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Accidentally cast through a magical portal to an enchanted prison with slave girl and a vampire fugitive, a Guardian warrior must come to terms with their situation, and the irrefutable past he shares with his vampire enemy.
Here’s a sneak peak to whet your appetite.
They stood in what appeared to be an ancient hall. The ceiling was high in here, the open space sucking up the heat from their meager fire. Two massive doors that were probably the manor’s main entry stood in the shadows far at the other end. Some splintered wood, which might long ago have been furniture, was piled off to the left, and a stone stairway led up the side of the wall to the second floor.
A crumbling decorative suit of armor stood near the hearth. In its metal hands were a lance blade and sword. Past it, another set of doors closed off the great hall under the second level.
It looked eerily like something he remembered from his childhood, but that place had been high in the snowy mountains of Transylvania, a country that didn’t even exist today.
As if to taunt his worries, the wind howled ferociously, rattling the high shuttered windows on either side of the hearth’s stone chimney. Earlier today, San Francisco had been clear and sunny.
“I do not know.”
“Great. Wouldn’t you agree we better figure it out?”
His rage flared. “There is no ‘we’; there is only she and I. You do not fit into the equation, bloodsucker.”
The vampire advanced. His brown eyes flared with a glint of red. “I didn’t ask to come along on this little picnic, Guardian.” He spat the identifier as though it tasted bad. “In case you don’t remember, I was trying to save your ass when you wriggled your nose and zapped us here.”
“Boys. Boys!” The girl jumped between them, one hand placed in the middle of each chest. A jolt of powerful energy shot through Balin, rattling the thin foundation he’d managed to reclaim.
He blinked away the shock and found himself glaring off with the vampire, the girl’s tiny frame pinned between them.
“Oh my.” She giggled. “This is nice.”
They both rocked backward at the same instant.
She blew an exasperated sigh and pulled Balin’s coat back around her shoulders, then pushed her arms through the sleeves. “Well, that was fun. But it didn’t help matters.”
“You saving my ass?” Balin shouted, incredulous.
“While you were spitting up your teeth, I was stopping Boragnis from slicing off your head.”
“You mean while I was saving her, you were interfering.”
“Stop!” the girl shouted. “We have more important things to do than fight between ourselves.”
“You will never convince me you didn’t want that creature to kill me.”
“What he says is true.” The girl’s voice turned to a whisper, but it was enough to stop Balin cold. He focused his attention back on her.
Her gaze dropped to the floor, and the smile that had lit up this dreary place faded away.
“Boragnis considered me his property. He’d made arrangements to…to buy me from Spike.”
She looked up at Balin. Tears swam in her eyes. A metal band tightened around his chest.
“He was reaching for your throat with his claws extended, when…” She turned and glanced at the vampire, and Balin felt something lurch inside. “He saved us.”
He glanced up at the vampire. The bloodsucker watched him back with silent contempt.
For the first time, almost grudgingly, Balin noticed the difference between this vampire and other creatures of the night he’d encountered.
The man’s eyes had glowed red with fury only moments ago, but now they were back to a normal chocolate brown. His skin was fair, but not deathly pale like so many vampires. The beast drew in a tight breath and let it out slowly, visibly curbing his anger. He wore modern clothes, and his hair was stylishly cut, though a little long around the collar.
“Why would you do this?” Balin asked, not completely believing it.
“I have been hunting the Bulgarian vampire for nearly two hundred years.”
“You take me for a fool.”
The vampire snorted. “That you believe your Guardian Mouseketeers are the only authority policing vampire kind not only proves your ignorance, it proves your arrogance as well.”
“The Guardians are an ancient sect that have been in existence almost as long as vampires. We would know if there were others.”
“You think we don’t watch over our own?” The vampire turned his gaze back to the fire. “Not all vampires are criminals.”
“You try to convince me of honorable intentions because more than likely, outside those doors, we’ll encounter an angry mob who wants your head on a stake.”
“Stop it,” the girl interrupted, frowning. “He saved your life. Whether you like it or not, you owe him. At least you can be civil.”
Her disapproval cut like a knife.
Digging the blade deeper, she went on. “Let me tell you something about vampires. There are good ones among them. I don’t know this man, but he hasn’t done anything to hurt me. Or you either.”
The creature glared silently as the wind rattled the very bones of the castle.
“Why don’t we take a small step by learning each other’s names?” she said in a calmer voice. “I am Gladiolas. I have been at the Palace for…since two thousand six. What year is it now?”
Something inside Balin broke. “Sweetheart, you never have to go back there.”
She smiled, as though she also believed he was a fool. “I have no place else to go. Besides, it isn’t so bad. There are those who are unkind, but look at the world we live in. At least with the vampires, I never get sick and I never grow old.”
“That beast was poised to kill you.”
She shook her head. “No. He wouldn’t have killed me. My greatest fear was that he would take me from the Palace.”
Balin drew her to him. She curled against his chest and wrapped her arms round him. Her soft body pressed intimately against him, igniting a selfish flood of desire that sent the blood rushing to his cock.
Four hundred years without female companionship, and he finally discovered someone who ignited his desires, only to drag her through a magical portal to an uncertain future with an evil traveling companion. Worse, this angelic beauty, with whom he’d felt an instant link, wanted to go back to her vampire captors.
“I know you were trying to help me as well, and I appreciate what you did.” She eased away and bestowed a magical smile. “Shall I call you Hero, or will you tell us your name?”
He glanced up at the vampire. The man quickly looked away, a tic working in his jaw.
“I am Balin Renforth. Ninth Lieutenant in the Order of the Guardians of San Francisco.”
“Guardians. I’ve heard whispers about them. Is it true you can transform into stone?”
“I have many powers,” he said, flicking a warning glance at the vampire.
“Don’t forget to tell her about your ties to ancient Ireland.”
So the bloodsucker knew. Balin guessed it was obvious to anyone familiar with their world. “Perhaps another time,” he returned in a low growl.
Gladiolas turned to the vampire. “Your turn.”
“Fitch Galloway. Vampire Secret Service.”
Balin barked a laugh. “Right.”
“My office is in the White House. Where’s yours?”
“You expect me to believe you’re sanctioned by the president of the United States?”
“I don’t expect anything, except you’re gonna zap us back to San Francisco.”
An unearthly roar rattled the very foundation of the castle. Both men instinctively stepped closer. Gladiolas reached for them and found herself locked in a protective embrace of strong arms.
“What the fuck was that?” Fitch said.
Another roar thundered, frighteningly close, immediately on the other side of the wall. It sounded like the T. rex dinosaurs from the Jurassic Park movies.
This unearthly wail was followed by growling, snarling, and very undoglike barking. Whatever it was, there were several of them, and they were fighting right outside the castle.
The three of them stood frozen in horror, listening as the cacophony increased in tempo and ferocity, then drifted away as the creatures galloped off, still locked in their battle.
“I don’t like the sound of that,” Fitch said.
“Nor do I,” Balin agreed.
“I’m scared,” Gladiolas said again and suddenly felt dumb for it. Maybe she was a fragile little waif.
“Where the fuck did you take us, Guardian?” Fitch grimaced. “What? What’s that look?”
“I can’t be sure.”
“Why don’t you tell us anyway?”