Authors: Donna Grant
This is a work of fiction.
All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
2014 by DL Grant, LLC
2014 by Donna Grant
Cover design © 2013 by
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce or transmit this book, or a portion thereof, in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from the author.
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Available in ebook and print editions
A special thanks goes out to my family who lives in the bayous of Louisiana. Those summers I spent there are some of my most precious memories. I also need to send a shout-out to my team – Melissa Bradley, Stephanie Dalvit, and Leah Suttle. You guys are the bomb. Seriously. Hats off to my editor, Chelle Olsen, and cover design extraordinaire, Leah Suttle. Thank you all for helping me to keep my crazy schedule and get this story out!
Steve, Gillian, and Connor, thanks for putting up with my hectic schedule of writing and for knowing when it was time that I got out of the house for a spell.
And for Lexi, Sheba, Sassy, Tinkerbell, and Diego who love to walk on the keyboard or demand some loving regardless of what I’m doing.
Last but not least, my readers. You have my eternal gratitude for the amazing support you show me and my books. Y’all rock my world. Stay tuned at the end of this story for the very first sneak peek of
, Rogues of Scotland book 1 out March 10, 2014. Enjoy!
Vincent Chiasson closed his eyes and remained hunched down at the end of the dock. The air was heavy, the heat oppressive even at midnight.
He heard the telltale splash as a gator on the other side of the bayou entered the water. Off to his right was a hiss from a water moccasin, and all around him the sounds of the bayou filled the night.
But none of that was what he searched for. It was the creatures of the night that he hunted, the beings that people only thought lived in imaginations and movies.
It was what the Chiasson’s had done for centuries. It all began in France, continued in Nova Scotia, and followed them all the way to Louisiana.
A scream split the air. Vincent’s eyes snapped open as he jerked his head to the left. He stood and rushed back down the pier until he reached solid ground. He knew the land as well as he knew himself.
He knew every stump, every curve in the swamp. Vincent ran as fast as the wind to find the woman before the creature could attack again.
Another scream rent the air, this one full of fear...and death.
Vincent pumped his legs faster. He jumped over a log and slid to a stop next to the water’s edge. Every instinct told him that he had to hurry to the woman, but stealth was all that would get him close to the creature.
With his breathing ragged, Vincent silently stepped into the bayou. The water was up to his knees, but didn’t make a ripple as he entered.
A gator eyed him off to his right. Vincent moved farther to the left, hoping to come up around and behind the creature he hunted.
“Please!” a woman yelled. “Someone help!”
Vincent ground his teeth together, and reached down where his machete was attached to the outside of his right thigh. He pulled out the blade and kept his gaze ahead. His three brothers would be closing in on the beast as well. It would end this night.
The woman and the creature were about fifty feet from him on a small outcropping. The full moon shed enough light that Vincent could make out the woman trying her best to climb to her feet. Her hands clawed at the earth, and she kept looking behind herself.
Vincent was determined to kill the being tonight. He crept to the left where a grove of cypress trees nestled. As soon as he climbed out of the bayou, he was ready to kill.
He slunk closer, keeping his legs bent and his body in the shadows. When he was only twenty feet away he saw the creature. It was hulking, with dark fur and unimaginable claws, yet he couldn’t get a look at its face.
It loomed over the woman, and Vincent knew it was now or never. He burst out of the trees, his machete raised as the woman’s scream echoed through the bayou once more.
Vincent skidded to a halt when he came to the woman. The creature was gone, and blood coated everything. He knelt next to her and winced.
“Molly Guidry,” Lincoln’s voice said from behind him. “That makes three in a week.”
Vincent stood and faced his brother. “I don’t need a recount, Linc. I know exactly how many have been killed.”
“Son of a bitch,” Beau mumbled as he came out of the bayou.
Lincoln ran a hand down his face. “I thought we had it for sure this time.”
“So did I.” Vincent had set everything up perfectly. They should have had the creature.
Beau looked around. “Where’s Christian?”
The three began to look for their other brother until a whistle had them turning to their right.
“There,” Lincoln said.
While his two brothers went to Christian, Vincent remained with Molly’s body. He had known her since the day she was born. Their parents had been close, and consequently they were often together. At one time, Molly had been infatuated with Christian.
Vincent looked over at Christian. Did he know it was Molly? Damn, but this mess was getting out of control. They had known all three victims.
That wasn’t too difficult in their small Cajun town, but it didn’t make things easier. Just like contacting Molly’s parents was going to be one of the hardest things he had ever done.
Lincoln walked back over and squatted beside him. “I told Christian it was Molly.
Did you know they went out just last week?”
“No.” Vincent didn’t like the unease that rippled through him. Was it coincidence that Molly had been killed? “I thought she had given up on Christian.”
“We all did.” Lincoln blew out a breath. “He’s not taking this well.”
Vincent stood and shook his head at the gruesome sight. “What did Christian find?”
“We’re hunting a creature we haven’t even identified. We’re completely fucked.”
Lincoln slapped him on the back. “We’ve always figured it out in the past. We will this time as well.”
“I have my doubts. We were in perfect placement to find this bastard. How the hell did it get away without us seeing or hearing it?”
Vincent didn’t wait for his brother to respond, because there was nothing to say. He bent and gently lifted Molly in his arms.
“Want me to go with you?” Lincoln asked.
Vincent shook his head. “You three see what else you can find. I’ll meet you at the house.”
“Mom and Pop always knew what to say to the families. You’ve got their gift as well.”
He sincerely doubted it. Most in the parish knew what the Chiassons did, but that didn’t always mean they were welcomed into houses. Chiassons were respected, but feared. It made for a lonely life.
It was a long walk through the bayou to the Guidry’s. He heard crying before he even saw the house. When he moved out of the tree line where the edge of the light caught his shape, a man stepped forward.
Hank Guidry, Molly’s father. Vincent drew in a deep breath and continued until he reached Hank. On the porch the crying grew louder, wracked with pain.
“I knew something was wrong when she didn’t come home from locking up the store,” Hank said brokenly as he stared at his daughter. “She’s never late.”
Vincent looked at the ground. How he hated this part of the family business. No matter how many times he did it, it never got easier.
“Did you kill it?” Hank asked.
It was the viciousness in his voice that drew Vincent’s gaze. The need for revenge, the yearning to hurt something as he had been hurt, shone in Hank’s eyes as clearly as the moon in the sky.
“We almost had it.” Vincent knew it wouldn’t be enough. It never was.
“Almost!” Celine screamed from the screened porch. “You almost had it? Isn’t that your job, Vincent Chiasson? Don’t you hunt these evil things? How could you have let it get my baby? My only child?”
Each word was like a knife to his gut. Vincent moved past Hank and made his way to the porch. He shouldered open the screen door, walked past Celine, and then into the house.
Vincent carefully set Molly on the couch and turned to leave, only to have Hank block his way.
“This was never supposed to happen to my baby girl,” Hank said as tears coursed down his face. He pulled off his glasses and shook his head. “I’ll help in any way that I can to kill this creature, Vincent. I helped your father on occasion. I’ll do the same for you.”
Vincent rested his hand on Hank’s shoulder. “Be here for your wife. Bury your daughter. If God’s willing, we’ll have killed this thing by then. If not...I’ll give you a shout.”
He walked to the doorway and paused. When he looked back, Hank and Celine had their arms around each other as they mourned their daughter.
By the time Vincent returned home, he was in a foul mood. He let the screen door slam behind him. Next to the door were three sets of boots, one for each of his brothers. The only ones missing were the smaller pink pair.
That was his doing though. Vincent had sent Riley off to college in Texas in order to give her a chance at a normal life, one that didn’t include hunting in the bayou in the middle of the night.
That had been three years ago. It felt more like three lifetimes, but it had been for the best.
Vincent began to remove his muddy boots when the door opened. Beau walked out to the back porch, handed Vincent a bottle of beer, and took one of the rocking chairs.
There were no words as they both took a long drink of the beer. Vincent sprawled out on the swing with one leg hanging down.
“Tough one. You should’ve let one of us go with you,” Beau said.
“Did y’all find anything else?”
“Not a goddamn thing. I tell you, Vin, this thing knows us. It knows what we’re looking for.”
Vincent squeezed the bridge of his nose with this thumb and forefinger. “Let’s hope to hell you’re wrong.”
“We haven’t even figured out what it is.”
He wasn’t saying anything Vincent didn’t already know. “We need a new plan of attack. If we can find where this thing is hiding out, we can kill it before it hurts anyone else.”