"The Willow and the Stone by Tamara Jock is a wonderfully three-dimensional read.  The writing is crisp and riveting, the plot sometimes shocking, often heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful...Ms. Jock's compassionate and evocative writing produces a story that will linger on in your memory long after you've turned the last page."  -Merrylee, Manic Readers review

On a future Earth overcome by predatory extraterrestrials, an unlikely pair of women hold the key to mankind’s salvation.
Four years ago, insectile aliens arrived on Earth in great pyramid ships.  Now mankind is reduced to a few pockets of survivors, skulking in the shadows to elude the creatures that rule the planet.  Among those survivors are Carli Dixon and Renee Johnson, an ill-matched pair thrown together through circumstance.

Battling their extraterrestrial enemy and the betrayal of their own kind, Carli and Renee struggle against impossible odds to find safety.  Rescuing each other from certain death cements their friendship.  But to survive and save others like themselves, they must risk everything … including each other.
 Category:  Science Fiction.  Includes graphic violence.

Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Omnilit, and in print.


            Renee slapped her hand over her companion’s mouth.  The brunette manhandled the smaller woman into the shadows beneath the stone bridge they‘d just emerged from.  Carli didn’t struggle against Renee’s grip, but she squealed a muffled cry of protest into the stagnant West Virginia night air.
            "Sssssshh!" Renee hissed, her grip tightening.  "Aliens!"
            Carli froze against her for an instant before breaking free.  She slammed herself against the inside of the arch to merge with the blackest of shadows.  Renee crowded her, also sliding into the dubious cover of darkness.  The bridge, more picturesque than a bastion of protection, was small with wooden beams buttressing the stones above.  A perfect spot for vacationing tourists to pose on for pictures to bore their co-workers with, but a ridiculous spot to depend on for one’s life.    
            Two monstrous creatures glided into view, their elongated insectoid figures silhouetted in the bright moonlight.  They stalked up to the bridge that spanned the dry, dusty creek bed and joined the women in the darkness.  Carli and Renee melted behind a support beam. 
            Trapped, Carli's frantic mind whispered.  The monsters had them for sure this time.  She squeezed her eyes shut but couldn't block out the aliens' cricket speech.  They chirped and chittered, grating against her ears.  She wished she could be struck deaf.  Sweat tickled its way down her spine. 
            Muscular Renee, who couldn't begin to approach the power of the spindly aliens, tensed beside her.  The creatures came abreast of the hidden women, chirping ear-bleeding conversation right in front of them. Carli tried to shrink further back, mashing her backside into the unyielding, unsympathetic stone.  Renee crushed against her. 
            A pebble slid from under Carli's foot and clinked in protest as it dislodged and rolled down the slope.  Her mouth flew open to scream; surely the monsters heard the rock crash down.  No whistle of sound escaped her locked, straining throat, but her heart was a bass drum of thunder booming through the night. 
            Her eyes screwed shut against the sight of the looming predators, Carli waited for the bristle-haired mantis arms of an alien to embrace her.  She waited for its needle proboscis to slide into her flesh and secrete its paralyzing poison.  She waited to sag helpless in the grip of the monster while it sipped the life from her veins.  She waited to die a slow, fading death.  Her heart pounded louder than ever, as if to beat as hard and fast as it could in its few remaining minutes.
            The chittering aliens, intent on their conversation, stalked past.  Disbelieving, Carli’s eyes flew open, and she watched them pass from under the bridge.  Motes of moon-glittering dust danced in the wake of the monsters’ long, tapered legs. 
            She released the breath she'd been holding in a rush and sucked it in again as one alien swiveled its head around.  It looked back at the bridge that hid the two women.
            Carli's stomach lurched at the pale orb of the creature's face glowing in the moonlight.  Wispy tufts of hair sprang in sparse bunches from its bullet-shaped head.  The proboscis writhed like a blind worm where a nose and mouth would have been on a human.  Its grayish flesh seemed stretched too tight over its skull; there were no wrinkles, not even creases on its face.
            Its eyes shocked her the most; eyes cold in intent, but horribly human in appearance, almond shaped and ringed with black lashes. 
            The creatures’ naked torsos were long and smooth without benefit of hair, muscle tone, or even genitalia.  Carli had no idea if skin or a harder shell covered their bones; happily she’d never been in contact with one.  Odds were she’d someday lose that joy.
            The searching alien's too-human eyes slid over the women without alerting.  Carli's body sagged as the creature turned away and stalked on with its companion.
            The women huddled under the bridge listening to the monsters' conversation die away and smelling the sour tang of their own sweat.  Carli shuddered violently, knowing that Renee could feel it, and didn’t care.  Probably Renee was shaking too; this had been their closest call yet. 
            Frogs broke into chorus from their shelters within the tall grass on the banks.  Renee shook free of her paralysis, grabbed Carli's hand, and yanked her out into the open.  Under the moon's accusing glare they sped away, tearing a path through the grass to escape the creatures that had all but destroyed the human race.

Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Omnilit, and in print.

(Sequel to The Willow and the Stone)

"5 stars.  The full-on pace of this continuing story has picked up, giving the reader a jam-packed action-adventure that rates as one of the best I've ever read.  I rarely got a chance to catch my breath in this one...I just couldn't put the book down."  -Merrylee, Manic Readers review

Six years ago, an alien invasion nearly decimated the human race.  Carli Dixon and Leo Black Elk lead a small band of survivors against the insectoid extraterrestrials, determined to win Earth back for mankind.  In between attacks on their enemies, they rest in the tiny desert village Freetown, one of the last outposts of human civilization.  Here, people have realized some semblance of the lives they knew prior to the invasion. 

But the seemingly lifeless Black Pyramid that sits in nuclear-blasted San Francisco isn’t as harmless as they thought, and death is heading east to Freetown.  A new menace has been birthed in the dark, dead pyramid, one that could finally finish off  humans once and for all. 

Royce Cummings sat on a splintered park bench, eating a slab of ham and a small pouch full of grape tomatoes with his bare hands.  The ham was pure salty goodness, plenty to be grateful for.  He was happy to be eating meat, meat not scavenged from another animal’s kill or gained at the risk of life and limb.  Royce made sure to be grateful, because superstition warned if he wasn’t, he might go hungry again. Maybe downright starved like he’d been only a year ago.  Nope, a slab of ham and a couple handfuls of tomatoes were something to celebrate, thank you Jesus.

Still, a part of his brain that always felt the glass was half empty refused to adopt the good manners going without should have taught it.  That traitorous part of Royce’s mind couldn’t help wishing the ham nestled between two slices of pillow-soft white bread.  That it might be topped with a couple of squares of Swiss cheese and some spicy brown mustard slathered on thick.  Six years hadn’t cured his craving for store-bought white bread, for Swiss cheese, for spicy brown mustard.  For that matter, any kind of mustard.  Hell, he’d settle for that Dijon stuff they used to make the funny commercials about; the ads with snooty men in the backs of limos sneering over sandwiches.
Six years ago.  Was that all it had been?  His life before the Black Pyramids landed, before the Old Ones came and put mankind on the endangered species list, seemed to have belonged to someone else.  A different Royce Cummings whose biggest bitches had once been as mundane as missing condiments.  A Royce who had never laid awake at night, wondering if that creaking sound was an insectoid alien, come to sip his blood like some monstrous mosquito.  A man who had never pissed himself in the shelter of a dumpster, while the foul creatures stalked past, blessedly unaware of his presence.
At least things had gotten a little better since the invasion.  Out here in the Nevada desert, one could relax a little.  Here the glaring sun made things inhospitable to the majority of the night crawling aliens.  A man could make a new life, even.  This was exactly what he and about 300 other humans had done in their little town called Gander’s Gulch.
If you were someone weary of the constant fight to stay alive and Providence had put you on old Highway 762 near Cyrus Air Force Base, Gander’s Gulch was an oasis in the bleached desert.  Hell, it was paradise, lack of mustard notwithstanding.  Its prior inhabitants had been wiped out in the first wave of the alien attack.  All the pre-Pyramid Gulchers were presumed lost, having been harvested for food or slave labor by the creatures that looked like the progeny of mythical giants crossed with praying mantises.
Royce was one of the people that had taken the small, abandoned town and made it viable again.  A high fence surrounded the heart of it.  Its gates were closed and locked up tight during the fear-filled nights with armed guards patrolling just inside.  Fruits and vegetables were grown in the vast greenhouses at the west end of Gander’s Gulch, and animals were raised for food on the northern edge.  The tiny settlement got its water from an underground spring.  Today Royce and several of his fellow Gulchers were laying down new irrigation pipes from the spring to siphon water more easily to the town.  Little amenities went a long way towards contentment.
It was a life of hard work, of harsh climate, of few conveniences.  But it was life, and not a bad one at that.  Unlike their eastern neighbors in Freetown, Gulchers were content to defend their little bit of land from the occasional marauding Old One and live out their existence pretending the world hadn’t changed so much after all.   Royce had no interest in journeying a day’s walk down old Highway 762 and another day’s walk on the even older Route 14.  He didn’t want to live among warriors and shamans.  Let the Freetowners wage their crazy war against the Pyramids, shedding more human blood against the might of a greater alien technology.  People like Royce would take what enjoyment they could from what was left of their lives.
Yeah, a world without mustard wasn’t so bad, comparatively speaking.
Royce turned from his ruminations on what had been and what was.  He munched on ham, thank you Jesus, and listened to two younger men discuss the merits of the McClonsky sisters.  Spare and tanned and weathered at the ripe old ages of 26 and 29, the women in question were prime examples of what Gulchers looked like.  On post-Pyramid Earth, a sense of humor and willingness to work for the good of all were the new barometers of attractiveness.  The McClonsky sisters possessed both attributes in spades, and Royce had already had the pleasure of entertaining the elder one in an intimate manner several times.  She liked him too, and it had only been a few weeks since they’d decided to make their pairing a permanent arrangement.  He smiled to himself as the young men, Sam and Cal, plotted their schemes to lure the women into their clutches.
Sorry boys, but Shelly McClonsky is off the table.  We’ve already been assigned a private room.
Now there was a thought to make him beam, if Royce had been the beaming type.  A room all to themselves, just him and Shelly.  Sure they’d still be in the same building they already lived in and near the safety of all the rest of the Gulchers, but their new quarters would be out of the dorms.  Nice and private.  They could have been already moved in three days ago, but Shelly was making the room nice and wanted to surprise him.  Tomorrow night, she’d promised, and worth the wait.
Fuck the mustard.  He, Royce Cummings, had Shelly McClonsky for a bedmate.  Life was damned good.  The glass was half full.  Maybe even three-quarters full.
He finished his ham and tomatoes and washed them down with a canteen full of water.  A breeze lifted, sending nettles of stinging sand against exposed skin.  The now-familiar grit in the tightest of bodily crevices hardly registered anymore.  If Royce noticed it at all, it was the slightest of discomforts, one a man got used to quick if he didn’t want to go crazy.  It didn’t matter he was covered in loose clothing.  His long pants, sleeves, and floppy hat left only his hands and face exposed, but Royce would have a coating of sand on every inch of his body when the day was done.  Probably already did.  The fine particles got everywhere, even in places where a man wasn’t aware he had places.
The dry voice of the desert breeze was joined by a strange whir of scraping against shifting sand and the asphalt of the cracked Main Street .  Royce didn’t recognize the sound.  He was aware that the new noise had been there in the background for some time now, growing so gradually that he was only just becoming cognizant of it on a conscious level.  He frowned but felt no alarm until a high-pitched scream sounded from far away.
With the alacrity that comes from being prey for so long, he and the dozen other men on the irrigation detail were on their feet and feeling for their guns.  But it was daylight, the safe time.  No one was armed.  Instead, hands gripped the hammers and wrenches that were holstered in the low-slung tool belts many wore.
Cal’s lips skinned back from his teeth in an unconscious snarl.  “What the hell was that?”
Pierce Thomas answered in his dry croak of a voice.  Pierce was the eldest Gulcher in residence, ancient at 52 in this harsh day and age of the Old Ones.  “Sounded like someone screamed in the direction of the greenhouses.”
Shelly was working the greenhouses today.  She’d promised to pick a few strawberries for a special treat tonight.  “We’d better go check,” Royce said, hearing a tremor in his voice.
But there was nothing to fear.  Nothing came from the ruined west anymore, where radiation from a failed nuclear attack on the San Francisco Pyramid still made the area unlivable.  And it was daylight.  Neither the Old Ones nor their progeny the Becoming could be about.
The men started towards the western end of town.  Royce saw a wall of dust devils spinning in the air from that direction.  Sand storms were not rare here.  With irrigation no longer used to keep up artificially green lawns and gardens, the desert had worked hard to reclaim its landscape.  Even the highway disappeared for stretches of miles under layers of sand and scrub.  But this was no dust storm, not with the breeze only an occasional breath.  This was more like the blowup from the one stampede Royce had witnessed when the Gulchers’ cows had gotten loose and panicked in the middle of town.
There was something moving within the dust, and the whirring sound grew steadily louder.  It wasn’t the heavy thuds of cow hooves at all.  This was a finer, lighter sound, like the pad of children’s shoeless footfalls.
 It made Royce’s throat close with anxiety.  He halted, noticing out of the corner of his eyes his fellow Gulchers doing the same.  “What the hell is that?” he asked.
No one answered.  He wanted his gun, lying under his thin pillow in the dorm where all the windows were boarded up.  Whatever made up those shadows that shifted in that cloud of whirling sand was probably nothing of note, but he wanted his gun anyway.  And he wanted to be in the comparative safety of the blockaded dorm building, which had once been an elementary school in the pre-Pyramid world.
The shapes within the dust became clearer as they neared.  There were many of them.  It was impossible to tell how many in that roiling soup of sand, but there were a lot.  A shitload, as Royce would say had he the voice to speak.
Then Royce got his first glimpse of what it was kicking up the dry landscape.
Someone spoke, maybe Cal.  “Oh shit.  Those are aliens!”
Pierce answered, his voice climbing high on the register in terror even as he refuted the declaration.  “Don’t be stupid.  Aliens can’t come out during the day.”
But they were aliens.  Not like Royce had ever seen though.  These were different from the Old Ones with their smooth, creaseless, nose-less faces, their mouths replaced by long, thin siphons that punched easily into skin and vein and sucked one’s blood out.  These were movie monster horrors, their once-human faces running downwards as if they’d been partially melted and hardened again that way.  Sores erupted all over the reddened skin of the mostly naked creatures.  Many possessed misshapen versions of the Old Ones’ praying mantis arms, though a few had stumps with rudimentary hands instead.  None had siphons.  Instead they had great, grinning mouths, mouths filled with dagger teeth that gnashed as they came on, like they anticipating biting into Royce and his fellows.  The teeth, which would have made sharks proud, were made for tearing flesh and bone and gristle.
As if in a nightmare, Royce turned from the oncoming monsters.  His numb legs started a jerky, sluggish run for his gun, sheltered impotently in the dormitory three blocks away. He didn’t have to consciously tell his body to move, though it seemed the air had turned to thick, sticky molasses that dragged every step out for hours at a time.  His feet slapped the sand-covered road in slow motion.  His heart boomed in his ears, a bass drum in the sudden cymbal crash of yells and screams behind him as the men scattered in different directions.  His breath sobbed in and out, screeching like a badly tuned violin.  Beneath the hellish symphony whispered the dry whir of the mutant alien creatures gaining on him.
The buildings of Gander’s Gulch crept past, reluctant to fall behind as Royce ran for his life.  The old brick City Hall building where they held town meetings was the first to drift back.  Next he passed the post office, where three white trucks tinged with rust sat forever in its parking lot on cracked, flat tires.  Then the Episcopal Church, where so many had taken shelter to pray during the invasion and were captured by invaders who did not acknowledge the power of God.  The town library, its children’s section still festooned with faded posters that cajoled little tykes to read a book every day.  And at last the yellow painted brick school, now the Gulchers’ dormitory.  It beckoned to Royce to hurry, its boarded and barbed wire windows promising protection.
A million years might have passed, or so it seemed to Royce, as he fought to reach the dorm.  The sand-buried asphalt caught his booted feet with every step and sucked them into its surface like quicksand.  The pair of glass doors never came closer no matter how many steps he took.  And yet the screams of other people and the triumphant inhuman cries of their pursuers remained behind him.  At last he was on the cracked sidewalk, veering right to get to the school’s entrance.  The doors receded in the distance even as he ran and ran and ran towards them.  Then an age later his boots thudded on the brick steps, three of them, to the concrete slab just before the doors.  His hand closed around the metal handle of one and he concentrated on narrowing his gaze on that, terrified to look at the glass before him for fear of what might appear in the reflection behind.
Then he was inside, within the blessed confines of the building he called home.  Royce raced into the darkness of the dorm.  He grabbed his flashlight from his belt, switched it on, and ran for the gymnasium that most of the single men slept in.  It never occurred to him that the flashlight, fitted with rechargeable batteries kept alive by a generator run on rendered pig fat, might attract the monsters he attempted to elude.  Royce forgot that the monsters were out in broad daylight.  Six years had taught him light was life, a weapon against the sensitive eyes of the Old Ones.  Light was every human’s friend and defender.  He wasn’t able to unlearn that in the three and a half eternal minutes since the new threat’s appearance.
When he reached the former gymnasium which housed one hundred seventy men, Royce went straight to his bed.  There the gun waited, ready and loaded under his pillow, its metal somehow cool even in the desert heat.  Royce sobbed his gratitude to feel it in his hand, more comforting than any child’s teddy bear.
He could now get to one of the shelters, the easily defensible places where Gulchers had hidden days’ worth of supplies in the event of an emergency.  The closest one was in the basement of the school’s gym, down the stairs at the end of the hall.  It wasn’t far.  If he was careful, he’d make it okay.  He turned, his gun clasped close to his chest.
A sore-blistered alien pincer came out of the darkness, knocking the gun from his hand.  The firearm disappeared in the darkness beyond his flashlight’s beam, lost.
Royce’s brain operated as sluggishly as his run to the school had seemed.  It was still planning the best route to the shelter as the monstrous creature attached to the pincer loomed over him and shoved him down on his bed.  He was thinking how the steel barricade on the shelter’s door would not bow to the strength of a hundred Old Ones as the hideous thing tore his shirt open, displaying the double ladders of ribs on his whip-muscled frame.  He slowly realized his gun had gone missing, and he decided he would have to find it again before he went in search for Shelly.  At least he hadn’t lost the flashlight.  While his brain still refused to absorb what his senses said, he saw the thing leaning over him, its shark’s teeth flashing in the illumination as it bent to his abdomen.
His mind was just beginning to catch up with the here and now when the monster took its first bite of him.  Fortunately for Royce, disbelief had driven away his body’s ability to tell the rest of him it was in pain.  He only felt a slight tugging and a curious warmth as blood began to flow heavily, escaping its flesh cage.  He didn’t even scream as he was eagerly fed upon, the mutant Old One swallowing his flesh in unchewed chunks.
It doesn’t hurt because I’m in shock, he thought and died.
Available from Amazon, Barnes &Noble, Smashwords, and Omnilit.  Available in paperback too.



One woman of shaken faith stands between the mother of demons and humanity’s destruction.
Alex Williams has battled demons all her life.  Now Lilith, the mother of all demonkind, has declared war on the human race.  To defeat the immortal succubus, Alex must lay aside her hatred and work with two half-demons, Colwyn and Jacob.   Alex and Colwyn are prepared to destroy each other at the first sign of treachery.  What they don’t expect is the passion that overcomes them.  To defeat Lilith, Alex must embrace what she believes profane and trust the half-demon who might turn against her at any moment.
Genre:  Horror
Warning:  Contains explicit sex and violence.
Available from Amazon, and Smashwords. Coming soon to Nook and print.

           Despite her best efforts, Alex dropped right on top of the dead man.  The body squelched beneath her, and the air went muddy with the scent of spoiled meat.  His blank eyes stare into hers, the windows to his soul looking into a bare, unfurnished room.  She controlled an urge to scream – barely.  Her stomach heaved, and she scrambled off the bed.  The ripe odor of death hung about her, and Alex held her breath as she hurried to the door.  There she paused, willing her galloping heartbeat to slow to a trot.  Panic edged back but kept a hungry eye on her. 
           Alex pulled the vial of holy water from her coat pocket and unstoppered it.  With a shuddering breath she cracked the door open.
           A powerful thrum slammed through her body and forced her to stumble backwards.  The demon recognition hit her with the force of a tidal wave.  She tried to scream, but only a whistling hiss of breath escaped.  Alex staggered in a drunken pirouette to the middle of the room, one hand outstretched to ward off the demonic presence, the other pulling back the holy water as if she readied to throw the first pitch of a baseball game.
            Alone and small, Alex had indeed blundered into the lair of the Beast.  A moaned litany escaped her lips.  “I can’t.  I can’t.  I can’t...”
            Staring at the dark hallway beyond the open door, she wept the tears of a terrified child.  Who was she to confront such a monster?  Lilith would surely annihilate her within seconds.  With all that power, she couldn’t be stopped, couldn’t even be slowed.  Lilith would destroy them all.  Such malevolence would crush everything in its path.  Alex’s puny arsenal of prayers and spells would be like pebbles thrown at a tank.  Incantations would be no more to the ancient demoness than nursery rhymes. 
            Demon recognition pulsed at her, sending her thoughts into chaos.  The storm pounded its fury on the roof overhead, adding to the confusion.  She had to get out; she had to run before the demoness scented the interloper in her den and came for her.  Alex turned back to the open window.
            The corpse lying on the bed confronted her.  The bloody, torn carcass blocked her path, stopping her from climbing out the window into the curtain of rain, from running from the house, from leaving the state to hide from Lilith and the Segreto forever.  She couldn’t crawl over that silently screaming remnant again.
The only other way out was to go into the hall and chance facing the demoness.  Her mind raced between the two options like a frantic squirrel caught in a cage.  Her whimpered chant of “Ican’tIcan’tIcan’t...” grew louder.  Soon she’d scream it, and Lilith would come.  The thought didn’t quiet her; it fed her panic and raised the volume of her voice.
            A weight dragged on her neck and grew heavier.  Alex clutched at it and grabbed her silver crucifix on its black cord.  She brought it before her eyes and stared at the tiny form of Christ, stretched upon the cross, sacrificed to save man from evil.  One man, alone.  Like her, the salvation of all humankind.  The metal in her palm felt warm, comforting.  It seemed to infuse her with strength.
            I’m Segreto.  God’s warrior.  Humanity’s only chance in Lilith’s hell.
            The thought struck like a splash of cold water in her face.  Reason returned.  Others had faced Lilith and driven her back to the ether.  The task was suicidally immense but not impossible.  Alex’s ragged breath eased, and her heart slowed a little.  Her body still trembled, but her thoughts had cleared.
            Besides, the bitch doesn’t know I’m here.  I’ve got a hell of a surprise in store for her.
            She squared her shoulders.  She approached the door to the hall again. 
            Alex peeked out into the dark hall.  She discovered the room she was in stood about halfway between the lit front room and the back door.  The television spoke in a mindless drone over the rain that pounded on the roof, the two providing plenty of noise to cover her presence if she was careful.  Alex eased out of the bedroom.
            The hum of her talent intensified as she drew closer to her enemy.  She passed the doorway of a darkened kitchen and wrinkled her nose at the rancid odor of spoiled food.  It was still more pleasant than the rotting body she’d left behind.  Peering into the room, she saw nothing except the reflection of metal from the stove’s burners and its litter of pots and pans.
            Alex returned her attention to the lit room ahead.  She thought she heard a cry behind her and turned.  She saw nothing but the hallway leading to the back door.  She listened, but there was no repeat of the sound; all that reached her ears was her own breath, the drum of rain, and the television.
            She resumed her approach towards the front of the house.  As she moved closer, she heard the polished tones of a newscaster. 
            “...350 bodies found in a mass grave.  Apparently, the victims had been buried alive...”
            Something chuckled over the television’s volume.  Alex halted at the obscene sound.  Her bladder nearly gave way.
            The laughter was inhuman, as if Hell itself had gained the ability to express humor.  Some loathsome, diseased thing reveled in the destruction of others.  Something that didn’t belong among humankind. 
Alex’s upper lip skinned back from her teeth in an unconscious snarl.  She was still awash in fear, but an instinctive hatred boiled within her as well.
            You have no business on my world.  God left it to us, you thieving bitch.  You may take it, but as the saying goes, it’ll be over my very dead body.
            All her attention locked on the doorway before her.  Her fist tightened around the vial of holy water.  Alex passed the kitchen door. 
            The toe of her shoe collided with a broken wedge of a plate.  It clattered across the hardwood floor, a cymbal crash amid the drumming of rain.  The whole house seemed to echo with the sound and amplify it until she clapped her hands to her ears.
            Alex froze and held her breath.  Her heart thumped painfully.  A shadow appeared on the wall in the television room.
            “Naamah, is that you?”
            The shadow grew and glided toward the hall, its darkness slipping eel-like towards her.  Alex stepped back, watching it as it advanced.  Her foot landed on a wet blob and slid out from under her.  With a startled gasp she crashed on her backside with a solid thump, the holy water held aloft in her right hand.  Liquid splashed over her fingers.
            “Who’s there?”  The shadow charged forward.  The thrum of Alex’s talent grew into a scream.


When Alex, Colwyn, and Jacob Lasham exiled the mother of demonkind from Earth 25 years ago, they thought they’d never see her again.  Yet evil refuses to stay dead, and Lilith has a score to settle with the trio.  She is determined to have Earth as her undisputed realm, and the Lashams will be the first to fall in her renewed war. 

Alex and Colwyn’s daughter Lena has no interest in the family business of destroying demons.  She is young and carefree and wants to be normal ... as normal as a clairvoyant quarter-demon can be, anyway.  However, Lilith’s return threatens her family, and Lena is forced to take up the fight alongside her parents and uncle. 

This time, Lilith has the upper hand and the destruction of mankind is imminent.  Lena discovers that to save the Earth she must do the unthinkable:  join forces with the one creature more deadly and profane than even Lilith.  But will Lena’s agreement with the Father of Lies be worth the lives of all mankind, her sanity, and her soul?  Or will she become the gateway for a greater destruction to Earth?
Chapter 1 
Oblivion.  Nowhere.  The endless void.  Perfect, sublime nothingness.  Here the essence of what had been a dread creature rested, one despised by mankind, angelic beings, and evil entities alike. She drifted, feeling safe and quiet for the eternal moment.  Restoring.  Recovering.
She always came to this place between struggles.  Where pain disappeared and she could huddle with her neverending disappointment and anger, screaming silently against the unfairness of her situation.  Where she could castigate herself for blind stupidity once again. 
But she hadn’t been stupid this last time.  She’d been smart, her plan flawless, her supremacy unmatched.  Still, it hadn’t mattered.  She’d been sent away, defeated once more. 
Here between the realms of Heaven, Hell, and Earth she knew she’d find a semblance of peace eventually.  She floated in the ethereal plane, where nothing else existed and nothing mattered.  While others found only madness in this vast void, she found relief. 
The entity didn’t know how long she’d been here this time.  She’d at last gotten to the point where ceaseless rage no longer held her in its violent grip.  She was able to rest for longer and longer periods of time, to not think of what had been kept just out of her straining reach once more.  Long enough to bask in nothingness.  Still, she knew it hadn’t been a great stretch of time because she didn’t want to go back to Earth yet.  The abyss still comforted her too much, offering a reprieve from the chaos.  It was safe here, away from the burning hatred, the overriding need for revenge, and the pain.
Oh God, there was so much pain in that other place.
Later she would reflect that last thought must have been what had summoned the golden light.  It crept in so gradually that she remained blissfully unaware of it at first.  Who knew how long the Other had waited for those words, patiently biding its time?  But time was meaningless here.  Seconds felt like eons, and eternity waned within seconds.  Time was only a fabrication made by man after all.
The light snuck up on her, so very stealthy that it had chased away most of the black oblivion before she grew cognizant of its arrival.  It had inched in to fill her senses with warmth and alien contentment.  It was like being in a living sunbeam.  Its silent, imperceptible advent lulled her.  She remained blissfully unaware she was no longer alone until a sound like an eternally exhaling breath drifted mistily through her essence.  Even then she didn’t panic until she heard something like tinkling bells in the nonexistent distance.
In her great dread, she didn’t try to reason that the Other was never far away.  The Other was everywhere.  It simply chose to express itself only in certain places and for certain entities.  But right now, all she knew was she needed to get back to the empty ether, to where the Other never spoke.  Where the questions and accusations would not come.  But where had the void disappeared to?  Everywhere she turned, she beheld only the golden light, and those terrifyingly sweet tinkling bells were coming closer.
Then the Other’s voice spoke, still so well-known despite the millennia since she’d last heard it.  It was as much felt as heard, no harsher than a summer’s breeze and yet mightier than the most earthshaking clap of thunder.  She shrank before its quiet, monumental force, becoming a tiny mote of consciousness in its vast presence.
Lilith.  Lost, angry child of Mine. 
She made a soundless scream to hear her name spoken by that yearned for and despised voice.  She made herself smaller, as if she could ever deny the all-seeing eyes. 
Why are you hiding from me?  Stay in the light and let yourself see for once. 
Instead, she flew away, feeling the atmosphere around her growing denser as if it would hold her in place, a helpless insect caught in a Venus flytrap.  No, no, she had to escape.  She could not face the Other, could not bear the disappointment, the millennia of wrongs she had committed, the judgment that must follow.  The air thickened, bearing heavily against her as she sought the empty void.  She came up against a barrier, something solid. 
Lilith.  Stay with Me.
It almost sounded sad, as if entreating a long lost lover.  It was a trick, of course.  It had to be.  She could never feel its adoration again.  She wandered permanently astray, with no way home ever.  She clawed at the unseen wall trapping her, dashed herself against it until she broke through. 
She fell like a stone, plummeting faster and faster.  The golden light changed; it became orange and then hectic red, and she imagined she fell into a fiery pit.  She closed her eyes against the angry glare, the light behind her closed eyelids scarlet like blood. 
When she came up hard against another barrier, too solid to be the flames she’d been certain she’d find, she clawed at it too.  Pain dug into her fingertips, the obstruction gritty against her skin, the scent of brine filling her nose…
Fingertips?  Skin?  Nose?
She opened her startled eyes.  She had returned to the material without trying, back before she was ready, she was solid, she was…
…on Earth again.  Shuddering all over, Lilith dragged herself to her bare feet in the middle of a thin, one-lane gravel road. 
She was corporeal and naked.  Usually, she carefully prepared before chancing the Earth realm again, looking for just the right time and place to launch another offensive against the children of Adam.  To cleanse the world, her world, of mankind’s infestation.  Panicked by the presence of the Other, she had blundered back senseless and blind.
Lilith looked around at her surroundings.  Dark enveloped the world, signaling nighttime, with no one around to see her naked.  Long wavy red hair flowed over her shoulders, covering her bountiful breasts.  The air wafted soothingly warm, the breeze refreshing rather than leaving her shivering with cold.  No, the fine tremors that ran down her frame were from reaction to the near encounter with the Other on the ethereal plane, not to mention the shock of suddenly finding herself physical once more. 
A slight breeze sighed.  In its wake, the few pine trees that dotted the area whispered secrets overhead.  The soft splashing of waves of the nearby creek lapped against a wooden bulkhead.  The sound seemed very familiar to Lilith, as did the sea salt teasing her nostrils. 
A simple, rustic cabin occupied the lot on one side of the gravel lane where she stood.  Its porch light glowed like a tiny golden sun, orbited by dozens of fluttering moths.  On the other side, facing the cabin, was a pretty white cottage with a wraparound porch.  She’d never seen either place, but the general landscape seemed eerily familiar.
After a moment, Lilith gasped, recognizing her surroundings.  She only had to imagine a tidy doublewide trailer instead of the cabin and a derelict two-story house in place of the storybook cottage.  This was where she had last left the Earth, falling in all-too familiar defeat while battling a member of her age-old enemy, the Segreto.
Her lips wrinkled back in an unconscious snarl.  The Segreto.  Had there ever been such a hated entity?  For untold centuries, the organization had kept her from claiming what by all rights should belong to her.  First it had been the Hebrews who had defied her, loose confederations located in the larger towns.  Those ancient people performed rites to send her away when she dared to walk the Earth.  They defeated her at every turn as she tried to take back what Adam and his simpering second wife Eve had stolen.  Then with the rise of Christendom and the Catholic Church, the secretive Segreto had taken up the fight, thwarting her time after time in her pursuit of murderous justice.
The last time Lilith had tried to wrest control of Earth from mankind, she’d wiped out all but one of the holy sect.  With no way to know how many years had passed since that last fight, she wondered if the bitch Alex Williams still lived.  If the Segreto had reformed and awaited the demoness’ return.
“I’m not ready to do this again,” Lilith hissed to herself.  She felt a scream uncoiling in the pit of her belly, but she refused to voice it.  Prepared or not, she was back on Earth.  She would not be able to return to the calm darkness of the ether until the body she’d spun out of nothingness was destroyed. 
At least the cover of night concealed the mother of demonkind for now.  Had she descended into the middle of a busy marketplace in daylight, she would have had many problems to contend with.  Her enemies might have been made aware of her quickly.  She had time to do a little thinking before she had to make a move.
Before any real decisions could be made, she needed to find clothing and a place to live.  A safe base of operations, if she was to take up the fight for her realm once more.  But for the moment, curiosity won out over self-preservation. 
Lilith looked at the crude but homey cabin, now on the site where her enemy had lived.  Where Alex Williams had destroyed her hopes yet again.  Was she still in residence?  Did she live on this spot yet, thinking herself safe from the immortal succubus who’d nearly killed her and her unborn child?
Lilith crept to the home’s front window.  The sheers were closed but the curtains pulled back, giving her a gauzy glimpse into the cabin’s den.  Blue light from the television flickered.  In its illumination, she caught sight of a man seated in a recliner before it.  He was intent on the images flashing across the large flat screen, so she looked over the situation as best as she could.
The furniture was big and bulky, the television the only thing hanging on the wall.  What looked like a pile of clothing heaped on the floor on one side.  Fishing rods leaned in the far corner.  Wooden TV trays on crossbar legs served as tables.  She saw nothing to suggest femininity about the room. 
Lilith decided to take the chance that the man stayed alone in the cabin.  Perhaps he was a bachelor or just getting away from his family, but the single vehicle in the driveway, a huge mud splattered pickup truck, also gave her reason to believe the man had no company in the cabin.
Reassured, she went to the front door.  A small diamond-shaped window reflected her image back at her, and she blinked to see herself with the same features as the last time she’d been on Earth.  Big green eyes rimmed with long, dark lashes.  Straight, upturned nose.  High cheekbones.  Full, pouty lips.  A gorgeous creature that turned men’s heads.  She looked down at her body, paying attention for the first time.  She had formed exactly as before; huge tits, tiny waist, round hips.  If Alex Williams was still alive, was still living in this spot, she’d know Lilith on sight.
The demoness dismissed the concern and knocked.  She waited patiently, listening to heavy footsteps approach from within.  Seconds later the door swung open, and a ruggedly handsome man peered out at her.
“Yeah – whoa, what the hell?”  His eyes were perfectly round as he took in the improbable sight of a statuesque naked redhead standing on his porch.
Lilith didn’t give him time to realize he was in trouble.  She grabbed him by the back of the neck and captured his gaze with hers.  Almost immediately his face went slack.
“Is anyone else here?” she demanded.
“No.  They’re at home.”  His voice sounded low, as if he dredged it from somewhere deep inside himself.
“Only you?  And you don’t expect anyone to come here tonight?” she pressed.  She had to be sure.
“Yes.  I am all alone for the weekend.”
“Do you know Alex Williams?”
“Never heard of – wait, she owned this property before the guy I bought it from.  I saw her name on the papers.”
No Segreto bitch to fight right away then.  Tension bled from Lilith’s shoulders.  “Do you have any women’s clothes here?”
“My wife has some things she keeps in the closet.”
Lilith could hope there would be something that would fit.  She smiled.  “You want me.”
Her victim said nothing, but a line of drool escaped from one corner of his slack mouth.  When Lilith’s hand went to his crotch, she found him hard.  And big.  Her smile grew.  “Good.  You will do very well.  Show me to the bedroom and take your clothes off.”
The man immediately turned and marched inside.  She followed him down a hall, admiring his wide shoulders and the taut buttocks wrapped in tight jeans.  Very delectable for a descendant of Adam, though she reviled the race.
Clothing, shelter for the night, and a delicious-looking man to feed on.  It was a good start. 
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