**books can be read as standalones in any order!**
Chase Nightly, L'Uccisore
Team Nightly Book 1
by Kate Porter Genre: Urban Fantasy
Chase Nightly is a born and bred Georgia boy from Savannah, who loves his job as a social studies teacher, his bachelorhood and his widowed mother.
Rae Chandler is a contemporary big city woman with no desire to change that fact; as different from Chase as night and day with one important exception: They are both leaders of elite teams of vampire slayers called Uccisore, but with very different territories. When Rae shows up in Savannah for reasons other than visiting family, Chase demands to know her true motives. Sparks fly the moment they meet and past life memories surface, memories that keep Rae off balance and terrified that destiny will claim her heart once more.
When Gordon Charles, Vampire King, kidnaps Chase’s mother, the two leaders must join forces and put their chaotic feelings aside to save her from becoming the Vampire Queen.
A heavy pulse throbbed beneath the scar he carried high on the right side of his chest. The deep, five-inch long mark served as a fundamental reminder of where, at the age of seventeen, he’d taken a blade from one of their brethren. In that same attack he’d lost the father he all but worshiped. Now, the memento of that vicious battle served as a warning. It would start with a light tingle, more of a tickle really. Then, as the enemy closed in, the tickle became a pulse, then a deep, aching throb.
The darkness was as thick and heavy as the sultry night air. He knew they were there slithering around in the shadows. The stench of them hovered around him like a tangible thing clawing with razor sharp talons at his senses. The rotting garbage and human waste overflowing the rusted green dumpster did nothing to hinder the fetid stink of death they carried with them.
The languid half-moon hung high in the cloudless black sky casting its silvery light over those who stood to face the evil. His team spanned the entrance of the alleyway peering into the dense black. All faces a mask of determination. No sign of fear or dread crept into a single pair of eyes, eyes already accustomed to the dark. They were a team of linea di sangue uccisore di vampiri—bloodline slayers of the vampires—trained from the cradle to end that which preyed on the humans who refused to believe vampires were real and not a figment of Hollywood’s twisted, macabre imagination.
But the vampires were as real as the people they’d once been when their hearts beat. They slunk among the shadows. They hid. They watched as the uccisore watched.
Team Nightly: seven elite warriors all armed with steel swords, wooden stakes and enhanced senses of l’uccisore. The team stood in silent sentry . . . watching . . . waiting. The anticipation of the coming battle set their blood humming and their hearts pounding heavily in their chests.
Chuck, Simon, and Sheila held to their leader’s right flank as Michael, Gabe, and Tony held to his left waiting for Chase Nightly, team leader, to give them the order to attack. Their purpose, their spirits were as one as Chase took the first step, slowly moving into the darkness with only one objective: to end the vampires.
With a barely perceptible nod the silent command was given. A single step behind their leader, swords held at the ready, the team was dressed in black to blend with the night.
Chase saw the red eyes blazing at him through the shadows like burning embers; sharp fangs glistened wetly in the slanted beam of moonlight. Without warning and with a speed endemic to the undead two of them flew at Chase. With the deadly accurate speed of a blood-line uccisore, he raised his sword to strike but the vampire sprang high into the air above him, slipping past Chase’s blade and out of his reach. Like striking lightening, the vamp came at him again. Behind him, Chase heard the clashing swords and grunts from landed blows of his team as they took up the battle around him.
One vampire came from his left as another came from his right, with the practiced precision of a well-choreographed dance he took the first one’s head. In less than a heartbeat the vampire exploded into a cloud of gray ash, drifting to the ground to mingle with dirt and refuse. He took the head of the second before the dust of the first had settled. “Not as fast as you should have been, were you?” he asked the two, now ended vampires.
A trickle of sweat slid down Chase’s brow to drip into a pair of clear, green eyes. He swiped the back of his left hand across his forehead, spinning around simultaneously to block with his right arm a lethal fist as it swung at Chase’s head. The pain sang through muscle and bone to his shoulder, numbing his whole arm and nearly causing him to release his grip on his sword.
The hot Savannah night air was still, not a whisper of a breeze could be felt as the living battled the walking dead. The sweat soaked through the material of the uccisori clothing plastering it to their powerful bodies. The intense heat wasn’t a problem for those they fought: the dead did not perspire.
Chase kept his mind and concentration on the battle at hand but never lost sight of his team. He watched as Gabe swung his sword with the enthusiasm of a boy playing a favorite video game only three feet away. With a hearty laugh and a sarcastic, “You fight like a girl,” to his opponent, Gabe dodged to the left, barely evading the bunched fist. If the blow had landed it could very well have taken off Gabe’s head.
The vamps didn’t usually use man made weapons, preferring to rip their opponent apart with fangs and fists. But should a weapon come to hand, they had no compunction about using it. Their only thought was to feed their insatiable hunger and to do what their king ordered. One compulsion was as strong as the other.
“Don’t get cocky,” Chase called out. “Sheila could whip your ass, and you know it.” He slashed his sword at another vampire severing its hand but doing little to slow it down. The fallen appendage turned to ash before it hit the filth strewn ground.
“Hey, now that would be an ass kicking I could get into,” Gabe said with another laugh as he took the head off a vamp. Gabe’s golden blond hair took on a snowy sheen in the moonlight as he dodged and parried with another vampire. His antics were ignored by the vampires he fought.
“You’re still an arrogant ass, Gabe,” Sheila said between thrusting her sword and letting a stake fly. “And kicking yours wouldn’t be as much fun for you as it would be for me.” When her stake met its mark and a vamp exploded into dust, Sheila let out a victorious laugh of her own. “You would be in too much pain when I tie a knot in your dick and stake your balls to your ass,” she promised. She dropped low to the ground knees bent, then swung her right leg to catch another vampire behind the knee bringing him to the ground with a hard thump. Before the vampire could regain his feet she had another stake in her hand from the supply she had looped in her thick leather belt, and plunged it into its chest. Barely a second later and covered in vamp dust she bounded to her feet to take on two more that advanced on her.
Team Nightly Book 2
Armed with family legends and a blessed sword dating back to the first crusades, Hunter Blackfox leaves the reservation in Cherokee, North Carolina to replace a fallen member of Team Nightly and help protect the city of Savannah, Georgia.
His life is about to change…
When he first lays eyes on Sheila Maxson, he likens her to Aphrodite, Helen of Troy, and Jackie Onassis—sex, beauty, and class—all rolled into one, long, luscious package just for him.
Sheila Maxson is a seasoned member of Team Nightly and a bloodline uccisore gifted with exceptional speed and agility on the battlefield. But she’s battling more than the rising number of vampires. The horrific memories of an event that took place only days after 9/11 when she, her brother Michael, and their aging grandfather tried to protect first responders from frenzied vampires, as they searched for survivors at ground zero, are slowly chipping away at Sheila’s emotional armor. With the added guilt of losing a friend and uccisore brother in battle, the short fuse of her control is burning fast.
Each time she and Hunter are in the same vicinity, Sheila goes on the attack and Hunter has no option but to fight back. Until the night Chase and Rae’s daughter is born and the vampire king breaches the hospital nursery. The bickering teammates must team up to protect the innocent newborn.
Hunter must find a way to bring down the walls that Sheila has erected around herself in order to save not just Chase and Rae’s baby, but the woman of his dreams as well.
As word comes to them that Hunter’s Sword is coveted by Gordon Charles, Vampire King, the entire team must find a way to keep it out of vampire clutches.
Gordon Charles will do whatever he must to corrupt the powers of the sword and sway its magic to benefit his cause. To do that he must spill Luccisore blood…Sheila’s blood.
The heat of rage radiated off of Hunter Blackfox in rippling waves as he stormed through the door. It flew open with such force that it slammed against the wall with a resounding boom.
“Did you or did you not bring me in as your Second?” he said with a guttural growl as his boots thundered across the threshold.
Hunter wasn’t so far over the edge with his anger that he didn’t see the momentary confusion cross Chase Nightly’s face. A too long lock of black hair fell across Chase’s forehead before he brushed it back, piercing Hunter with his bottle green eyes. It only took a moment for Hunter to see when realization had sunk into his boss.
“Aw shit. What has Sheila done now?” A mixture of frustration and resignation brewed in Chase’s voice like bitter, day-old coffee as Hunter watched Team Nightly’s leader fall back in his chair and throw the pen he’d been writing with on the desk.
“What’s she done? I’ll tell you what she’s done!” Hunter bellowed, as fury turned his dark eyes almost black. “That woman is a menace. She needs to be locked up for the safety of the human race before she has a chance to breed.”
“Hunter,” Chase said wearily, as he rubbed his red-rimmed eyes. “I haven’t had a lot of sleep the past three nights. Subtlety is not working here. What happened?” Hunter could see the unspoken end of his question, “this time,” in Chase’s face.
“Every time we get within sight of each other, she tries to stake my ass,” he said as he began pacing the small area. “Then she does this, ‘oops, my bad’ lame-assed apology.”
He pulled off the remains of his tattered, blood streaked shirt and let it drop to the floor at his feet. “Look at this, Chase. She tried to kill me. Again!” Blood oozed from a long jagged slash from his left shoulder to his elbow and tracks of red trickled down his forearm. A matching wound marred the skin of his right side from his collarbone to the joint of his shoulder.
“Okay,” Chase said as he blew out a breath. He rubbed the back of his neck. “That doesn’t look so bad. Was it a training accident?”
“You wish, Boss. And that’s not the damn point. For God’s sake, she tried to freaking kill me!”
Hunter placed his large hands on the desk and leaned in to face his uccisore team leader. “I was minding my own business, standing in the kitchen at The Blue Mermaid talking to Carly and Tony before they opened for the lunch crowd. The next thing I know, Xena, Warrior Lunatic barges through the back door, grabs up a butcher’s knife and comes at me like I’m a vamp ready to sink my fangs into someone. A move like that would have killed a normal person.”
He pushed off the desk and resumed his marching pace back and forth across the carpet, before stopping and dropping his six foot three inch, two hundred pound frame, into a chair. His body deflated just a bit with the release of some of the steam his anger and frustration had built up inside of him. His bare shoulders slumped and his head fell forward in defeat.
Hunter’s ebony hair was pulled back into a thick tail that fell between his shoulder blades, and tied with a hand beaded, leather strap, a gift from his Aunt Lucy. She and Uncle Been had raised him and his brother Lucas, after their parents were killed in a tragic accident in Peru while exploring an ancient ruin. His Native American heritage showed proudly in his high, sculpted cheekbones, straight, thin nose and dark copper-toned skin. The birthmark he carried over his heart in the shape of a soaring bird was as much a point of pride to him as the two bloodlines that flowed in his veins.
“What the hell is up with that woman, Chase?” he asked in a lower voice. “I’ve never done a thing to her that I know of, but since the moment we met she has been the bane of my existence. Why does she hate me like that? Did I wrong her in a past life or something?”
“I don’t know, Hunter,” Chase said. “In all the years I’ve known Sheila Maxson, I have never seen her take an instant dislike to someone like she has to you. She’s never been the overly friendly sort but this is out of character even for her.”
“I have been in Savannah for six months and from day one that woman has treated me like her mortal enemy. I just don’t get it.” Hunter’s wide, full lips drooped into a frown like a little boy who’s had his favorite toy taken away from him.
He remembered the first day he’d met Sheila. He had walked into The Blue Mermaid for his first meeting of Team Nightly. He’d arrived in town two days before and Chase had told him to get settled into his new home first and he would introduce the team at the next meeting. The condo that Chase had found for Hunter before he’d left North Carolina, was perfect for him. Two bedrooms and two baths on the first floor of a brand new development. It didn’t take Hunter long to unpack, since he’d had most of his things shipped down ahead of time and, apparently, Chase had the whole team getting the condo ready for his arrival. Hunter was impressed and warmed by the act and felt at home almost immediately. Still, he wasn’t sure how the team would accept him as their new second in command since the man he was replacing had been loved like a brother by all.
He had walked into the restaurant with the intention of giving them his gratitude and wanted to extend a hand in friendship and camaraderie. His first reaction to the sight of Sheila, however, had been a primal one.
Hunter was a large man and when he saw the leggy, blond amazon with her back to him, his libido had gone into overdrive and he hadn’t even seen her face yet. His first thought had been, “Her mouth would come almost even with mine. I won’t even have to stoop much to kiss her.”
When everyone at the table stopped talking at his approach, she turned around to face him. His breath caught and his step hitched ever so slightly. She was Aphrodite, Helen of Troy, and Jackie Onassis rolled into the perfect woman. Sex, beauty, and class melded into one long, luscious package just for Hunter Blackfox.
He couldn’t take his eyes off of her. He could see his reaction to her reflected in Sheila’s astonished eyes and parted lips, and his heart fluttered as though it were ready to take flight on the wings of the dove that graced his broad chest.
By the time Chase had introduced him to the team, including Chase’s wife Rae, Sheila’s entire demeanor had changed to one of intense, unprovoked animosity.
It had shocked him and, if truth be told, hurt him.
“I know Hunter.” Chase’s words brought him back to the troubles of his most recent encounter with his soul mate/mortal enemy. “I don’t understand her reaction to you either. I’ll see what I can find out.”
“When I left the rez, I thought my life would get a little more exciting but, damn Boss, I’d rather fight a dozen vamps unarmed and bleeding, than deal with her one more day.” Hunter’s resignation vibrated through him, replacing the anger that he’d carried when he barreled into Chase’s office.
“Have you tried talking to her? Have you asked her what was going on?” Chase asked, sounding slightly distracted.
Dumbfounded at the obviously ridiculous question, Hunter gave Chase a “get real” smirk. “Well, gee whiz, Boss. Why didn’t I think of that the first time she tried to take my head off?”
“Hunter, for the love of God and my own sanity, cut me some damn slack here.” The plea that came out of his team leader caused a moment of guilt to flash across Hunter’s mind. “Rae has had me up for three fucking nights. This heat has her miserable and the baby is due in two weeks. Between Rae’s moods, my mother’s constant sniping, dealing with my students, and your and Sheila’s piddly-assed squabbles, I am ready to walk into a nest of feeding vamps and open a vein for them.”
Chase was right. Hunter’s problems with the woman weren’t his boss’s jurisdiction. “Okay. I’m sorry to drop this on you, too.”
He lifted his hands and dropped them back into his lap as though at a loss for words. “Of course I tried to talk to her. More than once, in fact, and all I get is a ‘what do you mean?’ response like she treats everyone the same. I know better. Her brother is my best friend and he’s even baffled by her attitude.Seeing the fatigue etched in Chase’s face, Hunter felt ashamed that he’d piled one more issue onto Chase’s already overloaded shoulders. It was Hunter’s job as Second to ease the burden on the team leader. His ongoing battle with the only active female on the team had kept him from focusing on his duties, something that had never happened before.
Hunter Blackfox never let his responsibilities slide. His emotions were held in rigid check and no one had ever shaken that control before. His last girlfriend had asked, as she was walking out the door, if he was due back at the robot shop for his annual upgrade and reboot. She had called him a cold, emotionless, bastard with no idea of what the word intimacy really meant. He knew she wasn’t talking sex. He had no problems functioning in that respect.
“Look, don’t worry about it,” he continued. “You have enough to deal with. I’ll handle Sheila and whatever else comes up. I was just blowing off steam and I shouldn’t have bothered you with my personal issues. I came in here spoiling for a fight and since I can’t beat the shit out of a woman I figured I’d . . . hell, I don’t know what I wanted to do.”
Chase chuckled and said, “First of all, I can empathize with you on a few of those points. When Rae and I first met, we tore into each other in front of her eleven-year-old niece who happened to be one of my students at the time.”
Hunter had to laugh at the mention of Chandra Chandler. That pint-sized uccisore in training, thought she could take on Gordon Charles, vampire king, all by herself.
“Chandra probably instigated it,” Hunter joked.
“Nah,” Chase said with a smile. “Rae did. Believe me, we had some shit between us back then. The point is, buddy, we worked through it. You and Sheila need to find some common ground and at least try to build an amicable working relationship. I need you both in top form and working as a team.”
Chase was silent for a moment, and Hunter knew there was more that his team leader needed to tell him. “There’s been some stirrings in the wind, Hunter.”
Hunter leaned closer, narrowing his eyes. “What’s happened?” he asked, suddenly all business.
“They found another floater last night. That’s three in a week. Dalton told me this morning that he’s gotten half a dozen reports on missing persons from here, Hilton Head, and even up in Beaufort. That’s not counting tourists in transit and unreported runaways.”
“Shit. Any news on Gordon Charles’ whereabouts yet?” Hunter asked.
“Not a whisper. But we know he’s still building his army even after closing down his lair last year. He’s found someplace else to nest.
“I got word from a friend in Charleston a few minutes before you stormed in here that a couple of bodies have gone missing from their morgue a few nights ago,” Chase informed his second in command. “They’ll keep me posted. They’ve also had an increase in vamp activity. I was going to tell everyone about all of this at the meeting tonight.”
“It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, Boss. There hasn’t been much movement since I joined the team. And I was beginning to wonder if maybe you didn’t really need the extra help. Why now, after so much time?”
“That’s a good question. We need to find out the answer and fast. The last time my team went up against Gordon, Rae put a hurting on his ass we’d all hoped would be fatal to the son of a bitch. It may have taken him all this time to recover from his wounds.”
Chase rubbed his hands over his face, his rough palms rasping against a day’s growth of beard. “My first responsibility should be to my team . . .” Chase let his words fade away.
Hunter caught the flash of emotion that crossed the other man’s face and another wave of guilt washed over him. “No, Chase. Your first responsibility is to your wife and child. It’s my job to take up the slack and I’ve been letting myself get side tracked.
“No more,” Hunter vowed as he stood up. “Why don’t you get some rest? I’ll handle whatever comes up. You have a few hours before the meeting and if you want, I’ll fill in the team on what we discussed.”
He headed for the door and stooped to pick up the remains of his bloodied shirt and shook his head in disgust. “I can’t believe I let this happen.”
“We all have issues, Hunter. Deal with it and move on. You should have Simon look at those cuts for you,” Chase suggested. “They may not be deep but they’re probably painful.”
“Will do, Boss.”
Before Hunter walked through the door, Chase said, “And Hunter, a word of advice.” Hunter turned back with a questioning quirk of his dark brow. “Sheila can be a button pusher. Yours, where she’s concerned at least, are bright neon and easily accessed.”
Sheila was the only person—man or woman—that pushed said buttons with ease and relish, and it pissed Hunter off that he rose to her bait each time she dangled it. “What’s your point?”
“Stop reacting to her.”
“Yeah. I’ll get right on that,” Hunter grunted as he disappeared down the hall, grumbling to himself about some women needing to be locked up in a padded cell.
“My goodness, Hunter, you look like a man on a mission,” Rae Nightly’s voice broke into his tirade from the other end of the hall. When he saw her waddle toward him a gentle smile crossed his face, easing away the tension. Her short dark hair accentuated her pixie face, making her blue eyes seem bigger and her dimpled cheeks a little more obvious.
“Hi, Rae. How are you feeling?” Hunter asked, watching mesmerized as she caressed her hugely rounded belly.
“As well as can be expected for a woman in her fifteenth month of pregnancy on the hottest day of summer.” She grimaced slightly before looking past him toward the office. “Were you just in to see Chase?”
“Yes, ma’am. He’s in his office. Anything I can help you with? I’d be happy to help out and give the boss a break.”
“That’s so sweet of you, but I just wanted to tell Chase that I’m heading over to my brother’s place,” she said as she started to waddle around him in search of her husband.
“Shouldn’t you be resting or something?” he asked, concerned.
“Oh, pooh. I’m fine. I feel wonderful as a matter of fact. I feel like I could take on a horde of vamps then vacuum up the dust.”
“Well,” he replied, not knowing what to say to that. Hunter’s eyes darted from Rae’s face to protruding abdomen then back into her big blue eyes, alight with humor at his obvious discomfort in the presence of a woman in her condition. “Okay, then. I guess I’ll, uh, I’ll just let myself out.”
“You do that. I’ll see you later at The Blue Mermaid.” She turned to go and Hunter could hear her soft laughter behind him.
There were very few things that frightened Hunter Blackfox. The second scariest thing on his list of horrifying events was extremely pregnant women. Specifically, not knowing what to do should they go into labor and he was required to deliver the baby. His Aunt Lucy in a fury topped the list.
Keys to the Mermaid's Heart
Team Nightly Book 3
A mythical sapphire, a family legend, and a lost treasure, could lead Carly Harden to her fondest dreams . . . or her worst nightmare.
Now that Carly has revealed her secret, that she knows who and what Team Nightly is, Tony Sargento, chef of the Blue Mermaid restaurant, empath, and Carly’s boss, is furious with her. His jealousy at Carly’s close friendship with Rhett James, the newest team member, isn’t helping him calm his anger.
That she’s been in love with Tony since the day they’d met, is one thing she would never disclose. His anger at her is breaking her heart and her past is preventing her from trusting him fully.
In order to help the team locate an artifact that Gordon Charles, King of the Vampires, is after, Carly digs a little deeper into the family lore behind the key that she’s worn on a chain since she was a little girl. She soon comes to believe that it is one of three needed to open a lost treasure chest. One that is said to hold the Mermaid’s Heart: a massive sapphire that is said to hold mystical powers and created by Zeus himself.
The powers that legend has attached to the Mermaid’s Heart, are said to be boundless, granting the one who holds it their fondest wishes.
But when Gordon Charles gets word that Carly is the owner of one of the fabled keys to the Heart, he sends his minions to retrieve it, no matter the cost.
After Carly is attacked and nearly killed, Tony and Rhett must try to set aside their ongoing battle, to win her heart, in order to protect her. Even with the help of Team Nightly, it may not be enough to save her . . . unless they find the Keys to the Mermaid’s Heart.
“Oh, my God! You still have that? Do you still collect keys, Carly?” Scarlett asked, the wicked humor in her eyes replaced by curiosity.
“Of course I still have it. And yes, I still collect keys. As a matter of fact, this key is the reason I had to work at the Blue Mermaid.”
“A key made you want to work at the Mermaid?” Sheila asked, as she began wiping up the mess she’d made. “How on earth does that little gold key link you to a restaurant in Savannah, where you’d never been before?”
“This key absolutely made me want to work at the restaurant. You see, Sheila, when Grammy gave this key to me she told me the story of The Mermaid’s Heart. When I saw the sign outside The Blue Mermaid, I knew I had to go inside and see if they were hiring.”
“What is The Mermaid’s Heart?” Sheila asked.
A light of exhilaration gleamed in Carly’s dark eyes, causing the dimples in her cheeks to deepen as her smile widened.
“Oh, no, Sheila! Please don’t get her started?” Scarlett pleaded, then groaned when she saw Carly’s face. “Well, crap. Too late, she’s got that ‘it’s story time’ look on her face.”
Scarlett pushed herself from her chair and grabbed her empty glass. “I need more alcohol if I have to listen to that story again.”
“Ooo, me too!” Carly said, holding her glass out to Scarlett, playfully. Sheila drained the last sip from hers as well and held it out, munching on another cube of cheese.
“Hell, I might as well just bring another bottle in here,” Scarlett said and set her glass back down before heading to the kitchen.
“So tell me,” Sheila said, sitting back in her chair and tucking her mile long legs beneath her as she focused her attention on Carly.
“This key,” Carly said, swinging it a little as she spoke. “Was given to me by my maternal grandmother when I was nine years old.” The soft light from the lamp sent dazzling sparks of gold light dancing off of it and onto her face.
Scarlett returned with the bottle and refilled all three glasses. She set the bottle on the table, next to the empty one, with a soft clunk. “Do you still have that old cigar box full of keys?”
“Yes and it’s held together with duct tape and rubber bands. I really need to find something else to keep them in.”
“Get back to the story, Carly.” Sheila insisted, narrowing her eyes at Scarlett who groaned and flopped back on the couch. “The key?”
“Right. Anyway, when Grammy gave this to me she told me the story behind it.” Carly picked up her glass and took a sip before continuing with the family legend. She told Sheila of how her third—or was it her fourth?—great-grandmother Charlotte’s older brother, Jacob, and two of his friends had been visiting family in Savannah, in the spring of 1861. The boys had been playing in the woods and stumbled upon a hidden cave where they’d found three keys and a treasure chest.
When they opened the chest they’d found it filled with gold and jewels. A pirate’s treasure to be sure. But, the chest had been too big and too heavy for the boys to carry out of the cave. So, they each took a key and made a pact that they would all return together the next day with a wagon to haul away their treasure and they would never tell a living soul what they’d found.
“They were supposed to meet the next afternoon,” Carly continued. “But when Jacob returned home he was forced to leave for California, along with his mother and baby sister. Fort Sumter had been fired upon and the Civil War had begun.”
“You mean, ‘The War of Northern Aggression’ had begun, Carly. Get your facts straight, girl,” Scarlett teased.
Carly ignored the jibe, rolling her eyes at Scarlett. “As I was saying, Jacob’s father was going to join the Confederate army and made plans to meet them in San Francisco after the war. This key has been passed down in my family ever since.”
“So did Jacob tell anyone about the treasure?”
“Nope. None except for Charlotte, that is, but that wasn’t until about seven years later. Right after their mother had died. Charlotte was…let me think.” She paused for a moment. “She was nine at the time and Jacob was around sixteen, I think Grammy said. He told the story to Charlotte and gave her the key, with the promise to never tell a soul. After their mother died, they’d been evicted, and lived homeless and hungry for nearly a year.”
“Holy crap!” Carly yelled, sitting bolt upright as a realization struck her, the sudden curse jolting the other women out of the story.
“Damn it, Carly, don’t do that!” Sheila groused as she wiped more spilled wine from her denim clad leg. “I spilled my wine all over me, again.”
“Sorry. I just can’t believe I never made the connection before,” Carly explained.
“What connection?” Scarlett asked.
“Charlotte was given the key when she was nine years old. Jacob and his friends found the key when Jacob was nine years old and Grammy gave me this key when I was nine years old.”
“You know, Carly,” Scarlett said, her face taking on what Carly knew to be her serious look. “Nine is a magical number. You say that all the women who possessed the key passed it on to their daughters when they were nine. It has to mean something. Female power, maybe.”
“Actually, Jacob found the key, not Charlotte,” Carly pointed out.
“Yes, but he was nine at the time and Charlotte was what? Two? He could have been the key’s protector until Charlotte was old enough to take possession of it.”
“That could be a possibility,” Carly agreed, nodding thoughtfully.
“Okay. Cute story, Carly, Sheila interjected. “But I still don’t get the connection to The Blue Mermaid.”
“One of the jewels they’d found in the treasure chest when Jacob and his friends opened it was a huge blue sapphire called The Mermaid’s Heart. Get it? Blue sapphire? Mermaid’s heart?”
At Sheila’s still confused face, Carly huffed out, “Geez, Sheila, really?”
“No, I get that part of it,” Sheila said. “I’m just amazed at how everything came together to bring you here to Savannah. You were on your way to Florida to find your sister, but first you stopped in Atlanta where you met Scarlett. The two of you hit it off, apparently, as though you’d been friends forever. Not to mention her twin brother is bloodline. That’s where you were indoctrinated into the world of vampires and uccisori.”
Carly bit into a cracker, her focus on Sheila as she plowed on. “When you left Atlanta, you landed here and got a job at a restaurant that, low and behold, is owned and operated by the Second to the local uccisore team leader.”
“Now,” Sheila looked at Scarlett as she continued to speak. “Scarlett, you and your brother, have also landed smack in the middle of that very same town and working at The Blue Mermaid. Sounds like way too much coincidence for my peace of mind.”
“Are you suggesting that we planned all of this, Sheila?” Scarlett asked, the insult rippling off of her like a heat wave. “Because if you are, I’m more than happy to face your ass on the sparring mat.”
“Oh, God no!” Sheila said, almost apologetically. Almost, Carly thought as she tried to hide a smile. “I didn’t mean that at all. I’m just saying that maybe it was destiny, or fate, or karma, or whatever you want to call it that brought us all together in the same place,”
“Okay,” Scarlett said as she picked up her wine to take a sip. “I get that, too, now that you’ve mentioned it. But, what I don’t get is where you’re going with that link,”
“I’m not going anywhere with it. I’m just highlighting some of the finer points of Carly’s story.” Sheila stretched her arms over her head. “Where the hell is Hunter? He’s supposed to be picking me up and I’m so tired I could fall asleep right here in this chair.”
“Maybe we should see if we can find the other two keys, Carly,” Scarlett suggested, ignoring Sheila’s scowl.
“I could do some research,” Carly offered. “Try to find out if there really is such a gem as The Mermaid’s Heart. See if there are any records of current owners, that kind of thing.”
“And maybe we can locate the other two keys while you’re at it.” Scarlett’s excitement had started to bubble over as she leaned closer to Carly.
“Sounds like loads of fun, ladies,” Sheila said, stretching her back. “On second thought, no it doesn’t. I’ll pass on the treasure hunting, I’d rather go out staking vampires. More fun and less chance of failure. Besides, my hands are full enough just keeping Hunter from getting himself killed.”
“Party pooper,” Carly said, then stuck out her tongue at her friend.
“Right, and all that sex has nothing to do with it either. Right Sheila?” Scarlett said.
“What can I say?” Sheila asked with a glimmer in her eyes and a huge smirk on her face. “The man loves me and wants to keep me happy. I’m not a stupid woman. When it comes to a choice between treasure hunting and multiple orgasms, what would you choose?”
“She’s got us there, Scarlett,” Carly said, with a deep sigh. “But she doesn’t have to rub it in with such relish.”
“Oh, sweetie, don’t worry. Tony will be back next week and he can clean out the cobwebs for you,” Scarlett said, in an overly sympathetic tone that caused a crimson flush to flood over Carly’s face.
“That’s it, Scarlett, you are officially off the treasure hunting team.”
“Like hell!” Scarlett chortled. “Besides, Rhett can help with the research on the other two boys. He’s a whiz at genealogy and nearly as good with hacking as you are. He’s followed our line all the way back to the fifteenth century.”
“I’m not a hacker, I’m just better with computers than most people, but that’s still a great idea. I’ll ask him tomorrow.”
Carly started to give Scarlett the beginnings of her plan to find the missing keys when a knock at the front door halted all conversation.
“That must be Hunter,” Sheila said as she unfolded herself from her seat and stood up. “I’ll catch you guys later. Have fun with your treasure hunting.”
As the door closed behind Sheila, Carly and Scarlett put their heads together to plan their strategy. As the hours passed and notebooks filled with ideas of where to look for the elusive keys, Carly couldn’t help wondering if maybe Sheila hadn’t hit on a very solid point about Carly being lead to Savannah, via Atlanta, for a reason. She fingered the key again as she often did while deep in thought.
Team Nightly Book 4
The only thing keeping the beast at bay is THE REDEMPTION STONE.
Chuck Logan fled Ireland fourteen years ago, letting his family believe him dead, like his brother, Matty. When he landed on America’s shores he was a feral werewolf, but everything changed when a special boy and his father found him and gave him the gift of redemption.
Now, Chuck has found his true mate in Scarlett James, and he is terrified that he has now put her life in danger. Walking away after only one night with Scarlett is the only way to keep her safe. Ashley Connor, a wolf with an agenda, has set her sights on mating with Chuck and building an invincible pack that will rule the entire region. She will do whatever it takes to have her way, including partnering with Gordon Charles, the Vampire King.
After Chuck and Scarlett are attacked by a vampire who miraculously morphs into a wolf, the reality of this new, and seemingly indestructible, threat must be eradicated before Ashely Connor and Gordon Charles have the chance to build their army…It may already be too late!
Charlie Logan couldn’t believe his father had allowed him to bring Mattie on patrol without another teammate along. Da had always been protective of Mattie, being the youngest of his three children, never allowing him to come along on a hunt.
This night, however, Da had told him Mattie was ready to take his place on Team Logan. Charlie had trained hard and their father trusted that he was strong enough and wise enough to keep his little brother out of trouble.
After all, they were bloodline uccisori; a bold and powerful lineage of vampire slayers dating back to the First Crusades.
No vamps had been seen in their assigned patrol area and Charlie was looking for an easy night ahead. That was alright, though. It would give his little brother a bit of learning but he’d still be safe enough to appease their parents’ worries.
There’d been attacks bordering near the northern edge of the village but those had been more animal than vamp attacks, from what Charlie had heard at the pub. There had been one report of a vamp attack in the southernmost sector where he and Mattie now patrolled, but that one had been ended by their father two nights before.
Charlie looked over at his brother and grinned at the intensity that set the boy’s face in a grim mask.
Mattie may be a pain in the arse, but he was still his brother and Charlie loved him.
The silvery glow of the full moon gave the night a surreal feeling as the brothers strode across the meadow, armed with swords strapped to their backs and wooden stakes shoved into their boots and belts.
“You look like you’re ready to jump out of your skin, Mattie. Try to relax your grip on your sword. You’ll have more control if we’re set upon by vamps.”
“Did you hear that, Charlie?” Mattie asked softly as he halted his steps.
Charlie tilted his head and scanned the edge of the woods, searching the shadows for any movement.
“I didn’t hear anything. Probably just the wind,” he told Mattie, after a long moment of quiet.
“It was a rustling in the bush.” Mattie pointed directly in front of them. “There. In the verge of the tree line. I think we should see what it was. I’d love to end the bastards that hurt Uncle Stephen.”
“That was to the west of here, Mattie. Besides, Uncle Stephen said he’d ended the vamps that jumped him. Remember?”
“Right,” Mattie said with a nervous laugh. “But they move around fast, you know. As quick as lightning. They’ll sink their fangs into you before you know what’s happening. I remember what both Da and Uncle Stephen taught us . . . and you’d best remember, too, Charlie.”
Charlie gave his brother a nod as he, too, remembered the story. A chill ran through him as he scanned the shadows, once more.
News had come to the team, earlier that week, that vamps had been seen killing sheep at a local farm. Stephen McGinnis, their father’s Second in Command, and a man Charlie and Mattie had known the whole of their lives, had gone with stake and sword in hand to find the vamps that terrorized that area. He’d been attacked and, though no one truly knew what happened, they’d torn at him like animals; bite and claw marks covering his body, before he finally ended them.
Or, so the story was told. When Guinness was flowing, the stories tended to grow to unbelievable ends.
Charlie knew his little brother wanted to prove himself on his first mission and show their father, that he was just as capable of ending vamps as any other member of Team Logan. It was, after all, his birthright.
“Lead the way, little brother. This is your night.”
“No, wait. I’m wrong,” he corrected as his dimples flashed.
“That would be this weekend coming. I hear you’re taking pretty Brenna Muldoon to the pub for dancing Saturday. You can regale her with your tales of heroism and retribution. Perhaps she’ll bestow more than a kiss on you.”
Heat climbed up the back of Mattie’s neck as Charlie laughed. Mattie had been trying to get Brenna to go to the pub with him for weeks and she’d finally said yes.
“You’re just jealous,” Mattie stuttered. “Because you can’t find a woman that would be seen in public with you. They can’t abide that ugly mug of yours. Brenna can’t wait to feel my arms around her and . . . There it is again.”
Mattie put his hand on Charlie’s shoulder to halt their advance. “Did you hear it that time?”
“Aye, I heard it. It came from over there.” Charlie pointed to his left and slowly moved in that direction.
“We need to go check it out.”
Simultaneously, they pulled a stake from their belts and took a firmer grip on their swords. They took several steps apart before advancing into the woods, and stooped low to make themselves less of a target. They’d gone no more than ten feet into the trees when a low, guttural growl sounded, bringing goosebumps to their skin.
Charlie crouched into a fighting stance, preparing for attack. They were being stalked, but the scent was all wrong. He didn’t smell the stench of rotted flesh and death that always accompanied a vampire. This was no vamp. It was something worse. He had to get Mattie out of the woods. Now.
“This is wrong, Mattie,” Charlie whispered. “Go! Get back to the house and tell Da to bring help.”
“No! I’ll not leave you here alone.”
“Run, Mattie! Now!” Charlie demanded as the growl grew into a roar and the sound of something huge broke through the undergrowth, launching itself at him. He spun to face his attacker, but he was too slow. A mountain of foul smelling fur slammed into his side.
The next moment was pure chaos as he battled something that he’d only seen in a horror movie at the cinema. In his periphery, he saw Mattie standing only a few paces away, frozen with fear.
Time slowed to a snail’s pace as the beast latched razor sharp fangs onto Charlie’s left shoulder. The pain was like nothing he’d ever experienced as his knees buckled under the weight of the animal. His sword flew from his right hand, the stake all but useless in his left. As the beast opened its maw for the kill, Charlie shoved his arm into its mouth, buying him time to scream a warning.
“Run, Mattie! Run!” He roared, knowing that once the beast had finished him off, his baby brother would be killed too.
His shouts finally brought Mattie out of his unresponsive state.
“No! Leave my brother be, you bloody bastard!” Mattie bellowed, his sword held high. He brought the honed edge down on the shoulder of the beast, doing nothing more than enraging it further.
It released its downed prey, turning to the newest threat. With Charlie’s blood dripping from the wolf-like snout, its glowing amber eyes locked onto Mattie. An angry howl emanated from it seconds before it leapt.
Mattie’s cries of pain and terror did more to drag Charlie to his feet than fear for his own life. He moved on shaky legs as he picked up his sword and stumbled to the mass of blood-matted fur as it feasted on Mattie, ripping at his stomach and chest.
Charlie screamed out his brother’s name as he ran the blade of his sword through the skull of the beast.
A deathly quiet settled around him as Charlie stared down at the giant wolf. When his sword pierced the skull, it had fallen to its side. He’d never seen one so large.
Or so deformed.
Charlie knelt beside Mattie, “Oh, Mattie,” he cried. “Why didn’t you run like I told you to?”
He lifted his hand to try to stop the bleeding, not sure what to do first as Mattie’s entrails spilled out. Blood pooled around him, drenching the grass as moonlight glistened off the exposed bones of his ribcage.
There was a hole where his heart should have been and his stomach lay in pieces next to his lifeless hand.
“Why didn’t you fucking run?” he screamed at his dead brother.
Charlie howled in agony as a cloud passed over the moon, casting him in total darkness and he wept over his baby brother’s body.
His rage came as the tears dried on his blood-streaked face. He pushed himself to his feet, ignoring the pain raging through his own body as he picked up Mattie’s sword. He was hell-bent on chopping the beast into pieces so tiny not even the buzzards would find enough to eat.
As he turned with sword raised over his head, however, he saw the beast’s body was gone. In its place was a naked man, the back of his head a bloody hole where Charlie’s sword had cut it away.
“Uncle Stephen?” No, Charlie thought to himself. It can’t be.
“How could you do this to us? You were one of us! You murdered Mattie, you son of a bitch.”
He raged at the dead man, hacking at him with his brother’s sword, until he was too weak to stand upright.
He let his body fall, reaching for Mattie’s hand and waited to die. At least death will keep me from having to face Ma’s grief at the loss of her sons, Charlie thought.
He stared up at the full moon as the cloud passed by. As its glow washed over him, he closed his eyes and prayed that God would have mercy and bring him a quick death.
God wasn’t listening.
Kate Porter has had one true passion, even as a young girl: writing. Poetry and short stories were her pleasure and her escape while growing up on a small farm approximately fifty miles south of Indianapolis. From her first short story printed in her high school newspaper at the age of fifteen, until the publication of her first full length novel, SECRETS IN BETHLEHEM, in the summer of 2012 she has dreamed of being an author. As a two-time winner of the Indie Book of the Day award, Kate has explored different genres in her writing career and has an eclectic collection of works to her credit consisting of romantic suspense, mystery, and an urban fantasy series. She has studied fiction writing at Greenville Tech, in Greenville, SC and traveled to Georgia for a writing workshop. Kate was featured in WOMAN'S DAY magazine and again in the Greenville News and her hometown newspaper in Spencer, IN. She has been profiled in her hometown newspaper, in Spencer, Indiana and in August 2013, News.
Kate's novel, BLACK HARVEST, has not only received 5 stars from Reader's Favorite, but has been awarded the 2014 NEW APPLE BOOK AWARD MEDAL for the MYSTERY.
Q: What is something unique/quirky about you?
A: I would have to say that I’ve been told many times that when I’m working on a book, or something else that I’m really passionate about, that I tend to get tunnel vision. I call it focus and concentration because when the muse is upon me, nothing can deter me until I’m ready to let it go. It’s part of my process to get it down as it comes.
Q: Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you!
A: I’m not sure if it would qualify as interesting but it was extremely exciting; I was profiled in Woman’s Day Magazine in 2013 and they sent in a professional photographer and make up artist to come to my home for the photo spread. They were there for over five hours and it was so much fun to see how a major magazine article is put together. I had no idea how much work it takes to put together a single profile, let alone an entire magazine. It has given me a whole new respect for the print media and the work they do.
Q: Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
A: I have this dream of seeing my debut novel, SECRETS IN BETHLEHEM as a feature film. SECRETS has a unique and incredible story to tell that will span different genres from main stream fiction to suspense to action and bordering on science fiction.
Q: What inspired you to write this book series?
A: This is really funny, I think. When I first got the idea for CHASE NIGHTLY, L’UCCISORE, it was supposed to be a parody of all the vampire books that swept the world a few years ago. The name of the main character is pretty corny, right: CHASE NIGHTLY? He’s a vampire slayer. Anyway, as I was putting together the character bios and the writing the outline, it was like the story started taking on a life of its own. I would think, “this character should do this and go this way,” but then it’s like they were telling me, “Nope. We’re doing this and going here.” That’s when TEAM NIGHTLY was born.
Q: How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book and series?
A: The characters in TEAM NIGHTLY are extremely diverse. They come from every walk of life. I wanted them to be normal, everyday Joes and Janes. Everyone has the potential to be a hero inside of them. But, everyone is also human and they have human flaws. Each book focuses on a specific team member; digging deep into their characters and bringing out the best and the worst in each of them. For instance; you have Chase, he’s the team leader. He’s a born and bred Georgia boy who has no intention of letting his widowed mother know what he does with his evenings. By day he’s a sixth-grade social studies teacher, by night, he leads a team of bloodline uccisore who’s destiny is to fight vampires and protect innocents. He’s so focused on his own destiny, he doesn’t’ realize that his life is about to change drastically when he meets Rae Chandler. Rae is a contemporary city girl from NYC and has not intention of staying in Savannah any longer than she absolutely has to. Two characters who are completely opposite in both thought and design yet, when they join forces against a common foe, are practically undefeatable.
Q: What did you enjoy most about writing this book series?
A: Getting to know each of the characters. I fell in love with some of them and hated others. Some of the characters I could empathize with because of the pain they had gone through to get to where they were in the book. Other’s I couldn’t help but admire their inner strength for that same reason.
Q: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
A: That’s a really good question. I think Chris Pine would be a great CHASE NIGHTLY.
Q: How long have you been writing?
A: I started writing songs and poetry when I was very young. Twelve, thirteen, maybe even younger than that, I really don’t remember. The first time I had something published, I was fifteen years old and I had a short, short story printed in our high school newspaper, titled THE LAKE. I still have the original clipping dated Dec. 1972. I think I’m telling my age here!
What makes a good story?
To me, a good story will pull you in and grip your heart. I want to sympathize with the characters, empathize with them, get angry because they do something stupid and cheer them on when they rise victorious. I want to not only read what they are feeling, I want to feel it myself. I want to feel my heart pounding when they’re in danger, cry real tears when they are hurting and feel their joy when their fondest wishes come true. If I can turn that last page and think to myself, “Wow, I need to share this with . . .” That is a great story, in my opinion.
I cannot stand to read a book that just stops and has no real ending. I don’t care if it’s part of a series or not, it has to have some sort of resolution for the characters involved even if the final conflict of the story hasn’t happened yet. I’ve started reading this one series and it just stopped. If I wanted to see what happened to the character I had to buy the next book. I have no problem following a book series, I love continuing sagas, but I need to be motivated because the plot is being furthered, not because I’m left hanging when I turn the last page and see there’s nothing there. That just ticks me off.
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