Vampires dead ahead, p.1

Vampires Dead Ahead, page 1

 

Vampires Dead Ahead
 



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Vampires Dead Ahead


  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  PROLOGUE

  ONE

  TWO

  THREE

  FOUR

  FIVE

  SIX

  SEVEN

  EIGHT

  NINE

  TEN

  ELEVEN

  TWELVE

  THIRTEEN

  FOURTEEN

  FIFTEEN

  SIXTEEN

  SEVENTEEN

  EIGHTEEN

  NINETEEN

  TWENTY

  TWENTY-ONE

  TWENTY-TWO

  TWENTY-THREE

  TWENTY-FOUR

  TWENTY-FIVE

  TWENTY-SIX

  TWENTY-SEVEN

  TWENTY-EIGHT

  TWENTY-NINE

  THIRTY

  THIRTY-ONE

  THIRTY-TWO

  THIRTY-THREE

  THIRTY-FOUR

  THIRTY-FIVE

  THIRTY-SIX

  THIRTY-SEVEN

  THIRTY-EIGHT

  THIRTY-NINE

  FORTY

  WELCOME TO NEW YORK CITY’S UNDERWORLD

  St. Martin’s Paperbacks Titles By CHEYENNE McCRAY

  Praise for these other novels from New York Times bestselling author CHEYENNE McCRAY

  FOR CHEYENNE’S READERS

  Copyright Page

  To Mom, with love from your darling dotter.

  ’Tis now the very witching time of night,

  When churchyards yawn, and hell itself breathes out

  Contagion to this world: now could I drink hot blood,

  And do such bitter business as the day

  Would quake to look on.

  —Hamlet, William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

  PROLOGUE

  It was a night made for danger. A night made for passion.

  A night made just for her.

  The sports coupe hugged the street as Monique took the steep San Francisco hill a little too fast. She loved to drive the silver Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. It was impossible to beat human technology despite the norms’ lack of magic.

  Among the Light Elves, Monique was a being of great magic, but she still enjoyed human innovations. Why simply use the transference when she could enjoy the power of her vehicle, the sleek elegance of it.

  Tonight she needed an outlet, and flying through nighttime traffic in this fashion was one of her favorite ways to relax. What she had planned next was an even more exciting way to let herself go.

  It was a chilly January night, a trying night, and the Vampire tragedy she had come upon in the Haight-Ashbury district had topped it off quite unpleasantly. The Soothsayers still had the crime scene frozen until the Paranorm Task Force cleaned up any paranormal aspects of the crime and wiped out the memories of any human witnesses.

  What a great asset to have when trying to keep the general population from freaking out at some of the bizarre sights they saw when paranorms were inhabiting the city with them. Humans would never understand. How could they?

  Monique had barely made it back to her home in time to change into a short, strapless little red dress with a matching jacket that had a mandarin collar. She added decadently high red heels. At her throat and on her ears, wrists, and fingers were glittering diamonds and ruiza/bies mined, fashioned, and warded in the belowground realm of the Dark Elves, in Otherworld.

  Males of every race of beings loved her exotic looks. She’d let her long dark curls float free around her face, hiding the delicate points of her ears.

  Light Elves were generally apathetic when it came to norms and paranorms alike. She and Rodán, however, were among the rare few who believed that their people had a duty to protect those who could not protect themselves. And that included all paranorms as well as norms.

  The majority of U.S. Proctors left most of the dirty work to the Night Trackers. Monique preferred hands-on leadership. That practice and the power of her magic were two reasons she made such a good Proctor and why she was chosen to lead all Peacekeepers in San Francisco. It is also why she had the respect of the Trackers who worked under her.

  Her cell phone purred through the speakers in her car. She glanced at the navigation screen as the caller identification came up. She recognized the number as Rodriguez’s.

  “Answer,” she said out loud, and when she heard the soft click she said to her lead Tracker, “Hi, Michael.”

  “The cleanup on Haight is finished.” Rodriguez’s voice was deep and smooth, like warm caramel, one of her favorite human treats. If she weren’t Rodriguez’s Proctor, she’d have had the Shifter male in her bed already.

  Monique pushed a handful of curls over her shoulder. “Anything else to report?”

  She heard the shrug in Rodriguez’s voice. “The usual. Harley and Jonathan had to rein in a few rogue Werewolves.” Monique glanced up at the full moon as he spoke. “Lee ended up with two of the beasts on her hands.”

  Monique swung the car around a corner and reached the St. Francis Hotel in Union Square. “Great job tonight, every one of you.”

  Rodriguez gave a low laugh. “That’s what you always say, Mo.”

  “Because I have the best Trackers a Proctor could hope for.” Monique smiled, but it faded as she narrowed her brows in concentration. “Let everyone know we’re meeting tomorrow night before you head out to track.”

  “You’ve got it,” he said. “Sweet dreams, Mo.”

  “I’d wish the same for you,” she said, “but I have a feeling you have other things in mind.” Like she did. “Have fun.”

  As Rodriguez ended the call, Monique turned the car into the parking garage of the St. Francis and pulled up to the curb just outside the rear entrance. She opened the sports car’s doors and slipped out her long legs while allowing the attendant to assist her in stepping into the cold.

  Being Elvin she was naturally protected from changes in temperature and from the generally cool environment of San Francisco. She barely noticed the chill night air as it brushed her skin.

  She tipped the man before he valet-parked her car, then gave a slight inclination of her head to the doorman as he held the glass door open for her.

  A brief feeling of guilt made her hesitate when she reached the opulent hotel lobby. How could she have such a fetish, to be with a Vampire?

  Not a real Vampire, of course. She would never choose to be with an actual Vampire, with any being so inherently evil as those creatures.

  But the feeling it gave her to role-play … the feeling of danger and the forbidden. Like a human with a drug addiction, she needed this. Wanted this.

  Monique inhaled, raised her chin, and headed toward the bank of elevators. Nothing wrong with fantasies that didn’t cross the line. She only enjoyed human men dressed up like Vampires.

  The males the agency set her up with regularly were so realistic, down to their scent of dirt and age. It had to be a special cologne designed to make the whole experience that much more intense and satisfying. Whatever it was, it added to the incredible intoxication she felt from these connections.

  Before she pressed the button for the elevator, she drew a heavy cream-colored envelope out of her clutch. Inside the envelope was a keycard as well as a piece of stationery inscribed with a room number. She didn’t really need to, but she checked the paper again.

  Every one of these nights she indulged in something different. Sometimes the evening started at a hotel bar or maybe a coffee shop. At a seemingly chance meeting, she would be approached and engaged in conversation. She loved the natural, realistic cat-and-mouse game that ultimately ended in a luxurious hotel room with her satisfying her lust.

  Tonight was different. She was to go directly to a room. Would there be instructions? Perhaps a
bellman” dropping by for assistance.

  The last time she’d been in the St. Francis was some time ago, and she was pleased to find that tonight’s room was in the original section of the hotel. She loved the decor reminiscent of the hotel’s beginnings.

  Who would it be? She gave a little shiver as she thought of the male who had played Vampire to her last night. It was never the same male who she was set up with, though. Too bad, because last night had been amazing, as she had told the agency. It was so realistic down to the moment when he’d bitten her. She’d felt like she’d been taken by a true Vampire.

  Naughty Mo, she chided herself.

  Elves were elegant, always moving with the fluid grace inherent to their race. Her heels didn’t make a whisper of a sound as she stepped out of the elevator and walked toward the suite that had been arranged for her. When she reached the door, she smiled then slipped the keycard into its slot, heard the click, and pushed open the door.

  The room was dark save for candle flames flickering from every surface. The suite had the heady, sweet smell of roses. Candlelight reflected off at least a dozen vases filled with roses of every color imaginable.

  She wasn’t Drow, of course—the Dark Elves who lived belowground—so her vision wasn’t as acute in the darkness as theirs was. Still, she had little problem taking in everything in the room with a glance.

  Including the man standing in the shadows to her righttheto her . A man dressed in a dark suit, his long black hair flowing over his shoulders but drawn away from his face so that she saw the hard angles and planes of his pale features.

  Her breath caught when her gaze met his, and she was immediately lost in the depth of his glittering black eyes. It was the same man she’d been with last night. That never happened because she always insisted on variety. She didn’t know this male’s name and he didn’t know hers. It was the way she preferred it.

  “I cannot say that I am not pleased it’s you,” she said as she set her red satin clutch on the velvet cushion of a chair near the door. “I enjoyed last night very much.”

  The thrill of her first encounter with him caused a tingling low in her belly. The night had started out in an exclusive club, with him approaching her as a stranger might. It had ended beyond her expectations at the St. Regis Hotel.

  The man smiled, and fangs flashed in the candlelight. So realistic.

  “I am pleased as well.” He moved toward her as he spoke then took her hands in his when he reached her. He dipped his head and kissed her cheek. “It is most welcome to be in your company once again.”

  He even sounded formal, as if he were as old as his scent. If he was a true Vampire, he might have been a Master.

  The male held her at arm’s length and studied her face, lingering at her brown eyes. A little shiver ran through her as he slowly looked down, pausing at her throat before continuing. He trailed his gaze over her firm breasts, the taper at her waist, and down the length of her bare legs to her feet, which were still clad in the high heels. Last night he had wanted her to leave on the stiletto shoes she’d worn.

  What would he want tonight? She knew what she wanted.

  When his eyes met hers again, she swallowed. His gaze immediately dropped to her throat again. She could almost feel his fangs sliding into the vein that pulsed there now, throbbing for his attention.

  “I’m going to take you someplace you will love.” His voice was husky as he moved toward her, so close his chest brushed hers.

  She tilted her head. “We’re not staying here?”

  “I have something special planned for you.” He bent and scraped his fangs down the column of her throat before letting them rest at the vein that pulsed, begging for him. His voice was deep, mesmerizing. “Dare to go with me?”

  Monique let out a soft moan. Her thoughts clouded with desire. “Yes.” Her own voice sounded husky. “I’m ready.”

  Monique peered at the house through the window of the male’s black BMW. He had pulled into the driveway of an incredible Queen Anne Victorian home in Pacific Heights, one of the oldest and most affluent parts of San Francisco.

  It wasn’t possible that an escort could afford such a fabulous place, even to rent. The male must have inherited it, or perhaps borrowed it for the night.

  The darkened house had an almost eerie/spalmost feel to it as he walked her to the front door. He unlocked it then put his hand beneath her jacket at the small of her back and guided her over the threshold.

  It was as dark inside the house as out, and she had to blink a few times before her eyes fully adjusted. The door closed behind them with a thunk that caused her heart to jump.

  “Come.” He took her hand and she let him lead her within the dark house, through an elegant room of Queen Anne furnishings. They continued past a staircase, into a modern-looking kitchen, and up to a door beside a glass-fronted pantry.

  Monique’s heart beat a little faster as he opened the door and gestured for her to walk ahead of him. Through the door she saw a pair of wooden railings and steps leading down to an even deeper darkness. A basement or a cellar perhaps.

  She hesitated. The combination of anxiety and anticipation thrilled her like nothing else. It was all part of the high that drew her in again and again.

  Monique met the male’s black eyes, which almost seemed to glow. No, that was her imagination. Yet they seemed amazingly bright in such dark surroundings.

  She tried to step back but found he had a firm grip on her wrist, which startled her. “Release me.” The last two words sounded deep, throaty as she put magic behind them. Magic meant to command, to be obeyed.

  Instead of releasing her as he should have, though, his lips curved into a sensual smile that reminded her of last night and how good he’d made her feel. So incredibly fabulous. The power she’d put into her voice faded with her words as he brought her to him.

  It was lust for this male. Lust that made all her defenses lie down like newborn pups that didn’t have the strength to protect themselves.

  The male’s gaze was almost hypnotic as he moved closer to her and took her hands in his. He lowered his head and brushed his lips over hers. His mouth was cool, firm, masculine. Monique closed her eyes, and her lips parted to accept his kiss. She breathed in the scent of earth. It was stronger now, and she wondered if it came from the cellar or was entirely him.

  “You will love this.” His breath was cool on her cheek as he moved his mouth to her ear. “I promise you.”

  Monique felt a sense of fuzziness that she’d never experienced before as she walked through the doorway with the male. She didn’t waver on her heels as they walked down the steep staircase together into the dark. Her steps were firm, deliberate, yet silent.

  When they reached the bottom she blinked and narrowed her eyes, trying to make out shapes in what was an enormous basement. She frowned. It looked like rows and rows of coffins. A few steps away one of the coffins was open. It was white with pink satin lining.

  “You have coffins.” Amazing how the agency had taken this to another level, she thought. She played the game. “Why do you have coffins? What is this? It’s beyond freaky.”

  The male’s fangs gleamed white in her vision as he grasped a handful of her curls in his fist. She gasped as he brought her hard up against hgetup agaiim and yanked her head back by her hair.

  “What self-respecting Vampire wouldn’t have coffins in his basement?” he said with a devious smile.

  He moved so fast Monique never had a chance to think about what was happening. She gave a cry as he sank his fangs into the artery in her neck.

  Her mind spun. She wanted to fight but she couldn’t. She felt frozen, unable to move. Instead of the sensual, sexual feeling she’d experienced last night with this lover, she felt light-headed. As if she was truly being drained of her blood.

  As if this was real.

  Monique went limp in his arms. He continued to suck from her, drawing her lifeforce from her through the fluid that gave all beings life.<
br />
  She tried to summon her magic to protect herself, but it was a vague attempt. As if she was poking at the male with a stick and hitting stone instead of a flesh-and-blood being.

  The room seemed to spin as he raised his head and smiled. Blood coated his fangs. Real blood. Her blood.

  “What …” The words came out as a forced whisper “ … did you do to me?”

  “My lovely Monique.” The male spoke her name as if it were a beautiful treasure.

  Confusion piled on top of confusion. “My name … how do you know?”

  “I know much about you, Monique,” he murmured as he nuzzled her hair and breathed in her scent.

  Her skin felt cold and her mind numb, as if she were trapped in a fall of snow, her body heat evaporating with every minute that passed.

  “I do what I must for the survival of my people.” The male kissed the skin along her jaw. “You have now been bitten twice. With the second bite, you become one of us.”

  Realization came to her but it was far too late. “You are a real Vampire,” she said slowly, her tongue feeling almost too thick to speak.

  “And when you wake, so shall you be.” He raised his head and smiled. He still supported her limp body with one arm. He ran his fingers down her neck with his free hand. The place he’d bitten her tingled and burned. “A powerful Elvin Vampire, like no being ever known before.”

  “Elvin Vampire.” The desire to giggle rose up inside her but she was too weak. “There is no such thing.”

  “In ten days there will be.” The male scooped her up in his arms.

  Her head lolled to the side as he cradled her to his chest. He carried her the short distance to the white coffin with the pale pink satin lining.

  She thought she caught the scent of a human—but that was absurd. Why would a human be with her and her Vampire lover?

  Dimly she was aware that he was setting her down inside the coffin. When she lay on the plumped satin, her head resting on a small pillow, she stared up at him. “Who are you?”

  Triumph mixed with malice flashed across his striking features as he crouched beside her. He gripped the lid of the coffin. “My name is Volod,” he said right before he slammed the lid shut.

 
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