“Blood Vendetta” Release Day!
Title: Blood Vendetta (The BlackGuard Society, #1)
Author: SF Benson
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Cover Designer: Deranged Doctor Design
Editor: Tia Silverthorne Bach
Publisher: Avanturine Press
Few have seen The BlackGuard Society, yet they’re all around. When rogue paranormals threaten mankind, the BGS alone is our last line of defense.
The latest case for agents Morgan Vladislav and Ace Broussard is a monster hungry for mayhem…and pretty redheads. But when Morgan kills the suspected perpetrator, she inadvertently unleashes a brand of chaos these seasoned BGS agents have never seen.
Focus is critical, but fate has other plans. Ghosts from Morgan’s past are coming back to haunt her, and these apparitions have claws that can tear the life she’s built to shreds.
With time running out, can the team rally to stop the rising darkness? Or will the vicious storm of war wipe New Orleans’ French Quarter off the map?
Turn of Events
As we careened through the crowd, jostling bodies along the way, the usual stench rose from that quagmire of human decadence known as Bourbon Street. Were we being chased? No. We were the pursuers, hunting down another perpetrator. My senses told me that we were near.
Another few feet, and we reached the mouth of the alley. The metallic smell thickened and threatened to turn my stomach.
“Damn! Fucking too late,” Ace Broussard, my partner, said.
A trail of blood led to a human body—or what was left of one—lying on the worn cobblestone. Ace crouched beside it for a closer examination. Identifying remains, the gross part of our business, didn’t bother him. Sometimes I thought he reveled in trying to determine which species committed a crime.
His voice snagged my thoughts. “Yeah?”
“Privacy.” Ace pointed to the gore painting a nearby wall.
Right. That was my department. I waved my hand and murmured a protection spell. Anyone who passed by the alley wouldn’t hear us or see the grim scene.
Creeping over to Ace, I took in the redheaded victim and asked, “How long has she been dead?”
He pursed his full lips. “An hour, maybe two.” Shaking his bald head, Ace added, “Just like the last ones we found—throat ripped open, entrails removed. This wasn’t a normal feeding. More like a fucking frenzy.”
We had to get to the bottom of these slayings before panic took over Crescent City. Humans in New Orleans put up with a lot when it came to supernatural possibilities. After all, it was the stuff that fueled tourist adventures. But if those wild imaginings ever proved true? Well, the apocalypse would be a more welcome catastrophe. Bombs and riots would be an easier reality for mankind to stomach than the existence of vampires and other nightmarish creatures.
As agents of the BlackGuard Society, we swore to protect mankind, not from human disaster but from the supernaturals who created chaos. We referred to them as rogues—individuals who wouldn’t adhere to the established rules. Each species had them and some were worse than others.
The BGS was for the supernatural community as the FBI was for mankind. We made sure beings played nicely with humans. Well, as nice as we could within the confines of each genus.
Usually, our nights were quiet with the occasional renegade revenant or recently turned vamp invading our town. Every now and then, we squashed a threatened uprising of witches or curtailed rowdy incubi who’d been out on a sex binge. Nothing too serious. Nothing we couldn’t handle.
Things changed about a week prior when something attacked one of my roommates. Our other roomie, a girl named Rosie, interrupted the assault. The assailant allowed her to live, but she couldn’t tell the police what transpired—thanks to me.
Rosie was currently living at a special mental hospital where the BGS placed humans who witnessed supernatural acts. Until the doctors determined that her traumatized brain had healed, Rosie was compelled not to speak. The days ticked slowly by as I waited to interrogate her.
Granted, our method wasn’t very efficient. Contrary to the police procedure of questioning victims, we allowed human brains to convalesce from harrowing events. We’d learned that cross-examining too close to an incident made things worse for recovery. Sometimes the humans recuperated. Most times they didn’t. Those were the ones who slipped through the cracks and became the homeless individuals who appeared to be a little deranged.
Because of the tentative grip Rosie had on sanity, we went with information easily ascertained. Most likely, the same butcher roaming the streets had killed Amanda. Similar slaughter. Same manner of leaving the body—propped on her side as if she was only asleep. The crime wasn’t sexual. The clothes and undergarments were untouched. We even ruled out robbery. With each victim, we found purses and wallets with their contents intact. Ace and I assumed the killings were done by a wolf shifter.
I based my presumption on the evidence. For Ace, it was akin to like recognizing like—a wolf picking up the scent of a kindred spirit. Or animal, in this case. To the ordinary eye, no one would guess Ace’s true identity. The alpha had the chiseled physique of an MMA fighter—his chosen profession. Ace fought within the Paranormal Fight Club. It was something I didn’t approve of, but it allowed him to keep a close eye on the PFC’s notorious owner, Damien Duchamp—someone the BGS had on its watch list because of the club’s underhanded operations.
“Three women in two nights,” Ace said. “Think it’s safe to say we’ve another rogue on our hands.”
“Don’t forget about the two last week, one of them being Amanda.” I surveyed the mess once more before chanting a clean-up spell.
In a matter of seconds, the woman’s remains burst into flames. The blood and entrails evaporated into thin air. Another swipe of my hand removed the overwhelming scent of burned flesh, leaving behind the stink of urine and vomit. Unfortunately, there was no form of magic to get rid of it. If someone lived in New Orleans long enough, and their nose got used to the common odor.
Ace eyed me for a moment. “Home?”
Although I didn’t sense any more bodies, going home was a lovely notion I couldn’t enjoy. After Amanda’s attack, my parents demanded that I move back into their mansion—one of the old estates in the Garden District.
Ace and I were a couple—soul mates actually—and we wanted to be together. Problem was, Mother and Father didn’t condone our relationship. It didn’t matter that Father and Mother could trace their ancestries back to Dracula and Morgana Le Fey—a mixed marriage. Their issue was that historically wolves served vampires. More on point—Ace’s ancestors were servants to my father. Therefore, Mother and Father considered Ace beneath me.
He was some nights.
He cut his eyes toward me. “Morgan—”
I held up my hand. “I know what you’re going to say. Now isn’t the time.”
“When?” He stalked out of the alley and onto the sidewalk.
I ran behind him, sidestepping passersby. “Ace!”
He whirled around unexpectedly. People grumbled as they collided with him. Ignoring the angry words, Ace grabbed my elbow and dragged me through the crowd closer to a building.
“With all the shit we handle every single night, I need my mate with me!”
“Don’t even go there,” I warned. This had been a frequent argument ever since we committed the ritual.
He lowered his voice, and it became husky. “You’re my sanctuary. Being with ya makes this job bearable.”
“I know.” It hurt hearing the desperation in Ace's voice. He chose me—a dhampir—above every other eligible female. Ace deserved someone who could love him openly.
“Do ya? Tell me when’s the right time for us. After Julien dies? Oh wait, he’s a fucking immortal!” Ace dropped my arm and stomped toward his bike parked at the curb.
Maybe one night…
If we spent a little time together, maybe he’d calm down. It meant lying to my parents. Again. Sadly, it was something I’d become an expert at.
I rushed over to the bike. Ace held a helmet out toward me. That bastard. He knew I’d give in. I swatted his shoulder. “No fair anticipating what I’d do.”
“Remember, we’re soul mates.” He quirked an eyebrow in my direction. “We need to talk about the situation.”
I smiled and hopped on behind Ace, slipping my arms around his waist and allowing a hand to graze his bulging crotch. “After we take care of our situation.”