Door to Alternity (Buffy the Vampire Slayer Angel Unseen) (Bk. 2)

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9780743418942: Door to Alternity (Buffy the Vampire Slayer Angel Unseen) (Bk. 2)

Part two of the three-volume crossover series featuring Buffy and Angel. In Los Angeles, the pair compare notes and realise that both are dealing with cases of missing teenagers, most of them children of rich and powerful parents. Coincidence? Or is there something more sinister at work?

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Nancy Holder is a writer and a mom. She and Jeff Mariotte have written seven book-length projects together, including two (Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Watcher's Guide, Vol. 2, and the upcoming guide to Angel) with Jeff's wife, Maryelizabeth Hart. They are all still speaking to each other.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One

Los Angeles

Police officers at either end of the short alley held guns aimed at Buffy, Riley, and Angel. Headlights and floodlights from their cars washed the alley with stark white light. Riley was the first to put his hands in the air, and he turned to the nearest pair of cops with a friendly smile on his face.

"It's cool, officers," he said. "No one's here to give you any trouble."

Speak for yourself, Angel thought. Having recognized the voice of Bo Peterson, crooked cop, he was perfectly happy to make some trouble if he had to. A quick glance revealed that the other cops were Luis Castaneda, standing near Bo, and Doug Manley and Richard Fischer at the other end of the alley. Peterson's comrades in corruption. If Angel had been alone, he'd already have been on them, or past them and on his way home. But Buffy couldn't survive a hail of bullets -- she was Slayer-tough, but not immortal. So he tried a different tactic.

"On the ground, now!" one of the cops called. "Bellies down, arms out!"

"Just do what they say," Riley instructed. His Initiative experience had, Angel supposed, given him an affinity for law enforcement. It was not something Angel shared. Not only did he not want to take a chance that any of them would end up in jail, he didn't trust Peterson for a second. The guy and his buddies had killed one person that Angel knew about, framing an innocent man for their crime -- and Peterson was aware that Angel knew it, which made him dangerous. Chances were good that if they were put into a police car now, their only destination would be someplace quiet where they could get bullets pumped into their heads. Which again, not that big a deal for me, but bad news for Buffy and Riley.

He turned toward Peterson, who was already walking toward them, in front of the lights, his weapon clutched in both hands, motioning to the ground with it.

"You heard him!" Peterson shouted. "Get down!"

Angel gave him a wide smile, as if recognizing an old friend. "Bo!" he called. He spread his arms wide and started toward the big cop. "What's shakin', pal?"

Peterson paused, caught off guard by Angel's approach. To cement the deal, Angel let his vamp face flash for a fraction of a second -- so briefly that anyone who saw it would think it a trick of the light.

Anyone except Bo Peterson, who was already terrified of it.

Bo froze. Angel moved superhumanly fast, but casually, to cover the ground between them in an instant. When he reached Peterson, he caught the man's beefy arm in a steel grip, paralyzing it from the forearm down. He moved the arm carefully, making sure Peterson's gun no longer pointed toward anyone.

"It's been too long, man," Angel said loudly. With his body, he blocked his grip on the cop's arm from the sight of the others. Peterson started to say something, but Angel just increased the pressure of his grip and the man's face reddened. He blew out a sharp breath.

"Tell your friends to put their weapons away," Angel snarled under his breath. "Unless you want me to snap your arm off. You know I can do it. You know I will, too."

Peterson's face broke into a sweaty sheen as he struggled against Angel's grip. He was a strong man, a lifter, probably not used to being easily overpowered. "Are you nuts?" he asked.

"What do you think?" Angel replied. He spoke softly, so only Peterson could hear. "Have you told the guys about our conversation yet? You want me to? Let 'em know you've turned over already?"

Peterson shook his head, almost imperceptibly.

"This guy's okay," he called to the other cops. "It's cool. Holster your weapons."

The other three cops just looked at each other. "Bo?" Castaneda said. "What's going on?"

"Those two are friends of mine," Angel said softly, to Peterson. "They come with me."

"I don't know if I can do that," Peterson muttered with a whimper.

"You can. You will."

"But -- "

"This isn't a negotiation," Angel said.

Peterson's eyes filled with tears as Angel kept up the pressure on his arm. The slightest additional force and the big man's forearm would shatter. As it was, he'd be wearing long sleeves for a while to cover the bruises.

"Okay, okay," he said finally.

"And you might want to talk to those guys about confessing," Angel added.

"They'll never do that," Peterson told him. "They'd kill me if I even suggested that I would."

"We all take chances in life."

"Not that kind."

Angel kept the pressure on. "Nothing happened here. We were chasing the guy who broke that store window. We'd have had him if you hadn't shown up and blocked the alley. If you need to file a report, that's what you can say."

Peterson looked at his fellow officers. "These other two, they're friends of my friend here. He says this is all a misunderstanding. They can skate."

"You sure about that?" Manley asked him. He scowled at Angel, who smiled pleasantly back. Angel knew guys like these had all kinds of side deals going, made friends with a motley variety of the semi-legit and the occasional real innocent. You never knew if somebody's "friend" was his drug connection or his kid's soccer coach.

"That's the way it's going to be," Peterson confirmed.

"You okay there, Bo?" Castaneda chimed in.

"Fine. Just do it." Peterson's arm was just about to go and his voice was getting shaky.

"Okay, you two," Castaneda called to Buffy and Riley. He motioned them toward him with one hand. "You can go."

Buffy and Riley came toward the police cars, out of the glare of the spotlights. They stopped in front of Angel, Riley giving him a "what the hell was that?" look. Angel ignored it and released Peterson's arm.

"Let's go," Angel said.

"So, how illegal was that?" Buffy asked cheerily. "What you did back there. You know, the interfering with the police part, combined maybe with the assaulting an officer part."

They sat on truly hideous orange Naugahyde booth benches in a twenty-four-hour coffee shop about a mile from the Boyle Heights location where they'd lost Sleepy Ramos. Dozens of cigarette burns, from the days that cigarettes had been legal in southern California restaurants, scarred the edges of the wood veneer table.

"Moderately, I guess," Angel replied. "What were you doing there?"

"Looking for a gang meeting that Salma's brother Nicky was supposed to be attending." Buffy answered. Riley quietly sipped his coffee, letting the other two carry the conversation. Which wasn't really Angel's strong point, so pretty much letting Buffy carry it, which was fine with her. "Which, once the police cars and everything showed up, you have to figure was most likely rescheduled for some other time and place." She paused to take a breath. "What about you?"

"Sleepy Ramos, the guy we were chasing, was supposed to fill me in on some details of collusion between gang members and corrupt police officers. The four cops we ran into, by the way."

Riley let out a whistle and put his cup down on the table. "So chances are, if we hadn't been there when we were, Ramos would still be sitting there in his car."

"That's the way I figure it," Angel said. "Only he'd have a bullet in his skull and he wouldn't be waking up this time."

"We saved his life," Buffy said. "But..."

"But then he disappeared through that...that whatever that was," Angel continued for her. "What was that? Why'd you stop me from going in?"

"I have no idea," Buffy said, remembering the shimmery golden circle Ramos had disappeared into. "It just felt like going through it was a spectacularly bad impulse. I mean, there's so much going on, here in L.A. and in Sunnydale. Anything freakish like that should, I think, be investigated, not just charged into."

"You're probably right," Angel admitted. "Thanks."

Buffy had already given Angel the short version of her last few days, but this seemed like the time to bring him up to speed in more detail. She and Riley had gone to Boyle Heights looking for Nicky de la Natividad. The brother of Willow's friend Salma had been missing for a week now, and seemed to be mixed up in an oil field explosion that had taken out a Sunnydale oil patch belonging to a billionaire named Del DeSola. Since Nicky's disappearance now seemed to be linked to various types of woo-woo stuff (she imagined Giles's grimace if he heard her calling it that), finding him suddenly seemed all the more urgent.

Sleepy Ramos would, they'd been told -- after some not so gentle persuasion of the type both Buffy and Riley could be good at when they needed to be -- be able to point out precisely where the gang meeting was taking place. But then, before they got a chance to talk to him, Angel had materialized out of nowhere in that billowy-coat way he had and Sleepy had done his fastest forty-yard dash into nowhere.

As she sat in the coffee shop and watched him drinking a cup of actual coffee, no blood added, Buffy realized she'd been half-hoping that the phone call they'd shared would be the extent of their contact, that she wouldn't run into him while they were here in Los Angeles.

And two-thirds hoping she would.

It didn't add up, but not much about her feelings for Angel added up anyway. They'd been in love, once. Deeply, passionately. That love had survived even her killing him.

Ultimately, though, it hadn't survived him surviving. A moment of true happiness would turn him evil again, and true happiness seemed a strange thing for a couple of young lovers to have to avoid. Or, one young and one very old lover, she mentally corrected. It definitely put a damper on the relationship. Angel had moved to L.A. and taken up fighting crime, trying to atone for the wrongs he'd committed in his evil-vampire days, and Buffy had remained in Sunnydale, where eventually she had hooked up with Riley.

Who was, if not entirely human -- military test-chip removed, drugs out of his system, but who knew? -- at least more so than Angel.

She caught Angel looking at Riley over the rim of his coffee mug. "I don't like him," Angel had once said of Riley. From the appraising look he gave her new boyfriend, she figured that sentiment hadn't changed over the last few months.

"I'm not too worried about those cops," Angel said when she got to the end of her story. "They're crooked anyway. I just can't prove it yet."

"Nothing worse than dirty cops," Riley offered.

"Except maybe treacherous government agents," Buffy suggested. Riley's wrinkled brow showed that he didn't see the humor in her reference to the Initiative. "Or not," she amended quickly.

Riley smiled patiently at her. He was fidgeting with a sugar packet. Ill at ease. He didn't like Angel any better than Angel liked him. What is it with boyfriends, anyway? Girls can sometimes be friends with their boyfriends' exes, but guys can never quite put those feelings in a compartment and leave them there.

"What have they done?" Riley asked. "Those officers, I mean."

"Murdered a drug dealer, for one thing."

"There are worse things," Riley replied.

"And framed an innocent man for the murder. The dealer may have been involved with the Russian Mafiya. And I think the cops might be, too. So the innocent man was in a lot of trouble, and now it looks like I am."

But Angel didn't look troubled about being in trouble. Buffy had always liked that about him; he saved his passion for the real battles, didn't sweat things he knew he could handle.

Riley's the same way, she reminded herself. In fact, he's even cooler, cuz it's a lot easier for him to die.

"I've heard about those Russian Mafiya guys," Riley said, putting down the packet and taking a sip of his own coffee. "You really don't want them mad at you. They're ruthless."

"Most bloodthirsty criminal organization in the country, is what I hear," Angel offered.

"And you made enemies of them?" Buffy asked. She flashed her ex a look. "You never did do things the easy way, did you?"

Angel shook his head. "Where's the fun in that?" he replied, gracing her with a quick grin.

She remembered that smile. Rare as a double rainbow and twice as precious.

She almost glanced over at Riley, but she had the distinct feeling she would look guilty. No need, she reminded herself. I'm on board with him. Angel is of the past.

"But it sounds like I'm not the only one with a gang problem," Angel continued. "If this Nicky is mixed up with one."

"It's looking that way," Buffy responded. "And then, just to make things more complicated, today his sister Salma, Willow's bud, vanished from her house. Poof, just like that." She snapped her fingers, something at which, despite her coordination in all other areas, she'd never been particularly adept.

"That's strange," Angel said thoughtfully, scratching his chin in a remarkably human way.

"It sure is. I mean, we were all there, and -- "

"I know," Angel interrupted. "Poof. I mean, it's strange because I'm working on a similar case. Well, Cordelia and Wesley are, mostly, but I told them I'd look into it."

"A disappearance?" Buffy queried. She looked at Riley, who raised a brow.

"A teenage girl vanished from right in front of her friends," Angel said.

"Multiple poofings?" Buffy asked. "Mysterious."

"So it seems," Angel said. "One poof could be a problem, but multiple poofings is more of a situation."

"If there are two..." Buffy began.

"...there may be more," Angel finished.

Riley sighed. No grins there.

"We'll need to find out," Angel insisted. "I'll have Cordelia check into it, see if there have been other disappearances reported recently. Especially of teenagers."

"This is Los Angeles," Riley pointed out. "How many teenagers run away here every day?"

"This is Los Angeles," Angel echoed. "This is where kids run away to. The girl who vanished was a runaway."

"And Salma would never do that," Buffy said. "What's she got to run from?"

Riley folded his hands together, bringing his two extended index fingers to his chin. Buffy considered him extremely handsome under any circumstances, but this thoughtful thing he did sometimes was especially yummy. His dark blond hair was still in casual disarray from the fight, and his blue eyes flashed with intelligence.

"Having money isn't always a sign that there are no problems," he said, looking at Buffy. "Maybe she's running from the money. Didn't you say she wanted to go to college in Sunnydale specifically to be away from the family and the wealth and all that?"

"That's what Will said," Buffy agreed. "But she just doesn't seem like the type to take off. She loves her family. She wouldn't have put all this effort into finding her brother if she just intended to vanish. I think it's more complicated than that."

"I have to go with Buffy on this one," Angel put in. "The multiple disappearances thing is a problem. We need to investigate f...

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Book Description Simon Spotlight Entertainment, Riverside, New Jersey, U.S.A., 2001. Soft Cover. Book Condition: NEW. 2nd Printing. TV tie-in, series, paperback, 2nd printing, 7/01. Condition is new, a beautiful book.WRAPPED IN A PLASTIC BAG TO PROTECT CONDITION OF BOOK.**We have other titles in this genre in stock and give discounts on shipping on additonal books shipped in the same package, please contact us for more information.**.SUMMARY - Angel and Buffy compare notes and realize they are both dealing with cases of missing teens--most of them children of the rich and powerful. Buffy learns that back in Sunnydale, renegade scientists have discovered how to open the portals from one reality to the next, which could explain where the teens are hidden. Buffy and Angel join forces to do battle in the uncharted dimension. Part two of the three-volume crossover series featuring Buffy and Angel. In Los Angeles, the pair compare notes and realise that both are dealing with cases of missing teenagers, most of them children of rich and powerful parents. Coincidence? Or is there something more sinister at work?. Bookseller Inventory # 073006002

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