Banshee's Bite

Gina Fluharty

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Officer Gigi O’Shea is a good cop but a terrible banshee. A brush with death awakened unknown powers and forced her into a world of preternatural creatures that would send a sane cop screaming. Being a banshee conflicts with her...
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Officer Gigi O’Shea is a good cop but a terrible banshee. A brush with death awakened unknown powers and forced her into a world of preternatural creatures that would send a sane cop screaming. Being a banshee conflicts with her cop nature. If she sings someone to death, how is that not murder? And the hottest man she’s ever wanted underneath her is threateneing to kill her if she doesn’t get her shit together. Sex and death threats—who knew that would be so exciting? Murdok abhors what Gigi is. Banshees are weak and stupid, and Gigi is out of control. As Cleaner, it’s his job to make sure she doesn’t blow their collective cover to humans. Unfortunately, he can’t just kill her. First he’ll have to attempt to train her. But he’s an executioner, not a professor—not when the voices of the dead he carries threaten his control at every turn. Even worse, he wants Gigi more than he’s wanted any woman in centuries. But so do his dead.

There’s more than Gigi’s life at stake. As a banshee, only she can save the ghosts and Portland, and if she doesn’t find the strength to trust her new self, everyone dies.

Excerpt
Above the massive dark wood door, CLUB was written in screaming neon-white letters shaped like fangs. Little drips resembling saliva hung below the C and the long line of the B. Charming.

Murdok pushed against the door’s wide slats. The mellow wood felt like velvet beneath his sweaty palms. Under his black suit, goose bumps pebbled his skin.

Inside, he paused, scanning the room: three exits, tons of potential foes, innumerable weapons, and a vibe that made him want to gag. The crowd’s excitement practically danced on his tongue.

Happy crowds were the worst. But since he was between jobs, he had no excuse not to be here.

Murdok’s job as the Council’s Cleaner was all he had. Erasing the existence of Preternatural creatures that threatened to expose their realm to humans gave him purpose.

And he was good at it.

Along the smooth stone walls, warm light flickered from sconces reflecting off strategically placed mirrors. He embraced the illusion of additional space in an already massive room. Allowed it to distract him from the truth of bone-crushing death resting just above him. Claustrophobia wasn’t the issue, but knowing how far beneath the ordinary world he was unnerved the hell out of him. Enclosed spaces were for rabbits and demons.

He spied the bar. The clenching in his chest eased. If he could get to the bar stretching the length of the wall to his right, he’d be able to breathe freely. Bourbon cured what the will could not.

As he made his way around small groups of Preters, their whispers followed him like rats after the piper.

“Holy shit. The nightmare is real,” a woman hissed.

“Fuck. Don’t do nothing stupid. The Cleaner is here.”

“How long is this thing?” Murdok’s throat tightened. He didn’t like being in Underground.

“Don’t tell me you want to leave already? We just got here. Besides, it feels like I haven’t seen you in years.” Ramsay Woods assessed him. As the Council’s Henchman, Ramsay had worked with Murdok for decades. Due to the nature of their careers, they’d found it hard to relate to other Preters until they’d met each other. Not many Preters wanted to hang out with their degree of badass.

“You look good,” Ramsay said, heavy fist thumping into Murdok’s shoulder. Murdok shifted his weight to absorb the blow.

“You haven’t seen me in years. Not since the London hellrat incident.” Murdok continued to scan the crowd, telling himself he looked for danger, not a latte-skinned redhead with delectable curves. Her husky whisper played over and over in his ear. “Find me. Find me.” But he wouldn’t. Couldn’t. He shook himself, focusing on Ramsay instead.

Ramsay scowled. “Spectre jumped the gun on that call. We had it covered.”

“If you call being ‘covered’ wearing the entrails of a horde of rodents with flammable blood, sure. That human tour group was less than a whisper away from that corridor. You came too close to exposing our existence, Rams.”

“Yeah, but you didn’t have to kill anyone, namely myself or Triple T, so I still say it’s a win.”

“And I say you should be less cavalier about our safety.”

Ramsay scoffed. “That’s what you’re for. As the Council’s Henchman, I scare them and you erase them if they’re too stupid to let their fear of me keep them safe from you.”

Ramsay’s simplistic view burned a hole in Murdok’s brain.

Murdok wove through the small crowd in front of the fully stocked bar. Leaning against the brass rail, he signaled the wine shepherd tending bar. Her golden skin glowed with a rich hue as she lazily strolled his way. The silk of her long green dress shushed across the smooth vinelike ridges of her skin as the hem flirted with her large bare feet.

“What can I get you?” she purred as she leaned down and gave him an excellent view of her cleavage.

Murdok surreptitiously inhaled. This close, she should have made him feel slightly drunk. Nothing. He sighed. Young, then. He swallowed his disappointment. A good hit of her pheromones would have distracted him. Would have kept him hovering around her. Instead, he found his gaze continually scanning the crowd in the mirror for the redhead.

And he couldn’t have her.

His hands clenched at the thought of her firm yet pliant flesh.

He held up two fingers. “Bourbon. Neat.”

Winking, the bartender flashed him a flirty smile before turning away to get their drinks.

Murdok looked at the muscular man next to him. Ramsay was built like a towering brick shit house. Even at six feet, Murdok still had to look up to make eye contact. “If that’s how you have to see it in order to sleep at night, fine. But, Rams, it was too close. Don’t put me in that situation again. Cleaning you would be the last thing I’d ever do.”

“You got that right. Kaz would wear your skin like an Italian suit.”

“Yeah, that’s exactly what I meant.” Murdok shook his head. Ramsay just didn’t get it. Didn’t realize he was in a very small club of Murdok’s actual friends. Hell. Befriending Ramsay had been a huge mistake. If the Council ever needed Ramsay cleaned, Murdok wouldn’t survive it. Carrying an emotional piece of Ramsay’s soul with him for the rest of his days would surely drive Murdok over the edge.

But he’d do it. Duty was all he had left.

“Kaz in a ‘me suit’ seems to please you way too much. Stop smiling. Your fangs don’t make me nervous.” He looked around. “Where is your lovely mate-to-be?”

The wine shepherd set their drinks on the bar. He needed that drink so bad he was willing to worship at her feet, mature or not.

“First one’s on me, fellas. Enjoy.” Her voice sounded like sunshine and birdsong. Perfect for singing the grapes to ripe life. She winked before sauntering back down the bar.

“Looks like Chardae’s got her eye on you.” Ramsay chuckled as he picked up his tumbler.

“What?”

Ramsay tipped his chin at the bar. “She wrote her number on your napkin. You, uh, gonna take her up on that?”

“The blood must not have made its way back to your brains yet. Your days of forced celibacy may be over, but mine aren’t. My vow is still intact.”

Murdok clinked his glass against Ramsay’s. Besides, compared to the lusty redhead, the blonde wine shepherd lost out. His celibacy was unassailable. So why couldn’t he stop thinking about the redhead? Why did his fingers still curl with the memory of her ripe flesh in his hands? Why was he letting thoughts of her threaten his hard-won control?

Time to focus on more important—and safer—things.

“Congratulations, Ramsay. I’m happy for you. May the gods above and below be pleased by your union.”

Murdok raised the tumbler to his lips, pausing a moment to savor the soft sting of vanilla and oak in his nose. The warm caramel burn of liquid sanity filled his mouth. He swallowed, reveling in the smooth fire trailing down his throat and pooling in his empty gut.

“Their pleasure matters less to me than Kaz’s. You’ll see someday, Dok. One day, you’ll free yourself from your vow.”

Murdok looked away from the sympathy swimming in Ramsay’s eyes. Although the circumstances of their celibacy differed, it had brought deep respect and an unspoken empathy to their friendship.

Most Preters, those that dared speculate, thought Murdok was either incredibly discreet or that he couldn’t find a woman that wasn’t scared shitless to fuck him. No one but Ramsay knew the true reason Murdok didn’t have a string of lovers in his past.

“My vow will hold. It has to. That vow is the only thing standing between our world and chaos,” Murdok said.

“You know, for a dude who sees the world in black-and-white, you sure are dramatic.”

“Truth is told in black-and-white. Color hides all lies.”

“See?” Ramsay asked, pounding his meaty fist into Murdok’s shoulder.

Murdok’s knees flexed, absorbing Ramsay’s blows as his friend continued. “That’s what I’m talking about. Drama. Save that shit for another night. Kaz is shaking her fine ass on the dance floor. Let’s get you two intro’d before she finds out how long we’ve been here.”

Ramsay’s palpable joy needled Murdok. “Got you on a short leash, does she?” he snarked.

Ramsay quirked a brow at Murdok. The white of his pinched lips relaxed as he smiled, flashing fang. “I’m going to let that go. Because I love you almost as much as I love her.”

Guilt corroded the warm glow of bourbon and brotherly love.

He was such a dick.

Instead of following Ramsay out onto the dance floor, Murdok turned back to the bar. As if she had read his mind, there stood the lovely Chardae. The three fingers of bourbon she held in a fresh glass were even lovelier. Tipping back the remaining bourbon in the first glass, he pulled a few bills out of his wallet, set them on the bar, and reached for additional sanity. “You’re a goddess.”

“Tell me something I don’t know.” Her lush lips curved in a knowing smile. Warm golden light flickered off the pale-green sheen of her perfectly square teeth. Her delicate pink tongue swept across her lower lip, leaving a trail of tempting wetness.

“Like what?” he asked before tossing back his drink. Fire rushed through his veins and torpedoed him smack in the brainpan. Maybe he should have eaten first?

Long lashes the color of wheat swept down, hiding her eyes, but not before he saw the triumph glinting in their hazel depths. “Your name for starters. We can get deeper from there.” The way she pronounced deeper had his thoughts arrowing down past the smooth brass of his belt buckle.

“Murdok.”

Chardae startled, stepping back until her plush ass collided into the darkened oak back bar. The perfect sun-ripened wheat of her skin faded into horrific washed-out sepia as her breasts heaved in short, panicked breaths.

Shit. There it was. Nothing like a little truth to harsh the sexual buzz of a wine shepherd. Or anyone for that matter.

Blood and death comprised his reputation, not flowers and love songs.

Abject fear fully eclipsed the desire that had been running rampant in her eyes.

Very carefully, he set the empty glass on the bar. He didn’t want to startle her again.

The big picture of Murdok’s life couldn’t have been clearer. Her sudden and complete fear was why he kept to himself. Men fearing him didn’t bother him. Their fear usually worked in his favor. Helped him do his job. But a woman’s automatic fear upon simply learning his name made him ill.

Murdok did not enjoy hurting women. Men who did should have their organs boiled in their own meat sacks. He regretted that his very name scared them, but keeping them safe and protecting the sanctity of his vow was all-important.

But somehow, seeing dread creep across Chardae’s beautiful face was different. Perhaps it was her youth, the shimmering lightness of burgeoning sexuality she exuded. He felt like he’d just stomped on the dreams of Cupid. Or maybe Murdok shouldn’t be drinking this much booze on an empty stomach. Whatever the reason, he couldn’t leave her like this.

“I’d never hurt you. The only people that need fear me are those that threaten to destroy us. If you’re ever in danger, I will protect you. Understand?”

Chardae nodded, curls bouncing as she blew out a shaky breath. Her lips curved in a small, vulnerable smile.

Holding her gaze, he placed his hand over his heart and dipped in a small bow before heading out to the dance floor. Was that a tear in her eye or a trick of the lighting? The pinching of his conscience was answer enough. Time to burn off bitter regret. Sweat until his thoughts weren’t so…thoughtful. He preferred to keep everything ordered and logical. Lapses like this were dangerous. Lapses gave his demons room to move that he couldn’t afford.

Mentally, he offered up the small prayer he’d devised. Something that made his soul feel a little cleaner, less heavy. Good thoughts, good words, good deeds. He tapped his forehead, lips, and heart with each line. The mantra helped maintain his precarious balance.

The pounding pulse of techno music vibrated through the smooth soles of his black leather loafers. Aiming for the center of the monster mash where Ramsay and his mate danced, Murdok let the rhythm and sway of the dancing Preters swallow and propel him deep into their midst.

Murdok hadn’t danced in years. There wasn’t much call for it in his line of work. If word got out that the boogeyman liked to boogie, his street cred would be worth less than hammered shit.

But tonight, if the Council’s Henchman could let loose, so could the Cleaner. Murdok deserved it. He’d just have to make sure his next job was spectacularly bloody or excessively creepy in order to quash any rumors that might arise.

Scents teased him: sweet vanilla, spicy cinnamon, the light tang of herbs, and underneath it all the warm ruffle of fur. Magic. Not actual magic, but a natural power nonetheless. Here there were no enemies.

What the hell? Where’d those thoughts come from? Had Chardae slipped him something in his bourbon? Or perhaps he was just a little drunk? And who the hell cared? Time to dance.

The crowd broke apart as the music switched to old-school rap. He’d reached the middle of the dance floor.

Ramsay and a lion shifter shouted the rap lyrics at each other. A tall brunette beauty in a red halter dress stole a quick kiss when the beat dropped in. She patted Ramsay on the ass before spinning away. Had to be Kaz. No one else would dare touch someone else’s mate like that. Not without losing tasty body parts.

Ah, hell. Kaz started flirt dancing with the curvy redhead in a short black strapless dress. Murdok had found her.

Throughout the ages, he’d always appreciated the female form even though he ceased partaking of it. Whether tall or short, slim, robust, or muscular, they were all beautiful. He flat-out had always loved women. And Club was filled with beautiful Preternatural women.

But her? Bold and earthy and the perfect shade of coffee heavy with cream, her lush beauty started a riot in his blood.

The three-inch heels of her purple sandals barely brought her up to Kaz’s shoulder. He watched as their lovely hands stretched toward each other, fingers air dancing over each other’s bodies. Their thighs flexed as their hips swayed side to side, pumping and gyrating in wild abandon. Wide smiles stretched their color-slicked lips as their laughter briefly overpowered the music.

Gods be damned, they were hot.

He could taste their mutual joy. Like sweet explosive berries soaked in champagne. His tongue quivered as he fought the need to lick the bead of sweat winding its way down the redhead’s long, smooth throat. He wanted to bury his hands in those curls. What he wouldn’t give to be able to wrap those locks around his wrists and pull her head down to—

As if she sensed his need, she half-turned to him. Murdok froze as eyes the color of lightning trapped under arctic ice met his gaze. She was extraordinary, and for the first time in ages, need punched into Murdok. Actual cock-pulsing gotta-have-her-now want kicked him hard with purple high heels.

Her parted lips curved in a come-hither smile. He wanted to bite those lips. Nibble the slightly fuller top lip before taking a firmer hold of her lush lower lip and sucking the sweet meat of her into the heat of his mouth. He bet she’d taste like syrup cooked in sin.

With a twitch of her fine ass, she spun until she faced him. The fingers of her right hand drummed along her thigh. When his gaze locked on those gracefully tapered digits, they began a slow course up the outside of her thigh, pausing along the curve of her hip, the dip of her waist, the flare of her full breast and coasting all the way up until her fingers extended above her head, where they twined with Kaz’s. The crowd whistled and howled as Kaz strutted around the redhead’s stationary form. Their fingers drifted apart when Kaz was once again behind her. The redhead shimmied down the long length of her friend, dipping her knees and pumping her hips, pulsing in time with the deep bass rhythm.

She was a minx. A temptress. And completely forbidden.

Copyright © Gina Fluharty

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