Jasper and Ava have made it through every hurdle thrown their way -- together. Their relationship is stronger -- and hotter -- than ever. But now something new and deadly is after Ava. The pair also can’t forget the minor detail that her mother is still missing.
The supernatural world is dangerous, and full of things that go bump in the night. Will they be able to find the monster before the monster finds her?
Praise for Nighted (Darkling 3)
"I’ve been following Torri’s work from Nyctophilia and with every new piece I become more and more invested. I adore the progression Torri has created between each of her installments in her Darkling Series... I adore her characters even more. [The] romance with Jasper is just absolutely superb. Their dynamic connection and spice is everything."
-- 5 Stars from Jennifer Claire, Goodreads Review
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Nighted (Darkling 3)
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2021 Torri Heat
If I thought back really far, I could almost remember my mother telling me a story. About creatures who lived in the woods, and monsters that went bump in the night. Bedtime stories created to scare children. Except I was no longer a child, and I knew better now than to think those stories were made up.
None of this mattered anymore. My mother and I had no relationship left, and this was definitely not the time for a casual discussion on children’s stories. I had bigger things to worry about. The forest I was currently sprinting through full tilt was far from imaginary, although the scene could’ve been from a dream. The dense foliage was thick with new growth, lush like a fairy tale. Bright flowers bloomed in the small gaps of sunlight. The only thing missing was the bird song, preferably from a friendly bluebird Instead, the only thing I heard as I ran was the sound of my own heartbeat.
I wanted to stop and catch my breath, but I couldn’t. He’d find me, and that was a whole world of trouble I didn’t even want to contemplate. So I kept running, my heartbeat keeping time with my silent footsteps.
There were perks to being a Venator, and then there were skills I had worked my ass off to learn. The quiet way I could move through the forest was one of those skills I was most proud of, and my talent was paying off tenfold at the moment. My original plan had been to do a wide circle in the woods, coming out at the far end, which hadn’t been working out for me so far. Venator or not, my stamina wasn’t unlimited. What I needed was a distraction, or some way to let me loop back on myself. I eyed the aging trees as I ran deeper. The thick vines desperately making their way skyward were too new to provide any real support, but they might give me some traction if I could find a tree small enough to find good holds. Just ahead of me I found my target. A tree younger than the rest with some low limbs, but not fully covered in the twining green ropes. Perfect.
I jumped, reaching for the first low limb and pulling myself into the tree. I continued to climb until I was high enough in the leaves that I was unable to be seen but could still hear everything going on below me. Unfortunately, this vantage point also left my vision partially obstructed. I would have to rely on a combination of my senses and hope for the best. I pulled myself as small as I could, straining my ears to hear the sounds beneath my hiding place. I needed to wait until he passed by me, and then I could make my way back out of the woods. Easy. I had outmaneuvered wolves loads of times. My breath and my heart kept an odd melody in my head, and I forced myself to slow down. I needed to listen.
I heard the heavy breathing first. I must have pulled up at the perfect time, because he wasn’t far behind me. I could hear sniffing down the trail I had followed. I pulled my feet even closer to my body, willing my heart to be silent. I had come this far. I could make it a little while longer. I kept count of the seconds, tapping my finger on my tight black shirt. One. Two. Three. There was the swish of a tail in the bushes beneath me. I could see the edges of the damp fur but couldn’t make out the whole body. Holding my breath, I waited to see if he would find my hiding spot or would move on. Four. Five. Six. The fur slowly disappeared, and the sniffing faded out further along the trail. I would give him a couple more minutes, just to make sure, and then I would jump down and move. Seven. Eight. Nine. My hiding spot had been a success. There was no more sign of him. Now I only needed to get back in one piece. I took a deep breath and jumped down.
I took a quick look around me, feeling satisfied I hadn’t been found out. I turned on my heel to head back the way I had come, before he noticed I was no longer ahead of him. But before I could move, something snaked out from the left of me and grabbed my wrist. My heart stopped. Shit.
“What gave me away?” My voice sounded a lot braver than I felt. Bravery was a constant work in progress, especially when the supernatural world wasn’t one you were expecting to find yourself living in.
Jasper smirked. “Your scent was all over those vines, Green. You should know better than to climb on the greenery without masking your scent first.”