Home > Kiss of Midnight (Midnight Breed, #1)(6)

Kiss of Midnight (Midnight Breed, #1)(6)
Author: Lara Adrian


Gabrielle met the cabbie’s anxious eyes. “Please hurry. I just witnessed a murder.”

 

 

CHAPTER

Two

 

 

Vampires.

The night was thick with them. He had counted more than a dozen in the dance club, most of them trolling the half-dressed, undulating crowds, selecting—and seducing—the women who would Host their thirst that night. It was a symbiotic arrangement that had served the Breed well for more than two millennia, a peaceful cohabitation that depended on the vampires’ ability to scrub the memories of the humans on whom they fed. Before the sun came up, a good deal of blood would be spilled but in the morning, the Breed would be returned to their Darkhavens in and around the city, and the humans they had enjoyed tonight would be none the wiser.

But that was not the case in the alley outside the nightclub.

For the six blood-gorged predators there, their unsanctioned kill would be their last. They were careless in their hunger; they hadn’t detected that they were being watched. Not when he was observing them in the club, nor when he had trailed them outside, surveilling them from the ledge of a second-story window of the converted church.

They were lost to the high of Bloodlust, the disease of addiction that had once been epidemic among the Breed, causing so many of their kind to turn Rogue. Like these, who fed openly and indiscriminately from the humans who lived among them.

Lucan Thorne had no particular affinity for humankind, but what he felt for the Rogue vampires before him was even less. To see one or two feral vampires in a single night’s patrol of a city the size of Boston was not uncommon. To find several working in tandem, feeding in the open as these did, was more than a little troubling. The Rogues were growing in numbers again, becoming more bold.

Something had to be done.

For Lucan and several others of the Breed, every night was a hunting expedition aimed at routing out the diseased few who would jeopardize all that the vampire race had worked so hard to achieve. Tonight, Lucan tracked his prey alone, not caring that he was outnumbered. He had waited until the opportunity to strike was prime: once the Rogues had greedily fed the addiction that ruled their minds.

Drunk on more blood than they could safely consume, they had continued to savage and fight over the body of the young man from the club, snarling and snapping like a pack of wild dogs. Lucan had been poised to dispatch quick justice—and would have, if it hadn’t been for the sudden appearance of a ginger-haired female in the darkened corridor. In an instant, she had thrown the entire night off course: following the Rogues to the alley, then unwittingly drawing their attention away from their kill.

As the light from her cell phone’s flash exploded in the dark, Lucan descended from the shadowed ledge of the window and landed on the pavement without a sound. Like the Rogues, Lucan’s sensitive eyes were partially blinded from that sudden spark of light amid the dark. The woman fired a series of piercing flashes as she fled the carnage, those few panicked clicks likely all that spared her from the wrath of his savage kin.

But where the other vampires’ senses were clouded and sluggish with Bloodlust, Lucan’s were ruthlessly clear. From beneath his dark trenchcoat, he drew his weapons—twin blades wrought of titanium-edged steel—and swung to claim the head of the nearest Rogue.

Two more followed, the bodies of the dead thrashing as they began their swift cellular decomposition from oozing acidic pulp to incinerated ash. Animal shrieks filled the alleyway as Lucan severed the head of one more, then swung around to impale another Rogue through the torso. The Rogue hissed through bared, bloody teeth, its fangs dripping gore. Pale-gold eyes held Lucan in contempt, the huge irises swelled in hunger, swallowing up pupils that were narrowed to thin vertical slits. The creature spasmed, long arms reaching for him, its mouth stretched into a hideous, alien sneer as the specially forged steel poisoned its Rogue blood and reduced the vampire to smoldering stain on the street.

Only one remained. Lucan whirled to meet the large male, both blades raised to strike.

But the vampire was gone—fled into the night before he could slay it.

Damn.

He’d never let one of the bastards escape his justice before this. He shouldn’t now. He considered chasing the Rogue down, but it would mean leaving the scene of the attack unsecured. That was the greater risk here, letting the humans know the full measure of the danger that lived among them. Because of the savagery of the Rogues, Lucan’s kind had been persecuted and hunted by humans throughout the Old Times; the race might not survive a new age of retribution, now that man had technology on his side.

Until the Rogues were suppressed—better yet, eliminated entirely—humankind could know nothing of the existence of the vampires living all around them.

As he set about cleaning the area of all traces of the killing, Lucan’s thoughts kept returning to the woman with the sunlit hair and sweet, alabaster beauty.

How was it she had been able to find the Rogues in the alley?

Although it was widely held among human folklore that vampires could disappear at will, the truth was only slightly less remarkable. Gifted with great agility and speed, they could simply move faster than human eyes could register, an ability that was augmented by the vampires’ advanced hypnotic power over the minds of lesser beings. Oddly, this woman seemed immune to both.

Lucan had seen her in the club, he realized now. His gaze had been drawn away from his quarry by a pair of soulful eyes and a spirit that seemed nearly as lost as his own. She had noticed him, too, staring at him from where she sat with her friends. Even through the crowd and the stale odor of the club, Lucan had scented the trace notes of perfume on her skin—something exotic, rare.

He smelled it now as well, a delicate note that clung to the night, teasing his senses and calling to something primitive within him. His gums ached with the sudden stretching of his fangs, a physical reaction to need—carnal, or otherwise—that he was powerless to curb. He scented her, and he hungered, little better than his Rogue brethren.

Lucan tipped his head back and dragged the essence of the woman deeper into his lungs, tracking her across the city with his keen sense of smell. The sole witness to the Rogues’ attack, it was more than unwise to let her keep the memory of what she had seen. Lucan would find the female and take whatever measures were necessary to ensure the protection of the Breed.

And in the back of his mind, an ancient conscience whispered that whoever she was, she already belonged to him.

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