Servant:
The Awakening

October 2007

Servant: The Awakening

Gabrielle Cody has the ability to see the demons among us as they really are-and the responsibility to destroy them. She can't allow anyone to get in her way, even the magnetic Detective Luther Cross. Sensing a malevolent presence watching and stalking her, Gaby is drawn again and again to an abandoned hospital surrounded by an aura of sickness and suffering-and unimaginable evil.

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Berkley single title
ISBN: 0-373-77267-X

Servant: The Awakening

The sixth sense of a demon slayer

Gaby pushed Cross away, and to her surprise, he allowed the distance. He even stepped back to give her room. "What is it?" he asked again.

"Something is wrong."

"Okay." He turned a full circle, searching the area. He held his body in the deceptively relaxed pose of someone who knew how to kick serious ass.

Moderating her strained breathing, keeping her thoughts calm and free, Gaby took her time scanning the area. She detected the commonplace turbulence of humans out on this muggy, electric night-but not the red-hot evil she sought.

Until she again faced Cross.

It lurked behind him, in the playground.

Stepping around the detective, Gaby strode determinedly toward the evil, and sensed it taking flight, evading her, running from her.

Like a candle, once snuffed, only a wisp of smoke remained as a reminder of the flame. Gaby wanted to follow, to hunt the malignant corruption and chase it to ground, but damn it, Cross stood there, watching her, waiting.

Undecided on how to proceed, knowing that with him observing her every move, she couldn't proceed, she cast him a quelling glare.

"Fascinating," he said, without a speck of humor. "Now tell me what the hell is going on."

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EXCERPT 1

Servant: The Awakening

The crimson sunrise spilled into the cramped but tidy room, bringing with it the monotony of responsibility and the taint of rancid malevolence. Funny, how people always assumed evil lurked in the shadowy night, that it wore a face of frightening proportions, that it could - in any way - be predictable.

With the 9-millimeter resting in her hand, her finger curved around the trigger, Gabrielle Cody lay unmoving. The knife strapped to her back dug into her spine with reassuring familiarity. Even in sleep, her muscles stayed taut, her body prepared.

Today, her twenty-first birthday, dawned no different from any other. Had she really hoped to have a respite from the grueling duty?

The sounds of birds awakening, cars driving by, and the relentless, rhythmic beating of her heart swarmed her mind. She wished she could deny the morning. She wished she could be reborn as someone else, someone... normal.

But no matter how Gabrielle strained and resisted, she couldn't deny the pull. With each second that ticked past, the clawing from within swelled, screaming louder inside her head, making her guts churn and her blood rush hot until the walls of her chest burned like fire. With a tearing groan and a stiffening of her legs, she narrowed her eyes and did her best to focus on the cracked and stained ceiling.

Leave me alone.

The silent command resonated within her head, just like the inexorable draw that refused to be ignored.

Battling it brought a light sweat to her skin, leaving her naked body slick. Her breath soughed in and out. The lumpy mattress took on the appeal of hard gravel, urging her to start the day.

Resistance was futile.

"Fuck it." Gabrielle thrust herself off the bed in a rush of acceptance. Her bare feet padded in hollow silence across the floor to the open window, where she stared at the hazy sunrise swimming on the horizon. The mid-June day would torture with heat and humidity - perfect for her birthday.

As long as it didn't storm, she could function. But if black clouds moved in and the thunder began to belch and bluster... Just thinking of it made her palms damp and her throat tight. Shit. She might as well fear the dark or the occasional spider while she was at it.

She snorted, scrubbed at her tired eyes, and surveyed everything within her range of sight.

As usual, her attention landed on the playground first, surrounded by a sturdy chain link fence that couldn't stop a damn thing and would offer no protection from the real threats. By midmorning, laughing, innocent children would be at play with an excess of noise and excitement.

The now abandoned elementary school drew her notice next. Once, long ago, it taught dreams and encouraged illusions. They'd put up the fence to keep the kids in, ignorant and oblivious to the true dangers lurking beneath a veneer of social acceptability.

All along the road, traffic multiplied in a scorched wave of colors and sounds and exhaust fumes. It hadn't rained in weeks and brittle tree leaves rustled under the encouragement of a hot, restless breeze.

Gaby drew a breath - and held it.

Somewhere out there, somewhere that no one could see or suspect, horrible things waited, taunting her senses, painfully pricking her nerves, making her vision slide within. She knew it. She always knew it.

She fucking hated it.

Wrenching away from the window, she unbuckled the knife strap from around her waist and carried it, with the heavy gun, into the bathroom. In her efficiency apartment, it was the only closed room. A single large room housed everything else: her bed, her hot plate, an old rickety desk and a miniscule dresser, a microwave and small refrigerator.

After setting the weapons aside, she double bolted the special door she'd installed for her peace of mind, and then turned on the shower. The original door and flimsy lock hadn't taken much more than a single punch before giving way. Now, when the rush of water impaired her perceptions, it'd require a talented locksmith or a true behemoth to break in.

Whenever circumstances like sleeping or bathing left her vulnerable, Gaby did all she could to protect herself. The shower, with its old rattling pipes, made more noise than most. At times, it sounded like the demons from hell were trying to crawl through the walls.

Servant: The AwakeningSome would call her specialized precautions paranoid.

But then, most had no idea that crazed demons did crawl the earth.

Death didn't frighten her. No, there were times when Gaby prayed for death to take her.

Those prayers went unanswered.

What she didn't want, what she couldn't bear to contemplate, was unending torment. She could handle pain; she always had. But if the pain had no end...

Locking her teeth, Gaby stepped under the tepid spray and let the water hit her face, trickle down her body. It didn't dispel the truth of what she had to do, what she put off doing. It didn't ease her muscles or alleviate the agony that became a part of her, more so with every passing moment.

It only removed the sweat and took the sting out of her eyes.

Lingering in the shower, she cleaned her teeth while straining her ears to hear any sound of intrusion. Ten minutes later, clean and dry, she combed back her short dark hair and dressed in a way that wouldn't draw attention. Birthday or not, she could no longer deny her God-appointed duty.

Closing her eyes and relaxing her mind allowed her to drop her resistance, leaving her open to the summons.

Like the spike of a frozen ice pick, it struck her nape, then slowly, raggedly, scraped down her spine and straight into her soul.

Her muscles jerked and twitched, and her mouth opened on a gasp as the pain dug deep, expanding to invade her every nerve ending. She didn't shy away from the agony; she knew it would do no good. As an incentive, the physical misery would remain until she finished the job.

In her practiced way, Gaby evened her breathing, accepting, embracing the pain so it could revitalize her, heightening her awareness and honing her instincts to razor sharpness.

Today someone - some thing - would die.

She knew, because she'd kill it.

But not with the gun. Gun blasts made too much noise and drew too much attention. What Gaby had to do, no one would understand.

So no one could know.

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Servant: The Awakening

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Servant: The Awakening

“Unique and fascinating.”
New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Lowell

“Brash, darkly edgy and insightful.”
Romance Reader at Heart

“May this be just the first in a long series.”
Booklist (starred review)

 “The first book in a new series, The Awakening features a unique heroine, a wonderful hero, and a likable sidekick…The gritty, atmospheric, inner-city setting, graphic violence, and raw language are perfect for a story that unfolds, scene by scene, like a graphic novel and cries out to be graphic-novelized en route to the movies. May this be just the first in a long series.”
Booklist (starred review)

“A new name and an enticing new series propels Lori Foster into an exciting new direction…Servant: The Awakening practically blew me away…[It’s] brash, darkly edgy and insightful. And all grown up. Kudos to Ms. Foster for this fascinating, utterly unique fantasy.”
Romance Reader at Heart

“Fascinating…a new twist on demon slaying.”
Fresh Fiction

“With Servant: The Awakening, L. L. Foster shows she has a true gift for writing dark urban fantasy…The Servant Series will be addictive.”
The Romance Readers Connection

“Brilliant…The tone, intensity, and sheer grittiness of this book is awesome. I think Ms. Foster was channeling early Anita Blake, Eve Dallas, and a dash of J.R. Ward…a great intro to a series that I will be following religiously!!”
Night Owl Romance

“Dark, gritty, raw…urban fantasy at its finest… As can be expected from the darker alter ego of Lori Foster, L.L. Foster delivers characters that are engaging yet in your face…This looks to be the beginning of a really great series.  Get your copy today and get in on the ground floor.”
loveromancesandmore.com

“Entertaining paranormal romantic suspense that grips readers…Romantic fantasy readers and fans of Buffy and the movie They Live will want to read the first tale in the human war against demons.”
Midwest Book Review

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Servant: The AwakeningReader Reviews

"This book is different from anything Lori Foster has written to date; she has created the beginning of a compelling new paranormal series! Gaby Cody is a young woman with a mission, to destroy evil personified. Isolated and disconnected from the world around her, as Gaby begins to hunt an evil that also seems to be hunting her. At the same time, she discovers that remaining disconnected is becoming a battle in and of itself. Morty, her landlord, and Luther Cross, a police officer who finds he can't shake Gaby out of his system, are breaching the walls Gaby has built....and placing themselves and Gaby in serious jeopardy.

Readers will find themselves fascinated by the story and the characters. Gaby is intriguing; I felt both sympathy and frustration for her and the relationships she is forming. New and old audiences should find something that appeals to them here. I cannot wait for the NEXT book in the series, and Gaby's further adventures... with Luther in hot pursuit."
Lori McDonald

Author L.L. Foster ( Lori Foster ) pens a dark and disturbing tale that is as gripping as it is entertaining.  Intriguing characters and rare moments of humor lighten things up and round out the story.
An orphan, Gaby had a very unconventional upbringing that has left her ignorant of many things at twenty-one years of age.  Luther is more than happy to teach her what she doesn't know, if he can survive the blunt questions.  Both very strong individuals with powerful protective instincts, Gaby and Luther are a great match and I look forward to learning more about them in future books in the series.  The main secondary character is Gaby's nosy neighbor, Mort, a geeky comic-book freak whom you can't help but fall in love with.
Lori Foster has made a name for herself in the romance genre and is on the road to doing the same in urban fantasy.  You will be glued to each page of Servant: The Awakening and immediately panting for more when it's done.
Kathy Samuels, Romance Reviews Today

L. L. Foster's Servant: The Awakening is an intriguing blend of romance and urban fantasy with some horror elements added to the mix.   She begins this intense novel at a running pace and never slows down.   Fans of Lori Foster's previous books will notice that this is a darker, grittier side of her writing.   Foster demonstrates that she possesses an exceptional talent for writing in any genre extremely well.   Her interpretation of urban fantasy stands out in an ever-growing list of options.   Gaby's story kept my adrenaline pumping fast and furious.  I was unable to put the book down until I had read the very last word!   This book is a splendid beginning to a promising new series. It has an engaging, innovative plot that will have fans demanding sequel after sequel to this marvelous story.
Robin Snodgrass, reviewer for Romance Junkies

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Lori Foster a.k.a. L.L. Foster on Her New Paranormal Romance Series on Romantic Times BOOKreviews.

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