Authors: Sierra Dean
Table of Contents
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This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2016 by Ashley MacLennan
Edited by Sasha Knight
Cover by Kanaxa
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Sierra Dean. electronic publication: July 2016
Dean, Sierra (2016-07-26). Thunder Road. Sierra Dean. Kindle Edition.
Rain Chaser #1
For those who said they wanted more urban fantasy books from me, thank you for igniting the spark that made me finally turn this long-simmering idea into a real book.
To Chadwick Ginther, who wrote the other urban fantasy
, also about modern gods, for being my ever-supportive book-title twin. Go pick up his
And lastly to Jon Bernthal, whose on-screen presence helped inspired me more than I ever would have imagined. Without his Punisher, this book would never have existed.
Contrary to popular opinion, you
She just doesn’t like it very much.
At the moment I wasn’t concerned about Manea or the grisly fate that awaited me if one of her goons caught up to me, however. I was too busy trying to keep all four of my Mustang’s wheels on the blacktop. Otherwise I’d be driving my way off a cliff and right into the goddess’s cold embrace.
No thank you.
When Manea finally came for me, I’d be damn sure it was the ending befitting someone of my status, and not some freak accident on a rain-slicked highway.
If anyone could drive in the rain, it was a cleric of Seth, the storm god. He would laugh over my grave if hydroplaning was what wiped me off the face of the earth.
I eased up on the brakes as my car skimmed weightlessly over the smooth surface of the highway. To my left was a sheer rock face that would crush the car like an aluminum can against a frat boy’s forehead. On the right was a drop so treacherous even the guardrail seemed to lean away from it.
Rock, meet hard place.
Hard place, meet Tallulah.
Story of my damned life.
I angled the car towards the rock wall slightly and took a breath through my nostrils. Behind me, three sets of headlights were edging closer, and it was only a matter of time before I didn’t have a choice of which direction to go. My pursuers would decide for me.
“Hang tight, Fen.” I jostled the buckle I’d fastened to the pet carrier in the passenger seat. A small
of acknowledgment—or censure—came through the holes. The sassy little mongrel was getting smart with me. Some familiar he was.
Gritting my teeth so hard my jaw hurt, I flipped on the radio.
Chanting echoed over the building guitar line.
I grinned and felt a warm calm wash over of me as Brian Johnson’s high-pitched growl sounded through the Mustang’s speakers. The bass vibrated the seat beneath me, and as the chorus hit—
I slammed my foot onto the gas the moment the curve of the road opened up.
My wheels spun on the wet surface, sending up a rooster tail of mist in my wake. As soon as rubber found purchase a loud squeal threatened to deafen me and almost drowned out AC/DC, which wasn’t an easy feat. But as the Mustang shot forward at full speed I knew, for the first time all night, there was a chance I was going to get out of this alive.
Fenrir, who couldn’t resist getting the last word, chirruped noisily beside me.
“Calm your tits, furball. I’ve got this.”
One of the pursuit vehicles wasn’t prepared for my evasive maneuvers. He hit a patch of water and spun out of control, barreling straight into the rocks. Flame erupted from the shell of his car, blocking out my view of the other two pursuers.
Had they been human they might have stopped to see if he was okay. But Manea didn’t fool around with the living. Her clerics were all among the undead, with the notable exception of His Supreme Dickheadedness Prescott McMahon. A man so abhorrent only the goddess of death would spend time with him.
I gripped the steering wheel like it was the last life preserver on the
and kept my foot pressed to the floor. There was a reason I drove a car that could go zero to sixty in fifteen seconds flat, and it involved an awful lot of running for my life.
You might think a lifetime commitment to serve a god would make you popular or at least offer a modicum of respect along with the title. You’d be wrong.
Human clerics were like walking complaint boxes for the gods they served. When things went well, folks said their prayers and sent their payments, thanking the gods directly. When things went wrong, though, the anger and frustration came right to me.
Tallulah Corentine, earthbound bitch to the god of the storm.
Thanks a heap, destiny.
The car sailed smoothly around another corner, like it had grown wings and could fly me right off this blasted highway. No such luck. If I went flying, a long date with gravity would greet me shortly thereafter.
I could only evade my pursuers for so long, and I certainly couldn’t count on all of them being such poor drivers. Sure, they were undead, but their reflexes worked just fine. If I wanted to make it out of this alive, I’d need to either get off the mountain or face them directly. Outside a steel box on wheels, there was a possibility I could take them down in hand-to-hand combat.
I wouldn’t feel too guilty about killing them since they were already dead.
Ahead of me on the side of the road was a sign for a runaway lane, a high, sloping hill that could be used for cars whose brakes gave out on the treacherous road.
It was also a great way to get me to a higher vantage point.
“Should I do something gloriously stupid, Fen?”
He pipped, as if suggesting this would be nothing new. Or maybe I was projecting.
The two remaining cars were gaining on me. I guess when a driver doesn’t need to worry about dying, they’re willing to take more risks. And here I thought I was plenty risky enough.
I said a silent prayer to Seth that the road would stay clear, and jerked my wheel to the left, sending me straight for the runaway slope like an arrow fired at a target. There was only one chance for me to get this right. Manea didn’t offer do-overs.
The Mustang lost momentum as I rose up the slope, just as I anticipated. I reached the apex of the hill and slammed my foot on the brake, making the car skid in the wet mud. I parked and listened to the engine purr along to the falsetto rock genius of “Thunderstruck.”
“Na-na-nanananana,” I said under my breath.
A magical incantation it was not, but it would do.
Rain pounded against my windshield, almost too fast for the wipers to keep up with. Outside, the world had turned into a smudged impressionist interpretation of a mountain landscape.
“All right, buddy. If I don’t make it through this, I hope Sido will feed you.”
Fen did not reply. Perhaps the idea of being taken in by my mentor, Sidonie, was too depressing for him to contemplate.
There was also a sixty-five percent chance he’d fallen asleep.
I touched a photo stuck to my dash of a beautiful, smiling, blonde woman who bore a striking resemblance to me, if I had a California beach-bum glow and my mother’s more Anglo-Saxon features. I didn’t say anything, but felt a surge of comfort.
Casting my eyes up to the sky, I added, “And
. Don’t you dare think any of the newbies are talented enough to fill my boots yet, you ungrateful prick. If ever there was a time for you to come through, this is it.”
I got out of the Mustang in time for the two cars following me to pull up, the lead sedan barely stopping in time to avoid running me over.
That would be an embarrassing way to go.
“Nice of you guys to show up.”
The man who got out first gave me a look so stony Medusa might have flinched. The undead were not exactly famous for their senses of humor.
“Miss Corentine.” This voice was smooth and calm, cutting through the rain as if it wasn’t there, as if the speaker hadn’t a care in the world about some bad weather.
“Prescott.” My hands had involuntarily balled into fists, and I bit the inside of my cheek to keep the snark to a minimum. He was no underling. He was the right-hand man to death herself, which meant he could act in her stead.
Prescott McMahon could kill me with a brush of his fingertips and a lightly whispered oath.
“I’d like to say it’s nice to see you again, but we both know that’s rarely the case.” He moved forward so I could get a good look at him, no longer lingering behind the cars. There had been two men in each car, so in addition to Prescott there were three undead henchmen I’d have to dispatch if I wanted to get out of this.
Not the worst odds I’d faced.
“Your douche haircut is getting ruined.” I sneered. He’d gone for something hip and modern, his blond hair shaved short on the sides and left longer on top. In the deluge of rain, however, the product he’d used to keep it perfectly coifed—he was never anything but fastidious about his appearance—had melted away, making him look unkempt and disheveled. Likewise his once-crisp suit was wet and likely ruined by the rain.
If I’d really wanted to piss him off, I’d point out that he was getting mud on his shoes.
“Your wit never ceases to charm.”
“I’m the delightfullest.”
Prescott sighed. Hey, I said I’d keep the snark to a minimum. There was no way possible I could cut it out entirely. Not even with my life on the line.
“As much as I’d love to continue this interaction, I’d much prefer that you just return what you’ve stolen.”
He blinked at me, and his expression was so clear his thoughts might as well be written on his face.
You’re going to argue semantics with death?
“I beg your pardon?” Prescott asked.
“You said stole. You’re the one who said I could take anything in the room if I could make it rain inside. I did. Stole implies I came in and snatched something that wasn’t mine.”
“But see, it is. Because I won it. It’s not my fault you’ve always underestimated my powers.”
Prescott and I stared at each other, and I tried not to let the hammering rain ruin my cool-as-a-cucumber demeanor. Nothing makes you look less badass than furiously blinking away the raindrops stuck in your lashes.
“Tallulah…” His impatience was evident in his tone.
Prescott and I had known each other a long time. Too long. We were roughly the same age—he was only a year or two my senior—and we’d grown up aware of each other, as all young disciples were. It helped to know your potential allies from your enemies.