Gathering of Thieves

Book Cover: Gathering of Thieves

An endless wealth of nights leads to endless boredom. The new immortal Faith Luvena hasn’t tired of her new existence when her older vampire lover decides to play a new game with a couple of old friends. The game involves a high-security home, a priceless jewel, and three unusual companions who Cruor charges with stealing the fabulous trinket. The team is gathered and Faith is enlisted as an unwilling member when things go awry. Now she’s on a desperate run to save herself and her newfound companions before Cruor gets them all killed. Permanently.

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There’s a fine line between reality and the world of dreams. Sometimes that’s a comforting thought, and other times it causes more trouble than it’s worth.
This was one of the times with the trouble.
A terrible ringing noise echoed through my head. My eyes creaked open. I expected to see a fancy penthouse bedroom with a city skyline. Instead all I saw were sheets. I sat up and flung them off. A view of my bedroom greeted me in the early morning. The terrible noise was the beeping of my alarm on the nightstand beside my bed.
I rubbed my eyes with the balls of my hands and took another look around. This was definitely in my bedroom. I looked down at myself. Gone was the fancy red dress, and in its place were my normal street clothes from yesterday. Had it all been a dream?
“No,” I answered my question aloud.
I reached up and pawed over my neck, or would have if my fingers hadn’t bumped into a black band of cloth. I frowned.

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I never wore cloth collars, nor did I even own one. I brushed aside the band and-
I whipped my head to the entrance to my bedroom. The knob on the door rattled and the door creaked open. I dropped the band back into place and lifted the covers over my shoulders to hide my street clothes. Felicia shuffled into the room rubbing her bleary eyes.
She dropped her hands to her side and glared at me. “Could you shut that stupid thing off?” she groaned.
I blinked at her. “What? Oh, right.” I slammed my hand on the top of the alarm and the beeping stopped.
Unfortunately, the sheet slipped off my shoulder and revealed my work shirt.
Felicia squinted her eyes and shuffled over to the side of my bed. “Are you still in your clothes?”
I pulled the sheet back up and shook my head. “No, of course not. Why would I be doing that?”
Her eyes swept over my form that lay under the sheets and stopped at on my face. “I don’t know. When’d you get back from your date last night?”
I swallowed hard and scrunched my face into a frown. “Date? I didn’t go on a date.” Felicia snatched the sheets from my hands and flung them away. “Hey!”
A wide lecherous smile slipped over her lips. “Then how come you didn’t come back before two this morning, and you’re still in your clothes?”
“Because I-” I paused and raised an eyebrow. “How do you know I wasn’t home by then?”
She dropped the sheets onto the end of the bed and shrugged. “Because I wanted to interrogate you about your rich boyfriend.”
I glared at her. “He’s not my boyfriend!”
She jerked her thumb over her shoulder in the direction of the living room. “Then how do you explain the shit-load of roses in the living room? Your own work place had them delivered here last afternoon”
I bit my lower lip. “He was just-well, just apologizing for being a jerk, that’s all.”
Her eyes fell on my covered neck. She nodded at the band. “You hiding a hickey?”
I reached up and pressed my hand against the band. “I-um-”
“What the hell is that?”
I jumped a mile off the bed and looked around me. “What? Where?”
Felicia pointed at my neck. “Where’d you get that thing?”
I followed her gaze and my eyes widened. There, beneath the band, was the necklace Simon had given me.
Felicia scooted closer to me and leaned towards the necklace. “That must’ve cost a fortune. And he gave that to you?”
I leaned away from her. “I-um, kind of,” I admitted. My eyes flickered around the room and fell on my alarm. “Shit, would you look at the time? Guess I’d better get going to work!” I jumped out of bed and raced past Felicia.
She spun around and waved her fist at me. “You can’t run forever! You’ll come home tonight and then I’ll get you, and your little dog, too!”
My coat and purse were in a bundle on the chair closest to the door. I snatched them on my way past and rushed out the door. I didn’t stop for a break until I hit the stoop and froze. My car sat on the curb in front of the apartment building.
A chuckle caused me to spin around. I found Harold seated in his usual spot. There was a wide smile on his face as he tipped his head to me. “Morning, Miss Luvena. Have a nice sleep?”
I raised an eyebrow and jerked my head towards my car. “Did you see me drive up?”
He shook his head. “No, Miss Luvena.” I pursed my lips and turned back to the car. “It wasn’t you who drove up. It was some guy who was driving you.”
I whipped my head back to him. “Some guy? Did you know him?”
Harold shook his head. “No, Miss Luvena, but he was a nice man.” He dug into one of his bottomless pockets and brought out a fifty-dollar bill. “He gave me this and said I was to tell you it wasn’t a dream.”
My heart skipped a beat and my eyes widened. I swallowed the lump in my throat. “Did he tell you his name?”
Harold smiled and nodded. “Yep. Said his name was-” He paused and furrowed his brow. “What was it again? Sean? Steve?”
“Simon?” I guessed.
Harold crinkled his eyes and nodded. “Yep, that’s the one, Miss Luvena. A right nice fellow he was, but he didn’t look too well. He was kind of white and stuff. Like you’re kind of looking, Miss Luvena.”
I stumbled against the stoop railing. My shaking hands grasped the railing and a sweat broke out on my brow. My eyes stared at the steps, but I didn’t comprehend what I saw. I didn’t even hear Harold’s voice in the background. The only thing I knew was the chant that echoed again and again in my mind.
It wasn’t a dream. It wasn’t a dream.
I started when Harold shook me on the shoulder. His grimy face leaned to one side and studied mine. “You okay, Miss Luvena?”
I shook myself and moved down the stairs. “Y-yeah, I’m fine. Just-um, just tired, that’s all. Late night and everything. I’ll see you later.”
I hopped into my car and drove, but not to work. No, I needed to go somewhere. I needed answers.
Those answers lay at the top floor of the Park Place Avenue Penthouse.

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