Dead World Prequel: Raphael
Raphael Vega wasn’t always a vampire. There was a time when he was just a soldier.
Raphael and his brother lost their family, but survived the war. Now there’s only one thing left to do: Check in at the Republic of Floridian Islands’ base to receive their discharge papers. When they arrive, the documents are nowhere to be found. Instead, they are ambushed and imprisoned.
Tortured and starved, the brothers hover between death and madness. It soon becomes clear that the only way out of their prison cells is via a casket. Not an unpleasant prospect for a vampire.
One explosive blast turns their prison into a tomb. Raphael barely survives. Once he recovers, he embarks on an odyssey of revenge that doesn’t stop until the last base falls.
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 first time I saw Raphael Vega, he took a bullet for me. The second time, I wanted to put a bullet in him.—Morgan Hunter
Sweat dripped from Raphael Vega clinging precariously to the tip of his nose. He wiped his face with the back of his sleeve, leaving the material with a fresh streak of dirt. The bloodstains covering his arms and chest made the new spot indistinguishable from the rest.
He continued to perspire. The climate change dried out most of the planet but the humidity remained in the Republic of Floridian Islands. The moist heat mocked the world with its stubborn refusal to leave. Even late at night, it felt like walking through a sauna.
They’d passed a sign an hour back that said Tallahassee forty miles. They weren’t going that far. The military base was north of there.
The leather soles of his boots flopped with each step, making him sound like a flat tire. The tread gave out a hundred miles ago but refused to fall off.
He and his brother, Michael had been walking for days, following what used to be the eastern coastline south. They’d crossed into the Republic of Floridian Islands yesterday.
Raphael would happily walk for weeks more now that the end was in sight. After years of waiting to be discharged, they’d finally received orders to return to base.
He glanced at Michael. His smudged face no longer held the roundness and exuberance of youth. Drawn and cracked lips punctuated Michael’s hollowed cheeks. A tattered uniform lay perched upon his boney shoulders, threatening to disintegrate in the warm breeze.
His brother may be worse for wear, but at least he was alive. They both were. They were also the last two remaining members of the Vega family.
Sadness welled inside of him. So much loss. So much devastation.
He sniffed and scrubbed a hand over his face. What’s done was done. They weren’t the only ones who’d lost everything in the war. At least they had each other, which was more than most people could say.
“Once we get our discharge papers and our final compensation, I’m going to build myself a mountain retreat,” Raphael declared.
Michael arched a brow. “Counting your money before you get it, eh? Where did that come from?”
“I’ve been thinking about it for a while,” he said. “It’s important to have plans for the future.” And Raphael had plenty. The first thing he intended to do was find a warm, welcoming woman and spend the next week lying in bed worshipping her.
Michael’s bemused expression made Raphael laugh. “Stop reading my mind.”
“I couldn’t help it. You were ‘broadcasting’ your desires rather loudly,” Michael said.
Raphael gave him a sly grin. “What about you? You can’t tell me that you’re not interested in having company.” He nudged him gently with his elbow.
Michael gazed off in the distance, his eyes unfocused. “Perhaps someday.” When the dead no longer haunt my nights.
Raphael caught the thought before Michael censored it. “Where do you think you’ll settle?” he asked to distract him from his nightmares.
“I’m going to live by the ocean or what’s left of it,” he said eventually. “I’m tired of endless dunes of sand and dirt. I want to see what we fought so hard for.” The ruby in his gold ring flashed in the bright moonlight as Michael waved his hand in the air.
Raphael nodded. His brother always loved the water. Their parents couldn’t get him out of it when he was a boy. “Will you at least come visit me?”
Michael laughed. “As if you’d ever let me hear the end of it, if I didn’t.”
Raphael’s broad smile faded as a towering wall of razor wire and shattered glass came into view. “We’re here.”
Michael stared at the wall. “What happened to it? Looks more like a prison than a military base.”
“The war happened,” Raphael said.
The newness may have worn off but to Raphael there’d never been a more beautiful sight. Cracked paint, razor wire and all. The place didn’t hold the best of memories, but no one forced them to change their genetics. They’d volunteered. The blame for what they’d become fell squarely upon their shoulders.
The first time he and his brother had walked onto this base they’d been naive soldiers. By the time they left for the front-lines, they’d become something else. Something Other. Nightmares in human form. More powerful than the average man and five times as deadly.
The brave or foolish called them vampires but they were so much more than those mythical creatures. Vampires had limited powers.
According to the scientists, their gifts would continue to evolve and change over the years. If their calculations were correct, there’d be a time in the future when he and Michael would become virtually invincible.
Vampires, super-soldiers, freaks of nature…
Today, it didn’t matter what anyone called them for they’d finally reached the end of the road. By tomorrow, they’d be nothing more than civilians, which suited Raphael just fine.
No longer a pawn in an unwinnable war, Raphael wanted to buy a piece of property, build a house, and kick his feet up for the next fifty or sixty years. It would take that long to get over everything he’d witnessed during the war.
He looked at Michael. “Told you we’d make it.” Raphael clasped him on the shoulder and gave him a gentle shake.
Michael smiled weakly. “You didn’t give me a choice. I’d have never heard the end of it if I had quit. I sure hope they have an officer’s mess in there. I could use a drink.”
“Come on, brother,” he said. “Let’s get this over with. The sooner we check in, the sooner we’ll be able to get you that house by the ocean.”
“You make it sound simple,” Michael said.
“It is.” Raphael put his arm around Michael half carrying, half walking his brother to the entrance. “We’ll go in. Sign a bunch of paperwork. Then be on our way.”
“Nothing is ever that easy,” Michael muttered.
“Ye of little faith,” Raphael said.
Two guard towers stood watch over the entrance. Raphael couldn’t make out the people but he could see the ends of the automatic weapons pointed toward them. He moved his arm away from Michael and slowly raised his hands in the air.
“Halt!” Someone called out from behind the armaments.
“Captain Raphael Vega and Sergeant Michael Vega reporting in as commanded,” he said.
Michael swayed on his feet, but remained upright. “Are you sure this is where we’re supposed to report?”
“Positive.” Raphael reached for the paperwork.
“I don’t understand why they needed us to return to the lab. Couldn’t they have checked us out up north and given us our discharge papers?”
“They probably want to give us another physical before we leave.”
“I said halt!”
Raphael froze halfway to his shirt pocket. “I have our orders right here.”
“There are a lot of guns here for a base that’s being shut down,” Michael said.
His brother was right but Raphael kept his thoughts to himself. Michael was too fragile to make it any further. They needed supplies and rest before they continued on their journey.
“Leave the papers and drop your weapons,” someone else said.
Raphael unhooked his holster and let his pistol drop to the ground. He didn’t need a weapon to kill these men and neither did his brother. If Michael weren’t so weak, they might be dead already.
“Him, too,” someone said.
“He’s unarmed,” Raphael said.
“Hold fast.” One of the men rushed forward and reached into Raphael’s pocket to retrieve his paperwork. He ran back and disappeared out of sight.
A few minutes later the gates in front of them creaked open. “Sorry, captain, but we needed to verify your identities,” the soldier said.
“The war is over, private,” Raphael said as he helped Michael through the gate.
The soldier’s expression shifted. “Not everyone is aware of that, sir.”
True. He and Michael had encountered a few insurgents along the way to the base. Some had listened to reason, when they told them a truce had been called. Others had pressed the issue. Their bodies were littered along their route.
“They’re waiting for you and Sergeant Vega at the main facility,” the soldier said, then added, “Welcome back.”
Raphael nodded, then paused. “Do we wait here for a ride?”
The soldier shook his head. “Sorry, sir, but we’re running low on fuel. Vehicles can only be used in an emergency.”
“Understood.” Raphael turned to Michael. “Can you make it a bit further?”
Michael scowled at him. “You know I can.”
They continued down the winding lane that once held cypress trees and crooked oaks filled with Spanish moss. Most of the trees had fallen. The ones left standing were now bare.
Seashells crunched under their feet as they passed several other soldiers. The men and women appeared to be in the process of being discharged.
A few waved. Others smiled. While still others were too shell-shocked to register their presence. Most would eventually pull it together, but there were some who’d never be right in the head again.
Raphael glanced at his brother and sent up a silent prayer that he’d be one of the lucky ones. Michael put on a brave face but the war had changed him, fractured him somehow. Another sharp tap and he’d shatter. Maybe the scientists in the lab here could help him. Raphael decided to ask at the first opportunity.
Sections of the asphalt had been blown away from all the shelling. Instead of being resurfaced, someone had dumped topsoil in the holes.
“Do you remember the first time we walked down this road?” Raphael asked.
Michael glanced at him. “Yes, I thought it was beautiful…until the alligator came out of the bushes and tried to eat me.”
Raphael chuckled. “You should’ve seen the look on your face.”
“It wasn’t funny.”
“Yes, it was,” he said. “Don’t have to worry about that now.” There were no more alligators or crocodiles. Most of the animal kingdom had been wiped out thanks to the war.
“If you hadn’t shot him…” Michael switched places with Raphael so he wouldn’t be next to the dead brush.
“He wouldn’t have eaten you,” Raphael said. “Your head’s too hard, your skin is too tough, and you taste bad.”
Michael glared at him but couldn’t keep a straight face.
Four sets of barracks came into view when they reached the main quad. The long burlap tents stretched for a hundred and fifty feet and housed around seventy-five soldiers each. Only one looked occupied. The rest showed signs of being abandoned long ago.
The main facility where the genetic experimentation took place squatted like a bloated gray toad against the dead trees. Camouflage paint peeled from its weathered brick walls, stripped away by the humidity and constant bombing.
A couple of guards jumped to attention as they approached the front door.
“At ease, gentleman.” Raphael pulled out their orders. “Where can we find Commander D. B. Griffin?”
The soldier scanned the paperwork. “His office is located in the lower level of the facility, sir,” he said. “Room Bravo Eight. Not sure if he’s there right now though.” He glanced at the night sky.
“I understand. Do you mind if we check in before catching some sleep?”
“No, sir. I believe you’re expected to.”
“Thank you, private.” Raphael looked at Michael. “Can you wait a little longer?”
Michael smiled. “Do I have a choice?”
“No. Let’s do this.”
The soldier on the left stepped forward and opened the doors for them. Raphael walked through first with Michael close on his heels. The heavy steel doors closed behind them leaving them in darkness. Not even a hall light illuminated the space.
Odd, Raphael thought but dismissed his unease.
If they were running low on fuel and supplies, they’d conserve everywhere they could. No unnecessary waste. Not even for a hall light.
The shadows shifted.
Michael cried out.
Raphael turned to see what was happening to his brother. He caught a glimpse of the man raising the needle a second before he felt a sharp jab in the side of his neck.
“What’s the meaning of this?” he bellowed. The drugs were already taking effect.
The room shifted beneath his feet and morphed in and out of view. Strong hands clamped down on his arms holding him in place.
“I demand to speak with Commander D. B. Griffin,” Raphael slurred.
“He’s not here. Take them below!” The man in a lab coat pointed down the hall.
Raphael reached for his brother. Their fingers brushed, then the men yanked them apart. “Michael!”
“Raph!” One man went flying end over end as Michael released some of his power.
“I told you that they’re dangerous. Put him down now!” lab coat man ordered.
“No!” Raphael screamed. “Don’t hurt him! He’s been hurt enough.”
Someone stepped behind Michael and struck him in the back of his head with the butt of a rifle. He crumbled to the floor like a pile of bones. Blood ran from the wound and dripped down his neck.
Raphael struggled to break the grasp of the men holding him. They tightened their grips and someone plunged another needle into him, emptying the syringe. The room swam and black dots appeared before his eyes.
“Get them down below before the next batch arrives!” Lab coat man roared. “The last thing we need is for them to figure out what’s really happening.”
“Michael,” he murmured. They picked his brother up and dumped him on a rickety gurney. Raphael watched in anguish as they wheeled Michael away.