Last week, Cassidy DiRocco had some influence over the vampires that stalk the streets of New York City. She was never completely safe, but with her newfound abilities as a night blood and her honed instincts as a crime reporter, at least she had the necessary skills to survive.
Now, thanks to the injuries she sustained while saving her brother from a fate worse than death, she's lost her night blood status just as another crime spree hits Brooklyn. Dozens of people are being slaughtered, and each victim bears the Damned's signature mark; a missing heart.
Cassidy will need the help of all her allies to survive the coming war, including the mysterious and charismatic Dominic Lysander, Master Vampire of New York City. But as his rival's army threatens his coven and his own powers weaken with the approaching Leveling, even Dominic's defenses might not be enough protection.
With nothing left to lose, Cassidy must find the power inside herself to save Dominic, his coven, their city, and survive.
|Product dimensions:||5.51(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.74(d)|
Read an Excerpt
A Night Blood Novel
By Melody Johnson
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2017 Melody Johnson
All rights reserved.
Dominic looked pretentious and posh, as usual, leaning against the wall in the hallway outside my apartment. Even gazing at him through the fish-eye lens of my door's peephole — from the top of his immaculately cut and styled black hair to the bottom of his shiny Cole Haan wing-tipped dress shoes — he was a hopeful-mother's dream, a shrewd-woman's nightmare, and the reason I no longer bothered trying to sleep at night. Knowing the truth beneath the pretty wrapping — that he was the Master vampire of New York City — didn't stop my heart from jumping and dropping in confused anticipation and adrenaline. After I'd nearly lost him last week, I'd come to the implausible, unwelcome conclusion that I actually preferred my life with him in it, but since I'd completely lost the protection and mental strength of my night blood, his unexpected presence also twisted my gut with pure, unadulterated fear.
I hadn't seen Dominic in five nights, not since he'd entranced his name from my mind and confirmed our worst suspicion: I no longer had night blood.
Without night blood, I didn't have the potential to transform into a vampire, I couldn't reflect Dominic's commands if he attempted to entrance me, and I no longer had any of the qualities that Dominic held in such high esteem, that he'd planned to leverage during the Leveling; the one night every seven years that he lost his strength and abilities as Master to his potential successor, allowing a new Master to rise in his stead. Without those qualities, I couldn't help him survive the coming battle to keep control of his coven. I was nothing but another human.
I was nothing but food.
Dominic knocked a second time, this series of staccato raps on the door more insistent than the first.
"Who's at the door?" Meredith asked. Her eyebrows rose and disappeared behind her bangs.
Of course, on the one night Dominic finally decided to confront me, I had company. I should be grateful; he was knocking on the door rather than inviting himself in through one of the third-story, living room windows. That would have been difficult to explain to Meredith. Longtime best friend and wing woman at the Sun Accord she was, but night blood she wasn't.
"I'm hoping if I wait long enough, he'll give up and go away."
"He?" Meredith asked. A mischievous smile curved her lips.
"It's probably best to answer the door of your own will," Nathan murmured.
I stared at my brother, surprised that he'd uttered a full, intelligible sentence beyond "We're out of milk" or something equally inane. Inane seemed all he was capable of lately.
"He'll make it worse for you otherwise," he added.
I ignored Meredith and narrowed my eyes on Nathan. "How do you know who's at the door?"
Nathan dropped his gaze to the cereal bowl in front of him and continued spooning scraps of shredded wheat and milk into his mouth without further comment.
Maybe he'd actually keep the food down this time. Then we could work on gradually introducing warm meals and protein back into his diet.
I worried the doorknob with my thumb. Nathan might have been monosyllabic and near bulimic since returning to the city, but he was right. If I didn't open the door of my own will, Dominic would probably force me to grant him entrance into my new apartment. A tenuous spring of hope coiled in my gut. Maybe, just maybe, my efforts to create a fallout shelter here in the city had been a success; maybe I didn't need to worry about entry, forced or otherwise.
I might have put my newly fortified apartment to the test, but with Meredith sitting at my kitchen table, a slice of sushi roll halfway to her mouth, the risk of exposing her to the danger standing on my doorstep wasn't worth the pleasure of denying Dominic entrance.
I opened the door.
Dominic smiled, deliberately flashing his sharp, elongated fangs. "Good evening, Cassidy."
His voice purred in a deep timbre that plucked at the taut cords in my stomach. I squelched the feelings, but after weeks of denial, I could finally admit that they existed.
"What are you doing here?" I whispered.
He raised a perfectly arched eyebrow. "No 'Hello?' No 'What a pleasant surprise?'" Dominic tsked his tongue against the back of his teeth. "Where are your manners?"
"What a surprise," I muttered, deliberately omitting "pleasant." "You should have called before coming, Dominic."
He inhaled sharply. The fragile hope that softened his expression shamed me.
"Don't," I warned, keeping my voice low in an effort to prevent Meredith from overhearing. "I didn't remember your name on my own. Nathan reminded me. It still feels like a void, like Nathan telling me your name four days ago was the first I'd learned it."
His face fell. "That's unfortunate."
I sighed. "Are you only here to antagonize me, or was there an actual purpose to this visit?"
"Antagonizing you would be purpose enough, but yes, I have a greater purpose than even that," Dominic said, magnanimously. "Must we converse in the hallway? I don't believe I've had the pleasure of seeing your new apartment. Won't you invite me in?"
I shook my head. "Now's not a good time. I'm busy tonight."
"You haven't seen me in five nights. What could you possibly be doing at this late hour?" His expression hardened with a sudden realization. "Or is the proper question, who could you possibly be doing?"
I blinked. "What?"
"After everything that he's done, how could you allow Ian Walker to —"
"Cass, who's at the door?" Meredith poked her head between us, widening the cracked door. She panned over Dominic, from the perfection of his hair to the shine of his shoes, and turned a lascivious smile on me. "Won't you introduce us?"
"Yes, Cassidy, won't you introduce us?" Dominic mocked, his expression losing its edge. He looked amused.
"No," I said to Meredith. I turned to Dominic and cocked my head. "What were you saying about Walker?"
"Never mind about him. I'm much more interested in her," Dominic said, inclining his head toward Meredith.
I narrowed my gaze on him. "Unfortunately for Meredith, she's already made your acquaintance."
Meredith shook her head. "I don't remember making his acquaintance."
"He has that effect on people," I said smartly. "Even me."
A growl rattled from his chest.
I rolled my eyes. "You know my sarcasm better than that. Knock it off."
"It's not your sarcasm that angers me. It's the reminder that you were taken away from me."
I was never yours to begin with, I thought, but I knew better than to further antagonize him. I bit my tongue and said instead, "I'm right here."
"You know what I'm referring to," he said.
I sighed. I did, but I'd been dreading this conversation all week. "You should consider yourself lucky that I even —" I sneezed.
"Thank you," I managed before sneezing three more times in rapid succession. "I —"
Dominic raised an eyebrow. "Are you ill?"
"I'm fine." I dismissed his concern with a wave of my hand. "If you want to come back tomorrow, we —"
"A sneeze often indicates that one is ill or is about to become ill," he interrupted.
I rolled my eyes. "Once upon a time, yes, that was the case. People sneezed one day, and the next, they were on their deathbed. But with the advance of modern medicine and vaccinations, a sneeze is oftentimes just a sneeze."
Even as I finished my sentence, I sneezed again. Somehow, sneezing made my point less credible.
Dominic shook his head. "There are people — for many years now we've referred to them as physicians — who study your symptoms, diagnose your illnesses, and treat them with medication. I believe modern medicine refers to these medications as antibiotics, and the sooner you receive them, the better."
Meredith laughed. "I like him." She offered Dominic a California roll from the plastic container. "Sushi?"
Dominic patted his stomach. "Unfortunately, I've just eaten. Otherwise, I'd surely be ravenous for anything you offered me."
"Just meet me upstairs on the rooftop in two minutes," I snapped, flabbergasted, and shut the door in his face.
No sooner had I shut the door than I sneezed again. And again and again in rapid succession.
I could hear Dominic's fading laughter even through the closed door.
"Bless you," Meredith mumbled around a mouthful of sushi. She swallowed before saying, "I don't suppose you might be developing allergies." Her eyes glinted with amusement when she glanced away from the door to grin at me.
"No," I sighed, "but we may want to eat out of separate containers from now on. I think I'm coming down with something."
"I don't mind coming down with whatever you're catching," she said. Her tone sounded innocent, but her grin was absolutely wicked.
Nathan, upending the final drops from his cereal bowl, choked on his milk.
Her gaze suddenly turned thoughtful. "But seriously, of all the men in this city, you could do worse. He seems like an old soul."
I locked the front door. "You have no idea."
"Then why give him the cold shoulder?" Meredith asked. "The least you could do is invite him in and give me a proper introduction to the man who drops in unexpectedly on your doorstep at nine o'clock at night."
And therein lay the very problem with being best friends with a non–night blood: all the damn unanswerable questions.
Meredith's eyes widened, her expression salacious, and I knew without having to hear the words about to come out of her mouth that she'd jumped to the wrong conclusion. "Or is he just a booty call?" she asked, wagging her eyebrows hopefully.
"You know me better than that." I laughed.
She sighed dramatically. "Unfortunately, but one day you will officially get over your rat-bastard ex, and when that day comes, I want to hear every detail."
A door slammed shut, and I realized Nathan had escaped to the bathroom. Maybe he wasn't in the mood for Meredith's teasing — and honestly, neither was I if it involved dredging up conversation about Adam — but then I heard the gagging and retching noises coming from behind the closed door. Five days, and he hadn't been able to keep down anything but water. I couldn't think of anything more bland and stomach-settling than chicken broth and cereal, but if I didn't think of something soon, I'd have saved my brother from being Damned only to lose him to starvation.
Maybe I could borrow Dominic's IV.
"Is he okay?" Meredith whispered.
I leveled a look on her. "It's your fault. Talking dirty in front of my little brother, shame on you."
Meredith made a rude noise in the back of her throat. "He's your brother, but he's not little anymore. He should move out."
I frowned. "He just moved in."
"He's cramping your personal life."
"I don't have a personal life."
"You would if you didn't live with your little brother," Meredith argued. She had a valid point if we'd been normal siblings, but Nathan and I were anything but normal.
Night blood ran in our family genes, and Nathan was no exception. Unfortunately for our sanity and safety, we'd discovered our heritage separately and attempted to stop the rebel vampires terrorizing New York City without telling each other: I'd ended up playing bait for Dominic to smoke out their leader, and Nathan had sought out their leader to stop her on his own. If we'd had the courage to tell each other the truth and fight our enemies together, maybe Jillian Allister, Dominic's former second, potential successor, and leader of the rebel vampires, wouldn't have so easily attacked and transformed Nathan into the Damned — a ravenous creature whose insatiable thirst for aortic blood consumed its every thought and action.
I'd thought moving in together and being close to family would bring a sense of normalcy back into our lives after everything had been knocked so off-axis, but besides not being able to stomach solid food, one little detail of Nathan's time being Damned had escaped my consideration and prevented us from feeling at home, even here in the city: Jillian had wiped Nathan's existence from everyone's memory after transforming him and their memory hadn't been restored when he had.
Every friend forgot they'd known him. Every touch he'd ever shared was suddenly someone else's touch. Every relationship he'd ever formed and every gift he'd ever given or received was suddenly nothing but a reminder of everything he'd lost. I'd even had to reintroduce him to Meredith, which was especially strange considering she was practically family. She was like his sister, too, but after thirty years of friendship, she smiled and held out her hand like a lovely, polite stranger.
"Your life's a clean slate." I'd tried to bolster his spirits, but we both knew that was bullshit. Nathan was stranded, and I didn't know the first direction in helping to guide him home.
Meredith pointed her thumb at the door. As she sensed my somber mood, her expression suddenly turned serious. "Should I leave?"
I pulled down the drop staircase to the roof. "This won't take long."
"Quick and dirty. I'm liking him more and more." Meredith winked.
"Shut up," I said, smirking in spite of myself.
"Slow and thorough is good, too, I suppose. But if that's what you prefer, then I should definitely leave."
I shook my head and laughed at Meredith's teasing. It would be funnier if she wasn't partly right.
"If you're not back by the time I finish this California roll, I'm gone," Meredith warned.
I pointed my finger at her. "Don't you dare finish our food." And then, deliberately, I added, "Dominic is not worth missing out on sushi."
Meredith shrugged. "Better make it quick and dirty then. I've only got three more rolls to go."CHAPTER 2
My new place was smaller than my last apartment, especially with Nathan skulking in the shadows, but more important than size, I'd needed an apartment that could easily transform into a fully functioning fallout shelter. Keagan McDunnell, one of the many fellow night bloods lost during my disastrous visit to upstate New York last week, had shared his wealth of knowledge with me about vampire fallout shelters before going missing, and according to his expertise, my new apartment needed three essential anti-vampire ingredients: large, open windows and a southeast-facing apartment to let in sunlight; original metal locks and hinges and silver stuffed in every nook and cranny; and human blood.
With the exception of dried, stale human blood lining the apartment's perimeter to mask the appealing scent of my fresh, circulating blood, I had the other ingredients to my fallout shelter covered. The large, bay windows in my living room and bedroom allowed the sun to flood my apartment with natural light, and I'd draped gauzy fabric over the curtain rods instead of hanging drapes to let the apartment soak in all that natural protection. The apartment had its original, rusted hinges, skeleton key locks, and chain on the door, and I'd added a few additional metals of my own. I'd splurged, drawing on my savings for real silverware, silver curtain rods, metal wall decorations, and vintage silver floor lamps. And in addition to purchasing all that hardware, I'd used my remaining silver nitrate spray on every doorframe.
Everything I'd purchased for the apartment was to fortify it against Dominic and his vampires. The rooftop access, however, was just for me.
Everything seemed bigger on the rooftop — the city, the sky, my dreams, and perspective — while my problems and I seemed inconsequential in the giant, cosmic scheme of things. They weren't inconsequential, and neither was I — the very weight of my problems and their consequences were oftentimes crushing to contemplate — but when I lay on my hammock and watched the sun rise from the rooftop with just my thoughts and a glass of cabernet, I was lifted from beneath the weight of my problems. On the rooftop, with the warmth and protection of the sun on my skin, I could breathe.
When I emerged from the rooftop access staircase of my newly vampire-proofed apartment, Dominic was lounging in my hammock.
"That was longer than two minutes," he chided.
I glared down at his reclined form and crossed my arms. "Don't get comfortable. This is one of the few nights I have with Meredith, and I don't want to waste it."
He lifted an eyebrow. "You see Meredith every day. Sometimes you see her every night. And she's obviously not good for your health."
"I work with Meredith every day and sometimes every night. We're having girl time tonight. There's a difference." I narrowed my eyes on his last comment. "How does she affect my health?"
"She's human; with your weakened immune system and night blood, your body is obviously having some kind of allergic reaction to her."
I stared at him blankly.
"The sneezing. You —"
I rolled my eyes. "That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard come out of your mouth, and that's a lot, considering we're talking about you. I don't care how weakened my blood is, I am not allergic to my best friend."
Dominic patted the minuscule space in the hammock next to him. "Come here, and I'll explain it to you."
I shook my head. "I believe that would constitute 'getting comfortable'."
Excerpted from Eternal Reign by Melody Johnson. Copyright © 2017 Melody Johnson. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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.
Table of Contents
Vampires Bite in the Big Apple — deleted, restored & rewritten notes from draft 3,
Three Days before the Leveling,
Two Days before the Leveling,
One Day before the Leveling,
Ten Hours before the Leveling,
One Night after the Leveling,
ABOUT THE AUTHOR,
THE CITY BENEATH - THIS TURF WAR NEVER SLEEPS ...,
SWEET LAST DROP - TRUST NO ONE,