Darkness Haunts

Darkness Haunts by Susan Illene is finally here!! I'm so excited to get to share an excerpt of it with you.

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 knows 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.


By the fifth song, the place didn’t seem that bad anymore. They played my kind of music and the men who danced with me weren’t the clumsy or groping types.
My enjoyment didn't last. I sensed the change in the environment before it even reached me. Swirls of magic entered the room. It curled out of the vents and surged across the crowd—impossible to see or smell, but there nonetheless. Goosebumps ran across my skin as it touched me, feeling oily and foul, but otherwise having no effect. Normal humans weren't so lucky.
As people breathed it in, the mood changed. Everyone began dancing in crude ways better suited for a strip club. Sweat poured down their bodies as they peeled their clothes off and flung them away without a care. I had to duck when a bra went flying by, cherry blossom pink not being my color.
Magic pervaded the crowd. The kind that came from a powerful witch who concocted just the right spell for humans alone. None of the sups inside the place were affected and couldn’t sense it like I could. Lisette was immune as well, but she had joined in the craze by rubbing her body all over her partner. She’d always enjoyed a good scene. It didn’t even occur to her that something wasn’t right. That trait about her was something I both loved and hated.
I moved toward her, knowing it wouldn’t be long before the club staff figured out one human stood untouched by their magical cocktail, particularly with those cameras in place. We needed to leave, now.
"I'm getting out of here, Lisette. Are you coming?" I shouted.
Lisette had eyes only for the guy holding her close. They moved against each other sensuously with no regard for those around them. She didn’t even glance my way and several stubborn people wouldn’t move so I could get closer.
Dancers everywhere had either stripped off all their clothes or were well on their way to it. Their empty eyes stared at nothing, but their bodies managed lewd acts with impressive skill. The heat and passion pulsing through the room grew at an alarming rate, assailing my already overwhelmed senses. It wouldn’t be long before it turned into an all-out orgy.
I kept trying to elbow my way through the crowd, but the already dim room suddenly switched to strobe lights, bringing me to a blinding halt.
It took a moment to adjust to the change, but when my vision cleared the macabre scene before me appeared something akin to a horror movie, or really wicked porn. A few of the vamps joined in to take advantage of the changed atmosphere with their own special brand of “fun”. I thought I caught sight of a set of fangs flashing, but couldn’t be sure.
With a final hard shove, I reached Lisette. “Hey,” I yelled in her ear, “we gotta go.”
Lisette frowned and opened her mouth to argue. She still didn’t get it and time was running out. I grabbed her face and turned it toward the crowd. “This is not normal. We have to go now!”
She stopped dancing and took a serious look around. A flicker of realization crossed her eyes. Ignoring her partner, who’d begun to do unseemly things with his tongue to her bare legs, she shuffled closer to me. “Mel, listen. I’m going to stay, but you should definitely go. Maybe we can catch up later or something?”
“You’re not coming?”
“No way.” She shook her head. “This is even better than I expected, but I wouldn’t have brought you if I’d known. I’m sorry.”
“You’re really going to stay for this?” I asked. I’d known she had a kinky side, but didn’t think it went this far.
“Yes. Now go!” She shoved me in the direction of the entrance. “If I have to haul you out, it’s not going to be pretty.”
“Fine, but be careful,” I warned.
“Always,” she said with a naughty grin. There would be no changing her mind, but she could take care of herself. I had to believe that as I began working my way back toward the entrance.
Getting through the mass of people made the army obstacle courses I’d done years before look easy. Almost every inch of the floor had human bodies twisting and bending in ways that defied logic. I tripped right before reaching the entrance hall when a pair of bare legs shot out in front of me.
My chin almost smacked the floor, but I managed to stop myself a bare inch before impact. While trying to untangle myself from the loose limbs, I felt a strong presence draw close. His aura filled me with coldness and dread. I peered up through my hair, which had swept in front of my face, to see a dark-skinned vampire standing at the edge of the crowd.
"You’re wanted upstairs.”
I gulped. “Now?”
A flash of fangs and darkening eyes gave me the only answer I needed. My senses told me he hadn't been undead for more than ten years, but he would still be far too strong. I wouldn’t win in a fight against him, but my need for escape kept me searching for a way out. I made a quick sweep of the room. There had to be another exit. 


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.

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