Blood on the Moon
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by Kelly O'Donnell
Category: Erotica/Paranormal Erotica/Romance
Description: Gabrielle knew Shep was the sexiest shape-shifter to ever carry a badge and fill out a pair of jeans. But she couldn't forgive his decision to turn his back on who and what he was. Even if he made her blood hum. As a guardian and a witch, Gabrielle represented everything Shep didn't want. He wanted a nice normal life. It was why he'd become a cop, why he denied what he was. When a lycanthrope killer threatens to destroy the human world they've both sworn to protect, Gabrielle and Shep must embrace their attraction if they expect to stop him.
eBook Publisher: Cobblestone Press, 2010
eBookwise Release Date: May 2010
8 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [76 KB]
Reading time: 41-58 min.
Gabrielle Hearn sat cross-legged in the middle of her bed with the thick purple curtains pulled tightly around it. Staring into the scrying glass in her lap, she absently braided and unbraided one long black curl while envisioning the scene of the latest murder. Experts said serial killers liked to watch the police chase their own tails. As the crowd of eager on-lookers at the mouth of the lower Eastside alley came slowly into focus, she hoped the same might be true for a murdering lycanthrope.
"Speaking of police and tails," Gabrielle murmured, her objective momentarily forgotten as Lieutenant Sheppard "Shep" Germaine's tall, lanky silhouette strode across her glass. She cataloged every detail of Shep's appearance, from the hard angle of his jaw to the fit of the well-worn denim. Only when her finger started inching toward the glass to stroke his image did she snap back to sanity. She buried her face into a silk pillow and screamed loudly, thoroughly disgusted with herself.
Given the preternatural nature of the murders, knowing Shep was in charge of finding and stopping the individual the press baptized the 'Ritual Killer' should've provided her some comfort. Unfortunately, Shep studiously ignored anything having to do with the preternatural, including the small fact that he himself was a shape-shifting wolf. He was first and foremost a cop, believing the human system could work.
Maybe if you were human.
Gabrielle was first and foremost a guardian. She stood between preternatural and human, tasked with monitoring preternatural beings in New York and cleaning up, then reckoning with, those whose actions threatened to "out" the rest of them. They should've been working together; instead he was a constant headache for her. If his father didn't sit on the preternatural council--the governing body from whom she took orders--she would've fried his ass months ago, bedroom eyes be damned.
Gabrielle watched Shep approach the yellow tape, his long strides deliberate. The air around him must be thick with the scent of fresh blood. She resisted the urge to rub her hands up and down her arms to calm the goose bumps.
Five murders. Seventeen days. No witnesses. It was enough to give anyone goose bumps.
"Lieutenant Germaine," a reporter called out. Shep ignored her. "Are you any closer to catching the Ritual Killer?" His jaw tightened. "What measures are the NYPD taking to apprehend him?" Shep kept walking.
"Yes, Lieutenant Germaine, what measures are the NYPD taking?" Gabrielle mimicked as Shep gave a courtesy flash of his badge to the waiting uniform then ducked under the tape. "Not enough, you asshole, and you know it." Gabrielle flicked the back of his head, barely resisting the urge to send a discreet bolt of electricity through the glass and up his well-formed backside.
"Ouch! Hells bells, Gabby!" Tabitha yelled.
Gabrielle cringed before reluctantly drawing aside her curtains. Tabitha--friend, fellow guardian, witch and shape-shifter--stood in her bedroom doorway shaking her right hand up and down, her pixie short, strawberry blonde hair sticking up on end. Gabrielle suspected she'd wake up one morning not too long from now to discover Tabitha had turned her into a frog in revenge for the shocks she kept getting because Gabrielle couldn't keep her emotions under control during this case.
"You and Shep need to learn to play nice in the sandbox," Tabitha said.
As Tabitha padded toward her in gnome pajamas and pink bunny slippers, Gabrielle had difficulty taking her friend's stern-faced expression serious. Tabitha snapped her fingers. The candles around the room blazed to life.
Gabrielle blinked against the light. "What makes you think--" Tabitha's yellow-green eyes flashed in the candlelight, stopping her lie. "He's the one who gets all hot around the collar--"
"No pun intended." Tabitha shook off her slippers and crawled into bed to peer over Gabrielle's shoulder. "What rune symbol did the bastard leave with the body this time? If we don't solve this soon, he's going to run out of choices."
"Shep's blocking our view." Which he was. Gabrielle left out she'd been too distracted by him to focus on learning the new rune symbol.
As if Shep could feel their stares, he rubbed the back of his neck, looking around. His eyes, a color Gabrielle often likened to coffee with one cream, darkened.
"That's right darling, I'm watching every move you make," Gabrielle said.
"Murdering lycanthrope and rift in the power equilibrium notwithstanding, that man can block my view whenever he wants." Tabitha sighed dramatically.
"Since when do cats and dogs mix?"
Tabitha grunted. "When we stop this maniac, we'll talk about cats and dogs."
"I can't wait." Stomping on the slight prick of jealousy, Gabrielle focused on the brutal scene spreading out before her in the glass.
Shep approached the black pentacle slowly. Like the victims before her, Mary Smith laid face-up, naked and spread eagle atop the pentacle. The black paint in the previous cases had traces of blood with both human and animal characteristics, stumping the lab, but unfortunately not Gabrielle. She was sure Shep knew what it meant too. The blood was from a lycanthrope. Since none of the victims were lycanthropes, it had to be the killer's blood. He was messing with them.
Gabrielle would bet her first born that Shep kept telling himself the fact that the killer was a lycanthrope wasn't pivotal to the case, because the killings weren't happening during a full moon. And unlike true shape-shifters, like Shep, lycanthropes could only shift to their animal form during a full moon. The other 27 days a month they were pretty much your average everyday humans. Shep was no doubt telling himself that for all intent and purpose the killer was human. Just thinking about his asinine logic caused the air to crackle around her.
After several more seconds, Shep shifted enough for Gabrielle to see the new rune. "Isa" or "Standstill". It looked like an "l". Standstill was right. How appropriate.
The NYPD kept from the press that the killer collected blood from each victim and that he was using it in each subsequent murder. Each rune was always written in the same blood. The NYPD lab would have to confirm it, but Gabrielle had little doubt that just like in the four previous scenes, the rune that had originally appeared with the first victim would be written in that victim's blood, the rune that had originally appeared with the second victim would be written in that victim's blood and so on. And the new rune would be written in Mary Smith's blood. There must be a reason for it, but Gabrielle and Tabitha had yet to be able to figure it out.
Gabrielle barely heard Tabitha absently murmuring the common meanings of the runes--Harvest, Partnership, Breakthrough, The Self, and now Standstill--her focus centered so completely on Shep and his reactions.
"Goddamn magic." Shep pressed a thumb and two long fingers to his temples.
"Stubborn imbecile." Gabrielle chose not to ease his building headache. Since he doggedly continued to ignore the obvious, he could suffer.
"He's got to come to us for help sooner or later." Tabitha tapped on the glass, breaking Gabrielle's concentration. "He's not equipped to handle this on his own, and the NYPD, bless them, are blissfully ignorant."
"We can't count on him seeing reason. He should shift into a mule, not a wolf." Gabrielle shook her head. "We've got to find out enough about the killer's end-game on our own to begin work on a counter-ritual."
Tabitha slid off the bed, slipped her feet back into her slippers and padded toward Gabrielle's bedroom door. "I'm going downstairs to the shop. There are some ancient texts I need to consult."
Gabrielle mumbled an acknowledgement but continued to watch Shep walk the scene, admiring the way his jeans stretched over his well-shaped ass when he knelt to obtain a closer look at a piece of evidence.
Pity he was such a jerk.