Henrietta Riley is a private detective with a difference. She’s an angel, descended from those sent to Earth to protect it from Lucifer’s plans and his monsters. Born in the 19th Century, she has quietly fought the battles we never see. In 2068, the monsters came into the light and it’s been causing her headaches ever since.
After an investigation went badly wrong for the angel detective and her husband, Henrietta and Jack retreated to a remote island off the coast of Scotland, cutting themselves off from the world and its worries.
One night a knock on the door forces her and her broken Jack back into the real world. The Treaty of Europe between humanity, the monsters and the angels has been broken in the remote Welsh village of Pentref y Meirw, a resettlement village for the Nighttime creatures. A vampire has been slaughtered without provocation and Henrietta has been specifically requested to investigate.
Unable to refuse the request, Henny and Jack travel to Pembrokeshire to uncover the truth, coming face to face with old foes, old friends, and a secret so terrible even Lucifer would blanch.
I shivered and pulled my coat tighter around me. My dress wasn’t exactly the most practical clothing for tracking but I wasn’t planning on spending my night in a car down some back alley. I hadn’t even had a chance to order the wine before my phone went off. I hate tracking at night. I especially hate tracking in heels and when I’m hungry.
I plunged my hands into my pockets, my fingers curling around my lighter. I tried, and failed, to resist the temptation to light up. If I wasn’t going to get a nice dinner, I was having a God damn cigarette. I lingered over that first delicious drag, savouring that feeling of hot, poisonous smoke sinking into my body and curling around my lungs.
‘I really wish you wouldn’t smoke.’
The door opened and Jack sat down in the passenger’s seat. He was holding a cardboard cup holder, with two cups of coffee. I slowly exhaled and took another drag.
‘What goes in my mouth stopped being your business when you cheated.’
‘Nice Henny. Lower the tone. After I brought you coffee.’
I reached for the coffee but he pulled it away, his eyes flicking over to my hand. I sighed and dropped the cigarette out of the widow. He passed me the cup then. The scent of caramel and cinnamon wafted up to me. He’d got my favourite. I bit back my irritation.
We sat in silence for a while, unable to look at each other. Twelve years. It had been twelve bloody years and it was still awkward when we were alone together. Jack’s hand ran through his hair and I itched to do the same. I loved his hair, I always did. I loved running my fingers through it, untangling those dark curls when it got slightly too long. I pulled my gaze away. I was not going to get caught staring at him.
‘You look beautiful,’ he said, giving me a crooked smile. ‘I like it when you wear your hair up.’
‘Are you flirting with me?’
‘What? I can’t tell my wife she looks beautiful?’
‘I never signed the papers.’
‘Yeah, you really fucking need to.’
Jack chuckled and took a sip of coffee, but said nothing else. I hated that he could still wind me up like that. I wanted to punch his face in. I also wanted to kiss him and do other, far filthier, things to him.
‘Where’s Mary? This is her patch.’
‘You were closer,’ Jack answered.
Heat flooded my face and I got out of the car. ‘You son-of-a-bitch.’
‘I thought you liked my mother,’ he teased, following me.
‘You fucking knew I was going to be on a date tonight. You called me in on purpose, to spoil my night. You bastard.’
‘How would I know that?’ He was smirking. ‘It’s not like you put it on Facebook.’ I threw the coffee cup at his feet. ‘Oh, don’t be like that Henny. It’s just a bit of fun.’
‘You’re the one who ruined everything, Jack. You don’t get to sabotage me because you’re jealous.’
His eyebrows shot upwards and his beautiful sea-blue eyes widened, a sure sign he was about to lie to me. ‘I’m not jealous. We needed all hands on deck for this hunt and you were only down the road. You are the best tracker we’ve got. I’m sorry but you getting laid is going to have to take second place to catching this fucker.’
‘I wasn’t going to sleep with him.’
‘Third date and that dress equals sex.’
‘Aha! So you did know.’
Jack’s face fell as he realised I’d caught him out. He shrugged those broad shoulders of his and said nothing else. I rolled my eyes and hunted around in my coat for another cigarette.
‘Ah, Henny, don’t.’
‘What? I’m not going to get cancer.’
I sighed and relented, putting the lighter back in my pocket. I sat down on the hood, huffing loudly as I wrapped my arms around myself. Jack came over and sat beside me. He held out the rest of his coffee. I took it, scowling at him.
‘I’m sorry I ruined your evening. If it’s any consolation, he’s not even remotely good enough for you.’
‘That’s comforting, coming from the man who fucked someone else in our bed.’
‘Technically, I only got into bed with her. No sex was had.’
I didn’t answer. This was an old wound, one I picked at and worried, refusing to let it heal. I couldn’t resist digging at him whenever the opportunity arose. He rested his chin on my shoulder, nuzzling my cheek with his nose.
‘Why don’t we go for a drink after this?’ he asked. ‘You got all dolled up. You might as well make some use of it.’
Before I could slap him down, my phone buzzed in my pocket. It was a text from Vi. The call to action. ‘We’ve got movement. Target is leaving the building. And they’ve got a victim. Pass me my gun.’
Jack handed me my Glock and I pocketed it. ‘Plan?’
‘We stop them before they get in their car. Once they do that, we can’t touch them.’
The awkwardness instantly forgotten, we walked over to the end of the alleyway. I scanned the road, looking for the target.
‘There.’ Jack pointed as two figures in black swept out of the building opposite and down the street. ‘Come on.’ He intertwined his fingers with mine and we struck out after our prey.
We made sure there was a reasonable distance between us and those we pursued. Too close and they’d spot us, too far and we’d lose them. Still, it was difficult; every step we took, our quarry gazed around wildly, searching for followers. Jack wrapped his arm around me and pulled me in. I swallowed as I was pressed against all six foot five of him.
‘We need to get ahead. They’ll get to their car before we get anywhere near them. Where’s their car?’
I took my phone from my pocket and showed him the map Vi had sent me.
‘If we cut down the next left and then go right, we can cut them off.’ He dragged me down the shortcut, wiggling through the backstreets towards the car. It waited for its owner in an open lot, a driver and bodyguard inside. The car faced us. We wouldn’t be able to sneak up and dispatch the back up.
‘How do we get around this one? We need to be in the alley when they arrive or we miss our shot.’ Jack turned towards me. My coat had fallen open in the run, revealing my little black dress. His eyes lit up.
‘No.’ I said, instantly realising what he was thinking.
‘It’ll only be for a few minutes,’ he said, ‘we go into the alley and we start making out, distracting them. We bump against the car, they get out, and boom. We incapacitate them.’
‘Can’t we get to the ‘boom’ part straight away?’
Jack grabbed my shoulders and bent down.
‘They’d see us coming and freak out. Everyone knows who we are. They’ll take one look at that golden mop and we’ll be up to our necks in trouble. We need to be a little sneaky.’
‘Mop is not the best word but it’s a lot of hair. Come on Henny, we don’t have time for this.’
I sighed and glared at him. ‘Fine but don’t grope me.’
We waited for the men in the car to look away. I giggled loudly and coquettishly as Jack and I ran into the open air. He pulled me into his arms and pressed his mouth against mine. It took every ounce of restrain I had not to surrender completely to him. I took a step back, casting my eyes around. The two men were leering at us, the driver making obscene gestures. Jack’s hands slid down my waist and grabbed my backside. I bit his lip in response.
I took another step and we slammed into the car. The doors flew open and Jack and I split apart, drawing our guns. The men swore and held up their hands.
‘Gentlemen, you are under arrest.’
‘Under what charge?’
‘Assisting in the abduction of a mortal for prey. Jack, cuff ‘em.’
As he moved towards them, a howl stopped him in his tracks. I turned. A pair of women stood in the entrance to the lot. One was shivering and shaking, desperate to get away from the other who stood tall and rigid, a snarl marring her pretty face.
‘Hello Marisa. You’re under arrest.’
‘My car counts as my territory. You can’t touch my people.’
‘They got out of the car. They’re fair game.’
Marisa threw the girl down on the ground, who scrabbled away back into the life and safety of the city.
‘Let them go and we can all go home,’ Marisa growled, ‘no one actually got eaten.’
‘So the charge will be attempted abduction. My people will have already gathered her up. That girl will testify that you took her against her will.’
‘Not if there’s no arrest. It’s a full moon, detective. You lose.’
Marisa dropped to her knees, her grey coat splitting and falling to the ground with the rest of her clothes. Her red hair unravelled from her high pony tail and wrapped itself around her body, thickening into rough fur. I lowered my gun and took aim.
A strong arm came around my neck and pulled me backwards, my gun firing into the night sky. I threw my elbow back and down. My assailant grunted as I connected and he let go. I span and lashed out, kicking him in the face. Jack was wrestling with the other man, trying to avoid the snapping jaws which had sprung out of his face. He threw a punch and the man fell back.
‘Henny, call for back up,’ Jack ordered as his foe launched himself forward once again.
My phone was knocked from my hand as Marisa collided with me, pinning me to the ground. I scratched at the ground, trying to get leverage to knock the Lupine off me.
‘Oh, Henrietta, must we always play this game?’ she chuckled. She rolled me on to my back. I swung upwards. She batted my hand away as if I were a fly. She unsheathed her claws and brought her paw down towards my face. I raised my arms to protect myself. Suddenly, there was a thump and the weight of the creature was lifted off me. Marisa cursed loudly as she span away. Jack helped me to my feet. Marisa was sprawled across the lot, wrapped up in the unconscious body of one of her guards.
Before I could answer, the driver rose up and launched himself at Jack, jaws snapping. They fell back on the concrete, wrestling and cursing. My gun had been knocked from my hand in the scuffle with Marisa. I ran across the lot and snatched the gun up. It only took one bullet to stop the beast from tearing into my Jack.
A howl of pain erupted in the night. Marisa had shed all pretence of humanity; she stood, curved back, and slobbering framed by the filthy building behind her. She was huge, easily seven foot tall. Drool dripped from the fangs, sticking out at odd angels from her jaw. A smaller werewolf crouched beside her.
As one, they leapt forward. Time, seemed to slow down. I started moving backwards as the smaller one came towards me, firing. He dodged the first three rounds. The fourth hit him in the shoulder. He collided with me, knocking me to the ground. Stars exploded as my head smashed off the concrete. By the grace of God, I kept a firm hand on my weapon. He stiffened as I sent two more bullets into his gut.
I pushed the dead werewolf off me and got to my feet. My head ached. I touched the back of it; blood came away on my fingertips. The lot was eerily quiet after the thunder of the gun.
‘Jack? Jack? Where are you?’
A groan answered me and I span. Behind the car, a pair of feet was rapidly vanishing from sight. Shaking off the nausea and dizziness, I ran towards the vehicle.
Marisa was sitting on Jack’s chest, her face buried in his belly. She was eating him. A scream split the air, my scream, louder and louder as Marisa fed. I launched myself forward, pushing her off him. I brought my gun down, smashing it into her gore-smeared face, again and again. I was still screaming. Suddenly, I was dragged off her.
‘Henrietta, stop. We need her.’ It was Vi, my friend, stopping me from killing the bitch who’d murdered my Jack.
‘She killed Jack,’ I howled.
‘No, she didn’t. He’s still alive,’ she said.
I levelled my gun at the unconscious werewolf. ‘She has to die. I won’t let him become like her.’
‘Henny, you can’t. We just got word. They signed the Treaty. We can’t kill them unless they kill mortals. We’ll find another way to help him.’
The empty lot was suddenly full of our people. Where had they been when we needed them? I wheeled away from Vi and returned to Jack. A medic was already kneeling beside him. He was so pale, he was grey. A faint smile pulled at his lips when he saw me.
‘Yeah baby, I’m here,’ I whispered, taking his hands.
He gasped for breath as the medic poured a green liquid into his wounds. ‘Henny, we need to move him. If he’s going to have any chance, we need to go now.’
I nodded as the gurney appeared.
‘I’m sorry,’ Jack sighed.
‘It’s not your fault. We’ll get you all fixed up and it’ll be fine.’
‘No,’ he whispered, his voice so quiet I had to lean in to hear him. ‘I’m sorry about Cassie, about what I did. I’m sorry I ruined everything.’
‘It’s ok baby, it’s ok.’
‘I love you.’ And then he said nothing else. I reeled and the world melted away.