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Published by EVERNIGHT PUBLISHING ® at Smashwords


www.evernightpublishing.com




Copyright© 2017 Tamsin Baker



ISBN: 978-1-77339-450-3


Cover Artist: Jay Aheer


Editor: Karyn White



ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.


This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.



DEDICATION


To my amazing street team who inspired this series. Thank you!



BEAUTY AND THE GARGOYLE


The Gargoyles of New York, 2


Tamsin Baker


Copyright © 2017


Chapter One


Rafael

The mirror casts back an image that I cannot reconcile as being my face. How could this happen to me?

I’m certain that one day, I will go to rest in my Gargoyle state, and I will wake up healed and rejuvenated. Just like every other time I’ve been injured in my human form. My shifter genes could heal everything, or that’s what I was told.

Not this time though.

Not since I was shot with a gun, while in Gargoyle form.

Seems like the rules are different when that happens

Hey, Rafe. Want some dinner?” Christiana, my brother Roman’s new Beloved, calls out to me from the kitchen.

Gabe and Nate, my other two brothers, have gone out on the town, partying, drinking, and screwing around like nothing has happened.

Like my life hasn’t been turned upside down.

Like people aren’t trying to kill us in our sleep.

Yes. I’m coming,” I call out, though I don’t really want to face the beautiful woman who is sizzling up some steak for me.

Luckily, she doesn’t even blink when she sees me now, and I love her for it.

I gather what little pride I have left and open my bedroom door, move into the kitchen, and sit down at the bench.

Here you go. I cooked two, but there’s more if you’re hungry.”

She gives me a brilliant smile as she sets the T-bones in front of me, blood oozing from between the seared marks on the flesh.

“No. That’s perfect. Thank you.”

As Gargoyle shifters, my brothers and I have sharper than sharp teeth, and eat only red meat. Occasionally the desire stirs in me to try some fresh bread, a fragrant piece of cheese … but my body hurls it up faster than I can swallow it.

No compromising on the rules of being a Gargoyle.

Is Roman here?” I ask between mouthfuls, my stomach aching with the first tastes of food since I’ve awoken.

No. He’s gone off to some meeting with a banker. Or something.” She shrugs as though she doesn’t know and doesn’t care. But there is more to Christiana than first appears.

I owe my life to this petite female, and as far as I’m concerned, she’s earned the right to sit around the apartment doing nothing for the rest of her days, but it’s not Christiana’s style.

I was actually hoping I could ask you something,” she says, her tone a little too soft. Sly even.

I nod, continuing to eat.

I want to go back to work. I know I don’t have to,” she rushes to add. “Roman keeps telling me I never have to work again, that you guys have heaps of money.”

I keep nodding. A hundred years of investments and properties, and we’re set. Not to mention the fact that with immortality staring us all in the face, the last thing we are, is materialistic.

You can have anything you want, Chrissy. I mean that.”

She screws up her face like a child tasting something new. Beautiful little human.

I don’t want to live like that. If Roman’s right and our union makes me immortal, too, I can’t just sit around on my ass while you guys are resting on the library.”

You should be sleeping so you can stay up with us all night,” I suggest.

Chrissy still keeps relatively normal human hours, sleeping from about two AM to lunchtime. Which doesn’t please Roman. But I think a part of her is still clinging to her humanity. That will change with more time, I’m sure.

“I’m going to start applying for some jobs. Maybe a local café.”

That wasn’t a good idea. “No. We need you. Roman needs you.”

I almost said, don’t be selfish, but saying that to a woman who took a bullet for us is low, even for me, and I’m in the worst state of my life.

She pouts and flops down onto a stool opposite me.

I grin at her dramatics. “You’ve already put our cleaner out of a job.”

Chrissy huffs and crosses her arms. “I didn’t mean to! I just … can’t sit around while she cleans and I’ve got nothing to do. I like looking after our home.”

Well, after a hundred years or so, I’m sure the novelty will wear off.”

She sticks out her tongue, and I want to tug on her ponytail.

Chrissy pouts again. “Well, if I ever get sick of looking after the house, you can hire a cleaner again, but for now, I need something to do!”

I can see her frustration and empathize with it. Having forever stretch out before you like a long, empty road, is an intimidating thing. “I’m sure you can do something. Maybe ask Bill or Roman about helping with the daytime security stuff? Maybe working at the library, or something? Do you like computers? I know Roman’s been upset with the defects in his current security system.”

Why I was throwing ideas at her, I have no clue. Roman was going to have my hide.

No. I hate computers. But the library! Yes! Thank you, Rafe!” She bounces around the bench and kisses my cheek so quickly I don’t have the chance to flinch.

I put my hand up to my marred flesh and watch her skip away, unaffected.

The pain in my chest releases, and I can take a deep breath for the first time since waking.

Chrissy gives me hope that one day I, too, will find my Beloved.

My chest tightens again as I remember what I see when I look in the mirror. I can’t imagine anyone loving a beast like me.

I’ve always been a monster through the day, of course. The curse of being “born” a Gargoyle shifter.

When the sunlight hits our bodies in the morning on sunrise, my three brothers and I turn into grotesque stone statues with tails, fang-like teeth and taloned feet.

But when dusk arrives and the darkness releases us from our curse, we are men. And I’ve always been handsome through those nights. Women fall at my feet.

Or they did. Once upon a time.

Now … I don’t dare leave the apartment.

I finish my meal and go back to my bedroom. I lie down on the bed, my mind a whirling downward spiral of deep loathing and fear. In a few hours, I’ll have to step back on that library roof and transform into my Gargoyle shifter once again.

I don’t have a choice.

I would be frozen, defenseless and alone. Anyone could attack me like they had a month ago. A violent shudder runs through my muscles like a cold, electrical current.

Those memories still haunt me. For every moment. Of every day. And I can’t see any way out of it.

****

Isabella

And you’re happy to start right away?” I ask the lovely woman who’s just walked into the library this morning and asked me for a job.

“Absolutely. I would love that.”


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