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N Gray Books

Salvation: A Dark Urban Fantasy (Blaire Thorne Book 4)

Salvation: A Dark Urban Fantasy (Blaire Thorne Book 4)

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My past reveals the consequences of my future…

Ralph and I investigate the disappearances of children when the call I've been dreading all these years finally happens. Scout is in grave danger. As much as I don't want to admit it, the only way Scout can survive this is if she and Mason leave Sterling Meadow forever. Through tears of anger and a strong will to survive, I pack their bags and, with a heavy heart, send them away.

Now I have the time to focus on the man who ruined my life and exact revenge on him.

Allow me to take you back to the day everything changes, so I can fight in my future—a future where all is revealed, and the consequences of my actions threaten to change everything.

Salvation is a dark adult urban fantasy with a hint of romance.

Fans of True Blood will be transported into a new world where nothing is as it seems.

Reader discretion is advised, recommended ages 17+ due to language and sexual content.

Heat level (3 out of 5):🌶️🌶️🌶️

If you enjoy reading books from Ilona Andrews, Bella Forrest, Laurell K. Hamilton, K.F. Breene, J.R. Ward, or Shannon Mayer, you won't be able to put down the highly addictive Blaire Thorne Series.

 

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Enjoy!

N Gray FAQ

Refunds?

I currently offer chapter 1 to read and the short stories are for free. Therefore you should have a good idea whether you like my writing style or a particular series or not.

Because of this, I have a no refund policy.

Of course, if there’s a problem with the file, such as a glitch has occurred when you tried to download it from the special link, I will definitely send you another new link for the book. Or if you accidentally added the same book to the ‘cart’ more than once and paid for it, I’ll give you a store credit to buy another item from N Gray Books.

If you have any questions you can contact us at info@ngraybooks.com

Gift cards are non-refundable and cannot be exchanged for cash in part or full.

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We are not responsible if a Gift card is lost, stolen or deleted and no replacement will be provided in these circumstances.

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All items on the shop are ebooks only, available as MOBI (for Kindles and its apps), and EPUB (for all other eReaders and the other store apps, such as Nook, Kobo, Google Play and Apple Books).

In future I’m hoping to get some audiobooks out.

With regards to paperbacks, I live in South Africa and shipping fees would hurt your wallet beyond repair. But, I'll be adding paperback to the catalogue soon. Sign up for the latest news. 

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Chapter 1I drove while Ralph leafed through documents in one of his yellow folders. I was sure he bought them in bulk, because he always had at least ten on hand. He seemed to collect them like others collected stamps. I giggled to myself imagining him hunched over his worktable, separating them by the different shades of yellow. He kept paging forward then backward then forward again, flapping loose pages then placing them back in the folder.

“What are you looking for?” I asked with irritation laced in my voice.

“I just want to make sure we have the right guy. That’s all.”

I sighed. “It’s a vampire, Ralph. I can feel it in my bones. Now stop paging through that damn folder. You’re messing with my Zen.”

“Pfft, whatever!”

“We’re here anyway, so shove it somewhere out of sight.”

We arrived at Lake Hills Institute for Children. The sinister-looking building was three and a half stories high; the half was for the creepy attic at the top with broken crescent windows that looked like a mouth missing some teeth. The building was once white, about a hundred years ago. Now it was grey with some areas near the ground rotting away with black mold. I wouldn’t want to be near the place when it crumbled to the ground, but I felt sorry for the kids who wouldn’t grow up. The only parking bays taken were cars that belonged to the medical staff, which weren’t that many. I parked beside an old sun-kissed box BMW near the entrance.

A gust of wind blew through the trees, and a chime sounded from somewhere inside the institute. A cold shiver ran down my spine. I stood on one spot and stared at the trees.

“Come on, princess. I’m not getting any younger.” Ralph moaned as he climbed the stairs to the entrance.

An eerie feeling washed over me. I ran my fingers over the gun in my shoulder holster. Touching the cool metal was soothing and eased my fight-or-flight instinct. Now I was ready. Well, kind of.

“Someone’s out there.” I rubbed my arms and headed toward him.

“You know what to do if the boogeyman jumps out of the forest?” He chuckled.

“Yeah, I’ll use you as a shield as I test drive our new bullets.”

Ralph continued chuckling as he ascended the steps.

“Glad I’m still amusing.” I elbowed him in his side.

“Come, partner. Your favorite doc waits.” He wrapped his meaty arm around my shoulders and dragged me to the front door.

I groaned as we reached the entrance. The smell of urine assaulted my nose first, stealing my breath. I stopped breathing to avoid the stench. On the other side of the locked metal gate, a naked young boy sat on the floor busy mixing a yellow substance into the dirt that had gathered in the corner.

I widened my eyes at Ralph.

“Please, Blaire, just don’t piss off the doctor again,” he chastised me even before I could say anything.

“Well, well, well. Look what the cat dragged in,” the nurse chimed from behind her glass cage.

“Nurse … whatever your name is, can you not see the little boy urgently needs your help?” I pointed to the dirty, naked child.

“Not my duty, monster killer.” The nurse folded her arms and pursed her lips.

“It’s not only monsters I kill.” I glared at her then added quickly, “Is the doctor in? He’s expecting us.” I shot her my best fake smile.

“Wait here. Let me check.” She rose from her torn chair and exited the glass cage, disappearing somewhere in the institute.

“I fucking hate this place.” I felt I needed a hot bath and to scrub my skin with a body brush until I bled.

“What did I just say?” Ralph grumbled.
Shrugging, I added, “I didn’t piss off the doctor.”

“No, but that nurse will tell him and piss him off all the same.”

“They hired us, Ralph. They should be glad we’re even here.”

“Let me do the talking, please.” His shoulders sagged, and he gave me his best blue puppy-dog eyes.

“Fine. But only because you looked so cute when you asked, and you said the magic word.” I grinned while he groaned. He hated it when I called him cute, but it’s hard to resist his charm.

On the right-hand side of the entrance hung a plaque with a large picture frame. It read that the school had opened in 1889 and housed talented children. I wasn’t sure if they meant the kids had some form of disability or were mystical or magical. But the kid on the floor didn’t seem the latter. Twenty staff members adorned the photo, all dressed in white, comprising of nurses, orderlies, and the man in the middle who ran the place—Curtis Hilling. Underneath the frame hung more plaques stating which of the Hilling sons had taken over and from which year. Arthur took over from his father in 1901. Isaac ran the place from 1946, Charles from 1983, and, lastly, Lu from 1999.

The buzzer sounded, and the gate clicked open.

“Dr. Hilling can see you now. Go straight to his office. If you don’t remember where it is, just walk down the hallway. You can’t miss it. It has his name on his door, if you aren’t sure. If you can’t read, just look inside the office. He’s sitting at his desk.”

Ralph pushed open the gate.

I followed him and closed the gate behind me. I started walking toward the door where the nurse sat in her little glass safety office, but Ralph pulled me away to walk beside him. I would not do anything that hurt too much. I was just going to tell the nurse we remembered where the doctor’s office was. Maybe slap her. Instead, I stared at her with murderous intent.

The smell of feces wafted in the air as we passed the boy. He was now pushing brown mushy stuff through circles of yellow mud.

I covered my mouth with both hands and gagged—yuck.

A cockroach scurried past me and met up with its buddies on the other side of the corridor. I shuddered. This place was not sanitary and should definitely not be housing any children, no matter their age. I didn’t think it was safe for adults, unless a cleaning crew made the place sparkle, which I doubted. The institute had years and years of grime stuck everywhere that needed to be burned, not just cleaned. And I would gladly light the match.

As we approached the doctor’s office, one side of the corridor wall displayed brown finger marks about hip high in a wavy pattern, as if the child had run dirty fingers against the wall as he or she went along. I hoped it was mud. I wasn’t confident it was and wouldn’t stick my tongue there to test it either.

Ralph entered the office first to find Dr. Lu Hilling sitting behind his desk, as the nurse had said. He ignored us until Ralph cleared his throat.

Dr. Hilling glanced up; for a moment he just stared as if he didn’t recognize us, then eventually, he smiled, rising from his chair. “Ralph, Blaire. So good to see you again. Please, won’t you come in?” He walked to a trolley and picked up a jug. “Can I offer you something to drink?”

“No, thank you, Dr. Hilling,” I said, eyeing the suspicious liquid.

“I’m good,” Ralph replied quickly.

I was sure he would rather lick the wall than drink what Dr. Hilling offered us in that jug.

“Are you sure?” Dr. Hilling confirmed, pouring the liquid half-way into a glass then another glass. “The water comes fresh from our well.” He picked up both glasses and placed them on his table, each opposite a chair. “Please sit.”

We sat, and I eyed the brown-yellow substance. Water my ass.

“Thank you for coming. Hopefully, it won’t be a waste of your time again.” Dr. Hilling sat in his soft, comfortable chair while we sat on hard wooden ones.

“How old is the child who went missing this time?” I asked, wanting to get straight to the reason why we were there. Again.

Ralph widened his eyes at me. Apparently, I forgot I couldn’t speak to the doctor.

I shrugged.

Dr. Hilling cleared his throat. “Eight.” He leaned back in his chair, threading his fingers and placing them on his large stomach.

“When was she taken?” Ralph asked.

“Sometime last night.”

“Does anyone check on the kids during the night?” I asked, ignoring Ralph’s fierce glare.

“Only after lights out, thereafter, once again after five hours.”

“So—”

Ralph kicked my shin.

I bit my bottom lip, trying to ignore the sharp pain shooting up my shin. This was partner wars, and he just threw the first kick. I ignored him like any good partner would and continued my questioning. “All these children you look after, are they only supervised when somebody is around?”

Dr. Hilling nodded, the hair framing his face showing signs of grey. His deep-set brown eyes seeming to burn a hole into my forehead. If he had knives, I was sure he would throw them at me. He bounced upright in his chair and hit his hands on the desk, making me flinch. The yellow water rippled in the glasses.

“With the limited resources they give us, we care for these children to the best of our abilities, Miss Thorne. Without us, where would they go? And we rely heavily on donations ever since the government stopped funding us.” He rose, towering over us. Shadows played on his face, leaving him with sinister features. “Let me take you to the room from which they took her. Perhaps you can pick up on clues we may have missed.”

Ralph stood. “That would be great.”

Dr. Hilling exited his office with us following. The good doctor was around my height and had a round, supple ass that bounced with each step. From the front, his hair was short and neat; from the back, a tight ponytail secured the bottom half of his hair. His shoulders were as broad as mine, while his front showed signs of small round breasts where, I assumed, he would strap them close to his body.

Dr. Lu Hilling, as we had suspected the first time we had visited, was actually Louise Hilling—born female. We didn’t mind what our client’s sexual orientation was; the job always came first. It was, however, how he performed his job that made us suspicious.
Ralph elbowed me, I lost my footing and crashed onto the first step, knocking my shin. I was sure it would leave a bruise, especially since this was the second time I had hurt myself. I cried out in pain.

“Are you all right?” Dr. Hilling asked, bending to help me up.

I waved him away. “I’m fine, thank you. Just knocked my leg. Perhaps take Ralph up while I rest on the steps?”

“Fine. Come, Ralph.”

I watched Ralph and Dr. Hilling disappear up the stairs, then I ran back to his office. I had about a minute. I rifled through the papers on his desk and opened the drawers to find invoices and folders for food orders and purchases. On the right was a metal filing cabinet I hadn’t tried yet. I opened the bottom drawer first and found bank statements. What caught my attention was the wire transfers from the institute into Dr. Hilling’s personal bank account.

Voices echoed down the hallway; they were on their way back. I rose from his chair and ran to the stairs as quietly as my shoes would allow. I sat on the step as I saw Ralph.

He winked.

“See anything interesting?” I asked, steadying my breath.

“Nope, but I suggested we look around outside. Last time, they cut our visit short, but today, we have all the time in the world.” Ralph beamed at me as he walked past.

Dr. Hilling offered me his hand. When I grabbed it, I felt a hint of magic behind his grip; hot pinpricks fluttered across my palm.

I’d had enough practice not to show signs I held any power nor did I reveal I could register power. It’s safer that way for me and anyone who knew me.

Dr. Hilling blinked, and, for the first time, I noticed a nictitating membrane; a transparent third eyelid moved across each eye, similar to that of a crocodile or lizard. He was not even human. How had I not seen that coming?

I revealed nothing as I stood and followed Dr. Hilling and Ralph outside.

“As I’ve said before, this isn’t the first child to have gone missing, Miss Thorne. This vile monster has taken five of our precious children already.”

I nodded in disgust. “We will catch them, Dr. Hilling. Whoever the monster is will pay for what they have done.”

Once outside, I saw a handful of kids skipping rope, another drawing with chalk on the cement, and one girl laying under a tree. I did a double take at the girl under the tree. “Is she clothed?” I asked, shocked they would allow a young girl to be naked outside. Older men worked here. I said a silent prayer, asking that they weren’t hurting any other kids.

“There are”—Dr. Hilling cleared his throat—“some who do not listen to us.” He waved over an orderly. “Please arrange for Miss Bayle to be dressed, and give her Diazepam if she resists you.”

“Do you medicate them often, Dr. Hilling?”

“I fail to see how your questions are relevant to the case at hand, Miss Thorne. You need to find the beast who’s kidnapping my children and doing who knows what with them, not question how I run my facility.”

Sucking in air and patience, I responded as calmly as I could. “I need to understand what’s happening at your institute, Dr. Hilling. Maybe these children are choosing to leave your institution at their own free will, or, as you suggest, someone’s stealing them from right under your nose. I only ask these questions so we know exactly what is happening here. And, if it is a monster taking the children, we need to stop them sooner rather than later.”

Dr. Hilling blinked, and again, I saw that third membrane slide across each eye, and he fidgeted with his sleeve.

Ralph cleared his throat, slicing through the uncomfortable silence. “I suggest we widen our search and go farther into the forest. Is that gate always open?” He pointed to a weathered gate that had seen better days. Even if it was always locked, monsters could break it with a sneeze. Or jump over it. Some monsters could fly, no matter the size of the lock or gate.

“No. It’s supposed to be locked,” Dr. Hilling said, rushing in the gate's direction.

The lock was broken and laying on the ground. I guess someone sneezed after all.

“You stay here, Dr. Hilling. Ralph and I will be back. And please take all the kids inside. It’s not safe for anyone to be outside until we catch this monster.” I pushed passed him with Ralph behind me.

Dr. Hilling didn’t answer me. Instead, he turned and ushered the kids inside like a good doctor following orders.


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