Beyond Mercenary Book 1: Blood Illusions

A new evil is brewing for this brother-sister duo.


Blood Illusions – 

The frozen ground crunched beneath my boots as I backed up against a tree, my breath forming misty clouds. My silver knife, gleaming in the dim moonlight, was frosted over, a peculiar phenomenon that only occurred when my twin brother Damon and I hunted these unusual vampires. I gripped the handle tighter, and a blend of fear and resolve pulsated through me.

As the vampire neared, the air filled with a curious blend of scents. The sharp tang of electricity, the chilling touch of frost, and a faint, almost imperceptible floral note reminiscent of night-blooming jasmine. The sensory paradox was as intriguing as it was unsettling, hinting at the complex nature of these creatures.

“Damon, now!” I shouted, my voice cutting through the dark forest.

Heavy footsteps thumped through the fallen leaves, accelerating my heartbeat. I raised my cold knife, my blood freezing as an angry snarl erupted nearby. The vampire’s hiss rattled my ears, sending goosebumps all over me. It had a definite scent. A burned electric smell, as if something had short-circuited. I’d never encountered anything like this in the supernatural world.

“Stay where you are, Sawyer,” Damon yelled. “I’ve got him.”

I peeked from behind the tree and watched Damon charge, his blade held high. He flushed something dark from the bushes. A vampire, towering and menacing. It swung and hit Damon, who flew through the trees like a baseball.

A rush of bitter air brushed over me as a dark shape sped past. Without hesitation, I swung my blade hard, slamming it into its back. The creature cried out in pain, stumbling forward, then whirled, blood dripping from its many sharp teeth. More like Jaws than Dracula.

What was this creature?

He stepped toward me. He was twice as tall as a grown man and made of pure muscle. His eyes glowed red like embers, and he flashed me a deadly smile, sending a chill up my spine. “You shouldn’t have done that, beautiful. I bet your blood tastes sweet.”

I pushed my fear behind me and crouched, ready to pounce, holding my blade firmly in my hand.

The creature lunged at me with vampire speed, but I was ready for him. He snapped my head back, his hot breath beating down my neck. As I gritted my teeth, a sudden, sharp jolt of electricity surged through my body, a sensation I’d come to recognize when these encounters turned deadly.

Ignoring the electric tingling that raced along my skin, I plunged my silver blade into his chest. The moment the metal met his flesh, a more intense shock burst through me as if the blade itself conducted a supernatural current.

He released me abruptly, staggering backward, clawing at the silver embedded in him. The electric sensation faded as quickly as it appeared, leaving a lingering buzz in my fingertips.

Damon screamed, lifted his sword high, and decapitated the vampire with a powerful blow. The creature’s head rolled to the side.

My brother panted, glaring at me. “Sawyer, what were you doing? You could have gotten yourself killed.”

I put my foot on the vampire’s twitching carcass and pulled out my blade. “Don’t act like Dad, Damon.” I lifted my head high. “I didn’t do anything you wouldn’t have done.”

“You don’t want to—”

I held up my palm. “Don’t even say it. I’m tired of both you and Dad thinking I’m going to end up like Mom. I’m not her.”

“But according to Dad, you’re reckless like she was.”

His patronizing tone spiked my anger. I didn’t answer for several seconds as I cleaned my bloody knife on the grass. “I’m not her. We needed to flush out the creature. This was the only way to do it, and you know it.”

Damon knelt beside the vampire’s head. Its eyes stared into the moonlight sky. He examined the mouth. “This thing isn’t like any vampire I’d ever seen. It’s got like a million teeth, and it smells like an electric charge. Never seen or smelled that in a fang before.”

I came up alongside him. “Where do you think this creature came from? Do you think it mated with something like a werewolf, and it’s a weird side effect?”

“No.” Damon shook his head. “I’ve seen the offspring of a vampire and a werewolf, and they don’t look like this. It’s almost as if…” His eyes turned solemn.

The hair on my nape stood on end. “As if what?”

He exhaled in frustration. “As if the damn vampires are doing something to make themselves more powerful, powerful enough to reign over the other supernaturals and humankind.”

My brows furrowed. “Do you think the Paranormal Mercenary Corp knows about this?”

The Paranormal Mercenary Corp was made up of supernaturals that included vampires, fae, orcs, dragon shifters, and wolf shifters. They claimed to protect not only their own kind but humans as well. The PMC was supposed to keep the supernaturals under control, meaning they didn’t hurt humans.

They maintained an uneasy truce with us human hunters. Our worlds coexisted as long as they adhered to the PMC’s strict laws. However, when any supernatural entity strayed, violating these laws, it fell upon the human hunters to intervene. This task was far from simple. Unfortunately, many supernaturals saw humans as nothing more than tempting prey, a bunch of walking Happy Meals, making our job both necessary and dangerous.

He gave me a hard stare. “Or maybe they’re involved up to their eyeballs in it.”

“That’s comforting,” I responded dryly.

He pulled his keys from his leather jacket. “Go get the Ford.”

I cocked my eyebrow and folded my arms. “Why? What do you want to do?” I couldn’t keep the uneasiness from my voice.

“We need to take the body back with us. Dad and the others have to see this. We need to know what the vampires are up to.”

I curled my lip as I turned away from the bloody head. I wasn’t sure what we had to put that thing in. Maybe there was a blanket in the trunk of the car. The trunk was our arsenal, and we had every kind of weapon to use on the supernaturals except for guns. Guns were useless against them. To kill one, you had to get up and personal. Real personal.

I slipped into the candy apple red ‘67 Ford Fairlane. Dad gave it to us in high school. Technically, it was both of ours, but it really belonged to Damon. It had a V-8 engine and was a beast. I loved this car. It was perfect for hunting. Way better than Sam and Dean’s Chevy Impala.

The Ford purred, and I slowly drove it over the forest floor. As I approached the fallen vampire, Damon hacked at the body. What was he doing?

I jumped from the car. “Damon…” My voice trailed off abruptly.

Damon roared as he brought his broadsword down on the bloody corpse again and again. A sickening thud accompanied each strike, echoing through the forest like a lumberjack chopping down a tree.

“Stop this madness.” I rushed over to him and grabbed his arm. “What are you doing?”

He broke away from my grasp, anger flashing in his eyes. He gritted his teeth as he pointed at the bloody remains with his sword. “Sawyer, this vampire has been trying to reattach its head to its body.” He kicked the head away from the body, then staked it with his blade.

My eyes widened. “What? That’s impossible. No vampire can do that.”

His face twisted with rage as he wiped the sweat from his brow. “This bloody bastard could.”

I ran back to the car and opened the trunk. I grabbed a blanket from the corner and hurried back to the head.

“Wrap the head in the blanket and put it in the trunk. We’ll have to bury the body parts in different places. Hopefully, it won’t come back to life.” Damon stabbed the creature in the chest, pinning him to the forest floor.

I shuddered at thinking of the body parts finding each other and creating a headless vampire corpse, aimlessly wandering the woods.

 The vampire’s dead eyes locked with mine. After drawing a shaky breath, I bent down and covered the bloody head.

Please don’t talk, please don’t talk, please don’t talk.

I tossed the secured head in the trunk. Damon grabbed two shovels and handed me one. The metal surface glinted in the pale moonlight.

He tilted his head. “Come on,” he urged as he headed toward the corpse.

The forest ground was hard and unforgiving under my feet as I followed him. Sweat-soaked strands of hair stuck to my forehead. With each thrust of the shovel, my arms trembled with effort as Damon and I carved out several holes in what felt like concrete clay.

“These are deep enough,” Damon pronounced as he wiped his brow.

We rolled the bloody pieces into several six-foot holes, then we covered them with dirt, all except for the limbless torso. It was the biggest piece.

I panted hard from all the shoveling. “I hope so. I wish we had something to weigh down the torso. I don’t want this thing reattaching its limbs.”

He scanned our surroundings. “Help me move that boulder.”

I groaned silently, but I nodded and pitched in.

The boulder wouldn’t budge

“Shit,” Damon remarked. “We’ll have to use chains and pull it with the Ford.”

“Sounds good.”

He opened the trunk and glanced warily at me. “I think this thing moved.”


“Yeah, it rolled across the trunk from east to west.”

I retied my ponytail. “Great. I really hope it doesn’t start talking.”

“So do I,” Damon agreed as he headed to the boulder.

He hooked the heavy chains around the rock, tugging to make sure they were securely fastened. I glanced at the motionless torso lying in the grave, holding my breath and praying it wouldn’t come back to life while we worked.

What kind of vampire was able to do this? Was this some twisted dark magic used by the PMC? What possible motive could they have for such a terrible act? The truce between us was already shaky, and this would make it come tumbling down.

The torso had been face down. Now, it was on its side. Damn it. “Damon, hurry!”

Damon revved the engine, and the Ford chugged forward, dragging the giant rock from its resting place toward the gaping hole. He leaped out of the car and undid the chains with trembling hands. We grasped either side of it and pushed with all our might, rolling it onto the torso with a squishing thud.

We grabbed our shovels and threw dirt on the boulder and the torso, pinning it to the ground. With every scoop of earth, my arms strained in protest. When we finally finished our grisly task, I trembled from head to toe.

I glanced at Damon. “What if it crawls out again?”

“Then next time, we’re making vampire s’mores. Extra crispy.”

We unlocked the trunk. The head had moved to the back again.

“Time to hit the road. Let’s give Headless a little separation anxiety. Maybe that will keep him still,” Damon suggested.

“God, I hope so.”

We loaded the chains into the trunk along with the shovels.

As Damon pulled away, I stared at the grave, hoping that thing wouldn’t move.

We had about a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Aspen back to Denver.

I sighed and glanced at Damon, who was intently studying the horizon. He absentmindedly twirled a strand of his dark hair around his finger, which meant he was nervous. He’d done this since we were little kids, like when he was taking a test or thinking about asking a girl out.

“Do you think Dad is still going to be mad that I went on this hunt?” I asked cautiously.

Damon sighed heavily, his breath fogging up in front of him. “He’s got a one-track mind. And you two had a hell of a row before we left.”

I leaned my head back. “I don’t want to go to college.”

“I know. He’s got this nightmare on repeat, scared you’ll go down the same road as Mom. His biggest fear is losing you like he did her.”

I fingered the charm bracelet Dad had given to me on my sixteenth birthday. He’d found it tucked away in some of my mom’s belongings in the attic. After she died, he didn’t have the heart to go through any of them. He had been rummaging through the attic looking for something—I couldn’t even remember what—when he stumbled upon it.

The bracelet didn’t have anything to do with hunting. When I was six years old, Mom and I went to see the Phantom of the Opera, and I fell in love with it. I was only a little kid, but I still remembered it. She’d bought me a charm bracelet, and I lost it a year later, days before she was murdered. I was devastated. Then, losing her too had nearly sent me over the edge of despair.

Ever since Dad gave me the bracelet, I always wore it. It felt like she was with me, and it gave me a small piece of comfort when I was scared or lonely. “I’m not Mom. It doesn’t mean what happened to her will happen to me.”

“Yeah, I get it. But carrying around guilt like that, it’s like trying to drive with the brakes on. Doesn’t do anyone any good, especially him.”

“Tell me about it,” I grumbled.

He reached over and squeezed my arm gently. “Get some sleep. You’ll face him soon enough.”

I managed a small smile, even though I dreaded having the same argument with Dad for the hundred millionth time. My head bobbed, and I fixed my gaze on the snowflakes gliding down the glass pane of the car window. The rumbling engine came to a standstill as Damon softly pressed the brake. A gentle warmth emanated from the car’s heater, making it toasty inside. I closed my eyes for a second, not believing I could sleep for one minute.

The next thing I knew, someone shook my shoulder, rousing me from a deep sleep. “Sis, we’re home.”

I fluttered my eyes open and yawned, stretched my arms. “What time is it?”

He rubbed the bridge between his eyes. “A little after four.”

I dropped my arms and yawned again. “You should have woken me up. I could have driven part of the way.”

He shrugged. “You were out like a light. And let’s face it, you could use the extra Z’s to keep up those stunning good looks.”

Red spider veins lined his deep blue eyes, and dark circles underlined his eyes as if someone had smudged charcoal beneath them. I cocked an eyebrow. “You need to catch some shut-eye, too, Damon.”

“Yeah, as soon as we dump our decapitated hitchhiker in the back with the geezer squad.”

I rolled my eyes. “You mean the Elders?”

He flashed me a mischievous smile. Damon had gotten into trouble more than once with the Elders of the Lumina Brotherhood, a top-secret society of supernatural hunters. They were our so-called bosses, but Damon had never been much of a rule follower. With Dad being an Elder, they had bonked heads again and again like stubborn bighorn sheep.

Our parents had trained us to be hunters since we first learned to walk. Dad had ideas about us becoming Elders and retiring from hunting, but neither one of us wanted to be a pencil-pusher.

I expected Dad to tear out of the house, ready to battle me again, but the house was strangely quiet. He always greeted us after a hunt.


Damon and I glanced at each other.

Something was wrong. Dread crept into my bones.


It looks like the discovery of a new super vampire is going to be the least of their worries. Find out what happens next on February 23rd when Beyond Mercenary Book 1: Blood Illusions is released. Until then head over to Amazon and pre-order today.