Darkness Haunts by Susan Illene
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy
Release Date: January 14, 2013
Melena Sanders faced her fair share of danger with insurgents and terrorists when she served in the U.S. Army, but now she is about to go up against a new threat. Her best friend, Aniya, has disappeared while on a trip to Fairbanks, Alaska—a supernatural haven. Most humans have no idea darker races lurk amongst them. Mel has always known better. If she wants to get her friend back, she’s going to have to go in alone—but not unarmed.
Melena has a few special skills the Army didn’t provide, but the odds are still against her. She’s got to come up with a plan fast that doesn’t involve her, or her friend, dying. But danger likes to play it rough. A war for power is about to rise in Fairbanks and if she wants to get Aniya back, she’s going to have to step right into the middle of it.
My nails dug into my palms as the line inched forward.
Lisette, one of my two closest friends, stood next to me. She’d picked our destination for the night, and true to form, she chose one with a mixed species element. Whenever you dealt with sups, anything could happen. I had to hope for the best and continue to play my ignorant human role with her. She didn’t know that I knew.
Blinking red neon lights from the club’s sign illuminated the excitement on her pale face. She hopped up and down, trying to see over the taller humans in front of her. I couldn’t figure out how she kept her balance on the high heels she wore. Then again, she only came up to my chin—maybe being closer to the ground helped. Pixies tended to be on the short side.
“Ten more people in front of us.”
She stopped hopping—to my relief. “Thanks. I hope they hurry and let us in soon.”
I scowled, but didn’t reply. My temples were throbbing. The result of being too close to a large number of sups. They’d hit my senses like a storm of fire, ice, and jagged glass as soon as we’d neared the place. I rubbed my forehead in an effort to get rid of the pain. It would pass, given enough time. My movement drew Lisette’s attention.
“What’s wrong, Melena?” she asked, frowning. “It’s not going to be that bad. Besides, with Aniya up in Alaska, there’s no one else who can come with me.”
“Aniya is a stay at home and drink red wine kind of girl. You know she wouldn’t come to a place like this.” I paused. “Speaking of which, have you heard from her? She hasn’t been answering my calls.”
“No, I haven’t.” Lisette rolled her eyes. “But don’t try changing the subject. Unless something is seriously wrong, you’re going in here if I have to drag you by your hair.” She reached out, as if to do just that.
I jerked the vulnerable locks over one shoulder—the farthest one from Lisette—and edged a few inches away. I’d have to let the topic of Aniya go for now.
My teeth ground together as the line inched forward—five more people in front of us.
I had to hope this place wasn’t as bad as my paranoia made it out to be. Most supernatural clubs maintained strict rules involving their treatment of humans. It was just good business, but until I went in, I wouldn’t know if this one did. A risk for someone like me. It could be said my kind, sensors, were the paranormal equivalent of most wanted criminals. The main thing that kept us safe was that we appeared human.
In fact, we were, except a bit more enhanced. The few differences we had included the ability to sense supernaturals nearby, immunity to magic, and some empathic traits. For having those gifts, the sups had hunted us for centuries. Lisette had known me for eleven years, since our sophomore year in high school, and even she didn’t know my secret. It was safer that way.
My heart skipped a beat—only three people left.
Instead of making the traditional post high school move and attending college, Susan joined the U.S. Army. She spent her eighteenth birthday in the gas chamber — an experience she is sure is best left for criminals. For eleven years she served first as a human resources specialist and later as an Arabic linguist (mostly in Airborne units). Though all her duty assignments were stateside, she did make two deployments to Iraq where her language skills were put to regular use.
After leaving the service in 2009, Susan returned to school to study history with a focus on the Middle East. She no longer finds many opportunities to test her fighting abilities in real life, unless her husband is demanding she cook him a real meal, but she’s found a new outlet in writing urban fantasy heroines who can.