A Noble's Love
Shadow is one of three original Guardians left. While he’s got brains, he’s not much of a fighter. When he discovers an encrypted code while searching for clues about one of his own—another Guardian—he learns of Noble-bred females being taken and disappearing, never to be seen again. When he sees a video on his computer of two women taken from their homes, he decides it’s time to put a stop to it.
Janecka Ashford, Noble born, was born different than any other bloodmate. She can’t be matched up with just anyone because of her special blood, and that causes a big problem in a world where bonds between a man and woman are arranged. Because of her unique blood, she should’ve been put to death after birth, but her mother managed to save her life, a decision that Janecka regrets. Kidnapped and touched by a man has opened the door to her impending death. Asking for help from the one man who helped her before is the only thing that can save her life, but who can save her from the instant attraction to this man—Shadow—a Guardian?
Shadow never thought he’d bond with anyone, let alone with a Noble female. But as Shadow’s love for Janecka grows, he’s compelled to deal with changes in his own life, but also with one particular threat—a man bent on taking Janecka’s life. Bonded with a Noble comes with twists and turns, and when new blood sheds pure blood, it appears a whole new war might break out between the Guardians and Nobles.
Daylight hours were supposed to be for sleeping not working, and the past few weeks all Shadow had been doing was working without much sleep. He searched online for any kind of clue as to where Carissa might be with no luck. He also worked hard at breaking the encrypted codes in messages that were showing up all over the place. By the time he broke one, there were two others in its place, making any kind of tracking difficult. The group calling themselves The Strays was good. He’d give them that. He just wished like hell he could figure out what they were doing and looking for.
Shadow wasn’t the kind of guy to give up. For hours on end, he sat in front of his multiply computers, waiting for one slip up about Carissa while he worked on codes. With this new program he’d just finished, all Renzo had to do was make one tiny mistake, and Shadow would have him. As for the others, he feared that job would take as much luck as skill to get to them.
“You do know this is the time for sleep.” Lucan Deluca yawned, walked into the room, and sat down with a heavy sigh.
Shadow, one of the three original Guardians left, turned his attention from the monitors to the young boy in a huge man’s body who creeped most everyone out. As the Prophet Lucan grew faster than the average vampire, as did his mind. One tended to forget the boy was only ten, yet he stood before them as a grown vampire. His size and general appearance, however, weren’t what had the newcomers, or the few Nobles who came around, shivering. It was the blue, piercing eyes. Lucan happened to be the only vampire out there possessing the color, and when his hunger hit, they didn’t turn to the sliver, either. Nope, Lucan’s eyes became all blue with just a small speck of back in the center. That was the creepy part to Shadow. Other than that, he found spending time with Lucan fun. He also enjoyed the work outs and training they did, and when Raze finally went through his transition as well as Crossover, they’d added him. When the three of them went to the gym for a work out all three came out limping, bleeding, and sore for days. Shadow loved it.
“I found another damn code. When did the damn Nobles learn how to encrypt messages?” Shadow ran his hand into his sandy brown hair, pushing it out of his eyes, reminding him again of how long it was getting. I need a haircut.
“Oh, the Nobles have many secrets,” Lucan sighed, rubbing his face. Clearly the boy was tired as hell. “So what’s this one say?”
“Lucky for me, this one was easy to decode. The Ashford family is trying to negotiate with The Strays. Apparently, they think these boys have their daughters.”
Lucan whistled. “That isn’t good if they do.” He stood up, moved closer to look over Shadow’s shoulder. “The Nobles hold their daughters with tight control. It’s forbidden for them to be with a man without a male of the family present until they are bonded. No touching, either.”
“Yeah, well it also seems this isn’t the first time a daughter has been taken.” Shadow turned in his seat and punched a code into the keyboard. He brought up a video for Lucan to watch. “Look at this shit with a different girl.”
The video showed a young male vampire ripping the upper part of a dress of a Noble girl down to her shoulder. He didn’t strip her, only showed her bare back to the camera. She was crying, begging him to stop. He didn’t. He pulled her head to the side and sank his fangs into her neck, feeding from her. None of the others vamps standing by did a damn thing to stop him. What was just done in the Nobles’ perception would put shame upon her head for life. A Noble daughter was not allowed to be touched by any male other than her bonded vampire. Period!
“Not good,” Lucan said. “If he didn’t bond with her then that,” he pointed at the scene, “is her death sentence.”
“Well then, mate, that would explain why, when I did more digging, I discovered the girl has simply disappeared.” Shadow slumped back in his chair, glancing up at Lucan. “Like she never existed at all. I mean all traces of her gone. Not even the record of her birth.”
Lucan sighed and moved back to his chair. “Because she doesn’t—anymore.”
“What you mean?”
“If the family and any other of the Nobles saw the video, she’s dead by now. It’s a taint to their name, Shadow. A stain, an insult, which had to be removed.”
“Are you saying her family killed her because of this shit?” Shadow narrowed his eyes, staring at the boy still feeding on the girl.
“The Nobles hold close to the old ways. Even though they are going with the new age, some of the old shit stays.”
Shadow turned around in his chair, facing Lucan. “Then I want to find these other girls before they end up dead.”
“Do you really think going after them will help ease what you’re feeling with Carissa’s loss?”
“This isn’t about her.”
“Everything around here has been about her,” Lucan leaned forward with his elbows on his knees, head in hands. “We’re all moping around and going nuts wondering where she is.”
“Lucan, I need to get out.” Shadow stood up, putting his hands on his hips, pacing his office. “I look at this crap every night, every day, and now I’m seeing girls being taken, ransomed, and given back. From what you say, the family only kills them once they get them back. Let me go out there, find them, and stop this bullshit. It’s an easy thing to do, and maybe I’ll get lucky and find these strays also. I mean, they’re the ones starting this shit anyway. I go out, find the girls, find the strays, one problem taken care of. Besides, Raze needs to be broken in.”
“Raze?” Lucan’s eyes seemed to light up, as his brows rose.
“Why not?” Shadow shrugged. “He needs to get out of his dungeon once in a while. Right after I finished my Crossover, a few boys and myself went out every so often to hunt.”
“Hunt?” Lucan raised one eyebrow up at Shadow. “Don’t you mean you went out for sex?”
“That’s the dirty version, but okay we can go with that.” Shadow nodded. “My point is. If we don’t get out once in a while and stretch the legs, we go nuts.”
“Legs?” Now Lucan frowned. “Sex again?”
Shadow rolled his eyes and sat back down. “Man, I think you are the one needing to get out for some action.”
“Shadow, I’m ten.”
“Yeah, but you look twenty, mate.” Shadow frowned back. “And besides, once you Crossover, childhood ends.”
“My mother hears you talking like that your ass is grass.”
“Don’t tell her.” He smiled, but then got all serious. “Hey, you swear.”
“Not in front of her!”
“Double-standard, dude,” Shadow pointed his finger at Lucan. “Not cool.”
“What can I say? You’re a bad influence on me.”
“Me!” Shadow widened his eyes. “The hell I am.”
Lucan shrugged, arms spreading out. “Hey, who do I spend all my time with?”
Shadow looked up, thinking quickly. “D. Blame everything on D. He can take it.”
“Pussy,” Lucan mumbled.
“What did you say?” Shadow snapped, with a grin. “Did you just call me what I think you did?” Lucan only smiled at him. “Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?”
“Ha!” Lucan laughed. “Looks who’s talking.”
“You’re a pain in the ass, you know that?”
“No, I don’t.”
Shadow groaned and rolled his eyes, “Okay, I’m going to head out tomorrow night, and I’m taking Raze with me. He needs the experience, and this is a good chance to get some.”
“Fine,” Lucan sighed with a groan. “Just keep in mind it hasn’t been that long since his Crossover. We don’t want him shooting a Noble for smarting off.”
“You should be worried about me doing that,” Shadow mumbled.
“What?” Lucan snapped.
“At least do me on big favor when you come back.” Lucan stood and stretched.
“Get out of this damn slump you’re in. You’re starting to look like shit, and that makes the sparring not so fun anymore.”
“I’m fun,” Shadow whined.
“Not when you’re like this,” Lucan replied, and waved his hands toward Shadow. He leaned closer. “You’re becoming easy to take down lately. It’s starting to bore me.”
Shadow pushed him away with his hand on his face. “Get out of here.”
Lucan laughed again and started for the door. “Seriously, if you don’t rest right now, I’ll talk Ambrose into benching you for a month, just so you do.”
They had a short stare off before Shadow gave in. “Yep, I see it now.”
“The prick in you. I wondered when it might come out.”
Lucan flipped him off, and Shadow just laughed.
“Go to bed. You look like shit.”