Friday, August 29, 2014

The Dark Prophet Blitz ~ Free Book, Exclusive Excerpt, & Rafflecopter Giveaway!


Vampires and angels and demons, oh my!
The Dark Prophet, the bestselling second novel of the Chronicles of Koa series, by International bestselling author, K.N. Lee, is FREE for a limited time on Amazon.
{You can download this dark fantasy novel for free here, and make sure to tell a friend!} 

Book Two of The Chronicles of Koa series. 

Not all vampires are created equal...Koa is a half-blood vampire with not only the ability to fly, but survive in the sun's light. She will do anything to protect her mother and break her curse. The demon, Bund, wants more than her mother's life. He wants something from Koa, a power that she doesn't even know she has, and will rip through as many humans as he can to get her to surrender.
Agent Koa Ryeo-won, and her boss, Halston, formed a crew of supernatural agents to stop Bund. But is a prophet, a temptress, a War-Breeder, a half-blood with an enchanted sword, and a few angels enough to stop what Bund has planned
In the midst of a war between the humans of the mortal world, and the creatures of the Netherworld, Koa discovers the truth of her past. She finds herself torn between two men, and in the center of everything. Faced with all of her returned memories, Koa also finds herself more powerful than ever.
Being a half-blood is hard enough, but what exactly is Koa's other half? The Truth can save...or destroy everything.
Will the Netherworld Division stand behind Koa once they learn her secret?
***Bonus Material*** 
Chapter 1 of K.N. Lee's young adult fantasy, Academia of the Beast, is included at the end of The Dark Prophet.

AMAZON-VERIFIED EDITORIAL REVIEW Author Michael Holman, author of Resolve and Retribution, gives Dark Prophet 5 out of 5 stars!
The best sequel novel I've ever read - period.
When I finished reading K.N. Lee's The Chronicles of Koa: Netherworld, I remember the anticipation which began to build from that moment for the story I knew was coming. Well, Dark Prophet...certainly did not disappoint.
Koa and Halston are back, better than ever. It sets a precedent for me to finish reading fictional works the very same day I start them, but that's EXACTLY what happened this afternoon. An original, detailed plot -- unique characters a reader finds themselves investing in readily -- true hang-on-for-dear-life action...this book has it ALL. Lee writes in such a way she engages her audience from the opening sentence. I'm thrilled to say I've seen it happen twice now.   
At this point, allow me to make something crystal clear: I'm not the type of reader who simply decides to review written material with the coveted 5-star rating just because others have before me. That's just not "how I roll." But...I'd already seen Lee's talent with her first Koa publication; Dark Prophet validates my anticipation.

Five stars? By all rights, there SHOULD be a 5-star PLUS designation specifically for K.N. Lee.

There's already a legion of fans out there who share my opinion. Join us and get this book, folks. It's that simple.

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Raven closed her eyes and sighed.


She missed hearing her real name. To be free from her curse to live as a cat. To have her beloved daughter back. Those were the things she now fought for.

The carnage before her was sickening, but she had to remember why she was there and what they were up against. Still, days of tracking Bund’s crimes were beginning to wear on Raven. She only hoped that soon Koa and Halston would return from the Netherworld with the one vamp that could reverse her curse.

“This is awful,” Alice said to Raven as she knelt over the little girl’s body. “For someone so young to suffer this way.”

Alice covered the girl’s mangled face up and stood. She had to be careful not to step in the puddle of blood. She shook her head. “It’s fairly fresh. I’d say this was probably his first kill of the morning.” Alice let out a long breath. “What a damn shame. He’s certainly not trying to be discreet about any of this.”

Raven followed behind her, saddened by what she had seen. “How are we going to stop Bund?”

Alice flicked a hand and the two detectives who had been investigating the murders woke up from their trance. She sidestepped them and disappeared into the crowd on the sidewalk before they even realized what had happened.

“First, we should tell everyone to keep their children inside, lock their doors, and pray that Bund doesn’t become bold enough to start snatching little girls out of their bedrooms.”

Raven squeezed her eyes closed. She hated to imagine what happened to the girls that Bund chose. Just thinking that Koa had been harmed by him brought back terrible feelings of sorrow and worry.

Alice glanced back at her. She smoothed her short pink hair with the palm of her hand. “But we can’t exactly tell the humans about the existence of vampires and psychotic demons, can we?”

Raven sighed. “I suppose not.”

Alice made a face. “You know, I sometimes think ignorance isn’t quite as blissful as it seems. Maybe the humans wouldn’t be so foolish if they knew that supernatural creatures were targeting them.” She gave Raven a look. “What do you think?”

“Don’t some of them know though? The kids that go out and become pets know.”

“True. But that’s only a slim portion of the human population. I wonder what would happen if we just hopped on the television and made an announcement.”

“The Netherworld Division wouldn’t be a secret organization anymore.”

Alice grinned. “Exactly. Halston and I could fight crime in the open, instead of trying to hide it. But oh well. It would never work. The humans are lucky to not have such worries on their mind. I guess that’s why we do what we do.”

Raven quickened her pace as Alice turned a corner towards a cemetery. “I suppose.”

“Indeed, little kitty. I am searching for the powerful, the fearless… the perfect crew.” Alice reached in her pocket and pulled out a small device that resembled a compass. Raven wished she was taller, to see its face. She heard a tiny clicking sound and saw a gold light shoot from it and stretch far into the maze-like mausoleum buildings.

“Alice,” Raven called, pausing to stare at the light. “What is that?”

Alice lifted a brow. “What? Oh, it’s something Halston made for me.”

Raven sat on her back legs. She licked her paws. She hated being dirty, and the cold dirt was getting stuck in between her claws.

“I can’t wait to see what gadgets he’s created for you.” Alice smiled, walking in the direction of the light.

Raven lifted a brow and hurried behind. “What?”

Alice chuckled. “You didn’t think that Halston would let you into the division and not give you some sort of weapon, did you?”

Raven was speechless. She’d never thought of such a thing. She’d never needed gadgets before, but when she was in her true form, she had enough power to not need the use of weapons.

Raven’s fur stood on end. She looked up at the sky. Clouds slowly began to block the sun and the air grew colder. Night would soon be upon them. She felt herself growing a little weary. There was so much evil that awoke when night fell.

“He makes the best toys.”

“What is that light that comes out of your compass?”

Alice frowned. “What light?”

Raven nodded towards the gold glow. “The one you’re following.”

Alice paused. “Oh wow. You can actually see where the compass is directing me?”

Raven nodded. “Why yes. Can’t you?”

Alice shrugged. “No. It links with my telepathy, leading me by force to other nephilim.”

“Oh,” Raven said. Her eyes began to glow and reflect the moonlight as the sky darkened. “I see gold light.”

Alice smirked, staring down at her. “Cats. It is kind of cool to be able to talk to you. Inquire about what it is that you see and what not. You’ll be an excellent sidekick. In and out of the shadows, there she goes!”

Raven’s ears perked up. She thought that she had heard something out of the ordinary sounds that she always heard. Crickets and rustling leaves were her everyday soundtrack, but she was certain she heard a faint scratching sound coming from one of the keeps. Alice quieted and seemed to sense something as well.

Alice lowered her voice. “We’ll discuss the whole sidekick thing later. Deal?”

Raven looked up at her, unblinking. “I am not a sidekick.”

“Suit yourself.” Alice shrugged, whispering. “I am one hell of a superhero.”

Raven almost laughed but instead she yelped as she heard a loud crash of stone. She jumped, standing on her tiptoes, her black fur on edge.

Alice put her hands in her pockets. She tossed her pink hair out of her eyes. “Oh sweet. The freak show is awake.” She folded her arms across her chest. Raven froze as the large stone door started to creak open. An angel statue loomed down at her, as if daring her to make a sound. Raven held her breath, waiting.

“Don’t worry, kitty. It’s just Spoons.”

“Spoons?” Raven stepped back as a small man crept out of the mausoleum. He was ragged, with shaggy gray hair and large icy blue eyes. He appeared to be over a hundred years old. His spine was curved and his limbs were as thin as rails.

He walked over like a zombie, his feet dragging and his jaw slack. Raven gasped. “Is he… a zombie?”

Alice scoffed with an amused laugh. “No kitty. He’s a ghoul. But don’t worry, he’s pretty tame.” She lifted a brow as she noticed the human hand in his fist.

Spoons took a bite, ripping the flesh off the thumb. He chewed and swallowed. “Well, pretty tame, considering…” Alice’s voice trailed and Spoons stood a little taller, in an attempt to straighten his back.

Alice gave Raven a sidelong glance. “Good guess though. He does like human flesh as much as a zombie. But I can tell you with about 99 percent certainty that zombies don’t exist.”

“I hear ya,” Spoons drawled in a deep voice. “Talkin ‘bout me, like I’m not even here.”

Raven shivered when his eyes looked down at her. Spoons frowned. “What is dat?”

Alice grinned. “A kitty cat.”

Spoons twisted his mouth. “I don’t like dem creatures.” He sniffed the air. “Hey. You little lyin bitch. That ain’t a cat!” He moved with the shadows, and knelt before Raven before she could run. He had her by the back of her neck, and held her up to his face. He put his cold pointed nose to Raven’s belly and sniffed. “What is dis?”

Alice kicked him in the gut. “Put her down,” she growled. Spoons dropped Raven and she ran behind Alice. “She’s a friend, and that’s all you need to know.”

He looked up at her. He slowly stood. His gaze landed on Raven who hid behind Alice’s leg. “Jus tell me. What is dat?” He scrunched up his nose. “I never smelled anythin’ like it before.”

Alice stepped to him. “You listen to me, Spoons.” She got really close to his face, leaning down to his height.  Her voice lowered. “I would love to offer you a deal. You know, get you back in good standing with Halston and all.”

Spoons head shot up. “Halston?”

Alice grinned. “Yes. You heard me right. Halston is offering you a second chance. Once upon a time you were the best Navigator any of us had ever encountered.”

Spoons backed away. “I don’t do dat stuff anymo.” He scratched his head.

Raven shuddered as his long nails disturbed a group of spiders that had nested in his hair. They ran along his scalp and into his ears. He didn’t seem to mind.

“Come on, Spoons. Do it for me.”

He lifted a bushy white brow. “I don’t care bout you! Angels! Demons! Lemme lone!” He turned to walk away.

Alice chuckled. She winked at Raven. “Ah come on, Spoons. I was just kidding with you. Come back here.” She made her voice soft like a little girls. “Pretty please.”

Spoons kept walking.

Alice frowned. “All right. Have it your way. I’ll be sure to let Greggan know where you are.”

Spoons paused mid-step. He craned his neck around with a terrified look on his face. “G-G…Greggan… is here?”

“He is. And I think he’d love to find you and rip your head off.”

“I’m outta here!”

Raven squealed as he transformed into a ragged looking jackal before their eyes. Thick brown fur covered his body. Still, his blue eyes stood out, even though his face now resembled a feral dogs’.

Alice threw her hand out and as he prepared to run, she made him freeze. He growled. His eyes darted from side to side.

“Lemme go! You bitch!”

“Damn shifting ghouls! Why the hell did you get such a cool trick?” Alice huffed and stepped closer to him. She leaned down. Her voice lowered, almost menacingly. Raven’s ears perked up.

“Listen here, Spoons. I’m not here to force you to join our side, but really, what is the alternative? You join us and you have a chance of surviving what is coming. No one betrays Greggan and survives. You helped smuggle that girl out of the Netherworld years ago. I know there’s something good in you.” She stood up and her voice softened. “Even if you try to hide it.”

Raven felt her heart pounding. She looked from Alice to Spoons and back again. Spoons’ big blue eyes stared at Alice. His fangs were dripping with saliva, and yet he was unable to move to catch the drool, not that he would have otherwise.

“Fine. Just lemme go.”

Alice smiled and in an instant, Spoons was loose. He shifted back to his ghoulish figure and looked at Raven.

“That thing right der… smells like dat girl,” he whispered.

Alice nodded. “Nice observation. She is Koa’s mother.”

Raven felt a sting of grief at the mention of Koa’s name. She prayed that her daughter was ok. She looked at the two of them. It was a surprise to learn that this ghoul had helped save Koa’s life.

Spoons frowned. “What da hell happened to her?”

Alice rolled her eyes. “Enough questions. Can I count you in, or not?”

Spoons spit in his hand and held it out to Alice. “I’m in.” He gave her a pointed look as she stared at his hand in disgust. “But no funny business. I help ya kill Greggan and ya leave me alone, foreva. Deal?”
         Alice grimaced and shook his hand. She groaned in dismay as she pulled her hand away, mucous stuck to her hand like glue. “Ugh. Deal.”

Don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveawayAuthor K.N. Lee is giving away two eBook sets of the Netherworld & Dark Prophet! 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Cover Reveal: Sin-Reaper, by K.N. Lee

Back in February, you got to meet the wickedly talented fantasy author, K.N. Lee, during my interview with her. You also got to see the cover for her current release, The Dark Prophet (from the Chronicles of Koa series).

Now, I am thrilled to give you a sneak peek at the cover of Sin-Reaper, the first book in her Darkest Day trilogy, coming this summer, 2014. And because she's so awesome, she's also giving us an exclusive peek at Chapter 1, in honor of the cover reveal!

Sin-Reaper Cover
Chapter 1
Set between two rows of buildings that reached as tall as the dark storm clouds above, the central market filled the cities square until every inch of free space was filled with either people, creatures, or goods for sale.
A whistling sound made Raina and Allen pause. Everyone turned and looked above as six armored Wind-Walkers flew from the south of the city and stopped in formation above them. With their swords held upwards with the silver blades resting against their shoulders, they hovered in the air. While they seemed to be there only to patrol the market, everyone gradually returned to their business.
“Wonder why they’re here,” Allen whispered.
Raina shrugged as she gazed at them from beneath her gray cloak. Her dark blue eyes contrasted with the bright blue of the people surrounding her. She caught the attention of one of the Wind-Walkers. A fluttering sensation flooded her stomach, and Raina found herself holding her breath in anticipation.
Wes glanced down at her from his position at the head of the troupe. Even in uniform, he stood out from his brethren. While most Wind-Walkers had blonde hair, Wes was one of the rare ones with white hair. It signified that he was Enlightened and of the ruling class. His was long, and braided in a single braid that hung down to his mid-back. He’d never cut it. It was forbidden.
            Long hair was just one of the ways the ruling class was separate from the others classes.
Raina’s heart raced when his gray eyes met hers. He gave her a quick smile and nod of acknowledgement. His attention to her didn’t last long enough. He returned to surveying the crowd for any unusual activity.
“Interesting,” Allen murmured. “You didn’t tell me you knew a Wind-Walker.”
Raina grinned despite herself. She was on a mission. She had a plan and must stick to it. 
“Who says that I do?”
Her smile faded as she began into the crowd once more. She tripped on a raised stone and felt her face flush with embarrassment. She hoped that Wes hadn’t seen that. She found it hard to walk the wide stone-paved street without tripping or bumping shoulders with someone else.
Her black boots made soft thuds on the stone as her eyes scanned the crowd for anything out of the ordinary.
Allen shrugged and followed behind her. “I saw him look at you is all.”
“Means nothing,” Raina said. “It was just a look.” She pulled her cloak’s hood further down, so that only her blue eyes were seen. The black cloth that covered her mouth left nothing to decipher her identity.
The lace of her long sleeves brushed just below her wrists, only to be met by black gloves. No one could see her white flesh that set her apart from the people of Jinn’Ah. She looked different because of her complexion, but it was the way her eyes glowed that made the people make a path for her.
She ignored their whispers. She was used to them by now. She pushed her yearning for attention from Wes aside and focused on her plan.
Raina looked for someone. Someone with thoughts of malice. Someone that could feed her soul with enough power to escape her servitude as a Royal Reaper.
Heat filled her body as she searched for sin. She used to think her power was a curse, keeping her up all night with horrible nightmares of things that she didn’t understand as a child. She’d seen too much. She knew the evil in everyone around her. It was enough to drive one insane. And yet, somehow, Raina still had her wits about her.
She frowned to herself, disgusted with what she saw in the souls of the people around her.
“How can I judge these people?” Raina asked Allen. It was the same question that she asked herself that every day.
“It is who you are. You cannot veer from destiny, Raina. Just like I cannot deny my own path,” Allen said.
She glanced back at him, seeing the hurt in his own eyes and feeling guilty for being so selfish.
He adjusted his glasses and looked away from her gaze.
“But I see nothing but good in you,” Raina whispered. Allen was much taller than her. She reached upward and stroked his soft brown cheek. “It is a rare thing to see such innocence.”
Allen’s blue eyes widened as he looked down at her. “Please stop, Raina. Do not read my soul. I beg you.”
He took her hand and lowered it back to her side. He adjusted his glasses, embarrassed by the thought of her learning his secrets.
Raina nodded silently. “Forgive me.”
Allen couldn’t look at her. Raina bit her lip. She knew what he was hiding. She sighed. She could never give him what he wanted.
Anyone that gained their power from the energy of sinners, bad people, murderers, rapists, and such must surely be bad as well, she thought. Allen deserves better than a girl like me.
“It’s fine,” Allen said under his breath.
Raina sniffed the air. The smell was what overwhelmed her at first. Spices and perfumes, raw fish and sweat. The early hours of dawn were the most popular times for the people to shop or sell their goods.
Fresh fruits, vegetables, raw or smoked meats, exotic smelling salts, carpets, and silks were all spread out over wooden tables draped with cloth and carts that had been pushed from far below the city’s boundaries. One might not think it due to the emerging storms, but spring had arrived, and the land was bountiful and generous with its gifts.
Raina held Allen’s hand tightly as they weaved into the crowd, afraid that if she let go she’d get swept away. She was afraid that if that happened, she would enjoy being lost and would be happy to never be found again. She had a plan, and running away too soon would ruin it. Raina knew how to be patient. She knew how to fake a smile and bow to the authority.
Something caught her interest, breaking her from her quest for a sinner. Raina smiled in wonder as she watched two twin boys dancing in perfect unison to the tunes of an old man’s drum.
She stopped and watched, captivated by the paint on the boy’s faces. White paint on brown skin and their black hair slicked back. They wore the same outfit. Black trouser pants and red shirts with large silver buttons. They smiled and continued their choreographed dance and bowed.
Raina let go of Allen’s hand and clapped. She fished a large gold coin out of her pocket and before Allen could stop her, she tossed the coin into the basket set beside the old man. The old man looked down at the coin as it glowed beneath the light of the red sun. His dull blue eyes looked up at her and a crocked grin came to his face and then, Raina saw it.
His sin.
He knew it as well. He knew what she saw and his grin faded. Before he could speak, Raina was yanked away by someone strong.
Raina’s eyes widened. She pulled a dagger from the belt beneath her sleeve that was wrapped around her forearm. Her eyes glowed bright with power as she swirled around to slit the throat of whomever had grabbed her.
You can find author K.N. Lee at:

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Summer of My Heart

You know when that tiny voice creeps in, the one called intuition...the one called your highest self...the one you know you need to listen to?

It's been screaming at me for a long time now to:

Slow down.
Quiet my mind. 
Tune out noise. 
Eliminate distractions. 
Focus on what matters.

To that end, I am taking a summer sabbatical from social media, being online, getting distracted, not being present.

I am at a very interesting crossroads in my life, having just turned 40 and trying to figure out where I want my life to head during this next decade. There's a lot we all juggle in life, and sometimes we do it better than at other times. Right now, my heart is yearning for silence. The spiritual path I've been on these last few years is blossoming, and I need quiet time to digest, to self-reflect, to listen to God, to learn, to heal. 

I will still be "around," and available to friends and family. I'm not actually going anywhere, except inside my own heart and truth on a more frequent basis. I will continue to write in some form or fashion, and I'm still working with my editing clients during this time, as well.

But my blogging, social media presence, and days of being online are all going on hiatus from today until September, 2014.

Have a beautiful summer with your family and friends. Take time to disconnect and truly be present with them. Play outdoors more, and be inside less. Close your computers and pick up a "real" paperback book. 

I recently read an amazing quote that said: "Today is the youngest you will ever be."

If I am trading one day of my life for today, this day, my youngest day, I want to make the most of it. See how much I can learn and grow and be kind and love.

Find my truth north.

So, with gratitude and excitement, please consider this my "out of office" and "in my heart" notice.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Book Birthday: Stone of Destiny

Today we are celebrating the book birthday of The Danaan Trilogy's book 2, Stone of Destiny! It's the much anticipated release following The Forgotten Ones. It's a New Adult paranormal romance, written by Laura Howard.

Stone of Destiny

Allison thought it was crazy enough when she found out that her father, Liam, wasn't entirely human. But now she has to join his magical allies to unravel his former mistress's plans. Aoife wants to keep Allison's parents apart forever. Despite Allison's efforts to keep Ethan, the only guy she's ever cared about, out of this supernatural mess, fate keeps throwing him back into the mix.

Will Allison be able to find the amulet that holds the enchantment Aoife placed on Liam and destroy it? Are Ethan's feelings for Allison strong enough to endure the magic of the Tuatha De Danaan?

About the author

Laura Howard lives in New Hampshire with her husband and four children. Her obsession with books began at the age of six when she got her first library card. Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High, and other girly novel were routinely devoured in single sittings. Books took a backseat to diapers when she had her first child. It wasn't until the release of a little novel called Twilight, eight years later, that she discovered her love of fiction. Soon after, her own characters began to make themselves known.

To find Laura Howard: Facebook | Twitter | Blog| Goodreads
To buy:  The Forgotten Ones | Stone of Destiny

Monday, March 3, 2014

On the sexy topic of Junior, Senior, and commas

So, I'm in the middle of copy editing a novel for this phenomenal author (not to name drop, but it's Ksenia Anske! Squee!). In her novel, Rosehead, one of the character's names is Panther Bloom Junior. It's Lilith's pet whippet, who also happens to speak. Throughout the novel, Ksenia did not use a comma to offset the title Junior; whereas my inclination was to use one, based on what I thought I remembered of the rule. As in: Panther Bloom, Jr., or Panther Bloom, Junior. (Note: Ksenia writes out Junior in her book instead of using the abbreviation Jr.)

You may be wondering: why worry about a comma?  

Because that's how it used to be. (Yes, I said "used" to be.) Traditionalists will remember a time when a comma DID precede Junior and Senior; a comma also came after the title if the sentence continued.  

Example (old-school style):
Panther Bloom, Jr., was the runt of the litter.
Or: Panther Bloom, Junior, was the runt of the litter.      
Or: The award for most faithful companion goes to Panther Bloom, Jr.

HOWEVER, roman numerals to indicate generation were not offset by commas, and still aren't. Reginald Maximillian St. Regis III was the richest of his brothers.

As you may have realized, rules can change with grammar and punctuation. For traditionalists/purists, sometimes we like to hold on tightly to our "old" rules, because that's the way we learned them.

But according to The Chicago Manual of Style, the comma rule for Junior and Senior is no longer in vogue. They see it as part of, and therefore an extension, of the name itself. And really, it simplifies things for the reader by streamlining the clean line of the sentence. (The rule changed with the fifteenth edition; you can find the rule in the sixteenth edition at 10.19.)

While I'm all for using commas to clarify a sentence (fan right here of the Oxford comma!), sometimes, the best reason to do away with an antiquated rule is to maintain readability and flow.

After all, punctuation is a way to make a reader stop, pause, stutter, shout, or keep on going, smooth and uninterrupted. And sometimes, too many commas simply junk up a sentence when overused.

Bottom line: DITCH the commas when using Junior and Senior!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Dark Prophet Cover Reveal ~ KN Lee

I'm so excited to share the Dark Prophet cover reveal and exclusive first chapter, by American fantasy and horror author, K.N. Lee. The Dark Prophet is book two of Lee's Chronicles of Koa series. Click here for book one.

The Dark Prophet ~ description

What would you do if a demon threatened your mother's life? If you're like Koa, you'd sharpen your enchanted sword and go after him.

That's just what Koa did...and what she learned will change everything.

Agent Koa Ryeo-won just had her entire life change when she discovered the truth of her past. How will she react when she finds that the prophet that she was sent to break out of a prison for supernatural creatures is the first man she loved? None of that matters when a vampire king and his demon sidekick strike out against the Netherworld division and destroy the entire Vampire Registration System. The people of the world are finally given proof that they are being targeted by the escaped creatures of a different world. Who will protect the humans from this new breed of vampire? Will Koa ever break her mother's curse?

And here, my friends, is the beautiful cover for the Dark Prophet, by K.N. Lee. Isn't she beautiful?

Exclusive, from the Dark Prophet ~ Part 1: Netherworld Memories

Chapter 1
Koa frowned down at her body. A red dress. Koa would have never chosen to wear all red, but she did not have a choice. Like the blood that Koa had spilled the night before when she had been cut with a glowing dagger, the dress was dark and rich.
Ceremonies such as this were normal in the Netherworld. Besides, the wound on her wrist healed before her eyes. Within minutes, the ceremony was complete, the tests were run, and it was confirmed that she was indeed the daughter of Alsand Vangelis, the vampire king of Elyan.
The next day Koa was awakened by a team of violet-eyed women tugging at her limbs, washing her, scrubbing her raw with oils, and slathering creams onto her snow-white skin. They straightened her thick black hair and painted her face with colors that Koa only thought older women were allowed to wear. Then, she had been dressed.
In a gaudy red wedding gown at the age of twelve.
Koa wanted to run from the black temple that she and her father had slept in. She wanted to break free from the compound and fly home. The human world seemed so far away.
She bit her lip, tasting blood. No one understood just how much she did not want to do this. This wasn’t to be a human wedding, but a Netherworld wedding…a vampire wedding.
Koa scrunched up her nose as she looked down at the billowing gown, littered with sparkling crystals and black taffeta. She looked like a gothic spin on a Disney princess.
Vampire Barbie, she thought to herself.
Even at such a young age, Koa knew she did not fit the role of such a character. She was not a doll, or a character from the books she read. She closed her eyes and tried to calm her nerves.
Like hot boiling acid, anxious feelings churned within her stomach, making her feel like she might faint or worse…vomit at any moment.
How embarrassing that would be, Koa thought as she chewed her lip. She grimaced. Her lips tasted horrible, like tar. She’d almost forgot that she was covered in makeup like a clown. Her small hands shook and she wanted to cry. It took all of her strength to keep the tears from escaping and causing an even bigger scene. With hot cheeks and holding her breath, Koa prayed for an escape.
What am I doing here, Koa kept asking herself. Koa was afraid of this dark place, where the sun, nor the moon, did not exist. Where the population was composed of creatures that would have given normal girls nightmares.
Koa was glad that at least she had her father at her side, and that he never let go of her hand. With her free hand, Koa tugged at the high collar of her gown. She frowned and groaned. The black lace made her throat itch.
Koa looked up at her father, who walked regally by her side, head held high, and face set with purpose. They walked at the head of the procession through the streets of Lyrinia, while the citizens watched in uneasy silence.
Netherworld vamps, War-Breeders, Jems, Syths, and even ghouls came out of their hiding spots to catch a glimpse of the mysterious half-blood princess.
Koa tried not to stare back at the horrific creatures all around. Like metallic giants, slim, and sleek, the Scayors patrolled the event like silent police. Their eyes cast a dim green glow over what they scanned.
            She shuddered whenever their gaze lingered on her. She feared that they were reading her thoughts and knew that she was afraid of them. That was one thing that Koa hated, the admission of fear. Even the monk-like Syths scared her. They were big, pale, creatures with bald heads and faces covered in tattoos.
            Lightning broke out and everyone looked up to the sky. Koa clutched her father’s arm and paused.
He smiled down at her. “Don’t worry, Koa. It’s not a real sky, my love. That is simply the ground of another Netherworld level. I believe they are having a battle up there.”
            Koa’s eyes narrowed as she looked at the dismal black sky. Lightning struck again, but it wasn’t the kind of lighting that she was used to. It was green and took the shape of various symbols as it faded into the dark. To think that they were only on one of the many levels of the Netherworld, and that entire civilizations and kingdoms were going about their business with little to no care about what an important day this was for Lyrinia was too much for young Koa to grasp.
            When she looked back down, she saw that everyone had returned their attention to her. Vampire women and men stared at her. They were the only creatures that she wasn’t fearful of. Father had various vampires over at the manor from time to time, but none of them looked as picturesque as these Netherworld vamps.
            Painted faces stared at her. The vampire women were the most beautiful women that Koa had ever seen, and yet none compared to her mother’s simple and natural beauty. These women were like painted dolls who she imagined tipping over and watching crack into pieces of porcelain.
            Koa noticed how they seemed to be separated into groups. The red lipsticks on the left and the black lipsticks on the right. Koa didn’t know if it was simply a fashion trend or something more, but all of the women wore the most elaborate gowns and jeweled arrangements on their perfectly sculptured hairdos.
            They watched her, unblinking, unsmiling. She could see the judgment in their eyes.
            “Father,” Koa breathed. She looked away from their violet eyes and clutched her father’s arm.
            King Alsand looked down at her. His green eyes were serious today. “What is it, darling?”
            Koa looked ahead at the sparkling golden palace before them. The golden plates along the palaces walls shimmered and reflected all of the light from the Disc Moon, the artificial moon of the Netherworld. Her voice was caught in her throat. Something felt odd and yet she felt drawn to the palace. It stood out like a candle in the dark and pulled her in, as if by magic, like a moth to a porch light.
            Koa’s face paled. This was the place that would be her new home. King Greggan’s teenage son, Prince Jax, would be her new husband.
            Koa stopped. The guards that were leading them looked back and seemed ready to seize her and force her forward.
            King Alsand leaned down to her ear. “What’s wrong?”
            “I want to go home.”
            Her father patted her hand and when one of the Syth guards stepped forward, he whipped out the Lyrinian sword with lightning speed. Everyone drew in a breath and stepped back as they beheld its power. The ring of steel rang throughout the air. It pulsed, audibly, and visibly as the red glow made the air heat and crackle.
Even Koa held her breath as her eyes shot to the Lyrinian blade.
King Alsand’s raptor-like glare burned into the guards, warning them to keep their distance. He didn’t have to say a word. The red glow of the black blade was enough to make the large brutish creatures rethink their actions.
King Alsand waited a moment longer, making sure that they knew how serious he was. Koa had only trained with that sword once. The power was too great for her now, but one day it would be hers.
She flinched when her father’s glare landed on her. “Koa, this is your home.”
Koa shook her head, but avoided his eyes. She looked around. The air was stale, not like the fresh fragrant air of France. The sky was dark, lit only by the Disc Moon that cast different colors across the land whenever the hour changed.
She missed the moon of Earth. She missed the sun, the trees, and the flowers. The Netherworld felt like a nightmare that she would never awaken from. No matter what color the day was in the Netherworld, it was always too dark for her. Koa’s father didn’t understand her love for daylight, for he had never seen real daylight.
The sun’s rays would kill him just as surely as it would kill any vampire, Netherworld or New World. Koa was the only exception and she wished that he would at least try to understand.
“You are half Netherworld vamp, Koa,” her father gave her hand a squeeze. “This is where you belong, amongst your people.”
“I am also half human.”
King Alsand looked down at her and pursed his lips. His eyes hid something from her.
Koa tried to soften her voice and sound as sweet as possible. “Bring mother here, and maybe I won’t feel so homesick,” Koa reasoned, her green eyes hopeful.
King Alsand shook his head, but his features softened for her. “My darling girl. You will see that this is the place for you. You belong here with your people. The treaty has already been signed.” He leaned closer to her ear and whispered. “Your mother cannot come here Koa. She is safe in the mortal world. If we do not fulfill our side of the treaty, she will be in danger. Now, is that what you want?”
Her lips trembled. She shook her head quickly. Just the thought of someone harming her mother made her feel sick. She didn’t know what she would do if she lost that sweet, loving, woman.
She looked into her father’s eyes.
“Do you understand what I am telling you?”
Koa nodded. She understood, but she still didn’t agree with what was happening.
Alsand smiled and stroked her pale white cheek.
“But I don’t want to do this,” Koa whispered.
Alsand’s smile faded, but his eyes didn’t turn cold on her as she expected. He knelt down to her level and cupped her cheek.
“I know, my dear girl, but sometimes we have to do things that we don’t want to…to protect those that we love.”
“May I?” Faun asked of Alsand.
Alsand nodded and Faun gathered her white skirts in one hand and scampered over to fix Koa’s long black hair. Koa didn’t take her eyes from her father’s. She hoped that he would see how miserable she was.
Koa ignored Faun as she examined her face with violet eyes. She was adamant about making sure that Koa’s part was perfectly straight and that her hair fell in long ringlets.
“Smile,” she said.
Koa twisted her mouth. “I don’t want to.”
Faun put her hands on her hips. She scrunched up the space between her thin borws as she narrowed her eyes at Koa. “Just do it. It’s only for a second.”
Koa rolled her eyes and faked a quick smile.
“That wasn’t so hard, now was it?” Snickering, she gathered her skirts in her hand. “You have red lipstick on your teeth,” she said and returned to her place in the procession behind Koa and her father.
Frustrated, Koa rubbed her teeth with her finger. She knew just how ridiculous she looked. Black liner, red lips, and rosy cheeks.
Alsand locked arms with Koa. He leaned close and gave her a kiss on the cheek. He lowered his voice into a whisper. “Remember, never mention that you can walk in the sun. Never.”
Koa swallowed and squeezed her eyes shut. “I know, father. You don’t have to keep reminding me.”
“Good,” he stood back to his full height. His eyes widened and he leaned down again. “Or that you can fly.”
Koa nodded, her head down. “Yes, I know.”
He pinched her cheek. “Good. Shall we continue, darling?”
“I don’t know, father.” Koa couldn’t bring herself to look at her father again. “Is there anything else that you want to remind me not to say or do?” Her eyes were burning from the tears that threatened to gush forth.
Alsand noticed and simply shook his head. He patted her hand.
She hung her head. Once again, they were walking down the black stone walkway that led to the gate and stone doors of the Lyrinian palace.
Koa’s heart pattered against her ribcage. She felt like she might have an anxiety attack. So many eyes staring. So much anticipation in the air.
Those golden gates that she’d been staring at for the past hour, as they walked through the entire kingdom, were held open for them and heavily guarded.
When Koa stepped through the gates and entered a massive courtyard of stone. Their path was lit for them. On either side of the carpet were artificial trees of stone and black clay. They weren’t real, but they were beautiful. Art.
Even Koa could appreciate the mastery. She examined the sculptures as they followed their escort through the courtyard and to the stone doors that led into the palace. Once inside, light seemed to fill every dark space. Chandeliers, torches, candles, mirrors reflecting the light and light discs were positioned all over the wide corridor.
It was then that Koa contemplated flying away. She’d thought of it often. It would be her last chance. She took a peek over her shoulder. She could still see the door. She’d just promised her father that she would keep her abilities a secret. She wasn’t sure why such things were so important.
She could simply lift herself into the air, and head for the Gate, but visions of her mother being harmed kept her firmly planted to the purple carpeted floor.
Koa felt numb, like she was walking to her prison cell.
Each corridor led to another corridor of a different theme. From one of light and mirrors they stepped through grand archers to a corridor of dim candles and artificial flowers in vases painted with paint that seemed to have a light of its own. There was a corridor with walls filled with paintings and soft music played by a small creature that resembled the one at the Gate. Tunes was what her father called him, but all Koa remembered was how creepy he was.
Koa watched it buzz around with short black wings as it blew eerie melodies out of its flute. She tapped her chin and furrowed her brows as she tried to remember what kind of creature it was.
“An imp!” Koa shouted triumphantly. She covered her mouth with her hand and looked around in horror. She hadn’t meant to say that aloud. Everyone glanced at her with disapproval, but the imp continued playing its flute until they went into the next corridor.
Koa was relieved to find that the maze of corridors had finally ended, and that they were finally in the main ballroom where the prince and the royal family awaited them.
She stepped into the room, from carpet to shiny granite floors and a flood of light and decorations overwhelmed her senses. She didn’t want to admit how beautiful it was, but her eyes widened at the spectacle. Hundreds of chairs draped with gold silk lined either side of the alleyway that led to the platform where the thrones were held.
Her heart thumped. She felt something she hadn’t expected. Koa’s face flooded with blood as her eyes met those of the prince.
No one else mattered. Nothing else existed as Koa’s eyes cut through the crowd and down to the set of five thrones as Koa and her father stopped before the platform.
“Princess Evina, 1st Queen Katya, 2nd Queen Lera, your highness, King Greggan, and Prince Jax, behold King Alsand of Elyan and Princess Koa.”
Koa heard the introductions but something odd was happening. She stared at Prince Jax with her mouth agape.
He was the most attractive person she had ever seen in her life. Piercing dark blue eyes, dark blood red hair and a perfectly sculpted chin and nose. Koa felt her face flush as he looked her up and down. Then, he did something that made her grin, despite her previous fears and doubts.
Prince Jax winked at her.
I hope you enjoyed the first chapter. Here is the trailer for book one, The Chronicles of Koa. And you can find out more about author K.N. Lee and get important book updates through: Web site | Facebook | Twitter.
Coming soon I'll also be posting a guest blog by K.N. Lee about her experience pitching agents! Let us know how you like this gorgeous cover, too! Happy reading, friends!