Dimitri Arsov, the last remaining pure vampire, was thought to be dead for the past four hundreds years. Now, he is back and has a score to settle with the traitor that had tried to kill him centuries ago. But as he waits for his prey to blindly step into his carefully laid trap, his overwhelming hunger for blood is triggered when he saves a beautiful art historian.
Kerstyn Ingmar’s life was normal and straight up boring until the night she is rescued by the dangerously sexy, powerfully mesmerizing, Dimitri. Unable to resist his diamond blue eyes and intense kisses, she is drawn into his world of darkness and closer to her impending doom.
While their desire consumes them, Dimitri is haunted by images of a bloody and deadly future. As his enemies draw near, he must find a way to save his mate from her destiny before fate destroys them both.
EXCERPTThe pounding of the bass and the high pitch sound of techno was all that could be heard in the club. Bright spotlights roamed, flowing like waves over the sea of people dancing mindlessly to the music.
Turning from the window, Gabriel Erhard reclaimed his seat behind his massive, mahogany desk. He roughly ran his hand through his short hair before turning his gaze back to the vampire nonchalantly reclining across from him.
He struggled to believe what he was seeing. It was strange to think that an hour ago he had been sitting in this exact spot reminiscing about the first day he had met Dimitri and now the murdered vampire was here, in his office.
“Four hundred years.”
Chills shook Gabriel’s entire body just as they had when Dimitri had materialized in his office. He had once believed he would never again hear that smooth, controlled, regal voice.
“To the day,” Gabriel added.
“I thought the anniversary of my death would be the best day to reenter vampire society.”
“I think it will take me four hundred years to get over my shock.”
“I thought you were going to faint.”
“If it were possible for us to faint, I would’ve.”
Dimitri laughed, his fangs flashing for the briefest of moments. Gabriel once again was stunned into silence. How could this be happening? How could Dimitri Arsov, who was murdered ages ago, be sitting in his office? Was this all a hallucination? Had he gone insane? Gabriel never thought he would join Hadrian, the mad, exiled king, but now he wasn’t so sure.
“You are not crazy,” Dimitri said with a smile, reading his friend’s troubled thoughts.
“That’s comforting,” Gabriel sighed as he leaned forward, resting his elbows on the desk. “How is this possible?”
“It’s all really simple, I was never murdered.”
“I don’t understand. Why would you fake your death?”
Dimitri’s eyes turned cold and penetrating. “My reasons will reveal themselves.”
Gabriel slammed his hand on the desk and laughed, “Damn, you haven’t changed a bit! You are as cryptic as ever.”
“You would not want to tempt Fate by knowing her plans.”
Gabriel shrugged, stood, and headed for the bar. He was itching for a drink.
“I have one more question for you. Why did you come here, to Vegas?”
Dimitri waited for Gabriel to finish pouring his brandy to answer, “There are many reasons behind my decision for coming to your city. One of which is that I can trust you. As you know, this country belongs to the shape-shifting breed and the Outcast Society. You, my friend, I know are loyal. Do not worry, your secret is safe with me.” He chuckled at Gabriel’s sharp look. “I will not tarnish your reputation by assigning you admirable qualities.”
Dimitri smiled and continued, “Most of the chieftains remain in the old countries with only colonies here in the States. My Clan, however, is the exception. Ven has been slowly moving my people for the last fifty years.”
“Yes, it’s common knowledge that he and Boras are working together to form a vampire stronghold in the U.S. Boras is uniting the outcasts. He hopes to form his own Clan one day.” Gabriel took a swig of brandy and scoffed, “They’re idiots.”
Dimitri shrugged. “I have been in America a little over a hundred years, watching Ven’s every move and learning the ways of the mortals’ ever-changing culture. I have been waiting for the perfect moment to make my presence known and it has arrived.”
“I don’t suppose you will tell me what makes this moment in time so special.”
Dimitri shook his head.
“I’ll find out.” Gabriel took another drink. “Damn! I can’t wait to see the look on Ven’s arrogant face when he sees you.”
“Yes, it will be most satisfactory.”
Gabriel almost choked on his shock. “Are you telling me you don’t want revenge? The vampire hired a witch to kill you so he could claim your throne.”
“I never said I did not desire revenge.” He leaned forward in his seat. “Kal did something similar to Dorian, if you recall.”
“And Dorian killed the son of a bitch.”
“My point is, Dorian did not go to his home bent on revenge. He went to reclaim his crown and save his wife, Victoria,” Dimitri said.
Gabriel set his glass on the bar. “How is it that you know so much about what’s happened? You’ve been out of circulation for four centuries.”
“After my battle with Red, I went underground, literally. Over time, my powers grew. I awoke from my deep slumber in 1896, yet, I know all that has happened within our world of darkness since the time of my ‘death’.”
Gabriel was not surprised by Dimitri’s vague answer. “You let us believe, for centuries, that you were dead,” he poured himself more brandy, “Your passing left scars on many warriors’ hearts.”
Dimitri’s eyes dropped and Gabriel froze. Was it shame that made him look away?
“I know, and for that, I am deeply sorry,” his fingers gripped the arms of his chair, his knuckles white, “but I had to do it.” His eyes shot back up and Gabriel shook from the force of his all-knowing gaze. “Believe me, the world is better off because of my demise.”
“I find that hard to believe, but if you say it, then it must be true.” Gabriel took another drink. “Where are you staying?”
Dimitri visibly relaxed and welcomed the change in subject. “I have purchased a house outside the city.”
“Are you staying there alone?”
“For the moment. I will have a companion, a ‘roommate’ soon.”
Gabriel sucked in a sharp breath. “A human?”
Dimitri inclined his head.
“That’s even more dangerous than you living alone. They are weak-minded creatures and can’t be trusted.”
“I can handle myself.”
“You know that isn’t what I meant.” He drained his glass, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. “You are more than welcome to stay at my hotel.”
“Thank you for the offer, but I like my home.”
“The thought of you out there alone makes me uncomfortable. Although, I am thankful there aren’t many hunters in my city. They know to leave my territory alone.”
Dimitri slowly turned his head to the side and, for the first time, gazed out the one-way window, his eyes scanning the dance floor below. He stood in one quick, smooth movement. Gabriel had not seen him move.
“There is some place I need to be.” He shrugged into his heavy, rich, black coat. “I will be stopping by later in the week. It is time I stop living in secret.”
“Should I throw you a coming-out party?”
Pausing at the door, Dimitri chuckled, “I think I can make do without one.”
Gabriel filled his glass once more and took in a deep breath as his office door closed.
Dimitri is alive.
Kerstyn fought her way through the mass of people. Denise had texted her, demanding she come home, something had happened. All kinds of horrible images played in her head as she struggled to gain her freedom. The apartment could have caught fire, someone could have broken in, or worse. She had to stay calm. It couldn’t be as terrible as she was imagining. Or it could be good news. Maybe Denise had finally broken up with Bobby. Denise had refused to go to the club, claiming she and Bobby had something important to discuss.
She smiled as she recalled what happened earlier that day. The pig had thought he was being sneaky while spying on her in the shower, but she spotted him in the mirror. She threw the shampoo bottle as hard as she could and laughed until her sides hurt when it nailed him in the head.
He deserved worse, she thought with an evil grin.
She finally broke free of the crowd and ran up the steps to the exit. Slipping between the two monstrous bouncers guarding the entrance to Dark, she rushed down the street. She had to find a cab. She hated being without her car, but she and her friends had all planned on drinking tonight.
Kerstyn began to walk down the street hoping a taxi would drive by or maybe she could get one at a hotel. The sound of footsteps thudding behind her sliced through her thoughts. Glancing over her shoulder, she groaned. The three men who had been trying to pick up on her and her friends in the club were following her. Apparently, they didn’t know what “not interested” meant. She hated persistent out-of-towners who strongly believed in the “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” motto.
She crossed the street and quickened her pace when they followed. Her heart began to pound as her eyes darted across the parking lot searching for a cab. It was unlike cabbies to not be circling the area on a Friday night. She looked back again; the men were getting closer.
Kerstyn headed toward the mob of people standing outside the line of bars. She got tangled in one group of drunks. Once free, she glanced back. The men were closer. Not knowing what else to do, she rounded the corner. Kerstyn’s breath came hard and fast as she ran down the alley. She wished she had not worn her tallest heels. Her feet screamed with every step and sent painful shocks up her calves.
“Quit being a tease, honey,” one called out.
The men’s laughter echoed in her ears, they were getting closer. She tried to run faster, but her shoes would not allow it. One stiletto snapped and she went crashing to the ground. Panic choked her as she scrambled to her feet. Her heart thundered in her ears as she began to run again. There was one right behind her; she could hear his breathing and feel his menacing presence.
She took a deep breath, preparing to scream just as a meaty, cold hand clamped over her mouth.
“You smell so sweet, little redhead,” he hissed in her ear, “a delectable strawberry treat.”
Kerstyn blindly fought, striking out behind her. She kicked back and slammed the heel of her foot into her attacker’s groin. He released her and crumpled to the ground. Without looking back, she sprinted down the ally. The other men ran after her, shouting threats and taunts. Grasping, greedy fingers brushed the back of her jacket. She swung around. Hands fisted, ready to defend herself, and froze.
They were gone. All of her would-be rapists had vanished.
“Are you all right?” a man asked from behind her.
She relaxed when she realized the voice sounded nothing like her attackers; it was warm, deep, and comforting.
Slowly turning toward the voice, relief flooded her body, her breathing began to slow, and her limbs went limp. She stumbled and prepared to meet the pavement again, but her rescuer caught her. He tenderly held her to him, supporting her. Kerstyn knew she ought to protest and shove him away, he was a stranger after all, but his touch was soothing and reassuring. She had never felt so safe and calm in her life.
Calm was the furthest thing from her savior’s mind.
Dimitri had heard the vampires’ thoughts as they followed the woman from Dark. He knew he had to protect her from the depraved creatures who intended to make a meal out of her. When he materialized in the alley, the weaker vampires caught his scent and fled, leaving him alone with the woman. Instead of feeling anger as he expected, an entirely different emotion settled over him.
Lust. It was no ordinary lust, but a heart racing, blood raging, sexual yearning and it turned his body into a blazing inferno of need. Then hunger like he had never known slammed into him. It gnawed at him relentlessly as it mixed with his unmerciful lust. The torturous combination attacked both his body and his mind. He had never wanted any woman with this kind of intensity.
His body had been dead for so long, no longer responding to sexual stimulus or blood-thirst. Thousands of years had passed since the last time he had fed. The desire and necessity for blood had abandoned him. None of that seemed to matter now. His fangs sprang free as his pants grew tighter about his throbbing shaft. This woman’s blood sang to him, beckoned him to have a taste.
Dimitri ruthlessly fought the temptation to seize her mind and take what he wanted. The dread of not being able to pull away terrified him. Realizing what precious little control he had, he shut down his senses, driving away her intoxicating scent and the warmth of her soft body against his. He forced the color from his sight, only seeing in black and white with shades of gray. Though he knew he would never forget the light fragrance of her strawberry blonde hair, the feel of her in his arms, and the sapphire color of her eyes.
He took in deep breaths and focused on the cool bite of the air. It washed over his body, rinsing away his desire leaving him as always, cold and unfeeling, like death. He was death: a true, pureblood vampire.
“What were you running from?” he asked, his tone controlled.
“I was being followed.”
He peered over her head, his eyes scanning the alley. “I see no one.”
Nausea twisted her insides as she thought of what almost happened. Thank God, this man was here. If it weren’t for him–
“Do not think about it,” he said, his arms tightening about her. “You are safe now.”
She nodded, rubbing her cheek against his chest. He smelled absolutely wonderful, like dark spices. His voice felt like velvet brushing along her skin. She shivered and sighed in contentment.
“Do you need help with anything?”
His last question snapped her back into action. She stepped back, breaking the circle of his arms.
“I need a taxi.”
“A simple enough task,” he said with a shrug.
She scoffed. If it were simple, she would have been half way home by now. She turned her head up intending to face him and a broad chest greeted her eyes. She was forced to take another step back in order to get a proper look at him.
He was huge. Thick. Stacked.
He must be close to seven feet, she thought as her eyes traveled up his torso, over his wide chest, to his face.
Her heart stopped when their eyes met. They were a near colorless shade of blue. Like diamonds. His gaze was sharp, hard, filled with wisdom and strength. Intense. Warrior eyes. Yet, he could not be much older than her, around twenty-six. His golden hair glittered from the light of the neon signs and floated about his shoulders. His face was chiseled and impossibly perfect. His lips were full and Kerstyn wanted nothing more than to feel them against hers. Her eyes traveled back down his hard, honed body.
She stood, rooted to the cement, captivated by the Norse god before her.
Damn, he’s incredibly yummy.
Dimitri forced himself to remain still while she studied him. Again, he struggled against his urges, his heart thundering from the force of the shock of desire that still echoed in his mind.
He knew one day he would meet his mate, but he had underestimated the force of her seductiveness. He never expected she would spark such yearning deep within his soul. He wondered how Dorian had dealt with such overwhelming need when he had found his intended. Dorian had been the first and, until now, only vampire king to find his other half.
Dimitri’s breath caught as her small, pink tongue wet her lips and her sensual thoughts invaded his mind.
She had to go.
He forced the sexual haze from his thoughts, locking it away.
He waved his hand in the air and a cab promptly came to a stop at the curb of the outlet of the ally. He opened the door and Kerstyn slipped inside, her eyes never leaving his face.
“Goodnight, miss,” he said.
Kerstyn was unable to speak.
This was it. Their brief meeting was at a close. She didn’t want it to end, she felt like asking him to get drinks, to come home with her, to spend the rest of his life with her.
She smiled at her foolish thoughts as the cab pulled away. She had more important things to worry about just now.