Authors: Leanne Crabtree
By Leanne Crabtree
Other books by Leanne Crabtree
Shifter Romance Novella series
Hugh & Brooke
The Sapphire Diadem
Text copyright © 2014 Leanne Crabtree
All Rights Reserved
Charlotte shoved wooden stakes into the loops on her belt, three in total—you never knew when you might lose one—and then picked up two Beretta’s. She checked the ammo clips on both; they were full of silver bullets. Good for werewolves and vampires alike, along with a few other paranormal creatures. She slid them into the holsters at her thighs.
The darkly delicious voice of Sebastian Hawcourt had her tensing. “From you: always.”
He laughed, the sound deep and husky, making her insides clench. “My dear, you should know by now, after the past year, that I wouldn’t dream of biting you; unless you asked, of course.”
Grabbing the stake from her belt she spun on the spot, her hand flying towards his chest. She stopped with barely a millimetre separating the stake from his heart and said, “I’d rather kill you than be anywhere near you.”
Seb smiled, showing her his fangs. “Then it’s too bad we’re working together on your latest mission, isn’t it Charlie?”
He knew she hated that nickname so he used it regularly to wind her up. Charlotte bared her teeth at him in a snarl.
He was the only paranormal working for the Agency and none of the lower level agents, including herself, knew why.
If she’d known about him before she joined she wouldn’t have bothered, not after discovering her family, including her young nephew, dead with their throats ripped out by a vampire in the throes of bloodlust. She’d stared at him in horror and he’d vanished in the blink of an eye, leaving her with five corpses and a broken spirit.
In the aftermath with the police, news crews and neighbours milling around her and the house, a man had approached looking serious and out of place. It was he who had introduced her to the world of the Agency and allowed her to get revenge against the monster that killed her family. He’d also introduced her to the many other paranormal creatures that roamed the streets too and how to defend herself against them by teaching her how to fight.
It was two years today since she’d lost her family; and to a vampire no less.
The stake was shoved harder into his chest. “Don’t wind me up today. You might just find yourself turned to ash.”
Sebastian raised a mocking brow. “What’s got into you today? You’re normally miserable but today you’re more so.”
Her lip curled in distaste. “I can't believe they paired me with you for this. Why not Mitchell?” she asked, thinking of the efficient thirty something who’d been with the Agency for ten years.
So it’s just me you don’t like?”
Charlotte growled and shoved him away with her free hand before turning from his pretty face and shoving the stake back in its loop. The guns went into the holsters on her thighs and she securely strapped the fastening. Next she grabbed her set of engraved daggers and ran a finger along the blade to check its sharpness. It bit into the skin and a sliver of blood formed. She cast a glance over her shoulder at the vampire.
Seb rolled his eyes. “If I wanted your blood, Charlie, I’d have had it by now.”
She knew he was right. He could control minds and make people do things they wouldn’t normally think of doing. A shudder worked its way down her spine as she recalled him making a feral werewolf kill itself by ripping its own heart out.
Charlotte wiped her bloody finger on her black fatigue trousers and then adjusted her stab vest into a more comfortable position and slotted the knives into the modified armour.
They were going after a group of werewolves who had been preying on the homeless and needy. It wouldn’t have been so bad if they were changing the humans but they were doing much worse—eating them; leaving an arm or a leg or some other body part behind. Police were warning the public of a large wild animal on the loose and to stay in at night but the Agency knew the truth and tonight was the night they would meet their doom; courtesy of one Charlotte Bevill.
Finally ready, she turned to face her partner for tonight. Sebastian really was rather attractive with his black hair styled fashionably, smooth pale skin and bad boy piercings and tattoos. He knew he was good looking too which made for one cocky arse vampire.
Cocking her head to the side, she asked, “You ready?”
He used his fang to toy with the ring in his lip as he looked her over, his blue eyes starting to glow faintly. “As always. After you, Charlie.”
So you can check out my arse? I don’t think so. Vampires first,” she said sweetly, her fingers hovering over the stakes at her hip.
Sebastian laughed as he preceded her from the room and led the way to the garage where they would pick a ride for the evening’s events. It would have to be something big so they had something to ferry the corpses of the dead werewolves back here to dispose of.
“What are we taking?”
Charlotte headed for the black Hummer H2 as answer. It was large enough for all the bodies of the werewolves. She shot a glance at Seb.
so she didn’t feel too close to him.
It really did take an effort not to give in to his flirtatious behaviour sometimes and she hated herself for it. He was a vampire; the same breed that had cruelly murdered her family so why did she secretly want him? She should hate him!
Climbing into the car, she was dismayed to see Sebastian already sat inside and waiting for her. He was quick.
He flashed his fangs and she scowled at him as she felt her heart rate kick up. Reaching for the key, she found it in the ignition and turned it until the engine rumbled to life. Putting the car in gear she was just about to set off when Sebastian reached across her to grasp her seat belt, his hand brushing against her breasts in the process, as he pulled it and slotted it into the fastener.
What the hell, Sebastian?”
If we crash, for any reason, and you’re not wearing your seatbelt, you’re more or less dead.”
Then maybe you should put yours on, too!”
He laughed, “It would take more than that to kill me for good.”
Charlotte swore colourfully under her breath and turned her attention back to the windscreen. How could she forget that he wasn’t human?
They squealed out of the garage and quickly got on the motorway heading south. She paid no attention to Sebastian on the other side of the car until he started messing with the radio, flipping from pop to rock to rap before stopping on a classical channel. She shot him a glare. “You’re kidding right? Classical? You look like that and listen to this shit?”
Tchaikovsky was a master of music.”
She snorted and reached out to switch channels. Radio 1 blared out something she knew and she sang along softly while beating out the rhythm on the steering wheel. It was only when the song finished that she realised Sebastian was staring at her.
Glancing across at him nervously, she asked, “What?”
I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so relaxed in my company before.”
Immediately she tensed up as she realised what he’d said was true and shifted her weight away from him and closer to the door.
“And the armour comes back up,” he muttered wryly.
Charlotte scowled across at him as they pulled off the motorway at the next exit and stopped at the lights. “Fuck you.”
Sebastian chuckled, “You only have to ask, Charlie.”
The lights turned green and she hit the accelerator with a little too much enthusiasm nearly hitting the car in front. She swore under her breath and eased back as they began to head through the city centre to their destination.
She could not wait to get to the warehouse where the werewolves had been reported to have set up base. She needed to take out her frustration on something and since she couldn't do it on the vampire sat beside her, she’d do it to the beasts instead.
Neither spoke again for the rest of the journey until they pulled up outside the industrial park. Charlotte doubled checked she had every available weapon to injure or kill werewolves before reaching for the door handle.
Sebastian’s fingers curved around her wrist in a vice like grip. “Let me go in first and distract them. They hate vampires.”
“Not as much as me,” she muttered darkly as images of her murdered family swam before her eyes, as she tried to yank her hand from his grip. “Let go of me!”
A frown pulled at his brows as he stared at her. His fingers momentarily tightened around her wrist and she winced. “Stay outside near the gate. I’ll lead them into the open and then you can go trigger-happy on them, okay?”
“Whatever, will you just let go of me before you break something?”
His fingers instantly released her and they both stared down at her reddening skin. “Shit, I’m sorry. Just stick to the plan,” he added, and was gone in the next instant.
Charlotte stared at the place he’d been sat not two seconds before and sighed. Damn him for confusing the hell out of her! One minute he was winding her up and the next he was gentle and not wanting her to get hurt. Talk about split personality!
Climbing out of the car she shut the door as quietly as possible and locked it before walking on silent feet toward warehouse six, where they had been reliably informed the werewolves were holed up.
Werewolves’ hearing was almost as good as vampires so they’d be able to hear her breathing and heartbeat if she got any closer. Taking note of Sebastian’s advice she crouched in the shadows near the entrance gate and retrieved her guns from the holsters at her thighs and turned off the safeties.
She kept her gaze locked on the warehouse waiting for whatever Sebastian had planned to go down, her guns ready at her sides.
Suddenly she heard shouts from inside and her body tensed for battle. Lifting her guns she aimed at the warehouse, waiting. Seconds later she saw a blur as Sebastian whipped out of the building followed by three large men. They were shouting and growling, their faces masks of fury, as they chased the vampire.
Taking aim she pulled the triggers and both bullets hit their targets but the wolves did little more than slow down. The third turned in her direction and locked gazes with her. A shiver raced down her spine as he began stalking towards her.
Charlotte swallowed noisily and bided her time, waiting for the perfect time to shoot. The man bared bloody teeth and her stomach rolled.
When he was about ten feet away she pulled the triggers. She watched the bullets hit him but he didn’t slow, only flinched, as she emptied the cartridges into him. The gun’s clicked telling her she was out and she swore as he came closer, reaching behind her for new clips.
Fresh meat,” he growled and ran his tongue over his teeth. “Pretty girls always taste better.”
She fumbled getting the clip out of her pocket and began backing away. She wasn’t fast enough doing either and received a hard back handed slap to the cheek, which sent her flying to the floor.
A dark shape flew past her and into the shifter knocking him to the floor. The shape turned out to be Sebastian, his fists a blur as he pummelled the shifter. The wolf let out a howl and Sebastian stepped back, offering her a hand, as the man before them began to shift to his wolf form.
To Charlotte it looked extremely painful as the man’s bones stretched and changed, fur sprouting from his pores and claws extending from the tips of his fingers. It took a mere few seconds and then they were faced with an angry looking wolf the size of the average pony.
“Stay back,” Sebastian warned, then launched himself at the wolf.
It lifted a large paw and took a swipe at the vampire but thanks to Sebastian’s enhanced speed he avoided it easily. Then he aimed a swift kick at its other front leg and the animal fell to the floor with a crash that didn’t help its mood one bit.
It howled and then jumped at Sebastian, who evaded it easily, before turning its attention back to Charlotte.
Fear poured through her and she stood there immobile as it lifted a giant paw and swiped at her. In the last second she was pushed out of the way and fell heavily to her knees, a sound of pain and anger splitting the air as Sebastian took the hit instead; four large, deep, slices to his torso that began to bleed profusely.
There was no way she could have survived such an attack.
His eyes flared icy blue and his head whipped around to stare at the werewolf. “You really shouldn’t have done that.” With a snarl he launched himself high over the animal, landing on its back. He gripped either side of its large head and twisted sharply. There was a loud snap and the wolf dropped to the ground, its neck broken.
Seb was breathing hard as he dropped to the ground and pulled a large knife from the inside of his long black coat. With one swift move he’d slashed through the beasts’ neck and Charlotte pressed a hand to her mouth to try and stop her nausea.
There are three women in the warehouse. Two are still alive; very shaken after seeing what happened to the third,” Sebastian said softly.
She nodded, grateful for the distraction. “Are the other two shifters dead?”
He cast her a dark look, his blue eyes blazing, and she took a step back, her palms up. She got the message.
With one last glance, she jogged over to the warehouse door and stepped inside. Her eyes were drawn to the corpse in the middle of the floor and she gagged at the sight of the mutilated young woman.
Her eyes were open and staring blankly in Charlotte’s direction, one of her arms had been pulled off and lay off to the side, flesh hanging off as if the wolves had been in mid-meal when Sebastian had caught their attention.
A low crying sound caught her attention and she turned away from the body, looking for the source of the noise. “You can come out now. I’m here to help you.”
A dark head peered around a large crate, her eyes red from crying. “Are they gone?”
Yes. I’m sorry about your friend but we need to get you out of here.”
The girl came from around the crate, tugging her lighter haired friend with her. The other girl’s eyes landed on her dead friend and she let out a moan of pain. “Come on, Mel, we can't help her now. We need to go with this woman.”
Charlotte herded them outside and directed them to the car, the ground now free of corpses. She caught sight of Sebastian at the rear of the car, just shutting the boot, and urged the girls to move quicker.
The vampire stayed in the shadows, knowing his eyes would scare them with their unnatural brightness, as Charlotte helped them into the car.
“I’ll be right back; I just need to help my partner.”
Walking around the back of the car, she headed over to Sebastian and grabbed his arm but he shrugged her off.
Seb held his bleeding chest, a hiss escaping him with every step. His eyes were icy blue, the more feral side of him taking over as survival took precedence over civility.
Charlotte grabbed his arm to stop him and offered him her wrist. “Take what you need.” He shook his head and pushed past her again. “Look, Seb, I need your help to bring those girls in, so drink. Take what you need so we can calm them down and get them back home.”
She could see he was tempted as his blue eyes watched the pulse beating in her throat. She offered him her wrist again and as he reached out for her hand, her pulse pounding even more erratically than it had from the run.
Suddenly he yanked on her wrist and she crashed into his chest. Charlotte tilted her head back to look at him but he’d buried his face in her throat, his tongue running over the pulse.
“Seb?” She asked nervously.
This way will be quicker,” he murmured quietly, “less painful, too.”
She nodded slowly and felt him lightly draw his teeth over her throat, eliciting a shiver from her. His tongue joined in the play and she gasped softly.
“I won't hurt you, Charlotte,” he promised. Then his teeth sunk through her flesh and she gasped again, this time in pain. Her fingers fisted in the material of his black shirt as she fought not to pull away and risk her neck being ripped open.
So much for not hurting her!
But the pain quickly faded and a pleasant buzz rushed through her.
He let her go a minute later, his lips lightly brushing the incision, and she stumbled back.
Her gaze flew to his and she watched as the icy blue faded from his eyes returning to their original sapphire colour. They locked with hers and she forgot to breathe for a second.
Thank you, Charlotte,” he said quietly.
Swallowing hard, she nodded, her eyes dropping to the slices in his shirt to see healing flesh beneath, and turned to climb in the driver’s side door. Sebastian did the same at human speed and she was grateful for his thoughtfulness so as not to scare the girls some more.
“What about our friend?” The dark haired one asked.
Charlotte glanced over her shoulder at them, “We’ll have to ask someone else to come out and collect the body and she’ll be taken to a funeral home ready for a funeral.”
The fairer haired one burst into a fresh round of tears and the other one consoled her.
Turning back to the front, she started the car and set off.
An hour later they arrived back at the Agency and Charlotte helped the girls from the car and inside the building where they’d get help for what they’d seen and been through tonight.
She only wished she could forget it too.