Monday, July 20, 2020

Now On Tour A Stream of Darkness by Avery Kilpatrick Plus An Exclusive Excerpt #urbanfantasy

July 20 Kay Phoenix

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Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Paranormal Romances

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A Stream of Darkness
Crymsen Crescent
Book One
Avery Kilpatrick

Genre: Urban Fantasy, New Adult with a dash of romance
Publisher: Avery Kilpatrick
Date of Publication: July 31, 2020
ISBN: 9798645700447
Word Count: 62,358

Cover Artist: Warren Design

Book Description:

A reformed killer, a dragon agent, and a lone shifter must work together to investigate four abductions…

I've always had a close relationship with death.

Six years ago, I was the Renegade, the Wolf of Eden, terrorizing the streets of a small town in Mississippi. Now, after a plea deal that saved my life, I work for the police as a consultant and unofficial cop.

Obsidian Moon, the Underworlder police agency, isn't doing anything about the disappearances of four college women. It falls to my shoulders while I'm stressing over my college assignments and the new transfer who thinks testing my control is a great pasttime.

Then there's him. The mystery shifter who danced with me at a club and reminds me of home.  And he seems to be more than just a random stranger who walked up to an ex-murderer and danced rather than fight.

But I have bigger concerns than two sexy men on my tail as a stream of darkness hangs over Paradise Grove.

The opening of a new series, A Stream of Darkness, will have you guessing at every turn and turning the pages to learn more.

A Stream of Darkness
Exclusive Excerpt
Chapter One

I sidestepped the ramming bull—well, technically, he was a werewolf—and watched with growing amusement as he slammed into the bar.
As one of the more prominent clubs on the Quad, Mirage was filled to the brim with writhing bodies hypnotized by the pulsing music that resounded from the DJ’s throne. The walls thrummed with the powerful beats, and siren acoustics coaxed people into drowning themselves in alcohol. Flashing lights of gold and sapphire, of ruby and amethyst, of emerald and topaz cast colorful shadows on the clubbers who watched the growing brawl in amusement and fear.
I cocked my head to the side, and my ebony-gray curls swayed to the left as my mint eyes burned like a raging pyre as I watched him stumble to his feet. A Cheshire cat smirk pulled my lips back over elongated canines that gleamed under the colorful neon lights. “Olé!”
The bar, a mix of black quartz and wood, won this round, as it remained unharmed. The werewolf shook his head, the tightly braided red curls bouncing lightly against the left side of his skull. His jade eyes were glazed in confusion, and there were flecks of pale yellow from the wolf peering through his gaze as his temper grew shorter. He held a hand to his side and attempted to take a deep breath only to hiss quietly. Though wolves, like most Underworlders, could heal themselves through either magic or blood, it took time to fix fractured bones. His linebacker build didn’t help matters either as he held out another hand to grip the bar to steady himself.
He snarled, a rumbling sound that probably caused him more pain than he let on. Our audience murmured as the less-than-sober patrons realized that the scar dominating my face wasn’t just any old scar from a run-in gone awry. Flowing from my left jaw to the bridge of my nose, the puckered, jagged scar was as much a moniker as a reminder of my “sin.”  
“Mind givin’ me another shot, Izzy?” I drawled, my gaze never once leaving the wolf in front of me as we circled each other.
Izzy was already working on my drink before the last word left my mouth. Her hands flashed after working years as a bartender on the fast-paced Quad, and she wasn’t at all bothered by the brawl in front of her. “I should be cutting you off, Luce, but since alcohol doesn’t affect you—what the hell, right?”
Pink eyes remained amused as she watched the crowd around us groan while money exchanged hands. She had her long straight platinum locks pulled into a ponytail as two square strips caressed the sides of her sharp cheeks. Placing the shot glass on the tabletop, she set a fifty-dollar bill beside it with a good-natured grumble.
I chuckled, and the redheaded wolf took the momentary distraction as a chance to tackle me. Sidestepping him, I placed my hands on his back—barely a brush of my fingertips—and slammed my knee into his abdomen. The crunch of bone and the wheeze of air as a rib punctured his lung reached my ears, and my glittering eyes narrowed as he collapsed at my feet with a groan. Either he was truly a newbie with fighting a petite woman like me, or he was attacking with emotion rather than logical reasoning.
As my father would say, he was fighting for his pride and not for survival.
Heading to the bar to collect my shot, I tossed it back with a hearty sigh as the burn slid down my throat. Without me asking, Izzy refilled my glass, and I repeated the action before slamming the shot down on the bar as stumbling steps reached my ears over the roar of the music and drunken crowd. Sighing, I glanced over a narrow shoulder to see the wolf clutching his side as blood dripped from his bottom lip. He just would not accept defeat, no matter how big a predator I was.
“Look, sourpuss.” I adjusted the fingerless gloves on my hands and rolled the sleeves of my leather jacket to my elbows. Pulling my thick ebony-and-gray curls behind me, I continued, “I’d hate to kill your pride in front of all these people, but I’ll gladly do it if you’re raring for a good ole fight.”
Glaring at me, he clenched his teeth at the calm indifference in my voice, as I was not at all intimidated by his hulking form or the flecks of gold in his eyes. He towered over my five-two frame, and though I looked like a sixteen-year-old girl with a blunt mouth that got me into trouble, I wasn’t joking around this time.
“That won’t be necessary” came from a man with a lion’s golden mane and piercing lapis eyes as he stepped between the wolf and me with little care of the other male’s harsh protesting growl. Dressed in a tank and jeans, he didn’t fit the partying crowd around us as he smiled at me, more a flash of teeth than a genuine smile. My nose twitched at the scent of sandalwood that surrounded him in a powerful aura, which was typical for most demons thanks to their relation to the first demon and devil, Lucifer.
I raised an eyebrow but shrugged. Wasn’t as if I had anything to prove like the werewolf did. “Fine by me. Though I would make another fifty bucks if I knocked him on his ass again.”
The demon clotheslined his own friend before he could lunge at me and cause more of a scene at my poking. “Please don’t antagonize him any more than you already have.”
“Wouldn’t have to if the guy would’ve taken no for an answer the first time.” I crossed my arms as the crowd of onlookers slowly dispersed in a tidal wave at the demon’s harsh glare. The unconscious wolf at his feet was forgotten as humans and Underworlders continued to grumble as more money exchanged hands. While normally I’d be upset for not getting my fair share of the winnings, there was something off about this guy. Something that made me forget about the gambling as I held the demon’s fierce glare unflinchingly.
“Rest assured, he’s learned his lesson,” he told me as he leaned down to grab the wolf by the collar and lugged him over a lean shoulder. While he was just as tall as the werewolf, he was built more like a lion with a lean, regal stature and long limbs fit for any model. “If you’re finished—”
“Don’t even think about leaving this club until your friend there pays his tab,” Izzy thundered, pink orbs flashing dangerously as the air shimmered with heat.
The blond demon glanced at his unconscious friend with a sigh. “How much does he owe?”
Almost three hundred dollars later, the demon adjusted his grip on the wolf and glanced over his shoulder at me, his piercing gaze assessing me from head to toe. I shifted until most of my weight was on my right leg and crossed my arms, raising a single brow in challenge.
Rather than say anything else, he nodded and turned on his heel to walk through the writhing bodies on the dance floor.
I hopped onto the barstool, not even bothering to watch him fight through the crowd of dancers. Izzy placed another shot glass in front of me before beginning to wipe down the bar. Shifting the glass between my fingers, I wondered, “D’you recognize them? I’ve never seen the wolf or demon around before.”
“The werewolf’s been in here a few times and left without paying his tab.”
I whistled; apparently the dude had more balls than I gave him credit for. No one dared skip on paying their bill at Mirage, not unless they wanted to walk out in a body bag. “I take it this is the first time he’s brought Golden Boy?”
“Lucky too. Otherwise, I’d char his ass.”
Chuckling, I tossed back my shot and slammed it down on the bar. “Wonder if the wolf checked in with Arden or one of his lieutenants.”
Izzy scoffed. “Why don’t you just ask Arden? Surely he knows more about the lone wolf?”
Holding my hands up in mild surrender, I grinned. “He’s too busy dealing with Cameron and territory lines to hear me out.”
As the Alphas of the werewolves and shapeshifters, respectively, Arden Kingston and Cameron Diaz didn’t need to worry about the lone wolf starting a fight with me. They were stressed enough dealing with each other and the never-ending argument about the hunting grounds that was Eden Park.
Named after the same Garden of Eden from the Bible, Eden Park was a wonderland of nature with dense trees that surrounded Paradise Grove like a moat for a grand castle. Mainly comprised of oak and pine trees, there were a few magnolias spread throughout the edges of the park itself. Wildlife of all types wandered through the thick foliage and trees with sunburst leaves of gold and crimson and bronze. The main entrance was located in Midtown, where there was a large park with a playset fit for any child wanting to explore a castle, a biking-slash-hiking path through the scenic parts of Eden, and an oversized fountain that mimicked the one in the square at Justice Street. Though the primary entrance was in the suburban area of Paradise Grove, there were several unmarked paths to the park through the different districts.
But that wasn’t the problem. The chief reason the shifters and werewolves quarreled so much—and that was putting it nicely—was because both used the forest during the Hunt of Artemis. Both were given their powers by the Goddess of the Hunt and Moon once upon a time, so they grew heated over hunting grounds and rights. I could understand, because I wasn’t allowed to use Eden Park at all during the full moon unless I wanted to deal with the politics of it all.
“I forgot that was this week.” Izzy rubbed her forehead, a headache most likely forming at just the thought of dealing with all that testosterone. “I’m so glad I’m an elementalist and not a wolf or shifter.”
“Wish I had that luxury.”
“You’re not a werewolf.”
Snorting, I pointed my finger at her. “Look here, I may not be a werewolf or shifter, but I still gotta deal with this shit too. If they’d let me in on the meetings, we’d get this figured out, but no. They’re stuck in the Dark Ages and won’t listen to me.”
“Then how is this lone wolf here with the Hunt of Artemis so close?”
I shrugged. “I never know what that man is thinking. I’m only glad I don’t have to deal with him but once a month for rent.”
“You two should just fuck and get it over with,” Izzy said bluntly, loud enough that several patrons with sensitive ears turned to look at us.
Shaking my head, I laughed. “That’s asking for trouble. I don’t submit to anyone, and werewolves are too into their posturing and shit. We’d be more likely to fight each other than have sex.”
Sighing, Izzy propped an elbow on the bar and rested her cheek in her palm. “You’re right. I keep forgetting you’re too stubborn, even for werewolves.” She cut her eyes to the men still staring in our direction. “You’re going to end up alone for the rest of your life, you know?”
“That’s why you can never die,” I told her seriously with a straight face. “Or get married.”
“Don’t doom me with you.”
“It’s too late. You’ve been sworn into celibacy. You’re now a nun.” My smooth face cracked as laughter bubbled from my throat at the thought.
Izzy reached over the bar and slapped the towel down hard on my head like a whip. Yelping, I rubbed my head and ducked just in time to miss the next snap of her makeshift weapon. “Luce Lycaon, I plan on having sex tonight, and there’s nothing you can do to stop me.”
“And if I barge in and accidentally proclaim I’m your lover?”
“I’ll kill you.”
Laughing outright, I slapped the bar top twice. “Well, try not to get pregnant, ’kay? You couldn’t handle another you wandering around yet.”
“Gods, no.” Izzy was mortified at the thought of a pyromaniac toddler running around.
“Hey, Iz,” a regular called, “can you turn the TV to the news?”
Typically set to the sports channels, though hardly anyone paid attention to them thanks to the music and beautiful women dancing, the three large flat-screens were mounted at the back of the bar and closest to the drinks. Izzy took the universal remote and flicked the far-left TV to the local news. Just in time too, as the news anchor introduced the next segment, the missing girls case.
Over the past several weeks, three girls went missing within a week of each other: Hayden Flowers, Marie Anne Towers, and Samantha Alexander. Their ages ranged from twenty-one to twenty-four, all were in college, but none of them looked alike. Hayden was a sandy brunette, Marie Anne a blonde, and Samantha a redhead. Whoever was abducting these women was doing so at random, but there were two things for certain: they were all human, and they were abducted near, around, or in Eden Park.
My eyes scanned over the subtitles lining the bottom of the screen, the anchorman’s voice silenced.
“Ashley Wilcox, an eighteen-year-old college student at Southern Grove University, disappeared Tuesday afternoon near Eden Park in Midtown. Her family and friends haven’t heard from her in over forty-eight hours. As Paradise Grove Police work alongside Obsidian Moon agents, there is little doubt her abduction relates to the other missing women from Eden Park.”
I scowled. Diana didn’t tell me she was planning on contacting Obsidian Moon for help on the missing girls case.
An Underworlder police agency that had been around since the early 1300s and kept our secret for hundreds of years before the Reveal in the 1950s, Obsidian Moon had agents across the globe. Established by most governments around the world, Obsidian Moon’s new purpose was to protect the humans and Underworlders, handle squabbles between Underworlders, and protect the humans from Inanis. Corrupted spirits who couldn’t move on without help, the Inanis were soul eaters and hunted the living. Able to manipulate nether and the surrounding shadows, they could change forms from their original shapes—mostly humans—to any creature they consumed.
“Luce?” Izzy turned away from the screen to stare into my burning eyes. “You didn’t know?”
“No,” I murmured. I wasn’t an official cop by any means, but I had a working relationship with PGP, and Diana would’ve told me if she was thinking about involving Obsidian Moon. “Look, I gotta head home. Got an early history class tomorrow plus an English test I haven’t studied for yet.”
“Try to stay out of trouble,” she called behind me with a huff, knowing I wasn’t going to speak much more on the matter.
Throwing another smirk over my shoulder at her, I headed for the door.
Chapter Two
The Quad continued to party on as both sides of the street hummed with hypnotic melodies from countless clubs and bars. A long strip of luscious grass the size of a football stadium divided Silver River Circle into two. Several planted magnolias separated the different-colored paper lanterns that were strung across the divided Circle and fluttered in the distant wind above the pavement. Neon lights from signs danced between the shadows and beckoned patrons inside with their promise of warmth and ice-cold drinks. Fae-powered streetlights lit up the sidewalks, and the shadows crawled on the outskirts, searching for a weakness in the light’s barrier.
I hummed along to the distant rhythm of an upbeat song as I continued down the street, enjoying the crisp air. September in Mississippi was typically dry with a hint of frost nipping at your nose, but never freezing like the northern states where people had to bundle up in layers to survive. Unbothered by the cold, thanks to my magic regulating my temperature, I lifted my head to the night and took a deep breath. Tendrils of alcohol and arousal filtered through the sweet perfumes of wandering women and the delicious scent of fried foods.
Opening my eyes, I watched as ash gray and midnight ink smeared across the night sky, blocking the glittering stars and the nearly pregnant moon. Lights from the colorful lanterns and streetlights painted the cloudy skies with soft pinks, blues, greens, and yellows.
I was thinking about stopping at one of the street vendors for a snack, when I happened to glance over my shoulder to see the same werewolf from Mirage following me discreetly. Which shouldn’t have been possible, not with his injuries, but though there was dried blood on his chin, he moved as if nothing was wrong—like our all-out brawl hadn’t happened.
He purposefully dodged my curious gaze and mixed with a group of six that was walking toward another bar. Eyes narrowed, I turned around and headed to the first vendor I saw and ordered a hot dog. While I waited for my treat, I gave another cursory glance around and noted that the blond demon from before was leaning against the corner of an alley, watching me. Stretching my arms above my head and yawning, I noticed there was a third stalker; this one was female with pastel pink hair and glittering seafoam eyes that held my gaze unflinchingly.
“Here you go.” The vendor handed me my hot dog with gnarled fingers, and I grabbed extra napkins from his stand to keep the bun that was bursting at the seams with mustard and relish from getting on my clothes.
Taking a bite, I walked in the demon’s direction without a care in my step as I continued to hum softly. If I had to hazard a guess, the female was a witch or elementalist and, at worst, a necromancer, going by the unnatural glow to her eyes. Hiding my teeth behind another bite of my hot dog, I blended in with the nearest crowd of people. Thanks to my short stature, it was easy to lose myself in large gatherings. Finishing my delicious distraction, I reined in my magic until it melded with my spiritual core, disappearing from the arcane user’s senses. Next, with a sleight of hand, I embedded my scent on the surface of several people’s clothes to act as decoys while I gave the hound the slip.
As I passed the demon, he stepped away from the alley’s entrance and followed just feet behind me. He pressed his hand against an earwig looped over his ear and murmured something too low for me to hear with the surplus roar of music and people chatting. My car was three blocks away from where we were, and there was no way I was getting there without a fight that would cause a huge scene in the middle of town.
As a former criminal, I knew most of the officers and the Underworlder Parole Office agents either through work or check-ins. The tracking chip with my personal serial number embedded in my right shoulder made me feel like I was someone’s pet. My nose wrinkled at the thought, and my lips pulled back over my teeth. The UPO and Paradise Grove Police had someone monitoring my whereabouts 24/7, so the mystery group of Underworlders following me weren’t from either agency.
Countless people could get caught in the crossfire if the demon turned out to be a powerful Underworlder like me. My only option was to blend in with the crowds until I could plan an escape route.
Rather than head in the direction of my prized Jeep, I ducked into the nearest alley and allowed the shadows to swallow me. Almost like a mother welcoming home her daughter who left for college, the darkness swaddled me in amethyst and onyx tendrils. Wrapping me deeply into its protective embrace, I melded with the shadows until I didn’t know where I began and ended. The blond demon was almost on my heels, and as he entered the alley with mini canyons along his forehead, I grinned. Confusion decorated his handsome features as he searched the darkness for me, and he sniffed the air, twice, before pressing down on the earpiece again. With my sensitive hearing, I listened in with devilish delight.
“Do you have eyes on her?”
There was a momentary pause before a female chirped, “Negative. Don’t sense her either.”
“Larken?” he prompted.
“Her scent is in too many places. It’s like she’s multiplied.”
“Damn it,” the demon swore, then swore again in an ancient tongue that made my blood boil and ears ring. Demonica. “She gave me the slip.”
While the female mentioned performing a scrying, I backed away from the demon, mindful of my steps against the trash-littered ground. I may have been hidden, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t hear me if I made any noise. The Shroud had its limitations, just like all types of magic did, and as my eyes cut to the side to check for a dumpster, I kept an ear on the demon as he muttered to himself. His lapis eyes seemed to penetrate through the darkness surrounding me, but even as our eyes met and held, he didn’t—couldn’t—see me. Not without the help of a dragon, the creatures of magic who could see through any glamour or illusion no matter how powerful the magic’s caster.
“Check the shadows,” a different male voice, this one dulcet and smooth, ordered.
More shocked than surprised that an outsider knew about the Shroud, I glanced back over my shoulder to check for a dumpster to hide behind. There were no hiding spots other than the crevice I made for myself in the shadows.
“How—” the demon began to ask, then paused, his lapis gaze narrowing on the trash that I barely brushed with my foot. I cursed in my head and watched as he walked forward in a half crouch and drew a wicked curved knife the length of my arm from its sheath behind his back.
“Kian?” the female called, but the demon—Kian—didn’t reply as his glare focused on my hidden foot.
Oh, fuck it. I shifted to the right as he walked into my personal bubble and, without hesitation, wrapped my phantom fingers around his wrist.
The muscles beneath his skin tensed and recoiled from my touch, but it was too late, as a tendril of nether pricked his skin, the perfect seed for my plans. I stepped from the darkness as he leaped away from me, my mint eyes darkening to a deep emerald as ghostly blue flames sparked at the corners of my eyes.

Eyes wide, he didn’t give me much chance to say a smartass comment like I planned, because what’s a little drama before a fight scene, right?

About the Author:

Avery Kilpatrick was born in Flowood, Mississippi, in April 1996. Raised in a small town in the Mississippi Delta, she has a fondness for nature and the cotton fields that create Southern snow pastures in the fall. After writing her first novel when she was thirteen, Avery decided to pursue her dream as an author at a young age.

An alumnus of Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, Avery graduated with a Bachelor’s in English. She also worked on the student-run newspaper, The Delta Statement, during her four-year career at Delta State as copy-editor and Editor-in-Chief.

Avery currently lives in a ranch-style home in her hometown in Greenwood, Mississippi. The mother of three fur babies, Cinnamon the spoiled cat, Ginger the rambunctious old lady, and Remington a.k.a. Remi the service dog, Avery has enough fur from shedding animals to make a fourth pet. When Avery isn’t busy writing her next novel, she goes on walks with her mother and dogs, watches Outlander or Criminal Minds on Netflix, or can be found curled up on the couch with Cinnamon reading a good book.

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1 comment:

James Robert said...

Thank you for sharing your book with us. I always look forward to finding out about another great read.