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Authors: Jory Strong

Skye's Trail

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Skye's Trail
The Angelini [1]
Jory Strong
Jasmine Jade (2005)

Skye’s Trail

Jory Strong

 
Book 1 in The Angelini series. 

 
For Skye Delano, the hunt and the kill are sometimes inexorably tied together.

Her origins shrouded behind an impenetrable wall of mental pain, Skye has survived and evolved into a tracker, a hunter who metes out justice to those who prey on the helpless. Alone but not lonely, she’s been content with her life. But now her body is changing and there’s an underlying craving that’s left her restless. She needs to take a mate—or rather, two mates…

Detective Rico Santana wants and needs Skye—for himself, and to track a couple of kids who have gone missing.

In all the centuries that Giovanni Banderali has been alive, he’s never desired any woman enough to bind her to him as a companion. That changed the moment he saw Skye. She’s a threat to the fledgling vampires he’s searching for, but nothing will stop him from claiming her—not even the Angelini blood that flows through her veins.

Adversaries, natural enemies—dangerous allies—the bond that links them is stronger than lust, more powerful than love. When an Angelini chooses a mate, no man can resist.

An Ellora’s Cave Romantica Publication

www.ellorascave.com

 

 

 

Skye’s Trail

 

ISBN 9781419901263

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Skye’s Trail Copyright © 2005 Jory Strong

 

Edited by Sue-Ellen Gower.

Cover art by Syneca.

 

Electronic book Publication April 2005

 

The terms Romantica® and Quickies® are registered trademarks of Ellora’s Cave Publishing.

 

With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from the publisher, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.® 1056 Home Avenue, Akron OH 44310-3502.

 

Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be scanned, uploaded or distributed via the Internet or any other means, electronic or print, without the publisher’s permission. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.  (http://www.fbi.gov/ipr/). Please purchase only authorized electronic or print editions and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted material. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

 

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.

 

The Angelini:

 

Skye’s Trail

 

Jory Strong

Trademarks Acknowledgement

 

 

 

The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction:

 

 

 

Pert:
Procter & Gamble Company, The

 

Viper: Daimler Chrysler Corporation

 

Yukon
: General Motors Corporation

 

Harley: Harley-Davidson Motor Co. Inc.

 

Baskin-Robbins: Baskin-Robbins Incorporated

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

 

Detective Rico Santana knew there was going to be hell to pay. One way or the other, there always was when
she
was involved. If not from Rivera, his captain, then from the unrelenting ache in his cock and the lack of sleep that always followed any encounter with Skye Delano.

 

¡Carajo!
He lusted after her. Maybe if he fucked her, it would get her out of his system.

 

Rico gritted his teeth against the need he could already feel building, the anticipation. Now he was sorry he’d brought along backup. If he just had some time alone with her he’d…

 

Shit. He needed saving…from himself. Fucking Skye would be professional suicide—maybe even personal suicide. Rico had a feeling that once would never be enough with her.

 

He hit the turn signal and eased the unmarked police car toward an empty parking space. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Cia Caldwell’s tight disapproving frown. She was the newest member of the department, and as far as he knew, she’d never had any personal contact with Skye. She’d heard the stories though, and read the captain’s file.

 

His mistake was calling Skye from the bullpen. When he’d looked up, Detective Caldwell was standing next to his cubicle. “Rivera is going to ream you,” she’d said before the phone had even hit its cradle.

 

“It’ll be dark soon. They’re not going to find those kids without Skye’s help.”

 

Cia squared her shoulders. “I’m going with you.”

 

A ripple of anger shot through Rico. He didn’t need a babysitter.

 

A flash of sanity followed. Yeah, maybe it’d be better.

 

The captain was going to be pissed enough. At least this way Rivera would see it was all about finding the kids—not about finding an excuse to see Skye again.

 

¡Carajo!
How could he be so hard when right now the only thing he should be thinking about was two missing kids?

 

Rico parked the sedan in front of Skye’s apartment complex. Caldwell had her door open before he could even turn off the engine. He grimaced and looked down at the bulge in the front of his pants. “Wait here,” he said.

 

Caldwell
’s mutinous expression let him know what she thought of his order. But he was the senior detective and she was new.

 

He got out of the car, heart beating and cock throbbing. Every time he saw Skye the lust that rolled through his system made him think of standing in front of a wave of molten lava.

 

Rico braced himself as he took the stairs up to her apartment and rang the bell. It was going to be worse this time. He knew that. Always before he’d seen her at a crime scene or the station. He’d never been alone with her in a place that might lead to something physical.

 

The cop in him said he was crazy to go into this situation without backup. The man said he was a fool not to try and fuck her.

 

When the door swung open, Rico knew he couldn’t keep denying what his body was telling him. Shit. Everything about Skye whispered of sex and dark mystery, danger. She was beautiful temptation, silver-blonde hair and jet-black lashes framing hypnotic pale blue eyes.

 

In that second he didn’t care whether the rumors about her were true or not. She was a fantasy. His fantasy.

 

Rivera had warned him off her after the last search, when the perps responsible for kidnapping a couple of kids had turned up dead. The captain had told him more as a friend than as a commanding officer that a personal relationship with Skye could be the end of his career.

 

Rico was a cop first. Came from a family of cops. Above everything else, that’s what he was, what he’d always wanted to be. A cop.

 

So he’d kept his distance. Avoided her. Until now.

 

Now the only thing he could think about was pressing her back into the apartment and taking her against the wall. On the floor. Eventually in the bed.

 

¡Carajo!
The things he wanted to do to her, the things he wanted to let her do to him, actually shocked him.

 

She half-smiled and it was like a fist around his dick, the ache was so bad. “You came quick,” she said and his heart jumped at her choice of words. He wondered if she’d guessed how badly he wanted her. Fuck, he’d be lucky if he lasted one stroke before shooting his load into her.

 

For a minute all he could do was stare into her eyes. He thought he saw desire in them but he wasn’t sure if it was real or imagined. All his cop instincts failed him when he was around her.

 

He tried to focus on the reason he was here. The kids.

 

It helped—some. “Are you ready?” he asked.

 

Skye studied the raven-haired cop standing in front of her. She could feel the lust pouring off of him, could read the fantasies even without delving into his mind.

 

Her body craved his, had from the first moment they’d met.

 

It’d be so easy to get involved with him.

 

So easy but so dangerous.

 

So very, very dangerous.

 

She stepped out of the apartment and locked the door behind her. “Ready.”

 

* * * * *

 

There were still plenty of police cars present when they got to the search site. Without getting out of the car, Skye could sense the frustration and fatigue and worry that hovered over the group of cops.

 

The search was winding down. If the kids were here, still alive, their chances decreased with another night spent in the woods. If they were somewhere else, the odds of being found alive dropped with every passing hour. Rico had told her that the abandoned rental car was the only lead—so far.

 

They got out of the unmarked police car and Skye immediately felt Captain Rivera’s frown. His hand twitched in an involuntary move to cross himself. He barked out an order to Rico, “Santana, get over here!”

 

She half-smiled as she watched the female detective stick to Rico’s side in an outward show of moral support even though Caldwell’s tightly compressed lips let everyone know that she didn’t approve of what Rico had done. It had been a chilly ride to the scene.

 

“What’s she doing here?” Rivera demanded. He didn’t bother to keep his voice down, to keep the censure out of it. It was no secret that suspicion still burned in his gut from the last time she’d been called in.

 

Rico answered, “She’s here as a volunteer, Captain. The search is shutting down. I’ll be off-duty and assisting her.”

 

“I’ll also be off-duty and assisting,” Detective Caldwell said.

 

A distraught couple huddled next to Captain Rivera, their eyes swinging from one cop to another. The man was rail-thin, tall, pale as an office worker. He cleared his throat. “We’d appreciate any help we can get.” The woman clutched his arm, nodding at the officers. She was much shorter than the man, rounded in a way that suggested comfort, old-fashioned motherhood.

 

The parents.

 

Skye pitied them.

 

Jon and Karen Armstrong had come to Las Vegas on a family vacation, bringing with them their nineteen-year-old niece and their five-year-old daughter. It was supposed to be a win-win situation. The niece was having some family problems, so the trip would give her some time away from her parents. Jon and Karen would get a babysitter. Now the Armstrongs were trapped in an incomprehensible nightmare.

 

They’d gone out for dinner and gambling last night, left the niece, Brittany, babysitting their daughter, Callie, in the hotel room. When they got back at three in the morning, the kid, the niece, and the rental car were gone.

 

Shortly after noon, the car had been located about thirty minutes outside of the city limits. The cops had been searching since then.

 

The Armstrongs’ grief and pain rolled over Skye, chased by Rivera’s angry frustration. He was in a corner and hated it. There’d be hell to pay if he tried to send her home now. Everybody watching the scene unfold knew it.

 

“Get on with it,” he growled to Rico. “Anything goes wrong and it’s your ass on the line.” He expanded his glance to include Caldwell. “Both of your asses.”

 

“Yes sir,” Caldwell said.

 

Rico nodded.

 

A dog and its handler emerged from the woods. “Here’s the last team, Captain,” one of the cops standing nearby said.

 

Skye walked over to the rental car, knelt down next to the driver’s door, let her senses flare out, flow backward with information. It was all part of her ability to hypnotize, only instead of applying it to others, it was self-directed. For periods of time she could become
other
—human in form but with the skills and instincts of an animal. The more she knew of the chosen animal, of its abilities, the closer the melding.

 

As the scent washed over her, she briefly let herself become wolfen. Hunter. Tracker. Unashamed predator.

 

The odor near the car was so strong that it burned her nostrils. Tainted blood. Rancid. Foul-smelling. Unnatural. Like the smell of death, and yet it wasn’t.

 

The scent belonged to someone who’d been in the car. The odor lingered on the door handle, went around the car and headed toward the woods.

 

There were other scents around the car. A female, young, healthy. Another person whose blood reeked of something horrible. A new drug? A new disease? It wasn’t cancer in any one of its numerous forms. It wasn’t HIV or AIDS. Skye knew those smells too well.

 

All of the scents led to the woods. She followed them to the edge, found they were joined by other scents. More tainted blood. Altogether, five different people with it. Skye couldn’t tell whether they were male or female. That had never happened before.

 

She tracked the other smells backward, stopped at the cluster of parked cars. The five people had all been here, had probably left together in another car. The healthy female didn’t go with them.

 

Detective Caldwell moved alongside Skye. “You ready to start now? Everybody is standing around waiting.”

 

“Sure,” Skye’s voice came out with a hint of humor but the detective didn’t notice.

 

They walked back to the rental car. The parents were there. They looked at Skye with desperate hope.

 

“Thank you for coming,” the woman said. Skye nodded, inhaled, would know which scent belonged to the mother.

 

The man offered a handshake, “I’m Jon Armstrong, this is my wife Karen.” Skye accepted the extended hand, took his scent along with it.

 

Rico asked, “You ready for the inside of the car? The crime scene guys have already come and gone.” Skye nodded and he opened the door.

 

The smell of tainted blood was even stronger in the closed confines of the car. It almost gagged her. She took a minute to focus, to begin the task of separating out the different scents—Jon Armstrong, Karen, foul blood times two—close in smell but slightly different, the healthy female who went into the woods, another healthy female, this one a child with a hint of shampoo—not baby shampoo but something else. Skye sorted through the scents lodged in her memory until she found the one she was looking for—Pert shampoo. There were other smells, cops, then fainter scents—rental car workers probably, or people who’d rented the car before the Armstrongs.

 

She stood up, stepped back from the car and nodded to Rico. He closed the door, shifting so he was standing next to the parents and the captain. A small cluster of cops was huddled with them.

 

The dog and handler stood off to the side. “Need a scent article?” the handler asked, part serious, part joking, in large part frustrated by lack of success. He held up a plastic bag with a stuffed animal in it. Skye’s lips tilted up for a second. “No thanks.”

BOOK: Skye's Trail
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