Read Guardian's Joy #3 Online

Authors: Jacqueline Rhoades

Tags: #vampires, #paranormal, #love story, #supernatural, #witches, #vampire romance, #guardians, #pnr, #roamance, #daughters of man

Guardian's Joy #3 (6 page)

BOOK: Guardian's Joy #3
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Ah
, Nardo thought,
and there lies
the source of Nico’s anger
. The sophisticated Guardian, with
his expensive clothes and dark, Eastern European good looks, was
usually a model of control and diplomacy. It was the insult to his
Liege Lord that set him off. He was close to Canaan in age and
abilities. Discipline and loyalty made him a natural to serve as
Canaan’s Second. His blood bond with Hope almost guaranteed he
would remain part of the family well beyond the three years of his
pledged service. This was the only House that allowed its Guardians
to keep their women within its walls and Nardo couldn’t see his
comrade going anywhere without his mate.

“We weren’t exactly dressed for dinner,”
Canaan laughed.

Nico started to protest, but Grace
interrupted.

“What did you mean when you said if it’s a
vampire at all? Can’t you tell?” she asked.

“There was too much blood,” he explained, “A
vampire would have drained her dry. And there were other things…”
He looked apologetically at Otto who sat quietly at the other end
of the table, holding the hand of his mate, Manon.

Uncle Otto nodded in acknowledgement of
Canaan’s consideration and motioned with his free hand to
continue.

“Non, Mon Coeur,” Manon stopped him, “This
isn’t necessary.”

“It is, my love. The girls need to know.”
Otto smiled to reassure her. “There’s no secret to what I was, what
I am.”

The baby monitor that sat between two
computer stations issued the soft rustle of someone moving and Hope
jumped up.

“She’s awake. I need to go.”

Broadbent was already on his feet and
motioning her to sit. “I think it more important that you be here.
Uncomfortable subjects should only be spoken of once. I shall get
her a glass of milk and a plate of that delicious shortbread and
Faith and I will continue with chapter six of “Sense and
Sensibility”. I think she’s enjoying Miss Austin. Have no fear. I
will summon you straight away if you’re needed.”

“Sit, precious. Faith will be in good hands,”
Nico added.

Faith had been held been held captive by a
demon who had devastated her body and her mind. Through gentle care
and good nutrition, her body had recovered. Unfortunately, she was
still largely unresponsive. She followed commands to eat, drink, or
attend to personal hygiene, but never did these things of her own
accord. Hope’s days revolved around her sister’s care and she
became a tigress defending her cub if anyone disturbed Faith’s
carefully controlled world.

The group sat in silence, watching the
monitor until they heard the professor’s cheerful greeting and the
unit at his end click off. Canaan cleared his throat.

“The Sanctuary physician isn’t cooperating,
but we think the girl was sexually molested. It’s not uncommon.
When the bloodlust strikes, most of the turned will seek to satisfy
other lusts as well. Rape is part of the pattern.”

The men at the table stared straight ahead,
their faces blank. Hope shrank down in her seat and clutched at
Nico’s hand.

“Non, non! It wasn’t thus with Otto,” Manon
pleaded, her French accent more pronounced than usual. “Tell them,
Otto, please. Tell them it was not so with you.”

Otto leaned forward on his elbows and tented
his face with his hands. His thumbs were braced on his cheeks and
his fingers rubbed his temples in slow, even circles. When he spoke
through the gap between his palms, his voice was quiet and
firm.

“I don’t remember much of those first days,
only the constant thirst. I killed two while in the Blood Rage and
would have killed a third if Canaan hadn’t stopped me. All three
were men and I’ve never bent that way. Maybe it was that or maybe
it was because I was blood bound to Manon.” He breathed deeply and
let it slowly out on a sigh of resignation. “But maybe, it was only
because the opportunity never presented itself. I’ll never
know.”

“Well I know, Uncle Otto,” Grace said
confidently. “The day we met, you were in a blood rage. You didn’t
want to hurt me. You only wanted blood and not my blood, I might
add. You’re a good man, Otto ad Timmson, and no one will ever make
me believe differently.” The fierce look she gave each person
sitting at the table dared them to contradict her. “Turning vampire
is an infection of insanity, a curse. What you did, you did while
you were crazed and someday you’ll have to answer for that, but it
won’t be me that condemns you. None of us will.”

None of them could. Being Guardians increased
their chances of violent death and it was violent death that
triggered the turn to vampirism. Otto had been one of them and it
was in battle he was turned. It was a constant threat both they and
their women had to live with.

Canaan gave a nod and the meeting broke up.
Everyone started heading for the door.

“Wait,” Nardo called the others back, “We’re
not finished. It was a vampire. There was a witness,” he confessed.
He told them about the leather clad woman.

“She stood out from the pack. She was
standing on a chair looking out over the crowd. That’s the first
thing I missed. She was hunting for someone, something. I should
have seen that right away.” He wouldn’t tell them he was too busy
checking out those long legs to pay attention to what she was
actually doing.

“That’s not fair, Nardo. Don’t do this to
yourself,” Grace cut in. “I don’t think anyone here would find it
noteworthy to see someone on a crowded dance floor using a chair to
look over the crowd. I imagine it happens a lot.”

“Hey, girls are asking to climb up on my
shoulders all the time at those things. How were you supposed to
know this one wasn’t looking for a lost boyfriend?” Col agreed.

“She was overdressed. Dov mentioned it before
we went in and I noticed it, but didn’t ask myself why, in a place
like that, she was wearing leather.” Instead of wondering what she
would look like without it.

“You noticed a girl with too many clothes
on?” Dov shook his head sadly. “You really do need to get out
more.” He saw Canaan frown and shrank back in his chair.

Nardo told them about seeing her leaning over
the body, chasing her between the warehouses and cornering her. He
didn’t tell them about the stalking; his attempt to terrorize
her.

“She thought I was a vampire.” He watched
their eyes widen. “I was angry, okay? I thought she was the killer.
She said it was one of us, a vampire I mean, who killed the girl.
She interrupted the kill, that’s probably why there was so much
blood.” He explained how he covered her when the demon came over
the wall.

“Here’s the weird thing. I think she was more
shook up about me than she was the demon, like she knew about them.
And it gets weirder. While I fought, I kept catching glimpses of
her from the corner of my eye. She was watching every move, but not
like an innocent. She wasn’t terrified. She was watching like
someone waiting for an opening, waiting to take a shot and then I
think she took it. My back was turned to her and suddenly, that
demon lit up like a friggin’ Christmas tree. Dov and Col showed up,
I took its heart and Joy was gone.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter 7

JJ thought about making a list of the things
she’d done, so she wouldn’t do them again and another list of
things she needed to do, if she could only remember what those
things were. It didn’t really matter anyway because she couldn’t
hold a pen. Hell, she couldn’t hold a fucking sandwich. She was
afraid to heat up any more soup after she burned the bottom out of
a pot. She’d fallen asleep while the stuff bubbled away on the
stove.

She resorted to eating anything she could
pour, two handed, from the package, which was okay since she wasn’t
particularly hungry. It was the thirst that was driving her up the
wall.

The house felt cold, but the thermostat said
75
0
and with all the pills she was taking, she couldn’t
have a fever. She might feel better if she could shower, but that
was out of the question. Even if she could bag her hands, how was
she going to wash? The light from the television gave her a
headache and when she tried to read, the words would blur. Great
time to learn she needed glasses.

There was nothing to do about any of it
except sleep it off and try again later. She took more pills, two
of each color, and settled back on the sofa. Her neck was stiff,
probably from sleeping with it at an odd angle, but it took too
much effort to climb the stairs to her bed. It would all be better
in the morning.

The cat paced back and forth in front of the
sofa, mewing and hissing in anger.

“Sorry kitty, I promise I’ll let you out next
time.”

*****

Canaan had been listening to Nardo’s
self-recrimination since they got out of the car and he was tired
of hearing about it.

“Nardo, I’ll say this one more time. This
wasn’t neglect of duty. You couldn’t have prevented that girl’s
death and you had every reason to chase that woman down. If you
think about it, you were closer to the truth than the rest of us
would have been. You knew right off it wasn’t a demon kill. Now
that’s the last word I’m going to say about it. We’re done with it.
Move on. That’s an order.”

Canaan turned to follow a small group of
women who’d just emerged from the theater. One of them looked back,
wide eyed and frightened, and hurried the others along. He kept his
hand gestures large, not for emphasis or Nardo’s benefit, but to
put the women at ease. Bad guys wouldn’t draw such attention to
themselves.

“What I need from you is some kind of roster…
data base? Is that the word I want? I need names, addresses and/or
phone numbers of the members in the area that we know of outside of
the Sanctuary. It’s something that should have been done years
ago.”

“I have one started,” Nardo interjected, “I’m
building an email list of Independents for contacts and business
and for us to keep in touch should the need arise. Do you want me
to put the word out?”

“That many members have email?”

Nardo laughed for the first time in days.
“It’s a whole new world out there, my lord. Do you know how many of
us earn our livelihood on the net? Your sister does all her
research from home. Writers, researchers, engineers, web masters,
small businesses, and a whole bunch of other stuff all done at
night from the safety of their own homes. They teach it in all our
schools now. For the Paenitentia, it’s a revolution. We won’t be so
dependent on the Council anymore, at least not in its current form.
Computers and the internet mean freedom from the sun and for the
folks outside of places like Moonlight Sanctuary it’s a way to
connect.”

“That doesn’t bode well for the Guardians,
son. No more Council, no more us,” Canaan said with a touch of
sadness.

“As long as there are Paenitentia, there’ll
be a need for Guardians, my lord. Our world is changing, but the
demons are still there. As long as the Otherworld exists and they
can find a way from their world to ours, there’ll be a need for the
skull and tears.”

Canaan smiled at Nardo’s zeal. The younger
Guardian was a poster child for the future of the corps; completely
at ease in this technological world, yet retaining the sense of
honor, duty and tradition that was essential to their calling.

The women they followed separated into two
groups and said their good-byes as each group stopped to enter cars
that were parked a few spaces apart. One lone woman continued
walking as the two cars pulled away.

Canaan huffed. “There’s always one. You’d
think the others would drive her to her car or at least watch her
until she was safe. But no, there’s always one that goes her own
way, thinking nothing can happen.”

“It’s women, my lord. No sense. Where are
their men?”

Canaan laughed. “Don’t let Grace hear you say
that. She’ll rip you a new one. It’s a whole new world out there,
son,” he said, throwing the younger Guardian’s words back.

They followed the woman from a good distance
behind until she found her car and drove off.

“There’s a diner a block up. Coffee and
pie?”

“Sounds good to me, my lord.”

Canaan gave a little snarl and then laughed.
“I don’t get you, son. Your head is in the modern world, but
another part of you got left in the fifteenth century.”

“It was my grandfather, sir. Retired
Guardian. He drilled it into me when I was young. My parents didn’t
like it much, but they were busy with other things and his
babysitting was free.”

After the waitress set their pie and coffee
down with a smile and a wink at Nardo, Canaan snorted another laugh
and nodded at Nardo’s ice cream.

“She gave you two scoops.”

“You’re scary. I’m harmless.”

“If I’m so scary, shouldn’t she be giving me
the extra ice cream? Wouldn’t she want to make friends?”

“Doesn’t work that way. She gives me the ice
cream hoping I’ll keep you on your leash.”

“I’ll never understand women.” Canaan
carefully cut a small forkful of pie and added a dab of ice cream.
“It was easier in the old days. They did what they were told and
left the rest to us.”

Now it was Nardo’s turn to laugh. “Don’t let
Grace hear you say that.” Although he agreed with his Liege Lord,
Canaan was blood bound to Grace and Nardo didn’t want to sound
critical. “You wouldn’t be happy with a compliant woman.”

“Oh, Grace is compliant in all the ways it
matters.” The Liege Lord winked and took another bite of pie.

A picture of the woman dressed in black
leather flashed through Nardo’s mind. There was nothing soft or
feminine or compliant looking about her and yet…

Nardo polished off his pie. It was time to
get home and to work.

*****

Hope eyed the sandwich and glass of milk. The
sandwich was cut neatly in triangles with two pickle slices and an
olive for garnish along with a handful of chips.

BOOK: Guardian's Joy #3
6.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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