Dark Hunger


Page 7



She has no man to take her in his arms and soothe her to sleep. She takes her pleasure in solitude, just as she weeps.


Matthias carefully replaced the dome. He could not offer her the comfort she needed; he had no place in her home or her bed. With what he had learned this night, he decided he would have to go slowly and carefully. He would have to consider how to initiate contact and cultivate an association. Friendship seemed unlikely; he might have to resort to a business relationship. His friends Rowan and Drew would have ideas on how best to do that without alarming her. When she accepted him—when she understood that she could trust him—he would have her. She would come to him openly and give herself to him.


Only then could he destroy her life.


Six hundred miles to the south of Jessa Bellamy’s apartment, a tall brunette entered the penthouse suite of a beachfront building that served as her lover’s home, business, and base of operations.


Samantha Brown shrugged out of her jacket and unfastened her shoulder holster, and sent a longing glance in the direction of the sinfully large master bath before booting up her computer terminal. As a Fort Lauderdale homicide detective she had spent most of her nights chasing after killers, and the paperwork involved with her cases never seemed to end. Not that she minded; she was a cop and that was part of the job. Nothing would change that, and nothing had. Not even when she had been fatally shot by a fellow officer who had been stalking her.


Lucan, a retired assassin and possibly the most lethal living thing on the earth, had killed her stalker and saved her life by changing her into what he was: a blood-dependent immortal who could heal instantly, possessed incredible strength, and yet who tried to coexist with humans peacefully.


Aside from the lousy diet, and the fact that she’d fallen in love with one of the deadliest men on the planet, Samantha really couldn’t complain.


“You coldhearted bastard,” Samantha muttered as she read the e-mail sent to her from a contact in the Atlanta FBI field office.


The reflection of a tall, long-limbed man appeared on her computer screen, and two large, lethal hands gloved in black velvet rested on her shoulders. “You called for me, my love?”


“Not this time.” Sam rubbed her cheek absently against the back of Lucan’s glove.


Ignoring a six-foot-five, two-hundred-and-thirty-pound vampire, especially one who looked like Lucan, was next to impossible. Even if Sam had been blind, she would have smelled him from a mile away. Tuned to the seductive scent of his immortal body, like dark fields of night-blooming jasmine, she’d known the moment he’d entered the suite. When he touched her, her own body responded with annoying immediacy.


But the information sent to her from Atlanta held her riveted.


Sam didn’t sleep until dawn, and she usually spent the last hours of the night in her lover’s arms. But when she had arrived home from work, Lucan had been busy downstairs clearing out and closing the club. She’d come up to the penthouse suite they shared to take a shower and catch up on some e-mail while she waited for him. She liked to stay busy when she was alone in the penthouse, the uppermost two floors of Lucan’s building, which he had extensively remodeled before they’d met to serve as his private domain.


It wasn’t that she felt uncomfortable in their suite. Anyone would appreciate the spectacular, three-hundred-and-sixty-degree views from the wraparound impact-glass windows recently installed; standing in the center of the great room, she could turn around and see the Atlantic Ocean, the Intracoastal Waterway, Port Everglades, and Fort Lauderdale’s sleek modern skyline all at once. Comfortable lounges had been placed on the outer terraces so she could recline under the stars and watch the dark surge of the tide roll in over the pristine amber sands of their private beach. If she wanted anything, she just had to pick up a telephone and ask; no matter what it was, the serving staff, which worked three shifts around the clock, would deliver it within minutes.


All the splendor, elegance, and luxury of the suite had been designed to pamper the occupants. If she wanted to, she could sleep in either of the two master suites or any of three guest rooms, or take a long, hot shower in one of the four bathrooms. The library held close to five thousand books on every subject and in every genre, and had a wood-burning fireplace and armchairs made to nap in, while the media room offered every form of electronic entertainment, from the latest CDs and DVDs to the newest video gaming systems. There was even a workout room where she could use free weights, Nautilus, or run on a high-tech treadmill toward a screen that could be preprogrammed to show the view of a jogger running through parks and nature areas in the world, or sweat out her troubles in the adjoining wet/dry sauna.


None of that mattered to Sam in the slightest as she reread the report. “I can’t believe it. They’ve nailed Max Grodan, this con artist who always killed his partners after framing them for his crimes. After all these years, they caught him.”


“Marvelous news.” Lucan’s hands shifted to turn her computer chair around one hundred and eighty degrees. “Surely that brings a happy end to your police work for this night.”


She glanced up at the indecently handsome face framed by a mane of corn-silk hair, and the glittering of chrome around the edges of his ghost-gray eyes. Lucan, the former assassin turned benevolent dictator, didn’t like being ignored. He also remained mostly oblivious to the work she did, something that often annoyed her more than his looks. “You don’t understand.”


“Someone has been nailed. You are pleased. Justice doubtless has been served.” He knelt before her and leaned in to nuzzle her throat. Against her ear he whispered, “Now, would you be so kind as to forget about being a cop until tomorrow night?”


“I can’t.” She linked her hands behind his neck and kissed his cheek. “Here’s the thing: I have to fly up to Atlanta.”


“Oh, no.” Lucan pulled her into his arms and stood. “You are coming to bed with me.”


“It would be much easier to have a conversation with you,” she mentioned, “if you’d get your mind off hopping in the sack with me for, say, thirty seconds.”


“Very well.” He set her down on her feet and regarded her through narrowed eyes. “Twenty-nine. Twenty-eight.”


“The feds in Atlanta busted a pair of grifters,” she said quickly. “One of them turned out to be Max Grodan. He was the primary suspect in an old open murder case of mine.”


“Twenty,” he said, looking bored as he folded his arms. “Nineteen.”


“He uses lonely young men and women to run his games,” she continued. “He seduces them, trains them, and sends them in under fake or farmed identities. They take all the risk; he gets all the money. Then he frames them, kills them, and walks away. I know there were at least three others besides my victim.”


“Thirteen. Twelve.”


“God damn it,” she said, suddenly furious with him. “You don’t own me. This is my job. This is what I do.”


The scent of jasmine grew thick and hot, and the empty wineglasses they had left by the window shattered.


“I don’t give a bloody damn about your job. You belong to me.” He backed her up against a wall. “I keep what is mine close. Here. Certainly not in another colony.”


“We haven’t been colonies for over two hundred years, and I’m going to Georgia only to extradite a prisoner.” She threw out a hand. “You’re acting as if I’m running off to Aruba with one of the boys in the garrison.”


“You would not be that foolish.” Popping sounds came from inside her computer, and the monitor screen went dark. “There is something you are not telling me about this. Why?”


“Stop.” She pressed her hands against his chest, trying to push him away. She would have had better luck moving a brick wall. “Just stop. Have it your way. I’ll let someone else go in my place.”


“Samantha.”


“He was the first one I ever saw with my talent,” she shouted. “I put my hand down and accidentally touched the victim’s blood and the vision hit me. One minute I was there looking at the body and the next I was watching the last hours of his life. I thought it was real, that somehow I’d been thrown back in time to be a witness. I saw every moment he suffered, Lucan. I watched that kid crying and pleading with him. Max beat him, and he sodomized him, and then he strangled him. He took his time. He fucking enjoyed it. It’s his favorite part. Not even the money makes him feel that good. After he ran I had nightmares about Bobby. For years.” She struck her fist into his chest. “Are you happy now? Satisfied?”


Lucan caught her hands and brought her scarred palm to his lips. “I did not realize.” He kissed her hand, and then her brow, her eyelids, and the bridge of her nose before enfolding her in his strong arms. “Forgive me.”


Sam held on to him, standing docile and quiet as he stroked her hair. He knew the old wounds she still carried from her human life were as deep and painful as his own. Because of the suffering they had both seen and experienced, Lucan understood her as no one else could. Sometimes when she was angry, she forgot just how well he understood.


“I’m a jerk,” she said into his shirt.


“You are distraught.” He lifted her face, urging her to look at him. “I will allow you to go, Samantha, but not alone.”


“He can’t do anything to me.” She sounded so tired, even to her own ears. “He’s only human.”


“Fangs do not make the monster, my love.” Lucan tucked her head under his chin. “But while I am your lord and master, which will be until eternity comes to an end, I will not let you face such nightmares alone. Now stop sniveling. You promised me no more weeping.”


Sam knew she was supposed to adhere to the customs and laws of the Darkyn, which dated back to the Dark Ages. Which also meant she had to do what Lucan told her. But her lover gave her more leeway than another Kyn lord might, mainly because he did understand her calling. For six centuries he had done the same for the Darkyn, although none of the killers he had pursued and captured ever lived long enough to be tried for their crimes.



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