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The Stag and the Moon - First few Chapters.

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Here is the first two chapters for you to enjoy. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment! The full book is out now on Amazon Kindle.

Kore had everything going for him. He’d just graduated from the University of California Berkeley and he and his two best childhood friends Brianna and Keira are all settling back into their hometown of San Francisco. Though he’d had his fair share of pain, orphaned only to see his adoptive parents tragically killed in a California wildfire, he was looking forward to a relaxing summer and the start of medical school at UCSF that fall.


A chance encounter at a shelter downtown kicks off a series of odd visions and events culminating in Kore being attacked by strange beasts in the Presidio. A beautiful but strange woman comes to Kore’s aide, but her cryptic message only deepens the mystery of what is truly happening to him. As he nears his twenty third birthday, a culmination of events leads him to meet the Goddess Artemis herself and to learn the truth about his birth and his true feminine nature. Everything he thought he knew about himself, his past and his future and the world around changes and his true female form is shown.


Soon Kore, Keira and Brianna are plunged in the very real world of gods and monsters and their very souls are threatened. It is Kore who must find the courage and strength to save her friends and the Order of Artemis from the legion of monsters bent on destroying them.


This is the first book of the Kore Chronicles.


The Stag and the Moon


Prologue


“Damn it Geni, how could I have been so stupid!” she exclaimed, slamming her fists into her legs.


The sudden force made the lights of the temple pulse brightly as she continued to pace the room.


A tear ran down Iphigenia’s check as she watched her unsettled friend.


“Worshipful Grand Master, there must be a way to solve this,” she responded hopefully. “A ritual, an enchantment… I’m sure I can find something in our ancient texts. I haven’t searched them all.”


“I think the only texts you haven’t searched are the cookbooks in the pantry,” Marties replied, pacing before the alter. “I do not believe there is a way to reverse this particular curse and I can already feel the evil of the Lamia growing in my womb.”


“I have failed you, Worshipful Master. Forgive me please,” she whined, her despair evident.


There was silence as the two women contemplated her fate.


Marties, “Marty” as she was called outside of the temple, was unfortunately correct; there was indeed no way to stop this treacherous curse that would ultimately claim her life. The irony of it, the Grand Master of the temple of Artemis, dying by childbirth, was not lost on her either.


Though she had devoted her life to the ways of the Goddess and had never been touched by a man, she would now perish giving birth, and to a Lamia no less. Or perhaps an empousa, she couldn’t be sure. She could just picture the look on her enemy’s face. That Lamia bitch must be thinking she had gotten the better of Marties. How delicious she must think the game had gotten; the Grand Master siring a Lamia!


“The Gods would have their revenge for this,” she muttered to herself angrily as she paced the floor. “I’ll sooner cut it out of my womb then to allow another of those foul creatures to walk the earth.”


Geni watched her best friend traverse the stone floor in front of her, contemplating the situation for a several more minutes before the priestess broke the silence.


“Perhaps there is a way, Worshipful Master, to at least subvert the curse, undermine it for the better.”


Marties, snapped from her thoughts to look at her old friend.


“I am certainly open for any ideas you might have.”


“Well, I know…I mean, I understand, there is no way to end the curse. But I believe we can alter it so that the outcome is at least…better.”


“Say more.”


“The fates have bestowed an unfair and unjust end upon you. While we may not be able to stop your demise, we may be able save your child from their intention, and, perhaps, twist the curse into becoming a plague upon the lamiai.”


“I’ve told you; I will take my own life before I bring another Lamia into this world!”


“I understand Grand Master, but what I am suggesting is that you bring forth an heir to your powers, not a monster to haunt the world.”


Geni stepped to the Grand Master and took her hands into her own then searched her eyes.


“We will channel all of you and all of your being into the child, perverting the curse and giving you a child blessed by the gods. She will come forth and take your place. She will be the scourge of the Lamia, not their compatriot. Your sacrifice will be their curse.”


Marties stood in front of her old friend and contemplated what she had just said.


“You are certain this course could work?”


“I am, most Worshipful Grand Master. Marty, we can see to it that we bring love into this world,” Geni replied bowing her head in deference.


“Then this is what we shall do,” she smiled, cupping Iphigenia’s face in her palm.


The months took their toll on Marty as her belly grew and her time on earth drew short. Many preparations were made, and many prayers and sacrifices given, so that the child in her womb would be born human. After only a few months, Marty could feel their work had had its desired effect; the baby, a girl, was no longer a part of the curse. With each new day she grew to love her baby even more and continued to channel her warmth and love into the girl.


It was nearing the end of the final trimester when Marty and Geni made their final arrangements. The temple was prepared for the birth, Geni as midwife. Over this period, the two had found and readied several items, talismans and totems, to be blessed for the child and for their one rather unorthodox protective measure.


“She will be hunted if I don’t give her this blessing Geni.”


“I understand, but how can she be raised as a boy? How can she not grow knowing her own nature? Won’t that create its own problems?” asked Geni.


“It may,” Marty replied contemplating the plan.


She reached down and gently stroked her enormous belly.


“I can already feel it, she will be too powerful for them not to find her. She will be in danger, and if I leave her with you, you will be in mortal danger as well. As you are, they will leave you alone. If you harbor Kore, they will send everything they have to destroy her and you.”


“But if she is…disguised, as you say, surely she would be safer with me then some foster parents.”


“I should think they would be proper adoptive parents, wouldn’t they be?” she asked earnestly.


“Fine. No matter. My point is still that I am infinitely stronger than some tech couple up in Marin. I will look after her and I will teach her the ways of the Order, so she is ready the day she turns old enough to claim her birthright.”


Marty took Geni’s hand across the table, genuine love and affection evident in her touch. Her voice was calm and soft.


“Geni. Penthesilea knows I’m going to have a baby and she will send her hounds out to find it. Likely, the first place they will look is wherever you are.”


“But I can watch over her and protect her!”


“You can do both. But not as her adopted mother. It is too dangerous for you two to be together.”


Geni’s eyes welled with tears.


“Why are you crying my love?”


“How can I be worthy of your memory if I can’t even protect your child?”


“Oh, Geni,” she said reaching across the small table to wipe away a streak of tear from her lover’s face. “You will protect her, and you will watch over her. I know that. I would never deprive you of that honor just as you wouldn’t do that to me.”


Geni smiled and sniffled, wiping her other cheek.


“But, if I agree to let you watch over her, you must promise me upon the alter of Artemis that you will not so much as speak or hint to Kore what she is or the world she has been born into until it is time for her to assume her proper place. Every notion she has of what her reality actually is will tear away at the façade of her protection, weakening it until the pack of monsters are able to sense her. For her own safety and for yours, swear to me you will not breath a word to her until her twenty-third birthday.”


Geni’s head was down as she pretended to scrutinize a small imperfection on the table in front of her, picking at it with her fingernail. Marty squeezed her hand gently, getting her attention.


“Swear it to me, Iphigenia,” her voice full of purpose.


“Alright! I swear it to you upon the alter of Artemis herself. I will protect this child even if I have to hide from her or lie to her for twenty-three years.”


“Thank you,” she whispered, still holding Geni’s hand tenderly. “I love you.”


“I love you too,” she replied, another tear racing down her cheek.


*****


While neither would have preferred to use the temple as a makeshift delivery room, there really was no other place to ensure the rites and rituals would work other then the temple. And without the rituals, their enemies would find the baby before the child could be brought home to safety.

Besides, not many obstetrics departments would be prepared to receive the Goddesses of old.


If her daydreams were fantasies that the curse would somehow never come to pass, these last 24 hours relieved her of that illusion. She could feel her body slowly draining of life, replaced by both labor pains and a fierce malaise that seem to reside in her chest, radiating outward threating to collapse her resolve.


As the contractions would ease, she would focus what little energy she had left into sending her magic to the little one still in her womb. As such, it left the work of calling upon the Goddesses to Iphagenia.


The two managed to not only bring baby Kore forth, but to also bring the spirits of the Triformis: Hecate, Selene and Artemis. They were pleasantly surprised to see the soft silhouette of Aphrodite standing with the three as well.


“My children,” Artemis spoke softly, “We have come, at your behest, to give you our blessing. We could ask for no finer acolytes than the two who lead this temple. It will be our pleasure to aid you in your time of need.”


Marty, cradling her newborn girl, lifted her weary eyes to the visions. Her sallow, pale face a haunting reminder of her own beauty.


“I give you my offering, oh Devine ones, my Kore, that you will receive my offer and bestow upon her your blessing. As I pass from this earth, may she take up our mantle and serve you, with your grace conferred upon her.”


Aphrodite, sadness evident on her face, came forward and spoke.


“I could not stand idle whilst this travesty befell such a devoted follower. My heart breaks for you, my child. While I cannot give this girl the moon, magic or mastery of the hunt, I can assure you that none shall ever surpass her beauty or capacity for beauty and love.”


With a gentle touch of her finger to the girl’s head, the Goddess bestowed upon her eternal beauty. The attractive child became resplendent in her mother’s arms, an angelic sparkle in her now sea foam green eyes.


She then turned her attention to a small table of items next to Marties and blessed the totems and other objects she found there.


Next Hecate, somber and quiet, bent down and touched the child.


“I give you your magic my princess. You shall be stronger than any before you. May you wield it wisely as your mother before you. Make this world a better place for those you find in it. Even those who would evoke my name.”


As Hecate rose to bless the objects on the table, Selene knelt down and touched the child. A bright white light emblematic of the moon itself radiated from the touch.


“I grant you sight and the light of the moon to guide you always. Darkness, as light, shall be your friend.”


Selene arose, blessing the items before taking her place next to her cousins. Before Artemis could speak, a weak voice broke from Marties’s lips.


“Now, in exchange for my life, I humbly request one last blessing upon my beloved Kore, a hunter’s stealth. I pray she be invisible to the world until she is of age to receive her powers and take her rightful place in the Order.”


Artemis’s shimmering image leaned forward and placed her hand upon the baby’s chest, a golden glow radiating from her hand. Quickly the baby morphed slightly. Gone were the gorgeous eyes gifted her by Aphrodite, both turning to muddy brown, her good looks dulled to a more average appearance. More particularly, she appeared to become a boy, a small penis appearing between her legs.


“There now my child, she is protected until it is time for her to accept her powers and take her true form. None shall see her for what she is, of this you have my word. And for your devotion and love, I grant her strength, stamina and health. No disease shall touch her while she is my follower.”


Artemis stood back up and went to the small table next to Marty. She placed her finger on a small amulet, muttering a blessing before continuing on to bless the remaining items and totems, as the other Goddesses had before her. She then took her place by the other deities.


“It is time my child. Unfortunately, we cannot interfere with the fates. The price of the curse must be paid.”


A tear ran down Marty’s face as she handed Kore to Geni’s outstretched arms. With the last of her strength, she slowly pulled the small blanket back around her daughter’s little body as Geni held her, then said her goodbye.


She touched her hands to her lips and transferred her kiss to the little one’s forehead.


“I will always love you my little one. I will be watching from the heavens at the wondrous woman you become,” she whispered, her mouth quivering.


Marties turned to the Goddesses.


“I am ready,” she stated, fully, without reservation.


She lay back, spent, and closed her eyes for the final time. Geni held the baby close as she watched her dearest friend evaporate along with the four Goddesses into a soft glow of light leaving the temple empty and quiet but for the soft cooing of a little baby boy.



Chapter 1


22 years later


“What are you guys up to tonight, Bri?” Kore asked.


He was laying across his bed staring out at the trees in the Presidio in his new apartment. He’d only been in the place a few days since moving across the bay from Berkeley.


“After practice, I’m coming into the city and gonna catch up with Keira and see about some dim sum. Want to come?”


Brianna Grosvenor and Keira Xiu were Kore’s best friends since elementary school and like him, had decided to stay in the Bay Area after graduation. Keira had accepted a job with a financial technology or “FinTech” company, as it was known in the business, downtown after she finished her senior year at Stanford. She had interned with the young company three years prior, and sensing an opportunity, had managed to become “fulltime” while still getting her degree. It was a smart move, as they had gone from a small startup to almost a “unicorn”, Silicon Valley lingo for a company worth a billion dollars or more.


Brianna was preparing for the summer Olympics only a year away. She had secured her spot on the US Archery team by winning the World Championship while still a senior at the University of California, Berkeley. Kore was her biggest fan and managed to come to all of her tournaments at Cal to cheer her on, a feat made easier since he was her roommate their last two years.


The three were like sisters, despite the fact Kore was a boy.


“Yeah, that sounds good. Where you want to meet?”


“The place is in the Outer Richmond, on Balboa. I’ll send you the address.”


“Great, what time?”


“Keira said seven, does that work for you?”


He pulled the phone from his ear and glanced at the time. 6:15PM


“Yeah, that’s perfect. See ya then,” he finished and tapped the red button to end the call.


He sat up and lifted himself off the bed. He was just two inches short of six feet, long and lean, so it only took him two strides to cross the room to his closet. He pulled off his t-shirt and reached for a button-down shirt, so he could look at least presentable in public. His two best friends had once chastised him in high school for coming out in sweatpants and a hoodie and he vowed never to look too scruffy in front of them again. In fact, as he matured, he found he preferred to look attractive.


As he pulled the shirt off the hanger, he hazarded a glance at the full-length mirror on the back of his bedroom door. Admiring his frame, he was pleased he had managed to make it out of Cal without putting on the customary fifteen pounds, not that he had had to do much to keep his lean form. He tried to eat well but he ate and drank whatever he wanted and never seemed to gain weight. In fact, he never even seemed to get sick for that matter.


Must have good genes,” he thought to himself as he took in his reflection. “Wherever they came from.”


He turned slightly, flexing his abs as he did in a sad show of narcissism. They were his only good features in his otherwise spindly male body.


It was at that moment he noticed the long blonde hair on his head.


Kore gasped, doing a double take as his hand shot to his head. As soon has his fingers touched the golden locks they were gone. Confused, he ran his fingers through his short brown hair, pulling at it as though it might come away from his head.


He shook his head with a nervous chuckle and gave himself a weird look in the mirror like he might be becoming delusional. Never a great sign but he was confident that wasn’t the case.


******


The trio left the dim sum restaurant just as it was closing. As they stepped out on to Balboa, the infamous cold marine fog of San Francisco swept through them on a steady breeze. Fog was typical for the Outer Richmond district, especially in the summer months, but Kore thought it was even thicker than normal.


“OK, if I crash at your place tonight Kore? I don’t feel like going all the way back to Berkeley tonight,” begged Brianna.


“Of course. When are you moving into the city?”


“I’m looking for an apartment, but it’s almost impossible with rent the way it is. Might be easier to stay across the bay and practice at Cal.”


“I’m getting a ride share guys you want to join me?”


“Nah, thanks though Keira, I think we’re gonna walk,” replied Kore


“Walk?! It’s like five miles back to your place!” responded Brianna.


“Well, well, listen to the Olympic athlete complaining about a little stroll. Besides, five miles would get us almost all the way downtown. I walked here, it’s like a mile, if that. We’ll be home in 15 minutes tops.”


“Fine, I’ll walk,” she relented before turning to Keira. “So, we’re heading this way, babe. See you this weekend!” she beamed giving her friend a hug.


“Yeah, for sure,” Keira responded, breaking off the hug to give another to Kore. “Get home safe!”


“You too,” the duo chimed in unison before turning toward Kore’s apartment.


Keira pulled out her phone and tapped on the ride share app. Within moments she had a schedule ride.


Nine minutes” she thought. “Ugh. Remind me not to come so far out next time,” she murmured to herself.


The lights of the dim sum place went out behind her and she heard the front door lock as she waited, scrolling through her phone.


Bang.


A loud clanging came from an alley across the street that got her attention. Keira lifted her head from her phone and looked toward the backstreet. She thought she could make out voices, but she couldn’t see down the length of the alley from her current vantage point.


She looked down Balboa in each direction. The street was dead, most of the businesses down the block had closed hours earlier.


Keira heard a muffled scream, terror in the voice, and a wave of anxiety rose within her, her stomach tightening. She had read about the bystander effect and had vowed that she would never be one to ignore a person in need of help, so she forced herself to cross the street, moving toward the opening to the alleyway.


She peered down the length of the alley but was confused when she saw nothing. Had she imagined the scream? Was it a tv from one of the apartments nearby playing a trick on her?


Clutching her phone in one hand, she leaned her head forward listening. It did not occur to her, nor did she notice that she had leaned just far enough forward to break the edge of the invisible plane that began the entrance of the alley. Once her ears cleared the unseen barrier, she could clearly hear the struggle of an attack coming from behind a large dumpster. She cautiously walked along one wall until she could just make out the form of one body over top another. A vile slurping sound found her ears as she watched the figure on top pulse slightly up and down rhythmically.


Keira yelped in fright and looked down at her phone illuminating her face. As her trembling fingers tried in vain to rid the screen of the ride sharing app so she could get to the phone keypad she glanced back up.


A woman stood up above the body and turned to her. Keira couldn’t be certain in this light, but the woman’s face seemed to have a dark liquid smeared around her mouth and her eyes glowed.


True panic gripped the young woman now, her adrenaline-soaked brain not fully processing the best course of action.


“Don’t come any closer,” she yelled loudly at the woman. “I’ll scream!”


“Go ahead,” the deep voice came. “No one will hear you.”


“I’m calling the police!” she cried out, as she turned to run.


Something hard slammed her into the brick wall guarding the alleyway and her head hit with a stunning force. She instantly saw stars and her ears began to ring loudly. She tried to stay on her feet but her first step felt like she was in quicksand. She put her back to the wall to steady herself and began to slide down it into a sitting position. She looked up and in her momentary haze, saw a pair of women’s legs in front of her. Just poking out from below the woman’s short skirt was some sort of tattoo, the body of a serpent.


Keira looked up to see the woman’s glowing eyes and before she could scream the world went black.


When she awoke, she was slumped to her side, still leaning against the wall of the alley. She was very disoriented, and pain seemed to radiate down the left half of her head and neck. She felt nauseous and cold.


She pushed off from the ground and managed to sit up. She bent her knee and brought her right foot toward her to try to push up off the ground but before she could, she winced in pain. A dagger like stinging sensation shot through her right thigh almost at her crotch. In a panic she pulled back her skirt and saw the carnage that were her tights. A massive section of the fabric had been torn away and two fresh wounds streaked blood down her thigh, a little blood pooling on the asphalt pavement.


“J-JESUS!” she stammered, startled at the sight. “Help!” she cried out slapping her hand on top of the wounds to stop the bleeding. “Someone help!”


The alleyway was empty.


She thought to scream again but found her phone on the ground next to her.


The paramedics found Keira from where she had called them, passed out. Within twenty minutes she was in the UCSF medical center at Parnassus emergency room. The doctors quickly accessed her and as the wound on her thigh was temporarily taken care of, they tended to what they assumed was her head wound. Clearly there was a blow to the left side of the head strong enough to open a gash. The ER team ordered a cat scan and sent her off to radiology.


Keira awoke sometime in the middle of the night. Strangely, she was wide awake, albeit fully disoriented, the moment she opened her eyes. She looked around taking in the surroundings. IV tube leading from her arm to an IV bag over her right shoulder. Monitors. Oxygen outlets in the wall. Hospital bed. It was clear now where she had woken but she couldn’t remember the circumstances.


She did know she was hungry. Or was it thirsty? She couldn’t tell.


No matter. She had a strong urge and she needed to find something to satisfy her.


She pulled out the IV needle carefully, knowing it could cause damage if she were careless about it. She gingerly peeled back the medical tape holding the IV against her arm and then cautiously removed the needle, placing the tape firmly back against the skin at the puncture site before smoothing out the adhesive. A small dot of blood blossomed under the tape but didn’t threaten to leak out.


Satisfied, she swung her legs over the side of the bed and hopped to her feet. Immediately, her head began to swim as a dizziness took over her. She shook her head to try to clear the fog, but her vision seemed to tunnel. She could hear the pounding of her heart in her ears and her hunger seemed to grow.


She didn’t know what she should be searching for, but she felt she had to go look…for something.


She swung open the door to her room and reconnoitered. The nurse’s station was perhaps thirty feet to her left, so she turned right toward the end of the hall. She crept down the corridor close to the wall on the right, each footstep sounding like a drum strike in her uneasy head.


She licked her dry lips.


So thirsty


Soon she came to the end of the hall and the fire exit. She turned to her left and saw another patient’s room, a hospital chart sitting in a holder by the door suggesting there was an occupant in the room. She crossed the hall and pushed open the door.


She let the door close behind her and froze, listening. The room was silent save for the pounding of her heart in her own ears. She blinked trying to get her vision back.


Keira crept further into the room and to the hospital bed in the center and its lone resident. Under the dull light of the emergency alert button, she could make out the face of the sleeping man.


She smiled.


So hungry.


Her vision focused a bit now that she had a purpose. She gently pulled the sheets from the side of the bed and pulled them back over the man, exposing his hospital gown and the bare legs beneath. She pulled back the gown and then pulled the man’s leg toward her giving her room. She lowered her head close to his groin and somehow bit into the man’s thigh with sharp teeth now protruding from her jaw.


After a few quick gulps the man stirred awake and moaned in pain. Keira’s left hand clamped down on his mouth as she continued to feed. He thrashed and tried to struggle free, but she held him down with some newfound supernatural strength. Before long, the man lost consciousness and he stopped struggling. Keira opened her eyes and saw a faint glow coming from the man and she understood it was something not physical but rather essential; it shone faintly as she sucked it in.


She took a final long drink, swallowing the crimson liquid. A heat arose in her loin and spread through her core; an orgasm like none she’d had before. She exhaled deeply, more of a moan really, letting it wash over her for some moments before returning to her prey and licking the wound on his leg. The holes seemed to close on their own and she used her hand to wipe away any blood still lingering around the site.


Satiated, her faculties seemed to return to her, and she fought the urge to tear into his flesh for a proper meal. That would certainly be difficult to hide. As it was, she needed to cover her tracks.


Despite the volume of blood, none seemed to have gotten on the hospital sheets or his gown. She pulled the hospital gown back down around his legs and tucked in the sheets, straightening them to hide the effects of his struggles. She pushed his head back into a normal position and headed back for the door. She was able to slip out of his room, back down the hall and into her room without detection. As she crawled back into her own bed, she smiled a wicked smile and licked her moist lips.


Sleep found her quickly, and she did not hear the trauma team’s shouts as they converged on the man coding down the hall.


*****


“I have to say, I don’t understand what I’m looking at,” the doctor noted rechecking the chart. “You did have a wound on your inner right thigh, didn’t you?”


“Oh, ah…I’m not sure doctor,” she said, pushing her hospital gown back down her leg for modesty. “I was really tired last night,” replied Keira.


“And your head, you had…” she paused checking the chart again, “contusions and abrasions on the left side of your head and a probable concussion.”


She turned Keira’s head gently to the side.


“I don’t see any signs of a contusion or an abrasion,” she proclaimed, letting go of her head and returning her gaze to the chart.

She pulled out a small pen light from her shirt pocket and shown them into Keira’s eyes one at a time watching them react. The doctor made her follow her finger looking for signs of a nystagmus of any kind but found none; her eyes moved smoothly, functioning normally.


“Ok, Ms. Xiu, I need to go consult with my superiors as something is amiss with these charts. Do you remember hitting your head though? That is what I’m most concerned about.”


“I don’t really remember much except how tired I was,” she said rubbing the side of her head where the contusion should be. “Honestly, I feel great. Not like I did when I was 12 and had a concussion.”


“Hmm. Ok,” she said thinking. “I’m inclined to let you go home, but I need you to hang tight a couple more hours so I can see how you do this morning. Nothing else is bothering you? Bright lights? Loud noises? Anything like that?”


“No, nothing.”


“Ok, well, like I said, sit tight and we’ll get you sorted out. In the meantime, do we need to call any family members? The chart says no one was contacted last night” the doctor asked.


“Oh, ah, no, I still have my phone,” she said gesturing to the table next to her, “so I’m fine.”


“Alright. I know it’s boring, but if you do have a concussion, it isn’t a great idea to watch tv or look at your phone. You can make some calls but really try hard not to start reading from your phone, ok?” she asked.


Keira nodded.


Super” she thought.


“I’ll see you soon then.”


She turned for the door.


“Thanks doctor,” Keira called after her.


Keira spent the next hour texting and emailing, not letting on what happened or where she was. When she saw the many texts and voicemails from Brianna, she quickly called her back.


“Hey, Bri, it’s me” she spoke into the phone as she pulled her hospital gown down her leg.


These things were short.


“Where have you been I was worried!”


“I know, my phone died just as I got home, and I crashed. That dim sum made me sleepy!”


“I know, right? Kore made me walk home to digest it. It was like seven miles.”


“Yeah, I don’t think it’s that far, babe. Anyway, not to worry. I gotta go to work, Ok”


“Yeah, yeah, of course. I’m just happy you’re ok,” Brianna replied sincerely.


“All good. Talk soon!” she said rubbing her head.


Keira tapped the red button ending the call. It honestly felt good that Brianna had been so worried. Perhaps one day she could finally tell the woman how she felt about her.


If only,” she thought to herself.


As she continued to wait, she began scrolling through her social media apps until she noticed an odd feeling. It was as if she could feel something was approaching her, someone more particularly. It started as a dull sensation and it grew as the presence drew nearer her. By the time the door to the room opened she could already feel the person was there. Someone different from everyone else.


As the door swung open a woman stepped into her room, her white lab coat suggesting her status as a doctor. She carried a clipboard, her medical chart Keira assumed, and paused as she examined it, the door closing behind her.


She was beautiful, sexy really, in her cream silk blouse, dark pencil skirt and matching heels. Her raven hair was neatly pulled back and her glasses gave her an aura of intellectual prowess.


But what Keira noticed the most was the raw power emanating from her. Whoever she was, Keira knew she should be afraid of her.


“Ms. Xiu,” the doctor started, approaching the bed without looking up. “I am Dr. Else Pathiné. How do you do?”


The woman closed the remaining distance to the bed, her heels clicking on the hard floor and held out her delicate hand. Keira, a bit awed by the woman, took the outstretched hand and shook it gently. A sense of calm came over her as she touched the woman’s soft skin.


“I understand you had quite an evening last night. What do you remember?”


“I…well, not very much,” Keira replied, studying the woman’s beautiful face.


“Do you remember these?” she asked, pulling off her glasses and looking deeply into Keira’s eyes.


The doctor’s eyes glowed fiercely, and Keira responded with an audible gasp.


“You! You were the one who…who attacked me,” she hissed at the woman in shock.


She knew somewhere in her mind that she should be frightened. This woman had not only attacked her but handled her like a rag doll. But somehow, she felt safe now in her presence.


“Indeed. At first, I thought you were a nuisance, someone to deal with, but then it occurred to me, you had heard my little soiree in the alley. It drew you to me. That should not have been possible. No one should be able to hear beyond the boundary I set. But you did. You have a talent for magic. I sensed it. And a mind that rivals my own. Stanford, was it?”


“How…how did you know?”


“Oh, come now, you know the answer to that. You’re all over the internet,” she paused. “Perhaps you’re not as sharp as I thought?”


A sudden sense of disappointment washed through Keira. She wanted the doctor to respect her, somehow needed her to.

“Let’s chalk that one up to the blow to the head, shall we?” she smiled sweetly.


“I…I don’t understand what’s happening. You beat the shit out of me, and I feel fine. I feel better than fine. But why? How is that possible? And…and,” she stammered, looking for the right words to ask an embarrassing question. “Did you, like…bite me last night? On the thigh? Are you some kind of like…vampire or something?”


The words sounded ridiculous coming out of her mouth, but she knew she had to ask. She kept her eyes on the doctor’s eyes, now returned to their dark brown.


Dr. Pathiné leaned over the bed and put her hand on Keira’s thigh. Very high up on Keira’s thigh in fact, dangerously close to her sex.


“Here you mean?” she asked, ever so gently rubbing the spot with her hand.


Her words seemed straight forward but they dripped with seduction.


Keira froze, a bit stunned to have this gorgeous woman’s hand on her thigh.


“Yes,” she whispered.


Dr. Pathiné removed her hand slowly, letting her nails lightly drag across Keira’s thigh. She remained leaning over the bed studying Keira.


Keira already missed the woman’s touch.


“Yes, I did as a matter of fact. That is the only way to give you my gift.”


“Oh...” Keira whispered back, still frozen in place as though doing so might prevent the doctor from pouncing.


“Keira, I decided to let you join my fold because I see a bit of myself in you,” she said reaching over to stroke Keira’s dark hair.


Her touch sent pleasant shivers down Keira’s spine.


“To begin with, you are much more intelligent than the typical girls who end up empousai, and I desperately need to not have any more imbeciles and halfwits around me. I think it is time to upgrade our ranks frankly.”


“Did you…did you say, empousai? So, you are a vampire!”


“Most certainly not! I am Lamiai,” she said with a slight hiss.


Keira watched as the woman opened her mouth and a snake like forked tongue emerged, flicking the air.


You are an empousa,” she lisped. “And I am your Queen.”


Read the rest at the Kindle Store:

https://www.amazon.com/Stag-Moon-Kore-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B09G25SPRK/ref=sr_1_4?dchild=1&keywords=stag+and+the+moon&qid=1633482647&s=digital-text&sr=1-4

Kore had everything going for him. He’d just graduated from the University of California Berkeley and he and his two best childhood friends Brianna and Keira are all settling back into their hometown of San Francisco.  Though he’d had his fair share of pain, orphaned only to see his adoptive parents tragically killed in a California wildfire, he was looking forward to a relaxing summer and the start of medical school at UCSF that fall. 

A chance encounter at a shelter downtown kicks off a series of odd visions and events culminating in Kore being attacked by strange beasts in the Presidio.  A beautiful but strange woman comes to Kore’s aide, but her cryptic message only deepens the mystery of what is truly happening to him.  As he nears his twenty third birthday, a culmination of events leads him to meet the Goddess Artemis herself and to learn the truth about his birth and his true feminine nature.  Everything he thought he knew about himself, his past and his future and the world around changes and his true female form is shown.

Soon Kore, Keira and Brianna are plunged in the very real world of gods and monsters and their very souls are threatened.  It is Kore who must find the courage and strength to save her friends and the Order of Artemis from the legion of monsters bent on destroying them.

This is the first book of the Kore Chronicles.

© 2021 AliceDuffield