Alexa O’Brien has never been like other people. A hunter of supernatural rogues, she is a werewolf with unusual but extraordinary power. Power that draws her to Arys Knight, the mysterious vampire who awakens her dark side. What they create together is dangerous and binding, forcing her to question the source of her abilities. It threatens not only her remaining humanity, but her relationship with fellow werewolf, Shaz Richardson, as well.
When Alexa’s womanizing former lover and the Alpha of her pack is framed for murder, he draws public attention that could earn him a death sentence unless she steps in to help him. Alexa would love to watch karma at work but as the body count rises, long buried secrets are exposed. She’s forced to face the painful truth that not everyone is who she thinks they are.
“Vampires and werewolves are her world. As long as we have writers like her, don’t tell me these grand monsters are on the way out.” – BlazeMcRob.com
“ONCE BITTEN is a delicious walk to the really dark and wild side. If you think the current trend of romantic urban fantasy is too sanitized, what with vampires who won’t drink blood and werewolves who won’t eat meat, take a look at this one.” – MrsGiggles.com
Originally published by Liquid Silver Books 03/2009. Re-released by Dark Mountain Books 05/2011.
The taste of blood brought my wolf to the surface. I snarled up into the face of the vampire and braced for another blow. I welcomed it. The need for a good fight had my adrenaline pumping.
My bloody lip was quickly forgotten when the jackass grabbed me by the throat and banged my head against the ground. Light exploded behind my eyes. I brought an elbow up into his face before he could do it again. The crunch that followed was satisfying.
“You like to play, don’t you, wolf?” With a backhand, he knocked the stake from my grasp and I watched with dismay as it rolled across the parking lot.
I followed up with a kick that effectively threw him off me. In a leap I was on my feet, braced and ready for him. In my mind, he was already dead. It was just a matter of when I tired of this dance. At the moment I was enjoying myself. His psychic attributes were weak, almost non-existent. So he was a full on physical guy. A good brawl was just what I needed on a hot July night.
I liked to keep things fair. I’d let it stay physical unless he got me in a bad position. Knowing he slaughtered Edmonton’s homeless like they were cattle fed my eagerness for a nice, bloody beat down.
Patrick Morgan had been on my hit list for weeks. My partner, Jez St. Claire, had accompanied me on this hunt. I kept expecting her to jump in and help me out but she had yet to appear from her place in the shadows.
I rushed him, faking a punch but sweeping his legs out from beneath him with a kick instead. It didn’t keep him down longer than a split second. He recovered fast and came at me with fangs bared. As if he really believed he’d get a chance to use them.
Just before he hit me, I threw my weight forward and leaned down low, effectively tossing him over my shoulder. I leaped on him fast, straddling him as I rained down blow after blow. I settled for dropping punches into his face. It wouldn’t kill him but hurting him sure felt good.
“How many hits in the face do you think you can take before there is nothing left to look at?” I sneered with a bitter laugh. “My arms aren’t even tired yet. I can go until sunrise.”
Twisting his body suddenly, he threw me off, following through with a few well placed hits. I was going to be a mess of bruises after this. The struggle for dominance ensued. We each fought to gain leverage over the other. It was starting to feel like a hair pulling, bitch slapping kind of fight. I needed to take it to the next level.
He managed to put some space between us and sprang to his feet. I followed suit, circling back to give myself room to feel out my next attack.
The wolf’s stamina and speed carried me when I came at him with claws ready. He moved swiftly and rather than take his head off, I merely scratched a few deep lines in his cheek.
Surprise glowed in his dark eyes. I must have caught him off guard on that one. Good. I lunged again but he was ready. He gave me a nice shove, one that lifted me off my feet. I hit the ground hard and rolled, getting back up. Glancing toward the stake, I made as if to move for it and the vampire stopped me with a well placed kick.
Taking a kick to the head stunned me. I fell to my knees, the stake just out of reach. I couldn’t go for it and defend myself at the same time. Not when I was seeing stars. I still had all my teeth though so it could have been worse.
He grabbed me from behind, choking me before I’d recovered from the blinding kick. The son of a bitch was strong. I gasped for breath. Now might be the time to pull a psychic attack on him. I flung a clawed hand back behind me, groping blindly for his face. I felt the soft, vulnerable area around his eye. Success.
The scream that tore from him when I stabbed a sharp claw into his eye was almost feminine. It would have been funny if things hadn’t just gone from feisty fun to death match. He released me immediately.
Blood poured down his face. His eye was a mangled mess. Rage rolled off him in giant waves. I never gave him the chance to recover. Lunging swiftly, I snatched the stake up and threw all of my weight at him. I hit him in the chest and we both went down. I called forth just enough power to help me hold him.
I still hadn’t mastered my abilities despite having been born with them. What had started as basic telekinesis and energy manipulation had evolved over time. Becoming a werewolf had done nothing to hinder my power. In some ways, it seemed to enhance it. As far as I knew, I was the only living werewolf to possess power so close to that of a vampire.
Patrick Morgan gave a loud, angry cry and fought hard to throw me off. “Fucking bitch! I’m not going to beg.”
“Good. It’s probably better if you don’t go out like a pussy.”
With a perfectly timed head butt, he regained the advantage. I was skidding across the pavement before I could block the next hit. My back slammed against a parked car, knocking the breath from me. I braced, expecting him to try to finish me off. But when I looked up, he was just a blur in the distance.
He ran? Coward.
“Jez!” I shouted. In an attempt to stop him, I threw an energy ball, striking him dead center in the back.
He went down hard. Jez was a blur of black as she moved with supernatural speed. Bursting forth from the shadows, she was on top of Morgan before he could recover. I don’t think he realized he’d been impaled until the hilt of her knife was pressed against the base of his throat.
Blood poured from the wound. Jez continued to wiggle and grind the blade. The vampire struggled to speak through crimson lips as blood flowed out of his mouth.
“Do you like that?” Jez growled into his face.
Her golden hair had fallen free of her hair clip, her brilliant green eyes were pure cat. Morgan just stared into those leopard eyes in horror. I guessed that he’d never encountered a werecat before. They weren’t nearly as common as werewolves.
She was the only naturally born shifter that I’d ever known and one of only two werecats. Almost all Weres, like me, are infected through bite or attack. Of course, that was only if they managed to survive, which wasn’t likely. I was a teenaged kid lucky enough to survive an attack. I was the only one in my family who did.
Growing in adulthood with a thirst for the hunt hadn’t been easy. The man, to whom I’d looked for guidance, had been too wrapped up in his own self-absorbed world to notice that I needed him. Raoul Roberts had taken me in when I was sixteen. He had come at a time when I desperately needed him. My mistake was staying too long. Despite earning rank of Alpha female among my local town pack, I’ve done my best to cut ties with my former Alpha.
The title of Alpha had earned me little, least of all respect. My status did little more than provide minimal dominance over new werewolves. We were people first, and the animal hierarchy only crossed so far into our human world.
A much needed change had come several years ago when I was approached by Veryl Armstrong, paranormal investigator and vampire extraordinaire. Veryl had asked how I felt about taking out one of my own kind, a werewolf who liked little girls. I would have done it for free.
I worked regularly with Veryl and developed friendships with others who frequently supplied him with their services, like Jez. It just made sense to have someone as ruthless as me at my back. Hesitators wouldn’t keep me alive while hunting rogues like Morgan.
The vampire stared into Jez like she was the angel of death who had come at last, and I realized that a part of him was enjoying this.
“You like this, don’t you, you sick son of a bitch? Just like you enjoy cutting up pretty, little, rich girls while you drain them dry.” Jez’s right hand gripped the knife, and her left sprouted five perfect, razor-sharp claws. Morgan made a series of grunts and gurgles, but nothing coherent came out. He reached up with a strong hand for her throat, and she drove those claws into his guts.
This was getting too messy. I moved in to help her pin the vampire.
Morgan fought hard now, struggling against us furiously. I guess the game had lost its appeal. He didn’t want to play anymore. Now it was a fight for his so-called life. With a sudden burst of desperation, he flung us both backwards.
He came at me then as he pulled the knife from his throat with a slick, wet sound. A sickening laugh bubbled out from around the gushing wound. I tapped the power nestled in my core, throwing everything I had at him. It was just enough to buy Jez a few much needed seconds.
Jez retrieved my forgotten stake and, with a mighty blow, slammed it into his heart. I let my power fall away and staggered with sudden weakness. I leaned against the nearest car and fought to catch my breath.
Patrick Morgan burst into dust and ash. His remains rained down around us. A grin danced along Jez’s ruby red lips. It was infectious. I couldn’t help but smile. I loved my job.