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It's frustrating for local law enforcement to come up against a piece of scum like Newton Glover. He's dirty as hell, everyone knows that--breaks into and vandalizes his neighbors' homes; cheats and steals from everyone; folks suspect he deals drugs and porn. He's even killed a man and gotten away with it. He gets away with all of it, hinting that he has a secret government background and that he's "protected" by the Powers That Be. Glover may finally have gone too far. He's suspected of kidnapping a young teenage boy to use for child porn and a pedophile sex-ring. There's no proof, but this time, Albuquerque police are determined to nail Glover to the wall. Lee Nez, a Navajo state police officer, and Diane Lopez, an FBI agent, go undercover in Glover's trailer park. Lee and Diane find that their growing attraction for each other is heightened by their posing as husband and wife, but do not allow that to distract them from their mission. They soon learn that not long ago, Glover's neighbors tried to take the law into their own hands--they dragged Glover from his home and beat him to death, leaving him in a shallow grave. To everyone's shock, a few days later Glover reappeared with not a mark on him. Lee and Diane are no strangers to the supernatural--Lee is a Navajo vampire and Diane's last FBI partner was killed by a werewolf. Whatever Glover is, they'll deal with it.When a second child goes missing and clues link her to Glover, Lee and Diane know they are running out of time. Glover may be some kind of un-dead, but soon those children will be really dead, or worse.
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David and Aimée Thurlo are the authors of the Ella Clah series, the Sister Agatha series, and two previous Lee Nez novels, Second Sunrise and Blood Retribution. They have also written Plant Them Deep, which features Rose Destea from the Ella Clah series, and The Spirit Line, a novel for young adults. The Thurlos live in Corrales, New Mexico, with an ever-changing menagerie.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
CHAPTER 1For a genuine half vampire, Lee Nez's night life had been quite ordinary lately. Not that the evening shift of a New Mexico state policeman was necessarily boring. There were always DWI stops, roll-over accidents on the interstate, or calls from isolated sheriff's deputies to help break up a fight, back up the call on a robbery--or worse.Lee took a leisurely sip of coffee, enjoying the fact that he was off-duty now and there were still six and a half hours, give or take a few minutes, of nighttime left before sunlight became an issue for him. He looked across the table of the Journey's End diner at the light-skinned Hispanic beauty who'd just shared a banana split with him--no cherries, extra almonds--and smiled.FBI Special Agent Diane Lopez grinned back as she took the last scoop of ice cream without apology. "I've missed you, Lee. What's it been, two weeks?"He nodded, glancing casually around the generically decorated restaurant at the half-dozen late-night diners. College kids, probably from the nearby UNM campus judging by their backpacks, were demolishing french fries and sipping Cokes while debating the merits of reinstating the military draft. By the window, an old tourist couple in Hawaiian print shirts wererehashing their adventures in Old Town and on the Tram, and making plans for tomorrow's drive and shopping trip to the Plaza in Santa Fe. It was late July and the height of the vacation season.A solitary man in his early forties and wearing a wrinkled, western-cut suit had been on his cell phone for the past ten minutes. From his subdued tone and his frequent use of the word "love," he was talking either to his wife or girlfriend.Lee didn't eavesdrop on purpose, it was just that his exceptional hearing, one of the benefits of being a nightwalker, put him into nearly every conversation, like it or not. It was hard to shut out information, even trivia, when his life depended on never growing complacent to those around him.His memory was perfect, too, and he knew exactly when and where he'd seen Diane last. "Two weeks almost to the day," he said, answering her question at last. "A quick cup of coffee in Cuba the day you interviewed the witnesses to the bank robbery.""Yeah, and that was a waste of time. The interview, not the coffee and company. But no rush tonight. We've got the rest of the evening, and I have tomorrow off. Want to come over to my place and catch up?" She asked with a slow smile.Lee's eyebrows rose slightly. They'd taken their developing relationship slowly, both of them knowing the risks involved under the circumstances, and it had been months before they'd finally made love. Despite the eventual urgency of the first time, they'd both had the sense to take all the precautions possible.Lee didn't know if he was sterile. Being only half vampire meant he was one of a kind. But the viruslike infection that turned humans into vampires was passed through the blood, so he couldn't rule out the possibility that it was present in semen, too. It wasn't like there was a manual on the subject, and thebottom line was that he cared too much about Diane to take any risks.He'd been raised in the 1930s and, as a Navajo, he saw sex between a man and a woman in the same light his people did--as natural--and as necessary--as breathing. He felt no guilt for the urges, but being a nightwalker placed extraordinary responsibilities upon him. They'd talked about it, and Diane had understood. This was just one more reason he loved her."Let me get the check," Lee said, looking around and locating their waitress, who was standing beside the kitchen pass-through, talking to the cook.The weary-looking bleached blonde in her late twenties, Gwen, had given them good service, and her work ethic was solid even at this late hour. Gwen had one eye on the room despite the illusion of goofing off. Lee gestured to her with a slight movement of his head, and she nodded, reaching into her apron pocket for the ticket as she crossed the room. Lee always came here when he was passing through Albuquerque, and, in his NM state police uniform, got pretty good service. Gwen even flirted from time to time, though it was just for fun. She was married with two children, and he could tell, based on their previous conversations, that she was in love with her husband.His department uniform, technically charcoal gray with medium gray trim, and the distinctive cap with shiny bill, had not changed appreciably since he'd first put one on during the early years of World War II. The black basket-weave Sam Brown belt remained, as well, though the old Colt 45 revolver had been replaced with a Smith & Wesson 45 semi-auto.Diane was armed, too, but her 9 mm Glock and handcuffs were at her belt, hidden by the light black leather jacket, and her gold shield was hidden in a wallet rather than pinned to a uniform pocket, like his."I've got it, Lee," Diane reached for her purse."You paid for the coffee in Cuba," Lee replied. "Besides, my paycheck is bigger than yours."Her amber eyes twinkled, and she brushed a lock of shoulder-length brown hair aside in an attractive gesture she knew he appreciated. "You're right. Pay. I'll leave the tip," she whispered as the weary waitress stepped up beside Lee.A minute later, Lee held the glass foyer door open and Diane stepped out onto the concrete porch of the establishment. It was still warm, perhaps eighty, but with the humidity in the low teens, the night was comfortable, aided by a gentle breeze that rustled a few leaves on the nearby trees of the residential neighborhood just to the east. Down the incline of the parking lot was a side road that connected to Lomas Boulevard a hundred feet to the north, and to the west was the interstate. The parking lot continued around behind them and the diner, ending with the U-shaped two-story structure containing forty rooms or so of the Journey's End motel.Lee had parked his black-and-white state police unit beside Diane's unmarked Bureau car at one of the concrete barriers that basically circled the restaurant. He reached out and she took his right hand with her left, an off-duty habit he was really beginning to appreciate. "I'll follow ... ."Lee saw something odd going on beside one of the cars parked in front of a motel room, and stopped."What's wrong?" Diane whispered, letting go of his hand automatically, knowing he'd need it for his weapon.It was almost as clear as day for Lee, with his ability to see in total darkness as if it were merely a cloudy afternoon, and he saw a tall man in a black nylon jacket standing sideways between two poplars framing the window of room 117, aiming what looked like a camera."Pervert or a PI?" Lee speculated aloud, then he saw anotherman outside the same room, crouched down low between two cars, watching the illuminated areas of the parking lot.Lee motioned to his right. "Circle around," he whispered, taking a last look. The guy who'd been keeping watch brought out a small penlight and began working at the door lock of one of the vehicles with what was probably a lock pick. The idiot needed a slim jim, Lee thought.They walked quietly around the opposite side of the restaurant, coming up at the rear of the building, where a big trash bin was resting beside another door. Both were illuminated by a covered bulb on the wall of the facility."There was somebody between the cars. Breaking into a vehicle?" Diane asked."Looked like it. But there was another perp past the sidewalk, against the building and standing beside the window next to the tree. He had a camera aimed through the window of room one-seventeen.""Maybe a PI team?""Why break into the car? Let's grab them and see what's going on. Even if they're private cops, what they're doing is still illegal," Lee pointed out. "Don't call APD until we get a handle on this. If a cop car pulls into the lot it'll spook these guys and we might lose them.""The perps are either brave or stupid. An obvious state police car parked just a hundred feet away?""Your car blocks my unit from their line of sight.""Yeah, and your unit is low profile, no lights on the top. Probably didn't notice. Then what's the plan? I can see the guy breaking into the car, and probably get close enough to cover him. But the person in the bushes ... he'll see us coming once we reach the sidewalk," Diane whispered.Lee glanced up at the balcony, which gave access to thesecond story, then looked to his left, where a utility pole and guy wire stood beside a high retaining wall behind the motel, which had been constructed into the hillside. "I'll get above them, nod for you to move in, then give you cover. When I drop down on the guy by the window, make your move on the other guy. Be careful. I don't see any weapons, but you never know.""How are you going to get above them? The guy by the car can see the stairs from where he's at, Lee.""Just keep watch and wait for my signal. Call APD if you think they might get away, but have the officers stay out of sight until you give them the all clear to come in.""Okay."Lee ran to his left, moving silently across the parking lot, constantly alert for a third perp or a civilian who might come out of the restaurant at the wrong time.Reaching the braided steel guy wire that ran from the ground to the top of the pole, he jumped, grabbed the cold metal with both hands, then worked his way up the wire, hand over hand to the top. In a few seconds, he pulled himself up and stood atop the rounded utility pole, which wobbled just slightly from his six-foot, two-hundred-pound frame.Balance wasn't a problem, he could have walked up the cable itself if it wasn't so slippery. Still, it would have been odd seeing a state police officer, cap and all, standing atop a utility pole like some show-off crow.Lee jumped the twenty or so feet onto the nearly flat roof of the hotel, landing on the parapet in order to keep the noise down. He was light-footed, but physical laws still had to be compensated for. The stucco crumbled a little, but held. Lee stepped onto the gravel-covered roofing material, nowadays fiberglass more than the asphalt he knew as a child, and walked around the back edge in order to remain out of view from the motel parking lot.The city was covered in a blanket of multicolored lights, and the downtown area to the west, with its multistoried buildings, was still inspiring to a Navajo who'd been raised in front of a hogan and campfire, with only a lantern or two when kerosene had been available.It took only a minute for Lee to reach the spot above room 117, guided by the restaurant location and Diane, whom he could see standing at the corner of the trash container. When he got closer, he wondered if she could see him up in the dark against the skyline. Dark man, dark hat, dark uniform ... he doubted she could see anything but his movement.When he got to the parapet above the sidewalk, Lee could hear a man's voice from below."What the hell's going on? Put your shirt back on, and stay away from me. This some kind of sick joke?" From the tone, Lee knew it must have been coming from the room, and from the word "shirt" instead of "blouse," he assumed the one undressing was a guy, too.He peeked over the edge, and noticed the man who'd been beside the car was now inside, reaching under the dash. The guy in the bushes was taking photographs of the bald, upset guy and the young, well-muscled man wearing just the slacks. It was a shakedown scam, apparently--relying on photos of a gay rendezvous.Lee looked down at Diane and nodded. She nodded back, then sneaked over to the row of cars parked at concrete barriers in front of the sidewalk. Crouched low, she crept down the row until she was beside the car with the guy inside.When she reached the end of the car, Lee stood, stepped off the edge, and landed right behind the guy with the camera."Shit!" the guy yelled, flinching so badly he bobbled the camera. Lee grabbed it with his left hand in midair."Don't move. I'm a police officer," Lee ordered softly, his eyeson the man's hands to make sure he didn't make a move for a weapon. At this range, Lee could take him out with a quick punch, if necessary."You're in over your head, cop. I'm with Homeland Security.""I'm anxious to hear all about it. For now, don't move an inch unless you're looking forward to dentures.""FBI. Show me your hands!" Diane yelled from a dozen feet away. There was a curse, then Diane yelled again. "Face down, on the ground. Put your hands behind your back.""Okay, partner?" Diane said a few seconds later."Got mine," Lee replied, patting his suspect down for weapons. There was a cell phone in his jacket pocket that Lee took, but nothing else besides keys, a mint ChapStick, wallet, and a Sears Old Crafty pocketknife."Let's get you out on the sidewalk for a better look.""What in the hell is going on?" Lee heard the motel guest's voice as before, and saw the thin-haired Anglo man in suit and tie staring out the door of room 117.Just then, the room door opened farther and the shirtless guy poked his head out the door. He looked straight at Lee."Crap!"The man turned to flee, nearly running into Diane, who had the guy from the car in tow, handcuffed. She showed him her pistol. "Don't do it, cutie. Face down on the sidewalk.""All three of you," Lee added, tapping his captive on the shoulder with enough force to convey the message. As the three started to comply, Lee glanced toward the man at the window. "You alone in there?""Yessir, Officer. What's going on, anyway?""That's what we're trying to find out, sir," Lee responded. "Come outside, please.""Yessir."Once the three suspects were face down, Lee searchedthem again for weapons and got their wallets. Diane called APD and confirmed that officers were on their way.
An hour later, Lee and Diane were alone, standing between their vehicles. Everyone at the scene had been taken to the closest APD substation for interviews and possible charges."Homeland Security, my ass. It sure looked to me like a little shakedown operation. If Mr. Hart was telling the truth, someone is trying to discredit him for blowing the whistle on Senator Bartolucci's hinky connections with the oil and gas industry," Diane said. "Even the local papers are putting out editorials, and up to now they've always backed Bartolucci.""Kind of crude, though. Bartolucci seems smarter than that. Setting up a reconciliation meeting with a fired staffer, then sending in a male prostitute to get some embarrassing photos while they bugged his car. More like organized crime than politics," Lee responded."Politics is organized crime, Lee. Full of hypocrites who can't take responsibility when the finger is pointing at them for a change. Hasn't it always been like that?"Lee nodded. "At least it's out of our hands now.""Don't count on it. Once this gets on the news tomorrow, I bet we're both going to be getting calls from our bosses." Diane looked at her watch. "Whoops, it's tomorrow already. Let's go home."Lee thought about it a moment, then reached out and held both of her hands. "Nothing I'd like better, but with mo...
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