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The Hunter Secret

The Hunter Secret

Rite World: Blackthorn Hunters Academy 2

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A young woman chosen by fate. A man who’s concealing the truth. And an academy that keeps getting darker…

Erin
Rey and I were forced to make a deal with Headmaster Randall. I agreed that if he saved Rey’s life, and kept my secrets, we’d help him organize a half demon army. But earning the trust of half demons in hiding proves harder than we thought—and more dangerous. One of them lost everything due to a mistake we made, and he’s promised to make us pay for what we’ve done…

Rey
Erin and I have a soul bond, but she doesn’t know it. To keep her safe, I’ve been forced to hide the mark on my chest binding us together forever—as well as conceal my true feelings for her. If dealing with raising an army wasn’t enough, students are going missing. I don’t know how much longer I can keep this secret under wraps, and Erin obviously suspects something…

This dark fantasy romance is an upper YA paranormal academy series that will leave you on the edge of your seat. Class is in session in a world where demons rule and magic is the only way to stop them.

Blackthorn Hunters Academy:
Book 1: The Demon Kiss
Book 2: The Hunter Secret
Book 3: The Soul Bond
Book 4: The Shadow Trials
Book 5: The infernal Curse

 

 

Main Tropes

  • Academy Setting
  • Enemies-to-Lovers
  • Forced Proximity
  • Soulmates
  • Forbidden Love
  • Secret Society
  • Found Family/Band of Friends
  • Chosen One
  • Cameos from Rite World Characters

Synopsis

A young woman chosen by fate. A man who’s concealing the truth. And an academy that keeps getting darker…

Erin

Rey and I were forced to make a deal with Headmaster Randall. I agreed that if he saved Rey’s life, and kept my secrets, we’d help him organize a half demon army. But earning the trust of half demons in hiding proves harder than we thought—and more dangerous. One of them lost everything due to a mistake we made, and he’s promised to make us pay for what we’ve done…

Rey

Erin and I have a soul bond, but she doesn’t know it. To keep her safe, I’ve been forced to hide the mark on my chest binding us together forever—as well as conceal my true feelings for her. If dealing with raising an army wasn’t enough, students are going missing. I don’t know how much longer I can keep this secret under wraps, and Erin obviously suspects something…

This dark fantasy romance is an upper YA paranormal academy series that will leave you on the edge of your seat. Class is in session in a world where demons rule and magic is the only way to stop them.

Intro into Chapter One

Chapter One

My life changed completely five months ago.

I grabbed another shirt from my closet and shoved it inside the bag on my bed. Even these … this shirt, this closet, this bag, this bed—they were all new. Five months ago, I would have never dreamed of this crazy freaking life.

But things were what they were. I couldn’t deny it anymore. I was half demon hunter and the half-demon daughter of the stoic Professor Martha and Brikan, the king of the underworld. And because of it, my mother thought everything would go downhill from here.

To me, everything started going downhill the day I entered the haunted house on a dare and my aunt Paula died, but the biggest turn of all had been when I found out about my father—and when Rey and I had made a deal with the headmaster, Randall.

In the last month of classes before the end of the fall semester, the headmaster had summoned me. If he had summoned Rey, I didn’t know. To be honest, I didn’t know anything about Rey anymore. After that kiss—that amazing, breathtaking kiss—he told me he had no interest in me and he distanced himself from me. He even convinced Professor Astrid to let him change class periods. I ended up without a partner in weapons forging class and I almost failed.

Despite the immense sadness I had felt the first week when I didn’t see or hear from Rey, I forced myself to move on. To forget about him. He didn’t like me? That was okay. It wasn’t the end of the world. I was only nineteen. I was in no rush to find love or have a serious relationship. I liked being single and spending time with Claire.

Speaking of Claire …

I glanced at the time on my cell phone sitting on the nightstand. Claire should be arriving any time now. She promised to come here the moment she was back. I narrowed my eyes, wondering if I could sneak a phone call before my mother caught me using my phone. Cell phones were forbidden at the academy. Last semester, I had had mine in my bedroom with me, because I didn’t have anywhere to keep it, but this time, my mother wanted me to leave it here. Would I be able to?

I reached for my phone.

“Erin?”

I whipped to the door. “Claire?”

A moment later, my friend stepped into my room. “I’m back!” Short brown curls bouncing, she opened her arms and rushed to me. “I missed you.” She squeezed me tight.

I chuckled, trying to return the hug, but not able to when she tackled me like this. “Me too.”

She pulled back and smiled at me, her green eyes twinkling. “It’s so good to be back.” She plopped down on my bed beside my bag. “Holy crap, you have no idea how bored I was.”

I snorted. Professor Crimson, Claire’s father, had taken her to visit his mother, a retired demon hunter living in Chasseur Ville, just a few minutes from here. But because Professor Crimson had a stick up his butt, he hadn’t let Claire take her phone or send any kind of news to me during winter break.

“I wasn’t bored,” I told her, “but I bet it wasn’t much better either.”

“Ha, I might take on that bet. Can you imagine? My grandmother is as rigid and demanding as my father. For the last two weeks, all I heard was about how I had to work harder and do better to uphold the family name.” Her shoulders slumped. “We all know I’ll never be the demon hunter they want me to.”

I poked my foot at her ankle. “I can help you.”

She rolled her eyes. “I doubt that, but you’re welcome to try.” I picked up another shirt from my closet and put it in my bag. Claire’s eyes softened. “How about you? How has it been?”

I glanced around the bedroom. Students weren’t expected to stay in the dorms during winter break and summer vacation. When the semester ended, I had no idea where to go. As far as I knew, the house I lived in with my aunt had been sold. With that money, I could rent a place nearby, but the last couple of times I had been by myself outside the academy walls, I had been attacked by demons. I wasn’t sure I wanted to repeat that.

Professor Martha surprised me when she invited me to stay at her house.

“I’m your mother,” she said in her robot-like voice. She wasn’t as bad as Professor Crimson, but she sure wasn’t open either. “It’s only right for you to move in with me.”

I was skeptical at first, but what other choice did I have? So, I crossed the campus to the Dahlia Villa and joined my mother at her townhouse. Matching my mother’s personality, the townhouse interior decoration was contemporary and impeccable, with nothing out of place. I couldn’t imagine myself lounging on the leather couch, eating popcorn, with my feet on the glass coffee table. Or devouring a pizza with my hands at the sleek dining room.

As we moved around the townhouse, I realized it was bigger than I first realized, with spare rooms that had been turned into an office and library and guest bedrooms. I thought she would put me in one of those, but then she took me to the last door on the second floor. To my surprise, this bedroom was different. It reminded me of my room at the academy: twin bed, nightstand, desk and chair, dresser, and a walk-in closet and bathroom, but here the wood was white and the accents—blanket, curtains, etc.—were light blue and off-white. Simple, clean, but pretty and cozy.

“This is your bedroom,” she said, beckoning me to enter. “Though the decorations have changed over the years, this has always been your room.”

I stared at her, speechless.

Moments like those wreak havoc inside of me, but they were rare. Instead of having a nice, lazy break where I got to know my mother and spend my first Christmas and New Year with her, we spent most of the time in the basement. Doing what? Training.

It was all about training.

Protesting didn’t help, so after a while, I gave up. It would be easy to just suck it up and go through her intense training regimen than try to rebel. Try being the key word. She would never allow me to rebel.

“It has been … odd,” I confessed. I told her about training nonstop and no bonding time whatsoever. “I guess it’s better than being out there alone.” At least, that was what I told myself.

My feelings regarding my mother were messed up. I still resented her for abandoning me and for being so cold and distant, but despite it all, I understood her reasons. I knew why she kept away; it was to protect me. That had to count for something, right?

In my head, I called her my mother, since it was easier and felt better than calling her professor. However, I couldn’t bring myself to call her my mother out loud. Whenever I had to talk to her, I either called her professor, or simply Martha. Thankfully, she didn’t push the subject—not that I thought she would.

“I’m sure she’ll warm up to you in no time,” Claire said. “After all, everything she did was for you, to save you. That means she loves you a lot.”

I frowned. That might be true in theory, but it was hard to believe it when she was so cold to me. I let out a long breath. “It doesn’t matter now.” I shoved a jacket in my bag and zipped it up.

A slow smile tugged at Claire's lips. “Nothing else happened? Nothing interesting?”

“What do you mean?”

Her smile widened. “Like … Rey. Didn’t he come to see you?”

I scoffed. She knew very well that Rey had shut me out completely after our kiss in the graveyard. She also knew my feelings for him had only grown in the meantime. I was so stupid. “Why would he?”

“Because he realized he loved you and needed you.”

“Right,” I drawled.

I pulled my shirt off, threw it on the floor, and picked up a clean one from the closet.

“Oh!” Claire yelled, startling me. “I did some research during the break.” She pointed to my chest. “I know now what that mark means.”

I glanced down at myself. Some time ago, a mark appeared above my heart—a small black mark that looked like two sideway hearts entwined, tied together by another swirly line. When I first noticed it, it was right after the battle at the cemetery. My urge was to find Rey and tell him about it. He knew what the mark on my wrist meant; he would know what this one meant. But since his disappearing act, I let that idea go. So, I asked Claire during class one day. She said that mark was familiar, but she couldn’t remember from where. We had plans to research it, but then the final exams hit us hard and Claire became a studying robot. I thought about researching it on my own, but to be honest, I was afraid of the meaning.

The first one was a sign marking me as the daughter of the king of the underworld. This one couldn’t be much better, could it?

But apparently, after the stress of finals and going to visit her grandmother, Claire remembered.

“Do I want to know?” I asked, pulling a clean shirt over my head. The mark was pretty, just like a small, delicate tattoo over my left breast, but that didn’t mean I liked to look at it.

“I knew I had seen it before,” she said, her voice eager. “It’s the sign of a soul bond.”

“A soul what?”

“A soul bond,” she said, as if I should know what that meant. “A soul bond is the connection formed when twin souls find each other. Technically, it’s called a Twin Soul Bond.” Her eyes shone. “That means you’ve found your soulmate.”

“What?” I shrieked.

Claire’s nose wrinkled. “If it’s not Rey, who could it be? Harvey, maybe?”

“Claire, what the hell? That doesn’t make sense. A soulmate? Me? Don’t you think I would know?” I gestured to my chest. “This can’t mean that.”

“But it does.” She stood. “I would say someone at the academy is your true love. Now you just have to find him. He’s sure to have the same mark in the same exact place.”

“No way.” I shook my head. “I don’t want to find a soulmate. I don’t want any bond connecting me to someone. I’m fine by myself.”

“This isn’t up to you,” she said. “From what I read, your twin soul calls for you. Sooner or later, you’ll find it.”

This subject irritated me. The only guy on my mind and in my heart was Rey, but he had shut me out. If he was my soulmate, if he felt for me the same way I felt for him, he wouldn’t have told me he didn’t like me. He wouldn’t have pushed me away.

Right?

I shook my head again, determined to forget about this nonsense. “All right, that’s enough.” I grabbed a thick sweater from my closet and put it on. “Are you ready to go?”

Claire nodded. “My bags are on the porch.”

After putting on my thick black wool coat over the sweater, I slung one of my bags across my shoulders and picked up the duffel from the floor. Many of my things had stayed in my dorm room across campus, like the picture of my aunt and me, her Dawnblade, and my uniforms. But even so, it wasn’t like I needed a bunch of things. And if I forgot something, it was easy to come back to my mother’s house and grab it.

Together, Claire and I trailed to the front of the townhouse. As I expected, my mother was nowhere to be seen. Since classes started the next day, I bet she was in her office in the Aster building, getting ready for the new semester.

Outside, the chilly wind whipped around, ruffling my hair. “At least, it’s not snowing anymore,” I said with a groan. It had snowed most of the winter break. The paths between the buildings had been cleared, but the amount of snow accumulated in the grass and at the corners of the buildings reached my thighs.

My entire life, Aunt Paula and I had moved a lot. The best places we had lived were Florida and southern California, where it was warm year-round. When we moved to Colorado a few years ago, I protested. She assured me I would get used to the snow and ice. Well, I hadn’t, and I doubted I ever would.

Though the snow had been shoveled away, the pathways were still slick, so Claire and I walked slowly across the campus, toward the Gardenia building, which housed the female dorm.

As we crossed the square in the middle of campus, I stared at the big Blackthorn tree. In the middle of so much snow, the tree seemed to have a dark glow, its thousands of thorns shining like jewels. It was so beautiful and yet so dark, so cold, so eerie.

Claire and I weren’t the only ones arriving at the Gardenia building. Many students walked into the dorms, carrying bags and boxes. In the Snapdragon building next to Gardenia, the boys did the same.

Claire and I split once we arrived on the second floor. I fished the keys from my coat pocket and unlocked the door to my room. Then, I kicked the door open and threw my duffel bag on the floor.

“Home, sweet home,” I whispered, glancing around.

Though it had been only two weeks, it seemed like I hadn’t been here in forever. Despite being grateful that my mother had taken me in during the winter break, her house would never feel like mine. This room felt more like home than anywhere else I had lived so far.

With a sigh, I took off my coat and started organizing my things. After making sure everything I had left behind was intact, that my uniforms and boots were clean, I unpacked my bags and placed my clothes inside my closet.

I was almost done when a knock came from the door.

Frowning, I glanced at the closed door. If it was Claire, she would have tried opening the door, which was unlocked, before knocking. Who else could be coming for me? Ava? Harvey? I doubted it.

Rey?

Yeah, right.

Shaking my head, I opened the door.

“Hey,” Rey said, standing in the middle of the hallway.

I stared at him, stunned. I really hadn’t expected it to be him. But, holy shit, I had forgotten how beautiful he was. Well, not really, but damn, could he get more handsome each time I saw him? Tall, with just the right amount of bulk, a handsome face full of sharp angles, and brilliant gray eyes that sometimes looked silver—he was the exact definition of eye candy.

His beauty plus the way he stood, so sure of himself, so powerful, so intimidating, had my heart tugging inside my chest.

I frowned. “Hm, what are you doing here?”

“Randall wants us.”

My frown deepened. The headmaster hadn’t sent for me in almost two months. I had barely set foot back into the dorms and he was suddenly breathing down my neck. “Right now?” I asked, skeptical.

Rey nodded. “Right now.”

I stared at him some more. Here was the guy who made my heart skip a beat. The guy who had ignored me for a couple of months now. The guy who apparently wasn’t my soulmate.

I wouldn’t admit it out loud, but that hurt so bad.

Impatience dripped from him as he turned the collar of his thick black coat up, giving him a regal air. A powerful stance. A heartbreaking sight.

Knowing this could only end badly, I grabbed my coat from my chair. “All right. Let’s go.”

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