USA Today Bestselling Author
Protect her at all costs…
The last thing I was looking for when I left the facility was a new woman, a new relationship, and a new cause. I found all three in a dark alley. Saving her life was the best choice I’ve ever made.
Now, Vienna is the center of my world. I’ve never met anyone so perfect for me and for whom I am perfect. Where others see flaws, she finds strength. When my demands and needs drove others away, she drew boundaries. In protecting her, I’ve found my purpose in life and I won’t let anything come between us.
That goal required me to deal with flirty Fletcher with his irritating concepts and desire to live dangerously. The past he was on the run from could come for him. That would make them her problem. Not acceptable. Yet as long as she wants him with us, then I’ll protect him and protect her from him. Keeping them safe will take everything I know how to do and the things I’m still learning.
Never has it been more important than now.
Because we have a new problem. I don’t know what we’re supposed to do with him. Vienna’s work demands that she hunt monsters. But when one hunts monsters, don’t those same monsters begin to hunt or at least haunt you? What does that make this latest interloper? Is he a man? Or a monster? I’m personally hoping for a monster. I know exactly what to do with those.
At least Fletcher seems to agree with me. Hopefully our first chorus won’t be our last.
FIRST CHORUS is a full length dark adult romance and psychological thriller with suspenseful themes. Any trigger warnings will be included in the foreword. Some situations may be uncomfortable for readers. This is a reverse harem novel, meaning the main character has more than one love interest. This is book two in the series.
If you haven’t read the first book in this series, STOP! GO BACK and READ IT FIRST! This book begins where that one ended.
The prologue shows us how Rick is handling being left at home while Vienna and Fletcher take care of some business. He’s not the most patient person, but also follows directions and has done some of the research he was asked to do as he watches a report on TV that will mean something later on.
First, we find out how Cash happened upon this particular warehouse. It’s sort of a twofer for him as he approaches Vienna applauding her work.
Fortunately, Fletcher had observed him entering the building and followed. Knocking the intruder out before he got any closer to Vienna. Now there’s a body and a car to dispose of and a captive FBI agent they needed to do more research on.
This is a favorite scene when they arrive at home.
“Welcome home,” I greeted her. The tawny golden brown of her eyes seemed so much darker under the yellow light of the garage, like shadows shifted in them. “What’s wrong?”
The ease in her presence seemed strained. Fletcher approached slowly, like he’d done something wrong or— no, not wrong, he looked pale and washed out.
That only confirmed my opinion that something had happened. The banging from the trunk escalated just as she opened her mouth. A faint frown tightened her brow and she glanced at the trunk. I slammed my fist against it. “Be quiet and don’t interrupt again.”
“Holy shit,” Fletcher said with a chuckle. I met his gaze and his humor only seemed to ramp up, even as his cocky grin widened. “Gonna welcome me home with a kiss? Cause if you’re worried about it, I can assure you, I’m good.”
Before I could shut that down, Vienna let out a breathless little laugh. Like falling into a gravity well, my whole being focused on her. “Fletcher, don’t tease Rick, it’s not nice.” Though her own humor seemed to betray that sentiment, it didn’t bother me in the slightest. If it made her smile, I was all for it. “And yes, we’re home, very busy day.”
At the offer of another kiss, I let out a sigh. “What can I do?”
“You two should probably go inside while I deal with…”
“No,” I told her firmly. “You’ve had a long day, if you need me to put him in one of the basement cells, I can take care of that. The wine is chilled and it’s been opened to breathe for you. You could even go take a shower if you’d like.”
Surprise flickered over her expression. “The basement?”
“Cells?” Fletcher’s shock echoed in that one word.
I gave a little shrug. I’d found the dungeon set up during one of my first days cleaning. It appeared to be in use and useful. Since Vienna hadn’t given me permission to be down there, I’d left it as I found it and didn’t open the door again.
“Fletcher,” Vienna said without glancing away from me. “Go inside, shower, and change. Then come down for dinner.”
“Yes ma’am,” Fletcher said, some of his cockiness fading away.
I sympathized with that feeling. I couldn’t read Vienna’s expression at all. She’d gone so still and neutral, worry exploded to life within me.
Then Fletcher paused to press a kiss to her cheek. “Thank you,” he said softly before he darted around me and through the open door to the house, leaving us alone.
A thump from the trunk interrupted. Again.
Well, almost alone.
Still, I waited. If I’d fucked up, then I’d take my lumps. I still wasn’t leaving her to carry that person downstairs. Not conscious. Not when I was right here.
Vienna rested her hand on the trunk as she studied me. My heart pounded against my ribcage. She’d never been upset with me before, and I couldn’t say I enjoyed the feeling. That was, if she was upset. There was no way to tell under the dim lights in the garage.
Maybe under the bright light of day, where I could see every nuance of her expression, but not right here, right now.
“How did you know about the basement?”
I released a slow breath. Her question hadn’t been accusatory, more like curious.
“One of the first times you left, when I’d been cleaning. I thought there might be supplies stocked up down there when I ran out of wipes. After I realized there weren’t any, I never went down there again.”
She stepped forward, and I cupped my hands on her hips. Soft amusement flashed in her eyes. “Hmm. No wipes down there. What did you see?”
“I saw one of the cells was occupied. I didn’t talk to him though, even when he tried to yell at me.” Tried, because his voice was reed thin from either overuse or dehydration. Maybe both. He, like the basement, wasn’t any of my business. If he was down there, then he must have done something very bad. Vienna didn’t hurt innocents. She kept them safe from the monsters.
“He never said,” she mused, then shook her head. “It doesn’t matter now. He’s no longer down there.”
“Do you want me to take this person down? I’m happy to. Then you can relax and enjoy dinner. I’ve got chocolate chip cookies in the oven too.” Luckily, I’d just put them in. We had time for me to drop him downstairs.
Pulling her hand from the trunk, she slid it up my chest to rest on the side of my neck. “You’re so sweet, Rick. I’m glad you came into my life.” She glanced down where the offender waited and sighed. “We better get this done. If Fletcher makes it down before we get him secured, he might lose it again.”
“Again?” I hid the bit of glee that roused in my chest. Not that I wanted him sick, per se. I did have some guilt from when I’d gotten him drunk. But if he couldn’t handle her work, then maybe she’d take me next time.
She shook her head and motioned me to step away from the trunk. “It was a very intense situation. I’ll tell you about it later, but I’m proud of him. He surprised me, but more than that, I think he surprised himself. We still have this problem to take care of.” She motioned to the hidden person. “I need Fletcher to do some research before I figure out how we’re going to handle him.”
With a press of the key fob, the trunk popped open. Inside, a large man was crammed in the small space, his legs tied to one wrist. How must have worked one hand out because that arm wasn’t tied to anything. His pale eyes nearly glowed in the shadows as he glared at us.
That wouldn’t do at all. He needed to be fully restrained.
Moving Vienna back gently with a hand to her stomach, I cocked back and then slammed my fist into his face. I watched for a few seconds to make sure he was truly knocked out, then I unknotted the rope connecting his hand to his ankles. I tied his free hand up again. Just in case he was pretending to be knocked out, I didn’t want to inadvertently give him any advantages.
From the looks of it, he was similar in height to me, if not a little taller, but I had more weight on him. I grunted as I pulled him out and threw him over my shoulder. He was silent during the whole thing. Good. He really was unconscious. Otherwise, he would have grunted or made some noise from the force of his stomach hitting my shoulder.
“I’ll grab the door,” Vienna said as she closed the trunk, then moved around me. We’d need to vacuum out the trunk, but I could do that after dinner. I didn’t want Vienna to have to worry about anything else tonight.
Following behind her, I made sure to keep a firm hold on this guy.
I didn’t ask her any questions because I trusted her completely. But he didn’t seem like her usual target. There wasn’t anything physical that I could place my finger on. He was dressed in slacks and a button down, which was on par with many of the men Vienna had me watching.
He just seemed different. I shrugged. It didn’t matter.
She went ahead of me and opened the second cell door. It was different from the first time I’d been down here. It smelled clean, like she’d soaked the entire room from the ceiling down in bleach. Maybe she had, because the man who had been in the other cell before was now gone. Beyond the cot, the cell also had a toilet and sink. The bare minimums. A thin plastic mat covered the cot. There were no sheets or blankets. I glanced at it but decided against laying him on it. Instead, I dropped him to the concrete floor. If Vienna wanted him in this cell, he deserved no kindness from me.
“Do you want me to undo the ropes?” I turned to Vienna as the man groaned at my feet. He wouldn’t be out for very much longer.
Granted, he couldn’t have been comfortable in the trunk. The red marks on his wrists suggested he’d been working to get himself free for a while.
Behind me, Vienna sighed. With the guy stirring, I didn’t dare turn, but I wished I hadn’t asked her the question. It meant she had to consider the options. I’d rather send her upstairs to relax. Today had apparently been far more difficult than she expected.
“Untie him,” she said with a kind of finality. “He might be down here for a while.”
Heather Long; Blake Blessing. First Chorus (Kindle Locations 495-565).
This is all just the beginning. There is much history to discover here. Cash is quite the enigma as he is questioned by her. Revealing some but keeping much secret. There’s also an attraction here that will be interesting to see play out.
Interactions between Fletcher and Cash are interesting and informative while those with Rick are just routine.
Then there’s her Uncle David, an interesting character we finally see in person. His request to take care of an investigative reporter has me wondering about him more. He’s very persistent in wanting done quickly.
The research into the Vanisher still reveals nothing of use. However, Fletcher is finding more ways to search.
Plenty of intrigue, more targets and plenty of sizzle throughout this book. Although I find myself with more questions than answers as I came to the conclusion of this book.
Holy crap, what an ending it is!
5 Contented Purrs for Heather and Blake!
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USA Today bestselling author, Heather Long, likes long walks in the park, science fiction, superheroes, Marines, and men who aren’t douche bags. Her books are filled with heroes and heroines tangled in romance as hot as Texas in the summertime.
From paranormal historical westerns to contemporary military romance, Heather might switch genres, but one thing is true in all of her stories–her characters drive the books.
When she’s not wrangling her menagerie of animals, she devotes her time to family and friends she considers family. She believes if you like your heroes so real you could lick the grit off their chest, and your heroines so likable, you’re sure you’ve been friends with women just like them, you’ll enjoy her worlds as much as she does.
She attended ten different schools growing up, so books became her constant friend. Escaping into books of all different genres made life fun and exciting. Blake was also raised on music and still blasts it through the house and car at every opportunity.
She has a weird sense of humor and a penchant for chocolate milk. It only makes sense she would one day go on to write her own stories.