Read Into the Darkness Online

Authors: Delilah Devlin

Tags: #Fiction, #Erotica, #General, #Romance, #Paranormal

Into the Darkness

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This book is for my sister and best friend,

Myla Jackson,

who began this journey with me

and constantly inspires and challenges me

to be a better person and writer.

Contents

CHAPTER 1

“Rene, you dirty bastard, put your tongue back in your…

1

CHAPTER 2

Rene raked a hand through his hair. “What the fuck…

17

CHAPTER 3

Natalie couldn’t sleep.

33

CHAPTER 4

A shocked gasp and muffled “Sonuvabitch!”

jarred her fully awake…

47

CHAPTER 5

A crunch sounded outside—a crisp scrape like a footstep on…

65

CHAPTER 6

As soon as the van pulled to a halt, the…

77

CHAPTER 7

Her body warmed as she cuddled closer. This close and…

91

CHAPTER 8

You don’t want to kill him…yet.

109

CHAPTER 9

Natalie finished bathing him and pulled the sheet up over…

125

CHAPTER 10

Mercifully, Inanna veered the conversation another way.

“Erika, what did…

139

CHAPTER 11

Chessa stared into the stormy sky as rain began to…

153

CHAPTER 12

“Damn!” 171

CHAPTER 13

Chessa sat on the edge of the bed when Rene…

189

CHAPTER 14

Chessa tracked Nic down to his quarters in the barracks.

203

CHAPTER 15

Silence stretched between Nicolas and Chessa as

they each dressed.

219

CHAPTER 16

Rene dumped Natalie’s suitcase on the bed in the hotel…

231

CHAPTER 17

The raucous sound of a cheery accordion and electric guitars…

245

CHAPTER 18

Chessa strode into the station, waving to the desk sergeant…

259

CHAPTER 19

Rene opened the door. The light inside the bedroom was…

279

CHAPTER 20

“Let me help you,” he said, extending his hand, palm…

293

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

OTHER BOOKS BY DELILAH DEVLIN

CREDITS

COVER

COPYRIGHT

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER

chapter

1

ene, you dirty bastard, put your tongue

“Rback in your mouth.”

Rene Broussard lowered his binoculars to watch the

enticing twitch of their subject’s ass beneath a pink

sundress as she walked, carrying coffee and a sugarcoated beignet, toward a bench in front of Saint Louis

Cathedral. That dress should have been outlawed—in

the muggy New Orleans heat it stuck to her skin in all

the right places. His body tightened with the purely

involuntary reaction of a healthy male. He pressed

the talk switch on the radio clipped to his jacket lapel.

“You’re just jealous,
chère,
’cause you have no ass.”

The radio squawked. “Do, too,” his partner,

Chessa Tomas, replied. “You just haven’t taken a

good look ’cause you know you can’t have it.”

2 delilah

devlin

“There is that.” He shifted his gaze upward to the woman’s

face.

Even watching through the iron spokes of the fence surrounding Jackson Square, Rene knew this was their girl—only

the Tennessee DMV photo hadn’t done her justice. The other

stats he’d pulled—Caucasian female, 25 yrs. old, 5'6", blonde

hair, green eyes, 135 lbs.—also hadn’t hinted at the cuteness

of her saucy behind, the length of her softly rounded legs, or

the shape of her breasts, high and uptilted. Just like he liked

them. “Mmmm-mmm.”

“Yoo hoo!” Chessa’s voice broke in. “Are you gonna ogle

her all afternoon, or are we pulling her in for questioning?”

Rene looked up to the balcony over Muriel’s restaurant.

Chessa gave him a little wave and tilted her head toward her

radio. “It’s gonna rain, and I’d just as soon not get soaked.”

Rene slid his small binoculars into a jacket pocket, and

then glanced up at the sky. Gray clouds, heavy with rain, hovered just above the street lamps. The wind began to whip

the colorful beach umbrellas above the street vendors’ carts.

Mother Nature was giving a preview of the tropical storm

the weathermen predicted might hit during the weekend.

Time to bring in Natalie Lambert.

Just as he rounded the corner of the fence, a devil wind

picked up dirt from the street and swirled toward the row

of benches, carrying with it an odd sulfurous odor. “
Merde,
I

wonder if I remembered to latch my balcony doors?”

“That must be one helluva doughnut,” Chessa murmured.

“The lady seems pretty popular with the pigeons.”

Weaving in and out of the psychics’ fabric-draped tables

and the street artists’ booths, Rene kept an eye on his tar-into the darkness

3

get as she tossed crumbs at the birds gathering around her

feet. The little black whirlwind whipped through the crowding pigeons, ruffling their feathers and lifting a few off the

ground. “Don’t she know we have ordinances against feedin’

those birds?”

“Breaking that particular law’s the least of her worries.”

He paused in front of an artist’s stand, pretending to admire

the watercolors. “My gut says she’s the target, not the perp.”

“Sure you’re thinking with your brain?” Chessa asked, in

her usual smart-ass tone. “Just ’cause she looks pretty in pink

doesn’t mean she’s not a murderer. Why else would she run?”

The lady in question glanced toward the darkening sky and

pitched the rest of her meal to the birds.

“Wouldn’t you, if everyone around you was droppin’ like

flies?” Rene nodded to the seller and continued on his way

toward the woman who looked like a tasty sherbet.

“I don’t know—and right now, I don’t care. Let’s just pull

her in before all hell breaks loose.”

“All right,” Rene said, injecting false irritation into his

voice. “You’re just bein’ a bitch ’cause I woke you early.”

“I don’t want the sun peeking out from behind any clouds

before we’re done.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t want you to melt, sugar. Get your ass down

here now. Let’s do it.”

“What the hell?”

Rene saw what caught his partner’s attention at the same

time. More birds arrived with an audible flutter of wings, settling onto the pavement and closing in on the woman who

now yelled and kicked at the pigeons crowding around her

ankles.

4 delilah

devlin

Frowning, he realized what had started as a small flock of

birds, now numbered hundreds. Some hopped onto the bench

beside the woman, while others surrounded her feet. They all

appeared to be pecking at bare skin.

People nearby scattered, vendors abandoned their carts

and tables and ran while the pavement quickly filled like an

undulating gray sea.

Rene cursed and ran toward her, kicking away pigeons as

more arrived in a dark, fluttering cloud to surround the woman

who shielded her face and head with her arms, whimpering,

while rivulets of blood streaked her ankles and hands.

He plucked her from the bench into his arms.

She swatted blindly, landing glancing blows on his nose

and chin, her body arching in his arms, but he clamped her

body tight to his and sped toward the unmarked sedan parked

along Chartres Street. The beating of hundreds of flapping

wings and the birds’ harsh, screaming caws pursued them to

the vehicle.

Chessa rushed from the entrance of the restaurant and

matched his stride.

“The doors, Cheech!” he shouted.

She sprinted past him and flung open the back door.

Rene dove into the backseat, the woman clutched close to

his chest, and yanked the door closed. Wings flapped in his

face.

The woman on his lap whimpered and pressed her face into

his chest.

Rene swung his fist at the kamikaze bird until he smashed

it against the rear windshield. Panting, he didn’t relax until

Chessa slid into the driver’s seat and started the engine.

into the darkness

5

“Du Monde’s beignets aren’t that good,” Chessa said, tearing off her sunglasses. Her green gaze met his in the rearview

mirror as she put the car into gear and careened away from

the curb. Tires crunched the bones of birds. Two, three, four

more slammed into the windshield. Others thudded dully

against the metal exterior of the car, until at last they left the

menacing flock behind.

Rene dragged air into his lungs, adrenaline still pumping

through his body. He squeezed the woman too tight, but he

couldn’t let go. Not yet. “Goddamn!”

“Where to?” Chessa asked, one eyebrow quirked upward

in the mirror.

Rene shook his head.
Not the station.
He took another deep

breath and looked down at the woman who shivered in his

arms, her head tucked against his chest like a child. Her

scent, reminiscent of lemons and sweet apples, and the soft

curves pressing on his thighs affected him more than he cared

to admit. He cleared his throat, fighting for objectivity. A

first for him. “Miss, can we take you home?”

Her bloodied hands clutched at his shirt, and she raised a

clear blue gaze to meet his. “I’m not stupid enough to think

your being here is a coincidence. Why don’t you just take me

to the station?”

Rene blinked. Her words were gutsy, even defiant, but he

heard the underlying quaver in her voice. “Yeah, so we know

who you are, Natalie. Maybe we’re just keepin’ an eye out to

make sure you’re safe.”

“No one can keep me safe.” Her lips twisted in a parody of

a smile. “Even the birds know I’m toxic.”

* * *

6 delilah

devlin

Natalie sat on a metal chair while Detective Broussard daubed

sterile gauze at the small punctures marring her arms and

hands. She glanced at his partner, who flipped closed the

blinds, plunging the interrogation room further into gloom.

The dense gray light seemed to match the woman’s mood. Detective Tomas had paced the room since they’d first entered.

Natalie guessed she was pretty annoyed with her partner,

intercepting more than one pointed glare, and wondered if

there might be something between the pair. Detective Tomas

was surely his match physically. Black hair, green eyes, and

with a slim, wiry build Natalie could only envy.

“So, you wanna tell us what brought you back to N’Awlins?”

Detective Broussard pulled a fresh square of gauze from the

first aid kit and scooted back his chair. “Gimme one of your

legs.”

Natalie couldn’t help but shiver at his command and lifted

her left leg. Aware his steady stare fell to a broad expanse of

exposed skin, she barely resisted the urge to tug the hem of

her skirt lower. She almost wished his interest wasn’t due to

the crusty streaks of blood feathering her ankles.

Until recently, she’d never considered herself a very sexual

creature, had never felt the compulsion to dabble in flirtation. But something about this man’s Cajun drawl, husky

build, and liquid brown eyes tugged a dormant femininity,

newly discovered and yearning, into full flower.

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