British vampire psychiatrist and former mercenary Cage Reynolds returns to Penton, Alabama, looking for a permanent home. The town has been ravaged by the ongoing vampire war and the shortage of untainted human blood, and now the vampires and humans that make up the Omega Force are trying to rebuild. Cage hopes to help the cause, put down roots in Penton, and resolve his relationship with Melissa Calvert. The last thing he expects is an attraction to Robin Ashton, a trash-talking eagle shape-shifter and new Omega recruit.
Meanwhile, as a dangerous saboteur wreaks havoc in Penton, the ruthless Vampire Tribunal leader Matthias Ludlam has been freed on the eve of his scheduled execution. But by whom? And to what end? As war and chaos rage on, love is the last thing Cage is looking for, but will his attraction to Robin distract him from the danger living among them?
Penton Vampire Legacy, Book 4
Genre: Paranormal Romantic Thriller
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Date of Publication: June 10, 2014
Number of pages: 344
Word Count: 93,000
Mirren Kincaid was six feet, eight inches of muscle and bad attitude, and Cage would wager few had ever spoken to him the way the girl had. At least not and lived to tell about it.
Cage glanced at Nik, who was biting his lower lip and not doing a very good job of hiding his own amusement. “Is she always like this?”
Nik gave a slow shake of the head. “Negative. Not at all.” He paused. “Sometimes she’s worse.”
This time, Cage couldn’t stop the smile that spread across his face. “This is going to be fun, as long as we stay out of the way.”
“I can f**king hear you, Reynolds.” Mirren growled at Cage over his shoulder, but kept his eyes pinned on the girl. Woman, Cage should say, although she was so diminutive next to the Scottish behemoth it was hard not to see her as a waif. Probably accounted for her Mirren-like attitude. Short-man syndrome, so to speak.
Mirren’s hands balled into fists, and if the man had still been human, his face would have turned about six ugly shades of pissed off. Cage couldn’t see the big guy’s expression, but he’d bet those gray eyes had gone from thunderstorm to snowstorm.
“The colonel has lost his mind.” Mirren’s voice dropped about an octave. “What could you possibly do to help us here?”
She propped her hands on her hips, gave Mirren a slow, sultry once-over with more than a little come-hither in her expression, and lowered her voice—but not so low that Cage couldn’t hear.
“I can do things to you that are beyond your wildest dreams, vampire.”
“Uh-oh,” Nik muttered under his breath. “She’s gonna blow.”
If Cage hadn’t been afraid Mirren would turn his wrath on the nearest safe target—him, in other words—he would’ve explained to Nik that Mirren was showing uncharacteristic restraint, and if anyone was going to violently break the stalemate it would be the big guy.
“Little girl, I suggest you walk back into whatever hole in the woods you crawled out of.” Mirren’s voice dropped even lower and softer. Funny how, on some people, a soft voice was more menacing than a shout. “In the morning, the colonel can reassign you to a more fitting place. I don’t care what you turn into—squirrel, otter . . .” He gave her a head-to-toe once-over and waved his hand in a dismissive gesture. “Chipmunk.”
Nik groaned and looked at the ground. “Oh, man.”
Ashton took a step toward Mirren, craning her neck again. “And where might that more fitting place be, Mirren Kincaid? Oh, don’t look surprised. I did my homework. Where is it you think I belong in this man’s army? On my back?”
Mirren shrugged. “Probably, but don’t spread your legs on my account, honey.”
The air around them crackled with tension, and even Cage thought Mirren had gone a step too far. He opened his mouth to suggest that Nik take Ashton far, far away for the evening and start fresh at dusk tomorrow, maybe with a referee. He froze at her expression, though. She was grinning, dark eyes alight with mirth and a look Cage recognized all too well. The undeniable, addictive power of the adrenaline rush. Ashton was having fun.
Clearly, the woman was insane. She was suicidal. She was . . . superb.
With a screech that would do a banshee proud, she ran at Mirren headfirst. If Cage hadn’t heard the man’s oof and been knocked off-balance himself when Mirren fell ass over teakettle, he’d have sworn he’d hallucinated the whole thing.
“Told ya,” mumbled Nik, who’d stepped out of the way with nimble speed.
A burst of pain erupted on Cage’s cheek, followed by the trickle of blood streaming toward his neck. Damn, but that little woman could throw a punch. Unfortunately, she was throwing them so hard and fast, she’d clocked him as well as Mirren.
Cage rolled out of the line of fire and took the outstretched hand Nik offered. “That woman is barking mad.” Cage rubbed his jaw, amazed that Mirren was fending off blows but not striking back.
Nik nodded. “As a hatter.”
Finally, breathing hard from either fists or fury, or both, the woman stopped her assault. She sat astride Mirren, looking down at him with a frown. “Why the fuck won’t you fight back? Afraid of being beat by a sorority girl? It’s no fun if you don’t fight back.”
Cage waited for it. The name-calling. Maybe a backhand to show Ashton what the Slayer was made of—which, even from his prone position, would send her flying. The lesson-teaching that was sure to follow.
Instead, the choked noise Mirren uttered was one it took a moment for Cage to recognize because he’d never heard it from the man. Didn’t think it was possible. Mirren Kincaid was laughing.
His voice even sounded different—lighter, amused. “What the hell are you, Ashton?”
She climbed off him and rose to her full height, which wasn’t much. “Eagle shifter. And a damn good tracker. And stronger than you fang-faces can imagine. Plus, I can fly. So don’t fuckin’ mess with me.”
Mirren rolled to his feet with surprising grace for a man his size and rubbed his face. The fingers he drew from his mouth were covered in blood from multiple scratches, and there appeared to be tooth marks along his jawline. “You got a first name?”
Ashton squinted up at Mirren a few heartbeats. “It’s Robin.”
An eagle named Robin. Bloody brilliant. Cage opened his mouth to comment but caught an elbow in the ribs from Nik, who gave a slight shake of his head.
Right. Don’t tease the eagle about her name.
Mirren seemed to have reached the same conclusion, since he bypassed any comment about ironic names. “Guess you’ll work out after all, Ashton. Gonna have to find a new place for you to crash, though. Since the colonel didn’t say you were a girl”—Cage saw Robin’s eyebrow take a dangerous spike at that, but Mirren was oblivious—“I’d planned to put you and Zorba in a room together.”
“That’s fine.” Robin ran her fingers through her short, spiky hair, and Cage tracked the movement. Such delicate fingers in hands that held such power. “We sleep together half the time anyway.”
“Aw, shit,” Nik huffed out under his breath. “I swear that woman has no filter.” Interesting. “And where do you sleep the other half of the time, little bird?”
The words came out before Cage could stop them, which he instantly regretted. Talk about no filters; his were usually a mile high but they seemed to have suddenly vaporized.
He’d been off Robin Ashton’s radar during her preoccupation with Mirren. Now, however, she stepped away from Mirren and looked at him. Really looked. Cage felt naked, as if she could see way more than he’d ever intended to share. When had he developed such a big mouth?
“You asking me to sleep with you the rest of the time, vampire?”
About the Author:
She’s the author of the award-winning Penton Legacy paranormal romance series, a spinoff novel, Storm Force, a standalone novelette, Chenoire, and a new romantic thriller series, The Collectors, beginning with Lovely, Dark, and Deep. Writing as Suzanne Johnson, she also is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series. Her Penton novel, Omega, was nominated for a 2013 Reviewer’s Choice Award in Paranormal Romance from RT Book Reviews magazine. Absolution was the winner of the 2013 Holt Medallion in Paranormal Romance.
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