Black Sun: Chapter One
Black Sun — the first book in my upcoming Vampire Bride series — is releasing on December 13th. But I’m so excited to share it with you that I’m giving you a sneak peek of the first chapter!
First, here’s a bit about the book:
Embark on an adventure filled with magic, romance, and epic twists in the first book in USA Today bestselling author Michelle Madow’s Vampire Bride series—a fresh and enchanting take on the classic love story of Hades & Persephone.
Amber Benson has no idea what to do for the rest of her life, let alone what major to pick for college. So when she inherits an apartment in Manhattan from a grandmother she never knew, she moves there faster than a New York minute.
Her plan to find herself is soon derailed—on the subway, where she’s attacked by demons.
Even crazier? She defends herself with something she never knew existed: magic.
But it’s not her newfound ability that saves her. It’s the intervention of a mesmerizing warrior with otherworldly grace… who then proceeds to kidnap her to a supernatural kingdom hidden in the heart of the city.
Because Amber’s savior—Damien Fairmont—is a king. A vampire king.
And he’s just declared to his entire kingdom that Amber’s destined to be his bride, whether she wants to be or not.
But trying to escape her so-called destiny as Damien’s queen isn’t Amber’s only problem. Because dark forces are rising in Manhattan. And now that they’ve gotten a taste of her powerful magic, she’s not just a target for Damien’s affections, but also for the sinister shadows that lurk in the underworld of the city.
Welcome to Black Sun, a fast-paced adventure perfect for fans of fierce heroines and brooding vampire royalty that will leave you turning the pages late into the night, until the very last twist.
Scroll down to read the first chapter now.
I hope you enjoy it! 🙂
The basement studio apartment in New York City that I recently inherited from my grandmother is basically a dungeon.
Scuffs and scratches line the hardwood floors. The slit of a window barely lets in any natural light. And the manager’s tip for when it gets cold in the winter? Stay near the hot water pipe.
Luckily, it’s the start of summer.
But even though the apartment is tiny and falling apart, it’s mine. And it couldn’t get more different from the home I shared with my mom in Vermont if it tried.
“Different” is exactly what I need right now. Because even though a nineteen-year-old is supposed to know what they want to do with the rest of their life—mainly, what to major in for college—I don’t.
This gap year in the city might be what I need to figure out who I am and what I want. Thanks to the grandmother I barely knew, who—for some unknown reason—left me everything she had.
I’m placing a pile of shirts in the rickety dresser when a knock at the door yanks me out of my thoughts.
My heart jumps into my throat.
I didn’t order delivery. No one knows where I live.
I don’t even know anyone in the city.
My eyes dart to the kitchen counter, spotting a knife. Next to it, there’s a small pink canister of mace—a parting gift from Mom.
“Just in case,” she’d said with a wink.
Mace it is.
Grabbing the mace, I approach the door slowly, trying not to be heard.
They knock again. Harder, more insistent this time.
“Who’s there?” I call out, trying to sound more confident than I feel.
“Eva,” a bright, airy voice says from the other side. “Your neighbor?”
I instantly relax.
Not a serial killer. A neighbor.
That makes sense.
I take a deep breath to shake off my nerves, unlock the bolt, and open the door.
The woman in front of me has sparkling blue eyes and hair that shines like spun gold. There’s a timeless quality about her, but if I had to guess, I’d say she’s in her mid-twenties.
“Hi,” she says with a radiant smile. “I saw you pull up earlier. Welcome to the building! I’m Eva—but you know that already.”
“I’m Amber.” I go to push a strand of hair behind my ear, and that’s when I remember—the mace. “Sorry about the…”
I motion to the pink can, heat rushing into my cheeks.
“No need to apologize,” she says with a warm chuckle. “It’s always better to be safe. The city can be overwhelming at times.”
“It’s definitely a lot to get used to,” I agree, glancing over my shoulder at the rundown apartment. “Everything’s so different from my hometown.”
She tilts her head, studying me. “Maplewood, Vermont. Right?”
I blink in surprise. “Yes. How did you—“
She waves a hand dismissively, her bracelets clinking along her wrist. “I knew your grandma,” she says. “She was always talking about her hometown, and how happy she was to get out of it. She talked about you a lot, too. How she hoped that when you inherited this apartment, you’d love living here just as much as she did. When I heard she died, I figured…” She shrugs and looks around. “Well, I hoped you’d move here instead of selling it and staying in Vermont.”
“Thanks,” I say, and she gives me another encouraging smile. “This apartment may not be much, but I feel like it’s a fresh start for me. A chance to find my path.”
A knowing look crosses her eyes. “Then you got here on the perfect day. Because there’s something happening this afternoon that you shouldn’t miss.”
“And what’s that?”
“A solar eclipse.” She just about bounces on her toes from excitement. “It’s been on the news for weeks. The view from the rooftop is going to be incredible. Want to join me? In an hour?”
A solar eclipse.
I’ve read about them—the rare alignment of the sun and the moon. But to witness one in the heart of New York City?
“That sounds amazing,” I tell her. “I’ll be there.”
It’s not like I have any other plans.
“Perfect!” She beams and takes a step back. “See you there. It’s a walkup building, so just take the stairs all the way to the top. You can’t miss it.”
With that, she turns on her heels, disappearing down the hall before I can ask her anything more.
Sort of weird.
But also interesting.
Happy that I’ve already met a friend, I close the door again and return to unpacking. The time seems to fly, and before I know it, the hour is up.
The old stairs creak under my weight as I make my way up the building. But, like my new apartment, there’s a certain charm to it. Like the floor is sharing its history and secrets with my every step.
Eva’s already on the roof. She’s having a hushed conversation with another woman, whose back is turned to me.
I hesitate, not wanting to interrupt.
Before I can figure out how to break in without being rude, Eva catches sight of me and waves me over with a grin. “Amber! You made it!”
The other woman turns around, her gaze meeting mine. It’s both unsettling and magnetic, filled with a depth that pierces straight through me.
She’s younger than I expected. Maybe my age? A year or two older?
“This is Morgan,” Eva says, quick with the introduction. “She’s an old friend.”
“Hi,” I say, still not walking toward them. “Nice to meet you.”
“You, too.” She gives Eva a knowing look, then turns back to me. “I was just leaving.”
“Already?” I glance up at the sky, where the sun is already starting to get covered by the moon. It looks like someone’s taken a big bite out of it.
“I told another friend I’d watch the eclipse at their place,” she says. “Have fun. And good luck.”
She rushes past me and down the stairs, leaving me alone with Eva, who gives me a bright smile and holds out glasses that look like the ones people wear for 3D movies.
“Eclipse glasses,” she explains. “It’s not safe to look directly at the sun. You don’t want to burn your eyes out.”
“No. I definitely don’t.” I walk over to her and take them. “Thanks.”
She puts on her glasses, I do the same, and we situate ourselves on lounge chairs facing the skyline. The skyscrapers beyond our downtown West Village apartment spread out around us, and the sound of heavy traffic comes from the street below. It’s an endless sea of steel and glass, and the city’s frantic heartbeat syncs with my own, a ripple of excitement coursing through me.
“So, Amber.” Eva makes herself comfortable and faces me. “Tell me about yourself. What do you like to do? What do you want to do?”
“Um…” I bite my lip, thinking.
“I like reading. And music.” I search my mind for something more, since I’m not exactly coming across as the most interesting person on the planet. “I’m good at sports, but I don’t really enjoy playing them. I also bake, but that’s more of my mom’s thing than mine.”
“Interesting,” she says, and we continue to chat as the moon crawls across the sun.
Eventually, the sky takes on a twilight hue, even though it’s mid-afternoon. There’s a final sparkle of light, and then the sun turns black, minus a ring of fire in a halo around it.
It’s like it went from day to night in a few seconds.
“We can remove our glasses now,” Eva says, sounding as awe-struck as I feel.
The eclipse, when the sun is completely covered by the moon, is even more breathtaking without the screens of the glasses dimming my view.
But as I gaze up at the covered sun, Eva remains focused on me. There must be something strange going on with the reflection of the light, because it’s like her pupils are mini eclipses, the sunbursts around them glowing on their own.
“Are you okay?” I ask slowly.
She doesn’t respond.
Instead, she reaches forward, touches my forehead, and it’s like the power of a million electric shocks travels through her fingers and into my mind.
The pain is blinding. It’s like the worst migraine of my life, amplified beyond anything I could ever imagine, and I gasp, struggling to breathe.
“Relax.” Eva’s voice is distant, yet clear. “I know it hurts. But you’re going to be okay. I promise.”
The world tilts, my eyes burn, and before I can ask what she means, I fall back and tumble down into the darkness.
* * *
I awake to a soft light filtering through the window, the smell of roses, and something spicy, like cinnamon.
It’s nothing like the pine scent of home.
Because I’m not home, I think, and the memories of recent events crash through my mind. Arriving at my grandmother’s apartment, Eva introducing herself, and the eclipse that all but burned a hole through my brain.
And, judging from the fact that there’s an actual window in here, I’m not in my basement apartment.
Luckily, the window looks out to my new street. Which makes it safe to assume that I’m currently in Eva’s apartment. And if it’s already sunrise, that means I just slept for… over twelve hours.
My head throbs, but I force myself up in the bed.
Eva’s sitting on the chair at her vanity, with two mugs in front of her. “You’re up,” she says, giving me that radiant smile of hers. “How are you feeling?”
“Like my brain exploded and then melded back together.” I press my fingers to my forehead, remembering how she did the exact same thing to me during the eclipse. “What happened?”
“There must have been some defect with the glasses,” she says. “I’m so sorry. You experienced some solar retinopathy, but we caught it early.”
“Solar what?” I ask.
“Solar retinopathy,” she repeats. “The sun burned your eyes a bit.”
“That… doesn’t sound good.”
Understatement of the century.
“Don’t worry—you’re totally fine now,” she says quickly. “I didn’t have a chance to tell you much about me, but I’m a nurse practitioner. I checked your eyes, and all was well.” She picks up one of the mugs and holds it out to me. “Here. Drink this. It’ll help you feel better.”
It does smell good. And my throat is so dry that it hurts.
“What is it?” I ask.
It’s exactly what my mom always made me when I felt sick at home.
“Thanks.” I accept the mug and take a sip. “Is this your apartment?”
“It is. I couldn’t just leave you on the roof,” she explains, and I nod slowly, taking another sip of the tea. It grounds me. I feel warm. Safe.
At the same time, I don’t want to stay here any longer than necessary. I have a lot to do with the move, and I need to get it all done, on top of having to search for a job.
Anxiety tightens in my chest at the thought.
“Thanks for everything, but I have to go,” I say, grabbing my bag from the nightstand. “See you around?”
“Of course.” She flashes me another smile. “Oh, and one more thing.”
“Yes?” I stop midway to the door and turn to face her.
“I won a ticket to a show tonight. Wicked—the musical,” she says. “But work called earlier and let me know that one of the nurses is sick, and they need me to take over an extra shift. Do you want it?”
“What do you mean that you ‘won’ a ticket?” I ask.
“Have you ever heard of the Broadway lottery?” she asks, and I shake my head no, waiting for her to continue. “It’s a system where anyone can enter to win tickets for Broadway shows a day in advance at a much lower price. I enter every day and win a decent amount of the time. But I can’t resell it, and I don’t want it to go to waste. So, do you want it?”
“How much is it?”
I know she said a “much lower price,” but I’m on a pretty strict budget over here.
“I’m gifting it to you,” she says. “So… it’s free.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. I’m sure,” she says, and then she adds, “Please take it. It would be a shame for it to go to waste.”
I pause, thinking. I feel bad taking it without paying. At the same time, she is offering…
“That would be great,” I finally say.
“Cool—I’ll text you the ticket,” she says. “Let me know how you like it!”
“Will do,” I say, smiling again. “And, thanks.”
The rest of the day passes in a blur as I work non-stop to situate myself in the apartment. Eventually, it’s time to head out for the show. And I leave extra early. It’s my first time using the subway, and despite all the instructions I’ve read online, I don’t want to mess up and get there late.
It all goes… surprisingly smoothly.
The show is amazing.
When I exit the theatre, the city is alive and buzzing, even at this time of night. Everyone in Maplewood is probably home and getting ready for bed right now.
Maybe I should hail a taxi to get home. I have no idea if the subway is safe this late.
But taxis are expensive. I have no job yet. Sure, my grandmother left me a bit of money, but I need to save it for apartment fees and anything else that might go wrong and need fixing.
So, the subway it is.
I follow my phone’s directions to the station and head down the steps, hurrying to the platform at the sound of the train approaching. With a final sprint, I dive into the back car, just as the doors slide closed behind me.
Catching my breath, I lean against a pole and scan the subway car. There are only a few other passengers inside. They’re engrossed in their own worlds, headphones in or phones out.
Then, my eyes lock with a man’s at the opposite side. Blond hair. A perfectly tailored suit. He radiates power and wealth, seeming entirely out of place here.
No way does he need to save money by taking the subway instead of a taxi.
Or instead of being driven around by a chauffeur.
I should look away. By now, he’s totally realized I’m staring. Well, he’s doing it right back, but still—it’s probably because I looked at him first and he’s wondering why a stranger is staring at him on the subway.
Before I can shake myself out of it, the train jolts, and I stagger, gripping the pole tighter and miraculously avoiding falling on my face.
The lights flicker.
My heart jumps into my throat, and I glance around at the others in the car, checking to see if this is normal, or if the train’s breaking down.
As I do, coldness wraps around my bones. Because there’s something not right about the others in the car. Their eyes are eerily vacant. Hollow. Hungry.
And then, their bodies and faces stretch and contort, shifting into something twisted and grotesque.
No, I think. This can’t be real. My eyes are playing tricks on me.
A side effect from what happened during the eclipse?
I shouldn’t have trusted that Eva could properly diagnose me and know I was okay. Why did I trust her?
I need to go to a doctor.
I try blinking the visions away, but then one of the ghoulish creatures lunges at me with an inhuman speed, his eyes fixated hungrily on mine.
My scream gets stuck in my throat.
From the corner of my eye, the blond man from earlier leaps into action, plunging a dagger into the attacker’s chest.
“Stay behind me!” he shouts as the ghoul disintegrates and melts into a sticky puddle on the floor.
He doesn’t have to say it twice.
I scramble backward, into the corner. My eyes dart around, searching for a way to escape. But there’s nowhere to go. I’m trapped.
I turn back around, my breaths shallow, watching in horror as the ghoulish things try coming closer.
Luckily, the man in the suit and a bigger, broader man with silver hair keep using their daggers to ward the creatures off and disintegrate them.
This can’t be happening.
I have to be seeing things.
Before I can come close to processing it, one of the creatures breaks through the men’s defense. A darker, more menacing one than the rest, with dead eyes and long fingers that reach out to wrap around my throat.
His touch is as cold as death.
I gasp for air, trying to pry away his icy grip, but it’s useless. His gaze burns into my soul. And as he grins down at me, his sharp teeth glinting in the flickering light, a haze creeps into the corners of my vision.
It feels like he’s trying to suck the life out of me.
But whatever this thing is trying to do to me… I won’t let it. I might not know what my purpose in life is yet, but it sure as hell isn’t to die at the hands of a monster in the subway on my second day in the city.
Determination fills me, and something stirs within me. A deep warmth—a vibrant, burning energy. It starts in my chest, radiating outward, rushing through my veins like liquid fire.
The creature’s eyes widen in surprise, and he hisses, recoiling in pain.
And then that warmth—the one I felt building inside me—comes out. The blinding orb collides with the creature’s chest, so bright that it fills the car with a radiant, golden light.
The ghoul releases a blood curdling scream, his face twisting and distorting even more, and then he dissolves—melts—into a brown, sticky puddle on the floor.
As I stare down at it in shock, the two men finish off the other creatures in the car.
The last one dissolves, and the world silences for the first time since the lights started flickering.
Now that it’s over—or seems to be over—exhaustion hits me like a truck. Every muscle, every fiber of my being screams in agony. I can barely stand, let alone speak as the darkness at the edges of my vision closes in. I reach for the wall behind me, but it’s no use.
I’m slipping, sliding.
The blond man rushes over, catching me just in time.
I try to focus on his face, to find some comfort in the ice blue eyes of the man who just saved my life, but everything seems so distant. Whatever just happened—that monster sucking my soul out, the light that burst out of me—it’s like it drained every bit of energy out of my body.
Amidst the impending darkness, a phone rings.
“We found her,” I hear, and then the world fades to nothing.
I hope you enjoyed the first chapter of Black Sun! It’s releasing soon, so you don’t have long to wait until being able to read the rest of the book.
If you want to pre-order it on Amazon so it’s delivered straight to your Kindle on release day, then you can CLICK HERE and pre-order now.
I hope you love the book as much as I loved writing it!