Thanks for having me on the blog today! I’m excited to be here. I went back and forth on what to talk about and finally decided to WIP it! I’m really excited about my current work in progress. It’s a new characters in a new world, set in practically in my own back yard Baltimore City. I thought this would be a great opportunity to introduce people to Jax and see what they think of her. But don’t tell first heroine Maurin Kincaide because as tough as I think I am if she sends her crew after me I’m in trouble!
I swapped out the plain black shirt I'd worn to volunteer at the shelter for a cut off white tee with a spray painted red anarchy symbol on it. One of my favorites, the shirt was short enough to show a little stomach and cut low enough to flash just the right amount of cleavage. My tips improved significantly whenever I wore it. This proved to be no exception.
The place was packed to capacity. Wall to wall people, everyone drinking and having a good time. Completely clueless to the demons roaming the streets, just waiting to torment them and snack on their souls. I envied their ignorance. I wished like hell I didn't know the things I did.
One of the regulars shouted his order for two shots of Fireball over the pounding music and roar of the crowd. I mindlessly filled the glasses and slid them across the bar top, surprised when one made its way back to me. The guy raised his shot glass, waiting for me to lift mine. I clinked my glass against his and slammed the liquor, savoring the cinnamon taste and slow burn. We both slammed the shot glasses upside down on the bar and he disappeared back into the crowd.
I'd made it a rule not to drink more than two shots a night. Something I had to remind myself of more than once during my shift. Thoughts of demons continued to creep into my mind the rest of the night, souring my mood. Thankfully none of the customers noticed or my tips would have suffered.
I made it through my shift. Exhausted and ready to crash I grabbed my stuff from the employee lockers in the backroom. I also grabbed a bottle of Kettle One and dropped some cash on my manager's desk. With a nod he added the money to the drawer he was counting down and I headed home.
I made it a block before the first demon crawled out of an alleyway on my right. The smell of sulfur hit me and I knew it was a lesser demon. The stronger demons smelled of burnt wick, like when you snuff out a candle. I figured that out a couple years ago. Useful information. It helped to know when to fight and when to run. I'd been running more than I'd used to but I could easily send this one back to hell.
I started to speak the words I'd used a dozen or so times to banish demons when I realized there was more than one. I shivered from the intense chill running down my spine. Outnumbered I decided to haul ass. Better to tuck tail and run, and live to fight another day than be ripped to shreds by a pack of lesser demons. I picked up the pace, practically race walking. Until I ran into Lazarus.
By far the most powerful demon I'd come across, Lazarus smelled like ashes, like everything laid waste to the fires of hell. Being able to smell them was just one more perk of my deal with the devil. The ability to sense them grew stronger every day. I took it as a reminder that I was one day closer to joining their ranks and paying my debt to the Lord of the Damned.
He pressed forward, pushing me back toward the alley. "I owe you one, you little bitch." Lazarus struck, back handing me across the mouth before I could back away.
I stumbled back from the blow, running the back of my hand across my mouth to wipe away the blood from my split lip. I'd made a mistake. Again - at least I was consistent. I'd gotten too comfortable with the absence of the demon and let my guard down. I hadn't even been looking for demons when I walked out of the bar. I smelled them before I felt them and that meant I'd let them get too close.
Lazarus came at me again. His hand clamped around my throat, blocking my air flow. I clawed at his fingers, tried to pry them from my neck as little black dots danced along the corners of my vision. I never should have hit him. Content to mentally torment me and haunt my everything step, this was the first time he'd ever touched me and I'd brought it on myself. I knew if I died I'd go to hell. There'd been no calls from the heavenly host, no angelic herald visiting me to say all was forgiven. If Lazarus killed me, it was a one way ticket to eternity in the fiery pits. My survival instincts kicked in to high gear. I wasn't ready to die and I certainly wasn't ready to give myself up to the devil.
I reached into my bag, fumbling around until I got a hold of the neck of the vodka bottle. I yanked it out and cracked it over the head of the demon. The bottle bounced off his head without any of the satisfying shattering glass I'd come to expect from the movies but he did drop me. After gulping in air, I smashed the bottle against the wall and slashed out with the jagged neck. I missed, taking a sharp jab to the ribs in the process. Doubled over, but still holding the broken glass, I tried for another strike, managing to slice Lazarus's thigh. He hissed from the pain but didn't back down. He had me by the neck again, slamming me into the brick wall of the building behind me. Close to blacking out, the bottle neck slipped from my grip.
He pawed my body with his free hand, squeezing hard on my left breast before settling between my thighs. I tried to knee him in the groin, hoping it had the same effect on demons as it did on men but he blocked it. He pulled his hand out from my crotch and punched me in the stomach before clamping it down with his other hand around my throat. If I could have breathed, it would have been a sigh of relief. Lazarus was back to simply trying to kill me. I'd rather be murdered than raped by a demon. Resolved to my fate, I stopped fighting and prepared to meet the Devil.
The sound of footsteps and someone shouting reached my ears as I slid down the wall. Lazarus took off, disappearing at the end of the alleyway. The lesser demons scattered like wharf rats down by the peer. I sat there on the damp ground, surrounded by trash bags and over flowing dumpsters, trying to catch my breath. The person who'd been yelling reached the alley, their footsteps slowed as they realized my attacker fled the scene. Grateful the guy passed by at the same time Lazarus was kicking my ass, I looked up to thank my rescuer.
He extended a hand to help me up off the ground, waiting patiently when I stared at him with my mouth agape. He wiggled his fingers, trying to encourage me to take his hand but I smacked it away. I've never believed in coincidence before and I wasn't about to start. Dane didn't just happen by, he'd been looking for me.
"I'm going to file for a restraining order if you keep this up." I pushed off the cement and stumbled to my feet.
Dane reached out to help me after I swayed a couple times but I shook my head.
"You want me to take you to the emergency room? Get those ribs looked at?" Dane glanced at the arm I'd wrapped around my midsection. "You can fill out a police report while you're there."
"I'm fine. No hospitals, no police." Because when you tell people demons are attacking you they didn't put out an apb for the assailant, they locked you up.
When she isn't writing, Rachel can often be found with her nose buried in a good book. An avid reader of Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, Horror and Steampunk herself, Rachel founded Hallowread- an interactive convention for both authors and fans of those genres.
More information on Hallowread, its schedule of events and participating authors can be found at www.hallowread.blogspot.com and www.facebook.com/Hallowread .
She still lives in Maryland with her husband and three children.
Find Rachel and her books
Maurin Kincaide #1
Free at Amazon Audible BN
I'm Maurin Kincaide, a psychometric, and until a few days ago I was working for Salem's Preternatural Task Force as an interrogator. I cracked more cold cases and got more confessions than anyone else in the department. Of course that was before I traded in my badge for an ancient Celtic sword. Now, I'm the Special Liaison for the Council, the governing body of the Others, and I take my orders from witches, werewolves and vampires.Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/Y9g8FJKN2vM
I didn't just make a career change though. I'm not the same person I was before. I'm stronger, I can heal from wounds that would kill a normal person. I'm developing latent psychic skills at a breakneck speed. Oh yeah, and it would seem that a Pagan goddess has taken permanent residence in my body and mind. Crazy thing is, I'm starting to feel normal, like this is who I'm supposed to be.
Of course, there are those who don't agree. Morrigan and her sisters for example. Actually, I'm pretty sure they'd like nothing more than to see me dead. And if I can't stop them and the demons they've raised, they just might get their wish.
I couldn’t help feeling a little vindicated as the Captain told him his theory was pretty much paper thin, but he hadn’t even started on me yet. He dismissed Masarelli with a wave of his hand, but Masarelli didn’t move. He just stood there like he was waiting for more instructions or perhaps to hear me get chewed out. He would get neither.
“Now, Masarelli.” The tone in Matthison’s voice had me sitting up straight. “Shut the door behind you.”
Captain Matthison waited until Masarelli closed the door and was sure he had walked far enough away not to overhear our conversation before he continued. Definitely not a good sign.
“You’re not going to like what I have to say, Kincaide, but I’m going to say it and you’re going to listen. I’m putting you on paid administrative leave. Effective immediately.” He was his usual calm self as he handed out my punishment.
“For how long? Wait a minute, what the hell did I do? I came in here, tried to do my job and now you’re punishing me because I didn’t get the desired results? You never said that there would be repercussions if I didn’t produce every time when you offered me this job!” He might be calm, but I was fuming.
He lowered his head and ran a hand through his short brown hair. “I realize every case can’t be easy, that there will be times when you simply can’t get the answers we need. That’s not what this is about and you know it.”
“No, I don’t actually, so why don’t you enlighten me.” It probably wasn’t smart to get flippant with the Captain, but I couldn’t have cared less in the heat of the moment.
“There’s something going on with you. I’ve noticed things over the last couple of weeks, ever since we’ve been dealing with this demon case. Even before that, if we’re being perfectly honest. There‘s no way that witch should have walked out of here like she did.” He was mussing up his hair again, like he didn’t want to finish, so I didn’t give him the chance.
“If the arresting officer had caught that witch’s charms, we wouldn’t even be talking about her right now! And you can’t seriously think I had anything to do with any of this? That my not feeling well is in any way related to the demon running loose? So why put me on leave?” I didn’t even try to hide my disgust at the thought.
“Would you shut up and let me finish. We both know it’s more than you ‘not feeling well’. ‘Not feeling well’ implies that you’re coming down with a cold or something. That is not what is happening with you. And of course I don’t think you had anything to do with the demon. As for being related? Who knows? From what Masarelli says, our best, though admittedly thin, lead had you in some kind of trance. You were catatonic in our interrogation room for Christ’s sake! That’s never happened before. Not once in the three years you’ve been here. You have been getting stronger. I’ve seen it. You spend less and less time with the suspects and walk away with more and more information. But the witch? Charms have never stopped you before. And then you face O’Neil and it’s like you’ve got nothing, no abilities at all. He should have been a cakewalk for you. He didn’t even register on any of our psychic scans. It’s like with more power comes less control. I don’t know what’s going on with you and you don’t either. So until you figure it out, you’re on leave. I just can’t risk you being injured or blowing a case - both of which are very real possibilities and you know it. I don’t want you near the station or anywhere near this case. That’s an order.” He didn’t have the same tone in his voice as he had with Masarelli, but it didn’t make it any easier to hear what he had just said.
“Do you want my badge too?” Okay, it was slightly juvenile, but I couldn’t help myself.“Are you offering it to me? Because as much as it would disappoint me, I’ll take it if you are,” he said.
Maurin Kincaide #2
Amazon BN Audible
Maurin Kincaide is back in this action packed follow up novel to The Morrigna. No longer a member of Salem's Preternatural Task Force Maurin is the new liaison for The Council, governing body of Others. During what should have been a routine meeting with her former Captain, Maurin is brought in on a murder investigation. Three dead witches, three cryptic clues, no sign of the killers and the Salem coven is losing allies within the Council. If Maurin and her unlikely partner Captain Matthison can't stop the killers, the Witch City might be without its namesake.Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/ZwTNzVGJvxQ
Maurin Kincaide.” That was my professional greeting.
“It’s Matthison. You need to- ” I cut him off.
“Too late. You already approved the pass. You don’t get to change your mind now.” He wasn’t going back on the pass, not after I had already sent word that it had been approved.
“First, I only said yes to you. You don’t have my signature on the form yet. And second, I absolutely could go back on it if I wanted to, and there isn’t a damned thing that you could do about it. But that’s-” He didn’t get to finish.
“I could get someone to whip up a potion. I know people.” I interrupted.
I was almost to the corner. I pulled my coat a little tighter. It wasn’t officially winter yet, but the Solstice was only a week away. I could almost see the sign for the Daily Grind; coffee was almost within my reach.
“They wouldn’t and you know it. I didn’t call about the pass, Maurin. You need to come back in.” The friendly banter was over.
“Come back in? You make it sound like I’m wanted for questioning. Am I a person of interest, Captain?” I asked.
Something was up - so much for a decent cup of coffee. Looks like I’d be slurping down more of the sludge they keep in the coffee pot in the break room.
“You are one of the most interesting people that I know. I need to talk to you about a case.” I could hear him talking to someone, but his hand was over the receiver, muffling his voice.
“Wow! Sounds like you need to meet some more people. Don’t you have any cops working for you anymore, or did you transfer all of them too? Why didn’t you ask me about this when I was in your office?” Of course, I had already turned around. My curiosity was definitely peeked, but I didn’t want him to know that.
“I’m looking at it now for the first time. Just get your ass in here.” He hung up.
When I got back to Matthison’s office, he was gone. It didn’t take me that long to get there; I was right outside, for crying out loud. I scanned the desks outside his office and found him bent over a folder with my least favorite detective - Masarelli. The one good thing about not being on SPTF anymore was not seeing Masarelli’s ugly mug every day.
I walked over to Masarelli’s desk. “Captain.” I didn’t even bother acknowledging Masarelli, the prick. I did, however, try to look at the file on his desk.
Before I could get a good look at anything, Matthison scooped up the folder and waved me into his office. Masarelli turned his best thousand-yard stare on me – as if I was intimidated by him. I was a better interrogator than he was and he knew it. Of course, he would say it’s because I have advantages that he doesn’t. While it is true that I have what I would call “helpful abilities”, it isn’t my fault that I have them. Besides, I was convinced that I would be a better interrogator than Masarelli even without those abilities. I gave him a wink and a smile over my shoulder, and then followed the Captain into his office.
He dropped the file onto his desk. “I need you to make a call.”
I shut the door behind me. “I’m sorry, what?” I hadn’t expected him to ask me to make a phone call. Talk to a suspect for old time’s sake maybe, but not a phone call.
“You’re the liaison. I need you to call the Council. Mahalia, specifically.” He started rubbing his forehead, which was always his tell that something was very wrong.
“Okay, and what is it that you’d like me to ask her?” I asked. It was never good when he reminded you what your job was. Something was definitely wrong.
He dropped down in his chair. “Tell her that I’ve got a dead witch on my hands and I need her to ID the body. She can meet us at the morgue. They’ve already finished processing the scene.”
“How are you so sure it’s a witch? If they only just finished at the scene, then there’s no way you have lab confirmation. What makes you say witch?” I was really hoping that he was jumping the gun on this.
There were lots of Norms who liked to masquerade around as witches in Salem. You could find a body in front of a cauldron with a broom in one hand and a wand in the other, and it still wouldn’t mean you had a real witch. True witches have a slightly different genetic make-up than Norms, but you’d never know it without the lab work.
He slid the folder across his desk, spilling its contents. “Besides the ‘thou shalt not suffer a witch to live’ carved into her abdomen, you mean?”
“Shit.” I picked up a photo off his desk. “Are her, are her hands cut off too?” Despite all the gross stuff I’d seen recently, I was still swallowing hard.“Yeah, and her tongue was cut out too. Why would someone do that?” He wasn’t really asking me, which was good - because I didn’t have an answer.
Maurin Kincaide #3
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Given the choice between her sister's wedding and witnessing the challenge for Alpha of the Salem pack, Maurin knows exactly where she'd rather be. Smack dead center in a pack of snarling werewolves wearing eau de filet mignon.
Until McKayla takes off the morning of her wedding. Being her sister's keeper will not excuse her from her job as the Council Liaison. Torn between obligations to a family she's avoided for almost a decade and the Council of Others, Maurin has less than twenty-four hours to set things right.
I woke in a cold sweat to the sound of heavy gun fire. I grabbed the Retaliator from the empty side of the bed and bolted out of my room. My front door was open and I was out in the little stairway that led to my third floor walk up before I was awake enough to realize there was no danger. My first clue should have been Conry- a Cwnn Anfwnn, gift from my father and personal guard "dog"- just rolling over and burying his head beneath his massive paws. The sound of grenades and Dempsey's voice coming up the stairs told me it was just my new neighbor playing COD Zombies with the TV full blast at three o'clock in the morning again. I was still in boy shorts and a tank top but I didn't bother to go back in my apartment to change. He'd seen me in less. I stormed down the flight of stairs to Cash's apartment with my sword in hand.
"It's going on four in the morning! Turn that shit off or I'll send some real zombies to your apartment!" I yelled while I pounded on the door.
How the guy on the first floor slept through it I'll never know. But it had been me stomping on my floor and banging on Cash's door every night for the last month.
"What's the big deal? I figured a fanger like you would be used to staying up late." Cash casually replied upon opening the door.
"You can be such a jerk." I said with more venom than the insult commanded.
"Jerk? That's the best you could come up with?" Cash said through his laughter.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I'm not at my wittiest when I wake up to the sound of World War III at three in the morning." I said tartly.
"It's Modern Warfare, not World War III." He smirked.
I rolled my eyes. "I'm not the only other person who lives here you know. I can only imagine what it sounds like downstairs. The poor guy probably has to sleep with ear plugs in." I scolded.
"Mike works third shift. He doesn't get home until after seven in the morning. " He was still smirking.
"He's only lived here for like three weeks and I haven't even talked to him. You two are what, like best friends already?" I asked, irritated.
"What can I say? People just like me better than you." He was past smirking and into a full grin.
I probably shouldn't have but I couldn't help myself. I swung the Retaliator around until the tip of the blade pressed against his Adam's apple. "Just turn the TV down or we'll see how good of a gamer you are without your thumbs."
I stomped away. "And stop staring at my ass." I said as I started up the steps. If the challenge for Alpha of the Salem pack didn't happen soon Roul was going to start getting wake up calls at three in the morning. I didn't know what the holdup was anyway. He was too busy to help us with the Inquisitors and the demon they unleashed a few weeks ago because of his "pack business" and now it's delay, delay, delay. It's been unusually quiet in Salem but I haven't had a decent night's sleep in four weeks because of my new neighbor.
Well, it wasn't all Cash's fault. Aidan had a little something to do with it - too bad it was just talking. Aidan made his feelings for me clear but was still insisting we take our time. Vampires could be very patient. Having spent most of my life living more like a "norm" than an immortal I found it infuriating. He wanted to be sure the effects of Mahalia's spell were gone. I assured him that any feelings I had for Oberon died the minute I found out he hadn't. I thought I had killed him, pulling too much power through the tie that bound us. In order to save himself, he broke the connection and the false feelings for him Mahalia had spelled into my heart.
I tried on more than one occasion to convince Aidan that I hadn't felt more like myself since Mahalia's magic had been broken. That had been a monumental waste of time. It takes powerful magic to control someone's heart and mind, he explained during one of our all night conversations. I had had other things on my mind, things that didn't involve so much talking. I used all my feminine wiles to persuade him - unsuccessfully. He was convinced lingering magic would try to latch itself onto the next person to vie for my affections. His conviction to determine my true feelings made for more than one long and frustrating night. Not to mention my temper was becoming increasingly short. Which might explain why I was down here threatening to cut fingers off my irritating neighbor's hands.
"No kiss good night?" Cash asked sarcastically.
I didn't bother with a response. Cash was one of the few people I knew who had as many smart ass comebacks as me. If I didn't walk away we'd be going at each other until the sun came up.
"How about a kiss for good luck then?" He called out as I was half way up the stairs. "The challenge is tonight."
I turned around slowly. How weird was that? I was just ranting to myself about how Roul was dragging his ass. If I didn't know better I would have thought Weres had suddenly developed the ability to read minds. Thankfully they hadn't or my thoughts about Roul wouldn't have been the only thing Cash would have glimpsed. He didn't need any more ammunition when it came to aggravating my vampire. If Cash even suspected my frustration with Aidan it would be like arming a nuclear war head."The only lips she'll be kissing are mine, wolf." Aidan's voice carried up the stairway from the first floor. I'd hardly seen him over the last couple of weeks. Just hearing his voice sent shivers up my spine and I silently cursed him, knowing full well we wouldn't get further than second base again tonight.
Maurin Kincaide #4
Amazon BN Audible
A serial killer in Salem? Not for decades, but the bodies are piling up and all signs point in one direction. Rogue vampire. Except things aren't always what they seem, especially in a murder investigation.Excerpt:
With her current relationship on the rocks, her father playing match-maker and her neighbor tossing his hat in the ring, the body count isn't the only thing on the rise. Maurin is neck deep in magic, mayhem and murder.
Can she catch the killer before the killer catches her? One things for certain, when hunting vampires there will be blood.
"You need to come to the station with me." He moved to open my door, like that would get me into motion. Conry took interest in the detective again and Masarelli quickly removed his hand from the handle.
"Look, I was going to talk to you about the Salem pack. I'll spare you the bullshit excuses and just admit I forgot. Cash is the new alpha. If I promise to come in tomorrow and tell you about it can I go? I'm already late for an appointment." I glanced at the clock on the radio. It was the only unoriginal thing in the car, well that and the speakers. I was now ten minutes late for my meeting with Arawn.
"It's not about the wolves. It can't wait until tomorrow." He backed up enough for me to open the car door.
"I'm not getting out of the car until you tell me what the hell is going on." I started to put the window back up.
"I am not going to discuss this on the side of the road. Quit busting my balls and get out of the dammed car."
"Quit busting your balls?" I opened the door and stepped out in a rush, thrusting my hand out. "Hello, pot, my names kettle. It's nice to meet you. Why can't I just follow you?"
He ran a hand over his face, across stubble that was too long, even for him. "This is exactly what I was talking about. Because I know you won't follow me. Now would you please get in my car so I can take you to the station and get your expert fucking opinion on something?"
I relinquished any hope of salvaging my night, leaned inside the Camero, put the window up, grabbed the keys from the ignition and whistled for Conry. I glared at Masarelli over my shoulder as I walked to his car, daring him to question me about my dog. Masarelli locked and shut the car door, giving the Camaro one last approving look before heading back to his filthy unmarked patrol car.
Since I wasn't under arrest - at least not yet, the night's still young - I opened the car door myself and slid in behind the driver's seat. "Remember that movie we watched last week, Conry? The one where the dog ate the nice policeman's headrest?" I gave him a big belly rub as he stretched out over my lap and the rest of the back seat.
Masarelli gave me his best cop stare in the rear view and headed toward the station. "So you just forgot about the fact that a black ops merc killed the alpha and took control of the Salem pack? You got papers for this guy?"
"It's a pack not the AKC." I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Matthison approved his pass personally."
"It's expired." He blipped the lights and burped the siren to get through the intersection.
"Cash is Alpha now. The paperwork is irrelevant at this point. Unless of course you want to run him out of town on a technicality and create a power vacuum." I gave Conry a little nudge, my legs were falling asleep.
Masarelli spared a quick glance in the rear view mirror. "What happened to Roul? They eat him?"
"Eighteenth century France called. They wanted their superstitions back. How did you get this job again? They buried him, following pack ritual." Not even ten minutes with him and I was already exhausted.
"And his mate?" He couldn't know, could he? Was this what the mysterious trip to the station was really about? He needed my expert opinion on some trumped up murder charge?
"Dead." I didn’t elaborate.
"Killing the mate isn't covered under the Meneur de Loupes agreement." He was fishing for something, anything to get rid of Cash.My mouth was moving before I thought about the consequences. "It doesn't need to be covered by the Leader of the Wolves agreement since a werewolf didn't kill Olwyn. I did and it was self defense."
Maurin Kincaide #5
Some things are destined to end in death. After the first attempt on her life Maurin wasn’t scared. Hell, she was almost flattered. But someone put a price on her head and things are getting complicated. Trouble is brewing in the fae courts and it’s spilling over into Salem. The UnSeelie Dark Guard have answered the call for her head on a platter and people closest to her are disappearing.
Can Maurin master court politics and find her missing men before someone claims the bounty on her head?
"You're awake?" He sounded more than a little surprised.
"I'm not really sure the state I'm in qualifies as awake."
"Here I was, terrified to poke the dragon, and you're already drinking coffee and talking in complete sentences."
I snorted and took a sip of the aforementioned liquid gold. "Are you always like this in the morning?"
"If you'd let me sleep over you'd already know the answer to that question. Why aren't you asleep?"
In general or just tonight, I silently wondered. "Bad dream. I've been tossing and turning all night. I finally gave in and got out of bed."
Papers rustled in the background and when he spoke again, his voice was lower, intimate."You want to talk about it?"
"Something tells me my nightmares are the least of our problems."
"You have no idea. I need you to come down to my office."
I sighed. "Can it at least wait until after sunrise?"
"Would I be breaking the no phone calls before noon policy if it could wait?"
“There really is no rest for the wicked, is there?”
He laughed and the sound warmed me more than a hundred cups of coffee. "Apparently not, in your case. Now, there's a dirty chai latte and a croissant for you if you're here before Amalie. I can't promise real coffee and pastries will survive beyond five minutes of her arrival."
"It's four-thirty in the morning, Mas. If you know what's good for you, you'll make sure at least one dirty chai and croissant remain unmolested."
"I'll see you soon." He was laughing as he hung up the phone.
Three hours ago I’d practically crawled through the doorway, exhausted from cleaning up after a newbie vamp who’d broken the Jus Sanguinis Intergentes when she killed her donor. The blood pact between people and vampires had a clear no killing, no exceptions clause.
It was up to the maker to ensure their child was ready to feed unsupervised. If something went wrong and the Council found out about it, we cleaned up the mess and the sire was subject to heavy fines and possible revocation of their rights to expand their blood lines. She’d been quite literally a bitch to track and take down.
It had been a long night and it was shaping up to be an even longer day.
I wasted little time getting dressed, opting for a slip on black jersey dress, eighteen hole Docs and a leather jacket. Jewelry was a hindrance in my line of work. My meeting with Mason could easily turn into a run. Choked with my own chain? No, thank you. Unclasping the necklace, I set it in a glass dish on my bathroom counter. I ran a brush through my hair, a toothbrush over my teeth and slipped into the between. I stepped out of the alley two buildings down from the station and walked the last block and a half.
Amalie was swarmed by detectives trying to get at the goodies she brought over from the Daily Grind. She greeted me with a warm smile, shaking her head when I offered to pull her out of the fray. She had managed to endear herself to the entire department in record time. All it took was real coffee and fresh pastries. I pointed to Mason's office. She'd make her way over once the starving masses had their fill.
Mason was so engrossed in the file on his desk he didn't hear me come in. He looked as tired as I felt - too many double shifts. Despite an uptick in activity, SPTF was short staffed due to budget cuts. Without enough man power to staff the shifts properly overtime was mandatory.
"Is that for me?" I pointed at the to-go cup and white paper bag on his desk.
He finally looked up and gave me a smile which lit up his whole face. "As promised."
I stole a quick kiss, grabbed the coffee and croissant, and settled in the chair across from him. I took a long sip of my latte, savoring the delicious mix of tea and espresso. "Man, I needed this. Is that the case you're working on?"
"Yeah, we've got a real problem on our hands."
"Don't we always." I tried to peak at the file.
Mason closed the manila folder. "I'd rather wait until everyone is here."
"Who else is coming besides Amalie?" My curiosity was definitely peaked now. I reached across his desk, hoping to grab the file.
"You look exhausted. Tell me about your dream while we wait."
I narrowed my eyes and glared at him. "I see this for the obvious distraction it is but you're right.” Sighing, I rubbed my temple.“However, I'm exhausted, too exhausted to argue. So I'll tell you. Prepare to be confounded."
He listened intently as I filled him in on the nightly visits from the weathered old woman who washed my clothes and hauntingly called my name. I expected him to laugh and tell me it was just a dream, that I had nothing to worry about.
I didn't expect him to look so stricken.
"Bean Nighe." He all but whispered the name.
"You've heard of her?"
"Of course I've heard of her. How long has she been coming to you?"
I stared at him curiously. "A few weeks. Why?"
"A few weeks and this is the first I'm hearing of it?” He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, obviously struggling to control his temper.“We talked about this. No holding things back, remember?"
"I thought it was just a dream.” I shrugged.“Honestly, I didn't think it was a big deal."
"It was a big enough deal for you to research it." Agitation rolled off him in waves.
When I agreed to give this thing with Mason a chance I also agreed to some conditions. No more flying solo, no more rash decisions or rushing off to play the hero. We were a team, in everything. This was just one of many set-backs.
"I got curious, did a little digging. Until tonight, everything I found pointed to deep seated family issues, particularly with a mother figure. I've told you about my childhood, does that dream analysis surprise you?"
His growl told me he wasn’t in the mood for reasonable—at least to me—explanations. "When did you discover the true meaning of the dream? How long have you known about the Bean Nighe?"
"Tonight. This morning. Before you called me." I held up a hand to stop the tongue lashing I knew he wanted to give me. "I would have told you. I got the impression on the phone there were more pressing matters than my insomnia."
"Is this why you won't let me stay at your place?” His gaze roamed over my face, searching.“Why you never stay at mine?"
"Is that the real reason why you're so upset?" I arched my brows. “Because we’re not having sleepovers?”
"I stayed at your lovely apartment the first night we met."
I turned to watch Aidan glide into the room, stopping behind my chair. Rolling my eyes, I snorted and muttered, “In the closet.”
Mason's jaw twitched but he didn't take the bait. "Aidan."
"It's almost sunrise. Shouldn't you be hunkered down for the day?" I sighed, wondering what he was doing here. I was too tired to deal with Aidan and Mason and their combined testoserone.Putting the three of us in a room together was like throwing lit matches at sticks of dynamite - eventually one of them will explode.