Best Paranormal Series Involving Shifters and Vampires

Win some of my favorite paranormal books!

Here are some of my favorite paranormal suspense series with vampires and shifters/weres. I think one of the best things to share are books, so I’m giving away a load of books to some lucky winners!

  • First place wins any SIX books from those listed below
  • Two runners up can select any three

Click on the covers below to see the books on Amazon!

Paranormal Suspense Book Giveaway

Born in Fire (Fire and Ice Trilogy Book 1) by [Breene, K.F.]

Born in Fire (Fire and Ice Trilogy Book 1)

The End of a New Beginning {Fantasy Flash Fiction August}

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The End of a New Beginning by Natasha Brown

 

The air was thick. Raif could taste it on his gills.

He could remember a day in his youth when the constant smog and cloud cover had parted, revealing a blinding round orb in the sky. The sun. Its light had touched his skin, warming him from the outside in. The muffled squeals from the other children had been muted by their filtration masks, but their pale fingers reached up into the air like he’d imagined saplings might. He’d only seen photographs of trees the way they were before the permanent dark fog had settled over the world. Now, the only plants were grown underground for their sustenance and oxygen. A rare and valuable commodity.

The streets were empty as he turned a corner with his eyes on the concrete. Raif was careful to keep his footsteps from echoing down the humid street. He scanned the windows that had all been painted over, sealing the seams shut as well as covering the glass with a thick sheen of white latex. They’d been told it had been done to help seal out the bad air, but Raif wondered if it was to block out all memories of the past. So they wouldn’t remember what they’d lost.

He hurried by the library. It no longer held books like it had before the world changed. It no longer served the purpose it used to, or so he’d been told by his mother. It was used by the electorate now. The people who governed the civilians of New Brunswick. This was the only building in the city without paint covering its glass windows. He’d seen round faces staring out in the past, but he didn’t search for them today. He turned down an alley, careful to keep out of sight. He’d been warned not to go exploring outside and didn’t want to get caught, fearful of the repercussions. Though he wasn’t fearful enough to remain down in block seventeen with the rest of the moles like him. The below-grounders.

Murky smog trailed after him as he moved in silence. It flavored his gills while he breathed it in. It wasn’t something he’d call appealing, but it was preferable to the stuffy, dankness of being secured below with everyone else. Trapped.

He moved through the shell of the old city like a specter. He was too young to know what the world had been like before the air had chased everyone inside, but he’d seen pictures. Happy faces of families spending time in parks, sporting events or traveling the world. There was none of that now.

Raif made his way to the edge of town, looking over his shoulder, searching for movement. Finding none, he hurried through the mist and down the slope to the trail he’d found one day months ago by accident. His fingertips brushed over the brown stalks of the dead plants as he went. They rustled at his touch as if trying to speak to him, to whisper their last words.

The terrain became rocky, and he knew he was getting close. The brown-tinged fog was so thick, he couldn’t see more than ten feet ahead of him. But here, the vapor tasted different. It was what had drawn his attention when he’d first found this place. Raif climbed down into the rocky cave opening.

The normal orange lens that filtered the haze wasn’t present here. Instead, a bluish tint glowed from the darkness. He took a deep breath, inhaling the oxygen around him. When his breath rasped out, the sound echoed through the watery cavern. Raif walked around the edge of the rocky shore and sat on a chunk of cement, a remnant of the old world. He reached out to touch one of the glowing spores that grew like a toadstool, something he’d seen before in a book his mother used to read to him. However, there was no smoking caterpillar sitting on this one, and the mushroom wasn’t nearly as large as a girl.

A rock clattered near the entrance of his secret cavern, and he looked up to find a human silhouette. He straightened and froze. Had he been followed? Would he be punished for disobeying the electorate? His blood pressure rose as he prepared himself for the worst.

A muffled female voice came from the stranger’s ventilator mask. “Who are you?”

Raif lifted his face to look more closely at her. He thought everyone knew him. If you’d asked anyone from his underground block, they’d be able to tell you who he was. They had their own name for him, Gilly the freak born with gills.

She took a few careful steps deeper into the cavern and stopped, cocking her head at him. Long dark hair fell over her shoulders, and she was wearing tight jeans. The bulky sweatshirt that covered her upper body wasn’t official enough for a member of the electorate.

He cleared his throat. “Raif Stuben from block seventeen.”

“Where’s your ventilator?” She moved even closer. Now, only a few strides away from him.

He lowered his head, wishing he had long enough hair to hide under. Like most other moles, his hair had been shaved to avoid the passing of lice, a common problem in the underground blocks. Raif rubbed his velvety stubble and mumbled, “I don’t need it.”

Her hand lifted, hovering inches from the slits under his jaw. Without saying a word, he nodded, knowing her unspoken question. Did his defect have something to do with it?

There was no doubt she was an above-grounder. She smelled pretty. Like flowers. He didn’t know what kind. He’d only ever smelled the sterile, unscented soap the moles used. But whenever the administrative members of New Brunswick came visiting, the women especially, their aroma brightened the depths of block seventeen.

“I don’t see the fog here.” She gestured to the clear air in the cavern. “Is it safe to breathe?”

Raif kneeled and nearly touched one of the glowing spores. “It’s these plants. They filter the poison from the air.”

He felt her eyes on him, so he looked up at her. She put her hand to her mask and slowly lifted it off, exposing her mouth. She took a tentative breath before removing her ventilator entirely. He could now see she was no older than twenty, near his age. Her brown eyes crinkled in excitement as her lips parted into a smile. “We should tell them. This could change everything.”

Raif returned his gaze to the glowing mushroom and frowned. “They know.”

“What?” she said, clearly confused.

“It’s why I’m forbidden from coming out exploring. If you’re not interested in answers and only want to maintain the status quo—”

“You’re lying,” she interrupted. Her eyes narrowed, and she backed away from him. “They want to find a solution, my father’s told me so.”

He stood up and sighed. He wasn’t interested in a fight. If she didn’t want to believe him, she wouldn’t. It wouldn’t matter to her that he’d already told block seventeen’s administrator, or that he’d been laughed at.

Raif waited in stillness.

The young woman’s annoyed expression drooped into sadness. Her jaw clenched, and her eyes pinched shut. “I thought they cared.”

 

 

 

What’s in Your Heart {Fantasy Flash Fiction June}

emma-frances-logan-200050-unsplash-smallWhat’s in Your Heart by Natasha Brown

The sounds from the street filled the air: tires on pavement, engines whirring and music pouring from open windows. Everything was as it always was, except today was different. Kara was on her way to the hospital. She’d known it was coming. Her surgery. The doctors had warned her a month ago that she needed it. Her heart couldn’t wait any longer.

Kara’s father pulled up beside the sidewalk outside their city apartment and hollered at her through the open window, “C’mon sweetie. It’s time to go. We can’t be late.”

Kara got in and shut the door, sealing herself inside the sedan. She buckled up and stared out the window at the gray buildings they drove past. The starless sky was dark. It was so early the sun hadn’t yet crowned the concrete horizon. She was too nervous to speak, but that didn’t matter. Her father filled the quiet with his voice.

Kara wasn’t really listening. She was fixated on the answerless questions floating through her head. When she woke up from her surgery, would she be in pain? Would her scar be visible when she wore her favorite V-neck? And would she limited to a life of boredom when she grew up?

Numbness overtook her senses as her father checked her into the hospital, and she was prepped in preop. From there, the sedation took over, and her thoughts quieted until the sound of medical machines beeping filled her silent vacuum.

Kara cracked her eyes and blinked at her surroundings.

“She’s awake.” A voice broke the silence.

She rolled her head on her pillow to find who’d spoken. A young man was standing just inside the doorway. He gave her a smile as he went to pull up the window blinds, letting in the afternoon light. “Did you have to pay for this view?”

Kara squinted at the gray building he was gesturing at. The only touch of color she could see was the patch of blue sky visible above the angular architecture. She returned her gaze to the stranger. He didn’t seem to be joking. She cleared her throat, which was sore from the breathing tube and rasped, “What are you talking about?”

He pointed at the side of the building visible from her window. “I see the ocean. There’s white sandy beaches and palm trees. I can almost smell the sea and feel the breeze on my face.”

Kara frowned. This guy, albeit pleasant, was totally nuts. Did they let just anyone work in the recovery ward? She adjusted her blanket over her abdomen, sensing the painful ache in her chest.

“What do you see?” He came to stand beside her at the bed and narrowed his eyes at the window. “What’s in your heart?”

“Nothing,” she whispered.

The young man’s green eyes turned to her, and he shook his head. “Now, that’s not true. C’mon, what do you see?”

Kara remembered the cottage her father took her to when she was only ten and they had visited family so far away, it had taken a plane and a long car ride to get there. The hum of bees filled the air as they busied themselves with too many bright flowers to visit in one season. She’d pictured herself from another time and place. She’d imagined amazing things in her future. But it was a long time ago.

She shook her head, not wanting to share.

He rested his hand on her shoulder so softly, she wasn’t sure he’d actually touched her. She closed her eyes, feeling exhaustion come over her. When she lifted her lids again, he’d gone.

Kara woke from the sound of her father’s voice. She yawned and moved her arms. A dull ache radiated from her sternum, and she closed her eyes momentarily to grit her teeth.

“There’s my sunflower.” Her father left the doctor’s side to sit on the edge of her bed. “How are you feeling, kiddo?”

She didn’t answer. She only stared back at him with a blank expression.

“It’ll get better. I can get you some more pain meds,” the doctor said and waved down a nurse.

Kara sighed and looked out the window. Bright bursts of color camouflaged the exterior of the gray building outside. Flowers of every shape and hue covered the architecture. Through the wildflower garden, she could even see a cottage depicted in the distance. Her breath caught in her throat. It was exactly as she remembered it.

The doctor followed her gaze and frowned, saying to the nurse, “When did they paint that? It’s a sight better than before. Makes for a good view.”

Kara turned to them. “The guy who was here earlier…”

The nurse patted her arm and said sympathetically, “Oh, sweetie. No one’s been in to see you until now. I’ve been just across from you at the nurse’s station this whole time.”

“Oh.” Kara frowned and returned her focus to the mural out her window.

The sounds of honeybees hummed in her ears, and the fragrance of sun kissed irises, daisies and roses filled her nostrils, bringing a gentle smile to her lips.

Second Chance {Fantasy Flash Fiction May}

 

 

Photo by Savs on Unsplash

Photo by Savs on Unsplash

Second Chance by Natasha Brown

Penetrating smells filled her nostrils, but they weren’t the promising kind. Not the kind that held the potential of food. She’d already nosed around the metal trashcan and turned over a canister filled with something dark that had spilled onto her paws, soaking into her fur and pores. It tingled on contact and was so pungent, she barely smelled anything else.

A noise echoed down the alley, and she stopped to stare in the direction it had come. Her dry nose lifted so she could blink out at the street. It had been too many days since she’d been separated from her brothers and sister. They’d been gathered up by a human. But she had remained tucked under a parked car. It was what she was good at—hiding.

She arched her neck to gawk at the people passing by before scurrying farther down the alley. A ribbon of acrid smoke curled above her head, and she was startled to discover a human sitting on a concrete step. Her body coiled to bolt, to take her far away from this scary, unknown situation, but she stopped.

She stared at the young man with his head hanging low and a strange feeling took hold of her. Her heart pattered even faster in her immature body as he glanced up at her. His green eyes were filled with sadness. She knew what that looked like, for it had consumed much of her life.

The young man pressed his smoking stick into the ground, put on his hat and held out his hand to her. This normally would have signaled trouble. Today, this moment was different. She took a cautious step toward him until his fingers were close enough to touch her dirty chin. His smell was familiar to her.

“Hey, there. You alone, too?” the young man muttered and ran his fingers from the top of her head to the base of her spine. It was such a pleasing sensation, she moved even closer so he could repeat it. The corners of his mouth upturned. “Looks like you could use a bath.”

He reached into his pocket, unwrapped something and held it out to her. She didn’t have to smell it to know it was food and swallowed it without even chewing. Her stomach groaned, and in that instant, she gave into the feeling that came over her. Trust.

The young man lifted her into his lap, and she let him. He held her close, smearing the grease that covered her paws onto his clothing. He didn’t seem to mind. Instead, he opened his backpack and lowered her inside. Strangely, it made her feel safe being held, not having to worry about her legs carrying her someplace new. Her head bobbed around as she watched the city move by. Exhaustion consumed her, and she let her eyes droop until she fell asleep.

Movement woke her. She was being pulled out of the bag and lowered onto a tiled floor. She perked up her ears and raised her head to stare into the young man’s melancholy face. His half-smile assured her everything was okay, but she backed into his legs as a loud sound filled the room.

“You’re safe.” His voice echoed softly. “You need to get clean.”

She’d heard that before. She was almost positive.

He lifted her into a large white basin filled with warm water. Never had she been bathed like this before, yet it seemed such a familiar action. Dark plumes of dirt and oil filtered away from her smelly body, threatening to contaminate the remaining water. Flowery smelling soap was massaged through her fur until bubbles spilled down her legs. Her muscles shook with pleasure.

She was taken from the basin and set on the floor. Instinctively, she shook herself off, splattering droplets across the room. The young man raised his hands and laughed. “I’ll get you a towel.”

He opened the door, and she saw into the place he’d taken her. A hallway filled with more doors. Bedrooms.

He walked out of the tiled bathroom, and she took a step closer to the threshold. She cocked her head and realized she knew this place.

Without hesitation, she went down the hallway to a door that wasn’t latched, pushed it open and slipped inside. Posters of bands covered the walls, dried flowers hung from the dark curtained window and a box sat beside the closet. She padded over to touch her nose to the cards that filled the cardboard container. This place felt empty like it was missing something.

She took another step toward the closet. Clothing hung like Spanish moss nearly to the shoe-covered floor, yet she stepped into the darkness out of habit. Hiding was what she did best. She stumbled over the boots and flats that would never be worn again until she reached the corner and curled up, resting her chin on an old teddy bear.

This was where she remained while the young man called for her from the hallway. “Where are you, puppy?”

His voice traveled near and far as his echoing footsteps rattled the floorboards. His cries got more frantic, and again, she sensed she had heard this before. Except, he was saying her name all wrong. It wasn’t puppy, it was Penny. This she was sure.

Then his footsteps slowed and quieted. A shadow blocked the column of light from pouring into her hiding place. The closet door swung open, and there he was. She had never known him to be so sad. He crawled into the dark corner with her and started crying. His whispers were all she heard. “This was where Penny went when she was feeling sad. This is where I found her.”

She lifted her chin from its resting place on the teddy bear to drag herself closer to him. Her wet paws touched his quivering chest, and she stretched her nose closer to his face. Tears traced their way down his cheeks and lips. He was always the more emotional one.

When she struggled to feel anything more than emptiness and sadness, he was the one playing guitar in the sun or laughing with his friends in his room. She barely recognized him so grief-stricken.

“She left me,” he choked through his tears. “I’m all alone.”

And she knew why she was there.

She started licking his face, clearing away his salty lament and laid her wet body across his chest. His hands fumbled to pet her clean, soggy fur, and he stopped crying. They remained curled together until she dried completely and the light coming in through the window dimmed.

For the first time she could remember, she had purpose. She would be there for him the way he needed her most. Loyal companionship. Love. This was her second chance.

He took a deep breath and carried her out of the room that held so many sad memories, shutting the door behind them. And in the twilight, she chased him around the yard until his laughter danced through the neighborhood, chasing away the day.