New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Victoria Danann, continues the breathtaking new take on Knights of Black Swan with a sizzling follow up to Falcon.
The Next Generation of Black Swan knights continues the struggle to rid the world of “deadheads”, virus infected vampires who are barely more cognizant than zombies. Jax, one of the vampires turned by the immortals, joined the fight and became Falcon’s partner.
For six hundred years Jax has seduced women, drunk their blood, and left them feeling blissfully satisfied, but without memory of the event. It was a good and manageable life as a vampire. Certainly it worked for him. Until now. The deliciously wild redhead remembers. And she’s pissed.
“So you’re the vampire?” Jax opened his eyes to look at the owner of the deep male voice and found a man standing in the aisle by the empty recliner next to him. He nodded. “Want some company?”
For a split second Jax debated whether to tell the truth or not. The truth was that he wanted to be alone to further contemplate the mystery of Drogheda Daley and how she’d managed to do what no other woman, out of a hundred thousand, had done. Namely, to cause Jax to think about her after what he affectionately called the ‘nip and tuck’ was over
He wanted to be alone, but didn’t want to be rude. So he motioned to the unoccupied seat.
The man introduced himself as he sat. “Blake Lavers. I’m attached to Edinburgh. Paranormal Investigation.” The guy looked a lot younger than he sounded. He had coal black hair and pale green eyes that were highlighted by long dark lashes. Jax supposed that women probably found him attractive. “I guess it doesn’t get much more paranormal than being a vampire. So I thought I’d kill some time investigating.”
Jax rewarded Blake’s attempt at humor with a half-smile. “So this is an interview?”
Blake laughed. “Interview with a vampire? Good one. Yeah. I guess. If you’re up for it. But no matter what you say, it’s not going to end with me asking you to turn me.”
“No? And why’s that?”
Blake narrowed his eyes. “Sly. I’m the one asking the questions.”
“And I’ll answer if it’s an exchange. Perhaps you know things that would either inform or entertain me.”
Blake seemed to consider that. “Tit for tat? Quid pro quo?”
“Whatever you want to call it.”
“I should probably invite my partner over.” He glanced toward the front of the plane where a young woman with mahogany hair and the youthful look of a cheerleader was staring unabashedly. “Megan.” Blake grinned. “But I won’t. Maybe if you tell me stuff she wants to know, she’ll finally break down and sleep with me.”
Jax looked from Blake to Megan and back again, wondering if they were as young as they looked or if he was feeling the effects of being ancient, even if he also looked no more than twenty four.
“I’m feeling generous. You go first.”
“Any regrets? Are you glad you were turned?”
“Wow,” Jax said in a rare use of the modern exclamation. “You go right for the kill. Maybe you should have been a journalist.”
Blake suddenly looked older as his smile widened slowly. “Making a mental note that you ducked a direct and immediate reply. You stalling, vampire?”
“I may have been remiss in not telling you my name. It’s Jaxon Kell. These days humans call me Jax. Not vampire.” Jax gave the P.I. a slow appraisal of his own. “You’re a chess player, aren’t you?”
“That’s two evasions and a delay still in progress. You can take a minute if you need to think about the answer.”
Jax grew serious and sighed. “Honestly. I’ve never been asked that question nor have I ever put it to myself. Probably because it’s entirely impractical. What would be the point of dwelling on what cannot be changed?”
“Practical or not, if you hadn’t made a good adjustment, you’d have a ready answer about regrets. Since you don’t, I’m going to put that in the ‘no’ column.”
Jax narrowed his eyes. “Are you a mental therapist?”
Blake burst out laughing then shook his head. “Hardly. Your turn.”
“Tell me about a case you’ve worked on that would make a good movie.”
Blake laughed again. “Well, Jax. I’ve got to admit that you’re not what I expected.”
“What did you expect?”
“Which question do you want answered this turn? Number one or number two?”
“Hmmm. Ego gets ‘em every time. Maybe I’m a little Hollywood-influenced myself. I guess I expected you to be grim and brooding. Angsty. And older. I thought you’d be at least fifteen years older. I mean… Well, you know what I mean. Not in how old you actually are, but how old you look.”
“When I asked the question about regret I would have thought you’d go on about what a nightmare life has been for you. I’m not getting the sense that your life has been a nightmare.”
Jax chuckled. “I hope this is not disappointing you, but I’ve had a pretty good life.”
“Yeah. That’s the vibe that’s coming through loud and clear.”
“Are you psychic?”
“A little bit. Everybody in P.I. is. A little bit. Your turn. What made you decide to, uh, come out of the shadows? That’s just an expression and not meant to cast aspersions. Can I just have a blanket ‘no offense’ waiver for the remainder of this exchange?”
Jax chuckled. Blake was the sort of person who’d be hard not to like. “Yes. You can have a ‘no offense’ waiver, but that was two questions. So it’s my turn.” Blake smiled and good naturedly shook his head at his own folly. “Answer the movie question.”
“Okay. A case that would make a good movie. Truthfully, they would all make good movies if they involved taking the camera behind doors with Megan. I’m thinking Megan undressed would be box office gold.” He raised his eyebrows for emphasis. “But I’m also thinking that’s not what you’re asking.” A quick glance at Jax confirmed that. “There was this guy who was convinced his wife was shtupping a ghost. They’d bought a Brownstone in Brooklyn to renovate.”
Jax felt his eyes glaze over for a second as he calculated the odds of talking to two humans in two days about renovating a Brownstone in Brooklyn and wondered if fate was screwing with him.
“That’s what we were doing in New York,” Blake continued. “The guy kept telling everybody that the place was haunted and that his wife had fallen for the spirit that came with the house. The wife, who was no longer enamored with the hubby, called Bellevue and the state got involved. Somebody on the inside… you know we’ve got people everywhere, somebody called Black Swan to report that a case involving something paranormal had been brought to their attention.
“To make a long story short. The poor devil was telling the truth. The wife was schtupping the ghost of a guy who’d been a previous owner.”
“How is that possible?”
Blake grinned and held up a finger in a way that was both dorky and utterly charming. “That can be your next question. Here’s mine. Again. What made you come out?”
“Symbiosis was upset and things had become unbalanced. If too many deadheads multiply too quickly, humans become extinct in a shockingly short time. Then where would I be? It was purely selfish. I need humans to survive. As a TV vampire once said, it’s like millions of Happy Meals walking around on two legs.”
“I see.” Blake blinked several times.
“You look like you weren’t expecting that answer.”
“I guess I wasn’t. Makes sense though.”
“Now you. How is it possible for a ghost to ‘shtup’ anybody?”
Once Blake recovered from being forced to think of himself as a ‘Happy Meal’ on two legs, he grinned. “You know the thing I love most about my job is that the unthinkable and improbable are the stuff of routine. When I come to work, I never know what’s going to happen. In this case, the spirit apparently becomes corporeal when sexually aroused. Afterward he fades into a form so diaphanous he’s virtually invisible.”
“Wow.” Even Jax couldn’t believe he’d used that word twice in one day. “Does that kind of thing happen often?”
Blake did a bobble head. “Let’s just say it’s not novel.”
“With the marriage?”
“I just gave you a pass on three questions. No more bob and weave. Tell me how you became a vampire.”
“I was a farmer near Yerk. That’s what it was called then. It’s known as York now.”
“That’s right. I met an immortal in the town while running an errand for my father. She liked what she saw and turned me.”
“With your consent?”
Jax smiled. “What happened to the marriage?”
“They’re divorcing. The husband moved out. But the ghost told the wife where to find gold that he’d hidden behind a wall. It’s enough to make her rich by most standards of comparison. So she’s going to use it to buy the house herself.”
“I wish I could think of another word besides wow.”
Blake chuckled. “In this business, that word is my best friend. I’ve got to say that it’s kind of fun to wow a vampire with a ghost story.” Jax grinned and shook his head. “So. Consensual or not?”
Jax looked away momentarily and sighed. “That’s a hard question. My first reaction would be to say yes and no. The immortal who made me what I am asked if I wanted a carefree life, to be as rich as a king, to travel to exotic places and see marvelous things, to have eternal youth and have sexual power over women. I was a virgin and had never even been to a town the size of Yerk before. Naturally, I thought all that sounded great. Nothing was said about the downside.”
“And what is the downside?” Jax tipped his chin and gave Blake a slanted look. “Okay. Ask your question first.”
Blake kept Jax amused for most of the long flight overseas.
When the jet touched down, Blake said, “Where are you headed?”
“Venice. I’m on a recruiting mission.”
Blake smiled. “Gotta keep the Happy Meals reproducing.”
Jax grinned. “That ‘no offense’ waiver goes both ways.”
“Sure.” Blake stuck out his hand. Jax looked at it for a couple of seconds before shaking. “Let me know next time you’re in town. We’ll get a drink or something.” He caught himself. “I mean alcoholic beverages.”
“Yeah. I knew what you meant.”
“Maybe I’ll introduce you to Megan.” Blake lowered his voice. “But only if you agree she’s off limits.”
Jax chuckled. “She’s very cute, but you have my word. Megan is off limits.”