Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Carina Press
Date of Publication: October 28, 2013
Word Count: 76,000
As a Realm Walker for the Agency, Juliana Norris tracks deadly paranormal quarry using her unique ability to see magical signatures. She excels at her job, but her friends worry about her mysterious habit of dying in the line of duty without staying dead. That’s only the first of her secrets.
Most people don’t know Juliana became the mate of master vampire Thomas Kendrick before he abandoned her seven years ago. Most people don’t know the horrors she endured at the hands of the vampire he left in command. Most people don’t know her true parentage, or why a demon on a world-threatening rampage has taken a personal interest in her…
Even as Juliana pursues the demon, it goes after all she holds dear—including Thomas, who is back to claim her for his own. But if she can’t reconcile her past and learn to trust herself again, she will lose him forever.
Kathleen Collins has been writing since Kindergarten. And while her ability has drastically improved, her stories are still about monsters and the people who play with them.
The rare instances that she actually finds some spare time, she spends it playing with her two boys. Three if you count her husband.
She is currently hard at work on her next book.
The troll picked her up with nothing more than his teeth in her shoulder and shook her like a hellhound with a chew toy. She clenched her jaw in pain and let out a terrible keening groan as muscle and tendon ripped. She fought her base instinct to struggle, to squirm away from the source of the pain. If she did, she’d only injure herself further. Blood poured from the wound, staining the ground a horrible, vibrant crimson.
A growl tore through the clearing seconds before a brown blur flew through the air and landed on the troll’s back. Nathaniel. They all rocked forward with the impact and fresh pain lanced through her shoulder. The troll roared in anger, releasing Juliana’s shoulder by default and she dropped to the ground. She backed away, eyeing the two of them warily. The troll reached over his back, trying to grab Nathaniel who still had his teeth and claws dug deep into the beast. The wolf snarled, growled and shook his head as the troll danced around the clearing trying to get a grip on his attacker.
Juliana’s arm hung limp and worthless by her side. Pain burned through the wound and nausea rose in waves. Her head swam. She swallowed the acid down, sucked in crisp, cool air. She used her right hand to wrap her left arm around her waist in an effort to keep the shoulder from moving any more than necessary.
“Nathaniel,” she yelled as the troll ran backward into the trees.
He slammed his back with Nathaniel still attached into the trunk of a large oak tree once, twice, three times. The blows stunned Nathaniel enough that the troll was finally able to snatch the wolf and hurl him across the clearing. Her friend lay unmoving on the ground.
The troll locked crimson eyes on her and stalked across the clearing. She fought every impulse inside of her that told her to run and waited for him to come. One taloned hand wrapped around her throat and picked her up. Pulling her close, the troll roared in fury once they were almost nose to nose. She wrapped her legs around his waist to take the pressure off her throat. Juliana raised the Taser and jammed it into his ear. Not caring anymore if she fried his brain, she squeezed and held the trigger. His roar changed to one of agony.
He released her throat and raised both hands to his head. He stumbled backward in an effort to get away from her but her legs stayed clamped around his waist. She continued to pour electricity into him until he dropped to his knees. Only then did she put her feet on the ground and back away.
Her opponent stayed on all fours, shaking his head, trying to clear it. The air hung heavy with the scent of burnt fur and troll. As he rose to a kneeling position, she adjusted her grip on the weapon. From the corner of her eye she saw Nathaniel stagger to his feet.
The troll held up his hands in a gesture of surrender. “No more, Walker. I will go where you ask. Wherever you ask.”
Relief eased the tightness in her chest. She wasn’t sure she was up for another round of Taze the Troll. She ran her thumb along the side of her ring preparing to use it to call the portal tied to it. Then the troll began to laugh. A low sound at first, it quickly grew to a volume that made her ears ache. Great. She had fried his brain and now she had a crazy troll to deal with.
After putting more distance between them, she put her Taser away and drew her sword. It left the sheath with a ring of steel. She adjusted her hand on the grip. Nathaniel came to stand beside her, leaning his weight into her leg to let her know he was near. “You okay there, Mr. Troll?”
He opened his blazing red eyes and looked at her. “I’ve had your blood, Juliana Norris. It tells me things.” Apparently it told him her name, because she’d never given it.