Book 1 of The Cambion Chronicles
He’s persuasive, charming, and way too mysterious. And for Samara Marshall,
her co-worker is everything she wants most—and everything she most fears…
Samara Marshall is determined to make the summer before her senior year the best ever. Her plan: enjoy downtime with friends and work to save up cash for her dream car. Summer romance is not on her to-do list, but uncovering the truth about her flirtatious co-worker, Caleb Baker, is. From the peculiar glow to his eyes to the unfortunate events that befall the girls who pine after him, Samara is the only one to sense danger behind his smile.
But Caleb’s secrets are drawing Samara into a world where the laws of attraction are a means of survival. And as a sinister power closes in on those she loves, Samara must take a risk that will change her life forever…or consume it.
“Jaime Reed breathes fresh life into paranormal romance. I loved it!” —Lee Nichols, author of the Haunting Emma series
Love indulged the masochist.
Truer words have never been spoken, if I do say so myself.
It’s a philosophy that has kept me sane for as long as
I can remember and helped me survive the weirdest summer
of my life. On the flip side, it’s very entertaining
what love will make people do. It’s a great way to spend
your lunch break.
Sitting on my car hood, sucking down a Big Gulp, I
watched the pinnacle of love unfold before my eyes. My
best friend, Mia, and her on-again off-again boyfriend,
Dougie, squared-off like prize fighters in the middle of
the outlet center parking lot.
This week’s drama included props. Dougie pivoted
along the concrete, ducking and avoiding death by the
finest designer handbag money could buy. Through the
litany of screams, cusses, and purse swinging, I figured
Mia had caught Dougie hanging out with another girl.
Mia could be a little high-strung sometimes, but when it
came to her man, she advanced to straight head case.
That jealous insanity went both ways, depending on the
day, and much amusement awaited all who watched.
“God, you’re such a liar! How could you do this to
me?” she raved.
“Chill, baby! She was my cousin!” Dougie escaped the
oncoming blow from Mia’s handbag by an inch.
“You lying piece of crap! I’ve met all of your relatives,
Douglas. She never came to your house before.”
Dougie ran in circles around her, the blood rush turning
his face beet red. “She just came into town! I swear,
“Why didn’t you introduce me, huh?” Mia wiped her
sweaty brown hair from her forehead. “What, are you
ashamed of me?”
He paused, clearly hurt at the suggestion. “No! Why
would you say that?”
“Liar!” Her purse swung at his head, but missed.
Dougie grabbed one of the straps, and the two began a
full tug-of-war in the middle of the parking lot. Weekend
shoppers watched in horror, covering the ears of their
children from the curses flying in the air. At any moment,
someone would definitely call security, so I decided to
leave the lovebirds to their own devices.
“Hey, guys,” I yelled behind me. “I gotta get back to
work, but I’ll see y’all later, okay?”
“Okay, I’ll call ya!” Mia yelled back before shoving
Dougie in the chest.
I dumped my cup in the trash, then entered the side
door of Buncha Books. The air-conditioning slapped me
in the face and pushed the June heat back outside. Mellow
jazz rang through the speakers in a chronic loop
from the satellite radio. Tourists and townies overran the
floor in a slow, indecisive dance around the bookshelves.
I strolled through the main aisles, past the kiosk of
new releases and bestsellers toward the customer service
desk in the center of the store. Working at Buncha Books
since sophomore year taught me a few tricks of the trade,
namely to never get caught on the actual book floor. I
also discovered that if I didn’t make eye contact with the
customers, they wouldn’t talk to me. That policy remained
tucked in my back pocket until my shift started.
Casting a wary glance over my shoulder, I singled out an
empty computer and clocked back in.
Stealth infiltration and quick reflexes allowed me to
reach the other end of the store without incident. When I
breezed by the magazine aisle, I caught something odd in
my peripheral, a scene disturbing enough to break my
stride. I stopped, blinked a few times, and then backtracked
to the Home & Garden section to confirm what I
Caleb Baker, the assistant manager in the music department,
held some redhead in a devastating lip-lock.
She didn’t seem to have a problem with the public tonsillectomy,
but this wasn’t the type of customer service the
managers urged us to practice.
Just as I turned to leave, his gaze met mine.
Caleb’s looks would never stop traffic, but he was
worth a second glance with his deep dimples, and the
most intense violet eyes I had ever seen. Despite his claim
of authenticity, eyes that color shouldn’t exist in nature—
eyes that now reflected every purple tone of the color
Light brown strands draped over his face as the two
continued to slob each other down. If they didn’t come
up for air soon, Caleb would no doubt suck the life out
of her. From what I hear, cheap hotel rooms existed for
such an occasion, and there were plenty in the area to
Of the year and a half I worked here, that kid weirded
me out in one way or another. Not to mention the number of women who chased after him on a regular basis.
This fact went unnoticed and unaddressed by everyone in
the store, including the managers, which disgusted me
even more. Having seen enough, I walked away toward
my station before my lunch came back up.
Cuppa-Joe was a coffee shop in the back of the bookstore,
the place where people kicked back and talked
trash about everyone; the cesspool of company gossip
I closed tonight with my weekend partner in crime,
Nadine Petrovsky, a Polish exchange student at The College
of William & Mary, and one of the most cynical people
I ever had the pleasure of meeting. Guys came to the
café just to hear her exotic accent and watch her work.
One glimpse of her explained why.
Model scouts would salivate over her European
beauty: her long wheat-colored hair that reached her
butt, and her freaky green cat eyes. Too bad none of the
attention interested her. Having no time for the BS left
the girl cutthroat and caustic. She was just too focused to
let a guy or anyone else slow her down.
Nadine stood in front of the barista machine, rinsing
the steam wand, when she caught me in the corner of her
“You’re late,” she noted without looking up.
“Sorry. Mia and Dougie were having it out in the parking
lot again.” I tied my hair into a bun and grabbed my
apron from the back kitchen.
“Oh yeah?” She craned her neck, straining to see the
front of the store. “Their fights are good. They need their
“I told them that.”
Worry lines etched her forehead as she shook her head
in disapproval. “Their relationship isn’t healthy, Sam.”
“What relationship is?” I tightened my apron, then
went to the sink to wash my hands.
“The sane kind.”
“Well, as soon as I see one of those, I’ll let you know
what I think.”
While drying my hands, the second reason why I hated
customers approached the counter. A kid dressed in all
black with a dog collar leered at me.
Nadine kept herself conveniently busy, so I made my
way to the register. “Can I help you?”
“I’d like an iced chai latté,” the boy said, deadpan. It
was hard to tell if the kid was high or half-asleep, or
whether he was, in fact, a boy. His parachute jeans
dragged the floor like a prom gown, the cuffs frayed and
dirty, hiding the clown boots underneath.
I rang up his order and shot Nadine a look, which she
mirrored perfectly. After he left, I leaned against the
counter and laughed.
Nadine didn’t smile, no matter how hilarious the joke,
which I’m sure made her a real delight during the weekdays
when she babysat preschoolers in daycare. Instead,
she wiped down the work area with aggravated swipes.
“I hate those Elmo goth kids,” she griped. “What self-
respecting sociopath drinks chai anyway? What do they
know about real torment? Let them survive a concentration
camp and then they can complain.”
“It’s called ‘emo,’ ” I corrected her. “And your great
grandparents didn’t even get to the camp before the U.S.
troops came in.”
Nadine moved to the back counter and checked the
timers on the coffeepots. “It’s still torment. And if you
say ‘emo,’ I say ‘Elmo’ because they are equally childish.”
Shaking my head, I watched her in amusement. “You
don’t know what his home life is like.”
“Everyone knows what his home life is like. He doesn’t
get along with his parents. He stays in his room and
whines and writes bad poems about being a vampire.”
Laughing, I stepped to the espresso machine and stole
“Hey, it’s your turn to wipe the tables.” Nadine tossed
me a rag. “And don’t forget to put back those magazines.”
Groaning, I dragged my feet to the sitting area and
gathered the discarded cups and straw wrappers. Seeing
no one else in line, I took a moment to return the magazines
to the racks. When I had finished, I turned around
and met Caleb, still as idle and unproductive as when I
last saw him.
He sat on a reading bench by the window, holding his
head in his hands. Afternoon light showered his back and
crowned his dark hair in a golden halo. Normally, I
would’ve ignored him were it not for the slight tremors
that rocked his body. Was he crying? Did he and his new
arm candy have a falling-out? It was just off-putting to
see a guy cry, but no tears fell and none were wiped away
by his hand. His body teetered back and forth, and I half
expected him to start begging for spare change. How
long was his break anyway?
I went over to him and tapped his shoulder. “Hey,
Caleb. You okay?”
“Yeah,” he mumbled from under his hands. Thankfully,
I didn’t smell any alcohol on him, but he definitely
wore the hungover look. Then again, he always looked
One hand reached for the sunglasses hooked on his
collar, while the other shielded his eyes—whether from
shame or the glaring lights, I wasn’t sure. I also wasn’t
sure about the source of the purple rays leaking between
For a split second, a cast of purple flooded his eyes,
swelling in a florescent glow. Caleb quickly turned his
head, leaving a streak of color dragging through the air
in a residual haze. That was an interesting trick for someone
who supposedly didn’t wear contacts.
He rose from his seat and paused at the shocked look
on my face. He shifted his feet and messed with his hair,
trying to play it off as if he’d been caught with his fly
open. However, the only things I caught were vision
problems and a bad vibe.
I took a step back. “You sure you’re okay? Are you
My question made him laugh, but it sounded dry and
full of bitterness. “You have no idea,” he said before
marching back to his end of the store.
My mom taught me not to judge people, but damn,
that kid was out there. I didn’t know much about him,
but that only made the fact that much more tangible.
Something told me that ignorance was bliss when it came
to Caleb Baker, so I went back to work, hoping for a distraction.
But the damage was done. My curiosity had
been piqued, and that hungry creature wouldn’t let me
rest until I fed it.