It’s Alias meets Underworld

Lauren Walker is on a covert mission: eradicate every bloodsucker to avenge the murder of her family by vampire hands.

But hunting vampires in secret isn’t a lucrative profession. To earn money, Lauren works as a waitress at The Den, a Los Angeles bar owned and run by the handsome and charming Cole Tanner. 

When Cole finds out about Lauren’s “hobby”, he has a proposition for her: to kill vampires under the employ of the local werewolf pack. Turns out there’s a lot more to Cole Tanner than his charming smile – he’s a werewolf and part of the pack. 

Werewolves have been at war with vampires for centuries, but something has tipped the balance. Bloodsuckers are returning to LA in droves and rumors persist of the Tsar – the supposedly dead-for-good vampire king – returning to the city. 

Thrust into the supernatural world, Lauren must learn the ropes fast or end up dead. Training and hunting together brings her and Cole closer. At least, until she finds out he’s keeping vital information from her. 

But then again, she has a secret of her own, too. A secret Cole would kill her for if he ever found out. Turns out there’s a lot more to Lauren Walker than the vampire hunting waitress…

Agent of the Arcane: Double Cross

I know, I know, werewolves and vampires – that old hat!

And yet, this is a little bit different, because Lauren Walker is neither werewolf nor vampire herself. She is a mere human, thrust into a world of heavy-hitters that she’ll survive only with her moxie, iron will and of course a big dollop of romance.

Yes, it gets hot and steamy in several chapters (hello, naked dinner scene), and there is some cursing. Not suitable for the young crowd. Fair warning! 

I’ll be posting a chapter a week right here. Yes, this novel is completely free. But I promise, you will get to THE END on the blog, too.

The Story Behind The Story

I finished this book about three years ago, right before I re-immersed myself in the world that is now taking shape as the Nightmare City series – which I’m still working hard on to publish soon!

I don’t know if other authors feel this way, but I get very single-minded about a story once I start in on it. Double Cross was just finished when the new idea for Nightmare City came to me and *bleep* – Double Cross fell right off the radar.

An entire story, basically finished, just sitting there, completely forgotten. Sad, sad story…

Then a friend asked me about it in summer 2017: “Hey, whatever happened to that Alias meets Underworld story you were working on a while back? That was such a cool premise!”

And *bleep* – Double Cross was back on my radar.

So I dug it up in my Full-Drafts folder and read through it. And man, did I have fun! Yes, I’d written it, but reading it after two years felt like exactly that: re-reading a book you really enjoyed a while ago but don’t remember the specifics of.

It was way better than I remembered, or maybe gave myself credit for.

It was also a lot steamier than I remembered, tee-hee. There’s this one naked dinner scene… phew! *fans self*

I’d originally pegged it as urban fantasy and that must have been the initial idea, once upon a time. But after rereading it, I realize it fits the paranormal romance criteria much better. And I like it that way. Toning down the romance just for the sake of making it more UF-y would diminish the story’s fun, easy-going tone.

I really like this story and I think you will, too. But my creative focus is on Nightmare City at the moment and will probably remain there for a good long while to come. I’m a one-project-at-a-time kind of writer. Preparing Double Cross for publication would take more focus and energy than I’m willing or able to give it.

So here’s a caveat: Double Cross has some flaws. I’m very much aware of them. It’s the third book I ever wrote through to The End. Like everything, writing takes practice, and this was my third practice run.

My point is: This book may not be perfect, but it’s also too much fun to hibernate in a forgotten folder on my computer forever. Which is why I decided to publish it for free.

I hope you are able to look past its imperfections and enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.

Snippet

Here’s a snippet from the very first chapter, just to let you know what you’re getting yourself into:

[…]

Cole smiled as I approached. As always, I couldn’t help but grin back. No matter how dark my mood or how itchy the remnants of vampire blood on my skin, one lop-sided smile from Cole Tanner cheered me right up. It was a shame he had this stupid policy about dating his employees. Or rather, not dating them. But at least he wasn’t opposed to a little harmless flirting.

I set the first drink down on a coaster in front of Snooty.

“A Black Widow, your usual, Sir,” I said. Long, slender fingers curled around the stem of the glass as he pulled it closer. Everything about Snooty was long and slender; his limbs, torso and even his face, an effect amplified by the long black hair that framed it. He looked like he’d been stretched out on a torture rack.

Snotty, while also tall, was anything but slender. His tailored suits probably used to hide the slight paunch that had turned into a full-blown beer belly. These days, they only seemed to highlight it.

“Your Martini, Sir,” I said, lowering his drink. His beefy, silver-ringed fingers snatched the glass from me. Dark brown eyes scrutinized me as if I were a bug on his windshield, just as easy to crush. It was that look which intimidated the other waitresses and made us speculate wildly about who these men really were. Cole pretended they were old friends from college, when clearly they discussed more serious matters than the good old days. I couldn’t even imagine these two going to college, let alone getting their groove on.

The other waitresses agreed on that front, but opinions diverged from there. Tansy dismissed them as snobs. Blair figured they were mobsters. Joanie thought they acted like paranoid psychos. I didn’t believe either of those mundane explanations and imagined they were something different altogether.

I grabbed the last drink off the tray, a snifter of cognac, and narrowed my eyes at Cole as I put it down in front of him. “A beer wouldn’t cut it today, huh?”

I’d only been working here for three weeks, but I’d never seen him drink anything stronger than a lager.

He smiled half-heartedly and lifted his glass in a gesture of cheers. “Just one of those days.”

I leaned towards him with a secretive wink. “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you tonight.”

His smooth amber eyes sparked with amusement, always the precursor to a truer smile – and then he froze, as if turned to stone. His nostrils distended, the pupils widened and his gaze rooted me to the spot. Something vicious and untamed stared at me out of Cole’s handsome face, like a demon’s eyes through two holes in a pretty portrait.

I stopped breathing. “What?” I whispered.

Beside him, Snooty and Snotty tensed, as if taking their cue from Cole. Snooty dropped a hand beneath the table to his hip, as if he were reaching for a weapon. Things were about to go nuclear.

Start here with Chapter 1 on the blog.

I hope you enjoy the story.

Cheers,
Pia

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