Just when everything in Connie Bennett’s life seems to be coming together, hidden secrets threaten to tear her world asunder.
After killer sex, a whirlwind courtship fueled in part by demon curses and friend Dee’s less than helpful magic, Connie and vampire entrepreneur, Tom Thornton are engaged and living the dream with best friend Raf and wonder wiener, Willy the dachshund. So, why the bodyguards?
The government has taken a sudden interest in their well being. Has the trio really been placed under the protection of the FARM or next on its hit list? Were the plain-clothed shifters sent to watch to their backs or put a bullet in them? As Tom’s secrets are stripped bare, all are confronted with the consequences of past decisions.
Can their love and friendship survive a clandestine government agency’s hidden agenda and a pact with the devil?
Let it never be said I led a boring life. Sure, to see me now sitting in the sunroom of my Victorian farmhouse sipping coffee, I appeared to be just another rural house frau. Appearances can be deceiving.
From my perch on the red and yellow plaid settee, I gazed out the picture window. The flowering redbud tree, new green grass and the tulips, snapdragons and daffodils blooming along the walk and down the winding drive weren’t having the calming affect I hoped for.
She was still here. She was always here and she was driving me insane. Not that she was doing anything to cause it. That was the problem. SHE NEVER DID ANYTHING. At least it seemed that way to me.
She–was my body guard Leeann Leslie, and she was doing what she always did, nothing. She stood behind me and stared, which drove me crazy. I tried to engage her in conversation but “yes” and “no” seemed the extent of her vocabulary. I realized she was supposed to be “watching my back”, but for what? There were no more demons out to get us. I was pretty sure.
I had argued with Tom, my sweetie, until I turned blue in the face. He said she was the best; her kind was rare. Leeann was a polymorphic shape shifter, which means she could change into any animal that suited her fancy. (Hypothetically) While I had no reason to doubt him, I had seen no proof. I didn’t expect her to change form to entertain me…but I would have liked to see it. Could this skinny girl with bright red hair turn into an elephant? Inquiring minds want to know.
I don’t understand many things about our little supernatural community and I know more than most of the humans in the Little Rock area. Polymorphism is a new concept for me. Apparently Leeann lost in personality what she gained in alter egos. I wasn’t trying to be cruel, but if she had to be with me 24/7 couldn’t she at least be friendly?
I’m Connie by the way. Constance Francis Bennett is my full name. I’m hoping to change the last name to Thornton, if VMB 41, the Vampire Marriage Bill now in Congress, passes. I smiled at the sparkling rock on my left ring finger. Tom proposed the day we moved into our new home. The repairs had been finished right on time. When you’re a rich vampire you can get all manner of things accomplished quickly, and Thomas Thornton was the richest in Arkansas.
Let me help…
I met Tom last summer while searching for a job that would allow me to take my paraplegic dachshund Willy, to work with me. At least I thought that’s what I was doing; unbeknownst to me, my best friend Dee had cast a spell on me. Hell, I didn’t even know she was a witch. But it all worked out. Mostly. I had always been fascinated by vampires and this one was gorgeous. He’s six feet-four inches of perfection; broad shoulders, narrow waist, long, long legs (and other things), with dark brown hair and hazel green eyes. And he’s a cowboy – was a cowboy. Well, he’s from Texas originally–the territory–before it became a state.
Both the salon and our relationship got off to a bumpy start. Midnight Sun was the first tanning salon to cater to vampires as well as humans. Spray tanning helped vampires blend in with the human population which was sometimes less than accepting. It’s difficult to overcome years of being told vampires were the boogiemen under our beds, waiting to get us in the dark, or at least in dark movie theaters…
We had a couple of disturbing incidences: A dismembered vampire corpse in the dumpster and Skin-Heads bent on no good.
The surviving Skin-Heads were incarcerated but the cops were never able to find any clues on our dismembered John Doe.
The salon is where I met Raf. He’s the most adorable thing. Black, wavy hair, eyes the color of dark chocolate, he looks like Tony Curtis in his heyday. No, really. He looks like Tony Curtis—channeling Richard Simmons. He’s gay.
Raf’s “Mother” Lilitu, (sometimes she’s known as Lilith) was the succubus who had tried to kill us. Was, being the operative word. We killed her, but not before she trashed the beautiful house Tom had built for me; hence the repairs, and–Leeann. Why did we need bodyguards now? The demoness was dead. Problem solved.
Killing her took its toll. Without Raf we would have all died–permanently. His blood saved us, Tom, my dachshund, Willy, and me. The doctors were convinced if I woke, I would be a vampire. Doctors make mistakes. Leeann and George have been with us since our discharge. George is Tom’s bodyguard and a big burly bear of a man– perhaps literally.
They just appeared, sent by someone very high up the food chain in federal government. Tom said someone hadn’t appreciated us almost being killed and intended to make sure the attempt wasn’t repeated. I seriously doubted their anxiety was over me.
More likely Tom’s status as a wealthy, vampire businessman caused their concern. The powers that be didn’t seem worried about Raf’s well-being either. We were all puzzled about Raf–including Raf. We had all thought he was the first vampire. Lilitu drained him thousands of years ago. But, turns out Raf is something else. We’re still trying to figure out what.
Right now he was in California with his sweetie, Terrell, and I missed him like crazy. When he’s around I can deal better. He’s the yin to my yang, the cream in my coffee. I was here alone, trapped with Leeann.
“Leeann,” I asked again. “Are you sure you don’t want to sit and have a cup of coffee with me? You’ve got to get tired of standing all the time.”
“No coffee, or no you aren’t tired?”
I ground my teeth together. Tom wouldn’t wake for at least six more hours. By then I would have committed murder…or suicide. I took a deep breath and tried a different tact. “Leeann, am I your boss?”
“As long as I don’t order you to leave, you must do what I say. Is that right?”
She lowered her sunglasses a notch to peer over them. “Yes ma’am.” The sunglasses cut the glare from the windows—or so she said. I smiled maniacally. “Sit your skinny butt down; you’re given’ me the willies.” I raised my eyebrow and glared, daring her to argue.
“Yes, ma’am.” She sat in the chair opposite me, where she could still keep an eye on the window as well as the door. “Can you say anything besides yes ma’am, no ma’am? Can’t you just talk?”
“I felt like someone was tap dancing on my grave. Maybe I should lay off the caffeine? Damn it Raf, I need you. How unfair of me. He, more than anyone, deserved some alone time with his man. “Sorry, I think the caffeine is making me jittery. I’m going to get a muffin and some milk. Would you like some?”
She folded her glasses and placed them in her pocket, looked me in the eye and said, “Yes, ma’am…Please.” It was a beginning.
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