Sneak Peek at the first chapter of...

Pleasantly Undead in Dark River

Dark River Days Book 3
Chapter One

Sitting beside this morning's newspaper delivery was a dick. 

Well, that’s new.

Beside the weird, mangled piece of flesh was yet another head, but this was one I vaguely recognized. The cops had been looking for him in relation to a string of murdered prostitutes in New York. I didn’t think I’d ever get desensitized to decapitated body parts, yet here we were. I was mostly just annoyed that some of the drying blood had gotten on my newspaper.

Fucking Lucius. He was worse than a cat leaving dead rats on my doorstep.

As always, I looked around the surrounding houses, hoping to catch sight of him, but again he was a ghost. Walker was going to be pissed. This was the sixth head we had to bury in the woods in the last three weeks. 

I jammed my hands on my hip and scowled. “This is great and all, and I’m sure the prostitutes of NYC thank you, but enough is enough already!” I shouted. I knew he was out there. I knew he liked to watch me receive his ‘gifts’. “If you want to like, woo me or some shit, heads are not the way. Or anything that oozes for that matter.” 

A faint gust of wind flicked my hair into my eyes and there was Lucius, standing right in front of me, looking hot and completely fucking crazy. 

He looked so much like Nico, except for the insanity that colored his eyes. 

“You do not like them?” I might have imagined it, but he seemed a little sad that I didn’t like his gifts.

Call me crazy, but I kind of didn’t want to hurt his feelings. Faced with a crazed stalker with a penchant for violence, keeping him appeased probably wasn’t a bad plan. 

“I like the uh, thought behind them. But I’m not particularly fond of hosing brain matter off of my stoop, you know?” 

“So you don’t like them?” His brow creased, his primitive tattoo disappearing into frown lines. Nico and Lucius, and by extension their older brother Titus, were from a Pictish tribe from god-knows how long ago. The tribal markings were faint but the fading evening light seemed to wash out the paleness of his skin, making them stand out even more. 

I shook my head. “No, I do, uh, like them. It’s the thought that counts, right? But I don’t exactly know what you are trying to achieve here?” I said softly.

He stared at me, his eyes unnerving as they stared into my soul. Still frowning, he reached out hesitant fingers and brushed them down my cheek. I stood stock-still. Running from a predator is bad. Running from a predator is bad, I repeated it over and over in my head, though my body seemed frozen in this one position anyway. 

Then he was gone with the same speed he arrived. He was so old, so powerful, that his speed was beyond incredible, almost invisible even to my baby vampire senses. 

A low chuckle came from the driveway, and I held in a sigh. It was going to be one of those days.

Alexander; Shifter representative in the Convocation, Dragon King and the current plotline in the soap opera that was my life, strolled up to my door, staring down at the dick and the head on my doorstep.

“Want me to eat that?” he asked, quirking an eyebrow.

My jaw unhinged and I just stared. “You want to eat a dick?” 

He shrugged. “It’s all the same on the way down in my dragon form. The skull is extra crunchy though.” 

I blinked rapidly. It was too early for this shit. The sun had only just set, I was still in my pajamas for god sake. “Tex!” I yelled over my shoulder. Alexander had been here for a couple of weeks now, generally just loitering around town and making people uncomfortable. Not because he did anything but be a perfectly polite guest. But he was so big, his energy so crushing, that if he was in Bert and Beatrice’s diner, everyone else suddenly wasn’t hungry. If he sat down and watched the birds in the park, everyone had things to do elsewhere. 

He seemed to have that effect on everyone but Tex and Brody. Even X had seemed uncomfortable around him, and I thought X was too crazy to have any good sense.
As the man in question, naked as the day he was born, appeared behind me, a pair of fluffy pink handcuffs clenched around his wrist, I felt the need to emphasize the word had. He had been uncomfortable around Alexander, but apparently familiarity took the scary shine off the man in front of me. But I had no doubt that if he was in his dragon form, he would still be absolutely petrifying. 

“What was that, Love? Did you call?” X said, his rough British accent almost a purr. 

I had no doubt he was faking his mishearing. He had exceptional senses, being an old Vampire. When I walked past him sleeping on the couch moments earlier, he’d been dressed in a pair of sweats and there were no handcuffs in sight. This little display was to needle Alexander, and I wasn’t completely sure that the dragon would just snap one day and eat him.

Dick and all.

X finally noticed the member in question. He wrapped his arms around my waist, pulling me back against his body as he scraped his fangs down my neck, making me shiver with lust. Not. Cool. “Didn’t we agree you had enough dick in your harem, Love? Though I gotta admit, I’m more amiable to the idea if they come detached.” 

I shook my head. Nope. It was too early for the X show. I turned, keeping my eyes focused above his neck because the last thing I needed to do was to look at his gorgeous tattooed body and get all hot in the nether-lands in front of the freaking King of the shifters. 

“For the sweet love of cheese fries, please go and put some pants on,” I mumbled under my breath, herding him back into the house. “Come in, Alexander. I’ll make you coffee then go and wake Tex.”

Thankfully there was only Tex and X here this morning. Judge was at his apartment, Brody was with the Pack and Walker was already at the station. Right now, I needed more coffee and less machismo. 

I looked down at the mug I still had clutched in my hand, its contents cold. Another coffee. 

Tex stumbled out of my bedroom, looking adorably ruffled around the edges. His pale, lithe body rippled as he walked across the room, his many tattoos looking almost animated. He rubbed at his eyes, and then his feet stilled as he scented the other shifter in the room. Unconsciously, he ran his fingers through his hair, like his bed hair was the only thing stopping him from being respectable right now. 

My mouth watered as his sweats hung precariously low, showing the deep V of his hips. Tex’s nose twitched, and a small smile curled his lips. He strode over to me, his footsteps as sure as the sighted, until he was close enough to grab my hips. “Good morning, Mate.” 

My heart did that strange flip-flopping thing it did every time he uttered those words. He leaned forward and kissed me hard, despite the fact his grandfather or sire or whatever the fuck he thought he was, was standing less than six feet from us. I knew what it was. It was a claiming. It was a statement that despite whoever Alexander thought he was to Tex, that Tex already had a pack. A mate. A life in which he was happy. 

I bit his lip softly, a warning or an invitation, not even I knew the answer to that one. Still, he chuckled low and stepped away from me. He turned toward Alexander and nodded respectfully. “Good morning, Sir,” he said formally. 

Yeah, Tex had decided to be a little sassy with his alleged long lost family member. I couldn’t really blame him. The whole thing had fucked with his head. He wasn’t about to forgive and forget anytime soon. 

I wasn’t convinced that this wasn’t some crazy mistake; Brody had pulled Tex being Alexanders' progeny out of his ass to protect him when we’d been surrounded by Raul and the Enforcers. However, apparently the reason that Raul was so ready to believe it was because there was a rumor that Alexander’s only living child, a daughter, had been stolen by vampires. When I pointed out that Tex was a huge fucking snake and not a dragon, Alexander had said it didn’t matter. The dragon gene was recessive. 

And apparently there wasn’t the Shifter equivalent of Maury Povich. No quick DNA test and monotone “Alexander, you are not the sire.” However, there was a whole witchcraft ritual that could only be done under the light of a waning moon. Neither Alexander or Tex were eager to give their blood over to witches just yet, so they were doing a series of super awkward breakfast dates until an epiphany beat them both over the head. 

I looked at the dragon standing awkwardly in front of my dining table. He looked young, in his mid-twenties, his body lithe and almost serpentine when he walked, his dark eyes scary and his energy terrifying. And when he stood next to Tex, well, I could see the similarity between them. They looked like distant cousins, maybe. It wouldn’t be a big leap.

As Tex strode from the room, the muscles of his back taut, there was a collective sigh behind me. Alexander looked exhausted, his ancient eyes filled with frustration and regret. 

X looked horny as fuck. 

I needed more coffee, frowning in X’s direction. He just shrugged. “What? Snakelet has a great arse.” 

Alexander gave him a withering look. “How Titus didn’t smother you in your sleep as a fledgling is completely beyond me.” 

I couldn’t help the snort that exploded from me. “How about I make that coffee?”

*Unedited and subject to change. This work is the copyrighted material of Grace McGinty and cannot be copied or distributed without the express permission of the author. c 2020

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