AND THE WINNER IS…..
I am posting, as a little treat, the entire first chapter of Snow White The Demon Huntress and I am offering one commenter a $5 Amazon voucher–or Nook voucher.
All you have to do is leave me a comment.. Simple!
Have a read, and say ‘hi’ at the end–easy peasy x
Snow picked up her drink and leant against the bar top so that she could see all around the old inn. The demon brew scorched at her throat and heated her insides, as she took large pulls to ward off the biting cold that had seeped into her body from the long ride over.
She was exhausted and utterly hacked off, and the fact that the demon she needed to see wasn’t here was just pissing her off further. She turned her head and glared at the clock on the wall—an hour late—and huffed loudly. The barman shifted uncomfortably behind her, and cleared his throat.
“Want another one, Snow?”
Snow just shoved the mug his way and grunted in agreement. The barman hastily filled the mug back up and handed it to her, his hands trembling like a leaf in the wind. Snow didn’t thank him, didn’t even look at him, she just lifted the drink and knocked back a healthy gulp.
Snow was not amused. Cold, hungry and wet through, her patience was hanging on a thin thread. She glared at the door and gulped back another burning mouthful. All she wanted was a bath, a nice hot bath to wash away the lingering death that stuck to her clothes like a morbid perfume, but until the demon turned up, she was stuck.
I fucking hate demons.
“You wanna be careful, pretty lady. You get drunk on that stuff and someone’s gonna take advantage of yah.”
Snow turned her head and looked at the demon to her left. Tall, rangy with a pair of twisted yellowing horns on his head, and utterly filthy, he stared at her with a brown-toothed grin and lust in his eyes.
“A pretty little thing like you’s gonna get taken reeeal good,” The disgusting demon continued.
He sucked air in through his rotten teeth and looked at Snow as if he were planning what to do with her. Disgust rippled over her spine and settled like a cold brick in her gut. Snow lifted her drink and drained her glass.
The demon chuckled.
The barman, Earl, paled.
Snow took in a deep breath and straightened up from her slump against the bar. When she turned to face the demon fully, the barman, Earl, spluttered and groaned.
“Now come on, Snow, we don’t want no trouble,” Earl begged. Earl was a nice enough demon, Snow would even go as far as to say a kind demon, but Snow was not the sort of woman to let any demon talk to her like that. Snow cracked her neck from side to side, and stared at the disgusting demon. She ignored Earl and his polite requests for her “to let it go.”
Snow smiled at the toothy demon and Earl groaned loudly behind the bar.
“Please tell me again, what it is you thought one of the demons in here might want to do with me.” Snow spoke in a low tone, a clam tone—a tone that she hoped belied the anger that currently fizzled through her body.
She fucking hated demons. She detested every single one of them, and this foul specimen had just put himself at the top of her demons to die list, a list she updated regularly.
The demon was either too bloody stupid or just too drunk to notice her fury; he just grinned at her and looked her up and down.
Snow took a step closer to the demon, Earl groaned again. “No, no, no. Come on, Snow; he knows no better. He clearly doesn’t know you. Just leave him,” Earl went on, but Snow just moved closer to the demon.
The demon stood up and laughed loudly when he saw he stood a good foot taller than she did. Snow just raised a mocking brow.
“I don’t know about all the demons in here, but I’d love to have that pouty mouth of yours around my dick,” he said, his eyes alight with glee.
Snow cringed as spittle collected at the side of the demon’s mouth as he spoke. Her skin revolted against the image, and she had to force herself not to physically gag.
She looked down and then back up. “No, thank you,” she replied, her voice sweet, her expression anything but. “You know what I’d like to do with you?” she purred.
Earl groaned yet again. “No, he doesn’t want to know. Do you Greg?” Earl said, reaching over the bar and trying to shove at Greg’s shoulder. Greg didn’t take the loud, obvious hinting from Earl, and grinned wide.
“What would you do to me, little thing?”
Snow stood her ground as the demon, Greg, moved closer, his beady eyes dropping to her chest.
“I would love to cut you from dick to ear and leave you bleeding on the floor.” She grinned, and a confused, surprised expression registered on the demon’s face a moment before he laughed loudly. He looked at Earl and pointed to Snow as if to say can you hear this shit?
Earl shook his head and gripped his hair.
“Really, little thing, and how do you suppose you’ll do that?” The demon moved closer to Snow, and raised his hand to touch her face.
Snow snatched it out of the air and slammed it on the bar top. The demon began to laugh, but stopped instantly when the knife she had been gripping in her right hand plunged into his gut.
He went stiff as pain registered, his free hand moved to where her knife was stuck and his eyes flew wide. That disgusting spittle collected some more, and Snow curled her lip.
“Disgusting fucking Demon,” She hissed, as she twisted the knife inside him. Snow kept his hand pinned to the bar top, even as he writhed against her. Her strength wasn’t greater than a demon’s, but Snow had learned a long time ago that the element of surprise was always her best tool. It had certainly worked this time.
She yanked the knife upwards, hoping to deal out her threat more specifically—dick to ear—and kneed the demon in the nuts. He groaned, gasped and lunged weakly for her, but Snow held on and on until he slumped to the floor. Her knife came away from his body when he collapsed, and Snow looked at the blood with disdain. She had just had the ivory handle cleaned, and now look at it.
She glanced up to where Earl was staring, wide-eyed and open-mouthed at the scene, and flicked her gaze to his bar-towel. Earl handed her the cloth and snatched his hand back as if Snow might bite. She wiped the blood from her knife, turned it over and sighed loudly at the pinkish stain on the handle.
She shoved her mug to Earl and waited for him to refill it. The demon on the floor was no longer moving, and Snow found no regret for her actions. However, she did regret upsetting Earl. Earl was nice, and sort of kind for a demon, and that was saying a lot coming from Snow.
“Sorry about that,” Snow offered, as she kicked her foot out and tapped the dead demon. Earl nodded and muttered something like no matter, and continued to fill her glass.
When Earl passed her a new drink, Snow turned and surveyed the barroom again.
Right in the far corner sat the demon she had been waiting for—Helki, the pirate vampire—demon, who owed her a payment. He and his crew must have come in while she’d been busy.
Snow picked up her glass and sauntered over to where the filthy wretch was sitting with his despicable gang.
“Helki,” Snow said, as she moved closer to the group. Helki looked up, and his smile dropped from his face almost as fast as the last demon had dropped to the floor under her blade. The chatter that had surrounded his table stuttered to a stop, and silence rung throughout the bar.
“What do you want, Snow?” Helki said, his beady eyes looking around the bar nervously. He raised a brow at the dead demon and looked back at Snow. “You got a kill in tonight, so go home.”
Snow smiled and shook her head. “You owe me some money, Helki, and I’m here to collect.”
Helki pouted his lips as if in thought, and frowned. Snow watched as the greasy demon sipped at his brew before he sucked in snot through his extra wide nostrils, the sound making her imagine things that made her want to puke.
“Nope, I don’t recall owing you money,” he said, his tone far too blasé for Snow’s liking. Rage punched into her gut and Snow lunged for Helki.
“You son of a—”
Two of Helki’s cronies jumped up and grabbed Snow by the arms, but Snow continued her rant as her temper flew high. “I killed that demon for you! None of your other lackeys could—I did it!” She tugged at her arms and managed to get the right one free. She smacked her fist into the face of the demon who was holding her, and yanked her other hand free as he buckled, gripping his nose. She advanced on the table again, and almost got hold of Helki when the two demons recovered.
They snatched her back and threw her on the floor. Snow almost bit her tongue as her ass smacked the ground.
Hopelessness suddenly hung a heavy weight on her shoulders, even as her anger boiled inside her. She jumped up and looked at Helki, using an expression that she hoped promised death. The element of surprise was gone, and no matter her skills, even she couldn’t hope to take on Helki’s men alone. Snow hated feeling beaten.
She looked at all of the amused demons and imagined them thinking she was a weak human. She imagined how pathetic they all thought she was, and it burned through her like a fireball from the sun.
She straightened her shoulders, and pinned Helki with a glare so hot she hoped it would scorch his filthy flesh.
“You just got on my list, Helki.” Oh, yeah, that demons to die list was growing tonight.
Helki’s grin almost slipped from his face, but before Snow could see it disappear totally, the demon threw his head back and laughed along with his men.
“Yeah, try it Snow. Let’s see how far you get.” Two of Helki’s cronies moved in closer and penned Snow in, a move of intimidation that did nothing but make Snow angrier. After giving Helki a long, pregnant stare, Snow turned and shoved past the two demons.
She reached the door, looked back and promised herself that Helki would die painfully, and soon.
The cool air of the late night hit her in the face as the door to the bar swung shut behind her. Snow trudged to her horse, untied it, mounted and rode slowly
back out of town. She
mentally calculated how much money she had in her pocket, and knew it wasn’t enough. It was never enough. No matter how much of her soul she lost every time she ventured out to earn money, she never earned enough.
A lump filled her throat, and Snow forced it back. There was no place here for emotion and self-pity; it never helped. She just had to figure another way to get money. Again.
A slow patter of rain began to tap over her cloak, and Snow groaned with more self-pity.
Fantastic, an hour ride back home through a rainstorm. Wonderful.
Snow turned when someone called her name, and she watched as a large demon—one of Helki’s men—jogged across the distance to her. She tensed and turned the horse fully to face him. She tightened her expression into a glare and waited for him to catch up.
The young demon stopped in front of her and held out a scrap of paper. Snow glanced at it and asked. “What is it?”
The demon shrugged and held it out closer to her. “Helki sent me to give it to you.”
Snow took it and waited for the demon to go back into the bar. She turned and rode over to a window where light spilled out onto the road. There she opened the note and read Helki’s messy scrawl.
If its money you are after. Go to Hellgate Inn and talk to Cyres. He will have a job for you. Be careful, Snow, going that close to hell, you might just lose your soul.
Snow crumpled the letter in her palm and thought for a moment about what it said. Hellgate Inn was right in the centre of all demon realms, and while she lived in the realms, her home was on the outer edge where the lesser demons lived. Going into the centre would be like entering a crocodile nest wearing meat for a coat.
Was she that desperate? She mentally tallied her money, and decided she might just be. But was she brave enough? Probably not.
Snow started the horse walking again, and rode slowly out of town. A glorious smell hit her nose, and Snow saw a perfect-looking pie set on a windowsill. Instantly she imagined how happy Chloe would be to taste a pie so perfect, and she decided that the person living in the pretty village dwelling could live without it. She snatched it from the sill, urged her steed on and cringed when she heard a woman shout, “Hey!”
Snow mentally shouted, “I’m sorry!” but kicked her horse on faster.
The ground was swallowed under the galloping pace of her horse’s hooves. The dark, muddy pathways in the town soon gave away to deep forest, and then the forest gave way to open country fields. Before long, Snow was pulling her horse to a stop outside her front door.
She dropped from her horse, un-tucked the pie from within her cloak—still warm—and pushed through the dense trees surrounding her home.
From the outside, no one could see what she knew to be there. From the outside, it just looked to be a dense thicket of trees, but if you know just where to separate the tree branches and low-hanging vines, you’d find a small but pretty garden leading up to an even prettier cottage.
Snow held the trees back for her horse and left him to nibble at the grass as she walked wearily home.
She was tired, and as she slowly, quietly pushed the door open, the smell of cooking broth and fresh bread hit her nose and offered her comfort. The cottage was quiet as the little ones slept upstairs, but when Nana and Beth turned and saw her, they began their insistent whispered chatter.
Nana took the pie from Snow’s hands, and kissed her on the cheek. Beth looked at her hopefully and sagged visibly when Snow shook her head.
When Nana was out of the room in the kitchen, Beth helped Snow out of her coat.
“Will he pay you? Did you not kill the demon?” Beth asked, looking disappointed. Snow hated that look on her sister’s face, especially when she had done her utmost to earn them some money—done things that had blackened her soul one shade darker.
Snow shook her head and said, “No, he won’t pay me.” She left out the fact that she did indeed kill the demon, because, without payment, it just made Snow a murderer. No matter that the demon had been a child-slavery ringleader.
Snow cringed when Beth turned her head and stared up the stairs to where the little ones slept. “I’m not sure how much longer we can make the rations last,” Beth whispered.
Snow saw the panic in her younger sister’s eyes, and the guilt piled up in her belly some more.
“I tried,” Snow said, knowing it wasn’t enough. It was never enough.
Beth, nodded and turned for the stairs. She looked back at Snow, and lifted her lips in what was supposed to be a smile. “I know you tried.”
Snow would have crumpled under the agony of her sister’s clear disappointment, but she was the strong one—the one who could take anything, the warrior. She couldn’t crumple, not ever.
Snow watched Beth climb the stairs and fought the wave of pity as her sister struggled to bend her knees properly. Snow was the only able-bodied person in the house. Nana was too old, too frail, and not always in her right mind. Beth was scarred and permanently injured by a demon attack years before, and the children—every one of them an orphan—were all too young to ask to do anything.
It was all up to Snow, and had been for the last six years. And no matter how much she hated it, she knew it was her duty. Nana trotted from the kitchen and grinned at Snow, moved closer and hugged Snow with her bent and aged arms. Snow closed her eyes and soaked up the hug. No one hugged her anymore, not even the kids. They had seen her covered in demon blood too many times to think of her as cuddly. When Nana pulled back, Snow smiled down at her. Well, she hoped she did, sometimes she wondered if her face ever showed even her fake happiness. Snow didn’t think she was capable of happiness anymore.
“That’s my good Snow White.” Nana said, using Snow’s full name. She patted Snow on the cheek before she too climbed the steps to bed.
Snow stood alone in the middle of the room and stared longingly at the stairs. Bitterness was desperately close to the surface as she imagined how cozy and gentle Nana and Beth’s evenings were.
While she was out fighting, scraping and killing for a pittance, they got to sit in front of a fire and read stories to children. When she was out avoiding demon rape and gangs who
wanted her head on a spike, they were probably sitting darning socks or planting more vegetables.
She felt angered, hurt and utterly broken.
She had not always been this way, but shitty luck and the bitch-slaps from life had made her this way—a hard-faced killer with a temper so vile she sometimes lost all control.
Snow scanned the little living room and saw the jar of nearly-empty flour and the tiny square of butter left on the table, and her pity-party-for-one stopped dead in her mind.
No matter how much she had lost, no matter how bitter and twisted she had become, there was no way she could allow the children to suffer any more than they already had.
Snow swallowed hard and dug in her pocket for the note. She read Helki’s words and sucked in a deep breath.
“I guess I’m going to hell,” she muttered.
She emptied her pockets and dropped the small amount of coins on the table. Then she snatched up her cloak, turned and went back outside. She whistled for her horse and watched him trot over. Snow took his reins in her hand and led him from the place she called home.
Something stopped her from looking back. To do that seemed final, and Snow was determined to return again. And this time, she would not come back until she had a fistful of cash and pride in her pocket once again.
She only hoped she came back with her soul intact….
I hope you liked it x x