Deadeye – EXCERPT

Dark and deadly adventure awaits in the old-west town of Deadeye. Vitus, a displaced Roman soldier, and Caecilia, handmaiden to a lusty goddess, must embrace a world of lustful and devious demons, in a town of high-stakes gamblers, quick and murderous gunslingers, vicious outlaws, and pretty soiled doves in order to succeed in their mission. And then there’s the hell-zombies who guard the place.

deadeye_smJustus, an incubus, is the son of the demon lord of Infernia, who also happens to own this decadent western town–a lusty sex demon who must shed his dark shadow in order to accept his destiny as a Nacraecian Dreamweaver Sorcerer, a destiny inherited from the blood of his dreamweaver mother. There’s more dangers than what’s just on the surface awaiting these three.

Three who meet, three who must face their duty to claim their destinies, three who risk everything to be free.

EXCERPT

1880s, The American West

Caecilia.

Where was she now? He’d last caught sight of her—what was it? Paris, a century ago. She’d been working on the stage at the time. Vitus had been sent there to retrieve one of Apollo’s daughters and dispense with the demi-god who had spirited her away. Vitus didn’t allow himself to dwell on Caecilia’s whereabouts too often. It did no good, served no purpose, other than to irritate the hell out of him.

The living had a way of thinking of hell in simplified terms, Vitus thought as he leaned forward in his saddle and surveyed the deadly western landscape spread out before him. The sun beat down hot and boiling. The saddle leather creaked as he leaned back, pulled out the makings and rolled himself a cigarette. He stuck it between his lips, lit it, and inhaled deeply, then released the smoke into the air. One of the simple pleasures he’d embraced from this time, and this untamed western land was one of the few places that challenged his innate warrior nature.

Gods and their vengeance. Long lasting and purely hell on earth. But even hell was only what you made it and not exactly the same for everyone. Being dropped into the court of Apollo had not led to an easy path for Vitus, but it was one he was familiar with and one he had learned to embrace.

I don’t need another lover, Roman. I want a gladiator to entertain me. I’ve become bored and I thank Diana for her most timely gift. Let us hope you prove to be worth the time. Immortality should offer plenty of opportunity for you to hone your skills. We shall see.

“Hey, stranger. You heading down there?”

Vitus tugged at the corner of his black felt hat and dipped it down lower. Fingers whispered across the handle of his Colt as he twisted around to inspect the newcomer. He liked the feel of the weapons of this age as he had the swords and daggers of his own time. In some ways they were faster and more efficient. A sword allowed for a bit more artistic endeavor, but when up against other weapons of the same caliber, one had to make do. Or die.“Ponderin’ the possibilities,” Vitus responded. Language was another thing that had turned serviceable. Earthy and practical. Lazy language that masked intention. In this land he’d had to adapt, to learn their language, assume their mannerisms, adopt their clothing. Folks were wary of people who spoke differently, had different ways about them, different rituals. So he’d adapted. The gods enjoyed this age of bloodshed, of lawlessness. They bathed endlessly in the violence.

“You know what’s down there, don’t you?” the dandified down-and-out gambler in the threadbare suit asked Vitus.

“Yep, I’ve heard.” Vitus squinted as he focused on the now fiery-tinged landscape. He felt the ferocity of that heat just beneath his skin. The pain was welcome and he absorbed its rejuvenating intensity.

“A king’s ransom at those tables in Deadeye. A poker game to beat any other, I hear.”

“So they say.” Deadly games, no matter the choice. “Surprised you didn’t take the midnight train into Deadeye. Would have been safer than crossing the desert.”

“No ticket. Ain’t easy to come by. I’ve already waited months kicking my heels in that one-horse town on the other side of the ravine. Lost my partner there when he got too antsy and tried to lift a ticket that warn’t his. Damn gunfighter shot him right between the eyes. Thought it best I hightail it outta there a’fore I was next. So, want some company?” the newcomer asked hopefully.

Deadeye. That’s what they called a shot like that in these parts. A shot like that got you respect on this side of the ravine. It gave you position, one of the fastest ways to get an audience with Zevodious.

The gambler looked so pale and cool to Vitus. He wanted to draw the gambler to him, to absorb the chilliness of his flesh. At least cooler compared to Vitus’s own flesh. But if he touched the gambler, Vitus would quench himself with the bracing human energy, like a tall icy drink of water. Attractive human energy undulated around the man. It was pretty, sexually enticing in a human sort of way. It was bright enough to light the sky in the dead of night. Not obvious to humans—but to Vitus’s kind—those of the night? He would be a beacon to the hell-zombies who would just be rising and surely ravenous. Not much flesh on the gambler—he’d obviously seen lean times. The creatures would make short shrift of him. Vitus doubted the man would make it much past sunset if he went down there right now.

“Nope. Not too keen on crossing the Saguaro at sundown. Wouldn’t advise it. You go down there now, you go it alone.”

“No need to be unfriendly. My name’s Cuthbert. You got a name, stranger?”

Vitus didn’t even turn to look at the man. He knew the lure of gold wouldn’t keep the idealistic fool from trying to cross the Flats. Yep, sun-up as opposed to sundown would be a better time for Vitus to make his way on down to cross Temptation Flats. No reason to put himself out fighting off hell-zombies when there wasn’t a need to do such. He nudged his horse off to the right and away from Cuthbert.

“Hey, where you going?”

Vitus didn’t even slow, his mind on other matters. He’d made his intentions clear enough. Every man made his own choices, and lived or died with them.

“Well, fuck you. I’m not waiting another damned minute to get what’s coming to me. More for me when I get there.”

Get what’s coming to him. Sure enough he’d be on the receiving end of some mighty focused attention. Vitus heard the desperate bravado tingeing those words. He might have kept the gambler for the night, fucked him, enjoyed him and his cool, pale energy. Vitus could have warmed Cuthbert thoroughly with his own fire until the gambler completely forgot what he came here to do. The gods would have enjoyed the lusty exhibition—they always had enjoyed a taste for earthy. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time.

But the moment they navigated Temptation the gambler would only have lost his soul in Deadeye, one way or the other. Why put it off? Vitus wasn’t that needy. Not yet. Nor did he care that much what happened to the gambler. Not really. Another soul to be claimed by Zevodious.

He heard the click of the gambler’s tongue against his teeth as Cuthbert urged his horse forward and down the ridge. Vitus looked at the horizon, at the blaze of fiery orange coals stretched across the sky.

“Shit. What do you think, hoss? Let the bastards split him open and use him serviceable. Earthy and practical. Lazy language that masked intention. In this land he’d had to adapt, to learn their language, assume their mannerisms, adopt their clothing. Folks were wary of people who spoke differently, had different ways about them, different rituals. So he’d adapted. The gods enjoyed this age of bloodshed, of lawlessness. They bathed endlessly in the violence.

“You know what’s down there, don’t you?” the dandified down-and-out gambler in the threadbare suit asked Vitus.

“Yep, I’ve heard.” Vitus squinted as he focused on the now fiery-tinged landscape. He felt the ferocity of that heat just beneath his skin. The pain was welcome and he absorbed its rejuvenating intensity.

“A king’s ransom at those tables in Deadeye. A poker game to beat any other, I hear.”

“So they say.” Deadly games, no matter the choice. “Surprised you didn’t take the midnight train into Deadeye. Would have been safer than crossing the desert.”

“No ticket. Ain’t easy to come by. I’ve already waited months kicking my heels in that one-horse town on the other side of the ravine. Lost my partner there when he got too antsy and tried to lift a ticket that warn’t his. Damn gunfighter shot him right between the eyes. Thought it best I hightail it outta there a’fore I was next. So, want some company?” the newcomer asked hopefully.

Deadeye. That’s what they called a shot like that in these parts. A shot like that got you respect on this side of the ravine. It gave you position, one of the fastest ways to get an audience with Zevodious.

The gambler looked so pale and cool to Vitus. He wanted to draw the gambler to him, to absorb the chilliness of his flesh. At least cooler compared to Vitus’s own flesh. But if he touched the gambler, Vitus would quench himself with the bracing human energy, like a tall icy drink of water. Attractive human energy undulated around the man. It was pretty, sexually enticing in a human sort of way. It was bright enough to light the sky in the dead of night. Not obvious to humans—but to Vitus’s kind—those of the night? He would be a beacon to the hell-zombies who would just be rising and surely ravenous. Not much flesh on the gambler—he’d obviously seen lean times. The creatures would make short shrift of him. Vitus doubted the man would make it much past sunset if he went down there right now.

“Nope. Not too keen on crossing the Saguaro at sundown. Wouldn’t advise it. You go down there now, you go it alone.”

“No need to be unfriendly. My name’s Cuthbert. You got a name, stranger?”

Vitus didn’t even turn to look at the man. He knew the lure of gold wouldn’t keep the idealistic fool from trying to cross the Flats. Yep, sun-up as opposed to sundown would be a better time for Vitus to make his way on down to cross Temptation Flats. No reason to put himself out fighting off hell-zombies when there wasn’t a need to do such. He nudged his horse off to the right and away from Cuthbert.

“Hey, where you going?”

Vitus didn’t even slow, his mind on other matters. He’d made his intentions clear enough. Every man made his own choices, and lived or died with them.

“Well, fuck you. I’m not waiting another damned minute to get what’s coming to me. More for me when I get there.”

Get what’s coming to him. Sure enough he’d be on the receiving end of some mighty focused attention. Vitus heard the desperate bravado tingeing those words. He might have kept the gambler for the night, fucked him, enjoyed him and his cool, pale energy. Vitus could have warmed Cuthbert thoroughly with his own fire until the gambler completely forgot what he came here to do. The gods would have enjoyed the lusty exhibition—they always had enjoyed a taste for earthy. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time.

But the moment they navigated Temptation the gambler would only have lost his soul in Deadeye, one way or the other. Why put it off? Vitus wasn’t that needy. Not yet. Nor did he care that much what happened to the gambler. Not really. Another soul to be claimed by Zevodious.

He heard the click of the gambler’s tongue against his teeth as Cuthbert urged his horse forward and down the ridge. Vitus looked at the horizon, at the blaze of fiery orange coals stretched across the sky.

“Shit. What do you think, hoss? Let the bastards split him open and use him as an appetizer? Or try to save his sorry gambler ass? And for what? He’ll just put himself right in the path of killing in some other damned fashion? But hell-zombies—there could be an easier way, I reckon.”

Storm tossed his head, eyes of crimson flame rolling back. The silver bridle jangled, sharp hooves stomped impatiently.

“I was afraid you’d say that.” Vitus tossed the remains of his cigarette. He opened his black duster and checked each of the pockets, considering which of the array of weapons would get the job done the fastest. He checked the special bullets in the twin silver-plated five-shot Colt pistols. He checked the keen edge on the single-edged hunting cleaver. And then there was his favorite—the three-pointed African iron-forged throwing knife gifted to him by a chief several years back when he’d saved the man’s son. Yep, his personal arsenal was in order.

He nudged Storm forward and down the slope just as he heard the first muffled scream. The gambler’s terrified horse, eyes rolling back, galloped past them headed back up the ridge. The second scream echoed through the darkened sky. “Come on, hoss, sounds like ole Cuthbert needs some help. Zevodious’s hell-boys are getting ready to have themselves some fun tonight.”

Amazon Purchase Link:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N34E83T

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