Authors: Deanna Chase
Tags: #Paranormal & Urban, #Fantasy, #Vampires, #Romance, #Witches & Wizards, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Werewolves & Shifters, #Paranormal, #Literature & Fiction, #Urban
Finding the perfect dress can be hell…especially when a stranger tries to gun you down in broad daylight.
Void agent and magical baker extraordinaire, Willow Rhoswen has been anticipating her first date with Talisen Kavanagh since she was sixteen. After eight years of waiting, there are only two things that can stand in her way—an assassination attempt and a new game-changing drug.
Talisen’s invented a new elixir that creates superhumans, ones that can rival vampire strength, and everyone wants it. Including the vampires. With Willow’s life on the line, he makes a deal with the devil, while she’s forced to accept the always-strings-attached protection from the most notorious vampire organization in New Orleans.
But when Talisen and his drug go missing, Willow will stop at nothing to find him, even if it means working with her vampire-ex, David. With souped-up humans, dangerous vampires, and more questions than answers, Willow has less than twenty-four hours to find him before everything changes forever.
A Crescent City Fae Novel
Bayou Moon Publishing
Copyright © 2013 by Deanna Chase
First Edition 2013
ISBN: 978-1-940299-05-1 Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-940299-02-0 eBook Version
Cover Art: Phatpuppy Art
Typography: Bookish Brunette Designs
Interior Design: The Printed Page
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in, or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher of this book.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locals, business establishments, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.
Bayou Moon Publishing
As always, many thanks to Angie Ramey, Susan Sheehan, Lisa Liddy, Chauntelle Baughman, and Anne Victory. You’re help is invaluable. A special thanks to Linda, Rachel, and Suzanna for always being there. And of course, lots of heartfelt hugs to my readers. Without you I’d be nowhere.
“I look like a flying giraffe.” I scowled at my roommate, Phoebe, in the three-way mirror. “What were you thinking, making me try on this travesty?”
Phoebe, dressed in a miniskirt and tight red T-shirt, rolled her eyes. “You said you’d try on anything. And look at this dress. The cut is gorgeous. It’s hugging you in all the right places, girl.”
I crossed my arms over my chest and flared my wings in agitation. “I look ridiculous.” There was no freaking way I was wearing a formfitting giraffe-print dress on my first official date with Talisen. That was a
no. “You’re just trying to torture me because I wouldn’t buy the last dress you decided I needed.”
She placed her hands on her hips. “That dress was perfect for you and guaranteed to bring Talisen to his knees.”
“It would bring the majority of the male population to their knees. I think there’s more material in a toddler’s outfit than that scrap of cotton.”
“Whatever you say, Wil.” She began digging in another rack of dresses. “Try on the hunter-green one next.”
“Gladly.” I wrinkled my nose at the offending animal print one more time and moved toward the dressing room.
“Hold on.” Phoebe trotted over to me, holding yet another crime against fashion.
“Electric yellow with sequins? Have you lost your mind?” I laughed, wondering if she’d been dipping into a dose of Illusions, an illegal vamp-made, psychedelic street drug. They tasted like candy and were often handed out at college parties. Not that Phoebe was in college, but she did spend time at the universities when she was on undercover missions, running down rogue vampires.
“It’s perfect for you.” She grabbed my arm and leaned in, almost dragging me to my dressing room. “Keep walking,” she whispered.
“Shh.” With her head bent to mine, she said, “I noticed the blond guy two stores back, but I just caught him taking a picture of you with his phone. He’s definitely a tail.”
Crap, crap, crap! Was the vampire Asher following me again? Had he found out about my ability to turn vamps into daywalkers? Or worse, about my nephew’s existence, who probably had the same skill? A ripple of panic skated through me. I jerked unconsciously, wanting to see who was behind us, but Phoebe’s hand tightened on my forearm until I winced.
“Jesus, Wil. Are you an agent of the Void or what? Don’t turn around.” Technically I was an agent, but only because I could sense vampires. Phoebe was the badass witch who could actually run them down and neutralize them if they were tagged as a danger to society. She shoved the dress into my hands. “Take this and try it on like everything’s normal. I’ll see about apprehending him. Then we can have some fun interrogating his ass.”
“You’re just going to take him down right here in front of the shop clerk?” Goddess above, that could get messy. “What if he’s a witch? A bystander could get seriously hurt.”
She paused outside my dressing room door, her face contorted with mock offense as she shook her head, her hand clutching her heart. “Jeez, you have such little faith. It pains me to say it, but I don’t know if we can be friends anymore. But don’t worry, he’s human.”
I shook my head, stifling a laugh. Knowing he was human put me at ease. Phoebs could take him while blindfolded and chained to a wall. All she needed was a little witch power and he’d be no more dangerous than a two-week-old puppy. “Just don’t cause a scene like last time when you spelled that poor schmuck into stripping for the entire restaurant.”
Her eyes glittered with the memory. “Now that was something to see.”
That guy had been sent undercover to evaluate Phoebe’s performance as a Void agent. Phoebe was a vampire hunter for the Void branch of the Arcane—the government agency that oversees all supernatural activity. Void agents, such as herself, worked undercover and moved without boundaries. She’d had no way of knowing the guy tailing her was a colleague. When she failed to ditch him, she spiked his drink with an inhibition spell and then flirted with him until he did a rendition of
The Full Monty
“He was…uh, built in all the right places,” I said.
Phoebe snickered. “Yes. Yes he was. Too bad he transferred right after that.” She shrugged. “Some people are too sensitive.” She held the yellow dress out to me. “Get moving while I go take the stalker down. I know he’s only a human, but I’m not taking any chances. Someone sent him for a reason.”
Her words sobered me. Being human didn’t mean he wasn’t a threat. Someone probably had sent him. I stared at the offending dress still in her hands. “I’m going, but don’t think for a moment I’m putting that on.”
“Fine. Just take it into the dressing room to keep up appearances.”
I disappeared behind the door and grimaced at my reflection. It really was too bad the giraffe dress didn’t come in another print or even a solid color, because Phoebs was right. The cut accentuated curves I hadn’t even known existed. I undid the side zipper and was slipping my wings out of the back slits when the dressing room door creaked open.
“This one had better not have sequins or anything that belongs in the zoo.” I turned, expecting Phoebe, and let out a gasp as I clutched the dress to my chest, covering myself.
David, my ex, moved with vampire speed and clamped his hand over my mouth. “Shh.”
I glared, stepping back until I was pressed up against the mirror, half-naked in one of the ugliest dresses ever. What the hell was he doing out in the middle of the day? Stalking me? Had he put the tail on us? I grabbed his arm, trying fruitlessly to break away from his hold. Then I kicked at his shin and winced when my bare toe connected with his marble-like frame.
“Calm down,” he said softly, his midnight-blue eyes locked on mine. “I’ll let go if you’ll be quiet. I have some news.”
Even though David was a vampire, he’d never intentionally hurt me. At least not physically. Less than two weeks ago, I’d found out he’d spent the better part of a year protecting me. Reluctantly, I nodded.
His hand slid from my mouth and he took a tiny step back.
My lips tingled from his touch and I wanted to kick him all over again. I hated that his touch still had an effect on me, even when I wanted to clock him for being a dominating a-hole. I glanced in the mirror and tugged the dress higher, trying for some semblance of decency. “What are you doing in my dressing room? Couldn’t you have waited outside?”
“We can’t be seen together.”
I sighed. Of course we couldn’t. In fact, he shouldn’t be seen during the day at all. If word got out he was a daywalker…“Go home, David.” I nervously peeked over the dressing-room stall. “You’re going to get us both killed if anyone sees you.”
“No one is going to see me in here.” His lips quirked up into an appreciative smile as his gaze traveled the length of my barely covered body. He glanced at the dresses hanging to the left. “What’s the occasion?”
I bit back a groan and stared him down. “I have a date.”
The smile vanished and he straightened, his six-foot-two frame taking up almost all my personal space. His perfect lips formed into a straight line. “I see.”
I didn’t know what to say to that. A week ago, David had told me he still loved me. That he’d never stopped. But he was a vampire and I was a faery. Faeries and vampires did not date. Ever. Vamps embody death while fae thrive on life. Me especially. Being around vampires could make me physically ill. Besides, he’d lied and kept vital information about my brother’s death from me for months.
“It’s with Talisen,” I blurted, angry all over again at his betrayal.
David’s eyes narrowed and he slowly backed up, finally giving me some room. The gesture only made me feel that much more exposed. After a tense moment of silence, he cut his eyes to glance over the door. “That’s none of my business.”
“That’s right. It isn’t.” I clutched the dress tighter to my chest. “Now leave so I can get dressed.”
“No.” He met my gaze with a cold, determined stare.
“What do you mean, no? Get out.”
“I came to deliver a message.”
His tone sent a shiver through my wings. The kind that put me on full alert. “What’s wrong?”