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Authors: Teresa Mummert

Crave

BOOK: Crave
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CRAVE

 

our love is worth dying for.

 

 

 

NEW YORK TIMES
&
USA TODAY
BESTSELLING AUTHOR

TERESA MUMMERT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2011 by Teresa Mummert

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

Printed in the United States of America

ISBN:
9781311906281

ISBN 13:
978-1530196791

www.TeresaMummert.com

synopsis

 

All I craved was one night to forget about the tragic murder of my brother Marcus. Elijah Malakai seemed like the perfect person to take my mind off everything my family had endured. He was a hunter and for the first time in years, I felt safe.

However, Elijah had his own tragic past. As his secrets unraveled, my world was thrown into turmoil once more.

I had to decide whether or not Elijah was worth the pain his past would bring and if I was strong enough to stand by his side and fight.

 

Contents

 

synopsis

Contents

PROLOGUE

Fight

CHAPTER ONE

Sorry For Myself

Chapter Two

Embers

Chapter THREE

Leap of Faith

CHAPTER FOUR

sacrificial lambs

Chapter five

Intruder

Chapter six

Monster Within

Chapter seven

Preparation

Chapter eight

V Positive

Chapter nine

Deliver Us from Evil

Chapter ten

Like the Dead

CHAPTER eleven

With You

Chapter twelve

Helpless

Chapter thirteen

Feed

Chapter fourteen

Bloodlust

Chapter fifteen

Save You

Chapter sixteen

The Plan

Chapter seventeen

Viviana Happened

Chapter eighteen

Jump

Chapter nineteen

Take A Little

Chapter twenty

Innocent Bystander

Chapter twenty-one

Too Easy

Chapter twenty-two

A Mile Away

Chapter twenty-three

Over Easy

Chapter twenty-four

Church and Main

Chapter twenty-five

War

Chapter twenty-six

Waves

Chapter twenty-seven

Elders

Chapter twenty-eight

Honeysuckle and Grass

Chapter twenty-nine

Like Rum

Chapter thirty

Trust

Chapter thirty-one

Porter

Chapter thirty-two

Rest Haven

Chapter thirty-three

Never Forget

Chapter thirty-four

Against the World

CHAPTER THIRTY-five

Glimmer of Hope

Chapter Thirty-six

Animalistic

CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN

Be Still My Heart

CHAPTER THIRTY-EIGHT

What’s In A Name

EPILOGUE

Déjà vu

CHAPTER ONE… AGAIN

Elijah Malakai

About The Author

Teresa Mummert

PROLOGUE
Fight

I stood on the thin ledge of my hotel’s roof as my heart pounded rapidly inside of my chest. Kicking my sandals off, I watched them flutter toward the ground below, disappearing into the darkness of the night as the concrete bit into my soles. I hoped I would be as lucky. I just wanted to fade into oblivion and out of existence like the others before me as they became a memory.

I inched forward slowly until my toes hung over the edge, freedom from the turmoil that plagued me within reach. Stretching my arms out to my sides, I braced for my disappearing act. I hoped my next life would be less cruel, one where the monsters remained inside of our heads and not outside of our doors clawing to get inside. 

It started with a bite but less dramatic than you’d probably imagine. Just like a simple nip from a mosquito could transfer diseases like the Zika virus that could mutate human offspring and then be transmitted from person to person, so did Vampirism. Only it didn’t spread as rapidly with vaccinations such as the TDap immunization that inadvertently made human blood a less than an appealing host starting as young as two months old, or even in the womb if the mother had opted for their own shot while pregnant.

Unfortunately, adults rarely went back for booster shots and many began not vaccinating their children altogether when it was rumored that they could possibly cause autism. If only they knew what was actually being spread. By the time vampires were discovered, the damage had been done. 

At least, that’s what the government told us, to keep us lined up in the clinics and feeling like we had some semblance of control over our fate. All we needed was a simple prick, the president told us.
He
was a simple prick who had no idea what he was talking about. The truth was, vampires had been around a lot longer than we liked to admit and there was
nothing
we could do to stop them.

Thousands took what they called the easy way out, committing mass suicides to get the jump on the end of the world and meet their maker. But they were wrong as well. There was nothing easy about what they’d done.

Sure, their pain ended in the blink of an eye but their pain didn’t die with them, only transferred to those who’d loved them. Same with the victims who’d fallen prey to the vamps. Pain, like love, didn’t die. It wasn’t human. It wasn’t something tangible. Until we all were gone, it just collected, building up like sludge in the souls who were still struggling to make it through another day until it clogged up the heart and we lost all will to continue. The population was rapidly dwindling and the heartache was spreading like an infectious disease.

The air whipped around me, engulfing me with the smells of the city. The scent of life was intoxicating, but it was the death that lurked in the shadows that terrified me. I let out a deep sigh as fat tears rolled down my cheeks and jumped backward to safety onto the roof.

 

THIS WAS NOT MY DAY TO DIE.

WHEN I GO, IT WILL BE WITH A FIGHT,

NOT A SURRENDER.

 

CHAPTER ONE
Sorry For Myself

I wandered back to my apartment barefoot and brokenhearted.  It was one of those nights that you dared someone to mess with you. No one did, of course, and I made it home without anyone so much as glancing in my direction. Even the hunters who stood guard through the night acted as if I was invisible. I posed only a threat to myself, and I couldn’t even go through with that.

Throwing my purse on the kitchen table, I grabbed a beer from the fridge. Sinking down on my couch, I turned on the evening news and braced for the inevitable. The current ticker filled with undead crimes scrolled across the bottom of the screen as if it wasn’t something out of a horror movie.

“Monsters,” I groaned under my breath as I chugged my drink, setting the bottle on the coffee table.  My doorbell rang, jolting me from my self-loathing and I nearly jumped out of my skin.

“Who is it?” I called out as a gripped the small handgun stuck in the back of my jeans, my trembling fingers flexing against the warm metal that dug into the flesh of my lower back.

“This how I taught you to greet people?” My dad’s voice called from the hallway.

“Shit.” I released the gun and unlocked the door, plastering on a fake smile. “Sorry, Dad.”

My father was the strongest person I knew growing up. I never feared anything because nothing could ever hurt me with him around. Today, his hair is peppered gray and his face shows long lines from a terrible life of loss and regret. The world had changed a lot since I was a kid. Now no one was safe.

“I wasn’t invited to the party.” He held up my empty beer bottle as he cocked his eyebrow.

“It’s been a long day.” I snatched the bottle from his hand bracing for a long father/daughter talk.

“The family is worried about you. You never call or show up for family functions,” his voice trailed off, concern written all over his weathered face.

“I’ve had a lot on my mind.” Tossing the empty bottle in the trash, I grabbed two cold ones from the fridge. I opened them both before handing one to my dad as a peace offering.

“Yeah, so it seems.” He eyed his drink before taking a long swig. I expected a lecture about my drinking but he only sighed, a faraway look in his eye. “You know, when Marcus died it hurt all of us. You don’t have to be alone, Eva.” Staring off at the television, his gaze went unfocused and I knew he was struggling to keep his emotions under control. Slipping inside of my room, I put my gun on my dresser so I wouldn’t have to listen to him drone on about gun safety.

My brother Marcus had gotten mixed up with a bad crowd. He had always been in and out of jail, but it was usually for relatively harmless crimes. Until the night a group of locals decided they would rob a vampire owned business, whom they thought owed them something for taking away jobs from the living. Marcus couldn’t resist a quick buck, regardless of the cause. 

They broke into a local vampire blood bank during the early morning hours, stealing thousands in cash and destroying a huge cache of blood. It had been purchased from people in need of money or donated by vampire rights supporters. I knew he brought trouble on himself, I just don’t think he deserved to die for it. 

“How’s Mom?” I asked, trying to change the subject.

“She’s seen better days.” A deep sigh escaped him as guilt settled deeper in my chest.

I took a long pull from my bottle, struggling to form the correct response in my brain. I couldn’t come up with anything that wouldn’t come off sounding callous and insincere. Mom always favored Marcus. He was a perpetual screw-up, but she never seemed to lose faith. I, on the other hand, tried everything I could to be noticed, but it only seemed to happen when I made a mistake.

I picked at the label on my bottle as my father watched me, the pity not hidden in his expression.

“She needs you, Kiddo,” he said, finally breaking the silence.

“She needs Marcus,” I replied and chugged the last sip of my beer, wiping a wayward drop from my bottom lip.

“Nothin’ you do or say is gonna bring him back. Getting’ angry at us won’t help either.” The irritation in his voice caused me to cringe. I hated disappointing everyone but it was inevitable. The world we knew had changed and no amount of lying to myself would correct that.

He drank a sip of his beer and sat it down hard on the coffee table before walking out.  I jumped when he slammed the door, but I refused to run after him. All I could offer was empty promises. Picking up our bottles, I tossed one as hard as I could against the wall. Glass rained as it made an impact, shattering like my heart into a million shards.

“Just great.” It was another mess I would have to clean up, just like the mess Marcus left behind with the vampires, and neither could be swept under the rug.  I scooped up the broken pieces and threw the other bottle in the trash before grabbing a pair of shoes from the coat closet. I needed to get out of this freaking house before the stress alone killed me.

 

***

 

As I walked out onto the sidewalk, I lit a cigarette, blowing the smoke out hard as I contemplated where to go. 

“Screw it,” I muttered under my breath as I decided to head to my ex-boyfriend, Grayson’s house. He always threw killer parties on the weekends and I was in desperate need of forgetting myself in the bottom of a bottle. Fat drops of rain dotted the sidewalk as I trudged down the street lit only by sporadic street lights and shop signs. I took another drag as I made eye contact with the only other person in sight, my brain on high alert.

I’d seen him hanging out in this area for the last couple of weeks. He walked toward me, keeping my eyes locked with his gaze.  God, he was
hot
. His dark hair was messy like someone had just raked their nails through it.
Lucky girl
. He passed by without a word and I wished I’d had the guts to say something. Anything.

Hunters always stood guard after the sun descended. It was the only way any of us could get a decent night’s sleep. But they were outlaws and wild by nature in their own right. Their trail of broken hearts tended to be just as long as their trail of bodies. Glancing over my shoulder, I couldn’t help but smile as I noticed him glancing back at me.

His mouth turned upward in a mischievous grin causing my stomach to flutter.  I looked down at the sidewalk and began to walk faster, turning the corner down Church Street to Grayson’s apartment.  I made my way up the back fire escape and knocked on his window three times before sliding it open and climbing inside.

The apartment was a sea of drunken misfits. I snaked my way through the living room to the kitchen where Grayson West sat at the table surrounded by his closest friends and miscellaneous scantily-clad women playing poker. His dirty blonde hair framed his bloodshot eyes, magnifying the intense blue of their centers. Girls flocked to his disheveled
I don’t give a damn
appearance. I couldn’t blame them. At one time, I was just as enthralled by his lack of motivation and moral compass. But the slacker routine wore thin when the world became a war zone.

“Classy,” I quipped, making sure not to look in his direction as I pulled open the fridge. I grabbed a bottle of liquor and beer.

Grayson and I had dated for three years in high school. We were the couple everyone envied.  But as the world changed, so did I and I could never be that bubbly carefree girl I’d once been. I dropped out of school when Marcus died, just shy of earning my diploma. Things like education and relationships no longer felt relevant when the world was coming to its end. The minute I turned eighteen I got my own apartment, unable to be surrounded by the people I knew one day would all become victims. 

I slammed the shot back and chased it with the beer, dulling the burn to my throat. I set the shot glass back onto the counter and refilled it, desperate to become numb. Taking a deep breath, I slammed another.

“Eva, take it easy,” Grayson called from across the room with a warning tone. I sat the shot glass down and refilled it again, refusing to listen to him. I needed to forget if even for one day. He had no idea how it felt to have to feel all of this, to not be able to shut it off and pretend people didn’t matter as he did. Grayson got up from his seat and came over to my side, putting his hand on mine, preventing me from drinking it.

“Oh, now you care about my feelings?”  I didn’t try to hide the hostility in my voice, but I knew my anger was misplaced.

“Come on, Eva. You know I’ve always cared about you.” I let go of the shot glass, his hand still on mine, his eyes filled with what looked like pain and regret causing my heart to clench painfully in my chest. Grayson wasn’t to blame for our split, but it wasn’t easy to admit to myself that I’d been the one to break his heart.

“It’s been a bad day, Grayson.” I wouldn’t offer more of an explanation and I hoped he wouldn’t push me to.

“Come on,” He said, inclining his head toward his bedroom. “Let’s talk.” I turned back to my shot and swallowed it quickly, grabbing my beer off of the counter as he pulled me by my hand toward his room. He motioned for me to sit on his twin bed, sloppily covered in an old space movie comforter. I hesitated before sighing and taking a seat, struggling to ignore the memories of our time spent alone here. He sank down next to me as his palm landed on my thigh.

“What happened?” 

I hadn’t the slightest clue as to where to begin.  I decided to leave out my brief stint on the ledge of a building. He would run right back to my father and they wouldn’t let me out of their sight again.

“Dad came by today,” I replied, sipping my beer.  He nodded his head and took the bottle from me, chugging from it before handing back.

“He’s worried about you, Eva. We all are.”

“I don’t need pity and I can take care of myself.” The anger welled up inside of me, desperate for an outlet. I stood to leave and he grabbed my arm pulling me back beside him on the bed.

“I don’t pity you, Eva. I love you. You used to be so happy.
We
used to be so happy.” He pressed his mouth against mine softly, catching me off guard. I gave in and relaxed my body against his as he parted my lips with his tongue, an old familiar longing buzzing just below the surface of my skin. His hands slid to either side of my face as he held my mouth against his tenderly. I let myself melt into his touch, my hands roaming over his chest, craving the connection.

It had been too long since anyone had showed me this kind of tenderness and I felt like an addict relapsing. He slowly laid me back on his bed, coming to rest on top of me, the weight of him making me feel safe. Suddenly, the door shot open and a blonde girl appeared, pulling me from the moment as I was reminded that Grayson was no longer mine.

“Grayson, you’re missing all the fun,” she pouted, waiting for a response like a puppy eager for a treat. He glanced over at her as he groaned in frustration. The magic of the moment evaporated around us and the sadness that followed me settled back into my chest. This wasn’t what I needed.
He
wasn’t what I needed.

“I have to get out of here.” It was one thing to want Grayson to live a happy, healthy life, it was another to have to watch as he moved on without me. I pushed him off me and stormed out of the room and into the kitchen, grabbing a beer from the fridge, before heading out the window and down the fire escape. Grayson called after me, his voice echoing from the old buildings.

“Come on, Eva! Don’t leave like this.”

I rolled my eyes and twisted open my beer, tossing the bottle cap over my shoulder.  I chugged as I turned the corner from Main Street back onto Church.  I could still hear Grayson yelling, “Don’t do anything stupid, Eva.”

BOOK: Crave
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