Excerpt + Giveaway of the Dirty Blood series – Heather Hildenbrand

Posted: June 9, 2014 in blog tour, excerpt, giveaway, paranormal
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Book One

I killed a girl last night. I did it with my bare hands and an old piece of pipe I found lying next to the dumpster. But that’s not the part that got me. The part that scared me, the part I can’t seem to wrap my head around and still has me reeling, was that when she charged me, her body shifted – and then she was a wolf. All snapping teeth and extended claws. But by the time I stood over her lifeless body, she was a girl again. That’s about the time I went into shock… And that was the moment he showed up.

Now, all I can do is accept the truths that are staring me in the face. One, Werewolves do exist. And Two, I was born to kill them.

Excerpt

Up ahead, a movement caught my eye, pulling me out of my thoughts. I stopped short and felt my pulse jump at the unexpected company. I didn’t usually see anyone else in this part of the cut-through, but just past the next Dumpster, a girl with long blond hair and pointy-heeled boots stood in the center of the alley, shaking uncontrollably. I took a step towards her, wanting to help in some way, and then stopped again when I saw her face. She was glaring at me with a look of hatred so raw, it sent a shiver down my back.

“Um, are you okay?” I called out, still trying to understand why she was basically convulsing. Was she having a seizure? But she was managing to stay on her feet. Her gloved hands were balled into fists at her sides, and she was breathing heavily now. I tried again. “Do you need some help?” Something about the way she looked at me made my skin tingle. I shivered again.

“Help,” she repeated, through clenched teeth. “Right.” Her words dripped with sarcasm and unconcealed malice.

Then, before I could think of something to say to that, her shaking reached its crescendo and then she … exploded. There was really no other word for it. With a harsh ripping sound, her clothes disappeared, scattering into the air in tiny pieces. In the same second, her body seemed to waver and then morph, leaving in its place the largest wolf I’d ever seen. My jaw dropped. Was I crazy, or had that girl just turned into a giant dog?

I had a split second to stare at her before she charged. The brown fur became nothing more than a blur as she rushed forward, teeth bared, claws extended. In that moment, I was completely sure that I was going to die. I didn’t even have time to be afraid; it would all be over too quickly.

Then, somehow, though my conscious brain had nothing to do with it, my body reacted. Just before impact, I twisted aside, dodging her. Using my body’s momentum, I brought my hand around and swung. I hadn’t even realized I’d made a fist, but my knuckles connected and I heard the crack of bone as my hand slammed into the wolf’s cheek. The hit drove it—her?—back a few paces, but then she straightened and seemed to right herself. Her yellow eyes locked onto mine and she came again. I shed my jacket, and let it fall next to me on the concrete; some hidden part of me knew I needed better use of my limbs.

Three more times I managed to dodge the wolf as she lunged. On the fourth, her claws caught on my shirt and raked down my abdomen on either side, driving me back. I stumbled and fell. My back slammed onto the pavement with a hard thud. Again, I accepted my inevitable death. I watched as she continued to come at me, slower and more confident now that I was on the ground. All I could see were razor canines aimed straight for my throat. I cringed and turned away, unable to look into those bright yellow eyes, knowing what was coming. When I turned, a glint of slivered moonlight caught a piece of piping nearby, probably meant for the Dumpster but somehow had landed here.

Again, subconscious reasoning took over and I felt myself reaching for it, my hand closing around the cold steel. With a grunt, I swung out.

I hadn’t expected to actually land the blow or for the crack to be quite so loud. I felt the vibrations from it all the way up my arm but managed to hold onto the pipe until I felt the wolf’s weight go slack. She crumpled in a heap, half on top of me. I pushed her aside, which wasn’t easy, and scrambled to my feet. I stood, staring down at the giant mass of fur, wondering how in the world no one else had noticed what just happened.

As I stared, the wolf’s form began to shake and then shimmer around the edges, going hazy, and then finally, it was the girl again. Her long hair covered her face in stringy waves, matting to her head on the side where the pipe had made contact. Blood seeped slow and steady from the wound to the pavement. Her body was naked and curled together, almost fetal, except for her knee wedged at an unnatural angle. I could see that her eyes were open and staring vacantly but I didn’t linger on that. I couldn’t. Shock and disbelief surged through me as I gaped at her crumpled form, struggling to accept what I was seeing. No way. It was impossible. People couldn’t be … wolves. That was a myth. A way for Hollywood to cash in.

But there was no mistaking it. The girl lying in a heap in front of me was definitely the same girl as before. And she smelled, distinctly, of animal.

I kept hoping she’d move, or at least groan, from the pain of the head trauma. Ignoring the feminine details of her bare body, I stared hard at her shoulders and chest, looking for any sign that might indicate breathing. I didn’t see any. And I knew, deep down, that I wouldn’t.

My hands began to shake. Maybe from the cold, but I was too numb to feel the temperature against my skin. I took a step back and stumbled.

Hands closed around me, keeping me upright. I jolted and tried to jerk away from the unexpected contact. A strangled scream escaped my lips as the hands whirled me around to face my attacker.

“Whoa, it’s okay. I’m not going to hurt you,” he said.

I didn’t answer. My ability to speak coherently had been momentarily lost; any sound would’ve been a scream, anyway. My breath came in uneven gasps and he waited until I got myself under control.

There was concern in his eyes but that didn’t go very far with me. I noticed vaguely that his eyes were the same exact color as his hair, a sort of bronzed brown. The color was fascinating: unlike anything I’d ever seen, and they seemed to hold some dark edge that hinted at danger, no matter how gentle they got. The rest of him wasn’t bad, either. His face matched his eyes, rugged and hard edges from his cheekbones to his jaw. When he’d spun me around, I’d grabbed out to steady myself and even now my hands still rested on his shoulders, where I’d first gripped. Underneath my fingers, and the leather of his jacket, was solid muscle.

The fact that I was actually checking him out—just moments after killing a girl—was my first clue I was in shock.

I didn’t answer. I couldn’t. Training to fight Werewolves? Because of some age-old promise to protect the human race? This was not happening to me. It was ridiculous, and far-fetched, and impossible. And even if I believed it, which I didn’t want to admit that I did, I couldn’t just run off and train for hours each day. I wasn’t the Karate Kid. And my mom and my friends would definitely know something was up—not that I could explain it to them, and not that they would believe me even if I tried. It took seeing it—up close and personal—for me to believe me.

     And even now, there were two thoughts that were so clear, they felt branded into my mind: One, Werewolves do exist, and two, I was born to kill them.

I felt the air in the car begin to change as I stared back at him. It felt warm and thick, like a humid, post-rain summer day. And even though we were already touching, palm to palm, I suddenly had an intense desire to be closer to him, pressed to him. My muscles ached with it and I had to restrain myself from scooting across the seat, and wrapping my arms around his shoulders, and burying my face in his neck.

The image wouldn’t remove itself from my mind and I finally had to wrench my gaze from his to keep from acting on the impulse. I was breathing heavier, partly because of the thickness in the air and partly from wanting to touch him. I wondered if he was affected, too, but I couldn’t look at him again or I wouldn’t be able to stop myself.

His hand slid free from mine, and he started the car and busied himself with checking the rearview and easing us out of the lot. I pressed the button for the window, letting in a gust of cold air. For once, I didn’t curse the cold, and was relieved when I felt the tension melt away.

When we were on the road, Wes cleared his throat. “Well, that was …”

I lifted my head from where I’d been leaning closer to the open window and looked over at him. He was running a hand through his hair, still searching for a word to describe what had happened. He’d noticed it, too. “Different,” I finished.

He sent me a half smile. “Yeah. Definitely that.”

Wes ran a hand through his hair and exhaled. “I tell you what you need to know to be safe. There are things you still don’t understand about The Cause. I get that you would be drawn to something like this. Our group, the idea of it—it probably seems exciting and noble. But it’s also dangerous and bloody and violent. People don’t always want to listen to reason and some of them don’t even want to talk to begin with. They figure out what message you’re spewing, and they attack you twice as hard. That’s not exciting or noble, and it’s not something you can just jump into with no experience.”

“I get that. But you can’t keep trying to push me out of it all, either. I’m a part of this world too, apparently. And I have to figure out for myself where and how I fit into it all. And I can’t do that if the one person who has promised to help me is keeping secrets or always ordering me around.”

“Fine. I won’t order you, but I will insist, at least for now, that you do what you can to protect yourself and stay out of danger. Which means, staying on the sidelines of our little group.”

“Whatever,” I mumbled, with absolutely no intention of heeding his wishes. It wasn’t that I’d already decided to join, but I didn’t like being told I couldn’t, either.

“And since you don’t have the ability to protect yourself, I’m going to also insist on guarding you, like we discussed at the meeting.” His eyes flashed, challenging me to argue.

Suddenly, the idea of him spending every waking hour with me didn’t sound so good. Especially if he was just going to act like my mother the entire time, lecturing and telling me what I could and couldn’t do. “I managed just fine with Liliana.”

“And what about next time? Metal piping going to become your weapon of choice?”

His mocking tone was meant to make me feel like an idiot, but I was too angry to give in. I didn’t need him. I could handle myself. Probably.

“Next time I’ll be ready,” I shot back. “I have weapons. See.” In a swift move, I reached behind me and yanked out the plunger handles, angling them downward in my palm, in what I hoped was a stance that made me look battle ready.

Wes’s eyes widened in surprise. I got a certain satisfaction out of that. Then his eyes narrowed as he got a closer look at my makeshift weapons. “Where the heck did you get these?”

“I made them.”

“Out of what?” He was still staring at the splintered ends, obviously trying to figure out what it had been before.

I hesitated, already regretting showing them to him. Finally, I sighed. “A plunger.”

Wes bit down on his lip.

I glared at him. “Well, I had to protect myself somehow,” I hissed, “especially that first day. I had no idea where you were taking me or how Jack and Fee would react to me.” I knew I was rambling but I kept talking, hoping the sound of my voice would drown out the laugh I could see building. When I was done, I shoved the wood pieces back in my pockets to get them out of sight.

Wes snickered, and looked like he was trying to hold in something louder. He managed to keep mostly quiet, probably from the murderous look on my face. “Okay, so help me understand,” he said, a little breathlessly. “You’ve actually been carrying these around since last week?”

“Every day.”

“Wow. That’s actually kind of impressive in a strange, disgusting, unexpected sort of way.”

“Whatever. Laugh it up. But I can protect myself.”

Wes’s face turned red from the pressure of holding his breath. Finally, it whooshed out of him, along with loud, knee-slapping laughter. I glared at him a second longer, wondering if now might be a good time to test out the durability of my plunger handles, and then abruptly turned on my heel and strode away.

“Where are we?” I finally asked.

“My apartment.”

My pulse sped up a little and my breath hitched. For a moment, I forgot all about the fact that Wes had just fought another Werewolf for me, or that I was mad at him, or that I’d caught George making out with my mortal enemy in the school gym. All I could think about was that this was Wes’s apartment, his private space, and we were alone.

I realized Wes was giving me an odd look so I did my best to smooth my expression. “So, what now?”

Instead of answering, Wes set his water on the counter and came around to stand in front of me. He stared down at me for a long moment and then, slowly, his arms came around me so that his hands were tangled in my hair. He lowered his face until it was inches away from mine and then stopped, watching me with a question in his eyes. I held my breath and waited. When I didn’t push him away, or move to stop him, he closed the distance and pressed his lips to mine.

Heat coursed through me, and I felt my muscles go deliciously soft. Wes’s arms tightened around me and he stroked my hair, deepening the kiss. I could feel his body relaxing against me. It was satisfying to know he was affected, too, and I wrapped my arms around his neck, pulling him closer, not sure how long it would last and not wanting it to end. I could smell him again, woods and wind. His breath tasted tangy, and there was a hint of animal still in him that was both exciting and scary.

Eventually, he pulled away, but he kept his hands on my hair and face. He stared down at me with an intensity that took my breath away.

“You don’t know how long I’ve been wanting to do that,” he said, his voice gravelly.

“When can we do it again?”

He smiled at that, but it was sad. “Soon, I hope. I mean, if you still want to. There are some things I should tell you first.” He took my hand and led me to the couch, pulling me down next to him. When he turned to face me again, the smile was gone, but the sadness still lingered.

“What is it?” I asked, a heaviness forming in my stomach.

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Book Two

Wood Point Academy is not at all what I expected. For one thing, it looks like a cross between military school and Buckingham Palace. Everyone stares, the floors shine so bright you can see your reflection in them from a mile away, and no one smiles. Unless they’re kicking your butt in the process.

At least I’ve got plenty to take my mind off the fact that my psycho cousin, Miles De’Luca, keeps calling and declaring his love and promising to come for me just as soon as he’s destroyed anyone standing in our way. Wes isn’t going to like that idea. So between Miles, Wood Point’s evil welcoming committee, and the drill sergeant hottie trainer from hell, I just keep asking myself, how did I end up here?

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Book Three

  1. If I had to choose one word to sum up all of my problems, this would be it.
    Without hybrids, I wouldn’t have to watch my best friend slowly becoming a monster. Without hybrids, I could let go of the mentality “hunt or be hunted.” CHAS wouldn’t be scouring the Earth, intent on slaughtering and using Alex to do it. Without hybrids, I wouldn’t have to be on guard that losing my temper meant losing my shape. There would be no monster inside me, struggling to get out.

    Then again, without hybrids, I wouldn’t have Wesley St. John.

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Book Four

Forty-six.
That’s how many hybrids survived the Hunter attack in the woods after I revived them with an injection of my blood. That’s how many followed me home to Frederick Falls. And that’s how many were now mentally linked to me through a blood bond.

Two days. Three valium. Fourteen hours of sleep.
That’s what it took to realize I wasn’t losing my mind as a result of the noise in my own head.

Sixteen.
That’s how many days have passed since I almost killed Alex. That’s how many days I’ve sat by his bedside, waiting for him to wake up. To ease the guilt, to understand his betrayal, to remember the exact shade of brown in his eyes.

Zero.
That’s my chances of skating by with Gordon Steppe and the Hunter Council. They want me for questioning. I’m afraid what’ll happen if I give them answers.

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About the Author

Heather Hildenbrand

Heather Hildenbrand was born and raised in a small town in northern Virginia where she was homeschooled through high school. Since 2011, she’s published more than eight YA & NA novels including the bestselling Dirty Blood series. She splits her time between coastal Virginia and the island of Guam and loves having a mobile career and outrageous lifestyle of living in two places.

Heather is also a publishing and success coach bent on equipping and educating artists who call themselves authors. She loves teaching fellow writers how to create the same freedom-based lifestyle she enjoys. For more information visitwww.phoenixauthorink.com and find out how to create your own OutRAGEous Life.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

Giveaway

It is INTERNATIONAL and is for a Wolfe Necklace and signed swag!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/18840545/

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