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by Michelle K. Pickett
Book One in the Concilium Series
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Romance/Horror
Release: July 27,2012
Editor: Ellee Braun
Line Editor: Deb McIntyre
Cover Designer: Winterheart Designs
“A tale of deadly creatures
and forbidden romance”
Leslee hit a strange animal with her car. Now she’s marked for death.
It was a simple car accident--the animal didn’t even die--but it drew the attention of the Cruor Imbibo. Driven by their insatiable need to feed, the secret society of Imbibo has devoured the dregs of civilization for centuries.
Afraid Leslee will expose them, and put an end to their meal ticket, the Imbibo want her dead.
The Concilium is Leslee's only protection. Guardian of the ancient secret and the protector of humans, the Concilium fights to control the Imbibo and end their feeding frenzy.
Miller works for the Concilium. Keeping Leslee alive is his next assignment.
Now Leslee is on the run, and the only thing between her flesh and the snapping jaws of the Imbibo is Miller. He and Leslee quickly form a bond, but will falling in love make Miller’s job more difficult? Because if he fails, Leslee will be next on the Imbibo menu.The Cruor Imbibo are coming, and they're coming for Leslee.
The dream was back.
The crickets are singing, and I can hear the far-off croak of a bull frog, but there’s something else. The hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. The whispering is back, and the eerie chanting turns my blood cold. I know I should run, but fear glues me in place. There’s a new sound mixed with the whispers. I strain to hear over the blood rushing behind my ears. It’s a man’s voice, calling me. I try to answer, to call for help, but a lump forms in my throat. I try to scream. It comes out as a whimper. My heart beats painfully in my chest as the whispering grows louder mixed with harsh growling. The man shouts to be heard over it.
“Leslee!” I was jerked out of the chaise by a man shouting my name. “Leslee, wake up and get inside,” he ordered, looking over his shoulder at the darkened forest.
I didn’t recognize his face, but I knew his voice instantly—the stranger in the car.
What is he doing here? Has he come to finish the job? To finish me?
I tried to pull away. He pushed me toward my back door.
Struggling to free myself from the man’s grip, I heard it—the same sound I heard Monday night, and one that would stay ingrained in my memory for as long as I lived. The whispering was incoherent, and I could tell from the volume that whoever they were, they were close, just beyond the deck lights. I froze at the sound of the frantic whispering.
“Leslee, move. Get in the house.”
I let him push me toward the door when I heard another familiar sound, a low, fierce growling. I didn’t know which sound frightened me more, but the next sound I heard chilled my blood.
The growling and whispering mingled. Crunching followed by screams of pain split the night. Memories slammed into me.
Blood-covered walls...body bags and body parts...gruesome deaths...
My adrenaline kicked in, and I ran to the door, the man close behind me. Clearing the door, I turned and slammed it, trying to keep him out of the house long enough to call 911, to escape whatever was happening to cause the horrible sounds. To escape him.
I heard him mutter an oath as he pushed against the door with his shoulder. “Open the door,” he demanded quietly, his face pressed against the open crack of the door.
“No!” I screamed, frantically reaching across the counter for the phone.
“Woman, you have my foot caught in the door. Open it.”
I couldn’t reach the phone. I didn’t dare let go of the door. I stood there bracing myself, trying to hold the door closed with my knee and shoulder against it and my foot planted against a cabinet. I turned my head toward the door’s window and stared into the stranger’s face. Tonight, unlike the night in his car when his face was hidden in shadows, I was able to get a good look at him. Now I had a face to go with the voice.
A face to go with my nightmare.
He was strong. As hard as I pushed the door closed, he pushed harder to open it. I turned and braced my feet against the cabinet, walking them slowly upward to the counter top, pushing my back as hard as I could against the door. If I hadn’t been so scared of him and whatever was in the yard with him, I would have laughed at my position. My feet were braced against the counter top’s edge and my back pressed hard against the door, leaving my butt hanging in midair. Not very graceful, but it was getting the job done. He wasn’t getting in, but I couldn’t hang like that all night; my muscles were already burning.
With an impatient huff, he rammed his shoulder against the door. I lost my footing and fell smack on my butt. He pushed the door open, scooting me across the wood floor and into the kitchen. He sauntered in and calmly shut and locked the door, pulling the blind closed.
I’m dead. My mother is never, never going to let me forget this. Who said there are no tears in Heaven? I'm about to get a good dose of my mother’s tongue. I'm sure it will end in tears at some point. Dead or not, she’s never going to let me forget this.
“Jeez, Leslee, you nearly broke my foot,” he said, flexing his foot this way and that. “Can’t you follow directions? We’re trying to help, but you are making it overwhelmingly difficult.”
“What?” I couldn’t think of anything else to say.
“I left you a note. I told you to be smart, and then you go and fall asleep on your deck. In the damn dark,” he complained. “What were you thinking? Are you trying to get yourself killed?”
“Killed? N-no.” I didn’t like the direction the conversation was going. He seemed too big, standing over me in my kitchen. He filled it with his size, his presence.
“Not by me,” he snapped. “But the ones whispering out there would love to see you dead. We warned you. But did you listen? No. And now you’ve ruined a perfectly good evening by making me come out here and save your neck. Not to mention you putting my team in danger. If you would’ve just followed the simple directions I left, this could’ve all been avoided.”He was talking to me like I was a disobedient child. But unlike most parents, he wasn’t yelling. He never raised his voice. In fact, he talked as if he didn’t care one whit about anything going on around him. He seemed detached as he berated me for not obeying his warnings, and I got the distinct impression not many people dared to cross him.
About the Author:
Michelle has been an avid reader since a young child. She began writing for personal enjoyment in college, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in accounting. Realizing that sitting in a cubicle all day was a form of cruel and unusual punishment, she decided to do what she really wanted to—share her passion for reading and writing with others.
She wrote her debut novel Concilium in 2010. The sequel, Concilium: The Departure soon followed.
Michelle was born and raised in Michigan. She now resides in a small community outside Houston, Texas with her husband, four children, a 125-pound lap dog and a very grumpy cockatiel.
She writes adult and young adult Sci-Fi and urban fantasy romance.
Michelle loves to hear from her readers! Contact her atMichelle@Michelle-Pickett.Com
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