The Circle Gathers

Book Cover: The Circle Gathers
Part of the Veil Knights series:

Not all legends are make-believe…

Three years ago, Jessie “the Berserker” Noble was at the top of the MMA fight game, a world-title contender with a brilliant future ahead of her. Then the visions started and her world came crashing down. Hard. Now Jessie’s a shadow of her former self, taking no-holds barred fights in the underground circuit to earn just enough to buy the drugs she needs to keep the horrible things she sees at bay.

When a man named Dante Grimm tells her she’s the modern incarnation of a champion of old and that she and her soon-to-be companions are desperately needed to hold back the darkness to come, Jessie thinks he’s as insane as she is.

But Grimm’s far from crazy. There is a battle coming the likes of which the world hasn't seen in centuries, a battle against a foe straight out of their worst nightmares.

And for them to succeed, Jessie going to have to dive deep into the heart of the very thing she's been running from all this time - her visions.

Arthurian myth meets urban fantasy in this new series from Rowan Casey!

Published: November 22, 2016
Publisher: Harbinger Books
Editors:
Cover Artists:
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Excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

 I can take him.

That was the thought that kept repeating itself in Jessie Noble’s mind as she stared across the makeshift ring at the mountain of a man who stood opposite her.

I can take him.

Her opponent was big, heavyweight big, with a good hundred pounds on her and shoulders half-again as wide as her own, and she’d never been taken for a dainty woman by anyone’s standards. He was a good four inches taller as well, which meant he had a reach advantage, too. His upper body was covered in tattoos of a type that would tell those in the know of the man’s allegiance to the Bratva, the Brotherhood, Russia’s equivalent to the mob, but she didn’t care about that. He was a means to an end, no more, and she intended to deal with him the same way she’d dealt with every opponent that had come before him, quick and sure.

She smiled to show she wasn’t afraid.

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The predatory smile he floated her way in return revealed front teeth plated with steel and an overinflated ego full of smug superiority.

Jessie intended to make him eat both.

I can take him, she told herself for a third time, and she finally believed it.

Fact was, she had to take him.

She needed a fix and the only way she’d have the cash to get one was to win this fight.

And she needed get through him to do it.

The ring in which she stood was nothing more than a white circle painted on the floor of an old warehouse in East L.A., a far cry from the fenced octagon and the sellout crowds she’d dealt with during her time in Vegas. The warehouse had been condemned years before but never torn down and so Dex, the mastermind behind the illegal fights that took place here on nearly a nightly basis, had quietly bought up the property with no one the wiser. He’d converted half of it to an old-school gym; none of those fancy   machines, just racks of free weights, benches and punching bags.

The rules here were simple, especially since there was really only one. Stay inside the ring. Stepping out meant forfeiting the match. Anything else was fair game. That was why she’d taken the time earlier that afternoon to cut her own long blond hair within a half-inch of her scalp. She didn’t want anyone using it against her. This was no-holds barred, anything-goes, bare-knuckle fighting of the most ruthless kind and more than one fighter had been reduced to a battered wreck that needed to be carried out of the ring at the end of their match.

Jessie had no intention of allowing that to happen to her, no matter how big her opponent was.

Cheap halogen lamps on metal stands were set up around the perimeter of the room, casting a harsh light over everything, and the warehouse air was thick with the scent of sweat, dust, and decay.

The crowd was thick tonight as well. Mexican and Latino homeboys from the west side mixed with Asian gangbangers from Chinatown and Little Korea. Blue collar workers with grease under their fingernails rubbed elbows with the super-rich from the canyons high above Hollywood in thousand dollar suits and gowns. It was a regular melting pot of humanity come together to watch two people brutalize each other for as long as one or the other fighter remained standing.

With that much diversity so close together, you’d think the place would be a ticking time bomb just waiting to explode, but Dex had a simple system for dealing with such problems. First time offenders got a beating from his hand-picked squad of mercenary thugs and were instructed not to show their faces around the place a second time. Those who ignored that warning ended up in a shallow grave somewhere with a bullet in the back of the head.

Simple but effective; there were no fights except the sanctioned ones in Dex’s arena.

Money changed hands here faster than on the floor of the stock exchange, with odds on everything from who would land the first blow to how many bones would be broken before the night’s entertainment was over.

Word had apparently gotten around that a new challenger had stepped up to take on the reigning champ, the Russian fighter known in the circuit only as the Cossack. Normally a rowdy bunch to begin with, the crowd’s enthusiasm was hyped to a fever pitch due to the uneven match-up. They smelled the proverbial blood in the water and like a school of sharks caught in a feeding frenzy, they couldn’t contain their excitement at the thought of the big Russian pounding Jessie into submission.

Shows what they know.

There was going to be a pounding, all right, but she was the one who intended to deliver it.

The only thing she had to figure out was how.

Her opponent was bigger and heavier, which meant he was most likely going to be slower than she was. And even a quick glance was enough to show that most of his muscle was distributed above the waist in that big chest and those broad shoulders, so chances were good he was going to be less centered than she was. She could use both of those things to her advantage.

If I can get him on the ground somehow and take his back…

Her gaze drifted downward for a moment, and just like that she knew what she was going to do.

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