Watchers in the Night (The Guardians of the Night, Book 1)

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9780765338006: Watchers in the Night (The Guardians of the Night, Book 1)

Watchers in the Night is the first book in acclaimed author Jenna Black's Guardians of the Night paranormal romance series.

Two years ago, Gray James jilted Carolyn Mathers at the altar, disappearing without a trace. Carolyn's fruitless search for answers cost her her badge; now she's a P.I. and trying hard to get on with her life. A chance encounter reveals that Gray is still alive, a changed man with dangerous secrets he refuses to share. The harder he pushes her away, the more determined Carolyn is to find out what happened to him.

Gray never stopped loving Carolyn, but the fateful night of his bachelor party changed his life forever. He would do anything to shield her from the world he now inhabits, a world where Killers hunt the night and Guardians hunt the Killers―and he tries to walk a third path, refusing to become one or the other. But when a serial killer called the Broad Street Banger seems to be targeting Carolyn, Gray risks everything to keep her safe―even as the Guardians consider him the prime suspect.

Caught in an escalating game of cat and mouse, Gray and Carolyn must forget the passion they once knew if they ever hope to evade the Guardians and find the real killer.

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About the Author:

JENNA BLACK is your typical writer―which means she's an "experience junkie." She received her Bachelor of Arts in physical anthropology and French from Duke University. She is the author of the Faeriewalker series for teens as well as the Morgan Kingsley urban fantasy series.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

WATCHERS IN THE NIGHT
1CAROLYN MATHERS FELT RIDICULOUS carrying a gun on a date, but that didn't stop her from donning her shoulder holster and slipping in the Glock. Pathetic, she supposed. Certainly not romantic. But Paul was a cop--he'd understand in some kind of basic way. If she let him get close enough to find out she was carrying, that is.Grimacing at the thought, she stepped out into the frosty night. The weatherman had said it was ten degrees out. But Carolyn's palms were sweating."It's just a date," she muttered under her breath, exasperated with herself. Her words formed a misty white cloud before the bitter wind dispersed it. Sticking her hands into her coat pockets, she braced herself against the cold and descended her front steps, hurrying toward the open parking lot a block and a half away.She'd chosen ten o'clock on a Wednesday night for this date because when she'd tried to meet Paul at a civilized hour, her work had interfered and she'd had to stand him up. Now, however, she felt tired and unenergetic, and if it weren't for the scrap of pride she had left--the one that told her she was being a coward--she would have begged off again. It appeared that even after three years, she wasn't fully ready to date again.As soon as her feet hit the sidewalk, the hairs on the back of her neck prickled in a way that was becoming infuriatingly familiar. She stopped and took a slow look around her, searching for the prying eyes her body insisted were upon her no matter what her rational mind told her. Row houses lined both sides of the street, but no faces peeked out from any of the lighted windows. An occasional car passed by--the streets of Philadelphia were never truly deserted--but there wasn't a single pedestrian in sight.Shaking her head at herself, she started toward the parking lot once more. One of the big street lights in the lot flickered, then went out, leaving her car buried in an intimidating pool of shadow where the light had once been. The creepy-crawly feeling of being watched heightened, and she hunched her shoulders against it.This was why she'd brought the gun, this constant uneasiness she'd been feeling for several months now every time she went out at night. Most likely, she was just being paranoid. But she'd been a cop for eight years and a PI for three, and in both lines of work she'd naturally made some enemies. It wasn't a bad idea to be on her guard.If some nut case were following you, he would have made his move by now, she told herself. No matter how nutty they were, they didn't stalk you for months at a time without making some kind of move, if only to let you know you were in danger.Forcing herself to relax, she strode briskly toward her car. She glared briefly at the burned-out light. It buzzed to life for a second, then died again. She paid this place one-fifty a month to park her car--the least they could do was keep the lights on! There wasn't even anyone at the booth tonight, and with the cold weather keeping most sensible people in their houses, the lot felt deserted. And ominous.She was just a few steps from her car when she heardthe unmistakable sound of a footstep behind her. She whirled around so fast she almost made herself dizzy.In the dismal pool of shadow, not ten feet away from her, stood a white male, maybe eighteen or twenty. The street lamp made another feeble attempt to come back to life, and Carolyn got a good look at him. Blond hair spiked with some kind of greasy gel, blue eyes with the color and warmth of a glacier, thin, heavily chapped lips twisted into a menacing sneer. Despite the cold, he wore only a denim jacket for warmth, but from his dilated pupils she gathered he'd found a chemical solution to the cold. His hand moved, and she saw the gleam of a wicked-looking switch blade."Well, hello there pretty lady," he said. His gravelly voice should have belonged to someone who'd smoked three packs a day for sixty years or so.Damn it! When she'd first stepped out of her house, she'd taken a city-girl's care to check out her surroundings, scoping out the area before potentially stepping into danger. But she'd just walked blithely into the darkness of the parking lot with barely a second thought. Trying to prove to herself how tough she was, how unaffected by the constant uncomfortable feeling of being watched. She knew better.The hoodlum licked his chapped lips. "Whatcha got under that nice coat?"A Glock with your name on it, she thought. She consciously widened her eyes and made her lower lip tremble, trying to project helpless victim. All she had to do was get her hand under her jacket, and the hoodlum was in for a big surprise.Her feigned fear must have been convincing, because the kid's eyes gleamed with malicious enjoyment, and his jeans bulged noticeably. Carolyn glanced around the parking lot, but there wasn't another soul in sight."Scream, and I swear I'll cut your tongue out," the kid warned, coming closer, brandishing his knife."P-please don't hurt me," she stammered. Her eyes focused on the knife and her heart rate shot through the roof as adrenaline pumped through her system. The kid was probably hopped up on something, not to mention armed, so her chances of taking him at hand-to-hand combat weren't good. She had to get to her gun before he made his move.His smile was sly and cold and ugly as sin. "Oh, I won't hurt you none, lady. Long as you behave yourself. Now why don't you slip out of that nice coat for me?"She sniffled loudly, not having to feign the sound because the cold was making her nose run. She fumbled with the first button on her coat, making it look like her hands were shaking. Sometimes it helped that she was so petite and looked like such a girly-girl. It had pissed her off when her fellow officers underestimated her, but it wasn't a bad thing at all when the suspects did.Her world shrank until there was nothing in it but herself, her attacker, and this little pool of shadow in which she stood. She continued slowly unbuttoning her coat, mentally rehearsing the hurried reach into her blazer, the quick draw. The hoodlum would be caught entirely by surprise, and she tried to imagine what he'd do. A sensible guy would probably run for his life, but Carolyn doubted this punk would be sensible considering how high he was.The kid's breath was coming shorter and shorter as he grew more excited. Oh, he was just loving this show of fear, loving the power he thought he wielded! Carolyn looked forward to turning the tables on him.The last button slid free, and she shrugged her shoulders out of the coat. She meant to let it fall to the ground behind her, but as it slid down her arms she once again felt that prickle on the back of her neck. Her hands were free of the coat, but it didn't hit the ground. Her attacker's jaw dropped open, and Carolyn caught a glimpse of misty white breath brushing past her cheek.Reflexes took over, and despite the threat of the knife,Carolyn whirled and backpedaled at the evidence of a threat from behind. Her hand plunged under her blazer, seizing the butt of the Glock. And then froze.Standing there, maybe a foot away from where she had been, was a ghost from her past. How he could possibly have come that close to her without her noticing--or without the knife-wielding punk noticing--was beyond her.The man had her coat in his hands, and he casually laid it over the hood of a car while the punk quickly determined that he was a much greater threat than Carolyn."Stay away from me, man," the punk snarled, poking the air with his knife for emphasis. But he'd lost a lot of his cockiness.Carolyn blinked rapidly, but the ghost didn't disappear. He looked markedly different from how he'd looked three years ago, when she'd seen him last, but there could be no doubt that it was him. Gray James. The only man she'd ever loved. The man who'd stranded her at the altar and disappeared from her life.He wasn't dead. For three years, she'd told herself and anyone else who would listen that something terrible must have happened to him. For three years, she'd dreaded getting the news that his body had finally been found. Now, here he was standing in front of her, very much alive, and she could hardly believe her eyes.Gray had lost a lot of weight, she noticed. He'd never been fat, really, but he'd always been just a touch on the heavy side, no matter how carefully he'd watched his diet. His hair, once always cropped close and neat to his head, formed a shaggy black mane around his pale face, which was devoid of the glasses and mustache he'd once worn. He even dressed differently. Instead of his dress-for-success outfits, he was now wearing a black leather jacket over faded jeans and well-loved sneakers.Damn, he looked good.Then he smiled, and a chill traveled down Carolyn's spine."I'd advise you to leave the lady alone," Gray said, and if Carolyn had thought the hoodlum's eyes looked cold, Gray's were arctic. His smile was more like the baring of his teeth, and the air fairly vibrated with menace.Menace? From Gray? The man was so even-tempered he rarely raised his voice, and so gentle he wouldn't even kill a spider in his apartment but would trap it in a glass and take it outside instead.But that sense of menace wasn't just Carolyn's imagination--the hoodlum's face had noticeably paled. She tried to shake off her shock and draw her Glock out of its holster. Gray's eyes flicked briefly in her direction and once again she froze, unable to complete the movement. It was like one of those dreams where you were being chased by a monster but you couldn't get yourself to move. She knew it was just the shock of seeing Gray, but that knowledge did nothing to loosen her limbs."Don't mess with me!" the hoodlum warned, but his voice...

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