In the end,
Daniel Tierney and his fellow I-Marshals take down the organizations producing the most dangerous substance in the Alliance. But reporter Faith Vedder turns up at the worst times, including Danny’s near-assassination. He’s had enough of her interference and requires her source of information.
Faith won’t tell him anything that compromises her Pulitzer-worthy story, not even under the magic of hot attraction. She doesn’t know she’s surrounded by fallen angels at war. Danny’s not finished making demands. She doesn’t understand until a giant, snorting, winged monster slobbers down her back, threatening to flay her.
The gangbusters can’t delay in their mission to shut down gangs until Danny learns the criminal kingpin of their world is a man who once held Faith’s heart. In the guise of a gangland executioner named Heretic, Danny will destroy him. Even if it destroys Faith.
Angels are watching. Demons are plotting. Faith is the key.
I hope you enjoy Gangbusters.
[This excerpt is rated PG-13 for the presence of a
Wrapped in her bathrobe and feeling pretty silly for taking a gun with her for a bath, Faith came from the shower room to find all the lights out in her home. She was sure she’d left at least some of the lights on. The only visible thing was a red read-out of the clock mounted on the wall.
“Bedroom lights on,” she told the computer system that operated the rented home. The room lit up, and she discovered the furniture rearranged.
There was no imagining this. She held up her gun for business. If someone were there to hurt her, why did he wait to do it?
“This sooo isn’t funny,” she said to her unseen tormentor, not expecting an answer.
She heard a deep masculine chuckle in the room with her. Then a resonant, seemingly disembodied voice said to her, “It’s funnier on my end, I know. The surprised expression on your face is priceless.”
A shiver swept through her. Her trigger finger itched. “Who’s here?”
“Who I am is less important than my mission. I’ve been sent to kill you, Faith.” It was a smooth baritone voice with a particular unnamable element that moved through her like a hot wind.
She turned the gun toward the voice and pulled the trigger, only to hear and feel the click of an unloaded gun. She heard him laugh again.
“Kitty has claws.” His voice sounded sinister. “I couldn’t leave you ammo.”
Dumping the gun, she scrambled to her side table where she picked up the lamp, pulled it free from its power source, and she brandished it as a weapon. Her sight swept the room for some hint of his position. She couldn’t see him in the two mirrors in the room.
“You better believe I have claws, buddy. If you’re planning to rape me, you’ll get the roughest time you’ve ever had.”
“I’ll take your warning. Get dressed. We’re leaving.”
Her brow crashed into her vision. Going somewhere with an invisible man? She was better off remaining on her turf than submitting to his.
“I’m fine with getting dressed, but I’m not going anywhere with you if you won’t show your face. If you plan to rape and kill me, let’s get it over with right here.”
“I’m not a rapist.”
“No, you’re a killer. You told me you’ve been sent to kill me.”
She scanned the small room for a better weapon. There were knives in the kitchen. Could she get him to move this debate into the kitchen? She left her cell phone by the computer keyboard. Attempted murder was a great reason to call the cops.
“I’m going to make you disappear, Faith.”
The lamp was yanked from her grasp, and, before she had a moment to respond, he had her wrist hand-cuffed to the headboard of the bed. She didn’t have a split-second to fight back. He moved faster than her tired brain operated.
“Instead of killing you,” the voice now beside her said, “I’m going to relocate you.”
The drawers of her dresser slid out, and clothes flew from them onto the floor.
“Mmm,” she heard, as she watched her lingerie held up for inspection. His choice sailed onto the bed. A favorite blue blouse hung in mid-air for a second, and he said, “Hmm, yeah.”
Then the blouse landed in her lap. A pair of black jeans soon followed.
“I’m not leaving, and you and your thugs can’t scare me away!”
“It doesn’t frighten you, Faith…that I’ve entered your home and taken possession of you?”
She was terrified, and hoped the shaking didn’t show.
His voice, closing in on her again but from a different direction, echoed through the old steel-frame cottage, further disheveling her. “I could easily overcome you, Faith.”
“N—No, I’m not a child quickly frightened away. I have a decade in martial arts, and I could kick your ass!” Unable to see his expression, she couldn’t gauge if the ridiculous promise of a hard defense affected him. Maybe he was a small man, and she had a chance against him.
“What kind of martial arts?” his deep velvet voice asked.
“Onterie! The most deadly of the martial arts! And I have a black belt! How about that!”
“Onterie doesn’t issue belts. I doubt you’ve spent an hour in an Onterie class. People who master Onterie don’t talk about it.”
The breath fled her lungs. “I’m still not scared!”
“Then you’re stupider than you look or write. I’ve read some of your stories, and you sounded much smarter than this. You’re also a rotten liar, Faith. Remember that so you don’t get into more trouble. Get dressed.”
A pair of boots came flying toward her from her closet, missing her by centimeters.
She grew more angry by the minute that she’d be forced to leave and abandon a hell of a story of gangs, justice-blinding drugs, interplanetary crime of all kinds.
“Don’t call me Faith! You don’t know me!”
A splash of papers came from nowhere and landed on the bed next to her. She picked them up and thumbed through report after report of her, information from family connections to her library loans.
“Your full name is Victoria Faith Vedder. You switched from Vicky to Faith at age seven when there were too many Vickies in school. Your favorite food is kung pao chicken. Your favorite drink is gold-label vodka with a splash of orange juice. Your favorite color is black, like your coffee and comedy. A solid B student, you’d served on your college yearbook staff, and you’d added your name to the rosters of nearly every team that played for the school. As a joke. Funny.”
She heard the smile in his voice. She hadn’t known that last one had been caught and documented for the society-shaking crime it had been. It was probably a good idea not to go back for a reunion.
Miffed he knew so much of her, she gathered the spilled papers, her best tough-girl scowl on her face. The letterhead on every page had been ripped off.
“You hadn’t given up your chastity until college when you met a bad boy named Mako. He was not worth it.”
Her intruder smiled again. She could sense it like a light washing over her. How could anyone learn so much about her? Did he have a record naming every man she’d slept with? She should probably get a copy of that.
“And you’re behind on your credit payment.”
“Not much!” It was the designer dress for her Pulitzer Prize acceptance ceremony. She could’ve used the money for something more important, but…it was the most beautiful dress in the worlds. They’ll love her wearing it in the homeless shelter, if this story didn’t work out.
“You’re leaving, whether you’re cooperative or not. I guarantee you I’m big enough to take you without your approval.”
He probably was pretty big with a voice that deep. That eliminated any foolhardy hope of overcoming him physically. He was too quick—and invisible—for a surprise attack.
Umm… He smelled like brandy. It sent a shock-wave of stimulation through her.
She sat there for a moment, unsure what happened here. “I must be close to my goal.”
“No.” The jeans flew from the floor into her lap, reminding her to dress. “It means you’re far from your goal and wandering aimlessly through dangerous territory. You’ve arrived here on this planet a week ago, and already someone wants to kill you. There’s no story here, Faith, but your quiet death. Evil eyes watch you.”
He didn’t sound intent on hurting her. She’d take that as a good sign. She loved how the smell of brandy and man he’d launched through the room seemed to flow between them like an energy exchange, warming her.
“That makes you my savior for relocating me. Why would you save me?”
A snicker rippled through the air from a different place than where she thought he stood. “I love beautiful women. And don’t like seeing them dead.”
“What are you, a cop?”
“I’m the Invisible Man.”
“Why do you get to know so much about me, and I don’t even get to see you?”
“Faith. Focus. Get dressed.”
She tugged on her cuffed wrist. “You’ll have to unlock me if you want me to put on this blouse.”
Did he hesitate? Had he left the room?
But then, she felt his warmth near her, smelled brandy and man more potently again. His gloved hands on her wrist unlocked the cuff. She thought to clobber him, but found him too interesting. She took a long, quiet sniff of his brandy-and-man smell, and it surprised her when the scent caused a ripple of sinful pleasure through her. It probably shouldn’t have since he was her faceless captor.
Her wrist hit the bed pillow, and she rubbed the cuff print from her hand. Maybe she should clobber him.
“Have you been dipping into my liquor cabinet?”
“Normally, I’d say no because I’m not a drinker. But I might have taken a nip of your brandy to make up for my lack of entertainment after redesigning your living space. Get dressed, Faith.”
Just when he said it, she triangulated on his voice, brought her leg up to land a foot where she figured his gut was located, but he halted her attack cold, catching her ankle with a strong grip, his gloved fingers biting into her flesh.
“What are you going to do, Faith?”
He released her ankle. “Don’t try it again. I will always be faster than you.”