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Unraveled By Blood, A Sweetblood World Vampire Romance
 


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Unraveled By Blood, A Sweetblood World Vampire Romance


  Unraveled By Blood

  A Sweetblood World Vampire Romance

  Laurie London

  LB Books

  Contents

  About this book

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Also by Laurie London

  About the Author

  UNRAVELED BY BLOOD

  A Sweetblood World Story

  Laurie London

  One taste and he never forgot her…

  Selena Tosca’s catering business had been struggling, until she landed a big corporate contract. So when a man she once loved, who left her when she needed him the most, waltzes back into town and tells her to drop the client, she tells him, in no uncertain terms, where he can stick his newfound concern.

  Guardian Mateo Carrera hasn’t been home in years—not since the night he almost killed the woman he loved when his dark nature couldn’t resist her sweet blood. But when he uncovers a deadly plot against her, he’ll risk everything to save her.

  …even if it means taking her captive.

  …even if it means losing himself.

  Stay up-to-date on book news from Laurie. Click here to sign up for her newsletter and get a free coloring page.

  Chapter 1

  He didn’t want to kill them.

  The youthlings, that is.

  However, he’d gladly drive a silver blade through one or both of the Darkblood bastards who were with them.

  Mateo Carrera sprinted through the French Quarter on foot, having ditched his car in an alley a few miles away, and emerged onto Bourbon Street. One glance at the indigo sky told him that dawn wasn’t far off. He didn’t have much time.

  At least there weren’t a lot of people still out partying at this hour. Made what he had to do that much easier. Human witnesses just complicated things further.

  Following the scent trail, he leapt over a drunk human passed out on the sidewalk and slipped into the shadows again, where he was able to mesh with the darkness and move faster.

  The odor of vomit, piss, beer and other fluids wafted up from the pavement, and he grimaced. Like most vampires, Mateo had a highly developed sense of smell, but in this humidity, even a human would choke on it. He should be used to it by now—he’d been in New Orleans for several years and often worked this part of the city—but it got him every time. The soap trucks would soon be starting their early morning rounds. They’d spray suds on the streets and sidewalks to be hosed off by shopkeepers a short time later, washing away the sins of the night. For a few hours, at least.

  Mateo rounded a corner and spotted the group of young vampires huddled together behind a wrought iron gate in an alley. None of them could be more than a few months past their Time of Change, when the blood cravings of born vampires began.

  Great. They were right in front of Cafe Sur La Rue. His friend Andre was the owner of the trendy restaurant and a picky son of a bitch with an impeccable sense of style. Mateo would have to take extra care to make sure no property was damaged or his friend would have his head.

  He counted seven youthlings. Four men and three women. But no Darkbloods.

  Fuck.

  Retreating back around the corner, he touched his earpiece and was instantly greeted by heavy breathing. Had he not just been with fellow Guardian Zeph Stewart a few minutes ago, he’d have thought the guy was getting busy with a lady friend or two. It wasn’t far out of the realm of possibility. Although a vampire’s need for sex was more powerful than a human’s, his friend’s sexual appetite was legendary even among their kind.

  “Got a visual on the youthlings,” Mateo whispered, shielding his mouth with a cupped hand. “DBs aren’t with them.”

  “No shit, Sherlock,” Zeph said. “Cuz I’m about to waste ’em.”

  “Need any backup?”

  “Nah, I got this.”

  And Mateo didn’t doubt it either. At over six and a half feet of pure muscle and covered in tats, Zeph looked as if he belonged to an outlaw biker gang rather than the elite group of warriors tasked with keeping peace and the vampire race a secret. He was one scary motherfucker. “Asshole. You get all the fun.”

  “Enjoy yourself, Señor Carrera,” Zeph said with a laugh, referencing the fact that Mateo would soon be acting the part of a strict disciplinarian to some punkass youthlings.

  “I’ll sure as hell try.”

  They both knew that if Zeph wasn’t successful, which was highly unlikely, the Darkblood scum would soon crawl back to their dens and be ready to reappear at dusk. Then the whole clusterfuck would start over again when the DBs found some new youthlings to corrupt with the temptation of Sweet. Which, frankly, wasn’t hard to do. The siren’s call of the rare human blood type that was addictive to vampires was a powerful one. Particularly to a young vampire who was unable to control his or her new cravings. Mateo gritted his teeth, knowing all too well what could happen.

  Pulling out one of his blades, he separated from the shadows and strode toward the group. The instant the youthlings saw him, they tried to scatter, but he was faster and more skilled at this shit than they were. Backing them into a corner, he blocked their only chance at escape.

  He snapped his fingers and held out his hand, palm up. “Give me the Sweet.”

  “What are you talking about?” one of the females said, red lips curled into a sneer. “We don’t have any.”

  “Yeah,” a male said, echoing the same disdainful tone and taking a bold step forward. “We don’t know what you’re talking about.”

  Mateo narrowed his eyes. “Cut the crap and just hand it over. Three, two, one…”

  “Fuck you. We—”

  In an instant, Mateo had him in a headlock, blade pressed against the guy’s throat. God, they were so predictable. You’d think some of them would be a little more imaginative. “You going to try telling me those Darkbloods in the cemetery with you were selling, what, lollipops?” No answer. “Give it to me or it’ll be your blood I’m spilling.”

  “You wouldn’t dare.” One of the other males from the back of the pack, a tall, shifty-looking guy, stepped forward. “Do you know who my father is?”

  “I don’t give two flying fucks who your father is.” Coming from a family of privilege himself, that excuse always rankled. “You’re using Sweet and the last time I checked, that’s a punishable offense.”

  The male gave a haughty laugh. “You guys are all the same, you know that? Busting us for using when you’re just as addicted as we are. I know you’re not dumping this shit or taking it back to your little playhouse as evidence. As soon as we split, you’re going to be popping the little rubber corks and downing it as fast as we were about to.”

  Mateo tightened his grip on the guy’s friend. Sure, corruption in the Guardian ranks was prevalent down here, but he played no part in it. He kept his head down and didn’t get involved in any of that shady shit.

  Rules were there for a reason. It drove his partner crazy sometimes, but Mateo knew what happened when you pushed things past the breaking point. They broke.

  He touched the tip of the blade to the youthling’s neck and drew blood. “I haven’t wasted a vampire in, oh, twelve hours now, so I’m itching for an excuse to charcoal you.”

  “Give it to him, Jonas,” one of the females hissed to the r
ich guy. “It’s not worth it.”

  “This is bullshit,” a shorter guy said, glancing warily at the lightening sky. “Just give it to him. I’ve got to get home.”

  “No,” Jonas argued with his friends. “He’s just going to—”

  The events that followed happened quickly. Someone must’ve reached into Jonas’s pocket, because shouts, cursing and a scuffle ensued. Several glass vials of the addictive blood went flying and shattered on the cobblestones. The youthlings, unable to control themselves, pounced.

  With the scent of Sweet thick in the air, Mateo’s grip loosened momentarily. The young man he’d been holding immediately slipped from his grasp and joined his friends lapping at the blood-spattered cobblestones.

  It took a moment for Mateo to process the scent—he hadn’t smelled it in a long, long time—but not because he was addicted to Sweet. As a Guardian, part of his training had involved becoming desensitized to it, and now he routinely busted those who were selling it. But that scent—that particular scent—was familiar to him.

  When Mateo made the connection, he staggered backward, feeling as if he’d been hit by a train. And then a white-hot rage surged through his veins, clouding all reason and logic.

  On some level, he knew these kids had nothing to do with the collection of the blood or its source, they were just consumers, but he didn’t care. Fangs fully extended, he whipped out his silver blades, wielding them like extensions of his hands. Lunging, he intended to kill all of them. Spill their blood on the cobblestones. But before his weapons struck flesh, strong arms gripped him from behind, nearly wrenching him off his feet.

  “What the fuck!” he yelled, struggling to free himself.

  “Easy there, big guy.” It was Zeph.

  “Get your hands off me, man, or I’ll rip your fucking head off.”

  His partner ignored him, his grip vise-like around Mateo’s biceps. “Dude, they’re just mixed-up kids. They’re not the enemy.”

  But Zeph didn’t understand. He couldn’t understand.

  The blood he smelled was hers.

  Chapter 2

  It still wasn’t right.

  Selena Tosca dipped a spoon into the stainless steel bowl of chocolate rum ganache, stirred it a few times to check the consistency, then took another taste. “Ugh.”

  Not only was it not thickening up like it was supposed to, but the aftertaste, though subtle, wasn’t good.

  What the heck is going on? The only thing she could think of was that it had something to do with the rum she’d used, because she’d made this particular recipe hundreds of times with the same brand of chocolate. The problem was, the client whose event she was catering wanted her to use a very specific rum for these truffles. One she’d never tried before.

  Selena opened the unlabeled bottle (from an old family distillery, she’d been told) and smelled the amber liquid again. On its own, the rum looked and tasted fine, but something about it was making the chocolate taste...off. This was her third attempt too.

  She dreaded the prospect of telling her best customer that she couldn’t accommodate this request. The woman was intense, to say the least. Not exactly the kind of person you wanted to have words with.

  Selena chewed on her lip and tried to think of another way to use the mixture. Ice cream topping? Drizzled over petits fours? She sighed. No, Ms. Karza was adamant. She wanted enough to fill an entire table with these specific chocolate rum truffles.

  Feeling a little lightheaded as she stepped away from the refrigerator, Selena leaned against the door frame to steady herself.

  “You okay, hon?” Paula, her part-time employee, looked at her from across the tiny commercial kitchen, a concerned expression on her face as she expertly flipped the contents of a sauté pan. A small barrette sparkled in the woman’s short pink hair.

  “I’m fine,” Selena said, straightening her spine. There was nothing she hated more than having people fuss and worry about her. At twenty-seven, having her father still doing it was bad enough, but then he’d probably never change. Her mother had died when she was little, so he’d always been very protective of her, but after the incident (as he liked to call it), he became even worse.

  Paula frowned. “You sure?”

  “Maybe I’ve sampled too much of this on an empty stomach.” She shook the bottle as if to prove her point.

  In truth, she’d only had a few sips of the rum to assess how much she’d need to use in the recipe. The real problem was her failure to get a good night’s sleep lately. How many nights was it this time? Two? Three? She’d be in bed, staring at the ceiling for what felt like hours. And when she did sleep, it was filled with nightmares she could never quite remember, leaving her tired and with a dull headache the next day.

  Paula folded her tattooed arms across her chest. “You were like this a few weeks ago too.”

  Selena tried to shrug it off. “It’s just insomnia. It comes and goes.”

  “Maybe you should go to a sleep lab.”

  Selena shivered, imagining being hooked up to machines and trying to sleep while people watched her. It reminded her too much of her hospital stay. “No, thank you.”

  “Why don’t you go in the back room and lie down,” Paula said. “I can handle things out here.”

  Selena considered the offer. Unfortunately, Paula wasn’t exactly the most reliable person. Often her boyfriend would call, saying he wanted to catch a band playing in Vancouver, and suddenly she’d be skipping out of work and taking the ferry to the mainland.

  “Thanks, but I’ve got to figure out what I’m going to do about the truffles. I need to bring the samples to Ms. Karza’s office tonight for their event next week.”

  Paula wasn’t having any of it. “You’ve been catering her events for how long now and she still doesn’t trust your judgment enough not to have to sample every little thing? What a total B.”

  “She’s a control freak, I guess.” But then you didn’t become the head of a research facility, if you weren’t paying attention to the details.

  The woman was intimidating as hell with her piercing blue eyes, those crisp white pantsuits she always wore, and the slow, guarded way in which she spoke. She was Tosca Catering’s main customer right now. The need for catering was very seasonal in Agate’s Cove. Selena would have had to close during the offseason otherwise. A few birthday cakes a month didn’t quite cut it.

  Selena made the ganache again using just a splash of the client’s rum mixed with her usual brand, and this time it worked. The mixture set up like it was supposed to and the aftertaste was much better. She just hoped it would be acceptable to the client. After samples of the rest of the food had been prepared, Paula told her to go into the back room and put up her feet.

  “You look like death.”

  “Gee thanks.”

  She continued to protest, but Paula insisted. “Go. I’ll decorate the truffles. I can even deliver these samples, if you like.”

  Selena yawned. “No, that’s okay. I can do it, but I do think I’ll lie down and close my eyes for a few minutes.”

  When she stretched out her legs on the threadbare couch, she was glad Paula had suggested this. It really did feel good.

  After what felt like a short time later, Selena opened her eyes to a darkened room. She yawned and leisurely stretched her arms over her head. Had she actually fallen asleep? When she grabbed her phone and checked the time, she nearly had kittens.

  Six thirty! No way! She needed to be at Ms. Karza’s office by seven, which was a good fifteen- to twenty-minute drive along the coast. Why hadn’t Paula woken her up? Oh my God, this was just like her, too. Sweet as can be, but so unreliable.

  Selena dashed from the back room, planning to throw the food samples together and hoping Paula had at least finished decorating the truffles like she’d said she would, when oomph, she ran headlong into someone who definitely wasn’t Paula.

  Strong hands cupped her elbows, setting her back on her feet, and a deep, masculine voice c
huckled from above. “Hello, Selena.”

  That voice. It was…eerily familiar. She cranked her head up and nearly choked.

  Staring down at her was Mateo Carrera. The devastatingly handsome Mateo Carrera. With dreamy grey-blue eyes, a killer body, and raven, chin-length hair tucked behind one ear.

  The man she’d once loved. The man she’d dreamed of marrying.

  The man who broke her heart.

  Chapter 3

  It took all of Mateo’s willpower not to pull Selena into his arms and crush her body to his.

  She was okay. She was alive. And she was right here in front of him.

  He needed to get a grip, calm the fuck down, and focus on what he came here to do—ensure her safety through whatever means possible and kill the Darkblood scum responsible for harvesting her blood.

  He’d been on pins and needles since leaving New Orleans, pausing only to refuel on the way up to British Columbia. Given that he had a DayTran-equipped sports car to protect him from the energy-depleting sun, even daylight hadn’t stopped him.

  As soon as he’d recognized that the blood from the vial was hers, he’d done a frantic search of the Agency’s databases, only to come up empty-handed. The names of known sweetblood humans were kept highly confidential within the local field offices, so he wasn’t sure what he’d been hoping—or not hoping—to find. A call to the Horseshoe Bay region hadn’t turned up much information either. She hadn’t been listed as missing, nor was there an obituary. Which meant there was a chance she was still alive. But if so, that meant Darkbloods were either holding her captive somewhere and using her as a blood donor, or they were visiting her unsuspectingly.

  All this time, he’d assumed she was relatively safe on Vancouver Island where the vampire population was sparse. Because vampires couldn’t process sunlight into the energy needed to survive, they had to get it from human hosts by drinking their blood and absorbing it via physical touch. Human blood was more potent in regions with high UV levels, so vampires preferred living there. Cloudy, rainy climates like the Northwest, where the sun may not shine for months, weren’t nearly as popular.

 
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