Ya’ll want a peek inside City of the Gods: The Descendant? Below I’ve posted the complete 1st chapter for your reading pleasure. If you like what you read, I know you’ll enjoy the rest of the book. Leave a comment and be entered in a drawing to win an e-copy (.mobi) of the book! (Rating PG-13 due to violence and sensitive sexual subjects. If you are not into somewhat graphic violence, this may not be something you would be interested in reading.).
Katalina was not prone to homicidal tendencies, but if she could morally make an exception for just one day, well, today would be that day. She pulled her Mustang into a parking space and killed the engine. Sighing, she let her head fall back against the headrest.
“Pep talk time,” she muttered to herself as she stared at the roof of the car. “I will not let what happened today ruin my night. I’m going to walk into that club with a big smile on my face and have drinks with my friends. This night will begin a new chapter of my life.” A confident smile spread across her face as she opened the car door and stepped out. She walked across the parking lot toward the club that had become a Friday night tradition for her and her friends.
Kat neglected to watch where she was going as she was putting her car keys into her purse. A blaring horn and screeching tires pierced her ears. Startled, she dropped her purse on the ground. She jumped back as a car barreled forward, skidding to a stop in front of her.
“Damn idiot, watch where the hell you’re going!” The prick driver flipped her off and sped away. Kat stood there, staring after him for a moment. She allowed herself to daydream about a similar accident. One that would happen to the manipulative bastard that had lied to her. The outcome of the accident would, of course, end differently. There would be one less jerk in the world, or the jerk would be in a wheelchair the rest of his life, or at the very least, he’d have to live with a horrifying disfigurement. Kat could live with any one of those options.
She shook the murderous thought from her head as she knelt down to collect the spilled contents of her purse. She stood up, facing the entrance of the club. Kat glanced around at her surroundings. She wondered if, while daydreaming of killing her enemies, she had driven to the wrong place. It was hard to believe this was the same building from the week before. She examined the new exterior of the club with interest. The plain black doors that had been there since the club first opened were gone. In their place were two grey stone doors. On those doors were carvings of two very disturbingly ferocious gargoyles. They looked as though they were staring directly at Kat with their angry eyes and their vicious claws ready to tear her apart. A chill went down her spine as she stood frozen in place, unable to tear her gaze from them. She had heard somewhere that gargoyles were used to protect people from evil spirits. She laughed nervously to herself. They looked like they could scare just about anything or anyone away.
“Hey, Kat! Are you going to stand there gawking at the building all night or are you gonna go inside?” Bruce, the club’s head bouncer, called out. Kat sauntered over to him with a smirk on her face. The man was only a few inches taller than Kat, but robust. He was the most friendly, charismatic man she had ever met. Kat was certain that if just one of the ladies standing in line were to snag his attention and affection, she would be helpless to resist his charm.
Tonight, when Kat looked at him, she saw another opportunity to get revenge. A mild beating from Bruce would suffice. A bloody, broken nose, two black eyes, and a few missing teeth…perfect. Kat pushed the violent thoughts away. She was beginning to scare herself. Bruce was like a big brother. Yes, he might be willing to beat up a man who had hurt her, but she would never ask him to do such a thing. Under all his empty threats as a bouncer, he was just a big teddy bear.
“Hey yourself!” She gave him a quick hug. “What’s with the creepy new doors?” Kat gestured toward the entrance. He glanced behind him and shrugged his massive shoulders.
“New owner. Rumor has it he wants to give the place a new look to draw in more people. The direction he’s taken makes me wonder what kind of customers he’s trying to attract. I can only imagine the freaks and weirdoes that’ll start showing up.”
“I wouldn’t worry. Those things on the doors should guarantee you won’t have any business at all by the end of next week. If I were you, I’d start looking for another job now.” Kat shook her head and patted his arm in mock pity. When he didn’t respond right away, Kat glanced back up, wearing a mischievous smile. Bruce threw his head back as a bark of laughter escaped him. He walked over and held the door open for her. She gave him a brilliant smile as she walked past him.
“See you later.” She gave him a wink and a little wave.
Upon entering the club, Kat slowed down to take in the transformation the club had gone through in the past week. A few years ago, it had become a tradition for Kat and her friends to go out every Friday night to unwind from the work week. They would all meet at this club and then decide where to go or what to do next. Last week, the club had been black concrete walls and floors, cheaply made wooden tables with equally cheap bar stools to sit on, and enough strobe lights to cause a massive seizure outbreak. The DJ had been less than stellar, constantly letting the music fade into silence while he flirted with girls. Kat and her friends would go to escape reality, even if they only stayed an hour. It was their tradition and they enjoyed it, no matter how awful the music or scenery.
Tonight, the club looked brand new. The walls were painted crimson, and there was black carpet in the entry. The floor surrounding the dance floor and stage was black marble. The lights on the walls and in the chandeliers resembled candle flames. It reminded Kat of something straight out of a horror movie. It wasn’t gaudy; in fact, she thought the owner had done a tasteful job of redecorating. She could only assume the cost of renovating the club must have been unbelievably pricey, especially getting it done in one week. Why would anyone with that kind of money want to own a night club?
Shrugging off the thought, Kat went to the bar and ordered her usual Long Island ice tea. While waiting, she glanced around, trying to find her elusive friends. She finally spotted them waving from across the club. Kat paid for her drink and made her way over, all the while surveying her surroundings. The owner was definitely trying to make the place more upscale. The new flooring and lighting were a good start, but the owner should reconsider the front doors. Kat put her drink down on the marble table when she reached her friends. She sat on one of the cushioned stools with one more glance to the crowd.
“What do you think of the place? I like it! It’s very gothic,” Kat’s enthusiastic friend, Vivian, said.
“I like everything, except for the gargoyles who greeted me at the front door. They made me want to turn and run home.” Kat took a sip of her drink.
“Me too. They gave me the heebie-jeebies,” Sabine, Kat’s less-than-enthusiastic friend chimed in. Vivian and Kat snickered at her comment. Sabine glared at them. “What?”
“Heebie-jeebies? What kind of description is that? Did you pick it up from a second grader before you got here?” Vivian teased.
“If you were an educated individual, you would know it’s another way to say they disturbed me,” Sabine explained and rolled her eyes. Vivian bristled with anger, ready to fire an insult back. Before yet another one of their frequent and irrelevant spats erupted, Kat changed the subject.
“I have a question for the two of you.”
“What’s up?” Vivian asked, after she stuck her tongue out at Sabine, who ignored the childish display.
“I have decided to forgo the male gender all together. Do you two think I’d make a good lesbian?” Kat asked. Both girls choked on their drinks. Kat could have sworn she saw something come out of Vivian’s nose. Sabine was the first to recover after coughing for a minute, while Vivian’s eyes started to water from the alcohol burning her nose and throat.
“I take it something happened between you and Ryan?” Sabine asked in a rough voice, perhaps not quite as recovered as she thought.
“Would you like all the details or the short story?” Kat raised a brow. She had not wanted to talk about or even think about how her day had started, yet here she was about to pour out her heart to her two best friends. Kat could have kicked herself for bringing it up.
“Is it that bad?” Vivian asked in a nasal tone. Kat turned her attention to Vivian. She was pinching her nose closed to alleviate some of the pain.
“Short for now. You can save the details for another time,” Sabine answered while Vivian simply nodded her agreement.
“My day started out by getting canned from my job. It had something to do with company cut backs. When I returned home, I found Ryan and Tina, the new girlfriend, packing his bags to move into her house. Needless to say, things got a little heated and he left shortly after that.” Kat sat there silently while the girls absorbed her story. The longer the silence stretched on, the more uncomfortable Kat became. “Well, what do you think? Will chicks dig me? If not, then I’ll have no choice but to surrender to the homicidal thoughts I’ve been trying to ignore all night.”
She tried to keep her tone as light as possible. She didn’t want the girls to know how furious she was at Ryan for his betrayal and at herself for not seeing it. He had been her boyfriend for over five years, and her fiancé for the last twelve months. He was all Kat had, except for Sabine and Vivian. The things he had said had dealt her a hard blow. His harsh words were still ringing in her head. Sabine and Vivian had both warned her on different occasions that Ryan was not who Kat thought he was, but she had foolishly refused to listen. Kat always gave people the benefit of doubt. That and her stubbornness were her worst traits and she knew it. The looks on her friends’ faces told Kat they were having a silent conversation about her mental stability. She could almost hear their thoughts, trying to devise a way to cheer up their poor, pitiful friend. Vivian turned to her, a smirk on her face.
“Let’s forget about today. Here we are in a crowded club with some very attractive men and women, depending on your preference, begging for our attention. For the record, if I were you, I’d stick with guys. What you need is one of those admiring men to take your mind off of you know who.” Vivian paused a moment, looking confused. She scrunched up her face and scratched her head. “What was his name again?” she asked herself, throwing her hands up in the air dramatically. Kat smiled at Vivian’s theatrics and shook her head. As she did so, someone at the bar caught her eye. “I can’t remember. I bet you can’t, either. Are you even listening to me? Or are you drooling over that gorgeous piece of ass at the bar?” Vivian asked in mock exasperation. At the bar stood a handsome man, all alone, and staring right back at Kat with a predatory smile curving his lips.
“Earth to Kat. Go over and say hi! We know you’ve been out of the game for a while, but even you don’t need that much help. By the way, if things don’t work out with him, let me know. I’d love to see everything he has to offer,” Vivian teased. Kat stood up and hesitantly started toward the bar. She only got a couple of steps away from the table before she turned back to smirk at Vivian.
“You’re absolutely right. How could I possibly remember Ryan when there is a complete stranger just dying to wrap his arms around…his girlfriend.” Kat paused to move to the side in time for her friends to see a gorgeous woman snake her arms around the guy’s neck and kiss him.
Kat sat on her stool. Feeling defeated and more than a little foolish, she downed the rest of her drink. She watched the other clubbers dance and tried to find the other minor changes that had been made to the club. Kat heard Vivian mention needing another drink. She watched Vivian start toward the bar, then veered off in the direction of the DJ. Vivian’s ability to flirt was beyond outrageous. Kat nudged Sabine and nodded toward their friend. Kat and Sabine could play out the whole scenario with conversation.
“Oh, Mister DJ Man, where do you work out? Your body is totally ripped,” Kat said, doing her best valley girl impression. She flipped her hair and batted her eyelashes at Sabine.
“Well, Hot Pants, I have the perfect workout in mind if you’d like to join me sometime,” Sabine flashed a megawatt smile and flexed her small arm. They looked in Vivian’s direction just in time to see the DJ flex his arm for her. Kat and Sabine erupted in laughter as they continued to watch as Vivian squeezed his arm.
“It’s nice to see one of us has the ability to flirt and might even get lucky tonight,” Kat said to Sabine, then went back to the mindless task of watching everyone else.
The DJ handed the microphone to Vivian. She leaned over and gave him a kiss on the cheek. Vivian walked to the center of the stage and thumped on the top of the microphone. Not a soul in the club looked in her direction, with the exception of Kat and Sabine. Kat narrowed her eyes in suspicion as she watched Vivian motion the DJ to turn the deafening music down. She turned her suspicious glare to Sabine.
“What are the two of you up to?”
“I have no idea what you are talking about.” Sabine’s eyes widened with innocence.
“Yeah right, like I’m going to believe that.” Kat turned back to watch Vivian.
“Ladies and gentlemen, you are in luck. Tonight the club has some live entertainment. She’s a local girl with a big voice,” Vivian went on, but Kat stopped listening. She turned back to Sabine with a raised brow.
“No idea? That’s interesting, considering she is about to introduce me, right?”
“You need this Kat. Performing always gives you such a high. Besides, if you do well enough tonight, there could be a job in it for you. Didn’t think about that, did you?” Sabine asked with a satisfied grin on her face.
“So without further ado, I give you the very talented, very beautiful, Miss Katalina Deckard,” Vivian continued, with something along the line of getting her butt onstage. Kat stood, smiled tightly at the crowd, and turned her smile to Sabine.
“You two are going to pay for this.”
“Just get up there and weave your spell on the crowd.” Sabine settled on her stool, the satisfied grin still upon her face.
Kat walked stiffly up to the stage and took the microphone Vivian offered, while shooting daggers at Vivian with her glare. Her friend smiled sweetly and moved off the stage. Kat closed her eyes and took a deep breath before giving the crowd a genuine smile. She was a little shocked when she saw a sea of clubbers staring up at her. From the looks on some of their faces, she could tell many of them were not happy with the interruption and were ready to get back to grinding on their dance partners. If Kat had it her way, there never would have been an interruption in the first place. She glanced out at her friends, promising herself she would throttle them the moment she stepped off the stage.
“Thanks to Viv, for that warm introduction. Now I need a suggestion.”
Several suggestions came from the crowd. Some were decent, while others were laughable. Kat could tell from some suggestions people were trying to make her look like a fool. She would show them her skill soon enough. Nothing coming from the crowd was catching her interest. Kat searched for someone who she thought would have good taste. Her eyes fell on a man standing next to the bar in the back of the club. He was somewhat hidden in the shadows, yet she could feel his gaze on her. Several seconds slipped by as Kat continued to stare at the man. She wondered how it was possible that she could tell he was staring at her without seeing his face. She realized that the crowd had fallen silent and were following her gaze. Kat flushed with embarrassment, so to save herself from feeling utterly stupid, she did the only thing that came to mind. She lifted her hand and pointed to the man.
“You in the back, did you have a suggestion?”
The man stepped out of the shadows and Kat froze. He was the most fiercely handsome man she had ever laid eyes on. He was tall and lean, with short black hair. He looked delicious in his white button-down shirt with rolled up sleeves and black slacks. She felt the urge to lick her lips, but resisted, mainly due to the fact that she did not wish to embarrass herself further. She did wish he would have come closer so she could give him a more thorough inspection. As if reading her mind, he started to bridge the distance to the stage. Kat was stunned by his elegant walk. He looked as if he was gliding through the air. And to her absolute astonishment, he seemed to get better looking as he approached the stage. In the few seconds it took for him to reach her he had transformed from fiercely handsome to godlike. She knelt down and handed him the microphone. He took it with a lazy smile and turned to address the crowd.
“Being the new owner of this fine establishment, I think I deserve the privilege of picking a song. I also believe I have the perfect song in mind. How many of you have heard the song At Last?” He turned back to Kat, still holding the microphone to his mouth. “If you can impress the crowd with your singing, I might offer you a job.” The crowd went wild when they heard they would decide her fate with this man. Kat could not help but smile as she took the microphone back from him.
“I am always up for a challenge.”
The crowd got even more excited. A wide grin spread across the owner’s face before he turned and disappeared into the waiting crowd. Kat backed away from the edge of the stage and took a deep breath. The words of the song came to her, and she let the beginning notes soar from her heart. Slowly the house lights dimmed and the light from the spotlight grew. Kat immersed herself in the emotion the song was trying to convey, pouring her entire being into the performance. It left her feeling drained, but she was glad she had. From the moment she opened her mouth to the last note of the song, not a sound came from the audience. Her voice had indeed cast a captivating spell on every individual in the club. People stood in awe, some were crying, some were smiling. The silence was eerie, but the reaction from the crowd was amazing. Everyone erupted in applause. Kat smiled and took a bow.
A sense of dread washed over Kat as she righted herself. Her chest tightened, making it difficult for her to breathe. Even trying to suck in a small breath caused the invisible vise around her chest to tighten. She gave the audience a small wave and turned to the DJ, handing him the microphone. Kat rushed offstage and headed in the direction of the restrooms, afraid she was going to be sick. She vaguely registered when the DJ asked the crowd if they thought she deserved a job. She did not care to hear the answer. Kat’s main concern was reaching the restroom before she either passed out or got sick on someone. She reached her destination and locked the door to the thankfully empty restroom behind her. She raced across the room to the black marble sink and splashed cool water on her heated face. Kat grabbed a few towels to dry her face before she sat on the cold tile floor and closed her eyes. She dropped her head into her clammy hands and wondered what in the world had come over her. Her heart and her head were pounding, making her weak and nauseated. Kat took several breaths to calm down and relax. She knew she would have to rejoin her friends sooner or later, and when she did, she better look and act as normal as possible.
Collecting her bearings, she stood up and looked in the mirror. Other than her pale complexion and the tight, unfriendly smile on her face, she looked normal. Kat moved to the door, and taking one last calming breath, she unlocked and opened it. People rushed at her when she exited the restroom, bombarding her with questions.
“Where did you learn to sing like that?”
“Did you take lessons?”
“Would you sing again?”
She even had some sleazeball try to tell her he was a music producer and pressed his more than likely fake business card into her hand. Kat tried to be polite as possible, but the crowd around her was starting to make her claustrophobic. Her panic began to rise again as she tried to work her way through the crowd. She had no idea what was wrong with her, but deep down she felt it was not good. Frantically, Kat searched around for the safe haven of either Vivian or Sabine, but spotted neither. Just when she thought things could not get any worse, she ran into someone, causing them to drop their drink. She turned to apologize, only to come face to face with Ryan, her now ex-fiancé. As if that was not bad enough, he had his arm around his new girlfriend. Absently, she wondered where these two had been when she needed someone to get sick on. Kat rolled her eyes and held up her hand before the words Ryan longed to say spilled from his mouth.
“Don’t!” she ordered and headed in the opposite direction. She spotted an exit door nearby and decided she had a better chance of getting herself under control outside if she didn’t have to brave another encounter with Ryan. She made her way through the sweaty dancers to the exit and slipped through the door unnoticed, ending up in an alley behind the club.
The cool night air felt wonderful on her flushed face. Kat lifted her eyes to the night sky, deeply inhaling the fresh air. In all the chaos that had ensued, she had almost forgotten about her day, and she would have if Ryan and his girlfriend had not made an appearance. This day would go down in history as the second worst day in her life; nothing could top what held the number one position. The calm silence of the night let her mind to wander back to the earlier events of being laid off and her argument with Ryan. After throwing the girlfriend out, Ryan and she had argued. It was hard to hear he no longer loved her and how he didn’t think she would ever find anyone else, saying she was incapable of loving anyone except Vivian and Sabine. His words had been harsh, and she worried that he might be right. In reality, Kat knew she had convinced herself to love Ryan, but never truly did. Nobody liked to hear that someone found them incapable of anything, especially her, hence her anger at running into him.
Distracted by her thoughts, she didn’t notice the two drunks stumbling her way until it was too late. Kat remained as still as possible, hoping they wouldn’t see her, or perhaps ignore her completely. Luck, once again, was non-existent. They turned toward her, mumbling to each other. She did not want to know what they were discussing. Kat turned to open the door she had snuck out of not five minutes before; to her everlasting dismay, the door was locked.
Before she had the chance to run, one of the drunks turned her around and roughly pushed her against the brick wall, pinning her there with his body. His breath reeked of alcohol. Judging by the greasiness of his dark hair and skin, his breath was not the only thing she smelled. Kat turned her head away from his stench, struggling to get away. That made things worse; her movement caused him to rub his crotch against her. The feel of his erection against her hip made her want to vomit.
“Get off of me!” Kat yelled as she tried to pull her hands out of his grip. The more she fought, the tighter his grip became. The sadistic grin on his face confirmed that he was enjoying her struggles. The instant her brain processed this information, she stopped moving, going limp as a rag doll. That caught his attention. He frowned down at her.
“We don’t like our girls to just lay there and take it. It’s so much more… pleasurable when they fight back,” the man leered. All Kat could do was close her eyes and pray that someone would come to her rescue before things got worse. The man ran his tongue up her throat as one of his hands groped her breast. She let out a terrified scream, hoping someone would hear it. Angered by the outburst, the man grabbed her head and slammed it against the wall. He let her head fall forward and her limp body collapse to the ground, letting her head to hit the pavement. The drunk turned to his friend and shrugged.
“Damn, what should we do now? Do you think anyone heard her scream?” He turned back to Kat, who lay on the ground, moaning and fighting to remain conscious. Blood ran from a cut she received when he dropped her.
“We could take her with us,” his friend and accomplice offered. “It would be a crime to let a body like that go to waste.” Kat rolled her pounding head slowly from side to side. She hoped to find a position that might alleviate some of the pain. Her vision had become blurry, but she was still able to see one of the men lick his lips as he stared down at her.
“Naw, she’s awake enough to know what we’re going to do to her.” The accomplice bridged the small distance between him and Kat. He knelt on the ground, holding her arms against the pavement to prevent her from struggling too much while they had their fun. He glanced at the other man, encouraging him with a nod to proceed. His friend nodded, moving to kneel between Katalina’s legs. He ran his rough hand up her legs to where her skirt lay, then ripped it open to gain better access.
“Show me those scared eyes of yours. It’s time we have a little fun.” He turned his attention to his pants, first struggling with his belt, then moving to the button and zipper.
“I think we have a problem. I think there’s something wrong with her,” his accomplice said hesitantly.
“She’s fine. Just give me a few minutes, then you can have your turn,” the other man said, irritated by his friend’s hastiness.
“I think we should leave.” Fear was evident in the accomplice’s voice. The man glared at him. The accomplice meaningfully moved his eyes down to Kat, quickly returned his terrified gaze back to his friend. The man glowered at his accomplice a moment longer. To humor him, the man tried to shoot a distracted quick glance at his intended victim. He was instantly frozen by the change in her demeanor. The petrified girl was gone, replaced by an eerily calm woman. Kat felt a change in herself; it looked like the men noticed it, too. Her mind was cloudy and her vision grew even more blurry. It almost felt as if she was as drunk as the men who were about to rape her. She did not know what was going on, but knew she was no longer the same person. She smiled seductively at the man between her legs. “Is the fun over? What a shame. I was looking forward to the fun you promised.” She shook her head slowly, as if truly saddened by the notion. She moved her heeled foot, rubbing his inner thigh enticingly, then moved past his gut to massage his chest. She sighed despondently and pouted her lips when neither man moved to resume their previous actions.
“Perhaps another time and place, with men that are more willing to go the distance,” she said, trying to provoke them. She finally saw a hint of a predatory smile on the face of the man between her legs. She returned his interest with a slow smile of her own. She moved her foot from his chest back down to his crotch. Kat watched as her touch brought a sweet elation to his face. He looked down at her, eyes filled with the thrill of conquering his victim.
“I’ll show you how this is done.” He reached to lift her foot from him. She felt the hands holding her down increase their pressure. In the blink of an eye, her foot was pressing back on his chest.
“”No, I will show you how this is done,” she replied in a husky tone. She leisurely traced the previous path back down to his erection. She massaged him gently at first, and then harder, listening to the man’s increased breathing.
“Ease up a bit,” he ordered.
She laughed maliciously as she used the stiletto heel on her shoe to puncture one of his testicles. The man reared back, screaming in pain. He grabbed his crotch and let his head fall forward. Katalina took advantage of his position. She kicked up with all the force she could, hitting the man’s chin. His head snapped back and she heard the sickening snap of his neck. She pushed at his chest, making his dead body fall on the ground. She felt the hands that were holding her down release her. She watched in amusement as the dead man’s accomplice rushed to his friend’s side and knelt down beside his body. The accomplice, having sobered only slightly, uselessly checked for a pulse. He turned his wide, shocked eyes to her.
“You killed him.” He spat the words at her. She did not give him a chance to avenge the man’s death. She stood, taking two steps to bring her to the accomplice’s back. She slammed her elbow into his collarbone, breaking it with ease. The accomplice screamed in agony and fell to the ground next to his friend. Katalina stood over him with a smug smile spreading over her lips. Using the heel of her shoe, she stepped on his throat, piercing the tender flesh and crushing his windpipe. She left the heel of her shoe in the man’s throat to plug the hole she had made. She watched with little interest as a few droplets of blood escaped from the hole on his throat and fell to the ground. She sat down, exhausted, next to the two dead bodies.
“Now that is how it is done. Was it as good for you as it was for me?” She saw a flicker of movement from the rooftop of the adjacent building. She narrowed her eyes and saw the silhouette of a man.
“I see you.” Blackness descended upon her and she passed out.
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