Fueled by wine and revenge, Poppy Jones will do whatever it takes to find her fiance’s killer, even if it means receiving help from their former vampire lover.
Only Poppy Jones can see the ghost of her fiance, Jackson. To find his killer, she must seek the help of their ex-lover, a vampire named Lucas. Lucas had loved Jackson as much as she and the three were nearly inseparable until Jackson’s death. While awaiting her day of vengeance, Poppy Jones is hired to find the missing daughter of a very powerful man. As she tries to prove the suspected kidnapper’s innocence, she is inadvertently forced into a toxic friendship with him. Poppy finds her quests intertwining and the two work together to find the truth behind the girl’s disappearance and the location of Jackson’s killer.
I pushed open the heavy iron door. The iron was to keep the fairy folk out. As if the fae wanted to consort with vampires. I stepped into the club and was greeted by a thick wall of thumping music. Sweaty bodies moved to the rhythmic sounds, gyrating up against one another in a massive orgy. It smelled like perspiration, the metallic scent of blood and a touch of the heady scent of sex. A wiry vamp with wide eyes the color of a muddy river shrank away from me. “I didn’t do nuthin’, Pop,” he said.
“Relax, Frankie,” I replied, “I’m not here to see you, but if you did do something, I will find out and I will be back.” I shouldered past him and a few other undeads before spotting my target. He was lounging in a booth with his fangs jammed into a pretty blonde’s neck. At first glance, I thought the blond was a woman, but then I spotted the telltale sign of the Adam’s apple. He was dressed as a woman and a hell of a lot more attractive than half the girls in this place. His head was lolled to the side and his eyes were closed in what I assumed was ecstasy. Vampires had that effect on humans. I knew that first hand. I approached the table, where I continued to be ignored. I knew the vampire could hear me above the pulsing beat of the music because vampires heard everything. He could even hear the sound of my blood pumping through my aortic valve. I slid onto the red vinyl of the seat across from him. Finally, he pulled himself away, licking away a trickle of blood from the corner of his mouth with his long, pointed tongue.
“Poppy Jones, to what do I owe the pleasure?”
Even after all these months, I was struck by how breathtaking he was. Yes, he was attractive, but not blindingly so. It was more than that. He just had this aura about him that made you want to be with him and even more so, touched by him. I swallowed hard. “This isn’t a pleasure visit, Lucas. You know why I’m here.”
He met my gaze steadily then whispered something to his blond donor. The blond glared at me hatefully and got up to leave. “You might want to clean yourself up a bit,” I told him, “you’ve got a little something right here.” I pointed to the area on my neck where two blood tracks raced down his. He spun around with an actual “humph” and stalked away on three-inch stiletto heels. I was not sad to see him go. “Where’s Callixtus,” I demanded when the blond faded from sight. Callixtus…the bane of my existence. I vowed to walk this earth as long as he lived.
Lucas blinked his baby blue eyes at me. They were outlined with heavy black eyeliner, making them all the more striking. “What makes you think I know where he is?”
I snorted derisively. “You were his lover and constant companion for the last, what, three hundred years or so? You were there that night. There is no doubt in my mind that you know where he is.”
“The things that happened that night were not of my doing, Poppy. Would you have saved me if you thought that I had something to do with it? Callixtus tried to kill me along with Jackson. When you realized there was no hope for Jackson, you bled yourself for me. I thought then that perhaps you loved me, albeit not the way you loved Jackson, but then you disappeared. Now eleven months later and you show up at my club to ask me where my maker lies? I never did quite understand you.”
I looked over Lucas’s shoulder to where Jackson stood. Lucas couldn’t see the sad look on Jackson’s transparent face, but I could. I saw ghosts everywhere I went. Jackson had been my partner and fiancÃ© in life. In death, he was still my partner, but the fiancÃ© thing wasn’t quite working out. When you couldn’t have a physical relationship with someone that you loved, it kind of ruined things.
I recalled the night of Jackson’s death vividly, as I often did. I remembered how his mismatched eyes widened and sought me out as Callixtus struck the killing blow. Someone screamed his name, but it wasn’t me. I was too shocked, it was Lucas. Lucas had loved Jackson as much as I did, Jackson had been his human servant. I shook my head to erase the memory. “I did love you, in a way, but that’s all over now. I’ve been tracking him, Lucas. He’s not easy to keep tabs on. You don’t survive for a thousand years by staying above ground in times of trouble, but I’ve heard that he’s back.”
He folded his arms across his chest. He was wearing a snug fitting black t-shirt. I knew what lay under that shirt. His muscles weren’t as well defined as Jackson’s, but they didn’t have to be. As I said, Lucas wasn’t perfect, but you wanted to touch him just the same. “Really? And who told you that?”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“Fairies are not reliable creatures, you know.”
My eyes widened. “How do you know that I work with fairies?”
His smile was cocky. “I have my sources as well.”
A short, brunette man walked over to our table and offered me his neck. It was pretty much how the club worked. Anyone over eighteen could come in and donate blood to the vamps. They usually offered their wrists or, if they were really submissive and trusting, their necks. “Sorry, I’m not a vamp,” I said.
He raised puppy dog eyes to me. “Do you want to bite me anyway?”
Jackson chuckled silently in the background. “No thanks, I don’t play that game.”
“Well, if you change your mind…”
“I won’t!” I snapped. I hated being mistaken for a vampire. It happened all too often because I had pale skin and flaming red hair. Plus I did a lot of work at night. I was a PI, Preternatural Investigator. Most of the weird stuff tended to happen at night, so I spent a good amount of time in the dark. “Look, Lucas,” I said when the kid walked away, “just tell me where he is.”
“I don’t know where he is.”
“I don’t believe you.”
He spread his arms out, palms up, a defeated gesture. “Poppy, I swear to you, I have no idea where he is. I have not seen him since that night. He is my maker, I cannot kill him, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to see him suffer for what he has done.”
I sighed heavily in frustration, I knew I was close to finding Callixtus, but he was always just out of my reach. “If you hear from him, promise me that you will let me know.”
He laid his hand on mine and rubbed his thumb gently across my wrist. It was a familiar gesture, one that I hadn’t felt in almost a year. “I’ve never stopped loving you. I miss what the three of us had.”
My expression hardened. “He’s dead, Lucas. We can’t ever go back”.
His thumb stopped its caressing and he pulled away. I fought the urge to put my hands under the table and wipe his touch from my skin. “If I hear from Callixtus, you’ll be the first one I call,” he said finally.
“Thanks,” I muttered getting up. I had to get out of here. Seeing Lucas brought back way too many memories. I saw Jackson every day, but it was different with Lucas. He was flesh and he was alive, well as alive as a vampire could be. Besides, I had a date.