Sonia Agostino comes from a family of Keepers, humans charged with helping paranormal creatures in the modern world. Her research into myths and legends has led her to Inhibitions, a nightclub in Chicago. She suspects the reclusive and enigmatic owner could be the one paranormal creature she has never met—a vampire—only he won’t agree to see her.
One look at Sonia, and Damek knows she’s a serious threat to the disciplined routine that keeps his bloodlust in check. She’s also unwittingly led vampire hunters far too close for comfort. But in spite of the dangers and the complications, Damek can’t refuse her.
Sonia finds her loyalties tested, and they’re both faced with choices that will change their lives forever.
Each book in the Legacy series is a standalone story that can be enjoyed out of order.
Book #1 Alexandra’s Legacy
Book #2 Isaiah’s Haven
Book #3 Legacy Found
Book #4 Quinn’s Quest
Book #5 Finding Chrissten
Book #6 Damek’s Redemption
Book #7 Craig’s Heart
About the Author
Once upon a time N.J. had the idea that she would like to quit her job at the bookstore, sell everything she owned, leave her hometown, and write romance novels in a place where no one knew her. And she did. Two years later, she went back to the bookstore and her hometown and settled in for another seven years. One day she gave notice at her job on a Friday morning. On Sunday afternoon, she received a tentative acceptance for her first romance novel and life would never be the same.
N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.
Read an Excerpt
It's good to be King.
Damek stood in a dark corner of his club, Inhibitions, and watched the patrons gyrating on the dance floor to the heavy bass thumping out of the speakers. Bodies rubbed together, hands groped and clothing was being pushed away to find the warmer flesh beneath it.
Blood pumped through their veins, a siren's call to him, and he licked his lips as hunger rushed through him. It would be so easy to wend his way through the crowd and cull one or two for his own use. His fangs punched downward and his vision started to turn red. He could practically taste the warm blood in his mouth, sliding down his throat. It would be delicious. Powerful.
And it would be wrong. Damek turned away from the dance floor, making certain to keep his mouth closed and his eyes downcast until he had control of himself once again.
Business was booming tonight, as it always was. Inhibitions was one of the favorite hot spots of the rich and famous and wannabes in Chicago, and Damek intended to keep it that way. At any given moment patrons might find politicians, musicians, actors and millionaires rubbing shoulders with one another. Its very exclusive nature kept the lineup outside the door long and never-ending.
He glanced toward the chrome-and-glass bar where people were standing two deep while all three of his bartenders worked as fast as they could to fill orders. Waitresses moved among the tables, watched carefully by the large contingent of security that Damek employed. People could do whatever they wanted as long as it was consensual. But his staff was off-limits, and anyone who harassed the waitresses or bartenders soon found themselves barred from the premises.
Alcohol, pulse-pounding music, dark shadows and the promise of sex — was there anything that could make a person lose all their inhibitions faster? If there was, he hadn't found it yet. And he'd been alive for a very, very long time.
He was king of all he surveyed and much more. Quite a change from the small village where he'd grown up so long ago in an ancient kingdom no one remembered. But those days were centuries past, and he'd made peace with his existence.
The mere word made some laugh in jest, while others cringed in fear. The latter ones were the smarter. Many of his brethren were an undisciplined bunch, treating humans as though they were nothing but game to be hunted and devoured, which was why many of those vampires were dead. It never paid to underestimate the determination of the human race. Having been human once, Damek was always surprised when newly made vampires forgot such a basic lesson in survival.
Damek had lived more than a thousand years precisely because he never forgot what he'd been like as a human — ruthless, determined and dangerous. Those characteristics had only been deepened after his conversion.
"Boss, there's a woman asking about you." Byron, his head bouncer stood beside him, his gaze wandering over the crowd. "There, by the far end of the bar. She doesn't belong here."
Damek often wondered what the man's parents had been thinking to name the man beside him George Gordon, after the infamous poet, Lord Byron. Damek had met the poet in England several hundred years ago and spent a glorious weekend in debauchery, lost in women and wine. No, this man was nothing like the poet.
This Byron, who much preferred that nickname to being called George, stood about eight inches over six feet, shaved his head and wore leather pants and a vest, which showcased his impressive physique. He was intimidating, to say the least. That was why Damek had hired him, but not why he'd risen to be Damek's right hand here at the club. No, Byron was loyal to his core, and Damek valued that trait above all others.
Not that Byron or any other of Damek's staff knew what he was. No, he wasn't that trusting or stupid. They all believed him to be a powerful businessman, which he was, but he was simply much more.
He followed Byron's gaze to the end of the bar. Alison, one of his best bartenders, had her head bent and she was talking to another woman. Byron's assessment was right on target, as usual, the woman certainly didn't look as though she belonged here.
His preternatural vision allowed him to see easily in the darkness, cutting through the flashing lights on the dance floor to the woman in question. She had her head turned away as she spoke, so his eyes drifted down her body and he examined her clothing. No high heels or short dress for her. No, she was wearing sensible shoes, pants and a tailored jacket.
Damek's curiosity was aroused. "Did she say who she was?" Byron shook his head. "Nope. Just that she was hoping to talk to you."
He looked back and all his senses tingled. Her hair was caught at her nape in some kind of decorative clip. It was curly and wild and the color of the night. He wondered what it would look like released from captivity.
His body stirred for the first time in a long while. Months, years, he wasn't sure. Time lost all meaning when one lived as long as he had.
But it was her face that captivated him. It was heart-shaped, with a pert nose and full, inviting lips. Without seeing them up close, he knew her eyes would be gray.
He'd watched that face from afar many, many years ago, seen it grow wrinkled with age as youth gave way to old age. But that woman had died four hundred years ago. He shook his head, certain he was seeing a ghost.
"You okay, boss?" Byron's question brought him back to the present, but he was unsettled. And not much unsettled him these days.
"Tell her I'm not available and escort her out of here. You were right. She doesn't belong." And if another man made a move on her, Damek would be tempted to rip his head from his shoulders. Literally.
He felt Byron's gaze on him, but the bouncer did as he was instructed. Not that Damek had any doubt that he would. Byron could be counted on to carry out his orders. He watched as Byron wound through the crowd and stood beside the mystery woman. He hadn't even asked her name. Probably better that way.
Elizabetta. He still remembered her name from long ago. She'd been no more than a peasant, living with her family in the remote countryside of Transylvania but, to him, she'd been more beautiful than a queen with her bright laughter and quick smile. He'd tarried for years there, leaving but always returning to watch her.
It had almost killed him when she'd married and had children. She'd aged fast, as people had back in those days, and been dead by the time she was in her early forties. She'd left a husband, seven children and six grandchildren to mourn her passing.
Damek swallowed back the pain and rage threatening to undo his ironclad control. He'd wanted to kill her husband for not taking better care of her. Oddly enough, it had been the sight of that man dangling one of his grandchildren on his lap that had stopped Damek. The child had looked so much like her grandmother that Damek hadn't been able to move. Frozen outside the window to the cottage where Elizabetta had lived and died, he'd watched and known a part of her still lived on.
That had been enough.
Was this woman a descendant of hers? Or was the resemblance nothing more than coincidence?
He wished he were close enough to hear her voice above the heavy music and drunken laughter. Was it softly accented or was it clipped and precise, more American than European. He leaned forward before he realized what he was doing.
Cursing himself, he cloaked his presence and glided along the shadows, moving ever closer to his goal. He stopped just beyond the bar, only feet away from the woman. She was fairly tall, about five-seven and slender. But it was hard to tell much else about her physical attributes without stripping her out of the unflattering suit she wore.
"When will he be in?" Her low, sultry voice sank into the very cells of his body and he closed his eyes and simply basked in it.
"Don't know." Byron's answer was short and concise. "You should leave."
He went to put his hand on her arm and Damek hissed with displeasure. A wave of pure menace shot out of him before he could control it. Bryon froze, his hand hovering in the air about four inches from her arm. The woman sucked in a breath and glanced around, her gaze falling briefly on Damek before sliding away and continuing around the rest of the room. All the patrons of the club froze on the dance floor, as though some unknown force had control of their motor functions.
Damek silently cursed himself and reined in his emotions. A woman laughed and a glass hit the bar, making the ice inside it tinkle. The music played on and the club gradually returned to normal, but there was an edge to the atmosphere that hadn't existed before, and Damek knew the club would probably clear out early tonight unless he left the premises. His mood was permeating the place, making everyone here nervous and restless. The woman's presence here had unsettled him, a dangerous proposition for a vampire.
The woman fumbled in her rather large purse, drew out a card and handed it to Byron. "Please ask him to call me."
Byron slid the card into his vest pocket but promised nothing. The woman sighed and turned to leave with the bouncer right behind her. Byron kept his hands to himself, for which Damek was extremely grateful. He was on edge and would hate to do something he'd regret tomorrow. Damek followed at a discreet pace, confident no one could see him. He was one with the night, a mere shadow to those around him.
The iron gate that acted as the first door to the club closed with a metallic bang behind the woman, the finality of it sending a shiver of dread down his spine. He frowned and eased from the shadows to stand beside Byron. He didn't speak, but simply held out his hand.
Byron slid the card out of his vest pocket and put it in Damek's hand. It was made of heavy vellum and etched in black lettering. Sonia Agostino, PhD in folklore and anthropology. Now what did some academic want with him and his club? He noted she taught at NYU and wondered what she was doing in Chicago.
"I'm going out. You can call me if there's trouble." Damek was out the door before he even realized he was going. It was sheer instinct that had him following her. No, not her. Sonia. Her name rolled around in his brain and he smiled. It suited her somehow, a bit old-fashioned and old world.
He had her in his sights now. Her shoes were clicking against the sidewalk as she made her way quickly down the street, her oversized purse slapping against her hip with each long stride. Damek shoved his hands in his pants pocket and strolled after her.
Sonia muttered to herself as she walked. "Well, you knew it wouldn't be easy." Yet, she'd expected to walk into a nightclub and talk to the owner. Damek, no last name, at least not one she could find, and she'd done her research.
She sighed, wishing she'd taken the time to change into flats or sneakers. But no, she'd been in such a rush she'd dumped her suitcase at the hotel and hurried straight to the club. Now her feet hurt, she was disappointed and her stomach was growling in protest to the fact she hadn't eaten since early this morning. She'd been too busy teaching all day before racing to the airport to catch an early evening flight. She'd had plenty of coffee, but not much else.
She took a deep breath and forced herself to slow down and pay attention to her surroundings. Chicago was a city, and like any city, it wasn't smart to be unaware. The Fulton River District was bustling. Empty warehouses sat alongside new condominiums, which cost more than she could ever hope to afford. Not that she'd ever leave New York and her family. They all lived in a building her grandparents owned in Astoria and she loved it there, loved being a part of a loud, opinionated, boisterous Greek family.
And speaking of family, she needed to call hers before they started worrying about her. She plucked her cell phone out of her jacket pocket and dialed. It was answered on the first ring.
"How was your flight? Have you eaten yet?" All of them might be adults, but Celia Agostino treated them all as though they were still children.
"Hi, Mom." Sonia smiled as her mother continued to pepper her with questions, interrupting her to answer some of them. "The flight was great and I'm going to get something to eat now." All she'd told her parents was that she was coming to Chicago to do some research. If they'd known her real reason, they would have stopped her, or all come along with her. She wasn't quite certain which.
"Are you being careful? Your father worries."
Her smile grew. It was a family joke that her mother never admitted to being worried about any of her three children. It was always her father who worried. Of course, if his wife wasn't happy then Vincenzo Agostino wasn't happy either, so she supposed her mother was telling the truth. "I'm always careful." She shifted her purse so she had a better hold on it.
"Why are you really there, Sonia? I know it is not simply for research. I sense something more. Something darker."
That was the problem with having a mother who was part gypsy and part, well, something else altogether. She always knew when Sonia wasn't telling her everything. "I'm fine."
"Be careful, my darling. Promise me."
Her stomach lurched and she slowed, finally coming to a halt outside a small, bustling Italian restaurant. "Do you know something I don't?" Some people might laugh, but Sonia believed in her mother's premonitions. They'd been right far too often for her to discount them.
"No. It is all dark. Hidden. Maybe you should come home. Or one of your brothers could fly out to be with you."
That was exactly what she didn't need. She loved both Stefano and Milo with all her heart, but they were overbearing know-it-alls, as only older brothers could be. "I'll be careful, Mom. I promise. Look, I've got to go. I'll call you tomorrow."
"Please be careful, Sonia," her mother pleaded.
"I will. Love you." She ended the call but was left feeling anxious and unsettled. "Great. I should have waited until I was back at the hotel to call her." She started walking fast again, aware of the rush of humanity on the streets as people headed to clubs and restaurants to meet friends and lovers. Roving packs of females and males all looking for some action and some up to more nefarious deeds that she'd rather not know about.
"Get a grip," she muttered and picked up her pace. She was fine. She was faster and stronger than she looked, and her father had made sure she knew how to handle herself in less-than-desirable situations.
No one knew why she was truly here in Chicago, not even her family. There was nothing in her computer that would point to her real reason either. She was smart and had been trained from birth not to talk about the others.
Most people didn't believe in the paranormal. Sonia knew better. Her family was a member of The Keepers, a part of a worldwide network of people who helped protect those who weren't human. Werewolves, witches and other shapeshifters filled the world, but the most elusive supernatural creature of all was the vampire.
She'd come here in search of one.
Some people would call her crazy, but that was fine by her. She'd been ridiculed for her choice of study within the academic world anyway. She'd studied anthropology and folklore, making her field of study the myths and legends of the worlds, specifically those that pertained to otherworldly creatures.
She knew a lot about werewolves, but not nearly as much about vampires. It was only by sheer luck she'd stumbled across a newspaper clipping about the killings in a Chicago park last year. It had all the trademarks of a battle between a group of werewolves and bounty hunters. The bounty hunters were a nasty lot, wanting to kill every supernatural creature, no matter if they were good or bad. That made the hunters evil in her books.
Whether there were werewolves living in the city or not, she didn't know. They weren't in The Keepers database. But it had started her looking at Chicago, and in her research she'd come across a mention of a very exclusive club — Inhibitions. For some instinctive reason she'd been compelled to keep digging for information about the club and its mysterious owner.
She might not have the sight like her mother did, but Sonia always listened to her intuition. It had never been wrong. Her curiosity, and a gut feeling that she needed to pursue this further, had led her here.
Excerpted from "Damek's Redemption"
Copyright © 2012 N.J. Walters.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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