Now that the first book in our Hunters series, “Seeking the Storyteller,” is out, we’ve decided to write little side stories o go with the book(s).
Summary: When Randall Fagan walked into that coffee shop, Katalynne Cove already assumed the worst. However, that worst was far more interesting than her current nine-to-five lifestyle, so she decided to take a chance. After all, how bad could hunting be?
Perfectly crafted heels slowly walked through what appeared to be an abandoned warehouse save for a few crushed boxes and small wisps of dust. Katalynne Cove pulled a business card from her pocket to, once again, make sure she had the right address.
Did this Randall Fagan actually work here?
She had assumed he was a businessman, albeit a tall, muscular one with a few scars. Whatever Randall did off the clock was neither here nor there, Katalynne knew from experience that rich men got bored easily and did some off the wall things to get a rush. Her previous employer — the handsome lawyer, Laurence Cable — got his kicks from being a womanizer. The other two in the company, Florence and Cave, were a bit more tame — skydiving and kickboxing.
The name “Fagan” was associated with wealth and success, one she recognized from her previous days of being an assistant at a law office. After a quick background check — cuz mama ain’t raise no fool, as they say — she discovered that Randall had been working for his father’s company until he left. She couldn’t find any information on why he had left, but she assumed it was because he wanted to start his own company, no longer content with being in his father’s shadow. Perhaps the Fagan’s second son, Zach, would take over once he was no longer teenaged and making trouble like most restless rich kids did.
Was this where Randall had disappeared to? It looked like a scene from “Fight Club” complete with floors and pillars of concrete. The few walls she could see were cracked and in disrepair, construction tools gathered in a far corner next to a newly installed thick, metal door. The door looked out of place compared to the rest of the building, but it was at least a sign that some form of life existed in the area.
This wasn’t exactly what she had signed up for when Randall offered something exciting and new, even if her days at Florence, Cave, and Cable had been growing more boring by the minute. The job hadn’t been nearly as fast paced as the latest episode of “Law and Order” made it look. Sure, Laurence had a tendency to tackle some big cases, but her job as his assistant was to take notes in meetings, look up information when he needed it, and bring him coffee with just the right amount of cream and sugar. Randall’s offer had come at just the right time and she had been anxious to give it a go.
At least, that’s how she had felt before.
Now that she was standing in a cold warehouse in an area of Minneapolis she never frequented she was having second thoughts. She felt lost and overdressed, her dark skin covered in pinstripes to go with her fresh, new haircut. Maybe she could still go back to the office and politely beg for her job back. Ugh, she was sure Laurence would love that. Besides being a big named lawyer the man was a certified flirt, always taking time out of his day to comment about her shapely legs or the way her clothes curved around her figure.
Katalynne sighed. She must’ve been desperate if she was thinking of returning to Laurence’s bedroom offers. Clearly, this was what it felt like to be inside the bottom of the barrel.
Katalynne blinked and turned around, her eyes widening when she saw a blond haired man standing behind her. Crap, she really should’ve stayed at the office. There had never been a gun pointed at her in the office. Katalynne slowly raised her hands into the air and took a nervous step back, “Whoa whoa, I’m not here to-”
“How did you find this place?” The man asked, eyes a hard shade of blue as he kept the gun trained on her.
“I-I was just looking for-”
“Goddamnit Alix! Put the gun down!”
And there he was. Randall Fagan. Dressed in a ratty tank top and dusty jeans as he stepped out of the backroom to walk up to Alix.
“Who is this woman?” Alix asked.
“The secretary I told you about. Remember?”
The blond, Alix, rolled his eyes and tucked his gun into the back of his pants, “You really need to tell me when you’re inviting bed partners here. Though this isn’t the best place, not until we finish furnishing it and-”
“Bed partner?” Katalynne frowned, “I’m not here to sleep with Mr. Randall Fagan. I’m here for a job.” She thought she was, but now she was two seconds away from going back to the not so subtle advances of Laurence Cable. Being held at gunpoint was one thing, but being reduced to a bed partner was simply uncalled for.
“Randall?” Fagan waved that away quickly with his hand, clearly disturbed by the use of his first name, “Just call me Fagan.”
“Can we get back to this sudden job thing, please?” Alix glared up at Fagan and pointed a finger at Katalynne. “Is she becoming a Hunter?”
“A what? Like a deer hunter?”
“Yes, Alix. I’m hiring her,” Fagan said, ignoring the comment from Katalynne. “And no, not as a Hunter.”
“You still haven’t explained what-”
Alix interrupted her before she could finish her sentence. “Then what are you hiring her as? A set of legs?”
Fagan raised an eyebrow before taking a moment to look Katalynne over. He smirked, “Well…”
“I have a name, asshole,” Katalynne snapped at Alix. Cold warehouses, guns, and questionable jobs was not something she needed to be dealing with, especially with such an irritating man. “My name is Katalynne, not legs.”
“Great, she has a name,” Alix said with a loud sigh, “But what is her job description?”
“I’m getting to that,” Fagan said, trying not to sound as frustrated as he felt. “We need someone to handle incoming jobs. A secretary, if you will. Especially with Xaver gone.” Fagan wished that Xaver hadn’t felt the need to move out on his own. He had been the perfect partner, just as built as Fagan with the same appreciation for a good beer and an attractive woman. He was much easier to deal with than Alix, even if Alix had been Fagan’s friend. Acquaintance was more like it, to be honest. Fagan barely remembered who Alix was until they ran into each other at a bar months ago. He hadn’t intended to let Alix stay for long, let alone become a trainee, and he certainly didn’t expect Xaver to leave. You two will make a good team, ya don’t need me. Sure, Fagan didn’t need Xaver, but Xaver never would’ve pointed a weapon at a women he was trying to hire.
“We don’t even have a desk for her to sit at. Or a computer. Or a room for her to sleep in.”
Xaver never would’ve argued about hiring her, either, least not this much.
“Oh no. I’m not sleeping here,” Katalynne said, “I’m two seconds away from not working here, either.”
“That’s fair,” Fagan said, “I know what this must look like.”
“I don’t think you do.”
Fagan chuckled as he walked up to Katalynne, effectively stepping between her and Alix to give him a chance to cool down. “Look, I told you that this would be more interesting than your last job, right?”
“Is it more interesting because there isn’t a bathroom?”
“There is one, actually, because Alix and I live here.”
“It’s more like a toilet with walls around it,” Alix muttered.
Katalynne looked thoroughly disgusted, “Right, gas station it is,” she whispered before she changed the subject, “Are you two runaways?”
“I beg your pardon?” Alix glared at her, “We are not runaways.”
“Are you criminals then?”
“No!” Alix snapped, “Do we look like we’d commit a crime?”
Katalynne looked up at Fagan then back at Alix before she raised an eyebrow, “Do you really want an answer to that question?”
“Well he might look like it but I certainly wouldn’t do such a thing.”
“Is your boyfriend always like this?” Katalynne asked.
Both Fagan and Alix stared at the woman in front of them in shock. Alix was the first to react, eyes wild and insulted, “He is not my boyfriend! No. No way. Never!”
“Did you have to deny it that much?” Fagan asked.
“Right, because you’re the most suitable man for me to be interested in.”
“With that attitude I probably am.”
“Look, I don’t care what your relationship status is.” Katalynne crossed her arms and frowned at both men. She was getting colder by the minute in this warehouse and more irritated at the fact that she had worn her favorite heels for this quote, unquote, job. “You have about thirty seconds to tell me why I shouldn’t walk away from this hole in the ground.”
Without warning Fagan reached behind his back and pulled out a sword. Katalynne hadn’t even noticed it before, too busy recovering from the shock of having a gun aimed at her. A sword, however, was a bit more shocking, because who the hell actually carried a sword around unless if it was for the Renaissance Festival or one of those geektastic conventions that happened throughout the year? At those conventions, however, the swords would be nothing but props. Katalynne had a feeling that the blade in Randall’s hand was different. Oh good she thought to herself two traumatizing events in one day.
Fagan held the sword out for Katalynne to look over before he said, “Touch it.”
Katalynne raised an eyebrow. Fearful or not, did this man really have to hit on her all the time? He was much worse than Laurence. “Is this some kind of bad sexual innuendo? Because I already made it abundantly clear that-”
“Not in front of Alix,” Fagan chuckled, “But maybe later in private.”
Alix rolled his eyes and muttered something under his breath. Katalynne thought she recognized it as French, but she wasn’t sure.
“Why do I have to touch it? Can’t I just look at it?”
“Not if you want to fully understand what kind of work we do.”
Katalynne looked hesitant for a moment, quietly warring with herself over whether or not she should go along with this. Red pill or blue pill, Katalynne? On the one hand she felt like she should get the hell out of there and, most definitely, call the police. Surely Minneapolis’ finest would want to know about these men who carried weapons around like water bottles in the park.
On the other hand… it was intriguing.
Who were these two men and what did they do that required having guns and swords on hand, especially bizarrely crafted swords like the one in front of her. Dark black like fresh tar on the road, when she looked closer she could see red lines caked into the blade like pulsing veins.
“Trust me,” Fagan whispered, and there was something in his voice that spoke to her. He obviously knew what this whole situation looked like. Katalynne suddenly got the feeling that he’d been in her shoes not too long ago and even Alix was quiet, waiting on her reaction.
Red pill it is.
Katalynne slowly began to run her fingers along the blade of the sword. She swore that it was getting warmer as she touched it, like an oven being turned on and waiting for the heat to rise. But then things got even stranger, somehow, in that empty warehouse. The sword started to glow, light shining off of it like a flashlight. That only happened in the movies right? It had to be a trick, a simple gag or special effect. As if reading her thoughts — no, there’s no way that could be possible, yet all of the sudden she could hear a low, pulsating sound.
A heartbeat. It was just like a heartbeat, soft and in tune with her own breathing. The small red lines seemed to come to life from her touch. They were flowing, the red of those wrinkled lines, and suddenly she knew that she wasn’t touching some inanimate object.
The sword was, somehow, alive.
Katalynne quickly pulled her hand away and slowly looked up at Fagan. “W-what the hell was that?”
Fagan chuckled and put the sword back in its hilt. “It seems that Eegil likes you.”
“The sword,” Alix said with a sour look on his face, “I told Fagan not to keep him.”
Him? Eegil? The sword had a name and a gender assigned to it? “So you’re saying that the sword… is alive?” She knew what the answer was. The sword had felt like a living thing when she touched it. It had a heartbeat, a pulse, it had all of the things a normal human being would have.
Human. What a funny term that was.
“He is alive,” Fagan said, “This is part of what we do.”
“No, it’s not. We kill things like this not keep them.”
Katalynne stared at Alix as she tried to decipher the meaning of that sentence. “Kill? Things like this?”
“Not in this case, Alix. I’ve already told you that Eegil will be useful to us.”
The argument sounded old, like something they yelled about numerous times. Or maybe Alix had been the one yelling while Fagan tuned him out. Katalynne pushed those thoughts aside to get back to the topic at hand. It wasn’t a good sign that she was already figuring out how these two men acted around each other. “Can we go back to the whole, you know, kill things like this part?
“We’re Hunters,” Alix said as Fagan nodded his agreement. ”Our job is to hunt down demons.”
“Hunt? D-demons?” Katalynne eyes widened as she spoke those words. “Is demons a code word for something else?” It had to be, right? Demons were something from fairytales, the evil trolls who lived under the bridge or the mutilated monstrosities whispered about around a campfire.
“I assure you it’s not-”
“Is it code for assassinating humans?” Katalynne asked, growing more frantic by the second. If demons didn’t exist — and they most certainly did not — that meant that these men hunted something, and there was no way that a sword that strange was used on Bambi’s mother. “Y-you wouldn’t assassinate a pretty little secretary with great legs, would you? That would be a waste right?” She tried to make it sound like a joke but the tremble in her voice spoke otherwise.
Fagan laughed, “No code word. I mean demons, period. And for the record I wouldn’t kill a pretty little secretary, as you so elegantly put it.”
“You can’t be serious. Demons don’t exist.”
“I know it’s hard to believe, but now that you’ve touched Eegil you have a better idea of the situation. This blade is from another world. A world full of demons; inhuman creatures who we hunt down when they enter into our world.”
Katalynne quietly took in everything Fagan was telling her, letting it process in the back of her head.
Demons were real? Check.
There was an entire world full of them? Check.
These men hunted them down and, for some reason, wanted her to be a part of this crazy operation? Double check?
“Um… c-can I sit down?”
“There’s no chairs in this area,” Fagan frowned a bit because, shit, the least he could do was have a chair at the ready for her. “Sorry about that.”
Katalynne did her best to make up for it and backed up until there was a wall she could lean against.
“How do you plan on hiring a secretary when we don’t even have enough chairs here?” Alix asked.
“He has a point,” Katalynne said, grasping that slight annoyance as a thing to keep her sanity, “If a woman is going to panic about weird things she at least needs a place to sit.”
“All right, all right. We’ll go out and get some furniture. The thrift store-”
“Thrift?” Katalynne raised an eyebrow, “Oh no. Absolutely not. I want a real desk, chair, and you sure as hell better get me a good coffee maker.”
“You want?” Fagan smirked. “Only employees get to make demands.”
Katalynne frowned at the trap she’d just walked into. Employees, huh? She had to admit that as strange as this was it was infinitely more interesting than her last job. She, at least, wanted to know more about this whole demons are real phenomenon and she knew that a single meeting wasn’t going to get her questions answered. “Fine. I’ll stay for a week, at least, just to see what this is all about.”
“And I expect to be paid for this trial, even if I decide to leave afterwards.”
“I hope you can afford me,” Katalynne said, “That is one thing that my previous employer did very well.”
“We can definitely negotiate-”
“Negotiate? No. If I have to deal with all of this weird shit it’s not going to be a negotiation, it’s going to be on my terms. Completely.”
Fagan frowned. “Weren’t you afraid about a minute ago?”
“I was,” Katalynne said with a sweet smile, “Then I realized that a job like this has significant risks attached to it. I assume you’re willing to pay for that fact.”
Alix chuckled when he saw the look on Fagan’s face. Perhaps this woman wouldn’t be so bad after all.