Read an Excerpt
Realm Enforcers, Book 1
By REBECCA ZANETTI
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2015 Rebecca Zanetti
All rights reserved.
Kellach Dunne held his fire and turned the corner, keeping his prey in sight. Rain smattered the concrete sidewalk in a weary Seattle fashion, while garish lights from bars and massage parlors marred the comforting darkness of the midnight hour. He stepped over the legs of a bum and ignored the stench of piss, absently wishing for his bed and a good night's sleep.
He'd left his Harley parked in a side alley to follow the bastard who stalked a woman through the city's underbelly.
The woman scurried ahead, glancing over her shoulder, her instincts obviously kicking in. Her tight neon blue mini-dress hampered her movements, but he could appreciate the outfit—the kind that curved in just under the ass. The woman had a hell of an ass. Too bad she tottered in five-inch heels and from what smelled like Fireball whiskey.
He opened his senses to the night and the universe, scenting what humans couldn't even imagine. Yep. Fireball and tequila. Dangerous combination. Although a lingering smell, just under the surface, sped up his blood.
Woman. Fresh and clean ... all woman.
The man ahead of him stank of body odor, dime store cologne, and cigarette smoke. And something else, something that made Kellach's temples pound.
Damn it, hells fire, and motherfucker. The bastard had taken the drug. The human had somehow ingested the drug right under Kell's nose.
Kell had hung out in the Seattle underground bar for nearly a week, and somehow, the dealer had gotten past him. No wonder the foul smelling human was hunting the woman. He wouldn't be able to help himself.
She broke into a run, surprisingly agile on the heels. As she reacted to the imminent danger, she leaped over a mud puddle and turned down a barely lit alley.
Why the fuck did they always run down an alley? Shaking his head, Kellach increased his strides while the human male in front of him did the same. Idiot didn't even know Kellach tracked him.
Dim light from the upper apartments filtered down through the fog to barely light the way, although Kell could see fine in the dark.
The woman ran by two overflowing dumpsters, a couple garbage cans, a cardboard box housing a vagrant smelling like marijuana, and an odd arrangement of yellow flower pots perched on the back stoop of a porn shop. She reached the end of the alley blocked by a brick building and whirled around.
Gorgeous. Meager light shone down, highlighting a stunning face. Even with a ridiculous amount of blue eye shadow, pink blush, and bright red lipstick, she was a looker. Deep blue eyes, the color of the witching hour, stared out from a fine-boned face.
A woman like that not only didn't belong in a fucking alley ... she didn't belong in the bar she'd just left.
The human male slowed and let out a low chuckle that sounded slightly manic. He towered over the woman, even in her heels, and before Kell's eyes, his shoulders seem to broaden in his flannel shirt. "Looks like you're at a dead end," the guy said.
The woman sucked in air, her chest moving nicely with the effort. "W-what is wrong with your eyes?" The human shrugged.
Kell gave a slight nod. Yep. His eyes should be all sorts of crazy at this point.
The skin down Kell's arm sprang to life and the hair rose in warning. The atmosphere changed.
Flames, an unhealthy dark blue and morphing, danced down the human male's right arm. He gasped and shook out his wrist. Then he threw back his head and laughed. "Did you see that?"
The woman gaped and then slowly shook her head. "Did you just set your arm on fire?"
"No. I am fire." He held out his arm again, and flames licked down.
The woman inched to the side of the alley and stumbled over a loose brick. "What drug are you on?" Her focus narrowed as she regained her footing.
"Who cares? I'm invincible. I can create fire." More flames danced. The guy formed a ball in one hand. "Take off the dress, or I'll burn it off."
"That's not garing ta happen," Kell said, moving to the side, opposite of the woman.
The guy whirled around, fire whipping. "What the hell?"
"Been following you." Kell kept his hands loosely at his sides while fighting back the urge to alter matter with quantum physics and create his own fire. Just being in the same vicinity of another fire starter, one who didn't have a clue what to do, made him itchy. "Get lost, lady. I have business with the gent here."
The guy squinted. "You Australian?"
"No." Kell drew himself up. Australian? Fucking moron. "Move. Now," he ordered the woman, who'd frozen in place.
The guy shook his head. "If she moves, I'll burn her. Even through the rain, I'm all powerful."
"W-what's your business?" asked the woman as she took a tentative step along the building. Water sloshed up her shapely leg, and she had to shove short wet hair away from her face.
"Doesn't concern you." Kell angled deeper into the alley so the guy would have to partially turn to keep him in sight, thus giving the woman a chance for freedom. Rain splattered into his eyes. "Just get moving, would you?"
"No." The guy shook out both hands, and fire flickered. Blue and yellow stripes cut paths through his brown eyes, and red bloomed in the white parts. "I'll kill you both."
Kellach sighed. "How much of the drug did you take?" If the guy had only taken half a dose, he might live.
"The whole damn thing." The guy spun around, and plasma fire sailed into a dumpster, ripping a hole in the metal. "They said I'd be a god. I'm a fucking god."
The woman cringed against the brick building. "I don't understand. What kind of a weapon throws fire?"
Kell shot forward and slid an arm around the guy's neck, spinning him into a headlock, their backs to the woman. Fire burst along the guy's arms, burning Kell. Pain dug under his skin. With a low growl, Kell allowed his own fire free. Deep and green, it crackled along his body, shielding him from harm. With a puff of smoke, Kell's fire quelled the human's.
The human convulsed. Hard and fast, he shook against Kell, who held him upright. It was too late to help the guy—he had taken too much. Way too much. A wretched scream spilled from the human's throat.
Kell released him and stepped back.
The guy fell to the wet ground, still convulsing. Red poured from his ears, his eyes, and then his nose. The rancid stench of burned flesh filled the alley. He hit hard, shook, and then went still. His eyes retained the bizarre colors, and he looked sightlessly up at the cloudy night. The rain mingled with blood across his face.
Kell sighed and pushed wet hair out of his eyes. Another dead end, and he'd wasted more time, which he absolutely did not have right now. He needed to get rid of the body and then somehow convince the woman she hadn't just seen what she'd just seen. Plastering on his most charming smile, he turned around and froze.
"Seattle PD. Freeze, asshole," she whispered, her stance set, a Sig Subcompact in her hands and pointed at his head.
Detective Alexandra Monzelle kept her balance on the ridiculous heels and her gun pointed at the definite threat.
Well over six feet tall, muscled, graceful as hell ... the guy facing her showed no fear. No emotion, really. Black hair fell to his broad shoulders, the darkness a perfect match for his eyes. Chiseled face, huge-ass hands, and feet big enough to waterski on. Yet he moved with the smoothness of a trained soldier.
He lifted one dark eyebrow. "Seattle Police Department?"
She nodded and tried to stop shaking from the chill in the air on her bare skin. Way too much bare skin, but she'd been undercover. "Get on your knees."
Intrigue leaped into his glittering eyes. "Not garing ta happen."
Was that a true Irish brogue? It fit him somehow. "I will shoot you."
He shrugged a massive shoulder beneath a leather duster. "That's your choice, lass."
Did he just fucking call her lass like some lady from a century ago? "Oh no, Irish boy. Get on your knees. Now." She put every ounce of command she possessed into her voice.
"Well now. At least you knew I was from Ireland." He glanced down at the dead man and his foot slid forward as if to kick. Then, apparently changing his mind, he focused on her again and smiled. "As opposed to Australia."
Okay. She really didn't want another body on her hands, but in the dress and heels, she was at a physical disadvantage. The last thing she needed was to spend all night filling out more paperwork than had already been created. "Down. Now."
He cocked his head to one side. "I can't help but ask where you were keeping your weapon." His gaze, dark and intense, roved over her entire body.
Tingles. Damn weird and very unwelcome, tingles cascaded wherever his gaze landed. She might just have to shoot the bastard and fill out the paperwork anyway. "I don't want to shoot you, but I can live with the decision. Get on your knees or say a quick prayer to your maker."
He glanced over his shoulder. "I don't suppose you have backup coming?"
No. Her backup had followed the dealer. She shook her head to provide warning and lowered her aim to his right leg. "I guess losing one leg won't kill you."
His focus returned to her. "You shoot me, and we're going to have a problem." He spoke slowly and clearly, without a hint of distress.
A chill wandered down her back. The man was damn serious ... and damn scary. Yet she couldn't let any fear show. She sighed and tightened her arms to shoot. "If you'd just get on your knees, this night would go so much more smoothly."
She blinked. Seriously? Hell, if it got him to cooperate, she'd chirp a Haiku. "Please."
"As you wish." Graceful as any dancer, he dropped to his knees. Water splashed up.
Funny, but the guy didn't seem any less dangerous. She cleared her throat. "Cross your ankles."
He sighed and crossed huge boots behind him. "Why were you trying to entrap this guy?"
Her handcuffs were in her purse in the bar, and she hadn't had a chance to grab it before rushing out so the junkie would take the bait and follow her. Her gun, on the other hand, had been strapped to her inner thigh. "Clasp your hands together on the back of your head."
He kept her gaze and clasped his hands on that thick black hair. His shirt pulled tight over defined muscles in his chest, and he seemed more in control of the situation than ever. "You don't have cuffs."
Yep. Might just have to shoot him. "My partner will be here soon." She hoped Bernie would be there soon.
"Aye, I'm sure." The man glanced at the body. "Do you know how he died?"
Duh. "Overdose. What's your name?"
"Kellach." He lifted both eyebrows. "What's yours?"
"Detective Alexandra Monzelle." Everyone called her Lex. Between the disappearance of her adrenaline rush, the chilly rain, and her aching arms, the gun became heavy. Yet she didn't twitch. "What do you know about the drug?"
"What drug?" The man's eyelids half-closed as if she were boring him to sleep.
Heck, she'd like to plug him one in the leg just to get his attention. "You asked about the drug. It's too late to play dumb."
"Okay, then how about explaining all that fire. Did you douse yourself with some weird accelerant?" She couldn't quite come up with a reasonable explanation for the strange glow over his skin and the corpse's, so he'd better damn well explain, because she hadn't gotten a good look with their backs turned to her. "Where's the weapon?"
"No weapon. It's a chemical that looks like fire but obviously isn't."
True—no burn marks marred his skin or the dead guy. Who was Kellach? Was he a rival dealer or something else? He wore a leather duster, flack boots, and faded jeans. Motorcycle gang member?
His head lifted, and his nostrils flared just like a German shepherd she'd seen scouting for drugs once.
Long shadows mingled on the alley floor, and two men drew nearer. Deep blue flames morphed along the arm of one of them. More of the damn weapons?
"Ballocks," Kellach muttered before launching himself off the asphalt and right at her. He cleared the dead body, wrapped himself around her, and tackled her to the ground. One hand cushioned her head, while a rock-hard arm banded around her waist and kept her from injuring, well, anything. He rolled, released her, and jumped to his feet in front of her.
The scent of salt, ocean, and pine surrounded her.
No way. No way should he have been able to move so quickly when she'd had him contained on his knees. Shock made her hands tremble. She shoved herself up and kicked off the heels. Shit. She still held her gun in her hand but was acting like a rookie.
"Gentlemen?" Kell asked, his stance casual. "Can I help you?"
The guy with the blue arm glanced down at the corpse and hissed. "We came to help Chuck." His face contorted and turned an ugly red. "You killed him."
"No. The drug he took killed him." Kellach's stance widened. "How much of it did you take?"
Lex peered around the solid brick of the man toward the two guys. The light illuminated them from behind, so she couldn't see their eyes. What was Kell seeing?
"Enough to be a god." The first guy lifted his hand and threw what looked like a ball of fire at Kellach.
A massive fireball instantly crackled from Kellach, and he threw it toward the other ball. They smashed into each other with an unholy bellow of steam, fire, and energy. Kellach's ball encircled the other ball and snuffed it out before disappearing.
What the holy fuck? The damn criminals did have some new weapon that threw fire. She hadn't had a chance to frisk anybody to see what her assailants might be carrying.
Lex slid to the side to keep every man in sight while lifting her weapon. "Everyone get down on your knees."
Kellach shook his head. "Not again. Just stay out of the way, darlin."
Oh. He. Did. Not. She focused the gun on him.
The first guy raised his arm again, and fire slammed her way. She pivoted, turning and catching her foot in a pothole. As she started to go down, another ball flew toward her head.
"Enough." Kellach jumped in front of her, his right shoulder slamming into her cheekbone.
Stars exploded behind her eyes, and she hit the ground.
He groaned, and the scent of burning flesh filled the rainy evening.
She blinked, her brain fuzzing and her body going numb. He'd saved her. Unconsciousness tried to claim her, and she fought against the darkness with her remaining strength.
Kellach straightened to his full height, and balls of what truly looked like green fire shot out, but with his back to her, she couldn't see the weapon. The fire hit each of the men dead center. They both flew back about three yards and crashed to the ground.
Lex groaned as rain continued to beat down on her face. She couldn't pass out. If she passed out, she'd be dead. Her hand trembled on the asphalt. Where was her gun?
Kellach turned and started toward her—a massive hunter in a darkened alley.
"No," she whispered just as the darkness won. Drugs had nearly ruined her childhood, and now, the search to destroy the new drug on the street was going to end her. The last thought she had as she succumbed to oblivion was that she was about to be killed by a predator with the face of a fallen angel.CHAPTER 2
Lex groaned and blinked, instantly awake. Silk sheets, pleasant lemon cleanser, pine scent surrounded her, and the sound of rumbling motorcycle pipes came from outside her widow. Holy shit. She sat up, reaching for the weapon at her thigh.
Her gaze slowly focused on the man sitting quietly in a chair at the end of the bed, twirling her Sig around one large finger. The scent of male overtook the lemon. Early dawn light peeked between half-drawn shades, illustrating the masculine features and darkened shadows on his face. "Looking for this?" He'd ditched the leather duster to reveal a black Metallica T-shirt, ragged jeans, and motorcycle boots. Even in a relaxed pose, the man looked like a wolf about to lunge ... at his leisure.
A Titans of Fire motorcycle cut hung on a hook by the door.
Damn it, she was at Fire. She quickly took stock, relief coursing through her that the shiny blue dress remained on her—between the thousand thread count sheets.
He lifted one dark eyebrow set in a brutally angled face. "I wouldn't have taken your clothing." Those incredibly dark eyes somehow darkened further. "Unless you'd asked nicely, of course."
Excerpted from Wicked Ride by REBECCA ZANETTI. Copyright © 2015 Rebecca Zanetti. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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