Since vampires murdered her parents, Kacie Renault has sworn to slay any that cross her path. After casually dispatching a bloodsucker in her father's town of Hocksley, England, Kacie is surprised to find that she's become the target of a deadly vengeance campaign organized by the dead vampire's powerful family. What she doesn't know is that her old vampire friend, Erik Winslow, is the victim's brother; torn between family and his powerful feelings for the slayer, Erik reluctantly stands against his siblings to protect Kacie. As the unlikely duo go on the run, ultimately yielding to growing passion, they discover that the situation is far more complicated, and deadly, than they believed. The third entry in Popp's Night Slayer series (following Tempted in the Night) bristles with action; Popp's ability to keep tension crackling and sensuality palpable while crafting a twisty, satisfying story justifies her growing popularity among fans of paranormal romance. (Dec.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Lord Of The Nightby Robin T. Popp
After vampires killed her parents, Kacie Renault devoted herself to becoming a vampire slayer. But now, desperate to begin a new life, Kacie decides to trade in her sword for a spreadsheet...only to be accused of murdering a powerful member of the undead. Suddenly this fierce woman is being hunted by a merciless clan--and one ruthless, seductive adversary she can't… See more details below
After vampires killed her parents, Kacie Renault devoted herself to becoming a vampire slayer. But now, desperate to begin a new life, Kacie decides to trade in her sword for a spreadsheet...only to be accused of murdering a powerful member of the undead. Suddenly this fierce woman is being hunted by a merciless clan--and one ruthless, seductive adversary she can't resist. Erik Winslow is shocked to discover the slayer he trained has murdered his best friend. Now he must decide if he will avenge the death or stand against his fellow vampires to save a woman who defies--and captivates--him at every turn. But when she falls victim to a force more formidable than his own, Erik will taste a desire he can't resist...and a hunger neither he nor Kacie can control.
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Lord Of The Night
By Robin T. Popp
ForeverCopyright © 2007 Robin T. Popp
All right reserved.
Chapter OneHocksley, England
The rain shower that swept through Hocksley earlier that evening had soaked the surfaces of the centuries-old storefronts until they glistened like new. Puddles of water reflected moonlight across the empty cobblestone streets, casting an eerie glow over a town that, at this hour of the night, seemed as lifeless as the eyes staring up from the severed head at Erik Winslow's feet.
In death, Sedrick's face bore little resemblance to the man Erik had known. So little that, at first, Erik hadn't recognized him. When the realization hit, it was accompanied by a sharp stab of shock and grief. Sedrick had been a close friend.
Trying to find the same calm detachment he once wore into battle, Erik picked up the severed head and placed it gingerly on the lap of the headless body. Slipping his arms beneath the corpse, he was about to lift when his gaze fell on the small silver knife lying close by.
Resettling the body, he took a moment to study the weapon without picking it up. The short blade was open and covered in blood. Erik briefly wondered if this had been the instrument of Sedrick's death, but quickly discounted it as being too small to make the clean cut through tendons, tissue, and bone. This knife, with its polished silver handle and small blade, was more decorative than functional, though in the right hands he supposed it could be deadly.
Logically, it would have taken a sword to sever Sedrick's head, which limited the pool of assailants considerably. The average person didn't normally carry a sword, which meant that Sedrick's killer was an actual vampire slayer. Since Erik and Gerard were the only known slayers in Hocksley and neither of them had killed Sedrick, there was a new player in town.
Erik had no idea who it was, but the knife might be a clue to the killer's identity.
About to pick it up, Erik stopped when he felt the hairs along the back of his neck prickle. He stood and moved in front of the newcomer, hoping to block the view of Sedrick's body. "Michael," he began, grabbing his friend's arms and pulling him to a stop.
"Where is he?" Michael asked, sounding both worried and guarded. "Where's my brother? I heard his cry through the link and then nothing. I've been searching for him ever since."
His voice trailed to silence as he stared beyond Erik's shoulder. Erik saw the worry and fear in his eyes and gave up looking for an easy way to deliver the news. "Sedrick's dead."
"No." The strangled sound was filled with pain as Michael pushed past him. "Why?" He cried, falling to his knees beside the body. "Who would do this?"
"I don't know," Erik admitted, struggling to keep his emotions under control so he could think. With four hundred years of fighting experience under his belt, Sedrick had been a formidable opponent. That meant his killer was that much more skilled.
"Gerard?" Michael turned to glare at him.
Erik gaped in return, not liking how quickly Michael implicated his great-nephew. He shook his head. "Impossible. Gerard's been out of town for the last couple of days. This has to be someone new."
He watched Michael's gaze rake over his brother's body and then fix on the ground by his side. "What's this?" He bent and picked up the knife, turning it over in his hands. "Do you recognize it?"
"No." Erik felt anger seething just below the surface, threatening to explode. Who dared to come into his town and kill his friend? "Whoever did this will pay," he promised.
"But not by your hand," Michael warned him. "His death is mine to avenge."
Erik nodded, watching as Michael wiped the knife clean using a piece of Sedrick's shirt. He closed the blade and tossed it to Erik, who caught it in midair. "I will search the lairs for his killer, but I will trust you to search among the humans."
Erik fisted his hand around the knife. "If he's human and still lives, I will find him."
For an instant, Michael's gaze softened. "You are a true friend." There was nothing more to say, so Michael lifted Sedrick's body into his arms and let Erik settle the severed head on top before walking off.
Pocketing the knife, Erik continued down the street. There was still time before the sun rose to search for Sedrick's killer. As Erik knew all too well, avenging his friend's death wouldn't bring him back, but it would bring a certain satisfaction.
When Erik finally returned to the Winslow castle hours later, he went directly to his dungeon apartment through the castle's back entrance, using the modern electronic keypad to deactivate the locks. He'd had plenty of time to perfect his living quarters and short of a large meteor striking the castle, his apartment was impenetrable.
The main room was a large, open area with only a counter separating the kitchen from the living room. He crossed to the refrigerator and removed a container of pig's blood purchased from the local butcher. It wasn't as potent or satisfying as human blood, but Erik had grown used to it over the years. He did, however, keep several bags of human blood, secured from a blood bank, in the freezer for emergencies.
After he finished eating, he went down the short hallway to his bedroom where he removed his black leather jacket. Next he eased off the harness that held his sword across his back and draped it over the back of the chair.
Moving about the room, he flexed his arms to ease the tension and aches. He felt old; when he paused to look in the mirror, he expected to see gray hair and a face withered with age. Instead, the same face he saw every morning stared back at him-youthful, with a half-moon scar at the lower corner of his right eye and dark brown eyes that matched the color of his shoulder-length hair.
He absently scratched the back of his head and reflected how there had been a time when he'd been more aware of his appearance, enjoyed that women seemed attracted to him. Now there were more important things to worry about in life.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out the knife. He'd not found Sedrick's killer, which meant tomorrow he'd have to start all over again. The town of Hocksley was small, located in a remote part of Northumberland, along the eastern coast just south of Scotland. Not many tourists came through their area and there weren't many residents, so he felt positive that he would find the killer.
Laying the knife on his dresser, Erik started to undress, moving with a bone-tired weariness brought on by more than the coming of dawn.
Every time someone he cared about died, a piece of him died with them. He would have thought that by now there would be nothing left, yet the ache in his chest over Sedrick's death told him differently.
Despair filled him as he thought of his life, now measured by the number of loved ones lost rather than by the passing of years, and the thought of ending it all flashed through his head with the same intense longing it did every day just before dawn. He could think of no better way to meet his end than by standing on the edge of the cliffs he loved, listening to the ocean's waves crashing against the sheer wall of rock, and watching the sun rise over the horizon until the sun turned him to stone. Oh, how he missed seeing the sun, feeling its heat on his face. The misery inside him turned into a physical pain, nearly choking him. He was tired of this endless existence.
Instead, he crossed the room to his bed and lay down. He had too many responsibilities; too many people were counting on him. Death would have to wait.
The next night, after Erik woke and sated his hunger, he carried the knife to his study and called the nearest medical facility, which was located in the next town. There was always the chance that Sedrick had injured his killer before he died. Unfortunately, there was no listing of a patient being treated for severe cuts, scratches, puncture wounds, or significant blood loss.
Next, he called Myrtle's, Hocksley's only inn, to get a list of any out-of-towners. There weren't that many and he resigned himself to going into Hocksley in order to check out each guest personally.
He left the knife on his desk and returned to his bedroom where he donned his sword and jacket. Then he left.
The Winslow castle had been built near the top of a cliff, virtually surrounded on three sides by a sheer drop into the ocean-not that one could walk out the front door and fall off. There was at least a good two to three hundred meters between the castle's front door and the cliff's edge. On the fourth side, a dense wooded section of land separated the castle from the town of Hocksley.
There were two ways to get to town: by car, taking a road that meandered along the edge of the cliff before finally looping around to town; or by foot, along the well-worn path through the dark and gloomy forest. The first way took about thirty minutes and the second took half that time. Erik headed for the woods.
Once he arrived in town, Erik navigated the streets until he reached the tavern district. There had been a time when the residents of Hocksley wouldn't go out after dark because of the vampires. But over the years, familiarity had bred contempt and the people now seemed to think that while there might be some truth to the old legends, there wasn't anything to worry about.
As he drew near the inn, he heard the sound of drunken laughter coming from within. Drunks, with their impaired judgments and slower reflexes, made easier targets for vampires. Therefore, the inn was the perfect place to find vampires and, by extension, those hunting vampires.
Erik selected the building across the street and scaled its outside drainpipe to the rooftop. Perched on the edge, he could see down into the street below.
For an hour or more, all was quiet. When the first drunk patrons stumbled out of the door, Erik went on full alert. He didn't have to wait long before movement in the shadows below caught his attention. Vampire.
The door opened a second time and a figure stepped out. This one was dressed in dark clothes and moved with the stealth and grace of a hunter. Erik kept his eyes on him, curious to see what this newcomer might do. Odds were that this wasn't the slayer he was looking for, but when the figure started after the vampire, Erik dared to hope.
The figure reached behind himself and something glinted in the moonlight. Erik took a longer look and felt a burst of excitement. There was only one reason why anyone would carry a sword these days and that was to hunt vampires.
Following the figure with his eyes, Erik ran quietly along the rooftop, keeping himself out of sight from those below. When he reached the end of the building, he didn't slow down but simply held his arms out for balance and dropped neatly to the cobblestone street, absorbing the shock of impact with his legs.
Immediately, he took off running, following the muffled sound of hurried footsteps up ahead. At the end of the block, he paused to listen and heard the noise of a struggle coming from the darkened alley beyond. He hurried to the entrance and saw two figures fighting.
The swordsman obviously had skill. He countered every move of the vampire's attack, using his free arm and sword together to keep the vampire's razor-tipped claws from raking his arms or face. Erik hurried forward, reaching down his back to draw his own sword. His intention was not clear even to himself. The vampire was clearly a progeny and Erik had no intention of letting it live. The slayer, of course, couldn't have known that. When Erik got there, the slayer had just finished piercing the progeny through the heart and turned to face Erik.
For a second, neither moved. Erik took in the slayer's smooth, almost boyish complexion, the dark knit cap pulled low over his head, the slender build concealed beneath dark clothes-and the gloved hand holding the sword with practiced ease. This was a swordsman who knew how to use his weapon; he had the obvious skill to take off a man's head.
Erik's anger, simmering beneath the surface, roared to life as he faced Sedrick's killer.
Lunging at his opponent, Erik came up short when the slayer blocked him. The impact of the swords clashing vibrated up his arm. Erik quickly stepped back and lunged again. Once more, the slayer met his attack. Again and again. Like a well-choreographed movie, they lunged, parried, and blocked each other's moves.
Erik sensed they were falling into a pattern, and on his next attack he changed his strategy mid-strike, catching the slayer by surprise. The tip of his sword sliced through the upper sleeve and Erik knew he'd drawn blood when he caught the smell of the sweet coppery scent. The wound appeared to throw the slayer off his game because his sword dipped and he seemed suddenly unsure of himself.
Erik took advantage of that momentary weakness to grab the slayer's sword arm at the wrist. He shoved the slayer up against the nearest wall, using his own body to pin him there. Before Erik killed the slayer, he would hear his confession.
With one hand holding the slayer's sword arm to the brick wall, he pressed his own sword arm against the man's throat, applying enough pressure that the killer took the hint and stopped struggling.
Then Erik caught the faint powdery scent of perfume and took a closer look. What he'd taken to be a boyish face was, upon closer inspection, surprisingly delicate. Like a woman's. At the same time, he noticed the rounded curves of the body he was pressed against.
As he grappled with his shock, the woman tried to free herself from his grip. Erik was impressed with her strength, but held her easily. When she raised her leg to knee him in the groin, he twisted his body and took the blow on his thigh instead. The pain was slight, but it did much to remind him of why he held her.
It rankled his admittedly old-fashioned chauvinism to think this woman might have bested Sedrick. He moved closer, allowing himself to draw her scent deep into his lungs, hoping to rattle her as much as she had rattled him. "You're playing a dangerous game, pet. Someone is likely to get hurt."
"I think that someone is going to be you."
The voice, more than the words, shook him badly. All thought of this being Sedrick's killer vanished. "Kacie? Bloody hell," he swore, unable to stop himself. "When did you get home?"
Instead of answering, she strained against the arm pinning her to the wall, arching into him. A sizzle of pure male awareness shot through him, as did the thought that Kacie Winslow was surprisingly well-developed. Why was it he had never noticed that before?
"Get your hands off me," she spit at him when he didn't immediately release her.
His laugh held no humor. "Right, so you can run me through with that sword of yours? Not likely." If he'd thought that three years away from home would have changed her, he was wrong.
"I won't run you through," she promised between gritted teeth.
"No, probably not, although not because you won't try. Skills a bit rusty, are they? Well, that's to be expected. Not much opportunity to use a sword in the field of accounting, is there?"
She muttered a curse under her breath and shoved against him again. He almost groaned aloud because it had been too damn long since he'd held a woman in his arms and while Kacie's tongue was still as sharp as ever, parts of her were round and soft. "Best you stop that, love," he growled, "or I might change my mind about letting you go."
"You're not scaring me, Erik. I know you don't feed off humans." Her tone was contentious.
"I'm not as neutered as you think I am." He gazed into her hazel eyes, letting his own take on a reddish glow. "In your case, I might make an exception."
Her mouth opened, but she bit back whatever she had planned to say and held still.
"That's better," he growled. He stepped back slowly and took his hands away, but not before relieving her of her sword. Though she glared at him, she didn't try to take it back. "So ... the prodigal daughter returns. Does your father know you're here?"
"Gerard is not my father."
Erik tamped down the irritation he felt on his nephew's behalf. "He adopted you. He raised you as his own."
"Yes, well, signing a piece of paper doesn't alter one's DNA. My biological father-as you recall-was killed by a repugnant piece-of-shit undead."
The "like you" was implied and he inwardly winced at her grouping him with those who'd killed her family.
Noticing again the sweet coppery scent in the air, he remembered her injury. "Let's see that cut." He sheathed his sword and gently took hold of her arm to get a better look.
"It's nothing." She tugged to free herself and he reluctantly let go.
"It's not nothing," he assured her. "It needs stitches. Let's get back to the castle and I'll sew it up."
Distaste for the idea was written all over her face. "Right. I think I'll go to Doc Turner and let him do it."
"Doc Turner's dead."
"What?" She looked dazed. "When did that happen?"
"The winter after you stopped coming home."
"I'm sorry to hear that," she mumbled, more to herself. "Dead dead?"
He felt like rolling his eyes, but didn't. "No one turned him into a vampire, if that's what you mean. He was eighty-six and died in his sleep."
Excerpted from Lord Of The Night by Robin T. Popp Copyright © 2007 by Robin T. Popp. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Intense and exciting! It had a few different twist on the vampire origins, which were enticing.
Prime vampire Erik Winslow and his peers the other Prime vampires agreed not to hunt humans. They can control their thirst because they were bitten a chupacabra. However, their offspring is another matter as the next generations of vampires are bloodthirsty murderers. Even his castle in Hocklsey, England is not a safe zone as witnessed the vampiric slayings of the Renaults.--------------- - Two decades later, Kacie Renault is a vampire slayer avenging the murders of her parents Erik trained her. After Kacie kills Sedrick the vampire, who was Erik's friend, she decides she has had enough with blood and will become a bottom line accountant. However the Prime Vampires want her dead for murder. Erik finds himself obligated to keep his vow to keep Kacie and her sibling jess even as he begins to fall in love with his former student.------------ The fourth Night Slayer book (see OUT OF THE NIGHT, SEDUCED BY THE NIGHT, and TEMPED IN THE NIGHT) is a complex drama in which decisions are difficult to make. Erik is a terrific hero caught between the hard place and rock while Kacie is a feisty ¿takes no prisoners¿ woman. Fans of the saga will relish the latest entry wondering what the hero will do.---------- Harriet Klausner
Prime vampire Erik Winslow and his peers the other Prime vampires agreed not to hunt humans. They can control their thirst because they were bitten a chupacabra. However, their offspring is another matter as the next generations of vampires are bloodthirsty murderers. Even his castle in Hocklsey, England is not a safe zone as witnessed the vampiric slayings of the Renaults.-------------------------- Two decades later, Kacie Renault is a vampire slayer avenging the murders of her parents Erik trained her. After Kacie kills Sedrick the vampire, who was Erik's friend, she decides she has had enough with blood and will become a bottom line accountant. However the Prime Vampires want her dead for murder. Erik finds himself obligated to keep his vow to keep Kacie and her sibling jess even as he begins to fall in love with his former student.---------------------- The fourth Night Slayer book (see OUT OF THE NIGHT, SEDUCED BY THE NIGHT, and TEMPED IN THE NIGHT) is a complex drama in which decisions are difficult to make. Erik is a terrific hero caught between the hard place and rock while Kacie is a feisty ¿takes no prisoners¿ woman. Fans of the saga will relish the latest entry wondering what the hero will do.-------- Harriet Klausner