They are the Others--the vampires, mages, and werewolves once thought to exist only in our imaginations. Now they're stepping out of the shadows, and nothing in our world will ever be the same again...
In A Town Like This, Being A P.I. Can Be Murder
Shiarra Waynest's detective work was dangerous enough when her client base was strictly mortal. But ailing finances have forced her to accept a lucrative case that could save her firm--if it doesn't kill her first. Shiarra has signed on to work for a high-level mage to recover an ancient artifact owned by one of New York's most powerful vampires.
As soon as Shiarra meets sexy, mesmerizing vamp Alec Royce, she knows her assignment is even more complicated than she thought. With a clandestine anti-Other group trying to recruit her, and magi being eliminated, Shiarra needs back-up and enlists her ex-boyfriend--a werewolf whose non-furry form is disarmingly appealing--and a nerdy mage with surprising talents. But it may not be enough. In a city where the undead roam, magic rules, and even the Others aren't always what they seem, Shiarra has just become the secret weapon in a battle between good and evil--whether she likes it or not...
"Fresh and snappy, dark and sexy, Hunted By The Others is a paranormal treat you'll gobble down in one eager sitting. Jess Haines is a talent to watch!" --Lara Adrian, New York Times bestselling author
"Take a sarcastic, likable heroine out of her depth with a mysterious, seductive vampire, add lots of scheming bad guys, and you've got a delightful romp of a book. Jess Haines just became my autobuy!" --Angela Knight, New York Times bestselling author
"A fun, high octane ride with a take charge heroine who will leave you wanting more." --Alexandra Ivy, New York Times bestselling author
"Haines' fresh, feisty and fast-paced debut is full of litigious vampires, sexy shapeshifters and a mage sidekick akin to Bond's Q, what more could you want?" --Mark Henry, author of Battle Of The Network Zombies
"Fresh, hilarious, and action-packed. I loved every minute of it." --Lilith Saintcrow, author of Flesh Circus
"A sexy, bruising tango of supernatural fun and vampiric mayhem." --Mario Acevedo, author of Jailbait Zombie.
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May 03, 2010
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Excerpt from Hunted By The Others by Jess Haines
Long, delicate fingers caressed the stem of a wineglass, trailing upward to catch a few small beads of condensation on the glass. Sultry eyes the color of the sky during a summer storm bored into me from across the cloth-covered table, with all of the woman's not-inconsiderable power of compulsion behind them. I knew what she was trying to do, which didn't make it any easier to resist.
Taking a deep breath, I forced my gaze away as nonchalantly as I could to look through the bay window beside our table. Staring at the rippling black waters of a little man-made pond, dotted with reflected lights and a single white swan, beat falling into a black enchant by looking into Veronica's eyes. The bird floated, serene and oblivious, as a laughing young couple threw bits of bread at it to try to lure it closer.
Swans were pretty but vicious if you got too close. Much like my dinner companion.
She was still waiting oh-so-breathlessly for my reply. With a sigh, I dragged my attention off the sights outside and back to the mage, careful not to meet her gaze directly.
"Look, it's not that I don't need the money, but I don't kill vampires for magi. First and foremost, I'm human. I can't compete with you guys. Second, I'm a private detective, not an assassin. Not to mention that it's still illegal to kill vamps without a signed warrant."
It took every ounce of willpower I had not to look into those over bright eyes and change my mind. Hey, I hated vampires as much as the next human, but I wasn't about to go hunt one down like a crazy person and get myself killed. My job was scary enough as it was without adding angry vampires to the list of stalkers trying to get a piece of my hide to make up for the grief I caused them.
"Shiarra, I'm not asking you to kill him. Just," Veronica paused, her persuasive tones trailing off into a throaty "hmm" before she continued, "just find out what he's up to. Detain him if necessary.
Find the location of a little trinket for us. My coven will take care of the rest."
Her cherry lips curved in a smile more predatory than any vamp's, her pinkish tongue darting out to run suggestively along her upper lip once she noticed that was where my attention was focused. God, I hate magi.
In the back of my mind, I wondered darkly why Jenny, our receptionist-slash-bookkeeper, had set this appointment without checking with me first.
Belatedly recalling that she went over the bills with my business partner on a regular basis, I realized she must have decided the need to pay our bills outweighed my likely moral outrage. Under any other circumstances, the moment I found out a potential client was an Other, I walked. Jenny knew this. She also knew that since money was so tight, I'd probably at least agree to hear the mage out. After finding out what she wanted, though, I was starting to regret agreeing to stay through dinner.
"I know I made the news with that whole Were incident at the Embassy last month, but honestly, that was my first run-in with supernaturals. I don't have the experience or the equipment to deal with vampires."
I tried to sound reasonable, though I was afraid I was coming across more testy and frightened. This woman really put me on edge, though I tried to tell myself it was what she was asking me to do, not the aura and crackle of magic surrounding her, that did it. Maybe it had something to do with her coming on to me? Either way, I didn't like it.
"Frankly, I don't think you could pay me enough to put my life on the line against a vampire. Shouldn't you be getting a half-blood? Or another mage to deal with him?"
Little furrows appeared between those perfectly shaped brows of hers. Her hair was a lovely mahogany shade that didn't quite match the dark brown of those eyebrows, framing her delicate, oval face. I hated that she could pull the look off so effortlessly.
My hopelessly curly red hair would never look as sleek and sophisticated as her artfully careless 'do. It was probably spelled to look that way.
"The Ageless would know us for our magic. That wouldn't work at all. A half-blood would kill first, ask questions later. Same with a Were." She paused, thinking. "Unless, of course, he killed them first."
I leaned back in the chair, crossing my arms over my chest. "Not really helping your cause here."
The woman started tapping her perfectly manicured nails on the table, leaning back as she eyed me anew. Something in that look told me wheels were turning and her plans were changing. Uh-oh.
"A human is our only chance. You have no taint of magic, no scent of change on you. You also now have some familiarity with, and have proven yourself capable against, supernaturals."
For a moment, Veronica's lip curled faintly in a sneer, venomous but gone almost as soon as it appeared.
I would have missed it if I hadn't been staring at her lips and nose, avoiding looking directly into her eyes. Her features resumed that intent predatory look that told me she was only barely hiding her contempt for the lowly pure-blood human, doing what she could to put me on edge.
Sadly, it was working.
"As I said, we do not want him dead, just watched. You can get close without fear of injury, since he has plenty of willing donors and is known for his restraint. The worst that could happen is you being banned from his places of business."
It was my turn to tap my nails. "Aside from an abrupt, painful death, that is the worst thing that could happen to me. Alec Royce owns half the nightclubs and restaurants in the city. Those are the places I go to track my marks."
I glanced at my watch in an effort to give her the hint that I wasn't going to stick around much longer for this crazy talk, even if she was picking up the tab.
She gave an overly dramatic sigh, no longer hiding her annoyance. She dropped the sickly sweet tones she'd been affecting and finally put a cap on the damn aura she'd been exuding since this dinner started. No wonder the waiter hadn't come to refill our glasses in almost an hour.
"Shiarra Waynest, you forget yourself. The other half of the city belongs to The Circle, and we are more than prepared to compensate you. Fifty thousand, plus expenses, and an extra ten thousand if you find what we're looking for. Five thousand up front, and your pick of equipment from The Circle's own security vaults. We'll give you protection, and more work if you do well at this job."
I sat back, speechless. Five grand to start? My usual take only came out to two thousand, sometimes up to four if it the job was tricky or somewhat dangerous. Plus equipment? Expenses? Maybe this really was a godsend in disguise. I wondered if she might know that I had debt up to my ears and a car payment that was killing me. Plus I think my PI license was about due for renewal, and let's not forget taxes coming just around the bend. Mental note: get Jenny a very, very nice thank-you card and a bonus.
Taking my stunned silence as a bad sign, Veronica narrowed her eyes and threw another bone on the table. "Is that too little? Fine, make it ten if you get the information, and another twenty if you find the location of the artifact."
Lifting my napkin up to my mouth to hide the fact that I couldn't snap my jaw shut, I took just a moment to close my eyes, take a breath, and remind myself that I'd be walking right into a death trap if I took this job. I thought bleakly about the stack of bills that seemed to grow larger every day.
Most unsettling was the one from my landlord that had appeared in my mailbox a few days back. I hadn't quite been able to bring myself to open it yet. My cut of the deposit for this job would be enough to cover the demands of my landlord, and maybe a few of the other creditors demanding a good chunk of my income.
Though I couldn't help but feel I was betraying something inside myself, something important, I gave her the words she wanted to hear, however grudgingly. "I'll do it. What is it I'm looking for?"
Veronica leaned back in her chair and smiled grimly, a sly light in her eyes. I really hoped I would live long enough to regret this.