“Yasmine Galenorn is a powerhouse author; a master of the craft who is taking the industry by storm, and for good reason!” ―Maggie Shayne, New York Times bestselling author
"Ostensibly the story centers on the search for the killer, but it goes much deeper, laying the foundation for what promises to be an insightful exploration of Lily’s process of personal change while giving readers a peek at a political chess game. The characters leap to life, carrying readers along on a journey through a world much like this one but with a dangerous allure." --Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
One of Publishers Weekly's "Top 100 Books of 2017"
Lily O’Connell, a succubus, owns Lily Bound, an elite sex salon in the Blood Night District of Seattle. When a client is murdered in her house, a patch of skin missing from his chest, she knows there’s something evil afoot. Then comes the news that the Souljacker―a tattoo-artist-turned-vampire―has escaped from an institution for criminally deranged Supernaturals. And he’s hunting and killing everyone he has ever inked.
With one of the Souljacker’s tattoos on her thigh and nowhere else to turn, Lily hires Archer Desmond, a chaos demon and PI, to help her track down the vampire before he finds her and her friends. But Lily didn’t plan to fall for Archer. And as the old tales say―a succubus who falls in love will destroy the heart of the one she seeks to claim.
I leaned against the side of the sliding glass door, staring out into the cold Seattle night as I waited for Jolene Whitehorse to arrive. A brisk wind was blowing off Puget Sound. Even though the doors and windows were closed, the chill seeped in through the glass. Beneath the snow that covered the world, the streets were busy with people hurrying home before it got too dark. Or hurrying to work before the midnight curfew set in. Everywhere, people were rushing to get under cover before the vampires came out to prowl.READ MORE
I pushed back my hunger, but the gnawing force whispered in my ear, urging me to go out on the hunt. Perspiration dampened my forehead and I wiped the drops away with the back of my hand, then clutched my robe tighter. I should have gotten dressed. Or called Dani or Nate. I should have called Wynter to let her know what was going on. In fact, I could think of a million things I should have done but at that moment, I felt as frozen as the icicles hanging off the eaves of the house.
The Wild Hunt was on the rampage, racing overhead under the new moon. The sound of their horns reverberated through the astral. They were terrifying and yet, they called to me, beckoning me to join them. One thing was for sure. When the Fae decided to pull out the stops and ride, everybody felt the world tremor. Especially night demons like me.
Not that I was a true demon. No, I was fully Fae. Fae from the dark side, you might say. I was a denizen of the Winter Court, and the Hunt would always summon me, though. I was a succubus, and the chase was in my blood.
The satyrs echoed their war cries, howling it up in the Underground. They came out to party when the Hunt was on the move, and I could feel their lust like a pulse, rippling through the air. Their hunger acted like an aphrodisiac, and I caught my breath, quivering from the cries of the wild boys. I wanted to join them, to get down and dirty with the boys of the ’hood. I hadn’t fed in a couple of days, and the thought of a muscular satyr with plenty of chi made me salivate.
But then, like a dose of ice water, the memory of what was waiting in my salon washed over me, and my libido took a nosedive. Because upstairs, Tygur Jones was lying dead on my floor, sucked dry by a vampire who had managed to get through my wards. With one last glance into the icy darkness, I abandoned my thoughts of the rave playing out in the streets of the Blood Night District, and turned reluctantly to face the dirge sounding through my own life.
Mr. Whiskers mewed at me as I glanced at the clock. I had called Jolene twenty minutes ago, but after I told her what had happened, the urgency fled from her voice.
“We’ll be there as soon as we can, but since this was a vampire execution, it’s low priority. You know that. My partner and I have to corral some of the horny boys first. They’re tearing it up downtown and scaring the tourists. Buzz me again if the vampire returns. Otherwise, we’ll be there as soon as we can.”
Vampire execution. Also known as VE, it was the new catchall phrase for any death due to the fangboy brigade. Jolene’s answer didn’t make me happy, but since the vampire had fled, there was nothing I could do other than settle into a chair and try to relax.
“So, what should I do, Whisky?”
My nickname for Mr. Whiskers had stuck, but he only put up with it from me. Anybody else, he’d flick his tail at before turning his back on them. And considering Mr. Whiskers’s true nature, being ignored was probably safest.
He jumped up and I groaned as the twenty-pound Bengal sprawled across my lap. He was gorgeous, looking very much like a snow leopard, with a cloudy gray coat and black spots. As he stared into my eyes, I realized he was trying to tell me something, but I couldn’t read what he was upset about. My ability to connect with him flickered in and out, depending on the day. He was probably upset about the vampire. Vampires and cats hated each other, because a cat could always recognize one.
“I’m sorry, Whisky, but I don’t understand. I guess I’m just too tense to focus.”
Fidgeting, I glanced at the stairs, wondering if I should go check on Tygur again. The thought that I might have been wrong preyed on my mind. What if I had missed his pulse? What if he was still alive, but dying?
Suddenly panicking, I pushed Whisky off my lap and raced up the stairs. But as I approached the door, I hesitated. I had dealt with death before—far more than I wanted to admit—but this was different. For one thing, this was in my home. For another…well…vampires.
Gathering my courage, I swung into the room.
Tygur was sprawled on the floor, his throat bloody. The tall, broad-shouldered weretiger with tawny hair was normally hot to trot and unafraid of anything. But now he lay pale and still.
I dropped to my hands and knees and inched forward until I was close enough to touch him. I brushed my hand along his face. He had the smoothest skin of any man I knew, but now the texture was that of cracked leather, typical of a vampire kill. The blood on his throat had already coagulated, and two gaping holes marred his neck, but the only sign of blood on the floor was where it had trickled down the side to drip on the carpet. My hopes evaporated. He was really dead.
“Oh, Tygur…” I let out a sigh. I wished I could cry, or feel anything except numb disbelief, but I was a succubus, and it was a matter of self-preservation to build strong walls. I did my best to avoid any emotional entanglements with anybody I slept with.
The truth was that I genuinely liked Tygur Jones. He was a great guy, and we’d had a lot of fun together. But the reality? He was my client. Or rather, had been, until tonight. A wealthy client. A decent guy. But a client, nonetheless. Even after several years of servicing him, I couldn’t call him a friend, and that made me sad.
I started to close his eyes—I wanted to show some sign of respect—but then stopped. Jolene had instructed me not to touch the body. Not that it would make any difference. More often than not, vampire executions were slapped under the cold-case label as soon as they hit the computer.
Vampires were cunning and powerful, and they pulled all the strings in the Blood Night District. Breathers who chose to live in the area either listened to the old timers, or they learned the hard way. Buy the wards for your house and business. Travel in groups at night. Keep to the curfews. Stay away from the vampire clubs unless you have a free pass to get in.
As I stood, I noticed something that had previously escaped my attention. A strip of skin had been flayed from his chest. Grimacing, I bent down to take a closer look. Sure enough, someone had excised a neat rectangle of skin, exposing the raw, glistening muscle below.
“What the hell? Why would a vampire want skin?”
Something niggled at the back of my mind—a memory—but I couldn’t quite recall it. After a moment, I gave up. It would come back if it was important. As I turned toward the door, it hit me that there was nothing I could do. Nothing I could say would bring Tygur back, and stalling wouldn’t help. I exited the room, shutting the door quietly behind me.COLLAPSE
Playlist for Souljacker
Adele: Rumour Has It
Amanda Blank: Make It Take It; Might Like You Better; Big Heavy
Android Lust: Stained; Saint Over
Beck: Think I’m In Love; Nausea; Loser; Sexx Laws; Mixed Bizness; Broken Train; Devil’s Haircut; Hotwax
Black Angels, The: You on the Run; Indigo Meadow; Evil Things; Don’t Play With Guns; Young Men Dead
Black Mountain: Queens Will Play
Cobra Verde: Don’t Play with Fire
Crazy Town: Butterfly
Eels: Souljacker Part 1
Elektrisk Gonner: Uknowwhatiwant
Finger Eleven: Paralyzer
Fleetwood Mac: The Chain; Gold Dust Woman
Garbage: #1 Crush; Queer; Only Happy When It Rains; Bleed Like Me; Sex Is Not the Enemy
Gary Numan: Stormtrooper in Drag; Dominion Day; The Angel Wars; I, Assassin; My Shadow In Vain; Voix; Soul Protection; My World Storm; Pure; Here In The Black; Everything Comes Down To This; My Breathing; Sleep By Windows
In Strict Confidence: Snow White; Tiefer
Justin Timberlake: SexyBack
Kills, The: You Don’t Own The Road; Sour Cherry; DNA; Wait; Future Starts Slow; Satellite; U.R.A Fever; Nail In My Coffin; Dead Read 7
Kirsty MacColl: In These Shoes?
Lady Gaga: Paparazzi; Paper Gangsta; Poker Face; Teeth
Larry Tee & Princess Superstar: Licky
Lord of the Lost: Sex on Legs
Peaches: Boys Wanna Be Her
Pink: Lady Marmalade
Pussycat Dolls, The: Don’t Cha; Buttons
Rob Zombie: Living Dead Girl; Never Gonna Stop
Róisín Murphy: Ramalama (Bang Bang)
Rolling Stones: Gimme Shelter; The Spider and the Fly; Lady Jane
Shriekback: Intoxication; Over the Wire; New Man; Big Fun; Dust and a Shadow
Stone Temple Pilots: Atlanta; Sour Girl
Tom Petty: Mary Jane’s Last Dance