Hunting Moon (Decorah Security Series, Book #11): A Paranormal Romantic Suspense Novel

BOOK: Hunting Moon (Decorah Security Series, Book #11): A Paranormal Romantic Suspense Novel
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Hunting Moon (Decorah Security Series, Book #11)

A Paranormal Romantic Suspense Novel

By Rebecca York

Ruth Glick writing as Rebecca York

Chapter One

The last thing Tory Robinson expected to hear was the sound of gunshots.

She’d been sitting on the comfortable couch in Johnny Denato’s luxury Central Park South condo. When he’d excused himself to take a business call, she’d walked to the outsized living room windows to enjoy the ten million dollar view of the park.

Behind her, a door opened, and she heard Denato’s voice change abruptly. Someone must have come in, and he was demanding to know what they wanted. As the voices grew louder, she whirled around in time to hear a series of popping noises and catch a quick view of men with guns running past the living room door.

Fear threatened to turn her body to stone. But she knew that if she stayed where she was, she was a dead woman. Dropping to the floor behind the sofa, she crawled toward the heavy drapes that pooled at either side of the window and worked her way behind the nearest panel. Praying that the gunmen were still in the back of the apartment, she eased to a standing position and pressed against the wall, the cold plaster raising goose bumps on her arms.

Her mind’s eye flashed to the coffee table in front of the sofa where she and Denato had been sitting. He had left a glass of bourbon on the glass top, but she’d told him she didn’t want a drink. So an extra glass wouldn’t give her away. And thank God she’d taken her purse with her. The men wouldn’t see that two people had been in the room—unless they noticed two depressions in the back sofa cushions.

Voices conferred in low tones, the words like the roaring of surf in her ears. When heavy footsteps approached the window, the blood froze in her veins, and she braced to feel rough hands shove the drapes aside and yank her out like a rabbit plucked from its burrow.

An eternity ticked by before she heard a sarcastic voice say, “High class view.”

“It won’t do him no good now,” another man answered.

“We better get the hell out of here, in case somebody heard the action.”

“Right.”

As footsteps receded from the window, Tory closed her eyes and leaned her head against the wall, taking deep breaths as she ordered herself not to faint. For long seconds after the front door closed, she stayed where she was, imagining that the gunmen could be waiting to see if someone crept out of hiding.

But finally she knew she couldn’t stay where she was.

Cautiously, she eased one edge of the drapes aside and looked out. The apartment was just as she remembered it—until she saw a pair of black-trouser-clad legs lying on the marble floor of the foyer.

She recognized Johnny’s dress pants—and his Italian designer shoes.

“Johnny?” she whispered, hurrying toward him, stopping short when she saw the red circle in the middle of his forehead and the pool of blood that had spread around his head like an evil halo against the pale floor. There was nothing she could do for him now.

The seafood dinner she’d eaten threatened to come up as she hurried around him and toward the door of the apartment. She stopped short as she reached the exit.

“Think,” she whispered to herself.

She’d been raised to be an upstanding citizen, which meant that she should call the police. But she was sure that this murder wouldn’t go unreported for long. Better to clear out before the cops came and started asking her questions—and she ended up on the front page of the
New York Times
, with the murderers wondering what she’d seen. Which was nothing, except Johnny’s body. The drapes that had hidden her had completely blocked her view of the assassins.

She always carried a scarf in her purse. Taking it out, she put it on her head and tied it under her chin, then pulled it forward to hide her blond hair and her forehead.

She’d come in through the lobby, but the man at the front desk hadn’t paid her any attention. And Johnny Denato probably brought in leggy blonds all the time.

He’d seemed like a ladies’ man, although his behavior with her had certainly been odd since she’d first spotted him watching her performance at the Midnight Club. When he’d asked her to his table after the show, she’d assumed he wanted sex. But he’d told her he’d admired her dancing and would like to spend a little time with her. He’d been charming and smart, and her boss had told her to be nice to him.

Still, because she knew he had an underworld reputation, she’d only reluctantly let him take her to dinner after the last performance. Although they’d been out a few times since that first evening, she’d never agreed to go to his apartment before. Tonight he’d said he needed to pick up a fax from a business associate. Now she knew she should have said good night and taken a cab home from the restaurant.

Or to be honest, she should have gone back to Pittsburgh where she belonged—before getting involved with a guy like Denato. Unfortunately, after scoring a featured spot in the Midnight Club review, she’d tried to convince herself that she could deal with big-city life and a boss who was constantly demanding more.

But there was no use beating herself up for previous decisions. She had to deal with
now.

Should she take the stairs to a back exit? That might keep her out of the lobby, but there were sure to be cameras in the stairwells.

After weighing the pros and cons, she walked across the hallway to the elevator, keeping her head down to hide her face from the camera in the ceiling as she took the car to the first floor.

Her heart clanged inside her chest all the way down. Just before the door opened, an idea struck. Taking out her cell phone, she pretended to be deep into texting someone as she walked smartly past the desk at the side of the room and out the front entrance, avoiding the doorman’s eye.

She half expected someone to call her back or, worse yet, clamp a hand on her shoulder. But no one interfered as she hurried down the block toward the hotel on the corner.

Before she reached it, she saw a cab slowing to let off a passenger. The man who’d occupied the backseat brushed past her, as she climbed in.

“Where to?”

She gave her address in Brooklyn, then leaned back and closed her eyes, her heart rate slowing a little. She’d made a lucky escape, at least for now. But she wasn’t going to feel safe until she was on her way out of the city.

oOo

Brand Marshall stood in the wooded area near his home in upper Montgomery County, Maryland, taking in the scents and rustles of the forest. At the moment his appreciation of the natural setting was dulled by his humanity. Soon it would be different.

As he unbuttoned his shirt and laid it on top of his shoes and socks, he stared into the darkness, anticipation of his night’s adventure coursing through him. When he had shed the trappings of civilization, he closed his dark eyes, the better to focus on ancient ritual and ancient deities as he gathered his inner strength, steeling himself for the feeling of disorientation, even as he said the words that would change him from man to wolf.


Taranis, Epona, Cerridwen
,” he said in a low voice, then repeated the same phrase and went on to another that had been a part of his consciousness for almost fifteen years.

“Ga. Feart. Cleas. Duais. Aithriocht. Go gcumhdai is dtreorai na deithe thu.”

With the words came a blinding pain that had killed one of his older brothers. Brand had been luckier. On that night of first transformation, he had become more than a man. Or less, if you agreed with the monster hunters of ages past.

He’d been giddy with relief that he’d survived the change from teen to wolf. It took a few years for him to understand that he’d given up as much as he’d gained.

The words of the ancient chant had helped him through the agony of first transformation, opened his mind, and freed him from the bonds of the human shape. Since then, he had tried more than once to watch it happen in a mirror, but his vision had blurred as if his soul must reject that which was beyond a mortal’s comprehension.

Still, he could picture it in his mind. Even as the human part of his being screamed in protest, he felt his jaw elongate, his teeth sharpen, his body contort as muscles and limbs transformed themselves into a different shape.

The first few times he’d done it had been a nightmare of torture and terror. Once he’d understood what to expect, he’d learned to ride above the physical sensations of bones crunching, muscles jerking, his very cells changing from one shape to another.

Thick gray hair formed along his flanks, covering his body in a silver-tipped pelt. The color—the very structure—of his eyes changed as he dropped to all fours. No longer a man but an animal far more suited to the forest around him.

A wolf.

As he drank in the rich scents of the night, a surge of freedom rippled through him. His wolf’s lips drew back in a smile as he pawed the ground with the joy of a creature totally at one with nature. Raising his head, he looked around with keener vision, pricked his ears for sounds his human senses had been unable to detect.

His body quivered. The blood sang hotly in his veins. He fought the impulse to throw back his head and howl into the night for the sheer joy of it. But he stayed the urge, because the mind inside his skull still held his human intelligence. And the man understood that the cry of a wolf in the night would be out of place in the Maryland suburbs. Hunting here could be only a temporary respite.

He was restless. He needed more. He knew he had to get away—to a place where his wolf’s body was free to break the rules mankind had imposed on it.

Chapter Two

When the cab pulled up in front of Tory’s apartment building, she took a moment to look around at the darkened street, probing the shadows, wishing she had the night vision of a nocturnal animal. She saw nothing, but would she see anything before it was too late?

Skewered by that comforting thought, she paid the driver and gave him a generous tip before exiting the cab and walking rapidly to her front door. Unlike Johnny Denato’s building, there was no doorman and no staff in the front lobby. Only a row of mailboxes attached to the walls in the grimy, narrow hallway.

Out of habit, she checked her mail, thinking she wasn’t going to leave a forwarding address.

Like a drowning victim she felt her life flash before her eyes as she climbed the stairs to her apartment.

She’d grown up in the Pittsburgh suburbs, with a stay-at-home mom and a dad who worked for the state government. They’d encouraged her to take whatever classes she wanted when she was a grade-schooler and teenager. Dancing, especially modern dance, had been her passion, and she’d determined to give that career a shot. She’d been elated to get a place in the Midnight Club’s chorus line, knowing it had as much to do with her looks as her dancing ability. But the job hadn’t satisfied her as much as she’d thought it would, and she’d been about to accept her friend Penny Wayne’s offer to come back home and teach at her dance studio.

At her door, she opened three locks, another thing she hated about the city.

As soon as she’d stepped inside, she realized she was making a mistake. She couldn’t just run away and let someone else worry about Johnny Denato’s murder—much as she longed to simply disappear. That was morally wrong. Plus she and Johnny had been seen together tonight at the club between shows. And later at dinner at the Four Seasons. The cops would be tracking his movements, and people would remember him with a tall, blue-eyed blond.

She was just reaching for the phone to call the police and tell them she’d panicked and left Denato’s apartment, when she heard someone clomping up the stairs. Either one of the neighbors was coming home late—or it was an unwanted visitor.

The breath froze in her lungs as she waited to find out which.

Then a knock at the door made her feel like someone had pushed her off the edge of a steep cliff into a whirlwind.

“Police, open up.”

Yeah, right, she thought as she struggled to recover from free fall. Like the cops would know to come look for her less than half an hour after Denato had been shot. People might remember her face, but they wouldn’t know her name.

She tiptoed toward the door and tried to look through the peephole, but someone had pressed a finger over it. A good clue that it wasn’t the authorities in the hall.

There was another loud knock. “Police, open up.”

“Just a minute. I’m not dressed.” She dashed into the bedroom, pulling her phone from her purse and dialing 911. Nobody would get here in time to rescue her, but at least they’d know she was in trouble.

When she heard a woman answer, she started to shout for help. Then she heard, “All our lines are busy. Please hold.”

With a grimace, she clicked off and slung the purse strap across her chest before whirling toward the window and pushing up the sash. The building next to hers was a story lower, and she’d always hated the view of the gravel roof. Now she thanked God for the escape route as she threw a leg over the window ledge, then climbed out and turned around, stretching out her arms so that she could lower herself to the rough surface. Her dancer’s muscles were strong, and she eased herself down. Still, her grip faltered when she heard a loud crash behind her that must be someone caving in her front door. As she landed on her knees on the sharp stones, she clenched her teeth to keep from crying out.

Desperately, she righted herself, then lit out toward the little structure that housed the stairwell of the building, praying that the door was unlocked.

It was, and she pelted down the stairs, then to the alley entrance, where she emerged onto a parking pad in back. Once at ground level, she slowed her pace, creeping along the side of a car until she could look out into the alley.

It was clear, and she ran toward the street, not even breathing hard as she rounded the corner. A muscular man wearing a knit shirt and jeans was coming toward her, the look in his eyes telling her that he wasn’t a friend.

Abruptly reversing course, she started back the other way, only to find another guy who could have been his twin blocking her retreat. The only way to go was down a side passage, but a car door opened, and a third man leaped out, all of them making a circle around her.

Her gaze darted from one to the other as she tensed, ready to deliver a blow to any of them that who got close.

But one circled around and grabbed her from behind. When she kicked back at his ankle, he made a grunting sound. As she tried to twist out of his grip, he slapped a wet cloth over her face, and that was the last thing she knew as blackness closed in.

BOOK: Hunting Moon (Decorah Security Series, Book #11): A Paranormal Romantic Suspense Novel
5.8Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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