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Patti O'Shea - Paranormal Action Romance Author

 

Excerpt from Enemy Embrace

The farther she got from the Tiki-A-Go-Go, the more uneasy Nicole became. This late at night, the warehouse district appeared deserted. She didn't understand why there were no deliveries...unless it had something to do with the twenty-foot tall chain-link fences topped with razor wire that surrounded the buildings. She scanned continually while she walked, but it wasn't the area near the nightclub that had her on edge. There was a much bigger reason for her tautness.

She was trailing the vampire who'd destroyed everything, everyone who had ever mattered to her.

And Nicole had lost her quarry.

That didn't happen. She wasn't just a vampire hunter, she was a psi tracker. It was her job to follow vampires and discover where they holed up during the day, so that they could be slain while the sun was up. There was always a risk of confrontation while she followed one, but even at night, Nicole had been able to defeat them.

But this female vampire might be the oldest Nicole had ever hunted and they gained power with age.

She didn't have much information. That bothered her. All she knew was that the vampire was using the name Mary Beth Danner, that she'd recently returned to Los Angeles, and that she was a cold-blooded killer. The other questions remained unanswered.

Location of lair—unknown. Associates and allies—unknown. Vampire clan allegiance—unknown.

She stopped short. Ahead, a gate hung open on the side of one of the warehouses. A closer look showed that the chain and padlock that had kept it shut were broken. They dangled, nearly brushing the sidewalk.

Reaching under her black leather jacket, she touched her knives—one wooden, one metal—to reassure herself. It might be a trap, but Nicole had the ability to conceal her presence, making herself invisible for all intents and purposes, and she'd been using it since she'd found her target earlier tonight.

Besides, the vampire had left the nightclub with a human male and that meant Nicole didn't have much time to think things through. Even now, Mary Beth could be killing the guy.

The thought of the vampire taking another life made Nicole's stomach roll over, and pulling her metal dagger, she slipped through the gate.

Bright lights lit up the side of the building, the loading dock, and the concrete that filled the space between the fence and the warehouse, but there were still plenty of shadows. Tightening her hold on the hilt, Nicole continued forward. She reached the edge of the structure, hesitated, and then turned the corner.

Nothing. Where the hell was the vampire?

"Behind you." The feminine voice came soft and slow and laced with sarcasm.

Stiffening, Nicole pivoted. And looked at the monster from a million nightmares. The human stood beside the vampire, staring sightlessly off into the distance. "You can see me," Nicole said and immediately felt stupid.

Mary Beth's smile made her appear angelic and that was such a lie. "How astute. You're not powerful enough to conceal yourself from me."

Nicole's jaw tightened. How astute must be the old fashioned way of saying duh. "You knew I was outside the club—the human was a lure," she said as realization dawned.

Mary Beth's grin widened and she gave a toss of her blond hair. "Waiting for you to gather courage grew tedious. I have better things to do."

Nicole opened her mouth and shut it without saying anything. This entire conversation was surreal. She was being insulted by a vampire wearing salmon-colored jeans and a white tank top, and Nicole couldn't seem to take action. Maybe it was some kind of delayed shock to finally confronting this killer, but it—

The vampire sighed and gazed heavenward. Then she looked Nicole dead in the eye, extended her fangs and talons, and turned toward the guy standing passively next to her.

Damn it to hell. Her choices were gone. Nicole pulled her second dagger and charged. So much for strategy or finesse.

Mary Beth pushed the man aside. Her claws slashed downward as soon as Nicole was in range and she had to duck to avoid taking a hit.

She came up, wooden dagger in her left hand, metal blade in her right and looked for an opening. There wasn't one.

Nicole jumped back, avoiding another strike. Before she could balance her weight, the vampire was in her face and Nicole spun away to avoid taking a talon to her neck.

Mary Beth was fast. Faster than any vampire Nicole had faced before and she—

Air touched her cheek as Nicole dove to the ground. She rolled to her feet, but couldn't find the other woman. Quickly, she whirled.

Just in time. The claw left a six-inch scar on the sleeve of her leather jacket.

She hated being on the defensive. Nicole ran again at Mary Beth, but the vampire seemed to disappear as Nicole stabbed downward with the metal knife. With the strength she'd used, hitting empty space left her unsteady.

Before she could regain her equilibrium, two hands shoved at her back. Nicole flailed her arms, trying to keep from falling.

She stumbled into the loading dock with enough force to drive the air from her lungs, but Nicole didn't wait until she could breathe. Spinning, she kicked out and connected with a knee.

Not hard enough. But it bought Nicole time to regroup and regain some air.

Mary Beth didn't have her fangs down.

Nicole barely registered that when she was dodging again. Why would a vampire halve its arsenal? Nicole kicked out, but this time the maneuver was expected and finding nothing except air threw her off-balance.

Mary Beth grabbed her and tossed her.

Even as she went airborne, Nicole knew the landing was not going to be pretty. She tried to keep her body from tensing and tightened her hold on her daggers.

It didn't help. The impact was enough to jar both knives loose. Her head connected with the cement and left her dazed. Her brain ordered her to move and tried to prod her body into motion, but her muscles couldn't obey the command.

Her vision was hazy when Mary Beth sat on her chest, pinning Nicole's wrists to the ground above her head with one hand. Nicole tried to shake the other woman off. Tried and failed.

Adrenaline drove the world into sharp focus.

Mary Beth's eyes glowed blue-white as she smiled—no fangs—and drew back her arm. The talons lengthened farther.

Oh, God. Nicole fought harder, but all she could manage to do was twist and buck. It wasn't enough to dislodge the vampire or for Nicole to get her arms free.

Damn it, she had unfinished business. She couldn't die yet. She couldn't die.

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