Welcome! Indie Author Excerpts is a feature allowing indie authors the chance to showcase one of their books and allows readers to find their next favorite story. Each week, an indie author gets to promote a 1-2 page excerpt of their book here at Nerdhuffing. This is a win-win for everyone! This feature was inspired in part by Indie Author Spotlight, a meme hosted by Beckie @ Bittersweet Enchantment and CYP @ A Bookalicious Story.
Isla had stopped at the edge of the porch and stood, frozen, staring out into the rainy darkness. Beyond her, Jeremiah could see the silhouette of a man. His face was in shadow, but from the luminescent eyes swirling with shadows, he knew it was Alastore.
When the man stepped forward into the dim light cast through the open door of the house, it became clear that he had a victim. Mhairi Mackay stood in front of the demon, and he had a strong arm locked around her neck. Jeremiah surged forward, determined to protect Isla’s only remaining family, but Marduk stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. With a silent shake of his head, Marduk encouraged Jeremiah to think first and act with care. Trust nothing, question everything, because things will most definitely not be as they seem. Marduk’s earlier words came back to him, and Jeremiah gave the man a quick nod to let him know he understood. Isla lifted a foot to step down off the porch. “Think, Isla. Breathe. That’s not really Mhairi. She’s at Sacred Hearts, guarded by doctors and nurses that didn’t even want to let us in at first, remember?” he said in a low tone. He saw a shudder rack her slender body but, much to his relief, she stayed put. Three pairs of eyes fixed on the pale, glowing arm that had the projection of Mhairi in a headlock. Alastore threw his head back and cackled, before pinning each of them with a hard glare. “You think you can defeat me? I will lead you to your graves like lambs to the slaughter.” His voice was demonic, and they could hear the echo of pure evil behind it. It sounded like a dozen demons living inside one body, speaking in unison. Without warning, he wrapped his free hand around Mhairi’s head and twisted in opposite directions. They heard a gruesome snap before the image of Mhairi crumpled to the ground. A strangled cry ripped from Isla’s throat as the three of them bounded off the porch. They ground to a halt as Alastore threw his hands up toward the sky, and the pelting raindrops burst into incandescent flames. The pellets of flame singed their skin, forcing them back to the shelter of the porch. Isla wailed as the spectre of Mhairi seemed to dissolve under the onslaught of fire and rain combined. Alastore’s head swiveled back to face them, his eyes gleaming with madness and hatred, pierced through to Isla’s soul. “The little witch thinks she can defeat me! I, who can make the sky rain fire?” He took a step forward and Isla stood her ground. He glared at her with his mouth turned up in a gruesome sneer. “I will burn your life!” he spat at her. “You’ll watch everything you care for turn to ash if you fight me!” He turned his cutting glare to the two men standing shoulder to shoulder on her right and absently gestured toward them. “These will die. Everyone will die.” Facing Isla again, he gave her a sickeningly sweet smile. “And you, my dear…You will watch things fall apart. And then, you shall be mine.” She shuddered when he licked his lips and leered at her. Isla would never be able to explain what came over her in that moment. As she focused on the images the demon pushed into her head—the pain and suffering, the dead and dying—it was the thought of Alastore turning his wrath upon Jeremiah that sparked the bone-deep anger inside her. Storming off the porch into the maelstrom of fire and rain, she felt the breeze on the nape of her neck, when Jeremiah reached for her and missed. Storming toward Alastore, she stopped a few feet in front of him. The balls of fire raining from the sky seemed to roll off an invisible shield around her and fury radiated from her body. “The hell I will!” she growled at him, gathering her energy low in her chest, preparing for a strike. Marduk’s deceptively calm whisper drifted over to Jeremiah. “He’s goading her for a reason. Pushing her buttons. He may be trying to funnel her energy into himself, leaving her vulnerable for him to take her. Alastore does nothing without reason. Stop her.” Jeremiah palmed the shotgun and whispered back to Marduk. “If I shoot him, it’s not going to stop him, right?” He waited for the other man to nod before continuing. “But it’ll hurt.” Giving him a devious grin, Marduk nodded again. “It sure will. When he’s in corporeal form, he’ll feel the same pain a human would, he just won’t die. It will send him back to the locus to recharge.” “Good enough for me.” Jeremiah pumped the forestock of the shotgun, drawing Alastore’s attention. The demon snarled at him but didn’t seem overly worried. That didn’t bode well. Bracing the buttstock of the twelve gauge on his shoulder, he took aim and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. Cursing, he expelled the dead round and pumped again. Trigger pull, nothing. Howling with laughter, Alastore returned his attention to the 110 pounds of livid woman that stood in front of him. He cocked his head, like an animal hearing a strange sound. “So pretty, and yet so easy,” he began, “just like your mother.” “Christ,” Jeremiah hissed as he saw flames spike out from Isla’s fingertips. She was playing right into Alastore’s hands, but she just couldn’t see it. Shoving the shotgun into Marduk’s hands, he turned toward the house. “I think he’s somehow jamming the gun. Maybe if I find something with no mechanics, he won’t be able to stop it.” “Hurry.” Well, duh. Jeremiah bounded into the house and began tearing through cupboards and rifling through drawers. He thought about grabbing a knife, but he didn’t think any of them should get that close to the demon. Inspiration struck when he found an unopened bottle of vodka, dusty and forgotten in a cabinet. Grabbing a kitchen rag, he ripped it in half. Emptying a third of the bottle down the sink, he stuffed the rag down into the neck, making sure that it was in far enough to soak up the alcohol. He snagged a lighter from a drawer and rushed back outside. “Get her out of the way,” he ordered Marduk as he passed, not even stopping to make sure the other man heard him. He didn’t need to stop, because Marduk ran to catch up with him as he was lighting the rag on fire. Marduk grasped Isla by the shoulders and yanked her back into his arms as Jeremiah tossed the burning bottle at Alastore’s feet. The projectile immediately exploded, engulfing the demon in a huge wall of fire. The surge of heat was so intense, Jeremiah backed up several steps. He stood, watching as the skin melted off of Alastore’s corporeal form to reveal a blackened skeleton. An inhuman screech rent the air as Alastore pointed a bony finger at them. “You’re mine,” he croaked as what was left of him dissolved into ash and flame. “Yeah, yeah, and our little dog, too. Got it,” Jere grumbled. “Hey!” Marduk’s indignant tone said he didn’t appreciate the dog reference, but Jeremiah didn’t much care. Pulling Isla away from wolf-boy, he enveloped her in a tight hug. Resting his chin on the top of her head, he allowed the shudders he had been suppressing to roll over his body. Giving her one last squeeze, he set her away from him and brushed past her, stalking into the house, slamming the door behind him.
About the Author
Follow J.K. Hogan around the web: Goodreads | Website | Twitter
J.K. Hogan has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, beginning with writing cast lists and storylines for her toys growing up. When she finally decided to put pen to paper, magic happened. She is greatly inspired by all kinds of music and often creates a “soundtrack” for her stories as she writes them. J.K. resides in North Carolina, where she was born and raised. A true southern girl at heart, she lives on a farm with her husband and young son, a cat, and two champion agility dogs. If she isn’t on the agility field, J.K. can often be found chasing waterfalls in the mountains with her husband, or down in front at a blues concert. In addition to writing, she enjoys training and competing in dog sports, spending time with her large southern family, camping, boating and, of course, reading! For more information, please visit www.jkhogan.com.
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