“Sun Spot” — Excerpt from OPEN WOUNDS (Guardians, Inc.)

11 Open WoundsWhen Guardians, Inc. agent and former US Marshall Cherish Beauricard took a case to the play bodyguard to night club magnate Willem Savastin — one of the last pure-blooded Nr-Simha in the world — she wasn’t even sure why.  But when she met the mysterious Will, and his equally-enigmatic brother, Drake, her world is about to change forever — as long as she can keep their true nature from being exposed to the world, and a killer from destroying everything she’s come to love.

AUTHOR NOTE: This book and excerpt contain ADULT themes and content. Not suitable for all audiences.

“Sun Spot” – Excerpt from OPEN WOUNDS (Guardians, Inc., Book 11) –

Cherish Beauricard ran a light touch over the silver pistol tucked into the holster nestled beneath her jacket — a motion meant to comfort herself — as she stepped out of the cab before Sun Spot, one of the country’s hottest nightclubs.

She glanced around the rundown industrial neighborhood, frowned, and looked up at the building before her. From the outside, it didn’t look like much. Her eyes skimmed the old, red-brick structure and she shuddered. It didn’t look like a hip nightclub. In fact, it looked more like an industrial slum. Hardly the place one expected to find Hollywood’s hottest A-list stars partying.

A worried frown wrinkled her brow as she leaned into the open window of the taxi to address the driver. “You’re sure this is the right place?”

“You wanted Sun Spot.” The man gestured to the building behind her, then leered at her. “This’ the only one I know of, lady.”

She cast a dubious glance over her shoulder. “It just looks so… so…”

“It’s a nightclub. Whatcha expect, the fucking Taj Mahal?”

That he even knew what the Taj Mahal was impressed her. That he chose to reference India’s crowning jewel to this particular nightclub was irony at its best. She offered him a bland smile as she forked over the fare – thank God for agency expense accounts — and glanced over her shoulder at the building again. “Guess not. Thanks.”

As the taxi peeled away, leaving behind the scent of burning rubber, Cherish turned toward the building with a gusty sigh.

“Well, Mr. Sevastin. Let’s hope you’ve got a better disposition than my research says.”

She winced. Okay, so she hadn’t lost the bad habit of talking out loud to no one, yet. Can’t win ‘em all. She certainly didn’t need the self-reminder of the file she spent last night memorizing. No pictures, of course — few case files actually contained pictures of the clients, in order to help safe-guard their identities, in case the Crucibani ever intercepted a file. Besides, she didn’t need a picture. She could sum up everything she needed to know about the notoriously camera-shy Willem Sevastin in one word — Nr-Simha.

Everything Guardians Incorporated had on Nr-Simha — admittedly, it wasn’t much — said these people were only barely tamed from their wild ancestors. Nr-Simha weren’t exactly rare. According to the statistics they could find, there were at least a couple thousand half-breeds running around the world. But a purebred Nr-Simha hadn’t actually been seen in thousands of years. At least, not any recorded interactions. And Willem, to judge by his file, was as purebred as they came.

Nr-Simha weren’t supposed to be particularly social creatures, preferring the company of their own kind, which was what surprised her most about Sevastin. He owned a busy nightclub. Besides, it was rumored purebreds had hair-trigger tempers and nasty dispositions. If any of that was true…

With a sigh, Cherish pushed the club’s front door, expecting to find it locked. She back pedaled when it flew open under the slightest touch. Her hand flew to her weapon, before she realized there was someone there.

And what a someone he was! Her heart took up residence in her throat as she unabashedly stared at the most delicious male form she’d seen in too many years. He was built like a linebacker, with shoulders broad enough to make Atlas himself green with envy. His trim, muscular body narrowed to slim hips that would have been out of proportion on any other man. She swallowed hard as her gaze fixed shamelessly on his crotch, and every breath fled her. God, she certainly hoped there was truth in advertising, there!

A throat cleared, and an amused bass voice intoned, “I’m up here, Ms. Beauricard.”

Mortification finally colored her cheeks as reality set in. Oh, hell. Was she actually ogling her client? Sheepish, she raised her gaze to eyes of a deep, unusual teal, framed by amazing golden skin, and hair dark as midnight and wild as the wind.

“Mr. Sevastin, I presume?”

He inclined his head, and a sinfully wicked smile crooked up his lips. “Yes and no.”

Her eyes narrowed as she tried to assess whether he was having one over on her or not. “Really. Which is it?”

His laugh slid through her like warm, gooey chocolate. She clamped her lips shut against a moan.

“Both, actually.” He grinned at her, and winked. “I’m a Mr. Sevastin. My name’s Drake.”

Confusion gripped her. The file hadn’t mentioned a sibling. “I don’t understand–”

His grin widened. “Come on in. I’ll see if I can help you figure it all out.”

Cherish stepped inside the doors warily, and froze again, certain she’d been transported to another dimension. Was this the same building?

She stared at the room before her, with its dark burgundy leather walls, broken by the golden flash of light off a series of sun-shaped art deco discs that studded the walls. Lavish, velvet-covered booths lined the walls, and satin-covered chairs circled tables closer to the dance floor.

At least, she assumed it was a dance floor. The strange chains and rigging that hung suspended several feet above it, she didn’t want to ask about. Only one thought rolled through her head as she stared up at them.

What the hell am I doing here?

She snuck a peek at her guide, then turned her gaze back to the opulent, but strange, club again, and barely suppressed a shudder. She wasn’t much for the clubbing scene, and this place… This was like Casablanca meets Cleopat’s. Definitely not her speed.

Unfortunately, she didn’t get her choice in assignments, and Yasmin assured her this one was important when she voiced her initial concerns over playing bodyguard to a Nr-Simha. Why did a shifter need a bodyguard, anyway?