Chapter 1

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“Do not put yourselves in any jeopardy. Your job is to infiltrate the gang by showing interest in joining, find out if they’re using murder as a rite of initiation, and then get out. Alive.”

“That’s my plan, too.” Della Tsang answered with sass looking up at Burnett James, one of the Shadow Falls Academy owners who also just so happened to work for the FRU—Fallen Research Unit—which was basically the FBI of the supernatural world.

“We don’t want you to bring anyone in. We don’t want you to take care of the bad guys.” Burnett continued staring right at her.

Afternoon sun poured into the window of the Shadow Falls office behind him. The crystals sitting on shelves caught the light and cast rainbow-colored mirages on the wall. They danced and shifted as if magical. And maybe they were. Crap like that happened all the time here.

“Actually, Burnett said, drawing Della’s attention back to him, “we don’t think this is the group, but if it is, with your testimony, we’ll have enough proof to get a search warrant and we’re pretty damn positive we should find all the evidence we need to convict.”

Burnett, six feet plus, with dark hair and eyes, was a hard-ass who worried way too much, but being a vampire like herself, Della respected him and his hardassness.

She just wished the respect was mutual. Seriously, didn’t he trust her? Didn’t he know she could friggin’ take care of herself? Did he really have to go over this again?

“I understand, sir.” Steve, the brown-haired, brown-eyed, great-bodied guy sitting next to her spoke up when she didn’t. For the first time, Della noticed his voice held a hint of a Southern accent that wasn’t just Texan.

Della glanced over. Steve gave Burnett his complete attention. What an ass-kisser.

Steve was evidence that Burnett didn’t trust her. Why else would Burnett insist Steve go with her? She didn’t need the shape-shifter. He was just going to slow her down.

“Wait,” Burnett said, pacing across the office again. “Let me rephrase that. I don’t want you to just get out alive. I want you to get out just the way you went in. Not wounded, not bruised, and for God’s sake, don’t leave any dead bodies behind. You got that?”

“Now you’re taking all the fun out of it,” Della smarted off.

Burnett growled. “I’m not joking and if you can’t take this seriously then get your vampire butt out of here, because I’m not playing around.”

Della slumped back in her chair, knowing when to shut her mouth. She really wanted to do this assignment for the FRU. Wanted to win Burnett’s respect. Everyone needed someone to impress. And since impressing her parents wasn’t an option anymore, she’d settle for Burnett.

Not that impressing anyone was the only reason she wanted to go. Even before she’d been turned into a vampire, she’d considered a career in criminal justice—something that allowed her to kick butt. Of course, her parents had frowned on that. They had her earmarked to be a doctor. They had her earmarked to be a lot of things.

But not a vampire.

Not that they knew what she was. The way Della figured it, if they went bat-shit crazy just because she’d stopping eating rice—which after being turned tasted like curdled toe jam—how the hell were they going to accept that she was a blood-drinking vampire? The answer was obvious. They wouldn’t, couldn’t accept it.

Lucky for her, she’d been accepted into Shadow Falls—a boarding school for supernaturals—and didn’t have to worry what her parents thought about her choice of careers, or whether she ate her rice or not. And yet . . . now Della couldn’t help but question if they ever thought or worried about her at all. Did they sit down to eat dinner and notice her chair was empty? Did her mom ever forget and set an extra plate at the table?

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