Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Chronicles of Koa: Netherworld Excerpt-Chapter 4! Meet Halston!

I'm feeling extra generous today! Read an excerpt from The Chronicles of Koa: Netherworld! Available on Amazon for $3.99! Meet Halston!

(May not be suitable for children under 13)

Chapter 4 from The Chronicles of Koa: Netherworld
By, K.N. Lee

Halston didn’t mind helping Koa find a new home. He enjoyed being needed. He sat in his car for a few moments contemplating her facial expression when he presented the cottage to her. It was obvious…she didn’t like it.

Now, he frowned and as he waited for her in the safe house. He leaned back in his desk chair. That young half-blood was hard to please. It was their joke that if something was too easy, then Koa lost interest pretty quickly. Finding a new home wasn’t easy. She didn’t like being around too many people. She loved her father’s manor, but things had changed. The Netherworld was catching up to her quicker than he expected.

Halston had hoped that they would have more time to prepare. Now it seemed that Koa would have to face her demons a lot sooner than anticipated. He rubbed his temples. He did not think that she was ready.

A loud scream broke Halston from his thoughts. The sound seemed to come from far away, like an echo. There was desperation in that scream as it grew louder and closer. He felt the blonde hairs on his skin stand on end.

Halston sat up and watched as Galena fell through the inkwell portal. There was a loud shriek as the black liquid spit her out onto his clean, white, floor. Galena collapsed and Halston ran to her.
Micka and Rohan both looked up from their work stations. They came to their feet in unison and reached for guns that were strapped underneath their desks.

Halston left his seat and slid to Galena. He held her head up from the floor. Galena looked like a frail, crumpled, rag doll. She was covered in blood. Her eyes were wet from crying and her blonde hair was sticky with something foul.

“Don’t let him in!” Galena called out weakly. She squeezed her eyes closed and started to weep. Her entire body shook with her racking sobs.

Halston’s heart pumped with worry. He looked over his shoulder at the two agents that looked at him with fearful eyes. They lowered their guns. This was not normal…even for Netherworld agents.

“Get me a clean, wet cloth and some water!”

Micka and Rohan nodded and rushed to complete the task.

Halston pulled Galena’s hair from her face and she screamed. He withdrew and noted the bruises on her face and the cuts in the corners of her mouth. He drew a breath and looked at the inkwell portal.

The portal stood in the center of the safe house. It was a large circular device held stationary by shiny, black, brackets. The portal was only supposed to be used in dire situations. There had to be a major emergency, for once a portal was revealed, the person escaping could easily be followed. The last thing Halston needed was a nephilim coming through that portal and causing havoc… or worse, damaging equipment in his laboratory. He wasn’t done with his latest invention.

He looked down to see Galena looking up at him. He held his breath. He’d rarely seen such terror in a person’s eyes. The way she looked at him spoke volumes. She had been frightened nearly to death.

“Galena,” he said. “What happened?”

Her face contorted and she started to cry again. Her sobs came from her soul. They were sorrowful, deeply hurt, cries of pain. Halston felt his skin grow cold. This woman was one of his best agents. She was human, but she was one of his best. From the poor streets of Russia, Galena had been orphaned early after vampires killed her parents.

Halston had found her just the way he found most of his Netherworld agents, angry, ready for revenge, and trying to seek that revenge in foolish ways. He had found her, trained her, and put her out there to be a spy. Halston had given her the tools to find her parents killer, and bring them to justice.

Halston didn’t seek out to simply kill all vampires and other nephilim, he tried to protect the humans. Sometimes that meant finding vampires that were willing to try a new life. Those vampires, like the Wryn clan, were open to finding ‘pets,’ people who sold their blood for money or care. They registered with his Netherworld division, and lived their lives clean and free of murder and chaos. It wasn’t a perfect arrangement. There were still vampires that loved to kill, and resisted the Netherworld divisions of the world that tried to bring order.

Rohan knelt down and handed Halston a wet towel. Halston wiped Galena’s face clean. She winced and jerked away. Like a frightened animal, she crawled far from both of them. Her eyes darted around the safe house.

“Did they follow me?” Galena’s voice came out ragged and almost too soft to hear.

Micka ran up with a bottle of water and paused when she saw
Galena with her back pressed against the wall. Galena saw Micka and grabbed the small, older woman, by the leg. Micka looked to Halston questioningly.

“Don’t let them hurt me anymore,” Galena begged.

Halston sighed and came to his feet. He didn’t move closer to Galena. She was too afraid, and he didn’t want to make the situation worse. He stood there and thought about what to do.

She had been missing for about a week now. There was no telling what she had been through. He put his hands in the pockets of his trousers and looked down at Galena.

“Galena,” he said. “We won’t hurt you. You are safe. We are the only ones here. Rohan, Micka, you, and me.” He knelt down and looked at her with a small, friendly, smile. “I’m Halston. You do remember me, don’t you?”

Galena tilted her head and stared at him. Her eyes were as big as saucers and for a moment, Halston doubted that she recognized him. Her shoulders slumped and she slowly nodded. “Yes. I remember you, Halston.”

Halston nodded. “Good. Good girl. You remember that I am your friend, and that I care about you, right?”
Galena let go of Micka’s leg. She ripped the black stockings the woman wore with her ragged nails. Halston noticed that her fingernails had blood caked into her cuticles. Micka adjusted her glasses but ignored her ruined stockings.

“I remember,” Galena said. She folded her legs and rested her head on the wall. She looked exhausted.

“What happened?”

She shook her head and her bottom lip trembled. “I’ve been through a lot in my life, Halston,” she said in a wavering voice. “But nothing like this.”

Halston nodded. His eyes were concerned. He wanted her to trust him and go on.

Galena looked from Rohan to Micka. “I will tell you,” she said. She met Halston’s eyes. “And only you.”

Micka and Rohan got the point. They both collected the files that they had been working on, and took them to one of the back rooms of the safe house.

Halston stood and walked over to Galena. He sat down beside her and looked towards the secret hatch door at the far end of the safe house. He didn’t want to sit right in front of her. Whenever someone did that, it just made the conversation feel like an interrogation. He wanted Galena to feel comfortable.

He reached for her hand and she flinched but didn’t run. Halston had a soothing effect. He took her hand and cradled it in his own. Somehow, that relaxed her.

Galena took a deep breath. “It was last Monday.” A tear fell from her eye.

Halston gently brushed it away. He pulled her hair from her face and tucked it behind her ear.

“I found the man you had me look for. Bund. I was surprised that he was a young guy, but that also made me feel a little more comfortable around him,” she said and looked to Halston. “You know what I mean?”

He nodded. He knew Bund’s game.

“But once he got me inside, he changed on me.” She hugged her arms and shifted her weight. Her brows furrowed. “There were so many of them, Halston. I told them, I would only sell my blood to the one you sent me for.” She closed her eyes. “But they didn’t listen.” Her voice lowered. “They locked me in there. Somehow, Bund knew I was coming. He knew you had sent me. He punished me.”

Halston clenched his jaw. He should have never sent her alone. He couldn’t understand how Bund could have known that Halston had sent Galena. Halston had to remember, Bund was smarter than he appeared. Like Halston, Bund was a great deal more than he appeared.

He didn’t say anything. He waited for Galena to go on. He knew it was hard for her, but he needed to know what they were dealing with.

She took a while to continue. She kept looking at the portal to make sure no one was going to step through.

“I might as well spit it out, right?” Galena asked the question, but Halston could tell that she was speaking to herself.

He nodded anyway. “Go on. It’s just the two of us. Whatever you tell me will stay between the two of us. I won’t tell a soul.”
Galena gave him a look. Her gray eyes narrowed. She pursed her lips and examined his face. “Not even Koa?”

Halston’s eye twitched, not because he was lying, but because
Galena seemed to have suspicions about his relationship with the young vampire. He knew that would be a problem if people suspected that he and Koa were more than professional associates. He would have to find a way to eliminate such suspicions.

He swallowed and shook his head. “Not even Koa.”

Galena looked unsure. She watched him for a while longer and sighed. She looked down at her feet. “You know…it’s all right if you like her. We all like Koa.”

Halston pulled away from Galena.

She watched him. “You don’t have to go all pale on me. We all see it.”

He didn’t know what to say, so he said nothing.

Galena slumped against the wall and stared at the portal again.

“Well, there were so many of them that I lost count, but they raped me, fed from me, and kept me locked in a cage.”

There was a long stretch of silence. Halston held her head to his shoulder and she started to weep again. It was unnerving to hear that woman cry. She was always so strong, even cold. She had been broken.

She looked up and rubbed her face. She threw her hands up. “Bund didn’t even feed from me! You know what he said to me? He said that I was too old. What the hell?”

Halston shook his head. He knew Bund’s preferences. He was a sick creature.

“Bund just watched the others with a stupid grin on his face!” She slammed her fist into her thigh so hard that Halston feared she’d bruise herself. “I hate that man more than anything in this world,” she said through clenched teeth. “Please, tell me how to kill him.”

Halston took her fist and gently opened it. He took her hand into both of his. “You don’t worry about it, Galena. I’m terribly sorry that I put you in that situation, but I can’t even kill him.”

Galena’s shoulders slumped. She looked defeated.

He tilted her chin up. She was still shaking a little. “But, I know someone who can get rid of him…forever.”

Galena frowned. “Well, I want to be there when you do it, so that I can spit in his face.”

Halston nodded. “I’ll try to arrange that.” He smiled for her, hoping it would soften her angry face. Tonight…his smile wasn’t working.

“If it wasn’t for one of the dumber vampires, in his drunken stupor, forgetting to lock the cage, I would still be there. I might be dead now.”

Halston patted the back of her hand. “It’s all in the past now. I don’t want you to worry. I can erase this event from your memory, if you’d like.” He came to his feet and held a hand out to her.

Galena took his hand and pulled herself up, but she held tight to his hand. Her eyes were serious. “No, Halston.”
He tensed. The tone of her voice was unexpected. She sounded like herself again, cold and serious. She looked…ready to hurt someone.

“I don’t want to forget. I need to remember this. You’re not getting out of letting me spit in his face when you kill him.”
Halston nodded and tried to take his hand back. She held steady.

“Listen,” she said. “There’s more.”

Halston sighed. “What else?”

She leaned in close to him. Her eyes were hardened. Her grip was unyielding. “He knows about Koa.”

Halston felt his face pale. There was little in this world that would make him react recklessly. He would have to restrain himself while he listened to what the Russian woman had to say.

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