Vigilante Mine Relek City, Book 1
Author: Cera Daniels Genre: Paranormal Romance, Superhero Romance
Internal Affairs be damned, Detective Amanda Werner's ditching protocol to hunt the vigilante whose bullet landed her on the bench. But this is no vendetta. Evidence suggests he's the zealot offing corrupt public officials--the same zealot who's promised to set the city ablaze by week's end--and she'll risk her career and her life to save her hometown. Too bad she can't find anything stronger than Kevlar to guard her heart against her primary suspect: a masked man with a telepathic German shepherd, unstable supernatural hearing, and lips that invite a whole different brand of investigation.
All businessman Ryan McLelas, a.k.a. Klepto, wants is redemption. But even if Amanda could forgive his itchy trigger finger, Ryan still has to convince her that his alter ego's no serial killer. No small task, with syndicate-paid police officers turning up among the dead. He'd better keep his own syndicate ties close to his chest and Amanda even closer, because if Klepto is unmasked while he's hunting the real killer, their passionate affair could mark Amanda as the next dirty cop on the hit list.
Ryan's office design, much like his condo, kept the city's ambient noise from assailing him when they experimented with new tech. Still, during a switch, the white noise that kept his ability in check went offline. He had zero defense against sound. His power raged out of control—always would.
He'd learned to take every precaution. Anything from the buzz of a forgotten lamp to a fly on the ceiling could knock him on his ass for days. Yet even here, his lungs ached and the room wavered. Zach's purposefully shallow breathing buffeted him into the couch cushions as he made the switch with sluggish movements and fingers like lead.
The new earpiece chafed for a moment. Layer after layer of white noise sank in. Then, Ryan could breathe again. He ran through the filters, but the real test would be whether or not he could still hear Amanda's voice when he cranked them to blasting.
Satisfied by the initial results, he stood.
"Which ones did you modify? I can't tell a difference." Ryan grunted and leaned on the wall for support, then hit the light switch. The room seemed to shudder into place.
His brother's jaw shifted, grinding his teeth.
Still pissed. Great.
"All right, I should have called," Ryan said.
Zach didn't move.
"Just to let you know something was up."
Not even a blink.
Ryan noted his brother's pale cheeks and joined him by the window. "What's this really about?"
Zach pulled his hands out of his pockets and signed slowly, "Something bad."
He'd gathered that much. Few things sobered Zach like his spirit guide-granted ability kicking into full gear. Ryan studied the weary expression on his face. "Worse than yesterday?"
"Yesterday I knew you'd make it out alive," he murmured.
A chill tugged at Ryan's shoulders, insidious, spreading over his chest.
Zach pivoted and slumped against the wall. With his gaze aimed at the floor, his shoulder-length hair concealed his face. "Maybe we should stay in tonight."
"Too late. I already have dinner plans." Though he kept his tone light, inside Ryan reeled with concern.
They'd tangled with their powers for years. Even though Zach's ability for sensing a vague, near-future danger or injury for a family member pissed him off, made him sick, and kept him guessing, he'd never suggested they stop.
"Who, Brennan?" His brother shot him a glare, but it lacked the usual venom. Instead, Zach's bronze eyes showcased his pain. "She's about as trustworthy on the identity scale as Klepto. The woman can't be herself for five minutes."
"Our arrangement doesn't allow for her to be just Brennan."
"Do you even know who that is? Even after the background check, I couldn't tell you." Zach shoved his hair back as if he were striving for normalcy. "You're not worried she'll find too much?"
"There's nothing to find."
Though Brennan didn't know about the McLelas family tradition of playing vigilante afterhours or the current generation's superpowered abilities, she was fully versed in their family tree and had all of their father's records on the subject. Including the ones recovered from Old Town, documents written in a pictographic language Ryan couldn't begin to understand.
"She knows we're half Ohanzee," Ryan continued. "She's a scholar. Anything she digs up related to our powers would be just a jumble of stories to her. Legends, folklore, nothing more."
He slipped into his jacket, but his hand paused over his keys. If the prospect of this dinner out with Brennan brought out his brother's danger-sense more strongly than yesterday's fiery encounter had, perhaps tonight called for Chinese food at the office.
"She's smarter than that, or you wouldn't have hired her." Zach frowned. "I want to get a handle on the crazy shit we can do as much as you, but is she—is her research—worth the risk?"
"Yes." Ryan flicked the communicator on his new earpiece to life, then clapped his brother on the shoulder. "I'll be late if I don't leave for La Province now. You need to stop me?"
"Whatever this is, it hasn't peaked. It's bad, but . . . trouble's not that close." With the resolute statement, anxiety seemed to drain from his expression. "Go. Get out of here."
"You'll be up for a while?"
Zach snorted. "My spirit guide's a bat, bro. When do you think we sleep?"
Cera Daniels writes paranormal, science fiction, and steampunk romance. Sexy superheroes. Delicious shifters. Infernal machines. Sometimes behind the same cover. Her heroes are broken and often on the wrong side of good, their worlds are crumbling, but the love her characters find in all that chaos stands on an unshakable foundation.
She hails from South Carolina with her own superhero husband, daughter, and three cats who don't think they're cats at all. Life is especially good in her world when there's Game of Thrones, Shadowrun and board games, chocolate coffee, and an overabundance of yarn on tap.
Top Ten List: 10 Unique/Quirky Things about me or 10 Things that inspired the book
I was once asked to tour with an opera company.
I'm a sucker for animals with sad backstories, and that's how I wound up with all of my creatures: a cat who thinks she's a dog and lived in Petsmart for a year, unadopted, a lizard who'd been through two owners because he was "too active", a runt of the litter, and a treed-during-fourth-of-July kitten. (Who, incidentally, is more insane than any kitten I've ever had.)
My favorite coffee is made with Bailey's. Not the creamer. The 'other' creamer. My favorite hot chocolate is made the same way—except there's also a Thin Mint involved.
I can play a whole bunch of musical instruments, including brass, woodwind, and percussion. Piano and guitar generally elude me though—because my hands are tiny.
Because of the aforementioned tiny-hands issue, I'm really good at designing tiny crafts. Like seed bead and wire flowers.
I crochet stuffed animals instead of baby blankets.
I have an extra cheesecake stomach. Two extra stomachs, if we're talking homemade/gourmet. ;)
While I was dating my now-husband (who I'm convinced is the sweetest man on the planet), I was once told, very seriously, that he wasn't into me but rather tricking me because he only wanted me for my car...which was a Honda. When we wrecked that same car, we'd been married 4 years. Now we're married 8. Different Honda. :)
Thanks to an "anonymous tipster", we were also once pulled over for stealing our own car—that same original Honda—despite not matching any aspect of the description of the car that was stolen (make, model, color, state tags, four doors instead of two......), the person (singular) who stole it, and having gotten onto the highway several exits down from where the theft had taken place. XD
I plot on post-it notes. I'm no longer allowed to do this in bed...ever since my husband woke one morning with a subplot stuck to his forehead.