Authors: Zenobia Renquist
What do a three-hundred-year-old vampire and a midlevel necromancer have in common? Money. Jeliyah needs it to pay off the people who trained her and Teaghan enjoys killing to get it. Together they hunt rogue vampires—assuming Teaghan can focus on something other than getting her into bed and Jeliyah doesn’t put a bullet in him first.
The uneasy partnership promises to be lucrative until the pair gets on the wrong side of a feud. Forced to use forbidden magic, Jeliyah finds herself bound to a man she should hate—but whom she can’t stop fantasizing about.
Every second they stay alive fuels a growing desire Jeliyah is unwilling to deny. Is it the magic? The danger? The only way to get answers is to outrun the enemy, or kill them. She knows Teaghan’s preference, but it’s Jeliyah who must put their mind-blowing sex aside and make the choice that will decide both their fates.
Enjoy this interracial romance between a wannabe-gangsta vampire and a career-focused magic user who go from being the hunters to the hunted in an exciting new urban fantasy world.
paranormal erotic romance
from Ellora’s Cave
High scores on all tests, deadeye status in marksmanship and commendations in spell casting—Jeliyah, as one of the highest necromancers in the middle class, had earned this promotion long ago. The day had come for her to get an enforcer.
Enforcer. That’s what the humans called them. The vampires called them bounty hunters and worse. They were opportunistic vampires who hunted rogues for the thrill of the kill and the rewards. Human government types had preferred a less provocative title when the human-vampire cooperation started. Bounty hunters became enforcers. A little whitewash to make everyone feel warm and cozy.
It didn’t matter what they were called. That didn’t change the job or how it was carried out. Enforcers partnered with human vampire hunters, also known as necromancers, to kill rogues and were paid a hefty sum for every rogue eliminated. If Jeliyah had been stationed anywhere else, she would have been partnered with an enforcer long ago.
She glared at the back of Hirsch’s head. Her boss had been making her ride a desk since she was assigned to his crew three years ago. He’d used every excuse he could pull out of his ass to keep her at that desk—not enough hunts to go around, no available enforcers, the enforcers prefer not to work with women and other crap that reeked worse than his cheap knockoff cologne. It all boiled down to him not wanting her there.
Hirsch’s crew had been all men until the higher-ups slapped him with an equal-opportunity citation and then shoved Jeliyah his way. She didn’t appreciate being the token in this situation. The higher-ups had interfered again when they noticed Jeliyah being passed over for getting an enforcer for the third year in a row, which wouldn’t have looked suspicious if the new guys weren’t being partnered with an enforcer two seconds after stepping foot in the building.
“And here she is,” Hirsch said as he swung the door wide and entered the room where the enforcer waited.
The necrome amulet—a flat, coin-sized disc with an intricate dragon etched onto one side and a tiger on the other—hanging against her collarbone hummed softly, alerting her to the presence of the vampire. She didn’t need the warning but was glad it worked the way it should.
The vampire stood with his hip resting against the back of the couch and one hand in the pocket of his suit slacks. The shades over his eyes completed Jeliyah’s idea of how an enforcer should appear—menacing and mysterious. Anyone else wearing shades indoors would be obnoxious but vampires abhorred fluorescent light. They said it was too harsh and left an afterimage, like staring at the sun.
Jeliyah tried to keep calm and her heart rate normal so the vampire wouldn’t realize how excited she was. A partner at last. Ever since being identified as a necromancer of the middle class, Jeliyah had looked forward to working with an enforcer. Years of training would finally have a purpose.
After placing her duffel bag near the door, she walked forward and held out her hand. “I’m Jeliyah Parsons.” She smiled when the vampire shook her hand. “I look forward to working with you.”
The man grinned, showing his long canines. “That’s sweet but I’m not your partner. I’m Fredrick, the messenger.” He jerked his thumb over his shoulder. “He’s your partner.”
Jeliyah looked in the direction he indicated, not happy she hadn’t realized there were two vampires in the room. That was dangerous and sloppy and not completely her fault since the man had been sitting in a high-backed chair that obscured him from sight. Still, excuses like that were the reason necromancers died in this line of work rather than retiring.
She moved forward as the chair swiveled around. “Nice to meet you. I’m—” Her greeting and her smile died on her lips.
The man sitting on the chair pulled his shades down with one finger hooked around the edge and moved his ice-blue gaze over Jeliyah. He nodded as he edged his shades back in place. With his fist held out to the other vampire, he said, “Good looking out.”
The suited vampire bumped fists with the man while Jeliyah tried to come to terms with her new partner. He wasn’t at all what she had imagined after reading his file. Teaghan was a top enforcer with hundreds of kills under his belt, a fifth of those after the human-vampire cooperative started.
He’d retired seven partners in the last three years, which was high by anyone’s standards. Most partnerships lasted a minimum of one year before a necromancer was close to retirement. With Teaghan’s kill rate, a necromancer only needed to stay by his side for a few months.
Someone with a record like that should be the stoic, no-nonsense type. Jeliyah had been prepared for the militant type with a chip on his shoulder because he had to babysit a human, even if that human was giving him the edge he needed to keep his kill count so high.
She got flaming-red hair in neat cornrows that ended past his shoulders, a tight black tank top with thick gold chains draped over it, baggy jeans that were two sizes too big and tan work boots with the laces untied. His only saving grace was that he knew how to use a belt, though that didn’t change the fact that a vampire born in the seventeen hundreds was dressed gangsta.
This had to be a joke. Jeliyah looked at Hirsch. He was all smiles. The happy smiles of a man getting what he wanted, not the joking smiles people wore right before telling someone they’d been punked.
Teaghan sucked his teeth and she glanced at him in time to see one of his elongated canines capped in gold. That was her limit. There were certain things she had been prepared to handle and others she had been prepared to ignore. She refused to consider him.
She pointed at Teaghan and asked in a low, hard tone, “What is that?”
Hirsch startled. “What did you say?” His happy smile turned placating as he faced the vampires. “Sorry for her attitude. Jeliyah is new to the field.”
Teaghan stood. “S’all good, son.”
“Oh, hell no.” Jeliyah turned on her heel, grabbed her duffel bag and walked out of the room. No. No. There weren’t enough noes in the world to convey how much she wasn’t going to work with this man. Not when he looked and acted like that.
She made it to the elevator before Hirsch grabbed her elbow. “Hold it, Parsons.”
“Get off me.” She glared at his hand until he released her and then she turned the expression on him.
“Where are you going?”
“Away from here. You are not sticking me with that.”
Hirsch glanced over his shoulder as he made a loud shushing noise. He bit out, “Lower your voice.”
“Why?” Jeliyah stayed loud on purpose. “They’re vampires, Hirsch. They could hear whatever I’m saying even if I was talking on the elevator.”
The chime indicating the elevator had arrived sounded. Jeliyah looked between the four sets of doors to see which would open first.
Hirsch said, “Walk out now and you might as well pack your stuff.”
“You can’t fire me. This isn’t that type of job.”
“No, I can’t fire you but I can send your ass back where you came from.”
She turned toward him. “What?”
He crossed his arms with a smug look. “Go with Teaghan or go back to the campus. Either way, you’re out of my hair. I couldn’t give a damn which one you pick—but know that you’ll be going back to the campus with a rip.”
“Refusal of a direct order.”
“You…you…” She gritted her teeth and clenched her fists. Hirsch knew she couldn’t go back to the campus with something like that on her record. Necromancers were rare, so this wasn’t a job from which she could be fired, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t be punished. An icy chill ran down her spine. “He can’t be the only enforcer who needs a partner.”
Hirsch grinned. “He’s not. There were a few others but I knew he would be the perfect fit.”
Jeliyah bit back her first comment, the one where she told him to go fuck himself. She didn’t like the man—he sure as hell didn’t like her and this was proof—but he could still give her a rip for insubordination if she said what she wanted.
“Up to you.” He stepped back so she could see the doorway leading to the vampires and a future she wanted to deny.
“I’m filing a complaint,” she said as she walked back to the room.
“On what grounds?”
Hirsch shrugged his indifference. “It’s not my fault he’s like that. I merely matched a high-middle class with a high enforcer like I’m supposed to. All the others rank beneath him. I wouldn’t want the higher-ups thinking I wasn’t using your full potential, now would I?”
She clamped her mouth shut against the litany of curses that begged to be given freedom. The sooner she got away from Hirsch, the better for her career. That meant leaving with Teaghan, who stood watching the door with the other vampire.
Teaghan had the nerve to grin at her when she walked through the door. “Welcome back.”
Her teeth scraped against each other as she held back more words she wasn’t allowed to say. Not yet. Not so long as Hirsch was there. As soon as she and Teaghan were alone, she planned to tell him just what she thought of him and his attitude.
“Let’s go,” she bit out.
Teaghan bumped fists with the other vampire again. “Thanks for dragging my sorry ass out here.”
“Any time. Have fun.”
Jeliyah exhaled a frustrated breath and stalked away.
Hirsch called after her, “Good luck on your hunts, Jeliyah.”
“Fuck you,” she said under her breath. “Fuck you hard with a rusted, spiked dildo, you son of a diseased bitch.”
Both vampires laughed. Jeliyah ignored them. She’d known they would hear her. Her concern was that Hirsch not hear her.
Rather than return to the elevators, she shoved open the door to the stairwell. Fifteen flights of stairs would work off some of her anger…she hoped. The situation might not be as bad as she thought. She was taking it at face value.
Teaghan was a top-ranked enforcer. No matter how he dressed or acted, he got the job done. If his track record held, she would only have to put up with his nonsense for the next four-to-six months. With the rogue incursions so high of late, their time together might be less than that. She hoped that was the case.
Endure. All she had to do was endure. Not everyone got a dream assignment. Not everyone got an assignment. Retirement was around the corner. That would be her mantra until this nightmare ended.
She exited the necromancer headquarters and breathed in the early evening air. A cool, crisp autumn breeze soothed her heated skin.
“Feel better?” Teaghan asked, placing himself in the path of the breeze.
Jeliyah had to look up to meet his gaze since the top of her head was level with his shoulder. She would like to say she had forgotten he was there. The hum of her necrome against her collarbone wouldn’t let her forget.