Authors: Mary Abshire
Back Cover Copy
She's the only one of her kind. And she doesn’t even know her name.
Two investigators–one human, one vampire–find a young woman among a mass of dead bodies. She has no memories, and nothing but her clothes, two receipts, and a mysterious dagger carved with the initials ‘SB’.
As she seeks her identity, SB realizes she's unlike any other creature in the world, making her the most valuable person on the planet. And the most wanted.
WARNING: Language, violence, and graphic sex.
“How long have you worked for your killer club?” I asked.
He glared at me. “Do you think we kill for fun?”
I stiffened. “No, but I do wonder if you enjoy it.”
He thrust his face in front of mine. His pupils dilated and the area around his eyes tightened. “I enjoy making sure no single race dominates. I’ve seen what happens when one overpopulates. I’ve seen an entire species almost wiped out. My actions are more than justified.”
My heart fluttered. He was pure strength and dominance. Oddly, I found myself attracted to him. He had a soft musky scent and perfect skin. Long eyelashes complimented his obsidian eyes.
I stared deep into his dark wells. “I’m not like you.”
“Who are you?” His eyes drifted down to my mouth and then back up.
“I wish I knew.”
By Mary Abshire
Copyright © 2012, Mary Abshire
Edited by Tiffany Maxwell
Book design by Lyrical Press, Inc.
Cover Art by Renee Rocco
First Lyrical Press, Inc. electronic publication: January, 2012
Lyrical Press, Incorporated
eBooks are not transferable. All Rights Reserved. This book may not be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in whole or in part by any means, including graphic, electronic, or mechanical without the express written consent of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.
Published in the United States of America by Lyrical Press, Incorporated
To my daughter, Lydia, you are my angel, always and forever. May all your days be filled with happiness and laughter.
Special thanks to my daughter for her patience and understanding while I spent countless hours writing. It's been a bumpy road and I can't say thank you enough.
Huge gratitude for my fabulous critique partner and friend, Rosalie Lario. I'm very thankful we met at RWA. I truly value your comments and support.
Mom, I'm always grateful for your support. Life is crazy sometimes.
Many heartfelt thanks to my friends. Your words of encouragement mean the world to me. Danielle and Kris, thanks for keeping me sane.
Thank you Tiffany Maxwell for your editorial advice.
Last, but certainly not least, thank you readers. I do so enjoy hearing from you and I'm deeply appreciative of your support.
“Wake up,” I heard.
The voice sounded masculine and unfamiliar. Fingers tapped my cheek. I opened my eyes and saw a big dark blur. What the hell? I inhaled and picked up the scent of blood, burned flesh, and rot. Lots of rot. My stomach twisted in a tight knot.
“Wake up,” the man said again. A cool hand touched my chin and tilted my head from side to side.
I opened my eyes. A strange man with his hair hanging in front of his face hovered above me. I swatted at his arm. “Stop it.”
He drew his hand back and pierced me with his dark eyes. “Are you awake now?”
I rubbed my fingers over my eyes. Was I dreaming? The man was cute, heart-thumping cute, like a model with great bone structure. His hair came past his chin, but not by much. All he needed was a tan and he would’ve been perfect for the cover of any magazine.
“Do you understand me?” he asked with a hint of irritation in his tone.
“Yeah, I hear you loud and clear,” I replied, equally annoyed. “Where am I?”
The patter of footsteps alerted me to another presence.
“Boss,” a man called out.
The attractive stranger stood and turned. “Over here.”
I watched him walk a few feet away. He had a professional, yet casual look with his loose-fitting blazer and dark pants. Though I knew nothing about him, other than he answered to Boss, I doubted someone with his style and good looks could be a bad person.
I turned my head and stared up at the dark sky. Wait a minute. How did I get on my back? I rubbed my temple while I tried to recall how I ended up on the ground. The more I thought, the more my mind drew a blank. What the hell?
Glancing down, I noticed clothes on me–a blouse, skirt, and boots. I inhaled a relieving breath, glad my goods were covered. Then I recognized the powerful stench of garbage and smoke. I wrinkled my nose. How did I end up near burning trash?
Slowly, I lifted myself upright. My belly tightened and ached horribly, but the rest of me seemed normal.
“Boss, I found–oh wow!” A shorter man holding a large gun in one arm stopped and peered down at me. Average in build, he had short hair and a curious gleam in his eyes. “Is she all right?”
“Yes, Jonas. It appears she may be.” Boss slapped his hand on Jonas's shoulder and nudged him away from me. “What did you find?”
Jonas slid the strap of the weapon over his arm. “I estimate there are about thirty bodies. Most of them are burned beyond recognition.” He paused and glanced at me.
“What else?” Boss asked.
“It looks like there are four different breeds,” Jonas replied.
Boss ran his hands through his hair as he took a few steps away from Jonas. “This doesn’t make sense.”
The two of them stood around and whispered to each other. Hand movements, nods, shrugs, and shakes of heads gave the impression they were as bemused as I was. Thirty bodies? Four breeds? What the hell did it all mean?
I pulled my knees up. Something inside my boot rubbed against my leg. I slipped my hand inside and lifted out a small dagger with a gold handle.
“Burn the rest of the bodies and meet me back at the car,” Boss said, and I quickly shoved the blade back in my boot.
Jonas jogged off while Boss approached me. “Need help?”
“No, I’m fine,” I said, wincing as I pushed to my feet. The cramp in my stomach tightened, making me wonder when I last ate. Standing up, I dusted the grit from my hands and the back of my skirt. “Where am I?”
“You don’t know?” he asked, a hint of mockery in his tone.
I looked around at the mounds of heaping trash. “Obviously a dump.”
“Do you remember anything? How you got here, who you were with?”
“No.” I shook my head. “I don’t know why I would even be here. This place stinks.”
“What’s your name?”
I stared at him, dumbfounded. Name? Shit. I broke off eye contact and looked at the ground. Carrie? Kimberly? Susan? What the fuck was it?
“What’s your name?” he asked again.
I began to hear a sharp ringing in my ears. The sound grew louder and started to give me a headache. “I...I don’t know.”
He moved closer with his gaze narrowed at me. “You don’t know your own name?”
Uncomfortable with his closeness, I took a step back. “I don’t remember.”
I quivered, sensing a void in my mind. I attempted to recall the last twenty-four hours of my life, who I’d associated with, what I had been doing. Nothing came to mind. No people, no places, no words, not a single fucking memory appeared. How could such a thing even be possible?
“Look,” I said, meeting Boss’s gaze. “I’m not sure how I got here or anything right now. Something is wrong.”
He snickered. “I'd say there is a lot wrong.”
A twinge of panic came over me. Why couldn’t I remember anything? Why wouldn’t the damn ringing in my ears go away? My stomach knotted and my pulse spiked as the confusion overwhelmed me.
Boss ran his fingers through his hair as he scanned the area. He had a serious expression on his face. Maybe he was as confused as I was. He lowered his hand and faced me.
“Why don’t you come with us? We can go somewhere safe and talk. Maybe you will remember something.”
I quickly considered my options. I could stay in a stinky dump with no ride out or take my chances and leave with two attractive men. The fact one of them carried a weapon bothered me, but he held it down. Maybe he had it for protection. He didn't seem violent. Neither of them made a move to harm me. My instincts told me to go with them. I nodded to Boss.
He turned and led the way. My high-heeled boots dug into the dirt as I followed him along the path. We passed an object burning on the ground. The pungent smell of burned flesh infiltrated my nostrils. I covered my mouth and plugged my nose. At closer glance, I realized my sense of smell was accurate. A man’s arm lay on the ground, separated from the fire consuming the rest of the body. I noticed the head was missing. Who would've beheaded this person and why? More questions popped in my head while the knot in my stomach tightened. If I didn’t get away soon, I would spew my guts.
I lifted my gaze and found Boss several feet ahead of me. He didn’t seem to have a problem with the stench or the fact bodies were torn apart. I rushed to catch up with him.
“Why are there dead bodies around here?” I asked as I drew near him. “Why did you tell that guy to burn them?”
“All evidence has to be destroyed,” he answered, keeping his normal pace with his back facing me.
“Evidence? They’re people. Shouldn’t someone bury them properly? What about their families?”
Boss stopped at a tall fence and pulled the twisted metal back, exposing an opening. “Their families already know they are dead.”
I stopped and stared at him, wondering what he meant. Cold, unemotional eyes looked back at me.
“How could their families know? How do you know?”
“I'll explain later.” He extended his free arm toward the opening in the fence.
I squeezed in the gap and stopped a few feet from the fence. I turned and saw Jonas running toward us.
“Did you make sure all the parts were destroyed?” Boss asked as Jonas slipped through the opening in the fence.
“They're all taken care of.”
Boss followed Jonas through the gap, then met my gaze. “The car is by the tree.” He pointed.
Taking his hint, I headed for the car. Grass swished under my feet while bugs buzzed around me. I heard Boss and Jonas a few steps behind me.
“What’s her name?” Jonas asked.
I crossed the dirt road and dirt crunched under my shoes.
“She doesn’t remember.” Boss answered.
I stopped beside the vehicle and turned to face them.
Jonas rubbed his hand over his chin and looked at Boss. “Did you–”
“You’re driving,” Boss said, digging into the pocket of his blazer. Metal clinked as he withdrew a set of keys and handed them to Jonas. Then he walked behind the car.
Jonas squeezed the keys in his hand. His brows drew closer together as he focused his gaze at me. “You don’t remember your name?”
“Believe me, I’d love to introduce myself.”
“Do you have idea how you got here or where you came from?” he asked as he slid the strap from the gun down his arm.
“No, and your Boss already asked me those questions.” A sharp pain shot through my gut. I winced and held my hand over my stomach. “Can we just go?” The pain worsened and I gritted my teeth. My mouth felt drier than a desert. What was wrong with me?
“When was the last time you fed?” Jonas asked.
I met his gaze. “Excuse me?”
“Unlock the doors Jonas,” Boss yelled from across the vehicle.
Jonas slid a key into the lock under the handle, prompting an internal click. After opening the door, he turned his attention to me. “You know, when was the last time you drank warm blood?”
I opened the back door and froze. “What?” I couldn’t have heard him correctly.
“Oh come on,” he said, with a look of exasperation. “You’re not going to stand there and tell me you don’t know you’re a vampire.”
Cool wind blew in from the open window, fanning my hair away from my face. I sat in the middle of the backseat with a thousand questions swirling in my head. Jonas drove the car. He kept glimpsing at me from the rear view mirror, but he never spoke any words.
I glanced at the man Jonas called Boss. He sat in the front passenger seat, his arm half outside the open window. Wind took his brown locks and brushed them across his sculpted cheekbones.