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Midnight bite, p.2

Midnight Bite, page 2

 

Midnight Bite
 


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  The wolf flew off the vamp and rushed toward her. Her wooden stake would do zero damage against him. She needed silver, and, luckily, she was wearing silver earrings. Not much of a weapon, but better than nothing. Lark dropped the stake and grabbed for her earrings, ready to drive those babies straight into the werewolf’s eyes. The pain would stop him long enough for her to plan another attack.

  But Devereaux grabbed the wolf from behind. Caught him with that super vamp strength and there was a terrible crunch of bones. The wolf let out a whimper as Devereaux tossed the beast through a nearby window. Glass shattered. An alarm sounded.

  Lark took her cue. She grabbed for her stake, held tight to her earrings, and she hauled ass. She knew when she was in over her head, and she was way, way out of her league. She rushed as fast as her frozen feet would carry her, and when she rounded the corner, the beat of music reached her ears. Lark saw lights blazing from a bar up ahead. Humans were filing in and out of the place. Laughter teased her ears, and she remembered another lesson from her youth…

  There’s always safety in numbers.

  Paranormal creatures looked for humans alone. Stragglers who were weak. They never went after a crowd. She ran toward the bar and fought her way inside. The music pounded. The lights flashed. And she prayed that the vamp prince would stay the hell away from her.

  So far, this New Year’s Eve…sucked.

  ***

  Devereaux Mancini adjusted the sleeve of his tux. The damn wolf had gotten blood on him. What an annoyance. Now he’d have to have the tux dry cleaned.

  “Sir?” His driver cleared his throat. “I believe your prey got away.”

  Devereaux glanced over at the fellow.

  The driver—pushing ninety but still as agile as a man half his age—pointed down the street. “She fled that way. I don’t think she was wearing shoes, so I imagine her feet are quite frozen by now.”

  Devereaux growled.

  “Will you be going after her? Or shall we call it a night?”

  No, they weren’t calling it a freaking night. And, yes, of course, he was going after her. “Keep the limo running, Helsing. I’ll have her back in ten minutes.”

  He bounded after—

  “Midnight will fall in ten minutes, sir. Think you’ll be the one to claim her by then?”

  If he didn’t know better, he’d think Helsing was taunting him. “Bet on it.” Because he hadn’t waited all of these centuries to find his queen…only to lose her in the final stretch of the race.

  Lark Kinsley had been meant for him ever since she’d drawn her first breath. And he didn’t care how many werewolves, vamps, or demons he had to battle that night…

  She was going to be his.

  CHAPTER TWO

  New Year’s Resolution Number Two: Don’t be afraid to meet new people and try new things.

  Too many humans were out celebrating on New Year’s Eve. The club was filled to over-flowing. Champagne was sloshing everywhere, and if one more person got in Devereaux’s way before he found his queen…

  Devereaux had to fight the urge to sink his teeth into the humans around him. He didn’t have time for this. And since he didn’t have time to waste, he just leapt on the bar. The higher vantage point gave him a far better view of the place.

  “What in the hell are you doing?” The bartender glared up at him. “Get your drunk ass down, right now!”

  Devereaux turned his head, stared into the human’s eyes, and simply said, “I need to find Lark. Lark must be brought to me.”

  The guy’s gaze went completely slack.

  Devereaux turned back to the crowd. “Look at me!” His bellow cut through the music. Most of the humans immediately turned toward him. He let his power flow hot and hard through his veins. “I need Lark. A human female, dark hair, green eyes. She’s here, wearing a long, red coat.” His favorite color. “I want her brought to me.” He sent her image into their minds. All it took was a little psychic push, and then the crowd was moving as one. They turned. Rushed toward the back of the club.

  “What in the hell? Let me go! Let me go!”

  Ah, Lark’s voice. Angry. Snarling. Beautiful.

  The humans carried her to him, and they lifted her onto the bar. She staggered a little, started to slip, so his hand flew out and curled around her wrist.

  She was small, barely reaching his shoulders. Her body was curved and sensual, and she had the most amazing eyes. Such an unusual shade of green. Her lips were full and red, her neck graceful and—

  Blood. The blood on her neck pulled him in. The scent was sweeter than any candy, more seductive than any expensive fragrance. His fangs burned in his mouth, and all Devereaux wanted was to sink his teeth into her. To taste her. To have her.

  Forever.

  “What did you do to them?” She didn’t fight his hold. She also didn’t pull out her stake. A good sign. Maybe.

  Devereaux shrugged. “Compulsions might not work on you, but the humans here aren’t immune.”

  “Stop it. Don’t make them puppets. Let them go!”

  If that would make her happy…with his free hand, he snapped his fingers. Immediately, the crowd of humans went back to drinking. To dancing. To celebrating.

  Her breath heaved in and out. She yanked at the hand he held in his grasp, and Devereaux let her go.

  She didn’t immediately jump from the bar. Or run. So he figured they were making progress.

  “You just used a compulsion on a whole bar full of humans.” The pulse at the base of her throat jerked, and he couldn’t look away from it. Or from the drop of blood that slid down her neck. “You must be incredibly powerful.”

  Well, he didn’t like to brag but…hell, yes. He was powerful. “The most powerful vampire on the continent.” His hand reached out, and he caught the drop of blood. She went statue-still at his touch. “I won’t hurt you.” That wasn’t his intent. He wanted to give her pleasure. So much pleasure that she would just die from it.

  Then come back to him. As his queen.

  He brought her drop of blood to his lips. A little taste wouldn’t hurt anything…

  He licked the drop of blood from his fingertip. Every muscle in his body immediately hardened as stark, desperate hunger consumed him. More. Want more.

  “Don’t look at me like that,” she whispered. “I’m not some snack for you.”

  Love, you’re the entire main course.

  Lark hopped off the bar and glared up at him. “I’m not looking for a war. First Charles, now you?”

  She wasn’t looking for a war, but the paranormals out there would gladly start one. Her mother had done Lark a serious disservice by keeping so many secrets. “I’ll kill Charles the next time I see him. No other vamp will know your taste and live.” He jumped down and stood in front of her.

  “Um…stop staring at my neck.”

  Devereaux forced his eyes up.

  “All right, it’s time for the countdown!” A human male’s voice rose over the noise as he continued, “Get ready for the big event! The countdown! Hold tight to the one you love—”

  Devereaux pulled Lark against him. This had to be right. “Kiss me, and I’ll keep you safe from every monster out there.”

  “Ten!” The humans shouted in unison.

  “You are a monster,” Lark snapped back at him. Her emerald eyes shot sparks of fury at Devereaux. Gorgeous. Delectable.

  He smiled. Flashed a little fang. “Oh, love, you wound me.”

  “Nine!”

  “Not yet,” Lark assured him, “but when I have my stake in you, I will.”

  Her threats were adorable.

  “Eight!”

  But she needed to see the big picture. “Werewolves are hunting you. The beast outside was their scout. They’ll be closing in at any moment. You don’t want to fight a whole pack on your own.”

  “Seven!”

  “And more vamps are after you. They won’t stop with a little drop like I did. I’m afraid they don’t have my self-contr
ol.” His control, after all, was the stuff of legend. Not once in his exceedingly long life had his self-control so much as fractured.

  “Six!”

  Lark stared up at him suspiciously. “Why are you helping me? Why am I supposed to trust you?”

  “Five!”

  Because you were meant for me. “You’ll pay me back. I’ll see to it. But for now, all I want is a kiss. So simple, isn’t it?” No, it wasn’t. It was just the beginning.

  “Four!”

  Tension coiled in his body. “You’re running out of time.” And he had to take a gamble. Devereaux took a step back from her. Tried to act like he didn’t care when he’d never cared about anything more. Because nothing had ever mattered more to him.

  “Three!” The crowd was in a frenzy of excitement. Humans. What could you do? Bite them?

  Lark’s beautiful gaze didn’t leave his face.

  Devereaux cleared his throat. “You choose me, and I’ll protect you. All I need is a kiss for us to seal the bargain.” He shrugged. “Or you handle the wolves at the fucking door by yourself.”

  “Two!”

  She glared at him, and he wondered if her hatred for his kind was so strong that she would never—

  Lark hurled herself at him. He caught her, lifted her up, and their mouths met just as—

  “One!”

  The humans erupted. Blaring horns and shouts filled the air. He didn’t care. His arms locked around Lark, and his mouth took hers. Her lips were parted, perfectly open, and his tongue slipped inside. At the first taste, desire roared through his body, hardening his cock, making every muscle in his body tighten. He kissed her hard and deep, he took her mouth, he wanted to take everything. Devereaux pulled her closer, lifting her against him. Her mouth, her taste—perfect. What he’d wanted his whole, ever-so-long life.

  She was what he’d wanted. What he’d always missed.

  He could never be without her again.

  Her breasts pressed to his chest. Her nipples were tight and hard, and she was having the same, intense reaction that he was. A primitive reaction. One that nature had dictated. She might not want to admit it, but she recognized him just as he recognized her. They were meant to be…

  Lovers.

  Partners.

  Mates.

  Forever.

  Lark tore her mouth from his. Her breath heaved in and out. Her stunned gaze searched his. “What…what was that?”

  He smiled. “A kiss.”

  Her tongue swiped over her lower lip. “It felt like more.”

  It will be.

  But then Lark blinked. “You’re carrying me.”

  He shrugged and didn’t let her go. “Your legs are wrapped around me.”

  “OhmyGod.” Red stained her cheeks. That was so cute. He hadn’t expected her to blush. Voice hushed, she added, “I just made out with a vampire. I’m in the middle of a bar, and I’m—” She broke off and shoved against him. “Put me down.”

  He rather liked having her exactly where she was. No, actually, he’d prefer to rip her clothes away and then have her where she was. His cock shoved against her sex, and he wanted in. But…

  Patience was a virtue, right? One of the very few that he possessed. So Devereaux locked his jaw and lowered her to the floor. “You aren’t wearing shoes.”

  “Because you can’t run fast in high heels,” she mumbled back, never taking her amazing gaze off his.

  His lips quirked. He couldn’t help it. She made him…happy?

  No, be careful. Don’t let her get her claws too deeply into you.

  “You said you’d help me.” Her breath sighed out. “Okay, fine, let’s see if you were lying or telling the truth. I want out of this bar. I want to go home. And I don’t feel like tangling with another vamp or any wolves.”

  No worries on that score. “You only have to tangle with me.”

  Her head cocked as she studied him. Her hair trailed over her shoulder.

  Do this right. Devereaux straightened and offered his arm to her. He could be gallant. After all, he was royalty. “Shall we?”

  Hesitantly, her fingers rose and curled around his arm. “I don’t understand what’s happening tonight. My mother told me to never trust vampires.”

  He sent out his power, making sure the humans around them stepped back as he escorted Lark to the door. “Did she have any rules about kissing vampires?”

  A quick burst of laughter came from her. A sound like sweet music. Then… “You’re the first vampire I’ve ever kissed. She didn’t specifically mention a rule, but I’m sure she would have been against it.”

  The first vampire. “First and only.” The rough growl slipped from him before he could think better of it. But he didn’t want another vamp touching her. Not kissing her. Not taking her blood—

  His gaze fell to her throat. Charles was going to get staked before dawn. Bastard.

  “What did you say?” She’d stilled near the door.

  “I said…Don’t be so sure. Your mother might’ve just had a soft spot for vampires.” Or, at least, for one. Once. But they’d cover that bit of news later. Once he had Lark exactly where he wanted her.

  Bonded and bedded.

  If he revealed too much, too soon, she’d run. He couldn’t have that. There were too many dangers that she faced. Too many who wanted to take her away from him.

  A howl sounded in the distance. Ah, a pack was closing in. Too late. “When we go outside, I won’t let anyone else touch you.” A solemn promise.

  She stared at him, as if trying to decide whether or not he was telling the truth. He was. Absolutely.

  “You’re not a hunter,” Devereaux told her as he leaned in close. No humans were close. His power kept them away. “You turned away from that life, so you’re not prepared to handle the beasts coming for you. Trust me. I’ll take care of them.”

  “I still don’t get why you’re helping me, or how you seem to know so much about me.”

  He knew everything. He’d made a point of learning every secret. “I’ll tell you, soon enough.” First, it was time to get her outside.

  Time to get her to his home.

  He shoved open the club’s door. The cold air came at him, and he thought of her shoeless, cute little feet. He didn’t want her walking on the cold pavement. Devereaux scooped her into his arms and hurried away from the club and the loud humans.

  “Fucking bastard!” A tall, broad-shouldered asshole with too-long blond hair strode from the darkness. Four men were at his back. All built along the same long and rough lines. Powerful. Dangerous. Beasts usually were. “You think you got to her first?”

  Devereaux lowered Lark until her feet touched the concrete and gently pushed her behind his back. “As usual, Martin, you’re too late. Must suck always coming in second place.”

  The men behind the alpha growled.

  Devereaux just laughed. “Are you missing a pack member?” Innocently, he posed the question. “I do believe I saw him a few moments ago. The fellow was crawling away to lick his wounds.” He let his laughter and smile fade as his stare sharpened on the pack. “Take a step toward my Lark, and you’ll all be doing the same.”

  Martin fisted his hands. “The deal is over. The new year has dawned. I want my vengeance. I’m due.”

  Screw this. The werewolf with the too-loud mouth was going to ruin everything. Devereaux surged forward. He locked his fingers around the alpha’s throat and lifted the werewolf two feet off the ground. An alpha was strong, but no match for a vampire with royal blood. “I got her first,” he rasped, keeping his voice low so that Lark would not overhear. “That means I’m due. All vengeance is mine. She is mine. You try to take her, and I’ll destroy every member of your pack. Are we clear?”

  Martin drove his claws into Devereaux’s chest. Blood poured from him, and Devereaux heard Lark scream.

  Wrong choice, wolf. He snapped Martin’s neck. A hard yank of his hand, and Devereaux tossed the body to the ground. As expected, the wolves we
nt freaking wild. Two charged at him, while the other two ran for Lark. Oh, hell no, you don’t.

  He caught the two who came for him. He let his own claws lengthen, and he slashed those bastards. Then he grabbed them and tossed the shifters into the street. A passing car slammed on the brakes and the driver’s angry horn filled the night.

  “Get away from me!” Lark yelled, and in the next moment, Devereaux caught the scent of burning flesh.

  He whirled and saw one of the werewolves stagger back, clutching his face. Lark had shoved some sort of…silver trinket into his cheek. An earring? Clever. The wolf was flipping out as he ran and burned.

  But the other guy—the last standing werewolf—let out a bellow of fury. His hands flew up toward the night sky as the werewolf’s body shook. He was still a man, but he was pulling up the beast within. Devereaux saw the fellow’s muscles bulge, his fingertips lengthen into claws, his fur burst along his skin…

  The bastard is daring to change with so many humans nearby? With so many eyes? With Lark so close?

  The wolf intended to kill her. He knew it. Therefore, well, that wolf was dying.

  Devereaux yanked out his silver knife. He grabbed the wolf—mid-shift—spun the fool around, and plunged his knife into the SOB’s heart. “Mine,” he whispered into the dying werewolf’s ears. “Mine to keep, mine to protect, mine forever.” He let the guy fall. Then he whirled back to face the others.

  Martin was starting to rise with a groan. A broken neck wouldn’t kill an alpha. The others crawled limply toward him.

  “Mine!” Devereaux blasted at them. “And no one takes what is mine. Not without a war. Be sure you’re ready for that before you come at her or me again.”

  Then—because he hated that Lark’s feet were cold—Devereaux scooped her into his arms once more.

  He rushed down the street, and soon, they were at the limo. Helsing stood by the back door, holding it open for them. Devereaux slid her inside, cradling her carefully. The door slammed behind them. Helsing whistled as he made his way to the front of the vehicle. And then…

 
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