Authors: Cynthia Eden
Tags: #werewolf, #cynthia eden, #Romance, #paranormal romance, #sexy romance, #werewolf romance, #Romantic Suspense, #short romance story
“My job?” Ava asked as she lifted a brow. Yes, the vamps would smell her blood. Thanks to the car wreck, she had scratches all over her. But if the fanged folks couldn’t keep their teeth off her, she’d fry them with some holy water.
She never left home without her handy supply. Some girls carried pepper spray. Ava liked to stay stocked with holy water.
As they approached the thick gates at the edge of the vampire’s property, Ava realized that the place was quiet.
She pulled out her gun and her holy water.
“They’re not here.” Julian’s quiet but certain voice.
She used her elbow to push against the metal gate. It slid open easily. “They’re not here, and they left the place unlocked?” Ava shook her head. “I’ve never met a trusting vamp in my life. Usually, those guys triple check the locks.” Because they were always worried about the little matter of getting staked in their sleep.
Together, they entered the courtyard. Ava didn’t drop her gun or her holy water as she scanned the scene. No sign of the vamps, and at least half a dozen of the undead were stationed there.
Either they’d all gone out to play or…
Her nostrils flared. “That’s ash I smell, isn’t it.” Not a question.
But Julian nodded.
Her eyes closed for an instant. “Can you tell—was it a regular fire or—”
“I smell vampire.”
There were three main ways to kill vampires. Stake them. Behead them.
Or burn them.
Her eyes opened. She could see light pieces of ash drifting in the breeze. Ava swallowed.
Keep the shield up. Don’t let anyone see past the mask.
That had been her mantra for years. Ever since she’d come face to face with the first real monster she’d ever met—her high school boyfriend.
He’d been a shifter with a serious psychotic side. A side she’d only found out about when she tried to walk away from him.
Her shoulders straightened. “I have to search all the rooms.” But she knew, dammit, she
that she wouldn’t find any vamps there tonight. Someone had beaten her to the vampire lair.
And that same someone had torched all the vamps in the area, leaving only ash to float in the breeze and to coat the ground.
Some days, her job just sucked.
For a Friday night, Billy’s Backroad Bar was way too empty. Usually, the place was packed with dancing and drinking humans. Not tonight.
Tonight, Ava waltzed right in—no line, no wait—and stepped toward the bar top.
Billy turned toward her, the light glinting off the top of his bald head. “Something I can do for you, Sheriff?”
Ah, same old Billy. Trying to look innocent when the guy had probably never experienced a single innocent day in his forty years. Billy was too wise on the supernatural score in this town. Ava knew all about the private parties he threw for the wolves and vamps. Sly Billy knew just how to find the right humans who would cater to the darker needs of the supernaturals.
“A few nights ago,” she said, sliding out a picture of Kyle Powell. “This reporter came to see you.”
Billy didn’t glance at the picture. He just continued drying the glass in his hand. “You know the blood moon’s coming.”
She slapped her hand on the counter.
“Look at him.”
“Kyle Powell had his throat ripped out. His body was tossed aside like garbage.” Ava leaned across the bar. “Tell me why he came to you.”
He glanced back up at her, his light blue eyes seeming to freeze her. “I just did, Sheriff.”
The blood moon. Her eyes narrowed. “That’s only a story.”
“Is it? Then why has half the town already left? And why will every other human be out of here by dawn tomorrow?”
Tomorrow…Halloween. “Because they’re letting a bunch of crazy old legends scare them. The blood moon is bullshit.” She picked up the picture of Kyle. “Right now, I want to know about him. He’s real—real dead.”
Billy put down the glass. “It’s not bullshit.” Now the guy actually sounded offended. “That moon is gonna bleed tomorrow night, and when it does, the wolves and the vamps—”
What vamps? As far as she could tell, they were all ash.
“They can take over then,” Billy told her. “New werewolves can be created. The vamps can feast until no humans stand. They have the power.” Billy gave a low whistle. “It’s gonna be so beautiful.”
Billy had never been exactly sane. Not exactly insane, either. “You told Kyle about your blood moon ideas, didn’t you?”
The only time to make new werewolves.
Most shifters were actually born with werewolf blood. They just
the beasts as they grew older. But some stories, some old whispers, said that a new werewolf could be created under the power of a blood-red moon on Halloween.
“He already knew. Dang fool. He thought the wolves would just gift him with their bite and its magic.”
Ava stilled. Okay, now she was getting somewhere with Billy. The floor squeaked behind her, and she looked back to see that Deputy Billings had followed her inside. So much for Ken keeping watch in the parking lot. She turned back to Billy and lowered her voice, “That’s why the reporter went to see Julian? Because he wanted the bite?”
Billy leaned toward her. “That alpha won’t be biting no one, though, will he?” His gaze trekked over her face. “Except for you.”
She jerked back.
Billy laughed. “Alpha’s got plans. We all know it.”
Ava shoved the picture into her pocket. “Julian doesn’t have any plans. He and his pack aren’t going to hurt anyone.” She spun back toward the deputy. “Ken, we’re done here, let’s go.”
“He’d hurt anyone who came after you.” Billy’s quiet voice froze her.
Ken frowned. “What’s he going on about?”
“You’re wrong.” She spoke the words without looking back. “The alpha and I have no—”
“He marked you that first night. Alpha’s just been biding his time since then. Every supernatural can see the truth.”
Now she looked back. Was this just more crazy bullshit? But Billy’s eyes were shining. No, glowing, and she knew that her instincts about the bartender had been right all along. Billy wasn’t just a normal human. Far from it. She just wasn’t sure exactly
Then some of the puzzle pieces clicked for her. “You’re the one who started all the talk about Halloween. About how hell would be coming to Crossroads.” Gossip that said blood would fill the streets and every man and woman would start howling at the red moon.
Hello, Halloween. Hello, hell.
“I just warned folks.” The glow faded from his eyes. “Now those that are left…well, whatever happens, they chose it.”
Hardly no one was left. Her. Emergency personnel. The wolves.
And vampires? Not that she could find. “Your stories have made some assholes go crazy. They’ve killed humans. They torched the vampire houses, they—”
“Wolves and vampires never get along.” Billy picked up the glass. Began drying it again. “They like to battle under the moon.”
Her eyes narrowed. “Just where are you planning to be tomorrow night, Billy?”
“I’ll have me a good seat, Sheriff. Up close, so I can see all the action.”
Just great. Ava glanced back at Ken. His mouth gaped open, and he stared at Billy like the guy had two heads. Maybe he did. That news wouldn’t really surprise her then. She hurried forward and grabbed Ken’s arm. “Come on, we’ve got work to do.”
Ava pushed him outside. The deputy didn’t even wait until they’d cleared the door before he started asking, “I-is it true? Tomorrow, are them wolves really goin’ to—”
“The wolves aren’t going to do anything.” No cars drove on the road. The streetlights glinted off the black pavement. “I want you to get back to the station and help Charlie man the base for the rest of the night.”
“But what about—”
Her hand lifted to rest on the butt of her gun. “I want to finish questioning Billy.” Without the avid eyes and ears of the deputy. The kid wasn’t ready for the details that would be coming. She also didn’t want him learning any more about her and the alpha.
Billy knows too much.
Ava exhaled. “After I finish questioning him, I’ve got patrols to do.” Patrols in an empty city. “You hear about any trouble, you let me know ASAP, got it?”
Ken’s Adam’s apple bobbed, but he nodded.
Ava watched the guy drive away. A little too fast, but she knew adrenaline had to be spiking his blood. Too fast, too eager—that was the story of that Ken’s life. But, luckily, he didn’t have far to go before reaching the station with his over-eager driving. A few miles.
Her newest recruit was in over his head, and she wanted to make sure that he—and everyone else under her guard—survived whatever Halloween horror was coming.
She headed toward her vehicle, another patrol car. Just as a precaution, she wanted a back-up. A girl could never have too many guns. Her hand lifted and started to open the car door, but goosebumps rose on her arms. A quick shiver of awareness that told Ava she wasn’t alone.
Then Julian’s image appeared in the glass of the driver’s side window. He stalked forward, coming up quickly behind her.
This time, Ava didn’t draw her gun as she turned to confront him. Julian’s face was hard, tense, and she could see the edge of his sharpening canines.
He marked you that first night.
The side of her neck seemed to burn. That night, that wild night when she’d lost control and lust had reigned, Julian had bit her on the neck. A light nip. Nearly forgotten once the heat of the moment had passed.
He hadn’t even broken the skin. Just given her a small love bite.
Every supernatural can see the truth.
“What have you done?” Ava whispered.
“You shouldn’t be out here alone.” Anger hummed in his words. “After what happened to you before—”
“I’m not alone, am I? I’ve got the wolf alpha shadowing me.”
His gaze swept the dark streets. “Do you have a death wish?”
No, she didn’t, but she did want answers. “Tell me about the blood moon.” Maybe it wasn’t such bullshit after all. She’d asked her superiors about it when she first heard the stories, but as far as the government was concerned, there was
way for humans to become werewolves. Werewolves were born, a whole different race. Humans simply couldn’t become beasts.
His hands wrapped around her waist, and he lifted her up against him. “You should know better than to ask such a dangerous question,” he whispered near her lips as his hands tightened on her, “out in public.”
“No one’s here.” She wasn’t afraid. Not of him or the answer that her gut was telling her would come. “Folks in this town went running scared. They won’t be back until the blood moon is gone.”
Or until the monsters were. But the vamps had vanished already, and that just left…
“Humans always fear what they don’t understand.” His eyes glittered in the darkness. “Why?”
She pushed her hands between them. Felt the hot, hard strength of his chest beneath her touch. “Because they don’t have the power to match the supernaturals.” A human was sure no match for a werewolf. Not in hand-to-claw combat.
“When they know our weakness…” His lips feathered over her cheek, and Ava fought to hold herself perfectly still. “They’re more than a match for us.”