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Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider
Bestselling novelist Beth Rider writes vampire fiction that grabs the world's attention. Unfortunately, it also attracts real vampires who are compelled to kill her because of the redemptive message of her work. Vampires, mortals, angels and demons; Beth finds that they all relate in more ways than she can imagine.
What if your bestselling novel attracts the wrong kind of attention?
Author Beth Rider's second vampire novel has hit number one and she is flying high on her new-found fame. But at a fated book signing that runs late into the night, Beth is confronted by an evil she'd only experienced in nightmares. Jack Dawn, a supernatural monster belonging to an ancient race of bloodthirsty immortals known as the Rakum, vows to track down and kill the young writer because of the vile redemptive message her book is bringing his people.
The Rakum have spread evil among mankind since the Beginning, growing in strength and influence with every passing century. A respected Elder among his brethren, Jack recognizes the novel's destructive potential and his duty to destroy her before the book's promises annihilate his Kind. His method of subduing the novelist is an ancient punishment perpetrated against humans who bring them the ultimate displeasure; Jack marks her as a Rabbit. By forcing her to ingest his poisonous blood, Beth's body now regenerates endlessly and she is set free to be tracked by his hungry brethren. The plan? His people will torture her, slowly, night after night, until she goes insane. Marking her was easy - now Jack only has to sit back and wait for the Rakum to do their worst.
Jack's proselyte Michael Stone was brought up from his youth to be strong, sensible and oftentimes, brutal. But at one hundred and thirty, Michael is old enough to appreciate the quiet and ordered life he'd carved out for himself over the years. Aware that his Elder has marked a human for death, Michael is on the lookout as he leaves work late one night. When he stumbles upon the beautiful and apparently innocent Beth Rider, he is instantly smitten, despite the fact that a few seconds later he realizes that she is the target of his Elder's fury. Puzzled by Jack's unreasonable condemnation, Michael takes it upon himself to protect the lovely author from the limitless lust of his brethren.
Rakum grunt Javier d'Millier was never one to question the Fathers nor doubt the word of the Elders but after reading a curiously odd vampire novel, he begins to doubt the understood deity of his race. Soon identified by Jack Dawn as a traitor, Javier goes on the run with Elder Roman and a mortal with a personal hidden agenda. They also are in pursuit of the book's author, although their intentions are quite dissimilar from those of their brethren.
Facing the most terrifying trial of her life against creatures known only in fables, one simple woman will unintentionally threaten the very existence of a powerful and accursed people. In the climactic mêlée, it is a race to the death, or if Beth has her way, a race to the life-of every Rakum who makes the choice.
Prologue (in its entirety)
The monster had him boxed in and it wasn’t even close to sunup.
“Rabbit! Give it up! You don’t have a chance!”
Schaffer cringed at the sentiment and tiptoed faster along the corrugated tin wall. Up ahead he could see the exit; a huge door that emptied out into the dark night beyond. The warehouse sat on the river’s edge—how far from the pier was he? Maybe fifty feet once he cleared the threshold. There was a good chance he could jump into the water and swim away. Didn’t these aberrations of nature abhor running water? Schaffer didn’t have time to think too hard about it. Taking one deep breath to gather his nerve, he burst forward suddenly, commanding his legs to propel him faster than they ever had before. But it wasn’t fast enough.
Not by a mile.
Schaffer slammed into the outstretched arm of his enemy after only four strides.
“Oops. Down you go, Rabbit.”
Schaffer struggled to get to his feet, but the monster grabbed him by the collar and dragged him back the way they had come. His boot heels plowed the red clay in the dirt parking lot, making furrows no one would notice.
“Come on, silly Wabbit…we have a big night ahead of us.”
Schaffer wrestled against his attacker’s grip to no avail. The creature that held him fast was not his master, but he was still one of them. One of the Brethren. A Rakum. A devilish miscreant with ancient roots no one remembered; whose strength was only outdone by his cruelty. And they would be sure to punish Schaffer for the stunt he pulled against their Elder, Rufus.
Schaffer fought futilely until they reached the monster’s aged and dented Dodge pickup parked in the unlit abandoned lot. He got a glimpse of the Rakum’s face—it was not one he recognized. But that mattered little—once he was marked as a Rabbit, they would come from all over.
“In ya go, Rabbit.”
The Rakum grabbed Schaffer’s belt along with his collar and tossed him into the passenger seat in one fluid motion. Schaffer grunted with discomfort as his attacker quickly zip-tied his hands together. He then zip-tied his wrists to the headrest behind, yanking his arms up above his head. Schaffer cried out but only a few syllables escaped his lips before the monster shoved a greasy rag into his mouth.
“Where’re your matches now, Rabbit?”
Schaffer had set Rufus on fire.
Yeah, it had been a glorious sight. But he didn’t get away fast enough. He blinked back tears, gagged and watched with round eyes as his attacker settled into the driver’s seat and switched on the truck.
“Might be fun to burn you up, Rabbit. See what that smells like.”
Schaffer moaned. An hour after he set Rufus aflame, he had been captured and marked by one of the Elders. The creature told him to start running.
Schaffer looked out the passenger side window as they sped through a thick forest. If only he’d planned an escape route. Now this monster was taking him to his private killing field. As the morbid thought crossed his mind an Airstream trailer emerged from the woods on the side of the grassed-over road.
“Oh my. All for me.”
The Rakum hit the brakes hard and didn’t bother to come around to extricate his catch. Instead, he jumped down and reached in to yank Schaffer out the driver’s side. The stiff plastic ties raked across his flesh and he yelped through the filthy towel as his skin gave way. His wrist bones fractured as his hands popped free of the bonds. The Rakum chuckled and tossed Schaffer bleeding and crying over his shoulder and headed for the trailer.
Schaffer watched the weeds go by in the moonlight, his bloodied fingers dangling off and on in his line of vision. They no longer stung but he was too terrified to notice. They entered the trailer, the door was closed and locked, and he was dropped onto a tattered yellow couch. Schaffer grimaced as he hit the sofa hard but one glance at his wrist and he could see the skin was not ripped as he had thought. Was it the dim light?
“Now you’re in my house, Rabbit. Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. Do you know what happens to Rabbits, around here?”
Schaffer’s eyes grew wide and he shook his head. His tongue pushed at the rag in his mouth but it would not budge. He watched his attacker’s face and vainly pleaded with his eyes.
“We eat Rabbits around here. Yep. But we take our time.”
Schaffer cringed as the monster approached him and stopped only inches from his sweating face.
“And Rufus wants to be sure you suffer.”
Rufus? In the present tense? Are they fireproof? Schaffer choked back a scream as the monster withdrew a knife from outside of his vision and brought it up to his chin.
“We ain’t in no hurry, Rabbit. We can go on all night…”
The sharp blade pressed into Schaffer throat until it broke through the skin with stinging pain. Blood coursed from the wound and spilled out from before him onto the monster’s chest. But as his assailant hovered over him, an evil grin on his dark face, Schaffer felt something else entirely. The fiery pain in his neck subsided and was replaced with a peculiar tightness. The blood that spurted forcefully from his body ebbed and then stopped completely.
His knife wound had healed.
As if he was one of them.
The marking procedure did this. Horrified as the gravity of his situation sunk in, Schaffer leapt aside violently. The Rakum backhanded him into place and then straddled him on the couch, holding him down with his body weight.
“See, Rabbit. Now you get it.”
Schaffer straightened up in his bonds as the monster raised the knife and slashed him again, this time across the chest. The wound was deep and the dark oxygenated blood oozed down his shirtfront. But once again, the pain subsided and the flow eased. Schaffer’s face twisted into a mask of horror.
“Yep. That’s right. We’ll go on all night. And tomorrow night. And the night after that…”
Schaffer watched as his attacker brought the bloody knife tip to his mouth and cleaned it with his red tongue.
“And when I get tired of you…we’ll have my brothers over and let them see what fun you are.”
The knife was raised again and plunged deep into Schaffer’s middle. He grunted, his gag still preventing him from screaming no matter how his lungs fought in his chest to expel his terror.
“And we’ll never get tired of you.”
The knife came out and was thrust in again, this time into his side, into his ribs.
“And you’ll never die. You’ll never die, Rabbit. Never.”
As Schaffer felt the skin tighten and knit itself together in his middle, he knew the monster was right. And his punishment would go on.
Schaffer was in hell.
And his hell would last forever.