Immortal Kiss (Immortals Warriors, Book 2)
It has been two years since Baron's initiation into the world of the Immortals and he was forced to set aside his past to embrace the challenges of his new future…a future without the only woman he ever cared about.
Maxine is strong, determined, and loyal to a fault, but her promise to Baron’s brother is a hard one to keep, because it means tracking Baron down and dragging him home to face the music. But the man she finds isn’t the same one who broke her heart when he left two years ago without even saying goodbye, and now that she’s been sucked into his dangerous new world, nothing will ever be the same again.
When Baron encounters a vicious vampire who vows to destroy everything he loves, it doesn't faze him in the least. He gave up everything he loved along with his humanity. But then the demon finds Maxine, leaving her broken and battered on Barron's doorstep, and he realizes he still has something to lose...
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If he’s alive, I’ll find him for you.
Had she really promised Jackson something so foolish?
Of course she had. What else were you supposed to tell a dying man when he asks for a favor? A dying man who also happened to be your best friend in all the world?
Yep. That’s why she was stuck on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere at God only knows what time of the freakin’ night, kicking the crap out of her rust-bucket death-trap of a VW Beetle.
Because of a promise.
Max groaned aloud and swore a blue streak into the misty night air as she struck her toe against the hard black rubber of her front tire.
She should have known the car wouldn’t get her to Chandler. The ancient hunk of scrap metal hated her. It must. The thing was Christine, and it hated her. The only time it had ever run properly was on the ill-fated day she’d been duped into buying the piece of shit from her cousin Sally’s boyfriend. Since then, Max had had nothing but trouble from it—everything from leaking oil and fried spark plugs to flat tires, faulty brakes and a busted gasket. She didn’t even want to know what the hell was wrong with it now, but from the thick gray smoke coming from underneath the hood…it wasn’t going to be anything good.
Great. Just freaking great.
Because of a dying man and his last wish, because of her mushy soft spot for Jackson and his need to mend fences with his brother, Max was stranded on the outskirts of an unfamiliar town, with a useless cell phone that hadn’t gotten a signal for the last six miles before her car had uttered its last, dying sputter and stalled out on her.
The way she was feeling right now, even if Max managed by some twisted turn of fate to find Jackson’s selfish, heartless, insensitive asshole of a brother, she was seriously going to deck him for making her go through all this—before dragging him back home to Jackson like she’d promised.
She rubbed the goose bumps on her bare arms. It was uncharacteristically chilly for June. “Okay, first thing’s first.” She needed to break the silence hanging heavy and thick in these unfamiliar surroundings, even if it meant talking to herself.
Closing on midnight, there’d been no signs of life coming from either direction in a long time. Max had to find out just where she was, then she would know whether she’d be spending a long, cold night in the car, or if she could risk hoofing it to a pay phone to call a tow truck.
A worried glance into the dark forest that loomed on either side of the road decided that particular dilemma for her. She would not be walking. Hell, right now she didn’t even care to get the car towed. The piece of crap could stay where it was until the end of time. But she’d need a taxi.
Would a cabbie even come out here at this time of night?
With one last swing of her booted foot at the tire—the only part of the car that might actually still work—Max sighed and got back in. She reached above her head and pressed the button for the car’s interior light before reaching for her phone again. Maybe she could still get a map on it even without any service.
A sharp rap on her driver’s side window startled her and she jumped, dropping the phone. She immediately glanced over at the glovebox where her gun was stored. The door to the small storage compartment was open because she’d been rummaging in there searching for a map earlier.
She looked through the window to find a man staring in at her, smiling. Although it was pitch black outside and hard to make out the details of his face, she didn’t think it was a nice smile.
“Sorry to startle you,” he called through her car window. He seemed to be trying for friendly and reassuring, but Max thought she heard a trace of unhealthy excitement in his thready voice. Where the hell had he come from? She hadn’t heard another car drive up. She swallowed hard and forced herself to quit being ridiculous. “I saw your car sitting here and wondered if I could offer some assistance.”
There was no moon in the cloudy sky, and so very little light filtered past his shadowed form and through the window. Max could just barely make out sharp, angled features in a pale face. He had dark hair that hung low over his forehead.
She fervently wished she could see his eyes. She had always trusted her instincts when it came to seeing the truth in people’s eyes. But even without the eyes, her instincts were telling her she needed to run.
She wanted her gun badly.
The poor guy must have sensed he was making her nervous, because he straightened and stepped back from the car, hands spread out at his sides in an effort to show her he was harmless. The shadows shifted around him, giving her a glimpse of his face, and she gasped. The left side of his face was covered in an angry red burn that was only half healed. Just the sight of the horrible, puckered skin made her flinch with sympathy, but she still felt uneasy about him.
She told herself she was overreacting and tried to relax. The man had recently suffered an accident, but it was no reason to freak out. He was dressed in a suit and trench coat. Obviously, just an average guy on his way home after working a late night in town. A banker. Maybe a lawyer or an accountant. Something boring. Something mediocre. Something ordinary and safe.
And wasn’t this exactly what she had been hoping for not ten minutes ago? That someone would come along and offer to help her so she wouldn’t be stranded here all night?
Max casually engaged the lock of her driver’s side door before she rolled the window down a fraction of an inch, hoping he wouldn’t be offended by her overabundance of caution. “Hi there. Uh, sorry about that. It’s just…it’s dark, and well…”
“No need to apologize, miss, I understand completely.” He gave her what Max supposed was meant to be a reassuring smile, but his lips stretched a little too tightly over his teeth. “A woman has to be careful when she’s out alone at night these days,” he continued. “My name is Devon.”
His voice…it was low, calm, almost hypnotic, but there was something off about it, almost as if he was laughing at her.
She shrugged off the strangling sense of impending doom, putting it down to anxiety and imagination. Max generally didn’t ignore her instincts, but in this case she didn’t have much of a choice if she wanted to avoid being stuck here the rest of the night.
“Devon, you said? Do you happen to have a cell phone on you?” Of course he would have a cell phone. Who didn’t carry one these days? “If I could borrow it to call a cab, I’d really appreciate it. Mine isn’t working for some reason, and my car seems to have breathed its last.”
“Yes, of course I have a cell phone, but unfortunately, my dear, they don’t ever work in this area. Something about the old uranium mines.” His smile got bigger, toothier. “I could drive you into town myself.”
It occurred to her again that she hadn’t heard him drive up. She realized she had no idea where this guy had come from. He hadn’t parked a car in front of her, and a quick glance in the rear view mirror confirmed there was nothing parked behind. Craning her neck to see past his imposing figure and down the dark and deserted street, she still didn’t see a vehicle.
Her instincts were screaming at her to hurry and get away. Far away. Now. But she had to stay calm. In control.
“Uh…sorry, I don’t see your car. Where exactly did you come from again?” Max swallowed, hoping he couldn’t tell how badly her voice croaked, or see her hand clenched into a fist in her lap.
His expression didn’t change, but all of a sudden her limbs felt heavy. Impossibly, his eyes seemed to glow, and she couldn’t look away. She could hear his laughter, but oddly, the sound was only in her mind. An unnatural, hungry echo. She felt it ripping through her brain, sinking into the tissue. What the hell was going on?
Just what kind of trouble had she gotten herself into?
The really super bad kind, that’s what.
Max tore her gaze from Devon’s disturbing eyes, and once the connection was broken, she was able to control her body better, but not by much. It was still like trying to swim in a pool full of gelatin.
She lunged for the glove compartment, fingertips outstretched as she clawed for her gun. Just as she felt the blessedly cool metal meet her palm, the laughter in her brain turned to an animal roar. There was an ear-splitting squeal, the sound of metal screaming in protest as the driver’s side door of her car was ripped from its hinges and tossed effortlessly across two lanes into the gravel ditch on the opposite side of the road.
Max’s terrified cry was lost in the piercing clamor of Devon’s inhuman howl. All of it inside her mind. If he didn’t kill her, she knew she would quickly go mad from the sick, twisted echo, the feeling that he was all around her, inside her. Part of her.
She tightened her grip on the gun but didn’t get a chance to bring it around or point it at the madman. He seized her arm, pulling her roughly from the car.
She screamed as her shoulder was jerked from its socket. His nails tore into the muscles of her forearm. She cried out again when he yanked her forward and fell to her knees on the rough, dirty asphalt.
Her eyes widened as she glimpsed the ruined door of her car all the way on the other side of the road. Holy hell, the guy was strong. If he had done that to her car, what did he have planned for her?
Devon stepped away and stood motionless in front of her, watching…as if he had all the time in the world and was just going to sit back and enjoy her fear and the other emotions he’d drawn of her. Panic, disbelief, helplessness.
Max’s jaw tightened. She wasn’t going to make it so easy for him. If he wanted a reaction, he’d get it, but it wouldn’t be what he expected. Now he was just making her angry.
She lifted her chin as she met his amused stare, but her new resolve started to waver when he grinned widely, baring impossibly long, sharp canines. The look in his glowing eyes glittered with pure unadulterated evil.
Max knew she was in serious trouble, but she wasn’t without resources. She carried a weapon for a reason and wasn’t afraid to use it.
She disengaged the safety and pulled the trigger as fast as she could.
Not fast enough.
Devon’s fist smashed into her face. Her head whipped to the side, her body slammed back against the hard metal frame of the ruined car. The air whooshed from her lungs, but still she held onto the gun, her fingers in a lockjaw grip around the handle.
The pain was a hot, jagged line into her skull. It felt like he’d broken her jaw.
Her vision was blurry. She could barely see him standing before her now. Just shadows. Dark, menacing shadows. Didn’t matter. Squeezing the trigger, she fired again, not knowing whether she was going to hit the bastard or not, only knowing she had to try.
The sound of the gunshot boomed in her ears, finally cutting off the horrible laughter and insidious whispers that had continued to rape her mind. With grim satisfaction, she squinted to see Devon double over, take a faltering step back. She’d hit him in the stomach.
Wait a minute. He wasn’t falling. Why wasn’t he falling?
He was already straightening, laughing at her again. This time right out loud, his lips pulling back from those impossibly sharp teeth in a combination of animal snarl and evil grin.
Max quickly crawled on her knees around to the front of her car, using it as a barrier between them. Pulling herself up over the dusty hood, which still trailed a thin line of smoke from the engine, Max trained her gun on Devon.
He spread his arms wide, mocking her attempt to do him in. “Go ahead and shoot me again my dear,” he dared, his voice ripe with warped amusement. “Your weapon isn’t going to kill me.”
“We’ll see about that, you asshole.”
She did shoot him again, more out of principle than a belief that it was going to do any good. Her aim was true, but Devon moved so fast—too fast for her even to see. He was just…gone, and the bullet smashed into the trunk of a tree in the thicket across the road.
Before the loud crack had completely died out, he was standing by her side, not a foot away. He wrenched the gun from her hands.
Max fought. With everything she had, she fought him, but his strength…his strength was colossal…not human.
Oh my God, he’s not human.
He laughed again, obviously enjoying her struggles, her fear, and Max knew she was going to die. “You’re right.” His voice betrayed his excitement, the sick enjoyment he was getting from this. “On all counts, I’m afraid. I’m not human, you are going to die, and yes…I am reading your mind.”
His hand was tight around her throat now, squeezing, crushing her windpipe. She clawed at his wrist, his arm, trying to loosen his hold enough to pull oxygen into her burning lungs. Her vision was quickly going fuzzy and dark, black shadows like syrupy globs of ink floating in front of her eyes.
“Fuck you,” she rasped on her one last puff of air, fingers still clawing weakly.
His head bent to her neck, and she felt those teeth grazing the column of her throat, felt his tongue come out and lick the sweat from her skin in one long swipe. At that moment she knew exactly what was happening, exactly what she was up against—
His claws dug into the flesh and muscle of her upper arms as he pulled her closer. He smelled of dirt and blood and evil—exactly what you expected the essence of insanity to smell like. She gasped as his teeth tore through her skin with brutal efficiency. She felt her blood trickling thickly down her neck to the valley of her breasts, sticky and hot.
She shuddered against the sick feeling of Devon’s satisfaction and eagerness filling her head as he drank. He wanted to rip her apart like an animal.
His mouth opened wider, his teeth went deeper, and she couldn’t help the moan passing across her lips at the sharp tug of his mouth as he started to draw her blood. The sounds were like something out of a bad movie, sucking and slurping and great hungry swallows.
Oh God, this was really happening to her. She was going to die out here at the hands of this monster…and it’s all Baron’s fault.
Devon was surprised. Very surprised. What luck he was having tonight.
He let the woman’s smooth, rich blood fill him, heal him. He could feel the burns on his face fading, the charred, ruined skin plumping. His body warmed as her blood started filling his starved veins.
He had intended to drain the woman dry—he sorely needed her rejuvenating blood to restore him to full strength—but she’d surprised him with her spirit and fire, just as she’d surprised him with her thoughts.
Oh, it was too good to be true, but the proof was right there in her mind, in the fevered whisper of the damn Immortal’s name inside her head. The Immortal who had dared take his mate from him. The Immortal who had been close on his heels every night since then like a bloodhound after a scent.
Devon had been forced into hiding—an animal on the run. Hunted.
A week after he’d lost Bettina, the bastards had raided his lair in the city, forcing him out onto the street just moments before dawn. He’d managed to avoid the sun, but only barely. And two nights ago they’d found him again. Only by the skin of his pointed vampire teeth, by the strength of his hatred and desire to have vengeance upon their hides, had he managed to escape the fire they’d set to trap him. Thankfully, he found his way into the subway tunnels before the sun could do more than just blister his face.
He still suffered from the painful burns, and was forced to seek shelter out here in the middle of nowhere to avoid the Immortals. Here, where human traffic was non-existent at night, making human blood impossible to find. Injured and weak as he was, he needed a large amount of it to heal completely and there was none to be found…until tonight. Until one woman’s car just happened to break down on the side of the road only meters from his dank hole in the ground.
Devon’s hatred for the Immortals thundered hotly in his veins. He hungered constantly for the revenge he’d promised them. For what they had done to his beloved Bettina they both deserved to die—deserved more than death.
This surprising young woman would be his first strike against them.
Her sweet blood still flowed into him, drawing a sharp moan of pleasure from his lips, and he drank until he knew she was but moments from death.
Her heart had slowed, barely beating now. Her breathing was shallow. Her eyes were closed, long, soft lashes brushing the tops of her paper-white cheeks. And her hand no longer clutched his wrist to pull him away but fell limply to her side.
She really was a beautiful woman, and looking at her, Devon felt the loss of his Bettina sharply.
He pulled from her throat and scored his wrist with his teeth, pushing the bloody gash to her mouth.