Thursday, February, 06th, 2:08pm
Squamish, British Columbia, Canada
“I’m having a little...trouble with my latest book,” Eleanor Donavon admitted to her agent as she trapped her phone against her shoulder and tried to rub the tension from her forehead.
A little trouble? More like woolly mammoth-sized trouble.
“You’ll figure it out. You always do,” Jackie said. “I have complete faith in you, as does your publisher.”
Eleanor nodded, listening as her agent reminded her she didn’t need to worry. There was plenty of time before her next novel was due to hit the stores. A year to be exact. But Jackie didn’t know Eleanor was suffering writer’s block for the first time since she began writing five years ago.
Jackie’s confident voice traveled the airwaves from her office in New York. “Take a few weeks off—do a little traveling. Rest your brain before you burn yourself out. You’ve written three full-length books this past year. And your new series is burning up the charts.”
Eleanor shifted the phone to her other ear, then sighed. “I hope you’re right.”
The sound of a lighter rasping, then a deep inhale told her Jackie was lighting up. From out of nowhere, the urge to smoke blindsided Eleanor, which was strange. She’d left that filthy habit in the cigarette butt filled ashtray years ago. And like most reformed smokers, she hated it now. This need to smoke had to be caused by her writer’s block.
“Of course I’m right,” Jackie said with a laugh. “Have I ever steered you wrong?”
“No, but—” The words she was about to say jammed in her throat like logs down a narrow river. She couldn’t put a voice to her worries in case that cemented the block good and tight. Forever.
Eleanor picked up her glass of wine and took a sip.
Best to keep this block business to herself. For now, anyway. But she wanted off the phone, and the quickest way to achieve that goal was to tell Jackie what she wanted to hear. “Nothing. And you’re right. I do need a break. Maybe I’ll take a trip to England and visit my sister.” Wasn’t going to happen. Eleanor and Becky hadn’t spoken a word since their father’s funeral three years ago, and before that, was their mother’s funeral, nine years previous.
“There you go. Listen, Doll, I gotta go—have to pack for my trip to Paaaris.” Jackie let out a squeal of pure delight. “Frank and I leave tomorrow at five in the morning. Tiffany will take over for me while I’m away, so if you need anything, she’ll take good care of you. Though, since you’ll be on vacation, I suspect Tiffany won’t hear from you, right?”
“Right.” And Tiffany wouldn’t, even though Eleanor had no plans for a vacation. She had to work through this bloody writer’s block if it killed her. She’d come too far in her career to allow a silly thing like writer’s block to destroy her dreams.
“Good. I’ll talk to you in a couple of weeks.”
“Have fun in Paris. Send me a postcard.”
Jackie laughed. “Who wouldn’t have fun in Paris? Toodles, Doll.”
“Au revoir.” Eleanor ended the call then drained the rest of the wine in her glass. She gazed around the modern, airy elegance of her condo living room in hopes the beauty would help calm her nerves. She loved the sandy, neutral wall color, the dark flooring, and the sunlight streaming through the large windows. Trailing her fingers over the white leather sectional and oak side table, she made her way to the sliding glass doors and gazed out at the city. With the condo situated on the fourth floor, she had a decent view of the shops below, and the pedestrians as they enjoyed the rare sun-filled February day.
In the distance, the tall structures of downtown Squamish filled the skyline, and towering above all were majestic mountains, capped by the pale blue sky.
She loved this city. She’d moved here after her divorce, picking Squamish not only for its beauty, but because it was far enough away from Abbotsford where her ex lived and worked.
The thought of moving back to England had rattled around her brain for two seconds before she’d tossed it when Thomas ended their marriage. There was nothing left for her there. Hadn’t been since she met and married Thomas at the ripe old age of sixteen. Against her parents’ warnings that she was making a huge mistake, she’d waved goodbye to family, friends, and all that was familiar to her to follow him to Canada. Obviously her Mum and Dad had seen through Thomas’ facade to his cold, money-driven, selfish core. Not like they were any better. Guess like-minded people saw similar traits in others.
But like the love struck, immature girl she had been, Eleanor had risked all to be with the man she had loved.
And where did that love get her? Thirty-one and divorced, staring down the rest of her life alone and childless, parents who’d disowned her, and ten wasted years as she’d worked her guts out at a go-nowhere office supply store—shelving her dreams of becoming a writer—so her husband could pursue his dreams of becoming a doctor. To add more salt to the gaping hole where her childish fantasies and pride once resided, Thomas had booted her to the curb a month after her father’s funeral. Oh, he would never admit the reason, but she knew damn well why he finally had the balls to end their relationship. Her parents had written her out of their will, due to the fact she had defied them. Her not so loving—cheap—husband finally had the proof his wife would not inherit a substantial amount of money, no matter how many times she had warned him of that fact.
Funny part of the whole mess was neither the divorce nor her parents’ final display of we-don’t-recognize-you-as-our-daughter had hurt all that much. She’d filed both away in the well-life-can-sure-be-a-bitch drawer. Her marriage had been a joke for years, and the relationship with her parents had been strained since she could remember.
A hummingbird hovered in front of the patio door. Eleanor smiled and pressed a finger against the cool glass. The little bird drew closer. The sun illuminated the shiny green feathers covering the tiny creature’s head. Black eyes regarded her before the bird flew to the hummingbird feeder filled with red sugar water.
Birds had it made. If life sucked, they could take off to new destinations whenever the mood struck them, unlike humans.
She sighed then faced the room. Her home. The home she bought with her own money—money she’d made through her writing. A sense of pride filled her chest as she stared at the three movie-sized posters of the covers to her latest novels hanging above the gas fireplace: Prophecy of Love. Child of the Prophecy. Power of the Prophecy.
Though she had written and published ten books to date, her latest vampire series finally made her a household name in the romance book world.
“Take that, Thomas, you...Doubting Thomas,” she said with a laugh. “You said I couldn’t do it. Well look at me now.”
Her sense of wellbeing evaporated. Fear and anxiety took center stage again. Two words flashed through her mind: Writer’s Block.
“Crap.” If you don’t get yourself together and leap over this hurdle, you’ll lose everything.
“I won’t lose anything,” she muttered. “I’ll conquer the block.”
Right. Eleanor walked into her kitchen and snagged the bottle of wine off the marble counter, then marched back into the living room. Normally not much of a drinker, she filled her glass to the brim. Today the effects of alcohol were needed to keep the screaming fears and doubts at bay.
Taking a large sip, she savored the bitter yet sweet liquid before swallowing. Raising her glass, she said, “Forget about Calgon. Wine, take me away.”
Her cell phone jingled.
“Grrr.” She pulled the phone from her sweater pocket and checked the number. Annoyance pounded through her. Her nerves were already strung tight, and this conversation would surely send her over the edge. “What does he want now?”
Don’t answer. Yeah, but if she didn’t, he’d just keep calling, over and over, leaving increasingly annoying messages.
She downed the wine before perching the glass on the coffee table, then clicked talk. “What?”
“Well hello to you too, sweetheart,” Thomas said on the other end. His voice was tight, and she knew full well he was pissed at her, but was struggling to hide his anger.
Eleanor closed her eyes, trying to control her temper. She knew what he wanted, but he could go fly a kite and hopefully get electrocuted. “What do you want, Thomas? I’m busy writing.” You’re such a liar. “And I don’t have time to play games with you today—or any day.”
“Isn’t that nice. You don’t have five minutes for your husband?” His control slipped and the true Thomas came through. His tone was hard and edged with rage, ready to explode.
And she was buzzed enough and tired enough of all his crap to bother trying to placate him. “I believe you have your wives mixed up. I’m Eleanor, your ex-wife. You’re looking for Tanya, your current wife.” She smiled at his hissed curse, picturing his face reddening, and the veins in his neck bulging.
“I told you, we split up last month. I’ve already started the divorce proceedings.”
She rolled her eyes and stared at the ceiling. Heaving a deep sigh, she added a smug smile to her voice. “Good for Tanya. So, what do you want?”
“What do you mean, what do I want?” The edge in his voice became sharper. “Are you deaf or dense? I’ve been telling you for the past month what I want.” He cleared his throat. “I’d like for you and I to patch things up. I miss you, Ellie.” Now his voice was smoother than a silk sheet, bordering on whiny.
Eleanor covered her mouth, holding back her laugh of derision. No point sending the old boy into a rage induced cardiac arrest. His insult bounced off her, as did his sickening sweetness. She had been down this road with him too many times for it to bother her. And as for his declaration of missing her, she had two words for him: Fuck off.
But instead, she replied, “I told you last night, the night before, and every day this past month that we will never get back together—I never want to get back together with you. If you need it in writing to get it through your thick skull, then I’ll be glad to type something up and mail it to you.”
A sharp draw of breath filled her ear. “You fucking bitch!”
If she had a nickel for every time, during and after their marriage, that he’d called her a bitch, she’d be a billionaire. But what he failed to understand was he didn’t have any power over her anymore. “Thomas, I’m hanging—”
“Who the fuck do you think you’re talk—”
“Bye,” she said over his ranting.
“Don’t you dare hang up on me.”
“You forget, I don’t have to listen to your shit anymore. Toodles, doll,” she said, mimicking her agent. She pulled the phone from her ear, and just as she was about to click end, his shouted demand made her pause. With the phone back against her ear, she asked, “What did you just say?”
“You owe me money.” His words were spoken in a calm tone, but she wasn’t fooled. The more composed he became, the more enraged he was.
Shocked, she couldn’t speak for a second.
“You still there,” he asked.
Finally, she found her voice. “In what universe do you think I owe you money?”
“You owe me for the two years I supported your lazy ass after you quit working to write. You weren’t making any money. I paid for everything. I figure twenty thousand for both years should do it—and don’t say you can’t afford it. I know better.”
Rage slowly wound through her body. Her muscles tightened, and tremors lit off in her legs. “You’re crazier than even I imagined. What about the years I supported you while you went to med school? The way I figure it, you owe me money.”
“I paid you out after our divorce, so don’t think of trying to get another dime from me!” The volume of his voice rose, and his breathing became labored.
Was he serious? Even for Thomas this conversation was out there, surfing the Outer Limits. Though as strange as it was, it made sense why he’d been trying to get back together with her since he split from his wife. He didn’t miss or love her. No, he must have found out how much money Eleanor was making from her writing. And the money-driven bastard wanted in on it. Well, not in this lifetime.
“Ten thousand dollars, Thomas. That’s all you gave me after ten years of shit and abuse. And I didn’t contest it—and my lawyer begged me too, believe me. I just wanted out. So let me make this clear so even you’ll understand. You. Will. Not. Get. A. Cent. From. Me. Ever.”
He must have heard the conviction in her voice because his attitude changed. He sighed. “What happened to you, Ellie? You used to be so sweet and giving. You’ve turned cold.”
Because of you, Jackass. “I’ve changed, Thomas. I’m not the naive woman you married.”
“Yeah, I noticed.” Gone was his playacting. The true Thomas was back in action. “I saw your picture in the back of your last book. I must say, you looked like a whore.”
Of all the crap that had fallen from his mouth, this remark sent her anger soaring. “A whore?” She barked out a cold laugh. “Coming from you, that’s a compliment.”
“Yes, a whore. You were a whore when I met you, but I thought you’d changed. Obviously not.”
His smug, condescending tone and words almost drove her over the cliff. Fury built inside, swirling around, looking for a way out. The strong emotion crawled up her throat and burst through her lips. “Fuck you, you controlling bastard.”
“And now you’re talking like a slut. You never used to swear before.”
“Oh, I swore before, just did it behind your back. If you could have heard all the names I called you.” She laughed again. “Whatever. The days of me listening to you are over—thank God.”
“I always knew you were a worthless slut. Even your parents knew that, and cut you from their lives and will.”
If he stood in front of her, she’d happily strangle him. Suddenly, her inner self spoke up. What are you doing? Why are you allowing him to get to you? Hang up the damn phone!
She gripped the phone tight, then snarled, “I’m done talking to you. Oh, and just so you know, I’m shutting off my cell and turning the ringer off on my landline.”
“This isn’t over, Eleanor. You owe me—”
“I owe you nothing.” With that, she clicked end, powered down her phone, then tossed it onto the white matching chair next to the couch. The phone bounced once then landed on the floor.
Eleanor stormed across the length of her living room, down the short hallway, past her bathroom decorated in light greens and off white, turned around, and marched back, as she tried to get herself under control. Standing in the middle of the living room, she sighed. “Just calm down. Stop letting him get to you. He’s mental—you know that. And more importantly, he isn’t your problem anymore. You have bigger problems, like writing your next novel.”
She stared up at the book posters. “Shit.”
But damnit. His callous remark about her looking like a whore in her new author photo had hurt. No, it pissed her off. She was proud of that picture—proud of her new look.
Her gaze cut to the bookshelves flanking the fireplace. Without thinking, she moved to the tall, mahogany shelves and scanned the book spines until she found her last novel. She pulled it from its resting place and flipped to the inside back cover.
A black and white picture of her standing under a large oak tree smiled back at her. She wore a knee-length, form-fitting black skirt that hugged her slim, but rounded hips. Sexy high-heeled pumps made her legs look long and shapely, even though she stood only five foot three. The classy blue blouse she’d chosen brought out the blue in her eyes, though the picture was devoid of color. Her long, auburn hair, with blonde highlights, was cut in a seductive style. Her makeup was tasteful, enhancing eyes, lips and cheekbones.
“I don’t look like a hussy, you stupid pinhead.” She glared at her cell phone lying on the floor, thinking of Thomas. “You’re pissed off because you can’t control me anymore.”
From the deep recesses of her mind, a thought bubbled to the forefront. Then shame skittered up her spine before settling like a led ball in her belly. If Thomas hadn’t ended their marriage, she’d probably still be with him. He’d had her completely reliant on him. From the start, he’d isolated her from family and friends while slowly destroying her self-esteem. And she’d allowed it—all of his demands and psychological abuse—making excuses for his bizarre behavior because she’d been too frightened to leave him. She’d chosen to put up with his angry, insane tantrums rather than face a life alone.
Forget it. Thoughts like this will get you nowhere. The point is, you are free of him, and doing well on your own. And if you want to continue doing well, you better figure out your next book.
She shoved Thomas from her mind, and then made her way to the computer. Once seated at the desk, Eleanor opened the document titled: Working Title: Unknown.
The blank screen mocked her. The blinking cursor seemed to say, loser, loser, loser.
With her elbows on the sleek black desktop, she closed her eyes and tried to get into the zone; tried to think of possible characters, plot, conflict, but nothing formed. It truly felt like a wall had been erected in her head.
Anxiety rooted and spread its doubt-filled fingers throughout her head. Her heart sped up, her legs felt rubbery.
Jumping up, she paced in front of the patio doors. “What’s the matter with me? Why can’t I write?” She tunneled her fingers through her hair and pulled.
Thomas. He was the reason. All his damn phone calls. All his bullshit about loving and missing her was screwing with her mind and motivation.
Or maybe this wall was created by her disheartened view of relationships and men.
It wasn’t like she didn’t believe in love, because she did. Believing in true love was a necessity when writing romance novels. But she didn’t trust her instincts anymore when it came to matters of the heart. With Thomas, she’d fallen completely under the spell of his blond good looks, brooding blue eyes, toned body, and take-charge, controlling attitude. She’d been a terrible judge of character and was freaked she’d repeat the same mistakes by falling for the wrong type of man again—another alpha male.
Alpha men were fine as fictional characters in romance novels, but not in real life. The next time she fell in love, it would be with a beta male.
February, 06th 4:10pm
Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
“Mel, wake up. You’re not going to believe this.”
Breeana’s urgent voice penetrated Mel’s sleep-filled mind. He grunted, but didn’t open his eyes. Sleep still held him in its tight grasp.
“Wake up.” She whipped the covers off his face and gave his shoulder a hard shake.
He peeled open his eyelids and squinted against the light coming from the table lamp next to the bed. His wife’s lovely face hovered above him; her long brunette hair hung down, tickling his cheek.
Panic filled her hazel eyes.
Christ, the baby!
Adrenaline shot through his veins. He jerked up and seized her upper arms. “Are you okay? Is it the baby?”
“No—and I’m fine. But look at this.” She thrust a book an inch from his face.
He stared at Breeana as his fear abated. If anything happened to her or the baby, he’d...
Stop it. She’s fine.
Once his heart ceased its wild, erratic dance, his attention turned to the book so close to his face that his eyes couldn’t bring it into focus. He took it from her hand and studied the glossy red cover. Written across the top in large black lettering it read: Prophecy of Love. Below, a black haired man kissed the throat of a beautiful brunette.
Confused, he cocked a brow at Breeana in a silent question. “Okay. Nice...book.”
She heaved a sigh, grabbed the book and flipped it open. She shoved it back toward him.
The moment he read the page header, his heart jackknifed and plummeted to his feet. Slowly, he clasped the paperback and read the familiar fourteen short sentences. His gaze dropped to the picture of a crooked dagger then snapped back to his wife. He read her shock and puzzlement easily. “What the hell? This is the Vampire Prophecy, word for bloody word—and the symbol.”
She nodded. “I know.”
“Where did you get it?” He flipped it closed and stared at the author’s name. Eleanor Donavon.
Breeana sat on the bed and placed her hands over her very pregnant belly. “From Barcley’s bookstore in the mall. Katherine and I were shopping, and I stopped in to browse the romance section. I was excited to see new books by Eleanor—she’s one of my favorite authors, plus she’s local. Anyway, you could imagine my shock when I checked inside and saw the Vampire Prophecy. I...I can’t believe it.” Fear filled her eyes. “How could this have happened? How does she know about the Prophecy? Could she somehow know about vampires?”
Mel studied the author’s photo on the back inside cover. She was a pretty, petite woman, with an engaging smile. “I have no clue.”
He tossed off the brown comforter and placed his feet on the carpeted floor. After handing the book back to his wife, he scraped his hair back from his face. This was trouble—big trouble. Was the author a vampire? Somehow, he doubted it, but how the fuck did she know about the Prophecy?
Mel faced Breeana. She continued smoothing a hand over her protruding stomach. Even with the frown scrunching her forehead, she never looked more beautiful. Her shiny brunette hair cascaded around her shoulders in loose curls, and her front teeth worrying her full bottom lip.
Forgetting the book for a moment, he cupped the nape of Breeana’s neck and pulled her lips to his. “I didn’t kiss you hello.”
Her hazel eyes darkened to green, and her smile grew seductive. “No you didn’t. But under the circumstances, I’ll let it slide—this time.”
As her fingers tangled in his hair, Mel groaned, then claimed her lips with a gentle yet urgent need. Their tongues lazily danced, fueling the fire in them both.
Although Mel sensed her desire, he also sensed she was uncomfortable and tired. What she needed was rest.
He reined in his lust, broke off the kiss, then pressed his forehead against hers. “How are you feeling, sweetheart?”
Her eyes closed, and when she opened them, he saw how weary she truly was. “Besides my back aching, and our son or daughter rearranging my organs, I’m fine. Just a little tired, but that’s nothing new.” She sighed and sat back, rubbing her belly again. “Katherine said the last few weeks would be the worst.” She chuckled. “And she was correct.”
Mel cupped the hard roundness of her abdomen. He smoothed his hands up and around in hopes to help bring her some comfort. “Three more weeks, then this little guy or girl will be born.”
“I know.” Her smile lit up the room. “And I can hardly wait to meet him or her—and have my body back. I want to be able to go ten minutes without having to pee.”
Mel laughed. He hugged her to his chest and dropped a kiss on top of her head. “Is there anything I can do to help?”
“You’re doing it.”
“Doesn’t seem like much. Like I’m getting off easy.”
She shifted and pulled out of his embrace. “You are getting off easy, but just wait until our baby is born. That’s when the hard work will start for us both.”
Mel’s heart soared. God, he loved her. She was his life, and now so was their child. “I’m looking forward to it—all of it. Dirty diapers, running on no sleep. Teething, crying...” He planted a quick kiss on her lips. “I love you, Breeana.”
“I love you too.” She picked up the book and turned it over before holding it up. “So, what should we do?”
“Take it to Roarik. Then go from there.”
Mel walked to the closet in their bedroom. He dressed quickly in jeans and a T-shirt. He glanced over at his wife sitting on the bed. “Wanna come with me?”
“Do you think I should?”
“Yeah. You can fill Roarik in.” Still in bare feet, he headed to the door.
She stood. Her long red sweater pulled tight over her belly. “I think it would be a good idea if I read the book—see what it’s about. See what else she wrote about.”
“I agree, but first we show Roarik.”
As they walked into the living room, she placed a hand on his arm. “Mel, I forgot to mention. I noticed there were two more books to this series. I didn’t grab them because I was so shocked once I read the Prophecy. Should I buy the others?”
Mel guided her out of their suite and down the concrete tunnel with a hand on her lower back. “Later. First, we deal with this storm.”
Christ. And this was going to be a storm. He felt it in his bones.
February, 06th 5:54pm
Surrey, British Columbia
Buzzz. Buzzz. Buzzz.
The annoying buzzing leaked into Sin’s semi-conscious brain. He was awake enough to know the sound came from his cell phone vibrating across the night stand, but asleep enough not to give a shit.
He rolled over, tugged the comforter over his head, and settled in for another couple hours of sleep. Let the asshole leave a voice mail.
Besides, his head was splitting, and his guts heaved. Christ, didn’t the caller know he had one motherfucking bitch of a hangover?
Buzzz. Buzzz. Buzzz.
“Come on. Can’t a vampire get any sleep around this joint?” He lifted his head slightly; the movement sent hammers banging in his brain. Slowly, he peeked his head out from under the covers and squinted at the glowing green numbers on his clock-radio. Six o’clock.
He had at least four hours left until he had to get up and head out for the nightly demon hunt—and he needed every minute of sleep he could get in hopes of dulling his hangover.
The phone started up again. It danced against the wall, trapped by the radio.
“This better be worth waking me up.” He snatched up the phone and checked caller ID.
The numbers blurred together, making it hard to see who was disturbing his beauty rest. He tried blinking, but his eyes were drier than dirt from the desert.
Finally his eyes worked enough to see the caller was Soren, the second in command at this base of warriors.
The one person, besides Roarik, he couldn’t ignore if he wanted to avoid another ball-busting lecture, which he did.
Second in command or not, Sin answered with attitude. “This better be good.”
“Get your sorry ass outta bed and meet me in Roarik’s office. Now, Sin. Not later.”
Fucking hell. “What’s the problem? Can’t be anything I’ve done. I’ve been a good little soldier lately.”
“Roarik has a mission for you.”
Sin laughed, but stopped when it caused his head to pound. “A mission? What the fuck are we now? The Hardy Boys?”
Soren chuckled. “Are you out of bed yet?”
“I’m workin’ on it.” Sin shifted onto his back. The room titled as dizziness screwed with his equilibrium. He groaned then cleared the crap from his throat. “Do I have time for a shower?”
“No. Roarik isn’t in the best of moods.”
“What’s new?” He lifted an arm, sniffed, then cringed. “Dude, I’m pretty ripe. I think it’d be better for everyone if I take five and shower.”
“Fine, but make it quick.”
Sin contemplated getting to his feet, but wasn’t looking forward to the queasiness that would follow. “Does this mission require me to suit up in my ninja gear?”
Another laugh came from Soren, which was a good sign. If the guy could laugh, then chances were good whatever had Roarik’s panties twisted up his ass had nothing to do with Sin.
“I’ll tell Roarik you’re on your way.” Soren ended the call.
Sin dropped the cell phone on the bed. Scrubbing both hands over his face, he braced himself against the inevitable urge to spew his guts the second he sat up.
“One. Two. Three.” In one motion, he sat up. The room swayed. The walls of his bedroom seemed to rotate around him, making his eyes ache. “Fucking tequila. Get’s me every time.” But would he drink it again? Of course. Booze was the only way to shut up the past.
He kicked the comforter to the floor. With one hand on his head and the other pressed against his churning gut, he stood. This time the room tilted and rolled. He lost his footing and his ass hit the bed again. “Let’s try this one more time, shall we.” Once more he stood, and this time the room stayed relatively stable, which helped him stay upright, but the sour contents in his stomach boiled like a cauldron of poison. His mouth filled with saliva, a precursor to barfing.
“Come on, man. Just keep it down.”
The cool air in his room felt wonderful on his over-heated skin and helped tame his urge to puke. When he felt he could move without falling, he stumbled across the beige carpet toward the bathroom. Thumbing the light switch to on, he caught his reflection in the mirror above the sink.
Christ, he looked like he’d gone twenty rounds with a prize fighter. Guess in a sense he had. The demons he’d fought and killed last night had been seasoned fighters, not new recruits. But it wasn’t the demons and last night’s battles that ravaged his complexion. That he blamed solely on heavy drinking.
He stepped up to the mirror and rested his hands on the edge of the sink, assessing his face. Dark smudges stood out like bruises under his bloodshot eyes. His black hair was a knotted mess with long strands sticking to his cheeks. The wild mop reached below his shoulders. He should just cut the shit off. It was a massive pain in the ass, but the ladies seemed to like it. Personally, he’d be happy taking clippers to it. Be a lot easier to manage.
He cracked a smile. Easier to manage. Listen to it. Christ, I sound like a pussy.
After kicking a pile of dirty clothes to the side, he stepped into the shower.
Five minutes later, and feeling a little better, Sin dressed in a pair of jeans, long sleeved shirt, and his jean jacket, then left his suite. The concrete tunnel was deserted. Not even the sounds of muffled voices behind the closed doors of the other suites were heard.
Huh. Seemed odd for this time of night. Kal and Katherine’s son, Ike, was usually getting ready for school about now. And the kid was anything but quiet.
He managed the stairs leading to the main house above on shaky legs. As he stepped into the cavernous foyer, he decided the long trek up to the third floor was more than he could handle at the moment. Best to teleport. Faster and easier.
With his mind concentrating on the spot in front of the door to Roarik’s third floor office, he dematerialized, and then took form at his intended target.
Roarik’s deep voice blasted through the wooden door. “Where the hell is he, Soren? This needs to be dealt with, and fast.”
“He’ll be here. Just mellow out,” Soren said with an equally annoyed tone.
Well, this was going to be fun. Just what he needed—not. Sin thrust open the door and sauntered into the room. “Hello, ladies.”
Soren’s head whipped toward him. He shoved a hand through his short blond hair while his green eyes flashed. “About time.”
Mel and his human wife, Breeana, sat in twin chintz chairs close to the enormous fireplace, where a cheery fire added light and warmth to the room. Sin nodded in their direction.
At the far end of the room, situated under a large window looking out over the backyard, Roarik rose from behind his large oak desk. His brown eyes snapped with annoyance. Deep furrows between his dark blond brows showed his anger. “What took you so long? When I give an order, I expect it to be followed.”
Sin shrugged then slumped onto the nearest chair. He cocked an elbow along the backrest and crossed his feet at the ankles. “Had to shower. Couldn’t be helped. So, instead of reading me the riot act, why not tell me what the hell is going on?”
Roarik’s face turned stormy. He ground his teeth and sneered, but thankfully he didn’t go off on one of his famous tangents.
Thank God for small mercies.
Soren shoved Sin’s shoulder as be passed by. “Watch it,” he mumbled under his breath.
Sin glanced up and smiled. “Watch what? Are we here to watch a movie? Will there be popcorn?”
From over by the fireplace, Breeana laughed, but it was short lived. “Sorry,” she murmured.
Facing her, Sin winked.
She smiled back, red-faced. Her amused eyes drifted to her husband, then back to Roarik. Mel’s silver gaze focused on Sin, glaring a warning, but his lips twitched into a ghost of a smile.
“Enough,” Roarik barked. “This is serious shit, Sin, and I advise you to treat it as such.”
Sin tried to school his features. Wouldn’t be wise to piss Roarik off anymore than he was already. But sometimes Sin’s mouth got him in trouble. Sometimes? Try all the time. “Then fill me in, boss.”
Roarik picked up a book and tossed it to Sin.
He caught the paperback. The red cover sported a man with his lips buried against the white throat of a woman. The title read: Prophecy of Love. Confused, he directed his stare at Roarik. “I don’t get it. Am I supposed to read this, ‘cause if so, forget it. Not my type of literature. My taste is more...Playboy.”
“Turn to page four.” Roarik folded his arms over his broad chest.
Glancing at Soren, Sin raised a brow.
“Just read it,” Soren said.
He flipped the book open to page four, then froze. Blood pounded in his ears as he read the fourteen lines. At the bottom of the page was a picture of a crooked dagger—the prophecy’s symbol. The mark of the chosen.
All business, Sin sat straighter in his seat. “What the hell is this?”
Breeana cleared her throat. “A romance novel.”
Sin turned in his seat. “A what, what?”
“A vampire romance novel to be exact, written by a local author,” she added.
Closing the book, Sin glanced at the author’s name on the cover: Eleanor Donavon. “How’d she get her hands on the prophecy?”
Roarik sat on his black swivel chair. “That’s what we need to find out.”
Suspicion wormed through Sin’s bewilderment. “As in we, you mean me. Am I correct?”
“Give the boy a cigar,” Soren said with a short laugh. “Now you’re getting it.”
Sin narrowed his gaze on Roarik. “Just how do you want me to extract this info? If you want me to interrogate this chick, then forget it. Last I checked that wasn’t in my job description.”
Roarik’s face looked carved from granite. “Once she’s in our custody, I’ll question her.”
In our custody? Sin jumped to his feet. He grabbed the back of the chair to hold himself steady. Now they were getting to the heart of this mission, and he didn’t like where his mind was headed. He held up his hands. “Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. You want me to kidnap her? Are you serious?”
Mel cleared his throat. “It’s less than ideal, but what other choice do we have? If she’s a vampire openly writing about the prophecy—”
“Or if she’s a human who has been told about vampires and the prophecy, she has to be stopped,” Roarik stated in a cold voice. “This is exactly what I’ve warned you guys about. You seem to think it’s okay to inform the human women you’re screwing about vampires and the war, placing blind faith in them that they’ll keep their damn traps shut. But as you can see, humans can’t be trusted.”
Sin turned in time to see Breeana struggle to stand. She placed one hand on her big belly, and the other on the back of the chair. She groaned, plunked back down, then tried again. Mel clasped one of her hands, then slipped his arm around her expanded waist, and hoisted her up.
Standing, she planted both hands on her hips and glowered at Roarik. “Hold on a second here. You don’t know that she’s a human. So please, can the hate-all-humans-crap.”
Soren swore. “Look, we’re getting off course here. Whether she’s human or vampire will be determined later.”
Sin snorted. “Yeah, after I kidnap her. Why not just pay her a visit and see what’s what?”
Roarik folded his hands on top of the desk, his face a mask of boredom. But Sin detected rage swimming just under the surface. “The Sacred Order has to be brought up to speed. And I anticipate what their instructions will be. I want to be one step ahead of them on this.”
“Fucking Order.” Sin shook his head. “Why not get those lazy sons-of-bitches to do the dirty work for a change? We have enough on our plates keeping the demons at bay.”
“Couldn’t agree more, but as you know, they wouldn’t dare get their hands dirty,” Roarik said. His brown eyes turned black as his lips pulled down at the corners, clearly showing his distaste over the vampire’s government. It was common knowledge their squad leader had zero respect for the robe-wearing assholes who governed their race.
“This will need to be handled with the utmost secrecy, and as painlessly as possible,” Mel said, steering the conversation back to the shit-storm at hand.
Sin stared Mel down. “Then get someone else to do it.”
“You will do it—and that’s a direct order, Sin,” Roarik replied, his tone cold and quiet.
Sin spun around and frowned at his captain. “And I said, get someone else.”
A muscle ticked along Roarik’s jaw. He slowly stood. Standing at a whopping six foot seven, he was the tallest warrior at the base. His impressive size coupled with his hard muscular frame screamed of the immense power housed inside—and Sin would do well to remember that.
“You’re the one I chose for this mission. Soren has other responsibilities to attend to, as do Mel and Kal. Black’s dealing with family issues, and no way in hell would I send Ace. So that leaves you.” Roarik walked around his desk and leaned a hip against one corner, then crossed his arms. “Besides, this will go a long way in clearing the black mark on your record, or have you forgotten about that fiasco?”
Heat flushed Sin’s cheeks. Oh, he hadn’t forgotten, but he was sick of being reminded of it. He’d made a mistake, one that would never happen again. Six years ago, he’d gotten so damn plastered at the biker bar he’d loved to frequent that he’d dematerialized out in the parking lot. Right in front of human onlookers. Shit, his little stunt not only landed his ass in vampire jail for seven months, but the people who witnessed his vanishing act had yapped to the local news. Thank God Black had been with him and had smoothed things over as much as he could. He’d planted thoughts in a few heads that Sin’s disappearing act was due to a bad patch of drugs on the street. In other words, the humans were hallucinating. Lucky, that excuse seemed to have worked, although many from that night swore they weren’t using.
The Sacred Order, on the other hand, weren’t as easy to mollify. After a two week hearing, his sentence was jail time, which was sufficient punishment as far as he was concerned.
But yeah, no denying it. He’d pulled a boneheaded move for sure.
Sin rubbed the back of his neck and sighed. Looked like he was now in the kidnapping business. “Fine. When do you want this done?”
“Tonight.” Roarik folded a slip of paper and handed it to Sin. “That’s her address. Study her picture in the back of the book to make sure you grab the right woman.”
Sin opened the book to the back inside cover. A petite yet very curvy woman smiled back at him. As his eyes traveled over the black and white photo, his cock hardened. Damn, but she was a pretty little thing. Her eyes seemed to sparkle with life, and her smile was wide and genuine. Her hair appeared soft. The strands flowed around her oval face, past her shoulders, in a sensual cloud.
She looked sweet, innocent, and sexy as hell. Not his normal type. The women he usually went for were lacking the sweet and innocent parts. He liked his women experienced in the arts of seduction with no emotional expectations. This little miss wasn’t the love ‘em and leave ‘em type. She was the marrying kind, which he avoided. But for her, he’d make an exception. He’d love to take her for a test ride.
He scanned her short bio. Perfect. No mention of a husband, roommate, or pets.
Suddenly, this mission didn’t seem so bad. In fact, he looked forward to it.
Prophecy's Language coming Spring 2015