Book four in the Mind Sweeper Series.
A Mind Sweeper novella that delves further into Jean Luc and Talia’s story.
Thirty years ago, Jean Luc Delacroix believed he had found his mate in Talia Walker—until she walked out on him. While he has honored her wish to be independent, he cannot forget her. And when they’re thrown together again, Jean Luc’s feelings reignite. This time he will do whatever is necessary to make her his.
Talia learned everything she knows about love—and about being a vampire—from Jean Luc. But the memories of her forced turning and loss of humanity compelled her to strike out on her own to prove she could take care of herself. When she comes face to face with Jean Luc again, she wonders if her continued independence is as important as being with the vampire she still loves.
Before either can acknowledge their feelings, they are embroiled in a deadly case. A killer vampire is draining humans. When suspects are uncovered, the very foundation of the vampire nation is threatened. And when they get closer to the truth, and Jean Luc’s life is in danger, Talia risks her own life to hunt down the killer.
Will Jean Luc and Talia finally find the courage to follow their hearts? Or will the killer destroy them first?
The woman lying on the lounge chair by the pool was movie-star gorgeous, even in death. Instead of a bathing suit, she wore a barely-there negligee of lavender satin. Early morning sun glinted off her expensively highlighted hair. Long lashes rested against her perfectly formed cheeks. And she had perky, bow lips. Talia had heard the expression but hadn’t understood it until today. This woman had obviously lived her life as the center of attention. Had that same attention lead to her death?
Well, at least Talia’s job with the Bureau of Supernatural Relations was never boring. There was always some supe messing up in front of humans, and she and her partner, Will, would then have to cover it up. But this? Her stomach turned. This wasn’t something they could cover up easily.
“Should I call the police?” Will asked.
“No.” Talia knelt down and examined the woman more closely.
“No? I don’t like where this is going, T. We can’t take her body.”
Talia stood. “We take bodies all the time.”
“Yeah, supe bodies. Never a human.”
“Well, there’s a first time for everything. If we don’t take her, how are we going to explain to the coroner about the twin puncture wounds on her neck?”
She clenched her fists. God, what a waste. “It’s still early. Hopefully we don’t have too much of a containment issue yet.” She looked across the pool to the gangly man pacing back and forth. His T-shirt read Vegas Pool Services. “The pool boy found her?”
Will smirked. “The pool shifter-boy found her.”
Talia cringed inwardly. She should have sensed he was shifter. Shit. That meant he’d probably heard what she said. She glanced over at him. Yep, his scowl confirmed it.
What was wrong with her? She never slipped up on the job. She was at a murder scene, for God’s sake. It had to be the past week catching up with her. Between the shifter rebellion they had just squelched with the help of the Cleveland team and seeing Jean Luc again, she was still out of whack. But Jean Luc was on his way home, and she’d managed to avoid having any type of serious conversation with him.
She took a deep breath. Her personal drama would just have to wait.
“I’ll go talk to the witness. Can you pull the van around so we can load her in before the neighborhood wakes up? And give Nicholas a call. We don’t need our fearless leader stroking out on us if he hears about this from someone else.”
“Sure thing,” Will replied.
Talia walked around the pool to the shifter who had stopped pacing and now stood glaring at her.
“Sorry about the pool boy crack; it’s been a long morning already.”
“Tell me about it. I wasn’t expecting to find a dead human at my first stop today.”
She held out her hand to him. “I’m Talia Walker from the BSR.”
He grabbed her hand and shook it quickly. “Steve Williams.”
“How long ago did you find her?”
He checked his watch. “I called your office right away, so about forty-five minutes ago.”
“Do you know anything about her?”
“Her name is…was…Melanie Thomas. She was single. She moved in here about a year ago. Told me she was retired.”
Talia looked over at the woman lying on the chaise. She couldn’t have been much more than thirty. Talia then took in the pool with the high fence surrounding it and the back of the large house before turning back to her witness. Her eyebrows rose in question.
Steve held up his hands. “Hey, I know how it sounds, but that’s what she told me. I think she had a sugar daddy or whatever the norms are calling them these days. She paid me on time, and the rest was none of my business.”
“Did you ever meet anyone else here?”
“You mean a vamp like you? Nope. I never sensed any supes around here.”
Talia narrowed her eyes.
He shrugged. “I saw the bite on her neck when I found her, which is why I called you instead of the cops. This is going to cause big trouble, isn’t it?”
Dead human. Killer vampire. She watched Will come around the fence carrying a body bag. Now they were exacerbating the situation by stealing the body. Big trouble? What a monumental understatement.
Jean Luc turned onto the Vegas Strip. At night, humans and supernaturals were drawn to the strip by the neon promise of escape. But as he drove along in the early morning light, the city seemed to wilt in on itself. As did the tourists who trudged from one hotel to the next, determined to see as many glitzy sights as they could.
Jean Luc stopped at the light. He would be facing his own determined female soon enough. In truth, she was not his female anymore. But he planned to rectify the situation. If Talia would let him. She was not expecting him, and he had no idea if the surprise would work to his advantage or make it worse. He was supposed to be on his way back to Cleveland with Kyle and the rest of the team, since the shifter case here was resolved. Instead, he had dropped them at the airport, and Kyle had given him a last minute pep talk.
“Remember, she still cares for you. I can tell.”
Jean Luc was not as convinced as Kyle appeared to be, but he was willing to take a chance. He had pulled her duffle bag out of the trunk and placed it in her hands, turning her toward the airport doors. “Text me when you land, ma petite.”
Kyle spun around. “So what are you going to say to Talia?”
Why did she leave me? Does she still care for me? “I do not know yet.”
Kyle scowled at him. “What do you mean, you don’t know? Don’t you think you should figure those things out first, before you go see her? Am I going to have to tell you what to say, too?”
A whistle sounded, and a policeman gestured at him to move along. “I need to move the car, Kyle. Let us discuss this later.” He shooed her toward the door.
She had shouted over her shoulder, “Call me when you need help!”
A car horn sounded, and Jean Luc jerked back to the present. The traffic light had turned green. He put his foot on the gas and headed down the strip again.
Talia was still amazing. When he first laid eyes on her again a week ago, her beauty had almost stopped his heart. Not that he needed it to remain beating in order to live. She had cut her hair so it framed her face. It had been gorgeous when it was long and wavy, but now her face was the center of attention. Perfect mocha skin and brown eyes with flecks of gold. When she was angry or aroused, the gold actually glowed. And it was obvious her vampire powers had far surpassed even his expectations when he had trained her thirty years ago.
He still had not prepared anything to say for the moment she opened her door. But something would come to him. He had not remained alive for the past four hundred years without the ability to think on his feet.
His phone beeped, and he glanced over at it on the passenger seat. A text from Kyle flashed on the screen. Don’t blow it, Frenchie.