Valentines day anthology.., p.1

Valentine's Day Anthology: Hearts and Handcuffs, page 1

 

Valentine's Day Anthology: Hearts and Handcuffs
 


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font   Night Mode Off   Night Mode

Valentine's Day Anthology: Hearts and Handcuffs


  Valentine’s Day Anthology

  Hearts and Handcuffs

  Renee Grace Thompson

  Elle Wylee

  Rosie Amber Rifae

  Cassandra Zolotoff

  Imogen Keeper

  Contents

  Introduction

  Elle Wylee

  Heart Hunters

  Acknowledgements

  1. Chapter One

  2. Chapter Two

  3. Chapter Three

  4. Chapter Four

  5. Chapter Five

  6. Chapter Six

  7. Chapter Seven

  Author’s Note

  Rosie Amber Rifae

  The Invention of St. Valentine’s Day

  Acknowledgements

  1. Sunrise

  2. Mid-Morning

  3. Noon

  4. Evening

  5. Dawn

  Author’s Note

  Renee Grace Thompson

  Val ’n Tiny

  Acknowledgements

  1. Targets Hit

  2. Targets Hit Targets

  3. Missions Complete

  Author’s Note

  Cassandra Zolotoff

  Serious Trouble

  Acknowledgments

  1. Chapter One

  2. Chapter Two

  3. Chapter Three

  Author’s Note

  Imogen Keeper

  Seeking: Tall, Hot, and Dreamy

  Acknowledgements

  1. Wednesday

  2. Thursday

  3. Friday

  4. Saturday

  Author’s Note

  Introduction

  Heart Hunters by Elle Wylee

  Heart Hunter, Razzeline is the best at what she does - making Connects and kicking ass. After her father is murdered, she's more determined than ever to change the world one happy-ever-after at a time. Fate has other ideas, though, big poofy-white-dress-ideas and Syras is the Hunter she's enlisted to bring Raz in.

  The Invention of St. Valentine’s Day by Rosie Amber Rifae

  Britain, 800AD. The holy feast of St Valentine is a day for politics, power-dealing and pre-arranged marriages. Young Meredith, copper hair and jade-green eyes, is secretly in love. He’s brave, passionate and dazzling, but he’s forbidden to her. They have one day to beat a royal command or lose everything.

  Val ‘n Tiny by Renee Grace Thompson

  Overly-zealous Val and time-challenged Tiny work together with their young son Cupid, who thinks he knows better than his parents, to complete their Valentine's Day love missions. The human targets, full of disbelief, do everything they can to resist the zany family's antics. This is a story of humans versus destiny.

  Serious Trouble by Cassandra Zolotoff

  Artemis has been helping people find love for centuries, but her latest assignment isn’t easy to complete. A hot rugby player stands in her way.

  Is his attention worth disobeying the universal order of bringing love to people?

  Could this lead to serious trouble?

  Seeking: Tall, Hot, and Dreamy by Imogen Keeper Phoebe Peacock has a problem. Well, she's got lots of problems. But the most recent is a big fat lie. She just told her sister she'd bring a date to her engagement party on Valentine’s Day - only a few short days away. And not just any man. One who is tall, hot and dreamy. And the world, it's not exactly raining men these days. Or... is it?

  Hearts & Handcuffs Valentine’s Day Anthology

  Heart Hunters by Elle Wylee

  The Invention of St. Valentine’s Day by Rosie Amber Rifae

  Val ‘n Tiny by Renee Grace Thompson

  Serious Trouble by Cassandra Zolotoff

  Seeking: Tall, Hot and Dreamy by Imogen Keeper

  Copyright © 2017

  All rights reserved.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

  All depicted persons are over the age of 18.

  Created with Vellum

  Heart Hunters

  Elle Wylee

  Acknowledgements

  Thanks to my other egg, for believing I can do this, even on the days I don't, my Migi for being so cool, my kids, for being their cheeky little selves, and last but not least my H&H Girls... You ladies rock.

  Chapter One

  The air stilled around me, the hum of the city fading to silence. My breathing calmed as I raised the mini crossbow and set my sight on the couple standing awkwardly in the doorway below. Focus, aim, fire. Don't over think. My father's words. This was who I was. This was what I'd been born to do. My finger tapped, one, two, three, then pulled the trigger.

  Two silver cu-darts pierced the night, their quiet whir calming my soul. Eyes still trained on the couple, I straightened and flicked my wrist to retract the bow back into its holster. A slow grin lifted my lips as the man leaned in and kissed the woman.

  Connect. I never missed.

  I didn't even have time to tighten my long black ponytail before a light caught my eye. Shit. Of all the shitty timing. A Nymph hovered in all its jelly-fish-like grossness just feet from the oblivious couple. One touch from its lusty tendrils and my Connect would turn into nothing more than a one-night fuckfest. Not an option. These two had been life-matched for a reason. It was my job to make sure shit like this didn't tip the balance.

  I squatted and drew the dagger from my boot. In one breath I pushed off from my narrow perch on the brownstone balcony. The asphalt crunched as my feet made contact with the pavement. My stance low, I crept towards the slimy asshole and lifted my blade. My nose wrinkled as I brought the dagger down towards the centre of the Nymph and glanced at my leather pants. Ugh, these were brand new. The goo that would soon cover me stunk like rotten eggs. I squeezed my eyes shut, but the explosion of yuk never came. My eyes flew open as the Nymph was propelled past my head, dissolving into a steaming puddle as it went. What the hell?

  A sharp tingle heated the side of my neck just above the collar of my leather vest. One of its tentacles must have made contact. Great. Because I had time to go all the way back to the Second Plain to get a frigging Nymph sting neutralized. With a muttered “fuck” I pulled my transporter from my back pocket and set about dialing in my coordinates before the tingling spread.

  “You're welcome.”

  My hackles instantly lifted at the deep growl of a voice behind me. Transporter in hand, I spun a roundhouse kick as I turned. Kick ass first, ask questions later. Humans couldn’t see me. That meant whoever the fuck this was, wasn't one.

  Strong fingers wrapped around my ankle, holding my leg high in the air.

  “Now, now, Raz, is that any way to treat the guy who just saved your Connect?” He dropped my leg, grinning when I stumbled forward a step.

  I narrowed my eyes. Going by the pink ring that circled his black irises, the standard issue dagger in his hand and his seriously sculpted body, he was a Heart Hunter. Not one I'd ever laid eyes on, though. There was no way I'd forget abs like those.

  Full lips twitched into a cocky smile as if he knew exactly what I was thinking. Jerk.

  “How the hell do you know my name?” Ignoring the stinging heat spreading down my left shoulder, I lifted my chin and waited for his answer.

  “I've been sent for you, Ra
zzeline. Fate’s had enough of you playing Heart Hunter. She said, and I quote; time for you to come home and fulfil your duties, little girl.”

  My stomach swooped low. They couldn't make me go home. I’d proved that the first time they tried to tell me what was expected of me. “You can tell that sly bitch to shove her duties up her ass. I will not be matched with some boring member of the Corazons.” My body did a full blown yuk-shiver at the thought. “You tell her to find another fucking bloodline to exploit.”

  My head swam. I had about ten minutes before the Nymph poison took hold and I went into shock. The last time I was out cold for forty-eight hours. Humans definitely had the better end of the deal when it came to run-ins with those fucking things.

  “I can help you with that.” The stranger who'd just threatened to take the only thing that mattered to me jerked his head in the direction of my neck, a winged eyebrow rising in question.

  I stopped trying to focus on the ridiculously tiny buttons of my transporter and glared at his now-blurred face. “Of course you can.” I was going for a sarcastic snarl – it came out more of a drunken slur.

  Before I could press send, large hands smoothed up the bare skin of my shoulders and my chin was gripped between long fingers.

  “Trust me,” he whispered, his warm breath tickling over my face as his free hand lowered the zipper of my vest down between my breasts.

  Goosebumps flared over the bared skin. I didn't trust him – didn't trust him a jot, but I tilted my head anyway, giving him access to the sting. I didn't have much choice, I was about to lose consciousness.

  My back arched and an unfamiliar cry of something that sounded embarrassingly orgasmic left my mouth the second his lips touched my neck and he sucked. Well, this was definitely different than three hours in a neutralization tank.

  The tingling picked up in its intensity. My fingers found his hair, threading themselves through the thick black strands. Blood swirled under my skin, bringing with it a swift and acute arousal. My eyes rolled and my lips parted. Push him off. Stop this now. My arms ignored their orders, legs refused to lift even a toe to help.

  The moment was over as quickly as it started.

  Breathing hard, he stumbled back and spat onto the sidewalk.

  A need I'd never experienced pulled me a step towards him. The muscles in his bare arms and torso flexed beneath the straps that crossed his body from shoulder to hip and his hands balled into fists by his sides. His square jaw ticked while his dark eyes watched me carefully. He looked as surprised by the tension buzzing between us as I was. Shake it off. I didn't have time for this. Thrusting my fingers into my messed up hair, I tore my gaze from the tempting V of muscle that disappeared into his regulation leather pants and sucked in a shaky breath.

  The blurriness was gone. Now it was time for me to be.

  Syras

  Pinning me with one last disdainful curl of her otherwise pouty lips, Raz turned on her heel and stomped away. I should have let the Nymph sting do its work then taken her straight to Fate, but that would have been too easy. No, I wanted to see what the pureblood was made of.

  I'd always loved a good challenge.

  My gaze lingered on her retreating figure. That body. The women of Valenteen, the Home Plain, were normally soft and curvaceous, feminine and quiet mannered. She was none of those things. All lean limbs and defined muscle. The only voluptuous part of her body she kept wrapped up tight beneath that vest. If she wasn’t so damn prickly, I'd say she was one of the most magnificent women I’d ever laid eyes on.

  I'd heard about her, of course I had. The only female Heart Hunter. Add to that she was one of the best there was, there wasn't a corner of any Plain that her name wasn't known. She was an enigma – a living legend. Her only concern, making Connects and killing the Broken.

  “I haven't seen anyone pull off a double-cu-dart shot like that since your father,” I yelled after her before she disappeared completely into the darkness. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't impressed.

  She slowed to a stop and spun slowly, her pale eyes flashing in the dim street light above her. Her features softened for a millisecond as she licked her lips and moved warily back towards me. My pulse picked up speed in my throat.

  “You knew my father?”

  “I was sorry to hear about his passing.”

  I spoke the truth. Her father had been a good man and a brave Hunter. He'd taught me a lot – though, apparently not as much as he'd taught his daughter.

  “You say passing as if he went peacefully in his sleep, not butchered by the Broken.”

  I met her fierce glare, my jaw tight. “I heard that you picked off his killers one by one in the weeks after, all ten of them.” I cocked my head when she nodded.

  One of her dark eyebrows rose in contempt, her shining lips quirked into a disgusted sneer. “And even still you mean to take me home to marry and play the dutiful fucking baby-maker to some dull Corazon?”

  She had me there. I could no more see her marrying one of those boring Corazons than I could see me hanging up my crossbow. Orders were orders, though. The quicker I got this done, the quicker I could get back to making my Connects. If the chatter back at Cupid's headquarters was anything to go by, there was a big life-match coming up. One that could mean the difference between peace on earth and World War III.

  “You know I won't come willingly.”

  “Either way, I'm bringing you in, Razzeline.”

  A light flashed on the transmitter tucked into her utility belt, drawing her attention. Her face split into a delighted grin. “It seems Cupid has other plans for me.” She winked defiantly and crouched before springing effortlessly into the night sky, landing on top of a three story brownstone.

  Without so much as a glance over her shoulder, she was gone. For now.

  I chuckled humorlessly. This had been a courtesy call. The next time I wouldn't be asking nicely.

  God help the poor old sod that Fate had picked out for her.

  “If you've sent me on some rogue mission, Fate, I swear…” I massaged the ever-present tick in my jaw. “You led me to believe that Cupid was fully aware and in agreement with bringing her home.”

  The more I thought about it, the more ridiculous it seemed. Why would Cupid agree to shelf one of his best Heart Hunters the day before Valentine's Day? Especially when there was this world peace job coming up. It didn't make sense. My gut niggled the way it always did when I was only getting half the story.

  “Syras, calm your horses, boy. Cupid is calling the shots with this one. I'm just the messenger.”

  Fate’s sing-song voice, even through the microphone on my transmitter, grated on my nerves. She was hiding something.

  She was always hiding something.

  “Then why is he still sending her on missions?”

  “He is? That sly old dog.”

  She was a shit liar.

  “You know more that you're letting on, Fate.”

  “What was that?... You're breaking up... Syras?... Hellooooo?”

  The line went dead. My grip tightened around the transmitter. I did not like being played. A message flashed before I stowed it in my belt.

  Cu: Mission: WP Connect. Targets: Mary Goodling/Kevin Jones – NYC. Imperative that the Connect is made on Valentine’s Eve. Assisting Hunter: Razzeline Noir.

  Chapter Two

  Glancing over my shoulder, I pulled the transporter from my belt and slipped down a small dark ally. He hadn't followed me. The smell of decaying garbage filled my nostrils as I stared into the darkness. For a Heart Hunter determined to bring me back, he’d sure given up easily. He was either really crap at his job or he was biding his time. Unease prickled down my neck.

  I hadn't seen the last of him.

  What the fuck was Fate’s problem, anyway? Sending a Hunter after me. A frustrated sigh slumped my shoulders. No matter how many Connects I made, or how many times I proved that I was the best at what I do, they would only ever see me as the last of an origina
l bloodline.

  Well, screw them.

  Shaking my head, I dialed in my Safe-Cube code and stood back. I needed some shut-eye. When I was tired I got pissy, and when I was pissy I made stupid decisions. I’d need a clear head to figure out how the hell I was going to convince the persistent fuckers up there that I was worth more to them down here than playing house on Valenteen.

  A thin horizontal line flashed into focus on the grime covered wall before me. I waited for the hiss and click, then pressed my hand flat against the wall. The invisible door slid open. White light momentarily blinded me in the trash filled New York ally. I scrunched my eyes. That'll teach me for forgetting to turn the lights out when I left.

  My shoulders relaxed the second I stepped into the Cube and reached back to press my hand into the control pad.

  This had been my father's Safe-Cube. If I closed my eyes I could still smell his woodsy scent. I rubbed my palm over the ache in my chest. He was gone. Even six months after the fact, still didn't compute.

  Obstruction. Please step away from the door.

  Thoughts of my father dispersed. Was it too much to ask to be left the hell alone? In the second it took me to turn, my crossbow locked and loaded, a boot and a long-fingered hand had already managed to pry the door open a few inches.

  So much for getting some shut-eye.

  “Do you mind?” Aiming the defence-dart at the space above the hand, I stomped my heel down hard onto the boot.

  “I'd mind less if you let me in instead of playing footsy with me.”

  A scowl lowered my brow. “How did you find me?” I used every trick I knew to shake off a tail. There was no way he could have followed me here without me noticing. Unless… Fuck… Pinching the bridge of my nose between my forefinger and thumb, I retracted my bow. “Where's the tracker?”

 
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
Turn Navi Off
Turn Navi On
Scroll Up
Scroll