by Ravyn Wilde
a Creatures of Myth story
The biggest threat to Zane Patrick's sanity just bought the house next door! This two-hundred and fifty-year-old vampire just wants to be left alone to raise his horses, and live as normally as possible. Refusing the head of the Absolute Sentinel Council’s request to become the Vampire Sentinel for the Pacific Northwest, Zane doesn’t want to get involved in all the politics of his species or the Others. His peaceful, sane existence is shattered by his new neighbor!
Nicole Martin is a romance author. She likes her privacy and her new little house in the Cascade Mountains. Realizing that her sexy next-door neighbor, Zane, is a complication she doesn’t need in her life, she struggles to keep her distance. But she can’t help using him as inspiration in her books.
An ancient, mystifying ruby, once owned by Catherine the Great, binds the two together in ways neither wanted, or imagined. When Nicole's life is threatened, Zane struggles to protect her. If Zane can’t keep Nicky safe, they may not live through the next few days.
Note: This was originally published by Ellora's Cave in August 2008 in the Vampire Sentinels series. New material has been added and the story has been newly edited.
Genre: Paranormal RomancePurchase link(s): Amazon ARe iTunes Kobo B&N
Content/Theme(s): Vampire, Writer, Mystery, Suspense
Release Date: November 28, 2016
Excerpt & More
Nicole Martin was searching for a monster.
Something…spine-chilling. A creature based in mythology that she could twist and turn to her liking. Make him more than he was when he haunted the nightmares of ancient—what? Regency England?
No, earlier. Ancient Greece, or Egypt during the time of the pharaohs?
Didn’t matter, she would know him when she found him.
“Excuse me, ma’am. I’m federal agent Mike Maloney, and I would like a moment to talk with you.”
Raising her hand to brush away the words buzzing in her ear like an angry mosquito, she went back to studying the book in front of her.
He couldn’t be talking to her. “Ma’am” was someone’s grandmother. If this Mike person was calling her “ma’am,” she was liable to slug him.
But, there were laws against hitting federal agents.
When she entered the library an hour earlier, it was empty except for the kid behind the desk. Secluded as she was behind a tall bookcase in the fiction section, there was a chance she missed a burst of rain-drenched air as the door opened, but she didn’t think so.
She sighed. Mike “I’m a federal agent” Maloney, had to be talking to her.
Glancing up, removed all doubt.
He stood over her, peering down.
“Excuse me?” Tilting her head, she frowned at the mountain of a man, who was dressed in a dark suit and white dress shirt.
His blond hair was cut high and tight, in typical military fashion.
Instead of meeting her gaze, the green eyes set in his chiseled face, earnestly studied her chest.
Nicole sighed again. The man wasn’t making brownie points.
The books scattered in front of her were on monsters, vampire lore and arcane magic. They were interesting, so she nodded.
At a guess, the look on her face fell under the deer-in-the-headlights category.
Mind racing, she tried to define the man’s tone of voice. She scrambled to think of anything she might have done to warrant attention—besides the fact that she had a bountiful bosom.
Talk about paranoia.
His gaze shifted from her chest back to the books. “You seem pretty engrossed in vampires and paranormal creatures. May I ask why?” he questioned.
At the moment, she was reading a book on Greek mythology, but she decided that was irrelevant. Pushing her fingers into the hair at her temple, she tried to massage away the headache she was getting, without undoing her heavy braid.
“I’m sorry? I don’t understand why the government is interested in my choice of reading material.”
This conversation was too weird.
Nonchalantly, Nicole flipped the button on the small recorder lying in her lap. She was using it to make a few notes on her research material. She had a suspicion this conversation might be more entertaining.
“As I told you, I’m federal agent Mike Maloney. My partner and I would like a few minutes of your time. If you’ll answer my question, I’ll be happy to explain in a moment.”
Nicole got the impression this man didn’t enjoy having his motives questioned. Since he mentioned a partner, she looked around to find an older version of Mr. Maloney, walking up to join them. His posture rigid, the man oozed ex-military.
“What agency are you from? Can I see your badges?” she requested with her hand out. Her feeble smile, disguised the effort to remember what her college roommate’s husband, told her about his job.
Robert worked for the FBI, and she interviewed him a few times for research on various books. She had seen his badge, knew they should be showing her something that carried their thumbprint, a picture, and their title. Beyond that, she couldn’t remember any details, she had no idea what other forms of government identification might look like.
Mike let out an irritated sigh as he reached into his brown overcoat, retrieving the badge from the inner pocket of his suit. His biceps stretched the fabric of the jacket.
When she met his eyes, she knew he did that on purpose. He had the look of a man who would want her to make some comment on his assets.
Nicole didn’t look at the badge he flashed. Keeping her hand outstretched, she silently waited for him to hand it to her.
The anger in his eyes could have come from her refusal to fawn over his overstated muscles, or because she wanted proof of his identity. She didn’t care.
Only when he slapped the badge into her hand did she look down. Oh goodie. She was in luck. Swallowing beyond the lump in her throat, Nicole studied the embossed shield in front of her. FBI? What in God’s name, did the FBI want with her? If this guy really is from the FBI… The stray thought prompted her to pull her notebook closer.
“What are you doing?” he questioned her.
“Writing down your badge numbers.”
“That isn’t necessary. All we want to do is ask a few questions. Why are you so paranoid?” Mr. Maloney didn’t bother to hide the dark suspicion in his voice. This man had absolutely no people skills.
“Let me ask you a question, Mr. Maloney. If you were sitting in a library minding your own business, and someone came up to you, said they were a federal agent and wanted to ask you some questions, would you just answer those questions and not verify who you were talking to?” Raising her gaze, she waited for his answer.
Studying her with focused intensity, he finally shifted his attention to his partner. After a silent exchange between the two, he shook his head. “My apologies, ma’am.”
Wordlessly the other man slid his badge across the table.
Nodding, Nicole jotted down the men’s information, adding a quick description of each to help jog her memory later.
John Jackson, older man—early fifties? Medium height. Square face, hair going gray at the temples. Fanatical light in his eyes.
Pausing, she realized her description was right. Mr. Jackson’s attempt to play good cop, was ruined with his pewter eyes telling a different story. And if their eyebrow-raising, shoulder-shrugging communication—a show of humoring her—led them to believe she wouldn’t check on them, they would be wrong.
“Mike.” The second agent’s voice seemed to hold a warning for the younger man. Extending his hand to her, he introduced himself. “Ma’am, sorry to trouble you. As the badge says, I’m John Jackson. May we sit down for a moment?” His deep, gravely voice may have been polite, but the tight lines around his gray eyes told her he wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Nicole shrugged her shoulders. Taking the reaction as a sign of assent, the two men sat. Her innate curiosity finally kicked in. Now she wanted to know why they were here.
“The Idiots Guide to Vampires, The Definitive Book of Monsters, and An Arcane Guide to the Paranormal… like Mike said, interesting reading. Mind if I ask if you’re looking for anything specific?” Mr. Jackson asked.
Nicole frowned at the broad-shouldered man. He wasn’t old and worn down. No. John Jackson kept his body in good shape.
John Jackson. Right. Did she look that stupid? Mike Maloney, John Jackson. MM. JJ. She would bet money their names weren’t any more real than her pen name.
“What kind of specific, would I be looking for? I’m a romance writer, and the stories I create are paranormal and science fiction. Today, I’m skimming for ideas to help me create a new world, to set the boundaries and laws of what my creatures can or can’t do.”
“Romance writer, huh?” Mike’s tone said he didn’t believe her.
Digging into her purse, Nicole squealed when both men reached into their jackets and she caught a brief, dark flash of metal in Mike’s hand.
Throwing her hands in the air, her heart skipped a beat. “Are you insane?” she screeched, eyes wide, only to be shushed by the librarian.
Feeling as if she were the lead in a very bad play, she continued in a stage whisper, “I’m just getting one of my bookmarks! It lists my web address, has a couple of my covers on it with reviews.”
After they nodded she carefully lowered her hands. Reaching into the side pocket of her purse, she drew out the thin, rectangular piece of cardstock, and handed it to John, who passed it to Mike.
“Your name isn’t Danielle Divine.”
No kidding. And yours isn’t Mike Maloney, you idiot, she thought as she bit her lip to keep her opinion to herself. After their stunt with the guns, her curiosity had quickly turned to fear-tinged irritation, she needed to work very hard to remain civil.
“Danielle Divine is my pen name,” she succinctly stated. She refused to volunteer another thing to these two, until they explained what they wanted. Going for their guns in the middle of the city library…did they think she was some sort of desperate criminal?
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Be on the lookout for Ravyn Wilde's future release(s): Supernatural Speed Dating coming Dec 2016 and Luke & Jezebel coming Dec 2016
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