Name: Becky Regalado
Anaiiya always believed she was human, despite the feuding natures at war within her. One compels her to protect others from harm, no matter the cost. The other fills her with an ever-increasing lust for violence. She doesn’t want to hurt anyone, but sometimes giving in just feels so good... Then she witnesses an unprovoked attack against the city’s gargoyle tribe. Her contrary instincts work together for the first time, and she awakens covered in blood with no memory of how she killed the men sent to destroy them. Impressed, the gargoyles offer Anaiiya a home in their Tower in exchange for her continued protection during the day, while they are incapacitated by sunlight. But they don’t know about her bloodthirsty compulsions—or the way stone crumbles into powder at her touch or how the river boils when she sings—which grow stronger and more irresistible with every drop of blood she spills. The next time she kills someone, even in defense of her tribe, she could lose control of the demonic heritage uncoiling within her. And if she loses control, she could kill her new family herself. Now a group of pro-human fanatics has targeted the gargoyles and the strange young woman who protects them. An army of men prepares to storm the Tower, and Anaiiya's only hope to save her beloved tribe is to give in to the darkness—and hope it doesn’t destroy them first.
First 250 words:
Anaiiya had approached the Tower many times—always prior to sunset, while the beasts slept. To venture near the monolith at night was foolish. Suicidal, even. But if she wanted the gargoyles to chase her, she needed to get their attention...and the best way to do that was to threaten them. A dangerous idea; an insane idea.
Well, who would miss her if the worst should happen? Beggars were mourned by no one.
The gravel in the courtyard skittered before her bare feet as she approached the Tower, the cool spring wind howling through the courtyard. Grit sliced through her threadbare clothing and stung her skin. Pebbles cut her bare feet, hardened though they were from years of scrambling through stony streets. She bit her bottom lip and wrung the sacks in her hands, sweat trickling down the back of her neck as she watched the balcony three hundred feet above. No challenge came. She swallowed and hurried onto the ancient stone steps.
Anaiiya set the sacks down and reached out to touch the door with one hand, amazed at how smooth the petrified wood veneer felt beneath her ragged fingertips. In truth, the door was eight inches thick and cast from solid iron, its rotted appearance merely an illusion to keep the occasional curiosity-seeker at bay.
As she drew her fingers down the stony planks, a sudden vision flashed through her mind of a monster pressed against the other side, watching her with shining teeth and barely-contained rage.