He's the vampire we've all loved since his first line in Blood Hunt. He's honorable, loyal, and deadly if needed. Ever since I first introduced Tarnley into this world, I KNEW he was going to have his own trilogy.
And while his actual storyline wasn't formed right away, it's one I've been looking forward to writing ever since he slid onto that barstool beside Elijah. It's been nearly a year since Elijah and Rainey first appeared on Kindle's everywhere, but now it's finally Tarnley's turn! I cannot wait for you guys to get your hands on this trilogy! It's INTENSE, dark, broody, and so freaking steamy.
I hope you enjoy this little sneak peek, as well as the character portrait of Tarnley!
(NOTE: DO NOT keep reading if you want to avoid any spoilers from Rise of the Witch.)
Copyright 2021. Jessica Wayne. All rights reserved.
A soft knock on my door has us both shifting our attention. “Come in.”
My bartender peeks her head in. “Boss?”
“We need you up front.”
“Why?” As soon as the word leaves my lips, glass shatters, and I blur past her and Elijah both and into the main room. My hand closes around the throat of a shifter before he even has the chance to see me. On my left, a vampire blurs toward us, so I throw out my other hand and catch the fucker before he can reach us. “You motherfuckers want to take it outside?” I growl, my voice completely audible, despite the low tone I’m using. “I don’t do violence in my house.”
The bar is silent. So silent you could hear a single drop of blood hit the floor.
Which I do, as crimson slips from the nose of the shifter and hits the wooden floor of my establishment.
“He started it,” the shifter croaks out, clawing at my hand.
Elijah moves into the room alongside Allie.
“That true?” I ask the vampire.
He snarls at the shifter. “You shouldn’t let wolves into a blood den. They’re bound to get hurt.”
In the blink of an eye, I drop the shifter and shift my attention to the mouthy fucking vamp who just reignited my earlier rage. Anger burns hot as I slam him back into the wall, sending sheetrock dust into the air and the patrons dining at a nearby table scrambling to their feet. “What the fuck did you just say?”
Out of the corner of my eye, I watch Elijah move closer to me. Ready to intervene should any of this vampire’s buddies choose to have balls of steel.
“You. Shouldn’t. Let. His. Kind. In. Here,” he chokes out, barely able to speak given the hold I have on his throat. “This is a vampire establishment.”
“First of all, fucker, this is a place for all supernaturals. Second, I’m incredibly interested in hearing about why you seem to think calling my bar a blood den is a smart fucking move.” I squeeze his throat.
His eyes widen as he realizes his insult.
“I will not have my establishment compared to a fucking hostile, hostage holding, nightmarish excuse for vampires to get their fucking rocks off.” Leaning in, I tip my head to the side, letting my canines slide down. I’m older than this mother fucker by at least a hundred years, making his freshly turned ass still smell like a newbie. “Do I make myself clear?”
He nods frantically, so I wait a beat then drop him to the floor and wipe my hands onto my slacks. Elijah stands close by, arms crossed, glaring at the vamp.
“He still shouldn’t be here,” the vamp croaks.
Closing my eyes, I take a deep breath before turning back to him. “Do you have a death wish?”
“Are fucking parchment meant to keep us enslaved to the councils.”
“Places like this and the siren’s—”
His words are drowned out by a heavy drumming. Red blurs into my vision, and I clench my fists, fighting for control. My entire body burns for violence, for the feel of blood dripping from my mouth. My fingers twitch, itching to reach out and grab this fucker by the throat.
That does it. Temper snapping, the restraints on my beast dissipate, and before I fully understand what I’m doing, I blur forward and grip the young vamp by the throat.
Blurring back, I slam him into the wall, again and again, then yank him forward and sink my teeth into his throat. He screams and thrashes, fighting against my hold.
Keep fighting me, a voice in my head whispers.
Someone bellows my name, but I’m too far gone with the copper slipping down the back of my throat.
I rip, sending blood and flesh flying across my bar. The patrons scream, scrambling from their seats and pressing their backs to the wall, as I drop the vamp and stare down at him, more animal than man.
Rage burns hot through me, making it impossible to see just how badly I fucked up. For decades, I’ve run this bar, dealing with assholes of all factions and still keeping the peace. Violence has never been something I sought, though if pushed to it, I will stand and fight.
Blood drips from his throat as his eyes freeze open, staring up at the ceiling. What did I just do? I shake my head, trying to clear the angry fog, but it sticks. Three vampires stand the closest, wide-eyed and staring down at the dead one bleeding on my floor.
“What the hell are you standing there for? Get him the fuck out of my bar,” I snap.
They move quickly, soundlessly blurring across the floor, and soon, he’s gone. As soon as his body is removed, the rest of the fog clears, and I realize what the hell I just did.
I killed a vampire in my bar.
In front of at least a dozen now terrified patrons.
Unwilling to show weakness in what could very well be a lion’s den, I meet the terrified gaze of the shifter. He’s young, too, maybe a handful of years outside of the change. He looks to the blood then back up at me, a hand on his throat.
It bothers me more than I care to admit. “Next time, take your altercations outside.”
He nods then turns and bolts out through the door.
Avoiding eye contact with Elijah, I shove past the bar and toward the back. Allie watches me, blue eyes wide with fear. “Clean that shit up.” On any other day, I wouldn’t have let it get that far. I’ve dealt with plenty of assholes in my time of owning this bar, but that was the first time I lost control in here. It’s the first time I’ve gone after someone who was not actively trying to kill me.
I strip my blood-stained shirt off, using it to wipe the blood from my face and throat before tossing it to the floor, and plop down into my chair. I reach into the cabinet directly to my left and pull out a bottle of bourbon, not bothering with a fucking glass. Raising the bottle, I press my lips to the opening and down the alcohol inside. It slips down my throat, soothing the ache in my heart, if only for a brief moment, before my metabolism kills the buzz.
“What the fuck was that?” Elijah demands, slamming my door closed behind him.
“I don’t know.”
“What the fuck do you mean you don’t know? You just ripped him apart in your bar!”
“I lost control.”
“That’s a damned understatement, brother. I’ve never seen you that way. Your eyes—”
That gets my full attention. “What do you mean? What about them?”
A muscle in his jaw twitches. “They were black, brother. Black as fucking obsidian.”
Bronywyn, kneeling in front of me, eyes black, my blood dripping from her mouth.
“We need to get rid of Lucy so we can save Bronywyn.”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
I meet his eyes. “We’re bonded.”
Mouth falling open, he gapes at me. “What the—when?”
“After Allison died. The blood bond between Bronywyn and me is the only reason I’m still alive.”
He’s completely silent. “That’s—fuck, Tarnley. That’s a big deal.”
“Apparently, it is.”
He sinks in the chair in front of me, so I offer him the bottle of whiskey, which he takes and tips up, drinking greedily. The silence gives me a moment to refocus, to re-center on what needs to be done in order to keep me in check.
Bronywyn said the magic would corrupt our bond.
That it would eventually come for me.
I’d be stupid not to admit that I felt differently back there. I mean, shit, look what happened. I fucking snapped. Lost it like I haven’t done in decades.
Is it more than probable that she is right?
We know that the more magic she uses, the closer she gets to losing it completely. So, if this bond is truly corruptible by the same power she’s hell-bent on using, what the fuck is going to happen to me after she kills Lucy?
Well? What did I tell you? Intense, right? Drop your feels in the comments, and be sure to read the rest when Blood Magic releases on August 26th!