Title: HUMANS The Veiled World Chronicle 1
Genre: Urban/Supernatural Fantasy
Page Numbers: 248
Vampires, elementals, hybrid hunters and Fayri Brownies? What could be more intriguingly entertaining?
Creatures born of a different God, or human beings as we call them, know and understand little about the Universe around them or the one that mirrors theirs. Things aren’t always what they seem to the naked eye, especially when you aren’t paying attention. That’s the beauty of their world though, it’s so easy to live and thrive undetected.
My brother Cole and I are twin Hybrid Hunters. We’ve lived content and discreetly among and like human beings for so long that many of us, as well as the Elementals that have become like family, have almost forgotten that we aren’t.
Like any race of living beings it’s the bad ones that always ruin it for everyone. No good thing can ever last for long no matter what or where you are. The sudden appearance of a deadly Nocturna on our hidden island turned out to be the least of our worries. It was the unexpected attack that left me at the mercy of a disgusting curse and would forever change my life as a born Hunter. The mysterious stranger who simply ‘showed up’ to claim the undead intruder turned out to be far more of a dangerous threat to us.
I had to learn quickly that even in a perfect world, the hunter becoming the hunted confirms that every being has something to fear—even the Nocturna.
And that hunter… is Me.
HUMANS The Veiled World Chronicle ©2015 by Susan Reid
Nothing larger than a firefly moved. Apparently, the larger night critters and insects knew that something wasn’t right, exercising a base sense of self-preservation by staying hidden and silent. Even the night scavengers seemed to be offended by the stench of this kind of death too, and I didn’t blame them one bit.
The salty, warm wind stirred lazily over the tops of the dry grass, rustling them gently. The soothing rush of the surf crashed steadily against the rock base of the cliffs facing the north, close to the entrance of the bar. The earpiece tucked into my right ear carried a soft hum of monotonous static, amplifying my growing impatience.
Clouds drifted in and temporarily blotted out the light of the moon, just as a trident forked vein of lightning split through the mass of darkness. The atmosphere was humid and filled with the scent of a brewing and wicked rainstorm blowing in from the Pacific Ocean. The mixture made it a bit difficult to zone in on one particular scent, but thankfully the odor of the undead couldn’t be masked easily if at all.
Only in quiet this calm could you count on a destructive storm to suddenly strike, rip through, and destroy everything in its path at any given moment.
In this instance, that destructive storm was a Nocturna.
He was spotted lurking not far from the vicinity of the bar entrance by Jax and my brother, Cole, earlier this evening.
What his presence around this area ultimately meant was chaos and death, potentially turning our sanctuary into nothing more than a chow hall — that much was certain. However, we hadn’t heard or seen anything in the news about any humans dying under suspicious circumstances on and around the mainland, yet.
How and why he traveled all the way out here undetected was a mystery. We don’t advertise the existence or location of the bar. Unless you were an elemental, heard by word of mouth from others who were patrons, and had the ability to decode all the magical barriers surrounding the entrance, you’d never find or see it.
As far as I knew, there were only three ways onto and off of this island for any being; by boat, jet-ski, which is my personal preference, and air.
Nocturnas are like magnets to each other, so leaving him alive was not an option. We were hunting him before he had a chance to kill any… or anymore humans, let alone any of us.
Cole, Jax, and I are Hybrid Hunters. Our race was created and bred with mystical spirit animal Gods that possessed extraordinary and supernatural hunting abilities. From the time we were toddlers, we began our training and schooling. Our journeys were guided by noble Zheng-Tsao Monks in the arts of guardianship, which included fighting, combat, survival, and tracking.
The only exception to our little vigilante posse was my best friend, Isis. Isis is a Sylph or an air elemental in layman terms. She was perched high and hidden among the branches and coconut clusters of a towering, wide-leafed palm tree just east of my position. Both Jax and Cole’s eyes were like four, glowing orb-like beacons in the darkness from a half mile away. We had all been spread out in a square formation like this for the last hour. No one was going to rest until it was found and killed.
I was hunkered down low, kneeling behind a mound of overgrown dune and salt grass and flanked by flowering bushes to my right.
Breaking the unusual peace, a sudden light and airy whisper came through the earpiece. “This is gonna be a big rainstorm.”
“That’s pretty obvious, Isis.” I answered back.
“I don’t like big rainstorms with high winds, it screws with my magic.”
“Well, hopefully we won’t need it. See or scent anything yet?”
“I can’t get a bead on anything other than seaweed and a little hibiscus. And…I really have to pee.”
I sighed softly.
“Then go and stop talking so much! Damn!” Cole hissed into our conference-style earpieces.
“Females.” Jax commented and sighed into the mic of his headset.
“No, don’t move. You’ll only give your location away and become an instant target.” I interjected.
Isis made a soft whining sound.
“I’ve got your back, go ahead. I’ll keep watch for you.” Jax offered.
“Uh…yeah, no thanks. I’ll hold it.” Isis declined.
“You’ll be hurting when it starts raining.” Jax teased.
Isis whined again.
“Will you two be quiet?” Cole reprimanded exasperatingly in a hoarse whisper.
I shook my head and laughed quietly to myself.
Suddenly, something scurried and rustled violently through the grass to my left, moving lightning fast.
“Six o’clock!” Jax shouted and both he and Cole jumped up from their hiding spots. I saw something out of my periphery but I was too late to react in time to ready for defense. The tang of virulent, undead flesh assaulted my senses just as my legs were tackled and I was lifted high into the air, then swiftly slammed down to the ground on my back.
I grunted, the wind nearly knocked out of me completely but I still managed to swiftly roll to my side and unclasp the hidden blade strapped to the side of my boot.
With a powerful, sweeping kick of my leg into a wide upward arc, I caught and slashed through his shirt all the way down to the flesh. He shrieked, faltering backwards while clamping his hands across the tattered material that began to steam and blossom with dark blood.
I took that moment to click on the UV attachment mounted on the top of my rifle while quickly jumping to my feet.
A guttural sound came from his throat.
“You’re a lot stronger than I thought.” He grinned and then his long, dark tongue flicked out over his pale, cracked lips.
I wasn’t flattered.
He was a blur when he lunged at me again. Both Jax and Cole’s heavy boots were pounding the earth steadily, approaching fast to my location with their UV lights jostling around wildly in the darkness.
Sudden crisp wind began to gather and swirl wildly. Isis hovered directly overhead, orbiting around us to find a clear shot.
Taking him off guard, I slammed all of my strength into a powerful uppercut beneath his chin. His head snapped back with a crack, jaw clicking shut and his fangs stabbed down on his bottom lip. He growled in both pain and frustration.
Not only was he stunned by the unexpected power of my strike, now the several darts embedded in his back and the dot of UV light marking his forehead were all beginning to take effect. His skin began to smoke and he pitched sideways, landing on his side in an almost comical, overly-dramatic, convulsive fit. He bucked and jerked, rolling over and over while desperately attempting to both cover his face and reach over his shoulder to remove the ten paralyzing dart heads that were jutting out of his back.
Lightning temporarily lit up his terror-stricken face. His eyes were lost in shadows and dark pits, faded to a faint green illumination.
A lower level Nocturna.
This should be as simple as killing a roach.
His long, slightly curving inward fangs, which were designed to hook into and latch on firmly beneath the skin, were exposed in an angry hiss of determination and hunger. His arm was a sudden flash of dark movement, whipping out to strike me. I hadn’t expected him to be anything less than delirious with pain and completely immobilized at this point, let alone have the strength to continue to try and attack.
Then again, hunger tends to override adrenaline sometimes and the combination of both often makes an adversary very hard to take down or even kill for that matter. That was one major rule that a hunter should always remember and keep in mind.
I tensed with a short cry as his clawed fingers raked across my side, tearing through the material of my armor reinforced shirt and into my flesh. The attack left a burning, pain and sting that began to immediately throb and bleed profusely.
Isis aimed the light and barrel of her laser rifle down at the back of the Nocturna’s head.
“Shit! Kai, Are you okay? I don’t want to accidentally shoot or cut you!” Isis’ voice rang in shrill both above me and through the now static filled ear piece, scathing to my eardrum.
“Just do something already! Don’t worry about me!” I shouted back.
Ignoring the painful darts in his back, the approach of Cole, Jax—and the threat of being shot by Isis from above, the Nocturna made a ferocious and desperate dive towards my bleeding wound, even managing to knock me down.
He quickly climbed over me in an attempt to overpower and gain the upper hand. My bashing him on the side of the head repeatedly only made him work harder. He was definitely stronger than I was giving him credit for. It was as if he had purposefully saved the last remaining bit of his incredible strength for the feed.
The pop of Isis’ rifle echoed like a firecracker going off and a dart embedded itself into the back of his head. He jerked and flinched for a half a second but was unfazed as if someone had simply thumped him.
Seriously? Then, he bit down ravenously.
Deadly fangs sunk deep, clamping firmly and then he began to suck. He immediately began to coo with sexual elation and satisfactory indulgence, panting frantically in an attempt to greedily draw more blood.
His probing tongue delved deeper into my cuts to savor every drop. The act made me seethe with both anger and disgust, lancing me with a new pain that flared and radiated throughout my entire body.
Then he began to spit and snarl, abruptly tearing away from me once a spot of skin on the back of his neck began to boil and sizzle. The noxious scent of decay and sulphur began to infiltrate the close space between us. I took the window of opportune it to deftly roll over and away from him, crouching low and ready to counterattack.
Though the pain in my side was excruciating, my adrenaline was compensating. This is bullshit!
I knew I should have brought my katana for this hunt instead of a damned rifle. This scuffle would have been over five minutes ago without my having been injured. With grit and determination, I quickly emptied my remaining darts and loaded a clip of molotov bullets. Raising my reloaded rifle, I aimed and began to squeeze the trigger.
“Wait! Hold up!” Cole halted me, just as he shot another round of darts into the Nocturna.
He shuddered and his body began to contort and twist once again. This time he began to curl up in agony, finally succumbing to the effects of the twenty odd darts that made him near resemble a humanoid pincushion.
Wait? What the hell for?
Isis landed beside me, pulling out her first aid pack from the satchel strapped around her body.
“Are you hurt badly?” She asked, fumbling with pre-soaked medicinal bandages.
“Not really. It’ll be okay.” I shook my head and waved her attempt at assistance away.
“What the hell took you so long to shoot?” Jax reprimanded Isis.
“Screw you, Jax! You try shooting while floating and using magic at the same time! I got him, didn’t I?” Isis pointed down at the several darts sticking out of the back of the Nocturna’s head.
Jax shook his head angrily and then turned to Cole. “Well? What are you waiting for, man? Kill the son of a bitch!” he growled.
The Nocturna was finally succumbing to the paralyzing serum laced darts. It usually didn’t take this many to slow one down enough so that we could both behead and burn them easier.
Nocturna were like mice on speed paired with a ridiculous amount of Herculean strength.
Though I was sure that the darts were doing their duty, I was sure that a part of his weakness was the obvious fact that he was near starvation and death. He was no longer attractive looking, his face gaunt and darkened with starvation.
I knew my brother though. If he wanted to kill him, he could have done it easily, nearly bare-handed.
“No, not yet. There may be others waiting close by and who would know that better than this one.” Cole pointed the tip of his rifle down at the Nocturna, and then he did a wide sweep with his UV light around the perimeter.
“Say the word, I’ll mince him up right now.” Isis threatened with two fingers raised. A rush of chilled, sharp air was already beginning to gather and coalesce around her hand.
“Oh, now you want to do something that might have actually helped.” Jax quipped with sarcasm.
Isis glared at him but her expression quickly turned into guilt when she looked at me and then down at my wound.
Her wind magic was actually quite deadly. She used the force of air to form weapons as sharp and efficient as finely edged razors that could literally cut through anything with precision and ease.
“Hold that thought.” Cole nodded at her. “You okay?” He then asked me while shining a light on my wound.
“Yeah.” I nodded and winced at the jolt of fresh pain that seemed to punish me for lying about it again.
“Go on and head back to the bar with Isis, we’ll take care of things here.” Cole said.
“No way. There could be more out there just like you said, I’m not abandoning you two.” I frowned.
Cole sighed at my stubbornness and then directed to Isis, “Do a complete mile radius aerial check for any movement or anything out of the ordinary for that matter.”
“In other words, do something useful this time.” Jax had to add in to further taunt Isis.
“Don’t make me redo your new haircut, Jax.” Isis threatened as wind began to swirl around and beneath her and then she began to levitate slowly.
“Get your restraints and tie him up good.” Cole then nodded at Jax, who was ready to finish off the undead target.
Appalled, Jax snapped his eyes to Cole in utter disbelief. “What? Man, are you for real? Why waste any time with this piece of corpse shit? He’s not gonna cooperate and you know it.”
“He will, especially with the smell of blood under his nose. We need to have a conversation before we dispose of him.” Cole assured.
“No need. I’ll take it from here.” A smooth yet authoritative voice cut into our conversation.
We all jumped and spun to face the source of the unforeseen invasion with rifles up and ready to fire.
How the hell did we not hear or scent his arrival?
Though we could all see him clearly, Jax shined his light directly into his face anyway, more for annoyance sake.
The brim of his cowboy-style, black hat was pulled low, obscuring his face from his head all the way down to the tip end of his nose. The concealment left the bottom of a square, sculpted jawline and full sexy lips exposed as he turned his head slightly away from the light.
Switching to my natural infrared vision, I carefully scanned his body from head to toe. I could tell that Cole and Jax were doing the same thing. We all three barely acknowledged our own observations among each other through the steady curtain of needle-like rain that began to fall. Our silent exchange confirmed what we all realized at the same time.
He was armed with two huge, kick-ass revolvers strapped to his body underneath his duster. So why wasn’t he going for them?
What was the point of approaching a potential gunfight while armed if you weren’t going to draw your weapons? I mean, three laser rifles all aimed at your head were more than enough reasons to consider it.
The main heat signatures emanating from the inside of his body were in his head and in and around his heart. Everything else remained a cool, dark blue hue.
He must be starving too, otherwise there would be visible heat from the fresh blood running throughout his muscles and entire body. Those revelations were both odd and surprising to me. I had no idea that these notorious, night parasites had any semblance of an actual warm heart.
Cole was right. This bold, idiotic one on the ground was going to bring many more behind him if we didn’t force him to reveal how he had gotten here. Adrenaline was rising in me again, masking the annoying and profusely bleeding pain in my side.
Though the stranger managed to come upon us virtually undetected, he didn’t seem to be looking for a fight. When his gaze fell on me, I took note that he didn’t seem interested in my fresh and exposed blood at all.
Now that was really bizarre.
Cole was six foot three and about 220 pounds of solid muscle. By comparison, and from what I could make out, this Nocturna was pretty close to his height and build. Rain pattered rhythmically on the top of his hat, dripping steadily over the edge of the brim to further conceal his features, and his long, dark, glistening wet duster flapped in the rain-filled breeze.
Instantly, he reminded me of a bounty hunter.
Hostile or not, he was a Nocturna and we weren’t taking any chances.
Cole was all but ready to fire and blow this mysterious Nocturna away but since he appeared at ease, not even attempting to go for his guns, he hesitated. Out of Guardian Hunter code, we didn’t believe in shooting or attacking an unarmed and non-threatening being without justifiable cause.
Nocturnas were the exceptions though because they were never without malicious intent by virtue of their diets.
“Who the hell are you?” Cole demanded.
“It doesn’t matter. I said that I would take him off your hands and I appreciate the assistance.” He smiled handsomely, flashing perfect, way too white— normal teeth.
I tried hard to get a glimpse of his eyes but I couldn’t really see them. I was too fixated on his sexy lips when he spoke.
He still hadn’t so much as glanced down at my wound that I could tell. Hmm.
“Thanks but we’re not asking you to take him off of our hands. We handle our own intruders and you’re surrounded right now, so unless you want to end up like him, I suggest you go back to wherever it is you spawned from.” Cole warned him.
That was just it. Where had he come from? Where had they both come from? I wondered.
The Nocturna on the ground had long since slipped into unconsciousness when the last few darts struck him. I think we may have overdone it and killed him unintentionally.
I had spoken way too soon. He suddenly began to rouse, groaning as his head slowly lolled from side to side stopping short when he faced the other Nocturna.
His eyes nearly bugged from their sockets.
I stiffened and both Jax and I watched his movements, ready to shoot him again if he did anything stupid. I was still pissed that he had managed to injure me but that second of carelessness and misjudgment had been my fault.
To our shock, the dazed Nocturna came to life and began to panic. Writhing wildly in an attempt to slither away from the stranger, he began to shout and cower. “No! Not him!”
Both Jax and I looked at each other with puzzlement and then Jax trained his rifle back on him in warning.
“What the fuck is your problem you parasitic freak? You wanna die now?” Jax threatened in disgust.
“Yes! Go ahead and pull the trigger, right here, I’m begging you! It would be more humane!” the Nocturna pleaded, stretching his mouth wide, flashing fangs and all while emphatically pointing inside the dark, gaping, cavernous opening.
“I’m not challenging any of you. I have no reason or desire to fight and I promise to make sure that you aren’t troubled with any more of his kind as well.” The stranger explained, remaining cool and patient as the tilt of his head fell and rested on the Nocturna on the ground.
“His kind? You mean any of your kind, don’t you?” I corrected him rudely.
He smiled slightly, I could see that much even in the darkness and rain.
“Bullshit! You guys are all the same and subject to the same complimentary execution as the next one.” Jax clarified.
The stranger was nonchalant to Jax’s insult and threat as well as the Nocturnas sudden bizarre request for us to aid with his suicide.
“No two beings are the same, even those belonging to the same class.” The stranger replied.
The cold, needle-like raindrops were illuminated by a quick flash of lightning. My hair was soaked as was the rest of me, and water annoyingly continued to trickle down into my eyes from my bangs.
Cole huffed with impatience before any of us could respond. “We don’t debate anything with Nocturna and we’ve definitely got this situation under control. Now I did ask who you were and how you got here though. If you don’t want to answer that then you best be on your way.” Cole stated imperiously.
Armed with bad-ass revolvers or not, we weren’t backing down. It was three against one anyway.
It wasn’t like us to engage in any kind of civil conversation or reasoning with Nocturna at all, then again, most of them were not as engaging or as calm as this one either.
Though he carefully scoped out each of our faces, either for memory or comparison before responding, the direction of his gaze seemed to linger and rest a bit longer on me than with Cole and Jax.
I could tell that Cole noticed the same thing and he was none too pleased about it too.
“Who I am and how I got here is irrelevant, though I can’t say the same for him. I haven’t taken count since arriving but you know as well as I do that where there is one, many more will follow. It never dawned on me that I’d find more than one hunter in one place at the same time…and twins at that.” He smiled at me and then tilted his head up slightly to pan the night, rain-filled sky.
He was even more intriguing and tempting to me now that I could see more of his lips and the chiseled shape of his strong jawline, both slick with rain.
“Of course, the air user, well, they’re pretty common. It’s surprising yet refreshing to find you both in the same company though.” He commented matter-of-factly.
He’s already spotted Isis? I hoped that she was alright. I could tell that Cole was thinking the same thing when we looked at each other in the momentary silence.
“Yeah, we’re well aware of that fact. You showed up, didn’t you?” Jax cut him off with a deadly glare.
“As I said, we aren’t of the same class or breed.”
Cole scrutinized him suspiciously, trying to see past the veneer of his words and the physical facade.
“What the hell do you mean, not of the same class or breed?” Cole retorted.
“I greatly admire you guys. Believe it or not, you and I have a lot in common. Give him to me and I can guarantee that you’ll never see him or another Nocturna in this area again.” The stranger completely disregarded his question, which was really pissing Cole off now.
Then he gauged me for a moment.
“I can tend to your injury so that it heals quickly without infection— if you’d like.” His tone was half- soothing and half-seductive, enough to stir up a frenzy of my curious lust. Infection?
“I don’t think so.” I quickly declined.
We were all undecided. This interaction didn’t make any sense.
“What’s the status? I lost connection and now I’m hearing a lot of commotion.” Pierce’s voice ushered in through the static of the earpiece.
“Standby.” Jax acknowledged him.
“He’s alone.” Isis’ voice suddenly affirmed aloud and into our ear-pieces as she landed silently beside me.
I felt a rush of instant relief seeing that she was alright.
“Where the hell have you been?” Cole asked.
“Doing what you asked…thoroughly. Mile radius is all clear. Why’s he still alive?” She nodded at the downed Nocturna in disgust.
“Thank you! I’ve been waiting for it myself! I was hungry but I wasn’t trying to kill anyone!” He pled again, clawing the ground and sliding towards me, only to be halted by the crushing weight of Jax’s heavy-booted foot on his neck.
“Who is he?” Cole decided to ask the insane, poor-excuse for a Nocturna pinned under Jax’s foot instead.
That’s what I’m waiting to know. Who was this Nocturna, that this land shark would rather us kill him than be taken away or dealt with by him? A cruel master? Someone seeking revenge on him? Or was he really a fellow bounty hunter after all?
“Vishinkatura!” the Nocturna hissed in foreboding fear.
“What?” Jax snapped.
“Translate.” Cole ordered the Nocturna.
“It means hunter. I told you, we have much in common.” The stranger cut in impatiently.
We all looked at him questioningly. I somehow didn’t believe that but at the same time, I wanted nothing more than to get out of the soaking rain and start tending to my throbbing and now burning wound.
Cole paused in thought, looking at me, Jax, and then Isis. Grumbling under his breath, he sighed heavily.
“Fine. Do what you want with him as long as I don’t see either one of you around here again.” Cole warned as he knelt down beside the Nocturna. Jax removed his foot, allowing Cole to hoist him roughly to his feet by his neck.
“No! I’m begging you…”
Cole covertly jammed a tracking transmitter down his throat just as he began to protest, and forced him to swallow it by jabbing an elbow into his sternum.
He gagged and swallowed hard with a grimace. Despite the rain, there were still small traces of my blood smeared across his mouth and chin.
Grabbing at his throat and gagging, he tried to speak, “What? No! Please!” he tried futilely to resist even after the other Nocturna grasped a firm hold of the back of his collar and lifted him as if he were a lifeless skeleton.
With a tip of his hat he nodded and flashed another dazzling, toothpaste-commercial-worthy smile.
“Not a problem.”
“I meant what I said about seeing you around here again.” Cole stated firmly as he straightened to stand again.
The stranger regarded each one of us again as if taking notes.
“Understood.” He politely replied.
The doomed Nocturna in his grip began to freak out again, struggling and trying uselessly to escape. Why was he so terrified of him?
“Don’t believe him! Vishinkatura means ca..!”
He was abruptly cut off and I flinched when his head was jerked and twisted, hard. He broke his neck without effort, turning it all the way around as if he were simply unscrewing the cap on a water bottle. The unfortunate undead hung limp with his head twisted nearly backwards on his shoulders and facing us with a frozen, pleading expression.
We all gaped at the stranger suspiciously in reaction to his abrupt and callous method of silencing. He examined his captive nonchalantly as if he were simply carrying a dummy or a bag of laundry under his arm.
“A little overkill, don’t you think? You may want to rethink and revamp the effectiveness of your ammunition. No pun
intended.” The stranger commented on all of the darts sticking out of the Nocturna’s back, head, and neck.
“There’s more than one way to kill and we know them all, always remember that.” Cole promised him.
“I agree. Duly noted.” He replied politely and then turned to leave.
Once he was out of range Jax spoke, “I wonder why he didn’t even bother to pull those bad boys out.”
“Should we follow him? Where’s he gonna go?” Isis asked.
“I’m gonna assume that he’s leaving the same way he arrived.” Cole said as we all watched his form disappear in the distance behind the sheeting rain.
“He didn’t really arrive, he just…appeared. I didn’t know Nocturna could do that.” I said.
“Yeah, I know. There’s apparently a lot we don’t know but I’m gonna bank on a possible gateway somewhere on the island. New mission in effect as of now.” Cole replied in deep thought.
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As a brand new author, I am extremely excited to be able to share what I both enjoy and love to do. HUMANS is my newest urban/supernatural fantasy series, my first being the Divinity Saga. I am a die-hard book-a-holic who resides in Texas with my two adult kids, and 1 spoiled rotten cat. I’m a home-body most of the time and I prefer a good book in any format over television any day. I spend the majority of my free time writing, reading,(while I love urban fantasy -horror and splatter gore is my ultimate favorite genre), testing new recipes, baking, and generally anything that involves arts and crafts. Like many authors, some of my ideas and themes come from my most crazy and bizarre dreams. I love hearing from readers and try to engage as often as I can.
I’m an indie author who’s love of reading and writing extends all the way back to junior high. In real life, I hold a degree in Forensic Psychology and work in law enforcement, writing and publishing is just one of my main hobbies and muses. Though I write urban/supernatural/dark/gothic fantasy, I don’t plan to limit myself. I don’t get much of a chance to interact through social media but I do love and welcome any questions and comments regarding either one of my current saga’s and series!