It should come as no surprise to anyone we are sharing a snippet from Lauren’s latest book as she is one of our favorite authors, and this series is one of Heather’s favorite paranormal series. Lauren is also giving away a copy of Going Under to one commenter. Just leave a note telling us what you love about this series.
She looked over at him and shook her head. “Lark told me about the last run-in with them. Still, I’d like to think I could do this on my own. I’m not totally helpless.”
“We’ve gone over this many times before, Molly. You’re not totally helpless at all. But this world, well I’m more familiar with it. And I know how to set shit on fire. I’m handy to have around if things get out of hand. Just think of it that way. Never, ever deal with vampires if you’re not armed. Consider me your weapon.”
“That and the two rather large sidearms you’re wearing.”
“You saw that, huh?”
“Yes.” She wore a smile, one he thought . . . well, it couldn’t be a sexy smile. She was amused by him. Which worked better than sexy. Right? They were better off as friends and nothing more. They’d work better that way. Even if he was fighting off the urge to sniff her, or smooch her every time he got her alone these days.
It was the way she made him laugh. That’s all.
“Look, there’s going to be a little push and shove here. They’re going to want me to show my belly. And that’s not going to happen. It’s mainly ceremonial anyway. Just let me handle that part.” He pulled up to the gate and stopped, rolling his window down. A burly human guard muscled over and gave them the eye.
“Molly Ryan here to see Franco Pendergast on behalf of Clan Owen.”
“She’s on the list, but you’re not, Garrity.”
“He’s my interpreter.” Molly leaned over, hovering over Gage’s lap, her hair close enough to his face that he had no choice but to breathe her in. Goddamn, she smelled good. And right over his cock. He held his breath before he said or did something stupid. Oh, and he probably should pay attention too. “Wouldn’t want to make a mistake with so much at stake, now would I?”
The guard looked down at her, a surly expression, which faded quickly as he caught sight of her. Another one bites the dust. The woman could seemingly win over everyone. But the PURITY people, anyway.
“Do you have identification?”
“I do.” She braced a hand on Gage’s thigh to sit up to grab her bag and he ground his teeth together. Shortly she produced her wallet with her driver’s license, which the guard decided was enough.
“I recognize you, Gage. Go on up to the house. You’ll need to leave the guns in the car. You know he doesn’t allow them in the house.”
Fine. He could still be a weapon without sidearms anyway. And they both knew it.
Molly knew Gage didn’t need to be there. Lark had told her Owen and the Vampire Nation had a peace accord. One Lark had brokered herself just a month before.
But she had no trouble admitting she liked having Gage around. This was all totally foreign to her. Being out of her element was one thing. Dealing with vampires was something totally different. Lark had had to break noses and arms and stuff to be taken seriously. Molly could be a badass, but breaking things was most assuredly Gage’s arena.
Plus he looked unbelievably hot in those snug, dark utility pants with his combat boots and those damned guns strapped to his thighs. Really, really nice thighs.
Okay she had to stop thinking about his thighs. Or his belly, which she caught sight of when he bent to put the guns in a locked case in the trunk.
“From here on, they can hear what we say. Even if we whisper it. So save anything important for later, all right?”
She tore her gaze from his ass, guilty and totally busted. He wore the glimmer of a smirk, but straightened.
“Yes. Yes. I got it.” She’d been careful about what she’d chosen to wear. Too much hiding of the neck and it only emphasized it. Too much exposed skin and the result was the same. So a shirt with a collar worked.
The front door opened as they approached. More guards. “Franco is waiting. Come in. I need to pat you down.”
Gage stepped in front of her, putting himself between them. “No, you don’t. I put my weapons away as requested. I’m not going to allow you to put your hands on her.”
“Then you can’t come in.”
Molly shrugged and stepped back. She really didn’t want this guy’s hands all over her. And if Gage didn’t want it, well, then she didn’t want it even more. “All right then. Good day.” She turned, speaking to Gage over her shoulder. “Let him know when you call later that this opportunity is only available so long. I have other things to do. He can of course deal with the humans alone. Or face them in a coalition with all Others. I know our preference. Mr. Pendergast needs to figure out his.”
A male came out into the main room, skirting the light at the front door. “Back off, Mike. Let them pass. Mr. Garrity understands what would happen if he tried anything.”
The vampire male wasn’t handsome. Not really. But he was compelling. His eyes were so brown they were nearly black. He wore a soft sweater and trousers. Nice watch. Nary a hint of crusty blood at his lips or anything like that. No cape either.
He bowed slightly. “Ms. Ryan, the Vampire Nation welcomes you to our nest.”
She did the same, her gaze focused on his eyebrows. “Thank you, Clan Owen is grateful for your welcome.”
He smiled. “Well done. Come in. I’ve just had coffee brought in. It looks cold and wet out there. Warm up and give me your pitch.”
That had gone amazingly well. Molly smiled as she waited for Gage to open her hotel room door and do his thing.
That’s when she saw the boxes had finally arrived from Chicago. She managed to withhold her little dance of joy, but the sight of her mother’s concise handwriting on the address labels comforted her anyway.
“Looks like your stuff arrived.” Gage turned to her with a smile.
Faine showed up. “Hope you don’t mind that I brought it all in for you. It arrived at the office so I delivered it here. Figured you’d like to go through it all here rather than there.”
“Thank you, Faine. I appreciate that very much.” She turned back to Gage. “Thanks for guarding me with the vampires today as well. Go on, have a life. I’m safe in my gilded cage.”
“You did an awesome job. I can’t believe they extended an offer to let Meriel address their Convocation. And to send a representative with you when you to testify too. You have a way about you. Honestly, it’s fun to go with you just to see what you’ll get people to give you.”
She blushed, the warmth of Gage’s compliments washing over her. “I’ll see you both tomorrow. I plan on a pizza and a lot of unpacking.”
Gage nodded and Faine lifted a hand as they both backed from the room and left her alone.
She knew exactly which box she wanted to open first.
Thank goodness her mother hadn’t been offended by her rather precise instructions. Molly cut the top open and carefully unpacked the turntable. She placed it carefully on the counter and went back to get the Bose dock that would also serve as her speakers until she moved into a real apartment and had the room for her whole setup.
She found all the cords, neatly labeled by her mother, and got everything hooked up before she found the box with all her non-work clothes and opened it, changing into jeans and a T-shirt before returning to grab a glass of wine and the box with her records.
Molly knew exactly which one she wanted. The orangey glow of Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy greeted her as she pulled it out and slid the record from the sleeve.
Ah. She cleaned everything and placed it down, putting the needle at the beginning of “The Ocean” and stood back as the crackle spilled into the room over the speakers and she felt a million times better as the song started.
She’d been scared spitless at the very first when they’d driven up toward Casa de Vampire. Ha. But being with Gage had made it better. The way he’d consistently helped her through things, given her advice and even taught her some awesome new defensive magick spells—had all combined to build her confidence in this entirely new world she found herself in.
Also, her crush on Gage burned still within her. Man, he was so . . . hot. Smart. Sexy. Strong. Powerful. He was all manly and protective and it rang her bell. Not her type at all. But apparently she’d been doing it all wrong because hello.
When he’d gotten in between her and the bodyguard earlier that day her entire body had come to attention. She really shouldn’t be thinking of him in the way she was just then. But whatever, it was in the privacy of her hotel room and she could objectify anyone she wanted in her fantasies!
The song ended and she flipped the record over. Strange to think that her life had settled in such an odd way. Adrift, away from everything she knew, she was beginning to find her way. It gave her some measure of comfort and right then, her records, her cupcake socks and a glass of wine did the trick.
In the wake of the Magister’s rampage, chaos rules. Left reeling, the Others and the humans scramble to create a some sort of unity in the face of growing unrest and violence from anti-Other hate groups federation—and ruthless PR guru Molly Ryan is the witch who can do it. She grew up in the human world but there’s nothing left for her there. She’s lost her PR firm, her friends and she’s decided to put all her fight toward aiding the Others in this dark, new reality. If there’s anything left for her there, she’s going to fight for it. But Gage Garrity, one of the few Others who survived the massacre, fears that the crusade will expose Molly to greater dangers than ever before.