Burn (A Midnight Fire Novella) goes on sale in ONE WEEK!!!!
You can preorder it now :p
I'm so excited to celebrate five years of Midnight Fire and I can't wait to share this super fun anniversary novella with you all! Revisiting my four original favorite characters was so amazing :) Once I got started, it was almost hard to believe I hadn't written from Kira's POV in years! The story just flowed!
So...to get you all ON MY LEVEL of excitement, I want to reveal the first chapter!
The gang is back together again!! Enjoy!
Burn (A Midnight Fire Novella)
"Not to sound like a five-year-old, but are we there yet?" Luke whined, feet bouncing against the carpeted floor of the plane, fidgeting with nervous energy.
"You? Sound like a five-year-old?" Kira murmured, rolling her eyes. Never, she added silently, smiling to herself as she watched his blond hair fall over his forehead with his impatience. But deep down, she knew that his boyish charm was one of the many reasons why she loved him, why she would always love him.
"Not to add to the complaining, but can I second Luke?" Tristan commented, voice tight, earning Kira's attention. It took all of her mental control not to roll her eyes a second time when she spotted his palms gripping the front of his seat, fingers paler than she'd ever seen them since he'd regained his humanity. But really, it was absurd. Put him in a room with a three-hundred-year-old vampire freaking out about turning into a human, and what does he do? Slap the guy in the face, dodge the snapping fangs, and ignore the fact that he could be crushed by one good blow to the head. But tell him to fly on an airplane? Total panic attack.
Kira laughed silently to herself. You can take the man out of the vampire, but you can't take the vampire out of the man. Or, well…something like that.
But her thought was interrupted by Tristan's loud gulp. "Cars, I've adjusted to. But I'm not sure I'll ever get used to flying."
"Oh, come on, it's fun!" Pavia interjected, eyes wide as she stared out the window, smiling. She may be a human again, but she'd never stopped thriving on a little bit of danger, and she'd never lost her edge either.
Before Kira could reminisce, the plane dipped, dropping enough that her butt lifted off the cushioned leather seat. Even her stomach jumped into her throat a little bit.
"Oh, god," Tristan muttered. "I might be sick."
Pavia's only response was a shriek of delight, which was interrupted by the pilot making an announcement through the loudspeaker.
"Sorry about that, folks. Just a bit of wind, nothing to worry about. If you look out the right window, you'll get a great view of the skyline as we make our descent into Teterboro Airport."
Immediately, Kira's eyes flew to the window.
I'm back, she thought as she drank in the view. Skyscrapers stretched like fingers reaching up to welcome her return to a city she hadn't seen in five years, a city that had once been her home.
The Big Apple.
Just across the Hudson, gleaming like silver in the sunlight, the city looked like a beacon shining bright, guiding Kira back to a time that seemed like forever ago. A time before vampires and conduits. Before Punishers and Protectors. Before Luke and Tristan and Pavia. Back when she was just a girl, dreaming of becoming a chef, making her way on her own for the first time at a boarding school that was hundreds of miles away from home. Never in a million years did she think she'd be flying back here on a private jet, working on a secret government job with a conduit who had become the love of her life and two vampires she'd brought back from the dead.
A lot could change in five years.
And Luke, always aware of her thoughts before she was, reached over to grab her hand, gaze growing concerned as he took in the slight frown surfacing across her lips. Kira smiled and shook her head. She wasn't upset, just nostalgic for a time in her life that had been so much simpler. But she wouldn't change anything about her past because it had led her to this amazing future.
"I'm fine," she whispered.
He held on, letting the warmth of the fire always simmering beneath his skin sink into her, calming her the way it always did. Then he asked, "It's been almost five years, right?"
"Since we met?" she asked.
Luke grinned. "No, since I swept you off your feet."
Kira stared at him pointedly. "I think you might be rewriting history a little bit."
"Nah," he said casually, shrugging. "It was all part of the plan."
Kira pulled her bottom lip between her teeth, trying to fight the urge to fire back, but she couldn’t. He'd given her too good of an opening. "All part of the plan?" she commented doubtfully before offering him her own wicked smile. "So it was part of your plan for me to fall in love with your mortal enemy, unleash my powers for the first time in the school auditorium, start an all-out battle with a vengeful vampire chick, follow her to Baltimore, meet an even more terrifying vampire jerk, lie to you, follow him to England, and almost turn into an original vampire?"
"It worked, didn't it?" He smirked.
She snorted. "Next time, can you make a plan with fewer near-death experiences?"
"Things did get a little out of hand…" He frowned, trailing off.
But Kira held Luke's gaze, not looking away until his fire-flecked green eyes held all the heat she felt for him in her own heart. Whatever the plan, it was perfect, because Luke was right. He got her. And more importantly, she got him.
"Hey, lovebirds," Pavia drawled from across the narrow aisle of the private jet. Kira turned, not letting go of Luke's hand and also noting that despite the sarcastic tone Pavia had used, Tristan's fingers were wrapped firmly around her fingers too. Luke and I aren’t the only ones, Kira thought. But then Pavia continued, "Do we have a plan for after we land?"
She knew she shouldn’t, but she couldn't help it.
And the laughter only poured out louder when she heard Luke do the same thing a moment later.
"What?" Pavia asked. "Is it something I said?"
"No," Kira sputtered, trying to catch her breath.
"Plan!" Luke gasped.
"You two are so strange," Tristan added softly.
Kira paused long enough to blurt out, "We've been best friends with you for four years, and you only just realized that now?"
Tristan didn’t say anything, but he grinned that lopsided grin Kira used to love so much, the one that brought out a single dimple on his cheek, the one that even now still tugged at her heartstrings a little bit.
"So, the plan?" Pavia asked again slowly.
"Well," Luke started.
But Kira cut him off. "Luke's not allowed to make the plans anymore."
"Has Luke ever made the plans?" Pavia asked.
Kira grinned. "Good point."
"I resent that."
"The truth hurts," Pavia countered.
This could go on all day. Kira sighed. Time to get down to business. This was a working trip after all, at least for Luke and her. Pavia and Tristan just jumped on the opportunity to travel.
"The plan is for Luke and me to meet with the head vamp of New York and to see why he requested conduit aid. You and Tristan need to stay far away. Go sightseeing. Go to the museum. Go see a show. Just leave the bloodsuckers to us."
Pavia swallowed, uncertain.
But Tristan leaned forward, finally forgetting his fear of flying now that his protective instincts were kicking in. Those brown eyes grew intense and concerned, zeroing in on Kira. "Does this have anything to do with us? Because if it does, we want to be there to help."
"Thanks." Kira smiled at him, understanding the message behind those words. Relations between vampires and conduits had never been all that fantastic, but in the past few years, things had only gotten worse—and Tristan was inadvertently to blame. Once word got around that the conduits had discovered a way to cure vampirism, their secretive world was thrown into chaos. Vamps from all across the globe started turning on any of their kind who wanted to be reborn—they saw it as a threat to their way of life, their society, their power structure. The very idea that a vampire could get its humanity back was terrifying to many, and Kira couldn’t even blame them. She remembered vividly when the newly human Tristan had relived his vampire memories for a short time while Pavia erased them from his mind. Even still, her nightmares were sometimes filled with his screams, the pain of facing what he'd done. Even still, she was haunted by how close he'd come to true, everlasting death.
But all of that chaos just put the conduits into overdrive. Vampires who made it to Sonnyville, the conduit base in Florida, were reborn and given safe haven inside the protective UV walls. Pavia and Tristan were in charge of reintegration—educating the new humans on whatever history they'd missed, introducing them to the new technology of the world, and then sending them somewhere safe where they could begin a new, mortal life. But for every one vamp that made it, five were killed by their own kind for even attempting to start a new life. And all of that chaos just meant more work for the conduits. The Protector conduits, whose flames were meant to contain and not to kill, were busy trying to keep the rebel vamps safe until they could reach Sonnyville to be cured. And the Punisher conduits, whose flames were fatal for a vamp, were in charge of hunting any bloodsuckers who got too enthusiastic with their attacks. The two species of conduits were working better together than they had in a thousand years. Protector and Punisher, separate, as they needed to be to keep the blood from intermixing like it had with Kira. But now, they were working toward one shared goal for the first time.
So, conduit-conduit relations were great.
Vampire-conduit? Not so much.
Which was why no one could believe it when an undead messenger arrived outside the walls of Sonnyville a few weeks earlier, asking for conduits to have a meeting with one of the most powerful vampires in the world—the head vamp of New York. A lot of people thought it was a trick or a trap, some way to send a message that curing vampirism needed to stop now. No vampire had ever come to the conduits for a meeting before. But Kira and Luke were intrigued.
Call it crazy.
Call it insane.
Heck, call it boredom.
But the idea of a new adventure with impossible odds and almost certain death just excited them.
We are strange, Kira thought, letting the corners of her lips lift just a bit as she caught Luke's eyes. They were fiery with anticipation just like she knew hers were.
After a moment, she turned back to Pavia and Tristan, who were still awaiting an answer. "I actually don't think it has anything to do with you guys or with the whole vampires being reborn thing." Kira shrugged, pursing her lips. "I just have this feeling, I don't know, that it's something we never saw coming. Something new. Something big."
"I'm not sure I like it when you have that feeling," Luke commented.
Tristan snorted. "I know I don't."
"Well, I do," Pavia interjected with an air of enthusiasm. "Let's face it, our lives have become pretty same-old, same-old. Turn a vampire into a human, give him our favorite pep talk, send him on his way, and repeat. Over and over. I mean, I love my new Goody Two-Shoes role in life, but a little adventure never hurt anyone."
Kira smirked—she expected nothing else from Pavia. For some reason, they think because of her mind-reading abilities as a vampire, Pavia never lost her memories. She retained it all—the good, the ugly, and the attitude. But Kira wouldn’t want her any other way. Snarky and Pavia just fit.
But even though she'd love the running witty commentary, Kira knew this adventure wasn't for Tristan and Pavia. Not yet, at least. "I don't know," she said, blowing out a deep breath of air. "Bringing the two of you, delivering you to one of the most powerful vampires in the world? Until we know what's going on, what he wants, I don't think you should be involved. Maybe later, but not yet, not until we have more information."
"Yeah," Luke seconded Kira, backing her up as always. "You might think your life is same-old, same-old, Pavia, but outside of Sonnyville, you and Tristan are still a very hot topic. A lot of vampires wouldn't hesitate to kill you, with or without the conduits saying you’re off limits. And you aren’t as strong as you once were."
Harsh, but true.
As humans, they were no challenge at all for a vamp.
They were vulnerable.
Pavia scrunched her brows but remained silent. All the attitude in the world wouldn't change Luke's words, and there was something Kira knew deep down that Pavia would never admit. She loved her new life, she loved Tristan, and she wouldn't risk what she had, not for a little fleeting excitement.
The conversation was over.
But Kira didn’t miss the little glance Pavia and Tristan shared, carrying an unspoken message, or the bright spark flashing in each of their eyes. Before she could butt in and demand answers, the wheels of the jet slammed against the tarmac, tossing the moment completely out of her thoughts. Kira gasped, clutching her chest, as her stomach leapt into her throat. She had totally forgotten they were flying, let alone landing.
"Well, that was fun," Luke groaned.
Tristan cast a dark glare in his direction.
Just like old times, Kira thought, unbuckling now that the plane was slowing.
"So what are you guys going to do?" Kira asked lightly.
"Well," Pavia drawled. "Someone has been chewing my ear off about some museum—"
"Not some museum," Tristan interrupted, voice growing animated now that they were broaching his favorite topic—history and art all in one. "The Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the best museums in the world. And they have a new exhibit displaying never before seen artwork that was discovered a few months ago in a Nazi hideout they just uncovered in eastern Germany. I mean, it's unbelievable. Did you ever think we'd discover a brand-new Van Gogh? A new Monet? After a hundred years?"
"Never," Kira teased.
He scoffed at her. "Just because some of us can't appreciate the finer things in life doesn’t mean we should make fun of those of us who can."
"Of course not," Kira said, not altering her tone at all, but widening her smile.
Pavia leaned across the aisle, whispering none too softly, "Are you sure I can't come with you?"
But her eyes were still on Tristan, and they were shimmering with affection, glistening like an emerald gem in the sunlight. And it warmed Kira's heart to see eyes that were once icy blue and impenetrable shine so openly.
"Don't worry," Kira said, dropping the joke and shifting gears now that the plane had come to a complete stop. They'd arrived, which meant the time for games was over. "You'll be having more fun than us. I'm not even sure where we're supposed to go to find this guy, he didn’t really give us very much information."
"Uh," Luke murmured, coughing. Kira glanced over, noticing how his eyes were staring hard through the little window next to his seat. "I'm pretty sure we have a welcoming committee."
"What?" Kira asked, looking away from him to turn her gaze out the window. Twenty feet away, a black limo was waiting surrounded by about six vampires with hungry eyes that blazed blue. "Great. Just great." She sighed. "Okay, you two, stay here until we're out of sight. I don’t want them to know you're in town until I know it's safe. Luke? You're with me. Let's do this thing."
"Ay, ay, captain," he cheered.
Together, they left Pavia and Tristan behind, exiting down the small step of stairs until their feet hit pavement, and then they stopped.
The vampires didn’t move.
Kira and Luke didn’t move.
"Okay," Kira finally sighed. "Are we going to do this the easy way or the hard way?"
And then she held her hands out, palms up, and brought her fire to life. Flames sizzled above her fingertips, crackling menacingly against the silent afternoon. She might be all Protector now, but her powers could still burn bright enough to hurt. She was channeling the sun, after all.
Immediately, the vamps tensed, eyes flashing brighter as they leaned forward on their toes, ready to finish whatever Kira started.
"Not sure that was the right play," Luke leaned over and whispered into her ear.
"Got any better ideas?" Kira asked tersely, making the blaze even hotter, even more challenging.
"Watch and learn." Luke smirked. And then he stepped right through the fire Kira was billowing around them, crossed the space, and offered up his hand to whichever hungry vampire wanted to step forward to shake it. "Luke Bowrey, nice to meet you."
When did he become the one who was civil around vampires? Kira questioned, remembering the only time they'd ever scheduled a meeting with vampires, back when Pavia still was one and was gathering troops to help them bring Aldrich down. Back then, he was all Kira, they can't be trusted, don't listen to them, what are you doing. But—she took a deep breath—she could play nice if she had to. And it looked like she would because as soon as she pulled the flames back beneath her palms, the tension broke. One of the vampires stepped forward, nodding quickly.
"My name is Ferdinand," he said softly. "Our master asked us to see you safely into the city. He's expecting you shortly. Please, follow me."
"Well, we wouldn’t want to keep him waiting," Kira muttered under her breath. Luke flashed her a look, begging her to cut the attitude for a few minutes. She held her hands up in surrender, mouthing, "okay, okay" and followed him into the car. But the mood was grim as she settled into her seat.
What do you get when you stuff six vampires and two conduits with a nice case of mutual disgust into a stretch limousine? Awkward silence, that's what.
"Well, this is cozy," Luke commented, unable to stop himself from filling the void. Kira glared at him, but he didn’t notice. He was too busy looking around, absently searching for something, anything to say. "So…" He paused. "How about those Yankees?"
Kira dropped her head against the back of the seat.
It was going to be a long ride.
I hope you LOVED the first chapter!!
Burn (A Midnight Fire Novella) is on sale on Nov 15th, 2016!
But you can preorder it now :)