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Book Two in the Beautiful Monster series.
It takes one Beautiful Monster to hunt down another. Alina, the best of the trained assassins is called to duty to find and kill the rampaging Boris.
If her heart hadn’t stopped beating over two hundred years ago, Alina would have felt something akin to love for this place. It was the most famous city in the world—New York, New York! Though she did prefer her native Romania, and the rest of Europe to trounce around in, this city was perfect for her and ZoZo. The impish girl was an eye catcher for sure, with her wild red locks and crooked legs, but in Manhattan, the two of them walked down Fifth Avenue hardly drawing a glance. Alina wondered why she hadn’t visited before.
As they made their way past the gated and locked stores, she was pleased to see there were still people milling about on the streets so late into the night. Her nostrils flared as she passed a gaggle of young women, all spiky heeled and short skirted, despite the late fall chill. She turned to watch as they passed, cocking her head to enjoy the pattering of their heartbeats, a growl escaping her. A tug at Alina’s sleeve made her look down.
ZoZo stared up at her caretaker, shook her head, and whispered, “Nooooo.” Her eyes were large and filled with warning.
Alina smiled warmly. “Of course not, child. Don’t I always behave myself?”
ZoZo’s expression brightened, and she returned the smile revealing a mouth of crowded teeth. The girl reached for Alina’s long, slender hand and took it.
They walked for hours, Alina slowing her pace to ZoZo’s. The girl’s legs were short and uneven, giving her the waddle of a penguin. When she complained, Alina picked her up and cradled her charge in her arms, ZoZo’s large head rested on Alina’s shoulder. But as they neared their destination, a hotel in Chelsea, she insisted Zo walk the rest of the way. Soon the child could get some sleep, and she could plan.
Once in their tiny hotel room, ZoZo sat on the end of her bed. “Where?” she said, her voice gravely, too deep and unnatural for a child.
Alina knew what the imp was referring to and tapped the side of her neck. ZoZo promptly tilted her head to allow Alina access. With fangs at the ready, she expertly sunk into the girl’s jugular. Once sated, Alina pulled away and ZoZo, now exhausted, barely made it to the head of the bed and the waiting pillow before falling asleep.
Alina removed Zo’s tiny pink running shoes and pulled the sheets over the child’s crooked body. She kissed her on the forehead before taking a seat at a small desk beside the girl’s bed. On it was a newspaper and above the fold, a headline—Vampire-Style Serial Killings. Fifty-One Dead.
She didn’t need to read the article. She knew more than the reporters did; more than the cops even. However, Alina did look at the pictures all lined up, row after row. The victims were men, women and yes, even children. A grainy photo of a “person of interest” stared back at her. Her eyesight was better than even the keenest bird of prey. She knew that face and that long slender body, but couldn’t believe Alexei Baranovsky was capable of such viciousness. Was he a bastard, yes! Had he used her, played her, fooled her, yes! But she knew him well. That was why she’d been sent by Those on High to stop him.
Jeanne Bannon has worked in the publishing industry for over twenty years, first as a freelance journalist, then as an in-house editor for LexisNexis Canada. She currently works as a freelance editor and writer.
When not reading or writing, Jeanne enjoys spending time with her daughters, Nina and Sara and her husband, David. She’s also the proud mother of two fur babies, a cuddly and affectionate Boston Terrier named Lila and Spencer, a rambunctious tabby, who can be a very bad boy.