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Authors: Tina Christopher

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BOOK: TangledIndulgence
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She hesitated. “Why would they not help when girls go
missing in an exclusive club?”

He looked at her with steady eyes.

She bit her lip and dropped her gaze. It had been a stupid
question. Corruption was rife in her station. There weren’t enough Sentinels
for the main stations in the central core to pay that much attention to them.
As long as their case closure rate was above the minimum target they were left
to their own devices.

“But what about their families? If they have the money to be
a member of Indulgence, they have to have enough power to make things difficult
for the Sentinels.”

Mal shook his head. “They’re taking guests of the
lower-level members or leaving a believable trail showing the victim went on an
extended trip.” He picked up his weapons and strode to the door.

Adira slipped into her shoes and scrambled after him.
the fuck is he off to now?

We need armor and to stock up on weapons if we’re to get
the waitress and whomever else they have before it’s too late.

Her nipples hardened and her pussy grew moist. His deep
voice in her mind echoed through her whole body.

Your voice does the same to me.

She exhaled and strode after him. “I am working on a similar

He turned to her but didn’t slow down. “Show me.”

Adira wasn’t sure where they were as Mal took her through a
maze of back corridors and supply rooms. She focused on her surroundings so she
didn’t have to think about sharing her mind with another person.

“Sweet, show me. I promise I won’t see anything other than
what you share with me.”

She exhaled. He needed to know and this weird link between
them had to be good for something. She opened her mind and broke every
confidentiality rule in the book by sharing an ongoing investigation with a


Mal nearly groaned when she voluntarily used the link
between them. His cock jumped to attention as her energy threaded through his.
Images and thoughts filled with files of names and occupations, families
worried about boys and girls vanishing on their way to and from school or work.
All ages and ethnicities, all shapes and sizes, no particular patterns other
than they were from the poorest parts of the city.

Unlike the girls going missing in the club, Adira’s victims
weren’t all attractive. But each and every one of them human.

And healthy.

Mal had a suspicion. “When did these disappearances start?”


Mal froze.


Adira thought she was responsible for not catching the
abductors. For not finding the victims. For not giving the families hope that
they would ever see their loved ones again.

This is why they transferred you to Hadamard.

Adira sighed.
I’ve been asking too many questions no one
wants answered. There are at least three Sentinels in powerful positions with
links to Parvati’s gangs. Until they stop protecting those responsible I don’t
have enough leverage. I can’t move forward without more evidence and they block
me at every turn.

This is not your fault.

Logically I know that, but emotionally I only see the
eyes of those left behind.

And now he’d added to that pressure by making her use the
serving girl as bait.

Mal stopped and pulled Adira into his arms. He cupped the
back of her head and kissed her. His tongue gently rubbed against hers, her
taste filling every sense he had. She responded in kind and their kiss turned
into a promise, a pledge that he would be with her every step of the way until
she found the ones responsible for the pain she witnessed and experienced.

Once we’ve taken care of this group of scecxis, my team
and I will be with you to find whoever is behind the other disappearances.

She leaned back and stroked her fingers across his cheek.
step at a time.
Adira gave him a quick kiss and stepped away. “Who is she?”

Mal wanted to draw her back, to find out what she’d just
hidden behind a massive gray stonewall.

But now wasn’t the time. Instead he pulled his comp out and
ran a search for the young woman. “Marissa Adevo, twenty-six, new to Parvati,
moved here from Babote eight months ago, started working at Indulgence six
months ago.”

Adira nodded but didn’t meet his gaze.

He took her hand and strode along the narrow corridor to the
small room Jackson had given him at the start of this assignment. It started
life as a broom closet, but Mal had changed a few things.

He released Adira’s hand and set his on the scanner. DNA and
fingerprints were checked in seconds. Then he raised his eyes to the retinal
scanner and unlocked that too. Finally he pulled an old-fashioned metal key out
of his pocket and unlocked the door.

“What the Jade are you keeping in here?” Adira’s incredulous
voice filled the narrow corridor.

“Everything we may need and some things we better not.” He
stepped inside and pulled two vests down, handing one to Adira.

“I have my own, this is too big.”

“It’ll shrink to fit once you’ve closed the snaps.”


Mal smiled. Adira’s silence spoke volumes.

“I haven’t heard of something like this coming on the

“Sam, a team member, is our resident geek. There is nothing
he can’t do with a computer or a weapon and he likes to tinker.”

She quickly buttoned her shirt and tucked everything in
neatly before she pulled on the vest. As promised it shrank to fit her slender
frame, protecting all her vital spots.

He handed her an assault phaser and pulled his own vest on.
Then he settled the weapons he carried from their room back into their places.
He added two more knives in wrist sheaths.

Adira walked along the shelves and added three more phasers
to her InvisioHol, bringing her to a total of four handguns. She added two
smaller knives to her ankles and stood. “Any idea where we’re headed? We’re
dressed to party and I don’t want us to miss the gathering.”

Mal pulled on a long leather duster. “The tracker shows
Marissa has been taken to an abandoned warehouse near the waterfront.”

Adira snorted. “We’ll be mugged as soon as we enter the

He smiled, knowing it would look feral. “Let them try.”

She slung on her short leather jacket and twisted, ensuring
everything stayed in place. “Let’s go.”

Mal studied his lifemate. She looked badass. Tall, lean,
sexy, covered in weapons and ready to take on whomever they had to in order to
save a young woman. Part of him was terrified of taking her into danger, but he
knew she would not stay back. And he loved her as she was, the kick-ass
Sentinel. He wouldn’t change her just to make himself feel better.

“The rest of my team will meet us there.”

She shook her head and strode out of the broom closet. “Of
course they will. They’ll arrive wearing tights and spandex with a cape
floating behind them, prepared to fight all evil.”

He grinned at his lifemate’s mumblings as he locked the room
again. She wasn’t too far off.

Chapter Six


Adira couldn’t believe she was about to walk into a
potentially dangerous situation involving hostages without informing the
Sentinels what was going on, with only a mercenary and his team as backup.

She’d lost her mind completely.

But she felt safer with Mal at her side than any other
officer she’d ever partnered with. She trusted him deep down, even if they had
a weird connection she still didn’t quite understand.

They’d taken hovercycles to the abandoned warehouse, as a
bike engine was easier to quiet than a transport engine. Parking a block over,
Adira activated every anti-theft program she had. She didn’t want her baby
stolen and the shadows hovering around them made that a real possibility.

The Warehouse Area had started as the local delivery hub,
but with upgrades and new developments closer to Parvati’s center the formerly
affluent area had fallen into disrepair. Adira stood surrounded by three- or four-story
brick buildings with windows either missing completely, boarded up or blacked
out by grime and dirt. The outsides were decorated with gang markings and other
signs of vandalism.

It was not an area you entered without being armed to your

Mal strode up to a group of shadows and pulled a massive
figure out into the dim streetlight. He flashed his extended fangs and lifted
the thug with one hand around his neck. “Touch the bikes and I will find and
kill you.” He aimed the words into the shadows before turning to the man
struggling against his grip. “Protect the bikes and I will pay you when we come
back. Understood?”

The big guy’s face was turning purple but he managed a nod.
Mal dropped him and strode toward the warehouse with no look back.

She smirked. Or without a scary Vampire at your side.

Mal pulled his comp out of his pocket. “According to the
tracker Marissa is on the second floor.”

She nodded and changed the setting on her cycle glasses. The
walls melted away, leaving her with a heat outline of the people inside. “The
warehouse is teeming with life forms. The majority are stationary.” She took a
moment and counted. “About sixteen are moving.”

She turned to Mal.

He nodded. “I agree. My guess is that everyone stationary
has been captured and the moving ones are guards.”

“There are at least forty stationary bodies.” She refocused
her glasses. “And there’s this one person who exudes far higher body heat than
the rest. He or she is surrounded by two people who have a much lower body
temperature than the surrounding individuals.”

“Vampires,” was all Mal said. He strode up to the
chain-locked entrance as if he were invisible.

They can’t see us. We’re not exactly invisible but we’re
surrounded by a Don’t-See spell. It makes them look the other way.

How long does it work?

Until someone bumps into us or has enough internal magic
to push through my spell.

So any moment now.

He shrugged.
Possible, but unlikely. Ethan has set up a

An explosion shattered the top floor of the warehouse. Small
parts of debris rained down on them.

Jade, you’re killing the hostages.

No, Ethan is a master. The explosion is all fluff.

Going by the massive fireballs shooting out of the top
windows she didn’t want to see what Mal called a proper explosion.

Mal pulled the brand-new lock off the rusty door and gently
pushed it open. The light inside the warehouse was dim and shadowy. Two men
stood at the bottom of a wide staircase, both holding assault phasers. Their
eyes widened when no one stepped through the opening door.

Mal lifted his own phaser and, with two silenced blasts,
took out the guards. He grabbed their communicators and pulled their bodies out
of sight.

Adira raised her phaser and slunk up the stairs, moving
slowly from shadow to shadow, Mal not two steps behind her. It was slow going
as the stairs were riddled with holes and missing treads. Finally she stopped
just below the top of the steps.

The second floor opened up before her. The windows had been
barricaded with wood and cardboard, restricting visibility. The captives sat in
smaller groups, eight to ten, all with at least two guards. The rest of the
guards covered the exits or milled about, intimidating the hostages. Opposite
their landing a number of doorways led into other areas of the warehouse.

There’s no cover. If we start shooting at the bad guys we
risk injuring the hostages.

Give me a moment
, Mal replied.

They stood in the slim cover of the shadow while Mal tapped
his comp a few times. She guessed being a Vampire gave him extra-sensitive
vision as the screen stayed dark the whole time. Suddenly copies of Mal and her
stepped out of a doorway across from them and drew the guards’ attention.

Before the guards could fire, the holograms turned around
and ran off. Half the guards followed, leaving only one guard with each group.

Then they started to drop.

Gustave is our sharpshooter.

Of course he is
, Adira thought, not hiding it from
You have an explosives expert, a weapons and computer geek, so all you
were missing is a sharpshooter. What is your special power in the quartet of

I do the magic.

She felt his laughter, but what did he expect? This little
troupe of his was beyond ridiculous. He had every avenue covered.
He doesn’t
need you.
That thought she managed to keep tucked away from their link.

Another explosion shook the building.
That was the rest
of the guards. We should be in the clear now.

He pushed past her and stepped onto the landing. Two more
men, phasers at the ready, entered the open area from the other side. Adira
followed more slowly. This had been far too easy. Her gut churned.

But they met no more resistance.

They had missed something.

Something important.


Mal lowered his weapon and began to check on the victims.
Some looked as if they’d been here for days with very limited amenities and
food, some had to have been snatched within the last day or so.

“Ethan, call the Sentinels and ambulances. We need to get
them to the hospital.” His second-in-command nodded and tapped his earcom to
make the calls. Mal turned around, looking for Adira. She hadn’t lowered her
weapon yet and continued to scan the entrances in between checking each group
of victims. “What’s wrong?”

“We’ve missed something. This was far too easy.”

He frowned and wanted to dismiss her worry, but her certainty
that something was amiss radiated through their link. “Ethan, Sam, be on the
lookout. Gustave, scan the building.”

His men raised their brows at him, but they’d been a team
long enough trust was automatic. Tension invaded their bodies. Ethan continued
to check the victims, but now Sam covered him.

Adira whirled to Mal. “She’s not here.”

“Who isn’t?”

“Marissa. And neither is the person who radiated that much
heat. What does the tracker show?”

He pulled the comp out and checked the reading. “She is on
the western edge of the building. What the fuck is she doing there? That side
isn’t safe.”

His lifemate didn’t wait to find out, but tore through the
remnants of the doorway. She had to weave over and around piles of bricks and
other obstacles thrown up by a ruined building. He followed only a few steps

A crumbled wall, about waist-high, separated the final room
from the rest of the building. The ceiling in that last area had caved in long
ago, leaving it open to the elements.

And free to park a shuttle.

Mal cursed and overtook Adira, pushing her behind a pile of
half-rotted wooden skids. It wasn’t a lot of cover but it was preferable to
nothing. They both inched to either side for a better look.

One man dragged Marissa and another woman to the ramp of the
shuttle. His blood-red eyes identified him as a Feral, a Vampire who had no
respect for humans or their laws.

A Vampire who had given up his soul and killed when feeding.

A Vampire who believed humans to be food and nothing else.

A Vampire who had a kill-on-sight order.

Jim danced from one foot to the other at the bottom of the
ramp, gesticulating to another Vampire.

Mal cursed again.

And not just any Vampire.

Miguel Calatrave, the Spaniard.

One of the oldest living Vampires and a man Mal would never
have thought to deal with the likes of Jim. Mal had never met him, but he’d
heard of him. The Spaniard’s reputation was that of honor and Old World values.

And now here he was with a human, smuggling other humans,
and in the presence of a Feral.

Jade, if the Ferals were mixed up in this it was a whole
different barrel of shit. And having the Spaniard involved raised the stakes
even higher.

Calatrave looked up and met Mal’s gaze across the length of
the room. His eyes were brown, not Feral red, but they showed no emotion
whatsoever. He raised his phaser and shot Jim point blank, killing the human.
Before Mal could call out, Calatrave refocused, this time shooting at Adira.


He knew the vest would protect her, but fear still clenched
his stomach.

The Spaniard fired two more times and Adira slumped to the

Mal’s heart stopped.

He didn’t know if she’d taken cover or if she’d been hit.

Then he scented blood.

he screamed again.


Mal threw a spell at the other Vampire, but Calatrave was
already halfway up the ramp. The shuttle took off, but Mal only had eyes for
his fallen lifemate.

She lay on the other side of the skids, a scorch mark on the
vest. It had saved her. “Adira, are you all right?” He slid to a stop beside
her, dropped to his knees and ignored the pain shooting through him when he
slammed into a brick. “Adira, talk to me.”

Her eyes blinked a couple of times and she moved her right
hand from her neck.

That’s when he saw the blood.

The phaser beam had grazed her neck. A deep cut that bled

She was at risk of bleeding out.

“No!” His scream echoed through the ruins of the warehouse.

He couldn’t lose her.

He wouldn’t lose her.

Mal extended his fangs and slashed his wrist.
He commanded his lifemate with all his power. It was possible she
would hate him for changing her, but at least she would be alive.

I could never hate you.
Her voice, feeble and so much
quieter than he’d ever heard it, shimmered in his head.

Relief raced through him, tightly linked to soul-destroying terror.
She grew weaker.
I need you to drink.

How will it change me?

I’ll explain everything to you, but now you have to

If I’m a Vampire I can’t be a Sentinel any longer.

He froze. Being a Sentinel wasn’t just Adira’s occupation.

It was her life.

Could she give up her soul?


Adira blinked a few times to clear her vision. She was
dying. She’d always known it was a possibility that her job would kill her and
it had never stopped her. But now there was Mal.

Her sexy Vampire leaned over her, his wrist dripping blood.
Terror darkened his green eyes and his desperation and panic raced along the

And his doubt.

Could she give up being a Sentinel?

He was right. She had never imagined herself as anything
other than a Sentinel, had even accepted a posting to the arse of the universe
to stay in the job.

Her job was her life.

But what kind of life had it been? A life where she had to
battle against jerks and assholes who were supposed to have her back on a daily
basis. A life that had grown more and more dominated by the need to find who
was taking her people. A life where she went home alone every night and never
trusted the men she walked through the door with.

A life where the highlights had been the visits to the bar
and an evening with Mal.

Images of her time with Mal flashed through her mind. Their
laughter, his teasing, their shared love for old movies, his passion for
spaceball and the lousy team he supported.

His kiss, his touch. The scent of his skin and the feel of
him beneath her hands.

Her breathing grew labored.

And still Mal didn’t move.

He could force her to drink his blood, could force her to

But he would not do that. Not when it meant losing something
so important to her.

Mal was her other half, her soul mate.

It was as if the weight of a planet dropped off her chest.

He was hers.

With effort she raised her hand to his cheek.
I love you.
Nothing is more important than you.

Joy raced along their link.
I love you too, Adira. You
are my life, the other half of my soul.

She smiled, his words filling up the hole she’d carried
inside her chest her whole life.
Do it.

Mal wasted not one second. He pushed his bleeding wrist
against her mouth. The thought of drinking blood made her a little sick, but
she was too weak to resist.

His blood trickled down her throat. It tasted nothing like
blood, but like a rich, dark brownie. She swallowed with delight.

I’m helping you to take the necessary amount.

The numbness stopped spreading through her body. Her
breathing grew a little less labored.

Mal closed the gap on his wrist and kissed her.
I am
sorry that our first exchange is under these circumstances.

She mentally shrugged.
You can make it up to me.

BOOK: TangledIndulgence
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