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Eternal Kiss of Darkness, Page 2

Jeaniene Frost

Chapter 2


  Kira knew she wasn't dreaming, or hallucinating, or crazy. And that was the bad news. It meant everything she'd seen was real, which meant the man who'd kidnapped her couldn't be human. As impossible as the notion was, it was the only logical explanation.

  Humans couldn't recover from the butchery she'd seen when she'd gotten her first clear look at the man lashed to that pole. Humans didn't have fangs or eyes that glowed fluorescent green. And humans couldn't tear people's heads off without even touching them.

  Even if she wanted to rationalize that all of the above had been her hysterical misinterpretation of a traumatic event, humans sure as hell couldn't fly. Yet her kidnapper had flown away from that warehouse, then performed several impossible roof-to-roof leaps while holding her as if she weighed nothing.

  Kira had always been afraid of heights, so that fear, combined with dizziness, shock, blood loss, and vertigo, proved too much. At some point during the roof-jumping, she passed out. Now she found herself awake in a very normal-looking bedroom, still in her ripped, blood-spattered clothes, her stomach wound miraculously healed and her kidnapper sitting in a chair across from the bed.

  "Do not fear, you are safe," were his first words, spoken in an oddly accented voice.

  Only Kira's survival instincts kept her from saying, "Bull shit. " She glanced down at herself, but of course, her gun was nowhere to be seen. Not that it would have done any good against whatever he and the other creatures at the warehouse were.

  "Where am I?" Kira asked, edging out from underneath the covers someone - he?

  - had pulled over her.

  "A safe place," her kidnapper replied, eliciting another mental scoff from Kira. Sure.

  She was as safe as a skydiver with a broken parachute.

  "How strange," the man murmured in the next moment. "I can smell your fear, but I can't hear a word of it. "

  Kira had been in the process of slowly edging out of the bed, but at that, she stopped.

  A cold thril of adrenaline washed over her as she took her first real look at the person holding her captive.

  Straight black hair hung well past his chest in some places, but was hacked to his shoulders in others. At first glance, his features looked Middle Eastern, but his light skin made her think mixed heritage. A wide mouth was curled in a slight half smile while black brows hung over equally black eyes. Where had that previous unearthly green glow gone? He looked to be in his midtwenties, judging from the lack of lines around his eyes.

  He still had blood spattered on his neck, but it looked like he'd put on a fresh shirt and pants. If not for the blood and the unevenly shorn hair, Kira would think him a young, suave executive if she'd run into him on the subway.

  But she'd seen him sliced half to pieces just this morning, though no sign of injury was visible on him now. It was even more proof that whatever he was, it couldn't be human.

  Why bother with pleasantries? Kira wondered. Both of them knew she'd witnessed something that would probably result in her being killed so she couldn't tell anyone about it.

  "Fascinating," he said, almost to himself. "I cannot hear a word of what you're thinking. " Kira's hands instinctively went to her head, as if she could physically block him from trying to peer in her mind. His half smile quirked.

  "That would do you no good under normal circumstances, but as I said, I cannot hear your thoughts. "

  "What are you?" she blurted. An alien? She knew the government was lying about that Roswel incident . . .

  "Nothing you need to worry about, Tina," he replied with a shrug. "Soon, you can - "

  "Why did you call me Tina?" Kira interrupted in a panicked whisper.

  "Perhaps I just need more blood," the stranger muttered.

  "You stay away from my sister," Kira snarled, rising. Whatever he was, he'd run from the police. That meant they must be able to hurt him, and if he had anything planned that involved Tina, she'd find a way to hurt him, too.

  He held out a hand. "You misunderstand. You said 'Tina' right before you lost consciousness earlier. I thought it was your name. "

  Kira didn't remember that, but it made sense. When she saw how horrible her injury was, her last thought had been that no one else would be around to take care of Tina once she was dead. A wound like that should have killed her, yet the first thing Kira had noticed upon waking was that her stomach was healed. Incredibly, no mark even remained, and she felt fine, though her clothes were still torn and stained crimson with blood.

  That made her give her kidnapper another slow evaluation. He must have healed her somehow. Did that mean he was being truthful when he said she was in no danger, or did this creature have something even worse in store for her? If he had no malicious intentions, why hadn't he left her at the warehouse with the police?

  The dark stranger sat motionless, that single hand still extended toward her. Kira took a deep breath and sat back on the bed. She'd been in enough strange situations with her job to know that getting hysterical never helped anyone. True, nothing about being a private investigator had prepared her for this, but if she wanted to preserve even the smallest chance at surviving, she needed to keep her cool.

  "My name is Kira. " If he'd taken her belongings, he'd soon know that from her wall et, anyway. "I want to go home now. I'm not sure what happened this morning. When I try to remember, it's all so blurry . . . "

  "You are lying," the man said with a scoff that somehow managed to sound elegant.

  Those coal-colored eyes narrowed. "I don't need to read your mind to know that. I can smell it. "

  Kira swallowed hard. "Wouldn't you pretend you didn't remember anything, if you were in my position?"

  "I don't know," he replied almost musingly. "I've never been in your position. I always knew about Cain's children, even when I was a child myself. "

  Then he shook his head as if to clear it. "Why am I saying this to you? I must need to feed again. Come, let us get this over with . . . "

  He was suddenly in front of her, his hands on her shoulders. How could he have moved so fast? Her heart began to pound while a sick franticness welled up in her. Get this over with? Was that how casually he referred to murdering her?

  "Do not fear," the monster said softly. His eyes changed, glowing a terrible bright green as he forced her to look at him. Pressure began to build in her mind. Oh God, he was about to rip her head off, like he'd done to those other creatures back at the warehouse.

  "Stop it," Kira gasped. "I tried to help you - "

  "I know," he interrupted, brushing his fingers across her face. "It was very brave.

  Foolish, too, but brave nonetheless. Look into my eyes, Kira. Nothing happened this morning. You never went to the warehouse. You never saw me. You went home, fell asleep, and nothing else happened . . . "

  His voice deepened until it vibrated with something more than his unusual accent. The pressure in Kira's mind intensified, but her head didn't feel like it was about to snap off her shoulders. Maybe he wasn't trying to kill her. It hadn't taken this long for him to kill the others at the warehouse. After several more moments staring into his impossibly bright eyes, Kira tried to reason with him again.

  "That's exactly what I'll say. Whatever you are, whatever they were, I don't want to know about it. I just want to forget about it. "

  A frown creased his features. "Impossible," he muttered. His eyes brightened even more. "Nothing happened this morning. You walked home, you went to bed . . . "

  "Got it," Kira said, blinking. Looking into his eyes was like staring into two green spotlights.

  He was on the other side of the room before her next blink, looking at her with the same wary speculation she'd bestowed on him before.

  "You are immune to my power. " A short laugh came from him. "This is a memorable day, indeed. Perhaps it's because I gave you my blood to heal you. That could interfere with my mesmerizing you now. Once you get it
out of your system, you will be susceptible again. "

  That didn't sound good. It sounded lengthy, like she wasn't getting away anytime soon, and things were forming a connection in her mind. Blood. Mesmerizing. Fangs. Flying.

  Only one creature had all those in common, but this stranger couldn't really be a vampire, could he?

  "I might remember what happened this morning, but you can bet I won't tell anyone," Kira said quietly. "You don't have to wait for anything to clear out of my system. I'll go home and won't say a word about you, that warehouse, or anything else that isn't completely normal. "

  He stared at her, darkness replacing the green in his gaze. Then, very slowly, he shook his head.

  "At this moment, you may believe that, but I cannot take the risk that you will change your mind later. "

  The sound of the door shutting was the only indicator that he'd moved. Kira ran to it, but though the knob turned, and she shoved against it, she couldn't open the door.

  Something very heavy must be on the other side of it.

  How was she supposed to get away from him when he moved so impossibly fast?

  Once again, the word "vampire" jumped into her mind. With all the other traits she'd seen, it seemed to be the frontrunner for what her kidnapper was. Then again, weren't vampires supposed to catch fire in the sunlight? He hadn't. The sun had been out when he'd carried her from the warehouse, yet her kidnapper hadn't suffered any ill effects.

  Plus, she had on a cross necklace, but that hadn't stopped him from carting her over half of Chicago's rooftops this morning, either. That shot a big hole in her "vampire" theory.

  Some part of Kira couldn't believe she was contemplating what sort of supernatural creature he could be. None of those things were supposed to exist, let alone kidnap her!

  Disbelief battled with the memory of everything she'd seen. Even if she wanted to believe that her long night without sleep had made her see things that weren't real, her blood-smeared, perfectly healed stomach was a reminder that her eyes weren't playing tricks on her. She hadn't imagined the agony of her flesh being ripped open, either. Or the coldness that had seeped through every pore, the sense of fading away . . . and then the abrupt yank back to life just in time to see her dark-haired captor ripping the heads off several people when his hands hadn't even been near them.

  It didn't matter what he was, Kira decided. The most important thing was getting away from him. She began to prowl around the bedroom, ignoring its lavish furnishings. No phone that she could see. An attached bathroom loaded with all the amenities, none of them useful for escape purposes. No computer. She went over to the window and stared out in frustration. Of course she'd be a few stories up without a balcony or trel is. She supposed she should be grateful that there didn't appear to be a moat around the property, or wolves baying around the perimeter. Was she still in Chicago? Or, when she'd been unconscious, had he managed to take her much farther away?

  Kira sank onto the bed, fingering the fabric of the comforter. Frank probably wouldn't even notice she was missing until later tonight. Her boss knew she'd pulled an all-night stakeout; he'd expect her to sleep late today. Tina also wouldn't attempt to call her until later, and if Kira didn't answer, her sister would just assume she was working. Her only hope was that her kidnapper had left her backpack at the warehouse. The police would definitely investigate her whereabouts if they found her belongings at the scene of a grisly multiple homicide. Had he taken it with him when he grabbed her? She couldn't remember. Her backpack wasn't in this bedroom, that was all she knew.

  Kira fisted the comforter, wanting to shred it out of frustration, but with its thick smoothness, it was probably a thousand-thread count and thus stronger than rope. All she'd do if she tore at it was break several fingernails.

  All at once, Kira began to smile. Improvisation is a necessary part of the job, Frank had told her when training her to work as a P. I. He'd been right about that.

  Kira went into the bathroom, dragging the comforter behind her.

  Mencheres closed his eyes as he swallowed. Warm flesh pressed to his mouth, a sweet pulse vibrating underneath his lips. A haze of pleasurable thoughts blanketed his mind as he lightly dug his fangs in again, but they weren't his thoughts. They belonged to Selene, the human he fed from.

  Yes, bite me again. Deeper. Ah, so good, don't stop . . .

  Selene shuddered with an ecstasy Mencheres hadn't felt in centuries. He drew back after his next swallow, closing the punctures from his fangs with a drop of his blood while the bliss he'd so briefly felt turned to ashes.

  Selene's passion was only due to the skil full way he'd bitten her, combined with the mild euphoria-inducing venom all vampires had in their fangs. He'd be able to give her mind-shattering orgasms with his bite, if he wished to, but any vampire could rouse the same sensations in her. If there was one thing Mencheres's long years had taught him, it was that being an instrument of pleasure wasn't the same as being truly desired.

  Once he would have scoffed at that. When he was a human ruler in Egypt, it was considered an honor to share his bed, and Mencheres had welcomed many there. When he became a vampire, men and women flocked to him in the hopes that he'd transform them into vampires. Later, his power drew those looking for protection. Over time, being his lover was a status symbol among vampires. Even if Mencheres lived among humans, hiding what he was, his wealth seduced people to his side. After living that way for twenty-five hundred years, even the most sensual enjoyments began to feel hollow.

  Mencheres wanted more.

  He thought he'd found it in Patra, the young Egyptian queen he married two thousand years ago, but that had ended in disaster. Back then, he'd been na?ve enough to believe he could sate Patra's need for power by changing her into a vampire, sharing his vast wealth, and teaching her the deepest, most forbidden secrets of his race, but it hadn't been enough. Nothing he'd done had been enough, and a long-ago sin resulted in Patra nearly destroying everyone Mencheres cared about until she'd finally been killed last year. As depressing as the thought was, everyone in his life had been drawn to him for an ulterior motive, even those he trusted. Even those he loved.

  Oddly enough, the only exception was the human locked upstairs in the bedroom. Kira had tried to save him, acting without the influence of his heritage, status, power, wealth, or charisma. She'd risked her life without expecting a single thing in return. No one had done such a thing for him. Ever.

  As a result of Kira's baffling, selfless act, combined with his inability to control her mind or hear her thoughts, he hadn't been able to stop thinking about her. Even as the day slipped into evening and he sent another vampire to deliver food and refreshment to her room, Mencheres couldn't banish her from his thoughts.

  Kira. In Greek, her name meant "lady". In Celtic, it meant "dark". Which fit her better?

  Her appearance fit both meanings of her name - her face was delicate and beautiful, except for that strong jaw that warned of stubbornness. Kira's eyes were pale green, but her brows were dark, matching the deep hue of her hair before it lightened to gold at the tips. Her hair was short for Mencheres's tastes, falling to just above her shoulders, but it was so lush, thick, and curly, it practically invited him to twine it around his fingers.

  Kira's body was another contrast of femininity and strength. She was slender to the point of delicacy, but she held herself with a fighter's stance, and her wide shoulders only served to better highlight her full breasts. She'd squared those lovely broad shoulders and that stubborn jaw when she'd snarled at him to stay away from her sister. Even though Kira knew he wasn't human, she hadn't hesitated to challenge him over the perceived threat to her family. Dark lady, indeed.

  "Yes, please!"

  The cry yanked Mencheres out of his musings. Gods, he'd been caressing Selene and unconsciously sending out strands of his power to stroke and stimulate her nerve endings. How could he have gotten so lost in his thoughts of Kira that he
'd forgotten he still held Selene in his arms?

  Mencheres pulled back his power and set Selene away from him.

  "I've taken all I need," he told her.

  Her eyes opened as she pressed against him. "Let me give you more than blood," she offered in a husky voice.

  "No," Mencheres replied automatically.

  As soon as he uttered the words, he reminded himself again that he didn't need to refuse. His wife was dead, so there was no more death sentence on any woman he took to his bed. If he wanted Selene, he could have her.

  But it was ironic; after burning with unspent lust for longer than many civilizations existed, now, when he had a chance to indulge, he had no desire to. Selene was beautiful, willing, yet he didn't want her.

  Kira's face flickered in his mind, but Mencheres wiped her image away before he allowed himself to dwel on it.

  "No," he repeated to Selene in a tone that brooked no argument.

  She left after one last lingering look that he pretended not to notice. Selene, like all the others, didn't only want him. She also wanted the power, security, and supernatural pleasure he could give, but somehow during Mencheres's extended, forced celibacy, that was no longer an acceptable trade.

  Selene had only been gone a few minutes before Gorgon, the only vampire Mencheres brought with him to this house, came into the library.

  "Sire," Gorgon said. "We have a situation with the human you brought home this morning. "

  Mencheres rose, already striding up the stairs to Kira's room, when Gorgon's voice stopped him.

  "Ah, sire? You might want to go outside instead. "