Genre: YA Urban Fantasy/Romance (16+)
Release Date: December 1st 2016
Summary from Goodreads:
Christian is the Catholic Church’s best executioner. Dedicated. Devout. Deadly. Ever since the Church saved him from the decimated ruins of his hometown, his commitment to their cause has been unshakable.
Then he’s sent to execute Lilith, who lives in Seal Beach, California. He’s baffled. Lilith is afraid of men. The Church believes she’s a succubus, but he just can’t see it. Yet the way men—both human and monster alike—act as if they’ve been possessed whenever she’s near is disturbing.
With lustful men attacking Lilith and monsters attacking him for being near Lilith, Christian must uncover what’s really going on, and soon, or innocent blood will run through the streets—as will his own.
Love. It can kill a man.
A Peek Into the Life of Tristin Baluf
Tristin Baluf was what most people would consider an odd individual—odd being one of the least defamatory terms used to describe him. He followed no religion, had no creed, and yet he still worked for one of the largest religious organizations in the world.
Very little was known about Tristin. Even the Church didn’t have the slightest inkling as to where he came from. They knew little about his past, despite doing thorough background checks on everyone working under them, and he would love nothing more than to keep it that way.
Being an orphan, Tristin had been raised at one of the many orphanages belonging to the Church, a small one located several miles outside of Boise, Idaho.
It was there that he met Christian and discovered his fascination with the other boy. Ever since they had first met all those years ago, the two of them had been thick as thieves. Christian would disagree, but Tristin never really listened to what his best friend said, especially when it contradicted his own version of reality. They did just about everything together, to the point where it eventually became expected that where Christian went, Tristin would follow. And when the Church had discovered Christian’s natural affinity for combat and decided to take him in for training, it was only natural that Tristin would go with him.
There was a problem that prevented Tristin from joining the Executioners of the Church, however.
He couldn’t fight. At all. He had zero talent for any type of combat, be it long range, close range, or anything in between. He couldn’t even handle a gun without nearly shooting himself in the foot. Once, he had almost shot his own eye out.
There was only one way that Tristin would have been allowed to become an Executioner, and he didn’t have any desire to take enhancement drugs that would increase his battle performance at the cost of turning him into a berserker. He’d seen some of the people who took those drugs, and it wasn’t pretty. Besides, he didn’t really like fighting anyway.
That had left him in quite the quandary. He wanted to follow Christian into the Executioners, but without the talent for combat that his friend possessed, and with no desire to take performance enhancers, he wouldn’t be allowed into that group. That meant he’d had to find some way to circumvent the system.
Fortunately for him, he had another talent, one that was almost as valuable as the ability to fight: the ability to gather intelligence and disseminate information. Despite how he got on a lot of people’s nerves, none could deny that he was one of the best at gathering all the necessary data required for an assignment and delivering it in a timely and efficient manner. He might have a little too much fun with the job—annoying people until they snapped always amused him—but that didn’t mean he performed at anything other than his best.
Thanks to his talent as an intelligence agent, he had been welcomed into the Intelligence Division of the Catholic Church’s Executioners.
It was an admittedly boring job, especially when there was no work to be had, and he was forced to wait until something came up, but Tristin guessed that was the price he paid for staying with his friend.
Tristin glanced down at the communications station in front of him. Like all the technological equipment used by the Executioners, the comm station was one of the most advanced pieces of tech in the world. The large console had been built into the wall. The vast majority of the comm was taken up by a large screen; a touchscreen that he could use to pull up a variety of information from the Church’s intelligence network. This allowed him to help Executioners on their missions by providing constant, up-to-date information.
It looked a lot like something from Star Trek, what with all of the blinking lights, high-definition screen, and cool-looking knobs and buttons that seemed to serve no purpose other than as decoration. A part of Tristin even wondered if the guy who made it had been some kind of Trekkie.
He could also use it download music and games so he wouldn’t be bored, but he had to be careful when doing that. The last time he’d been caught playing his favorite MMO, Knights of the Cross, when on duty, Samantha had really let him have it. Tristin still had the bruises from that encounter.
The rest of the console was taken up by the actual communications array. There were a lot of buttons. It looked almost like a keyboard, except instead of being used to type something on the screen, they were used to send and receive calls from Executioners out in the field.
And one of those buttons was flashing red.
With a grin, Tristin put the headset hanging around his neck back over his ears and pressed the button. Leaning back in his chair, he said, “This is Doctor Tristin F. Baluf speaking to you live from six-six-point-six, the lo-o-o-ove station. If you have any questions you’d like to ask Doctor Baluf, then please be my―”
“Would you cut that out?!” the person on the other end shouted at him. “And don’t use that number as a part of your shenanigans!”
Tristin chuckled mildly at his friend’s anger. It was always so easy to rile Christian up.
“My bad, my bad. It won’t happen again.”
“Somehow, I don’t believe you.” Christian’s voice was flat. Tristin could almost see the deadpan expression on his friend’s face. It was enough to make him smile.
“So what can I do for you, Christian? Don’t tell me you’ve already completed your mission. It’s only been a day.”
His friend was good, scary good, but not that good. And he wasn’t dealing with vampires or werewolves this time, but a succubus. While not capable fighters, they had many weapons at their disposal that a member of the male persuasion would be hard-pressed to beat.
“No, I have not completed my mission.”
Tristin raised an eyebrow. Christian was calling him without having completed his assignment? That was odd. His friend never called except upon the completion of a mission.
For some reason, Tristin had the strangest feeling that his friend did this so he wouldn’t have to speak with him. He shrugged the thought off, however. It was a preposterous notion, after all. Why wouldn’t his best friend want to talk to him?
So, if Christian wasn’t calling in to tell him about the mission’s completion, then that could only mean…
“Has there been a problem with the mission?”
It was almost as preposterous as Christian not calling until his mission was finished because he didn’t want to talk to Tristin, but there was a first time for everything, right? Perhaps this was one of those first times.
Oh, I’m going to be Christian’s first. How exciting.
“Yes, there is a problem with the mission.” Christian sighed over the line. Even without being able to see him, Tristin just knew that the younger male was running a hand through his hair. It was an old habit from when they were children. Whenever Christian was stressed or tense, he would run a hand through his hair. “I think we’ve got the wrong target.”
“You heard me. I think we’ve got the wrong target.”
Tristin sat up a little straighter. He remained silent for a moment, pondering his friend’s words before actually speaking. Christian wouldn’t say something like this unless he was one-hundred percent sure in his beliefs. If he said that they had the wrong target, then he likely had a really good reason for thinking that way.
“What makes you say that?”
“… She’s afraid of men.”
Silence followed. Tristin would have stared incredulously at Christian had they been speaking face to face. As things stood, he settled for gawking at the console.
“I’m sorry, what? Could you repeat that, please? I could have sworn you just said that your target is afraid of men.”
“That’s exactly what I said.”
“Your target, a succubus, is afraid of men?”
“A succubus is afraid of men?”
“That’s what I said.” He could almost see Christian rolling his eyes. He could certainly hear the annoyance in his voice, but he’d learned to ignore his friend’s tone whenever the young Warrior was exasperated by something—particularly when that something was him.
For once in his life, Tristin found himself at a loss for words. The idea that a succubus, a creature that fed off the sexual energies of men, was afraid of men was unfathomable. It was almost as incomprehensible as his friend calling only when absolutely necessary because Christian didn’t want to talk to him.
“I’m not sure I understand. How could this be possible?”
“I don’t know,” Christian voiced helplessly. “All I know is that she’s deathly afraid of men. I accidentally bumped into her on the way to breakfast, and the moment she got a good look at me, she screamed and ran away.”
“She screamed and ran away?”
“Pfft! He-he-he… ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! Oh, God! This is just too funny! Christian, slayer of vampires, werewolves, and demons! A man so powerful and feared that even succubi quake in their boots at the mere sight of him!”
“This isn’t a laughing matter!”
“Yes it―he-he-he―yes it is!”
“S-sorry―hehehehe-he―ha… ha…” Tristin took a deep breath, trying to stifle his laughter. He already received plenty of strange looks from the other people working in the Intelligence Division. Best not give them something else that they could use to question his sanity with. “Whoo… okay, I think I’m good now.”
“Really?” Christian’s voice was the definition of skeptical. Tristin could almost imagine the dry look on his friend’s face.
“Yes, really… at least I think so.”
“Whatever.” Christian sighed before getting back to business. “Listen, I need you to double-check our information and make sure I’ve actually got the right target.”
“I could do that, but are you sure it’s necessary?” asked Tristin. “Couldn’t this girl just be faking it? You know, acting like she’s afraid of men so that you wouldn’t suspect her of being a succubus?”
“I don’t see why she would. It’s not like she knows who I am, and according to what I’ve learned from asking around, she’s been like this ever since she started living in Seal Beach. I highly doubt she would spend all that time pretending to be afraid of men on the off chance that she ended up meeting a male member of the Executioners.”
“True enough, I suppose.”
“Besides, you can’t fake terror like that,” Christian added.
“Well, I guess you would know,” Tristin admitted. “All right, I’ll gather up all the information we have on this and verify its accuracy. It might take a while, so just sit tight while I look into things on my end.”
“Oh, wow.” Tristin grinned into the headset. “Did you just thank me?”
A second later, a loud beeping was heard as Christian hung up on him. Tristin chuckled. Some of his co-workers wondered why he was so dead set on getting on his friend’s nerves―and even more thought he was crazy for doing so. None of them realized just how much fun it was.
It was like poking a sleeping lion with a stick. In most cases, the lion would simply swat the stick away. However, annoy it too much, and it was more than likely to tear off the hand holding the stick―along with the arm it was attached to. It was fun in a potentially lethal kind of way.
Leaning back in his seat, Tristin basked in the afterglow of successfully irritating his friend. He would look up that information that Christian wanted later. When he felt like it.
For now, Knights of the Cross was calling to him.
About the Author
Brandon Varnell is a writer… the end.
… Just kidding.
Brandon Varnell is the writer of the American Kitsune series. He has absolutely no skill at anything aside from writing and looking half-baked. He used to play guitar, but due to laziness, he never went anywhere with it. He also used to play a lot of video games, but after suffering this terrible affliction called book addiction, he only plays occasionally these days. Brandon lives mostly within his own imagination, but can occasionally be found in Phoenix, Arizona.
For several years now – at least three – Brandon has dreamed of becoming a full-time author. He would love it if the time came when he could wake up, write several thousand words, and then call it a day. To reach this goal, he tends to write. A lot. He writes fan fiction, he writes original fiction, he writes Erotic fiction… oh, wait. No, he doesn’t. He just writes stories with a lot of fan service.
Aside from being an avid writer, Brandon also likes to cosplay. You can generally find him at the local Comicon dressed as various characters from movies, video games and anime. It’s also not all that unusual to find him walking around town in a red trench coat, no shirt and carrying a large sword on his back. Kudos to those of you who get the reference. His current favorite people to cosplay are Han Solo (who doesn’t want to be a roguish smuggler?), Cloud Strife (he likes the big ass sword), Dante, and Squall Leonhart. He has also thought of trying to cosplay as Darth Vader or Zero (Lelouch Lamperouge from Code Geass), but has decided to stay away from all black cosplay since he lives in Arizona – it’s really hot in that state, you know.
He also loves anime, which makes a lot of sense, seeing how the entire American Kitsune series is basically just one big anime parody.
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