Vampires do exist in Cheniere Station. Magic is alive and well in this small town. All is not as it seems. For J.T. Leighton to survive, he must work with what he has been given – a life eternal with no hope of parole.
Jessie Colter seeks J.T.’s help in finding her parents. Her secret will destroy the only family she has left if she can’t convince J.T., private investigator, she’s not the person responsible for their disappearance.
Their past comes back to haunt them in a surprising turn of events. Can there be a future for them or is their fate written in the Sultan’s evil deeds?
In this sexy paranormal romance novel set in the world of Shadow Company, award-winning author Catherine Wolffe tells the story of a couple fighting to rekindle love in the midst of a war with the Sultan of the Netherworld. Preorder today on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078W2HYX2
Here is an excerpt from Blood & Magic, book three of Shadow Company. In this scene, J.T. has a talk with Aubrie Sinclair about things regarding her plans to marry Logan Latimar, warlock, and ex-Navy SEAL. J.T. realizes he has a ways to go before Aubrie sees him as a true friend of Shadow Company. He hopes he can gain her trust.
“It’s a little late to be working, isn’t it?” J.T. stood in the doorway to Aubrie’s office off the bedroom.
“Easy.” J.T. had expected her reaction. His return smile curved in sympathy. “I’m sorry. Don’t make a sound these days. The vampire gig, you know.”
Shaking her head, Aubrie arched a brow. “You’re forgiven, I suppose. Maybe you need a keeper or herald or something.” Aubrie rubbed the back of her neck. “I’m sorry. That was uncalled for. I’m in a pisser of a mood it seems.” She tossed down the pen onto her desk before slumping in the chair.
J.T. flicked a glance in her direction. “I grateful you allowed me the watch tonight. Seeing what comes and goes through the veil is helpful.” He let the statement linger in the silence. “I figured you’d be in bed after all that cooking tonight. The spaghetti was the best I’ve had.” Still no reply. “Hey, are you feeling all right?”
Aubrie shook her head before giving her neck a crack to either side. “You know you have writer’s block when your mind is a million miles away, and nothing comes together on the page.”
J.T. had to admit the change of subject caught him off guard. Her mind was bouncing from fear to fear. He heard the frustrated agitation in her statement. “Or maybe you’re simply distracted.”
“No argument there.” She glanced at the calendar on the wall and grimaced. “In ten days,” she mused aloud. Tapping her fingers in nervous frustration, Aubrie shoved back from her desk. “I can think of nothing else except the fact I’m marrying the sexiest warlock whoever spun a spell in only ten days.”
Her stilted laugh reminded him of a school girl.
“Sorry, again, TMI, right?”
J.T.’s grin surfaced automatically. “Perhaps.” Stuffing his hands in his front pockets, J.T. examined the floor at his feet. He sensed things, always had. Even before becoming a vampire, he had possessed a small sensory talent. Like now, J.T. knew, her heart thrummed with the thought of Logan’s touch. The way the warlock looked at her made Aubrie’s knees weak. Even the way he walked stirred her in a very private way. He glanced up at her face in time to witness the blush creeping up her neck. Point proved.
Straightening the papers on her desk for the thousandth time merely succeeded in aggravating Aubrie further. She huffed out a shaky laugh before shoving at her hair. “I’m sorry for going there. The desk chair creaked as she rolled back to the computer screen. “I know I’m supposed to sit my butt in the chair and write, but I can’t think of a thing.” Exasperation rimmed the words as she frowned at the desk.
Again, the change of subject. Aubrie desperately needed her control J.T. supposed. “No need to apologize.” He took another step inside. That was far enough, he mused. It’s the truth. Hell, even I can see the way you two look at each other. What woman wouldn’t be distracted?” He knelt on one knee, gaining her attention at eye level. “Besides, there’s magic between you two.” He waved a hand when she tried to disagree. “I’m not talking about Logan’s talents. There’s love there. I’m happy for you.”
Turning, Aubrie smiled at J.T. Gently, she reached out, her fingers grazed his cheek. “You’re a good man, J.T.
He was going to come back with “for a vampire,” but her face held a kindness he hadn’t seen before. She was being sincere. Something softened in his chest.
In the blink of an eye, Aubrie froze in place. She was staring at something behind him.
J.T. turned to see what had caused her reaction. The mirror behind him held only one image, Aubrie’s. A vampire cast no reflection. He turned back to see her staring at nothing but the solo reflection. Stray hairs, the color of mink, waved in wisps about her oval face. The chocolate strands gathered in a ponytail held a rich weight in the desk light. Her skin had gone pale. “It’s okay, Aubrie.”
Her eyes darted to him before returning to the mirror once more. She had a hard time meeting his gaze. Instead, she grew fidgety in the seat. As if flicking on a switch, she splayed her hands flat on the desk, sliding them back and forth. The laugh came out breathless as well as strained. “Thank the gods, I write independently, or my deadline would be in grave danger at this point.” She coughed nervously before continuing, “How am I supposed to manage a wedding rehearsal, a final fitting and a bachelorette party all in less than a week?” Her eyes settled on him as she paused. “I’m sorry, I’m babbling.”
He had spooked her. One step forward, two steps back. “No worries.” The vampire made her nervous, he decided. Nothing to do about that.
Quieter now, Aubrie looked him square in the eye. The laugh came out in a huff of breath. A form of cleansing, he mused. As if nothing else had transpired, she picked up the previous topic of what to do with trouble. “I’ll manage the same way I handled a covert operation into the Netherworld in search of my warlock, and his nemesis, I suppose.” Her face took on a faraway look. “I can still see Nybbas the last time we left the Netherworld.” Grinning, she cut a glance at J.T.
“I know what you mean.” J.T. stood up before shifting to lean on the doorframe. “I suppose they made the supremely odd couple, what with Nybbas, the wrinkled, green-skinned demon-has-been standing alongside Logan, the warlock, and kick-ass ex-SEAL.”
Aubrie snorted at the mental image. “You know, I’ve wondered since how we managed to escape unscathed. The grin disappeared. “Then again, I remember why we went back, to begin with.”
There was no need to explain their decision. J.T. was aware, well aware, of the reason those gathering that evening had crossed the veil. Logan had gone in search of Nybbas, a mid-level demon with a talent for mind manipulation. The whole thing started when Logan believed he had been unfaithful to Aubrie. The dreams about his ex-girlfriend, Connie Calder were so real, they shook his confidence. Fearing mind manipulation, he crossed over the veil in search of his old adversary, Nybbas. If anyone could manipulate a mind, it had to be Nybbas. Instead, Logan found the Sultan, an evil shadow walker turned warlord, in control. The Nybbas they had known was nothing more than a shell of his former self.
Aubrie’s gaze centered on the darkness outside the French door. “You know, it’s funny, J.T., but I never expected to find Nybbas, much less, find him in such an altered state of being. He resembles an elderly grandfatherly type rather than a demon warrior.” Her eyes filled with tears before she shoved them away.
J.T. remembered what the bastard had done to Aubrie. The only thing that had changed was who was responsible. As if on cue, Aubrie rubbed a hand over her belly where Nybbas’ brand remained, a constant reminder of what she had been through.
“If Logan hadn’t found me in time, I would have become a sinister pawn in the Sultan’s unholy game. Nothing stopped the bastard from altering my mind forever. For some, that’s what has happened, and there is no going back. The Sultan’s magic is too strong.” Her lips thinned into a line. “To find Nybbas alive and with no memory of his cruel domination over me was hard for Logan to accept. He wanted retribution.” Her eyebrows winged up. “Hard for me as well. Straightening, she eyed J.T. It’s a new day. It’s all changed. Somehow, The Sultan controlled everything.” One solitary tear glided down her cheek.
“You know I’m in awe of you.”
Her eyebrows knit. “Me, why?”
“Well, you went back after the Logan and Duke solo. Since Logan told me what happened to you the first time, I can’t blame you for never wanting to go back, but you did. Then to find Nybbas was less than the monster you hated took the wind out of your sails. You sucked it up though and took him in rather than toss him aside as the Sultan had. Katie’s right, you’re stronger than you give yourself credit for.”
“He’s just an old, wrinkled, green man. I have to admit, finding him like that did throw me for a loop.” She shivered. “The sheriff in Cheniere Station charging Logan with Connie’s murder was the last straw. I knew the answers were over there. I had no choice. I had to go back.” Aubrie sniffed before wiping her eyes.
Figuring she needed a change of subject, he broached a topic he had been hesitant to as Logan about. “Did the Sultan return with Logan from Afghanistan?
The tears trailed down Aubrie’s cheeks. “Yes, he did. Logan said he saw him in his dreams for months following his return stateside. Then the visions started.
J.T. was no good with tears, especially a woman’s tears. He rubbed the bridge of his nose. “That’s all in the past now, Aubrie.” His voice, carefully modulated, held what he hoped passed for concern. He couldn’t reach out like he wanted to do, for he dared not touch her. Her empath skills would rocket her right out of his reach with what she found inside him. “He has hurt us all, Aubrie.” Turning to stare out at her view of the pines’ silhouetted against a night sky, J.T. spoke softly. “The monster came close to killing one of our own, too.” He referred, of course, to Duke Taylor, the ex-SEAL and J.T.’s Team Six bud.
Aubrie sniffed before answering. “The doctor said he may limp.” She shook her head slowly. “He’s lucky to be alive. A millimeter one way or the other and Duke would have died from the Sultan’s attack.” Aubrie watched out the window. “Damn bastard. I guess that’s what the Sultan wanted. Another soul collected.”
“He’s after all our souls,” J.T. murmured.
Aubrie stood because she could sit no longer. “The trouble with writing is you have to focus.” The laugh was shaky. Throwing her hands into the air, she strode out the French doors to the deck stretching the length of her house. “I’m done here.” Wiping her nose, she walked to the rail.
The laugh trailing after her proved mirthless. J.T. could feel the pain emanating from her.
A killer view lay before her. “This always helps,” she murmured. Wrapping her arms around her chilled chest, she closed her eyes and breathed in the clean, cold air of early December. “Christmas is coming,” she mumbled into the icy air. “My wedding too.” I won’t let him get in the way of my wedding again.”
J.T. remembered, Logan and she had postponed everything when Duke had come back in critical condition.
“The gods save us from ever having to set foot in that place again,” she whispered. A shudder slipped past her guard. “I won’t go back, ever.” The vow sounded solid.
J.T. knew how much faith to put in such a statement. None. “If the Sultan has his way, one of us or all will have to go after his sorry ass. Then we’ll face my former master with all the magic and firepower we can muster.” His words hung between them. J.T. saw the fear in her eyes.
Glancing down, Aubrie watched her hands clench into fists atop the rail of the deck.
J.T. saw the same mental image she did. One of a young girl, her dark eyes huge in her young face flashed in his mind’s eye.
“Don’t worry, Meagan. We’ll save your family. Logan’s working on a spell now. It won’t be long, I promise.” Aubrie dropped her eyes to her hands on the rail as she finished the statement.
Aubrie’s words, barely audible, pushed at J.T. resolve to remain detached. His years as a Navy SEAL gave him training ingrained into his DNA to compartmentalize his life. Surprise filtered through his dead system as a pain. One as real as the prick of a knife’s blade caught him in the chest. Rubbing the sensation away, J.T. cursed low at the affront.
Aubrie smiled weakly. “It’s okay. I understand my wish is fleeting. Reality can be a bitch sometimes, that’s all.”
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