JONATHAN T. SALISBURY
BLOOD BONDED (215 pages) is the first book in The Portal and Key Chronicles. It is an urban fantasy novel set in both modern-day Earth and the fantasy Realm of Faetir.
Eva Higgins is no stranger to violence. An assassination attempt is just a hazard of her job, especially after being blacklisted by Mr. Roper. Eva only takes mercenary jobs now that align with her own interests and moral code. With the help of her trusty assistant, Derek, she easily stays in the shadows.
But her covert skill craft is no match for Calder. He has traveled across the realms to find her. Backed by the powerful Ceann Olc and fueled by vengeance, he will stop at nothing to see her dead. With a powerful army at his command, Calder's resources seem unlimited. But when Eva meets Brynjar and her power awakens, her world is turned upside down. She must rely on her friends to help her navigate this new world, as enemies from her old life close in. Her training, intuition and keen senses are put to the test as she discovers who is a friend and who is a foe.
AN EXCERPT FROM THE NOVEL: We join our companions in the alleyway...
“Up here!” Eva directed them toward the fire escape ladder. “Brynjar, can you reach the ladder and pull it down?” Brynjar left the fallen bags and reached his massive hand upward and grabbed the ladder, pulling it down. Eva was the first up, climbing with deft skill. Brynjar hefted Derek up to the first rung, who started climbing. Brynjar, who still had a bag with him, then climbed. The primal sound continued, closer.
Eva made the fire escape up to her floor. She smashed the window out and climbed through to her kitchen. She quickly scanned the room and, seeing no threats, turned back to the fire escape. Derek was on her heels, and Brynjar followed. Eva turned back into the apartment. She had a small stash of weapons there that would augment her limited supply nicely. She made for her hide. Derek and Brynjar climbed in, with Brynjar still shouldering the bag.
“E, why did we come back to your apartment?” Derek asked when he finally caught his breath.
“Hell if I know,” Eva answered, just as confused as him.
“What the hell do we do now?” Derek asked again. Eva looked at him, not having an immediate answer. The dark pull. It tugged, persistent in her mind. She closed her eyes and tried to push it back. She opened her eyes again, but her vision was blurry. Derek was still talking, but she could not understand what he said. She turned her head and saw Brynjar, who was also speaking, directly to her. His speech was mottled in her ears, but his body language spoke of a concern Eva could not understand. She stumbled backward. Derek immediately ran to her and grabbed her arm to keep her from falling, but her momentum was too much and she took both of them back, landing against the wall, hitting it hard. Brynjar leaped to help and grabbed both of them, pulling them up to their feet.
Eva swooned again, this time saved by Brynjar’s grip on her left arm. Derek held her right shoulder. She felt as though her head was going to explode. Eva screamed, but she heard no sound. She threw her head back, hitting the wall. No, not the wall, the mural. She looked to Brynjar with wild eyes. He was yelling, she could tell. She could hear nothing. She felt a tingle on her skin. Gooseflesh raised on her arms. She snapped her head toward the doorway in the exact moment that it burst open.
Calder stood in the threshold. Death was in his gaze. Something in his eyes stopped her though. She could not place it. It frightened her but held something else too. She could not make sense of it.
Fury built inside her. This time she let it in. The pull was winning, but she did not fight it this time. The flow was grating at first, but she bared her teeth and used the pain. She turned the fear to anger. Anger at having to flee the apartment. Anger at the revelations that had been shown to her. Anger at the impossible truth of what she was. Anger of Abigail’s death; the one person, who might hold answers to her most profound questions. She did not see Calder anymore.
Eva stared at him with rage in her eyes, and then her corporeal vision was blurred. She opened her mind’s eye and grabbed hold of the darkness, reversed its flow. No longer was it pulling it to her, she was drawing it in. She stood firm and dived in. A well of power and chaos enveloped her. She felt herself being ripped apart, but she fought still. With all of her anger focused on a single thought, survive and destroy him. Eva let out a primal roar of her own. It echoed in her mind and became audible to her ears. A blinding flash of colors surrounded her, and Brynjar and Derek.
It was beautiful, spellbinding. It surrounded the trio in a cocoon. The world was a blur behind the curtain. A pull, but this time something different. It was physical. She felt herself being thrust down, up, left, right, all at once. It felt as though a mighty wind had picked them up and was drawing them to something. The colors were brilliant. Almost as soon as it had begun, it ended. She felt an impact, then fell unconscious.