Avengers heat, p.7
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       Avenger's Heat, p.7

         Part #4 of Moon Shifter series by Katie Reus

  “Enough!” The word sounded like thunder as it ricocheted around them, bouncing off the trees.

  The blond female vamp Erin had incapacitated clutched her bloody stomach as she crawled toward the downed male, but she didn’t make a move toward Erin again except to spew hatred from her eyes. The other two females Noah had been fighting still held their blades but they’d backed off about five yards each, giving him a wide berth.

  Erin raced to his side, both her blades in hand, and didn’t let any of the vampires out of her line of sight.

  A very tall male with dark auburn slicked-back hair stepped into the clearing wearing a long, black leather coat that rippled in the wind. It matched the rest of his all-black clothing. Seriously? He might as well tattoo I’M A FUCKING VAMPIRE CLICHÉ across his forehead. At least the sword in his left hand was actually pretty badass.

  Erin tensed, placing her left foot slightly forward as she braced for an attack. Next to her, Noah growled low in his throat as he prepared to fight too.

  When the new vampire twisted his sword back over his head and sheathed it somewhere below his jacket, Erin’s shoulders slightly loosened. The blond female—now fully healed—hissed angrily at Erin and made a move to leave the male pushing up off the ground, but the auburn-haired guy stopped her with a deadly look.

  Oh yeah, he was definitely the leader.

  “I apologize for my friends’ actions. We don’t wish to fight with you.” His voice was deep and there was more than a hint of an Irish brogue in it.

  Erin snorted as her gaze flicked around the bloodcovered group. “You don’t want to fight us, huh?”

  Next to her Noah shifted back to his human form, his giant body making her feel dwarfed. She glanced at him to make sure he was okay and she held back a smile when she saw he did the same to her, his eyes quickly tracking over her body.

  “Who the hell are you and what were you doing near that dead shifter?” Noah snarled, his voice coming out guttural. His wolf still lurked very close to the surface after his change. No doubt he was still amped up on adrenaline as he tried to tame his beast.

  It was one of the reasons she tried not to shift during a fight. Getting control of her wolf was harder for her and she could fight just as well in human form. Erin’s eyes narrowed as she eyed the tall vampire. “You like to feed on dead shifters?” Sick fuck.

  The man let out a sound that sounded a lot like a growl. “No. I’m hunting a group of feral vampires and we tracked the scent here.”

  Scent? Erin hadn’t picked up on anything. She frowned and wiped the blood from her now-healed cheek. “Okay, who are you and why are you hunting ferals?” It wasn’t out of the goodness of his heart—that much she was sure of. If he was hunting anyone, it would likely be on someone’s orders.

  “My name is Ian and we all work for the Brethren. We’ve been dispatched to hunt and destroy a newly turned group of vampires who have gone feral. They never should have been turned in the first place. I apologize for my team. They are newly formed and should not have gone on the offensive.”

  Erin eyed him warily, wondering how much truth was in his words. Even if she didn’t trust him, she needed to make introductions. “I threw the first blade so no worries. My name is Erin Flynn and this is Noah Campbell.” She motioned with her hand.

  The blond male grunted rudely as he sized up Noah who was naked. “You let your female speak for you?”

  Noah growled and she expected him to snap at the other male, but a slow grin spread over his face. “My female took your ass down in seconds. Could have decapitated you if she wanted. And last time I checked this is the twenty-first century, dick. She can do anything she wants.”

  Erin chose to ignore the “my female” comment, even if his words did make something warm spread throughout her body. And when she noticed the short vamp with black hair checking out Noah’s entire, very naked, body with no shame, her inner wolf didn’t snap as much as she normally would have at seeing another female eyeing him.

  Ignoring the chauvinistic vamp, she focused on the leader. “As I was saying, this is Noah and his father is Alpha in this territory. I’m—”

  “The newest enforcer for the North American Council. I recognize your name.” Ian watched her thoughtfully for a moment. “Why are you in New Orleans?”

  She thought about keeping the information to herself, but now was the perfect time to catch these vamps off guard. Gauging their reaction to her next words should be enlightening. “If you’re here you must know that pregnant shifters have been going missing.”

  Ian’s eyebrows slightly drew together as he shook his head. “I haven’t heard that.”

  He didn’t stink of lies, but she wanted to be sure. “So you didn’t know about it when you arrived in town?”

  Ian shook his head again. “We are here for the ferals.”

  Okay, so maybe he was telling the truth. That didn’t mean he didn’t know anything about why shifters were being taken. “Why would anyone want shifter blood?” With her question she gave away the fact that she knew what was happening to the kidnapped victims, but she had to pursue this avenue. They were vampires and might know something she didn’t.

  The leader glanced at his people. “Leave us. Now.”

  The short female looked like she might argue, but they all disappeared into the woods. The vampire reached into his jacket and Noah snarled.

  “I’m just getting a card.” Ian held up his free hand then pulled out a white card. He covered the distance between them in seconds, earning another growl from Noah who grabbed it from his outstretched fingers.

  Resisting the urge to roll her eyes, Erin took it from Noah and glanced at it. It was a simple cream-colored card, made of thick stock, with the name Ian on it—no last name—and a phone number. She tucked it into one of her pants pockets.

  “I wasn’t lying when I said we’re here for the ferals, but I don’t like that pregnant shifters are going missing. I’ll reach out to my contacts and be in touch if I find out something. And now you have my number if you need me beforehand,” Ian said.

  “You don’t have my number.”

  “I’ll get it from Jayce.” The vampire’s lips quirked up slightly, then disappeared into the forest.

  Wind blew her hair back from his fast departure. So, this guy apparently knew Jayce. That was interesting. Or maybe not. Jayce seemed to know a lot of people. But it wasn’t something she could dwell on. She had too many things to do. The first would be calling the local police so they could remove Kaigen D’Amico’s body. Then, she’d need to talk to Noah’s father about contacting her family. The woman had left two kids behind, something Erin kept trying to forget. The thought of breaking the news to a mate was hard enough, but to children?

  She glanced up at Noah to find him watching her intently. He was covered in blood too, but he was practically healed. And he was a warrior. She wouldn’t insult him by asking if he was okay. Swallowing hard under his stare, she nodded toward the direction they’d come from. “Let’s go.”

  Brianna flipped open her small spiral notebook full of names, phone numbers, and other random notes she’d jotted down next to her contact list. Despite her recent infiltration of the Antiparanormal League (APL) and her interactions with humans, she still resisted using too much technology if she could avoid it. Her notebook would never freeze or lock up and couldn’t be hacked. Unlike computers. Plus she hated those damn things anyway.

  At one hundred years old she was an infant compared to the rest of her race. The fae were ancient, brutal, and liked to keep a pulse on any potential trouble in the world. Whether it was between humans and shifters or shifters and vampires, it didn’t matter.

  That was why she was now in New Orleans, Louisiana, with a very sexy shifter—who she’d recently lost her virginity to—and about to reach out to any and all vampire contacts she had. She might be young but she’d been around long enough to develop her own contacts. Or assets, as her oldest brother Rory liked to call them. Ri
ght now trouble was definitely brewing in this colorful city. She would be keeping an eye on the situation for her people. Of course she would also get involved if she felt it necessary. When on a mission she had the right to make executive decisions without checking in with her people. Even if her brothers thought she should check in every hour.

  Six pregnant shifters missing in less than a month was bad news. All it would take for a war to erupt between any of the species was a small misunderstanding spiraling out of control. And pregnant shifters being kidnapped wasn’t a misunderstanding. This situation had the potential to turn insane fast.

  Even the lowest of the low respected pregnant women. It was simple biology and nature to protect females in that state. Even her own people—who were known for their brutality—had the highest respect for them.

  Perched on the edge of her bed, she dialed the number of a vampire she hadn’t spoken to in decades and hoped she received a warm response. She’d tried calling him when she’d first arrived but the phone had kept ringing. No voice mail or answering machine picked up. Now it was five in the morning but he was a daywalker, a rare breed of vampire who could walk freely under the sun, and she had no idea what his schedule was.

  He picked up on the second ring. “Who the hell is this?” he snarled.

  Brianna winced. “Hello, Marcus. This is Brianna. I don’t know if you remember me, but—”

  “Brianna O’Brien?” He sounded surprised.

  That was the anglicized version of her family’s ancient last name, but it was close enough. “Yes. I’m sorry for calling so early and out of the blue.”

  “No, it’s no problem at all. It’s been a long time. How are you?” He had almost no discernible accent, making it hard to trace his roots, though she knew he was originally from Italy—probably close to six hundred years ago. Maybe even longer.

  “I’m well and I’m actually in New Orleans. I was hoping I might be able to convince you to have breakfast with me.” She mentally crossed her fingers.

  He let out a soft, husky laugh. “You don’t have to convince me of anything, sweetheart. And your timing is perfect. I just arrived back in town myself. What time and where would you like to meet?” There was definitely a sexual undertone to his endearment, but that was just the way he acted around females.

  Nonetheless, she blinked at how acquiescent he was being. “Don’t you want to know why I wish to see you?”

  Marcus snorted. “If I get to see your pretty face, I don’t give a damn.”

  She blushed at his words, remembering how he’d previously tried to get her into his bed. But she’d had no interest then and didn’t now. He hadn’t been too pushy, just persistent. She’d never wanted any man until Angelo. But at least Marcus’s sexual interest had made setting up a meeting easier and she wasn’t above using that to her advantage. “As soon as possible and I’ll let you pick the place since you live here. I would like to try some of this city’s famous beignets so if you choose somewhere that has them I would be appreciative.”

  He chuckled again. “I love the way you talk,” he murmured. Then he rattled off the name of a café, gave her the address, and they disconnected.

  As she set her phone on the bed next to her, she smiled. That had gone much easier than she’d expected. Marcus wasn’t attached to any coven, which was good because he didn’t report to anyone. He was old even by vampire standards and powerful, and he had a lot of contacts in New Orleans. He should be a valuable source to have. While he was a notorious flirt, she could handle him if he got out of line.

  The door to the bedroom she’d been sharing with Angelo opened abruptly. He stood in the doorway, practically glaring at her. She frowned. His hazel eyes were fierce and angry, which just made him even sexier. But he looked as if something was wrong.

  Panic jumped inside her as she rose from the bed. “What has happened? Does Erin have news on the kidnappings?”

  “I haven’t talked to her or Noah. Who the hell was that on the phone and why was he calling you sweetheart?” He softly growled at her, his eyes flashing from wolf to human so quickly, but she definitely caught the change.

  She’d forgotten how well Angelo could hear, but she didn’t understand why he was so angry. “That was the vampire I told you I was calling. He’s agreed to meet with me in an hour. This is excellent news so you have no reason to be upset.”

  Angelo took a deep breath, accentuating his incredibly broad and muscular chest. As she remembered how she’d kissed and licked all that expanse only hours before she felt her cheeks heat up.

  A muscle in his jaw twitched. “No one calls you sweetheart but me.”

  Brianna watched the rise and fall of his big chest. He was definitely agitated. The fae could be proprietary when it came to their mates so she understood the concept and she’d seen shifters act insane regarding their mates, but she wasn’t Angelo’s mate. They were simply lovers. “Is this a shifter thing?”

  “Is what?”

  “Your possessive behavior.”

  “You’re mine, Brianna.” His hazel eyes flashed to a dark, forest green and before she could respond, he’d covered the distance between them and wrapped his hands around her hips, pulling her tight against him.

  Yes, this was definitely a shifter thing, she decided. A thread of alarm spun through her even as it battled with a slow-spreading heat in her lower abdomen. His thick length pressed against her, insistent and leaving no doubt as to how he felt about her no matter the circumstance. She loved that even though he was clearly angry, he still wanted her. And she definitely wanted him. All the time, it seemed.

  She smoothed her hands over his chest hoping to placate him. She didn’t like arguing with him when they could be doing much more interesting things. “I need to shower before I meet him. I won’t be gone long—”

  Angelo laughed, but there was no humor in the sound. “I’m going with you.”

  She shook her head and tried to ignore what his very male presence did to her. It was hard when all she wanted to do was get naked with him again. He was an extremely skilled lover and had promised to show her even more sexual positions. She wasn’t sure how that was possible, but she believed him. “That’s not a good idea. Marcus is attracted to me and while I don’t return the sentiment, I will likely garner more information from him if I meet him alone. It is more logical.”

  Angelo laughed again. “And that’s exactly why you’re not going alone.”

  Anger detonated inside her that he could even think that. “I don’t mean I’ll use my body to get information!”

  His expression softened as one of his hands slid up to cup her breast through her top. Her nipples instantly tightened. “I know that, but I don’t trust any man, especially a vampire, to be alone with you. Even if he wasn’t interested in what’s mine, I’d be going with you anyway.”

  She ignored the “mine” comment again when he lightly pinched her nipple between his forefinger and thumb. All these sexual feelings and experiences were so new to her; she knew that she wasn’t thinking logically around him. She could seem to focus only on sex lately. The thought of arguing with him made her stomach twist and she really wanted him to be naked in the next few seconds. She wasn’t meeting her contact for another hour—plenty of time to shower with Angelo.

  Instead of responding to him, she grasped the bottom of her top and drew it over her head. Pleasure rippled through her as Angelo growled softly at the sight of her breasts. It was a sound she knew she’d never tire of. Even though their time together was limited and she’d eventually have to walk away from him, she wanted to wring all the joy out of their time together.

  Chapter 5

  Erin sat next to Noah on the iron bench on the D’Amico’s front porch. They lived in a double-gallery house in a quiet upper-middle-class neighborhood close to the Garden District.

  She could hear Angus inside as he spoke to Bertrand, the deceased Kaigen’s mate. She could also hear the two little girls, Ophelia and Marie, sobbing at t
he news that their mother and unborn brother or sister weren’t coming home.

  Noah leaned forward and placed his head in his hands. “Fuck,” he muttered.

  Erin swallowed hard, not responding because she didn’t trust her voice. She’d be going inside in a few minutes to speak to Bertrand and didn’t want to get emotional beforehand. As shifters they all knew that death was inevitable and most humans considered them lucky because they were able to live so long and spend even more time with their loved ones. The downside for those left behind was the same as it was for humans. Maybe even worse. Being mated to someone for centuries, sometimes longer, and then losing them—unimaginable.

  Silence descended on the inside of the house for a brief moment before the front door swung open. Angus stepped outside and nodded at Erin. When Noah rose, the Alpha shook his head. “They’re suffering. Let her go in alone.”

  Noah growled low in his throat, but Erin placed a hand on his forearm and he instantly stilled. “Now’s not the time.” Whatever was going on with him and his father had no place in this house.

  “I’m here if you need me,” he said quietly.

  “I know.” And the knowledge warmed her. More than she wanted to admit. The man had become such an integral part of her life. So much so that she couldn’t imagine it without him in it. No matter what she tried to tell herself, if he ever settled down with another female, it would kill her inside.

  He pushed out a breath and dropped back onto the bench as she skirted past Angus who watched her curiously.

  She didn’t have time to figure out what the older wolf’s look meant and she really didn’t care. Shutting the front door behind her, she was momentarily stunned by the silence. It might be eerily quiet but the grief pulsing through the house was almost tangible. As she stepped farther into the foyer, her boots thudded softly against the hardwood floor. Movement to her left caught her eye. Bertrand D’Amico sat slumped against a red-and-gold-striped settee in the living room. It was early and he wore long checked pajama pants with a plain black T-shirt a shade darker than his skin.

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