Keeper of the Shadows - By Alexandra Sokoloff Page 0,1

other artists, some seeking protective camouflage in this famously eccentric town. There was a saying that “Everyone in California is from somewhere else.” So not true; Barrie herself was a proud native Californian. But in a community of outsiders, no one looked twice at someone different, and that made Others relatively safe in their conspicuousness.

And almost since the first appearance of an Other, there had also been families born with the mark of certain beings, indicating their potential as Keepers: mortals with some of the powers of the beings they were marked with who could communicate and facilitate between the worlds.

Keepers were sworn to uphold the Code of Silence: to keep the secret of the existence of the Otherworld. And to that end, if there was trouble or outright crime in the Otherworld that threatened to spill over into the human world and expose the existence of the Others, it was the Keepers’ duty to keep the peace—quietly.

Barrie had been waiting to take on that duty all her life. Even so, it had been a shock when it happened so quickly, just months ago, when her father and his two brothers, Keepers of the shifters, vampires and Elven of the L.A. canyon districts, were called to the newly established international Council of Keepers in the Netherlands. Barrie, Rhiannon and Sailor had suddenly been thrust into the Keeping of the Canyon.

Now, instead of the endless waiting and training, it was all real. Rhiannon and Sailor had already been instrumental in solving two recent cases, a series of murders committed by a power-mad vampire and the mystery of a rare blood disease killing off Elven.

Every morning—well, some days more like afternoon—since Barrie had taken the oath in front of the local Keepers’ Council, she’d woken up with a fluttery feeling of exhilaration, almost like that feeling you get when you know you’re going to meet...someone. It wasn’t that she wanted trouble, or crime, of course not, but trouble was inevitable, and when it came, she would be ready for it.

Until just recently she’d been struggling along doing “filler” stories on the Courier, and in the current journalistic climate, with newspapers shutting down all over the country, she’d felt lucky to get those. But a piece she’d done on the string of vampire murders that her cousin Rhiannon and Rhiannon’s now-fiancé, LAPD homicide detective Brodie McKay, had solved, had not just solidified her job but moved her up to the crime beat.

Barrie’s job on the paper perfectly complemented her Keeper duties. As a crime beat reporter—well, actually, crime beat stringer, but she would get there eventually—she was able to get a first look at police reports to scan them for Other-related crimes that needed immediate attention or intervention, to ensure that: 1) humans were not harmed by out-of-control Others, and 2) the Others and the Otherworld remained a secret from the human population of the city.

So, Saul Mayo the movie mogul, being a human, or formerly human, didn’t interest her.

Good riddance, anyway, she thought uncharitably. Mayo hadn’t been known for his humanitarian efforts.

She steered away from the swarm of her colleagues and was headed for the local crime editor’s desk when she saw the one person she didn’t want to see coming toward her.

Mick Townsend.

A newbie on the paper, and a thorn in Barrie’s side from the instant he’d shown up. For one thing, jobs were scarce enough without extra competition. But that was only the start of it.

Townsend was waaay too good-looking to be a journalist, and too stylish, too. In a city of surreally gorgeous people, he was truly heart-stopping, if you liked men who were a combination of all the best parts of young Leo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman.

Only movie stars were supposed to look like that; there was something almost preternaturally beautiful about him. Dark gold hair and green eyes under perfectly arched eyebrows, cheekbones that could cut glass. The way he held himself, that casually aristocratic elegance that was the territory of actors and, well, aristocrats.... He moved like a cat, strong as a panther and just as lithe. He was tall, too, which made Barrie glad she was wearing some serious heels—tonight, Chanel pumps to go with the little Balenciaga number she’d found in her favorite thrift store in Echo Park. Vintage was a particularly good look for her. People were smaller then, too.

Mick Townsend stopped right in her path, blocking her way and towering over her in an alarmingly commanding way. “Gryffald.”

She put up