Recruited by a secret paranormal organization to hunt demons, Jack Harris never guessed the revenge he sought for his partner's death would be this complicated. Jack's worldview is black-and-white--until he is ordered to follow Mersey Bane, a beautiful woman who is also a familiar with shape-shifting abilities. Mersey belongs to the Cadre--a peaceful hermetic order that captures and studies Otherworldly Entities--which is at odds with Jack's organization.
As Jack delves deeper into the inner workings of the Cadre, he finds himself drawn to Mersey like a moth to a flame.
She may challenge all his beliefs, but she brings color and passion to his world. Jack doesn't know whether what he feels for Mersey is love or lust. But if he doesn't figure it out soon, they may become the hunted instead of the hunters.
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August 01, 2007
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Excerpt from Familiar Stranger by Michele Hauf
London--three months later
Jack Harris had committed to this mission of destruction. The road, not up from his indiscretions, but one that threatened to parallel it all the way to hell.
He had been given a license to kill. Not mortals, but instead, the dark denizens from another world. A world called the dark realm. A world he'd never imagined to exist months before now. Yet, for all purposes, it had once touched him.
Since joining--make that being recruited--into P-Cell, the covert paranormal section of MI5, life had not been the same. Normal people did not dream about demons, or stalk the hallway in the middle of the night and reconnoiter the loo before taking a leak on the off chance a demon might be clinging up on the ceiling.
Yet, in all his years with the British Security Service, and then working as a spook for MI5, he'd never before felt quite like this. Confident and hungry for the kill.
Sure, confidence was second nature to Jack, but to hunger for destruction? Such an appetite was new, yet not unwelcome.
Jack hefted the M4 carbine, positioning the butt of the rifle upon the crook of his elbow. A salt grenade was locked into position. He'd only get the one shot.
The electromagnetic-field gauge he held in his left hand registered a faint blip. Something occupied the cavernous walls of this building. And he knew it wouldn't be all ducks and bunnies.
Slowly, he took the iron stairs in the abandoned warehouse, twisting at the waist to ensure the hand-size EMF gauge could pick up readings to cover his periphery.
A flick of his finger switched to GPS function. This model had been designed specifically to pick up the electromagnetic resonance of ley lines and map them on screen. A network of ley lines stretched across the earth, meeting and aligning at key mystical sights and resonated with a magnetic energy that attracted the otherworldly.
Demons always came through to the mortal realm via a ley line. Combat boots tread stealthily. His stripped-down gear shifted silently upon his sturdy frame--flame-resistant black shirt and trousers, Dragon Skin vest, and at his belt a night-vision scope, combat knife and salt spray (pepper proved ineffective against the creatures he stalked). And he carried a silver dagger tipped with a UV cartridge, if by chance he stumbled on to a thirsty vampire.
In the past two weeks, Jack had gone out nightly on patrol. Direct orders from the deputy director of P-Cell. The paranormal activity in this area had increased measurably, of late. And the kicker? The hot spot was just up the road from his flat in Bermondsey. Much too close for comfort.
He had embraced the job at P-Cell with an angry heart and a keen eye.
He was still fighting terrorists--though now they were otherworldly. Demons were terrorists with uglier faces and supernatural methods. The challenge was that all bad guys had faces a man could read and react to--but not all demons did.
As a demon hunter, his objective was to shoot first, ask questions never.
P-Cell's array of weapons kicked arse. He used the M4 more often than he utilized his martial skills. Didn't get to physically kick a lot of demon arse because he still hadn't figured out where, exactly, that portion of the demon was on their strange anatomy.
Well, some, he could. In his short stint, Jack had learned the variety of demons was vast and varied. No two were alike, though they were classified into two genuses. Daemon sapiens, the modern demons were more refined, wise and always appeared in human form. The daemon incultus were the ancient, nastier breed that Jack preferred to hunt.
The latter usually appeared in demonic form, which worked for him. Jack could spar with them until they tired of the daft mortal's antics, and then the demon would attempt to take him out with a lash of burning tongue or some nasty exhalation of fumes or slash of talons. Confrontations kept Jack on his toes. He'd been hospitalized briefly last month for a deep slash through his kidney. Good thing he had two of those.
According to the GPS, he stood on top of a ley line. The electromagnetic field meter had a six milliguass range and picked up virtually all demon activity within shouting distance.
Something was in this building.
Of course, the somethings never showed themselves until Jack was close enough to be slashed, spit on, knocked down or all of the above. Which is why he wore Dragon Skin, a new scaled form of Kevlar that provided ease of movement as well as protection. Had to protect that last precious kidney.
Hell, he had to protect himself, because he wasn't going down until the dread demon that had murdered the woman he loved met the same bloody end.