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Much Ado About Vampires: A Dark Ones Novel

Katie MacAlister

  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright Page


  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Teaser chapter

  Dear Readers,

  New York Times bestselling author



  New York Times bestselling author

  Also by Katie MacAlister

  Praise for Katie MacAlister’s Dark Ones Novels

  In the Company of Vampires

  “Katie MacAlister is an excellent writer and never ceases to amaze us with her quick, aka witty, wit and amazing romantic tales . . . a funny but masterfully written romantic tale with all the paranormal types you could want and more.”

  —Night Owl Romance

  “This is trademark MacAlister, full of quirky characters and wacky plot twists. Fans of the funny, madcap Dark Ones series will not be disappointed with this entry.”

  —Romantic Times

  “Zany [and] clever.”

  —Midwest Book Review

  “An excellent read.... Hysterical and surprisingly realistic, considering it includes witches, deities, vampires, and Viking ghosts, In the Company of Vampires delivers a great story and excellent characterization.”

  —Fresh Fiction

  Crouching Vampire, Hidden Fang

  “The fantastic follow-up to Zen and the Art of Vampires ! . . . Not a book to be missed by lovers of paranormal romance. One of the best I have read so far.”

  —Enchanting Reviews

  “Ms. MacAlister entertains readers with a captivating romance, supernatural politics, and her always present touch of humor.”—Darque Reviews

  “A fantastic duo of stories from Katie MacAlister. . . . She continues to write strong and super spunky characters that women will love to read about. If you are a fan of Mary Janice Davidson’s Betsy series, then I think you will definitely enjoy Zen and the Art of Vampires and Crouching Vampire, Hidden Fang.”

  —Joyfully Reviewed

  “The story line is fast-paced, filled with humor and action as Katie MacAlister balances the two nicely.”

  —Midwest Book Review

  “Stay true to the spirit of the series, tell a good story, and readers will follow you anywhere. I certainly will follow Katie MacAlister to her next Dark Ones book.”

  —Romance Novel TV

  Zen and the Art of Vampires

  “A jocular, action-packed tale.... [a] wonderful, zany series.”

  —Midwest Book Review

  “Has all of the paranormal action, romance, and humor that fans of the author look for in her books. This is a fast-moving read with sizzling chemistry and a touch of suspense.”

  —Darque Reviews

  “Pia Thomason just might be my favorite heroine ever . . . an entrancing story, and a very good escape.”

  —The Romance Reader

  “I completely loved Zen and the Art of Vampires! . . . The chemistry between Pia and Kristoff sizzles all the way through the novel.... I don’t think I can wait for the next Dark Ones installment! Please hurry, Katie!!”

  —Romance Junkies



  The Last of the Red-Hot Vampires

  “MacAlister’s fast-paced romp is a delight with all its quirky twists and turns, which even include a murder mystery.”


  “A wild, zany romantic fantasy. . . . Paranormal romance readers will enjoy this madcap tale of the logical physicist who finds love.”

  —The Best Reviews

  “A fascinating paranormal read that will captivate you.”

  —Romance Reviews Today

  “A pleasurable afternoon of reading.”

  —The Romance Reader

  “The sexy humor, wild secondary characters, and outlandish events make her novels pure escapist pleasure !”

  —Romantic Times

  “A fabulous urban fantasy.... The story line is fast-paced from the onset and never slows down. . . . Fans will enjoy visiting the chaotic, charming world of Ms. MacAlister, where the unbelievable becomes believable.”

  —Midwest Book Review

  “Laugh-out-loud funny! . . . A whimsical, upbeat, humorfilled paranormal romance . . . delightful.”

  —Romance Junkies

  Praise for Katie MacAlister’s Light Dragon Novels

  The Unbearable Lightness of Dragons

  “Magic, mystery, and humor abound in this novel making it a must read . . . kudos to another stellar book, Ms. Katie M.”

  —Night Owl Romance

  “Katie MacAlister has always been a favorite of mine, and her latest series again shows me why. . . . If you are a lover of dragons, MacAlister’s new series will definitely keep you entertained!”

  —The Romance Readers Connection

  “A wondrous story full of magic and romance. . . . I cannot wait to see what happens next in the lives of the dragons.”

  —Fresh Fiction

  “An action-packed and sexy paranormal romance.... The combination of dragons, demons, witty repartee, adventure, visions, magical mayhem, sexy scenes, and romance adds up to a truly entertaining tale that I hated to see end.”

  —Romance Junkies

  Also by Katie MacAlister

  Paranormal Romances


  A Dark Ones Novel


  A Dark Ones Novel


  A Novel of the Light Dragons


  A Novel of the Light Dragons

  STEAMED, A Steampunk Romance


  A Dark Ones Novel


  A Dark Ones Novel


  A Novel of the Silver Dragons

  UP IN SMOKE, A Novel of the Silver Dragons


  A Novel of the Silver Dragons

  HOLY SMOKES, An Aisling Grey, Guardian, Novel

  LIGHT MY FIRE, An Aisling Grey, Guardian, Novel

  FIRE ME UP, An Aisling Grey, Guardian, Novel

  YOU SLAY ME, An Aisling Grey, Guardian, Novel



  Contemporary Romances






  Published by New American Library, a division of

  Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,

  New York, New York 10014, USA

  Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2,

  Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)

  Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Vict
oria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

  Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi - 110 017, India

  Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632,

  New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

  Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

  Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices:

  80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  First published by Signet, an imprint of New American Library,

  a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  First Printing, October 2011

  Copyright © Katie MacAlister, 2011

  “My Heart Will Go On and On” copyright © Katie MacAlister, 2011

  All rights reserved


  Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.


  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

  The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

  ISBN : 978-1-101-54476-1

  For eight years, the editorial hand guiding my books belonged to Laura Cifelli, a charming woman with a wickedly funny sense of humor that frequently had me snorting beverages out of my nose (I quickly learned never to drink when on the phone with her). Although Laura decided to leave publishing, I am truly grateful for all her help, support, and shared admiration of dishy guys. I am blessed to have known her, and happily dedicate Alec to her. Er . . . Alec’s book. She already got grabby with Baltic. She doesn’t really need Alec, too....

  Thanks for everything, Laura!

  Author’s Note

  Hello, and welcome to Alec and Cora’s book!

  “Who’s Alec?” I hear some of you asking. Others of you might be familiar with Alec, but have no clue who Cora is. Since this book features characters from previous books, a novella, and a short story, I thought I’d make sure everyone was on the same page—ha! author humor!—before you get started.

  Alec Darwin was introduced in Zen and the Art of Vampires, along with his buddy Kristoff and Kristoff’s Beloved, Pia. That story was larger than could be reasonably put into one book, so the story spilled over into a sequel, Crouching Vampire, Hidden Fang.

  I always intended to write Alec’s story, since he was a man who suffered greatly during his long life, but didn’t see a way to do that until I sat down to write a short story to explain the loss of his Beloved so many centuries ago. That story, “My Heart Will Go On and On”, tells the tale of Corazon Ferreira’s evening to remember, and led to Cora being a secondary character in the novella Unleashed (found in the Cupid Cats anthology).

  Still with me? If not, you can find the “My Heart Will Go On and On” short story at the back of this book. You don’t have to read it in order to understand what happens in Much Ado About Vampires, but the good folks at New American Library and I thought it might be nice to include it, since until now it’s only been available online.

  I hope you enjoy seeing Alec and Cora finally get together after all that groundwork!

  Katie MacAlister


  Alec Darwin was dying, or as close to it as one could be without having that last little spark of life flitter away into nothingness.

  He closed his eyes and lay back, shifting slightly when a rock dug into the small of his back. Should he go to the trouble of trying to remove it, he wondered absently, so he could lie for eternity in comfort? Or was such a trivial thing worth the effort? Did he even have the strength to do it? It had been all he could do to stagger to the area he had the previous day cleared of small, pointed rocks, his final resting place.

  His shoulder shifted in mild irritation. The rock ground into his kidney, the pain of it distracting him from his plan. Dammit, he hadn’t seen a rock when he fell to the ground, his strength draining from him as his body squeezed the last morsel of energy from the remaining teaspoon or two of blood that was slowly absorbed into his dying flesh.

  He was supposed to be cherishing his martyrdom as he lay dying in the Akasha, not thinking about a damned rock the size of a watermelon digging into his back. He was supposed to be thinking of the pathetic tragedy of a life that he had been forced to live, unenlivened with any sort of joy or happiness, or even hope. He shouldn’t be wondering whether if he rolled over onto his side, the damned rock would let him die in peace.

  If only his Beloved hadn’t died. If only he’d come to her a few minutes earlier, he could have been there when that idiot reaper lost control. If only he’d bedded her and Joined the minute he knew she was his Beloved, rather than allowing her to give in to her mortal sensibilities, demanding he court her.

  A last breath passed his lips as he tried to hold on to the image of her face, his one true love, the woman who had been put on the earth to save him, and who had died the victim of a senseless accident that was directly responsible for his death at that moment.

  Awareness slid away from him, the rock ceasing to be an annoyance, the last few sparks between his brain cells providing not the image of his Beloved, as he so desperately wanted, but that of a woman who had lain in a faint at his feet a few months previously.

  Chapter One

  The dream started the way it always started.

  “What do you see, Corazon?”

  The voice that spoke so calmly belonged to Barbara, the hypnotherapist whom Patsy had hired for our “Girls’ Night In” semiannual party.

  “Mud. I see mud. Well, mud and grass and stuff like that. But mostly just mud.”

  “Are you sure she’s under?” Patsy asked, her voice filled with suspicion. Pats was always a doubter. “She doesn’t look hypnotized to me. CORA! Can you hear me?”

  “I’d have to be five miles away not to hear you. I’m hypnotized, you idiot, not deaf.” I glared at her. She glared at me glaring at her.

  “Wait just one second. . . .” Patsy stopped glaring and pointed dramatically at where I lay prone on the couch. “You’re not supposed to hear me!”

  “Is she supposed to know she’s hypnotized?”

  That was Terri, the third member of our little trio of terror, as my ex-husband used to call us.

  The bastard.

  “Her knowing doesn’t negate the regression, does it?” Terri asked Barbara.

  “Hypnotism isn’t a magical state of unknowing,” Barbara said calmly. “She is simply relaxed, in touch with her true inner spirit, and has opened up her mind to the many memories of lifetimes past. I assure you that she is properly hypnotized.”

  “Let me get a pin and poke her with it,” Patsy said, bustling over to a bookcase crammed full of books and various other items. “If she reacts, we’ll know she’s faking it.”

  “No one is poking me with anything!” I sat up, prepared to sprint to safety if she so much as came near me with anything sharp and pointy.

  “Please, ladies.” I didn’t see Barbara show any signs of rushing, but I knew she wanted to hurry u
s along so she could leave. “We have limited time. Corazon is in a light trance, also referred to as an alpha state. Through that, she has tapped into her higher self, her true Infinite Being, a state in which she is free to bypass the boundaries of time.”

  “Yeah. Bypassing all that stuff,” I said, lying back down on the couch. Even though it was a dream, and I knew it was a dream, my stomach started to tighten at what was to come. “So sit back and watch the show. What do I do now, Barbara?”

  “Look around you. Examine your surroundings. Tell us what you see, what you feel.”

  “I see mud. I feel mud. I am the mud.”

  “There has to be more to her past life than mud, surely,” Terri said, munching on popcorn.

  My stomach turned over. It was coming. He was coming. I felt it, felt the horror just on the edges of my consciousness.

  “Are there any buildings or other structures around to give you an idea of what year you are reliving?” Barbara asked.

  “Um . . . nothing on the left side other than forest. I seem to be standing on a dirt path of some sort. Let me walk to the top of this little hill—oh! Wow! There’s a town down below. And it looks like there’s a castle way up on a tall cliff in the distance. Lots of tiny little people are running around in some fields outside of the town. Cool! It’s like a medieval village or something. Think I’ll go down to say hi.”