Title: Emerald Eyes (A Bloodrose Story #8 – Standalone)
Author Name & Publisher: Julia Talbot (Torquere Books)
Publication Date & Length: September 23, 2015 – 23,000 Words
When Jonny, the owner of club Bloodrose finds out his shifter mate Luc has a twin brother, he decides Yves needs protection from the bad guys who have tried to kill Luc. He sends Reuben, a werewolf security agent, to keep Yves safe from the killers. And from Yves himself.
Reuben has never met someone as determined to find trouble as Yves. The guy has this obsession with a set of emeralds, a dead younger brother, and some kind of demon ritual. All of this should make panther shifter Yves a bad bet as a mate, but that doesn’t keep Reuben from falling hard. Can he and team Bloodrose keep everyone alive long enough to convince Yves they’re made for each other?
Jonny glanced up from his stack of surveys and geological reports, frowning. Kasey rarely sounded so serious these days, which for a broody older vampire was quite a feat. Hooking up with a werewolf had been the best thing for the fellow, really.
Kasey’s black brows drew together in what looked to be a puzzled scowl. “We have a situation.”
He barely held back his eye roll. “Goody.”
“Yeah, yeah. Deke got these today. Came in from our monitoring entry into the country.”
Kasey handed him a stack of printed photos. Of what looked like his lover, Luc. No, not just looked like. This was Luc, except that his slinky werekitty was asleep in cat form four feet above him on the top of his armoire.
He let one eyebrow raise and pinned Kasey with a look. “Explain.”
“Yeah, somehow I think we might have to ask Luc to do that.” Kasey walked over and pulled that fuzzy black tail hanging down like a lamp chain.
He did enjoy his lover’s speed, the wild yowl, the flash of claws. Good thing Kasey had a vamp’s reflexes.
“Hey, furball. I need you to be human for a minute,” Kasey said.
Luc muttered, calling Kasey a wild assortment of things, including a few insults about Kasey’s mother, as he crawled down the armoire.
“It’s not as if he can see the photo, Kasey,” Jonny reminded gently. “He’s blind.”
“Oh. Right.” Kasey grinned over at him. “He’s so good at everything, I forgot.”
Jonny did glare at his mate, however. “Tell me, sweet, do you have family I don’t know about?”
Luc stretched, totally unconcerned with hurrying to console him in the least. Possibly. Which one in particular?
“One who looks just like you?” It was uncanny, really.
Ah. My twin. Yves. So casual. Ah yes, my twin — as if it were nothing.
Jonny glared, knowing Luc would feel his disapproval. “This didn’t seem important?”
“Children, we need to share the information with the investigator,” Kasey reminded them.
“He has a twin, apparently.” Jonny nudged Luc with the toe of this shoe. “Come speak to Kasey.”
Luc sighed, a sound that came out as a cough for a kitty, before shifting to his human form, which always made Jonny’s ears pop.
“I thought you knew,” Luc murmured.
“How could we know?”
Luc shrugged. “He’s never in the States. He’s always in South America bonding with the natives and hunting precious gemstones. He’s an addict. Has to hunt. I haven’t talked to him in…”
Luc stopped and frowned, and Jonny didn’t like this. Not at all.
“…in a bit.”
“How long?” Kasey asked, tone sharp. Someone else felt the weird vibes, too.
“Right before I met my mate, I think. I spoke to him then.”
Jonny exchanged a glance with Kasey, who scowled. “What did you talk about?”
“Emeralds. He had asked me to acquire a certain pair, I did the job, put them in a safety deposit box, and let him know.”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake. Who else knew about these emeralds?” Now Kasey was growling as though he was the werewolf instead of his lover, Deke.
“I have no idea. I had an address, a window. That was it.”
Jonny nodded slowly. “Okay. Kasey, you and Deke find out who else had an interest and if Silvia has anything to do with this. Luc, you need to get ahold of your brother. I want a detail on him.”
“What does that mean?” Luc scribbled down an address, a safety deposit box number. “He’ll go here. I mean, I’ll put an ad in the paper, see if he hollers. He’s… slippery.”
“That means if we thought he looked like you, someone else might think he’s you,” Kasey said. “I’m on it, Boss.”
Jonny sat back with a sigh, drew his mate into his lap. “You are a very great deal of trouble, sweet.”
“I’m worth it.” Luc kissed him. “Yves is… not like me.”
“Tell me about him?” Jonny stroked Luc’s hair, curious as hell.
“He’s addicted to gemstones, to the stories behind them. It’s like a sickness, worse than the jobs I used to work, I think, because I was at least collecting funds for it.” Luc leaned in,
snuggling close. “There was another of us. He died fighting insurgents in the desert, long before there were troops on the ground. Yves went a little crazy when we lost Girard.”
“I’m sorry, sweet.” His family had been gone so long that he barely remembered them fondly.
“It was a long time ago; he’ll get over it.”
The sudden stiffness in Luc’s body said perhaps that was a bit of a fib. Jonny didn’t remark upon it; he simply touched and kissed until Luc relaxed.
“Love you, Mate.” And that was that, yes? What they had together, it was love.
“And I you, Luc.” He kissed Luc’s jaw. In fact, he loved his kit enough to want to finish off whoever had hurt him and to protect this unknown brother Yves.
Good thing Kasey and Deke knew what to do from here.
Someone needed to have a clear head in all this. He hoped his friends could do that for him.
Julia Talbot lives in the great Southwest, where there is hot and cold running rodeo, cowboys, and everything from meat and potatoes to the best Tex-Mex. A full time author, Julia has been published by Torquere Press, Dreamspinner and Changeling Press. She believes that everyone deserves a happy ending, so she writes about love without limits, where boys love boys, girls love girls, and boys and girls get together to get wild, especially when her crazy paranormal characters are involved. Find Julia at @juliatalbot on Twitter, or at www.juliatalbot.com.