A NightWalkers Novel
Copyright 2017 Nikki Landis
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Table of Contents
by Nikki Landis
Death is not final.
In our last moments on
this earth we come face to face with the possibility that it was all
a terrible lie. Our years of living, for better or for worse, dictate
the reality of where we move on. Heaven? Hell? Nothing? What if
everything just ends?
What if it doesn’t?
We are preached at and
warned from the moment we can draw breath. Make good choices. Live a
good life. Treat others how you are supposed to be treated,
treat others as you would like to be treated. Give back to
society. Choose words that bring friendship instead of words that
Religion preaches that
we need forgiveness. We are fallible. Sinners from birth. Doomed
unless we accept the truth. Invite God into your heart and spread
word of your salvation. Follow the commandments, read the bible, go
to church every Sunday. How can you be a good person if you don’t
follow all the rules?
What if it was all
What if every thought,
every rule, every dictate was just the idea of someone else? A person
who wanted nothing more than to laugh at the idea that we are
gullible and easily influenced creatures of habit and pathetic
yearning? Would it change your mind? Would you do what you wanted to
do, what you do anyway, without guilt?
If that is all true,
then where does that leave us? Where do we go when we die? If we knew
for sure that nothing awaited us, that nothing we did mattered in
this life, that no repercussions and no rewards awaited us in the
next life, what would you do?
As I draw in my final
breath I cling to the thought that life must have some sort of
purpose. I can’t accept anything else. I can’t believe I will
fade to dust and this is it. I can’t conceive or wrap my head
around the idea that my soul will suddenly perish…and nothing
Death is not final…
real. They exist. In the deepest darkest dungeons, the hidden alcoves
and creepy corridors of the night, and in your nightmares, both
conscious and unconscious. They lurk, cloaked in shadow and mystery,
waiting for the moment of total surprise.
They feed. They suck.
They pierce the thin layers of epidermis, straight down to the
artery. In giddy excitement they yearn for the rich flow of crimson
euphoria to burst upon their tongue. Like sharks in a feeding frenzy
they circle their prey, singularly focused on their yearning.
the bitter metallic taste of human blood. Its scent drives them wild,
almost in desperation to consume until they are sated. A burning need
that propels and drives their raging thirst.
Cursed to walk the
endless night they hunt for their next victim, fangs of simultaneous
death and pleasure ready to sink into your quivering flesh. An
aphrodisiac of intense desire and total abandonment of your will.
Your senses come alive, driven by the sudden flash of liquid heat and
an orgasmic burst of undeniable ecstasy.
But it is a lie. You
will die. You are already dying and in a few minutes you will know
your doom is forever sealed. The ease and peaceful blanket of the
compulsion will pull you into a sordid embrace, force you under a
false sense of security, until you are released or bled dry.
Every last drop of your
It is this precise
moment that the shocking and brutal truth awakens your tingling
senses. You scream. You fall to the ground. You clutch with desperate
fingers at the torn and jagged edges of your carotid artery, but
nothing will stop the final beats of your shocked and empty heart.
You have been depleted.
I have seen the
creatures of darkness that own the night. I have witnessed the horror
and awe of their power, of a super human strength and agility, of
eyes that burn in fiery haze, and the vicious monster always lurking
within. I have walked among them, lifted my arms in supplication, and
I have surrendered my will, all in the name of love.
My life is not my own.
I have given it over, willingly, to the man who is the father of my
unborn child. I fell in love with him almost instantly, the second he
saved my life from a terrible fate. If not for him, I would have
perished, numerous times, before now.
It was Andre who
appeared in my apartment on that fateful night, when the Boraggio
brothers had put a hit on my life. Andre who ended the pitiful
existence of two evil men. I would have been attacked and killed for
witnessing a murder and the men who committed the horrendous crime.
My mother’s murder.
And then I was almost
killed again. A car bomb, beneath my new car, the very next day.
Andre saved me again.
In a flash of secrecy
in the dead of night he whisked me away, to the underground catacombs
of St. Martin’s Cathedral, where the lair of the vampyre
brethren had been hidden for centuries. Andre petitioned the
council for the right to protect me. Fighting for the chance to save
me, he was nearly refused.
I met Diana that night.
The woman who attacked me on multiple occasions, almost succeeding in
her attempt to destroy me. Andre had defeated her but it cost him.
Both of us actually. I nearly died again, to save him from such deep
wounds that without my blood he could have perished. The cost of
giving so much of my blood had robbed me to the point of near death.
We had broken up twice
during that time. The first because Andre insisted it was the only
way to save me. He had been deceived. It was a lie. The second time
was our pride.
Out of the despair and
agony of separation we had found each other again. One amazing night,
desperate to unite us, Andre had made love to me and then bonded my
soul to his. From that love and commitment I became pregnant. Only
six weeks later did I find out when I awakened to terrible morning
Andre does not know
about the pregnancy. He knows nothing of where I am or how I am
doing. For weeks I have been trying to reach him from a burner cell
phone in a frightened attempt to locate him and meet. I hear nothing.
I know nothing.
The last time we
separated I had asked him to compel me to forget. If I could not live
with the man I loved, then I did not want to remember him at all. It
was too painful. He thought for weeks it had worked. I lit a candle
by my bedside every night but he did not return to me. Not once.
Then the morning of a
gorgeous sunrise he contacted me. Through our shared bond I knew the
danger he warned me was coming. Death. It sought me. In revenge
Cristo hunted me. Andre’s sire, a man as close to him as his own
father, had betrayed him.
And now he wanted me.
It had been weeks now
of running, moving from city to city, hotel to hotel, always on the
go, never settling for more than a few days at a time. At first I
contemplated running away alone but I could never leave Michael. Now
that I was pregnant, I needed him more than ever.
Michael did not
understand. He was not a part of that world and I did not want him to
be. Danger and death accompanied me wherever I went. My eyes darted
constantly into the shadows. I was never safe. I never would be,
until Andre returned to me.
“Mare, honey, won’t
you please tell me what is going on? Don’t you think we have run
long enough?” He made yet another attempt to find out the truth.
“No,” I insisted,
“not until I hear from Andre.”
That was my one hope.
My lifeline. Andre had broken through the supposed compulsion, which
never took place, even as he thought it did, to warn me.
I was in terrible
Running for weeks had
not lessened that danger.
For that few fleeting
seconds, through the bond, I had felt everything. Andre’s
deep and abiding love. His fierce protectiveness. His desire and need
for me. His determination to bring us back together.
strength of his love and emotion had forced me to my knees that
morning. Standing on my fifth floor balcony, overlooking the city
skyline, I had watched the most beautiful sunrise I had ever seen. My
hands on my lower belly, excited and scared about the news of my
pregnancy, I had stood in awe, desperate to feel my connection to
A connection so strong
and undeniable it owned me.
I had not felt it
The bond had protected
me when I almost died saving Andre after Diana’s attack. The bond
had refused to give in to the compulsion, keeping us together, even
when we did not comprehend. The bond had created a new life within
me. And it was the bond, strong and unbreakable inside me, that kept
me and the baby alive each day.
Michael begged, his eyes falling on my belly. “Whatever is
happening, I can handle it.”
Of course he could. The
point was not whether he could handle the existence of NightWalkers,
it was the danger and certain death that accompanied the knowledge.
“I cannot tell you Michael.”
He sighed. “I hate
this. Where is Andre? How the hell could he knock up my sister and
walk way? I’ll kill his dumb ass.”
The corners of my mouth
twitched. Michael would do no such thing. I had heard this exact
statement at least fifty times now. “Oh stop. I need you as much as
I need Andre.”
He rolled his eyes.
“Yeah, look where that got you.”
I rubbed my belly
affectionately. “With someone new to love. Isn’t it wonderful?”
His eyes softened and
landed on my stomach. “Yes. I can’t wait to teach him how to play
ball.” Michael was a huge sports nut. Anything from football to
baseball to soccer. He also loved extreme sports. In his spare time
he fought MMA and boxed. I was, unfortunately, quite used to seeing
him injured and in a hospital bed.
Our mother used to
cringe at his exploits.
“My perfect little
son,” I whispered, and then he kicked me.
Strong and healthy,
with a fierce personality like his father, I already knew much about
my unborn child. At twelve weeks I should be only beginning to show
and feel the baby but I was similar to twenty weeks or more in my
gestational size and the baby’s growth and movement.
“Oh,” I gasped when
he kicked again.
“What is it?”
Michael jumped up, placing his hand on my stomach.
Another kick, this one
larger than the last two. “Wow.” Michael’s eyes widened. “Does
I shook my head as
tears sprang to my eyes. “No, it’s wonderful.”
He noticed the tears.
“Are you alright?”
“Oh Michael, I’m so
afraid. I just want Andre.”
“I know,” he
whispered as he hugged me close against his side. “He’ll come. If
I know anything, its Andre loves you. Whatever is happening, he will
come for you.”
“When?” I asked, as
my hands smoothed over my belly.
“When he can. He
would be here now if he could. I’m certain of it.”
So was I. That was the
problem. Where was Andre?
I wish I knew.
I own the night.
I am the darkness. I am the horror of a twisted reality, the
rhythmic pulse of a rapid heartbeat, the taut muscular flesh of a
monster, and the sudden bump you hear in the night. Hiding in the
shadows like a cobra about to strike, I will launch forward and
attack when you are most unaware.
I am a cold blooded
killer, sent to defile you, ready to rip your mortal flesh to shreds.
If you are lucky I will drain you dry before I end your pitiful
existence quickly. Born and bred for destruction, forever linked to
the monster who rages within, a savage who survives on the blood of
mortal man, I will use my thousand years of experience to lure you.
Under a false sense of security you will give me what I desire and
you will not resist. I will woo you as a long lost lover, my
seduction complete, and then you will die.
I have taken hundreds
before you and I will drain hundreds more. You are but a body, a
means to satiate my hunger, and I do not care what form of resistance
you conjure. I will have my way. I will drink. I will pierce your
artery and I will feed until nothing of you remains.
My only thought and my
only desire is my need. I must feed. I must fill the holes
inside me, empty and lost, with the bitter crimson metallic fluid
that makes up my existence.
My singular drive and
focus. A never ending cycle of feeding and killing, I do not care
whose life I take. I do not care whose neck I pierce. I do not care
if they fight or scream or beg. Nothing deters me from my goal.
Nothing and no one can stop me.
The monster inside me
is angry. He lurks within, pacing like a caged lion. I rage against
this body that confines me. I rage against the knowledge that I am
forever cursed and doomed to walk the night. I rage against the agony
and torture of the loss that consumes me, second only to my
I rage and I howl, I
fight and I claw, I sneer and I battle, at the savage being I have
I loved once.
I had a name once.
I cared about humanity.
I cared about my fate. I cared about the prospect of redeeming my
And then everything was
My love, my mate and my
child, my entire reason for living, are dead. My unborn son. My
beautiful darling Mare. Lost to me forever.
I will have my revenge.
I will rip Cristo to shreds. He will regret the day he took what is
mine. He will regret the moment we met. He will fear my name. He will
fear the hour of my dark vengeance. Only then will I seek the
ultimate death. Only then will I be free…
My name used to be
A name that I
remembered. A name that will now only cause terror.
I used to have a
purpose. I used to share a bond. I used to love.
Now I am primal.
I rage! I destroy! I
I will hunt you.
And you will not
The darkness of the
night enshrouds me, a gentle loving embrace, a cocoon of protection,
as if the cool ebony air had physical arms that could reach out and
hold me near. I close my eyes, a gentle breeze caressing my face. I
know a moment of peace and surrender, of heat and swift yearning, of
sacrifice and long suffering. The feelings are as much my own as the
darkness and the wind. They are lovers. They meet each night,
touching and arousing, kissing and pleasing, a passionate longing to
make love for hours, until the dawn rises to separate.
I understood that
longing. I lived for the moment my lover would return to me. The
second our lips would meet in a fire that consumes even as it brings
warmth. A match that lights, blazing high on the current of lust and
desire. The minute our fingers would glide over taut flesh, lingering
on the smooth muscle and heated skin, aching to feel my lover’s
We were like the wind
and the darkness, my Andre and me. We met in the secret of night.
Made love in the hours of early morn. Hid in the safety of each
other’s arms, locked our eyes, and buried our souls in the cavern
of two lonely hearts, until our bodies had come alive with passion.
We defied the light and the sunrise. We refused to separate, to
conform, and to be anything other than what we needed to be.
What we were always
meant to be.
And then we bonded.
I remembered every
detail. The gentleness of Andre’s touch. The kisses that drove me
wild. The friction of our body heat and the lingering scent of sweat
and desire. The perfect plunge of pleasure and the ecstasy of his
strong embrace. Every second our bodies joined, I had imprinted on my
heart and in my head. The memories never left me. They surfaced
almost every hour.
My heart clenched.
Where was Andre? His
absence did not make sense. If he knew I was in danger, if he warned
me, why was I still running? Why had he not returned to me?
Through the bond we
could sense and find each other. He described to me about the uniting
of our souls, how this bond defied logic and sense, how it combined
our flesh. We were one. One heart that functioned for two. One mind
that reasoned for two. One set of lungs that breathed for the two
beings that lived only for one another.
And now the two had
I opened the link,
searching again for his presence. Nothing. I had been searching for
weeks. Whenever I was alone I opened that connection and sent my love
in waves toward him. I never heard a response. I never felt anything.
I never received an acknowledgment or proof of his existence.
I was frightened.
In front of Michael I
remained strong. I pretended that everything was fine but I was
worried. Panic erupted in my chest. Was he dead? Had Cristo killed
him? Had I lost my love and my soulmate?
As unsure as I was, I
did not doubt that he was alive. The bond held strong. Nothing broke
or interrupted the continuous feeling of warmth, security, and love
that radiated within me. If Andre was dead or destroyed, would I
know? Wouldn’t I feel it?
My little son kicked
inside my womb. Instinctively my hands rose in protection, sliding
over my rounded belly. “Andre,” I whispered, agonized, “return
to me. Please.”
Tears filled my eyes,
spilling down my cheeks. I did not have the heart to brush them away.
“Mare, don’t cry
alone. Don’t do that when I am here.” Michael was behind me. His
voice broke the silence. When I turned, his eyes held not only
concern but worry.
shoulders slumped forward and I began to cry harder.
surrounded me. My brother was built like a professional wrestler,
wide and stocky, full of solid muscle. Growing up in the Bronx, he
had learned young how to defend both of us. “There now,” he
soothed, “everything happens as it should.”
I began to sob with his
words, remembering the last time he said that exact phrase, when
Andre had left me, broken up with me, and I thought my life was over.
Time had not changed
the course I was on.
Pain radiated in my
chest. My heart aching with the thought that I might never see him
again. How did I raise a son on my own?
I knew nothing of the
being my child would become. Immortal for certain but would he feed
as vampyre or as a human? Would he live a long life? Would he
have a soul, or was it lost to him because of his father’s
immortality? How did I provide blood for his sustenance without
encouraging him to pierce the necks of humans?
“Nothing is simple
“I know honey.” He
took a deep breath and released it. He was struggling to comfort me
without betraying his anger and frustration. “I wish it was.” He
hugged me tighter. “It could be. If you opened up to me.”
“I can’t,” I
whispered. Dare I tell him the truth? What would he think?
“We don’t have the
luxury of excuses or denial any longer Mare. You must tell me what is
going on. There’s no other choice.”
“Once you know you
“See? That’s enough
of an answer to convince me that I need to know everything.” He
leaned back and tilted my chin up so our eyes met. “I’m not
letting this go. You need to tell me. Now.”
“You won’t believe
“I bet I do,” he
“Mare.” He was not
letting it go this time.
His weather blown face,
years of fishing on the crab boats and extreme sports aging him, was
tired. I realized for the first time the toll my silence was taking
“Andre is a vampire.”
There. I said it. Out
loud. For the first time in my life, to anyone other than myself.
Michael sounded way too
I nodded. “Yes.” My
eyes searched his for a confirmation or denial. Something. Some kind
Michael laughed. Hard.
He burst out laughing, clutching his sides, and shaking his head. I
think he might be crazy. Maybe I pushed him over the edge.
“That,” he gasped,
hardly able to hold in his mirth, “is the most amazing and
outlandish thing I have ever heard.” He kept laughing, shaking his
head again. “And it makes total and complete sense.”
“You believe me?” I
“Of course. My sister
falls in love with a vampire and is having his baby. It makes perfect
sense.” The humor left his eyes replaced by a cold and calculating
look. “If he comes near you at all, I will have to kill him.”
No idle threat this
time. He meant every word. “You can’t really kill a vampire
He let go of me and
began to pace the room. “That’s a lie. There are ways. I’ll
find out and I’ll make sure he never hurts you ever again.”
What in the world was
he talking about?
“Michael, I think mom
actually did drop you on your head too many times as a baby.”
I folded my arms across my chest but I did not have the same look of
displeasure as I had intended. My belly was far too big.
He smirked. “A
vampire seduced my sister.” The look died on his face replaced with
rage. “He left you, alone, pregnant with his child. The man is
immortal Mare. If he wanted to be here, if he cared, if he wanted to
be a father to this child, he would be here Mare.”
through me. Was Michael right? Had Andre sent me away, only to have
me removed from his immediate hunting grounds and out of his way? Did
he ever love me at all? Or had I been seduced, used, and left behind?
Sent away? Discarded and forgotten, shoved aside as he found someone
else? Did he want another lover?
I sank to my knees
without realizing it. “Michael?”
I could hardly breathe.
My chest felt tight, like it might explode. Spots danced on the
peripheral of my vision. Little white lights danced and zipped around
as an icy chill ran down my spine followed by a flash of liquid heat.
“I can’t breathe,”
I whispered, as he ran to me, catching me before I hit my head.
“Shhh, calm down
Mare. I’m sorry honey, relax.” He cradled my head and then
managed a tight lipped smile. “You must breathe for my little man
in there. He needs you. We both need you.” His voice
faltered as my eyes fluttered.
whispered, “we have to find him.”
I never heard his
reply. The stress and shock of his words and the very idea that Andre
could leave me, left me weak and drained. I retreated, into the
corridors of my mind, where pain, doubt, and hurt could not reach me.
I did not want to
consider any of those ideas were true.
I took a deep breath
and released it, numb, as sleep carried me away.
Crouching, all of his
senses on high alert, Andre turned his head and listened. A heartbeat
had caught his attention, faint, like the sound of a small deer.
Growling low in his throat, excited by the prospect of such
adventurous prey, he stalked the sound in the quiet night.
No other noises, even
the occasional car or voices from the numerous bars below, were
noticed. He honed in on that one perfect sound. The high frequency,
fast, like the flap of a hummingbird’s wings, called to him. Moving
with a stealth that would frighten humans, he crept along the roof of
adjoining apartment buildings. The sound became stronger with every
step he took.
He was close.
Stopping, as if to
survey his surroundings, he raised his head. There was a scent on the
wind. Pure. Rose petals. Coconut.
His libido was aroused
along with his senses. No ordinary woman. No everyday scent. She was
unique. Special. He instantly wanted to find her, torn between the
sweet sound of the innocent heartbeat and the seductive scent of
distended as he ran his tongue over them. Whoever this female was, he
wanted her. He laughed lightly, the monster within echoing a
sardonic sound that would have caused fear in any human foolish
enough to come close. He had not wanted a female in a long time.
In the back of his mind
lingered a memory.
Andre had loved. He had
been loved in return. A perfect night of lovemaking, of a woman so
beautiful she stole the breath from his body, and an experience of
connection so strong his entire frame shook with the memory.
Dark hair, with red
highlights, long and silky, fell to her waist. Delicate cheekbones, a
beguiling smile, and lips as red as a rose. Her eyes. Such beautiful
and haunting eyes. They searched for him, reached out to him, and
claimed him in the night, no matter how far he tried to run. And her
figure. Curvy. Hourglass. Perfect.
Who was this mystery
Mare. His eyes widened.
With a cry he fell to
his knees, as a heartrending pain and anguish grabbed hold of him,
nearly forcing him to rip his beating heart from his chest in an
attempt to stop feeling. His beloved Mare. Pregnant. She carried his
son. Oh the joy that burst through his chest. The depth of love and
desire, of completeness and passion. His reason for living. His Mare.
And then Andre had
The precise moment that
Cristo told him of her death and suffering. He had sliced her throat
open, watching the lifeblood ooze out of her, dripping to the ground,
as she died a slow and painful death. He bragged. He laughed in
triumph when Andre roared and broke free of the guards.
No death blow had
landed, not that day. The beast within him, chained and controlled
before that moment, had burst forth in unparalleled anger and
vengeance. Cristo had been shocked at his reaction, certain he would
subdue Andre easily. The monster killed everyone in the room
instantly, leaving only Cristo, in mere seconds.
Andre wanted to kill
him but stopped, knowing his revenge had to be carefully planned.
Sironi burst into the forgotten chambers, calling for Cristo’s
arrest but he escaped. Chaos ensued. Dozens of vampyre brethren
were injured, several more killed.
It was anarchy.
For weeks Andre
searched for Cristo but was unable to locate him. During those weeks
of solitude he refused to meet with Sironi, heartbroken and
devastated. Instead, he walked the night. A shadow in darkness. He
fed. He hunted. And slowly he became the recluse and ravaging raging
monster of his nightmares.
His heart lurched
Rage filled his whole
body. The beast within, hungry and hurting, caged and wild, wanted
unleashed. It had been this way for months now. Whenever Andre
remembered Mare the devastation of her death consumed him, and he
gave himself over to his monster, letting the creature rule him until
coherent thought no longer existed.
The beast was
insatiable. Dangerous and reckless. Thirsty and lost. Nothing of
Andre had remained behind for long weeks afterward.
He had searched Mare’s
apartment, but found no trace of her or Michael. Desperate, he
searched for her all over the city but there was no sign of the
siblings. They had simply vanished.
Or they were taken.
It was then Andre
realized Cristo had told the truth. His Mare was gone. His son was
gone. His life, his reason for living, his very heart had been ripped
As he gazed up at the
moon his entire body trembled with emotion. He had to rein it in.
Sironi warned him more human deaths would cause suspicion. Andre
would be imprisoned if he did not gain control. Forced into a life he
neither desired nor could control, he promised to obey the law of the
Last week he had been
issued the ultimatum. Cease his murderous ways or end up in the
dungeons, or worse yet, a coffin. Desiccated and alone, he would seek
the remainder of his days a mere shadow of the great soldier and man
he once was. It did not matter if the men he killed were murderers,
thieves, and rapists. The police would come after him, putting the
entire existence of his kind at risk.
With reluctance he
passed into the dark night, hunter and vigilante, hoping to forget
the painful monotony of his existence. No amount of endless parties,
piercing multiple necks, or women throwing themselves at him, had
caught his attention. He wanted nothing. He desired no one.
Months had passed. He
never noticed. Time was fleeting to a vampire. The decades and
centuries as quick as days. His kind were immortal; unchanging, never
aging, beautiful and deceptive. Their ability to beguile humans, to
pull them under compulsion, was driven by the need to survive. Pure
Thirst drove all
desire. Thirst ruled his body and his mind.
Thirst ruled the beast
Survival was thirst,
thirst was blood, blood was survival.
A never ending cycle.
He was a machine, a
monster conjured from the pits of Hell, cursed to walk the night in
endless pursuit of human blood. Metallic and bitter, pulsating, hot
and rich; blood was the life force of all humanity.
The curse of the
For all eternity.
Andre inhaled a deep
breath and released it. Neither the scent of the woman who called to
him nor the intriguing heartbeat had vanished. His feet led him
forward of their own accord. He could not stop his reaction any more
than he could stop the sun from rising.
Andre was led to the
fifth floor of an apartment building. He paid little heed to the
décor, the familiar balcony, or the whispered voice inside.
In the blink of an eye,
he was standing in a bedroom. A single taper candle lit the dark
room, eerily similar to vanilla candles he remembered from his past.
A woman lay on her back, her pregnant belly swelling as she cradled
it. A sense of desperation clung to her. A hint of fear, uncertainty,
She was happy. She
wanted this child. The innocent and beguiling heartbeat, the one that
sounded like a fawn, filled the room. He sank to his knees. A man was
at her bedside but he paid him little attention. Andre’s entire
being was focused on that singular beautiful perfect noise.
She must have sensed
him. The young woman sat up, her eyes wide and searching. Clear icy
blue eyes, strong and intelligent, met his direct gaze.
He sucked in a breath.
He ran to her. Was this
Her slim hand raised,
caressing his cheek, and he shuddered. His whole frame stiffened,
fighting for control, unsure of the waves of emotion that kept
crashing over him like the surf against the shore. He knew this
woman, had been intimate with her, had shown her patience and
kindness, had stood beside her and protected her with his life.
He loved her.
He loved Mare.
Andre pulled back as if
burned, his entire frame unsteady. He stumbled backward, his worst
fear realized. He had finally lost his mind. Completely.
Devoid of his usual
grace, he fell flat on his ass.
None of this was real.
Cristo was tormenting him somehow.
With a roar he ran
toward her, arms outstretched, his claws extending from his bare
hands. Whatever foul demon had been conjured, whatever creature had
taken the form of his beloved Mare, would die a gruesome death this
night. He would rip the specter to shreds. Nothing would remain of
the imposter of his beloved.
Andre would end this
being once and for all,
Whatever it took.
Michael launched his
body toward me at the precise moment Andre ran for me. I screamed,
terrified of the monster that transformed my beloved into a blood
thirsty beast. One moment I was the happiest woman on earth, and the
next scrambling across the bed, my hands clutching my belly, afraid
he was going to kill me.
I slid off, my legs
caught in the comforter, and fell. Screaming again, this time in
agony as my ankle twisted, I buried my head in the side of the bed
and burst into tears.
I was afraid to look
up. Was Michael dead? Had Andre killed him?
surprised and anguished voice was close beside me.
I dare not look up but
“Mare, mio tesoro,
mio cuore.” The words echoed in my head.
Was he alive? Was he
Strong arms enveloped
me, pulling me close against his chest. “My Mare.”
I raised my head as his
lips met mine. I had forgotten how his kiss made me melt. Months of
separation had caused unending anguish in both of our hearts but no
here. You’re alive,” I blubbered through my tears.
“I thought you were
dead. Cristo told me he murdered you. I…” His voice broke off
painfully. “My son grows strong in your womb. He’s so happy.”
Tears glistened in Andre’s eyes. “I can sense what he is
feeling.” His hand lowered to my belly in awe when our son kicked
him. “Mare, did you feel that?”
I smiled. “All the
time. He kicks often.”
“Mio tesoro, I
love you.” His lips lowered to mine again as he held me tighter,
one hand still resting on my belly. “My beloved and my son. I’m
so happy you are both alive.” He kissed me again. “Ti amo,
“I love you too,
“Well, now that’s
settled, what the hell are you going to do about it?” Michael’s
angry voice interrupted us.
Andre cringed. “Never
let her go,” he answered, holding me tighter. “She’s the love
of my life Michael.”
“Do you even have a
life?” He stood, staring Andre down. “How are you going to
provide for my sister and nephew?”
“Michael, sit down,”
I ordered, but he ignored me.
“No way, Mare. He’s
going to answer my questions.”
I rolled my eyes.
“In any and every
way, Michael. She’s my whole life. I’m not leaving her, not
ever,” he promised as he turned back to me. “Not ever Mare,”
his voice caught, “I died without you.”
“Oh Andre,” I
whispered, “I died too.”
His lips met mine
swiftly. My fingers brushed the stubble on his cheek, hardly
believing he was here. Andre was beside me. Alive.
My heart was overjoyed.
Tears filled my eyes and spilled over as Andre’s eyes locked on
“Do not cry mio
cuore, I am here. Forever,” he reassured me.
“I’ll make sure of
that.” Michael folded his arms across his chest. “Vampire or not,
I’ll kill you if you ever hurt her again.”
twitched. “I should be careful.”
Michael smiled. “Damn
straight. I’m a scary guy.”
I shook my head. “I
forgot how annoying it was to have you both in the same room
Andre cradled me close
against his chest. “Get used to it. We are going to live together
from here on out.”
Shocked, I stared at
“He knows. Michael is
your brother. He’s family.” He winked at me.
“Oh, Andre.” I
buried my head in his neck. “Thank you.”
“Just where are we
going to live? I’m not sleeping in a coffin.”
Andre burst out
laughing. “None of us do but there are plenty in the catacombs to
Michael scowled. “I
prefer to live in luxury. My new house is sitting empty right now.”
He turned to me and scowled. “And I miss it.”
“Oh Michael, does it
matter as long as we are together?” I sent him a pleading look as
his eyes narrowed.
“Fine, I’ll give
this new place…” He frowned. “Where the hell are we going to
“In several places.
We have plenty to choose from,” I answered with a grin. The
penthouse was only one option.
Andre chuckled. “We
certainly do.” He pressed a quick kiss against my lips. “How is
your ankle? Can you walk?”
I stood with Andre’s
help and applied pressure. It hurt but I had only twisted it, nothing
more. “Not terribly.”
He scooped me up,
holding my body close. “I’m not risking it. I’ll carry you.”
“All the way to the
He looked offended.
“I’m still a NightWalker Mare.”
Oops. I had forgotten.
Sometimes all I saw was the gorgeous man in front of me.
I giggled. “You act
like you are immortal or something.”
He smiled softly. “All
that matters is you, mio cuore. Only you and my son.”
My smiled faded. “You
“Of course,” he
answered with a tight smile but the look did not extend to his eyes.
“What is it?” I
asked, searching for any sign of distress.
He leaned down and
kissed me, his lips lingering against mine. “Nothing.” He nuzzled
my cheek. “Ti amo molto,” he breathed, “Sei la mia
“I know.” I lay my
head on his shoulder and yawned. “What was the rest of that?”
added, “what language is that? Italian?”
Andre laughed lightly.
“I prefer to speak my endearments in my native tongue. Yes, it
means I love you very much. You are my soulmate.”
“Andre, I have never
loved any man but you.”
“I know. Sleep, mia
bella. I will awaken you once we are home.”
Doesn’t that have the
Andre could not tear
his eyes from Mare’s sleeping face. Her long dark lashes rested
against her rosy hued cheeks. He had memorized every detail of her
angelic face months ago when they first met. Her hand rested lightly
against his chest, the long pink nails delicate but strong. Like his
His heart swelled
within his chest. Such love and happiness, it threatened to consume
him entirely. Whether it was luck or fate, he was reunited with his
love, and nothing was going to stop him from being with her. Andre
cared nothing for laws or traditions, nothing but his mate and the
Andre stiffened and
clutched Mare close to his side. Who would dare to take her from him?
Andre’s senses came
alive. He whipped his head toward the window in her bedroom. A noise
had caught his attention. It shouted at him, causing his skin to hum
and buzz. Shivers of anticipation ran along his body. If only he was
alone, he might have enjoyed the upcoming skirmish. With Mare in his
arms, growing larger with child every day, he was anxious.
The baby. His son. She
was progressing quickly in her pregnancy. Too quickly.
Andre held her tighter,
unaware of how his eyes turned crimson with the impending threat.
“Dude, your eyes are
brought him back to the present. There were two souls in this room
that needed protecting, three if he counted his unborn son. Andre
lowered his voice and gestured for Michael to come closer.
“We have company, and
not the friendly sort. We need to lose them, preferably without
drawing too much attention. No one knows I have reconnected with
Mare. I plan on keeping the secret as long as I can.”
Michael nodded. “What
do you need me to do?”
“I’m going to the
Michael looked at him
like he was crazy. “What about Mare?”
Andre lowered his head
and placed a soft kiss on her lips, laying her on the bed. “Protect
her with your life. Do you have a gun?”
He nodded. “Of
“Don’t be afraid to
use it. No one should be coming in this room but me.”
Their eyes met and
Michael nodded. “Shit. Hurry up.”
Andre smiled. “I’m
not leaving Mare any longer than I have to, so be ready to leave when
Michael huffed in
agitation. “Yeah, I think I got that part.”
A crash sounded out in
the hallway. Too late.
“Change of plans.
Shoot anyone who sets foot in this room. Lock the door behind me and
aim that pistol toward the window if anyone tries to come through.”
Michael cursed a string
of words that would have impressed the most dedicated scholar of foul
language. Andre chuckled quietly, crouching as the beast within
surged forward, ready to defend his mate to the death. His nails
extended into sharp claws, his eyes burned a bright crimson, his
fangs sharpened into lethal points. He turned, moving stealthily
through the bedroom and into the front area of Mare’s apartment.
Someone was trying to
break into the front door. The knob rattled and then silenced.
Andre smelled perfume.
A strange scent, one he did not recognize. Female. Sweat. Too much
floral odor overlapping other scents, layers of smell that made him
gag. Andre cleared his throat and then cringed. He had been louder
than he wanted.
The female was not
vampyre but something about her was unique. Different.
Unpleasant. A sickly sweet smell that turned his stomach, reminiscent
A sudden explosion
obliterated the front door, sending wooden pieces of debris flying in
all directions. Several large splinters lodged in Andre’s torso but
he yanked them out, impatient, and growling in anger.
Before he could react,
a dozen men engaged him, shooting darts into his thigh. He roared,
the beast within him taking charge as he lashed out, instantly
killing the first few bold enough to attack him. His claws slashed
across the forearms and then chest of the older man closest to him.
He spun, his fangs sinking into the throat of another, ripping into
the flesh, before he threw him to the side.
The next was foolish
enough to fire his gun. The bullet grazed Andre’s shoulder as he
reached forward and snapped the young fool’s neck. He took down
three more, leaving a pile of carnage in his wake as he appeared
before the woman with the undesirable scent.
“That’s the fastest
anyone has ever taken Guild members down. I’m impressed, Andre.”
She watched him with a knowing smile lingering on her lips as he
dropped to his knees, shaking his head.
“What did you do to
me?” He yelled, fighting off the effects of the drug.
“The only poison that
works on your kind, full blooded vampyre. Surely, you have
heard of it,” she chided, treating him as if he was an imbecile.
Debolezza,” he spat, his head becoming heavy. Blood Weakness.
“Yes, in large doses
it can kill, but,” she paused and laughed lightly, “in small
doses it is quite effective in subduing your intended target. The
paralysis wears off in hours but there are other, more disturbing
side effects, if one is exposed repeatedly for long durations.”
“I will not be caught
by surprise again,” he growled in response. Andre was losing this
battle. He would pass out soon. The poison was working its way
through his blood stream, causing him to tremble. He clenched his
shaking hands so she would not see them.
“Oh, I think you
will. The Guild has plans for you.” She approached and ran a long
sharp nail down the side of his cheek. “I have need of your
abilities and connections.”
Andre leaned his head
back and laughed, long and hard. “If you think I will give you
anything, you are mistaken.”
“I think you’ll
cooperate, especially since it is the only way to save your mate and
Andre leapt to his
feet, his hands around her throat in seconds. “Touch her, harm her
in any way, and I will invent new ways to torture you.”
She stiffened. “Perhaps
but you need me.”
“Never. I have no use
for the Guild.”
“Then Mare will die,
before she gives birth, and you will have nothing Andre.”
He tightened his hold
on her neck. “You lie.” He stumbled, his hold weakening. The drug
was taking a toll, even as he fought it.
voice was behind him.
He spun, in front of
her in only seconds. “Run, Mare. Take Michael and get out. I’ll
find you.” He wobbled and sank to the ground, landing on his back.
screamed, reaching for him.
“Do not trust the
Guild,” he gasped, pain seizing his body as his organs clenched.
Every part of his body was shutting down. “Run.” He reached for
her as her hand clasped his. “Sei tutto per me.”
“Andre, I don’t
know what that means.” She placed his hand on her stomach as his
son kicked inside her womb.
“Ti amo molto,
my Mare.” His head rolled to the side as his eyes fluttered.
He could fight the
Sangue Debolezza no longer.
As he felt the
blackness of night close around his consciousness, Andre hoped
Michael was smart enough to help them escape. He had no idea where
they would be taken or when he would awaken.
Andre could only hope
they did not harm his mate in any way.
If they did, he would
unleash the fires of Hell upon the entire Guild.
None would escape his
I held onto Andre’s
hand as he passed out, tears filling my eyes. What was happening? Who
were these people? Why did he tell me to run?
I leaned over and
placed a kiss on his cheek, brushing the hair off his forehead. His
dark curls had grown long, almost to his eyes. Stubble covered his
strong jawline. He was so handsome.
God, I loved this man.
“Do not worry, Mare.
He will recover in a few hours.”
I looked up, wary of
her intentions. “Harm him and I will find a way to kill you, slowly
and painfully,” I threatened. No one was separating us ever again.
I meant every word.
She laughed loudly. “I
do like your spirit. He has chosen wisely. A perfect match.”
“What do you want?”
I demanded, ignoring her words.
“A chance to plead
our case. Nothing more,” she insisted, “but perhaps you have some
questions of your own. We have a physician, one who specializes in
raised an eyebrow.
“Yes,” she laughed
lightly, shaking her head, “your half breed child, of course.”
Startled, I met her
perusal. “Fine, I’ll come with you but so does Andre and my
brother Michael. No harm befalls any of us. Swear it.”
looking guards surrounded her. “I have the means to inflict any
amount of harm I wish. If I meant to hurt you, it would have been
“I still want your
word,” I insisted. I knew vampyre were beholden to their
word. Few broke their oath. In the dealings I had seen with Andre and
his brethren, vampyre kept their word when asked.
She looked amused. “I
see you know more about our kind than I originally thought.” She
paused and gestured to her guards as they picked up Andre. “Fine. I
give my word and my oath. No harm will befall you as long as you are
my guest. Fair enough?”
I nodded. “You are a
dhampir, aren’t you?”
She winked at me. “Of
Michael helped me to
stand. “You sure you know what you are doing?” He whispered.
I grabbed his hand and
followed the dhampir out into the hallway, stepping through
the damaged doorway and then exiting the building without saying
another word. I needed answers. Real answers. Andre may not like it,
but I had a right to find out what was going on and what to expect.
He would get over his
The Guild resided in a
glass skyscraper in the heart of the city. Unlike the cathedral of
Saint Martin, where the vampyre gathered each night below
among the catacombs, the Guild had taken residence in full view. A
direct contradiction to the vampyre brethren, the
council, and the cinque dei; the building screamed modern
convenience and luxury. Sleek lines and cool colors, it had a sterile
and clean environment.
Michael and I followed
the group through the front doors, Andre in front of us on a
stretcher – which made him seem more injured than captured – to a
tall elevator. Also made of glass, it raised high up in the air. High
enough to make me dizzy, I leaned against Michael as he steadied me.
woman turned to us. “I suppose I should introduce myself now. I’m
Michael grumbled under
his breath. “Yeah.”
with the strong perfume?” I asked, sneezing. Whatever she was
wearing, it was way over the top.
She laughed, tossing
her shoulder length blonde hair over her shoulder. “It’s a mask.”
Michael gave her a
dubious frown. “I’d say it doesn’t work.”
She winked at him.
“It’s not for humans.”
“Oh,” I gasped, “it
masks your real scent, from vampyre, right?”
“Yes, exactly. I
don’t like to be taken by surprise. This helps prevent that.”
Michael arched a brow.
“I would think you cause more trouble than receive.”
She sauntered up to
him, all five foot ten inches of her, and thrust her breasts in his
face. “I’d give you a lot of trouble.”
My brother blushed,
clearing his throat. “No, thanks. I’m pretty sure I don’t need
that particular kind of mess.”
She laughed hard at
that, shaking her head. “I wish all human males were this much
Selene was exactly my
brother’s type. Tall, curvy, and sassy. He liked to date
independent women with confidence who could handle themselves. I had
been told those exact words more than once. I guess the fact she was
dhampir was enough to cool any interest.
“Where is Andre?” I
asked as the elevator opened.
“He’s being kept in
observation until he awakens. I can’t have him killing the whole
facility searching for you.” She turned to me, gesturing ahead. “I
have a couple of rooms that are connected. You may stay there as long
as you are my guests.”
grabbing my hand and pulling me close. “You mentioned a doctor.
When can we see him?” We, not me. My overprotective brother at
She smiled. “I made
the appointment for eleven, but you are welcome to go sooner.”
My stomach growled. “I
could use some breakfast first. I’m starving.” The baby did a
flop and my stomach wobbled.
Michael grinned. “My
nephew is hungry.”
hungry,” I supplied, realizing at that moment how true my words
were. I was hungry more and more, my appetite increasing but I was
not gaining any weight. Trying not to dwell on my thoughts, I smiled
at Selene. “I really need to eat.”