Guardian's Grace (Dark Protectors #12) - Rebecca Zanetti Page 0,1

and plastering themselves against the sole dartboard, their eyes wide and their chests sunken.

She stopped breathing. Damn it. Grabbing her bag, she moved toward the restroom behind her and the window she’d already scoped out—just in case this assignation went south.

“Grace?” The voice came from near the back exit. The low, dark, accented tenor stopped her cold.

She slowly turned, her body flashing to full-on panic mode. It couldn’t be. No, no, no, no, no.


Adare stood there, the surprise on his face quickly banked. The fury in his impossibly black eyes, however, glittered harsh and bright.

She edged backward.

“Dinnae even think it.” In his anger, his Scottish brogue, the product of a distant time and place, broke free and strong. His black hair hung to his shoulders, dotted with snow that was quickly melting. For the raid, or whatever this was, he’d worn a jacket, cargo pants, and boots—all black and more than likely concealing various weapons.

“Holy shit,” Sebastian muttered, standing and turning.

Grace nodded. If she could shove Sebastian toward Adare, she might be able to—

Adare’s nostrils flared, and her body reacted, stopping her in her tracks. Then he started moving toward her, smooth and graceful, his six-foot-six height and broad chest making him look like the proverbial immovable object.

Sebastian swallowed loudly and backed to her side. “That guy is huge. Like huge, huge.” He looked toward her, one fluorescent blue contact falling out of his eye. “What have you gotten me into?”

The lump in her throat nearly choked her. “Nothing. You’re fine, but don’t go around pretending to be something you’re not. Trust me, Sebastian.”

“Freddy,” the kid croaked. “My name is Freddy. Not Sebastian. I thought that sounded more like a creature of the night.”

The huge blond guy’s mouth dropped open and then shut quickly.

Oh, this was so bad. She’d tried hard not to leave a trail. Fake name, fake email address, and she’d even moved around to use different library computers and IP addresses—in different towns. What kind of laws had she broken? As far as she knew, there weren’t prisons for immortals, so what did that leave? Death for treason?

Not that she wasn’t dying anyway.

The blond, his black eyes taking in the entire room, quickly stepped up to the bar and flashed a badge. “U.S. Government. We only want those two for federal crimes.”

“Whew,” one of the kids in the back sighed.

The bartender shrugged, still drying off a beer glass with a dirty towel. “Take ’em.”

Freddy lifted his hands. “I haven’t done anything. Really. The chick is nuts. She thought I was a vampire, and she wanted to buy blood, so I figured, why not? Freaky sex might be fun.”

“Shut. Up.” Adare manacled Freddy’s neck with one hand, cutting off all sound. Without taking his gaze off Grace, he flicked his wrist and tossed Freddy toward the blond. “Nick? Take him, please.”

The please, for some reason, sent shivers down Grace’s back. Her legs weakened, but she lifted her chin, facing Adare. It had been nearly three years since they’d crossed paths, and he appeared even better-looking than she remembered. Meaner and bigger, too. A pissed-off expression on him was normal, but this one was new. All heat and fury. “I’ll get going, too,” she said, taking another step back.

Nick caught Freddy and leaned to the side, holding the human like a rag doll. “Adare? Do you know this female?”

Adare slowly nodded, his focus stronger than any hold. “She’s my mate.”

“I am not,” she retorted.

“Yes. You. Are.” Adare’s face was as impenetrable as rock, even as the words rolled out with that brogue.

Nick’s light eyebrows rose. He looked around the bar and, apparently satisfied that nobody was going to attack, returned his focus to Adare. “What’s your mate doing trying to buy vampire blood in Colorado?” he whispered.

It sounded ridiculous. Heat spread up Grace’s chest to her face, causing her cheeks to pound.

Adare’s gaze followed the heat, making her even warmer. “We’re about to get an answer to that question.” He held out one broad hand, no leniency on his hard face. “Let’s do this somewhere else.”

It was an order, not a question.

“No.” She said it softly but with authority. The bond of their mating was almost gone, and he had no hold on her. He never would, which suited them both just fine. “This was obviously a mistake, so let’s just go our separate ways.”

His lids half-lowered, slowly and deliberately, the deadly predator at his core fully visible. Not many people disobeyed the dangerous hybrid, and a human female,