Written by Jeff Gunhus
Jack and his friends continue their race against the clock to find the remaining Jerusalem Stones, as Ren Lucre’s Creach forces continue to gain strength. Two members in their group now have Creach blood coursing through their veins, causing difficulties like none they’ve faced before. They must find a way to remain united if they are to have any hope of surviving their journey through the Underworld and a battle with the vicious Lord of the Demons.
The woman cackled loudly, a laugh full of phlegm deep in her throat. “The old ways. Oh, how I do love them,” she said, crossing the room toward the fire.
She walked hunched over and with the shuffle of a very old woman. Dressed in a black robe, she was hard to see in much detail except for long hair that trailed behind her, reaching all the way to the ground. As she reached the fire, more than one of us sucked in a quick breath in shock. She wasn’t an old woman at all, but a beautiful girl, maybe just over twenty. Her skin was smooth and reflected the color of the flames that burned in the hearth. When she smiled, perfectly white teeth glistened behind full, red lips.
“Hello there,” Daniel said, sounding every bit like the wolf in his blood.
“Oh please,” Eva muttered.
“If we are intruding, we can certainly just be on our way,” I said maybe a little too hopefully.
“A werewolf, a vampire, and four human boys,” she said. “What an odd group to be traveling together, if you’ll excuse me for saying. And speaking like members of the Black Guard no less. Curious indeed.”
“We are all friends,” I said. “We are bonded together.”
“If you think you’re going to be able to add some heads to your wall, you’re mistaken,” Eva said.
“Eva,” I hissed. Diplomacy wasn’t her finest quality, but I was crazy to think I could stop her.
“What we need you to do,” Eva continued, “is call off your pack of weird dwarf-children out there so we can get back on the road and away from this nuthouse.”
The words were out so quickly I couldn’t stop her. We all turned to the woman with the crooked old body and the beautiful face to see how she would react. Part of me thought she might attack us. I thought the six of us could take her if it came to that. But I didn’t think we could hack our way through the Talib gathered outside, especially since the longbow appeared to be their weapon of choice, meaning they could strike us from a distance.
The fire behind the woman rose up in height as if a wind blew up. The wood crackled and spit sparks up into the chimney. She turned to us, her face transformed into a snarl. Her hands came up from the folds of her robe, twisted and deformed, more like claws than anything else.
“Dwarf-children?” she bellowed. “You dare mock me? You dare mock my pain and suffering?”
“No,” I said. “We’re not mocking you. We’re just a little scared is all. Sorry.” I punched Eva in the arm. “Eva, say you’re sorry.”
Eva stared the woman down and said nothing.
“Okay, I’m sorry on her behalf,” I said. “But really, it looks like we’ve come here in error. If we could be on our way, we promise not to disturb you again.”
The woman lowered her hands and slid them back under her robe. Her face relaxed and the snarl disappeared, replaced once again with the beauty that had been there before. “I’m sorry; it’s too late for that,” she said ominously. “I am Bella of the Woods, and you may not leave without accepting the hospitality you asked for.”
The way she hissed out the word hospitality caused gooseflesh to appear up and down my arms. I had a bad feeling her idea of hospitality wasn’t a pot of tea and some cucumber sandwiches. The way the others shifted uncomfortably behind me made me think I wasn’t the only one who picked up on it.
“I hope those things on the wall weren’t given her hospitality too,” T-Rex said under his breath.
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Jack Templar and the Lord of the Demons Blog Tour Giveaway
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