BLESS THE BEAUTY

An Otherworld Novel

Murder, abduction, sparring men, love and heartbreak―welcome to the life of Special Agent, Hadley Sloan.


"Bless the Beauty takes humor, passion, suspense, just a bit of vampire ingenuity, and combines it all in such a way that will put it on your keeper shelf."

Joyfully reviewed
OVERVIEW:

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a serial killer has been arrested for the deaths of nine women. This case, however, is far from closed. Two of his victims are alive and time is counting down to discover their whereabouts. Thus, brings in the assistance of the FBI.

Hadley Sloan and Chase Finley might be Special Agents within the Criminal Investigations Department, but what their comrades don’t know is, they’re in love…or that Hadley is a vampire.

Soon, Hadley’s personal life is uprooted and she is left with even more of a mess on her hands when Kellen Boyd, her vampire husband returns to sink his fangs back into her life…

Hadley must juggle the two men in her life, keep her secret hidden, and locate these missing women before it’s too late…

"This books was just plain FUN. All three of the main characters were likable. The sexy times were hot. The World building was interesting. I really don't know what else to add...it was just a fun little read."

BETWEEN THE BOOKENDS

Excerpt

The warm salty rush poured through my mouth as my fangs retracted back into my gums. An explosion of energy coursed through my veins, as it always did after I drank a mortal’s blood. 

With my need met, I licked the wound along Chase’s warm neck, lowered my head back onto the pillow, then met the gaze of the luscious man above me.

Chase’s short blond hair and deep blue eyes more than appealed to me.  Nothing about him was unattractive―right down to his succulent body defined by sculpted muscles.  He was a splendid display of delicious mortal man.

With the release of my fangs from his neck, he braced himself against his hands and thrust harder.  His body slammed against mine as I wrapped my legs around his waist. 

The blood may excite him, but it fuelled me. The need to feel more of him consumed me.  I thrust back while he moved between my legs.  My moves matched his speed and added to the pressure building inside of me.

Apparently, his need was just as strong.  He leaned back on his knees, placed his hands on my thighs and pulled them back along my body as he filled me completely, reaching down into my very soul.

My back arched as a rush of pleasure rocketed through me. An unrestrained whirl of pleasure stole my breath from the angle he forced upon me. With hard, powerful thrusts, he demanded my climax and I wasn’t unwilling. 

I screamed, encouraged him to go harder and demanded him to free me from the intense rush of pleasure as he kept me at the very edge of release.  He pounded against me as if he hated me and wanted to cause me pain, but I relished in it―wanted more.

Only a few more hard thrusts and the power of my release rushed through me. A scream of indulgence tore from my throat as I crumbled into pieces, reeled in the enlightened sensation that only existed when a body erupts into a state of bliss.

Sometime later―who knew how much time had actually passed―I was too busy recovering to give a damn, my mind began to clear and I laughed quietly.  “That never does get old.” 

Chase raised his head from where it was buried in my neck.  His eyes soft in satisfaction as sweat poured off his skin.  “Not with you it doesn’t.”

“Why?” My tone was playful and light as I intended.  “Is it because I’m dangerous and drink your blood?”

He winked, grinned with the same playful edge.  “You know I love danger and don’t give a shit that you’re a vampire.”

I did know.  We’d been together five years and our relationship was still as strong as the first day we met. After I had the balls to tell him―show him, that is―the creature I was, our love had only deepened. Sure, it was an adjustment for him to realize such things existed.  But after some time, he came around to the idea and I think even thrived off the fact that I wasn’t normal.

Reaching up, I took his face in my hands to pull his mouth back to mine.  Sadly, I was disappointed when my phone beeped.   “And there goes the fun.”  I sighed against his mouth, placed my hands on his chest and gave a steady push.

He slid out of my sated body then slumped into a tired heap beside me, only to groan with echoed disapproval when his phone beeped seconds later.    

I leaned over toward the night table, grabbed my phone and scrolled down the messages.  The bright screen displayed, “Headquarters, 911.”

An urgent call from headquarters meant only one thing―a shitload of trouble.  My annoyance at the interruption might have matched Chase’s if I didn’t love the rush of solving a crime.  It took an embarrassing amount of years to settle into what I would call my dream career, but this was it.  I’d found my place as part of the FBI Criminal Division.

There would come a time to move on, though.  In ten years, it’d be obvious I didn’t age and would arouse suspicion.  Certainly, a brand of trouble I did not need.  I had five more years to enjoy the life I’d built for myself and I wasn’t about to waste a moment of it. 

“We have to go.”  I jumped out of bed and grabbed my clothes that rested on the floor.  Eager and ready to work, yep, that was me! 

Chase groaned again, nearly not as eager and reached his arms over his head.  “This job is going to be the death of me.”

The death of him.  I cringed with deep heartache and I tried not to realize how much of a sore spot that statement was.  I stepped into my panties, pulled them up and felt sick at the thought that one day he’d be gone.  But he was a mortal.  I couldn’t change that fact.  Well, I could, but I wouldn’t.  Chase was a fine human and one I wanted left that way.  Maybe it was selfish of me not to offer him immortality, but I loved him just the way he was.  So, if that made me a self-centred bitch, then so be it.

Making quick work of my pinstripe pantsuit, I mentally swore at the department for making me hide my legs.  It was a shame the FBI didn’t approve of short skirts. My thin, muscular calves were my best attributes and I hated hiding them.  However, it just added to fun with Chase.  He loved them just as much and I liked to tease him accordingly when I had the chance.   

I buttoned up my shirt, settled my waist length black hair appropriately and glanced in the full-length mirror across the room. 

Yes, I could see myself in the mirror.  Vampire myths came in abundance.  Most were funny, some annoying. 

Old vampires, like me, with a few decades behind them weren’t burnt to a crisp by the sun, but it drained our energy.  Powerless and more mortal-like was not a state any vampire wanted to be in.  The older one got, the longer they could stay out in the sun.  I could top half-an-hour before I fell to the ground in a heap and then the sun had the power to kill me.

Another truth was our abilities to warp minds.  That talent always did come in handy.  I may have―but would never admit to―altered some of the big-wigs in the FBI to ensure we always worked during the night hours.  A girl’s gotta do, what a girl’s gotta do!  But I did try my best to limit altering anyone’s mind, there is guilt after all, which I usually felt lots of when I did it to someone I knew.

With that wonderful guilt in my mind, I tore myself away from the mirror, grabbed my jacket and slipped it on.  Just as I finished up with the last button, Chase asked, “Ready, doll?”

I looked up to find him fiddling with the navy tie around his neck.  I smiled softly and approached him.  “You think a man of thirty would know how to do his own tie.”  Taking the tie from his hands, I looped it around, and pulled it tight.

Chase grinned with a sweet innocence.  “But then I wouldn’t need you around, would I?”

“Touché.” I laughed and pulled the knot up to his throat before giving his chest a light pat.  “Done and as handsome as ever.” 

He stepped closer, his hands around my waist to keep me locked in close to him.  “If you believe that then why are you so hesitant to move in with me?”

I sighed exasperated.  “You know why.”  Not this again…

“Hadley.” His sigh equalled mine.  “We have been together five years now.  I think you could say we are in a committed relationship.”

“I do not commit to anyone,” I retorted, feeling right annoyed that we were having this conversation again.  “You knew this about me when we started our relationship.   If you are looking for that then it’s time you looked elsewhere.” 

Yes, I was being harsh, but I wouldn’t lead him on.  As much as I wished I could be solely his, it was an impossible feat. I belonged to another, Chase just didn’t know it.

Kellen Boyd, the vampire who gave me immortality, loved me, and the one I didn’t doubt for a moment that I belonged to.  But after centuries of being with him, I needed to make something of myself. I couldn’t just be the bride of Kellen anymore. 

At the time, he had let me go when my need for a life of my own had become evident. But he hadn’t hidden the fact that he would eventually come from me. I’d been glancing over my shoulder ever since.  Not that the idea of seeing him wasn’t appealing, it was.  Yet, with Chase in my life now, I didn’t need the added complication.

Numerous times, I had wanted to explain this to Chase, but I doubted he’d understand, ‘By the way, I’m married under vampire law.  Sorry.’ He wasn’t likely to be okay with that. 

Mortals just had different standards than vampires.  And by Chase’s rules, leading him to believe we could have more was wrong.  Mortals didn’t commit twice―well some did―but they were considered scum.  Which is exactly why I’d chosen this approach.

Chase reached out, grabbed my arms and pulled me tight against him, breaking me away from my thoughts.    “Never say that to me again.”  His entire body was tense and his expression severe.  “You know I don’t want to look elsewhere.”

I smiled at his tough demeanour and leaned up to kiss his lips, knowing just how to placate him. “Then no more talk of the C word, got it?  You know how I feel about you. Let’s not ruin it with that kind of talk.”  I placed my lips against his tight mouth and leaned in giving him a good hard peck.

When I drew away, his look hadn’t wavered.  He stared down at me intensely and I had to hold back a laugh at his typical mull-over-it-and-keep-quiet behavior.  When I stepped out of his arms, he said nothing as I made my way to the door.   

Once out of the bedroom, I glanced around Chase’s bachelor apartment as we walked toward the front door. The small space consisted of leather couches, a big entertainment center against the wall, white washed paint on the walls and not a decoration in sight.  The idea of stepping one foot into this man-hole and calling it home was absurd.

“Your car or mine?” I asked over my shoulder as I opened the front door of the townhouse and made my way down the porch steps.

“Mine of course,” Chase called behind me.  He shut the front door with a loud bang, locked it, then quickly made his way to the black ‘69 Dodge Charger, grinning with pride.

“You think you’d have better things to spend your money on than this old piece of tin.” I hoped to get his goat in the off chance to ease the tension from earlier.

Chase stopped dead in his tracks to glare at me across the roof and frowned.  “Knock the car again and I’ll flatten you on your ass.”

I opened the passenger door and sat with a loud thump.  “I’d like to see you try, tough guy.”

Chase slid into the driver’s side and when his gaze met mine, we both laughed.  I loved the playfulness he and I shared.  When we first met, I broke through his tough cop façade quickly to discover what lay beneath was a gentle soul.  Getting him to laugh was the only way to break his irritation and I was pleased to see the attempt had worked.  What I didn’t need was him pissy while we were on assignment.

I settled in and buckled my seat belt―we do enforce the law after all―as Chase started the engine.  A soft purr came around us as he put the car in gear and drove off. 

As we made our way downtown, the streets of Washington, D.C. were busy tonight.  It didn’t surprise me to see the city booming with tourists. It always was and I’d grown to love it for just that reason―it hummed with energy.

Within minutes, we began our approach down American’s Main Street toward the J. Edgar Hoover Building.  My gaze fell back to Chase and I couldn’t help the smile that rose within me. “It feels good to be home.”

“You live a sad life.” Chase snorted.

“Sorry to break it to ya, you live the same life, jacko.” And one we both loved.  It wasn’t only the love together that was the reason for our happiness―it was this poured concrete Brutalist architectural style building where our heart and passion lay.

Chase dismissed my remark with a grin before he pulled into the basement, parking garage.  Only a few feet in, he steered the car into an empty spot, then cut the engine.

Quickly, I exited the car and Chase trotted up beside me as we walked through the dimly lit space.  Just as I reached the elevator doors, I pulled the security card from the back pocket of my pants. When we met the reinforced steel door, I swiped it through the card reader to identify me. 

It only took moments before my picture showed on the screen above the reader, as it said in the annoying woman’s computer voice I had grown to hate.  “Voice identification.”

I leaned forward, levelled my hand against the cold concrete wall.  “Screw you.”  For months, I used my name to identify myself, but after time, I realized it was smart enough to recognize voice levels.  Now, it just annoyed me. More than once, I’d told the voice what I wished I could tell others aloud.  There was a sense of freedom in it all really.  To speak your mind without having consequences―the perfect friend I thought.

A minute later, a loud beep acknowledged receipt before the voice responded, “Welcome, Special Agent Hadley Sloan.”

“Nice.” Chase laughed.  He followed suit, yanked his identification from the pocket of his jeans then proceeded to swipe his card.  After the same response from the computer awaiting his clarification of clearance, he leaned forward and winked at me.  “I’d like to screw you good.”

“Welcome, Special Agent Chase Finely.”

“Mmm.” I wiggled my brows in a sultry suggestion as the elevator doors opened.  “I like that idea.”

Chase grinned, inclined his head to the elevator as he placed his hand along my lower back to usher me in.  Once in, he hit the button for the fourth floor and the elevator shot up. He leaned against the wall and gave me a knowing look. “Wonder what’s up.”

 “Considering the emergency text, I’d say it’s something serious.”  Yes, our teams only worked during the night hours.  No Agent could work all hours of the day.  The job would be too draining.  Needless to say, it’s why this job fit me so well, I was never asked to work the day shift, which suited me just fine.   

Chase nodded as he angled his head back to glance up to the mirrored ceiling.  “Fuck.” He sighed then looked back to me. “I should have slept more instead of spending the better part of the day buried inside of you.”

I raised my hand to my dead heart in shock, my face an expression of utter dismay.  “You’d rather sleep than fuck me?”

A slow grin swept across Chase’s face.  “When you put it that way, no.”

I lowered my hand as he began to approach me.  His eyes darkened, the pupils widened so quickly, I sucked in a breath from the power of it.  No matter how much I had this man, just this look from him caused moisture to gather in my panties. 

My body shivered each and every time he showed his intent, and now, I could barely control myself.  I licked my lips to moisten them as I readied my mouth for his impending kiss.  My knees braced as my body tensed to take the weight of him when he came at me.

Only a hairsbreadth away from our lips connecting, the elevator chimed and snapped me back to the present.  In a swift move, I moved aside and raised my hand to his face.  “You know the rules.”

Chase sucked in a deep breath, frowned and stepped back.  “No relationships within the Bureau or severe consequences. Yes…” He groaned giving me a final once over. “I remember.”

It was another checkmark as to why we couldn’t make our relationship official. It’d mean one of us would need to polish up our resume to find other employment.  Neither of us wanted that, but rules were rules, and put in place for a reason.  Someone high up in the government had decided it complicated things.  I couldn’t see much reason in it, but who was I to put a stink.

The doors of the elevator hadn’t even opened before Mike’s enraged voice echoed through the halls. “Took you both fucking long enough to get here.”

I smiled innocently at my boss as his dark brows furrowed in unhappiness at me.  His briskness was mostly for show.  Behind those dark stern eyes, was a deep respect between us.  I appreciated his whip ‘em into shape attitude and understood the reasons for it.  My team would walk circles around him if he let them.

Chase stepped out of the elevator then glanced back to me with a wicked grin.  “When I went to pick Hadley up, she was pissing around with her makeup.”

I took a giant step forward across the little space in the floor. The elevator doors shut behind me as I scowled at him and gave his arm a punch, and laughed a little too. “Why would I even bother looking pretty for you bunch of dorks.” When silence reigned, I glanced back at Mike, who didn’t look amused. 

He waved us forward, stern and serious.  “Enough jokes, we have a situation.”  He spun on his heel and headed toward the strategic room.

As I followed in behind, I examined Mike.  Despite the fact of being in his early forties, he was in better shape than most thirty year olds.  As the Director, he was steady and strong. Tonight though, something was off about him, which only added to my suspicion that whatever we were about to be faced with was a tragedy. “He looks tense,” I said quietly to Chase.

Chase nodded but said nothing as his brows furrowed and his gaze stayed focused on Mike.

Quickly, we made our way through the main part of the office and it was exactly what I expected to find at this time of night―empty.  Only our team worked the night shift.  Sure, other teams were on call for different departments, but the Criminal Division was usually the only ones who walked these halls once the sun went down. 

Our team consisted of me, the interrogator, Mike’s the man in charge, and Chase was his second-hand man. The final member of the team was Nick who dealt with all the forensic work, which only confused me. 

 We were all specialists in our chosen field.  Of course, none of them knew that I was only good at what I did because I held the ability to warp a human’s mind and will the truth from them.  Hell, being a vampire had to have some perks and I wasn’t going to waste such an ability. Even Chase didn’t know.  The less he knew of my vampire abilities the better.  I liked being as mortal as I could around him, besides the fact that I needed to drink his blood to survive.

Just as I cleared the door into the strategic room, Nick―the forensic wizard and whom I considered family―sat at the wooden table, waiting.  It was partly why I loved this job.  I could have that closeness only received from a family without the ties.  If I had to walk away, I could.  Not that it was something I hoped to do, I was happy here.

“How do you look so damn sexy in the middle of the night?” Nick asked me with a grin.  His short black cropped hair made his pale skin almost glow.  His equally dark eyes examined me with suspicion as his thin lips melted away to nothing in thought.

I laughed flirtatiously as I flipped my hair over my shoulder.  “What can I say?  When you’ve got it, you’ve got it.” 

Of course, to mortals I did look beautiful. It was a way to lure them, although, I never resorted to such measures to feed from them―or hadn’t in a very long time, I should say.  I took the blood I needed to survive only from the willing. Always.  Which happened to be Chase and he could take it. He loved red meat.

Nick just laughed then glanced over at Mike as he said, “A situation has come up.”  He began handing out the files.  “Milwaukee, Wisconsin law enforcement has a serial killer they’ve recently arrested, Chad McKinney.”

I flipped open the file to see a young blonde woman who was obviously dead, if the blue face had anything to say about it.  But that was only what struck me first.  The longer I looked, the more it became obvious this woman was clearly on display.  Everything about the position she was found in was on purpose.  Her golden locks lay perfectly around her face. She had freshly applied makeup on her lids and cheeks. Even her cherry red lipstick appeared moist. 

“He wanted them found,” I said aloud.

When I looked up, Mike confirmed my thought with a nod.  “He left them in very open spaces and didn’t conceal their bodies.”

“Either he is really stupid,” Chase’s eyes burned with the thought of a hunt, “or incredibly smart.”

Nick flipped a page, his nose buried in the file.  “Looking at this, I’d say it was the latter.”

I agreed but kept it to myself as I moved to the next photo.  The redhead was in the exact same position, right down to the very same shade of lipstick.  It didn’t take rocket science to know all the pictures would be the same.  I flipped back to the first picture to examine the minute details in the hopes of finding something. 

Silence filled the room as I became lost in the picture.  I could assume the others had followed suit, since the only sound in the room were our deep breaths. Not that I needed to breathe, but I liked to.  It might scare the mortals to see a person who can hold their breath indefinitely.

There was a reason though these men were part of the team. They excelled in homicides, as did I.  Chosen and trained specifically to understand the disturbed mind of serial killers. 

Moments passed before Chase broke the silence and shut his file with a loud bang against the table. “How many kills?” he asked Mike.

I glanced up from the file and smiled when I took a good look at Chase.  He wore his usual ‘think tank’ expression―brows furrowed, lips pursed and eyes focused.  He might be serious, but all I felt like doing was littering his face with kisses.  Inappropriate, but I could never ignore just how sexy he looked when he was all focused like.

Mike took a sip of his coffee, then answered, “Seven in a week.”

Chase raised his brows and whistled.  “Busy boy.”  His gaze turned curious.  “If they have the suspect what’s the problem here?”

“Before his capture, he abducted two other women, Kelly Lewis and Sabrina Stopforth.  Both women are presumed to be alive.  The problem? The suspect won’t give up where they are located.  He has indicated enough that he has them hidden.”

“Ahh…I see.” Chase drummed his fingers on the table.

Mike closed his file folder and let out a long deep breath.  “We need to get down there and investigate him. Learn more so that when Hadley interrogates him she has enough to go on.” 

I sighed quietly myself, not loud enough for mortal ears to hear it.  This was the annoying part of the job.  I could just walk right in there and make him spill his guts.  But if the team had been called in, it meant the police working the case were at a dead end.  Meaning, if I sauntered in and got the information, I would set off warning bells.  That I couldn’t allow. 

Vampires had rules.  Ones made by our leaders known as Mistress Vampires, of each who run a region in the United States.  The rule above all else was clear cut―keep your identity a secret.  It kept vampires safe from being hunted and destroyed.  Anyone who broke that rule, paid for it with their life.

I liked living too much to make that mistake.  Each and every time there was a case, I followed the same protocol.  Gather information and history about the suspects past, while the men headed off to do the investigative part. Then, when we all had enough, I took what I had and made it appear that I had gained a one-up on the police force.

Annoying, but rules were rules.

Mike finished off his coffee in a few deep gulps then glanced at the clock.  “Flight leaves at nine, which is in an hour.”  He nodded to the door.  “Go get your shit from your lockers and meet at the airstrip in twenty.”

Nick jumped up, eager as he always was before we were knee deep in a mystery.  And the shit-eating grin on his face only confirmed his enthusiasm.   “And let the games begin.”

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