Of all the mistakes Conrad Quintano has made, driving Damian away is the one that haunts him the most. He hates the fact that’s he’s hurt the man he loves more than anything. For the sake of the twins, though, Conrad and Damian parent as a united front, a challenge that grows more and more difficult with each passing year. And with Conrad in his weakened state after his kidnapping, it grows more difficult than ever to be around the one man he can’t have.
But an old enemy’s mission to create a dangerous new breed of vampire threatens the twins’ lives, and it’s now more important than ever that the estranged lovers put the past behind them, or everything they hold dear might be ripped apart.
Each story in the Children of Night series is a standalone story and can be enjoyed in any order.
Book #1: In the Dark
Book #2: Old Sins, Long Shadows
Book #3: Now Comes the Night
Book #4: Ashes of the Day
Book #5: Fallen Embers
Book #6: To Curse the Darkness
About the Author
PG Forte inhabits a world only slightly less strange than the ones she creates. Filled with serendipity, coincidence, love at first sight and dreams come true.
She wrote her first serialized story when she was still in her teens. The sexy, ongoing adventure tales were very popular at her oh-so-proper, all girls, Catholic High School, where they helped to liven up otherwise dull classes...even if her teachers didn't always think so.
Originally a Jersey girl, PG now resides with her family on the extreme left coast where she writes contemporary and paranormal romance in a variety of sub-genres.
Read an Excerpt
San Francisco, California
The cries of the damned echoed in the dark, bouncing off the stone walls of their prison until the entire cavern rang with the sound of their pain.
"Shout all you want," the soft, malicious voice of their jailer mocked them. "No one can hear you. No one can save you now."
Defiantly, Conrad filled his lungs to yell again. Hopeless or not, it was not in his nature to simply lie down and die. He would not give up. He would not give in. He would not —
Mid-thought, mid-breath, he paused, struck by the ghastly silence that had settled around him. He was alone. The others were gone. Their voices had all fallen still. There was no one left now, in this godforsaken place, but he, himself. Child of Night. Slave to the Hunger. Last of the Lost Ones ...
Rage ignited in Conrad's heart and the force of his fury ripped him from the nightmare. He sat up in bed, his fangs dripping with venom. The urge to kill, to rend, to feed, rioted through his veins. It took everything he had to restrain his inner demon, to assess his situation with all the rationality he could muster. Even then, he very nearly lost the fight.
He was overreacting. Damn it, he knew this! There was no need for the anger or the fear. He was a millennium removed and half a world away from the scene he'd been remembering. Those squalid, stone cells where so many of his comrades gave up their lives and where he himself had been stripped of his humanity existed only in memory. Ages had passed since he'd seen them reduced to rubble. The vampire who'd ordered them built was long gone as well. The sadistic fiend who'd sired and enslaved him, who'd once owned his very soul, could trouble him now only in his dreams.
He was free. He was safe. He was home. And, tonight, he was once again waking up alone. There was no one to kill, no one to fear, no one to love — no one at all — in the bed beside him. Just as well. Although the longing to reclaim his life-mate had lately become a near-constant ache in his heart, not even to spare himself another night of loneliness would he deny the truth. He was better off alone. Much better off. They both were. He was too dangerous to be trusted, too likely to injure anyone who might share his bed. He was too damn hungry.
There was an endless, gnawing emptiness in his veins that would not be denied. It was worse than the heartache, worse even than the unrequited lust that assaulted him day in and day out. He was always hungry now. Always. Hungry. Hungrier than he'd been in centuries. Hungrier than he'd ever thought he'd be again. And the need was generally at its greatest when he first awoke.
He needed to feed — badly. Hoping it might be time to begin, he cast his senses outward, past the heavy curtains draping his windows. The sun still hovered several inches above the horizon. The earth below still clung like a lover to the last, scant traces of daylight. No. Not yet. Lying back upon his pillows, he forced himself to wait for night to arrive and bring another warm October day to its knees. I'd be taking too great a risk if I went out now.
Once, not so very long ago, he would have decided differently. Secure in the strength a dozen centuries had imparted, he'd have confidently risked daylight. If he'd awoken feeling especially hungry, even a fraction as hungry as he felt right now, he'd have instantly gone out and fed without so much as a moment's hesitation. Under normal circumstances, he would have counted the debilitating effect of being out before dark as no more than a temporary nuisance. It was nothing he couldn't handle, nothing a good meal wouldn't quickly put right.
But nothing nowadays was normal and for all his vast wealth of experience — the losses he'd learned to live with, the torments he'd been forced to endure — he could not recall anything as difficult to adapt to as his current situation.
The three weeks he'd recently spent in captivity, at the hands of a vengeance-seeking vampire, had drastically depleted his life-force, leaving him newly vulnerable to a host of dangers such as he had not had to worry about for a very long time. The hunger. The nightmares. The shortness of his temper. His lamentable lack of restraint. They were all related, all part of his body's attempt to heal and regenerate. But in a world where weakness spelled danger they were also something he'd been forced to try and hide, even from those closest to him.
His only hope was to recover quickly — before his deficiencies became too noticeable to conceal. Before some power-hungry potential rival decided to take advantage of his weakened state. Or before he once again lost his too-tenuous hold on his self-control and injured someone he did not wish to hurt. His family. His friends. His loved ones. They were his first line of defense, his best protection and, at times, the only reason he had to go on living. At the moment, however, they also represented the greatest threat there was to his peace of mind.
Julie Fischer opened the door to the mansion's gymnasium and peeked cautiously inside, praying she'd find the room empty. She needed space and time to recover her composure, to work off some of the hurt and frustration she was feeling before she faced her family. She was hoping to be alone. She wasn't. Marc and Damian were already there, their footfalls thunderously loud against the padded floor, blades slashing the air to ribbons as they fenced.
"Quick, Jules," her brother called, sparing one swift glance in her direction before lunging at Damian. "Grab a foil. Come help me kick this old man's butt."
Their uncle laughed as he parried Marc's thrust. "Ah, sí, sí, perfecto. What an excellent idea. Bring a blade for my other hand too, chica, I'll take you both on at once. It's been far too long since I've fought Florentine style."
Julie shook her head and headed for the bench press. "Sorry, you boys are on your own. I'm not in the mood." I should have gone for a run, she thought, feeling even more sorry for herself. Not that running through the streets of a city teeming with people would have done anything to take her mind off her hunger.
She still could not believe Brennan had said no.
"But I'm hungry," she'd murmured as she straddled his lap and leaned in close — close enough to run her tongue up the side of his neck, just the way he liked.
He drew in a deep breath and pushed her away, gently but firmly. "No means no," he teased. Or maybe he wasn't teasing? How was she supposed to tell? He'd never said no to her before today. In fact, as far as she could tell, he'd never said no to anyone before today!
She let out a breath and tried harder to rein in her impatience. "Is everything all right, Brennan? You hardly touched your eggs." Maybe he was tired of her cooking. Maybe he was tired of her. Maybe he was just ... tired?
He shook his head. "The eggs were fine, but I told you, you don't have to cook for me."
"I like cooking for you." Besides, she did too have to. He was her responsibility. She'd told Conrad she'd take care of him and he had to eat, right? "So, what's wrong?"
"Maybe I'm just not hungry. Did you ever think of that?"
Julie sighed. Terrific. So maybe he wasn't hungry. She was.
Damian stamped his foot against the mat in a quick appello, calling a halt to his bout with Marc. Startled back to the present, Julie glanced up. Great. She groaned inwardly as Damian crossed the room, headed in her direction. Just freaking perfect. She knew that look in his eyes. She knew what was coming next. A little heart-to-heart with her uncle was so exactly what she didn't need tonight.
Damian prodded her shoulder with the tip of his foil, nudging her to the edge of the bench and then seating himself beside her. "All right, chica, out with it. ¡Háblame! What's happened to upset you? Don't even bother saying it's nothing because I know you better than that. It's far too early in the evening for you to be looking so glum for no reason."
Julie sighed. "I dunno. I've been thinking, Damian. Maybe I should move back in here again. Into the mansion, I mean. Would that be all right?" As Conrad's second in command, Damian was the proper person to ask such a question. As one of the two vampires who'd raised her from infancy, Julie was reasonably certain he wouldn't say no to her.
"But of course. This is your home, chica. You're always welcome here."
Home? Is that how she was supposed to think of this house she'd only first set eyes on three months ago? It was inhabited by a score of vampires — ancient, scary-seeming strangers for the most part — and maintained by a large staff of biddable humans, half of whose names she'd yet to learn. Nothing about it felt even remotely homelike. And yet ... The sad thing was, once upon a time, that's exactly how she had felt about it.
Right now, however, once upon a time seemed a long, long time ago. She bit back a sigh and forced a small smile. "Okay, that's good to know. Thanks."
"So what's wrong? Are you losing your taste for Brennan?"
She shook her head. "No." But I think maybe he's losing his taste for me.
"You've seemed happy enough staying in his apartment. Why the sudden change?"
"Do I have to have a reason? Can't I just ... want something different?" Damian smiled. "Sí. That goes without saying. Do you?" "Not really," she replied with a small shrug. "I think maybe I scared him."
"You did what?" Marc broke off practicing his ballestras in the mirror to gape at her. "You scared him, are you kidding me? Why, what'd you do, let him see you without your makeup?"
Julie's cheeks flamed. She glared at her twin. He was making her feel about ten years old. She found herself fighting an all-too-childish urge to stick her tongue out at him. "Thanks, Marc. That is sooo funny."
"Marcus! Do not be so rude to your sister," Damian scolded, his expression softening again as he turned back to her. "What happened, niña?"
"How was that rude?" Marc protested. "She's being ridiculous. What is this guy, some kind of world-class wimp? What's he scared of her for?"
Damian's eyebrows rose. "Why should he not be afraid? A little caution would be a sign of great intelligence on his part. He is only human, after all, and your sister can be a very fierce little vampiress. Isn't that so, mi niña linda?"
Only human. Tears pricked Julie's eyes.
"Don't you miss it at all?" Brennan had demanded. As he glanced up from the omelet he'd been picking apart with his fork, he didn't even seem to notice she had been speaking. Which only confirmed her suspicion that he hadn't been listening, that he hadn't heard a single word she'd said.
"Miss what?" she replied, mystified, and more than a little annoyed, by the sudden change of topic.
Brennan waved a hand. "All of it. Food. Sunlight. Living a normal life. Being human."
Julie stared at him, caught off guard by the question, unable to answer honestly — unable to answer at all, thanks to the orders Conrad had drummed into both the twins' heads; the order that they keep their past a dead secret. How could she miss what she'd never had?
"No." Sighing heavily, Brennan returned to his massacre of the eggs she'd so painstakingly prepared. "No, I can see you don't."
"Fierce?" Marc laughed. "Oh, yeah, she's real fierce. You know why she doesn't go out to any of the clubs anymore, don't you? It's 'cause she's afraid some vampire might ask her to dance. That's how fierce she is. You gotta get over it, Jules. All those years you spent bugging me about how I should embrace my true nature, now here you are afraid to do the same, spending all your time playing house with some human just 'cause he's easy and you think you can control him."
"¡Ya basta!" Damian jabbed with his foil in Marc's direction, causing him to jump back, out of range. "That's enough from you! Go, now! Go ... flunge."
"Excuse me?" Marc stared at him in disbelief.
Damian sniffed. "Your fleches need work. Go practice them."
Julie couldn't help smiling. A flunge, a move that combined a fleche and a lunge, was more properly known as a flying lunge. Given Damian's typically flawless manners, this was probably the closest he'd ever come to telling Marc to fuck off.
Feeling immeasurably better, she snuggled against the older vampire's side. "I love you, Uncle D."
"I know." Damian wrapped his arm around her shoulders and gave her a quick squeeze. "I love you too."
Marc returned to the practice area, shaking his head and chuckling softly, "Flunges. What next?"
Damian sighed. "Forget your brother, chica. Tell me what happened."
"Well, I think we kind of ..." Broke up. No. She couldn't say it. Saying it would make it too real and she wasn't ready for that yet. She took a deep breath and tried again. "I had a nightmare."
"A nightmare?" Damian stared at her, his expression alarmed. "It's not like you to be troubled by such things."
It is now, Julie thought, watching her brother as she said, "I was dreaming about — you know. That night? In the caves?" She'd been dreaming of the night they'd helped rescue Conrad. It was the first time she'd watched anybody die, the first time she'd ever had to help dispose of a body — if dispose was the right word to use for the simple act of dropping a match — and she sincerely hoped it would be the last.
She'd always heard vampires were more flammable than humans, but it was one thing to know this and another thing altogether to watch one of her kind go so easily up in flames. Violent death was not the kind of thing she was used to having to deal with and, vampire or not, she just couldn't seem to get over it.
Apparently, neither could Marc. She watched as he fumbled his footwork then turned toward Damian, a scowl on his face. "Hey! Are we ever gonna finish this? 'Cause, if not, I'm out of here. I've got places to be."
Damian glanced reprovingly at him, but after one look at his face the fire died out in his eyes. "You too?" he murmured sadly, shaking his head at them both. "Ah, niños, have I not already talked to you about this? You have no reason to reproach yourselves. You did what you had to do that evening. We all did. And, did it not all work out just as we'd hoped? We survived. We're all fine now. It's over — let it go."
Fine? Julie sighed. Sure we are. There were times when Damian's black-and-white, myopic view of the world was more than a little frightening. How — and for whom — had things worked out? Vincent, the vampire who'd abducted Conrad and held him captive, was dead. Conrad had still not recovered. She was having nightmares. Marc, for all his big-bad-vampire posturing, for all that he refused to even discuss what had happened that night, could no more "let it go" than she could.
Not even Damian had walked away from the evening unscathed. Sure, he pretended the scarves and high collars he'd taken to wearing ever since were just the latest in a long line of fashionable affectations, but Julie knew better. She'd seen the marks on his throat, the souvenirs left by Conrad's teeth.
There was very little capable of damaging vampire flesh, but the bite of the Lamia Invitus, never properly healed. Damian would carry those scars forever. For someone as vain as her uncle, how could something like that ever be fine?
"Well, children?" Damian pressed, gazing sternly at them both. "Have I made myself clear?"
"Sure." Marc sounded no more convinced by Damian's argument than Julie was. "Crystal. Now, are we gonna fence or not?"
"Un momento." Damian looked at Julie again. "If that's all this is about, chica, if one ... bad dream ... is all that's troubling you, then I think you should not be so hasty to make changes. Leaving is not always the best answer. Why not stay where you are? Give him a chance to grow used to you."
"I can't," Julie insisted. "I just ... can't." Things had gone too far for that. They'd both said too much. She couldn't go back.
"Ah." Damian nodded. "I see. So, there's something else you're not telling me. What?"
Julie sighed. "Well, for one thing, he started asking questions."
"What kinds of questions?"
"Why are you even asking me that?" Julie frowned in exasperation. "You know the kind of questions I'm talking about. The kind I don't have any answers to."
Excerpted from "Old Sins, Long Shadows"
Copyright © 2011 PG Forte.
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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