When Jason Guardian left the Church, disillusioned by the cruel treatment of the Paras the Church chose to torture and destroy rather than understand, he never imagined he’d be forced to turn to the very Church he battles, to save the life of a woman who they would kill if they ever find out who she really is.
Who is this mystery woman, and can Jason overcome their past, to save her life?
“Unholy Blood” – excerpted from DOUBLE TROUBLE (Guardians, Inc., Book 2) –
Jason blinked in the dim lighting of the warehouse. He could hear breathing, and he knew the Crucibani was in here. He resisted the urge to swear. He didn’t need this. He needed to be out there, looking for the chalice, not dealing with religious fanatics. If he didn’t have a feeling the two were interlinked…
Shit. That was Mari, her voice thin and frantic. As his vision adjusted to the lack of light, he saw her, and his blood ran cold. The man he followed in here was nothing more than a lure. There were four Crucibani in a half-circle in the center of the building, and one of them held Mari motionless, a knife pressed to her throat.
“Let her go,” he commanded, taking a step forward. Mari sucked in a loud breath and stiffened. Jason froze at that sound, as the knife at her throat drew a trickle of blood.
The black-clad man who held her only laughed, the sound a sinister echo in the empty warehouse. “You have no authority here, Guardian.”
“She’s not involved in this. She’s not the one you want.”
The Crucibani’s eyes narrowed, and he tightened his grip on Mari – Jason could tell by the tiny, stifled cry she made. “Oh, I want the bitch. I want to slit her foul little throat right here.”
“She’s not human. She’s an evil creature, a daughter of the Devil.”
Mari drew herself up at those words, and Jason had never loved her more than when he saw the trembling courage on her face. Yanamari Durango was no daughter of the Devil, but Ana – Ana claimed dominion over the demons of the Romany. There was some part of Ana in Mari, the memory of another lifetime, a piece of her demonic essence. But Ana was not Mari. Not the Mari he knew, who nursed wounded animals, refused to eat animal flesh of any kind, and took in stray people and animals. And all he could do was plead for that woman’s life.
“Mari isn’t evil –“
Another of the men stepped forward, brandishing a cross and a sword. “You will bow to the power of the Lord, or suffer His wrath!”
Dark humor edged through Jason. This was an old argument – one he was several decades tired of. “Not today.”
“By the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, the power of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I deliver God’s justice.” He turned toward Mari, the sword at the ready, and pressed the crucifix to her forehead. Mari stilled, and Jason barely resisted the urge to laugh. Didn’t these idiots know Mari wore a Romany cross around her neck?
When Mari failed to respond the way he expected her to, the man backed off, glaring. “What witchery is this?”
“It’s not witchery.” Jason took another step forward. “You don’t have the authority to take her life. Can’t you see? The Crucible Society doesn’t deliver God’s justice. They maintain some warped theory of the Church’s supremacy.”
“Blasphemer!” One of the other men moved forward, his dark eyes crazed with religious fervor. “The Crucibani deliver the will of God.”
Jason resisted the urge to sigh. He was so tired of this game. “Only if you’re a brainless moron who sees bloodshed as a holy crusade. This isn’t the will of any god, or even of the Catholic Church.”