Home > Raphael (Vampires in America #1)

Raphael (Vampires in America #1)
Author: D. B. Reynolds



Vampires in America series by D.B. Reynolds
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Prologue

Malibu, California

The woman's fingers flew along the piano keys, filling the air of the candlelit room with the music of a long-dead composer. From behind her, a dark, slender man slid onto the bench, his nimble hands quickly picking up the melody, then just as quickly transforming it into something different, something modern. She lifted her fingers from the keyboard with an indulgent smile, watching his hands dance over the keys of the venerable concert grand in an upbeat tune. Leaning lightly against him, she let her head drop to his shoulder, her eyes closing, their bodies touching with the familiarity of old lovers. From the hallway came the sound of footsteps and the door opened.

"It is nearly time, Alexandra."

The woman sighed. “Thank you, Albin.” She stood, pressing her palms down the front of her full satin skirt, smoothing away nonexistent wrinkles. Her lover offered a hand to assist her around the bench and she accepted it with a smile, laughing as he twirled her into a graceful embrace. “Matias,” she chided softly, fondly. He'd been a dancer when they met, the toast of European society. But that was long ago. Not that he looked old. None of them did; they were Vampire, their appearance forever frozen in the aspect of youth.

Alexandra glanced toward the big windows and the black night beyond. There was not even the faintest gleam of the coming dawn, but sunrise was near; she could feel it. The dour Albin drew closer, looming over her petite frame, his milky white skin glowing in the candlelight.

She looked up at him in surprise, then tilted her head to listen as an odd rat-a-tat sound echoed nearby, repeating over and over. Matias muttered a curse, moving quickly past her, but Albin stopped him, his arm swinging forward with a hard jerking motion. Matias gasped, then turned and reached out for her, a look of utter disbelief on his boyish countenance. She caught him instinctively as he fell, his weight carrying her down even as he disintegrated in her arms. A wave of pure grief swept over her as she stared up at Albin. “Why?” she asked.

The red-haired vampire said nothing, granting only a disdainful glance before spinning away. The room's double doors slammed open with a crash, and two masked humans crowded into the room, matte black guns held before them. Albin exchanged a few sharp words with the invaders, then turned to regard her with hooded brown eyes.

"Come along, Alexandra."

Alexandra stood once again, her hands now brushing the dust of her dead lover from the satin. “This is a mistake, Albin,” she said calmly, backing away until she touched the smooth wood of the piano.

He strode over and grabbed one of her slender arms with his huge hand.

"He'll kill you for this,” she said.

"Perhaps,” Albin agreed, then bared his fangs. “Or perhaps I'll kill him instead. Now come.” He pulled her around roughly, but Alexandra shook him off and walked from the room, head held high. He gave her a mocking bow and followed, turning at the last moment to give the empty room a contemptuous grin.

The candle flames fluttered briefly in the vampire's wake, before retreating to burn steadily through the remaining darkness and into the morning, long after the sun's light had overwhelmed their small brilliance.

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Chapter One

Cynthia Leighton made a hard right turn into the parking lot of the Malibu Sheriff's station, her tires squealing slightly on the gritty pavement. She had the door open almost before the big Land Rover came to a complete stop, yanking the keys from the ignition and jamming them into the pocket of her leather jacket. With one foot out the door, she twisted around and leaned over to the square, pink box sitting on the passenger seat. It was tied with plain string, a tidy little bow centered almost exactly on the top of the thin cardboard. She slipped her fingers carefully under the bow and lifted. Then sliding out of the truck, she used one booted foot to slam the door shut.

The station house was a utilitarian building on a back street near the courthouse, with unadorned concrete stairs leading to a pair of double glass doors in heavy metal frames. Cynthia climbed the stairs quickly, slipping through the open door with a smile of gratitude to the older gentleman who held it for her before continuing down the stairs.

The desk sergeant gave her a big grin as she came through. “Hey, it's Nancy Drew!"

Cynthia put the box down gently on the counter. “This is for you,” she said with some urgency. “Please take it away."

Sergeant Adam Linville's grin got even bigger. “Nancy, you are the woman of my dreams.” He cut the string and opened the box, freeing the glorious aroma of sugar and fat to waft around the room.

Cynthia hissed dramatically and held out her hand in a warding gesture, her fingers forked against evil. “Take it away!"

Linville laughed. “Come on, Leighton, eat something.” He wiggled his eyebrows. “I'm thinking of getting married again, you know, someone to keep me warm in my old age. You're a real looker and you're young enough, but I like a woman with some meat on her bones."

"I'll be sure to remember that if I ever lose my mind and decide to get married."

"All women want to get married. It's in your DNA or something."

"Not in mine, Sarge. Everyone I know is divorced."

"Such cynicism,” Linville bemoaned. “It hurts my heart."

"Have a cream puff. It'll help.” Cynthia said it with a smile. She liked Linville. He was a big, bluff, very white guy, with ruddy cheeks, who was set to retire in less than a year. She made a point of dropping by the Malibu station whenever he was on the desk, with pastries in hand. As a private investigator, it made good sense for her to stay friendly with the local police, especially in a small town like Malibu. Plus, she'd been with the LAPD before quitting to becoming a PI, and she kind of missed the sense of belonging to something bigger than herself. “So tell me, Sarge,” she said. “Anything happening I should know about?"

"Now, Nancy, if you was supposed to know about it, you'd know, wouldn't you?"

"Come on,” she coaxed, lifting the box and sliding it under his nose. “No gossip to share with a hard working PI?"

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