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Murder is a game that Randi Sanderson knows far too well, but at least she’s playing on the right side of the law. Being half-archangel and half-vampire makes her one of Jacksonville Sheriff Office’s best detectives, and a suspect’s worst nightmare.
Meet her partner, Detective Cash Bennett:
I waited for him to take his seat behind the wheel before launching my attack. I reached out
with thoughts that entwined themselves around his throat and clenched. His eyes registered
shock as they turned to face me, his hands grabbing at his throat. I leaned close. “I know you’re
a nephilim and that you’re trying to hide that from me. Why?” With his airway pinched, his
guard fell and I reached into his mind. With immense concentration that caused my brain to
throb, I rummaged in search of his ulterior motive. Yet, despite the momentary clarity, nothing
matched my suspicions, no harmful intent secreted away among his private thoughts. All that
returned was a brief glimpse of his past, a prior detective position in neighboring Clay County, a
history tied to the area reaching back several decades. The majority of his life.
I pulled back and let the knot of thoughts tied around Cash’s windpipes dissolve. He coughed
while pulling in lungfuls of air. “Alright,” I said. “Let’s get some lunch.”
Not until we reached the Riverwalk, burgers in hand, did I finally say, “Sorry about that.”
He rubbed his throat with his free hand, a bitten, double-patty cheeseburger in the other.
“Don’t sweat it,” he replied with an emphatic raspy throat. Then he looked down at me and
grinned. “It’s fine, caught me off guard, but no damage done. Did you read what you needed
“I thought I was a little more discreet than that.”
He paused his chewing, a bite of burger tucked into his cheek. “I pride myself on having
excellent control over my consciousness.”
“More than that,” I said, then chewed into my own lunch.
“What do you mean?”
I waited for a jogger to make her way past us. It was an elderly woman with two small
purple weights in each hand, a windbreaker tied around her waist. She smiled politely as she
made her way along the red brick path curving along the south bank of St. John’s River. We
made our way beneath the white awnings designed to resemble birds in flight. I swallowed my
bite then answered, “Your magic. You keep it shrouded. I’ve never witnessed anything like that.
When I first tried reading you, it was like running head-first into a concrete wall.”
“But I suppose my healing touch helped out, didn’t it?”
I nodded, peering out over the calm waters separating Southbank from Downtown.
“Massage therapist, huh?”
He shrugged, a sly grin on his lips. “Easier than telling you the truth in the middle of an
active crime scene.”
“One of the fallen.”
He raised an eyebrow. “You got that deep? Perhaps I’m not as conscious as I thought.”
I shook my head. “My dad.”
He tilted his head back. “Ah, of course. That’s why—”
“I had you pick me up at home, mhm. Clever, huh?”
“Sneaky. Your father’s quite the vampire. But you’re a little more, aren’t you?”
Swallowing the last bite of my lunch, I balled the wrapper in my fist and drifted over toward
a trash can to deposit it. Then I meandered toward the railing and leaned my forearms against
it, turning my head toward the bridge to watch the traffic crawl across it. Cash mirrored my
pose, leaning over the railing. I could feel his eyes on my face, intense, inspecting, but not
without that angelic sympathy they all tend to throw in your face without even realizing it. “My
mother’s archangel Ariel.” I turned to watch his reaction. An expert at work, he could have
been a professional card player. “Nothing personal.”
He pivoted, placing his back against the rail while rubbing the back of his neck. “It’s not the
chosen that bother me, though I know what they think of us fallen.”
I turned around, placing myself a smidge closer. When I reached back to wrap my hand
around the railing, it met with his. I retracted it like an embarrassed teen, opting to cross my
arms instead. But in that momentary touch, a note of his pain transmitted, an underlying loss
that simmered as a pool of hate in his basement. We’ve all got basements, I couldn’t hold that
against him. The trouble occurred when we visited them, as I had. “Demons then?”
He nodded, then lowered his head, chin nearly resting against his broad chest. “My parents
were murdered when I was young.” I didn’t bother asking the reason. In the world of magic,
innumerable conflicts arose and resolved across the aeons between the various factions. A
historian of our messy past would be overwhelmed. The Bible barely scratched the surface.
“Ever since, I sort of…” the muscle in his cheek flexed. He took a breath and released it slowly
through his flared nostrils. He turned to look me in the eye. “I have a difficult time trusting any
demons I encounter.”
Under his intense gaze, I felt a moment of threat, yet the glimpse into his mind exposed
only positive feelings toward myself. “Well, having been bound to a fallen, I can relate. I have a
reluctance to work with any paranormals.”
A wry smile crossed his face. “So, what’s a distrustful vampire-angel hybrid and a fallen
nephilim to do when thrust together as partners?”
“Sounds like a sitcom, don’t it?”
He laughed, which admittedly felt good to hear in that moment. I allowed myself a reprieve
from my suspicions and defenses to laugh along. “You were bound to a fallen?” he asked.
The laughter abruptly halted. “Story for another day, my friend.”
His grin widened. “So, we’re friends now?”
“Bring the car around, rookie.”
We think you’ll enjoy this steamy vampire romance with a crime-solving twist.