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An Excerpt From: INK IN THE BLOOD

Copyright © CHANDRA RYAN, 2013

All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.

“Remember, nobody moves until she’s found Minshouse.” The crisp voice from the earbud broke into her thoughts and burst her bubble of happiness.

Unfortunately the DEA didn’t share her hunger for Alex’s arrest. They’d arrest him if he were in the middle of the bust. And they’d told her they had enough to make the charges stick this time. But they’d been quick to make it clear that Elliot was the primary target tonight. They were convinced his ties to terrorist organizations far outweighed whatever crimes Alex had committed. They were wrong.

Not that she’d told them that. She’d nodded sternly at the orders. But it’d been a lie. She wasn’t going to let her half brother slip through her fingertips just to make the agency happy. No, if Alex were here tonight, she’d go after him. Orders be damned.
Reaching the structure, she braced herself for her reentry into the underworld of society. She took one last deep breath and then plunged into the milling crowds packed under the graffitied shelter of the bridge.

The bazaar was actually a well-organized event, for what it was. The contraband was divided into three sections—weapons, drugs and paraphernalia. But she was only interested in the drugs. That’s where Elliot and Alex were bound to be.
As she walked through the crowd, she glanced at the booths of weapons. There were powders, potions, blades, handguns and assault rifles but nothing called to her. Which was probably for the best—given the circumstances.

She’d almost made it to the next section when a familiar face grabbed her attention. He was wearing tight jeans and a black t-shirt instead of the suit that she’d grown accustomed to seeing him in, but there was no mistaking his smile. Or his lean, muscular physique.

As if hearing her thoughts, he looked up. His gaze caught hers for a second before he began making his way toward her.

“Isabella.”

“A—” Realizing she was about to call him Agent Phinney, she stopped and shook her head to clear it. “Um, Jacob. This is a surprise.” She couldn’t help but wonder how he’d gotten past the guards.

He smiled rakishly as he ran his fingers through his short black hair. It was a gesture she’d become endeared to over the past six months. “I know, small world.”

“What are you doing here?” She’d expected to see him, but not until the bust had gone down. And, try as she might, she couldn’t think of a single good reason for him to be at the bazaar. Admittedly it was difficult for her to think of anything at all given his proximity. He was so close she could smell the spicy mint of his shampoo and her arm would brush against his chest if she swayed ever so slightly.

“I’m on a date.”

The words snapped her out of her haze. He didn’t seem to notice though. He was too busy staring at the voluptuous redhead several people ahead of them whose singed fingertips hinted at fire manipulation.
That explained security. With someone like her as a date, they’d have let him through, no questions asked.

“Funny, she isn’t what I’d imagined as your type.” Izzy realized that he could never be hers, not really, but she didn’t like the idea of him being with someone else. Especially when that someone could manipulate fire. In her experience, pyros were one of the more dangerous types. They tended to run hot in all things—including their emotions. “She looks kind of dangerous.”

“Although I do go for the dangerous type,” he whispered with a playful wink, “you’re right. She just happened to be in the right place at the right time—here.”

Hearing his words, a possible reason for his presence became painfully clear. “Wait. Are you checking up on me?”

He looked genuinely hurt. “I thought you knew me better than that. I’m here as backup, nothing more,” he whispered softly.

He’s human, he’s human, he’s human… The warning echoed softly in the recesses of her mind. But as his fingers tucked a lock of her hair behind her ear, it faded into silence.

“I couldn’t live with myself if anything happened to you on my watch,” he said.

Her heart raced at the tenderness of the touch and the warmth of his breath against her cheek. Her fingers itched to reach out to him, to touch him, but she resisted. “Well, then, I’m sure I’m in good hands.”

His eyes sparkled and his lips twitched as if poised for a reply, but fortunately his date had made her purchase and was calling his name. It was the distraction Izzy needed to slip away unnoticed, which she was all too happy to do. She was having a hard enough time thinking straight without adding a racing heart and a desire-fogged mind to the mix.

Once she’d slipped out of sight, she took a deep, cleansing breath and continued down the path. She felt a momentary pang of guilt as she thought about his date. She should have warned him. But she quickly justified her silence with his ignorance. How could she tell him his date was a pyro? How could she have explained their magic if he, like most humans, refused to believe magic even existed? True, she’d never tried to explain it to him. But she didn’t have delusions where humans were concerned. Not anymore.