Dead World Prequel: Kane
When the war starts, Dr. Kane Hunter is a skilled surgeon, who cares deeply about the lives of the soldiers that come across his table. He’s taken an oath to do no harm and intends to keep it. The only bright point in his life is his fiancée, Megan Richards. He plans to marry her once the war ends.
Not everyone is happy with his decision.
Just when he believes things are turning in their favor, Kane is abducted and finds himself on the wrong side of an operating table. When he awakes the next day, life as he knows it is over and the nightmare is only beginning. Kane has one chance at survival, one chance to make it back to the woman he loves, but it’ll mean going along with his kidnapper’s plans. Plans that include turning the ultimate healer into the ultimate weapon.
The Dead World Series — The Story Behind the Story
This whole series started with one simple question: What if Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf turned out to be the same person?
At the time I asked the question, I had no idea the book would be set in a near-future, post-apocalyptic world. I just kept playing with the question in my mind and eventually Red appeared. I knew once I started writing her story that I wasn’t creating a typical shape-shifter book. The world I created isn’t based on magic or fantasy. It has its roots in science, while embracing the fairytale. On the outside, the world appears perfect, but upon deeper inspection cracks become visible. The cracks are dangerous enough to crumble the utopian society.
‘Nothing is at it appears’ is a theme that runs through many of my books. The Dead World series is no exception.
What people are saying about RED:
“Get in, sit down, shut up, and hold on.”–Lynn Viehl
“Dark, action-filled, and hot!”–Jeaniene Frost
“Dark and dangerous and shivering with possibility. Red’s a temptation worth indulging.”–Melissa Marr
Jordan Summer’s RED is the best novel you’ll read this year! What can I say other than that from the moment I opened her novel I was completely absorbed in it. Her retelling of Little Red Riding Hood is nothing less than brilliant. Her characters and the world she’s designed will keep every reader anxiously glued to the page. No matter what you look for in a great book, you’ll find it in RED. I can’t possibly say enough great things about RED. What I can tell you is that if you read one novel this year make it RED!
Reviewer for Romance Junkies
Complex …world-building combine with a steamy and conflicted romance between a strong heroine and a literal alpha male hero, with plenty of chemistry to fuel future volumes.
The world as we know it has been destroyed in this post-apocalyptic thriller. The thirst for power never dies, but gutsy heroine Gina refuses to let that stop her. Summers does a good job laying out the backstory for her new world order, illustrating the dangerous times her protagonists live in. The first-person rantings from the deranged serial killer add a frightening layer to an already gritty thriller. Very good stuff, indeed!
Jill M. Smith, Romantic Times Booklover’s Magazine
It’s a shape-shifter book with a difference. Several differences, in fact. Not only is it set in a well-drawn futuristic post-apocalyptic world, the main narrative is interspersed with first-person sections from the shape-shifter killer’s POV. These passages were… disturbing. To put it mildly. Incredibly dark and visceral, I was fascinated to see how well Jordan Summers managed to get into the mind of an otherworldly killer. *shudders*
Karen Mahoney, YA urban fantasy author
In RED, Jordan Summers gives her readers an intense story with compelling characters who effortlessly endear themselves to the reader from page one. With a suspenseful plot as important to the story as the romance, the author has crafted a complex story that is easy to love.
I want to stress that there are indeed some very dark passages in the story. We are reading about a serial killer, after all. The parts of the story told from the murderer’s perspective are written in first person point of view, putting you inside his head, showing the reader in no uncertain terms how demented the villain is. I also need to point out for the squeamish that these scenes do include some sexual contact while in shape shifted form while the killer is attacking his victims. There is NO intercourse in these scenes, however, simply some contact designed to demonstrate the twisted way this man views his victims.
Reviewed by Jennifer for Wild on Books
Read an Unedited Excerpt
The transport backed up to the makeshift hospital. The doors of the vehicle opened with a bang and soldiers filed out like angry fire ants, carrying stretchers loaded with casualties. They rushed the men into the waiting area and set them on the ground, then went back for more.
A triage team met them and assessed the injured, then attempted to stabilize them long enough for the men and women to make it into surgery. They’d put the highest priority cases first and determine who had the best chance of survival.
The split second decisions were harsh but necessary, when the bodies never stopped coming.
Kane did a quick mental count of the new arrivals. There were at least five others stacked behind the man he treated. All were in just as bad of shape as the soldier on his operating table. He and the seven other doctors were working as fast as they could, but experience told him that they wouldn’t save all of them.
He glanced at his bloody gloves. The war had been going on for so long that he couldn’t remember a time when he wasn’t covered in blood. Kane didn’t think he’d ever truly be clean again.
Kane finished tying off the bleeder and checked once more to make sure he’d gotten all the shrapnel, then he looked over at Megan Richards, his surgical nurse. “Close him up and get him into recovery.” If this were a regular hospital, Kane would do it himself, but there was nothing normal about their working conditions.
“Yes, doctor.” Megan immediately went to work.
They’d met under the harshest of conditions. Initially he and Megan sought each other out for comfort, but over time their feelings had grown.
Kane hadn’t been looking for love, but somehow he’d found it with her. Megan had brought light to the continual darkness and reminded him that despite their horrific surroundings that there was still good left in this world. Kane had proposed to her a couple of weeks ago and intended to marry her the second the war ended.
He took a step back from the operating table and the room swam before his eyes. Kane grabbed onto the gurney.
“Are you okay?” Megan asked without dropping a stitch.
He shook his head to clear it. “I’m fine.”
Her brown eyes softened. She didn’t believe him, but Megan wouldn’t question his response. Everyone pulled long hours. Everyone pushed themselves to their limits. Nothing would change until the war was over.
Kane wasn’t okay, but it didn’t matter. He wouldn’t leave until he’d attended the rest of the soldiers. “I need to get changed,” he said.
Megan nodded. “I’ll get everything prepped for the next one.”
“Thank you.” Kane walked over to a section of the large tent that had been cordoned off with wide tarps for the medical staff. Tucked behind the fabric wall was a locker filled with fresh clothes. There was also a small sink and a portable toilet.
Kane nudged the tarp back with his shoulder and stepped inside, then shucked his soiled clothes. He dropped them into a barrel and disposed of his gloves, then scoured his hands and face with cold soapy water.
He couldn’t remember the last time he’d slept. Twenty-four hours ago? Thirty-six? The line of endless bodies blurred in his mind. Kane rubbed his eyes, then quickly dried his hands.
Didn’t matter if he was tired. Didn’t matter that he was on the verge of collapse. There were men and women counting on him to do his job. He had to get back to work.
Kane grabbed a fresh pair of scrubs and got dressed. He walked back into the operating bays, which were no more than curtained off stalls, and signaled for the triage staff to bring him the next soldier.
The man moaned when they laid him on the operating table.
“You’re going to be okay,” Kane said. “Hang in there.”
The soldier nodded, then promptly passed out.
Kane worked methodically, taking care that he didn’t overlook any of the man’s injuries. There were so many points of entry that the soldier looked like a human pincushion. Kane plucked piece after piece of shrapnel out of the man’s chest cavity. It was painstaking work, but necessary. If he missed even one, it could travel and kill the soldier later.
He opened and closed his hands to shake off the numbness that had set in due to fatigue, then dropped the last piece of metal into the pan. It pinged when it hit the pile.
“That’s the last of it,” he said. Kane was about to close, when the soldier’s blood pressure bottomed out. “We’re losing him,” he shouted. “Start resuscitation.” He’d told that man that he was going to be okay and Kane had meant it.
They worked on the soldier for another five minutes.
“Kane, he’s gone.” Megan touched his arm, giving him what comfort she could.
He knew she was right, but Kane didn’t want to give up.
“We have others waiting,” she said softly.
He looked up. Megan’s face was full of compassion.
“We have to let him go,” she said.
Kane called a stop to their efforts. “Time of death, 4:20pm.” The date was marked and man’s name was added to a very long list that kept growing by the minute.
Would the bloodshed never end?
By the time Kane finished with the last of the soldiers, he was ready to drop. He’d saved two more of the men, but they’d lost three in total. Someone would notify the families and when they did, their lives would be forever altered.
“Will I see you later?” he asked Megan.
She shook her head. “Not tonight. I need to get some sleep.”
“Then I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Get some rest,” she said.
“I will.” Kane stepped out of the hospital tent and scrubbed a hand over his face. Stubble met his palm.
“You look like you could use a drink,” someone said.
Kane recognized the voice instantly and grinned. “You wouldn’t happen to have one, would you?” He looked to his right and saw his cousin’s smiling face.
He and Morgan Hunter had lived down the street from each other and had grown up together. Raised more like brothers, they’d been inseparable throughout their childhood.
Morgan’s grin spread. “I might be able to scrounge something up. Come with me.” He gestured for Kane to follow him.
Kane straightened with a groan. “You look like shit,” he said, though he’d never seen a better sight.
Morgan stopped walking. “You’re not exactly winning any beauty contests yourself.”
“At least I cut my hair,” he said.
Morgan’s dark hair was long and in dire need of a trim. The shadow of a beard covered his firm jaw. There were cuts on his forehead and over his knuckles like he’d been in a recent fistfight. Maybe he had.
He cuffed him on the back. Kane stumbled forward.
“Sorry,” Morgan said. “I sometimes forget my own strength.”
It was okay because Kane sometimes forgot that his cousin wasn’t entirely human. Not anymore. Kane’s gaze traveled over the rest of him to assess his condition. Morgan’s shirt had various holes dotting the front of it. The size and shape of the damage looked suspiciously like they’d come from gunshots.
“Are you injured?” Kane pulled his cousin’s shirt up. Faded scars marred his flesh.
“Not anymore,” Morgan said.
He’d been fighting on the front-lines. Kane knew that much, but he hadn’t heard a word from his cousin for the past six months. He had feared that Morgan would end up on his table, despite the genetic enhancements he’d acquired.
“Officer on deck,” one of the soldiers shouted.
Morgan stiffened to attention and saluted General Schneider as he strolled out of the command tent.
“At ease,” the general said, then stopped to talk. “Kane, your cousin here is a fine soldier.”
“I know, sir,” Kane said.
“He does the job of ten men,” the general said.
Morgan looked uncomfortable.
“I could use another like him on the front. Ever think about enlisting?” he asked.
Kane snorted. “I have enough to keep me busy here.” He glanced at the hospital for emphasis.
“Understood,” General Schneider said. “Let me know if you ever change your mind. Our side needs more men like Hunter on the front-line.”
“Don’t think I will,” Kane said. “But I appreciate the offer.”
They watched the general walk off.
“That was weird,” Morgan said.
“Yes, it was,” Kane said. “He normally goes out of his way to avoid me because I’m always bugging him about needing more supplies.”
“You do grow on people.” Morgan grinned.
“Yeah, like fungus.”
“Welcome to my casa.” Kane pointed to the small tent he’d been issued. “I have a lot to tell you.”
“I had no idea that you were living in the lap of luxury, while I’ve been out getting my ass shot off.” Morgan laughed.
“You mustn’t have been hit too many times because it’s still there,” Kane joked, then sobered. “So how goes it on the front?”
Morgan glanced at him, his amber eyes shadowed. “The war’s turning in our favor.”
Kane arched a brow. It didn’t seem like it, if the number of casualties was any indication. “Really? Could’ve fooled me.”
“It’s true,” he said.
“Just not fast enough,” Kane said.
Morgan nodded, sending his dark hair into his face. He brushed it back.
“What are you doing here?” Kane hoped that Morgan said that he was here to stay.
“I had to give an updated report on the intel I uncovered to General Schneider and grab more supplies,” Morgan said.
“So you’re not staying?” Kane asked.
Morgan gave him a sad smile. “You know I can’t. We each have a job to do.”
He was right, but Kane didn’t have to like it. Morgan had always wanted to be a soldier. They each longed to save lives, but went about it in different ways. Somberness settled over their joyful reunion. This was no time to be maudlin.
“I thought by now that the Big Bad Wolf would’ve ended the war all by himself.” Kane joked, elbowing his cousin.
“Funny,” Morgan said. “I think you have me mistaken with Superman.”
Kane laughed. “No, he has a better suit.”
Like a lot of soldiers, Morgan Hunter had volunteered for an experimental genetic procedure that spliced his genes with those of everyday predators. They’d done so in the hope of ending the war before it destroyed what was left of the world. A final Hail Mary pass made out of desperation.
When Morgan chose to become part wolf, Kane wasn’t surprised. As children, they had always loved the story of Little Red Riding Hood, even going so far as to side with the wolf. They’d kept the book their uncle read to them, partly out of sentimentality, but also as a nod to Morgan’s new condition.
Kane hadn’t always been supportive of Morgan’s decision to have the procedure. He’d feared that if the process didn’t kill his cousin, it would change him into something Kane wouldn’t recognize.
It was only after he’d visited Morgan in the hospital that Kane had realized his fears were unfounded. Morgan had changed, but he was still the same man that he’d grown up with. His sly humor remained intact and so had their attachment.
Every man and woman who’d entered the program were given a choice of what animal they wanted to be joined with. Most had chosen a big cat, canine, or bear, but a few—ones known to have some psychic ability—had gone a different route entirely.
They’d had their DNA scrambled. By the time the geneticists finished with them, they’d been altered into something monstrous. The new species called themselves vampires after the mythical creatures, but they were so much more. Kane had only encountered one and he hoped he never encountered another.
Morgan pulled a flask out of his back pocket. He unscrewed the cap and passed it over. Kane sniffed. The scent of Scotch filled his lungs. He closed his eyes, reveling in the sweet, peaty aroma, then took a swig.
The amber liquid burned his throat and made his eyes water, but still tasted like heaven. Kane handed the flask back to his cousin. Morgan tipped it to his lips and took a drink, then they sat down on Kane’s cot.
“So what did you want to tell me?” Morgan asked.
Kane grinned. “I’m engaged.”
“What! To who?” he asked. “I mean that’s wonderful.” So many emotions played across his face that it was hard to track them all. “Congratulations.”
Kane laughed. “I didn’t mean to drop that on you. I’d planned to break the news to you, then ask you to be my best-man.”
“I’d be honored.” He smiled, but Kane noticed the sadness in his eyes. Without conscious thought, Morgan rubbed the gold ring on his left hand.
He should’ve thought this through. It was cruel to throw this at Morgan after he’d lost his family. Kane mentally kicked himself. He opened his mouth to apologize, but Morgan interrupted him.
“So who’s the lucky lady?” he asked.
Kane hesitated, then said, “Her name is Megan Richards. She’s my surgical nurse. She’s a wonderful woman. You’d like her.”
“No doubt,” Morgan said. “How long have you guys been seeing each other?”
“Not long, but long enough,” Kane said. The war had taught him to not put important things off. That’s why he’d proposed the moment he knew that Megan was the one.
“That’s wonderful, buddy,” Morgan said. “So when’s the big date? Do I have time to throw you a bachelor party?”
“You have plenty of time to plan,” Kane said. “We don’t want to get married until this mess ends.”
Morgan’s false enthusiasm waned. “That might be awhile. Sure you want to wait?”
Kane thought about the number of casualties pouring into the camp. “So how bad is it out there?” he asked.
Morgan was quiet.
For a moment Kane thought he might not answer.
“Bad,” he said softly. “We’re not just running out of supplies. We’re running out of soldiers, too. Pretty soon they’re going to start grabbing old ladies off the street and shoving guns in their hands.” Morgan laughed, but there was an edge of seriousness to his statement that made Kane uneasy. “It’s good to see you.”
Kane squeezed his shoulder. “It’s good to see you, too.”
“How are you holding up?” Morgan asked.
“Fine,” Kane said. “Better than you.”
“You don’t look fine,” he said.
Kane shrugged. “I’m doing my best. It’s hard to keep up with the number of casualties. I lose a lot of good men.” He reached for the flask and took another drink. “Too many.”
Morgan stared at him. “You save more.”
Kane nodded. “Just not enough. We’re running out of medical supplies. We’re running out of supplies period.”
“Yeah,” Morgan said. “I know.”
“I’ve spoken to General Schneider, but he can’t give me what he doesn’t have,” Kane said.
Morgan’s eyes drifted shut.
“How long can you stay?” Kane asked. He didn’t want Morgan going back to the front. He might be stronger and faster than the average man, but he wasn’t invincible. And if he was as exhausted as he looked, he was bound to make mistakes. Mistakes that could cost him his life.
Morgan opened his eyes and gave him a weak smile. “I have to ship out tomorrow morning.”
Kane handed him the flask. “Then I guess we’d better enjoy this while we can. Have you eaten?”
“No,” Morgan said.
“Then let’s get you something to eat.” Kane pulled out his military locker and opened it. He grabbed two sets of MRE’s and handed one to his cousin. “Bon appetite.”
Morgan laughed and ripped the first can open. He took a bite. “Yum! Just like mom used to make.”
Kane chuckled. “If that’s true, it’s a wonder you’re still alive.”
They spent the rest of the evening reliving childhood memories and avoiding talk of the war. It felt good to recall happier times. They talked and laughed into the wee hours of the morning until they could barely keep their eyes open, then Morgan bedded down next to Kane’s cot and they went to sleep.
A few hours later, Kane woke to the sound of shuffling. He opened his eyes and saw Morgan rolling his blanket up. “What time is it?” he asked, his brain swimming from lack of sleep.
“Early,” Morgan said. “Get some more rest.”
He glanced at his watch. It was five in the morning. “What about you?” Kane sat up in his cot.
“It’s time for me to head out.” Morgan held up a set of new orders.
Would this be the last time he saw him alive? Kane’s heart clenched. He couldn’t bear the idea of losing Morgan.
“Cousin…” Kane’s voice trailed off.
“I know,” Morgan said.
Kane climbed off the cot and grabbed Morgan in a bear hug. “Be safe. I’m going to be pissed off, if you end up on my table.”
Morgan snorted. “I’ll keep that in mind. Watch your six.”
“Don’t need to. I’ll be here for the rest of the war, unless they make us move back again,” Kane said.
“Watch it anyway.” Morgan winked.
“I will,” Kane said. “You watch yours.”
Morgan moved to the tent flap. “I always do.”
“Yeah.” Morgan paused.
“Come back in one piece,” Kane said.
He nodded. “I’ll do my best.”
* * * * *