Blood on the Water

 

There is no line a mother won’t cross to save her daughter.

Picking  up immediately after the conclusion of Burton’s exciting novel Blood Justice, Blood on the Water opens as Justine, vampire Simone Gireaux and their mortal friend Teresa Diaz bring long-delayed vengeance to the man who murdered Justine’s own mother more than twenty years earlier. Now they have one more mystery to solve: the whereabouts of Teresa’s abducted daughter, Antonia. Their Nemesis in Blood Justice, Stephan Sinakov, had told them that Antonia was “sold”—but to whom, and for what purpose, they can only speculate.

Confident that Antonia isn’t dead, the three women seek help from old contacts of Simone’s in Massachusetts. They are plunged into a world of magic and sorcery, where powerful witches struggle for control of an underground network. This battle involves plenty of fighting with mundane weapons and high-tech gadgetry as well as spells and psychic power. Helping Teresa, Justine and Simone in their quest proves to have a very high cost for their friends. But in the course of their adventures, Teresa learns that she herself is heir to an unexpected gift.  As they travel down the Eastern seaboard, Teresa struggles to learn how to control and use her abilities in a trial by fire.

Ultimately, Antonia is traced to a yacht owned by a mysterious and unimaginably wealthy vampire. Meanwhile, both allies and old foes from Blood Justice are pursuing the three women from California. But the truth about Antonia’s abduction may shatter Teresa’s determination to reclaim her daughter.

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First pages excerpt from – BLOOD on the Water 

ON THE ROAD

On the road half an hour later, crossing the Mississippi River into Illinois, Teresa Diaz’s sleepy voice came from the back seat of their full-size SUV. She still carried a slight Hispanic accent from her childhood in Mexico. “What time is it?”

After a long expectant pause, Simone said from the driver’s seat, “Almost midnight.”

“How far to Boston?”

“About twelve hundred miles. You should sleep now.”

Another long silence. “Did you… do it? Es terminado?”

Justine stared out the passenger window. “Yes.”

“I will pray for him.”

“Please don’t. It’s too late for him.”

“Then I will pray for you.”

“Too late for me, too.”

“You’re my friend. I will pray anyway.”

Justine reached her hand back through the gap between the front seats. Teresa took her hand.

“Thank you,” Justine said. They held hands for a few minutes until Teresa drifted into sleep.

 

CHAPTER ONE

BOSTON

The three women cruised into Boston around eight at night under a clear, moonless sky. Justine drove, Simone navigated.

Teresa stretched in the back seat. “Are we there yet, amigas?”

“Boston, dead ahead,” Justine said.

“No more dead because we are here, I hope”

Moi aussi,” Simone agreed, while perusing a city map.

“I thought you knew where we’re going?”

“It has been forty years since I was last here,” Simone said. “And I did not have much time to study the city then.”

“Is there a crumbly arrest warrant waiting at the bottom of a drawer for you?” Teresa wanted to know.

Simone turned a wounded expression to the back seat.

“Teresa, my mortal friend, you know I am as you say, one of the ‘Good guys.”

Teresa flashed her a scrunched up smile and patted into place her dark hair pulled back into a short chignon. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I know you are.”

Simone took Teresa’s hand and held it against her thin lips.

Just for an instant, Teresa attempted to jerk her hand away from the vampire’s gentle vise-like grip. “Sorry.”

“I understand you still do not trust me,” Simone said.  “But I swear to you, Teresa, that I will never take your blood without your permission. Ca va?”

“I know that, too.”

Simone kissed her mortal friend’s hand and turned back to her map. “Exit here. Head for Cambridge.”

*************

Justine finally found a parking space a block down from MIT Square. Only half joking Justine complained, “Couldn’t we have pushed some of these cars together and made a space?”

“This is MIT. We’d return and find the vehicle in pieces,” Simone said.

The three women exited and stretched in the glow of a streetlight.

Teresa twisted her solid mortal body. “Couldn’t you have turned into bats and fly here while I flew first class?”

A rare chuckle came from Justine “I wish.” She rubbed Teresa’s shoulders.

“Oh, that feels so good. I take back everything bad I ever said about your change.”

“I hope you never have to take back your take back.” Justine kissed her friend on the cheek and turned to Simone.  Expression gone serious, she said, “Lead on.”

Trees lined the street, ivy covered much of the two and three story brick student apartment buildings. Justine and Simone wore long coats, loose trousers, and boots. With dark caps pulled low, one didn’t need to know what they were to know they were dangerous. Teresa, the taller of the three, carried a few extra pounds. In sneakers and jeans, hands jammed into the pocket of a worn Cargill coat, she might be described as intimidating, but nothing more.

More than one person negotiating the nighttime streets glanced over their shoulders as the three strode down the sidewalk.

All four corners of the intersection consisted of small store fronts, Laundromat, 7-11, used record and CDs, printing, hole-in-the-wall restaurants. Around the corner, across the street, Kazza’s Psychic Store.

Crossing the street, Simone whispered to the others, “Kazza is a friend. Her brother, Treen, and I did not part on good terms.” She caught Justine’s eye. “He has a temper.” Justine nodded, and made sure the short sword hidden by her coat was loose in its scabbard. To Teresa, “It might be dang–.”

“It’s my daughter we’re looking for. I’m going in.” She squared her shoulders. “I won’t stake anybody without your permission.”

Simone shook her head, reached for the door. “Stay alert.”

Inside, they surveyed the narrow store. Glass cases filled with crystal balls, crystals, tarot cards, ornate herb boxes and other psychic paraphernalia lined the right side. On the left, tables carried candles, incense and aromatic oils. Books lined the walls. New Age up front, running back to subjects closer to witchcraft, sorcery, vampires and other unsavory creatures. A counter with a well-worn wooden gate ran across the back.

Spreading out, they approached the counter and waited.

Teresa looked around, searching. “I feel something. Like electricity in the air.”

“Magic,” Simone said. “No shoplifters here.”

Oh Dios. Brujeria? For real?”

Simone shrugged – yes.

“Simone! You have returned.” A chunky woman around 40 trailing a voluminous tie-dyed gown with sewed on mystical signs burst through a door in the back. With a nod of her head the gate swung open as she came through arms held wide at Simone. They embraced, kissing both cheeks. “Now you must go away.”

“Treen? I told no one I was coming.”

“Of course Treen. He felt you the minute you stepped out of your car. He will come for you.”

Justine’s hand went to the hilt of her sword. The woman arched an eyebrow.

Simone grinned. “Not yet, Justine. Only if he kills me.” Justine removed her hand, but didn’t relax. “Kazza, this is Justine Kroft.”

Kazza held her hand with both of hers while studying Justine. Justine tried to avoid the woman’s gaze, but couldn’t turn away.

“You must be a special woman, Justine. Simone makes few Young Bloods.” Over her shoulder she asked, “I heard that the Master of the Sinakovs was destroyed. You?”

“Justine.”

“See, special already.”

Kazza turned to Teresa. “A mortal?”

“This is Teresa Diaz. Her daughter Antonia was taken by the Sinakov Family. We are in search of her.”

Gripping both of Teresa’s hands, Kazza stared deep into her dark eyes. Into her soul, Teresa thought, squirming under the scrutiny, feeling warm tendrils rummage about her brain and body. With a gasp Kazza stepped back, though she kept hold of Teresa’s hand. “Simone, did you know?”

“I thought, maybe.”

“Yes, how could you not? Does she suspect?”

“No.”

Teresa looked from one to the other. “Suspect what?”

“You are hurting inside. Not only for your daughter. You have given up much to search for her.”

“That doesn’t matter.” Teresa leaned forward, grasping Kazza’s hands. “Do you know something? Is she alive?”

“Ah, yes, that would be helpful to know, wouldn’t it?”

Kazza held still but for her head swinging with a slow bobbing motion. “I believe her body is alive.”

“Her body? Is she…?”

“A vampire? I don’t think so. She may be far away, or surrounded by… others.”

“Where is she?”

“That I can not tell you, dearie. But I might know where to find someone who does. Which is why you are here, is it not?”

A door bell jangled annoyingly as the front door banged open.  A tall man, slim, with fly-away dark hair, wearing sneakers, loose trousers tight at the ankles and a knee-length coat, stood framed in the door, looking like an escapee from a romance novel cover. Taking on a full swashbuckler stance, he proclaimed, “Simone. I knew you would come back.”

In an instant he stood in front of her, sword point against her neck. In the next instant Justine pressed her blade against his neck.

“Treen, you have been thinking of me,” Simone said.

“Oh yes, I have. Thinking I will kill you for what you did to me.”

“So, I should have let her die?”

“No!” Treen tensed, ready to thrust the blade through her neck. “You should have died.”

“Step back.” Justine hissed; voice as sharp as her blade. “No one dies here tonight.”

“Don’t be so sure, Young Blood.” Treen’s sword flashed down, swung behind his left side and up, flicking Justine’s sword away from his neck.

Simone’s boot against his chest propelled him back. He somersaulted backward landing on his feet.

Simone went after him. In seconds the clang of swords filled the small space as they fought around the tables.

“Don’t you break anything,” Kazzi shouted at them. “Or you’re both out of here.” She gently restrained Justine from interfering. “Let them go. They’ve been waiting forty years for this.”

“Will he really try and kill her?”

“Nah. He still loves her.”

Teresa returned a round, sharpened stake to a three-stake holster on her belt. “I’ve seen too many times when that didn’t make any difference.”

Kazza shrugged, accepting the point.

Leaning on the counter while Simone and Treen worked out their differences with swords and feet, slamming against bookshelves, rolling on the floor, Justine asked Kazza, “So what is it between them? She mentioned letting someone die.”

Kazza winced as Simone snatched a figurine inches before it shattered. “Same old story,” she said. “Girl meets boy. He thinks he’s too cool for her and meets a mortal girl. First girl gets hurt. There’s some trouble and she saves mortal girl’s life, but reveals what boy is. Mortal girl freaks and leaves boy. Boy blames girl. Girl leaves town. Now girl has returned with a Young Blood and a mortal searching for a missing girl, and boy and girl are having the fight they should have had then.”

“How long can they keep that up?” Teresa wanted to know.

“To long.” Kazza cringed as a delicate candle holder almost hit the floor. “Give them another ten minutes. Meanwhile, I don’t have to be a psychic to know why you’re here. I don’t have the power to locate your daughter, but there is one who can, and you’ll want to know where she is.”

Without a word, Kazza passed through the gate and the back door. Justine heard the bolt shoot home.

“I used to have energy like that,” Teresa said.

“Yeah, when we were six.”

“That Kazza said Simone was here forty years ago. But she doesn’t look much over thirty. Is she one of you?”

“No. I don’t know what the hell she is. Something different.”

Maravilloso. I am still not accepting that vampires exist.”

“Me either.”

“What did she mean, ‘Does she suspect?”

“I haven’t a clue. Maybe you’re a werewolf.”

“Aren’t werewolves and vampires enemies?”

“Depends on which movie you watch.”

Shoulder to shoulder they watched the two combatants for a few more minutes. Then, sword points at each other’s throat, it was over. Neither would be the first to remove a sword, so Justine and Teresa pulled the blades away simultaneously.

“Are you going to kiss and be nice, now?” Justine asked.

Mais, oui.” Simone held Treen’s narrow face and planted a kiss on him to last another forty years.

With a quick shake to clear his head, Treen looked about. “Where is Kazza?”

“She’s in back, locating somebody who can locate Antonia,” Justine said.

“Antonia?”

“Teresa’s daughter. The Sinakov Family took her.”

“Ah. So she is not foo–?

Justine’s hand went to her sword. “As cliché as it sounds, don’t even think about it.”

Treen bowed an apology. “In that case, there is nourishment and,” a nod to Teresa, “refreshments upstairs. Kazza may be sometime doing whatever she does behind that door. Shall we?”

Thanks for reading this excerpt from Blood on the Water. Click on the following links to buy a copy.

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