Tangled

Dark Protectors/Reese Family Novella 3
May 9, 2017
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Now that her mask has finally slipped…

Ginny O’Toole has spent a lifetime repaying her family’s debt, and she’s finally at the end of her servitude with one last job. Of course, it couldn’t be easy. After stealing the computer files that will free her once and for all, she finds herself on the run from a pissed off vampire who has never fallen for her helpless act. A deadly predator too sexy for his own good. If he doesn’t knock it off, he’s going to see just how powerful she can really be.

He won’t be satisfied until she’s completely bare.

Theo Reese had been more than irritated at the beautiful yet helpless witch he’d known a century ago, thinking she was just useless fluff who enjoyed messing with men’s heads. The second he discovers she’s a ruthless thief determined to bring down his family, his blood burns and his interest peaks, sending his true nature into hunting mode. When he finds her, and he will, she’ll understand the real meaning of helpless.

Other Books in the Dark Protectors/Reese Family Series

Two weeks on the hunt, and now Theo Reese was dressed like a wanker from one of those popular spy movies. He tugged on the black bow tie and fully committed himself to killing the woman who’d forced him to wear a tuxedo. After chasing her through New York, London, Edinburgh, and now back to New York, he was more than ready to grip her slim neck in both his hands.

Then he’d squeeze until her stunning blue eyes bugged.

Maybe. Okay. He wouldn’t kill her. Even as pissed as he was, he’d never harm a woman. Well, probably. This one had taken subterfuge to a whole new level, so he would like to scare her a little. Plus, the woman was a witch, so it wasn’t like she couldn’t defend herself. Creating fire out of air was like breathing for her people.

Chatter and the clinking of glasses filled the opulent ballroom of New York’s most exclusive hotel. Women in long sparkling dresses and men in tuxedos milled around, drinking champagne and laughing. Christmas lights blinked green and red from trees placed in every corner.

Discreet waiters refilled glasses and offered canapés.

Theo sighed. He wanted a steak, damn it. Little mushrooms filled with green stuff would just make him hungrier.

Where the hell was she?

His contacts had said she’d be attending the fundraiser to save some otter in some forest somewhere, and he’d had to pretty much give up a kidney to get a ticket. A gold-encrusted ticket. He didn’t get it. Why not just save the money on tickets, clothes, food, and drink…and give it to the damn otters? Buy them all a new river and forest somewhere.

He caught a scent. Through the heavy perfumes and fragrant appetizers, a scent he knew well beckoned him. Woman, intrigue, and Irish bluebells from her native home.

Lifting his head, he followed his nose. Even for a vampire, he had enhanced senses.

Her laugh, tinkling and surprisingly deep, had him turning left.

Ah. There she was. He’d finally found the witch. His entire body tightened, and the blood rushed from his head right to his cock. From one little sighting of her. Fuck. Taking several deep breaths, he calmed his body and cleared his mind.

Ginny O’Toole wore a sapphire colored gown that matched her eyes perfectly. The bodice was old fashioned, glimmering with sparkles, and narrowed to an impossibly small waist. Her breasts were full, her hair naturally white-blonde, her skin flawless, and her stature petite. Three hundred years ago, she’d been too thin for popularity. Fifty years ago, she’d been the ideal woman. Now, in the day and age of curves and diversity, she stood out as almost unreal. As more of a doll than a real woman.

An air of fragility clung to her, in direct opposition to strong and fierce modern woman.

Yet men flocked to her, quick to give protection, just as much today as in the past. The morons didn’t realize that her pretty face masked a predator. One who used wiles and weakness to get what she wanted. False weakness. Oh, physically she lacked strength. But mentally, she was a manipulative bitch.

She was talking to a tall man who had his back to Theo. Short blond hair, wide shoulders, strong energy. Was that a shifter? Yeah. Feline. Probably lion.

Theo launched into motion, easily winding through the human throng, and reached them in seconds.

Ginny’s eyes widened and then her mask dropped back into place. “Theo.” She smiled, and if he couldn’t hear her hammering heartbeat, he would’ve been fooled into believing she was actually pleased to see him. Since she’d been running from him for weeks after hacking into the main computer at one of his family’s estates, he knew that to be a lie. “Theo Reese, please meet Jack Jacobson,” she said.

Jacobson turned and held out a hand. “It’s a pleasure.”

Theo shook his hand, lowering his chin. The shifter shaking his hand was an information broker by the name of Jackson McIntosh. They’d never done business, but Theo had seen dossiers on the guy. “Jack Jacobson?” he murmured, barely flashing his canines. “That’s a nice pseudonym.”

Jack nodded. “I like it.”

“Your business here is concluded,” Theo said, releasing Jacobson and grasping Ginny by the elbow. Her bones felt fragile beneath his hand, so he loosened his hold automatically.

She didn’t struggle, as if she could. Instead, her smile widened. “Actually, it is. Please get back to me with your answer soon, Jack.”

Heat rushed down Theo’s back. The woman thought he was so daft he wouldn’t figure out what she was trying to sell? He had an idea of what information she was looking to get rid of, and that ended right now. “There’s a chance your deal might be dead in the water,” he said evenly.

Jack’s green eyes twinkled. “Perhaps.” Then he sobered, his gaze moving to Theo’s hand. “Let her go.”

Jesus. The woman brought out the defender in everybody. Even criminal middlemen who were well known to broker anything—legal or illegal. “No,” Theo returned.

“You are so very sweet to worry about me.” Ginny patted Jack’s arm with her free hand. “Theo and I are old friends. No need for concern.”

Old friends, his ass. Theo didn’t bother to smile. If she wanted to play the polite game, she could damn well do it by herself. He didn’t play games. Ever.

Jack’s eyes narrowed. “You certain?”

“I am,” Ginny said softly. “Theo and I have some business to conduct as well. It was lovely to see you, Jack.”

Theo might just throw up. “Bye, Jack.”

The shifter nodded, gave him one hard look, and turned on his polished loafers. Seconds later, he’d disappeared into the throng.

Ginny sighed. “Kindly remove your hand.”

“Not a chance in hell,” Theo returned, drawing her nearer. “And I’m warning you. You try to create a scene, you cause any problem, and I’ll not care about collateral damage for once. You’re coming with me, and we’re retrieving the Benjamin file. Right now.”

Her eyes widened fully, and she planted a small hand against her bare upper chest. “The Benjamin file? What in the world is that?”

He barked out a laugh. Truly, he couldn’t help it. “Ginny, from day one, your act hasn’t worked on me, and you know it.” That was why she’d chosen his older brother to manipulate and use a century ago. Jared had fallen for her helpless act, thought he was in love, and had had his heart broken when she’d mated another male instead of him. Well, he’d thought it had been broken. Now that he’d found his true mate, he knew the difference. “So knock it off,” Theo finished.

“Theo,” Ginny whispered. “I truly do not know anything about a Benjamin file. What in the world is that?”

It was the computer file that detailed all of Theo’s family’s holdings and dealings…even the illegal ones. It could bring down and bankrupt his entire family, and most importantly, his Uncle Benjamin. Benny was a crazy thousand-year-old vampire who would easily cut off Theo’s head for losing the file. “I don’t have time for games. Where’s the flash drive?” he asked quietly.

She shrugged creamy shoulders. “You know I don’t understand computers.”

The woman could lie. Well. But Theo knew better. “You firebombed our entire system, and now that flash drive is the only record we have. It proves ownership of everything we have.” It also held files they’d used to blackmail others during the years, which was an acceptable way of doing business in the immortal world. He leaned down until his nose nearly touched hers. “I’m losing patience.”

Pink bloomed across her high cheekbones. “Really, Theo. Ownership records are easy to find these days. Obtain the title deeds in every place you own property. Stocks and businesses have records.”

He breathed out, his lungs heating. Many records had no paper trail, and she knew it. The blackmail info, and the family history, were both hidden on purpose. And even so, he didn’t have time to traverse the world looking for what legitimate documentation he could find. “Where’s the data?” Hopefully she’d been too busy running from him and trying to sell the files that she hadn’t had time to really go through them.

He had to get the Green Rock file before anybody else read it. The damn thing might result in his entire family being killed by their current allies. It’d also break his brother Chalton’s heart if he learned the truth. The Realm, his adopted family, would turn on him. “Tell me, Ginny. Now.”

The witch sighed. “I’m getting a headache. Would you please just stop stalking me?”

He barely kept from glaring at her. This close, he could see dark circles beneath her eyes. Beneath his hand, her arm trembled. Running from him had taken a toll on her. He tried to steel his heart against that fact, because she’d use it against him. “Let’s go to my hotel and have a nice meal.” Maybe if he got some food into her, the color would return to her pretty face. “We can talk about the file there.”

“No.” Her pink lips turned down in a pout.

“Does that look actually work on people?” he asked, truly curious.

Fire flashed in her intriguing eyes.

Ah, he’d gotten to her. “I guess it does.” He faulted his gender for being easy marks. Not once had he ever understood why she played at being so helpless. Why not be straight up? Hell, if he didn’t need to get that file back, he’d probably be an easy mark for her if she was honest with him for two whole seconds. “You don’t need games with beauty like yours, Ginny.”

Surprise, the genuine kind, tilted her lips. “I thought you hated the way I look.”

Right. Vampires always hated beauty. “No. I dislike the way you pretend to be something you’re not. The way you look is…good.” Unbelievably stunning, to be honest. But he couldn’t give her an inch, or he’d be letting his entire family down. And probably signing their death sentence. “So drop the act, would you?”

She shook her head as if she was in on a joke he couldn’t fathom. Regret darkened those blue eyes for just a second, enhancing the tired circles beneath them. “You only see what you want to see, Theo.”

What the hell did that mean? He leaned in. “Explain.”

Her slim shoulders went back. “I can’t. But you’re right. We do need to talk. Let’s go discuss this somewhere else.”

Good. She was finally going to work with him. He looked toward the nearest exit. “I agree. Let’s get out of here. Why are you caring about otters, anyway?”

She blinked. “Otters?”

He gestured around.

She laughed, the sound spontaneous and so sexy it hurt. “Oh, Theo. This is a fundraiser for Other Tracks. An international nonprofit that fights the sex trafficking of children across the globe? I donate every year.”

He straightened. Was she lying? “Oh.” That did seem a lot more important than otters. He studied her, fighting the urge to believe her. She was so damn good at tricking men. Right now, he had other worries. “Let’s go.”

She sighed, her shoulders hunching. “Very well.” Pivoting, she stumbled into him.

Pain flared through his arm. Heat rushed through his veins, and his head grew heavy. Gravity claimed him, and he started to fall.

“Sorry,” she whispered, helping him down to the floor and setting his back to the wall.

He blinked, his tongue thickening as he saw the small syringe in her hand. The last thought he had before passing completely out was to wonder where such a curve-hugging dress had pockets.

Then he was out.

 

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“I always love sliding back into the world of The Realm, no matter which series, and spending time with the uber smexy dominant alpha males and the feist women who drive them crazy and Tangled fit the bill perfectly. It’s a fun, quick and smexy read that kept me turning the pages as Ginny and Theo worked all their issues out.”   4 Stars Books n Wine

“Great read! Lots of action and some super steamy scenes between Theo and Ginny. I love the Dark Protectors series and all of these little novellas about secondary/support characters just round out the series even more.” – 4 Stars Obsessive Reading Disorder

 “I can never ever get tired of Rebecca Zanetti’s Dark Protectors. Doesn’t matter if its a full length novel or one of these delcious novellas, they always have an energy and a delcious darkness that is incredibly addicting. And Tangled is even more…devious and tricky and downright fun! Tangled is a tempting story that had my heart thumping and my tempature rising…I give this a THROUGHLY POPPING FIVE SHOOTING STARS! – 5 Stars Marie’s Tempting Reads 

“It’s a fast paced story where actions starts from the very beginning. We meet the other Reese brothers as well and it’s a thrilling read.” – 5 Stars Maddy’s Reading

“Rebecca is so good at writing a novella that contains everything a full length novel would include. It packs a huge punch. Definitely action packed and swoon worthy.” – 5 Stars Bookalicious Babes blog

“TANGLED is a fast paced, engaging story line where a centuries old vampire finally claims the woman that calls to his heart. The premise is intriguing; the characters are charismatic; the romance is fated and passionate.” –  The Reading Cafe

“The chemistry between Theo and Ginny is explosive and the plot of the story is well-written, giving rise to a short but rich story, full of action, passion and the banter between Theo and Ginny are aways brilliant, funny and hot.” – 5 Stars Feel the Book

“An enjoyable novella of a world that I have come to really enjoy and look forward to much more which is hinted by the author. It has action, romance, humour and stubborn people. What’s not to like?” – 4 Stars A Fortress of Books 

“For a shorter story, Tangled is packed with fun, heat and suspense as both Theo and Ginny fight for the upper hand as they dance around each other and search for a solution to the matter at hand. His brothers and even the King himself derive a whole lot of amusement from the situation much to Theo’s chagrin but it is all worth it in the end. Tangled is another great story from Rebecca Zanetti so don’t hesitate to get that 1-click finger in action for it today! Witches and vampires and shifters, oh my! I love all the different worlds Ms. Zanetti brings to life, and this second entry in the 1001 Dark Nights series is no different.” – 4 Stars Oh My Growing TBR 

“Ms. Zanetti has a winning formula with this series and everything she writes is a must-read This is a fast and exciting read with everything you want in a book: passion, action, drama and family.” – 4 Stars The Sassy Bookster