Saturday, November 26, 2011

Daria's Dating Dilemma, Part Five

Daria’s Dating Dilemma, Part Five
When we left Daria on October 26th, she was facing arrest and the loss of a potential husband…

Marcus made quick work of the charges pending against Keith and I. He also made sure someone took a look at Keith’s injuries. Thankfully, he’d be sore but not permanently brain damaged. My old college buddy was a sight to behold. A few words like co-defendants, counter suits, and departmental inquiries scared the department into dropping all charges and washing their hands of us.

He also gave my cheeky ex a few words of caution. I probably wouldn’t see Scott for a year at least. Keith’s receptionist picked him up since Marcus had advised us not to leave together. Just in case someone got second thoughts about pressing charges, he’d said. I was surprised to see Keith’s assistant was a sharply dressed man. I shrugged and started walking away after telling him to get better soon.

Shame, I really wanted to show him my full gratitude but all my cop shows told me it was best to follow the advice of your lawyer. 

“Daria, wait.” I paused as Marcus’ words drifted over to me. “Would you like a ride?”

Funny how two people can have parallel trains of thought, but I knew he wasn’t offering the kind of ride I really needed. Then again the thought of walking through town with blood stains on my shirt was embarrassing. I was also sure the handcuffs had given me a lovely rash.

I gripped my handbag and decided. “Sure, Marcus. A ride would be nice.”

He walked with me to his car in the adjacent parking lot. It was a nice sedan, but nothing extravagantly special like I’d expected. I slid carefully into the passenger seat as he held the door open. I remembered my rule about not flashing panties and I also didn’t want to transfer any of the blood on my shirt to the vehicle’s interior.

I buckled up as he slid in beside me and began asking questions. “Are you hungry? Feeling okay? You’ve barely said anything at all.”

I don’t know what washed over me at that particular moment, but all my walls broke down and the dam burst free. That’s right—in the middle of the police parking lot, smeared with blood and drool I, Daria, broke down into a tidal wave of tears. Sobbing, body shaking tears. I clutched my handbag so tightly, my nails scratched the leather.

Marcus’ warm hand sat on my shoulder after he handed me a handkerchief. “Let it out and I’ll take you back to my office. You can get cleaned up and we’ll order some food and catch up.”

“You’d really want me to stay?” I choked out the question between sobs.

“Daria, you are not sitting at home alone tonight. You need a friend now more than ever.” He ignored my tears, my mascara stained cheeks, and all the ugliness that was me as he slid the car into drive and pulled out of the lot.

The car was a manual and he drove it elegantly. My tears subsided as I watched him maneuver the clutch, gas, and stickshift through downtown traffic. I couldn’t see his feet, but I could watch his knees dance under the designer slacks.

“Feeling a little better?” He interrupted my thoughts without taking his eyes off the road.

“Yes,” I answered and studied his profile. Marcus was an interesting mix of Scottish and Arabian. I’d always thought he looked like an awkward tanned Scot, but now that he’d grown into the look. Wow! A highlander with a permanent tan was a yummy to the tenth degree combo.

He turned his intense hazel gaze on me as we sped along the freeway. “What happened with you, Daria? Never saw much of you after college.”

I chuckled weakly. “I didn’t like the alumni things. Mostly old people trying to remember their youth, and it creeped me out a little. Then I got busy working on the career and well, here I am.”

He nodded and shifted his attention back to the road. I noticed the smile on his profile, before his lips started moving. “And that’s working out well for you?”

“Never a dull moment.” The humor of the situation sank in and I chose to laugh. It was either laugh or cry and I’d already done the crying jag. Laughter always made a gal feel better even if she looked like a nutcase.

He laughed along with me. The deep baritone warmed up the interior of the car and made me feel a little better. Marcus seemed to sense the change as soon as I stopped laughing.

“I always loved your laugh. And don’t worry, my office has a studio you can clean up in and my take out menus are there. I’ll be a perfect gentleman.”

So why did my head suddenly think Damn? I nodded and lowered the visor, using the mirror to clean up the majority of the makeup mess with a wet wipe from my bag. Marcus was right- I needed a friend most now. I could quell the lust and just have a relaxing take out dinner. Maybe.

We pulled off the freeway and I was startled to see us nearing my neck of the woods. Was his office out here and I just somehow missed it?  The sedan stopped as I looked out at my doorstep, and then I spotted my car in front of the house.

“What, exactly, is going on?” Years of dealing with a stalker added ice to my words.

He held his hands up. “I peeked at your address in the file. A quick call and a tow company brought your car home while we were at the station. My office is about ten minutes from here and I thought you might like to change into your own clothes. I also thought it would give you a way to turn me down.”

There was something in his voice as he uttered the last words. In his own way, Marcus had made the ultimate gesture for me. While I was busy thinking I was with super-stalker or getting dumped on the curb, he was busy thinking I would turn him down. Interesting.

Rule Number 7: Spend a little less time thinking about me and a little more watching the guy.

I took a deep breath. “I would love to join you, but I’m not inviting you in.”

“Understandable. I can wait in the car, make a few calls. Do you still like sweet and sour chicken?” I nodded, surprised he remembered, and hopped out of the car.

This was going to be the fastest wardrobe change ever. And since we were just friends, no sense on going all out with the look. I threw on my old jeans, a t-shirt from our alma mater, and washed the remaining gunk off my face.

Rule Number 8: ALWAYS wear waterproof mascara or skip it.

I was comfortable and at ease when I settled back into the passenger seat. “So, will we beat the food to your office?”

He revved the engine and grinned, “I love a challenge.”

“No, you’re kidding. You were a racecar driver?” I laughed into my glass of wine and then dug another piece of pineapple from the cardboard container.

“For a little bit,” he grinned and grabbed an eggroll. “I wasn’t winning and winning made the money, so I gave it up and went back to finish law school.”

“It does explain how easily you shifted gears on the way here.”

He paused and his eyes darkened. “You still have a thing for cars I see.”

I lowered my voice, looked around, and whispered dramatically, “It’s our little secret.”

He nodded and poured another glass of wine for each of us. I was laid out on the floor, sprawled on my side with the food on a blanket between us. Not sure how to lay out the room’s furniture to the best eating arrangement, we’d agreed to try the picnic route. The plush of his carpet told me his business was doing well. Thank God the wine was white.

Dinner had mostly been a conversation about college memories, what we were each doing now, and the usual friendly banter. I’d barely noticed as the night crept in. Marcus had been right as usual, the friend route was much better than crying home alone.

“So, what was up with the protest arrest charge in your file?”

I almost snorted wine out my nose. Only by the grace of my manners did I manage to swallow before blurting a loud, “WHAT?”

He merely grinned and leaned against his large desk with one leg propped up. It was the same stance he’d used in baseball. Marcus laughed, “I didn’t have time to read the specifics, but apparently you’re used to inciting riots.”

“It was not a riot. At least, not intentionally.” I stood carefully and plopped into a chair. “You tried race car driving, I tried activism. As my record proves, I’m not good at it.”

Marcus’ rich laughter and the wave of his hand goaded me for more. I sighed and explained how I’d tried to save a forest site home to a bird I liked. The protest I’d arranged had spiraled out of control, mostly owing to the fact that all of the men were there hoping to get laid. When the fight broke out over who would get who, the spectators (IE the foresting companies) thought violence was in the works. I was handcuffed and hauled in before I could cry uncle.

Marcus slapped his hand over his heart in an urge to control his laughter. I snorted unladylike and waved him on. “Go ahead, everyone has a great laugh over it.”

“Did your forest get saved?”

“What?” Odd, no one had ever asked me that after I told the story. They usually called me silly.

“Did your efforts work?”

I grinned and walked up to him, reaching around for the wine bottle before backing away to pour. “In their own way, they did. My efforts made the news and, after the news spread, a more organized and legitimate group took up the cause. The trees are still there.”

He lifted his glass at me with a dangerous look in his eye, one that made my knees weak and my heart pound. His voice was deeper when he spoke, “Then I congratulate your successful protest.”

I blinked at him and then eyed the wine bottle in my hand. How much had he drunk? I was merely buzzed by what I’d consumed. No one had ever congratulated me or called my attempt a success. In a round about way, it was. I stood taller.

“I always liked that about you.” I stumbled toward him.

“What’s that?” He asked, standing straight.

“Your undying supportiveness…” I promptly crashed into his massive chest.

I would like to say I stumbled over my own feet and maybe I did. The truth being the wine was stronger than I thought. The alcohol winked me out in my moment of glory without robbing me of the memory of my downfall. I winced as I shoved the blanket off me and sat up.

Hangovers, the sign that something either went right the night before or…. I looked down at my fully clothed self before I continued the thought. I raised an unsteady hand to my throbbing head. Or a sign that I overindulged and made a fool of myself.

I gathered my things, swiping a bottle of water from the mini fridge on my trip around the office. I paused long enough to take two aspirin and then quickly made my escape. He was my lawyer, I’d have to see him again. But that particular morning I couldn't face Marcus or how he must now view me.

I checked my phone after a few blocks of walking had me feeling better. No messages and it was almost afternoon. As if adding insult to injury, my brain chose that moment to remember poor Keith. The guy had gotten banged up rescuing me and there were no messages on my phone. None.

When I couldn’t sink any lower, I walked into the street sign while staring at the blank screen on my phone. My phone sailed into the intersection and was promptly run over by the biggest delivery truck I’d ever seen in my neighborhood. Serendipity was a bitch.

I sank to my butt and held my head. Keith hated me, Marcus thought I was an idiot, and my only friend in the world would probably never invite me back to his house again. Hell, even my trusty stalker would probably avoid me for a while…

The first raindrop spattered on my nose and I looked skyward. “Really? Really!” I muttered at no one in particular. “The dating Gods hate me…”

Please return for the continuation of Daria’s journey on December 27th, only here on Digital Digest. Want to make the right move with your reading addiction? Check out our ebooks available on the Kindle and Nook or sign up to have each piece delivered straight to your Kindle for hassle-free reading.

~Jennifer Feuerstein~

Copyright © 2011 Jennifer Feuerstein
All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. No portion of this work may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Land of the Blind (Chapter 2 -- Part II)

Recap: In Chapter 2, General Kober Chiang, the new commanding officer of the reconstituted Praetorians, testifies before Parliament and receives the funds he needs to destroy Devereaux Marshall Fox. 

                                                                        * * * * * *

 Maria Red Horse snapped to attention and executed a textbook salute as Lt. Colonel Anna Velasquez approached the door to the command center. Anna returned the salute promptly. She let her gaze linger a bit, because she shared more with Red Horse than most people.
“Please step up to the bio sensor, ma'am,” Red Horse replied, with little emotion.
Anna waved her hand over the door sensor, waiting for it to admit her to the command center of the Praetorian Force's main operations base in a large compound northeast of Jacksonville, Florida. A green beam played out over her palm, analyzing her fingerprints, DNA and the diametric pattern of her hand's nerves, veins and bone structure. A smooth-sounding computer voice announced that it had positively identified her and approved entry, letting the thick steel-like door slide open.
Anna started through, noticing that the guard moved crisply to a position of parade rest. She abruptly stopped and stepped partially back out of the doorway. She eyed the guard with some curiosity. It had been some time since she’d last laid eyes on the sergeant and she couldn’t miss the noticeable improvement, especially in the woman’s body. The last time they’d actually talked, Red Horse had still been recovering from the ordeal in Fort Worth.
“How long have you been stationed here, Staff Sergeant Red Horse?” she inquired.
“Just reassigned here, ma'am,” Red Horse answered smartly.
“I see that you’ve recovered from your injuries very well.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Red Horse replied. “I’m ashamed to admit that I accepted cybernetic augmentation to do so. It’s not something my people would be proud of.”
Anna frowned slightly. Red Horse was from the Apache nation, a tribe that espoused the virtues and instincts of warriors. However, cybernetic and bionic augmentation had been accepted for decades and, frankly, Anna was surprised to find some groups still resistant to the idea. After all, without the augmentation, Red Horse almost certainly would have been discharged from the Praetorians on disability.
“Is security so bad they have to put non-commissioned officers on the doors?” Anna asked, curiously, trying to switch the subject, as she moved back into the hallway to let the door close again.
Anna watched Red Horse’s face for any sign of emotion, but found none. This was starkly different from the months they’d spent together in ICU when they’d both been assigned to the same therapy ward. Anna had only survived by sheer force of will, backed up a little by her cybernetics that allowed the microcomputer in her brain to shut down certain body functions to preserve her life force. Red Horse had suffered emotional scars, along with her physical wounds. There had been the very real possibility of being permanently disabled, not the outcome she’d envisioned as befitting a proud warrior.
Anna and Red Horse had both been assigned to the same room and had become fast friends, if only because they’d needed friendship to get through the physical and mental travails. Eventually, Red Horse had been released, but Anna had stayed behind. Her body had healed nicely, thanks to the billions of nanobytes swimming through her blood stream to heal and repair the damage. But, her mental state had been a different matter. Getting herself back from the brink of madness had cost her another five years of her life.
Red Horse said nothing and that made Anna smile. The staff sergeant was good, very disciplined. She wasn't going to venture an opinion that might get her into trouble. The friendship they’d had in the hospital had been in the past; now, they were once again enlisted and officer.
“You can speak freely, Staff Sergeant,” Anna offered, leaning against the doorjamb.
“Ma'am, Major Donat demoted me here,” Red Horse replied, airs of resignation in her voice now, as if a great weight had been lifted, unhappily, off her chest. “I caught him getting favors from one of my people. A greenie.”
Anna had figured as much. Being a Praetorian was a high honor and included many privileges. One was getting away with things (unofficially, that is) and Major Peter Donat was one of the unit’s worst offenders. He had purposely kept Red Horse from making rank for what had to be weak reasons. Donat was the weakest link in the Praetorian’s unofficial “Triumvirate of Evil” – a term Anna had coined years earlier. The other two included Capt. Erica Rickholts and Lt. Colonel Alec Paulius, younger brother of Leonard Paulius.
“At the end of your shift, report to my office,” Anna said. “Just ask for me in the command center and they'll direct you. You clearly belong on my staff, not with a jackass like Donat.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Red Horse replied, her demeanor improving considerably.
Red Horse waited until Anna was completely inside and the door had closed before breaking out with a broad smile.

“Good afternoon, Colonel Velasquez,” a young Army corporal in a standard-issue flexible black body armor suit said as Anna walked into the command center. “Colonel Mavromichalis just called in, ma’am. She and the general are on their way back from the budget meeting with Parliament. They should be landing within the hour.”
He stood at attention and handed her a palm tabulator, which, though tiny for its capabilities, showed Anna everything that had occurred on the last eight-hour watch. After Anna finished watching it, she pressed her right thumb against the small screen so that it would recognize her print and record that she had approved the information. She handed the tabulator back to the corporal.
“Thank you, Corporal,” she acknowledged. “Please inform the duty officer to alert me when the transport is fifteen minutes out. Then, have a vehicle ready to get me to the airfield.”
“Yes, Colonel,” the corporal acknowledged as Anna moved off towards the main part of the operations center.
Anna stopped in the center of the room and stared at the laser chip view screen that dominated the room. Thousands of tiny lasers projected a nearly flawless three-dimensional holographic image of a Mercator map of the world. In the corners were real-time satellite views of the four interplanetary outposts, though some images were hours old because of the incredible distances they were from Earth. Anna noted that all seemed okay on the colonies on the Moon and Mars and with the numerous space cities orbiting Earth, as well as the still-under-construction Bechetta Space Station near Io, a moon of Jupiter.
“Cristo, it's enough to give you migraines,” Anna murmured as she stared at the massive screen.
The main part of the map was currently filled with hundreds of blue, red, green and yellow dots. Anna knew that the dots represented current operations and missions - civilian, corporate and military - in progress around the world. Green dots meant corporate activities such as trade ports, construction, drilling and exploration. Yellow dots stood for Federation operations, including covert activities, while red covered civilian missions like religious projects, volunteer activities and the like.
Dozens of civilians and military personnel monitored these dots. They each had separate computer consoles where they used the mentally-driven command system, interfaced via the standard cybernetic implants behind one of their ears, to keep track of every aspect of each dot. Weather reporting, news, e-mail, wireless messaging, research & analysis, language translation and, in some cases, covert surveillance could be done at each console. As operations officer, Anna had to keep the center running smoothly and react instantly to any major changes.
Anna couldn't help but notice as several blue dots disappeared off the map. She chafed at the actions, but held her tongue. The blue dots represented sightings of the Adventurer, a nickname she still hated despite its popularity with the media. Most were false, planted by Marshall Fox himself, to the chagrin of most of the Praetorian Force, which wasted valuable man-hours and millions of credits to track each false report. But, Anna also knew that one of the blue dots had to be him, so the watch was always ongoing.
Anna held back her emotions. She hadn't survived years of intense physical and psychological rehab just to lose her grip on reality now. She’d spent the last three years of psych rehab undertaking every dirty job the Praetorians could throw at her to see if her psyche could handle it. She’d not only survived them, but had excelled and come out of it more capable than she’d been before Fort Worth. That had earned her a fast-tracked promotion to lieutenant colonel.
Anna had had enough of the map and walked towards her office. At her door, she performed the same identification ritual and waited for the artificial intelligence to open the thick security door. Once in her office and only after the door had closed did she breathe a huge sigh of relief and let her body sag against the door. It took several moments for her to gather herself, push herself upright and make her way over to her desk. She fell into the ergonomically-designed chair and let its automatic massage function work away some of the tension that was giving her a massive headache.
The desk itself was sparse, little more than a metal frame around tempered glass. Set into the desktop was a rectangular screen that served as a computer, television screen and holographic projector. It wasn't much, but it was all Anna needed.
“Photos, please,” she said to no one.
The artificial intelligence unit in the office responded by projecting holographic shapes out from tiny points on her desk to form three-dimensional images. Two square picture frames appeared before Anna. One featured a tanned man smiling and hugging a small girl. The other photo showed a woman who bore a striking resemblance to Anna. She’d only known her parents for eight years and had only been really cognizant of them for five years when her mind could actively hold memories. Five years had not been enough time, not enough time at all.
It took a few moments before she realized she was crying again. She had told herself not to do it, lest the Praetorian psychiatrists think she was on the verge of another breakdown. She couldn't help it, though. The memories stirred up by the photos were still very raw. They also served to help drive the all-consuming passion that kept her going even in the darkest of times.
“You bastard, Fox,” she muttered as she wiped away the tears. “You killed them all. Before I kill you, you are going to tell me why.”

Mavromichalis couldn’t understand how Chiang was still awake. They’d each had their share of steak, potatoes and fresh vegetables and the colonel had found it difficult to hold off sleep on the flight home afterward. Apparently, Chiang had been up and about for the entire trip from Ottawa, Ontario, home of the Federation Parliament. She’d found out that he had been making constant communications with contacts at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., as well as calls to allies around the world. The man seemed full of boundless energy and she had to admit that he would need it.
Chiang looked up from his computer console station and saw that his adjutant was awake. He motioned for her to join him. As he did so, he turned the computer screen slightly so that she would not be able to see it.
“You might as well know that I was not in favor of you staying on as my executive officer,” Chiang said, bluntly, when Mavromichalis plopped herself down into the chair next to him.
Wow, really? I hadn't noticed, Mavromichalis said to herself, while avoiding the obvious bait.
“That said, we might as well strike a truce,” Chiang followed up, as he completed a computer command and cut off communications. “We have a huge job ahead of us if we are to get the Federation back to the top of food chain, so to speak. First and foremost is a show of strength to our allies.”
Mavromichalis started to ask about the allies, but cut herself off. She was so poor in the area of politics, she didn’t know if her new boss was referring to friends inside the Federation or outside. She just sat back and listened, pretending to know what Chiang was talking about.
“We both know that most of my first one hundred days will be consumed by administrative functions, training and readiness reports,” Chiang stated, with some chagrin. “But, we also have to be proactive. We need to ramp up our intelligence capabilities, if only to avoid the problems of the past.”
“I completely agree, General,” Mavromichalis acknowledged. “I have actually instituted several changes with our verification process that should go a long way toward accomplishing that goal.”
“For this reason, I am putting the intel upgrades under the auspices of Lt. Colonel Paulius,” Chiang said, basically ignoring his exec.
Mavromichalis burned at the slight, but even more so at the thought of Alec Paulius heading up something so sensitive. Though it would mean the man would be out in the field more and out of her hair, he would also be in close contact with allies. She knew that might ruffle a lot of feathers. And it would be worse if Paulius’ other two sycophants – Rickholts and Donat – got involved. She was finding even more reasons to rue the selection of Kober Chiang to head the group that she had painstakingly rebuilt.
“Is there anything specifically that we are looking for?” she asked. “Or someone?”
Chiang looked at her with stern eyes. He clearly didn’t like her tone, but knew he couldn’t do anything about it. Yet.
“You know exactly who I’m talking about, Colonel,” the general snapped. “I need a complete workup on someone to lead a special mission.”
“Special mission for what, sir?”
“Colonel, you’ve done a great job rebuilding the Praetorians into the most effective fighting force in the world,” Chiang stated. “On paper. However, until the unit proves itself, there will always be questions. And we both know exactly who they have to prove themselves against.”
Great, just great, Mavromichalis rued. She wanted the chance for her people to prove themselves and she had gotten it. However, she was expected to take on a ghost, a man who had been seen all of five times in the last eight years. She couldn't even vouch for the accuracy of those sightings. She didn't know how she could be expected to handle the logistics of getting an attack force ready to go, to take on a man who defied logic.
“General, we’re preparing our final approaching into the airfield,” the pilot’s voice announced over the intercom.
“I’ll need that list as soon as possible,” Chiang said, before returning to his computer. “At the very least, I will need an extremely capable leader for the attack force. I need a complete workup on Fox, on his past missions, characteristics, tactics. We need to find that one thing that will finally give us an edge on him. Like verifying exactly what he looks like.”
This is how it begins, Mavromichalis fumed. She thought the general sounded as if he wanted to sideline Velasquez and herself. She knew that it would give him free reign to do whatever he wanted. She just hadn’t quite figured what Chiang really wanted.
She did, however, like the idea of sidelining Velasquez. She liked the woman and admired her tenacity in coming back from physical injuries that would have crippled much stronger people. However, she just wasn't fully convinced that her subordinate had recovered psychologically, which is why she had not endorsed the fast-track promotion. Someone in the Pentagon had, though, and she hoped it didn't come back to sting them all.
She started to say something, but held her tongue as the transport began to hover, transferring the output from its fusion engines to its landing baffles. The plane descended slowly and gracefully, touching down on the tarmac so softly she didn’t even know the procedure was over until she heard the engines dying out. She glanced to her left, looked through one of the windows and saw Anna Velasquez standing next to several armored fusion vans parked next to the airfield control tower.
“No gripes, Colonel,” Chiang snapped. “Just get it done.”
“Yes, sir,” Mavromichalis grumbled as she undid her seat harness and got up.
Chiang glanced up and watched her move forward toward the exit. When he saw her exit the plane, he returned his gaze to his computer console. He knew she’d be talking to Velasquez out on the tarmac. He didn’t care what she did, as long as she carried out his requests and didn’t get in his way.
“Get me Paulius,” Chiang ordered the plane’s pilot. “Paulius? Get your bags packed. You, Rickholts and Donat are taking a trip. The plan is on.”

To be continued...

For more exciting tales, check out the latest issues of Digital Digest at Amazon.

Gregory Marshall Smith
Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror author

Copyright © 2011 Gregory Marshall Smith
All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. No portion of this work may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.

Finders Keepers: Tempted - Chapter Eight

Content Advisory: sexual intercourse, coarse language

Recap: In Chapter Seven, disaster strikes for Demonica’s lingerie line and she’s called out of town. Her relationship with Adam is tested when she learns he’s a demon hunter.

Adam stood outside the door of Monica’s house. He’d half expected her hounds to knock him over as he entered the yard but they were nowhere to be found. All of her windows were dark and when he’d stopped at the pub on his way over Danny had reported not seeing her once in the last week.

“Where are you, Monica?”

He cursed himself for not calling her or at least sending a quick text to let her know why he hadn’t returned as promised. The bastards at Command had sent him right back out into the field after his check-in.

A rock crunched on the concrete walkway behind him and Adam pulled his guns free as he turned quickly to confront whoever dared approach her door. Blake smiled at the barrel pointed in his face and Adam lowered it slightly.

“What the hell are you doing here?” Adam growled.

“So,” Blake’s grin widened. “This is what all the fuss is about. Who’s Monica?”

“No one and nothing. You’ll forget all about this.”

Blake waved his hand in the air. “These aren’t the droids I’m looking for… Drop the bullshit. No one knows you better than me and something’s definitely off.”

He watched Blake sniff the air and knew the instant his friend picked up the scent clearly broadcasting his reason for being on Monica’s doorstep. Blake glanced knowingly at the door.

“Nice. Who is she? She know what you do?”

“She thinks I’m a travelling salesman,” Adam announced. “As for the other, she’s a kickass demon.”

Blake stumbled back a step and Adam remembered the unfortunate run-in his partner had with a female demon three years before.

“Listen Blake,” he chuckled. “She’s the good sort or I wouldn’t be here. How about you run home and tell them everything is hunky dory?”


Adam growled, all pretence gone from his friendly demeanor. “I’ll skin you for being within twelve feet of her door.”

Blake held his hand up. “Alright, alright. Anyone asks, the natives know nothing and you’ve found a nice local to show you around.”

Adam waited until Blake disappeared before deciding the safest thing to do involved heading home and waiting to see what happened. He ran a hand down the door, wishing he could apologize, before he turned and took the long way home.

Two more days passed and he had yet to hear from her. Adam worked out, bumped over every trail outside of town on his motorcycle and cleaned out the hangar, twice, to keep from staking out Monica’s house.

He’d checked the secret cell he carried for any message from her but none came. She’s a big girl, he reminded himself. I’m sure wherever she is, Monica’s fine.

Telling himself the trip by her house was just a surveillance drive by, he slowed his motorcycle as he drew near. Sheoul and Tartarus bounded and barked at him from behind the fence. Their presence in the yard meant the woman who cared for them had come home, finally.

Adam parked his motorcycle in the driveway and hopped the fence. He’d barely lifted his hand to knock on the door when it opened and Monica stood before him in nothing but a lacy pink bra and panties.

“Holy hell....”

She grinned and pulled him in by the shirtfront. “I’ll take that as a sign that you like it. Get in here and kiss me.”

He didn’t need to be told twice. Adam dropped his helmet and jacket on the floor, kicked the door shut and hauled her against him as their mouths met in a hot tangle of teeth, lips and tongues. Before he knew it, her hands worked their way up his shirt, the material bunched under his arms as she attempted to remove the garment.

Demonica let out a small frustrated growl, the material tearing as she ripped the shirt apart and flung the shreds aside. The heat of her mouth enveloped his left nipple and he sucked in a breath.

“Monica,” he moaned. “Slow down, baby.”

“Demonica,” she murmured against his skin. “My real name is Demonica, or Demo. Now, shush. I’ve missed you.”

Adam cocked an eyebrow at the top of her blonde head as she nipped and kissed her way down his torso.

“Demo,” he groaned. “Not in the entryway. Please, baby. At least, let me get you to your room before you short circuit my brain with that amazing mouth of yours.”

Her mouth continued its delectable path toward his waist band. The soft, wet brush of her tongue over his skin threatening to wipe away any chance he had to ask her where in hell she’d been all week.

Nimble fingers undid the button of his jeans and Adam sprang into motion. He hauled her up, belly to belly and pressed Demonica against the wall.

“Stop,” he growled menacingly. “I’ve been out of my mind worrying about you all week. You didn’t call, leave a note, text… nothing. Then, when I discover you’re home, you jump me the second I walk in the door. What the hell is up with you?”

She rested her head against the wall and gave him a slow, sexy smile to match the smoldering lust in her gaze. Her hips shifted against him, clearly aware of the raging erection barely contained inside of his jeans.

“An emergency came up at the office,” she admitted. “I also got an interesting email and needed some time to think.”

“About?” he bit the word out. The hot and cold attitude changes were giving him whiplash.

Demonica stared at him for a moment; long enough to make him squirm and wonder what thought processes were taking place behind her beautiful blue eyes.

“You know I’m a demon, right?”

He nodded and waited to see where she went with it.

“The rest of your team is cool with you dating the very thing you guys hunt and kill?”

Shit. Adam took a deep breath, closed his eyes for a second and reopened them to focus on her. Somehow she’d found out and denying it wouldn’t do them any good in the long run. They had agreed to give whatever they felt for each other a shot. Lying to her didn’t figure into the equation.

“Yes, they know. Well, Blake and Danny do. Anyway,” he waved a hand to clear the subject. “I know you’re not the same as the demons we hunt and kill. I’ve explained it to them and they’re cool with us being together.” He took a deep breath and dove in with the explanations. “The Council is in charge of my team. They would prefer I kill whoever they tell me to, but I don't kill innocent people – demon or not. I and all my teammates were born different, advanced. They've never fully explained it. We were stronger, faster, healed better. The scientists approached us and said we'd be making our country proud. They promised to make us super soldiers. Played God is what they did. They mixed our DNA with animal genes. I can't explain the science behind it, I was just a paratrooper. We don't know exactly everything they did, just what we could figure out. A group of us are rogue. We work for them but within our own rules. That's why I'm so careful with you.”

“Most of that I’d already figured out,” she continued with the blank stare. “My source was thorough with their research. Go on…”

“I've got some Tiger, wolf and who knows what else inside me.” He gathered her to him and moved them to sit in the living room. The process gave him time to put his thoughts in order. “The Council isn't good and there are members of my team that aren’t either. I'll explain more about that later.” He took her hands in his and continued, “Them messing around with us did something to our chemistry.  Do you notice an alluring smell when I'm close?”

She smiled and leaned in, her lips brushing the edge of his jaw. “Is that what it is? I just chalked it up to fabulous cologne. So, what does it mean?”

“It's for you. Only people like me know what it is and it indicates something very serious. It means you're the only one I'll ever want. If you can't deal with or live with that, you'll have to tell me. We get dangerous without our,” he paused, searching for the right word. “Mate – I guess you'd call it. I don't want to rush things here. I just want you to know what you're getting into. As for the guys you can trust, they'll call me by one name – Alpha. Anybody doesn't know that, don't trust them and shoot to kill.”

Demo nodded as she digested the last bit of information. She’d spent all of her free time, and some not so free, thinking of him and the implications of what Kaleth had uncovered about Adam.

“I can deal and live with it,” she grinned and leaned in to kiss him. “I did a lot of thinking in New York and, I don’t want anyone else either.  You’re it for me, Adam.”

“Good,” he murmured against her lips. “If you change your mind, they’ll shoot me.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” she brushed her fingers over his jaw, the light stubble prickling her fingertips. “I’m yours for as long as you want me. Now, about what I was trying to start when you came in.”

He grinned and spread his arms wide. “Go for it.”

She laughed, hands sliding over his chest as she brushed her lips against his. Adam pulled her close, his mouth devouring hers and rolled her slowly beneath him.

“I thought,” she panted between kisses. “You wanted me to.” Demo groaned as his mouth moved lower. “Bedroom?”

A small meep of surprise escaped her when he scooped her up into his arms and surged up from the couch. She wrapped herself around him, the opened fly of his jeans bumping her core with each step.

Adam traversed the twenty feet between her couch and bed in record time. He sat her on the end of the mattress and she scooted back to enjoy the show as he stripped bare.

The thick length of his erection bobbed with each step he took closer to her. She smiled as a thought ran through her mind. His cock seemed to nod at her, silently saying Yes, I’m coming for you and you will enjoy me immensely as he approached. She didn’t doubt it for a second.

He stalked her on hands and knees across the bed, the primal tiger blue of his eyes daring her to run. She stayed put, chest heaving with anticipation, body primed and ready for him to capture it, claim her.

Adam pressed his body to hers. His touched fleetingly between her thighs, hard fingers against damp lace and eager flesh. Need, fierce and hungry blazed through her. His eyes burned a path over her skin, searing down to her soul and branding her his forever.

Demo gave herself up to the dizzying need burning through her. The way he touched her, more amazing than anything she could ever have imagined – until he hesitated.

“Adam,” she asked. “What’s wrong?”

He growled, low and primal as he shook his head and took a deep breath.  Every inhale filled his senses with her until he couldn’t deny the urge any longer. He dove in, kissing her hard as his instincts drove him. There would be no going slow for this claiming. The DNA took over and left him helpless to resist.

The flimsy fabric of her panties ripped easily away beneath his questing fingers. Blessedly wet, hot and silky flesh parted as he sank two digits inside. She instantly clamped down around him and Adam lost it.

His cock replaced his fingers and pushed deep inside until be bumped the end of her. Buried to his balls, Adam froze, realization of what he’d just done settling in to his lust fogged brain.

“Oh, God,” he stared at her, wide eyed. “Baby, I’m sorry.” He kissed her gently, suckling at the pulse on her neck as he waited for her to respond, moan, anything. “You okay?”

“Perfect,” she purred. Her hips rose up, grinding against him and she smiled. “Don’t be sorry. I’m okay and there’s nowhere else I want to be but right here.” Demo gently caressed the back of his neck and pulled him down for another kiss. Just before their lips touched, she whispered, “I love you. I trust you.”

Adam kissed her gently at first, then harder. He willed the heat back into her eyes with each sweep of his tongue over hers, each caress of her perfectly shaped breasts. Listening to her heartbeat, her breathing, he stopped thinking and let his senses and instincts take over.

“Delicious,” he murmured. His tongue ran across her collarbone as his hips moved slowly between the smooth pillars of her thighs. Pushing himself up, his tongue trailed to her breast and around a nipple. His cock slipped deep as she arched into his mouth and moaned.

The husky sound kicked his lust into high gear, his hips pumping faster with each sexy whimper. He kissed her again and buried his face in the crook of her shoulder, hips grinding with each and every thrust. Eyes closed, he could hear the racing of her heart, the catch of her breath.

Reaching down, he hooked her legs under the knees and sank deeper as he moaned her name.

“Demonica,” he growled and nipped at the sensitive skin of her shoulder. She was his now, always.

“Adam,” she pleaded. Her voice held a keening edge and the telltale skip of her heartbeat told him she was close.

He thrust harder, grinding against her, his own body aching for release. She clamped down, the spasms rocking her wildly against him as she cried out. His orgasm followed on the heels of hers.

Adam arched up onto his elbows, planted himself deep inside and roared as the tingle in his spine spread out to take him over.

“Demo,” her name slid out on a breathless whisper. He rolled slowly to stretch her out over him and folded his arms over her while catching his breath.

Everything in the room seemed clearer, like his DNA was given an extra vitamin book. Even stroking her back he could almost feel the blood moving under her skin.

“Wow, that wasn’t in the tour.” He reached down, pulling the blanket up to cover them.

“Hmm, what tour?” she asked and he kissed her softly. “Can we stay like this forever?”

“Anything you want, baby.” He felt his heart skip but ignored it. “I meant the tour about the changes the DNA did to us.” His heart skipped again, darkness encroached on his vision. Suddenly, he realized what it meant but time had run out to explain. “Shit, Demo… I’m sorry.”

“So much for cuddling after,” Demonica laughed softly as she slid to the mattress beside Adam. His chest rose and fell with each breath confirming he’d fallen asleep and not died on her.

Flopping onto her back, she lay beside him with a silly, satisfied grin on her face. He’d claimed her. Sure, it hadn’t gone one hundred percent as she’d expected but, he had done it and now she belonged to him forever. Beelzebub and all the other demons in line behind him could go find another heiress to harass – Lucifer’s daughter was officially off the market, boys.

A loud bark drew her attention to the bank of windows behind her bed and Demo laughed when she looked over. Sheoul’s muzzle pressed to the glass, tongue lolling out the side as he whined for attention.

“Oh, alright,” she huffed and rolled out of bed. “I’ll take you two for a run before you destroy the yard.”

The hound barked again and scrambled away to find his companion. Demonica laughed and pulled out the small notebook she kept in the bedside table. She penned a short note for Adam with her whereabouts in case he woke up before she returned.


Copyright © 2011 Danielle Gavan and Jennifer Feuerstein

If you missed any of our previous posts and would like to catch up, you can purchase the Digital Digest Volume II anthology as an ebook for only $.99.

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Danielle Gavan
Urban Fantasy and Erotic Romance Author

All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. No portion of this work may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Choice

After twenty-seven hours of labor, Gabrielle Anderson delivered a tiny baby boy and then collapsed from exhaustion.

Moments later, the nurse returned with the infant. “He’s beautiful,” she said as she handed him over.

Gabrielle cuddled the infant close for a few brief minutes before the nurse came back for him. He was perfect, a replica of his father. “I want to keep him with me.” God, she didn’t want to let them take him.

“He’ll be fine. He needs to be checked out and you need to be taken care of,” the nurse scolded. “You’ll have him back in no time at all.”

Because she had no choice, she relinquished the little bundle.

Her parents waited somewhere outside the delivery room. She had refused to let them in while she gave birth. The idea of her parents watching her deliver a baby went beyond creeping her out. Strangers seeing her splayed wide and vulnerable were bad enough. Family was intolerable. The only one she wanted with her, Kieran, the baby’s father, wasn’t there.

Kieran had failed to show after she’d called his cell and left six frightened messages. She hadn’t planned to give birth at the hospital. Kieran was supposed to take her to a doctor he knew who would deliver the baby, but Kieran hadn’t shown up. Had he abandoned her at the eleventh hour? Or had something even more sinister taken place?

What was going to happen when the hospital staff found out? It didn’t take a genius to know her family would go off the deep end when they learned the truth. But that wasn’t important at the moment.

“Okay, honey,” a young intern said. “We need to finish up here.”
By the time the doctor left, Gabrielle was close to panic.

How long did it take the tests to come back? An hour? A day? She had no idea. And then what? What would they do then? She swallowed hard. She couldn’t just lay there and let things play out.

A light knock interrupted her worries but didn’t push them away.

“Baby,” her mother gushed as she and Gabrielle’s father came into the room. Both wore big smiles despite the way they had treated her during her pregnancy. But then, she had refused to divulge the name of the father. That had resulted in her parents accusing her of being a whore and sleeping with so many boys she didn’t know which of them had sired her bastard child.

“He’s so beautiful. Tiny, but perfect,” her mother said. “Have you decided on a name? He needs a name, darling.”

“I’m naming him Fale.”

“What kind of crazy name is that?” her father asked.

“It’s his grandfather’s name.”

“Ah, so you do know the father. He glanced at her mother. “When is he coming to see his child?”

“I don’t know.” She wished her parents would go home. God, how she wished it.

“That figures,” her mother said. “He has no intention of taking care of his obligations. Does he?”

“Something must have happened. He would have come.” She tried hard to keep her lip from quivering. She was sure he would have come for the birth of his child, though he would have been forced to leave before she delivered.

“Please. Do you think your father and I were born yesterday? That bastard has abandoned you and the baby.”

“No. He wouldn’t do that.” She didn’t know that for an absolute fact but she had to defend him until she knew there was a reason not to. He’d always been good to her. He’d never lied or sugarcoated anything. Why would he do something like that now? He wouldn’t.

“You’re a damn fool if you believe that,” her father said.

“No. I know him better than that.”

Something had almost surely happened to him. With the way things were, his life was in constant danger, even from his own kind. He was young, only twenty years old. Any number of horrible things could have happened.

Oh God. Please let him be okay.

“Sure you do,” he said.

Please go away. “I know him.”

She’d had no idea of the suffering and hardship the vampire community lived under until she’d fallen in love with one. Everything she’d been taught was wrong. Kieran was handsome, kind, and thoughtful. And he loved her.

He tricked you once. A little voice whispered. He had sex with you so many times you lost count when he knew you were fertile.

True. But it had come from the male vampire’s instinctive drive to mate when a female was ready. And she had been ready. Could she blame him for doing what was nothing more than inborn response?

Regardless of how it had happened, he had impregnated her with a half-vampire. And once Fale’s genetics were uncovered, he would be subject to being taken by the government. They had started pressuring mothers to give up newborn halfbreeds three months into her pregnancy with no outcry whatsoever from the human population.

What happened to those babies? She shuddered under the blankets. What happened when an infant was taken away? As if there could be any doubt of the outcome. They sure as hell weren’t taking babies because they had nothing better to do.

They were taking them and killing them. She was sure of it. And once they knew what Fale was, they would kill him, too, because she was exactly one week from her eighteenth birthday. Her parents would be given the choice. Not her. And her parents would not want a half-vampire grandchild.

The door burst open and a flustered looking woman in a suit bustled in. She didn’t even look at Gabrielle. She addressed Gabrielle’s parents instead. “Are you her parents?” she asked with distain in her tone.

“We are,” he father said. To his credit, he at least looked concerned.

Gabrielle’s stomach clenched. Oh, God.

“Are you aware that your daughter has given birth to a half-vampire?”

For a moment, her parents were stunned into silence. Then her mother actually swayed on her feet before her father’s arm shot around her. Their eyes drilled into Gabrielle.

The woman cleared her throat, then ignoring Gabrielle, spoke directly to her father, “As you may be aware, because your daughter is not yet eighteen, you have the legal right to make the decision of whether or not to turn the baby over to the state. It’s highly recommended that halfbreeds not be taken home by human families.”

“We weren’t aware of this,” her father said, he glanced at Gabrielle with steel in his eyes.

“I’m sure you can imagine the trouble this is inviting if you take the child home,” she said. “Do you want the father becoming part of your lives? I feel it’s only right to make you understand how this can hurt you within your community.” She looked down her nose at Gabrielle. “After all, your daughter has been having relations with a vampire. It won’t go unnoticed.”

Her parents looked at each other.

“No!” Gabrielle said. “You’re not taking my baby. He’s mine.”

“Gabby,” her mother said soothingly. “This is for the best. For everyone. You can get on with your life instead of having it ruined.”

“I’m not giving up my baby.”

“Dear,” the social worker said. “This isn’t your decision. You are only seventeen years old. Your parents are your legal guardians and it’s their decision.” She looked expectantly at Gabrielle’s father.

“We don’t want him. Take him and do whatever you do with the little bastards.”
Gabrielle awoke several hours later. After becoming hysterical, two male nurses had come and forcibly sedated her. Now her parents were gone and the room was quiet. Her baby. Her precious little baby. What had they done with him?

Tears leaked from her eyes. God, she needed Kieran. Where was he?

A soft knock at the door preceded a gray head poking in. “Miss, are you hungry? You didn’t fill out a menu for dinner.” An older woman stepped into the room.

“I don’t want anything,” Gabrielle said in a tear filled voice.

“Child, are you the one who gave birth to the halfbreed?” She didn’t look judgmental, only concerned.

Gabrielle nodded.

“Didn’t you want to give up your baby?”

“No. God no. I want my baby more than anything.”

“It’s not too late,” the old woman said. “At least it wasn’t when I came by the holding room.”

“What are you talking about?” Ice formed in Gabrielle’s stomach.

“Turn left out of here. Go to the elevator and get off in the sub-basement. Your baby is down there. Turn right off the elevator. There’s a little room at the end of the hall. Surrendered halfbreeds and kept there until someone comes for them. You need to hurry.”

Heart thudding, she asked, “What happens to them?” She had to know.

“They’re picked up by Wolf Guards.”

Gabrielle moaned and thought she might faint.

“The hospital won’t kill them. So they turn them over to someone who will. Your baby won’t make it out of the building. He’ll be killed and incinerated like a piece of garbage.”

Gabrielle struggled from her bed and reached for her clothes. Lightheadedness settled over her, threatening to take her down. She fought to steady herself. Now was not the time for weakness. She had to save her baby.

The woman closed the door and left Gabrielle alone.

She managed to dress and peeked out into the hall. Would anyone try to stop her? She looked up and down the corridor. A few visitors strolled from a room and went on their way. A doctor studied a chart and an orderly pushed a wheelchair, transporting a woman holding a baby. No nurses were in sight. She found that reassuring. Wouldn’t a nurse be the most likely to question her? Yeah, she was pretty sure of it.

She slipped from the room and hurried as fast as she was able toward the elevators. She made it down the hall without incident and poked the button. The sliver doors slid open silently and she escaped inside.

Please dear, God, let me be in time. They prayer ran through her head in a continuous litany as the car slid to a stop in the subbasement. She homed in on the room where her baby had been taken.

What if someone was in there with him?

She stopped, totally at a loss.

Then with a mother’s determination, she began searching for a weapon. Anything. Three large trash bins sat along the wall. She looked into the first one. Nothing but discarded bedding. The second bin contained more promising contents. After a few moments of fishing, she pulled out a broken mop handle. It wasn’t much of a weapon but she was fairly strong. Perhaps she could use it like a baseball bat and clean someone’s clock with it if necessary. She would do anything she had to. It might not work but she would try.

As she neared the room, her heart almost stopped in her chest. A deep male voice spoke in a one sided, heated conversation. Someone on a phone? As she neared on silent feet, the unseen male bellowed, “As soon as I take care of this brat, I’m coming home for you.”

Oh, Jesus, did he mean her baby? Of course he did.

Mop handle raised, she charged forward and burst through the door.

A huge male vampire stood over a little plastic bassinet. Inside, her son waved tiny arms, his little hands curled into tight fists.

The vampire still had the phone stuck to his ear. He wore the uniform of a Wolf Guard. A government vampire toady, traitor to their own kind, they were despised within the vampire community.

The vampire shoved the phone in his pocket, raked over her with a head to toe stare, then burst out laughing. “You must be momma to this half-bred mongrel. Where’s its father? Leave you high and dry?”

“Get the hell away from my baby,” she hissed and raised the weapon in a threatening manner.

“You don’t really expect me to be afraid of you?” He took two steps, closing the distance between them before she even registered that he had moved. He grasped her pitiful weapon and wrenched it from her grasp.

She lurched around him, dodging as he reached for her, and put herself between him and Fale. “Stay away from him.”

“You had best remove yourself before you get hurt. I’m not into hurting human females, they’re too fragile, but if you don’t cooperate, you may become collateral damage of your own doing.”

She gaped at him, not quite sure she’d heard him correctly. “You don’t want to hurt a female but you’re more than willing to murder an innocent baby?”

“Only the males.”

As if that was supposed to make some kind of difference.

“Females of your species serve a purpose a male vampire can appreciate.” He gave her a big smirk. “I’ve had dozens of human women and found most of them to my liking.”

She shuddered.

“Don’t worry. I’m not interested in a woman in a post-delivery condition. But that brings us back to the job at hand. You want to step aside because I’m taking him.”

“You’re not touching my baby.” She crouched slightly.

“He isn’t wanted in the vampire community. His father doesn’t even want him because of his diluted blood. And he sure as fuck isn’t welcome in the human community. I’ll kill him quickly and I’ll be doing him a favor.”

She screeched and charged the mountain sized killer. A second later she found herself sailing through the air. Her flight came to an abrupt halt when she hit the wall and dropped to the cold tile. Pain shot through her forearm and hip but she didn’t think either was broken. Didn’t matter if they were. She had to get up.

The vampire stood, legs braced, apparently waiting to see if she managed to get on her feet to try again.

She struggled to get her legs under her. Pain sent bright dots winking off and on before her eyes.

The door slammed inward, banging off the wall and ricocheting only to be shoved out of the way as Kieran launched into the room, bellowing with rage.

The Wolf was taken by surprise but only for a second. He leapt forward and plowed into Kieran. They crashed to the floor in a tangled sprawl.

Gabrielle scooped Fale from the tiny bassinet and turned to flee but she couldn’t leave Kieran. With the baby clutched to her chest, instinct urged her to run. She stood poised, ready to take flight as the combatants struggled.

Kieran was years younger, pounds lighter, and much less experienced, but amazingly, he was holding his own against the Wolf. But for how long? Anger had given him an edge but it wasn’t enough to sustain him for long. She knew this without a doubt. Already Kieran’s shirt was soaked with his blood and he was slowing.

The Wolf would kill him and take her baby and maybe kill her, too. Not that it would matter if she lost the baby and Kieran. Not if she saw them murdered right in front of her.

No. She wasn’t going to let it happen. Almost in slow motion she scanned the room, missing nothing. And salvation was right there waiting for her to see it. A heavy doctor’s lamp. She laid Fale back in the bassinet. He sputtered but didn’t burst into wails for which she was thankful.

She grabbed the heavy lamp with both hands and lifted its surprising weight. She turned it over, and with the base, the business end, held upright, she charged the grappling vampires. The Wolf had Kieran pinned down and as she made her move, the Wolf sank his fangs into Kieran’s throat and ripped.

Kieran let out a yelp of pain and struggled furiously under the bigger vampire. Blood gushed from the wound in his throat.

Now! Now. She had to strike or Kieran was done.

Or was he?

Despite the injury, he tore at the Wolf, ripping a great wound in his chest.

The Wolf bellowed.

She lifted the lamp as high as she could. Then brought it down. The sick thud of the base striking the Wolf’s head was loud. He froze. His eyes lifted to hers then rolled up in his head. Then Kieran’s hands locked on him and with a grunt, he flipped the Wolf off him. The big vampire crashed to the floor and lay motionless.

Kieran and Gabrielle stared at the big body. He wasn’t dead, just knocked senseless. Then they looked at each other. Kieran was covered with blood and bruises. He held a hand to the wound at his throat.

“Are you okay?” she whispered.

“Yes. You?”

“Yeah. I’m okay,” she said.

“Come on. Get the baby. We have to get out of here.”

“I can’t go home,” she said even as she scooped up Fale.

“You aren’t going with them. You’re coming with me,” he said. Then he looked uncertain. “I mean, I want you to. Will you come with me? Be my mate? I know I can’t offer you the life a human would, but I love you and I want us to be a family. And I can give you something no human can. I can’t turn you, but I know how to keep you young.”

“Where were you?” She wailed. “I needed you and you weren’t here?”

“I went to see about a place for us to live. I couldn’t make it back before dawn. I’m so sorry. I got here as soon as I could.”

“You were almost too late,” she said.

“I would have been if some old lady hadn’t told me where to find you. I’m so sorry.”

He was here now though. He’d come for her and he wanted them to be a family. She wanted that, too.

“Come on, Kieran. Take me and your son home.”

~ Nickie Asher ~

Copyright © 2011 Nickie Asher

All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. No portion of this work may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.