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Kiss of Midnight (Midnight Breed, #1)(9)
Author: Lara Adrian


She opened the door, but thought it best not to remove the chain lock. The man stepped in front of the wedge of open space and glanced at the tight chain length that stretched taut between them. When his eyes met Gabrielle’s again, he gave her a vague smile, as if he thought it amusing she would expect to bar him so easily if he truly wanted in.

“Miss Maxwell?” His voice stroked her senses like rich, dark velvet.

“Yes?”

“My name is Lucan Thorne.” The words rolled past his lips in a smooth, measured timbre that eased some of her anxiety at once. When she didn’t say anything, he went on. “I understand you had some difficulty a couple of nights ago at the police station. I wanted to come by and make sure you were all right.”

She nodded.

Evidently the police hadn’t completely blown her off after all. Since it had been a couple of days with no word from them, Gabrielle had not expected to see anyone from the department, despite the promise to send a patrol out to look in on her. Not that she could be certain this guy, with his sleekly styled black hair and chiseled features, was a cop.

He looked grim enough, she supposed, and apart from his dark, dangerous good looks, he didn’t seem intent on causing her any harm. Still, after what she’d been through, Gabrielle thought it wise to err on the side of caution.

“Have you got ID?”

“Of course.”

With deliberate, almost sensual movements, he opened a thin leather billfold and held it up to the crack of space at the door. It was nearly dark outside, which was likely why it took a second for Gabrielle’s eyes to focus on the shiny policeman’s badge and the picture identification card next to it, bearing his name.

“Okay. Come in, Detective.”

She freed the chain lock, then opened the door and let him enter, watching as his broad shoulders filled the doorway. His presence seemed to fill the entire foyer, in fact. He was a large man, tall and thickly hewn beneath the drape of his black overcoat, his dark clothes and silky jet hair absorbed the soft light of the pendant lamp overhead. He had a confident, almost regal bearing about him, his expression gravely serious, as if he would be better suited to commanding a legion of armored knights than schlepping out to Beacon Hill to handhold a hallucinatory female.

“I didn’t think anyone was going to come. After the reception I got down at the station this weekend, I figured Boston’s finest had written me off as a nutcase.”

He didn’t acknowledge or deny it, merely strode into her living room in silence and let his gaze roam freely over the place. He paused at her worktable, where the roughs of some of her latest images had been arranged. Gabrielle trailed after him across the room, casually watching for his reaction to her work. One dark brow quirked as he perused the photographs.

“Yours?” he asked, turning his pale, piercing eyes on her.

“Yes,” Gabrielle replied. “They’re part of a collection I’m calling Urban Renewal.”

“Interesting.”

He looked back to the array of images and Gabrielle felt herself frown slightly at his careful, yet indifferent response. “They’re just something I’m playing around with right now—nothing I’m ready to exhibit yet.”

He grunted, still considering the photographs in silence.

Gabrielle moved closer, trying to get a better handle on his reaction, or lack thereof. “I do a lot of commissioned work around the city. In fact, I’ll probably be taking some pictures of the governor’s place on the Vineyard later this month.”

Shut up, she admonished herself. Why was she trying to impress this guy?

Detective Thorne didn’t seem overly impressed. Saying nothing, he reached out, and with fingers entirely too elegant for his profession, gently rearranged two of the images on the table. Inexplicably, Gabrielle found herself imagining those long, deft fingers touching her bare skin, splaying into her hair, cupping the back of her skull…guiding her head back until it rested on his strong arm and his cool gray eyes drank her in.

“So,” she said, snapping herself back to reality. “I’ll bet you’d rather have a look at the pictures I took outside the club Saturday night.”

Without waiting for him to reply, she walked to the kitchen and grabbed her cell phone off the counter. She flipped it open, brought up an image, and held the device out to Detective Thorne.

“That’s the first shot I took. My hands were shaking, so it’s a little blurry. And the light from the flash washed out a lot of the detail. But if you look closely, you’ll see six dark shapes huddled low to the ground. That’s them—the killers. Their victim is that lump they’re tearing at in front of them. They were…biting him. Like animals.”

Thorne’s eyes held fast to the image; his expression remained grim, unchanging. Gabrielle clicked to the next photograph.

“The flash startled them. I don’t know—I think it might have blinded them or something. When I clicked these next few shots, some of them stopped to look at me. I can’t really make out features, but that’s the face of one of them. Those weird slits of light are the reflection of his eyes.” She shuddered, recalling the yellow glow of vicious, inhuman eyes. “He was looking right at me.”

More silence from the detective. He took the cell phone from Gabrielle’s fingers and clicked through the remaining pictures.

“What do you think?” she asked, hoping for confirmation. “You can see it, too, can’t you?”

“I see…something, yes.”

“Thank God. Your buddies at the precinct tried to make me think I was crazy, or that I was some drugged-out loser who didn’t know what I was talking about. Not even my friends believed me when I told them what I saw that night.”

“Your friends,” he said with careful deliberation. “Do you mean someone other than the man you were with at the station—your lover?”

“My lover?” She laughed at that. “Jamie is not my lover.”

Thorne looked up from the cell phone’s image display to meet her gaze. “He spent the past two nights with you alone, here in this apartment.”

How did he know that? Gabrielle felt a jolt of outrage at the prospect of being spied on by anyone, including the police, who probably would have done so more out of suspicion than as a means of protecting her. But as she stood beside Detective Lucan Thorne in her living room, some of that anger seeped out of her, replaced by a feeling of calm acceptance. Of subtle, languid cooperation. Strange, she thought, but found herself fairly unfazed by the idea.

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