Scanguards Vampires #11 1/2 (A Novella)
Vampiress Roxanne thought that, by joining Scanguards as a bodyguard and starting a new life, she could put her painful past to rest. However, old wounds are opened when a new client surfaces, requesting protection for himself and his companion.
Charles, a witch, has never been able to forget Roxanne, though duty had forced him to leave her without explanation twenty-three years earlier. Now he needs her help to save the vampire and witch world from a dangerous force. But saving the world isn’t the only thing on his mind. He wants Roxanne back.
It wasn’t busy in the V lounge, where Scanguards employees liked to relax in between their shifts, catch up with their colleagues, and enjoy a free glass of blood. And that was just what Roxanne needed now. Something to take the edge off after an awfully boring eight-hour patrol through Laurel Heights, where absolutely nothing had happened. Patrols like that made her uneasy, made her feel almost as if she’d overlooked something.
She’d much rather deal with a few criminals, set them straight by scaring the shit out of them, than wander the streets without any incident. When she dealt with criminals and made sure they didn’t hurt anybody, she felt she had a purpose. That’s why she’d signed up to be a bodyguard in the first place.
If only Gabriel Giles, her boss and second-in-command at Scanguards, would give her a decent assignment, but apparently it was slow right now. No conventions in town, no VIP visits, no threats. And therefore no extra clients to protect, which meant every bodyguard who was not on client detail was patrolling.
And she’d drawn the short straw and been assigned to one of the safest neighborhoods, while younger, less experienced bodyguards had gotten the juicy neighborhoods like SOMA or the Bayview, neighborhoods where action was guaranteed. But no, Amaury’s twins, both still in training, had been assigned to those neighborhoods, chaperoned by fully-fledged bodyguards like John and Haven. If that wasn’t nepotism at work, then she didn’t know what was.
Still grumbling to herself, she ordered a glass of O-Neg at the bar and looked around, when she saw Thomas gesturing her to join him in the comfortable sitting area in front of the fireplace. Oliver, who was sitting opposite him in an armchair, looked over his shoulder.
“Hey, Roxanne,” Oliver greeted her.
She snatched the glass of blood from the bar, nodded thanks to the bartender, and walked over to the two men. She’d always liked Thomas, the passionate biker and IT genius, who ran the IT operations of the company together with his mate Eddie.
“Hey guys,” she greeted them, stepping close to the armchairs. “What are you up to?”
“We were just talking about Wesley,” Thomas said with a smile.
She shrugged. Wesley wasn’t exactly her favorite Scanguards employee. And the fact that he was gone suited her just fine. “Hmm.”
Seemingly oblivious to her disinterest in the subject, Oliver said, “I hope he’s alright. Honestly, I wish Samson had insisted that he take one of us with him for protection. We have no idea what we’re dealing with when it comes to these Stealth Guardians. Nobody knows who they are.”
“Haven and Wesley did as much research on them as they could. But there wasn’t much,” Thomas admitted. “All we know is that they are preternatural creatures, and that they can somehow travel through portals.”
“Like wormholes?” Oliver asked.
Thomas shrugged. “Kind of. And who knows what other skills they have.”
“If they mean us well, they could be of use. After all, the guy Wesley chased after didn’t interfere when we took out those rogue vampires, nor did he attack us,” Oliver said. “Still, I wish he would have taken one of us with him for protection.”
Roxanne scoffed. “I’m with Samson. Why waste a perfectly good vampire to protect a witch?”
Thomas raised an eyebrow. “I had no idea you didn’t like Wes. He sure likes you.”
She’d noticed that, too, but had done her best to keep him at arm’s length. Her jaw tightened. “I’ve got nothing against him personally.”
“Personally?” Thomas asked. “I mean, I know that vampires and witches are sworn enemies. Old feuds and all that. But it’s different at Scanguards, and I thought you knew that. In the end it was just prejudice that started those feuds. It’s history. We’re above all that.”
Roxanne swallowed, knowing that Thomas of all people knew about prejudice, because he’d been at the receiving end of it when he’d been a young man in Victorian England, shunned for being gay.
But her dislike of witches didn’t stem from prejudice. She wished it did. Then her heart wouldn’t bleed anew every time she was confronted with one and reminded of her past. However, this was nobody’s business, but her own.
“Well, I’m not gonna miss him if he doesn’t come back.”
Oliver gave a light shake of his head. “Don’t you think that’s a little harsh?” He exchanged a look with Thomas, before he continued, “Don’t get me wrong, Wes rubbed me the wrong way more than once, and we’ve had our fights, but he’s a good guy. When it comes down to it, he’ll have your back.”
An icy hand clamped around her heart and squeezed it to the point of pain. “You can never trust a witch, no matter what he promises.” No matter how much he claims he loves you.
“I’m sorry to hear that, Roxanne,” Thomas said, a contemplative expression on his face. He ran a hand through his blond hair. “If you want to—”
The beeping of her cell phone saved her. “Excuse me.” She pulled it from her pocket and glanced at it, sighing in relief when she read the text message. “Gabriel needs me. See you guys later.”
She practically raced out of the V lounge, leaving her untouched glass of blood on a table near the exit. Once in the hallway, she took the elevator to the third floor where new clients were welcomed. When she stepped out of it, she nearly collided with Gabriel who was coming from the other end of the corridor where the stairs were located.
“Oh, there you are,” he said, nodding.
“You made it sound important.”
“I think it is.” The large scar that graced his face from ear to chin seemed to throb. His ponytail of thick dark-brown hair was tied low at his nape. He motioned to the door of one of the small conference rooms. “I need a woman’s intuition.”
Roxanne sighed. Great, so this wasn’t about her taking on a new client. This was about her advising Gabriel. Pushing her disappointment back, she said, “For what?”
“We got approached by a potential client. He’s not saying much, other than that he wants protection. He’s requesting four bodyguards and requires that at least one of them be a female.”
“Four? Who is he? The President of the United States?” she joked. Even prominent politicians rarely got more than two bodyguards assigned to them, unless a credible threat against them existed.
Gabriel didn’t laugh. “I have no idea who he is. Or where he came from. Eddie ran his profile through the system already…”
“Nothing. Absolutely nothing. As if he doesn’t even exist.”
“Well, if he doesn’t exist, I don’t see why he needs protection.” She threw a few strands of her long auburn hair behind her shoulder. “You’ve got your answer. Turn him down. So if that was all you needed, I’ll see you later.”
“That’s not why I asked you up here.”
Roxanne arrested her movement and lifted an eyebrow. “What then?”
Gabriel pointed to the door. “I want you to join me while I interview him further. Figure him out, you know.”
“Since when do you need me to figure out a client?”
“Well, I would normally ask Wesley to sit in on this one, given the circumstances.” He shrugged. “But since Wes has decided to chase after ghosts, I figured the next best person is a woman with an intuition as sharp as a knife’s blade.”
At his compliment, Roxanne felt her chest fill with pride. She was valued here at Scanguards. Respected. It was something that had eluded her in the past. But all that was behind her. She’d started a new life, far away from her old one. If only she could bury her past once and for all, she’d be happy, but despite the many years that had passed, certain memories kept resurfacing.
Gabriel’s voice jolted her from her thoughts.
“Sure, lead the way.”
Her boss opened the door to the conference room and walked inside. She followed and let her eyes roam. A man stood with his back to them, staring out through the window into the dark night. Roxanne pulled the door shut behind her and inhaled, recognizing one thing immediately: the man wasn’t human, nor was he a vampire. He was a witch. No wonder Gabriel had wanted Wesley to be here. Now she understood. Apparently, even Gabriel didn’t fully trust a witch.
“Mr. Dubois,” Gabriel prompted. “Shall we continue our talk?”
“I was just admiring the view,” the tall stranger said, turning. “Let’s—” His gaze drifted to her and his words died.
As did everything inside Roxanne. Her heart stopped, her breath rushed from her lungs, and all the blood froze in her veins as if she’d fallen into a vat of liquid nitrogen. Maybe that scenario would have been the better option, rather than having to face him. Rather than having her heart broken once more.
“Charles.” The word made its way past her paralyzed lips, squeezed out by the last breath of air her body was trying to hold on to.