When I saw that I had been paired up with JM Gregoire – or Jena as the blogging world knows her – I was a bit nervous, since I’d never read her books! (Of course when I saw she had one on sale, I one-clicked the hell out of it, but more on that later) But I quickly realized how awesome she is, and when I suggested we co-write a scary story, she jumped all over that idea! I wonder if you can tell which parts are hers, and which are mine? I am curious to hear your guesses!
Jack woke with a start, breathing heavily, heart pounding, and drenched from head to toe in a cold sweat. Every night, it’s the same dream. At least what he could remember of it, which wasn’t much. The only thing he knew for sure was he was running from something or someone, and he was terrified.
Looking at the clock on his nightstand, he saw that it was 3:13am, the same damn time his dream woke him up the last 4 nights. And if it followed the same pattern, he wouldn’t get back to sleep, so he swung his legs over the side of the bed and sat there, rubbing his face. Grumbling to himself he put his feet on the floor and started to get out of bed.
His feet landed on something warm. And sticky.
He immediately jerked his feet back, staring down at the inky stain stretching out across the floor from beneath his bed. His brain registered the metallic smell of copper filling his nose, and he knew instinctively what the viscous fluid was. Tipping to reach for the switch on his bedside lamp, his foot touched the floor, and his stomach lurched. Turning the little plastic knob, blinding light flooded his room, stinging his eyes momentarily. As everything came into focus, he was horrified by the scene before him. He scrambled back onto his bed, an automatic reaction to his senses being assaulted with something he could not comprehend.
His bedroom door was covered in smears of blood and had four huge splinters torn down through the wooden panel, as if some monstrously huge animal had clawed its way into the room. Crimson red seemed to cover every inch of the room. His eyes slowly trailed the blood from the doorway to the bedside, and then he saw something that caused terror to wash over every fiber of his being. For the first time, he realized he too was covered in blood.
It took a few moments, and several gulping breaths, for him to calm down enough to realize none of the blood was his. Realizing he was, at least physically, ok and couldn’t get any dirtier, he got up and decided to investigate. The first step made his stomach lurch, as he slipped in the rapidly cooling liquid. Steadying himself on the wall before he face-planted in the stuff, he quietly grabbed the baseball bat that he kept next to the nightstand, and crept toward the door. As he tiptoed toward the door, he randomly thought about how glad he was that he lived alone; with as terrified as he felt he couldn’t imagine trying to rescue anyone else, all he wanted was to slip out the front door without whatever had painted his room in blood noticing him leave.
Jack held his breath as he prepared himself to peek around the edge of his bedroom doorframe. The sound of his pulse thundered in his ears, and he was sure that if he could hear it, whoever, or whatever, caused the gruesome scene in his bedroom surely could hear it as well. His entire body quaked with fear, and with as ginger a step as he could manage, he edged forward. Eyes wide, and baseball bat held at the ready, Jack craned his neck just enough to get his first clear view of the space beyond his bedroom door.
He had always been ashamed of his little bachelor pad, but Jack was silently thanking the gods of old, and anyone else who would listen, for his lack of funds to afford anything bigger than his tiny, one-bedroom economy apartment. His kitchen-slash-dining room and living room were separated by nothing more than a worn out metal tack strip where the carpet and linoleum met. A glance back and forth across the apartment told him that although he was alone, he certainly wasn’t sometime recently.
Relatively confident he wasn’t about to be brutally murdered, he took a step out of his bedroom. Aside from the broken window in his living room, and the path of red streaked on the floor from the window to his bedroom doorway, everything else looked normal.
Then it clicked.
There was a path of blood.
Going into his bedroom.
Directly under his bed.
Jack stood there for what felt like hours, debating if he should run, call someone, or go look himself. He knew what he should do – call the police. But what would he tell them? Even living through it, the truth just didn’t sound plausible to himself, let alone a stranger. And what if there was a … a body under his bed? How would he explain that?
Steeling himself against what he would find, he grabbed the flashlight from the kitchen drawer and stepped into the bedroom. He turned the overhead light on and immediately wished he hadn’t. But since he couldn’t un-see the room, and having the light on made him feel a bit safer, and little more insulated against what he might find under the bed. He took a deep breath, which was another thing he instantly regretted, as the coppery smell filled his head with the worst things his active imagination could dream up – murderous clowns lying in wait for him to look under the bed, snakes swimming in the pool of blood he knew must be down there, or even his own late mother come back from the dead as a demon waiting to drag him back to hell…
He quickly shook his head, shaking those thoughts free. Jack had to stop watching scary movies on the nights he had trouble sleeping.
He slowly got to his knees, baseball bat in one hand, and flashlight in the other. The rapidly cooling liquid made a squishing sound as he laid on his stomach and he had to fight back the bile that rose again in his throat. He could do this. Turning on the flashlight, he quickly flipped the sheets back and peered under the bed.
Nothing. Not a damn thing. Unless you counted the now crimson covered dust bunnies. What the hell?
Something warm dripped on his bare back. From the ceiling.
Jack slowly looked above him, scared of what he was going to see, but, like any good train wreck, he couldn’t not look. What he saw above his head astonished him. In that moment, he wasn’t thinking about the blood and gore. He had a much bigger problem.
Resting on top of the ceiling fan blades was the remnants of what used to be the body of a girl. Her face, framed by blood stained blonde hair, was leaned against one of the wooden slats, and her lifeless blue eyes stared back at him. Her face was the only part of her nearly untouched in the carnage of what must have been a quick and brutal murder. Any clothing she had left was drenched in deep red and torn to shreds. A few pieces of what little there was left of her dress hung down and dripped blood on the floor, adding to the puddle
As he stared at that haunting face, a drop hit him right in the middle of the forehead, and rather than vomit whatever he had in his stomach, he couldn’t deny the feeling taking over his mind. Recognition.
Flashes of memory exploded behind his eyes.
The nightmare he had awakened from started to come back to him, bit by bit.
Images and sensations flashed through his mind. Running through a forest. Heavy breathing. The heady smell of a woman’s perfume, mixed with the distinct, sweet odor of fear.
That last thought brought Jack up short. Why would I know what fear smells like?
Once again, his heart started pounding in his chest. More images raced through his mind. He saw the girl running ahead of him. Away from him. She glanced back and screamed, a high-pitched, shrill sound, those glittering blue eyes wide with fear. Then he remembered a sound that sent a chill coursing through his spine. A low, guttural growl rumbling deep in his own chest.
The faster she ran, the stronger the urge to give chase became. He could remember the joy and extreme pleasure he felt as he pursued her. As he pursued his prey.
Jack pulled his eyes away from the girl’s lifeless form dangling above his head, and glanced around, trying to comprehend all the pieces to the puzzle. He knew one thing. He needed to get out of his apartment. He knew he wouldn’t stand a chance if he called the police. How could he possibly explain his innocence when he wasn’t even convinced of it? There was a dead girl in his blood soaked bedroom, he had no alibi, and plenty of memories of chasing her. One look at his face in the interrogation room and he was positive they’d strap him into an electric chair.
There was only one possible way for him to get out of this alive. He had to run.
He tip-toed through the puddle, across his room to the two doors opposite his bed, one to his closet, and one to his bathroom. He couldn’t go anywhere covered in the blood of the woman he may or may not have slain. Hands trembling, he opened his closet, grabbed a towel, and hoping it would keep his feet from getting covered in blood again when he left the room, he laid it out on the floor leading out his bedroom door. Going back into the closet, he quickly grabbed a clean outfit and went into the bathroom.
He turned his shower on, and as hot steam filled the small room, he stripped out of his clothes and climbed into the nearly scalding stream of water. He scrubbed every inch of his body, not stopping until the red tinge in the water at his feet cleared up. Once he was certain he was completely rinsed off, he shut off the water and grabbed his towel, patting himself dry in record time.
He scooped up his clean pair of jeans and bent down to put them on. When he stood back up, Jack noticed his toothbrush and an open tube of toothpaste both sitting in his empty sink. He didn’t remember leaving it there and thought it was odd. Then he glanced in his mirror and was frozen in place by what he saw.
A pair of yellow eyes with long, black, cat-like irises stared back at him. His eyes.
And he remembered everything.
He remembered coming in to the bathroom before bed to brush his teeth.
He remembered the terrible pain that had rocked his body.
His limbs bending and transforming.
He remembered the claws that grew from his hands and the hair that sprouted from every inch of his body.
And when the pain was gone, and the transformation was done, he remembered throwing his head back and letting out a howl, signaling his hunger and the hunt.
He remembered killing that girl.
And he no longer felt any remorse.
Lucas was a typical playboy – lots of alcohol and a different girl every night.
One woman brought his emotional walls and the beliefs he used to build them crumbling to the ground.
Now, an unexpected visitor is going to change both their worlds forever.
The Devil You Know (Demon Legacy #1)
**Only $.99 and includes Burning**
What else would a 400-something year old demon-human hybrid do with her spare time?
Following a drunken night of questionable decisions, the vampire Michael “Vegas” Tremayne leaves town with no explanation. Dez is left wondering if they made a mistake and if it cost her a price she wasn’t willing to pay – her best friend and confidant.
When he returns after two weeks of no contact, he comes bearing grave news that could potentially change the world forever….or end it all together. To make matters worse, they suspect that someone they know may be behind it all.
An extremely dangerous chain of events has been set in motion and it is up to Dez and Vegas, with the help of his brother Lucas, to find a way to stop it.
J.M. Gregoire was born and raised in New Hampshire, USA and despite her abhorrence for any season that dares to drop to a temperature below seventy degrees, she still currently resides there with her two children and her two cats. Always a passionate reader, her love of urban fantasy books eventually morphed into a love of writing them. She is currently working on the Demon Legacy series and has an urban fantasy thriller project coming up under the pen name Jena Syde, which will be co-written with one of her best friends and favorite authors, Ginny Lurcock.