "You are right. Galen is in town and he does have a kid, but it's a son not a daughter. Besides, he is not the one behind the attacks."

Dane shifted on the couch. "And you know this how?"

Gage ran a restless hand through his shaggy black hair. "Because I am his son."

*****

Gage saw the fury in Zanders green eyes as he flew across the room at him. Gage would not move if Zander wanted to hit him. He wouldn't dodge Zander's fist, hell, he never dodged anyone's fist.

Ambrose didn't give either of them the chance. He jumped out of his chair, dumping Melina on the cushion and appeared in front of Zander with both hands placed on Zanders chest. "Wait, Z. Hear him out."

Zander hit Ambrose's hands away. "Fuck you. You knew?"

"Yes. It wasn't my story to tell."

Gage crossed his arms over his chest, glaring at Zander. His feet braced apart, and his body rippled with anticipation of a fight. He loved a good fight, it made him feel alive. He knew it was sick, but smashing his fist into someone gave him a high he couldn't explain. Fighting pumped up his whole body just like drinking blood did, or fucking a beautiful woman for hours.

"Goddammit! Everyone sit the fuck down!" Alek lost his usual smile and yelled at the three warriors ready to duel in the living room. "Don't make me shoot all of your dumb asses." He gave his sister-in-law, Ariana a wink.

"Yes. Because if any of you get blood in this living room, I will skin you alive." Ariana stood, stepping in front of her mate, Zander.

Now Alek grinned. "Ari, sweetie, skinning them alive would cause a bloodier mess. Isn't that what you're trying to avoid?"

"Oh, shut up." Ariana shook her head, not able to hide her grin.

Zander shot daggers at Gage. "Fine, explain, then I kick your fucking ass."

Gage snorted, he kept his defensive pose as he faced his four brothers and their mates. "I didn't tell anyone because of Galen's reputation. Back when Ambrose and I joined you I didn't want to give any more reasons to not trust me. If you didn't trust me, I wanted it to be because of me and not because Galen was my father."

"You're fucked up, man." Dane chuckled. "We'd never hold the sins of a father against his son."

Gage nodded. "Yeah, I know that now, but back then I didn't. Over time, since Galen never came up, I didn't bother telling you."

"When did you see him last?" Zander's quiet words stewed as he paced.

Gage glanced at Ambrose. "A damn long time. He kept information from me and I tried to kill the sonuvabitch. We're not real close. But he always knows where I am. And I sense his presence here in Washington, but he's not behind this."

Alek toyed with Daryn's thigh. "How can you be so sure?"

"Because even if I don't like my father, he's not that kind of man, he'd never do shit like this. Galen is powerful enough to get what he wants without slaughtering people." Gage shook his head, "No, we need to look for someone else for this."

Ambrose and Zander exchanged a glance; Ambrose nodded at the unspoken question. "Brother, any chance you can find Galen and talk to him? See if he knows something we don't or has heard anything he'd share?"

All eight sets of eyes watched his every move, waiting to see how he'd respond to being asked to meet with a man he loathed. The last thing Gage wanted was to see his father, but Ambrose had a point, Galen might have some information. And couldn't let a family squabble interfere with the senseless murder if humans.

Gage rubbed the back of his neck, exhaling a deep breath he held. "Fine, it'll take me a little time to track him down, but I'll find him." He looked straight at Zander. "Next time, have the balls to ask me yourself." Gage spun, storming out of the room to go find a hot young woman to bury his cock into.


~ Chapter 4 ~

Sundays at the clinic were always busy; it finally calmed down enough for a break. Besides their fair share of normal activity, once a year hybrids and vampires had to get physicals, gave samples of blood and urine. The humans didn't require this, the hybrids called the Phoenix Council did. To appease the human population, they proved they were disease free. Vampires never got sick or contracted diseases and it wasn't often that a hybrid got sick. Their immune system regenerated, repaired and healed most all superficial wounds while preventing illness. On occasion, they got sick from the tainted bagged blood or drinking blood full of toxins from a human source containing controlled substances.

The clinic treated humans, hybrids and vampires. Only open-minded humans used this clinic for treatment. They weren't fond of the risks when vampires showed up for IV blood transfusions even if they chose not to take in from a vein.

On this night Dr. Sofia Pierce had seen one hybrid that drank bad blood, a hybrid stabbed in the stomach, conducted four physicals and had to dig something out of the noses of two-year-old hybrid twins. She was on duty until two a.m. with two long hours to go. Generally, she loved the late shift, but she had felt uneasiness all day. Perhaps it was all the vampire problems they have had lately. She had experienced one herself when her car broke down, and she had to take the bus ride from hell home from Everett. The vampire community had integrated well over the past seventy years. They became more human; they had regard for all life, so these recent incidents left her troubled.

Sofia worked at the hybrid-vampire clinic because she needed a challenge and wanted more knowledge of the biology of them. Discovering their differences fascinated her, but it didn't come without risks; she had been injured three times in her two years at the clinic. And still, she loved the job.

She learned from Dr. Ramos, the head of the clinic. Dr. Ramos acted as the primary human doctor for The Alliance headquarters. He went in three times a week and spent three full days at the clinic and performed their physicals and treatment in their infirmary. At age sixty-five, he was ready to retire. He wanted to spend his days fishing and playing with his grandchildren. Who could blame him? This job had its hazards, and he had a lot to live for.

Sofia was finishing up paperwork behind the front desk when she heard the front door open. She glanced at her watch; it was twelve fifteen in the morning, the time when accidents came through the door after a rough weekend. They also acted as the overflow for minor human wounds for the emergency room a couple blocks over.

Busy at her charts, she failed to notice how eerily quiet the front desk clerk, Suzanne, became since the front door opened. Sofia glanced over at Suzanne frozen in place, her hands shaking. Sofia looked up and noticed a huge, muscled hybrid or vampire who looked lethal. He looked like humans did when having substance abuse withdraw; he sweated, shook and looked confused.

"I… need... help." He struggled to get out his words. He gripped the edge of the counter to maintain control as sweat beaded his forehead.

Sofia stood. "I'm Dr. Pierce, come with me. Let me take a look." She motioned for him to follow her as she stepped out from behind the desk. He hesitated, sniffed the air and then followed. She glanced over her shoulder, his movements reminded her of an animal stalking its prey. Inside her pocket, her hand closed around the tranquilizer epi-pen she carried for emergencies. She hated using the drug, but necessary at times. And hers could take down a grizzly, which meant it could take down a vampire.

His jet-black hair was messy and wavy, almost touching his shoulders. He wore blue jeans with a tight, dark T-shirt and biker boots. Intricate tattoos covered his left arm starting at his wrist, disappearing under his shirt sleeve. His blue eyes almost glowed, so clear against his olive skin and midnight hair. A thin, well-trimmed mustache and goatee gave him the finishing touch of looking oddly like the devil. He was at least six-four and over two hundred pounds, muscled yet lean. She imagined he'd look like a chiseled slab of granite naked. Their size didn't bother her much, but this guy looked like he would peel the skin from her body if she looked at him wrong. He had a murderous air about him.

Peel the skin from her body?

Oh, shit!

This was one of the Phoenix warriors from the hijacked bus, the one who kept sniffing the air, like he did now. She couldn't remember his name, but certain he was one of the two on the bus.

Get a hold of yourself, she told herself.

There was something about this man that made her nervous yet… curious. "Come in here; please have a seat on the table. Kelly, get me a bag of blood and IV fluids." She called to her assistant in the next room as she lowered the table, so she would be eye level with the patient. She patted the table, "Please, have a seat."

He obeyed, his eyes studying her.

Sofia went to touch his neck for his pulse, hybrids and vampires pulse was the strongest in the neck while the wrist was barely audible He jerked back from her and growled. Sofia flinched. Don't show fear. Don't show fear, she repeated in her head. "I'm not going to hurt you; I need to get your pulse, okay?" She reached up and pressed two fingers on his erratic pulse. When he didn't growl a second time, she smiled. "See? That wasn't so bad. I'm going to get an IV started and give you fresh blood. Have you fed tonight?"

His electric eyes locked on hers. He didn't answer.

Was he afraid to admit it? Or perhaps he couldn't find the words to answer.

"If you can't speak, then nod. Did you feed today?"

He sniffed around her, struggling to focus on her face, then nodded yes.

Sofia cringed a little when she watched him breathe her again. She wondered if she smelled bad. It had been a long day, maybe she was ripe. A three-year-old threw up on the floor, some could have splattered on her. With their hypersensitive sense of smell, it wouldn't surprise her is she reeked of vomit or sweat to him.

Kelly came in with two IV poles, two bags of blood and a bag of fluid for dehydration. Two hybrid male guards entered the room as part of their standard procedure to protect the human doctors. Human males weren't effective, so they always used hybrids since vampires were still frowned upon by humans since they drank blood and hybrids didn't.

The man jumped off the table, shoved Sofia behind him and blocked their path. The veins in his neck pulsed with anger.

Was he protecting her?

Not thinking about her own safety, Sofia jumped between her patient and the hybrid guards. She reached out, placing a hand on his hard chest, his heart beat rapidly under her palm. "They won't hurt you. They won't even touch you." He advanced, pushing her back toward the guards as he moved. He was about to force the guards from the room with her body between them. Sofia kept her hand on her patient's chest. "Out. Go now. You're agitating him."

"Doc, you know we can't leave you." Seth, the blonde hybrid guard said.

A low growl came from the man's chest; the rumble vibrated under her hand.

"He won't hurt me, will you?" She held out her hand to him face up to encourage him to take it. If he did, then she had his trust. Or in his state, she hoped that's what it meant to him. You never knew what an agitated hybrid or vampire would do.

The man stood there, agitation rippled through his huge body. He sniffed in her direction, stepped closer. His piercing blue eyes held hers as he reached for her hand.

Sofia smiled at him and squeezed his hand. "Good, he trusts me. Now go." She shooed the two guards from the room. "I'll call you if I need anything." She walked backward, so she could keep her eyes on the man, leading him back to the table. "Please sit. We need to get the IV started." Kelly rolled the tray table towards Sofia as his head snapped in her direction, Kelly stopped dead in her tracks. This time he didn't growl or snarl. Sofia new all alpha males saw other males as a threat and in his condition, she wasn't sure what he viewed as a danger.

As Sofia prepared the IV needle, she smiled at him again. "My guess is you like and trust women, but not men. That's okay. I guess it's my lucky day." After tying a rubber band around his muscular bicep on his untattooed arm, she wiped an alcohol swab over his hot skin in the bend of his elbow. There was no need to use an alcohol swab but she did it out of habit.

He sniffed at Sofia again, making her a tingle, sending chills down her spine.

"Okay, I'm going to stick this needle right here," pointing to his pulsating vein as she inserted the needle. "You'll feel a prick, but it shouldn't-"

In a blink, he slammed the tray table away. The needle was lodged in his vein. Kelly gasped while Sofia retreated away from him.

"Kelly, walk out slowly, now. I'll keep him focused on me, get out, now." She watched Kelly from the corner of her eye walk a snail's pace backwards to the door.

"Aren't you coming with me?" Kelly whispered.

"No. I need to help him. I'll be fine, he won't hurt me." I hope. Sofia noticed how his eyes searched her from head to toe. He cocked his head as he studied her, like he wanted her. The question was, what did he want her for?

Sofia retreated in the same direction as Kelly, toward the door, but for an entirely different reason. She saw Kelly slip out from the corner of her eye. The man was stalking her, following her footsteps. Her one step back was his one step forward.

Great, she was his prey.

She had only one chance, so Sofia turned and sprinted for the door, slamming the lock down button as she was tackled from behind. She and her assailant tumbled to the floor, he growled. Did he think she was leaving him? Was he trying to stop her or was she about to be his next meal? Sofia had no time to ponder. His body protected her as they tumbled to the floor; he spun with her in his arms and landed on his back. His thick arms wrapped around her, rolling, keeping her underneath his body all safe and sound. If you considered being trapped under a two-hundred-pound hybrid or vampire safe and sound.

The air was knocked out of her lungs as she gasped. She was flat on her stomach with the man on top of her. Sofia struggled under his weight, he hissed and raised his hips off her for a moment. She used that opening to gouge her toes into the slick floor to scoot forward. He grabbed her hips, dragging her back to him, flipping over to her back. His hard body pinned her to the floor as he breathed her into his lungs, but her hands were free. As she looked up into his face inches above hers, a feeling of Déjà Vu slammed into her. A wave of familiarity washed through her body, she gasped at the sudden invasion this sensation had over her.

"Oh, shit." She breathed out. "I need you to listen to me, okay?" Her voice was soft and soothing. "I'm not going to hurt you, but you need to listen to me. Everything is okay." Yeah, right.

One arm braced beside her head as he stared into her eyes. He lowered his head to hers, their noses barely touching, and he breathed in her scent. Then he frowned, pulling back to stare at her again. He lowered his face to her and sniffed her more intimately. His nose skimmed over her cheek down to her neck. Once he reached her neck, he licked her rapidly beating pulse. Every muscle in Sofia's body tightened, ready for him to sink his fangs into her neck. One thing she was certain of, was this man had fangs; she remembered seeing them that night.

And there they were; razor sharp fangs dropped from his gums as he stared at her neck. No doubt he fixated on her vein pulsating from fear. Sofia was on the verge of panic, she had never been in this position before. "Focus on me, focus on my voice. Look at me, please." At her pleading, he obeyed, his body trembling as he fought for control. "Can you tell me your name? Just focus, you can do this. I can see how hard you're trying to keep control. Focus on me, my voice," dare she say, "my smell. You know I will not hurt you. You sense it, I can tell."

She watched as he did his best to obey. She tried to shift as his weight pushed all the air out of her lungs, he grabbed her left hand to hold it in place beside her head.


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