Excerpt from HUNTED
Book 3 in the Marchwood Vampire series
Tommo took his mug of Cheerios over to his desk and began eating. Over the crunch of cereal, he heard distant fireworks. It wasn’t even eight o’clock yet, and already people were celebrating the New Year. Why was everyone so eager to get to next year, anyway? Were their lives really so bad that they needed to constantly look forward to tomorrow and next week and next month and next year?
Hold on… that noise? He had thought it was fireworks, but… The hair on the back of Tommo’s neck began to prickle. He realised that the popping sound might not actually be distant fireworks. It might be something a lot closer – like maybe a light tapping at his window.
Tommo placed his mug and spoon down on the desk, and carefully finished chewing the contents of his mouth. From the dark window, his own scared reflection stared back at him. Surely he must have imagined the noise. His apartment was four floors up, and there was no balcony. No tree with branches that could be scraping against the window. But, there it was again. A rhythmic tap, tap, tap.
Tommo pushed himself away from the window, his chair rolling backward over the parquet floor. The tapping had now been replaced by a squeaking sound. What the… Was that a circle appearing on the window? Yes, someone was drawing a large circle on the window with their fingernail! He had to be hallucinating. Maybe the milk was off and he was coming down with food poisoning.
Just then, the circle of glass moved. It tipped out of the window and crashed onto his computer monitor. Tommo jumped up in terror, as the glass slid down and landed with a thud on his desk, unbroken. A rush of frigid air flew into the apartment. Tommo gasped, too scared to run or even scream.
He had to get out of here. He had to leave the apartment. But he hadn’t left the apartment in months. Someone or something was out there in the darkness. An arm came through the empty circle of air. Tommo panted in fear, pushed the chair out of his way and backed up against his front door. Someone was climbing through the window. Coming to get him.
In the blink of a cursor, that someone appeared in front of him, staring down at his face with murderous eyes. Tommo shrank back even further, trying to melt into the wooden door, wishing he had the courage to open it and run away from whoever this was.
‘Who are you?’ he squeaked. ‘What do you want? Take whatever you need. Just, please, don’t hurt me.’
‘Tommo,’ the man said. How did he know his name? This man wasn’t like anyone Tommo had ever met before. He was blonde and pale, with piercing eyes and the whitest teeth. He looked like a character from one of his games. He wasn’t quite a man either. More, a boy. But the scariest boy he’d ever seen. Young and old at the same time. Like an angel, or a devil. Not… human.
‘You had a visitor today,’ the man-boy continued, his voice a hissing whisper. The trace of a foreign accent.
‘A visitor?’ Tommo repeated. He felt as though he was watching himself from above, his mind divorced from his body.
‘Yes. A girl.’
‘She came here, yes,’ Tommo stammered.
‘She asked you to do something for her. But you said no. Why did you say no?’
‘I… I… can do it. If you want me to do it. I can do what she asked.’
‘Yes, yeah, sure. It… it might take a while, though. A few hours at least.’
‘A photograph has been sent to your phone and to your email,’ the man said. ‘Email back when you find a match for the girl in the photo.’
‘What happens if I can’t find a match?’
The man bent down, so his face was millimetres from his own. ‘Do you see the hole I made in your window, Tommo?’
‘Look at it,’ the man said. He took hold of Tommo’s chin and turned his face toward the window, to the newly made hole. The man’s hand was hard and cold like ice. Not like a human hand at all.
‘I can see. I can see the window, and I can see the hole.’
‘Good,’ replied the man. ‘It’s a long way down, Tommo. A long way down.’
Tommo felt sick. He felt the Cheerios working their way back up his gullet.
‘Remember,’ the man said, letting go of Tommo’s chin. ‘Find the girl in the photo.’
And then the man was gone. Just like that. Gone. And Tommo’s Cheerios finally made a reappearance all over the parquet floor.
Be swept away in this heart-pounding tale of ancient legends,
star-crossed love and nail-biting supernatural adventure.
This is the climatic finale of The Marchwood Vampire Series!
Hunted is now available to preorder: