Skye: I’m a lone wolf, but I’ve left the forest to fight against demons who’ve taken over the world. Right now I’m with a pack in Baltimore, but their alpha respects my ways. I take assignments from him, but I live alone and fight alone -- until the night I’m attacked by a swarm of bat demons and a hot little snake dancer jumps in to back me up. For me, it’s lust at first sight, but it’s more than that. I think this adorable little tough guy is my mate, even though he’s not a wolf.
Erik: I’m called Snake Charmer. Dancer. Contortionist. Spirit twin to an alien serpent who has always been my protector. My life has been a series of horrors with some beautiful experiences tossed in. I’ve learned to be independent, especially after my best friend and I were brutalized in an attack that left her dead. Now I’m out for revenge, and it’s brought me to Maryland, directly into the path of a gorgeous werewolf who makes me feel things I never dreamed of. It can’t last, though, and nothing, not even desire this deep, will come between me and my vendetta.
Warning: While set in a futuristic paranormal reality, Snake Charmer includes references to previous child abuse, rape, and murder that may be triggers to some readers.
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Snake Charmer (Confessions 1)
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2022 Kate Hill
Wind snaps in my face and whooshes around my ears. My bike vibrates between my legs and around me the city is a blur of neon lights and towering shadows. Sometimes it’s hard to believe there’s no speed limit anymore. Since the demon occupation, there are few rules and almost none of them protect what’s left of Earth’s original residents. Or were we here first? Since those fucking towers went up we’ve learned a lot, and so far none of it has been good.
Angels. Demons. They were here a long time ago and driven off in a battle long before my time. The past doesn’t matter much anymore, because they’re back and have been for a few years now. I never really kept track of time. Strange as it sounds, I have more purpose now than before the fucking demons took over. It’s nice to be useful, but not part of a pack -- at least not all the time.
This city stinks. It’s not like the mountains where I grew up. The smell of gasoline was rare. Smog and smoke? Never. I was happy there. Free. Rogue wolf, they call me. I’d rather live alone than belly up to any alpha, but when the demons came, when my kind was threatened, everything changed for me.
It’s still unbelievable. Like a nightmare. Wolves hunted on our own land, rounded up and slaughtered or imprisoned in the hellish towers that have risen all around the world. Rumor has it that my kind are used as entertainment -- pitted against each other to fight to the death for the amusement of demons. After all I’ve seen, there’s nothing I wouldn’t believe anymore.
Someone’s screaming. Even with my heightened senses it’s hard to tell the difference between a cry for help -- and there are so many -- and shrieks of demonic joy mixed with general pandemonium.
I slow my bike just enough to spin around and fly down a dark side street. Three pale-faced, dark-eyed demons toss around a black-haired vampiress. She hisses, cat-like, and fights back, but they toy with her, letting her land a few blows before smacking her down. She smashes face down on the pavement and even before I cut the engine on my bike I hear her nose break and smell blood.
Gagging, she pushes herself weakly to her hands and knees, but one of the demons -- a gangly blond -- presses his booted foot to her back, pinning her to the ground. He and his two buddies turn to me.
“What are you staring at?” a dark-haired demon sneers in my direction, his black eyes glittering.
I don’t speak, but stride toward them, hands flexing at my sides. My inner wolf awakens. Time for my nightly workout.
“Hey, ugly, are you deaf? Mute? Maybe you’ve lost your tongue?” taunts the blond.
Ugly? I nearly laugh at that bullshit insult, but I’m not about to break my silence because it can be more intimidating than the loudest words.
The three pull daggers -- common weapons for their kind. They like to kill up close and personal. Right now they probably have bigger hard-ons at the thought of gutting me than of raping that vampiress.
I let them come at me. Shifting to that place somewhere between man and wolf takes a few seconds, but at that moment the stink of their lust turns to the sweet scent of fear. They’re low-bred demons, and what little magic they have doesn’t work on me. Werewolves are immune to mind-control and most forms of magic. These demons are stronger than humans -- most species are -- but not a match for me.
Their blades cut me in a few places. It stings, but I’ve had worse. My claws rip through their leather clothing and flesh beneath. I kick one into the brick side of an abandoned deli. I rip out the blonde’s throat, and the third takes off running.
Scarcely winded, I bend to help the woman who has pushed herself to her knees.
She nods and wipes her bloody nose with a shaking hand. I offer her a clawed, hairy hand, but she shrinks from me, pushes herself to her feet and runs off.
“You’re welcome!” I shout and shake my head. Then I pause and sniff the air. “Aw, fuck.”
Giant bat-like demons drop from the deli’s rooftop. They swarm around me, slashing me with needle-like claws. Growling, I shift to full wolf form, hoping the thicker fur will protect me. I lash out at them, claws swiping leathery flesh and my teeth gnashing at the wind. I try to make it to my bike, but I can barely see through the mass of dark bodies.
The demons shriek and turn away from me. At first I don’t understand what’s happened, and then I see him. Dressed in black, his face covered in a fitted hood that leaves only his eyes exposed, he kicks and strikes at the demons, his lithe body twisting into unnatural positions. He attacks and defends with the speed and precision of a raptor or a snake -- maybe some weird combination of both. He isn’t like any creature I’ve seen before, demon or otherwise.
I don’t have much time to think about it. Shoving aside the few demons still clinging to me, I bound toward my bike.
What the hell am I doing?
I turn toward the shrinking swarm. The remaining demons continue attacking my rescuer. I might be a lone wolf, but abandoning someone who’s lent me a hand isn’t in my nature.