Snippet Saturday is a brilliant collaboration by bestselling author, Lauren Dane , and a fabulous group of authors that she’s invited to join her in posting book goodies every Saturday. I’m thrilled to be part of this mad fun!
This week’s theme is ‘holiday’, but I thought I’d put a little spin on it. Our hero and heroine are having their holiday interrupted…and there is nothing good about it.
Enjoy this snippet from Hatsept Heat, Vampire Council of Ethics Book Three, then visit all of the other Snippet Saturday authors via the links at the bottom of the page.
Oh come on! Who could be banging on the door at this time of night, er, morning? Shinju rolled over with a huff, but her miffed grunts were nothing compared to Kenoe’s snarl as he kicked his way furiously out of the covers and stomped to the bedroom door stark naked. Her gaze remained plastered to his sculpted, muscular back until he disappeared from sight.
And she wanted him again even though they’d just made love—she had to garner some energy to lift her head and look at the clock on Kenoe’s side of the bed—okay, two hours ago. Damn the man had a fine ass, even at four o’clock in the morning. Wow. All those miles of pale skin and hair should have been a major turn-off. But God, he worked it so well with a face and physique so handsomely perfect that everything about him made Shinju all hot and bothered.
The way his muscles flexed and danced as he moved, like thick ropes overlaid with the fairest flesh. She grinned. Kenoe had a bit of a tan now since she’d had him teaching her how to ride horses and fish under the strongMontanasummer sun.
The languorous smile fell from her face and hit the floor when Kenoe flew back into the bedroom. Shinju sat up, eyes wide as apprehension streaked from the nerves at the base of her skull clear down to her feet. Something was wrong, she could feel it. Or, in truth, she could feel Kenoe feeling it.
“Naoru, what is it?” Jumping from the tangle of covers, she instinctively dove for the pile of clothes she always kept bundled next to the bed out of habit, ready to don at the first sign of trouble.
He motioned toward the living room as he jumped into a pair of sweats. Shinju was right behind him as he once again left the room. Her feet ground to a halt. Bix, Tameth, Carin and Alaan all stood waiting, and none of them looked happy to be there.
“What?” Shinju demanded. Alarm pounded at her temple in agitated waves when no one answered. “What is it?”
Cutting a glance toward her mate, she froze at the cold glint in his eye. His focus was on the Head Seeker as if what was coming was all Bix’s fault. But the emotions streaming from him held stark and utter fear coupled with no small amount of anger. What the hell was going on?
“Shinju, you will come with me.” Bix’s authority rang quietly through her.
“Naoru?” But he wouldn’t look at her, wouldn’t say a word. Instead he turned and disappeared into the bedroom again, leaving her standing where she was. She thought he wasn’t going to come back at all when he suddenly appeared dressed in his badass leather trench coat, black stretch tee and tactical pants. His soft-soled combat boots made no sound as he tracked to the apartment door and out into the hall, both stance and frigid body language screaming “pissed off”. Shinju just managed to get her gaping mouth closed when Carin and Tameth came to her side, each taking one of her hands in a comforting gesture.
They led her down to the first floor and into a palatial round room she hadn’t been in before. Kenoe was already there, pacing like a hungry predator in front of a huge raised dais big enough for a Broadway production.
At the top of the dais was an ornately carved half-moon shaped table that looked fit for royalty. This must be where the Council convened when they were in residence.
Bix walked to the dais, climbed the stairs and pushed a button in the center of a swanky-looking console set into the polished wood. Two seconds later the lights dimmed and a large LCD screen dropped out of the ceiling followed by a dial tone that resounded around the room. Every face present was granite hard and completely unreadable as the Seekers stood at ease. She would have actually been impressed if not for the underlying tension filling the space. That, combined with the arctic chill rolling off of Kenoe, set her nerves on edge.
The screen lit up but remained blank. Alaan’s deep voice broke through the silence.
“Shinju, this is an urgent matter or we would never involve you or any non-Seeker.”
Both he and Bix cut a glance toward Carin, who waved them off with a huffed, “Oh please”. Bix narrowed his gaze. Carin rolled her eyes, but didn’t say another word.
“Not long ago, our men inTokyointercepted a wireless communication from your brother’s phone. We thought we should get to the person making the call.”
Anxiety clawed at her gut. “And?” she pushed.
Bix turned toward the screen and spoke quickly. “Caller, are you there?”
A familiar face filled the screen and Shinju just knew she was going to throw up as the blood drained from her face.
“Shin, I wish I didn’t have to interrupt your holiday, but I need you to come home right away.”
“Why? What’s happened?” Immediately Kenoe was at her side, hauling her against his steady frame with one strong arm. He obviously had a clue of what was coming. Sasuke nodded his head in greeting with a simple, “Kenoe, glad you are there with her.”
“Well, her would like to know what the hell is going on,” Shinju demanded, trying to keep the edge out of her voice. It proved impossible.
“It’s Max. He collapsed on the street.”
“What? Where is he now, Sasuke?”
“I have him bundled up on the living room couch for now. Luckily we were just outside his apartment building. I called the ambulance. They’re on the way. You have to get here, Shin-chan. It doesn’t look good.”
“But he looked just fine when I left—”
“He was faking it. He’s been ill for some time now. He didn’t want you to know.”
“Oh my God. I’m coming Sasuke. As soon as I can, I promise…”
Kenoe’s firm reassuring grip steadied her on her feet. Then he stepped forward and took over as Carin and Tameth moved away from their mates and replaced Kenoe as her anchor. Each woman took a hand and held tight.
“Don’t worry, Shinju. We’ll all go with you, okay?” Tameth reassured with a whisper. Shinju felt herself nod as her thoughts jumped from one to another, but wouldn’t settle or slow long enough for her to piece a sentence together.
“Look Sasuke, Dr. Carin and I are the most qualified to figure out exactly what’s happening to you and Max. We have some ideas but need to examine both of you right away. Max needs care, but at the same time, we can’t afford to allow human doctors to get their hands on him. Go to the hospital with Max. Stay by his side and don’t let him out of your sight. If they want to give him oxygen and something for the pain, fine. But don’t let them run any blood tests. Come up with a reason. Say it’s against your religion or something. Anything. Understand?” Kenoe instructed.
Sasuke nodded, then doubled over. A wracking phlegm-riddled cough rattled his chest hard enough to dislodge a lung.
Shinju’s hands flew up to cover her mouth as blood trickled from one corner of Sasuke’s. Shock didn’t begin to describe the terror she felt at seeing the man turn such an unexpected shade of purplish gray.
“Oh, no. Sasuke.” The words were barely a whisper, but it was all she could manage to squeeze out.
Kenoe practically yanked her off her feet and into his arms, his hands firm against her back, but his touch gentle and reassuring. And he was pissed clear down to his black buffed boots. With her head tucked beneath his chin, she heard him say, “We’re coming, Sasuke. Just hang tight until we get there. Since the ambulance is on the way, even if we’d called in our guys five minutes ago, they wouldn’t beat that ambulance to Max’s place. We’ll have them redirect to the hospital and take Max to a secure facility equipped to handle this kind of thing.”
“I understand. I will take care of it. The ambulance is here. But once we’re at the hospital how will I know the people who come to get Max are the ones you sent? Word has it there are others who would like to get their hands on him.”
Shinju couldn’t believe it. Sasuke deferred to Kenoe as if it were the most natural thing in the world. He hadn’t even asked her opinion at all and this was her brother they were talking about. And to her surprise, she was glad her man had a real pair of balls.
“We’re aware of the others. We also know of Max’s connection to Clan Li. Both you and Max are in danger, but not from our law-abiding kind. The men who come will be dressed like me, Seekers. Second, they’ll call me or Bix the second they arrive and we will verify via video phone that they are who they say they are.”
A man with slanted slate blue eyes and dark, bone-straight hair pulled back into a ponytail appeared on the conference screen.
“This is Slade from Clan Li,” Kenoe continued. “He will be with his partner, Alex from Clan Akicit. Both report directly to the Head Seeker, Jon Bixler or the Second, Alaan Serati, just as I do. If someone shows up claiming to be there for Max, but they aren’t with Slade and Alex, shoot them in the head and get the hell out of dodge. Wheel Max out on a fucking gurney if you have to.”
“Kenoe!” Shinju shrieked in alarm.
He glanced down at her, his expression furious yet contained. “This is life or death, lovely. Playtime is over. Now, go pack. We’ve got a plane to catch.”
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