Maybe it’s just me getting all up in the Christmas spirit, but today I wanted to share with you the very first chapter of HUNTED, Book 3 of the Donovan Circus series 🙂 In case you haven’t read Book 2, BURNED, a little recap – Alex, a Chameleon (meaning his gift can change his appearance – not as a shifter, but rather, eye/hair color, freckles, etc.), is still raging against Lucy and the gang. Lucy’s decided to take matters into her own hands and learn how to go straight for the source. Here’s how she plans to do it.
Chapter 1 – HUNTED, A DONOVAN CIRCUS NOVEL:
An unladylike grunt left my mouth when I hit the tree, the impact jarring every bone in my body. Footsteps sounded behind me; ignoring the pain searing down my left shoulder, I threw my arm up in front of me. In my palm was a ball of orange flames, aimed and ready for my rather large attacker. The man hesitated at my weapon.
“You sure you don’t wanna change that answer?” I asked. I bounced the fireball in my palm a couple times for good measure.
He shrugged. “I feel pretty good about my chances.”
I frowned. “Definitely wrong answer.”
I chucked my fireball at him and he shifted to his right, the flames grazing his left shoulder. He didn’t even flinch and my eyes narrowed. Unbreakable or Firestarter, but which one? Both were going to take a crap ton of energy.
“And this day started out so well,” I said under my breath.
He walked a few steps towards me and I lit another flame in my hand. He paused, but didn’t pull his own fire. Unbreakable, I decided. His dark eyes didn’t leave my hand and I knew he searched for the brilliant blue shade that meant a sure death.
“Where is he?” I asked again. I waved my hand, making my tone a little meaner as I threatened him. “Where is Alex?”
“The Chameleon? In hiding.” The guy chuckled at his own joke and irritation swung through me. The emotion made fire sweep from palm to arm and I didn’t miss his shoulders tense.
“You’ll need to be more specific.” I smirked.
Still he didn’t talk, only eyed me where he stood. It started to give me the creeps until I realized what he was doing – trying to wear me out so that I’d run out of fire. If I was too tired to pull flames, I couldn’t kill him. I dropped the fire completely and surprised registered on his broad features.
“Is this what you prefer? A little girl who can’t protect herself?” I asked.
“It’s more fun for me.” A sly grin picked at the corner of his chapped mouth and I glared at him. I stood as though offering him an invitation to try.
He lunged forward and I ducked under his outstretched hands. Quickly turning, I pulled my arm back and when his face got closer, I let the fist fly. One, two jabs to the nose to catch him off guard, then a stomp on his foot. I gave it everything I had and when my heel met his toes, he howled. One more swift shot to the throat made him silent; his hands reached for his throat, making a choking motion. When I didn’t move, he gestured wildly, clawing at his neck.
“Oh, you’re fine,” I said with a scowl.
His eyes grew wide with panic. He tried to speak but only gagging sounds came out. I hid a smile; Brooklyn’s move was almost Vulcan-like. I wondered if she had a thing for Lt. Uhura; it would certainly explain her taste in strong women.
“What’s that?” I asked innocently. “You’ll tell me where Alex is if I save your life this very moment?”
The guy hesitated, eyes shifting to our surroundings. He barely nodded an inch before I jabbed him in the neck again. He doubled over, gasping for oxygen like a fish out of water.
I leaned over to make sure he could hear me. “I’m not some innocent little girl. Test me again and you’ll be permanently silent. Now tell me where to find Alex.”
He gave me a dirty look as he massaged his throat, voice hoarse. “Fifty miles past Kentucky line. Backwoods type place, holed up in a cave.”
“Where the bears hide, right,” I said, more to myself than him. I knew the area he mentioned; we’d had it marked for the last three weeks, along with four other spots where Alex could be squatting.
“How many – hey,” I snapped my fingers to get his wandering attention. “How many men?”
He shifted underneath my glare. “Five, ten.”
Fire erupted in my palm. “You sure about that?”
“Maybe a few more,” he mumbled.
He cleared his throat. “Fifteen or so.”
“That’s more like it.” My lips pressed together. It would be difficult to get to Alex through a small battalion of gifted men. What would be our next step?
“I can leave now?” he asked, eyes shifting to find his exit.
“Yeah, good talk,” I said absentmindedly.
I turned to walk away and heard the distinctive click of a pocket knife. I spun around to see his arm coming down, the small blade aimed for my jugular. It was like time slowed down; all I could see was metal flash and his angry face. No sound left him, just this slow motion image of that bastard coming at me. The heat came without thinking; flames covered my body, instantly coating me with protection. Alex’s man, too close, caught fire. His sleeve went up first and orange snaked across the fabric, quickly covering him like wildfire. When he didn’t stop, drop, and roll, I raised an eyebrow.
“Help me!” he screamed. “You can put this out!”
I gave him a pointed look. “I could, sure.”
“You wouldn’t let me die, everyone says you’re too coward!” The desperation was obvious, but I’d had enough of him.
“I’m full of surprises,” I said.
I watched him flail and shout a few seconds more. Putting him out of his misery, I blew a thin stream of fire at him. Flames doubled and took over his now silent body. Nothing more than a carcass, he fell to the ground with a thud, flames still licking at him. I clenched my hand into a fist to stop the fire; it went out instantly at my control. I shook my head.
“I didn’t want to do that,” I said to him. “You made the choice.”
It didn’t matter that he couldn’t hear me. Sometimes I just had to say it out loud for myself.