Salem Galdesque was busy doing a favor for one of Master Krispin’s allies when the news of several beloveds in his home coven reaches his ears. He’s happy for them even as he snickers at the shackles it places upon them. As his coven’s fixer, he could only imagine the trouble such a bond would cause to his own life. Salem loves being able to solve a problem by any means necessary—whether it be by a payoff, seduction, or a good, old-fashioned beat-down…and maybe even more—and answering to a beloved would be nothing but a headache. His tactics makes his job easy, not to mention fun. When Salem is called home to the Maven coven, he meets the gargoyle Keefe and realizes Fate has bestowed upon him a rather dubious gift—Keefe is his beloved. After just a couple of encounters, Salem knows that between Keefe’s serious need to color inside the lines and Salem’s own prevalence toward shades of gray, their different outlooks will cause nothing but problems. Still, Keefe is Salem’s beloved, and he knows he only gets one, so they come to an agreement—no talking shop with each other. When they both uncover leads regarding the hunters troubling the Maven coven, can they figure out how to work together, or will their issues tear not only them apart, but the coven as well?
Creeping through the shadows, Salem Galdesque tailed his mark. He watched the rogue vampire pause and peer over his shoulder. The man obviously missed him, for he continued on at a relaxed pace. When he reached a non-descript door in the side of a run-down warehouse, he went inside.
Ah, so that’s where you’re hiding them.
Salem had been tailing James for two days—one of six rogues making up the gang—waiting for him to lead him to the missing men and women. While he was actually a member of the Maven coven in Wyoming, the leader there—Master Krispin Stearling—often loaned him to other covens that required his special brand of expertise. In this case, a small vampire coven in upstate New York just wasn’t equipped to deal with a team of rogue vampires kidnapping people.
When Salem reached the door, he pressed his ear to the wall. As a vampire with exceptional hearing, he made out the sound of James hollering, “Where are Glade and Winston?”
“They’re still out collecting,” Salem heard another man answer.
“Still?” James growled, not sounding at all pleased. “They were supposed to be back half an hour ago. Our buyers will be here in twenty, and we’re short their two.”
Oh, now this is absolutely perfect.
Salem grinned broadly. If there were two vampire rogues still out, that meant there could possibly be only four inside the warehouse.
Not only will I be able to snag the whole gang, but I’ll get a bead on their buyers, too.
Pulling out his phone, Salem sent off a quick text to Esposito and Illard, ordering them to meet him at the warehouse’s address ASAP. He tucked his phone away, then peered down the alley, up at the building, and over at the one beside it. Spotting a fire escape on the nearby building and several broken third-story windows on the one the rogue had entered, Salem grunted with pleasure.
Salem moved to the fire escape, crouched for a second, gauging where the ladder hung overhead. Then he lunged upward. With his vampire strength and agility—plus his height advantage at being six-foot-five—he easily reached it. In near silence, Salem climbed to the roof of the building.
Standing at the edge, Salem judged the distance. He took a few steps backward, then sprinted forward. Planting his right foot on the ledge, he jumped, easily clearing the space between the buildings.
Outstretching his hands, Salem grew his claws…and sank them into the wood frame of one of the broken window panes. He hung there for a few seconds, allowing the momentum to leave his body. After a glance around, Salem stretched out his leg and found purchase on the right side of the frame. There was nothing on the left, but he didn’t need it.
With a careful push off the frame, a twist of his body, and the flex of his biceps, Salem swung onto the framework making up the wooden balcony. Unfortunately, it was a very old wooden balcony. A board creaked under his weight, and dust and debris clattered onto the floor below.
“What was that?” James demanded.
Salem crouched and stared between a gap in the slats, trying to take in the lay of the land. There was plenty of dust, broken machines of a use which Salem couldn’t determine, and…three vampires standing near an area that had been set up as a crappy living room—complete with dirty sofas, scuffed coffee tables littered with pizza boxes and beer bottles, and a very pale, slender young woman reclining on the sofa with blood dripping down her neck.
Considering how the female’s eyes were closed and the shallow rise and fall of her breasts, Salem knew she was alive. He had every intention of keeping her that way. That meant taking out the trash.
And figuring out where the fourth rogue is hiding before his pals arrive.
“I don’t know,” the blond vampire answered with a dismissive shrug. “Probably a wild animal or somethin’.”
James glared at him. “Well, go check it out, Vic,” he snapped, slapping him upside the head.
Vic curled his lip and snarled, but he did as James had ordered, stalking toward a rickety-looking set of stairs to the left. He even grumbled under his breath as he focused his attention on deciding where to put each step. James didn’t blame him, considering he felt the tremors shiver through the framework with each of the man’s steps.
Still, it did give Salem the opportunity he needed. Grabbing the banister in one hand, he swung over the railing. He lifted his knees, let go, and rotated as he fell. Stretching out his right arm, Salem caught himself on a pole beam at second-story height and swung around it. He released it just as he heard James shout, but he ignored the vampire.
Salem focused on his target, instead—the black-haired rogue standing next to James. As he landed beside the man, he whipped out his hand, his claws extended. Even before the wet thud of the bleeding head hit the floor, Salem was turning toward James.
Blocking James’s slashing strike with his own claws, Salem slammed the talons of his right hand deep between the ribs of the rogue leader. “Where’s your friends, James?” he taunted as he yanked his claws back out and took a step away.
Salem spotted James’s snarl as the rogue swung at him once again. That time, he jumped backward to avoid the strike…having seen Vic leaping at him from overhead. Spinning and leaping, Salem hook-kicked Vic across his face, sending him crashing into James.
Both vampires went flying, bodies landing with sharp thuds and limbs sprawling.
Gods, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.