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Donatti's Lunatics 1
When a team of ghost hunters goes rogue, Olivia Stone, rookie federal agent, is dispatched to investigate. What starts off as a simple assignment quickly turns into a job from hell. Literally. Not only does Olivia join the ghost hunters in a battle against murderous demons, she also falls hard for James Donatti, the team's enigmatic leader who makes it clear he wants nothing to do with her. As the investigation unfolds, Olivia and James are drawn together by an inexplicable force, but will their romance survive what's in store for them?
Page Count: 282
Word Count: 65365
Hungary, Isle of Hares, St. Vladimir’s Monastery
The ancient monastery doors groaned shut behind me and for a moment, I didn’t know where darkness ended, and I began.
I allowed my eyes to adjust, tucking wisps of hair back into my ponytail, then pulling it tighter as I scanned the ashen interior. For a government-protected site, the place was a mess.
Centuries of neglect had ruined its once imposing dignity. Heaps of splintered pews trembled with cobwebs, and only a black outline remained above the altar where a crucifix once hung. The west wall crumbled around a fresco depicting devils bound for hell. Dusty rays of light emitted through the slits in the ceiling, providing the only warmth in the otherwise tomblike surroundings.
For some reason, knowing it was still daytime brought comfort, and I allowed the feeling to cover me like a blanket, even as I felt the temperature drop until the air bit my cheeks.
I stole away from the entrance in the direction of the archways at the back of the main chapel, rubbing my arms as the cold slipped inside my jacket and thinking this is how a grave must feel.
Don’t be daft, I told myself. Focus on the job. A difficult task considering I just noticed instead of the customary single shadow, I had two—a telltale sign of demonic infestation.
I stopped, exhaled a slow breath that clouded at my lips, and shuddered.
Although I knew all signs pointed to a haunting, I found it hard to wrap my mind around the idea. I’d actually never experienced supernatural activity in person. At twenty-five, I was the youngest para-archivist in the IBPA, the International Bureau for Paranormal Activity, but my training came from instruction and books. Yes, basically, I was a librarian.
My heart thudded in my chest, but I tried to stay calm by focusing once again on my task. I recalled what I knew about demonic hauntings. Demons jumped realms through portals. Their presence in ours, especially with a sloppy jumper, left traces like double shadows. The extreme temperature drop also indicated a malefic entity as opposed to a spirit, though the strongest of them, devils, could go hot in a matter of seconds.
I checked the 9mm in my shoulder holster, but would it have any effect against a supernatural threat?
The stillness around me seemed alive. I turned in a slow circle, wiping my palms on the front of my pants, but I was alone.
A faint sound caught my attention. At first, it barely rose above a whisper, not enough to recognize, but it soon drew closer and more distinguishable. The echo of flapping wings.
I craned my neck to the ceiling, expecting to catch a flock of pigeons, but no living things stirred around me. I hesitated, not knowing what to do next. Soon, I didn’t have to make that decision. When the invisible wings rushed me, I yelped and sprinted for the back of the chapel, away from the entrance.
Something plowed into me from behind. It felt like a giant hammer hit me in the back. It carried me. The force accelerated as we closed the distance to the altar steps, my feet dragging the ground. I couldn’t get my balance long enough to break free. When I hit the steps, something caught me, spun me, and hurled me at the altar.
I landed on my back, crying out in pain.
Searching the chapel for any physical sign of my attacker, I scrambled for my gun. The rational part of me didn’t expect it to do shit, but panic gripped me.
I tried to squeeze the trigger, but my hands shook too badly to get it working. Time for Plan B. I sprang up hoping to make it to the doors.
The demon flung me back on the slab.
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