She claimed the muggers were demons, but of course Jason didn’t believe her. At first.
When a mysterious woman appears in a dirty alley to rescue Jason Latimer from a pair of muggers, he tries to write her off as a garden variety lunatic. But he can’t shake the memory of her intense green eyes that seemed to flash gold, or the glowing sword she’d worn on her hip.
She calls herself Alex (no last name) like she’d made it up on the spot, and she offers Jason her protection. From what, she can’t or won’t say. He refuses, and that night he dreams of a dark man with the same offer. His black eyes flash blood and garnet, and he smells of burning things. Jason refuses him, too.
A chance meeting brings Alex and Jason together again, and she tells him of the Guardians: two immortal beings created near the beginning of time with the express purpose of fighting for mortal-kind’s soul. She is Light, and the man from Jason’s dream is Dark. Jason must choose, because Lucifer, for reasons purely his own, has unleashed the armies of Hell to hunt Jason down.
But there are things about Jason that not even he knows, and he’ll face hard truths and bitter choices as he struggles to find his place in a world redefined. Will he rise to the challenge, or, when the time comes, will he falter?
From Renaissance Florence to the French Revolution, from World War II to the modern streets of New Orleans, The Dark Man’s Son is a riveting journey filled with unforgettable characters, wry humor, dark twists, and a touch of romance.
Jason Latimer was a logical man. He lived in a concrete world with concrete parameters. The sun rose in the east, set in the west, and in between the two (on either side) demons did not walk. Crazy ninja chicks did not show up with swords (but wait: he must’ve imagined the sword after all, because he hadn’t seen it again after that first shaky glimpse) and wild stories to rescue you from muggers. Muggers, to address that point, did not have strange, distorted faces and voices that sucked all the air from the room.
Jason splashed cold water on his face and scrubbed at his cheeks with long-fingered hands. He stared at himself in the bathroom mirror. A stranger stared back at him through familiar midnight blue eyes. Dark stubble dusted his jaw. His nose was badly swollen. He made a note to get his unruly hair cut; when it started to go curly at the back and sides it was time.
Deciding he’d put the inevitable off long enough, he grabbed his nose and pushed it back in place with a painful click. He let out a long stream of obscenities as he applied the bandage, and, still cursing, pressed a bag of frozen peas (his grandfather, apparently, believed in being prepared: the freezer had been full of them) against his face.
He worked around the bag to pat his skin dry with one of his grandfather’s thick towels. His belly rumbled, but he ignored it: Thai suddenly didn’t sound as appetizing as it had hours ago, before he’d left his grandfather’s ridiculous Baroque nightmare of a brownstone and stumbled out onto the street and into an actual nightmare.
That wasn’t fair, Jason thought with a shake of his head. The old man’s place wasn’t that bad. It was just…ornate. And kinda creepy. If there was a single surface free of a grinning gargoyle or an extra, overwrought curlicue, Jason hadn’t been able to find it. Even the towels were over the top.
Jason absently rubbed the tattoo on his upper arm as he considered the bedroom he’d claimed for the duration of his stay here. It was the least histrionic of the brownstone’s six, but it was still way too much for Jason’s taste. The master suite had been out of the question: he wasn’t sure how his grandfather had been able to sleep a wink in there. It would’ve given Bram Stoker the willies.
He frowned and shook his head again. All these musings on his deceased grandfather’s choice of decor were really just avoidance. The last thing he wanted to think about was the weird mugging and the even weirder woman who’d come to his rescue…a rescue he hadn’t needed, he still stubbornly insisted.
With an impatient, oft-repeated gesture, he brushed a lock of black hair off his forehead and tried to clear his mind with a few deep, careful breaths. His swollen nose made it painful. He discarded the peas, centered himself, and began the soothing motions of his nightly Tai Chi routine.
He gave it up as no good after only ten minutes. He couldn’t hold the forms; he couldn’t get his breathing right; and his mind simply refused to focus. With a grumbled curse, he stripped out of his workout clothes and tugged on the shorts and t-shirt he wore as pajamas. He grabbed his laptop and the peas off the table and climbed up into the high bed. It was time for some serious Googling, he thought.
First things first: what could the vast reaches of the internet tell him about Guardians, and what exactly did they have to do with Jameson O’Connor, his mysterious and recently-deceased grandfather?
He turned away from the door with an angry huff of breath, and she followed him inside. Closed the door behind them. “The library’s through here,” he grumbled. “Do you really know anything about old books, or was this whole thing just some weird set-up?”
She followed him down the short hall and lingered in the library’s doorway to get a good look at the room. “That would be an elaborate plan, even for me,” she said, her eyes trained on the sprawling shelves. “No, the bookstore you called is mine, and I’m the one who does all the appraisals. When I saw your name in the appointment book…well, I figured it was just a funny little twist of fate.”
“Fate has a pretty messed up sense of humor.”
Her gaze moved to rest on him for the first time since they’d come into the library. “Yes. But she’s also a stubborn bitch, and arguing with her is futile. So here I am.”
He crossed his arms over his broad chest and leaned back against the desk. Dark blue eyes narrowed as he watched her set the briefcase on the table and begin to unpack its contents. “Your brother says hi.”
She froze, though only for a moment. “Does he?” she said. He sensed the strain in her voice as she struggled to sound casual; her hands trembled; she wouldn’t meet his eyes. “And how did you two get on?”
Jason gave a lazy shrug. “Not so well, actually. He’s sorta pushy.”
She snorted and seemed to relax. “Nailed it. He’s very impatient, and very ruthless. I am a bit surprised he found you so quickly, though.” She pulled on a pair of white cotton gloves and flashed him a smile. “Where would you like to begin?”
“Are you serious about this?”
“You made an appointment, Jason. You obviously have need of my services,” she said with a gesture that encompassed the neat stacks and the mess he’d already made. “I wouldn’t think our prior meeting should have any impact on a possible business relationship, should it?”
“I’m sorry, I just…this is all a bit too weird for me.” He rubbed the tattoo on his upper arm like he did when he was anxious or deep in thought. She caught the gesture, and her eyes narrowed.
“Interesting tattoo,” she said.
“Huh? Oh, yeah. I designed it myself.”
“Did you?” she murmured. “Hmm.” She took a few steps closer, and the whisper-soft feel of her gloved fingers against his skin surprised him. “What was your inspiration?”
“Um, you know, just…life? I don’t know, really. I wanted a tattoo, and I wanted something different. I sat down and started doodling, and this is what I came up with.”
“Hm,” she said again. Her expression turned quizzical, and she cocked her head to the side like a curious bird. “What do you do, Jason? When you’re not being attacked by demons or overwhelmed by an old man’s minutiae, I mean.”
He had to smile at the way she phrased it; it was the first genuine smile he could remember since hearing about his grandfather’s death. His navy eyes warmed and a dimple appeared in his left cheek; a shallower one flashed on the right. Her own mouth curved helplessly in response. “What’s so funny?” she asked.
“Nothing,” he said with a shake of his head. “Everything. I don’t know. But to answer your original question, I work with wood. I guess you could call me a carpenter.”
“Like my brother,” she said.
“That creepy guy’s a carpenter?”
She made an impatient gesture. “No, of course not. My other brother.”
Somehow his mind made the impossible leap, and shook his head again at this new madness. “You’re insane. Are you trying to tell me your brother—”
“I’m a child of the Divine,” she said in that same serene, implacable tone. “So was he. Different, of course, but the same.” She shrugged a little. “There were many before him, a few since, and there will be more. It’s just the way of things.”
He didn’t have an answer to this, but she didn’t seem to expect one. “The creature you met last night—what did he call himself?”
Her expression turned sour. “Of course he would. Luke. He employs a thousand tiny cruelties. Do me a favor: next time you see him—and there will be a next time, I’m sure of it—call him Cassius.” Her eyes seemed over-bright, and her next words were brisk. “As for carpentry, he’s incapable of creating anything. He exists only to rot and destroy.”
“He called you a bringer of nightmares.”
She wandered away and began to carefully sort through some of the books he’d culled from the deeper parts of the library. “Yes. He would. To his kind, I am a nightmare.”
Jason ran frustrated hands through his hair; scraped it back off his forehead and tugged hard. “Could you please just explain to me what you are? I’ve been trying to find some sort of clue, but it’s like no one has ever heard of you.”
“I told you last night that we keep a low profile. It’s necessary when you’ve existed…as long as we have.”
“Enough with the riddles, lady—Claire or Alex, whatever your name is! I’m tired of these mind games. I just want a straight answer.”
She cleared her throat and stroked a leather binding. “Your grandfather seems to have an extensive collection of books on demonology, mythology, and religion.”
“Yeah, I noticed that. So?”
“Some of these are quite rare. Look at this. I haven’t seen one of these in centuries.” She held up a thick book, its binding dark and cracking with age, but Jason ignored it.
“You mean…no one’s seen one of those in centuries. Like…reports and stuff haven’t mentioned it. Not you, personally.”
Her jade eyes—flashing gold, like he’d noticed last night—met his, and the expression there terrified him. “I’m a daughter of the Divine, Jason. Do you have any idea what means?”
“Obviously I don’t. Why do you think I’ve been begging you for a little clarification?”
Her mouth lifted at one corner. “You won’t believe me.”
“I already don’t believe half the stuff you say. I don’t know how much worse it could get.”
She turned away and very deliberately set the delicate old book back on the table. When she faced him again, her eyes were entirely gold, no trace of the green. Jason blinked. “Your…eyes…? What…?” A trick of the light, it had to be.
“It’s not a trick, Jason.” She took a step toward him, and he pushed away from the desk and backed up. She kept advancing; he kept retreating. She stopped and sighed. “You’ve no reason to fear me.”
“You’re joking, right? I watched you beat up a guy three times your size. I met that freak show who calls himself your brother. Now you’re standing in my grandfather’s library with color-change eyes claiming that you remember a book from centuries ago. Either one of us is seriously unhinged—”
“Or it’s all true,” she said gently.
“I was gonna say ‘or we both are’.”
She pulled the desk chair out for him. “Sit down, Jason.” She claimed one of the chairs near the fireplace and dragged it closer. “We need to have a serious talk.”
Night Owl Reviews: http://bit.ly/M9J5Su
Lady Caella: http://bit.ly/MaWnSi
Close Encounters w/ the Night Kind: http://bit.ly/LNtmOs
Rabid Reads: http://bit.ly/OG8W7W
Laurie’s Paranormal Thoughts and Reviews: http://bit.ly/KPT52m
Cathy Speight on Famous Five Plus: http://bit.ly/OUUO7p
Karen Bryant-Doering on FFP: http://bit.ly/NHcIx3
TeAmNeRd ReViEwS: http://bit.ly/MjXYBI
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Meg Whitlock has been writing nearly all her life, and she’s glad she finally got over her laziness and wrote the book she’s been dreaming about for years. She graduated from Queens University of Charlotte with a BA in Comparative Arts with an Art History specialization and an Ancient History minor…which is a mouthful no matter how you say it. She has four cats (including an invisible one), a car named Babar, and a vivid imagination.
In 2001 her one-act play, “The Shoebox,” was produced by Catawba College in Salisbury, NC and presented at the American College Theatre Festival. She was honored by Art:21 and the Mint Museum of Art for her essay “Kara Walker: Using Stereotypes to Provoke Thought,” and she’s won awards for both her fiction and non-fiction writing.