Please keep in mind that these are all snippets from a FIRST DRAFT. These snippets might not even be in the completed novel, once it has gone through editing, revisions and rewrites. Or they might exist in completely different forms to what you read here.
Here they are:
Of course, we don’t yet know what else is out there. When I think about how many fairy tale creatures like the taste of human meat, I become very scared for humanity. I like to think that it’s why my powers showed up when they did, so I can do something about it, so I can help save people. Maybe it’s so I can help even up the odds between Normals and Paranormals.
The vampire screeched and released me, moving a step back.
“What the hell are you?” he asked.
I didn’t answer him. I just spoke one word to my tiger. “Feast.”
And my tiger did. By the time my tiger tattoo returned to its place on my upper arm, there was nothing left of the vampire. Once the tiger’s teeth had reached his heart, the vampire scattered into a million particles of dust.
“Stop that!” I could feel my eyes already starting to go black, my tattoos felt as though they wanted to come to life. I’d never felt that from them before. I shook my head and loosened my shoulders, concentrating briefly on stopping my metamorphosis. A secret identity wouldn’t do me any good if everyone in the park saw me change.
The corpse was of a woman, or what used to be a woman. At least, that’s what it looked like from what I could see. She was wearing a short red dress that was lifted up high on her thighs because of the way her legs were skewed. They were both laying at unnatural angles, as though they’d been pulled out of socket and twisted. Her chest was covered in knife marks, as precise as scratches from a cat, only about ten times bigger and deeper. The killer had literally shredded her breasts, even pulling some of the bones of her ribcage loose.
But the worst was her face, or what had once been her face. It looked like something had chewed her face off. Her neck was still intact, but there was nothing but a bloody, pulpy mess topped by long blonde, blood-soaked hair.
I was thankful that I was still outside, because I’d read that the smell of blood would have turned my stomach even more. I didn’t want to find out if it was true.
I held the dagger like a pro. It was clear I knew how to use it. Black ink from the many tattoos I sported coalesced into dark, inky smoke which surrounded me, weaving through my hair, changing it from dark red to inky black. More of it swirled around my waist. Different shapes could be seen periodically in the black mist surrounding me, shapes of dragons and tigers and more, but none of it fully took form.
One of the tattoos on my face oozed and spun, changing shape, reforming into a dark mask over my eyes. Some of the tattoo ink covered my irises and the whites of my eyes. I knew it made my eyes look completely black.
I suppose if evil was something we could easily see in people, no one would get hurt because everyone would know who to stay away from. But it was never that easy. Evil has always sat amongst us, hiding itself in ordinary faces or charismatic personalities. It could reside in the politician you just voted for in the election, in the neighbor who smiles and says “good morning” to you each day, or in the bank official who helps you secure a loan for your dream house. Evil looks no different than kindness looks on a person’s face. Each heart has its own secrets, and we, the observer, cannot see what those secrets are just by peering into eyes and taking in the way someone appears. Appearances can, and often do, lie.
“You’re the one who told me that my powers made me a superhero. You’re the one who told me I should use them to help people, that I had a responsibility to help others,” I reminded Jack. “I can’t help people if I’m so concerned about myself and my own problems that I give up at the first sign of trouble.”
I was frustrated with this whole case. Eventually, I went to bed and had troubled dreams only to wake up to hear on the news that yesterday’s victim had died from his injuries. I hadn’t saved him after all.
“No,” I shook my head. “What do you think about the figure in the smoke? Could it have been a ghost?”
“A ghost? You think a ghost killed that man? No way!”
“So it’s not possible?”
“Well,” she said, “it’s not possible that a ghost did it but there are other beings out there who might have been able to do it while maintaining an incorporeal form.”
“There are?” I didn’t keep the surprise out of my voice.
“Well, yah. Of course. You didn’t think ghosts were the only things out there did you?”
I knew my shoulders were stiff, and I could feel the muscles in my legs tense as if prepared for flight.
“Um, your eyes –“ Aerin looked worried.
Dang it! My eyes must have been turning black. My body ink seemed to be responding to my moods lately. I concentrated on pulling it back, and looked at Aerin with normal eyes a moment later.
“Uh, what was that?”
“Nothing,” I said, brushing past him.
He led us over to two men who were discussing something between themselves. I couldn’t help but cringe when I saw which two detectives we were about to be introduced to. I grabbed Aerin’s sleeve.
“Uh, you don’t want the detectives to see me.”
“What do you mean? Why not?” Aerin frowned slightly at me.
“Because I was a witness to a murder recently and they treated me as a suspect.”
He was about to say something back to me, but we were interrupted by the captain.
“Detectives Mason and Detective James, this is Aerin Castle, the consultant I told you about, and this is, ah…” he looked at me, “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”
My voice came out as almost a whisper. “Jasmine Storm.” I could see the surprise on both detectives’ faces as they turned to face me.
“Miss Storm is an intern at the Paranormal Investigations Consultancy,” he explained to the detectives while I cringed internally.
“We’ve already met Miss Storm,” Detective James said. “I’m afraid she won’t be able to accompany you into the crime scene.”
Detective Mason was scowling, but I was beginning to think he didn’t have any other expression.
This crime scene was different than the previous ones in one way; there was blood everywhere. It coated the walls and dripped from the lampshade, pooling under the dresser. It soaked the bed and covered the floor. How could one person leave so much blood?
That’s when I noticed another glaring difference about this crime scene; there were two bodies on the bed, both eviscerated. The smell hit me at about the same time that I noticed the two bodies, a cloying, coppery tang that had me instantly heaving and fighting not to vomit.
“What are you? Seriously. A witch, maybe?”
“I already told you. I don’t know what I am. I’m something – different.” I couldn’t help letting some sadness into my voice. I hated not knowing anything about my paranormal ability and where it came from. It was lonely, not knowing anyone like myself.
“Your turn,” I said. “Now you get to tell me what you are.”
“Fair’s fair,” he said. When we stopped at a light, he pulled his hair back, showing a slightly pointed ear.
“What does that make you? Some kind of elf?”
“There’s a Paranormal Council?”
“Yes,” I answered, “and they’re known to the world as a company called Paranormal Investigative Consulting. No Normals are supposed to know about them, so don’t let on to him that you know.”
“Why? Would he have to kill me to keep it a secret?” Jack joked.
“Let’s not find out.” I frowned at him.
That’s when Aerin stood in front of me, blocking my sight of the ghost. “Jasmine,” he whispered for my ears only, leaning down so his lips almost touched my ear. “You’re eyes have turned completely black.”
I blinked and concentrated on calling back the ink that had coated my eyes. I hadn’t even realized it had been happening. What if Gina had seen my eyes?
“Did she see?” I whispered back.
He shook his head, and I breathed a sigh of relief.
The shadow moved quickly towards Jack and then just seemed to meld into him.
“Jack!” I said, “Jack, are you okay?” I took a step towards him.
“Stand back,” Aerin said, a low tone to his voice.
“Help us.” Jack’s mouth was moving, voicing the words, but his eyes had turned completely white and the voice coming from him was high and child-like.
“No,” I shook my head emphatically. “I can take care of myself. Besides, sending someone to watch over my place will be costly.” I glanced towards the hallway, but the detective was still out there on his phone, nowhere near the door, so I allowed my wrist dagger tattoo to ooze off my wrist and form as a formidable-looking dagger in my hand. “See? I can take care of myself.” I sent the dagger back into its tattoo form.
Until now, Aerin had never seen that part of my ability, or, at least, he hadn’t seen enough to connect my ability and my tattoos. I’d just let him in on my secret. I had to trust that he would keep it a secret.
I sipped my coffee and looked up to find Hunter looking at me. I was suddenly uncomfortable. My morning look was not a good one – messy hair, no make-up; I hadn’t even brushed my teeth yet. I started running my fingers through my hair self-consciously.
“You look beautiful,” Hunter said, making me blush even more. I was never very good at taking compliments.
I stepped into the entrance of the alley. The sun was bright, glinting off of discarded beer cans and odd bits of junk here and there. A large dumpster sat to the right about halfway down the alley, a light breeze blowing its stench past my nose. I raised my hands up to cup them over my nose and that’s when I saw something move behind the dumpster.
I took a few steps to the left and forward and a furry head poked out from behind the dumpster, looking right at me. I immediately stepped back. Wolf eyes, unusually large wolf eyes, shone back at me from a furry, grey face. A low growl rumbled through the alley.
“Werewolf,” I didn’t even realize that I had voiced the word out loud.
My wolf tattoo twitched. I’d never felt a tattoo twitch before, but that’s the only way I could describe the sensation. It started twitching and straining and then it misted up off my upper ankle, taking form as a massive wolf by my side.
This created chaos within the werewolf ranks before me. Some cowered and whimpered; some bristled and growled deeper. One, the first one to have shown itself, stepped forward, stiff-legged and snarling.
My ink wolf stepped in front of me, blocking the werewolf’s access to me. I knew that my one wolf against so many werewolves would not be enough.
He grabbed me by my arms. “I am supposed to be protecting you. I can’t do that if you keep wandering off on your own.”
His hands tightened a bit. He wasn’t hurting me, but I didn’t like being held in place either, so I shrugged his grip off of me.
“I wasn’t hurt, and I found out something that might help. Believe it or not, my ability to take care of myself hasn't lessened just because someone is threatening me. You need to chill.”
“You’re starting to resemble Detective Mason. Are you sure you two aren’t related?” I teased, trying to lighten the mood.
“Your boss should be arriving back at the crime scene right about now. Shall we head back?”
“Oh, him.” I said. “He’s not my boss. He’s just trying to convince me to come and work at his company.”
“He said you were an intern.”
“If I’d accepted his offer of employment, I guess I would have been.”
“You don’t want to work at PIC?”
“I don’t work well with authority.”
“They’re not an authority.”
“If they work with the police, they are,” I covered, almost having forgotten that Normals like Hunter were not supposed to know about the Paranormal Council.
“Understood,” I said, “but, since this guy is out there following me and taking photos of me, I’m not going to be standing around twiddling my thumbs and waiting for him to make his move. As long as you understand that, then we’re good.”
Hunter looked like he was about to say something, but he was interrupted before he got the chance.
“Don’t bother, Detective. I’ve not known her long, but even I know you’d be wasting your breath to argue with her,” Aerin said.
It was good to know they understood me enough to at least have learned that much about me. My mom used to say I had a stubborn streak so wide a person could walk across the Atlantic Ocean on it.
I had managed to evade them both and gain some freedom from their male interference, even if only temporarily. Hunter and Aerin were going to be pissed. A pleased grin spread over my face and I walked with more of a jaunt to my step at the thought.
It would be good for them. Someone needed to keep them on their toes. Why shouldn’t it be me?
As I walked, I pulled out my phone and rang Jack.
“Hi, Jack. Feel like getting some lunch?”
“You ditched your police escort, didn’t you?” Jack knew me so well.
The guys were being really quiet. I snuck a peek at them and found them both staring intently at my exposed side. I couldn’t tell if they were more interested in the tattoo-in-progress or me, but I got the impression they both worried that any sound from them might mess up Jack’s concentration and ruin my tattoo. They didn’t know Jack very well. Nothing broke his concentration when he was working on a tattoo.
I burst from the bathroom. If I had looked in a mirror at that moment, I knew exactly what I would see: black hair, demonic black eyes, blackened lips, black eye mask and inky black smoke swirling all around me in a stormy torrent, as though hurricane winds were blowing around me. My new tattoo, the sword, was in my right hand, held low and my wolf was beside me on my right. My tiger was beside me on my left.
I didn’t even look at Jack. I just moved straight for the door, filled with a sense of purpose. We hadn’t been home for long, so the killer had been here recently, maybe recently enough that I could track him. Or, at least, my wolf could track him. He was already sniffing the ground around us by the time we reached outside.
My wolf leapt at the creature. I couldn’t see what was happening, only hear the battle and watch my wolf attack something that only appeared to me in short glimpses. It looked like he was biting down on something and hanging on at one point, so I knew he could somehow affect the creature, as intangible as the creature seemed, but the creature was also doing damage to my wolf. I could feel him weakening. He would return to his tattoo form soon, and I could still barely breathe past the pain. I wouldn’t last long without my wolf.
The wolves came back to me, circling around me and just watching with eyes that glowed in the faint light. I knew that the smell of my blood as it seeped from the wounds in my stomach, would most likely urge them into a hunger frenzy. Blood had that effect on werewolves. But they just stood there. I recognized the alpha from the pack I had met in the alley, just before I felt myself falling and everything went black.
I let my wolf materialize beside me, which he did in a cloud of inky black smoke.
I could feel Bryce’s arm against my back tense. I felt his power sweeping through me as he tried to assert his dominance over my wolf, but my wolf wasn’t a werewolf, my wolf wasn’t even a real wolf, so he had no power over it. I patted my leg and my wolf came to my side and leaned against my legs, lending me its support.