Sneak Peek of Echo (Extinction Series)

by Ashlynmathews on March 1, 2016

Echo is taking me forever to write. Why? Time. I started writing Echo and Rourke’s story in 2012. Fast forward four years later, and three books in the Extinction Series, and my characters have changed. Their goals, motivations and internal/external conflicts are slightly different. Then halfway through the story, my plot took  a sharp turn, which led me to writing a whole new beginning from Rourke’s POV rather than Echo’s. I can’t wait to share Rourke and Echo’s story with readers. I love these two characters. They think they’re different but they’re very much alike. They are two lonely people who are dedicated to their jobs and their duty as protector of mankind but have somehow forgotten that love and friendships are just as important, too. They’ve been on my mind for four years, and their story deserves to be told. I hope you enjoy reading the (unedited, not finalized) sneak peek.

Echo

“The judgment is unanimous. Guilty as charged.”

Guilty as charged. Rourke paced. It’d been twenty-four hours since his murder trial, and where the fuck was he? He was holed up in an abandoned warehouse straddled by railroad tracks on one side and graffiti-marked slab of concrete on the other, attempting to think his way out of his sentencing.

No one would find him here, not even the men on his reconnaissance team. They believed he was in Detroit, given orders to meet one of the Elites—the Ember Elders’ bodyguard. What they would never know in this lifetime was that he’d been dragged in by the Elites to answer to the unforgivable crime of murder. A murder he’d committed out of self-defense.

Behind him, the air moved. Had the commander of chosen executioners come for him earlier than expected? The son of a bitch was rumored to be sneaky as hell, coming and going as though he was a living, breathing ghost.

Rourke spun and hurled his blade.

The blade stopped mere inches from the intruder’s forehead, caught between gloved hands. Clad in black from head to toe, the figure blended into the darkness of the warehouse but Rourke’s hunter eyes saw clearly.

The face mask she wore stretched across high cheekbones, a narrow jawline and a sharp chin, the skin-tight material covering her neck and concealing her eyes.

Straightening his shoulders, he clasped his hands behind his back and stood with his feet firmly planted and legs wide apart, a show of respect for her skills. She wasn’t the commander. However, she could be the commander’s messenger, or… the Elders’.

Mimicking his stance, she blocked the back exit he’d bolted shut earlier. Her confidence bespoke of successful retrievals, or… kills.

“Identify yourself.” He skimmed his fingers over the hilts of the sheathed knives strapped to his belt. Taking her down would be easy. She was reed thin and small in stature, barely reaching his chin on his six-foot tall frame.

“My identity doesn’t matter. How I can help you will.”

“Why would a pureblood want to help me?”

As an operative, he’d fought alongside pure and mixed-blood hunters. Some welcomed his distinction as an UnMarked, a hunter who wasn’t born with powers but came into them late in life. Others had flat-out refused to work with him. Those hunters could go to Hell for all he cared.

Rourke scrutinized the woman. What faction of demon hunters does she belong to, Embers or Blades? Embers believed in old traditions like fated love while Blades paved their own destinies. Blades were forward-thinkers and Embers? Embers were stuck in the past. No wonder they were free-falling into extinction.

Beneath the mask, one of her eyebrows ticked upward. “What makes you think I’m of pureblood?”

“Your aura’s white.”

White for a pureblood’s, blue for a demon with a soul—one he couldn’t detect—and red for a demon’s.

“Were you sent by the Elders?” Maybe they realized they’d wrongfully sentenced him and had sent a messenger to tell him he was released from his contract.

“No.” She stepped closer. “I’m not the messenger.” His blade in her hand gleamed. “And I’m not of pureblood.”

“But—” Not of pureblood, yet her aura mislead him to believe she was one, meaning… Rourke yanked out his blades. “You’re Vicious’ kid.”

Vicious, the demon of all demons, was the greatest enemy of hunters. He and his children’s auras changed to fit their surroundings, like damn chameleons.

“Yes, I’m his kid, one of many bastard children.”

Her disdain surprised and roused his curiosity. “You hate your father.”

“Yes.”

He sheathed his blades. “If you’re seeking protection, I’ll give it, but I don’t stay in one place for very long.”

Metal flashed in his mind seconds before he caught the knife in his hand. The blade sliced across his palm and blood started oozing from the cut.

“That was unnecessary.” He wiped the blade clean on his pants. The cut across his palm closed.

She’d confirmed her father’s demon bloodline with her temper. Only in a fight with demons would Rourke’s gods give him the gift of foresight.

“I’ve proved what I am, what you’ll be making a bargain with.”

“You refuse my protection, but you’re willing to bind yourself to me with a deal?”

She crossed her arms. “Bargain or not, get one thing straight, Mister. I live free. I’m no one’s burden.”

Was that what she thought she was to her father? “You wouldn’t be a burden. And with me, you’ll always live free. I don’t collect charms, kid, no matter how charming you are.”

Beneath her mask, he thought he detected a smirk.

“I’m not a kid.”

He disagreed. “I trained with twins who are like sisters to me. You remind me of them when they were temperamental, stubborn, overconfident teenagers.” He shrugged. “But age doesn’t matter. What’s inside here does.” He tapped at the spot above his heart.

Today was his last living as a free man, and Rourke had many regrets. He should’ve told more dumb jokes, laughed hard at his mistakes, maybe joined his men when they’d invited him for drinks after a successful hunt and kill. Instead, he’d put up a wall between his personal and professional life, a clear message that one didn’t include the other. No exceptions.

As he mulled over a past he couldn’t change, she straightened her spine and tipped her chin at him. Rourke held back his smile. The twins mimicked the same body language when he’d called them out for being moody brats.

“I’m eighteen. Satisfied?”

“Sure.” He tossed his blade back to her. “If you want me dead, get in line.”

She might hate her father but blood ran thicker than mud. Was that how she planned on helping him? Die by her hands instead of by a chosen executioner’s? Tomorrow, once he told the commander of chosen executioners to fuck off, he’d either be a dead man or a hunted one.

Beneath the mask, her mouth curved upward. Her reaction wasn’t born from happiness or joy, but he believed from guilt and a deep sadness. Again, she roused his curiosity.

“I’m here to save you.”

“From killing myself?” He’d rather live free and be hunted for the rest of his life than be tied to a contract to kill humans who became aware of the existence of supernatural beings.

She set his blade on the floor. “From killing the humans you’ll be sent to execute.”

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