Brace yourself for another two-barrel blast of unrelenting horror and suspense. Volume 3 of the ‘Double Barrel Horror’ anthology series delivers two chilling tales from each of six talented authors for a twelve-story onslaught that will blow you out of your sneakers. This time around, your fate lies in the hands of Christine Morgan, Mark Matthews, Theresa Braun, Calvin Demmer, Glenn Rolfe, and Robert Essig.
(review request submitted by Theresa Braun, contributing author, for an honest critique)
There are twelve stories in this gory anthology. I am going to share my favorite story from each author.
I had no idea so many phrases had the word “eye” in it. Christine Morgan’s Eye See You discussed mentioned several.
keeping an eye on you
look with your eyes, not your hands
eye spy with my little eye
eyes in the back of your head
eat with your eyes first
When a child hears these phrases, their minds might translate to a literal form. Maybe a child believes EYES are in the back of heads. If you step into their mindset, this phrase is creepy. That’s why I think many will find Eye See Youdisturbing. It makes you rethink and picture a not so pleasant scene.
If you have a weak stomach, as in the mere mention of puke causes you to gag, then pass on From Unclean Spells by Robert Essig. There was so much vomit in this short story. I mean, you could slip- n-slide in the slimy stuff if you wanted to… not that I am suggesting you ever do so. I am just giving you a nasty visual of how much upchuck was involved. Oh yeah, there’s a grotesque monster in this tale as well. He made me wanna relieve myself of my breakfast foods as well.
Wicked Smart Carnie by Mark Matthews solidified what my mother told me every year of my childhood when the carnival came to town… “Never trust a carnie. Never talk to a carnie. NEVER, EVER, go off with a carnie alone!”
I’m sure carnies are lovely people, but they give off a creepy vibe to me. I’m assuming Mark Matthews (the author) has felt the creep vibe from them as well.
Theresa Braun’s Stillborn had a great combination of science fiction, mystery, suspense, gore, and shock. I mean, first, she had body parts in jars. But, she topped herself when more jars were exposed. (no spoilers)
Mad scientist… Invasion of the Body Snatchers… I’m not sure what the heck is going on in that hospital, and I’m not sure if I want to know. Who am I kidding… I so want to know. I didn’t want the story to end!
Calvin Demmer drew me in with Highway Hunger. His monster was a seven-foot squid/octopus with two large eyes that fed on dying animals or humans. Ok, that sounds good on paper. In-person, not so much.
And the ending, wow, I DID NOT see that coming. I bet Dudley didn’t either.
Oh and the rat scene… SHIVERS!
When I was a child, there was an urban legend that a Cabbage Patch Doll came alive and suffocated a baby in her sleep. I immediately tossed all my big dolls in the trash. Even now, as I shop in stores, I give them the side-eye. I know it’s my imagination, but I swear them look a little too intently at me. Plus, they can blink their eyes. That’s creepy.
Oh, and don’t get me started on the dolls that look, feel, and act like real babies. Those dolls are nightmare inducers!
After reading The House on Mayflower by Glenn Rolfe, I have a new fear. I’d tell you, but I don’t want to ruin the story for others.
All Nadira Holden wants is to preserve the last of her soul and create a new life free of magic, demons, and war.
Her involuntary bond with a succubus makes her desires impossible. The threat of this disgruntled demon possessing her urges Nadira to find the succubus’s missing body.
Nadira’s only hope of avoiding demonic possession lies with Derek, the only demon she can tolerate without slaying. Except his hands are full trying to secure his recently-inherited title of prince. Desperate, Nadira agrees to help Derek secure his title by experimenting with the deadly magic they once generated in exchange for his aid in her investigation.
To untangle herself from the evil that surrounds her, Nadira must be willing to betray her friends and get cozy with her enemies. She may even have to do the unthinkable: break the peace treaty that allows demons and humans to coexist. If she can’t toss aside her scruples, Nadira may not make it out of this ordeal with her soul intact.
Below is the first scene of That Night — book two in the Nadira Holden, Demon Hunter seres. Enjoy this sneak peek and pre-order your copy today!
Please note this writing sample is provide before the final round of professional editing.
He pressed his lips against hers. His were thin, chapped and puckered. He began moaning immediately. His head tilted from left to right and back again. His mouth opened greedily. Long, thin and forked, his serpentine tongue licked her face from lip to brow, cheek to chin. And, she allowed it.
Nadira looked away as her stomach turned. Despite the biting cold waiting for her outside, Nadira pushed away her full cup of hot green tea. Sadly, she realized she would have to find a new hangout spot or accept the fact that demons were now sought after as lovers to teenage bookworms. And with those two unfortunate choices, Nadira stood from her cushioned lounge chair, stretched, then began walking out of Great Escape—her favorite bookstore—with her coat in one hand and a small, hardcover novel titled A Little Princess in the other.
“Miss, miss!” Nadira heard someone shout from behind her. “You forgot your phone!”
She turned and came face to face with the reason she was leaving.
“Thanks,” she mumbled as she carefully took the phone, successfully avoiding skin to skin contact.
The tall, slumped demon narrowed his eyes when he saw her discomfort. His pale skin had a blueish-green undertone that became more apparent when he clenched his jaw in annoyance. When Nadira rolled her eyes and sucked her teeth at his attitude, he swiftly grabbed her wrist and pulled her in close.
Do not kiss me.
“You’re next,” he said. Then, he licked his barely-there lips.
Nadira jerked backward and accidently bumped into the arm of someone sitting close by. From the sound of dishes clinking, the aroma, and someone hissing in pain, she knew hot coffee was spilled.
“Geez, I’m sorry!” Nadira apologized quickly.
Before she could turn around to make amends, Nadira heard someone say, “Sanford?” in a soft, timid voice. The young woman that actually enjoyed making out with the snake-tongued Sanford approached them hesitantly. “What’s … Um. What’s going on, bae?”
They all stood in a line facing each other due to the narrow aisles caused by a small room filled with oversized armchairs.
Shaking her head, Nadira tried to walk away again. She was a hammer—ready to fix problems the only way she knew how—and Nadira saw all demons as rusty, exposed nails in need of a beatdown. As riled up as she was by his cryptic attempt to threaten her, she knew a fight in a bookstore was not the way to go. She reminded herself that she was retired now and demon hunting was illegal.
The strained moment was cut by an unlikely request, “If you bump me with your beautiful butt one more time, you’re gonna hafta gimme your number.”
This man with a coffee stained shirt and a half empty cup stood. The interruption somehow broke the tension and they all relaxed their rigid stances a bit. The flirtaious man’s commanding presence reminded them that they were in a crowded bookstore and had no business causing a ruckus.
“Let’s go,” Sanford said while roughly grabbing his girlfriend’s arm.
He pushed past the rest of them, and his girlfriend mumbled apologies in his wake as she was pulled along. A minute later, they were out of sight in the cozy, cluttered bookstore. Nadira hoped they were gone.
She felt an instant flash of pain in the palm of her hand in the same moment she heard the sound of her expensive phone’s screen cracking. Jaime is going to kill me. This made the second cell phone she would need replaced in the six weeks since she started using the minicomputers to make calls and look up “what would millennials do?”
Holding up her damaged phone, Nadira said to the guy wearing his coffee, “My number won’t do you any good today.”
She couldn’t hold back her look of utter frustration. He stood there looking at her, really looking at her, as if he could see her past and make sense of it. He nodded gravely, presumably accepting her—aggression, clumsiness, and all.
“I’ll go easy on you since you’re clearly not having a good day,” he offered.
Feigning a look of amazement, Nadira said, “That’s big of you after my blatant attempt to come on to you.”
Matching her mocking tone, he replied, “I can tell you’re clumsy as fuck.”
Nadira laughed. The sound erupted from her—loud and abrupt enough to turn a few heads. She quickly covered her mouth with her uninjured hand. Then, she dropped her hand just as quickly and allowed herself to continue laughing wholeheartedly.
“I—” She tried again when her laugher tampered off. “I think I needed that. Thanks.” She wiped tears from the corners of her eyes while smiling at him. She was intrigued now.
“What’s your name?” Nadira asked, genuinely curious about this twenty-first-century guy.
The animated face he made was filled with reluctant regret. “You’re gonna need to buy me a replacement cup of joe before this gets personal.”
“Done,” Nadira said decisively.
She swung around to face the front of the bookstore and headed for the makeshift coffee stand.
Nadira got in line to order Mr. Tall-and-Handsome whatever he wanted. She wasn’t sure if it was her hunter instincts or feminine intuition, but she knew he would follow her. In fact, she felt the exact moment he stepped in line behind her. The butterflies in her stomach fluttered and the goosebumps on her arms rose. Nadira’s full lips lifted into a satisfied grin. She was grateful he couldn’t see her face.
There was only one customer ahead of them. After the young woman in front of her with pink-streaked blonde hair ordered herself a five-word, over-sugared, over-foamed, over-caramelized drink, Nadira stepped up to the register. The cashier was running a one-woman shop as she took care of both book purchases and coffee orders.
To stay relevant with all the trendy cafes springing up, the owner of Great Escape added a high-end coffee maker next to the cashier’s stand. The big, shiny piece of machinery seemed out of place in the dusty bookshop lined with shelves that overflowed with classic literature.
“Hi, sweetie. What are you having today?” the cashier asked looking a little frazzled.
Nadira took a dramatic step to the right and presented her new friend.
The cashier paused as she visually devoured the well-toned man of Chinese descent Nadira had presented.
“You willing to share this one, hon?” she asked Nadira.
With a bashful look, Tall-and-Handsome interrupted, “Caffe Americano, please.”
“Not a problem, not a problem at all,” the cashier said while leaning forward and batting her eyelashes. “And, your name for the order?”
Nadira chringed, hoping she wasn’t coming on as overtly as the cashier.
“Shaun,” he answered. The flirtatious cashier then tilted her head to make eye contact with Nadira as if to say ‘now you know too.’
While Nadira and Shaun looked at each other, the cashier continued to try her luck, “You gotta number for me, handsome?”
Nadira couldn’t help the frown that appeared as she wondered why the eager cashier didn’t care if he was her boyfriend or not.
All three of them smiled in the awkward silence that followed the cashier’s question, but Nadira was sure it was for three very different reasons. Her smile was more of a baring of teeth as she subconsciously displayed a nonverbal warning. Shaun might have been enjoying the attention of two women. It was too soon to tell what his preferences were. And the cashier—plump, curly-haired, and older than them by at least ten years—saw nothing wrong with hitting on customers while working.
“Will this cover it?” Between two fingers, Shaun held up a folded five dollar bill.
That was Nadira’s cue to play the role of sugar mama for a moment. She stepped into his personal space, swung her hips, and gently bumped him out of the way. Shaun stepped to the left with a chuckle. Nadira quickly pulled out her wallet and slammed her five dollar bill onto the counter. The cashier flinched, her come-a-little-closer look melting away.
“Aren’t you an eager one?” the older woman asked, chidingly. In a stage whisper, she added, “It’s not that attractive, you know.”
Nadira simply let her eyebrows do the talking. Her look said ‘are you serious?’ with all the sass she could muster while biting her tongue.
Perhaps sensing that the lightheartedness of the moment was over, Shaun chimed in, “I’ll take it to go.”
Legendary demon hunter Nadira Holden paid the ultimate price to end the war between demons and hunters.
Resurrected in present-day New York, many years have passed, everyone moved on without her, and the demons she once battled have made peace with humans. Nadira no longer has a purpose here. Dying again might be her ticket back to that “next life” she experienced.
Except humans are disappearing, and Nadira’s father is one of the missing. Feeling a strong obligation to find him before sorting out her own fate, she begins investigating.
She won’t rest in peace unless she can prove the demons are behind the disappearances. But Nadira is running out of time. The darkness within her is causing her to lose her humanity while the rest of mankind is on the verge of enslavement to the demons they now worship.
Fight with Nadira in a new urban fantasy series that combines monster-slaying action, family drama, and simmering romance. Experience why not even death can stop her.
Azaaa Davis is an American author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance novels.
She fell in love with reading as a high school freshman and continues to read, write, and draw today. Her background in social work helps her portray realistic characters in otherworldly–and sometimes terrifying–situations. A New York native, Azaaa currently lives in New Hampshire (USA) with her husband and daughters.
She debuted with This Time, A Nadira Holden Novel, in 2018 about demon hunters, family ties and the magic of love.
Azaaa is working diligently to finish writing more fantasy novels while raising her daughters. Thank you for showing an interest in her stories!
The year is 1879, the witch Farrah has destroyed the demon Ruma, but the cost has been high. Her two best friends and fellow witches are dead as well.
A shot rings out and a bullet plunges into her back. As Farrah lies dying, she watches helplessly as one of Ruma’s followers gathers some of the demon’s ashes. The follower shoots Farrah again. With the last of her magical energy she embeds her essence in the necklace she wears then dies.
Years pass and the follower’s descendant revives the demon Ruma. At the same time an innocent woman named, Lisa, finds Farrah’s necklace in a meadow and puts it on. Farrah’s spirit enters Lisa’s body and takes control of it.
The battle between witches and demons is renewed, but this time the struggle starts in 2016. Ancient magic and modern day weapons will make this war deadlier by far.
Lisa guided her vehicle to the grocery store. She didn’t have any choice which store to go to, the one in whose parking lot she pulled in was the only one in town. There was a single hardware store, two gas stations, a post office, a 7-11, one bar, a café and a few other small businesses and that was the extent of the Greensville’s shopping district. Off from Main Street were two churches as well. Lisa filled her cart then checked out. She opened the tailgate and started placing bags in the back of her SUV. A jolt of surprise raced through her when a stranger stepped up behind her. She hadn’t even heard a car pull in.
“Need any help loading, Lisa?” he asked.
She spun quickly to face him. The man was tall and buff in his blue jeans and red t-shirt. He had sandy blonde hair and a rugged face. His green eyes seemed to smolder and to her chagrin she unconsciously licked her lips. It hasn’t been that long since I was with a man. For Pete’s sake one look at this handsome man and I’m ready to jump into bed with him. I don’t even know his name for crying out loud.
As if he could read her thoughts, he went on, “My name’s Grant, Grant Higgins.” He reached out and brushed his fingers gently over her fingers instead of shaking her hand which was filled with a grocery bag. His mere touch was like a deep kiss and to her mortification it caused her panties to dampen. Say something, you damned idiot. Don’t just stand there like a deer caught in the headlights. “Lisa, Lisa Hale, nice to meet you, Grant.”
Without waiting for her approval, he began helping her load the shopping bags in the back of her truck.
“May I ask how you happen to know my name?” she asked.
Grant chuckled and the smile that spread his lips caused her heart to skip a beat. This is real life, Lisa, not some romantic moment from a novel you’re writing.
“Small town, most everybody here knows everyone else. And if possible, most everything about everyone else. For example, I know you’re new here, from Texas, are single and a writer.”
Lisa stopped loading and placed her hands on her hips. “How the hell do you know so much about me and I don’t know a damn thing about you?”
“My aunt is the real estate broker you bought your cabin and property from. She is also one of the biggest gossips around here. I’m not the only one who knows your name and what you do. I may be one of the few that knows you’re single, but that is because I probed my aunt for more info. By the way, I own the tavern here and work there much of the time. I’m single as well. So now you know some about me. I lead a pretty boring life.”
Once again he flashed her his disarming smile that made her want to drop her pants and jump his bones right there in the parking lot. Why does he affect me that way? I’m brazen and some say I have loose morals. I’m not afraid to go after what I want, but I don’t flaunt myself on men I’ve just met a few minutes earlier.
Grant loaded the last bag of groceries in the back of her truck and she closed the hatch. Lisa moved to wheel the shopping cart back to the store, but Grant stopped her. “I’ll get it. I haven’t done my shopping yet. By the way, Lisa, we’re neighbors. That branch off the dirt road going to your cabin leads to my place. I’d give you my phone number just in case of emergency, but I doubt you have reception out there.” He cocked his head in question.
“I’m getting internet tomorrow so I will have then.” After a slight hesitation she took her phone out of her purse and gave him her number. “Call me so I can add your number to my contact list,” she said. When he did she added it to her list and said, “Got it. Thank you. I’ve got to go now and put these away before the frozen things thaw. Nice meeting you. Maybe we’ll see each other again soon.”
“I’m sure we will. Small town. Stop into my tavern sometime. I’ll spring for some free drinks.”
This time they shook hands for real and once again the contact of his skin to hers caused thrills to race through her. Lisa hopped into her SUV and drove away, only allowing herself to glance in the rearview mirror once to see the tall and handsome Grant standing there in the middle of the parking lot watching her drive away. Oh yes, she did intend to accept his invitation to visit his bar. If for no other reason it would give her an excuse to get to know him better. If things worked out maybe she could make his life unboring. She chuckled at her wicked thoughts.
The demon Tiona has escaped Kiya and her team in Oklahoma. She has gone to Seattle, Washington where the band Kiya manages is scheduled to perform. Tiona is determined to destroy Kiya, first because she hates witches, and second, for killing her demon son. The demon terror plots Kiya’s demise along with those associated with her and this time the band itself will not escape unscathed. Disappointed at not encountering Tiona in Oklahoma, Kiya and her team go to Seattle unaware that Tiona is already there and preparing to strike. The coming confrontation will be deadly and costly for both sides.
For the 18+ reader: Strong language and descriptive sex scenes.
Ona has been converted and now serves her demon Mistress, Tiona, without question. Max will be the first of the musical family to suffer Tiona’s wrath, he won’t be the last.
Tiona peered down from a high point in the upper tier of seating at the concert going on down on the stage. Ona was circulating through the crowds below. Neither of them had occupied the assigned seats stated on their passes. Those had just been used as a way to gain entrance to the packed auditorium. Without much hope, she scanned the mass searching for Kiya.
She wanted information desperately but getting it might be a tricky problem. They couldn’t just walk up and ask someone. She had little hope that Ona would be able to hook up with one of the band members even though they were notorious for partying after their shows: not here with these masses of beautiful women to choose from. Even though Ona was devastatingly gorgeous herself the odds were unfavorable.
Tiona scanned the throng again and smiled, but she had an alternate plan. Ona’s scorpion parasite allowed her to communicate with the woman mentally. “Where are you?” Tiona asked.
“Forcing my way through the masses,” Ona answered, “But I’m nearing the north end of the stage. As you ordered earlier, I’m searching for one of the band’s roadies to try and hook up with.”
“Let me know when you find one,” Tiona said and went back to searching.
“I will my Mistress,” Ona answered.
As she observed, Tiona thought of the plan. The chances of Ona getting in with one of the band members was remote, but seducing one of the roadies would probably be successful. Getting information from him would be easy if things went according to plan. Tiona strolled to a new location and continued her search.
“I think I spotted one,” Ona’s thought filtered into her mind. “He’s the beefy blonde at the north end near the back of the stage.”
Tiona focused her enhanced vision in the area Ona indicated. The man wearing tight blue jeans and a t-shirt with the band’s logo stenciled on it was standing near the stage with a prop in hand. “I see him. Go to work sweetie. Lure him in.”
Ona forced her way closer to the man garnering a looks of displeasure and a few rude comments as she did. She ignored them and focused on her target instead. Her scorpion companion allowed past knowledge to dribble out of the recesses of her mind. The name Franz flashed into her thoughts although she couldn’t remember what her relationship with him had been. What she could remember was Franz had once been a roadie and had shared his memories of the occupation with her.
She used this knowledge to strike up a conversation with the man whose name she soon learned was Max. At first their conversation centered on the band but Ona steered it to what Max did. Ona used her knowledge to ask intelligent questions of him and of course showered flattery on him. When he was looking away at the stage, Ona smiled, during their conversation Max couldn’t keep his gaze from drinking in her body largely revealed by her scanty outfit. The deep V of her dress dipped low enough to reveal her navel piercing and barely cover her red areolas. The red dress with splotches of white ended a third of the way down her thighs when she was standing. Black high heels completed her outfit. Her G-string panties were black as well but she hadn’t show those to him…not yet.
While Max was occupied with handing a prop up to the man on stage she unclipped the silver chain that held the halves of her dress over her breasts. He turned back to face her and she twisted quickly to glance at a noise in the audience. Her action caused her left breast to spill from under its scanty covering affording him a brief view of her nipple piercing. Ona turned back to face him and pretended embarrassment at having exposed her breast. She quickly covered it and continued their conversation. By the end of the concert she had provided him views of both breasts and bending over to retrieve her purse she had purposely dropped, afforded him a glimpse of her bare ass.
The band left the stage and the crowd started to file out of the auditorium. “Well the show is over. I’ll be riding back to the hotel with the rest of the roadies soon. It’s been nice talking to you Ona. Most of my conversations here are about the band members and how to get access to them.”
Ona placed her hand on his bicep. “I really enjoy taking with you Max. I hate to end the evening.” She paused as if considering. “I don’t suppose you’d be interested in continuing our visit over cocktails and a bar I know of?”
Max scratched his chin. “I love to but I’d miss my ride.”
“I have a car. I can take you back to the hotel after. Damn,” She dropped her purse and stooped to pick it up. In the process, her breasts spilled free. It was all the incentive Max needed. Ona could read his mind through the look in his eyes. “He wants to fuck me badly. Guess what Max? you’re going to get the chance to do just that.” Her thought reached out to Tiona.
“Good girl,” Tiona thought back.
“Let me tell one of the guys I won’t be riding back in the van,” Max said. “Wait right here.”
“He’s hooked,” Ona told Tiona while she waited. “We’re leaving in the car.”
“I’ll go out and get in the trunk,” Tiona answered.
Max returned and slipped his hand in hers. When they left the auditorium, he let her guide him to the car and slid into the passenger seat. Ona slipped into the seat pretending to drive to the bar she’d mentioned. As she drove her dress bunched higher and provided Max clear views of her black G-string each time they were stopped at a light and under the bright illumination there.
Ona flashed a smile at Max when his gaze drifted to her center once more at a traffic light. “Do you like what you see?” she asked him.
He quickly shifted his gaze and looked out the windshield.
“Don’t pretend to be shy and try to make me think you don’t screw girls all the time Max. You’re working for a band and going from town to town.”
“No comment,” he said.
“None needed, I’m sure I know. I like talking to you…Maybe I’ll like doing something else with you even more.”
Max swallowed hard but didn’t answer.
Ona turned into a gas station. “I need to make a quick pit stop and can’t wait until we get to the bar. Wait right here.” She got the restroom key from the attendant and dashed into the restroom. When she returned to the car she slid behind the steering wheel again and pulled back out on the street. His eyes bugged and his jaw fell open at the next stop light when he saw she’d removed her panties.
“Damn.” He gulped again.
Ona reached down and played with her piercing. “I don’t normally do this but I feel a chemistry between us. Kitty is thirsty for some milk. Do you have any milk to give her?” Ona asked then tossed her panties into his lap. “Maybe you should take a whiff of those before you answer.”
Max lifted the panties from his lap and inhaled deeply. “Christ Ona you have no idea how much I want to fuck you.”
“Well then, we’ve established what both of us want, the only thing left to decide is should we do it in your room or drive out to my house about thirty minutes away.” Ona held her breath hoping for the answer she desired.