Maximum Witch - By Jodi Redford
This book is dedicated in loving memory to both of my grandmothers. Although neither of these strong, amazing women were able to see my dream of becoming a published author come true, their unconditional love and support continues to live on and encourage me day after day. I love you Mor Mor and Grammy. Always.
And as always, to Sasha. Words will never convey how lucky I am to have you for an editor.
There are some things you just don’t want to see while trolling for dinner. A three-hundred-pound dude in a yellow Speedo? Mark it number one on the list.
A massive shudder coursing through his dorsal fins, Maxwell Truitt gave Mr. Banana Hammock splashing overhead a wide berth and continued piloting through the watery depths of the Atlantic. Some of his brethren wouldn’t think twice about taking a chunk out of the swimmer. Fortunately for the guy, Max’s carnivorous appetites didn’t include dudes with excess body hair. Now a fat, juicy NY strip at the Boar’s Head? Bring it on.
His stomach rumbled and he grimaced. He was facing an eight-hour patrol tonight, making his sudden hankering for steak damn inconvenient. Given his size, and the rate of his metabolism while in his shark form, he wouldn’t be able to go too much longer without feeding.
He needed to find a meal. Soon.
Up ahead, a school of red porgies darted toward one of the many rocky ledges bordering the Savannah coastline, triggering a ripple of hunger through Max.
You can run, but you can’t hide, my delicious little friends. Giving a stealthy swish of his long tail fin, he torpedoed forward and overtook the fish in a burst of speed. He managed to gobble four of the tasty treats before the remaining porgies eluded him beneath a sand shelf. Shit. Well, at least the snack in his belly would tide him over for a couple hours.
Mentally humming the latest Rascal Flatts tune, he swam north along the coast, heading toward Tybee. In the last few weeks, there’d been an inordinately large number of siren sightings near the lighthouse. The mischievous creatures hadn’t caused any havoc with unsuspecting sailors. Yet. As long as he was on duty, it was damn well gonna stay that way.
The metallic, coppery smell of blood carried on the current. Undoubtedly a charter boat nearby, chumming. He redirected course, heading farther from shore and any stray fishing nets. Light had a harder time penetrating this deep in the Atlantic’s belly—something that wasn’t an issue for him, thankfully. If anything, the limited visibility only sharpened his senses and made him more attune to the slightest variance in his environment.
Which might explain the warning tingles that shot through his snout when a minute disturbance of water pressure tickled along his gills. Normally he wouldn’t give a second thought to it, but the sensation prodded an uneasy feeling in his gut.
There was something in his territory that shouldn’t be here. Something that came with a heavier stench of death than the chartered fishing boat he’d steered clear of. He changed course yet again and chased the dark, evil scent.
The water temperature unexpectedly plummeted. A few hundred feet ahead of him, a large, bulky mass dove through the waves. He could just make out the shape of tentacles. It took a moment for his brain to register what he was seeing.
What. The. Fuck?
The dangerous, elusive creatures didn’t routinely venture this close to shore. Granted, he’d heard tell that the butt-ugly things occasionally sought their prey on land, but for the most part, they kept to their deep, watery domains and snagged their victims from the countless ships that’d either wrecked or become stranded miles out at sea.
So what was the damn thing up to?
Intent on finding out, Max rushed to catch up with the creature. He was a faster swimmer than the leviathan, and soon he narrowed the margin between them. It didn’t look like the creature was full grown. Thank Jesus, because adult versions of the son-of-a-bitchin’ things were known to be as massive as a damn submarine.
Drawing closer, he finally noticed what he hadn’t before. An unconscious figure was tightly bound within the grasp of one of the leviathan’s tentacles. The sight spurred him into action. He whipped his tail, the motion bulleting him forward. The maneuver also alerted the leviathan to his presence, and the creature’s seven heads pivoted in his direction. Red beady eyes locked on him.
Undaunted by the evil malice glaring him down, Max dove for the nearest