Warriors of Poseidon -- Book 6 -- Berkley Sensation
September, 2010 -- ISBN: 0425238105
Poseidon’s warriors have learned that the battle to protect humanity produces unexpected enemies--and alliances. And one of the most powerful of all Atlantean warriors will soon find both…in one daring beauty.
A warrior’s mission, a woman’s desire…
What could Christophe, powerful Warrior of Poseidon, have in common with Fiona Campbell, prim and proper Scottish illustrator of fairytales by day and notorious jewel thief known as the Scarlet Ninja by night? Answer: The Siren, a legendary Crown Jewel that Fiona has targeted for her next heist. It’s said to be worth millions, but to Christophe it’s invaluable. For the Siren also happens to be one of the missing jewels from Poseidon’s trident.
And the unnatural evil that could destroy them both.
But breaking into the Tower of London is a two-person job, so Christophe and Fiona team up to commit the crime of the century. As newfound passions fire their motives--and cloud their judgment--they realize they aren’t the only ones after the priceless gem. A dark force is shadowing their every move, and threatening to shatter their trust with revenge, betrayal, and a haunting revelation about the past.
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Present day; London, England
Jack the Ripper must have been a vampire.
Christophe sat on the tiny ledge underneath the minute hand on Big Ben’s western face—twenty-five past midnight—thinking random thoughts and surveying the city that had always been like a second home to him. The Clock Tower was arguably London’s most recognizable landmark, and something about perching on it, nearly 300 feet off the ground, made Christophe feel like the master of all he surveyed. He sat with his back against the familiar gilt lettering, DOMINE SALVAM FAC REGINAM NOSTRAM VICTORIAM PRIMAM, and wondered if Queen Victoria the First had been honored to have each of the four clock faces proclaim that her people called out to their god to keep her safe.
A bitter laugh escaped him at the idea that Poseidon would ever worry about keeping him safe. Centuries of fighting had taught Christophe the bloody and painful lesson that the sea god didn’t care much about keeping his Atlantean warriors anything but honed for battle. Throwing them to the wolves and the other shifters, sure. Using them as cannon fodder against the vampires, no problem. Eleven thousand years after the original pact, the current members of the elite Atlantean fighting force were still fulfilling their sacred duty to protect humanity.
Humanity should protect its own damn self.
Not that it could, or had ever been able to, against the dark and ugly that crawled out of the night. Since the monsters revealed themselves to humans more than a decade ago, the stupid humans had done more and more to offer themselves up on the proverbial silver platter, like the sheep the vamps called them. Christophe had suggested a few times that the warriors change their mission from protecting humans to rounding them up, stuffing apples in their mouths, and then jamming sticks up their asses.
Human-kabobs. Simple, easy, and everybody goes home happy.
The high prince wasn’t exactly down with the idea. Christophe “wasn’t a team player.” “Had a chip on his shoulder.” Insert social worker psychobabble here. Conlan’s new human wife had the prince by the balls and Princess Riley was all about kindness and understanding.
Christophe would have preferred that Conlan just haul off and punch him in the face, like the prince used to do in the old days when somebody pissed him off. It would have been far less painful.
“Less painful than smelling your stench, for example,” he said to the vampire who was floating up the side of the tower, probably trying to surprise him.
“Interesting place to hang out, mate.” The vamp levitated up until he was eye level with Christophe. “Got a death wish?”
Christophe scanned the vamp, his gaze raking it from spiky blue hair to steel-toed boots. He blamed London’s punk rock scene.
“You threatening me?”
The vamp shrugged. “Just pointing out that you’re pretty far up for a breakable human.”
Christophe bared his teeth in what passed for a smile with him these days, and the vamp flinched a little. “Not human. Not breakable.”
Holding his hands up in a placating gesture, Punker Boy floated back and away from him. “Got no beef with you. Just surprised to see somebody in my spot.”
“You’re Queen Victoria, then?”
The vampire laughed and, surprisingly, seemed to be genuinely amused. “Know your Latin, do you?”
It was Christophe’s turn to shrug. “I get by.” But then an inconvenient twinge of duty nagged at him, and he sighed. “You planning to kill any humanity tonight?”
“Any humanity?” The vamp floated closer, his eyebrows drawing together as he studied Christophe. “What are you talking about?”
Christophe dropped his daggers from their arm sheaths into his hands and balanced them, not taking his gaze from the vamp. “Duty, sacred oath, blah blah blah. If you’re planning to kill any humans, I need to end you.”
“I’d be stupid to say yes, then, wouldn’t I?” The vamp’s voice held genuine curiosity, and not a little wariness.
“Stupid. Vampire.” Christophe shrugged again. “Yeah, those words have gone together a time or two.”
The vamp eyed the daggers. “No, I’m not planning to kill anybody tonight. Or ever, for that matter. Who needs all the trauma, with synth blood and donors?”
Christophe judged the vamp to be sincere enough. He considered killing him, anyway, just for something to do, but didn’t really feel like chasing his daggers all that way down after they’d sliced the vamp’s head off. Especially since his night wasn’t over--he still had to go steal one of the crown jewels from the Tower of London.
He slid the blades into their sheaths and shot a considering stare at the bloodsucker. “So. Here’s a question. Was Jack the Ripper a vampire?”
Campbell’s Hunt Manor, an hour outside of London
Fiona Campbell pulled the scarlet leggings up over her legs and then fastened her belt into place. So important to have the right accessories these days, although no fashion magazine would ever feature her hand-worked leather tool belt on its up-and-coming trends page. A memory flashed into her mind, though, as her fingers checked the snap on one tiny pocket that held her backup switchblade, and she laughed. Her assistant Madeleine had rushed into Fiona’s office just last week, waving a glossy magazine in the air. Vogue UK had done a spread on the new color for spring: bright, crimson red.
The Scarlet Ninja was setting fashion trends.
“Sorry, Dad,” she murmured, glancing out the window into the uncharacteristically clear night sky. Spring weather was wet, wet, and more wet, but she’d planned this little outing for the one night this week that the meteorologists had promised to be dry. So unpleasant to plan impossible heists in the pouring rain, after all.
The expected knock came and she heaved a sigh. “I’m not decent, Hopkins, please go away.”
The door opened and the man who was the nearest thing to a grandfather she’d ever had walked in, carrying a tray. “I prefer indecency in both women and foreign films. Chocolate?”
Fiona sighed again and tried not to grit her teeth at the sight of his perfectly combed silver hair and his perfectly proper black suit. It was after midnight, for Heaven’s sake. “I don’t have time for chocolate. And I’m not a little girl, any more, whom you must coddle out of her nightmares. You should be in bed, wearing your lovely pajamas that Madeleine gave you for your birthday. You look like a butler, Hopkins.”
“I am a butler, Lady Fiona,” he responded, exactly as he had a billion or so times since they’d started this verbal dance more than twenty years ago when her father died. “I was your father’s butler, may he rest in peace, and before that your grandfather’s butler, may God rot his vicious soul.”
“You’re not supposed to speak ill of the dead.”
“I said far worse when he was still alive,” he said dryly, raising one silver eyebrow. He whipped the cover off the silver pot of chocolate and the aroma teased her senses. “Furthermore, should you ever catch me wearing silk pajamas decorated with tiny barnyard animals, please feel free to commit me to a home for the senile.”
“They’re sheep, Hopkins.” She clamped her lips together to keep the laugh from escaping. “You know, for counting sheep? It’s a sort of joke. Also, when will you drop the ‘Lady’ and start calling me Fiona?”
“Undoubtedly at the same time I begin wearing the barnyard animal night clothes.” He poured the rich chocolate into a delicate china cup and handed it to her.
Fiona took the chocolate. It was just easier to go along on the little things. “She means well.”
“Faint praise, indeed,” he pointed out. His brilliantly blue eyes sparkled with amusement, though, and she wasn’t fooled. She’d caught him bringing chocolate to Madeleine just that morning.
“Down to business, Lady Fiona. Do you have your untraceable phone?”
“Is it charged? When you broke into the British Museum--”
“How long are you going to hold that against me? I came out of that with an entire collection of jade figurines, including Tlaloc.” She pulled out the top drawer of the Louis XIV bureau until the faint depression in the wood bottom of the drawer was in sight. A muffled click signaled the opening of the hidden compartment, and she removed one of her scarlet hooded masks and a single, glossy, silver card.
“Yes, Tlaloc. The rain god. The wettest autumn in recorded history after you brought that home, if I recall. Thank you so much. We certainly needed more rain on our property,” Hopkins managed to say with a straight face. “A clean handkerchief?
She froze, slowly turning her head to stare at him. “A clean handkerchief? Are you actually making a joke, Hopkins?”
He carefully folded her unused cloth napkin, its white linen folds as spotless as the gloves he still insisted on wearing, before he looked up and met her gaze. “I never joke. If an employer of mine is planning to steal one of the most famous gems in history from the Tower of London itself—which is, mind you, absolutely burglar-proof—then by queen and country she will have a clean handkerchief.”
Fiona stared at the spots of color flaming on his cheekbones and realized she’d been a fool. She’d spent all of her time worrying about the logistics of the job and no time at all concerned with the people who cared about her. She dropped her mask and the card on the table next to the chocolate and walked over to him.
“I’m not stealing anything tonight. This is just an exploratory expedition, you daft old thing. Now give me a hug.”
She thought for a moment that he was actually going to refuse, but finally he sighed and embraced her, patting her back like he’d done when she was a child restless with the burdens of position and, later, tragedy.
He quickly released her and handed her the mask, which she tucked into her belt, and then the card.
“Do you really want to leave your calling card before you take the Siren? They’ll throw everything they have to prevent you coming back, after you made Scotland Yard look like fools the last time.”
She shrugged, glancing down at the silver gilt card with the tiny figure of a scarlet ninja embossed in its exact center. “It’s only sporting, isn’t it?”
“Sporting might get you killed. Or sent to prison for a very long time.”
“Not tonight. This is just a scouting trip.” She shouldered her small pack and grinned up at him.
“After all, how dangerous can it be?”
Nominated by The Romance Reviews for Best Paranormal Romance for 2010
“Day serves up her best book to date with this exhilarating, funny adventure.”
– Romantic Times
“Day’s sixth foray into this mysterious world offers the best of both worlds: a beautiful kingdom under the sea and hot, fast-paced action laced with humor on land.”
– San Francisco Book Review