“Hey, that’s mine!” T-Rex cried, reaching out for the candy bar Will had snatched from his bag. The week on the road had thinned T-Rex down a few pounds, but there was still plenty of him to go around. His round face and red, chubby cheeks made him seem even heavier than he actually was. Like all of us, he wore jeans and a plain T-shirt to help blend in when we were in public. His unruly, curly hair stuck up in ridiculous directions from a serious case of bedhead.
Will, all hundred pounds of him, darted away, waving the candy bar in the air. “This is yours? How do you know?” he said, reading the wrapper. “I don’t see your name on it.”
T-Rex sat down on the edge of the bed and rolled his eyes. “Man, you’ve used that same line since preschool. You need to get some new material.”
Will looked disappointed. This obviously wasn’t how the game was supposed to go. “You’re not going to chase me? That’s no fun.”
“I don’t need to,” T-Rex said. “I’ve got Xavier.”
Just then a metal claw flew from the far side of the room, a spring trailing behind it. The claw grabbed the candy bar out of Will’s hand and then retracted back across the room, landing easily in Xavier’s open palm. He grinned and waved the candy bar in the air. In his other hand, he cradled a device that looked like a plastic toy gun. “Wow,” he said to no one in particular. “It actually worked this time.”
Xavier was kind of a genius. Like most inventors, his new creations tended to seem like an endless series of failures before he got them right. We’d become used to things blowing up in little puffs of black smoke around our campfires as he worked out a formula for a smokescreen grenade. Once, a piercing squeal almost blew out our eardrums as he fiddled with a device to scramble cell phones. So when something finally worked the way it was supposed to, no one was more surprised than Xavier himself.
Like most geniuses, he was also a little socially awkward. He was happiest when he could be alone with his thoughts, when his brain was caught up in a new interest or a puzzle he was trying to solve. He often hung around the edges of our group, seeming not to realize we were there. But then, every once in a while, he would say something that showed he’d been listening the entire time. And, because of the way his mind worked, he lacked any kind of filter to soften his opinions or ease into a disagreement. He just blurted out whatever he was thinking, sometimes to hilarious result.
He threw the candy bar to T-Rex. “Here you go, not that you need it.”
T-Rex grabbed it out of midair and frowned. He rubbed his belly. “Thanks, I guess.”
Xavier turned back to his device, reloading the spring back into a compartment and resetting the claw in place. Will looked guilty on Xavier’s behalf and for starting the whole thing. He walked over and patted T-Rex on the back. “He didn’t mean anything by it,” Will said. “That’s just how he is. In fact, I think this road trip is thinning you down.”
Daniel walked into the room. “Of course it is. A beef jerky and trail mix diet along with walking fourteen hours a day will do it to you.”
The wound where his nose had been chewed off was completely healed now and he wore a fake one in its place that blended in nicely. Unless you knew what you were looking for, it was easy to miss that his nose didn’t move quite the way it should and that it was a slight shade off in color now that the rest of his face had been tanned from our weeklong trip. Daniel tried not to show any vanity about his nose, but I had noticed he went out of his way not to look in a mirror.
He walked up to me and nodded back toward the balcony. “This place is something else, isn’t it? Once we get down into those streets, we’re going to be totally exposed. You know that, right?”
“Plenty of places to hide,” I offered.
“And our enemy will know all of them and we know none,” Daniel wasn’t arguing the point; he was just stating the fact the way someone might comment that dark clouds indicated rain was on the way. He had a lot more experience than I did as a hunter, so I would be foolish not to rely on him for help.
“What do you think we should do?” I asked.
He looked at me with an arched eyebrow. I tried not to notice the skin on his cheek tug around the edge of his prosthetic nose. “First, are you sure all this is really necessary?” he asked.
I gave him a deadpan look. We’d already covered this ground a hundred times on the journey here. “Aquinas said this man would have information for us. Vital information.”
“Okay, okay,” he said. “We hit the street in teams. Will and T-Rex. Xavier will be with me. And then you…and Eva.” He paused. The match-ups made sense, but the simmering rivalry between us for Eva’s attention wasn’t lost on either of us. Even just saying our names as if we were together had tripped him up. His face flushed, which just highlighted the dead color of his nose. It didn’t help matters that Eva chose that moment to appear from the bathroom door.
She was fresh from the shower and in a full-length bathrobe, holding a towel to her damp hair. She used the hook on her left arm with ease and rubbed the back of her neck dry. Even with her dark brown hair a wet mess, wearing a rag of a robe, she looked beautiful. No, that word is so overused that it hardly means anything anymore. I’m not sure how to describe her to you so that you’ll understand. I can’t be sure I’d tell how she looked or only how she looked to me.
In my eyes, there was no girl more attractive in the world. A single curl of her hair could hold my attention for an hour if I thought I could get away with staring at it. The upward curve of her lip when she was amused made me think endlessly on something clever to say just so I could see it. Her laugh filled me. The way she moved through a room was another endless fascination.
But as I looked at Daniel beside me and saw the way he stared at her, I knew the same brutal hold I felt had wrapped itself around him as well.
Unfortunately for the two of us, but fortunately for the sake of our mission, Eva seemed not to be stricken by any of these thoughts or concerns. Since the day after I killed the dragons, there was nothing but the banter of good friends between us. And I sensed the same was true between her and Daniel. Whether by choice or because of how she felt, she didn’t seem to have any interest in either of us outside of the needs of the quest.
Jack Templar and the Lord of the Vampires
Jack is back. After his adventures at the Monster Hunter Academy (which included fighting a goblin army, befriending an ancient werewolf, and battling two fire breathing dragons), Jack Templar was hoping for a rest. No such luck. In Book #3 of the Jack Templar Monster Hunter series, Jack embarks on a quest to track down and acquire the first of the five mythical Jerusalem Stones, an ancient power found by his ancestors the Templar Knights. Only the reunited Stones can stop Ren Lucre, the Dark Lord who holds Jack’s father hostage and prepares for an all-out war against an unsuspecting human world. But each Stone is held by a different Creach Lord and recovering them will not be easy. Jack and his friends begin their quest by seeking out one of the most powerful and dangerous keepers of the Stones, the Lord of the Vampires. The fate of the world rests on Jack’s shoulders and he will be tested like never before. But true monster hunters always do their duty…come what may. Jack Templar and the Lord of the Vampires.
Jack Templar and the Monster Hunter Academy (Book 2)
After barely surviving the onslaught of monsters that tried to kill him the day before his fourteenth birthday, Jack Templar leaves his hometown on a quest to rescue his father and discover the truth about his past. Joined by his friends Will and T-Rex, and led by Eva, the mysterious one-handed monster hunter, Jack sets out for the Monster Hunter Academy where he hopes to find answers to his questions. Little does he suspect that the Academy is filled with dangers of its own, many of them more terrifying than anything he’s faced so far.
Jack Templar: Monster Hunter (Book 1)
Orphan Jack Templar has no memory of his parents and only the smallest details from his Aunt Sophie about how they died. The day before Jack's fourteenth birthday, things start to change for him. At first it's great: A sudden new strength helps him defend his nose-picking friend "T-Rex" from the school bully, and even his crush, Cindy Adams, takes notice. But then a mysterious girl named Eva arrives and tells him two facts that will change his life forever. First, that he's the descendent of a long line of monster hunters and he's destined to be in the family business. Second, that there's a truce between man and monster that children are off-limits...until their fourteenth birthday! Jack has only one day before hundreds of monsters will descend on his little town of Sunnyvale and try to kill him. As if that weren't enough, things get even more complicated when Jack discovers that the Lord of the Creach (as the monsters are collectively known) holds a personal grudge against him and will do anything to see that Jack has a slow and painful death. To stay alive and save his friends, Jack will have to battle werewolves, vampires, harpies, trolls, zombies and more. But perhaps the most dangerous thing he must face is the truth about his past. Why do the other hunters call him the last Templar? Why do they whisper that he may be the "One?" Why do the monsters want him dead so badly? Even as these questions plague him, he quickly discovers survival is his new full-time job and that in the world of monster hunters, nothing is really what it seems.Book of the Year Finalist by Foreword Reviews.
Author Jeff Gunhus
Jeff Gunhus grew up in Cyprus, Greece, and Saudi Arabia where there was a distinct lack of television. He quickly found books were the gateway to incredible adventures, fascinating characters and unbelievable discoveries. Now, with five children of his own (all who watch too much television, in his opinion), he has enjoyed revisiting his old books and reliving those adventures all over again.
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