Excerpt from Murder By Ritual!

Eris’ hands shook as she stood, her body swaying. Her headache was pushing towards a migraine. She had to get what she could now. She could only key in to maybe one more. After that the bleeds, from her nose, eyes, or ears would come next and she’d be lost to the world. She couldn’t afford that. They had a killer out there and she had to help catch him. She wouldn’t be able to forgive herself if she failed. She stumbled, moving as best she could and knelt between the parents. Looking at them she tried to decide which one would be better. The mother’s natural instinct would be to get to her children. She may plead and beg, struggle, but her focus would be entirely on her children. She would try everything in her power to protect the children she brought into the world. That’s what Eris would have done. That is, if the victim was a good mother. Unlike the bitch of a mother Eris hailed from. She shrugged that thought off, not wanting to lose focus, and forced herself to look at the father. He would be determined to save his family. Not only his children but his wife as well. She saw the solid gold bands on both their ring fingers. He would want to take care of them all. But something wasn’t right. The rings were on the wrong hand. They wore them on the right. The sight sent Eris reeling.

“Goddammit. Torrence get your ass in here now!”

“What?” he questioned as he came through the door, not looking right into her eyes.

“They are Strand. This is a Strand family. Why didn’t you tell me that before?”

“How did you know?” Torrence questioned back.

“The wedding bands on the right, asswipe. Despite the Civil Rights Act for Strands of 2009, they still aren’t able to legally marry. They hold dedication ceremonies when they join, officiated by their Prime or Prima. Why didn’t you tell me this before?” She didn’t add that Shifter Strands found their Mates and the link there was much stronger than any marriage ceremony could hope to achieve. But that wasn’t a Human’s business. It just told her they weren’t Shifter Strands. Shifters didn’t wear bands, they didn’t have to. Torrence shrugged, thin shoulders barely moving his heavy black leather jacket.

“Because we wanted you to see what you could without any preconceived notions,” another voice answered. There was no reason that her knees should have gone weak on a crime scene. It shouldn’t have even been possible. They did nonetheless. A lilt to his words made him widely exotic and out of place in the small town of Lineville, Texas. He was tall. She registered his height first. He towered at least a head over her five foot eleven frame. His samurai knot was bound tightly at the crown on his head, his eyes slanted and piercing in black pools. No streaks of color so he wasn’t a Radheid Vampire, but he for damn sure wasn’t any more Human than her, that she could sense. Strands could scent Human. He smelled nothing of a Human. He inclined his head at her, his straight nose twitching slightly over sinfully full lips, as if he read her mind.

 

Son of a bitch.

“Special Core Agent Satou at your service.” Satou, Japanese then, she thought to herself.

 

Sexy, she thought ten seconds after that and then shook her head, clearing the thoughts. She was out of her damn mind. She had to be. It was like her pain was slowly melting away as she looked at him. Fading into the background so she could think, rationalize; all about how delectable his mouth looked as he watched her. She was standing amidst death and destruction and still his body was enticing to her. Delectable even.

She was losing it.

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