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Envy`s life was great. Great brother, great boyfriend, and the best job a girl could ask for... tending bar at the most popular clubs in the city. At least it was great until she got a call from one of her best friends about her boyfriend doing the vertical limbo on the dance floor at Moon Dance. Her decision to confront him begins a chain of events that will introduce her to a dangerous paranormal world hidden beneath the everyday humdrum. A world where people can transform into jaguars, real life vampires roam the streets, and fallen angels walk among us. Devon is a werejaguar, a little rough around the edges and one of the joint owners of Moon Dance. His world is tilted on its axis when he spies an alluring vixen with red hair dancing in his club, armed with a cynical heart and a taser. With a vampire war raging around them, Devon vows to make this woman his... and will fight like hell to have her.Publisher: TEKTIME
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Blood Bound Series Book One
Amy Blankenship, RK Melton
Edited by Tracy Murray
Copyright © 2012 Amy Blankenship
Second Edition Published by TekTime
All rights reserved.
Angeles National Forest is home to the dangerous cougars and imported jaguars that roam the vast forest. Sometimes, on clear nights, their numbers grow for a little while as the LA were-animals, or shifters as folklore has come to know them, roam the untamed land among their distant cousins. It’s those nights that the real animals hunker down in their dens while the predators from the city invade their territory long enough to hunt, or on rare occasion, settle fights that can’t be settled on human turf.
There’s nothing more vicious than when those shifters fight and, if one of them are injured, they become just as dangerous to humans as their animal counterparts. To protect the humans they live among, shifter disputes, when possible, are always done out of the range of those humans and the best place is deep within their native hunting grounds.
Tonight the forest became hauntingly quiet as the two owners of the biggest club within the city enter the untamed land, stripping the clothes from their backs to let their inner beast run free. Tonight they were hunting for the grave of a vampire that could destroy them both.
Deep within the forest where no humans could hear them, Malachi, the leader of a small jaguar clan, sprinted through the darkness toward his adversary… a man he should have never trusted over his best friend. His target was another shifter, this one with the blood of the cougar running through his veins, Nathaniel Wilder… his business partner for the last 30 years.
Malachi broke into the clearing to find Nathaniel standing there waiting on him in human form. Taking a couple steps forward, it was like walking from one form into another as Malachi reverted back to his human shape. Both of them were lethal no matter which form they shifted into. As humans they were both athletic with steely muscles tensed under soft skin. Shifters were slow to age and both men barely looked past 30 even though they were well into their 50’s.
Had this been a Hollywood movie, it would have taken several minutes to be grossly changed, but this was reality and there were no drooling monsters in this clearing. Nudity was nothing to a shifter and the moon beamed down like a spotlight through a break in the storm clouds above them.
“It doesn’t have to come to this,” Nathaniel said, as he held his ground while trying to talk reason into his friend. “Listen to me! It was thirty years ago and things have changed… I have changed.”
“Thirty years’ worth of lies!” Malachi thundered, his voice echoing in the clearing. His gaze trailed to the spot he’d buried Kane and he felt the sting of moisture gather in his eyes. “Because of you, I bound Kane to the dirt… because of you I have forsaken him for thirty years!”
“I can’t let you dig him up, Malachi! You know what will happen if you do,” Nathaniel watched nervously as Malachi gazed longingly upon the grave of the man that had once been his best friend. He’d never understood it. Kane was a vampire and dangerous.
Kane had also been one of the two things standing in the way of the partnership forming between the jaguars and the cougars… Kane and Malachi’s beautiful, deceitful, cheating wife Carlotta. Nathaniel had loved her first. He hadn’t meant for it to turn out this way. In the end, Nathaniel had taken care of the problem in a jealous rage… killing two birds in one fell swoop.
“He was my best friend and he never betrayed me! You were the one who stabbed me in the back!” Malachi blinked back the tears of fury, as he reached up and touched the earring he was wearing; Kane’s earring. What had he done? When he’d found Kane bent over his dead wife, he’d paused in confusion, until Nathaniel had confirmed Kane as the murderer.
She’d died right here in this field, so he’d thought it only right to bind Kane to this land… in this soil. He’d even stolen Kane’s spell book and used it against him for revenge.
Yeah, Nathaniel was right about one thing. Most vampires were evil, but there were a few exceptions and Kane had been one of them. But nothing was more evil than what he himself had done. This spell could only be reversed by Kane’s soul mate.
Malachi had thought it funny at the time because Kane had been ageless and yet had never met his soul mate. In the past, he and Kane had often joked that such a woman would never be born. His mind flashed back to Kane’s smile as he’d said, ‘god would have to have a sense of humor to ever create a woman that would put up with some of his antics.’
“He’s been under there too long.” Nathaniel warned. “With that kind of blood lust and insanity riding him… if you free Kane now, he will only kill us.”
Malachi’s head snapped up and he glared at Nathaniel. “He will only have to kill me because you will already be dead.”
With the threat issued, both men shifted once again into their animal forms.
On the edge of the campground nearest the massive game preserve Tabatha King, or Tabby as everyone seemed to call her, sat on the steps of her parent’s huge camper looking up at the stars peeking out of the thick clouds. She blew her bangs out of her eyes glad it had finally stopped raining.
This was the first time she’d ever been camping and the last thing she wanted to do was be cramped up inside the RV. She’d been so excited about this trip and was even happier when they’d agreed to bring the small family dog Scrappy. It’d taken a lot of begging, but after promising to take care of her little best friend, a Yorkie puppy, she’d finally won her reluctant parents over.
Scrappy was currently barking out at the darkness, wiggling around on his leash, wanting to chase the shadows that had gotten his attention. The little girl gasped when Scrappy suddenly pulled free of his leash and ran off. She stood up on the steel steps when the puppy darted through a small opening in the bottom of the fence that separated the campground from the game reserve.
“Scrappy no!” Tabby cried out and ran after the dog. Her parents had trusted her not to lose him. Stopping at the fence, she inhaled while staring out at the darkness of the trees. “I’m not a coward.” She bit her bottom lip in determination before dropping to her knees to investigate the opening.
After a couple of small scrapes, she’d squeezed through the same hole in the fence and was running through the woods following the sound of distant yapping. “You’re gonna get me in trouble,” she whispered harshly, then started clicking her tongue knowing the puppy often came to the sound.
“Tabby, where are you?”
Behind her, Tabatha heard her mother calling but she was more interested in getting her dog back to the campsite. Scrappy was her dog and she had to take care of him. So instead of calling back to her mom or to the puppy, she stayed quiet and followed the sound of Scrappy’s high-pitched barking.
It wasn’t long before Tabatha had to stop for a minute and catch her breath. She leaned back against a tree and put her hands on her dirty knees, breathing and listening to the sounds of the forest. She’d always wanted to stand in the middle of the woods and just listen like the Indians did on the TV movies.
The rain clouds that had parted for a little while came back and the bright moonlight suddenly disappeared. Her eyes widened when she realized she couldn’t see the lights from the campground anymore.
Taking a tentative step forward, she looked around wildly but all she saw was darkness, barely discernable tree trunks, and even darker shadows. She whimpered when something growled off in the distance behind her. Deciding she didn’t like that direction, she took off running without looking back.
After what seemed like forever, she heard Scrappy barking again and darted in that direction hoping whatever had growled wasn’t chasing her. She heard another growl but this time it was coming from somewhere in front of her.
Digging her heels into the ground, she tried to slide to a stop but the soil was covered with slick leaves and muck from the rain. Instead of stopping, she slid even further on her side before dropping down a gradual slope.
The breath was knocked out of her when her body hit a fallen tree stopping her slide. The first thing she noticed after catching her breath was that Scrappy wasn’t barking anymore. She heard the growl again and started to climb back up the hill when she heard a soft whimper. Pushing up on her knees, she peeked over the tree trunk and saw a small clearing where the moonlight was shining straight down.
Right there in the center was Scrappy, whining like he’d just been beat up by the dog down the street at home. The puppy was flat on the ground and crawling backwards. Her blue eyes widened when she saw why. Two animals were slowly moving toward each other in the clearing and Scrappy was right in the middle.
“Dummy,” Tabby hissed under her breath.
She recognized the animals from pictures her dad had shown her before they went on the trip. One was a cougar and the other she recognized from television… a jaguar. She loved to watch animal shows and wasn’t squeamish like her mommy was when the animals on TV tried to attack each other. But this was different… it was real and a little frightening.
They were cats that could eat you, big ones too. The graceful animals circled each other growling deep in their throats and their eyes glimmered like golden medallions. The deadly sound carried on the breeze, blowing toward Tabatha as she continued to watch them with nervous awe.
“Come on Scrappy,” she whispered, hoping the huge cats didn’t hear her. “Get over here before one of them steps on you.” She was going to say ‘eats you’ but she didn’t want to scare the poor puppy any more than it already was.
The cats suddenly screamed making Tabatha cover her ears with her palms because it was so loud and scary sounding. They ran at top speed across the clearing, making Scrappy tuck his tail between his legs and squeal out of fear.
Seeing the traumatized puppy, Tabatha scrambled over the tree and ran toward Scrappy as fast as she could. She was closer to Scrappy than the cats were and dove down, quickly covering his small body with hers just as the two animals leapt up and collided in the air directly above her.
“Please don’t hurt my dog!” she screamed.
She screamed again when sharp claws raked her arm and another grazed down her back. The cats hit the ground directly behind her with a bone-jarring thud, growling and screaming at one another. She remained hunched over Scrappy, who was still shaking and whimpering softly, not daring to look at the animals fighting only a few feet behind her.
Tabatha was afraid to move and held onto the dog as tightly as she could. Her eyes were clenched and she started whispering to Scrappy to run and get help, if one of the cats got her too. Something wet and warm sprayed across her back but she still didn’t move. Finally, the fighting stopped and she chanced a look over her shoulder.
She started shaking and crying when she saw two men lying behind her with blood all over them. Tabatha slowly rose to her knees with Scrappy in her arms and started to back away. Where had the cougar and the jaguar gone? Did they attack these two men then run away? Why didn’t the men have any clothes on?
Nathaniel suddenly opened his eyes and bared very sharp teeth at her.
Tabatha stumbled backwards and nearly fell but regained her footing. Scrappy squealed again when the man’s growl mimicked that of the cougar and fought his way out of Tabby’s arms. He ran away into the forest yelping out his fear.
Malachi twitched as blood gushed from his chest. He opened his mouth and growled one word toward the little girl.
“Run!” his voice ended with the ear-piecing scream of a jaguar.
Tabatha didn’t think twice about obeying. She turned on her heels and ran from the clearing without daring to look back. She didn’t care where she was going; only that she got away from the scary men covered in blood.
“Thank you and this is the local news. Tonight a local family has reason to celebrate. Their daughter, Tabatha, was finally found wandering aimlessly within Angeles National Forest after going missing three days ago from a campsite near Crystal Lake to find the family dog. Apparently the dog had freed itself from its leash and run into the forest. The seven year old courageously chased after the dog and wasn’t found until this morning. Unfortunately, the dog wasn’t found with her. According to officials, she is at the Community Hospital recovering from shock, as it appears she has survived a cougar attack. Little Tabatha kept telling the forest rangers about two injured men in the forest but after a thorough search of an area of five thousand square miles, nothing has been found. We’ll fill you in more later in the hour.”
10 years later…
Loud music pumped rhythmically from the club, its large purple neon sign shifting colors in synch with the beat. The light cast an eerie glow onto the building across the street. On the roof of that building, a man with short, light blonde hair stood with one foot resting on the edge. He leaned forward, an elbow braced on his bent knee, while he smoked a cigarette.
Kane Tripp bent his head slightly and ran a hand through the short spiky hair. He’d hated cutting it, missed the length it had been. He could still remember the feel of its silkiness caressing his lower back. Lifting the cigarette to his lips, he inhaled deeply knowing he missed a lot of things, like the cigarettes he used to smoke before he was buried alive and left for dead.
Forty long years ago he’d been caught off guard by Malachi, the leader of a small jaguar clan, and accused of murdering the shifter’s mate. Prior to that night, Kane had been in good standing with the jaguars, and their leader had been one of his closest friends. Kane’s lips thinned at the memory. Malachi had tried, judged, and sentenced him in a fit of rage.
Using a spell from the very book Kane had thought he’d hidden so carefully, Malachi had bound him with a curse, unable to move or talk… unable to even defend himself. Then he'd removed Kane’s bloodstone earring that allowed him the freedom of walking in the daylight. The bloodstones had once belonged to the first vampire, Syn.
Kane had once asked how there could have been a first and the answer had startled him.
Syn had come to this world alone, injured and starving. A young man had found him and in his starvation, Syn had taken his blood. The vampire quickly learned that the humans of this world were fragile creatures, whose soul would leave them if he shared his blood, in hopes of creating a family on this planet. But once their souls were gone, they were useless to him and little more than monsters.
During his endless life, Syn had only found three such humans who retained their souls… becoming his children. The only difference was that once they’d been turned, the sun would burn… leaving them and their monster siblings to hide from the daylight. This had never been a problem on Syn’s planet because of the bloodstone.
The thick armbands Syn had been wearing came from his own world and were made out of the Bloodstone. Chipping off a piece of one of the armbands, he fashioned them into a ring, a necklace, and a single earring. Kane once again reached up and touched the earring he was wearing.
Where the bloodstone had given him a semi-normal life… it had been Syn’s book of spells that had been Kane’s downfall. Kane had left it for his chosen to use wisely while he slept. Within it was the damning spell, a way to put down the soulless children if they became too big of a risk to the humans.
As the damning spell was used on him, Kane could only watch with dark, unblinking eyes as his former friend shoveled the black soil on top of him. The last thing he remembered seeing was the star filled sky above a forest of trees.
The darkness had been all consuming and so silent. The spell kept him bound but he could feel things in the earth slithering over him. Tiny, mortal creatures that avoided eating his undead flesh but unknowingly gnawed at his soul.
As time passed, he thought for sure he had gone mad, and then he started hearing sounds every so often… voices. They’d been welcome to him in his prison and he yearned to hear more. Sometimes he heard whole families, and other times he heard only adults.
At times he would try fighting the spell, to call for help or even be some kind of company for himself. The magic held him fast, rendering him completely powerless. He knew this spell… had used it on monsters. It was a complex bit of magic that required the blood of a loved one to release him. A spell of love so strong that only the victim’s soul mate could break.
It had always worked with the soulless vampires because you had to have a soul to call to a soul mate. He had used the spell more than once to rid the world of his demonic murdering siblings who knew nothing but bloodlust.
Kane laughed spitefully at the haunting memory of knowing he was doomed… because he didn’t have a soul mate. At least, he had never met such an enigma. And if he did have one, then it was unlikely she would just stumble over his grave while bleeding. Malachi had been so heartbroken… he’d loved his wife so much that he wanted Kane to know the depth of such love and yearn for it.
Yearn for it he did. Many times he would shed tears, begging for whatever god would listen, to bring his soul mate to him so he could be free. Had he truly killed his friend’s wife, then it would have been a just punishment. But he had been innocent of such a crime.
One night, long after he’d given up all hope… he heard it. The distinct sound of Malachi’s roar broke through his insane inner monologue, accompanied by another animalistic scream of fury. Then to his shock, he heard the voice of a little girl directly above him screaming at them not to hurt her puppy.
The sound of her small, frightened voice broke something inside him, making him crave to be free, so he could protect her from the beast in the night.
‘Malachi won’t hurt your puppy little one,’ Kane whispered mentally.
It was true. Malachi wouldn’t hurt anyone unless they’d severely wronged him in some way… especially a child. Knowing his friend was somewhere above him, Kane felt a spark of life return to him. He grew angry when the girl screamed again and he heard something land hard on the ground. Blood… he smelled freshly spilled blood seeping through the soft earth toward him.
It was the most welcome thing he’d ever encountered. The scent invaded his mind and nearly drove him to even greater heights of insanity, knowing he was unable to reach for it. He was so weak from spending so much time without a single drink… thirsting to death yet never dying. That was when he felt one of his fingers twitching.
Kane concentrated on this and set what was left of his mind to trying to move. He felt the days pass, basing them on the heat he felt from the ground above him. The scent of the blood surrounded him now, driving him onward. Finally, he was able to slowly work his arms and started the slow process of trying to dig himself out of his own grave.
More days passed and when his hand finally broke the surface, he literally cried tears of joy. Pulling himself out of the dirt, Kane opened his eyes and stared upward, laughing almost maniacally when he saw a black sky and stars overhead. Looking back down at the ground, he noticed a piece of cloth that had small droplets of blood dried on it. Picking it up, he held it to his nose inhaling the scent of the blood that had freed him.
Keeping the reminder of his savior clenched tight in his fist, he heaved the rest of his body from the ground. Malachi and the shifter that had really killed the jaguar’s wife lay dead only a few feet from his grave.
Looking past them toward the forest, he knew the girl was long gone but Kane was convinced the child was his soul mate. Who else could have broken the spell Malachi placed on him?
Too weak to go in search of the girl, Kane crawled over to Malachi, seeming to tenderly touch the man’s cheek. Turning his face toward him, Kane’s breath left him in confusion. Malachi was wearing the bloodstone earring. His earring!
Within an instant of rage and a movement too fast to detect, Kane stood up with the earring held in his fist. Looking over at Nathaniel, the man that had framed him, Kane gathered the darkness around him like a cloak and vanished into the darkness.
Kane exhaled and watched the smoke drift through the air, curling in front of him before blowing away on the breeze. He’d spent the last ten years roaming from country to country, continent to continent, learning everything he’d missed during his thirty-year prison sentence.
He’d slowly built his strength back up, starting with a white Yorkie puppy he’d found cowering inside a hallowed out tree in that forest. It had been someone’s pet and he’d felt remorse for doing such a thing, but the need to feed was stronger than his guilt at the time.
Only after he’d fed had he realized the pup belonged to the child that had freed him. Feeling a slight spark of life still within the little fur ball, he did the damnedest thing. Biting his own wrist, Kane forced a couple of drops to land on its pink tongue then laid the pup on the ground wondering what the hell he was doing. It would never work… would it?
She’d saved him twice and not even known it. The memory of her frightened voice still had the power to jerk him from his deepest sleep. He wished he’d seen her… just a glimpse to go with the voice that haunted him.
Reaching into his pocket, he took out the small collar and stared down at the bone shaped tag on it. He knew the family name but the address on it was no longer valid… hadn’t been for years. When he finally learned how to work a computer, he’d done a search but the girl’s parents were dead and the house had been sold. The daughter, whom he was sure was the one who freed him, had vanished without a trace.
Kane tossed his cigarette by his left foot and stomped it out. Upon returning to Los Angeles, he’d immediately returned to the club Malachi had once lived in and ran, only to find it had been sold and his children had moved to a new address. The new place had once been nothing but an abandoned warehouse, but the jaguars had recently renovated it and turned it into a nightclub to fit the times. Malachi’s children now ran the establishment.
He shook his head wondering how Malachi could bring himself to remarry knowing how much he’d loved his first wife. She had been his soul mate and even though shifters were known for their sexual appetites, once they met their soul mate it was nearly impossible to love another.
When Kane had researched it, he’d noted that Malachi’s new wife had born him four children then died in childbirth to their youngest son Nick.
Malachi had died the night he’d heard the roar from underground, but Kane still felt the need for revenge clawing at his insides. Almost all vampires are born from the darkness and maybe Syn had been wrong about him being so different from his evil siblings. Just maybe losing his mind for thirty torturous years had done enough damage to where now he was no exception. His mind was still in the dark place where Malachi had put him.
As far as Kane was concerned, it was the jaguars who had drawn first blood. Now he was back to pay his respects in kind… on the whole damned race of shifters, starting with Malachi’s children. Oh, but he wouldn’t stop there. Next would be the children of the shifter that had framed him… Nathaniel Wilder.
Creating followers to provide him with blood hadn’t been difficult. Kane was still amazed at the whole underground Goth scene in the inner city. Many of them only dreamed of being what he was… a true vampire instead of a Goth wanna-be.
All he’d had to do was turn one, and then leave his soulless underling to his own devices. He’d chosen the most dangerous of the group… the one that seemed to have lost his soul already to the darkness. Raven, a rogue, who had been a borderline psychopath as a human… a Goth outcast, who was hungry for blood long before ever having the true need for it.
Raven was the only person Kane had ever told about the backstabbing shifters framing him then burying him alive. He didn’t know why he’d told Raven… boredom maybe.
Kane had set the rogue free on the city. Raven had been angry at the world before being reborn as a child of the night and now Kane had given him an outlet for that anger. Raven had taken it upon himself to exact revenge in Kane’s name and the soulless vampire used his new abilities to their fullest extent.
He didn’t bother trying to talk Raven out of it because it fit in perfectly with his plans of setting up the rest of Malachi’s family for the fall. Why would he protect the shifters from Raven? The most he had offered was to tell the boy that he didn’t have to kill humans to feed, that he didn’t have to do any damage at all, if he didn’t want to. It wasn’t his fault that Raven had chosen to inflict death instead.
The first time Raven had killed had been the only time Kane had stepped in, catching the boy before he left the dead lying with the mark of the vampire within easy view of the humans. Keeping his kind secret was ingrained within his self-preservation and he had forgotten to share that secret with Raven. Kane then showed him how to slice through the fang marks and make it look more like a simple sadistic murder.
Raven had taken to planting his victims near Moon Dance for the authorities to find. It was the perfect arrangement. Most vampires were innately evil so Kane had spent most of his undead life within the reach of murderers. Seeing this boy kill seemed only natural for his kind.
Had Syn been awake to witness the killing spree, he would have put the world out of its misery by killing Raven or binding him to the grave. Now that Kane had experienced such a punishment, he would rather a quick death be the choice.
Before his banishment, he’d been friends with one other vampire… Michael. They’d been together longer than either of them could probably remember or even wanted to. They’d both been gifted with the bloodstones because they had retained their souls… they and Michael’s brother Damon.
Michael was a good man… still on the side of the angels as they say, though he’d heard through the grape vine that Damon had developed a dark side and was taking it out on his brother. Maybe he’d pay Damon a little visit after he was finished here and teach him some manners. Kane wondered about the sudden sibling rivalry because Michael had loved his brother… but things always had a way of changing.
Kane didn’t want Michael to know the evil that the grave had left crawling around inside him. He’d spent some of his time in the last couple of weeks watching Michael from a distance. He knew Michael and the oldest jaguar son, Warren, were now friends… just like he and Malachi had once been.
Shifters were traitors and Michael had yet to find that little fact out. By getting the shifters out of the way, he would be doing Michael one last favor… for old times’ sake.
Kane reached up, touching the earring that housed the bloodstone knowing it had always restricted him from killing humans. If his soul were truly evil, then the magic within the bloodstone would not work for him. He’d often wondered how Malachi could have overlooked that simple fact… the proof of his innocence had been right in front of him.
No matter… He’d spent thirty years in his prison for something he hadn’t done. “Payback will be hell my friends.”
“Telemarketer?” Chad asked, as he tried to hide his smirk, while his little sister slammed the phone down hard enough to make it fall off the wall. It landed with a crash on the floor.
Envy kicked the phone down the hall pretending it was her boyfriend's head before turning on her brother. “Are you all dogs, or is it just the ones I date?”
Chad held his hands up in mock surrender, “In my opinion, girls are just as bad. Now calm down and tell big brother what happened.”
Envy laid her forehead against the coolness of the wall. She refused to let even one tear well up enough to escape. She didn’t like Trevor enough to cry over him and she was seriously getting tired of all guys lacking in one way or another. “Jason just called to ask me out. He thought I was single again because he just ran into Trevor at a new dance club. He was practically screwing another girl right there on the dance floor.”
Chad shook his head. He'd feel no pity for Trevor once his sister got her hands on him. “How about we go clubbing then?” he cocked an eyebrow, not wanting to miss this for the world.
Envy smiled, liking that idea, “Give me ten minutes to get ready.”
Chad nodded and sat down on the edge of the sofa and clicked on the remote to watch the news, though he wasn’t paying it any attention. He hadn’t wanted her dating Trevor anyway. He knew the guy acted like an all American, rich, college prep just to throw everyone off his scent, but that didn’t mean he liked him lying to Envy about who he really was. If Trevor was going to sleep with her, then she needed to at least know the truth about who she was screwing.
Starting a relationship out with a lie wasn’t the best way. If you were going to lie, then you shouldn’t get involved in the first place. He’d cornered Trevor the last time he’d seen him at the station and told the undercover agent to either tell Envy the truth about what he was doing or to stay the hell away from her. It wasn’t his fault Trevor didn’t listen to anyone but himself.
It angered him to think that Trevor might be using Envy while he did undercover work in the bar scene. With her being a bartender for a lot of the clubs, it gave Trevor a reason to follow her into the buildings before they opened and stay till after they closed. Being there without the crowds allowed Trevor to do a lot more snooping and Envy was none the wiser.
Chad refused to go undercover, even though the Special Forces team had been trying to drag him into it for a while now. The closest he’d come so far, was being their favorite guy to call when it was time to kick in doors and take people down. And that was fine with him. He would much rather kick the ass of a bad guy, then just sneak around chatting and shuffling papers, trying to find dirt on someone.
Now their friend Jason, on the other hand, would be much better boyfriend material for Envy. She’d gone to school with Jason, but therein lay the problem. Jason had crushed on her all during high school and hung out at the house so much that Envy considered him a brother… not a guy.
Jason had joined the Angeles National Forest Rangers directly out of school and had held the same job ever since. Envy still loved hanging out with Jason. She also got to see her best friend Tabatha more often, since Tabatha was part of Jason’s unit with the rangers.
Chad got up from the sofa and stood outside Envy’s bedroom door. They had been roommates for the last four years, since their parents had died in a car wreck, and they’d gotten along wonderfully. He was a cop and she was on call for bartending at several of the clubs within the city.
The only reason he didn’t say anything about her getting a “real” job was because most nights she made more money than he did. That made things even better because when rent came due, Envy was the one that usually paid it, while he took care of everything else.
“What club?” he asked through the door.
“The new one called Moon Dance,” Envy swept some of her long strawberry hair up in a ponytail, leaving the rest to hang down her back in long layers. “I might as well apply as a bartender while we’re there.”
Chad frowned. “That’s the one out toward the end of town, right?” He walked back to his room without waiting for her reply. Recently, things down on that end of the city had gotten a little dangerous. Disappearances were the most prominent danger and quite a few bodies had been found within a city block of that club.
So far there was nothing they could link directly to Moon Dance, except that the victims of choice were all club goers. It was just the time frame that Chad and a lot of other people found suspicious. There had been some question as to whether or not there was a serial killer hanging out at that bar. Several of the latest victims had been last seen within the club. As a police officer, he couldn’t overlook the probability that there was a connection.
Since his gun and badge were already in the car, Chad grabbed the small taser and slid it into the back waistband of his pants. With all the bad stuff going on down there, he wanted Envy to have it just in case something went wrong while they were in the club.
Coming out of his room, he glanced down the hallway and stopped dead in his tracks when he saw his sister. A black leather skirt with lace peeking out the bottom at mid-thigh covered her legs followed by a black lace belly shirt. There were leather patches only where it counted… enough to hide her breasts and show off her slim belly and navel.
She was also wearing a pair of black leather boots that came just over the knees with dainty link chains around the ankles. A necklace their mother had given her years ago graced her neck with a beautiful piece of amethyst quartz hanging from it. Most of her red hair was tied up in a high ponytail with some of it falling over one shoulder.
Her make-up was tastefully done with a bit of black eyeliner and shadow and a dark shade of lipstick. She looked like a dominatrix.
“Damn, out for blood are we?” Chad cocked an eyebrow, giving her the once-over twice. He had a mind to cancel the night out and make her go back to her room for safety reasons.
“Well, I have decided,” Envy raised a delicate eyebrow, “After I take care of Trevor, I’m going to have fun! From now on, I refuse to date just one guy. I don’t want a boyfriend… I want a LOT of them! That way when one acts like a jerk, it won’t matter because I’ll have others that will be more than happy to kick his ass.”
“Yeah, I remember how well that went over in high school.” Chad shook his head, knowing his sister was way more innocent than she pretended to be, “Let’s take my car in case the station calls.”
“Only if I get to play with the blue lights,” Envy smiled, knowing he would let her.
Chad sighed and started walking out to the car. “I swear you’re worse than a kid in a toy store squeezing every stuffed animal that makes noise and driving everyone insane.”
“What?” she laughed. “I like the blue lights. People get out of our way when I turn them on.”
“Like the time you did it when we ran out of coffee?” he asked. “You do know that’s a waste of taxpayer’s money, right?”
“If you don’t shut up I’m going to drive. Then you’ll have to deal with the red lights and the siren,” she warned with a playful wink.
Chad immediately shut up because the last time that happened, she’d been late for work and he’d been too sick to drive so he’d sat in the passenger seat sound asleep. The chief still gave him grief over it.
Envy clicked off the blue lights about a block away from the nightclub and looked up at the spotlights that danced across the cloud-covered sky. She watched as the two-story building came into view.
She’d been working so much lately that she hadn’t had a chance to check out Moon Dance, but some of her customers had raved about it. On the outside it was nothing fancy. It just looked like a brick warehouse with very few windows and a large purple neon sign high on the front wall.
People were standing in line halfway across the massive parking lot dressed in their best club clothes and talking with each other animatedly. The fact there was still a line after ten at night let her know that working here would probably be very lucrative.
“Yep, I’m definitely putting in an application,” she smiled at the prospect.
“At least the line is almost gone,” Chad said sarcastically, not wanting to wait to see Trevor get a good dose of his sister on adrenaline.
He parked way down on the darkest end of the parking lot right next to Trevor’s car. Before Envy could open the car door, Chad reached out and caught her arm. “Here,” he placed the small taser in her hand then, without a single word about it, he opened his door and got out.
Envy wrapped her fingers around the device with a smile. Her brother had taught her self-defense to the point to where she could probably take down most of the cops he worked with without breaking a sweat. But Chad had always said, ‘Why fight, when all you have to do is press a button?’
She slid the taser into the little side pocket of the leather skirt along with her ID. She’d press Trevor’s button all right. She’d happily press the elevator button going to hell just to see him in it right now. No one cheated on Envy Sexton and got away with it.
They walked toward the line side by side and Envy was especially happy when the line started moving so fast that it only took a couple of minutes to make it inside.
The doorman was dressed in a nice pair of Armani pants and matching suit jacket. The shirt underneath was form fitting and showed off his nice chest. His brown hair fell on either side of his face in waves. A bit of stubble was present on his face and he had piercing dark eyes that almost glowed in the neon light.
Chad paid and they showed their ID’s before the man stamped their hand and unclipped the red velvet rope allowing them access. They entered the main doors and walked down a short hall toward another door that slid open as they approached. Both of them stopped when they entered the main room and stared. It was a lot like walking into another dimension.
For as packed as the parking lot had been, you would think it would be wall-to-wall people inside but it wasn’t. Envy’s lips parted as she walked across the floor to the massive hole cut out in the center of the room.
Stepping closer to the railing, she looked down onto the dance floor below. On either side of them was a walkway that extended across the main level with a long bar that stretched the entire length. The bar itself looked like sand blasted glass with soft neon lighting weaving all through it.
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