Born with a rare blood disorder that means she cannot go out in daylight, Accacia has learned to live in the dark, even if it has been incredibly lonely. Determined to find a cure that will finally allow her to walk in the sun, Accacia has spent her days and nights holed up in her laboratory doing just that.
After a freak encounter with a tall, dark and ridiculously handsome stranger, Accacia might just have found her cure, but not in the way she expected. Drawn into a parallel world of paranormal creatures and a Queen who wants her dead, Accacia has to put her trust in three vampires who, seemingly, want to devour her in more ways than one.
Accacia’s Curse is book one of the Sister of Hex – reverse harem series and for 18+ readers. The first three books will follow Accacia and her vampire suitors; Rhain, Ezra, and Devin. Do you dare enter the mysterious world of Ever Vale?
Sample: Prologue and Chapter one:
I remember the first time the sun almost killed me. I was a toddler, barely three years old. I had found my way out of my mother’s sight for no more than five minutes, but it was enough time to sneak out of the back door and onto the porch that surrounded our house.
It was such a beautiful day, the sun high and bright. The sky empty of cloud. I could hear the laughter of other children playing in neighbouring gardens. I so desperately wanted to play with them. With no other thought than the need to join the fun, I stepped out into the sunlight, my bare feet soft against the warm wood of the deck.
I heard my mother’s horrified scream before I felt any pain.
No child should have to endure what I did that day and the long days that followed. It was a burning, scorching, terrifying pain that my younger self could not properly comprehend. Then there had been darkness, sudden overwhelming darkness.
Darkness that has remained with me long after my mother passed and will remain with me until I die. That’s if I am unable to find a cure, and find a cure I will because I know that I wasn’t destined to live in darkness, I was destined to stand in the light.
“You almost done?” Roland asks me. He pushes his thick spectacles up his nose and wipes a hand through his greasy hair. I lift my eyes from the microscope and wait for his next inevitable question. I try not to shudder.
“You fancy a bite to eat?”
“Sorry, I have plans,” I say automatically, knowing full well those plans extend to another lonely night with a microwave meal and Netflix for company. That lack of company, however, is a lot better than a date with creepy Roland.
His cheeks redden, highlighting his pockmarked skin and fuzzy facial hair that, despite his age, hasn’t quite decided whether it wishes to remain prepubescent or form into a stubble.
“Quite the busy one, aren’t we, Accacia, given you spend most of your time either locked away in here or locked away at home?” he says, before pinching his mouth shut on the remark. I narrow my eyes at him.
“What I do in my spare time is none of your business, Roland,” I say, avoiding the fact that he has practically confessed to stalking me. I glance to the right of me where a pair of scissors is resting on the workbench. I would use them should he get any funny ideas, and I most certainly will be reporting him to the lab manager in the morning. This kind of behaviour is unacceptable.
The red on his face deepens further as he holds his hands up. “I meant nothing by it, Accacia. I just… well, we’ve worked together in this lab side-by-side for, what, two years now? I just never heard you mention anyone else, and I thought you might want a friend,” he stutters, trying to backtrack.
“This is work, and that is private. I never mix business with pleasure,” I snap. I might be lonely, but I am not desperate. How dare he assume I need anyone at all. I’m quite happy as I am with my microwave meals and hours of Dexter on TV. At least, that’s what I tell myself.
Besides, I’ve heard the rumors about Roland, the whispered comments by the other technicians. According to their hushed conversations, which are not so hushed, given I can hear them from the other side of the lab, he’d had a crush on a member of nursing staff at our sister hospital and was moved to this lab after the managers brushed her accusations of stalking and weird behaviour under the carpet. Apparently, there are advantages to knowing someone on the board of directors. This certainly appears to be true in Roland’s case, if the rumors are anything to go by.
“Of course,” he says, finally backing off.
I release a sigh of relief, covering my anxiety with a fake yawn. I don’t want him to think he has me spooked. He looks at me for a long moment.
“Well, goodnight then.”
“Goodnight,” I mumble, watching as he leaves the lab. The door clicks shut behind him. I rush over and type a few numbers into the keypad, overriding the external entry combination so he can’t come back in, should he decide to try to persuade me further. It’s unlikely he’ll ever really try anything to harm me, but of late I’ve been spooked. A few nights ago, I could have sworn I saw a man standing in my back garden. I had been staring at the moon, which had this funny red band around the edges of it when I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. It had been brief, and probably just shadows, but it had certainly looked ‘man-shaped’. An involuntary shiver runs down my spine, but I push the feeling of dread away. For a scientist, my imagination has a bad habit of running away with itself, despite my inherent logic. Surely Roland wouldn’t go that far?
Sighing, I head over to my office in the far corner of the lab and click the computer on. My eyes run over the results of today’s tests. Unfortunately for me, whilst I’d determined two cases of skin cancer and one breast cancer case from the biopsies sent to me earlier that week, I’d got no closer to understanding my own rare genetic disorder. The sun is still my enemy and the night the only time I can feel a little more human and a little less like a freak of nature.
None of my colleagues know of my disorder or my efforts to find anything close to a cure, they just think I am a workaholic, arriving to work at dawn and leaving at dusk. Unlike Xeroderma Pigmentosa sufferers, my skin is able to regenerate following any exposure to the sun. Whilst theirs can, and almost always turns into skin cancer. The fact that I can self-heal is the biggest mystery and something I keep to myself. The few friends I do have only know about my condition, not my ability to heal so fast. No one, apart from my dear, departed mother, knows about this anomaly, and that’s the way I intend to keep it. Don’t get me wrong, going out in the sun still hurts, it’s excruciating in fact. The difference is I can heal quicker than the average person. All the blistered bubbling skin that appears so quickly after exposure to the sun is completely regenerated within a few days.
My eyes trail from the computer screen to the car park five stories below. I can just make out Roland’s skinny frame as he gets into his car. The relief at seeing him pull out of the carpark is immense. I hadn’t realised he’d alarmed me quite so much until this moment. I find myself peering around, just to make sure there are no other weirdos hanging about down there. Satisfied there aren’t, I turn back to my screen and switch it off. I’m not in the frame of mind to continue with my research, full stop. Roland has successfully spooked me enough that I want to go home. Grabbing my bag and coat, I head out of the lab and make my way to my car.
A couple of minutes later, after a quick diversion to the staff cafeteria, I head out into the now deserted car park with a chai latte warming my hands. Frost is already covering the windshield of my trusty Ford Focus and the air is chill. My woollen coat isn’t doing much to keep the cold out either. I hurry over, instantly regretting that I’d parked it in the furthest, darkest corner.
“Just perfect,” I mutter under my breath as I place the latte on the roof of my car and fish in my handbag for my keys.
For whatever reason, my usually steady hands are not so steady, and I manage to drop my bag. “Damn it,” I curse, not in the slightest bit amused. I crouch down, picking up the contents of my spilled bag and stuffing them back in. Spotting my keys by the front tyre, I go to pick them up, only to find a black sneaker suddenly covering them. My heart leaps into my mouth as my eyes trail upwards. Roland is looking down at me.
“Clumsy today, aren’t we,” he smiles. But that smile doesn’t reach his eyes, it’s nowhere near. He’s giving me a look, a look that has me worried. I stand quickly. He moves his foot and bends down to pick up the keys, all the while keeping his eyes firmly on me.
“I thought you’d left?” I say.
“I did, then I remembered I forgot to tell you something.”
“What?” My eyes glance about the empty carpark. As a member of staff working in the laboratories within the hospital, we use a different carpark to the public and given it is well past office hours there aren’t any others about. A thread of worry skirts my skin as Roland steps closer to me.
“You’ve been really wonderful to work with, Accacia,” he says, his pink tongue peeking out from his mouth as he licks his chapped lips. It reminds me of a worm.
“Thanks, Roland, that’s really nice of you to say. Can I have my keys back now?” I hold my hand out.
His eyes flicker to my palm. “Now, why would I want to do that? You and I are having a nice chat, aren’t we?”
I smile warmly, despite the fear coiling in my stomach. “Yes, of course, but I really need to get home. I’m tired, it’s been a long day and I need to go to bed.” He takes a step closer and I step back. “My keys, Roland.” This time my voice shakes, and I curse myself for showing my increasing dread.
“What is it, Accacia? Surely, you’re not afraid of me? We’re friends, right?”
I don’t answer. A sudden warmth blooms on the middle finger of my right hand. The warmth turns into a burning sensation. “Ow.” Momentarily forgetting the danger I am in, I glance at my hand to find a gold ring sitting there. It brightens suddenly, and a wisp of red writing spreads across its surface before disappearing. I don’t wear jewellery, and I’ve certainly never seen that ring before. Am I so afraid that I am now imagining things?
“Ignoring me now, are we, Accacia?” Roland says, stepping so close that my back is pressed up against the car. My heart starts to thump loudly in my ears. Roland reaches a hand to my face; his fingers leave a trail of ice down my skin. I try not to scream.
“Roland, we work together. This isn’t appropriate,” I say, trying to sound formal, professional, in the hope that the reminder will make him come to his senses. He just laughs.
“Yes, and look where that’s got me. I don’t want you to see me as a colleague, Accacia, I want more than that.” He presses himself closer to me, his foul breath making me want to gag. He breathes in deeply, his cold nose pressed into my hair. “Your smell, it’s exquisite,” he says. Then he licks my ear like some feral dog. Disgust rolls through me.
“Roland, BACK OFF,” I shout, pushing against his chest. That only seems to enrage him further. He grips my upper arms painfully and leans in.
“No,” he says simply, before pressing his mouth against my own. I twist in his grasp, attempting to shake him off.
“STOP IT!” I scream.
“You heard the lady. I suggest you back off or you’ll regret it.”
We both stiffen, me because I am staring at a man who looks more terrifying than Roland, and Roland because that man’s hand is squeezing his shoulder so hard he lets go of me immediately.
The man jerks Roland backward. I let out a shuddering breath.
“Who the fuck are you?” Roland says, turning to face the man. “This is none of your business, so back off, mate.” A growl rumbles up Roland’s throat, taking me by surprise. What the hell is that?
I look at the stranger, at the remarkable indigo colour of his eyes, and wonder why Roland cannot sense the danger as I do. This man, he is not someone to be messed with. He oozes controlled anger. Anger that is bubbling just beneath the surface, waiting for the opportunity to be released. He runs a hand through his dark, chin-length hair.
“This is very much my business. Accacia here is under my protection and you,” he says, jabbing a finger into Roland’s chest, “are testing my patience.”
Under his protection? What on earth does he mean by that? I’ve never met this man in my life. Noticing that Roland has dropped my car keys, I crouch down and pick them up. Hopefully, this man, whoever he may be, can distract Roland long enough so I can get out of here and back home to lockable doors and windows.
Roland draws himself up and puffs out his chest. “I said, back off!”
If I wasn’t so terrified, I would laugh at his stupidity. He steps towards the man, arrogance, and pride preventing him from seeing that there is no way he can win this fight. I almost feel sorry for him. Then I remember what his intentions were, and I suddenly wish for the stranger to let rip. As though hearing my exact thoughts, the stranger glances at me and dips his head once before launching himself at Roland.
I don’t stick around to see what happens next. I open my car and get in, locking the door immediately. Without putting my seat belt on, I turn the key in the ignition and step on the accelerator. It’s the first time I do a wheel spin as I speed out of the carpark. In the rear-view mirror, I can see the man holding Roland aloft by his neck. I exit the gate and when I glance back again, both men are gone.