Hey guys, me and my sister Susanne Valenti have teamed up to write a kick-ass new vampire dystopian series and the first book is out TOMORROW!
The full series is going to release over the next few weeks so you won’t have to wait long to get your fix! And book is just 0.99 at the moment as a very special release price!
Grab it now from…
And don’t forget to add it to your TBR on Goodreads!
Scroll down to read chapter 1 for FREE!
What readers are saying so far about the series…
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ “OMG. This book gets you from the beginning. It is so good I couldn’t put it down. The story is fast paced, full of action and so true to itself you can actually believe this could happen!” – Anna, Goodreads Reviewer
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ “The strength that each of these girls possess is incredible. The twists and turns this novel made for each of their journey’s was pulse pounding, action-packed…romance vibes happening -squee!” – Nicole, Goodreads Reviewer
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ “This novel was a nonstop, high-speed train filled with kickass heroines, unfaltering love for family, and ancient warriors battling against vampires who….care?” – Angie, Goodreads Reviewer
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ “I am falling for one of the characters so fast my BookBoyFriends top10 might be in danger! ” – RJ, Goodreads Reviewer
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️“This book was fantastic. A little bit dystopian. A splash of romance. A heap of supernatural. And a whole lot of action and sass!” – Nicole, Goodreads Reviewer
In the year 2133, vampires rule America.
Within the Realms, human life is defined by blood.
But there is a way out: The Testing.
No one knows what happens to those who pass. But rumours of the powerful vampire family who want them spark fear in the chosen few.
When sisters Callie and Montana pass the test, they rebel against their fate and plan to do what no human has ever done.
Escape their Realm.
But the vampires have eyes everywhere and the girls are soon torn apart, sending them spiralling down two dangerous paths.
One to the vampires.
The other to the slayers.
With Callie in the hands of a fierce warrior and Montana trapped in a terrifying ritual run by the royal vampires, can they find their way back to each other before it’s too late?
Or will their fates be decided by the deadly men who shadow them..?
Chapter 1: Callie
I suppressed a shudder as an icy drip fell onto the back of my neck and raced down my spine.
My heart beat faster as I fought the urge to shudder. Any movement could give me away. I couldn’t risk getting caught. Not if I wanted my family to survive the winter. Everything depended on this.
Rain fell steadily, pinging off the metal rooftop above my hiding place in the ruined building. Freezing raindrops made their way through holes in the rusted roof. I tried my best to ignore them, but a second drip rolled beneath my collar, stealing what little warmth my body clung to. I didn’t adjust my posture though.
I might have been uncomfortable, but I’d been waiting in the rafters for a reason. And I wasn’t about to give my location away because of the cold.
I squinted down at the courtyard outside the building. Four floors below me, the remains of a decorative fountain were crumbling in the centre of the open space but everything was so wet due to the downpour that it hardly stood out.
I’d braided my blonde hair tightly to keep it out of my eyes but I missed the warmth of it around my ears as the cold wind blew mercilessly through my hiding place.
Just as I’d expected, Thomas stepped into the courtyard and moved towards the fountain. He paused, pulling his collar higher around his neck.
Satisfaction coiled through me like a living thing and I allowed myself a triumphant grin.
I drew in a long breath, willing my heart to stop racing. If I was right about this then everything might be about to change for our family. Anything Thomas could do, I was sure I could do better.
He stood in the pouring rain, glancing about nervously as it slicked his muddy-brown hair to his forehead and obscured his eyes. I understood his need for secrecy. If anyone figured out what he was doing they’d either follow him like I planned to or worse… they’d turn him over to the vampires.
Another drip slid down my spine and its freezing touch slipped into my veins. I longed for the end of winter already and it had barely even begun. With hardly enough firewood to go around and food scarcer than ever, it was shaping up to be a pretty horrendous season. Unless I could pull this off.
Finally trusting in the fact that he was alone, Thomas moved across the courtyard. This was as far as I’d been able to track him until now. I knew he came to this courtyard regularly but for the life of me I had no idea where he went from here.
My sister’s warning sounded in the back of my head. He could be getting it from a vampire. For all we know he gets it by selling the rest of us out. But my gut told me that wasn’t it. A worm he might be, but I didn’t peg Thomas for a rat. No. Somehow, he was getting in and out of the Realm. Undetected. Until now anyway.
I smiled to myself as he stepped over the partially shattered wall of the fountain and waded through the deeper water beyond it.
He glanced over his shoulder one last time before climbing the higher wall on the far side and dropping down beyond it. I could just make out the top of his head as he stooped low and a dull sound reached my ears like something heavy being dragged over concrete.
The noise stopped and Thomas stood upright again, surveying the area. I held steady in my shadowed position in the rafters despite the cramp growing in my muscles. I knew he couldn’t see me but my heart leapt as his gaze swept across my hiding place. He didn’t even give my location a second glance, but turned back to look at whatever was by his feet then dropped out of sight.
My breath caught and I leant forward an inch. The wind drove the pounding rain into my face and I squinted to try and see where he’d gone. It was no good. He didn’t reappear.
Indecision froze me in place. If this was another attempt to flush out anyone following him, then stepping out would give me away. And if he caught me spying on him he’d never make the mistake of letting me do it again. This was my only shot. If I didn’t go soon then I was going to lose him.
“Screw it,” I muttered as I gripped the edge of the thick beam I was perched on and swung myself out of my hiding place.
I hung suspended from the wood for a few seconds and used my toes to feel for the edge of the wall beneath me. My gut lurched with fear as I struggled to find it and my arms began to tremble. With a surge of relief, my right sole connected with the crumbling masonry and I swung myself towards it until both of my boots found it. Once I had my balance, I released my hold on the beam and dropped into a crouch atop the wall.
A high-pitched squeak warned me half a second before a black bat almost collided with my face. I managed to contain my shriek of surprise as I lurched backwards, nearly losing my balance. My stomach swooped and my right arm cartwheeled wildly for a moment before I managed to grasp the brickwork again.
The little creature spun away from me, zipping across the sky in a blur of motion as I tried to calm my nerves. I glanced down at the courtyard I’d nearly been plastered all over and released a shaky breath.
Nice work Callie; why not throw yourself to your death because a creature the size of your palm made you jump? Pathetic.
I forced my mind away from mentally berating myself and looked back towards the crumbling building instead.
I scrambled down the inside of the wall where half of the second floor was still intact and landed on the floorboards with a soft thump. The wood felt springy beneath my feet. Not exactly reassuring. Ignoring the less-than-trustworthy floor, I jogged towards the stairwell.
Four stairs hung suspended above nothing and the rest lay in a shattered heap below. The grimy remains of a carpet coated what was left of the first floor. Two decades of rain blowing in hadn’t done it any favours.
The hole which used to be a staircase extended all the way to the ground. The rope I’d used to scale the building hours ago still hung in place where I’d left it. I wrenched my make-shift grappling hook out of the soft floorboards and searched for something else to secure my rope.
There wasn’t really any choice apart from the thick bannister which marked the top of the decayed staircase. I kicked it, trying to gauge its stability. It shifted slightly which was less than ideal. It was that or lose my hook though and the rusty piece of metal was practically priceless to me. Certainly irreplaceable.
I threw the hook into the small bag I wore on my back and tied the rope around the bannister.
Here goes nothing.
I dropped over the edge and started shimmying down quickly. A shudder trembled through the rope and a heavy creaking sounded above me.
“Shit!” My heartbeat thundered in my ears.
My palms went slick as panic seized me in its grasp. I gave up on shimmying and let myself slide. The rope burned my palms and pain lanced through them.
I made it past the second floor and was level with the first before the sound of splintering wood rumbled above me and the rope went slack.
My stomach soared and a scream built in my chest. I hit the floor hard on my back, the air violently whooshing from my lungs. I blinked through the pain and spotted the bannister hurtling towards me.
I rolled aside, throwing my arms over my head before it could flatten me and the floor vibrated as it crashed to the ground.
I peeked out from beneath my arms at the devastation I’d created. No chance it would go unnoticed. Damn bloodsuckers knew everything. Nearly everything anyway. But there were no rules about staying out of the ruins even this close to the edge of the Realm. There weren’t even any rules about not destroying things out here. Who’d care anyway? So a useless banister fell down in a useless building. It didn’t matter.
I pushed myself to my feet, ignoring the pain in my back and shoulders. I was pretty sure I’d have some impressive bruises by tomorrow. I’d have to be careful to cover them up around Dad. Although if this panned out then I was sure he’d agree it was worth the risk. Maybe.
I just had to hope Thomas hadn’t heard me. Or gotten too far away. I had to locate him again.
I ran out of the building into the rain. I wished my coat had a hood. It had a hole in the right pocket and a fraying hem along the back of the blood-red material. Despite that, it was considered a pretty good coat by most people’s standards.
But I saw what the vampires wore. Winter coats should be thick and warm and have hoods. The worst thing about it was that they didn’t need to stay warm. They couldn’t get cold but they wouldn’t let us have coats like that and they damn well knew we could feel the icy kiss of the season. Every winter people froze to death. Some even volunteered for the blood bank rather than face the slow inevitability of that fate. Poor assholes.
I splashed across the courtyard and clambered into the fountain. The water washed over the tops of my boots and soaked my feet. Perfect.
Climbing over the back wall took two attempts; it was level with my chin and slick with rain water. On the far side, I hit the jackpot. Thomas had lifted a drain cover revealing a dark hole which led… well wherever he was gone. Out of the Realm no doubt.
I glanced about nervously. There was no sign of anyone amongst the ruins nearby. If the vampires caught me leaving the Realm… no time for chicken-shit thoughts. I bit my lip and dropped into the drain.
I landed in a crouch and squinted as my eyes adjusted to the darkness.
All of the drains had been caved in along the edges of the Realm to stop this exact thing from happening and yet, I could see light up ahead.
Cautiously, I started moving towards it. There were no sounds in the tunnel so I guessed that meant Thomas was gone. It didn’t matter anyway. If this got me out then I could do what I needed and get back without him ever knowing I’d learned his secret. Unless he was as observant as me.
I’d noticed him having more to trade recently even though he’d taken care to spread himself between many vendors. I’d also noticed the healthy flush his family had in their cheeks. And the subtle upgrade in their clothing. He was being smart about it. But there wasn’t much that got past me. Especially when I was pretty sure another harsh winter could kill my family. There was no way I would let that happen.
Sure enough as I closed in on the light, I came across the caved-in part of the tunnel. Some of the rubble had been cleared though. Just enough to allow a large man to crawl through. Which meant it was more than big enough for me.
I climbed up to the hole and hesitated. If I did this, I was officially breaking the law. Leaving the Realm could land me in the blood bank. If I was caught and they sent me there it would tear my family apart. Dad and Montana were all that I cared about in this world and the idea of being taken from them froze my limbs in place.
But if I didn’t do this then I wasn’t sure we would survive. I’d been skipping breakfast for weeks, allowing the two of them to have a little extra without them realising it. I left the apartment first in the mornings and I was gone before they woke. All I had to do was leave a bowl drying on the rack to make it look like I’d eaten my portion of the porridge before I left. And even with that sacrifice, I could tell they weren’t getting enough.
The rations we were given daily were slowly decreasing. Bit by bit we were receiving less food as the weeks wore on. My ribs already showed too clearly through my skin and my hips jutted out in a way that spoke of the meals I’d missed. We needed more food.
If I had to risk the blood bank to make sure we survived then so be it.
I took a steadying breath and crawled through the hole.
No turning back now. I’d just crossed a line I couldn’t come back from. I’d broken the law and left the Realm. I just had to hope it would be worth it.
I looked ahead and spotted the source of the light. Another drain was open above me and I quickly scaled the ladder.
I peeked above the rim of the manhole and paused. This was it. If I climbed out then I had definitely, one hundred percent broken the law and left our Realm. Although as I’d probably already done that when I crawled through the hole in the rubble there wasn’t much point in continuing to worry over it… I hesitated for another few seconds then climbed out.
The street was much like the one I’d been standing on minutes ago, it was just on the other side of the electric fences which kept us trapped in our Realm. With a jolt, I realised that I’d never been this far from home. My whole life had been conducted and contained within that space. Five square miles. That was it, always. Twenty one years lived within clear boundaries. Until now.
I grinned as I started down the street, anticipation gripping my heart. There was no sign of Thomas and I hoped it stayed that way. I knew his secret but I’d prefer it if I could keep that information to myself. No need for him to know I knew. I’d rather he wasn’t able to rat me out to the vampires if they got suspicious. And if they caught him they’d make him talk. No way he’d die to protect me.
The closest apartment blocks had been ripped apart by whatever bomb had destroyed the ruins I’d been hiding in so I skipped them. Nothing good was going to have survived in a building missing walls.
I jogged the length of the block and swung east. An intact apartment block greeted me and I made a bee-line for the entrance.
The rotating door groaned in un-oiled protest as I forced it to allow my entry. Once inside I paused. Excitement thrummed through my veins. I didn’t know where to begin.
A corridor led away from me to my left so I took it. The first door I came to was ajar and I pushed it wide, holding my breath.
The door’s movement sent dust swirling ahead of me as I entered. The apartment looked untouched. I doubted anyone had entered it since before...
Life without vampires had always sounded like a fairytale to me. My twin sister Montana and I had the bad luck to be born the year they took over, so anything pre-them was nothing I would ever know.
I headed further into the apartment and found a bedroom. The closet whispered sweet promises to me and I approached it, sliding the door wide. My mouth fell open. I felt like a total idiot but there it was; I stood with my mouth open wide as I stared at the kinds of clothes I’d only ever dreamed about. Thick winter coats with hoods. I reached out hungrily, tearing a white coat from the hanger and swapping mine for it as quickly as I could manage.
It was better than I ever could have imagined. Like being wrapped in a cloud which caressed every part of me. I pulled the furry hood over my head and hugged it close to my face. My eyes fell on a floor-length mirror and I stilled. There was no way I could bring this back. No way I could ever explain it.
I stayed wrapped in its warmth for five more seconds before slipping it back off. My heart broke over the perfect item as I carefully hung it back where it came from and retrieved my threadbare coat from the floor.
I tried to ignore the chill from the damp material as disappointment curled in my gut. I sighed as I hunted through the rest of the things hanging in the closet. At the back I found something I could take. Sets of thick, thermal underwear were folded neatly on a slim shelf. I took two women’s sets for me and my sister and a men’s set for Dad.
I carefully folded them into my pack and turned my back on the coats which could have made such a difference to us. My gaze landed on the thick duvet covering the bed and I had to force myself not to cry. All of this was here, so close and yet completely out of reach. Everything the human population of our realm could ever have wanted. What difference did it make to the vampires to keep this from us? They clearly didn’t want it and leaving it to rot here, just meters from the boundary of our Realm was beyond cruel.
I wondered if they laughed at us as we shivered. If finding people frozen to death in their beds was amusing to them. Hatred coursed through me more readily than usual as I thought on it.
My fingernails dug into my palms hard enough to draw blood and I hissed in pain as I made myself flex my fingers. There was no point in worrying about the things I couldn’t take. I needed to focus on those I could.
I hurried into the kitchen and started opening cupboards. I’d already been here longer than I should have and I needed to get back.
There were several tins of food which I rammed into my pack. I didn’t waste time trying to decipher the scribbles on the labels which no doubt told me what was inside them. The pictures gave me a good idea and though I wouldn’t have said I couldn’t read, I couldn’t exactly claim to be able to either.
It wasn’t like I’d ever needed to anyway. Dad had tried to teach us but I’d never had the patience for it like Montana. Besides, I didn’t see how reading would ever be of much use to me.
The last cupboard I checked held stacks of plates and bowls but peeking out from behind them, I spied a brown wrapper.
I pulled out the slab of plastic-wrapped food and frowned at it. I had no idea what I was looking at but the kids pictured on the wrapper were smiling while eating it. Curiosity got the better of me and I ripped the corner of the packet open. After foregoing my breakfast rations my stomach was pathetically empty and it rumbled in anticipation as I licked my lips.
The food inside was brown. I wrinkled my nose, thinking it was gone off, but a delicious smell reached me. I lifted it closer to my nose and sniffed again. It smelled good.
I tentatively broke off a square and placed it into my mouth.
The most delicious thing I’d ever tasted started to melt on my tongue and I let out a groan of pure pleasure. I’d never had anything like it before and I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to get enough. I closed my eyes to savour the taste as it slowly dissolved on my tongue.
Carefully folding the wrapper back down, I tucked the delicious food into my bag before closing it and throwing it over my shoulder. That was it. I couldn’t take any more and get it back subtly. It was more than we’d had in a long time. We’d have a good meal tonight and something to keep us warm while we slept. That was more than I’d hoped for when I’d decided to follow Thomas.
I grinned at that thought as I headed for the exit. Things were going to be so much better now that I held this secret.
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