My name is Rachel Clancy. Thirty years before I was born, the world ended. Today is my sixteenth birthday. Today I will go Upwards to fight the monsters and, statistically speaking, I won’t be coming back—at least not still living.
Initiation is the story of sixteen year old Rachel Clancy, born with a specific set of genes that let her fight monsters, she has trained her entire life to kill Vampires and Werewolves. Knowing since birth what her destiny would be has not made the onslaught of emotions she faces as she journey Upwards any easier. It doesn’t help that her father is drunk and her best friend just doesn’t get ‘it.’
Rachel isn’t prepared for the level of deception she faces, and before long she will find herself on a quest she is in no way prepared to handle. What happens next will alter not only Rachel’s life but the lives of everyone she knows. She will learn beyond a shadow of a doubt that sometimes the monsters we know are worse than the ones we don’t and that love can surprise us when it comes from somewhere we never anticipated it.
If she lives, she will be a Warrior. If she doesn’t, no one will ever remember her name.
Genre: Young adult, urban fantasy, paranormal romance
Heat level: 1
Cover art by Dara England
“My mother used to call this apple cider weather.”
I had been doing my best to pretend I was unaffected by Jason’s presence, but I wasn’t. He felt warm, even the distance we walked apart, like he was a hot presence in a world of freezing cold eventualities.
“I know what apples are. We get them sometimes. What is apple cider? Some kind of drink?”
“Breaks my heart that you live in a world with no apple cider.” The grimace on his face was a huge indication then he meant what he said. He really was…beautiful, in a way most guys, or even grown men, were not.
Jason seemed to light up from the inside out. Maybe it came from actually being outside all the time but his skin glowed with freshness. Or maybe it was a Werewolf thing, a monster thing.
“Do you do this all the time? Take on Warriors and not tell them why you’re holding them prisoner?”
He raised an eyebrow, his lips quirking into a smile before falling straight again. “Do you feel like a prisoner?”
“Do you answer every question with a question?”
“No.” He shook his head. “I did promise you answers. But first, tell me if you feel better out here? Less likely to hurl away all that fine turkey?”
I stopped walking and turned to look at him. “I feel much better, thank you.” I got my first look at the house we had just exited. I covered my mouth with my hand to suppress my gasp and I looked again. It wasn’t really a house—it was a giant tent—standing in front of a dozen giant tents just like it. I could see from where I stood how it was built. The walls were solid, but only because large beams in the ground held them up. I hadn’t thought to feel the walls earlier. Why would I? They had looked like concrete, but they weren’t, they were actually cloth and something else—vinyl, maybe?
“You guys are prepared to leave at any time, aren’t you?”
“We’re nomadic. We never stay anywhere very long.”
I couldn’t be sure, but I thought I heard sadness in his voice. I could ask him about it. He’d put his emotion right out there for me to hear it, which begged the question: just how well did I want to know Jason?
At some point, I was going to turn a corner with this Werewolf where I was going to start thinking of him as a living, breathing, cognizant being whose head I wouldn’t be able to cut off. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that.
“Would you rather stay put?” I spoke the words.
“Maybe. See, I can still remember what it was like, to have a house that was a home, to have neighbors, to go to school."