Shadowed Online - Rebecca Zanetti

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I have many people to thank for help in getting this book to readers, and I sincerely apologize for anyone I’ve forgotten.

Thank you to Tony, Gabe, and Karlina Zanetti, my very patient family, for giving me time and space to write, as well as lots of love and excitement. Also, congrats to Gabe for the undefeated arena football season, and to Karly for first place in the KGSA softball minor’s division this year;

Thank you to my talented agent, Caitlin Blasdell, who works so very hard for her authors. I am so grateful to be working with you. Thanks also to Liza Dawson and everyone at Liza Dawson Associates for the hard work and encouragement.

Thank you to my amazing editor, Alicia Condon, who has such wonderful insight into characters and motivation . . . and is one of the kindest people I’ve ever had the privilege of working with;

Thank you to all the folks at Kensington Publishing, especially Alexandra Nicolajsen and Vida Engstrand because they’re such a joy to work with, and I’m always so happy to see them at conferences. Thanks also to Arthur Maisel for the excellent copy edits.

Thank you to my critique partner Jennifer Dorough—who one day said . . . “I think Jase should be with Brenna Dunne, don’t you?”

Thank you to Deb Stewart for her very generous donation to the Excel Foundation last year;

Thank you to Kim Killion and her colleagues at Hot Damn Designs—your covers are spectacular;

And thanks also to my constant support system: Gail and Jim English, Debbie and Travis Smith, Stephanie and Don West, Brandie and Mike Chapman, Jessica and Jonah Namson, and Kathy and Herb Zanetti.

Chapter 1

“There’s a vampire here to see you,” said a chipper voice from the office doorway.

Brenna Dunne glanced up from the stack of ledgers toward her best friend. “I don’t have any appointments today.”

Deb shrugged a delicate shoulder. “Since when do vampires make appointments?”

Good point. Brenna pushed her glasses up her nose. She was the only witch in existence who required reading glasses. “Did you see who it was?”

“Nope.” Deb Stewart had never been much of a vampire fan. “They all look alike to me.” She mock-shrugged. “Though, when I passed by the conference room, vibrations of some seriously strong energy made the air heavy.”

“Huh.” Brenna folded her glasses to tuck in her pocket before standing. The room swayed.

Deb frowned, and lines of concern fanned out from her brown eyes. “How did your treatment go this morning?”

“Terrible.” Brenna grimaced. “The treatments have stopped doing any good.” In fact, having the doctors replace her blood was just a waste of time at this point.

“That’s what I thought.” Deb shuffled the stack of papers in her hands. “Maybe it’s time to tell the council.”

“Aye.” The room stopped tilting, so Brenna skirted the desk. “I’ll need to submit my resignation soon.” She could barely stand up, much less participate on the Council of the Coven Nine, the ruling body for witches the world over.

Deb tilted her dark head toward the pile of paperwork on the desk. “Any marriage proposals?”

“Three proposals and two death threats this week.” Brenna’s legs wobbled as she reached the doorway.

“The usual, huh?” Deb said.

Brenna paused to regain her bearings. “Yes. Man, I need to get my strength back.”

Deb patted her arm. “The doctors will find a cure. I’m sure of it.” “I know.” Brenna forced a smile as they both lied.

Deb swallowed. “I’ll take the afternoon meeting with the Dublin economic group for you.”

Relief and gratitude swept Brenna. “Thanks. I owe you once again.” She slid into the hallway. “Wish me luck with the vampire.”

“Luck,” Deb muttered as she bustled in the other direction.

Good thing Deb had fallen in love with and married a witch. She and a vampire would’ve been a disaster.

Brenna eyed the wall of windows as she walked. Lightning flashed outside the windows, and the Liffey threw up whitecaps. Nothing like a December snowstorm in Ireland to get things interesting. With her diminishing vision, the world morphed into different shades of gray outside.

She carefully picked her way along the hallway to push open the door to the small meeting room.

Her breath caught. “Jase.”

Jase Kayrs sprawled in one of three overstuffed chairs, reading a stack of papers neatly attached inside a manila file folder. A fire crackled behind him, while the storm raged outside the full wall of windows to his left. At her entry, he flipped the file shut and stood. “Brenna.”

She swallowed and fought the urge to step back. At one time, Jase