Taken By The Others

( 40 )


Jess Haines draws readers deep into the mesmerizing world of the Others--werewolves, vampires, and mages who make their home among humans, and are turning Shiarra Waynest's life upside down. . .

Once, New York P.I. Shiarra Waynest's most pressing problem was keeping her agency afloat. Now she's dealing with two dangerous, seductive vampires who have been enemies for centuries. The only thing Max Carlyle and Alec Royce agree on is that they both...

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Jess Haines draws readers deep into the mesmerizing world of the Others--werewolves, vampires, and mages who make their home among humans, and are turning Shiarra Waynest's life upside down. . .

Once, New York P.I. Shiarra Waynest's most pressing problem was keeping her agency afloat. Now she's dealing with two dangerous, seductive vampires who have been enemies for centuries. The only thing Max Carlyle and Alec Royce agree on is that they both want Shia--for very different reasons.

Max is determined to destroy Shia for killing his progeny, while Royce's interest is a lot more personal. That's not sitting well with Shia's werewolf boyfriend, Chaz. As the feud between Max and Royce gets ever more deadly, a powerful vampire-hunting faction is urging Shia to join their side. Shia has always believed vamps were the bad guys, but she's discovering unexpected shades of grey that are about to redefine her friends, her loyalties--and even her desires. . .

Praise for Hunted by the Others

"Jess Haines is a talent to watch!" --Lara Adrian, New York Times bestselling author

"A fun, high octane ride with a take charge heroine who will leave you wanting more." --Alexandra Ivy, New York Times bestselling author

"A delightful romp of a book. Jess Haines just became my autobuy!" --Angela Knight, New York Times bestselling author

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781420111880
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 1/1/2011
  • Series: H&W Investigations Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 4.40 (w) x 6.92 (h) x 0.97 (d)

First Chapter




Copyright © 2011 Jess Haines
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4201-1188-0

Chapter One

I don't usually have people pointing guns in my face. Or in my direction at all, really. I'm a private detective, so I know some people have certainly thought about shooting me after I reported their illicit activities to my clients or the cops, but looking down the barrel of a .45 was a new experience for me.

"Jack, can we talk about this without the gun?"

Jack was precisely as I remembered him. Tall, slender, with close-cropped blond hair and the coldest blue eyes I'd ever seen. His long-sleeved flannel shirt was rolled up to just above his elbows and left unbuttoned for easy access to his shoulder holster. He's clean-cut, looks like the poster boy for some white bread good ol'boy magazine, and crazy as a loon. He belongs to a group of extremists and vigilante vampire hunters who call themselves the White Hats.

His thin lips quirked in a polite smile. No real emotion shone through the empty mask. I was praying he was just using some of his psycho scare tactics again. I deeply regretted leaving my own guns in my bedroom all the way across town. Fat lot of good they did me there. Maybe I should have our receptionist frisk the clients before letting them into my office from now on.

"Shiarra, I'm disappointed. I've left you a number of invitations to come work with us. Why didn't you get back to me? Did you succumb to Royce after the little fiasco this spring?"

That again. A few months ago I took a job I should've known to leave well enough alone. When your business is failing and someone offers you a lot of money, sometimes you do stupid things. For example, you accept a job trying to find some powerful magic artifact that a vampire was hiding from a bunch of magi. I suppose you could call accepting a proposition like that suicidal. These days, I just called it a bad business decision.

"No, I haven't gone to see Royce since the fight at his restaurant." One little white lie couldn't hurt. He'd come to see me, not the other way around. I'd stringently avoided Royce since the day I got home from the hospital, when he visited to apologize and thank me in his own way for pulling his ass out of the fire. "Listen, I don't deal in that shit anymore. Once was enough."

"You've taken on clients, done other jobs for supernaturals since your recovery. You have strong ties to two of the most powerful Were packs in the Five Boroughs. You're linked to the most influential vampire in the state. We need your expertise, and your connections."

The only reason the Moonwalker tribe had anything to do with me was because, like Royce, I had saved their butts from a crazy power-hungry sorcerer. They owed me. The only reason the Sunstriker tribe had anything to do with me was because the leader of the pack was my boyfriend. Aside from that, the occasional (nondangerous) case notwithstanding, I tried to keep my connections to anything furry or with fangs to a minimum.

I took a deep breath to steady myself while I thought about how to get Jack to get the hell out of my office, and take his gun with him. He'd tried this tactic before; I wondered why he'd never figured out that waving a weapon in someone's face was not a good way to get them to cooperate with you for any length of time. "You know I don't like vampires. I don't have much to do with Weres anymore either. I don't take jobs that have anything to do with the supernatural, no matter what the papers say about me."

"You have the equipment and connections to be a hunter." He frowned. "We need you. I won't have you going to them, taking their side."

"Whoa now, who said anything about that?"

His eyes narrowed, something passing through them I couldn't read. "There's a new player in the game. It'll be down to him or Royce. Or us."

I stared blankly. "Who?"

"Word on the street is that Max Carlyle is coming to town." He stared back, expectantly.

Silence. After a moment decidedly lacking any explanations, I urged him along. "And he is?"

"You really don't know?"

"Would I ask if I did?"

He grinned; the flash of white teeth against his pale skin was ominous. Predatory. Too much like the things he hunted—vampires.

"My, my. I hate to spoil the surprise." One hand reached up to rub his smooth-shaven jaw while he stared at me. After another long, drawn-out moment of silence, he raised the gun, thumbed on the safety, and tucked it away in its holster under his flannel shirt. "Ms. Waynest, again I must apologize for my methods. Unfortunately, your reputation leads me to worry about what needs to be done to ensure you're playing on the right side of the field."

Holding a knife to my throat in the dead of night after breaking into my bedroom didn't exactly give me warm fuzzies, and neither did holding a gun on me in broad daylight. I was hoping my expression was more neutral than pissed, but I wasn't holding my breath.

"Look, for the last time—I don't want anything to do with Others. I don't talk to Royce, I don't give a shit what the White Hats are doing, and I'm not about to do the tango with things that could eat me for breakfast. I'm a private detective, and that's all. Someone go missing? Think your girlfriend is cheating on you? Great, I'll go look for them. But I will not," I stressed, leaning forward across the desk and pointing one admonishing finger in his direction, "be bullied into dealing with vampires and Weres again. Coming close to dying once was enough. You can't pay me enough to put my life on the line. Not again."

"Oh, don't worry, Ms. Waynest. They'll be coming to you soon enough. And once they do, you'll come running to us for help."

I stood, a thread of fear trailing down my spine, even as I finally boiled over. I pointed at the door. "Get the hell out of my office! Stay away from me!"

He swung the door open and sauntered out of the room, his cool, arrogant laughter trailing behind him. My glare stayed trained on him until his shadowed frame was no longer visible behind the frosted glass of the front door.

Jen twisted around in her chair to peer into my office, staring at me with wide brown eyes over the rims of her glasses. "Jeez, Shia, what was that all about?"

I shook my head. "Nothing. But if he comes back, or tries to make another appointment, I'm out of the office. No—out of the country."

She shrugged, muttered something, and turned back to her desk to work on the stack of papers in front of her. I glared at the frosted glass door with its gold leaf–inscribed H&W INVESTIGATIONS, even though Jack was long gone.

As much as he pissed me off, he scared me more. Or maybe him saying the Others would come looking for me scared me more. Hell, I think I was entitled to be a little unsettled considering I'd had a gun waved in my face. Irritated and upset, I twisted around, calling over my shoulder as I shut the door, "Hold my calls. If anyone asks, I've gone home for the day."

Some preventative measures needed to be taken about this Max Carlyle, I thought. I sat in the squeaky office chair, rolling it back so I could riffle through the back of the top drawer. After rummaging through a scattering of old Post-it notes, paper clips, pens, and papers, I finally found the leather-bound notebook I kept business cards filed in.

I flipped through the pages until I found the neat, professional card for A.D. Royce Industries. It had all the data I needed to contact Alec Royce, the vampire I'd been doing my best to avoid for the past several months. The one I'd ended up legally, contractually, bound to, and who'd been sending me invitations to nights on the town and, presumably, other things. All of which I'd carefully ignored up until now.

Daylight still shone through the window behind my desk, but I figured I could leave a message if he didn't pick up. I grabbed my cell, dug the card out of the little plastic holder, and dialed the handwritten number scrawled on the back.

Tucking the phone between my head and shoulder, I fixed my eyes on the framed photograph of Chaz and me on the corner of my desk. We were leaning back against the rail together at the end of the pier in Greenport and his arms were wrapped around me. I tried not to think about what Chaz would say about me calling the vamp, listened to the ringing, and finally, a click. "You've reached the desk of Alec Royce. I'm not in right now, but if you leave a message with your name and number, I'll get back to you."

That mild, friendly voice gave me the shivers, worse than anything that Jack had said or done. Did I really want to get back in touch with the vampire? After swallowing hard and hesitating a bit longer than I should have, I remembered I was supposed to be leaving a message and squeaked out a few words.

"Yeah, Mr. Royce, this-it's Shiarra Waynest. I'd like to ask you a couple of questions. I might need your help with something." I left him my cell number and was about to hang up, hesitated again, and added, "Thanks."

I hung up and set the phone down, wondering if I'd done the right thing. Damn it all to hell and back, I was putting myself back in the fire by contacting him again. Regardless, I needed to know who Max Carlyle was, and what sort of danger he represented. Since Jack specifically brought up Royce when talking about Max, I had to hope Royce would have some idea about what was going on. After all, he was an elder, influential vamp. He had all sorts of connections that informed him well ahead of time when somebody gunned for him or planned to do something that would affect him or his properties. I knew at least that much about him from prior experience.

Depending on what Royce told me, I might have to lie low and hide somewhere out of town for a few days. Or a few months. Whatever would keep my ass out of the fire.

Chapter Two

I stayed late in the office. Sara, my business partner, was out of town until Sunday. Jen had gone home hours ago. The office was dark, the only light a small lamp illuminating the pictures I had spread out across my desk. Since it was Friday, I'd made plans with my boyfriend, but for later, when I got off work. Chaz would pick up dinner and come to my place around eight. Until then, I wanted to keep busy rather than sit around worrying about what big bad monster was coming to town this time.

The photographs in front of me were arranged in a series, laid out carefully next to a detailed inventory of stock. An insurance agent had called me in to investigate one of her clients. Jeremy Pryce claimed his company warehouse, which had a large store of valuable designer clothes, had burned down in an accident. The fire department had closed its investigation into the cause, reporting that faulty electrical work set off sparks during a thunderstorm and sent the whole building up in flames.

The agent, Cheryl Benedict, was convinced that Pryce had rigged the fire somehow. I didn't know who tipped her off, but she was right. The pictures in front of me were the ones I'd taken over the last two weeks of Mr. Pryce giving gifts to different beautiful women—women who were definitely not his wife. Unsurprisingly, the gifts were clothes—designer ones, as a matter of fact. Many matching the exact descriptions in the inventory of everything that supposedly went up in flames two months ago.

"Gotcha." I grinned, carefully ticking off and noting everything claimed destroyed that appeared in the photographs.

When I was about halfway through my notations, my cell phone belted out Beethoven's Fifth. An unknown caller.

I picked it up, glancing at the window and noting the sun had nearly set. There were a few last rays turning everything a golden hue at the edges and leaving deep shadows between buildings.


"Ms. Waynest," Royce's voice was smooth and cordial. "You do have the most fortuitous timing. I was beginning to think you were avoiding me."

I cringed. My, how perceptive. I bit my tongue to keep from saying that thought out loud. Wasn't it too early for him to be up and about? "I heard from a little bird today that someone of interest to both of us is coming to town. Know anything about that?"

He laughed softly, the sound at once delightful and dreadful. Something that evil shouldn't sound so good. "Someone told you about Max Carlyle, I take it?"

"Yeah. Who is he?"

"Not someone to discuss over the phone. I will tell you everything you need to know if you meet with me."

Uh-oh. "You know what, this was a mistake. Never mind, I'll figure it out myself."

Before he could say anything, I ended the call and turned the cell off. Vampires were manipulative bastards, Royce worst of all. He made no secret of his interest in me despite knowing I had a boyfriend. Even worse, Royce had blackmailed me into signing one of those contracts that made it legal for him to drink my blood, turn me into a vampire, or even murder me with no consequences. All fabulous reasons to keep him as far away from me as possible.

The only good thing about that contract was that, due to the way it was worded, I could also hurt or kill him if it came down to it. My partner Sara had helped see to that. The only problem was that I wasn't nearly confident enough that I could hurt or kill him without some help from outside sources. I suppose I shouldn't complain, though. Most contracts didn't offer that luxury, leaving the signed human stuck in the crappy position of facing death—or worse—at the hands of their host. If they tried to fight back when they decided they didn't want to play the part of midnight snack anymore, they could look forward to some jail time and a hefty fine.

Some people (read: anyone but me) would love to be in the position I'm in, seeing as how Alec Royce is one of the most high-profile vampires in the United States. He's got a power base that extends through most of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Any vampire within his territory is required to get his permission to do so much as blow their nose. Okay, maybe not to that extent, but they were supposed to get his permission to hunt outside their territory, turn anyone else into a vampire, or do anything that might be construed as expanding their own power bases. He also oversaw all purchases or sales of buildings, land, or other valuable properties. Not to mention he owned a string of the hottest nightclubs and restaurants in the city. There were probably other businesses he dipped his fingers into, but publicly he was known for the clubs and eateries.

Royce even posted a calendar on his Web site of his scheduled appearances at his various establishments. Yes, a vampire celebrity with a Web site, what a novelty. When I first met him, I'd used that as a tool to figure out where to find him. These days, I also used it to figure out where not to be when I needed to check out the club scene in search of cheating lovers or shady business partners.

Some of the crazies like Jack the White Hat probably used it to find ways to corner or hurt him. The police have done more to protect the Others in the last few years, cracking down on the overzealous groups like the White Hats. In addition, Royce and a few other supernaturals had slapped lawsuits on those who discriminated against or attacked them, further curbing such delightful White Hat activities as burning down known Other establishments and hangouts, riots, beatings, even murder. That didn't stop all of them, of course, but things were starting to settle down and the anti-Other crowd was beginning to look worse than the creatures they hated so much.

Sometimes the Others gave the general human populace good reason to be afraid of them. Despite their nature, they had rights now, and could walk the street like anyone else, but having legal citizenship didn't do a thing to change the fact that Weres and vampires and even magi were monsters straight out of fairy tales. Weres could tear you apart bare-handed, even when they weren't shifted. Vampires survived by drinking blood. Magi could twist and bend reality to their whims.

None of those were human traits, and even when you did your best to put those things aside, they would always be dangerous and inhuman.

Six months earlier, I'd seen firsthand how horrifically inhuman they were. I would carry scars across my chest and stomach until the day I die thanks to fighting with a crazy sorcerer, his bitch of a vampire girlfriend, the leader of the Moonwalker tribe, and last but certainly not least, Alec Royce.


Excerpted from TAKEN BY THE OTHERS by JESS HAINES Copyright © 2011 by Jess Haines. Excerpted by permission of ZEBRA BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

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( 40 )
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  • Posted June 27, 2011

    Like the author, but..

    I read both of the books in this series, and I really like the way the author writes this story. I just have a problem with Shiarra's uncalled for attitude towards others. It could be that I just sincerely dislike her boyfriend Chaz, but I wish she would just open up her eyes and stop over analyzing everything. Sometimes throughout the book, I would be marveled at how she came to some conclusions. Sigh

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  • Posted February 25, 2011

    Good Read

    Not as good as the first book, but still a good read. My problem was with Shia's attitude towards Others, all her friends are Others, yet her reactions came across to timid and overdone.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The third H&W Investigation urban fantasy is a great entry

    Elder vampire Max Carlyle has waited for centuries to find a tool to avenge a grudge he holds against a long time peer Alec Royce. Max believes he has the ideal expendable pawn in human private investigator Shiarra Waynest who has a legal obligation to Alec. Max kidnaps Shiarra and directs two of his fledglings to dine on her blood.

    Royce rescues Shiarra from further abuse. However, Shiarra knows the vampire will continue to stalk her unless she acts as she refuses to wait for anyone, even Alec the vampire, to rid her of this pestilence. She plans to stalk her stalker to kill him although even she knows her charms and her allies enhancing her chances are probably not close to the power level of Mad Max.

    The third H&W Investigation urban fantasy (see Hunted by the Others and Speak of Temptation; part of the Nocturnal anthology) is a great entry. From the opening scene when a human purebred member of the White Hats points a gun into her face and never slows down as she becomes the pawn in a vampire war and with the White Hats. With vampires, werewolves, White Hat humans and mages seem to all want several pints of Shairra's blood.

    Harriet Klausner

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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