The Guardian's Embrace
A child is still missing. Chaos between two old friends erupts. Elders, bloodmates, and vampires are being murdered in mass attacks by mutated breeds. Only three guardians and one elder remain.
Dimitri de Fiammetta, a guardian all of his life, knows no other way to live. He’s fought and killed to protect his race. The only family he accepts are those he's fought with, side by side. When the prophet is born many changes come in the midst of a war. While duty to the race comes first and protecting the last Elder and the prophet are his number one missions, one change Dimitri doesn't believe he can handle is the order to test for, find, and bond with his bloodmate. Orders he can resist, but can he fight a link forged in blood no matter how much he believes it is wrong?
Claudia Wyborn, a bloodmate taken in and protected after the death of her family, has accepted her new life and the new role she has within the compound of the Guardians. Meeting Dimitri, she’s instantly fascinated by him, awakening a childhood fantasy of being swept away by her vampire, a Guardian, when Guardians had before been forbidden to bond and regarded as something horrible to shun.
Will one mission and Dimitri's reluctance to share his dark past with innocent Claudia destroy what their body and minds tell them should be? Or will a simple thing as love be enough to take away the dark stain that Dimitri has carried for so long?
A lone figure stood on the sidewalk looking at the home of Lucian DeLuca and Julian Marino. Well past midnight, the rain beat down hard on the hooded head. Lightning flashed brightly in the sky, and the sound of thunder vibrated through the air, yet the figure did not move. He waited. Even when more lighting flashed in the sky like a strobe light going off, and thunder boomed so loud he felt it under his feet, he still didn’t move.
Dimitri de Fiammetta, one of only three Guardians left, waited.
Renzo Ferrari had gone crazy and killed off every vampire he could find after Julian took his daughter, Serina, and bonded with her. He didn’t stop with killing just vampires, though. He killed Guardians, and that was something very hard to do.
Renzo had used breeds for the slaughter, creatures he’d created from a mixture of vampire, human, and bloodmate DNA. By the time the Guardians discovered this, it was too late. The slaughtering had started, and there was no way to stop it. Breeds outnumbered Guardians, and before it could be helped, Elders started dying also, all because a father had refused to accept the fate of his daughter, a daughter now dead because of him.
Dimitri didn’t know the whole story; only that Renzo was responsible for Serina’s death, and he’d kidnapped one of her newborn twin daughters. That action alone was what pushed the time table up and why Dimitri stood out in this hellish weather waiting. Those inside were no longer safe, not with the Prophet as well as Julian and his remaining daughter living unprotected behind the walls. Lucian’s son, Lucan DeLuca, was the Prophet, the one who would lead them all and save the race—or so the ancient legends promised—if Renzo Ferrari didn’t succeed in killing them all first.
As a full-blooded vampire in his prime, Dimitri stood six-feet-two inches, with black hair reaching his shoulders, feathered back from his dark chocolate eyes. Over the years, he’d heard women say his strong chin and a full-lipped mouth gave them the desire to kiss him.
Dressed as a Guardian should be, he wore tight leather pants, low-cut on his hips, hugging his thick legs, and cinched with a thick belt. A black T-shirt stretched tight across his chest like a second skin. Over his clothes, he wore a long leather trench coat with a hood, currently over his head to protect him from the rain. Leather shit-kicker boots on his feet, completed the protector’s uniform.
The other part of his protection—weapons of all kinds—were strapped to his body in hidden spots, knives were tucked into his boots, and a long sword hung at his back. The newest additions were two SR9 semi-auto 9mm guns in specially designed holsters on his hips and two small semi-auto machine guns on slings at his lower back. All were loaded with the latest ammo, designed by none other than Shadow, their weapons specialist.
Dimitri was set and ready to kill at an instant’s notice and never hesitated in doing so. He’d been told to meet at the house at midnight, and he would be joined by the others. It was already twelve-thirty, and damn, he hated it when people were late. If someone said they were going to be some place, then be there and not show up hour late.
He looked around when he heard heavy footsteps as well as the tapping of a cane heading in his direction. A smile tugged at the corner of his lips, but didn’t break out as he recognized those steps.
An old man with a cane in one hand and an umbrella in the other stopped in front of Dimitri. “Waiting long?” he asked, a grin on his slightly wrinkled face.
“Long enough, Ambrose.”
Ambrose D'Abigne smiled, raised his chin, glanced at the house, and then looked around and frowned. “She isn’t here yet?”
“Nope,” Dimitri said with sigh.
Ambrose hung his head and shook it. “Maybe this is too much for her after all.”
Dimitri opened his mouth to agree, but stopped, stiffened, and raised his hands slowly when a gun pressed to the back of his head. He let out his breath at a soft tsking sound in his ear.
“I would have thought sneaking up on you to be impossible,” said a female voice, soft but with a detached quality. “And yet, I’ve done just that. Maybe you’re starting to get soft.”
Dimitri turned fast, grabbed the gun, twisted, snatched the weapon from her hand, but froze when a blade touched under his chin.
“You’re losing your touch, Dimitri,” she stated.
“Look down,” he said. His gun pointed at her belly.
“You’re late!” Ambrose snapped, stopping the play.
“I had six breeds on my ass.” She sighed, took her gun from Dimitri, and slipped her knife back into the sheath at her waist. “It took extra time to persuade them to move along.”
Dimitri couldn’t stop the grin. “I can only image what kind of persuading you did.”
She holstered her gun without any emotion. Dimitri watched her closely for a moment. As always, his partner was collected and ready for a good fight. Her sunglasses were in place, hiding the brightness of her eyes from the world. Black leather pants hugged her legs and hips, her clothes identical to his with the one exception. She wore a zipped up tight leather vest, specially reinforced to block bullets. Her hooded trench coat covered her long black hair and the many weapons he knew were hiding all over her small frame. Hardly any of her face showed, thanks to the way she positioned the hood over her head. She was a shadow, hidden away from the world by her clothing, the sunglasses, and her status.
Ahh, those sunglasses he thought, always silver, unlike other vampires whose eyes usually looked normal. She always wore them, because one could always find her in the dark, and without them he could read her like a book.
“Shall we?” Ambrose asked. “We are late as it is.”
The three of them walked up the drive. Dimitri looked up at the sky. “The rain will be stopping soon, which is good news. I hate trying to move a family in shitty weather.”
“Do they know we’re moving them?” she asked.
Ambrose nodded. “I called Lucian a couple days ago. He said they would be packed and ready to go.”
“And Shadow?” she asked.
“Said he will be here with transportation.”
She snorted, but said no more.
“You going to be okay with this?” Dimitri asked her when they were almost at the door, uneasiness hitting his stomach.
She snapped her gun back into place at her side. Head forward, she said, “I told you, I’m fine.” He nodded and turned his back on her. “I’ll stay that way, too, as long Shadow doesn’t fuck this one up.”
“Shadow has transportation.” Dimitri stated. “How could he mess that up?”
She snorted again. The three of them stopped under the porch at the front door and shook the water from their coats. Ambrose knocked with his cane.
A man opened the door, only he wasn’t a human really. Dimitri knew about the boy Lucian had taken in, raised as his own, and now that boy took care of the household as repayment. Corbin, if Dimitri’s memory was right, though born of a vampire father and bloodmate mother, had failed to inherit the vampire gene. He greeted Ambrose, shook hands, and then stepped back to let them all enter the house.
Packed bags were waiting on the living room floor, telling Dimitri the family took what Ambrose said seriously.
Dimitri watched his partner from the corner of his eye as she moved away from the group to stand at the other side of the front room. He worried about her. If they’d had a choice, she wouldn’t be assisting in this move because of her past with Julian. As it was, there were only three Guardians and one Elder left, which meant there was no choice. She had to be here.
“How have you been, Corbin?” Ambrose asked with his usual friendly smile.
“It’s been hard,” Corbin answered. His kept glancing at Dimitri. “Julian has been doing what he can, but the baby has been fussy, and a couple of those things have shown up here. I don’t think I’ve ever been glad there was one of you guys here to take care of it. Julian has been so low and withdrawn that Lucian is doing all he can to keep everyone together.”
Dimitri glanced at his partner quickly. Unspoken words passed between them, but the one Corbin was talking about had been her. She’d stayed close to the house, making sure the family stayed safe until they could move them, something he was still not happy about, and neither was Ambrose. Yet, on the other side of that coin, it was good she hung around. Hearing there were breeds and Lucian was unable to fight them all off because of Julian being in a depression meant Renzo wasn’t done yet with Julian. The bastard still wanted Julian dead it seemed.
“Don’t you worry about that now.” Ambrose patted Corbin on the shoulder. “Things will settle down once we have all of you in a safer place.” He extended his hand to Dimitri. “This is Dimitri de Fiammetta. He is one of the best Guardians we have, and over there—” Ambrose didn’t get to finish his introduction.
“You!” Julian stood at the top of the stairs, a heated expression on his face, directed at her. “You’ve got some God damned guts coming here after you left me locked in that fucking crypt!”
Julian Marino stood in jeans ripped at the knees, boots, and a white T-shirt. His dark hair was a tangled mess, looking like he’d been running his hands through it, and his eyes were bloodshot. The way he looked agreed with what Corbin said. The man was taking the death of his bloodmate very hard. He couldn’t blame him. If he’d had one for a short time and then lost her, Dimitri didn’t think he’d bounce back quickly either.
“What’s going on?” Lucian came up behind Julian, moved to the side, and looked at the group.
“Hello, Julian,” she said.