Bitten is only 99 cents this weekend!

Bitten is only 99 cents this weekend!

Bitten is 99 cents for this weekend only!

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005METJLU

A predator stalks a cold northern Minnesotan town. There is talk of wolves walking on two legs and attacking people in the deep woods. Lauren Westlake, resourceful and determined F.B.I Agent, has found a connection between the strange murders in the north and a case file almost a hundred years old. Traveling to the cold north, she begins an investigation that spirals deep into the darkness of mythology and nightmares. Filled with creatures of the night and an ancient romance, the revelation of who hunts beneath the moon is more grisly than anyone could have imagined.

If you love paranormal and supernatural books, you’ll want to pick up Bitten while it is only 99 cents.

Read the first chapter here: https://authordanobrien.com/2019/02/08/chapter-preview-bitten/ 

 

Chapter Preview: Bitten

Enjoy this free preview of the bestselling Bitten:

 

Chapter I

 

Madeline Leftwich sat at the train station every day at exactly thirteen minutes past midnight. The faded brown bench on which she sat did not often have consistent occupants, as transients and hobos were sparse this far north.

But there she sat, hands crossed over her lap. The floral pattern of the thick skirt she wore was handmade. Buckles and clasps galore adorned the uneven cut and fold of the garment. Her face possessed an absent quality––not that characteristics were missing, but instead a vacancy of spirit. That bench meant a great deal to her. This was the very place that childhood was left behind.

It had been exactly thirty-nine years since her mother placed her on that very bench, brushed back her hair, and told her everything was going to be alright. She said she would be right back. A promise to a child is a sacred thing. Even as an adult, Madeline couldn’t tear herself away from the compulsion to come wait for her mother every day.

The whistle blew each night as the passenger train rolled into town. Cold air rained down upon the open station. Often, sheets of ice were expelled from the track, lining the waiting area. Attendants were accustomed to her presence. Some even offered her coffee in the wee hours of the morning when they had no other friend.

However, this night she was quite alone.

The heavy bleating of the distant train horn filled the night, filtering through a cloudy fog. The susceptible and otherwise occupied Ms. Leftwich was not yet privy to the gossip of the town. Murder, a topic of great concern no matter the venue, would be especially virulent in such a small community. Distance revealed a dark object hurtling through the night, steam and precipitation sluicing from the hot steel.

The station was empty.

A half-lit banister showed the narrow, icy path that crawled back out to the blacktop just outside the front of the station. She watched the train collide with the open air of the darkness, the squeal of the tight brakes announcing its arrival with startling clarity. Heavy doors opened; artificial light spilled from the side of the train.

Madeline watched the open door––waiting.

Seconds passed into minutes; yet, there was no sound external to the cold nature of Minnesota. Winter had a feeling all its own. Groaning trees fought against the arctic grip of snow and ice. Lakes moving in the distance, far beneath the heavy weight of the ice that had taken residence upon them, filled the night.

Someone stepped out. Her coat was wrapped tightly around her lithe frame. Sandy blonde hair was tucked beneath a brown wool cap. The scarf around her neck, braided and frayed, looked as if it’d been sewn by someone she knew well––not the simple manufacture of mass production. Brown eyes watched the empty train station with great interest and a precision that marked her immediately as more than a mere observer.

A bulge at her side revealed a weapon. The simple black bag slung over the shoulder of her long brown trench coat made her appear to be a woman on the run––or perhaps one who simply liked to travel light.

She made her way toward Madeline. Her voice was sweet, her tone full of purpose. “Excuse me, ma’am. Is this Locke? Locke, Minnesota?”

Ms. Leftwich watched the woman with wide eyes that pooled with tears. She was severely confused. Was this her mother? She hesitated. This woman was younger––younger than she was. Was this possible? A mother who was younger than you?

“Ma’am, I…”

“Mother?” Madeline asked, her voice rising shrilly.

“Pardon me?”

Madeline didn’t stand; instead, she shuffled her purse at her waist. “Are you my mother? You left me here a long time ago. Said you would be back…said you would be back soon.”

Staring into the vacant eyes of Madeline Leftwich, it took the woman a moment of complete incomprehensibility to see that there wasn’t much left. All that remained was a sad example of what could laughingly be called a life.

“No. I’m very sorry. I’m not….”

Madeline stood quickly, her features scrunching in anger. “Why would you lie to me? Why would you leave me here? Why?”

“Ma’am, my name is Lauren Westlake. And I am neither your mother nor a trained therapist. Can you tell me if this is Locke?”

Madeline interrupted Lauren. Her words were filled with venomous rage. “Don’t pretend I’m a child. I know where I am. I know who I am. Just because you’re my mother, doesn’t mean you can leave me behind.”

Lauren looked at the woman in a mixture of shock and horror. She resisted the urge to physically restrain the woman, concerned about the reaction she might have. “What’s your name?”

Madeline’s face was the very picture of surprise.

“You don’t remember your daughter’s name?”

Lauren was uncertain how much further this charade should be carried, whether or not disengaging from the woman would be simpler. Looking at the woman carefully, she noticed that her clothing was handmade. The name Madeline was sewn into the breast of her outermost jacket. Stifling an irritated sigh, she continued. “Madeline. Your name is Madeline.”

And then as quickly as the madness had come, it dissipated. “Why are you talking to me?”

“Excuse me. I….”

Madeline looked at Lauren strangely and stood, gathering her belongings. She moved past Lauren and out into the night as if the interaction didn’t even happen.

Lauren watched her go, scrutinizing the entire exchange in her own mind. Shaking her head, she adjusted the bag at her back and moved forward past the dock of the train station and into the cold area just above it.

Ms. Leftwich was nowhere to be seen.

As far as Lauren was concerned, that was for the best.

The night was cold. A heavy veil of fog seemed to grow like a behemoth. She looked down the lane and saw only two endless views of darkness. The blacktop was crystalline, frozen precipitation having created an icy sheet better suited for ice skating than vehicular travel.

“Not exactly a warm welcome,” she muttered, drawing the top of her coat closer to her face. There were muffled sounds in the distance––muted voices. Sounds that could originate from only one kind of establishment: a bar. Lowering her head and pulling the strap of her bag tight, Lauren soldiered on.

 

MADELINE MADE a mistake that would cost her life. Each night she would wait for the sun to rise and then scamper home, ashamed. This night, her emotions got the better of her. Soon, she would now find herself in the presence of a creature of the night, one that would come to haunt and terrorize the inhabitants of the small town of Locke.

The moon overhead stung the fog, driving the ethereal wisps from its view. Wide and threatening, it looked peaceful when viewed in the company of others, in the arms of a lover perhaps. To Madeline Leftwich, a woman lost in her own mind, it was a portent of doom.

Thick branches grew over the sorry excuse for a path she walked each day. By daylight, the intricacies could be gleaned; at night, it was a haunted maze littered with obstructions and potential trip falls.

Her shoes were not suited for hiking through the woods at breakneck speeds, though that is what Madeline would need that night. When she paused at the center of the trail to make sure she wasn’t being followed, the dead silence of the night became a far more frightening sound.

“Who’s there?” she half-whispered, her voice cracking.

A branch snapped, frost claiming yet another soldier.

Another sound echoed in the night; this time much heavier, like weight lingering as a fledging branch gasped for its last breath before being trampled. She pulled her bag close to her chest, her face twisting in fear. Her eyes were wide as she searched the night frantically. “There’s nothing there,” she whispered, tearing her eyes away from the tree line.

Continuing forward, her steps were quicker, more deliberate. The woods around her thinned the faster she walked, white-speckled pines giving way to broken branches. The trail widened in places, enough that little pockets of dirt and soil were pushed up from use.

As if something were urging her forward, she began to run slightly, her breath expelled in heavy puffs of condensed air. She wheezed then––a panicked, hiccupping sound that erupted deep from within her chest.

And that was when she heard the first growl. There was something wrong with it. It sounded like an animal, the guttural low pitches. However, there was something human to it, a strange gargling sound.

Her feet were not as sure beneath her as she thought. The tips of her fabric shoes dug into the hard soil, making her wince in pain. Biting her lip hard, she forged forward, stumbling into an open area of the trail.

Trees crowded the edges of her vision and the clearing. The trail continued on the way she had been trampling, and then split suddenly into two smaller trails. The fog hung ahead of her, pulling away as if it were an entity all its own.

Silence permeated the area.

And then the growl came again. It sounded hungry, desperate; it was the pinnacle of auditory fear. “Who’s there? What? Why are you hiding?” She whimpered. “Please. Please.”

It seemed to come from all around her, enveloping the cold night air. The fog stirred; deep in its belly a shadow formed. Tall and hunched, it was a mass of darkness shaped like a man. Heavy in the shoulders, spines seemed to rise unevenly from the arms and body. Its head was lowered and the knees bowed as if it were ready to pounce.

It did not.

The figure stood, chest heaving. It was safely veiled by the fog bank. Hands that seemed to melt into long thin claws were obscured by the swirling mass of miasma ebbing and flowing within.

Her mouth opened, but no words came out.

Her mind raced. Panicked thoughts flooded her mind, erasing judgment and reason. She watched helplessly.

It took a single step forward.

Madeline Leftwich wasn’t a god-fearing woman. In point of fact, until that moment she never thought about death. Now, when confronted with something drawn from nightmares, her pulse raced and she realized, with a desperate certainty, that she wished to live.

The rain trickled then, a fat droplet striking her hair. Her feet hit the ground hard. She abandoned her bag. Churning, her feet dug into the hard winter earth. Her breath sputtered in front of her in rapid fits of exploding clouds. She whimpered as she ran, tears running down her face as trees slapped her hard across her cold, sensitive features; some left bruises, others broke skin.

The forest was now alive with sound.

Creatures hooted and hollered in the night.

They knew something was happening.

She could hear herself breathing.

She wouldn’t last much longer.

Her foot caught something lodged deep within the frozen ground. The world spun in circles as her back collided with the unforgiving earth.

Frightened and defeated, she kept very still. Where she had landed proved defensible: high brush bristling with heavy branches and evergreen leaves that hid her partly from view.

The forest beat a heavy drum.

Footfalls of animals loose in the night filled the air. There was one set of footsteps that rung above the others: something primal, something large. She covered her mouth with her hand. Pressing tightly, she watched as a shadow crept across her vision.

She peered out the side of the brush.

It stood like a man.

Up close the fur was matted, uneven, missing in some places. The legs were muscular and covered in fabrics that seemed to sluice fluid. Hemorrhaging from the torso, it moved with a predator’s grace.

Its face was covered in shadow.

Madeline felt a scream rise from deep in her chest and she pressed her hand harder against her mouth. Closing her eyes, tears streamed from them. Her chest heaved, but she tried not to move, locking her body into a paralysis.

She couldn’t tear her eyes away from it.

Turning, the face was still well hidden.

Long slender fingers, like dull blades, bounced against the creature’s legs. The clothing was torn and dirty. A smell emanated from it that could only be described as nausea in the depths of a septic tank. Lifting its head, it sniffed the air, a hood pressing against its mangled hair.

Her breath caught in her throat.

The slow turn of the creature and the bend of its legs as it lowered closer to the ground was more than Madeline could take. And before she could remove her hand from her mouth to scream, it was upon her.

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Frighten is now available!

Frighten is now available!

Lauren’s time in San Francisco hasn’t gone as planned. After reconnecting with her brother Billy and discovering that vampires are at the heart of the murders in the foggy city, Lauren is faced with a terrible decision that will affect her career. Can she find a way to bring the killers to justice? Will she be able to find the Stranger in time to stop the nightmares in San Francisco?

Grab it today on Kindle!

 

 

Lauren’s pursuit of the Stranger has led to Las Vegas. A series of supernatural murders leads the team to believe that warlocks are behind the deaths. The return of an old ally and a new threat complicates Lauren’s investigation. Can she stop what’s coming in time to avert the apocalypse?

Pre-order it today!

Re-release: Drained

Re-release: Drained

Synopsis: A frightening new case. A mysterious journal. The beginning of the end. Lauren Westlake has left behind the horrors of northern Minnesota to investigate a strange package with a cryptic return address. Crossing the country to the city by the bay, Lauren discovers that Locke was only the beginning. Crossing paths with a stoic SFPD detective and a surprise from her past, she must figure out what hunts the foggy streets of San Francisco in this new novella. Is it vampires? Is it something more?

 

An excerpt from Drained:

THE OVERPASS that separated the yuppie, hipster youth of the city from its poorer denizens was indistinguishable from any other place in the city.

Benny squatted under the comfort of his concrete shelter to avoid the light drizzle that replaced the evening fog. His grizzled features and unkempt salt-and-pepper hair might be charming if he weren’t several shades of crazy and hungrier than a feral cat. He remembered when he could wink and say a few smooth words and a beaming waitress might swoon––regaling her with stories about his gigs around the city and the promise of a little danger.

In the late 70s Benny fancied himself a musician, playing the tall bass with a few friends; it was tough for Benny to think of them as friends now. What passed for a friend on the streets was someone who wouldn’t steal your blankets or chase you out of a rat-infested hole with a taped-together shiv made from broken bottles and pieces of fenders from stalled-out cars.

The 70s hadn’t been kind to Benny. Cocaine went from recreation to lifestyle, and then to death-style. As his other bandmates started lives, Benny spiraled deeper into despair.

His friends lost his number.

It wasn’t long before he didn’t have the money for electricity, and then he lived his life in darkness. From there, it was a short hop to not being able to pay rent; soon thereafter, the streets became his home. After enough time wandering the cold pavement, he became too volatile to bunk in the homeless shelters.

He was a creature of the streets.

Benny made a strange sort of existence for himself under the overpass. Newspapers were arranged like a well-manicured lawn. Boxes, crushed and water-damaged, were the wings of his great destitute estate. The barrel at the center of it all, burning brightly like a lighthouse upon rocky shores, was full of the wisdom of Western society: newspapers, magazines, and various novels.

Grumbling angrily and unintelligibly to himself, Benny dug through one of his grocery carts filled to the brim with postmodern junk; he was looking for a broken umbrella amidst the sea of garbage and treasure within his cart. As Benny extricated the battered object of his desire, he was startled by a voice. “I do enjoy these brief moments of gentle rain. Do you find them as soothing as I do?”

Turning, Benny was immediately irritated by the man’s presence. Dressed to the nines––with angular, symmetrical features––there was something unreal about his figure.

“I don’t want no trouble.”

The man smiled. “Nor do I. But I wonder, Benny, what is it that you’re looking for?”

Benny looked at the streets and saw cars zip past between the concrete dividers that obscured his shelter from view. It was the main reason why he stayed there: it was his island, his cabin in the woods.

“Mister, I’m hungry. Do you have any food?”

The man smiled again, disarmingly. “I must admit I’m a bit peckish myself. Though I have no food, at least nothing that you’d find satisfying, Benny.”

Benny was struck by the disconnected nature of their conversation, as if the man weren’t talking to him at all and instead reading from a script. This feeling became more surreal as the man stepped past him into the darkness of the overpass. His features were adulterated by the shadows there: his dark hair made darker, his gray eyes disappearing.

There, in the darkness, Benny heard something move.

“Watch out, mister, there are rats back there. I catch them sometimes and cook them up.”

The man chuckled but didn’t respond, turning his back to Benny. When he spoke again, his voice had changed; it seemed bloated and distant. “They never look for the wretches, Benny. Give me your poor. Give me your hungry. Those are just words. I’m hungry as well….”

The sound came again.

There was no mistaking it for a rat this time.

It was bigger.

Hollow, deliberate steps haunted the shadows.

A tremor crept across Benny, rising from his toes like acid reflux after he ate from the dumpster behind the Korean restaurant a few blocks away. “I don’t want no trouble,” repeated Benny, his voice quaking as he took a few steps back.

“You won’t have to worry about trouble any longer. I will take your fear. Feed on your fear….”

Benny thought to run.

Panic gripped him, but his muscles wouldn’t respond. He wondered if the lady doctor at the center was right: Was he crazy? Was he chasing shadows in the dark?

Looking at his bin of junk, he saw the broken pipe he’d taken from a rundown building in the Tenderloin. He thought it was copper, but it turned out to be rusted and useless like him. Gripping it like he was Babe Ruth waiting at the plate, he watched the darkness. The well-dressed man had disappeared, but his voice drifted on the air like a spirit.

“Why fight it, Benny? Is this really worth living for, this sad little life?”

Benny’s fear turned to anger.

Gesturing with the pipe, he shouted into the dark.

“How do you know my name?”

The laugh sent shivers down his spine.

Something in the darkness tripped and fell, collapsing the third and fourth cardboard bedrooms of his sprawling street estate. A figure emerged in the darkness: something frightening beyond words.

“We know all about you, Benny.”

As it took shape in the half-light of the passing cars, Benny held his breath and swung the pipe as hard as he could, lurching forward as it connected with thin air. With a gnashing maw, it blotted Benny from view and pulled him back into the darkness.

 

If you loved Bitten (or supernatural fiction, a good mystery, and a fun story), then you’ll want to give Drained a look. The third novella in the series, Frighten, will be released in early 2019.

Get it today on Kindle!

Re-release: Bitten

Re-release: Bitten

Synopsis: A predator stalks a cold northern Minnesotan town. There is talk of wolves walking on two legs and attacking people in the deep woods. Lauren Westlake, resourceful and determined FBI agent, has found a connection between the strange murders in the north and a case file almost a hundred years old. Traveling to the cold north, she begins an investigation that spirals deep into the darkness of mythology and nightmares. Filled with creatures of the night and an ancient romance, the revelation of who hunts beneath the moon is more grisly than anyone could imagine.

 

What readers are saying about Bitten:

“Bitten is an extremely well-balanced and engaging novel. It contains mystery, suspense, horror, romance, and best of all – a creative, genre-bending twist on werewolf mythology. The story is quick-paced and dark without being too heavy or overdramatic. The protagonist is a strong and courageous FBI agent who is able to assert herself without casting aside her femininity. She reminds me of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone and Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum…. If a sequel follows, I will definitely read it.”

“Author Dan O’Brien left his mark with Bitten. I’ve now read three books by O’Brien, but BITTEN is by far my favorite. It not only showcases his literary skills, but leaves the reader wanting more. What else could an avid reader ask for?”

 

An excerpt from Bitten:

THE CREATURE crashed into the sides of its space. Tearing broken, rusted objects from the shelves, it threw them to the ground in angry fits of rage. Tears streamed down its face and the guttural whimper that echoed in the oversized shed was the only shred of humanity that remained.

With each mashed piece of its life, it plunged deeper into madness; closer to the monster it was slowly becoming. The light of the day had all but faded. Reaching out and grasping a light bulb that hung dimly at the center of the shed, it crushed it, allowing the shards to rip apart its hands.

Blood dripped on the work table and the partial husk of Wayne Joyce’s mutilated face. It had stretched out the flesh, drying it and coating it with deer oil. Its cries were crocodile tears; there was no emotion left except rage, hatred. Remorse and guilt long since disappearing into the abyss that was its mind.

The winds howled.

It responded.

Black thread, spooled with a sharp needle, sat beside the human mask. It reached down with one of its mangled hands, lifting the needle and then the flesh. Pressing against its skin, it drove the needle into its own face, drawing blood and an angry snarl. Each time through, there was a growl and a pool of blood. The task was complete: the flesh attached to the monster.

Little folds lifted from its face. The wind whipped against them, drawing its attention. Reaching out to a staple gun, it pressed it against its face. The creature drove thick steel staples into its face, flattening out the macabre mask.

The table was a massacre.

Leftover pieces of the trophies it took were lifeless artifacts of its ascension to death-bringer. Reaching out for the long claw of torture it wore as a glove, the creature groaned. Language was lost. More and more, it felt like an animal, a creature meant to destroy everything.

The rage built like steam. It coursed through its veins, polluting every aspect of humanity that remained. The moon would rise soon––full and omniscient. That would be the moment of its ascension.

It would be its masterpiece.

 

If you love supernatural fiction, a good mystery, and a fun story, then you’ll want to give Bitten a look. Releasing in July as well is the follow-up novella, Drained. The third novella in the series, Frighten, will be released in early 2019.

Get it today on Kindle!