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Night After Night
By Kathryn Smith
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2009
All right reserved.
Somewhere in Europe, 1899
He should kill her. Whether or not he could wasn't the question that plagued him; it was why hadn't he done so already?
Lying on a narrow cot in a cool, dank cell, Temple listened to the footsteps on the floor above. Long, determined strides carried his visitor toward the door that led down into the cellar where they'd sequestered him for . . . he had no idea how long. He knew that stride almost as well as his own now. It came out of the fog they'd kept him in—the fog that had been steadily clearing for days, though he never once let on that their drugs no longer worked.
Yes, now that he had regained much of his strength, he was very tempted to kill his sweet-smelling captor.
He was tempted to do all kinds of things to her.
When they had first taken him, they used some kind of drug—a poison—on him. It deadened his nerves and rendered him unconscious. They kept him that way for much of the journey. And when they finally arrived at their destination—wherever the hell that was—they switched from their poison to opium, great amounts of it, given to him by the one person trusted to deal with him. The one person who his captors obviously believed could handle him if the need arose.
Her heartrate almost doubled whenever she came near him. Temple knew this because he could hear it. Lying on his bed, in his prison of silver, he could hear her approach and the muffled woomp-woomp-woomp beneath her ribs.
Being a vampire had its advantages, and one of them was knowing when a woman was sexually attracted to him. Vivian was. She also feared him with equal or superior passion. It wasn't personal. It was because he was a vampire. But regardless of how wary she was of him, that wasn't the sole reason her heart kicked up a fuss whenever she came near him. Thank God she couldn't hear how his heart reacted to her.
He could smell the delicate ginger-peach scent of her skin as she came down the cellar steps. He didn't put his bare feet on the floor—three days of painful, oozing blisters after he tried to escape the first time broke him of that. The floor had flecks of silver in the paint that burned his soles. And every hour another guard came and sprayed a fine mist of holy water through the bars—just in case blisters—and opium—proved not to be deterrent enough.
Still, even the thought of blisters wasn't enough to sour the sight of her. And his vision had cleared enough that he could fully appreciate her. Oh, he could kill her on the sheer premise that she was one of them, but there was no denying the woman was a ripe piece of heaven personified.
She had to be at least six feet tall. It was difficult to tell as he'd never had the honor of standing next to her. Clad as she was in a shirt, trousers, waistcoat, and boots, there was never any chance of her being mistaken for a man. Her thighs were far too shapely, her hips too round, her waist too small, and her breasts . . . Well they were abundant handfuls, and Temple had big hands.
And that was only the beginning of her charms: skin the color and smoothness of rich cream, cheeks and lips naturally burnished like a succulent peach. Her eyes were the same shade as a storm-swept sea—he'd always harbored affection for inclement weather. But it was her hair that drew the eye. Nature rarely bestowed a red so vibrant on any human head, nor gloss or thickness.
And she was strong too. Fast. More so than a woman should be. What other special abilities did she have that Villiers put her in charge of the big bad vampire?
She was a member of the Order of the Silver Palm, that much he had long ago deduced. The man she answered to—Rupert Villiers was obviously high in the organization's ranks, if not its heart and soul. Vivian hadn't been with them when a group of them found his lair in Cornwall, poisoned him and took him captive, but she had been a daily torment ever since with her sweet-smelling skin and flaming hair.
Yes, he should kill her. He could do it now. Draw strength from the vein in her long slender throat, and make his escape. He should.
"Are you awake?" she asked in an English accent as rich and crisp as a gingersnap.
Temple made a low groaning sound, slowly turning his head toward the cell door as he heard the key clank against it. He didn't open his eyes very far, so she couldn't see the clarity in his gaze and realize that his body had adapted to the opium—it was no more effective than a glass of wine now.
That Vivian and her boss didn't know that his body worked that well was an unexpected boon, because they obviously knew enough not to starve him and allow him to become feral.
A slippery bunch, this Order of the Silver Palm. They'd started growing in number the last ¬couple of decades, their interest in vampires—particularly Temple and his friends—increasing as well. He didn't know what they wanted from him, and his own curiosity had led to his being taken prisoner. He should have put up more of a fight, but he wanted to know what they were up to.
And he had grossly underestimated their abilities. He'd only killed a ¬couple of them before the others overpowered him with their poison.
"Dinner time," Vivian murmured as she closed the cell door behind her, pocketing the key. She was carrying a bottle of what had to be blood, and a washbasin. "Time for a bath as well."
Excerpted from Night After Night by Kathryn Smith Copyright © 2009 by Kathryn Smith. Excerpted by permission.
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