Authors: Kaye Chambers
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Paranormal
Table of Contents
About the Author
Look for these titles by Kaye Chambers
When the past bites, bite back.
Ladies of St. George, Book 1
For Destiny St. George, shapeshifting lioness and private investigator, her best friend’s looming wedding is little more than a reminder of her failed relationship with vampire king Marcus Smythe.
Tired of being only one of many mistresses—and dinner entrees—she’s stayed away from the vampire scene altogether. Until a missing-person case forces her to seek his help.
Knowing that pressing Destiny is not the way to convince her to give their relationship another try, Marcus has been waiting her out—and his patience is rewarded when she steps into his nightclub.
Now is his chance to lure her back into his arms. This time, he plans to keep her there.
Destiny’s not sure which is worse: working with Marcus, or trying to remember all the reasons she called it off with him. And when it becomes clear the case is an elaborate trap to avenge a millennia-old grudge, she finds herself caught between love and instinct—while the clock ticks down on an innocent victim’s life…
Warning: Vampires determined to take more than a bite out of the heroine. A lioness sure that she’s going to have the last word.
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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.
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
577 Mulberry Street, Suite 1520
Macon GA 31201
Blood and Destiny
Copyright © 2010 by Kaye Chambers
Edited by Anne Scott
Cover by Natalie Winters
All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
FirstSamhain Publishing, Ltd. electronic publication: March 2010
Blood and Destiny
For my husband, as always,
Thank you for being my personal hero.
Thank you for loaning me your vampire for inspiration.
For Vivi Andrews,
Thank you for helping me smooth out the kinks in this story.
For the Cookie Monsters,
Thank you all for your positive attitudes and support.
For Anne and Samhain,
Thank you for all the work you’ve done to bring out Destiny’s potential.
I yawned. I couldn’t help it. It was terribly unprofessional and the man in the thousand-dollar suit in front of my desk didn’t appreciate it. Oh well. That’s what I got for staying for that last round of conga-line shooters. My best friend was getting married and I was the maid of honor. Just wouldn’t do for the maid of honor to bolt out of the bachelorette party before the bride. It didn’t help that I had been the only non-werewolf there, and that included the strippers.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Vincent. I had a terribly late night last night. I’m listening.”
“Do you know what they say about you, Ms. St. George?”
Okay, so we were going to do a topic swap. I guess I deserved it considering I was half-asleep on his time.
“I know what my peers whisper about me. Yet, here you are, despite it all. I can’t help but wonder why.”
“I’m here because it is my understanding that you are the best candidate for finding Betsy.”
I smelled the air and tried to determine if Matthew Vincent was lying to me or not. Yasmine was better at it than I was. The canine nose was far more acute than the feline.
“I see. Can you give me a bit of background, please?”
The frown on his face told me he’d probably been doing that already, but he was going to have to repeat himself. This time, I made the mental promise to pay attention.
“Six months ago, Betsy and I received the news that she wasn’t able to have children. She was distraught, naturally, and turned to her friends for distraction. Patty, Patricia Vanderlane, encouraged her to join a club.”
His tone of voice carried disdain and something else that prickled across my senses. I couldn’t put my finger on it, exactly, so I interrupted.
“A club? What kind? Something like a book club?”
“Only it seemed to specialize inDracula .”
I blinked at him, trying to gauge how serious he was. Yep, he meant what I thought he meant.
There weren’t that many vampires in town and I knew them all, some better than others. I was afraid of where this was going. There was no way it could be good.
“I don’t think I understand.”
Yes, I was going to make him say it. Part of it was my contrary nature. This man was so conservative I bet he wore his underwear starched. The other part was that I might be able to gauge his response enough to give me a clue. There’s no way a man could say he thought his wife was having an affair with a vampire without giving something away.
“I’m saying that Patty began to take Betsy to the Mystic Vantage where they were meeting with men who fancied themselves vampires.”
Uh-oh. Considering I owned an exclusive membership to the Mystic Vantage’s private elite club, this couldn’t go well.
“The Vantage is a popular haunt for a lot of different sets. Your wife was going for…?” I let my voice trail off so he would fill in the blank. He didn’t disappoint.
“Sex, Ms. St. George. They were meeting for sex and God knows what else.”
I expected fury, but what I got was well-rehearsed nothing. His words were bland, no true emotion at all. It made the affair sound so terribly ordinary. I fished for more.
“So, you’re saying…?”
“You know what I mean, Ms. St. George.”
“Enlighten me, just to make sure I’m not jumping to conclusions here.”
“I’m saying that Betsy fell into an inappropriate situation with a man who thought himself a vampire.”
“And you know it was an inappropriate relationship, how? I mean a lot of married women go to the Vantage to dance, flirt, and generally cut loose for a little while. How do you know she was really having an affair?”
Instead of answering, he reached down to pick up the briefcase he’d walked in with. Setting it on the seat beside him, he deftly twirled the combination locks to open it. I didn’t get a chance to examine what was in it because he pulled out a large envelope and snapped the case shut. He very politely held it over the second-hand desk without a single tremor in his hand. Biting back a groan at the all-too-familiar embossed seal, I took the file.
“If you already had her investigated, Mr. Vincent, why not let Frank LeCroy finish the job?”
“Because he sent me to you. He seemed to think he’d pursued the investigation as far as he could take it. He also said to tell you that the file is complete, though I don’t understand exactly what that means.”
I did. Frank LeCroy was a Cajun who’d moved to town after Katrina devastated New Orleans. I could say a lot of disparaging things about him, but the bottom line? He was very good at what he did. Unfortunately, he fancied himself supernaturally friendly. Since that was my forte, he had been known to sabotage cases we were forced to share. He liked it when I had to call him to find the missing pieces. It drove me nuts. Trust him to be a man about it and not call to give me a heads-up on this one. I guess that was my penalty since he hadn’t withheld information, or so he said. I wouldn’t really believe it until I’d gone through the file myself.
“It’s a bit of professional rivalry. If he sent you to me with a complete file, he must think I can help you.”
“He said that you were the best at finding things that don’t want to be found in the underworld.”
Wow. Sending me cases and compliments too. He wanted something. “Don’t believe everything you hear, Mr. Vincent. He’s still looking for an introduction to my more informative sources.”
“So why don’t you introduce them?” His tone told me it was a question of honest curiosity, so I replied as honestly as I could.
“Because I’m afraid he’ll put on a cocky attitude and they’ll eat him.” I glanced up to see shock on his face and bit back a grin. He looked like he was trying to decide if I was serious or had a seriously twisted sense of humor. The fact he seemed to be considering the logistics of my comment reinforced the reality of the situation. He really did believe in things bumping in the night.
I doubted he truly did, but didn’t correct him as I opened the folder to pull out the file. The edge of a full-color glossy slipped out and I opened the file. I blinked at the sight of a woman, presumably the missing Mrs. Vincent, and a man I didn’t know in what could only be called a compromising
position. She had excellent taste in lingerie.
“Is this the only man she dallied with?”
“As far as we could tell, yes. He was the only one she met with while Mr. LeCroy had the case.”
Well, if he was a vampire, I didn’t recognize him. I’d been out of the scene for a while so he could be a recent arrival. Even admitting that to myself, I doubted it because of the suspicious circumstances. Flipping through the file, I didn’t find anything else that might have warranted referral to me. It looked pretty cut-and-dry. Twice a week, she slipped out to meet her wanna-be-vampire lover, always after dark and always on the seedy side of town. None of the notes or reports said anything about suspicious or paranormal activity. On the surface, it appeared he was exactly what Mr. Vincent had said—a man who fancied himself to be a vampire. I gave in to my gut and asked my question.
“Why did Frank really send you to me? What’s not in this file?”
Closing the file, I looked my client in the eyes and waited. Somewhere in the last five minutes, I’d decided to take the case. Maybe it was the compliments. It didn’t look like my cup of tea, but even I needed the occasional “normal” case.
“The night she vanished, her routine changed. She met her lover, but they disappeared. Mr.
LeCroy didn’t see them leave. When she didn’t come home, he recommended I come to you.”
“According to the missing-person report, your wife has been gone for over a week.”
Silence stretched as he looked back at me. Maybe he was trying to determine what to say, but I didn’t think so. There was absolutely no expression on his face. If he were looking to hide details or lie to me, I would have been able to see it. Finally, he gave an almost imperceptible shrug and answered the question I hadn’t outright asked with a true questioning tone.
“Maybe I was holding out hope she’d come home on her own?”
“Or maybe you were hoping the trail would be so cold that I couldn’t follow it.”
He broke eye contact. I was closer to the truth than he liked. “I’ll admit to being put off by the entire situation. It’s tawdry and messy. An affair is one thing. With proper handling, no one would know and we could avoid scandal. But this? Going missing in the arms of her lover? When the press gets wind of this, it’s going to be a nightmare.”
He was worried about thepress ?
“What do you do, Mr. Vincent? Professionally, I mean?”
“You don’t know me?” He sounded genuinely surprised, but I couldn’t imagine why. He was hardly a Hollywood superstar. Mr. Vincent was too old, too conservative, and lacked that leading-man quality. Not that he was geriatric, but I put him near forty at a glance. While some men aged into a timeless sex appeal, he wasn’t one of them.
“I’m a neurosurgeon. I was recently featured inUSA Today for a procedure I developed to remove previously inoperable tumors.”
Putting the file onto my desk, I leaned back and surveyed him. He had a lot to lose no matter how this panned out. I found myself wondering how he’d handled his life-changing news, especially since we knew how Betsy Vincent had reacted. Like most men, he’d probably wrapped himself in