Sons of Darkness
The Night Vigil, #1
by Gail Z. Martin
Date of Publication: October, 2018
Publisher: SOL Publishing
Cover Artist: Lindsey Lewellen
Genre: Dark Urban Fantasy
Tagline: A demon-hunting ex-priest teams up with a former FBI agent to solve a series of supernaturally-instigated deaths and disappearances.
Demon-hunting former priest Travis Dominick works with the misfit psychics of the Night Vigil to fight supernatural creatures and malicious paranormal activity.
When a series of disappearances, suicides and vengeful spirits cause havoc and death along a remote interstate highway, Travis teams up with former special ops soldier and monster-hunter Brent Lawson to end the problem with extreme prejudice.
“Who are you, and where the hell am I?”
Travis got his first good look at their houseguest in the harsh light of the clinic. It had been too dark in the warehouse to see much, and the nachzehrer had kept his attention occupied elsewhere. The man sitting on the edge of the clinic bed looked to be a few years younger than himself, early thirties, with short blond hair and a muscular build that suggested boot camp rather than gym rat. The haircut said “civilian” but the way the man sat, poised to spring at the first sign of threat said “military.”
“My name is Travis Dominick, and you’re at the St. Dismas Center.”
The stranger gave Travis a glare. “The homeless shelter?”
Travis shrugged. “That, and more.” He took in the set of the man’s chin, and the fire in his blue eyes, anger covering fear. “Who are you?”
The newcomer remained silent long enough that Travis began to doubt he would answer. “Brent Lawson,” he said finally. “And don’t get me wrong, I appreciate what you did, saving my ass, but why the fuck were you there?”
A side effect of giving up the clerical collar was that people stopped watching their language around him, Travis thought. The upside was that they now treated him like a human being, in all its messy glory. “Why were you?” he countered.
They glared at each other, and Travis was reminded of staring matches back in middle school. Finally, Brent chuffed out a breath and looked away. “I tracked that thing to its lair. But I had bad intel, and the weapons I had didn’t work.”
“I noticed,” Travis replied. “A nachzehrer is a vampire shifter. You needed silver to kill it, and nothing short of a head shot, decapitation, and then burning would do it.”
Brent gave him an appraising look. “And you know this, how?”
“Training,” Travis replied with a maddening smile. “But you still haven’t told me how you ended up tracking a monster to a warehouse.”
“It’s what I do,” Brent said after a moment. “At least, it’s part of what I do, anyhow.” He glanced around. “Looks like you’re in the part-time monster hunting business, too.”
Having been a full-time hunter with the Sinistram, Travis was quite content to be “part-time,” although he couldn’t tell Brent that. “You would have died back there.”
“I said ‘thank you.’” Brent’s eyes narrowed.
Travis leaned back against the wall. “You really need to leave this kind of thing to people who’ve been trained for it.”
“Like you, Father Dominick?”
Brent couldn’t have known about Travis’s past, but the barb still made him wince. “I’m not a priest. Not anymore,” he said quietly.
Brent frowned, then managed to look contrite. “Sorry. I thought priests only went monster hunting in the movies.”
“And I thought soldiers didn’t go freelance.”
This time, Brent flinched. “Yeah, well. I’m out now. I have my own detective firm.”
“And someone hired you to look into the family’s deaths?” Travis guessed.
Brent nodded. “Yeah. A brother from out of town. When I put the pieces together, I knew it wasn’t something the cops would ever believe. So I decided to handle it on my own.”
Travis tried to unpack that statement, because there was as much not said as what Brent admitted. “The cops wouldn’t believe a monster killed those people, but you did?”
“Apparently, so did you.”
Travis was in no mood to explain his past, and from the look of it, neither was Brent. “So the nachzehrer is dead, and the family is avenged,” Travis said, trying to defuse the stubborn glint in Brent’s gaze that told him the man wasn’t going to back off. “Now you can go back to busting Worker’s Comp fraud and finding cheating spouses. Or tracking mobsters.”
“Fuck you,” Brent said, sliding down off the table and reaching for his shirt. His face and shoulder were already starting to bruise from where the creature had thrown him around, and despite the stitches, the wounds looked sore and puffy. There were older scars, too. Two that looked like bullet wounds, but others that might have been from knives, teeth, or claws. Travis had similar scars, knew what made marks like that. It lent credence to Brent’s claims that he wasn’t new at this.
“It’s the middle of the night,” Travis replied, ignoring the outburst. “You’re welcome to stay here. Matthew would probably like to check on your stitches in the morning. Those claws can carry taint.”
“Not my first rodeo,” Brent replied, grimacing as he moved to pull on his shirt. “Thanks for the assist, and the medic. But I need to get home.”
“You almost died out there,” Travis said, blocking his way.
“And I’m glad you were there,” Brent said evenly. “But I’ve been at this for a while now, and it’s like any battle—you win some, you lose some. Every fight might be the last. Goes with the territory.”
Trent reached into a pocket of his tactical vest and pulled out a card. “Look, the next time you hear of something like this, how about giving me a call? If I can’t talk you out of going after it, maybe we team up? Safety in numbers?”
Brent scowled, staring at the card as if debating whether or not to accept it, then finally snatched it from Travis’s fingers and shoved it into his jeans. “Yeah. Maybe. Depends.” He moved around Travis. “I’d give you my card, but why bother? You think you’ve got it all figured out.” With that, Brent walked out of the door and headed down the hallway, to the rear exit and into the night.
Matthew returned to the clinic before Travis could leave. “Did you talk him out of a repeat performance?”
Travis shook his head. “Nope. And I believe him when he said he’s done it before. Hell, maybe ‘Special Ops’ goes after creatures like this, for all we know. Not like they’d tell civilians.”
“Then it’s out of your hands,” Matthew said. “Maybe, with luck, he’ll decide it’s a bad business and you’ll never run into him again.”
Travis stared down the empty corridor at the back door. “I doubt that. I wonder what his story is. No one starts hunting monsters for fun,” he said quietly. “They lose someone. It’s always personal.”
Gail Z. Martin writes urban fantasy, epic fantasy and steampunk for Solaris Books, Orbit Books, Falstaff Books, SOL Publishing and Darkwind Press. Urban fantasy series include Deadly Curiosities and the Night Vigil (Sons of Darkness). Epic fantasy series include Darkhurst, the Chronicles Of The Necromancer, the Fallen Kings Cycle, the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, and the Assassins of Landria. Newest titles include Tangled Web, Vengeance, The Dark Road, and Assassin’s Honor. As Morgan Brice, she writes urban fantasy MM paranormal romance. Books include Witchbane and Badlands.
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