Agents from Station 12 have returned to Coral City in the wake of the Massacre with the hope of tying up loose ends. However, things have gotten more complicated since their last visit.
Rogue agent Darius Rizzatto remains a fugitive as he seeks a reckoning with the vampires that murdered his wife. His thirst for revenge has put him on a collision course with the deadly Trinity, and not even Brady and Jake may be able to save him.
It's the ultimate showdown of good versus evil.
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|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.58(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Body and Blood
By Mark D. Gallant
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2014 Mark D. Gallant
All rights reserved.
Christian and Genevieve
Stoecker Medical Center
Dark shadows fell across the concrete landscape of the Stoecker Medical Center, a multi-service medical and rehabilitation facility residing on the outer rim of Coral City. Tall street lamps were sown throughout the campus parking lot, sending showers of light down upon the asphalt. An assortment of powerful floodlights and spots enclosed the area between the main entrance and the visitors parking garage, allowing safe passage to would-be residents and guests alike.
A mysterious figure was perched on the roof of this four-story garage, carefully monitoring the comings and goings of the people below. He was a brooding individual with sharp eyes and a chiseled face, and his black trench coat wrapped his body like a cloak.
His name was Christian. And he was a vampire.
This was his third night at the facility, and each night found him in the same location, on the roof, keeping vigil of the outpatients; well, at least one in particular. Her name was Genevieve Avondale, a detective with the Coral City Police Department, who happened to be Christian's third great-granddaughter. Genevieve had been wounded in the line of duty. She spent three weeks in the hospital, and after her release last week, was now undergoing rehab at the SMC. It was this act of violence against Genevieve that was the catalyst for the Coral City Massacre.
About a month ago, Genevieve was investigating the disappearance of Andrea Lofton, a twenty-three year old social services worker. Andrea had been romantically involved with Coral City Mayor Colin Korvo. It was a steamy affair that Korvo worked tirelessly to keep from his wife ... and his constituents. Despite those precautions, Andrea got pregnant, and Korvo panicked, realizing that a scandal of this magnitude would destroy his political career. A large portion of city voters held strong moral and family values, so Korvo knew he'd be finished.
His people were mortified when he was found dead one morning in City Hall.
However, his murder was a result of his own doing. Korvo may have been loved by Coral City, but he was greedy like the rest. He was involved in a number of shady dealings and rackets, specifically with underworld drug lord Kendall Drake. Drake was at the top of the food chain when it came to organized crime in Coral City. He flooded the streets with cocaine and heroin, and dabbled a bit in prostitution. He owned a trucking and shipping company which served as a front, and often found himself being contracted by rival crime boss John Falcone. Falcone was based out of Jade City, Coral City's sister metropolis. Falcone and Drake shared 'ownership' of Coral City's shipping docks, which was their primary source of contention.
Korvo and Drake had a symbiotic relationship. Korvo let Drake run his operations with no interference from the city, and Drake took care of Korvo's dirty laundry. Case in point ... Andrea Lofton. Andrea was committed to having her baby. Despite her guarantee to remain silent, Korvo feared the worst. So he hired Drake to kill her. And when Andrea suddenly went missing, her parents contacted the police, and it was Detective-Sergeant Genevieve Avondale who led the investigation. Coral City was no stranger to missing persons. In fact, it was commonplace. But Genevieve's interest was in Andrea's romance with Mayor Korvo. Korvo denied the affair when Genevieve met with him, but his ruse was shaky at best, and he knew it.
Once again, Korvo called on Drake to clean up the mess. Drake was reluctant to kill a cop, but struck a bargain with the mayor after being promised total control of the shipping docks. Drake's organization would flourish now that Falcone had to pay him a tax.
Drake dispatched two of his men to deal with Genevieve. She was cornered in a warehouse at Haddigan Supply, Inc ... and was shot.
But she didn't die.
Christian had been a vampire for one hundred and forty years. His bloodline was precious to him, and he took it upon himself to watch over his kin. He was a protector. A guardian. An angel of vigilance who lurked in shadow, ready to strike if the moment called for it. Genevieve was not his only descendant. He had others. But she was special. She bore a strong resemblance to his wife, who had been dead now for almost eighty years. Genevieve was also her namesake. So Christian was very fond of her. He loved her intensity and her resourcefulness. She paid attention to detail and was quite meticulous when it came to her job. But her line of work was dangerous, and Christian knew this, which is why, unbeknownst to her, he became her sentinel. He eventually revealed himself to her, yet the truth regarding their bloodline (and his immortality) remained a secret.
And on that fateful night when Kendall Drake and Colin Korvo believed Genevieve to be dead, it was Christian who found her and brought her to the hospital. He saved her life that night, snatching her from the hands of death. And if by chance the gods of myth demanded another life in exchange, Christian was more than willing to give back. He pushed his abilities to the max, seeking out those who had done Genevieve harm. He showed them no mercy. He killed the men who shot her. He killed the man they worked for. He killed everyone involved ... and then some. Drake. Korvo. Thirty-five people in total, although he wasn't counting. He sought a reckoning. He wanted Genevieve to be safe.
So here he was atop the parking garage, boredom setting in as he waited for Genevieve's mother Elise to pick her up and take her back to her apartment. Although Christian figured Genevieve was out of danger, he didn't want to take any chances. Whenever necessary he watched and waited. If anyone made a hostile move toward her, he'd kill them. It was that simple.
And the time came when Genevieve left the rehab center for the evening. A young nurse was close behind wheeling her toward the curb, then Elise helped Genevieve into the car and placed the compacted chair in the trunk. It stung Christian to see her so vulnerable, but he was comforted by the thought that she would recover. Her body was weak, and she needed the wheelchair for mobility. As Elise's car pulled away from the facility, Christian left his perch, and with blinding speed, followed her home.
Christian hated Coral City. But this is where Genevieve was, so this is where he would be. Prior to the Coral City Massacre, Christian was able to move through the city undetected. He had free reign in the darkness, utilizing the shadows as cover from prying eyes. It was liberating. However, the consequences of his actions returned to haunt him. By removing Korvo and Drake from the gene pool, he opened up two roster spots on the city's list of who's who. The mayor vacancy was filled by Deputy Mayor Brian Donnelly, a young stallion of a politician who was a staunch supporter of Korvo's family values policy. They shared similar viewpoints and had a lot in common, save for Korvo's racketeering interests. If ever there was a true man of the people, it was Brian Donnelly. He despised Kendall Drake, and was amazed by the Mayor's lack of desire to bring him to justice.
With Donnelly assuming office until the upcoming election, the citizens of Coral City would have a leader who could address their concerns, without the excess baggage of political corruption. It was a win-win scenario for the city. But not for Christian. Because Donnelly wasn't keen to Korvo's shortcomings, he held him in high regard. So when Korvo was murdered, Donnelly pledged to bring his killer to justice. He signed off on a new contract for the police department ... the largest contract in city history ... allowing him to reinforce the ranks and put more officers on the streets. Donnelly also put up twenty-five thousand dollars of his own money (which was matched by Jade City Mayor August Reynolds) for information leading to the arrest of Korvo's killer.
There were only two people connected to Drake who survived the Coral City Massacre. Although neither witnessed Korvo's murder, they could both finger Christian as a suspect. The first was a nationally renowned physician named Dr. Donald Karos. Karos was highly respected in his medical arena, but he too was plagued by a nasty case of greed. He had first met Drake through the gangster's prostitution racket, and Drake found an opportunity to add the good doctor to his payroll. Karos would be on call twenty-four seven for Drake, making the occasional 'house call' when necessary, all in an effort to avoid the law. On the night of the massacre, Karos was stitching up one of the thugs that shot Genevieve, just as Christian arrived on the scene. The thugs were killed, but Karos was left alive, and got a look at the vampire before he was rendered unconscious. When Donnelly's reward money was posted, Dr. Karos remained silent. He wasn't sure what he witnessed that night, but knew if he came forward, his association with Drake would become public, and that threatened his reputation. Not to mention, in Karos' estimation, fifty grand wasn't worth risking the wrath of Christian.
The second witness was Amos Milligan, the bartender at JC Crowley's, a pub owned by Kendall Drake, and frequented by his employees. Christian killed close to a dozen men there, yet spared Milligan's life, threatening him to tell Drake that he was coming for him. Like Karos, Milligan also feared the vampire, so he chose to remain silent as well. However, a few of the college students present that evening gladly came forward, giving police a solid description of Christian. Police sketch artists were able to create a fairly accurate composite of him. And that was the vampire's dilemma: every cop on the force was out looking for him.
The other problem he had created, not only for himself but the rest of the city, was the likely emergence of another crime lord to replace Kendall Drake. At the time, Christian didn't take this into consideration ... nor did he really care. He was a man on a mission, and there wasn't any concern for consequences. The police department knew otherwise. It was speculated that John Falcone would expand his interests into Coral City. He was already using the shipping docks to import contraband, subcontracting Drake's trucking company to move the product east to Jade City. It would make sense for Falcone to set up shop in Coral. That meant trouble for the police and citizens alike. Drake may have been a criminal, but he kept problems in-house. Falcone was ruthless, and sometimes innocents were caught in the crossfire. Falcone and his agents held no reservations about murder, and his cartel was more than twice the size of Drake's.
There was also the threat of others challenging Falcone's claim to the city. It could become a battleground for a gangland feud. The police would be overwhelmed, and they would need help. But the question was, would Christian aid them? It was a safe bet that if Genevieve's life was in jeopardy, he'd be in the thick of it.
But he tried not to think about it. In the interim, he would stick to the shadows away from the watchful eye of Coral City's finest. But it wouldn't stop him from seeing Genevieve. He had only spoken to her once since she had left the hospital. Surely she had a chance to digest all that had befallen her, and a woman of her intelligence could piece together the evidence and uncover Christian's involvement in the matter. What plagued him now was her reaction.
Genevieve wheeled herself onto the porch of her apartment. A fiercely independent woman, she sent her mother home, assuring her she'd be fine. There was a soothing chill in the air that was graciously welcomed, and Genevieve sat quietly reflecting on thoughts known only to her. Her body ached from the rehabilitation, but she knew she was getting stronger. It would only be a matter of time. Her doctors said she'd make a full recovery, and that kept her spirits high. She yearned to go back to work, although adjusting to life without Nick worried her. She could not believe he was gone ... nor was she willing to accept what he had done to her. The mere thought of him broke her heart. There were times like this when she wanted to break down and cry, but for some reason, she couldn't.
Her mind leaped back and forth to her subconscious, yet she was keen to her surroundings. She had a sixth sense of sorts, which alerted her to a familiar presence. She looked to the blackened shadows at the far end of the porch, and although she couldn't see him, she knew that Christian was there. He was quite capable of flawless stealth, so it was likely not Genevieve's extrasensory perception that flagged him, but rather his own desire to be known. He knew the shroud had been lifted, so he approached slowly, emerging from the darkness as if it was tangible. He stopped about ten feet from her as light from her window splashed against one side of his face, revealing an expression that read of regret and sorrow. She saw this, then looked away.
"Hi," he said.
She didn't respond. She looked to her left down a quiet street, staring into nothing. Christian bowed his head, only for a moment, then stared at her again, soaking in the radiant beauty of her profile ... one that he had gazed upon many times over a century ago. The similarities were striking. It weighed upon his heart like an anchor, and there was a tightening in his throat. He swallowed hard, then spoke:
"How are you feeling?"
She glanced at the porch steps, refusing to look at him, although she could feel his eyes upon her with the intensity of the sun, searing her soft skin. She wanted to run away and hide, but she hadn't the energy.
"Sore," she replied.
"You look better," he said, aiming for pleasant conversation.
She growled under her breath. "Compared to what?"
He paused and tried to think of something appropriate to say, but nothing came to mind. "I just wanted to make sure you were okay." Then he turned and walked away.
"Don't go," she said, more of a plea than a command. She was playing stubborn, but knew there was unfinished business between them. Christian stopped. And like a phantom in the night, floated over to her. He stood directly in front of her, capturing her attention. Christian was good like that. He was no longer human, and at this stage in the game, didn't pretend to be.
"What would you ask of me, Genevieve?"
She took a moment and looked into his soul. "Why did you pretend to be my friend?"
"I am your friend."
She dodged the response. "Did you kill those men?" She stared upon his expressionless face. "Did you kill Nick?"
"Does it matter?"
"Yes it matters!" she scolded him as if he was her child. "I want the truth."
"Sometimes the truth hurts."
"Then stay the hell away from me! I don't want to see you again."
His expression was unchanged. He could feel the emotional pain welling inside her, and would've brought down the sky to ease her suffering. But there were things he had to keep from her. He saved her life ... that much was certain. Yet there was a part of him that knew this was only the beginning, and that his vampire hands would be stained with blood ten times over before the end.
"I can see you're upset. And some of your anger should be directed toward me. But not all of it. Everything I've done has been to protect you, not hurt you. I haven't betrayed you."
"If you killed those men, then you have betrayed me. That goes against everything I stand for. Everything I believe in. I'm a cop, and I don't work outside the law."
"Well I'm not a cop. And those men who died had no respect for the law. And they were cocky and ruthless and had no idea what they were up against."
She was silent for a moment, then spoke softly. "I read the reports. I saw the photos. It was a massacre. A slaughterhouse. They were butchered. I'm looking at these pictures and I'm thinking this has to be the work of a madman. And the description of the perpetrator nailed you to a tee."
Christian was reluctant to come clean. He needed Genevieve. If she shut him out, it would be tough to protect her. And it would be equally as dangerous, because when she regained her strength, there was the chance she'd come after him ... and that would be disastrous. He decided to play it safe.
"You need your rest. I'm keeping you from that. I'll stay away 'til you're back on your feet. But I need to know who on the force is working this case."
Genevieve was suspicious. "Why do you want to know that?"
"Because I need information."
Excerpted from Body and Blood by Mark D. Gallant. Copyright © 2014 Mark D. Gallant. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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