*Graphics courtesy of Elle Woods PR
Only 3 more sleeps until The Has-Been and the Hot Mistake goes LIVE!! You can pre-order today and it'll show up like magic on your Kindle on 10/29. But if you're still on the fence about whether or not to read this one, here's a little peek at Chapter 1:
*Graphics courtesy of Elle Woods, PR.
That's right, it's only 2 more sleeps until Semi-Fated goes LIVE! You can pre-order right HERE and it'll show up on your Kindle like magic on 7/30. But just in case you're impatient like me, feel free to check out the whole first chapter right here:
Looking for a little something to read? Well, check THIS out:
Hard to believe that it's new release time again so soon, right? I know. Trust me, I feel the same way. But I couldn't be happier to bring you Kendall and Jackson's story--and I hope you like them as much as I do. In case you're on the fence about this one, here's the whole first chapter:
Well, it took me forever, but I FINALLY got it done. It's a brand new release, y'all. And I didn't bother with any of the pre-order hoopla this time--I just threw it out there on Amazon. You can buy or download for free with Kindle Unlimited right here. Or, if you're on the fence about it, you could read the first chapter right here on this very website:
Anyone ready to revisit Harper Hall and her band of semi-magical misfits? Well, believe it or not, it's time to do just that! The book, which is a cross over novel to a brand new series (yay!) will be live on 12/20. You can pre-order right here. But while you wait, why not read the first chapter? Here it is, y'all:
Harper Hall was not a “forgive and forget” kind of gal. She was more the “smite your enemies in a blaze of hellfire” type.
So, Harper felt she was owed some karmic brownie points for sitting calmly across from Cecelia Reeves instead of leaping over the desk, pinning her down, and shoving a pencil up the big-boobed, Barbie-doll-looking bitch’s nose. Sideways.
Cecelia licked her glossy, Angelina Jolie lips and cast a nervous glance around Harper’s office. “Is Riddick here?”
Oh, you won’t be getting off that easy, sister.
Harper leaned forward, resting her elbows on her desk, and leveled Cecelia with what Riddick called her serial killer smile. Cecelia flinched appropriately and squirmed in her seat.
Harper Hall: one. Cecelia Reeves: zero.
“Riddick is out of town on a skip trace. He won’t be back until tomorrow,” Harper said.
Translation: you’ll be dealing with me today, you hag, not Riddick. Sorry about your luck.
Cecelia looked down at her clasped hands and nodded. “That’s probably best. I needed to talk to you, anyway.”
Now, Harper was pretty hard to surprise. As a paranormal PI who was also a psychic, weird stuff that would shock normal people was pretty much just…Tuesday for Harper. But the fact that Cecelia wanted to talk to her? That was truly surprising.
Harper was instantly suspicious. “What do you want, Cecelia?”
“I need your help.”
Harper couldn’t contain a snort/laugh combo. “You’re kidding, right? After everything you’ve put Riddick through, you want my help.”
Cecelia at least had the grace to look a tiny bit remorseful. It didn’t make Harper want to hurt her any less.
“It’s not for me,” she whispered. “Not directly, anyway. It’s for Adrianne.”
And with that one name, a good bit of Harper’s righteous indignation vanished. Son of a bitch.
Adrianne was Riddick’s daughter. Years before Harper met Riddick, he’d had a one-night stand with Cecelia that resulted in Adrianne. At the time, Cecelia convinced Riddick that because he was a dhampyre, being around him was dangerous, so he kept his distance while Adrianne was little.
It wasn’t until years later, when Harper helped him realize Cecelia was full of crap, and that he was an amazing father to their little girl, Haven, that Riddick approached Cecelia about having a relationship with Adrianne.
To say Cecelia was opposed would be an understatement.
She fought Riddick every step of the way for years, going so far as to threaten legal action (Riddick’s past was anything but squeaky clean, so he most likely wouldn’t fare well in the legal system) and skipping town to keep him away from their daughter. To this day, Cecelia hadn’t let him anywhere near Adrianne, who was now thirteen, even though he’d made numerous attempts and even said he’d be OK with supervised visitation.
But as much as Harper would love to send Cecelia packing with a firm “fuck off,” (and with a pencil shoved up her nose) she couldn’t do it if Adrianne was in need. Riddick would want her to help in any way she could.
And it must be bad if Cecelia was here, talking to her.
Harper let out a disgusted sigh. “What’s going on?”
“Earlier today, some men—military—came to our house to talk about Adrianne. They said they were looking to recruit exceptional,” she paused to make little finger quotes around the word exceptional, “children.”
Harper frowned. “I’m guessing they weren’t talking about high-IQ kids,” she murmured. “That all sounds vaguely familiar.”
And by vaguely, Harper meant totally. It sounded just like what Sentry had told her mother when they’d recruited Harper as a psychic all those years ago. Cecelia was a psychic, too, so she would’ve been just as familiar with the Sentry sales pitch as Harper was.
Before vampires came out of the coffin, all paranormal threats to humans were policed by Sentry. And, of course, policed was just a gentle euphemism for eliminated without prejudice.
When all the normal humans found out about it, the organization hadn’t fared too well in the court of public opinion and Sentry was shut down. But, as Harper only recently found out, someone was trying to recruit—or genetically modify—an army to pick up where Sentry had left off.
And that someone just happened to be her father.
Harper hadn’t seen her father since he went out for a pack of smokes when she was six and never came back. But even before that, he’d been a shitty excuse for a parent. She’d always assumed—or maybe hoped—he was dead.
She found out the hard way he was alive and well and still a total asshole when he tried to blackmail her into securing the release of a former Sentry biochemist from Midvale, the supernatural prison. His method of blackmail? Threatening her sister Marina’s life.
His plans had been easily squashed, though. Going up against Harper and her team of dhampyres and vampires had been a losing proposition for him from the start. He’d just been too arrogant to realize it at the time, she supposed.
That’d been months ago. No one had seen or heard from him since. But she had it on good authority that her old man planned to use the biochemist to build him an army of dhampyres—half- human, half-vampire hybrids like Riddick. What he needed them for…well, that was anyone’s guess. Knowing her dad, though, Harper imagined it was Machiavellian.
“What did you tell them?” Harper asked.
Cecelia smoothed her hair behind her ears. A nervous tic, Harper realized. The woman was genuinely frightened. And Harper couldn’t even bring herself to delight in Cecelia’s discomfort, which was just annoying. Of all the ways she’d expected this meeting to go, empathizing with the woman who’d done her best to make Riddick feel like a crappy, unfit father had never crossed her mind.
“I asked them if their operation was sanctioned by the US Government and Vampire Council,” Cecelia said. “And they got really cagey at that point. Gave me a lot of half-answers. I got a bad feeling and basically shooed them out the door with a don’t-call-me-I’ll-call-you. But I got the idea they wouldn’t accept that answer for long. I promised them a final decision by tomorrow.”
A cold shiver raced down Harper’s spine. The men at her door had given Cecelia a bad feeling.
It was scary enough when normal people got bad feelings about stuff. But when a psychic like Cecelia—and Harper—got a bad feeling? Well, that shit was downright petrifying.
“What do you want me to do?” Harper asked, trying to keep any traces of unease out of her tone. Cecelia was panicked enough. It certainly wouldn’t do any good for Harper to start biting her nails and muttering, “Oh, shit! This is really bad.”
Cecelia licked her lips and leaned forward in her chair, her eyes pleading. “I need you to figure out what’s going on—what they want with her. I need you to keep her safe. If she’s with you, Riddick, and…everyone here, I know she’ll be safe.”
She hated the mere thought of Harper and Riddick and everyone here, Harper realized. She could hear it in the woman’s tone. She’d probably rather send her kid to a leper colony than leave her at Harper Hall Investigations. If she wasn’t desperate and completely without other options, Cecelia wouldn’t be here. That much was clear.
Harper was offended on behalf of Riddick and everyone here, but couldn’t bring herself to care what Cecelia thought of her. Frankly, having someone like Cecelia, someone who was as boring as a beige wall, dislike her was a point of pride as far as Harper was concerned.
“Look, I’m just going to be honest because, shit, that’s kind of all I ever am,” Harper began. “But what happens when I figure out what’s going on and what they want with Adrianne—because I will figure it out—and you don’t need us anymore? Will you go back to doing everything in your uppity, bitchy, WASP-Y power to keep Riddick away from his kid? Because if that’s the case, I’ll probably still help you…but you might leave here with a limp.”
At least a limp. And most likely with a pencil shoved up her nose, because hey, honesty.
Cecelia, who already had skin the color of skim milk, went even whiter. Harper didn’t know if it was her tone or her words that the other woman found so upsetting, but she supposed it didn’t really matter. Her point was made, and that’s what was important.
But Cecelia surprised her by clearing her throat and saying, “I regret keeping Adrianne away from her father. It’s become clear in recent years that maybe…she needs him. He can probably understand her, what she’s going through, better than I ever could. I won’t keep them apart again.”
Well, hell. There went the rest of her indignation. She’d really been clinging to that and now Cecelia had the nerve to be all reasonable and shit, making Harper empathize with her and everything. The bitch.
Harper let out a disgruntled sigh. “Fine. But I think she should stay with me and Riddick full-time until this is sorted out and avoid a lot of contact with you. When those guys come back to see you, I don’t want her anywhere near them. Because, no offense, you and your CPA husband, you’re just not equipped to protect her if anything goes sideways.”
Cecelia nodded so hard and so fast Harper wouldn’t be surprised if she’d pulled a neck muscle. “I totally agree,” she said. “I appreciate your help and your understanding, and Brecken and I will gladly pay whatever rate you think is fair for the job.”
Brecken. Because of course her husband’s name was Brecken. How pretentious was that? “I don’t consider this a job,” Harper said. “This is family.”
Harper knew a moment of panic when it looked like Cecelia might cry or jump out of her chair and hug her. Empathizing with the woman was bad enough. She sure as hell wasn’t about to hug her. Pushing her chair back, Harper crossed her arms over her chest in the universal stay-away-from-me gesture and asked, “So, where is Adrianne? Do I need to pick her up from school or something?”
Cecelia practically jumped out of her chair, grabbed her purse, and started backing towards the door. “Oh, no. She’s home schooled these days. And I worried about leaving her there, so she’s here. In your lobby.”
Oh. Well, alrighty then. Though she did wonder what Cecelia planned to do if Harper turned her down and refused to help. Was she just going to leave the kid in her lobby? Like dumping a stray puppy at the pound?
“Does Adrianne know why she’s here?” Harper asked.
“Yes, I’ve explained everything.”
She’d explained everything and seemed to be ready to run for the door. Harper narrowed her eyes. “What aren’t you telling me? You seem awfully anxious to dump your daughter and bail.”
Cecelia opened her mouth to lie. Harper could feel it. She didn’t have her mother’s empathic gift, but she could always tell when someone was about to lie to her, and Cecelia looked like she was about to tell her a doozy.
“Don’t even try it,” Harper warned her. “I eat liars for breakfast. Just tell me the truth.”
She let out a very un-Cecelia-like ugh, dropped the perfect suburban housewife façade, and said, “Fine. You want the truth? I’ll give it to you. I’ve been fighting with Adrianne non-stop for the past two years and I can’t take it anymore. I love her and want her safe, so there’s no way I’m letting Sentry 2.0 anywhere near her…but I won’t be sorry to see her go with you for a while. She’s moody and angry and emotional all the time. She’s nothing like me or anyone in my family. I have no idea where she’s getting this behavior from. She’s a—”
“Teenager,” Harper supplied. “She’s a teenager.”
“Yes,” Cecelia said, dragging the word out for several extra syllables.
Harper somehow managed to swallow her grin. If she could kiss karma on the mouth right now, she would. Sticking Little-Miss-Perfect Cecelia with a grumpy, moody, sullen, half-dhampyre teenager was positively poetic.
Putting on her best responsible-adult voice, Harper said, “Well, Riddick has been waiting for the opportunity to be a father to her for the past, oh, thirteen years. And I’ve always got his back. So I’m sure we can handle it. You don’t have to worry. She couldn’t possibly be in better hands.”
Because I’m a great mother who isn’t afraid of one little teenage dhampyre, she thought smugly.
When they got to the lobby, Harper found Benny, one of her skip-tracers (who also just happened to be a half-vampire/half- wererat shifter with dubious morals and an impressive criminal record), teaching Adrianne how to run a three-card-monte scam.
“See, the thing is, there’s really only two moves you gotta know to run a monte,” Benny said as
Adrianne leaned forward, intently watching Benny’s hands move expertly over two black fours and a red ace, “and that’s the throw, and the bent-corner move.”
Benny flinched and shoved the cards into his jacket pocket so fast his hands blurred. “Hey there, gorgeous, I was just keeping the kid entertained.”
Cecelia looked over at Harper with the pinched expression of someone who’d just sniffed a fresh pile of dog crap. Harper sighed, rubbing her suddenly aching temples.
So much for her plan to convince the child’s mother she was a good role model.
Like it so far? You can pre-order right here!
Well, I've had quite a few emails recently asking if the Harper Hall Investigations series would ever be available in Kindle Unlimited. And because I don't ever want to leave any readers behind (we're ohana!), I went ahead and did it. So, now, you can find the entire series in KU for a limited time. Reading order is:
Book 1: Semi-Charmed
Book 2: Semi-Human
Book 3: Semi-Twisted
Book 4: Semi-Broken
Book 5: Semi-Sane
Book 5.5: Semi-Obsessed
Well, it took FOREVER (sorry about that, y'all) but I finally finished! I even have a shiny new preorder on Amazon to prove it! You can preorder today, and it'll show up on your Kindle on 5/24 like magic! And just because I like you guys so much, I'm gonna give you a little sneak peek of chapter one. Are you ready? I hope so, because ready or not, here it is...
Sadie O’Connor always knew she’d see Gage Montgomery again one day.
She assumed it’d be at a family event. Her brother, Nick, was married to Gage’s cousin, Grace, after all. And even though she’d successfully managed to avoid every Christmas, Thanksgiving, and birthday gathering for the past five years—thank you, Luxe Adventures magazine for all the travel assignments!—she always knew her luck would eventually run out.
She just never thought it would run out in a tiny hospital in middle-of-nowhere Montana…while she had a giant gash across her left butt cheek.
Sadie could blame her job for her current predicament, too. As author of the “Scaredy-Cat Travels” monthly column in Luxe, it was her job to go wherever the reader challenges came from, tackle said challenges, and report on them to let other scaredy- cat travelers know if they could handle the adventure.
To date, she’d been challenged to do everything from cliff diving in Acapulco, to ice climbing in Canmore, and white water rafting in British Columbia. Amazingly, she’d never been injured badly enough to require a hospital run.
Who knew it’d be fly fishing in Montana that felled her?
Technically, she supposed, the fly fishing hadn’t been a problem. As she’d expected, it was relaxing compared to most of her assignments. It wasn’t until she was done fishing that the trouble really started.
“Trouble,” in this case, was the sad-eyed dog by the side of the road who’d somehow managed to get himself completely tangled up in a length of barbed wire cattle fencing.
Walter, the grizzled guide who was hauling her tired ass back to the motel after her fishing adventure, had told her that animals got caught in barbed wire all the time out here. He said he’d call his rancher friend to get the poor dog out of the barbed wire as soon as possible. But had she listened? Nooooooo. She’d been bound and determined to help that dog. And what had her burst of goodwill done for her? It’d landed her in the hospital with a gash across her left ass cheek.
“Do you know when your last tetanus shot was, hon?” the nurse asked, iPad in hand, ready to type in her answer.
Sadie caught her lower lip between her teeth. Her first instinct was to lie because she hated shots. Like, really hated shots. She hated shots with the kind of passionate loathing she usually reserved for country music and big hairy spiders. But ultimately, she knew she needed to suck it up and adult her way through this. She’d be damned if she was going to get freakin’ lockjaw because she was too much of a wuss to get a simple shot.
“It’s been at least ten years ago,” she admitted.
“Okay. We’ll get you a tetanus shot. Any chance you’re pregnant?”
The only sex partner she’d had in the last five years was a seven-speed vibrator she’d named Chris Hemsworth. “Um…no. No chance. None. At. All.”
The nurse, who’d said her name was Adele and looked like she was at least a hundred years old, gave Sadie a sympathetic head tilt and a sad nod. “I lost my Stanley last year. I’ve been going through a bit of a dry spell myself, hon. I feel your pain.”
Sadie blinked at her. The thought of Adele having sex with her husband, who was probably also a hundred years old, almost made her cringe. Then she felt like the biggest bitch in the world when the rest of the woman’s words sunk in. “Oh, I’m sorry for your loss.”
Adele shrugged. “It wasn’t any loss at all. Bastard left me for some child bride over in Missoula. The little tart’s only fifty-two, for God’s sake. He should be ashamed of himself for robbing the cradle like that. Fucker.”
Sadie had no idea what to say to any of that, so she kept her mouth shut.
“Go ahead and flip over,” Adele told her. “The doc will be right in when he’s done with the dog. He’ll stitch you up and I’ll be back after that to give you your tetanus shot.”
Sadie did as she was told, cringing when cold air hit her bare ass. You’d think someone would invent a paper hospital gown that actually covered a person’s ass. But even knowing it was futile, she still tried to tug the thing closed. “Okay, thank…wait, what? I thought Walter said he was calling the vet in to look at the dog.”
The poor thing had been dirty, way too skinny looking, and so tangled up in the barbed wire that it wasn’t even struggling to get free anymore. It had obviously just resigned itself to the fact that it was going to die. Most of its cuts had looked superficial to Sadie, but Walter had promised he’d get the poor thing to the vet to get checked out.
Then a horrible thought occurred to her. Was she about to have her ass stitched up by a vet?
“Oh, there’s no way Doc Watson was going to make it here tonight,” Adele said. “I talked to him on his way out of town. He’s delivering a calf up in Jasper. He won’t be home till sometime late tomorrow, probably. It’s okay, though. I asked Doc Montgomery to look him over and take care of him while I took your history. He should be done soon. I’ll go get him for you.”
The name Montgomery set off three different alarm systems in Sadie’s body: one in her head, one in her heart, and one that originated in a place no one other than Chris Hemsworth had been in a long, long time.
But there was no way it could be him, right? What would a hotshot surgeon like Gage Montgomery be doing in a tiny little town like Last Chance, Montana?
Montgomery was a common name, her brain told her while her heart panicked and her lady bits hoped and prayed it really was Gage about to walk through that door.
When this whole thing was over and she no longer had a giant gash on her ass, she was going to have a long, stern talk with her heart and lady bits. It had been five years. It was high time they stopped overreacting at the mere mention of Gage Montgomery.
The fact of the matter was that she was a different person now. She wasn’t the scared, pathetic little girl she’d been when he last saw her. The old Sadie would’ve fallen apart in his presence. But the new Sadie fell apart for no man. Why, if Gage walked through that door right now, she’d confidently look him dead in the eye and say…
“Sadie? Sadie O’Connor?”
Whatever she was going to confidently look him dead in the eye and say withered and died in her throat as she glanced over her shoulder—past her bare butt cheeks—and up into the face of the man she’d been ruthlessly not thinking about for the past five years.
God, he looked good. Downright lickable—all six feet and however many inches of him. It should be illegal to look like that. Why did anyone have to be that good looking? It was gratuitous, really.
His shocked expression shifted into something decidedly cockier and…smirkier, which made her wonder if she could actually die of embarrassment, right here in this hospital, with her ass in the air.
Or maybe she could dive out a window like Jason Bourne and make a run for it? Or pretend she was someone else? Her own evil twin, perhaps?
But since none of that seemed feasible, she squeezed her eyes shut, and asked, “I said that out loud, didn’t I?”
“Oh, don’t worry, hon,” Adele said from somewhere behind Gage. “No harm in speaking the truth. Just don’t grab his ass, m’kay? I had to have a stern talk with old lady Hendricks last week about personal space and sexual harassment, and I’d really hate to have to repeat that.”
So this is what being so embarrassed you wish the floor would swallow you up feels like. Huh. You learn something new every day.
She’d gone five years without seeing or hearing anything about Gage Montgomery. And now, in the middle of Bumfuck Nowhere, here she was, bare ass in the air, right in front of the smirky, incredible looking jerk.
You’d think that a woman who made her living writing would be able to come up with a pithy quote from a literary genius that would apply to the situation and make her sound smart and witty and coy all at the same time. But sadly, the only thing Sadie came up with was a Bobby Singer quote from Supernatural.
What do you think? Ready for more? I certainly hope so!! Here's that preorder link in case you missed it...
You guys in the mood to read a little (more than a little, really...the first 2 chapters) of Semi-Obsessed before it's released into the wild on Friday? Well, you're in luck, because I happen to have them right here...
(Or you can go ahead and pre-order today, and it'll show up on your reader like magic on Friday!)
“I need your husband for a night.”
Marina Petrocelli wasn’t exactly sure how her sister would reply to the request. No one was ever really sure how Harper Hall would reply to anything. So, she steeled her nerves for whatever jokes or crudes remarks may come.
She didn’t have to wait long.
“I love you, but not enough to become your sister wife,” Harper shot back in a Sahara-sand-dry tone.
Marina’s nose wrinkled involuntarily. “Gross. Not like that. The station’s charity event is next week and I don’t have a date.”
The television station where Marina did hair and makeup for the on-air personalities was run like a sweatshop and the owners treated employees like gum stuck to the bottoms of their shoes, but the one thing they consistently did right was their annual charity event. No expense was spared, and a different charity benefitted every year. This year, Marina had talked the planning committee into raising funds for the Whispering Hope Humane Society.
“So what?” Harper asked. “Go stag.”
“I can’t go by myself.”
Marina repressed a sigh. Harper wouldn’t let this go. Shit, Harper never let anything go. She’d have to just come clean. “Dex will be there,” she admitted.
Harper let loose a string of profanities that would’ve earned her a smack upside the head from their mother before saying, “I’ll have Riddick break both his legs. That’ll keep the lying, secretary-fucking jerkwad away from the charity thingy so you can go enjoy yourself in peace. There. Done and done.”
The sad—and kind of awesome—part of that statement? Harper wasn’t kidding. Harper’s husband, Riddick, would totally break her ex’s legs if Harper asked him. But a few weeks in traction wouldn’t change the fact that her boyfriend cheated on her with his nineteen-year-old secretary. He’d even had the nerve to dump Marina before she could dump him. Fucker.
Marina’s friend Violet, who happened to be a shrink, had labeled Dex’s dalliance as a pathetic mid-life crisis. Marina didn’t really care to label it. All she knew was that she wasn’t going to let the greasy little weasel ruin the station’s charity event for her. She was going to wear the ridiculously expensive dress she’d been starving herself for three weeks to fit into and face the cheating bastard while looking more fuckable than she’d ever looked in her life.
Harper probably wouldn’t understand such a simple, petty revenge plan. She was the type who’d kick the door down, march into the event like she owned the place, and knee Dex in the balls before grabbing some champagne and dancing like no one was watching. That was just who Harper was.
Harper was the fun one. The wild one. If anyone in her family was ever going to need bail money, it was Harper, and there’d undoubtedly be a great story attached to why she needed it.
Marina was the first person Harper would call for the bail money. The responsible one. The mature one.
The boring one.
Everyone who found out she was related to Harper Hall was shocked. Harper is so talented, so gifted, they’d say. A psychic who owns her own paranormal PI firm? How exciting! Harper with her wild curls and fire-engine-red classic Mustang. Such a free spirit.
Marina’s thick brown hair was so heavy it couldn’t hold a curl on a dare and she drove a Camry, for God’s sake. A beige one.
(It got good gas mileage and she was able to get it for a song at Gary’s Discount Auto Land, okay? Don’t judge.)
When Harper was around, Marina was the other sister. The one with no paranormal gifts whatsoever. Everyone’s second choice.
And normally, that wasn’t a problem for Marina. She adored her sister, and someone had to be the responsible one. The sensible one. The one who wasn’t a drama magnet.
But today…today was different. Today, Marina would give a kidney to be Harper. Not because Harper was so fun and talented and vivacious, but because she had Riddick—a guy who looked like the love child of a Sons of Anarchy biker and a Calvin Klein underwear model, and gazed at Harper like she’d placed every star in the night sky with her very own hands. Someone who’d go with her to the stupid charity event so all her coworkers would stop giving her the sympathetic, oh-poor-Marina-got-dumped-for-someone-younger-and-more-fun head tilt.
That head tilt was really starting to annoy her.
So, while there was a certain appeal to the idea of Riddick, a huge, scary, motorcycle-riding dhampyre and former Sentry slayer, beating the hell out of Dex, the most generic human white guy to ever drive a white Volvo, Marina just couldn’t bring herself to do this thing Harper’s way.
“Going alone isn’t an option,” she said. “All my coworkers know Dex cheated on me, and I’m getting super sick of their pity.”
And since every on-air personality was in her makeup chair for over an hour a day, she rarely got a break from everyone’s pity. The good news, she supposed, was that Dex was in sales. If he was ever on-air and she had to apply his makeup, she couldn’t guarantee he wouldn’t end up with an eyebrow pencil shoved up his nose. Sideways.
“Who cares what they think?” Harper asked. “They’re all just a bunch of old farts, anyway.”
Easy for someone who didn’t care about what anyone thought to say. With a frustrated sigh,
Marina said, “I work with those old farts every day. It’s my job. Can you just stop arguing with me and try to help me, for God’s sake?”
She could practically hear her sister’s eye roll. “Fine,” Harper said on an exhale. “I’ll help. But everyone at the station probably knows Riddick is married to me. They wanted to run that story on him last month, remember?”
Ugh. She’d forgotten about that. Riddick had brought down some renegade vampire who’d tried to rob the local blood bank, and her station had begged him for a good solid week for an interview. Dex had even tried to get her to talk Riddick into it, since he’d been sure it would be good for advertising sales.
In typical Riddick fashion, his answer had been a horrified fuck no. The man was one of the most anti-social creatures Marina had ever encountered. He’d probably rather be water boarded than participate in an on-air interview.
“Damn it,” Marina muttered, more to herself than to Harper. What was she going to do now?
Maybe she could ask Violet if her husband, Nikolai, would do it. Nikolai was a fuck-hot dhampyre, too. Showing up with Nikolai would probably kill the sympathetic head tilt forever.
But as soon as the idea popped into her head, she dismissed it. Violet was nine months pregnant and getting ready to go into labor at any minute. You probably couldn’t pry Nikolai from her side with a crowbar at this point.
Riddick’s sister’s husband, Lucas, was also out of the question. He was a cop, and everyone at the station knew all the local cops. They’d know he was married to Seven, who was somewhat of a local dhamypre legend, herself.
God, sometimes it really sucked to be ordinary.
“I could ask Benny to go with you,” Harper said. “He’d do it in a heartbeat.”
Harper’s employee and bestie, Benny, wasn’t a dhampyre. He was a halfer—part wererat, part vampire. Benny was cute and endearing in a Jon Cryer/Seth Rogan, loveable loser kind of way.
But he wasn’t a guy who’d make Dex regret the day he cheated on her. A guy who’d make Gloria, the station’s evening news anchor, stop trying to set her up with her son, Floyd, who still lived in his mom’s pool house and played Call of Duty all day.
And Benny also had an unfortunate habit of making inappropriate jokes and innuendos at the most inopportune times. Harper found those inappropriate jokes and innuendos adorable, while pretty much everyone else on the planet, well, didn’t.
But before she could tactfully figure out a way to tell Harper she didn’t want to go out with Benny, Harper said, “No, never mind. Last time he saw you, Benny said you have a bite-able ass. He’d just hit on you all night. It’d get tedious for you.”
Marina was a bit nonplussed by that information. If a half vampire said her ass was bite-able, did he mean that figuratively, or literally? She always assumed vampires would prefer to drink from the neck or wrist, but maybe…
Then she promptly gave herself a sharp mental slap across the face, because her ass and whether or not a vampire might ever want to drink blood from it was so not the point at the moment.
With a groan of frustration, Marina asked, “Am I just being stupid, Harper? Should I just give up and go by myself?”
Harper sighed. “Yes and yes. But I get it. Let me help you, okay? Give me a day or so, and I’ll come up with a plan.”
Skepticism crept up on her. Experience had taught her to be very leery of Harper’s plans. Anything could—and often did—happen when her little sister planned, well, anything, really.
Case in point, if she remembered correctly, there was still a clown in Rochester who had a restraining order against Harper and Riddick for something that went horribly awry at a birthday party Harper had planned for her daughter Haven’s third birthday party. Marina hadn’t asked for details. Plausible deniability and all.
“Your silence is a huge shot in the arm for my self-esteem, sis,” Harper intoned dryly. “Come on. You know you can trust me. My plans always work out in the end. What’s the worst that can happen?”
Visions of fire and brimstone and all manner of debilitating humiliation raced through her mind, but as she’d always done where her sister was involved, Marina merely gritted her teeth and said, “Thank you. Of course I trust you.”
Then she prayed there wasn’t a special place in hell for people who lied to their sisters. All the time.
When he saw an angel walk out of the television station across the street from the bar where he sat (where he’d been sitting all night, actually), Quinn Connell decided he might be a wee bit pissed.
Drunk, he reminded himself. Americans said drunk, not pissed. Pissed meant angry over here, for some reason.
Quinn hadn’t been back to Ireland in decades and he still sometimes struggled with American slang.
Not that it mattered. Pissed, sloshed, blathered, bollocksed, blotto, rat-arsed, blind-stinkin’-drunk…it didn’t matter what he called it. The cheap whiskey he’d been swilling for the past two hours had obviously started to dick with his eyesight. How else could he explain the presence of an angel in this shitty part of town?
She moved like a dancer, he thought as he watched her glide across the parking lot. Back straight, lean, toned limbs carrying her purposefully, but with a kind of elegant grace that Quinn could never pull off.
Dudes who were six-four and two-twenty with hands the size of hams didn’t really do anything gracefully.
But fortunately, grace had never been required of him. Speed, strength, ruthlessness…that’s all he’d needed in his years with Sentry. He’d been a blunt instrument of destruction. A slayer. A dhampyre, as he’d only recently found out from the Vampire Council, genetically engineered to be the perfect killing machine.
Not the type of person someone like the angel across the street would ever glance at twice.
It was just as well. What was he supposed to do? March up to her and say, “Hello there, lass who looks way too good for the likes of a poor orphan immigrant such as myself. I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful you are, as I’ve just been sitting here, drinking copiously while watching you like a proper creeper. I have no job, very few prospects—despite what the overly optimistic youngster at the employment agency says. But what I do have is a shady past with an organization everyone in the world pretty much hates these days, and a somewhat frightening paranormal heritage. And if it sweetens the pot any, I also did some prison time recently. Care to grab a drink with me sometime?”
Not fuckin’ likely.
Her thick mass of shiny brown hair fell forward and obscured his view of her face as she looked down and started pawing through her handbag. He assumed she was looking for her keys or her phone.
Big mistake, he immediately thought. Being distracted, looking down, not paying attention to her surroundings…she was leaving herself wide open to attack. Anyone could grab her, steal her purse, knock her down, or worse.
He felt his blood starting to boil the longer he watched her. It was dark, they were in a shitty part of town, and she was walking to her car, by herself, without even having her keys or phone in hand? Was his angel reckless, oblivious, or just plain stupid?
But his blood stopped boiling—stopped moving altogether, really—as he caught sight of movement behind her. His dhampyre status didn’t do shit to help him get a regular job, but it did give him much better than average eyesight, even at night. And that extra special dhampyre eyesight of his was now telling him that there was a man creeping up on his angel. A large one, too. No…wait. It wasn’t one man. It was two.
And she had no idea, because she was busy digging through her handbag, looking for God knows what.
Stay out of trouble, his probation officer had told him. Don’t be anywhere where crimes are being committed. If the cops have to question you about anything while you’re on probation, they’ll dump your ass back in Midvale faster than you can fucking blink.
And Midvale wasn’t someplace anyone wanted to be. Home to the worst supernatural criminals in the country, Quinn was pretty sure he wouldn’t survive if he got tossed back in now. He hadn’t exactly made friends while he was inside.
Which he thought rather odd. He was fuckin’ delightful, in his own humble opinion.
But as the two men closed in on his angel, he knew he didn’t have a choice. There was no way he could sit idly by and let anything happen to her. Even if it meant rotting in Midvale for the rest of his life, however short that might be. After all, he didn’t know her, but he knew himself.
And he’d be willing to bet good money that her life was worth a hell of a lot more than his.
He shook his head at the dark direction of his own thoughts. “Jesus, that’s maudlin,” he muttered, tossing a few bills down on the table to cover his drinks before climbing to his feet. He only swayed a little bit, and he was oddly proud of that.
Maybe superior eyesight wasn’t the only gift his dhampyre status had afforded him. He’d always assumed his Irish heritage was to be credited for his damn-near supernatural ability to hold his liquor, but maybe his hollow leg was a gift from Sentry’s genetic engineering department. Huh. Who knew?
Perhaps, like the little gal with the big eyes at the employment agency had told him, he actually was some kind of…superhero. Could she have been right?
Time to go save the damsel in distress and find out, he supposed.
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