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Authors: Celia Jade

Tags: #Paranormal, urban fantasy, vampire, erotic romance

BloodBound

BOOK: BloodBound
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Table of Contents

Title Page

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Stephanie never imagined that her gesture to help a friend would land her in trouble with the law. Worse still, the determined vampire agent who’s heading the investigation could expose the secret she’s vowed to take to her grave.

Stephanie Dubois has managed to keep her true nature a secret. Her innocent involvement in a bounty hunt mission brings a vampire crimes agent to her door. The last thing she needs is someone poking around in her business. Soon, she realizes that being charged with obstructing justice is the least of her worries. This rugged vampire seems determined to reveal the secret that could tear her family apart.

Dex Mason is relieved to have finally found Stephanie Dubois. She is the only person who might be able to save his brother’s life. Yet she vehemently denies her genetic makeup and the rare gene she carries. This is an unexpected obstacle. He has no choice but to use the only leverage he has.

The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Blood Bound

Copyright © 2012 Celia Jade

ISBN: 978-1-77111-256-7

Cover art by Carmen Waters

All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.

Published by eXtasy Books

Look for us online at:

www.eXtasybooks.com

Blood Bound

By

Celia Jade

Chapter One

Present day, Denver, Colorado

Dex Mason flashed his Vampire Crime Investigation badge at the slim, tattooed young man who was washing down a vinyl chair. In the past two weeks, he’d been dropping into downtown Denver’s tattoo shops in search of the woman. No leads so far. He was told the tattoo he was looking for was a custom design, not part of the usual flash art selection.

“I’m looking for a woman who got a tattoo that looks exactly like this,” he told the man as he pulled out a piece of paper depicting a hand drawn version of the tattoo. He fought the angst tearing through his veins, hoping this wouldn’t be another dead end.

The man took a good look at it and nodded. “Yes…I did this piece for a female client last year. What exactly do you need to know?”

Dex’s pulse jumped. It had to be her—the tattoo was unusual. But this was where it got tricky. Since this wasn’t an official investigation, he didn’t have a warrant for this establishment, and he needed the man’s cooperation. Of course, he could probably get one, but that would require him to pull some major strings, which would take time.

He chose his next words carefully. “I’m not looking to arrest her. She might be able to save someone’s life, so a name and a telephone number will do.”

There was a moment’s hesitation as the artist gave him a measured look. “What was your name again, sir?”

Dex felt his nerves stretch almost painfully. “Agent Dex Mason.” He opened his ID again.

The man made a dismissing gesture with his hand, then walked behind a counter on the other side of the room. “When you’ve been in this line of work as long as I have, you can read people real well. You’re a straight shooter, Agent Mason.”

Dex approached and heard the slide of a filing cabinet drawer. A moment later, the man turned to him with a green folder in his hands. “We keep waiver forms signed by the client and I remember this one very well.” His mouth twitched with amusement. “Well, it’s hard to forget a gorgeous woman like that.”

The artist turned the folder around and placed it on the table. “Stephanie Dubois. Here’s her contact number.”

Dex copied the information down in his notebook, then his gaze fell on the close-up digital photo clipped to the top of the folder. He instantly placed the drawing next to it. An almost perfect match.

“Yep, that’s the piece I did for her,” the man said.

A tide of relief and triumph flooded Dex.
Finally.
He asked, “Did she mention where she works or what she does for a living?”

The man shook his head. “No, she didn’t talk much, except she told me she’d drawn that herself. Plucked it out of her imagination. Only a talented artist could draw something so sophisticated.”

Dex nodded and smiled. “Thanks a lot for your help.”

“No problem. I’m just curious—where did you get that drawing?”

Dex didn’t hesitate to respond. “A seer drew it.” It was the truth. “Have a nice day,” he added, and left the shop.

In the car, he wasted no time contacting Alex DeSousa, his favorite data processor at VCI, and gave him Stephanie Dubois’ name and contact information. DeSousa had access to data that Dex didn’t, and he wanted to know everything he could about Ms. Dubois before meeting her.

An hour later, he walked through his brother’s condo apartment and found his friend, Victor, in the study. “I’m pretty sure I’ve found her, Victor.”

Victor had drawn the tattoo as soon as he’d made a psychic connection with the woman. His visions were intense but short-lived, and he’d been unable to reconnect with her after that first time. It had been enough for him, though, to sketch the tattoo, and enough to pick up that she bore it on her right hip.

The old seer looked up from a heavy book and gazed at him with his translucent, silver eyes. The lines around his eyes and mouth crinkled as he smiled. “Excellent news, Dex. What are your plans?”

“I’ve got her address. She’s uptown. Hell, I can’t believe how close she’s been all this time,” he said with a brief shake of his head. “I’ll see her tomorrow and tell her about Ray.”

An unreadable emotion flickered in his friend’s eyes as he raised his hand. “Be patient. The right time will come soon.”

“There’s no time to waste, Victor. Ray’s getting worse.”

“Trust me on this. There’s an obstacle, though I don’t know what it is.”

Victor was a highly gifted seer. As long as Dex had known him, his premonitions and visions had always been correct.

Dex felt his jaw clench with impatience, but he nodded. “Okay. You’ll let me know, then?”

“Oh, you’ll likely know before me,” Victor replied with a wisp of a smile before his pale eyes shifted back to the book.

He knew Victor wasn’t being purposely vague. He just didn’t have any more concrete knowledge to share. Dex exited the study and headed down the wide corridor to his brother’s room. He wished he could tell him the news about the girl, but it would be premature. There was still the very slim chance that Stephanie Dubois was not the right girl. Or that she might refuse to help. He forced these thoughts to the back of his mind.

Ray was asleep when Dex entered the room. He noted his brother’s tousled dark blond hair and pallor. Although he hadn’t lost much weight since he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis a little over a year ago, his form under the bedcover seemed fragile.

A single, thick cough rumbled in his chest, and he grunted and turned slightly on his side. He’d been fighting another bout of bronchitis. Dex’s heart squeezed hard as he walked over to the bed and pulled the cover up to Ray’s shoulder.

“Soon, brother. I promise.” The words were soft, yet edged with resolve.

Chapter Two

Stephanie Dubois and her three girlfriends fell into polite silence as their waiter rolled a plate-laden tray to their table. With deft hands, he served their meals and offered freshly ground pepper.

Stephanie picked up her utensils and cut into the twelve-ounce filet mignon.
Damn, was she hungry.
A frown pulled at the corners of her mouth as she looked at the sliced piece. “It’s not rare,” she muttered before sliding the morsel into her mouth.

Tara leaned over and examined the steak before shaking her head. “It’s practically oozing blood, Stephanie. I swear, if I didn’t know better, I’d say you were a vampire.”

Stephanie shared a quick look with Maryann, who was sitting on the other side of the table. She shrugged. “I like my meat rare. This borders on medium-rare.”

Regardless, the steak hit the spot and the amusing girl banter eased the week out of her system. She loved her job, but the recent overtime had worn her out. After dinner, the girls tried to convince her to head out to their usual watering hole, but she opted to wind down early.

She drove to her home in uptown Denver and parked just outside the gray-brick 1960s building, which housed only eight apartments. Flanked by a tall glass commercial building on one side and a massive industrial condo loft on the other, it was an oddity. The location and the rent, however, suited her just fine. Design 52, where she worked as a graphic artist, was a short bus ride away in the downtown sector, and, depending on her mood, she could either head out to the mix of funky and chic restaurants and shops within walking distance or escape to a quiet bench by a duck-inhabited lake in City Park.

No matter where she’d been, Stephanie loved walking into her apartment. At just under eight hundred square feet, it wasn’t much, but it was her private space. With Maryann’s help, she’d removed the musty traces of the previous owner and had persuaded the landlord to allow her to paint two of the rooms to her taste. Dove gray in the bedroom and deep tan in the living room. The latter was her favorite room, where she did most of her reading and drawing.

She hung her bag on the clothes rack by the door, tucked her leather jacket in the front closet and slipped off her boots. April, as usual, was the tail end of winter and she couldn’t wait for it to be over. With the bathroom basics out of the way, she headed for her bedroom. Just as she pulled off her top, the phone rang. Stephanie didn’t like late phone calls, unless they meant good news. They rarely did.

Her body tensed as she answered.

“Stephanie! I’ve been calling your mobile. Are you all right?”

“Mom, geez…I’m sorry. The battery ran out.”

A sigh of relief followed. “You
are
coming for dinner tomorrow, right?”

Stephanie closed her eyes and pressed her fingers to her temple. She loathed family get-togethers with her brothers, but hated disappointing her mother even more. “Um, sure.”

“Wonderful. Amanda and Brendan are coming, too, of course.”

Thankfully.
Her sister Amanda was the most normal person in the family, the only one besides Stephanie who openly disapproved of their brothers’ racist mentality toward vampires. And her fiancé, Brendan, was a decent man. They’d make the get-together more tolerable.

After a bit of chit chat with Mom, she disconnected and stepped in front of the full-length mirror. She shrugged out of her fitted jersey skirt, and pulled down the right side of her panties several inches. With her index finger, she traced the tattoo on her hip. The dark spot in her core stirred. Occasionally, the urge to tell her family, to unburden herself, was so strong she feared that she would yield to it. But she couldn’t say a word for their sake. This was a secret she’d vowed to take to her grave.

Stephanie noted the two familiar cars in the driveway of her mother’s house and parked in the street. No sense in blocking anyone in, she thought. She sat for a minute, looking at the large ranch-style building that had been her childhood home. Her mother and her stepfather had bought it about twenty-seven years before. It stood in the middle of a generous plot of mature land. Her heart gave a nostalgic squeeze as her mind evoked children’s laughter, innocent pranks and parties. There had been good times.

She was the first born but didn’t get the chance to know her biological father. He’d left Mom soon after her birth. Her parents had only been dating at the time. Two years later, Mom married Clyde Dubois and christened her Stephanie Dubois.

She dragged in a long breath and expelled it. “It’s just two or three hours,” she muttered, and unbuckled her seatbelt. The crisp air carried hints of conifer and pine. Stephanie ignored the paved path that led to the front door and walked up the grassy rise of the front yard, her boots crunching across melting patches of snow. She lifted the latch of the wooden fence door and went through to the backyard, then up to the deck. The Boulder Flatirons dominated the horizon, their rugged tan rock and lush green cliffs giving her spirits a well-needed boost.

BOOK: BloodBound
4.27Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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