Ash (Hive Trilogy Book 1), страница 1
Hive Trilogy Book 1
By: Jaymin Eve and Leia Stone
Copyright © 2015 by Leia Stone and Jaymin Eve. All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced. Stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission of the author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, live or dead are purely coincidental.
For information on reproducing sections of this book or sales of this book go to www.leiastone.com or www.Jaymineve.com
To our fans, this one is for you.
Rounding the corner of the path, I pushed myself harder, red and gold fall trees blurring in my peripherals as my legs demolished the last mile of my run. I was totally going to break my record. My best time so far was five miles in thirty minutes. I was so beating that today.
I breathed deeply, finishing the last few yards at a slow jog, and as I glanced down at my watch, I had to stop for a second before looking closer.
Twenty-five minutes … Okay, that’s ridiculous.
I’d only started running a year ago … after that night, the night when everything in my world changed. Since then – running, self-defense, gun training – I wouldn’t be a victim again, that was for damn sure. But to be smashing out five miles in twenty-five minutes – I wasn’t even breathing hard. Not exactly normal.
As I jogged up the steps into my dorm building, a breeze ruffled my long black hair, refreshing against the light sweat I’d worked up. It was late September; the fall days were beautiful and it was just starting to get cool at night.
Pushing open the door, I crossed the common room quickly and hopped up the three sets of stairs to reach my room. My university, Portland State (PSU), was in northwest Portland, which happened to be my home town. I would have loved to have gone to college in New York or LA, but we couldn’t afford it and I couldn’t leave my mom. I was almost finished now though; this was my last year – four years of majoring in marketing. God knows why I chose that. I was twenty-one and still had no clue what I really wanted to be when I grew up. Everyone else I knew had the next ten to twenty years of their lives mapped out. Me? I had nothing. So for now, marketing seemed like a good ticket to an interesting job.
“…totally an ash. They were fucking gorgeous.”
Two girls pushed past me going in the opposite direction, their voices loud and excited as they chatted about the newest batch of ashes at our university. Personally, the vampire/human hybrids didn’t do it for me, but I was in the minority there. The blond girl giggled, and I kind of wanted to bitch-slap her. “Yeah, they must have been on their way back to the Hive,” she twittered away.
It made my blood boil the way humans got all crazy over the Hive compound, like they’d do anything to make their way inside. I’d been inside those gates one time, and there was absolutely nothing good there for any human. We were nothing to those creatures, lower than animals, just food, plain and simple. I was lucky I got out with my life and my blood intact.
I shook off those thoughts as I removed the key from my sports bra and opened the door to the apartment I shared with my best friend Tessa. We’d grown up together, both of us from single parents, and we were as close as sisters. I stepped into the semi-dark room, slamming the door behind me.
“There is something seriously wrong with you, Charlie.” Tessa was leaning across our small, round, piece-of-shit dining table, her blond curls mussed everywhere. She wasn’t exactly a morning person. “No sane person gets up and jogs, it’s just not done. Plus, you’re not even sweating. Why the crap don’t you get all red and blotchy like the rest of us?”
She rubbed at her eyes, before downing the rest of the tar she called coffee. “I’m still betting you just run around the corner and sit in Starbucks checking out hotties for thirty minutes.”
I laughed, crossing to the fridge to grab a bottle of water. I took my first swallow, but strangely the water didn’t seem to quench the non-stop thirst I’d had the last few days.
“I don’t know what’s up with me,” I said, taking the seat next to her. “You remember what I was like when I first started jogging. I almost had a heart attack and nearly had to be resuscitated.”
Tessa snorted. “Oh, I remember. You limped along for about half a mile before collapsing in a heap and declared that the next person who suggested jogging as a way to relieve bad memories was going to get cut.”
I hadn’t been kidding about that either. Running was like torture to me back then, but it did help chase the mental demons away. “Yeah, and not even twelve months later I’m running five miles in twenty-five minutes and I barely even break a sweat.”
Actually, it was really only in the last month I found this whole exercise and defense thing easier. Maybe I was just starting to get it. My muscles knew what to do.
“Come on,” I said, jumping to my feet and hauling her up after me. “Comm skills is in thirty minutes, and it’s gonna take you half of that just to fix that rat’s nest.”
She flipped me off but didn’t argue. I waited to make sure she actually made it into her bedroom before I dashed across and entered my domain. I had time for a super-quick shower, then I’d have to haul ass to get dressed and out the door in time to jog across campus.
We made it to class just in time. I’d only managed to drag on some jeans and a tank-top, but lately my hair and skin had been doing some awesome stuff on its own, which was very useful during those late rushes to class. Tessa was next to me, propped up on her elbow. Her desk was empty of anything but her takeaway cup of sludge. Unlike me, she’d managed to style an outfit, fix her hair, and smooth out any flaws with her perfectly applied makeup. I had on lip gloss and mascara and that was an achievement.
“Do you think they’ll be in class today?” Tessa said as she turned her head toward the doorway.
I shrugged, trying to pretend I wasn’t also watching the door, but for a completely different reason. Two ash were normally in this class. They sat near the front, kept to themselves, and probably tried to ignore the fact that ninety percent of the females spent the hour staring at them. The ash were pretty much physical perfection. That’s of course if you ignored that fact that they were part bloodsucker. I watched the door hoping like hell they had been hit by a car today and would never make it to class again.
Two perfect heads of golden brown stepped through the door and moved toward their special seating. Fuck. A chorus of feminine sighs echoed through the room and I tried my best not to roll my eyes. Smug, gorgeous assholes. No car accident and the Hive hadn’t burned to the ground last night. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow. I’m pretty sure I was the only one in the room who hated the beautiful bastards.
“Settle down.” The graying professor stepped up to his lecture stand, dropping a bunch of paperwork onto the table. “Okay, so we’ll be picking up from chapter eight today…”
“I swear to God, Charlie, I would totally blood-whore myself for one of those Ash.” Tessa’s hazel eyes were hooded as she ran her gaze along the two elegant males
“I seriously wish you would stop saying that. They’re animals, Tess. Who knows what they do to their donors.”
As if he’d heard me, the golden ash closest to us turned his head and fixed his dark eyes on me. All of them had the same eye color, black with a ring of silver right around the pupil. It was just one of the many things which set them apart from us. From humans. I refused to lower my gaze, sensing mainly curiosity from him, before he dismissed me and turned back to the professor.
I shuddered, counting slowly in my head to calm down. Those eyes reminded me of that night. When the nightmares came, it was always black with rings of silver. Tessa knew some of what had happened to me, but I hadn’t wanted to go into detail about the attack. Let’s just say the nightmare stories about vampires were not all fiction.
“You know, Charlie, we should be thanking the gods. They gave us a race of perfection and every single one is male.”
Tessa’s lecture was getting old. “Yep, they’re all male. Yep, they’re all gorgeous. Yep, they use humans as nothing more than living, breathing blood donors. The gods totally love us.”
Tessa rolled her eyes and finally shut up. It was a tired debate with us and she knew I was sick to death of hearing about them. Why the human government let those gorgeous freaks walk among us was lost on me. At least they kept the vampires secluded away. I shuddered at the thought of the creatures who walked the night. Ash might be gorgeous and strong and fast, but in my personal opinion, for pure freak-me-outness, they had nothing on the full-fledged vamps that sired them. It was weird to call them vampires; sometimes I felt like I was living in a fantasy movie. Of course, Anima Mortem Virus just didn’t have the same ring.
We all knew the history. A few centuries ago some rabid bats bit some villagers and gave them a virus that increased longevity, increased strength, improved skin elasticity – among other things – and depleted blood platelet count in the process. The virus allowed the host to live forever, but a constant influx of blood was required for the renewal of cells. It also killed the female reproductive system but not the males. Of course sperm would survive. Friggin’ men, they had it easy.
Tessa nudged me and I shook off my thoughts. The professor was glaring at me.
“I’m going to guess you don’t have the answer. Moving on.” He went back to rambling about how certain colors made you want to buy certain products. Ugh. Damn this class was boring. I stood up and slowly walked down the aisle to go to the bathroom, which would hopefully kill at least five minutes of his lecture. As I passed one of the golden-haired freaks, I noticed his body stiffen and his nostrils flare. His hand snaked out and grabbed my arm.
“What the crap!” I muttered, trying to wrench myself free, but he held on. He stared up at me, pupils pulsing, black and silver eyes flickering. He was taking in deep breaths, his jaw clenched.
You’re not allowed to touch me, shit-head.
“Mr. Daniels!” the professor shouted, and the ash released me right before I was about to clock him one in the jaw.
Holy hell. I bolted to the bathroom, rubbing my arm.
They weren’t allowed to do that. They couldn’t touch a human without an invitation. Dammit, he had looked ready to eat me or something. Maybe it was feeding time and he’d zoned out. They weren’t supposed to be around us unless they had recently fed. But of course rules were made to be broken. I didn’t trust ash. They weren’t natural.
I shivered, washing my shaking hands. Tessa was crazy if she thought they were something to be desired. Those pulsing eyes were animalistic. I shook myself; I didn’t want to think about it anymore. Returning to class, I was totally ready to glare at that asshole and let him know who was boss. But the ash were gone. My face turned beet red as all eyes rested on me. The professor paid no mind and kept rambling. Reaching my seat, I sank low into it, wanting to disappear.
“What the hell was that all about in class?” Tessa crooned as we walked to lunch. “What did it feel like? Did you orgasm – I heard that when they touch you it’s like a mini orgasm.”
I snorted. “You’re flippin’ crazy, Tessa. You believe everything you hear about them. Did I look like I had a mini orgasm? I was a second away from smashing him in the jaw.”
Tessa sighed again. I was going to have to start thinning out her peroxide. She was losing brain cells far too rapidly.
“So did Professor Jennings kick them out or what?” I chewed my lip. I wanted to go for another run. I was starting to crave it, the pull on my muscles, the wind in my hair, the pumping of my heart. It was an adrenaline rush.
“Nope. The two ash shared a look and then they got up and left.” Her eyes were wide like she was telling me a horror story.
I shrugged. “Good, he broke a rule by touching me without permission. The other one probably went to take his ass back to the Hive, where I hope he’ll stay forever.”
I grabbed an apple and water bottle from the snack cart and sat with Tessa on the lawn outside.
She eyed my food. “You’re joking with the rabbit food, right? Where's my best friend and what did you do with her?”
I snorted. She had a point. I was a total foodie, but lately my appetite wasn’t there.
I forced myself not to roll my eyes, but that overly high-pitched voice belonged to Valarie. She bounded across the lawn, her best friend Amber in tow. Tessa and I shared a look. There was definitely a bitch here but it wasn’t us. Amber was okay, but Valarie was like a mosquito, constantly buzzing around with an ulterior motive.
I finally managed to stop rolling my eyes and turned to the girls. They looked similar, long straight bottle blond hair, big blue eyes, fake tanned to the shit, and plastic parts from their rich families.
“Hey, Val … Amber,” I said.
Valarie threw me one of her famous glares. She hated being called Val. And even though Tessa was friends with them, she still grinned at my attempt to annoy the princess. Valarie sat down next to us, smoothing her short skirt over her toned legs. Bitch was perfect but so plastic. No one’s boobs were that perky.
“In honor of my birthday tonight, I’m renting out a large part of Stag. You guys should come.”
I whistled low. Stag was the hottest club in Portland. “That must be costing daddy a pretty penny.” That wasn’t exactly what I wanted to say. That was the nice version.
She glared at me and jumped to her feet. “At least I have a daddy.”
Ouch, the bitch strikes again. Valarie and I barely tolerated each other. I had no idea why Tessa liked her, but it was only because of my friend that I didn’t dropkick Valarie in her perfect teeth.
Tessa elbowed me in the ribs. “We’ll be there. Thanks.”
I glanced at my watch and jumped to my feet. “I have a stats class, so I’ll meet you after and you can talk my ear off about all of the ash you hope to see at the club tonight.”
Tessa also stood, then gave me a wink. “You know me too well.”
I really did. She was an open book, but absolutely solid as a best friend.
I jogged off in the opposite direction, dreading the thought of tonight, but knowing that Tessa definitely needed me to keep her level of stupid to a minimum. One thing was for sure: if there were ash at the club, and one of them grabbed my arm again, I was ripping it off. That was for damn sure.
Tessa and I hopped on the MAX and took the train downtown. She put a hand on her hip and gave me a sultry look. “How do I look?”
She was wearing a short black fuck-me dress and bright red lipstick.
“Like you want to become a blood whore,” I said with a shake of my head. She’d made me leave my hair down tonight. It curled across my shoulders and down my back in waves.
She laughed. “Good.”
I gave her a WTF look as she eyed my skintight jeans, black ass-kicking boots and tight red tank. I was showing all the goods, because Tessa wouldn’t have let me leave the house otherwise. She was always pissed I
She gave an exaggerated sigh. “I have long given up on trying to give you better fashion sense.”
I flipped her off, which had her throwing up her hands. “Seriously, we’re supposed to be looking to get laid, not kicking someone’s ass.”
I grinned. My outfit was perfect. You never knew when some ass-kicking would be required. Especially on the streets of Portland. That’s what all my training was about now. And speaking of … my eyes fell onto the large, dramatically lettered, laminated poster that permanently marred the train walls.
Are you an Ash?
*Lack of appetite
*Beauty & Strength
Call the hotline if these symptoms come on suddenly!
It went on to list the risks and dangers an ash posed to society, and urged them to call for free testing. I shook my head. What bullshit. One fine day you were walking along thinking life was awesome and you were a human and not a bloodsucking creep, and then bam, your body started to change and there was no way to stop the slow transition to an ash. All because twenty something years before, your mom couldn’t keep it in her pants and gave it up to some lusty vampire. It was illegal of course to procreate with vamps, but sometimes rules are broken. Repeatedly.
“Why do you think all ash are male?” I asked Tessa. She was obsessed enough with them, she should know.
A cheeky grin quirked up the corner of her lips. “Who cares? I don’t question a good thing. Besides, that means less competition for us.”
Okay, apparently she was obsessed and stupidly uneducated about ash. Great combo there. The vampires and ash were unnaturally beautiful, the exact sort of weapon which came in handy for the luring of stupid, horny women. There were vampire females of course – for the luring of stupid, horny men – but no female ash. For some reason the union of male vampire and female human only ever resulted in male offspring. Male offspring who appeared to be completely human until their early twenties. The virus slept dormant inside their brain until the time their frontal lobe finished development. Then they slowly began to change, and soon figured out that their mama had had some fun with the undead. Some ash knew before their transformation, others were kept in the dark until the last moment.