Eden's latest brims with passion, obsession and demons as Det. Todd Brooks fights to keep Atlanta safe from a serial killer, an increasingly complex job as he discovers that his city is teeming with demons, vampires and an array of Others. It also doesn't help that he's smitten with beautiful prime suspect Cara Firon. All the evidence points to Cara's guilt, but Todd is certain that she has been set up, even as his colleagues warn that he is being swayed by lust. Cara, meanwhile, turns out to be a powerful sex demon struggling with her own issues of right, wrong and love. A cast of creative secondary characters rounds out this romp that all but vibrates with sexual energy. (Dec.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Midnight Sins (Cynthia Eden's Midnight Series #2)by Cynthia Eden
In her dazzling new novel of sensuality and suspense, Cynthia Eden introduces a stubborn Atlanta cop who meets his match in a woman with surprising secrets. . .
Cara Firon doesn't look like a monster. In fact, the gorgeous blond nightclub singer possesses heavenly attributes that make Atlanta detective Todd Brooks sure there's a higher power somewhere. But a… See more details below
In her dazzling new novel of sensuality and suspense, Cynthia Eden introduces a stubborn Atlanta cop who meets his match in a woman with surprising secrets. . .
Cara Firon doesn't look like a monster. In fact, the gorgeous blond nightclub singer possesses heavenly attributes that make Atlanta detective Todd Brooks sure there's a higher power somewhere. But a twisted killer is leaving a trail of bodies in seedy hotel rooms across town. The male victims show no woundsit's as if the life was simply drained from them. And right now, mysterious Cara is Todd's only suspect.
Cara knows it's foolish to be so drawn to a man who thinks she's a murderer. She also knows Detective Brooks would find the truth even harder to swallow. Cara is one of the Others, a race of powerful, paranormal creatures who live among humans. Cara's particular abilities make men putty in her handsall except this rugged, sexy-as-hell detective. But now someone, or something, has singled Cara out for serious payback. . .
As uneasy trust gives way to mind-blowing desire, Cara and Todd will go head-to-head with a killer whose mission is deeply personal, and who's determined to serve up revenge that's hotter than hellfire, and just as deadly. . .
"Edgy and compellingMidnight Sins sizzles with sexy paranormal suspense." Alyssa Day, USA Today bestselling author of Atlantis Awakening
"Highly sensual and definitely dangerous." Shannon McKenna on Hotter after Midnight
Read an Excerpt
By CYNTHIA EDEN
Copyright © 2008
All right reserved.
Chapter One The guy in the bed had enjoyed killer sex.
Detective Todd Brooks stared down at the naked man. The guy's hands were tied to the bed frame with a thick, white rope. His arms were stretched above him, and his legs sprawled across the mattress. An open condom wrapper littered the floor to his right, but there was no sign of the condom, or of the person who'd bound the man.
Poor dead bastard.
"Someone cleaned up." The rumbling voice came from his partner, Colin Gyth.
Todd grunted and let his gaze drift over the bed. Yeah, Colin was right. Someone had done a Class A job of screwing their crime scene. Maybe the forensics unit would be able to find more evidence, but he wasn't going to hold his breath.
His eyes narrowed as he studied the slight impression that marred the sheets on the left side of the body, an impression that could have been the outline of a woman.
But whoever the mystery lady was, she sure as hell had gotten out of Dodge.
"Heart attack?" Colin murmured, crouching near the foot of the bed.
A possibility. The guy looked fit enough. He was muscled, appeared to be in his late thirties, but, yeah, he could've had a heart attack. The sex could have gotten a little too wild, the bondage game too intense.
It could have happened that way.
They'd been called to the dingy hotel less than an hour ago. A maid, a currently hysterical teen girl, had discovered the body. There was no ID in the room, no wallet, no personal belongings-even the poor asshole's clothes were gone.
The desk clerk had him registered as Jon Smith. Not damn original, and not particularly helpful in this situation.
At least the clerk had managed to catch a glimpse of the woman with the guy. A blonde. Long, curly hair. Tall.
It would have been too much to ask, Todd supposed, for the guy to have actually glimpsed her face.
Where was the woman? Had she been a hooker? Someone the guy had picked up for the night? A street-smart woman who'd taken advantage of a man's death by stealing him blind? Or maybe she'd been his mistress, meeting in secret while her husband was none the wiser. When her lover had expired, she could have freaked.
Yeah, those ideas were definite options.
Or rather, they would have been great options, if this hadn't been the third dead, naked male that he and his partner had found tied up like this in just over a month.
Rubbing his eyes, Todd said, "We're going to need a damn thorough autopsy on this one." Because coincidences like this, they just didn't happen. Not ever.
He couldn't overlook the possibility anymore that there might be a new killer preying on the streets of Atlanta. Or that the killer might be one of the rarest breeds-a female serial.
"How the fuck is she doing this?" He asked softly. Had to be drugs. Something the killer slipped into the men's drinks. A little concoction that made their hearts beat too fast. Or maybe just stop. "I want Smith doing the autopsy and supervising the tox screen."
He glanced up and found Colin watching him with those eerie blue eyes of his. Tension had been heavy between him and Colin for a while now, and Todd knew part of the problem was coming from his end of the partnership-but, damn it, he couldn't help the stiffness that swept through him every time he had to confront Colin. Things just hadn't been the same, not since Todd had made the mistake of suspecting Colin's girlfriend in a murder case.
Jesus. Couldn't a guy ever screw up and just be forgiven? Did Colin want him to bleed? "Uh, Colin?"
Of course, there was the other problem-the one that had made him wake up those first few nights after the close of the Night Butcher case, his body soaked in a cold sweat of fear-
Todd sucked in a deep breath and caught the heavy stench of death. Okay, now wasn't the time to piss and moan over the damn nightmares or flashbacks or whatever the hell they'd been. He had a case to handle.
Colin blinked and seemed to shake himself out of his own dark thoughts. "I didn't think Smith was back from sick leave yet."
Sick leave. Todd's lips twisted. He was sure that wasn't exactly what she would call the extended enforced absence.
"Yeah, she's back." His gut tightened as he said the words. Smith, the best medical examiner in the state, had been taken hostage on their last big murder case. She'd been held prisoner by a fucking psychopath, and when they'd finally managed to rescue her, the woman had looked like a broken doll.
But the lady had a core of pure steel, and Todd was sure glad she was back at the Crypt-because they damn well could use her help.
Her replacement just wasn't as good with the stiffs.
"Shit." Colin shook his head, a muscle tightening around his jaw. "This is the last thing the city needs now."
Todd exhaled, knowing he was right, but there was no denying the evidence. A killer was out there, preying on men.
Giving them pleasure and hot sex, then stealing their lives away.
Damn. What kind of woman could do that? Sex and death ... not a combination many could handle.
But apparently, it was perfect for someone.
And it was going to be his job to find her, and to stop her.
By any means necessary.
"Detectives!" A uniformed cop stood in the doorway, his face flushed with excitement. "I've got something for-" His gaze darted to the dead man, and all the bright red color drained from his cheeks in an instant.
Had to be the kid's first body.
At least the scene wasn't too bloody.
Todd sighed and stepped forward, deliberately placing his body in front of the corpse. "Whaddya got?"
The cop swallowed and his Adam's apple trembled. "F-found ID in a Dumpster out back. M-man's wallet. Woman's p-purse."
A hot lick of excitement pumped through Todd and had every muscle in his body tightening. It couldn't be this damn easy. There'd been no evidence left behind before-and the cops on duty had sure as hell searched every garbage can and Dumpster in the vicinity.
The kid's quivering, white-gloved hand raised a driver's license. A Georgia license. One glance was all it took to identify the small photo.
Different haircut. Same face.
His eyes narrowed as he studied the ID. Michael House. A quick calculation put the guy's age at thirty-five.
Same age as Todd.
House's address was easily recognizable. One of the wealthier streets, one of those lined with the big antebellum homes.
So why had the guy been slumming on the wrong side of the city?
His attention shifted to the purse. A small leather bag. Delicate and probably expensive as hell. He reached for it, aware of Colin crowding beside him. His gloved fingers brushed across the soft surface, pushed inside.
He touched the hard edge of a wallet. Pulled it out. Black. A high-end label branded on the side.
So the woman had gone slumming as well.
Carefully, he opened the wallet. Just because the uniform had found the purse near the victim's belongings didn't mean the purse belonged to his missing lady. Could have been anyone's purse, especially in this neighborhood, but-
A hard burst of air exploded from between his lips.
But the woman on the ID had long, curly blond hair. Just like the desk clerk had described.
Coincidence? Damn unlikely.
The lady was also a world-class looker. The photo was small, grainy, but the woman-he'd never seen anything like her before.
The word seemed to whisper through his mind.
Her face was a perfect oval, her cheeks high, her nose a small, straight ridge. Her full lips were parted and seemed strangely red in the picture.
Oh, hell, yeah, he could all too easily imagine a woman who looked like her being able to seduce men to their deaths. It was all there-in her wide, bedroom eyes, in the sinful lips.
She was the kind of woman a man would die to taste-and maybe, just maybe, three men had.
"Too easy," Colin said and Todd knew exactly what he meant. Finding her ID-shouldn't have happened.
Nothing had been left at the other crime scenes. Not a hair. Not a piece of fabric from the killer on the victims' clothing. No fingerprints.
So why the hell had the woman left her ID behind this time?
His gaze met the green stare of the young cop. "Tell me, exactly, where you found this."
"I-in the Dumpster. Right behind the storage room."
"She might as well have left it in the hotel room." Colin shook his head. "I don't like it."
Well, Todd didn't particularly like anything about the case. "It's a lead." A strong one. "And I'm going after her." It was his partner's job to back him up. They were supposed to trust one another implicitly.
But he hadn't exactly trusted Colin for months now, not completely-with pretty fucking good reason-and he knew the feeling was mutual.
Colin stared at him for a moment, eyes shuttered. Finally, he said, "We'll put out an APB. Let the uniforms see if they can find her and bring her in to the station-"
"No." Not an option. "I'm going after her." He couldn't explain the sudden, driving compulsion within him, but he was going to find the woman.
He needed to find her.
Sex and death.
The woman in the photo sure as hell hadn't looked like a monster, but an angel's face could hide the soul of a devil. Every cop learned that lesson.
Cara Maloan. The name on the ID was different, exotic. The woman, well, she was probably homicidal, but he was going after her.
His job was to catch killers, and that was exactly what he planned to do. Pretty face or not.
He checked the card again, running over her vitals. Five foot nine, 140 pounds. Age ... twenty-eight. Blond hair. Blue eyes.
"Let's get the hell out of here," Colin said, straightening his shoulders. "I'm damn tired of finding naked dead men."
So was he.
Time to play their usual game of good cop, bad cop.
Todd was very, very good at playing the game.
The mysterious Cara was about to find out that she couldn't screw with the Atlanta PD.
She was giving up sex. No, she had given up sex. As of tonight, she'd officially reached the one month, sex-free mark.
Cara Maloan slumped on her couch, her eyes trained on the flickering images of a naked couple as they flashed across her television screen. The man and the woman were gasping, moaning, their hands ripping clothing away in the midst of their frantic sexual heat.
"Hell." So not what she should be watching. With a flick of her fingers, she turned off the TV, then tossed the remote across the room.
Unlike that hormone-driven couple, there would be no more fast, hard matings for her.
Giving up sex. That was the path for her..
Of course, the fact that she was a full-blooded succubus and derived her power from the sexual act-much like a vampire from blood drinking-the way Cara figured it, she'd be in for some serious hard times.
Her head fell back against the couch cushions. She was so damn screwed.
Or actually, she wasn't, and didn't have any future plans to be-that was her trouble.
Why-why did she have to be different from the rest of her kind? Why did every sexual encounter leave her flushed with power, but aching and empty deep inside?
Why was she such a freak?
The other succubi she knew, they flaunted their sexual power, reveled in it, while she-
Hell. Her long nails dug into the couch cushions, gouging at the soft fabric.
She was an aberration, she knew it. Not a predator like she should be. Too weak. The demon blood in her body should have made her a perfect hunter.
But she'd never really enjoyed the hunt, and that was her whole problem.
She sighed. At least she had a backup plan in place. Since she wasn't going to be having the hot, wild sex that her kind craved, she still had to get a power fix. Thanks to her job, she'd be able to get that surge. The sensual rush wouldn't be as strong, but it would be enough for her to keep living.
Damn it, why do I have to be so different?
The peal of her doorbell, followed by the hard, fierce pounding at her door, jerked Cara from her pity party.
She frowned, glancing quickly at the glowing clock on her DVD player-1:16 A.M.
Who the hell would be coming to see her now?
Cara rose, stomped into the foyer and then to the door. Her left eye peered through the peephole as her fingers curled against the wood frame.
Her glowing porch light illuminated two men. Big men. Strangers.
She stepped back, her gaze narrowing.
The door shook as a powerful fist pounded against it once again.
As a rule, Cara wasn't afraid of humans. She was stronger than them, a hell of a lot stronger, and had once taken down a six-foot-three, 280-pound asshole with one touch.
She might not enjoy the game of hunting as much as her brethren, but she did know how to use her powers to defend herself when necessary.
Keeping the chain in place at the top of her door, she swung the dead bolt and opened the door two inches.
A badge was immediately shoved into the opening. "Cara?"
Frowning, she said, "Yes." The badge was right before her eyes, all shiny and official looking.
The badge disappeared. "I'm Detective Todd Brooks of the Atlanta Police Department." A pause. "I want you to open the door and let me inside."
She couldn't see much of his face from the angle she had. Just a hard jaw. Sharp cheekbone. Brown hair that was cut brutally short.
Let me inside. His words rang in her head and she blurted the question that immediately sprang to mind, "Why?"
His hand rose, pressed against the door. It was a strong hand, long-fingered, bronzed from the sun. "I don't want to talk about this outside. Your neighbors might overhear."
Doubtful. Her yard was big. Private. That was why she'd bought the house.
Besides, she wasn't exactly clear on what "this" was. Her fingers tightened around the doorknob. "Who's with you?"
"My partner." A touch of impatience coated the man's drawl. "Now I'm trying to ask nicely here, Ms. Maloan. Let me inside."
What would happen if he stopped asking so nicely? A hot spurt of fire stroked through her gut.
Uh, oh. She did not need to get turned on by a dark, rumbling voice.
She also didn't need cops on her doorstep.
Cara released the chain and hurriedly jumped back as the door was shoved open. Then the men stormed inside, and her heart pounded too fast as a shiver of fear skated down her spine.
It wasn't the guns in their hands that made her wary, though they were a definite concern. Bullet wounds hurt like a bitch-she knew, she'd been shot once. Not exactly a stellar memory.
No, it wasn't the weapons that made her tremble. It was the men.
The first guy, Detective Brooks, he was tall, a couple of inches over six feet, and leanly muscled. There was power there, in the tight lines of his body, a strength that hung in the air around him, and, damn but the guy was handsome. Sharp, clean lines defined his face. A straight nose, a chiseled jaw and chin. His top lip was a little too thin, but strangely sexy. And his eyes, they were dark brown. They looked ... warm.
A deception, she was sure, but there was something about him ... something hot. Dark. A curl of heat unfurled within her, and a rampant thought raced through her mind. I want to taste him. All of that wonderful power swirling just beneath his surface. He'd be delicious.
The demon inside her trembled with hunger even as the woman fought to hold on to her control.
With an effort, Cara managed to shift her attention to the other cop. He stood farther back, his bright blue stare trained on her. The guy looked like some kind of football player-big, muscled, but his face resembled that of a predator. Tight, sharp. High cheekbones, broad forehead, and a jaw that was clenched.
He was a good-looking guy, in a rough, scary way. One of those guys who looked like he could beat the shit out of a man and never even break a sweat.
Despite his obvious power, he didn't spark a hunger within her. Not like the other man did.
Cara swallowed. "I-I don't think the guns are really necessary." What in the hell was going on? Her heart was beating in a double-time rhythm now, nearly shaking her chest. Her breath began to pant out as she eyed the weapons. Okay, for the first three seconds, the guns had just been an annoyance, but the longer the two jerks kept holding the weapons, well, the more nervous she was becoming.
As fear and adrenaline flooded through her, she began to feel the sting of her power racing through her veins.
The second cop, the partner yet to be named, suddenly emitted a hard growl. Her gaze flew to his face. His nostrils flared, as if he were catching a scent in the air. (Continues...)
Excerpted from MIDNIGHT SINS by CYNTHIA EDEN Copyright © 2008 by Cindy Roussos. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Award-winning author Cynthia Eden writes dark tales of paranormal romance and romantic suspense. She is a New York Times, USA Today, Digital Book World, and IndieReader best-seller. Cynthia is also a three-time finalist for the prestigious RITA® award . Since she began writing full-time in 2005, Cynthia has written over fifty novels and novellas. Visit her online at www.CynthiaEden.com.
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