Master of Darkness

Master of Darkness

4.2 28
by Susan Sizemore

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When vampire hunter Eden Faveau mistakes Laurent, a renegade vampire of Tribe Manticore, for her new partner, he's not about to correct her. He's stolen a laptop full of sensitive files from the Tribe leader, Justinian, and needs help cracking the encryption. At first he wants sexy and intelligent Eden only for her computer wizardry — but soon he wants her for

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When vampire hunter Eden Faveau mistakes Laurent, a renegade vampire of Tribe Manticore, for her new partner, he's not about to correct her. He's stolen a laptop full of sensitive files from the Tribe leader, Justinian, and needs help cracking the encryption. At first he wants sexy and intelligent Eden only for her computer wizardry — but soon he wants her for much, much more.

Working by night and growing closer every day, Laurent and Eden struggle with the passion that threatens to overwhelm them. But when Justinian captures Eden, and Laurent proves his loyalty to his Tribe in the most shocking of ways, Eden vows to kill Laurent for his deception. Can he find a way to prove his love for her before a full-on war breaks out between vampires and humans?

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"Susan Sizemore enraptures readers."
Romantic Times

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Pocket Star
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4.20(w) x 6.30(h) x 0.80(d)

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Chapter One

The treasure was safe — Laurent wished he could say the same for himself. He was walking down a dark, deserted street, the time was approaching midnight, and frankly, he was lost.

Heading for San Diego had seemed like a good idea when he'd hightailed it out of Colorado with the stolen laptop. But this was not the San Diego he remembered from several decades before. When had he last hung out here? Sometime in the 1940s, maybe? The thirties? The place had certainly grown since then. They'd even built an aerospace museum on the site of the Ford Motor Building he used to frequent during the daytime. It just hadn't occurred to him that what had been a nice, quiet old city would change and grow with the times.

That was one of the problems with being long-lived: sometimes change came up and slapped you on the head when you thought you had a handle on it.

But his sense of displacement wasn't his major problem at the moment; staying alive was.

Justinian, the pack leader of Tribe Manticore, had already put a bounty on his head — and to think that a week ago, Laurent had been certain the old boy didn't even know how to use a telephone.

Of course, there was that telepathy thing....

It wasn't that he had forgotten about their mental powers. It was just that he'd lived in Los Angeles for a long time, where the safest way for a renegade Tribe Prime to survive in the Clan-dominated territory was to stay under the psychic radar.

I should have stayed renegade. It wasn't a bad life. But no, I had to try to make peace with Justinian, with my past. Okay, I was mostly in it for the money, but —

Laurent stopped. He didn't see anyone, but the street no longer felt deserted. Instinct told him that he wasn't alone.

Not again.

Back in the day, San Diego hadn't exactly been a thriving hotbed of vampirism. But ever since he'd blown into town three nights ago, the locals had been all over him. They'd all been Tribe boys, which was why he figured Justinian was involved. If there were noble, snooty Clan types in the area, they were holed up in expensive suburbs like La Jolla just like in the old days, leaving the seedier sides of the city for his kind.

There were at least two stalking him. He couldn't hear their breathing, but when he closed his eyes and concentrated, he picked up the very faint sound of slow heartbeats. Their psychic signatures were masked, but he did pick up a trace of human energy that was not the usual background noise. Was he being tracked by humans, too?

That didn't make any sense, so he'd worry about it later. Right now he had a couple of Tribe Primes to deal with.

"Okay, nobody asked me to do this, but a little documentation might help the cause. I'm going to consider this a blog and rattle off impressions along with facts as I go along."

Eden Faveau paused to take a deep breath before she spoke into the tiny voice-activated tape recorder again. She wanted to yell, but she had enough self-possession to whisper.

"I do not want to be here, or doing this, thank you very much, Dad, and all the other members of the only official vampire-hunting family left in the world." She took another deep breath. "Okay, that's off my chest. Actually, I could be in Hawaii right now, instead of up on a roof waiting for some vampire to show up at the appointed place and time as the oh-so-cryptic message from this Clan woman — local matri, I suppose — so portentously stated. I had my first two-week vacation planned — ever. And what happens? I get called upon to 'take up the mantle of responsibility for the family avocation' and fight evil because Dad and the boys have to be at some security conference in D.C."

Fight evil. Trip to Hawaii. Eden supposed that fighting evil had to be the first choice, but she had this desire to see flowing lava again. Visiting one of the Hawaiian volcanoes seemed like the safest way to do it.

"But we vampire hunters don't do things the safe way, now do we?" she spoke sarcastically to the recorder.

"The term evil has a certain political incorrectness attached to it since we now have open communications channels and temporary alliances with some factions of the supernatural community."

Community, ha! She made a face at her own cautious language. She thoroughly disliked assigning such things as culture and cohesion to the obvious bad guys, but that was the way vampires and other monsters were defined these days. Mainly because they didn't often cause trouble in the modern world. Heck, she had to admit that serial killers took out far more people than vampire attacks in any given year. But that didn't mean that death by preternatural blood-draining monsters wasn't still a possibility that needed to be guarded against.

"The Clan Primes have agreed to a mutual investigation of Tribe activities with the hunters. This preliminary investigation is to be carried out by me and a Prime of the Wolf Clan."

Eden looked at her watch, then down at the entrance to the alley three floors below. Not a shadow was moving down there. She didn't see anything when she checked with her nightvision lenses, either.

He was late.

She hoped this Clan guy wasn't planning on making some sort of dramatic entrance; she was so not in the mood.

She moved to the front of the roof and saw nothing but light traffic on the street; no pedestrians. She sighed and checked the other side again.

Finally there was someone down there. She couldn't make out details from this distance, even with the night-vision glasses, but her specialized equipment registered that he was a vampire. He was walking slowly, carefully checking his surroundings, and she approved of his caution. It told her that even the legendarily arrogant, superpowered Primes weren't completely stupid when it came to undercover work.

Her moment of admiration evaporated when she saw that the vampire wasn't alone. The pair that followed him were also vampires.

Damn it, the deal was for a human and a vampire to work together. Had she fallen for a trap? Then the lone vampire stopped and turned, and the others rushed toward him. They had to be Tribe Primes pulling an ambush; they'd somehow found out about the meeting.

She saw their movements as streaks of light through the goggles. The action was too swift for human eyes to follow, but there was definitely a fight going on — and the odds were not in favor of her Clan contact.

"Oh no, you don't!" Eden proclaimed. "That's my vampire!"

She snatched up her crossbow and ran for the fire escape.


One of the bastards was carrying a Taser. Laurent backed up and kicked the shock weapon out of the guy's hand. As he did, the other one came up behind him and got an arm around Laurent's throat.

He'd let them chase him into an alley, which was bloody stupid of him. The whole time they were physically on him, they were also psychically attacking him, sending images at him, trying to confuse him. It wasn't working, but it was annoying. Though maybe it was working a little, as he was imagining a shadow racing down a nearby fire escape.

Laurent buried his fangs deep into the arm at his throat. This managed to loosen the grip so that he could slip through and drop to the ground. From there he was able to shoulder-roll away from the pair.

Before he could spring back to his feet, someone behind him yelled "Down!"

The projectile that flashed past barely missed him. Laurent heard the thud of impact and looked up just as one of his attackers fell to the ground, an arrow sticking out of his chest. Shot in the heart, Laurent realized.

If there was one thing instantly fatal to a vampire — or anyone, come to think of it — it was having the heart pierced by a sharp wooden object.

The other attacker took one look at his dead friend and ran. Laurent was tempted to do the same. But he remembered that he'd been warned, so he rose to his feet and carefully turned to face his rescuer.

"Thanks," he said to the tall mortal woman standing beneath the streetlight.

"You're late," she answered.

He never argued with a woman holding a crossbow. "Sorry."

The other attacker didn't argue, either. He pelted off when the woman stepped forward.

As she walked toward him, Laurent noticed that the mortal was attractive in a sharp featured way. He liked her long legs, but not her very short hair. Not that this was a good time to take inventory of her womanly charms. She was the one holding the weapon, and he didn't know why she'd helped him. She certainly didn't give off any friendly vibes.

"You do know you killed somebody?" he questioned as she came to stand over the body.

She gave him a scathing look. "Like you've never killed anyone, Wolf."

He hadn't, and he wasn't named Wolf. He almost informed her of her mistake, but then he recalled that Clan Wolf were the dominant vampires in the area. So — she thought he was a Clan boy, did she? He didn't suppose this was any time to be offended by the mistake.

"Oh, right, vampires don't like to kill other vampires." She gave him a mocking smile. "Don't worry. I'll protect you."

Did she have any idea how dangerous it was to speak to a Tribe Prime like that? Especially for a woman? He looked her up and down with cold, assessing arrogance.

While she ignored him and spoke into a cell phone. "Bring a body bag. I've got a pickup."

Laurent looked on with a sudden admiration for the human hunter's efficiency. This woman had an infrastructure. She had backup. She thought he was here to help her.

She had no idea how much trouble she was in.

When she got off the phone, he smiled at her with all the charisma Primes were born with, which he'd honed to survive.

"Can I buy you a cup of coffee, Ms. — "

Copyright © 2006 by Susan Sizemore

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