From The Phantom King, book two in The Kings series….
The metal of the gun slipped in Stephen’s wet grip. It wasn’t supposed to do that. He was never supposed to be in this state, sweating, terrified, without a firm handle on the situation – or his gun.
But when the back window shattered, exploding inward in an eruption of tinkling, foreboding sound, Stephen didn’t rise from where he crouched between the couch and the overturned coffee table. He didn’t stand and face his enemy. Not this time.
He was learning. The lesson was hard and fast and unreal, but Stephen’s mind was that of a trained cop, and despite the impossible nature of what he was facing, it knew what to do: Absorb the information and assimilate.
If he stood up, he was a dead man. If he faced this opponent, he wouldn’t live to see the sun rise. His only hope was to get out of the house and as far away as possible as quickly as possible. Which was to say… there really was no hope at all.
Stephen closed his eyes and swallowed hard when he heard footsteps slowly cross the kitchen tiles. Glass popped and crunched beneath a set of boots, and a trickle of sweat threatened Stephen’s eye. His breaths were harsh in the sudden, threatening silence. He tried to still it in his lungs. He’ll hear me, he thought.
“You’re a plucky little human,” his attacker said, a faint accent and the sound of genuine amusement lacing his words. “I’ll give you that.”
Stephen very carefully wiped the sweat from his brow and cut his gaze to the living room door. It was twenty feet away. Twenty feet between him and possible freedom.
“You’re in my way, detective,” the voice said. He was nearer now, boots casually closing the distance between them. “Have you any idea how many little shits like you have tried to get in my way during my life time?”
Stephen considered his options. He had eleven bullets left in his clip. But the first four had been fired point-blank into his attacker’s chest and had no effect. None whatsoever.
“Thousands,” the voice said. He laughed, the sound ominous and low. It raised the hairs on Stephen’s arms and turned his stomach to lead. “Thousands.”
Stephen tried to ignore the voice. What else did he have? His phone was on the kitchen counter. Worthless. The house was set back from the road and a good half an acre from the nearest neighbor. No one was planning on visiting. He was alone.
“She’s going to come home and find you in a puddle of blood on the living room floor, detective,” his enemy told him as he came flush with the threshold of the living room. “And in her distress, she will be weak.”
Stephen’s heart hammered, his gaze narrowed, and his gut twisted. The voice laughed, sending pain down Stephen’s jaw as his teeth clenched hard enough to crack a molar. “And she’ll be mine.”
All reason, all logic, and everything Stephen had ever learned came together in one split decision then and there.
He wasn’t going to make it out of this alive.
The best he could hope for was to give Siobhan a chance to do what he couldn’t do. Escape.
Stephen rose from behind the couch and turned just as the demon did. They faced each other head to head, eye to eye. The demon’s red gaze flicked to the gun in Stephen’s hand, and recognition passed before his beautiful but oh-so-wrong features. He knew what Stephen was going to do. The detective had learned his lesson the first time.
The demon acted in retaliation just as Stephen raised his arm and pulled the trigger. The detective’s tall form was enveloped in angry, red fire even as he unloaded all eleven of his bullets into his opponent’s face.
Outside on the lawn, a large ginger cat watched the house with big, yellow eyes. His tail twitched as a window exploded and flames licked out to kiss the falling temperatures of night.
The cat made a strange brrreow-like sound and cocked his head slightly to one side just before he raised his chin to watch a stream of red smoke lift from the chimney of the now-burning house and disappear into the night.
A second later, as sirens wailed in the far distance and the house crackled to bright, burning life, the ginger cat turned and bolted, disappearing as well.
Release date for The Phantom King is TBD. Keep up with all of the latest release dates, contests, giveaways, interviews, and news at http://www.facebook.com/killoughwalden and follow Heather on Twitter @killoughwalden !