Home > Unforgiven (Vampires in America #7.5)

Unforgiven (Vampires in America #7.5)
Author: D. B. Reynolds



Vampires in America series by D.B. Reynolds
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Chapter One

 

CYNTHIA LEIGHTON laced her fingers with Raphael’s as they made their way down the staircase. He squeezed back, his big hand warm and secure. Her beautiful vampire lover. He was dressed as usual in one of his elegant power suits—dark charcoal and custom made to fit his gorgeous physique—tall, muscular, big chest and shoulders. And he was all hers. A thrill of lust shivered its way up her body, making her wish this was one of those nights when they could stay in, just the two of them, alone in their underground lair with its big bed.

She sighed quietly. But no. Raphael was off to do his master of the universe thing while she and Elke were heading over to the gym for a bit of torture. Or as Elke called it, a good workout. And then Cyn had work of her own to do. Raphael might not like her going out and spying on wayward spouses anymore, but her private investigations business was still active and thriving on the internet.

Juro, the sumo-sized Japanese vampire who was Raphael’s chief of security, walked ahead of them through the double front doors, pausing to get a nod of acknowledgment from his twin brother who already waited by the limousine. This was Raphael’s headquarters, his private estate, with security up the wazoo. But even so, Juro wouldn’t let him cross the threshold to the outside until he was sure it was safe. He’d always been observant, but times were more hazardous than ever these days with the European vamps agitating at the border and no one knowing exactly what they’d do next. Only one thing was certain—they were coming, and Raphael would be their number one target. If the Europeans could get rid of him, it would go a long way toward softening up the rest of the continent.

Or so they thought. Cyn thought the European vamps grossly underestimated the strength and determination of the other North American vampire lords. Sure, if something happened to Raphael, it would be a blow. Not that anything was going to happen to him. Juro wasn’t the only one who would die before letting that happen. But speaking purely hypothetically, if something did happen to Raphael, the other lords wouldn’t just roll over and show their bellies. If anything, Raphael’s death might make some of them fight even harder. Lucas and Duncan fell into that category for sure. Those two wouldn’t rest until they’d avenged their Sire’s murder.

Cyn’s goal, however, was to make sure it didn’t come to that. Whatever it took, whoever else had to die, including herself, she would not permit Raphael to become someone’s dead inspiration to fight harder.

“Lubimaya?”

She smiled at the familiar endearment, at the warm roll of happiness in her gut at the sound of Raphael’s dark velvet voice.

“Yeah, babe,” she said, leaning into his side and looking up at him.

His mouth quirked into a smile. “You’ll be here when I return.”

Bossy. But then, Raphael didn’t make requests. He gave orders, even to her. Or he tried. This time he succeeded because she intended to be around anyway.

“I’ll be here,” she agreed, then reached distractedly for her cell phone when it rang a recognizable tone. “That’s Luci,” she noted for Raphael’s benefit, then frowned. Luci was her best friend, but today was Thursday, and Luci never called on Thursday night. She ran a group counseling session at the teen runaway shelter for any kids who chose to sit in, whether they were living at the house she managed or not.

Raphael waited, pulling them both to a stop as Juro continued around the limo to the open driver’s door.

“Luci?” she said, answering. “What’s wrong?”

“What makes you think something’s wrong?” Luci snapped, her irritation a sure sign that something was definitely amiss.

“Tonight’s group, Luce.”

“Oh. Well, yeah, it starts in a few minutes. That’s why I’m calling.”

“Is one of the kids giving you trouble?”

“Not the kids, no. But there’s—” Luci paused, her tongue clicking in frustration. “It’s probably nothing.”

“Just tell me.”

“There’s this new guy. He looks the part, sixteen, maybe seventeen years old, but . . . something doesn’t ring true about him. I think he’s a vampire, Cyn. I know it doesn’t make sense, but I’m getting this weird vibe off of him. Plus, he keeps asking a lot of questions about you and Raphael. Stuff like where you live, if you ever come around the house, if I know any of the other guys out there.”

“How long’s he been hanging around?” Cyn asked, her gaze lifting to meet Raphael’s, knowing his vampire-enhanced hearing would be picking up both sides of the conversation.

“Just over a week, and he’s been here every night. Oh God, I’m probably making way too much—”

“No, you’re not. Is he there tonight?”

“Yeah, he is. That’s why I called you.”

“Okay, I’m coming over right now. If he leaves, let me know. Otherwise, I’ll see you as soon as I can get there.”

“Thanks, Cyn,” Luci said, her breath running out on a long sigh.

Cyn disconnected just in time to see Raphael and Juro doing their mind meld thing, staring at each other over the roof of the limo, their identically blank faces concealing the conversation that was no doubt going on inside their heads.

“Juro will accompany you,” Raphael said abruptly, pulling Cyn against his side as Juro came back around the limo to stand next to them.

“Elke will be with me,” she protested. “And you need Juro with you.”

“Juro is more powerful than Elke,” Raphael murmured. “He’ll be able to deal with whoever this is.”

“We don’t even know it’s a vampire,” Cyn persisted.

“Cynthia.”

Cyn’s protest stopped dead at the sound of Juro’s deep bass voice. He so rarely spoke that when he did, it was worth listening.

“I’m concerned about Lucia,” he said quietly.

Cyn tried to keep her reaction from showing on her face as she looked up at him, and knew she only partially succeeded. Juro had been dancing around Luci for months, and Cyn had been shoving them at each other for just as long. This was the first time he’d admitted any interest though, and it gave Cyn a little thrill of satisfaction. At the same time …

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