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Authors: Nalini Singh

A Whisper of Sin

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Berkley titles by Nalini Singh

Psy-Changeling Series

SLAVE TO SENSATION

VISIONS OF HEAT

CARESSED BY ICE

MINE TO POSSESS

HOSTAGE TO PLEASURE

BRANDED BY FIRE

BLAZE OF MEMORY

BONDS OF JUSTICE

PLAY OF PASSION

KISS OF SNOW

TANGLE OF NEED

HEART OF OBSIDIAN

Guild Hunter Series

ANGELS' BLOOD

ARCHANGEL'S KISS

ARCHANGEL'S CONSORT

ARCHANGEL'S BLADE

ARCHANGEL'S STORM

ARCHANGEL'S LEGION

Anthologies

AN ENCHANTED SEASON

(with Maggie Shayne, Erin McCarthy, and Jean Johnson)

THE MAGICAL CHRISTMAS CAT

(with Lora Leigh, Erin McCarthy, and Linda Winstead Jones)

MUST LOVE HELLHOUNDS

(with Charlaine Harris, Ilona Andrews, and Meljean Brook)

BURNING UP

(with Angela Knight, Virginia Kantra, and Meljean Brook)

ANGELS OF DARKNESS

(with Ilona Andrews, Meljean Brook, and Sharon Shinn)

ANGELS' FLIGHT

WILD INVITATION

Specials

ANGELS' PAWN

ANGELS' DANCE

WHISPER OF SIN

Whisper of Sin

Nalini Singh

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) LLC

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

USA • Canada • UK • Ireland • Australia • New Zealand • India • South Africa • China

penguin.com

A Penguin Random House Company

WHISPER OF SIN

A Jove Special / published by arrangement with the author

“Whisper of Sin” previously appeared in
Burning Up
, published by Berkley Sensation.

Copyright © 2010 by Nalini Singh.

Excerpt from
Shield of Winter
copyright © 2014 by Nalini Singh.

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

Jove Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group.

JOVE
®
is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

The “J” design is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) LLC,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

ISBN: 978-0-698-15507-7

PUBLISHING HISTORY

Jove Special / March 2014

Cover design by George Long.

Cover photographs: “Chinatown” © Andrey Bayda / Shutterstock; “Man” © CURAphotography / Shutterstock; “Leopard” © Eduard Kyslynskyy / Shutterstock; “Scratch” © Alhovik / Shutterstock.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Version_1

C
ONTENTS

Berkley titles by Nalini Singh

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

City Beat: Trouble in Chinatown?

ONE

TWO

THREE

FOUR

FIVE

SIX

SEVEN

EIGHT

NINE

TEN

EPILOGUE

City Beat: A New Wind

Excerpt from
SHIELD OF WINTER

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

To May, Jennifer, and Kay ~ I couldn't have asked for better friends!
The San Francisco Gazette
August 2, 2072
CITY BEAT
Trouble in Chinatown?
Enforcement is refusing to either confirm or deny the rumors of a new organized crime family in the city. The word on the street is that this gang—known by the black “V” they scrawl at the locations of their crimes—intends to take over all illegal operations within San Francisco. So far, V has concentrated its efforts in Chinatown, but our sources say they plan to spread out across the greater Bay area.
Smith Jenson, the telepath who acts as PR manager for local government, has publicly stated that the threat from V is negligible. We beg to disagree. While Psy like Mr. Jenson and his colleagues stay safe in their high-rise apartments, humans and changelings on the ground are beginning to feel the effects of this new threat. There have been no deaths yet, but it's only a matter of time.
This reporter believes local government needs to step up to the plate. If they don't, San Francisco might just slip out of their grasp.
ONE
H
er hose was shredded, Ria thought, staring uncomprehendingly at the bottoms of her feet. Where were her shoes? Lost somewhere in the alley where that bastard had tried to rape her as “down payment” on the protection money her family refused to pay.
Something fluttered over her shoulders and was tucked around her, warm and thick. A blanket. She gripped it tight, then winced as her bloodied palms made contact with the wool. Her hands spasmed open. Released, the blanket began to slide to the floor of the large paramedic van.
“I've got you.” Following the deep voice, she blinked into a face she didn't know. The changeling who'd thrown her attacker against the wall had been blond and blue-eyed, reminding her of the cocky youth of her younger brother, Ken. This man . . . he was hewn out of rougher material, his jaw shadowed, his eyes the rich amber shade of aged whiskey, his hair thick and dark, a hundred shades of brown and gold intertwined. “Come on, sweetheart, speak to me.”
She swallowed, tried to find words but they lost their way in the chaos of her brain, leaving her dumb. Instead, her mind filled with the terror of the lifetime she'd spent in that alley only minutes from her family home, in one of the streets surrounding the bustle of Chinatown. It had taken mere seconds for everything to change. One moment she was smiling, and the next, her excitement at finishing her final night class had given way to pain and shock as he hit and pawed—
A smooth burst of Mandarin, so unexpected, so welcome that it broke through the haze of pain and fear. She looked up again, astonished. This man, this stranger was speaking to her in the language of her grandmother, asking her if she was okay. She nodded, found the words to say, “I speak English.” She rarely had to say that. Unlike her half-Caucasian mother, Ria had inherited little from her grandmother but her bones. Her hair was stick-straight, but a dark brown instead of jet black. Her eyes were faintly almond-shaped, but only if someone was really looking. She'd gotten the majority of her features from her brown-haired, brown-eyed All-American father.
“What's your name, darling?” A hand cupping her cheek.
She flinched, but this hand, though big, was gentle. And patient. She relaxed into the warmth after long minutes, reassured by the calluses that spoke of a man accustomed to working with his hands. “Ria. Who are you?”
“Emmett,” he said, his voice holding nothing of laughter. “And I'm in charge of you.”
Her brow furrowed, the real Ria fighting her way through the fog of shock. “Who're you to be in charge of me?”
“I'm big, I'm strong, and I'm pissed as hell that someone dared touch a woman on my watch.”
She blinked. “Your watch?”
“Dorian's part of my team,” he said, nodding to the blond man who'd turned her attacker into a sack of broken bones. “Wish he hadn't done such a good job—I would've liked to bloody the piece of shit myself.”
Ria wasn't used to violence, but she knew without a doubt that this man was a changeling, that he could turn into a leopard with a single thought—and that the leopard had no problem with the most brutal kind of justice. When she looked into his eyes, she saw rage . . . and the flickers of something that wasn't quite human. “He can't hurt me.” Somehow, she found herself trying to comfort him.
“But he did.” An implacable statement. “And I'm going to sniff out the nest this little viper came from no matter what.”
She glanced at her assailant's unconscious body. He was alive, barely. But he wouldn't be talking for a while yet. “He wasn't working alone?”
“Indications are he's with a new gang.” Emmett tucked her blanket gently around her feet when it came loose. “Dark River's done a hell of a lot of work to clear the city of this kind of scum, but sometimes, they pop back up.”
Ria knew of DarkRiver. Who didn't? The leopard pack, based in the Yosemite forest, had claimed San Francisco as part of their territory when Ria had been a child—no other predatory changelings could enter the city without their permission. But in the past few years, they'd gone further and begun to wipe out human predators, too.
“I can tell you a little about him,” she said, her voice gaining strength on a cresting wave of anger. “He came to my mother's shop, left an account number where she was supposed to wire ‘protection' money. We thought he was just another thug.”
“I'll get the number from you tomorrow. Right now, you need to be seen to.” Sliding one muscular arm under her legs, he curved the other around her back, just below her shoulders, and scooped her up before she knew what was happening.
She gave a startled cry.
“I won't drop you.” A soothing murmur as he shifted her deeper into the van. “Just getting you out of the wind.”
She should've protested, but she was tired and achy and he was so warm. Resting her head against his heart when he sat down with her in his arms, she breathed deep. Her body sighed. He smelled good. All hot and male and real, his after-shave something clean and fresh. Though he clearly needed to shave more than once a day. His jaw rasped against her hair as he settled her more firmly on his lap. Not that she minded, she thought, her eyes fluttering shut.

 * * * 

E
mmett stroked his hand over the hair of the mink in his arms. She was a little thing, and right now, she was at the end of her resources. Enraged at the thought that someone had dared harm her, he held her with conscious gentleness until he felt her begin to relax. When she sighed and snuggled closer, the leopard in him gave a pleased growl—right as Dorian looked into the van.
BOOK: A Whisper of Sin
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