To Black With Love
Quentin Black Mystery #10
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It was too late to save him.
It was too late for him to want to be saved.
Nice guy Nick, ex-cop, decorated vet…
was no more.
Nick Tanaka has been missing for months.
After that mess on the Thai island of Koh Mangaan, Miri and Black search for Nick all over Europe, following every lead, every rumor or trail they can run down.
Those footsteps are rapidly fading, though.
Miri has to face facts.
Nick is probably dead.
Whether the vampires killed him, or he died in that fire on Koh Mangaan, she might never know.
She and Black return to the United States, back to San Francisco, back to the reality of her Uncle Charles and the civil war he’s brought to American soil.
Charles wants nothing more than to wipe out the vampire race, and he’s willing to enslave or kill every human on the planet to do it.
As his newly-founded “Purity Movement” starts riots in several states, the unrest moves closer to Black and Miri, even as Charles continues to pressure them to join the war on his side.
The vampires are worried about Charles, too––so worried, their king contacts Black, wanting an alliance.
In return, he promises Black and Miri news on Nick.
He also promises an offer they can’t refuse.
TO BLACK WITH LOVE is book ten in the QUENTIN BLACK MYSTERY series, a paranormal mystery series starring brilliant but dangerous psychic detective, Quentin Black, and his partner, forensic psychologist Miri Fox. It’s also a spinoff of the BRIDGE & SWORD SERIES.
Prologue: HOW YOU LIKE ME NOW?
HE RAISED HIS head, gasping, bringing his body back to a vertical line in a single, fluid motion.
Even that simple act exhilarated him.
Contentment washed over him as he licked his lips, then wiped his mouth. Rivers of pain and pleasure ran through him as he did, shivering his skin, along with a jolt of energy so intense, he jumped a little on his heels, rotating his neck like he was in the boxing ring.
The contentment didn’t last.
It never lasted.
Within seconds, heat swam through his veins, bringing a stinging, charged discomfort to his skin, to the very liquid of his blood.
He fought with the heightened sensations, trying to manage them, to control his emotional reaction to the intensity––fighting that half-drunk, see-sawing aggression that went with it. He tried to find a way to stabilize inside it, but some part of him rebelled against that, too, finding it stupid, pointless even.
It really was like being drunk, or seasick maybe, but the clarity that came with it, filling his mind with alternate scenarios, thoughts, ideas for expressing that intensity made it more difficult to fight against, not easier. The ground beneath his feet never fully stabilized, but continued rising and falling on a series of steep hills.
His mind floated above that, trying to find ways to push that sensation in various ways, looking for ways to scratch that itch.
His skin heated more, the longer he stood there, fighting it.
That was in spite of his cooler blood, the relative silence of his physical body. That heat, that feeling of life and discomfort ratcheted up his restlessness more, increasing the desire to move, to continue moving, to continue acting, feeling, fucking, cutting a swath through time and space, cutting a swath through life and death.
Of course, some of that might have been the blood he just drank.
That wasn’t all of it, though.
He wasn’t done.
The woman with him, who still knelt over the second human they’d dragged into that dark, moldy alley behind the bar, laughed, looking up at him.
“Don’t get any ideas,” she chided, her eyes and cheeks flushed scarlet. “I can see those wheels turning. Practice calming down, my love. Practice self-control––”
“Fuck calming down.” He spoke without thought, like he did most things now. His eyes slid back to hers, as cold as his voice. “Fuck self control. I’m not done.”
“You aredone,” she said. “No more kills tonight, my love. I already let you go over the number he gave you. You know he’ll know.” Her mouth quirked, exposing a shockingly white fang. “You also know he’ll punish me, not you.”
“If I’m already over the limit, what does it matter?” he said. “Punishment is punishment. It doesn’t fucking matter. Two or twenty, it makes no fucking––”
“Help me finish off this one,” she coaxed.
When he grimaced, shaking his head, not wanting to share a half-dead kill, the warning grew prominent in her voice.
“Waste not, want not, my love. You are not allowed to kill for sport.”
That rage and heat in him worsened.
He wanted to argue with her.
He wanted to point out that no one policed Dorian’s recreational activities. No one policed Nairobi’s, or Miguel’s, or Brick’s… or hers, for that matter.
Most of all, he wanted to shove her off that business suit-wearing asshole she was drinking from and snap his neck. He’d watched the bastard fuck her while she drank, moaning in French, completely oblivious to what was happening to him.
Guy was pathetic.
He disgusted him.
Even now, those blue eyes rolled towards him, staring up at him with a maddeningly stupid look on his face. He saw the pleading there, the request, animal-to-animal, for help, for mercy. He just wanted to kick the man’s pale, whining face in.
He didn’t want to think about what it was about that vulnerability that angered him so much. He didn’t want to think, period––not like that, not about navel-gazing bullshit that wouldn’t do anything but piss him off.
He wanted to snarl at her until she agreed to come with him.
That, or he just wanted to turn around, break into a full run while she was still finishing off the blue-eyed loser in the pinstriped suit.
She could catch him, though.
Any one of them could catch him. He’d learned that the hard way.
He still wasn’t as fast as the rest of them.
Just from her tone of voice, he knew she’d try to take him back after this, to that same, mind-fuckingly boring apartment with the twenty-foot ceilings on Rue de l’Universitewith the view of the Eiffel Tower. Inside that apartment, he could hear every single goddamned sound from every single goddamned apartment above and below theirs in its entirety.
Inside that apartment, he could hear every sound from the street.
He could hear every word, every clink of glass and metal, every scrape of shoe, every exhaled breath, every rustle of clothes and hair. He could hear every muttered curse, every nervous sniff, every tap of toes or fingers. He could hear hinges creak and squeak, bells jangle, footsteps creak as someone entered one of the surrounding shops, townhouses or bars.
He heard the wind rustle the leaves of trees planted along the street.
He heard every plane, helicopter, bird and insect in the goddamned sky.
Every smell from within a roughly five-mile radius reached him through those fifteen-foot French windows.
He felt every drop of perspiration and rain bead down that glass.
Most days, being locked inside and bombarded by everything on the other side of that glass, plaster, wood and metal made him want to smash his way through the wall with nothing but his fists. More than once, he’d been tempted to crash through one of those windows, to run and run and keep running until that coiled spring inside him finally relaxed.
He knew the rules.
He’d been punished before.
He’d been punished many times––over and over again.
The memory of those punishments, of what they’d entailed, checked him even now, despite his words to the woman a few seconds before.
Brick hadpromised to punish her this time… and to make him watch.
The older vampire said he clearly didn’t care enough about his own skin, so Brick would try punishing her instead, see if that worked better.
Remembering that now, he felt his fangs extending.
He fought to control that surge of rage––to at least to keep it off his face.
He was still standing there, trying to decide which thing to do, whether risking punishment might be worth it anyway, whether he might have other options, when she was on her feet, beside him again.
Wiping her mouth, she looked up at him, that scarlet ink coloring her irises.
He could see so well in the dark, he forgot it was night half the time.
The sun was too bright; it hurt his eyes, blinded him.
It was like swimming through a goddamned forest fire––
But he didn’t like fire.
He didn’t even like thinking about fire, or trees, or trees on fire.
He focused back on her crystal-like eyes.
The crimson color there did something to him.
Unfortunately, that something didn’t relax him in any way.
Seeing the difference in his stare, she smiled, squeezing his arm.
“Want to go see a movie and fuck?” she said, glancing down the alley towards the road. “It’s early yet. Not even eleven o’clock. We don’t have to feed. There are other ways to entertain ourselves, little brother.”
When he looked down after following her gaze, she smiled wider, coiling her arm tighter around his, coiling her leg around his as she pressed her body up against him.
“You stayed,” she purred at him. “I thought you would run again, but Daddy was right. You’d rather be punished yourself than see me punished. What a good boy you are.”
He grunted, but felt himself hardening under her purr.
“Want to go to the park and fuck?” she offered, smiling wider, quirking an eyebrow at him mischievously before he could answer. “Or a church? Or we could find a nice sidewalk café? I’d like to reward you for being such a good boy. Your jealousy earlier, with that feed, already had me all hot and bothered, lover.”
He let out another half-amused grunt.
“And brought out your inner exhibitionist, clearly,” he said.
“Is that a smile?” She tugged on his arm. “And since when is my exhibitionist ‘inner’? Or yours? You’re the one who wanted to do it on the steps of the Notre Damelast night.”
He let himself be pulled, let her lead him down the alley, towards the relatively lit end, where streetlights colored the road ahead a goldish-orange.
The nuances of the colors distracted him briefly, as well as the floating particles of drizzling rain, confused by traffic headlights and wind, twirling in the circular beams of light above the road.
He heard a radio from a nearby window, a woman laughing, a television blaring… but his eyes never left the shifting colors from the rain, streetlights, cars, flickering neon signs and pedestrians walking across the rain-slicked pavement.
He watched the colors and shadows swirl on the road, like liquid light.
He tried to remember what month it was.
“It’ll get easier,” she told him, softer, hugging his arm. “I promise, my love.”
His eyes moved off the colors and gradations of light.
He looked at her, staring into the gradations of scarlet in her irises.
“Maybe I don’t want it to,” he said.
(End sample pages)
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