Authors: Jason Starr
“Guys’ night out takes on a droll new meaning.”
The New York Times Book Review
“In this tightly written werewolf suspense thriller, crime writer Starr succeeds in keeping readers on the edge of their seats. The book brings werewolves to the streets of New York City and manages to seem completely believable. A great read; recommended for any paranormal suspense fan.”
“An unusual, fascinating horror thriller.”
Midwest Book Review
“Manhattan receives a lustrous varnish of black, black humor in this sly urban fantasy thriller … Starr once again shows a real gift for satiric humor and capturing the contemporary New York scene.”
is pure Jason Starr, and it is one of his most gripping novels yet.”
“Smoothly written and tweaked with humor, this urban fantasy supplies a seductive adventure that will appeal to wives as well as husbands.”
“Brings a few new elements to the concept and—thanks mostly to Starr’s skills at character and suspense—is an engrossing and entertaining story … [an] alluring blend of supernatural and suspense.”
Praise for the novels of Jason Starr
“From the first page … you know things are going to get worse, but you can’t stop reading.”
“The ultimate page-turner … brilliantly blends psychological and physical suspense.”
—Michael Connelly, #1
New York Times
“[Starr] is a hard-knuckled writer [who] seems to have given a lot of thought to those tricky existential notions of fate and free will.”
The New York Times Book Review
“[A] fearless, pitiless writer … [and] a prodigious talent.”
New York Times
“Jason Starr’s got a hip style and an ear for crackling dialogue … [with] characters so real we feel we know them.”
New York Times
“Starr [is] a terrifically taut writer.”
The Baltimore Sun
“Irresistible and truly terrifying.”
New York Times
“Starr is such a polished writer that once you start reading, it’s painful to tear yourself away.”
Time Out New York
“Demonic, demented, and truly ferocious, and a flat-out joy to read.”
“Relentlessly clever … mesmerizing … Starr has total control of his plot … an unsettling read, but hard to put down.”
“Starr delivers a wild ride.”
Ace Books by Jason Starr
ACE BOOKS, NEW YORK
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England • Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.) • Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.) • Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India • Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) • Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
This is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
Copyright © 2012 by Jason Starr.
Cover photograph: wolf © Gary Vestal/Stone/Getty Images;
city © Zoran Milich/Photonica/Getty Images.
Cover design by Judith Lagerman.
Text design by Laura K. Corless.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
ACE and the “A” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Ace trade paperback edition / June 2012
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Starr, Jason, 1966–
The craving / Jason Starr. — Ace trade paperback ed.
1. Werewolves—Fiction. 2. Fathers—Fiction. 3. New York (N.Y.)—Fiction. I. Title.
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
hen Diane Coles heard the creaking footsteps in the hallway outside the bedroom, she knew it was one of them coming to get her. She sat up in bed and screamed so loud it hurt her ears, but this didn’t scare away the intruder. The footsteps got louder, and then the doorknob rattled and the door shook. Oh, God, this was it, the moment she’d feared since she’d left New York and moved back in with her parents in Grosse Pointe. He—well, if it was a
—was going to break in and kill her. She had no idea how many of them there were. She knew there were at least a few, including her best friend—well, former best friend—Olivia.
Still shrieking, she grabbed the nearest object, a lamp, yanking the cord out of the wall. Yeah, like a lamp would protect her. Still, she raised it above her head, ready to fling it at whoever, or
, came inside.
“Diane, what’s going on? What’s wrong?
Diane, open this door right now … Diane.”
It took a few seconds before it registered that it wasn’t one of
after all; it was just her mother.
“Diane, can you hear me?”
“I’m fine, Mom,” Diane said, aware of her pulse pounding as if she were in an all-out sprint.
“You can’t stay in there all day again,” Barbara Coles said. “This is ridiculous. You have to get on with your life.”
Diane remained with the lamp above her head for several seconds, then replaced it on the night table. She lay down again in bed and pulled the blanket up to her chin.
“Diane, will you please open the door?” Barbara shook the door a few more times.
“I’ll be right down, Mom.”
“What?” Barbara asked.
“I said I’ll be right down.”
Diane heard Barbara let out a long, frustrated breath, and then her fading footsteps as she marched downstairs.
Diane had been lashing out at her parents since she’d moved home, and she felt bad about it. She was thirty-two years old, but lately she’d been acting like a spoiled, angry fourteen-year-old. She’d thought moving back home would make her feel safe, protected, but if anything, being isolated in a small space had increased her paranoia.
If she knew who exactly was after her, it would make things a little easier—at least she’d know whom to avoid—but it really could be anyone. Maybe it was the dark-haired guy in the black Honda that had been parked in front of her parents’ house the day before, or that older blond woman in the Delta terminal at LaGuardia who’d stared at her weirdly. Or maybe it was the very old guy, maybe ninety years old, who’d
grabbed her in front of the apartment in the East Village one evening and said with a foreign accent, maybe German, “You must leave, before it’s too late.” The way the guy had looked at her with his intense dark eyes had scared the crap out of her. Before she could ask him who he was or any other questions, he ran away, with surprising speed for such an old man. Maybe he was one of them, or maybe there were others she didn’t know about, but now she was certain of one thing—she wouldn’t be able to avoid them forever.
Her parents, meanwhile, had no idea about the danger she was in, or the possible danger
were in. It would be so much easier if she were able to open up about it, get some genuine support, but she knew they wouldn’t believe her. They’d have the same reaction as the police; they’d think she was crazy, disturbed, making it all up. Besides, they were getting older—both in their midsixties—and she didn’t want to cause them any stress, especially since her father had had bypass surgery recently. So Diane had no choice but to keep all the stress to herself, and it had been taking its toll. She was losing weight and couldn’t sleep, and her thoughts were so scattered it was hard to focus on anything.
She’d considered leaving Grosse Pointe, but where else would she go? If she stayed with another friend or relative, in Michigan or some other part of the country, she’d be endangering someone else, and she didn’t have money to travel far or stay in a hotel. In New York, she’d been making decent money as a publicist for a financial services firm, but with rents the way they were, she had been barely able to save.
So, for better or worse, Diane was stuck at her parents’ house. During the nearly three weeks she’d been here she hadn’t gone outside at all. Her parents thought she was depressed—which was probably at least partly true—but as far as they knew she’d moved home because of a bad breakup with Steve, a jerk lawyer who’d dumped
her with a text message, and because “the whole living-in-the-city thing just wasn’t working out.”