Book Description: Monroe is love with the wife of his greatest enemy, Master Vampire, Christian Vallore. When Monroe stumbles upon a “cure” to turn vampires human, he kidnaps her and turns her against her will. Will this be the wake-up call she needs to switch sides? Or will Monroe’s obsession with her lead to his death?
Excerpt from CK #4: My Bloody Valentine
Winters Residence: Honeyville, Caron
Today was a brisk morning. Fall brought cold winds and burned the olive leaves changing them to brown. Mrs. Winters loved this weather.
She spent the morning resting on a porch swing drinking her morning coffee. Always lively, the street she lived on was great for people watching. Her deck was her favorite place in the house.
When she spotted a pair of police walking up the road, she watched them. If they were here, there was trouble in the neighborhood. One had light blond hair styled in a surfer boy fashion, highlights of white hiding within the locks. Heavyset, he reminded her of a security guard.
His tight uniform outlined his muscles and made her blush. She never met him before and guessed he was new.
She knew the fellow with him, though. Officer Hogan isn’t much to gawk at. He was in his late fifties and covered in cuts and bruises. Poor guy. She wondered when he’d retire.
Even though her boy, Josh, had run-ins with the neighborhood cop, she respected him. He protected the neighborhood. It made him good in her book.
Josh. The thought of him made her fume. As a kid, he caused trouble regularly. From skateboarding in the freight yard, spray painting buildings, and doing many nasty drugs, he did it all. It astonished her he wasn’t in prison.
His dad said Josh would give him a heart attack and maybe he succeeded. He passed years ago, and she since remarried. The kids hated their stepdad, and it caused tension between them.
Her gaze narrowed as the officers entered her lot. This was unexpected. She stood and forced a smile.
Last time Hogan came, he notified her of her daughter, Kelly’s, death. She swallowed the sad image. It happened two weeks ago, and it hadn’t sunk in she was dead.
“Good morning, Officers.” She spoke in a chipper tone even though she felt the opposite.
“Mrs. Winters,” the blond addressed her as he withdrew his sunglasses and exposed a pair of striking green eyes. “May we talk inside for a few minutes?” He gestured to the house. He had a thick Sarvonese accent, his tone gruff and deeper than most. It added to this handsome rogue’s charm. On top of being gorgeous, he was foreign.
“Certainly,” she answered. She signaled for the men to follow as she picked up her coffee mug. She sought to open the front door, but the blond beat her to it.
“After you.” He held the screen door open and suggested with his hand for her to pass through first.
“Oh, what a gentleman.” Shying, she stepped into her home. He may be a policeman, but his mischievous grin was criminal.
She searched the room and realized she was unprepared for guests. Her spouse’s empty beer bottles from last night’s binge littered the table.
She dashed in ahead of them, set her coffee on the table, snatched the bottles, and whisked them to the kitchen.
Her Pomeranian barked at them, hopping off the ground and cornering the police near the front door. She had a loud, piercing bark, one hurting her ears. Unphased, the officers were likely used to dogs by now.
“She’s friendly, so she won’t bite.” Mrs. Winters swooped up the pooch. “Please, sit. I’ll put her outside.” She pointed to the couch. When they sat, she took the dog outside and returned to the living room.
She parked next to the blond on the couch. He smelled marvelous, and it made her blush. She kept her hands in her lap and acknowledged Officer Ken Doll and Officer Hogan. “What can I help you with? Is this about those missing girls? I heard those Santo girls down the street are gone. If you ask me, they’re fine. They left with boys.”
“First, let me introduce myself. I’m Officer Valentine.” The blond held out his hand, and she shook it. His palms were rough and calloused. They were working man’s hands. “It’s nice to meet you, Mrs. Winters.”
She clutched his hand, her voice giddy. “And a pleasure to meet you, too, Officer Valentine.” She checked his left hand for a ring but didn’t see one. “What can I help you with?” She cupped her knees as she sat on the edge of the couch.
“Do you know where your daughter, Addison, is, Mrs. Winters?” Valentine’s brow creased, but his approach was professional. He placed a lot into his image, his teeth a shining white and his skin tanned. He likely spent hours at the gym a day. To keep that massive build, he had to.
“Addison?” she spat out, irritability in her voice as she sought to guess where this would lead. She grabbed her coffee and took a swallow. It was lukewarm. “Why are you searching for her? She never gets into trouble.” Mrs. Winters put a fist to her breast, concern in her tone. “Oh, my god—nothing happened to her did it? My baby’s okay, right? I lost a daughter two weeks ago, I can’t lose another.”
“It’s what we’re checking on.” Valentine interrupted her hysterics. “Do you know where she is?”
“Um…” Mrs. Winters paused. Since her daughter, Kelly’s funeral, she hadn’t communicated with Addison. The pair wasn’t close, and she had no idea where her child was. So, she responded as best as she could. “If I had to guess, she’s with that husband of her’s jet-setting around the country.”
“Husband?” Valentine’s jaw dropped, his eyes wide as headlights. The news floored him.
“She’s married? There is no document of her being wed.” Hogan gestured with his hands, his gaze bouncing between Valentine and Mrs. Winters. “How long has she—”
“Who’s her husband?” Valentine’s words wobbled as he butted in.
“Christian Vallore,” she responded as she gushed and bit her lip. “You know, the gazillionaire guy.”
She informed everyone who her daughter wed, but most didn’t believe her. Addison was a shining star, and it was clear she’d marry rich. But because her mother told fibs from time to time, her friends didn’t trust her. Not having a picture of the pair didn’t help, either. But these were the police, so they’d have to trust her.
“Christian Va-va—” Valentine attempted to speak, but couldn’t push out the words.
“Are you all right?” She checked Valentine over further. He was fixed to keel over, his skin pale and his breathing rapid.
“He’s diabetic.” Hogan stood and gestured to her. “I think his sugar’s low. Do you have anything we can give him?”
“I’m fine,” Valentine snapped as he held a hand to his face and hid his eyes. Embarrassment reddened his cheeks.
Hogan sat next to her, planting his rear on the arm of the sofa. When she didn’t act, he asked again. “Mrs. Winters?”
“I got something. I’ll be right back.” She dashed to the kitchen and foraged in the fridge for a treat. The miserable fellow. Mrs. Rogers down the road had low blood sugars often, and she went into convulsions. This condition was dangerous. Rogers got mean like a horse beforehand, as the officer had.
She returned to the living room with a can of dark soda. Hogan whispered to Valentine, his arm around Valentine’s shoulder. Valentine was on the brink of tears.
“Here.” She handed Valentine the drink.
Valentine swallowed hard as he examined the can and was slow to consume it.
“Drink it before you pass out.” Hogan forced Valentine to sip the pop. “I’ll take over the interrogation.”
“Is he okay?” Mrs. Winters sat in the armchair near them.
“Yes, he will be. He needs a few minutes for the sugar to work.” Hogan’s turkey neck wrinkled when he looked down on her. He had a jolliness to him, and it softened his edges. “I apologize for this.”
“It’s fine,” she responded.
“So, she’s married to Vallore?” Hogan asked. “For how long?”
“Not long. Maybe a few months. I know they kept it a secret for a while.” Her lips tightened as she shifted her chin forward and stiffened her jaw. She concentrated on a print of her daughter, Kelly. She’d set up a small shrine near the window. “I didn’t find out until the funeral.”
Mrs. Winters sought to hold a lid on her anger. It infuriated her when Addison got married under her nose and made a clown of her in front of friends and family at the funeral. She still hadn’t forgiven her daughter, and they were amid a massive fight.
“Have you met your daughter’s spouse?” Hogan took out a notepad and pen from his back pants pocket.
“Yes, at her sister’s funeral. He came with her.” She frowned, Kelly’s death fresh. She paused a few seconds to recover herself before speaking. Holding a hand on her heart, she softened her voice. “He was a really good-looking guy. Dark hair and the loveliest set of blue eyes.”
She fidgeted with the collar on her button-up blouse as she watched out the window. Through the sheer draperies, she got a hindered view of the street. “Almost like a wolf. I won’t forget his eyes. They were crystal blue.”
“And did they seem—” Hogan sighed, irritation in his tone as he hesitated. He peeked at his associate, who rubbed the surface of the pop can and checked out of the conversation. Hogan tapped his pen on the paper as he talked. “—loving toward each other?”
“I guess so.” She squinted as she studied the eight-by-ten photograph of Kelly in the middle of the altar. It was her high school portrait and ten years old. “But he looked way out of her league. He was intelligent—rich—and boy so smooth he could persuade anyone. He was the human definition of silver-tongued.”
“That’s Vallore,” Valentine uttered.
“But still—” She paused, her brow wrinkling at an inner thought. “He seemed controlling. He watched her like one would their child in the front yard. He had to know where she was all the time and sized up everyone that came over to talk to her.”
She gave a sideways smile, her lips tight as she crossed her legs. “Maybe it’s just me, but I found that quite odd.” She draped her arm over her knee and turned her body toward Valentine, her toes touching his calf. “Her daddy was like that with me. The barefoot and pregnant type. It wouldn’t surprise me she’d have the same taste in men.”
Her eyebrows raised as she puckered her lips and spoke in a higher tone, her words meant to mock. “She was a little daddy’s girl, after all.” When she took a sip of her coffee, she shuddered at the unpleasant taste.
“Any abuse in the family?” Valentine asked as he spoke into his can.
“We gave them the belt, if that’s what you mean.” The question enraged her. She straightened as she rolled her shoulders back several times. “You can’t do that anymore. Damn kids get away with everything nowadays.”
Hogan responded to a few domestic calls at her house in the past and knew both her husbands were abusive. A few months ago, he came when her husband smashed her nose in when she forgot to buy beer.
Thankfully, Hogan changed the subject. “Back to Addison.” He cleared his throat and nose. “You’re right to be doubtful of the union. Vallore’s involved in criminal activity, ma’am,” Hogan replied, “but we didn’t know he married your daughter. There’s no report of her getting married.”
“So, you think it’s a sham marriage?” Troubled, her gaze narrowed on him.
“Looks like it might be,” Hogan spoke as he jotted down the information.
“I knew it.” She growled and noted a new stain from Kiki, her Pomeranian, under the coffee table. Still damp, she worried the detectives might smell piss. “I told Josh that Vallore looked like a bad guy, but he swore to me he wasn’t. My Josh works at the Vallore manor near here. In Monte.”
“Did he introduce Addison to Vallore?” Hogan asked as he scooted to the edge of the couch. The keys on his belt jangled, the thick leather strap crunching with his movement.
“No, she met her husband in Pargon. Terrance, I think. He asked her to work on some paintings.” She talked to Valentine instead, as she examined his face. He had remarkable eyes, veins of yellow and green in his irises and a distinct black ring around them.
She giggled as she flapped her hand and made her bracelets jingle. She wore a lot of jewelry, a ring on every finger. “And we both know that’s not what he wanted. He wanted my Addy. Got her at a good time, too.”
“How so?” Hogan asked as he tapped the end of his pen on his notepad.
She continued. “He’s big into the arts and so is Addison. She had an awful time adjusting there because she couldn’t speak Sarvonese. She was homesick. Actually—” She halted to reflect. “She hadn’t been on her own before then. She had a tough time with it. In such a pitiful state, she was easy prey for this Vallore guy.”
Hogan tried to talk. “Do you—”
Mrs. Winters cut him off. “Before him, she latched on to some other boy.” She snorted as she set her hand on Valentine’s thigh. “A repairman. Can you believe that? My cultured little girl marrying a common Mr. Fix-it. What a ridiculous match.”
Valentine stiffened his jaw and turned to the side. He’d checked out again.
“What was his name?” Hogan returned to the interview, his pen at the ready to note the name.
“I don’t recall. James? Or was it John?” Puckering her clenched lips, she fixated on the blank television screen as she grappled to recall. “I’m not sure.” She turned to Hogan. “Addison found out he was an addict and that ended it. Maybe Vallore swept her up after that heartbreak. I’m not sure. She went out with that boy a few times and he could speak Caronese. Josh described him as the blond surfer type. Gym rat. You know, the stereotyped kind you meet in films and such.”
“Like me,” Valentine muttered, his brow furled. He took offense to the remark.