oWith just one touch she could kill.
Jazmine St. Clair has lived in isolation most of her life after accidently killing someone at age nine. Ten years later, she's socially awkward, shunned by society and forbidden to feel any touch by another human. Then one day she finds herself in the midst of a series of supernatural kidnappings by a mysterious group and meets a sexy vampire that changes her world forever.
Evan Kitagawa was short-tempered and directionless as a lower level "undead" vampire. Then Jazmine's accidental touch brought him back to life, allowing him to enjoy the perks of an elite, "living" vampire. When the head of his vampire town instructs him to infiltrate Jazmine's community, he finds himself more than excited to be near this beautiful stranger even if it could mean betrayal.
While Jazmine is intrigued by Evan's ability to survive her touch, she's suspicious of his intentions. However, she can't ignore their unexplainable bond…or growing feelings.
With kidnappings on the rise and growing distrust between their towns, can the pair uncover the truth behind their unlikely bond before they become the next victims?
Jazmine St. Clair possesses a lethal power, isolated and scorned after killing someone she loved at a young age. Enter Evan Kitagawa, a vampire who craves her deadly touch and as much as Jazmine's love, even if it means betraying his court. Crushes and curses collide in this supernatural new adult romance novel. – Zelda Knight
"Yes, I am an adult, but I loved this book. It had the best romance, so sweet and tender."– Reader review
"I never would have expected that paranormal dystopian urban fantasy romantic suspense would be a thing, but it worked perfectly here. Jazmine and Evan's story drew me in from the moment I started reading. "– Reader review
"How can a vampire and basically a killer be a sweet story? Well, trust me it is!"– Reader review
Jazmine St. Clair was nine when she killed her father.
It had been summer time. She hadn't been angry at the time she killed him, just scared.
Not of her father but of the world. The earth and everything on it, from humans to animals to even the plant-life. Everything had changed in almost the blink of an eye. To this day, she didn't understand the cause of the world changing. No one understood why the supernatural had taken over and changed so many people and things into paranormal beings. All Jazmine knew was that this magical apocalypse had changed her life forever.
The day the magic arrived had been sweltering hot, which she preferred over the cold even though the heat did awful things to her long, thick hair. The ends of her ponytail stuck to her sweaty neck, so she'd been constantly fanning herself with the hair.
However, that wasn't the point of her recollection. She was in line with her father at their favorite pizza shop, picking up their Friday night pizza special, Meatlover's Delight. They'd left her mother and her fourteen-year-old sister, Paige, at home that July evening. She'd liked just hanging out with her father alone. They first went and got ice cream and talked about her week at school and the latest scary movie they were going to sneak and see. Scary movies used to be her favorite before that day. Before the world actually became scary.
Things were still normal when they'd arrived at Joe's Pizza Shop. It'd been busy that Friday as usual.
Her father looked down at her and grinned, the corners of his deep brown eyes crinkling. "Remember," he said, pointing a finger at her. "Don't tell your mom we ate ice cream. She'd be mad we had dessert before dinner."
Jazmine mimed zipping her lips shut, beaming up at him.
A scream had pierced the air, followed by several more.
Jazmine had jumped, looking behind her. The noise had come from outside the shop.
Several customers had raced past them in excitement, blocking the windows to observe the source of the commotion. The patrons closest to the windows and doors gasped.
Her father had pushed her behind him. "What's going on?" he'd shouted to the crowd in the front.
"There's something on the street," said a teenage boy, looking back at them briefly with terrified eyes before turning back to the window. "It's the plants. They're spreading all down the street."
"What?" Her father had looked down at her and had put a hand up to stop her from moving forward. "Stay here."
Jazmine had waited patiently, standing on her tippy toes to get a glimpse of what was going on, but it was no use. She'd been too short.
A paralyzing wave had washed over her, stopping her breath. She'd dropped to her knees and pushed her hands onto the cold tile floor, struggling to breathe. She remembered her heart beating impossibly loud in her little ears, and then, just as soon as the consuming pressure had washed over her, her body had slowly regained life.
Her father had raced back to her. "We need to go, now. What are you doing on the floor?" He'd reached out a hand to help her up.
She'd looked up at him, her eyes blinking rapidly as if seeing everything around her for the first time. She grabbed his hand, and her father pulled her up, then paused. He'd looked down at her with wide eyes, before letting go and grabbing his neck. He'd opened his mouth as if to speak, but no words came out –– only the haunting sound of his gurgling. Thick black liquid had poured from his eyes, nose, and mouth, and he'd stumbled backwards before dropping to the floor.
"Dad! Dad," Jazmine had screamed, grabbing his arm as he writhed on the floor, arching his back.
His eyes hadn't looked to her, and they'd clouded over in a white film.
It was a face she'd never forget, the last living image of her father.
And then he was gone.
Jazmine had continued to scream. She'd listened for his heartbeat and had shoved at his body, willing him to awaken. But his face had remained frozen in horror, his body unmoving.
Plant-life burst through the windows. Vines wrapped around some of the patrons. Others had run, screaming. Jazmine hadn't been able to focus on any of that then. All she'd been able to see was her dead father.
A woman had grabbed Jazmine's arm. "Come on. I'm sorry, honey, you can't help him. We've got to go." The woman had quickly let go to stumble back. And just like her father, this woman had spewed black liquid before collapsing, dead.
Jazmine had remained on the ground, staring between her dead father and the dead woman in shock.
Ten years into the new world and Jazmine still suffered from the pain of that day. The memories were still so vivid, the sound of her father struggling to breathe as his insides had liquified, his face filled with confused terror.
Terror that she'd put there.
The memory of that night jarred her awake many nights. Jazmine hated sleeping. That's where the nightmares resided. Instead, she often stayed up late, playing video games and watching old movies. However, it didn't matter how late she finally slumbered, the memories haunted her in her dreams.
Jazmine stood on her small balcony and breathed in the late spring air, shaking off the heaviness of that day like a cold chill. However, the air was still heavy with heat. It was technically spring, but in this new world, there were really only two temperature seasons –– winter and summer. One day it would be forty degrees, and the next it would be eighty or higher and stay that way for six months before dropping to twenty degrees in the snap of her fingers.
She took a sip of her tea and looked down at the quiet street. It was still early morning on a Friday. The streets would be silent for a while, just as she liked it. She could go out without the looks of fear from other people.
Six years ago, Jazmine and Paige had found this community in the northern part of Virginia not far outside of D.C. Now known as New Hope, the town spanned over five square miles and was like many towns in the country since the supernatural apocalypse, self-governing. Recently, there'd been a push for the reemergence of the defunct federal government, which had crumbled during the early years of the paranormal apocalypse and the following pandemic, often called the Sickness. Several communities across the country were now controlled by a collective of government representatives called governors who independently ran their towns but were collectively joined like a federation. New Hope was one of those government-controlled towns. It was the safest and most stable residence Jazmine had lived in since before the world had become magical, or the Pre-World, as they called it.
She heard a knock at the door and sighed, walking back inside her apartment toward her front door. She didn't get that many visitors. Mostly just her controlling sister from time to time to nag her or complain about the way she lived her life.
She looked through the peephole. Theodore "Theo" Alverez stood on her doormat rocking on his toes.
She opened the door and let him in, giving him an unceremonious 'hey' as she closed it behind him.
"What an enthusiastic greeting," Theo exclaimed, before rifling through her kitchen cabinet near the entrance.
Jazmine leaned against the counter beside him and placed her hands on her hips. "What are you doing?"
"I ran out of cereal, so I figured you'd have some," he replied, pulling a container down. He looked at it and brought it to his chest. "I used to hate this cereal when I was a kid, but the fact that they are making it again gives me all sorts of memories. One of the good things about living in a government town, easy access to processed foods."
Jazmine shook her head and grinned as she watched her friend grab milk from the refrigerator and a bowl and spoon. Theo was her only friend. He had been since she'd first came to town. After all, he was one of the few people, besides her sister due to her healing magic, who could touch her.
Theo was a zombie. Actually, zombie was not the politically correct term for him. He was the reanimated or undead. Although the paranormal happening validated a lot of the horror films and stories that Jazmine had come to know, one myth that was wrong was that the undead just randomly came to life and go around as mindless shells, eating brains and infecting more people. The undead could not typically be raised without the power of a necromancer. Most of them weren't super intelligent, and many would only have a limited life span, depending on the strength of magic from the necromancer.
Theo was one of the rare undead who had risen on his own. He'd been alive when the magic had arrived and hadn't even realized what he was until years later, when he was killed by a vampire. He'd awakened moments later but not as a vampire. Instead, he'd returned as a being who craved human brains and flesh, much like a ghoul. By eating human flesh periodically, he regenerated and his intelligence was maintained, so he didn't become the zombie of old horror movies. Oddly enough, he also aged, albeit slowly like all paranormals, and ate human food.
Most naturally animated undead looked just like a regular human, and aside from the whole brain eating, hard-to-kill, superhuman-strength bit, he was a regular human. He was average height with a wide grin and friendly hazel eyes against lightly tanned skin. His jet-black hair was cut shorter on the sides and longer on top. He was handsome, in a boy-next-door sort of way, and with his large eyes, he had instantly put her at ease when they met in school. Outside of his tattoo-covered arms, which he'd only acquired in the more recent years, after his mother had stopped threatening to disown him, he didn't look like he would hurt a fly.
Most importantly for Jazmine, since he was dead already, he didn't die from her touch. He was safe.
"What's the game plan for tomorrow?" he asked, before eating a mouthful of cereal at the counter.
Jazmine tapped her chin and squinted. "Hmm, walk to the couch and play some video games. Walk to the balcony and read a book. Walk to the bedroom and take a nap."
Theo nodded thoughtfully. "Sounds exciting. Instead of playing those life simulation games—"
"I play a lot of fighting games too."
Theo gave her a thumbs up and a fake smile that wasn't meant to be encouraging. "Hear me out. We go to a bazaar. There's a good one at the Wharf in D.C. It's not far."
"No, thank you. I'm quite happy at home."
She stayed in a one-bedroom apartment a floor down from her sister in one of the many high rises in the city. She was only nineteen, and under normal circumstances, she'd be living with her sister. Except Paige was engaged to Bryant Montgomery, a telekinetic who was also the deputy governor of New Hope. Jazmine was sure that Bryant wasn't a big fan of hers, so she moved out on her own.
She didn't need anyone. It was better to be alone. Saved a lot of lives. Saved a lot of heartache. People were usually irrational and harmful. They never understood her, whispered behind her back, called her names. She'd tried to socialize from a distance, but no one had wanted to put in the effort towards talking to her, and the few encounters she had she was so awkward, she feared she'd never know how to carry on a decent conversation.
No, it was better for her emotional well-being to stay away from others and to just focus on surviving. She did her job, creating online content and games of all sorts from educational to recreational. The internet was the number one source of entertainment now anyway. All channels on TVs were provided through streaming services. As long as a community had a witch or a tech mage to provide electricity and technology – which had stopped upon the return of magic—they would never go off the grid. And since most of Jazmine's time was spent alone, video games and the internet were her main sources of activity.
Working in entertainment wasn't as lucrative as it once was since medical, building, teaching and magic skills were the most desired. Still, she made a comfortable living in her town where capitalism was becoming king again. In other non-government communities, credits, services, and bartering were still the primary resources for survival. Jazmine's job was becoming more profitable as the years went by, but she just wanted enough money to build her online presence and keep to herself.
Theo put his bowl down and pointed his spoon at her. "How? How can you be happy? For the six years I've known you, all you do is walk circles around your apartment all day. First your sister's, now this one."
Jazmine put up a finger. "One, I do work." She put up another finger. "Two, I do go for walks at night after most people are off the street. I also go to the store early in the morning."
Theo rolled his eyes. "Yes, yes. How exciting. You're nineteen. The drinking age in town is now eighteen, and you're a paranormal. You could live another two hundred years. Is this how you want to spend it? In a cramped apartment eating sugary cereal?"
Jazmine sucked her teeth. "Thanks for the judgement. Maybe I'll move into a cabin in the woods by a lake and grow a garden. Get a little canoe and go on the water. Watch the sun set and rise each day. Read all the books. I really don't have a need for people. They just get weird around me, and I then I don't understand them, and then it becomes a whole thing." Even as she said it out loud, she knew how pathetic it sounded.
Theo gave her a pitying look. "Aw, no. You need to live. You have the gloves. You're safe."
Most people knew about her magic touch. She'd had to announce it for the safety of others when they'd arrived in town. She'd only been thirteen, yet had still been isolated and treated like a leper at school. She'd sat in a classroom with other "undesirable" students all day and had watched lessons via a screen.
Even three years later, when a local witch had developed special gloves to prevent her from killing those she touched, people still feared her. They didn't trust the gloves, and everyone knew she could still kill with other parts of her exposed skin and through any non-magical material covering her. And, therefore, from the last hug she'd received from her father at the age of nine until her current age of nineteen, she had not felt the touch of another person, except her sister, who only hugged her on rare occasions. Those hugs were usually weak. She waved her gloved arms in the air. "These things only go a little past my elbows. That's not keeping people safe if they bump into me, and wearing the magic hazmat suit all the time is stifling in the summer."
Theo shrugged. "Other people at the bazaar wear hazmat suits. Scared humans who still aren't sure if they're immune to the Sickness and scared paranormals who don't want to catch this new paranormal disease out there."
In what could only be seen as cosmic revenge, there was now an illness that was infecting paranormals. Unlike the Sickness, which only affected regular humans by destroying their organs and senses, the paranormal illness made one go insane and violent. No one was sure how it transmitted. Some believed it was via bodily fluids. Others believed it was actually a bad drug reaction that had become contagious. There was now a test for it, but it wasn't easily obtainable yet. Not that Jazmine was worried about catching anything with her self-imposed isolation.
She wondered if the undead could transmit disease. She gave Theo a suspicious look.
But he was oblivious to her concerns. "Go in a bikini under the hazmat suit. It'll be cooler that way. And then, if you see a cute a guy you can zip it off and flash him."
Jazmine gave him a blank stare. "I don't understand why we're friends."
Theo chuckled before picking his bowl back up. "We're friends because I'm fabulous and you're fabulous, but other people are too stupid to know it. You cannot waste your hot years hiding in your apartment. Get yourself a man."
Jazmine nodded slowly. "Right, and then kill him. Because that is what would happen if I touched another person. I haven't encountered any other self-raising undead besides you yet. And all the other kind of undead are a no-go."
Theo tapped his chest lightly. "Yes, yes. I am taken. However, there are others almost as great as me out there. In fact, someone showed me a new app. It started as a way for vampires to find donors but also has a dating track. You can meet guys all over the world. If you have access to teleportation magic, it's easy. Maybe you can find someone with your type of magic in some fabulous city like Paris."
Jazmine sighed. "A dating app? Isn't that what they had years ago? Sounds depressing. Scrolling for love. Not very organic. Although practical, I suppose, if used correctly."
"Yep, I was only ten when the world went to crap, but my young Aunt Christina used to be on all of the apps. She met all sorts of guys. I remember my mom calling her fast, but she was young. She was living. What else do you do?"
Jazmine shrugged but didn't speak. A dating app seemed well beyond her social abilities. She'd been so used to self-isolating that she had zero flirting ability. What would she talk about? What would she wear on a date? What if she never met anyone who wanted to risk having her touch them? Right now, she had a vague hope, but if she got on an app and got no interest from men all over the world, well, that would be down-right depressing.
"What about undead vampires?" Theo asked, taking another bite of cereal. "I heard there is a hot one in Silver Spring."
Jazmine shook her head vigorously. "Undead vamps go bloodlust too easily. Plus, they don't want to risk touching me either. They aren't sure if I'll kill them. Honestly, I still don't understand why you touched me."
Theo waved a hand at her as if shooing her away. "Honestly, I tripped over my shoelace, but it all worked out because I am dead. How can you make me any deader?"
Jazmine pointed a finger at him. "Fair point."
"You're going to the bazaar with me," Theo stated, putting the finished bowl in the sink.
Jazmine stomped a foot. "Can't you ask Matt to go with you?"
Theo grimaced at her. "You know he can't move during the day. Even that magic serum he takes from time to time only works for a limited time. Plus, shopping's not his thing."
Matt, Theo's live-in boyfriend, was a gargoyle and turned to stone during the day.
Jazmine huffed. "I don't like shopping either."
Theo dropped his shoulders and pouted. "I risked my life by touching you, and this is how you repay me?"
Jazmine's eyes widened. "Wow. You're using guilt now? Before, it was 'no big deal,' now it was a 'life-threatening' event." She pointed an index finger at him. "Fine. What time is this spectacular bazaar?"
He threw his hands in the air. "It starts at seven. And no worries. We'll take the necessary precautions so you don't get touched," Theo replied before heading to the front door.
"Seven? Wait. What? That's night. Matt could go with you."
"No, no. He's busy, and it doesn't get dark until after eight now. I'll be here by six-thirty tomorrow. Try to comb your hair and put on something other than sweatpants or tights. Maybe a sundress," he called behind him before leaving.
Jazmine frowned and looked down at herself. "Sundress?" She didn't even think she owned one. She looked around her apartment, a slight panic washing over her. She hadn't left town since she first moved in. The thought of going to some crowded market at night where anyone could bump into her and die sounded like an awful idea.
She already had enough to atone for by killing her father and the innocent woman. A day didn't go by where she didn't think of them and remember their horror-filled faces. Not that her sister ever let her forget anyway. She was a danger to society and had killed a father she loved dearly. Now Jazmine was agreeing to put lives in danger to do a little shopping? What kind of precaution would Theo be able to come up with that could stop her from killing people?