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Descendants of Ra series Book 1
Stella ran. Lungs seizing. Pain racing up her side. She couldn’t stop. The heavy footsteps pounding behind her wouldn’t relent. Her tote banged against her hip, throwing her off pace, slowing her down. She tossed the bag away as lessons from her eighth grade track coach roared in her ears.
Pump your arms, lengthen your stride, move your butt, Walker!
Back then, running was easy on a regulation track. There wasn’t a damn thing regulated about racing through lower Manhattan at two A.M. with a killer chasing you.
She took the corner too fast and her shoulder clipped the corner of a building, sending her careening into a mailbox. The big blue box rang like a tin bell and didn’t budge, while she fell forward and kissed the pavement. Stella pushed herself to her knees. Her arm tingled from the double impact and went numb at her side. She cradled the injured limb, then braced her body against the box, and climbed to her feet.
“Help,” wheezed from spasming lungs. The word died without an echo in an empty street.
Harsh panting sounded over the heavy beat of her heart, like a spent beast tired from the chase, or was it her own breath rasping in her ears? She froze and peered into the night—and saw him.
Big. Like a black hole, he sucked up the light around him. She stared, trying to see where he ended and the world began, and caught a vague outline. On the dark Manhattan Street, reality blurred, the world faded, leaving only him. A stalking nightmare, he turned the city into his hunting grounds.
Stella refused to be his victim.
The darkness came alive and lunged for her. She dodged left, across the street, agony stabbing her shoulder. She ignored the pain and streaked through the streets, praying lessons learned long ago would give her a few more seconds to make it to her small slice of New York.
She spotted the glass door to her building and fished her keys out of her jeans. If she could get inside and close the door, she’d have a chance.
A few more steps and she was at the door, sliding the key into the lock. He grabbed a handful of her clothing and hauled her backwards, then slammed her into the glass. Senses reeling, she dropped to her knees on the concrete sidewalk. Pain shot up her thighs and yanked the world back in focus.
She glanced up. And up.
Past the belt buckle and the black material stretched tight across his rippled abs and pecs. He grabbed her jacket and snatched her up. His muscular arms bunched tight, biceps mini mountains. Dangling, her fists pounded a body made from steel.
“No—” His meaty, gloved hand clamped over her mouth, abruptly smothering her cry.
Stella shook her head and clawed at his fingers for air. Lungs burning. Limbs flailing. She recalled the single self-defense class she took a year earlier at the Y and attempted to ram her knee between his legs.
He twisted and his rock hard thigh blocked her.
He missed the keys still clutched in her hand. She shoved the metal into him, digging deep into his elbow joint. He grunted and released her. Stella scrambled to the door, grabbed the knob to pull herself up, but her knees wouldn’t hold. She slipped and his fist grazed her head, bouncing her skull off the glass. She crumpled.
He flipped her limp body over. Dazed, three of him wavered, merging and separating. He hauled her up by the neck. In her peripheral vision, the weak yellow streetlight glinted off something metallic. A blade came into focus. Stella grabbed his wrist. The metal pierced her flesh and slid into her abdomen.
And jerked out.
She gasped. Bright bursts of pain stole her breath and siphoned the rest of her strength. Darkness crept to the edges of her vision. Her eyelids lifting and falling like lead lined shades. Jumbled parts of the Lord’s Prayer circled her brain.
Stella turned her head a fraction and searched for someone to save her. In the deserted streets, no savior appeared.
It’s not my time.
She stared into the glowing blue eyes of her killer. Their eerie depths mesmerized and beckoned her to a watery grave.
His grating chuckle scraped across her senses. The corners of his eyes crinkled and the ski mask around his mouth stretched across his face. His chest moved with laughter.
Her death approached. He laughed at her. As if she was nothing but a trophy to mount on a wall. A burst of adrenalin surged through her weakening body.
“Don’t laugh at me!” Stella slapped at him. Her fingers caught the edge of the mask and dragged downward.
He pulled his head away and threw her into the door. The glass exploded and she skidded into the vestibule of her building, ending her journey midway into the lobby.
Stella blinked, everything wavered, a shifting dizzying carnival ride. Glass crunched, the vibrating thud of his feet on the tiled floor reverberated through her. Then his weight landed on her chest. Her ribs cracked and snapped like dry twigs echoing in a forest. Air wheezed out of her mouth, leaving lungs quivering. She didn’t want to see what came next, but her eyes refused to shut, gradually losing focus.
“In the name of Anubis, I claim your soul.” Rough, his abrasive voice reminded her of gravel dragged across asphalt. He pierced her skin and ran the razor sharp tip down the side of her face.
Pinned, her muscles slowly relaxed, and every pain faded. Tears squeezed out of her eyes for the things she would never have; the gentle caress of a loving hand, a kiss from someone who loved her and wouldn’t leave. Children. But no one would miss her. Alone for more years than she could remember, this was how she would end.
The elevator dinged.
A woman screamed.
Stella’s eyes locked with her killer before oblivion won.
About Tmonique Stephens
I wrote my first novel about a reporter and a hockey player after the U.S. hockey team won gold in the 1980 Olympics. I love writing flawed characters who reflect the emotional baggage we all carry. I write complicated stories for complicated people. Paranormal romances and fantasy novels are my favorite genre. I'll read anything about fairies, demons, or angels, but I also enjoy Stephen King and Preston and Childs.
I'm hooked on Lucifer, The Backlist, The Strain, Vikings, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and BlindSpot. I can't get enough of these shows!
I was born in St. Thomas USVI, but grew up in The Bronx, New York one mile from Yankee Stadium. I love SyFy, the History channels, and Asian cuisine. But my heart and stomach longs for anything from the Caribbean.