The greatest danger lurks beneath their skin.
Tessa has been as good as dead for seven years—ever since the dweller that killed her family decided to turn her into one of its kind. She’s kept the infection at bay while taking out as many dwellers as possible, but knows her time is almost up. Going out fighting was always her plan, until she meets a man with golden eyes and a touch that makes her want to change her destiny. A touch surely too gentle to belong to a werewolf…
Marcus has dedicated his life to the Blades of Janus, hoping to build peace between humans and dwellers and find a place for himself in the process. He’s used the strength, speed, and heightened senses of his own dweller nature with that single-minded focus—but when Tessa Rhodes storms into his life, all he can focus on is her.
Tessa’s arrival upsets the balance among all the Blades in Providence, awakening an urge Marcus has fought since he was turned—the longing for a pack. If he can convince her not to kill him, to let him fight at her side, they stand a chance against the dweller who infected her—and maybe a chance at something more.
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Short Fiction: 24/7
Short Fiction: Trick or Treat
Short Fiction: Something Borrowed
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(THE BLADES OF JANUS, Book One)
Copyright © 2016 Cassandra Chandler
All rights reserved
“We still have a few minutes,” Tessa said. “Want to show me more of that bike of yours?”
“Sure.” Marcus only hesitated a moment when she gestured for him to go first. No hunter would casually turn their back to someone that fast.
She let him take two steps so she had room to work, then dropped into a crouch and sprang up at him, rocketing into his ribs with the full strength of her legs. She caught him with her shoulder, spreading the impact over her body and hopefully knocking the wind out of him.
He staggered to the side—toward the dirt and away from the street, as she intended. With him off-balance, she dropped again, this time sweeping the back of his knee with a kick that brought him to the ground. He rolled over, but she was right there.
Her knees dug into the dirt on either side of his head, pinning his face between her thighs. For good measure, she pulled out the knife she kept in her right boot, holding it close enough to his neck to keep him from getting any ideas, but not so close that she was putting him in real danger. She grabbed a fistful of his hair to keep his head steady, just in case.
“You’re not a hunter,” she said.
His lips twitched away from his teeth in a barely-suppressed snarl. For a brief moment, she wished she had grabbed the silver knife in her other boot. Her heart was hammering in her chest.
Misjudging him as a Blade instead of a hunter would result in an awkward conversation. If he was a werewolf…
I’d already be dead.
She shook the thought away and pressed the knife closer, let him feel the coolness of the metal but not the sharpness of its edge. “You’re one of the Blades of Janus.”
He let out a breath, relaxing a bit beneath her. “I never said I wasn’t.”
Just like he’d never said he didn’t know about Redcaps. Lies of omission—letting her assume what she wanted. He was clever, which was annoying.
She hissed out a frustrated breath. “How many more times are you planning to use that line?”
“At least once.”
A laugh escaped her before she could stop it. She leaned back and slid the knife into its sheath in her boot. “Damn, you’re cocky.”
“That’s only going to get worse the longer you sit on my face.”
She laughed again.
For a moment, she wondered how bad it would be to hook up with a Blade. She’d only been with other hunters or civilians before. Guys who understood it wasn’t a permanent thing. She had three days in every town she visited. Three days. If she stayed any longer…
Sticking around wasn’t an option. The past always had a way of catching up with her—and her past wasn’t pretty.
She stood and offered Marcus her hand to help him up. He took it, but she didn’t feel any of his weight as he rose. She did notice the raging hard-on that his cargo pants couldn’t begin to hide.
Yeah, he had plenty of resources.
“You really know how to tempt a girl.”
She managed to force her gaze back to his face, wishing she knew what he was thinking. Those damned glasses made it impossible to make out his eyes clearly. The lenses seemed to have ultra-reflective surfaces for some reason.
“Be quiet,” he said.
A muscle was twitching in his jaw. He answered her through clenched teeth. Again.
She couldn’t believe it. The whole time they’d been together, he already had a partner.
She’d been excited to have someone at her side for a single night. He never had to go it alone, always had backup. No wonder he seemed to space out periodically. He had someone talking in his ear.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.” She let out a disgusted snort and shook her head. “This is the problem with you Blades. You have no idea what it’s like to be a real hunter.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You come out here to fight bad guys with your fancy bikes and earpieces, then go home to a comfy bed at night. Probably have a hot meal with your pals. We’re in the thick of it every minute of every day. You think you get to police hunters and that monsters should have rights. Well, guess what? If a werewolf wants to retain a lawyer, it eats him.”
She knew she was baiting him, testing him. The nagging doubt in the back of her mind wouldn’t go away. It was messing with her head.
“They call themselves dwellers,” he said.
“At least you know that much.”