While you can go ahead and jump in if you haven't read Inquisitor and Winter Wolf, please be aware that many of the characters from the previous titles make appearances. Some of the events from both previous titles are mentioned! Witch & Wolf is a series following the lives of different characters, and in Blood Diamond, these paths cross.
Blood Diamond is currently available on Amazon for purchase.
The world is full of corpses, and Jackson knows them by name. When a group strives to destroy the Inquisition, his powers may be all standing between the supernaturals and extinction.
However, when he learns the truth behind the deaths of his wife and unborn daughter, Jackson may prove to be the greatest threat of all to the survival of mankind…
The world was full of corpses, and I, Dante Jackson Emmett Anderson, knew them by name. Unfortunately for me, my brother knew my secret.
When my brother asked for help, it usually involved unidentified bodies or paperwork. When he had showed up at my door, I hadn’t expected an invitation to join an Inquisition field operation, one dangerous enough to warrant the use of my brother’s armored truck. He had me dead to rights when he told me I’d be driving, and judging by the way he had smirked while spinning the keys around his finger, he had known it.
I doubted the red-painted, tempting seductress of a monstrosity could be eliminated by anything other than a missile or a tank; even if someone wanted to blast their way in, they’d need a ladder to reach the door. I wasn’t small, not at six foot three, and I needed the help of the step rail and roll bar to climb in. The rest of the team needed me to give them a hand.
I drew a deep breath and let it out in a sigh. I should have refused my twin and ignored the lure of driving his absurd, stupid truck. I should have told him I would do a stint at the Inquisition headquarters shuffling papers and naming dead people instead of pretending I was trained for field operations.
Drumming my hands against the leather wheel, probably the only normal thing in the truck, I waited. The manila envelope on the dashboard mocked me, reflecting in the windshield as I watched the darkening forest for any signs of the team’s return. Once I opened it, I’d know more about the operation and its Inquisitors than I wanted. I’d know the names and faces of the dead, and if my bad luck held, I’d get a glimpse of their final moments.
The dead were vindictive like that.
I leaned forward, resting my forehead on my hands. My brother had been in enough of a hurry to get me into his truck and on the road I hadn’t had time to change out of my suit. Combat boots, fatigues, and Kevlar protected the Inquisitors. I wore a silk dress shirt and an equally thin jacket a bullet would ignore before tearing a hole through me.
Clenching my teeth, I bumped my forehead against the wheel as I cursed my idiocy.
A smart man would’ve put the idling engine into gear and left. If I did that, I’d be the target of my very own Inquisition operation. I doubted even the Red Beast could withstand a pack of angry Fenerec armed with more firepower than the military. They had missiles, and I had supplied all six warheads to them. If they launched one at the truck, they’d blow it—and me—into scrap metal and unidentifiable bits.
I turned my head to check the clock. In ten minutes, it’d be time to rip open the envelope and find out how the operation was going. If things went well, the photographs would tell a story where the Inquisition’s victims were dead and my team still lived. My brother had been adamant about the next part of my directions: if half of my team was dead by sunset, I was to take the Red Beast and get out of the area fast.
Fast was something the truck could do. I had clocked it at a hair over a hundred miles per hour over the rabbit trail of a road leading into Oconee National Forest, much to the dismay of the nine passengers crammed into the cab with me.
In a way, I felt sorry for my brother. He thought he knew me. He thought he could guess what I’d do, like he was so good at doing as the Inquisition’s youngest Shadow Pope. Unfortunately for him, while I had nodded my acknowledgment of his orders, I had no intention of abandoning the Inquisitors, and the team knew it. They had stared at me like I’d grown a second head for daring to disobey orders within five minutes of receiving them, but I wasn’t about to have a pack of Fenerec haunting me for getting them killed unnecessarily.
If everything went well, I’d do as my brother wished, staying in the Red Beast while my team did their dirty work. Once done, I’d drive the Fenerec pack home, clearing away a year of obligation to the Inquisition as payment.
If things didn’t go well, I would do what I could for them. The world was full of corpses, but if any of the Inquisitors numbered among the dead, it wouldn’t be because I had abandoned them. If I were going to be responsible for someone’s death, it’d be because I chose to tap a bullet between their eyes. Of course, I’d have to be close to my target to hit them, but that was a different matter entirely.
I checked the time again.
Five minutes gave me enough time to double check my gun, a vanilla Beretta M9 I had snatched on my way out the door. I preferred something heavier, but the M9 would suffice. It was loaded with silver, and that’d stop a Fenerec for a bit—or kill it, if my aim was good enough.
I wasn’t willing to make any bets on that.
If I needed the Beretta, it was because the team was in trouble, and I had left the Red Beast in favor of stupid heroics without the benefit of body armor and heavy munitions. If I didn’t get myself killed, my brother was going to finish me off when—if—I made it home.
I took my time checking the magazine before chambering a round, turning the safety on, and holstering the gun. Drawing a deep breath, I held it to the count of thirty before letting it out. The manila envelope was filled with photographs and a few sheets of paper. Dumping the contents onto the Red Beast’s dash, I flicked on the overhead light and used the reflections in the windshield to flip the twenty-three photographs and the stapled sheets of paper upside down.
So long as I didn’t directly look at the faces of the men and women the Inquisition meant to kill, my magic wouldn’t work. The photographs belonged to the wild Fenerec pack living too close to civilization, slated for execution. The papers, which consisted of three sheets, included the pictures of the eight men and one woman on my team. If they died, I’d learn their true names instead of the code names they favored during field operations.
I sighed, watching as the vestiges of sunset faded from the sky. In the dark of night, I would begin my own hunt—one my brother wouldn’t approve of. If he had wanted obedience, he wouldn’t have come to me asking for help. He should’ve known better than to think I would turn my back on those entrusted to my care.
I lifted my chin and began my grim task of flipping over photographs so I might learn the names of the dead. Of the twenty-three, one still lived, and all I could see in her jade eyes was accusation.
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