Authors: Miranda Jameson
Once again, many thanks to my son and daughter for
their continued support and love.
To the regular Friday morning gang; life is more fun
with you. The cards are in a safe place...
To the Dream Team...fellow Dreamies, you make the
difficult times bearable and the fun times completely hilarious.
To my sister Mandy for believing in me. You are still
going to have to wait to find out what happens next though...no spoilers.
Any copyrights held on images or any other names
mentioned in this book are the property of their respective owners.
Sunset at last. With barely a whisper the automatic
shutter system engaged and uncovered the expansive windows of the penthouse
apartment with its panoramic views. Javier gazed down from one of London’s most
exclusive Docklands developments at the Thames spread out far below him. He
glanced at his watch; half past seven, exactly three minutes later than the
last time he had checked his watch. He had arrived here an hour ago,
materializing straight into Rafe’s new apartment from the Island and since then
he had paced backwards and forwards restlessly as the knot of tension inside
him tightened further and further. He needed to move, he needed action.
It had been many years since he had last visited this
city. It was strange the way things changed over time, he thought. Rafe had
paid over three million pounds for this apartment in its exclusive enclave yet,
when he had last been in this area, bombs had been raining down on it from Nazi
planes and it had been a place of relative squalor and crime. He and Gabriel
had hunted down and killed two renegade Vampires who were using the chaos of
the Blitz to murder Humans and take their blood; an act prohibited by the
Ancient Laws. Their behaviour had threatened to expose the Vampires’ hidden
world as London’s hard pressed civilian police had been horrified and baffled
by the crimes. That had been over seven decades ago; he and Charlotte had
already been life consorts for thirty years.
Charlotte; he saw her in his head as clearly as though
she was standing in front of him with her thick chestnut hair, hazel eyes and
wide infectious smile. He had fallen in love with her clear English accent,
acerbic humour and intelligent, bookish ways. He had always teased her, calling
her his “English blue-stocking” and she, in turn, had called him her
“beautiful, exotic Spaniard”. They had been bonded through blood and had
belonged to each other. He recalled her joy at giving birth to their daughter
Beatriz, how pleased she had been that their little Bee had his golden brown
Two years later she was dead. Blown to pieces by a
terrorist bomb in a Cairo restaurant. Human terrorists. He, Javier of Seville,
had done what the Human authorities had been unable to do. He had found the
perpetrators and he had killed them. After that he had simply fallen apart.
Nothing had eased the agony in his heart or in his body. Strangely it had been
the reclusive Dowager Countess Reine, mother of his commander LaSalle who had
helped him start to live again. She knew only too well how it felt to lose your
bonded life consort. He had now been alone for eight years.
And then, in the middle of one of the biggest
celebrations ever to take place in the secret parallel world inhabited by the
Vampires and their former enemies, the Empaths, he had seen her. He had seen
Charlotte. He had been drinking whisky with Gabriel and Max and the glass had
simply dropped out of his fingers. She had turned and run and he had given
chase, dimly aware of Gabriel and Max following right behind him. Then she had
jumped onto a boat and turned and stared straight at him before shifting out in
a vortex of black energy. If it hadn’t been for the fact that Gabriel had seen
her too he wouldn’t have believed his own eyes.
It had taken the combined Intelligence networks of
both the Vampires and the Empaths over two weeks to track her down.
Surveillance photos showed her in London, she was a regular in an exclusive and
expensive West End nightclub. The kind of place where you needed a platinum
credit card or a very famous face to get in.
That reminded him; he couldn’t go to a place like that
in the jeans and T-shirt he was wearing. Heading into one of the bedrooms
Javier flipped through the clothes that the staff back at the Island had, with
typical efficiency, delivered to the apartment the day before. He really didn’t
care what he wore as long as he could move quickly if he needed to and his gun
didn’t show; in the end he chose a black Armani suit and pushed his SIG Sauer
into the waistband at the back. Lacing up a pair of black combat boots he
tucked a knife down the side of one of them; that would do. Finally he slipped
the black credit card and driving license LaSalle’s team had supplied him with
into his jacket.
He would leave shortly. Once again he stood before the
vast expanse of windows and stared into the night. He knew it couldn’t be
Charlotte; of course he knew that. There had been nothing left in that
restaurant after the massive explosion, nothing of Charlotte or the thirty
people who had died with her. What if…no, there was no what if. He knew that if
she had lived nothing on earth would have kept Charlotte away from him, their
daughter and her family; nothing. What if she had been suffering from amnesia
all these years? He had asked Gabriel and Max that question in desperation
seeing them shake their heads sadly, firmly.
No, whoever that woman was, however much she seemed to
look like Charlotte, she could not be Charlotte. Something very strange was
going on and he intended to get to the bottom of it. So why did that little
voice in his head, that thin strand of hope and longing still keep up the
refrain; what if? Swearing violently Javier headed over to Rafe’s extensive
collection of single malts. Reaching for a bottle he stopped; better not, he
had drunk rather too much in the last couple of weeks and he wanted to keep a
clear and cool head tonight.
His sword lay on the coffee table where he had placed
it on arrival. Clearing a space in the huge room he picked it up. He had
commissioned it to be made to his exacting specifications and it felt like an
extension of his own body. Shutting his eyes he moved slowly and gracefully
through a long sequence of movements until, half an hour later he placed the
sword carefully back on the table; his mind and body calm at last. Then he
pocketed Rafe’s car keys, stepped into the private elevator and hit the button
for the basement garage.
Ten minutes later he was driving the sleek black
Porsche through the maze of London’s streets. Javier smiled in the darkness;
trust Rafe to choose a sexy French woman’s voice for his Satnav. Of course, he
could have saved himself the trouble of driving and simply shifted to the
co-ordinates and materialized close to the night club; it was the way he and
his kind normally travelled. It was hugely convenient he reflected as he waited
for yet another set of red lights to change to green, how on earth did
Londoners put up with this every day? Still, the car was beautiful and arriving
in it conspicuously would help get him into the club.
He swung expertly into a parking slot close to the
entrance and gunned the accelerator briefly before shutting the engine down,
getting out and strolling confidently towards the door. The place shouted
wealth and discretion. He was a regular at a club much like this one in Monaco,
a place where extremely rich people went to spend their money and be seen by
other extremely rich people.
He was addressed by a uniformed doorman;
“Good evening Sir, might I see your invitation?” his
smile was polite and expectant.
Ah, thought Javier, it was that sort of place. If he
didn’t provide an invitation, he wouldn’t be let in and, if he insisted, he
would suddenly find himself facing a couple of very large and muscular
bouncers. A situation best avoided when he was trying to blend in. With
lightning speed he reached out and touched the doorman on his forehead;
“That will not be necessary, I am a regular, I may go
in.” he murmured, implanting the suggestion;
“Oh, welcome back Sir, do go straight in. Enjoy your
evening.” The doorman smiled happily at him. Really, thought Javier, sometimes it
was so easy it was almost boring.
He headed into the luxurious interior. There was dim
mood lighting everywhere but that was not a problem for him. He could see as
clearly in the darkness as, he supposed, Humans could see in daylight. Standing
at the top of a shallow flight of steps he scanned the huge space carefully.
Well, if she was a regular, she hadn’t arrived yet. A band was playing jazz to
an appreciative audience; this was not the kind of club that catered to the
Javier wandered over to the bar casually, exchanging
smiles along the way with a small group of women who were quite obviously
checking him out. Pulling up a stool he ordered;
“Laphroaig please, no ice.” He handed the bartender
his credit card with a smile.
“We have the eighteen year old, Mr Alejandro.” She
had noted the very exclusive card.
“Perfect. Make it a double.”
Javier thanked her as she served his whisky then
passed her two twenty pound notes as he showed her the photograph he had
brought with him;
“Have you seen this woman here before?”
The girl serving him hesitated, in places like this
staff who couldn’t keep their mouths shut about the customers soon found
themselves fired. Javier ramped up the charm and smiled straight into her eyes;
“Please, a simple yes or no is enough.” He leaned
closer and saw her blush as she discreetly palmed the notes.
“Yes, she looks like someone who’s been coming here
three or four times a week for the last fortnight.”
“Does she come here alone or with someone?”
“Oh, alone. She arrives alone, has a few drinks,
listens to the band and leaves alone. I’ve wondered whether she’s waiting for
someone. She’s not here to pick someone up like some of them are…” the girl
tailed off and looked uncomfortable.
Javier smiled his thanks. Interesting, so she had only
started coming here after her dramatic appearance in their Arctic Circle
encampment. She was obviously the bait and he was the fish; the question was,
who was the fisherman and why?
“We haven’t seen you here before.” a voice purred in
Javier turned, he had been joined by two of the women
from the small group, they sat themselves strategically, one on either side of
him. He smiled and introduced himself;
“Javier Alejandro, just passing through on business.”
They were both very attractive, one a redhead and her friend, a blonde. Briefly
he wondered why women always hunted in packs.
“Please, allow me to get you a drink.” He ordered
“Are you Spanish? What a lovely accent. I’m Julia and
The game had begun, thought Javier as the conversation
sparkled. He sipped his drink slowly, enjoying the smoky taste of the whisky.
Normally he would launch himself wholeheartedly into this little flirtation. He
liked women and they seemed to like him. When he had come out of the black void
a couple of years after Charlotte’s death he had thrown himself into this
scene. There had been numerous liaisons with lovely, interesting women but they
had all unwittingly had one flaw they simply couldn’t help. They were not
As he flirted and laughed easily with the two women
his eyes constantly checked the entrance. The club was full and the music had
changed. Javier tuned his acutely sensitive hearing into the many conversations
taking place round the room. Nothing of note stood out except that he realized
the group of three tall men who stood chatting up the three pretty girls in the
far corner were Vampires. Not surprising really, there were many of them and
night clubs were only one of the places they frequented. The modern twenty-four
hour society had really opened things up for his kind and more and more of them
worked night shifts in big cities all over the world.
He wondered how these Humans would react if they
knew; they would probably trot out the usual tiresome stories. Then they
would clutch their fragile necks in fear of having all their blood sucked out
of them. Human blood; it was abhorrent to Vampires and forbidden by law. Javier
sighed to himself; no doubt the revelation that Vampires took blood only from
each other would be disappointingly ordinary. Yes, the Humans preferred the
Count Dracula version; virgins, sex, fangs, coffins and exsanguination were so
much more thrilling.
The woman Julia stroked his hand suggestively and
Javier leaned attentively towards her. All of a sudden he experienced a strange
prickling sensation that sharpened and heightened all his senses. Instinctively
he knew he was being watched, observed. The fine hairs seemed to stand up along
his arms and he was preternaturally aware of everything around him. Excusing
himself he started circulating the room casually, covertly scanning the crowd,
body poised for action.
Then his heart started drumming painfully as he caught
a glimpse of her. She had obviously slipped in through a different entrance and
stood as though part of a group of friends as she anxiously searched the area
near the bar. She had lost sight of him. How long had she been there watching?
Slowly he wove his way through the room until he was standing a few feet behind
her; now he was the watcher, the hunter.
Charlotte, he thought as a wave of longing swept
through him so sharp, so desperate, he could barely breathe. He checked
himself, this was not Charlotte; for a start the woman was taller and the whole
set of her body was different. No, this was a deliberate and cruel trick and he
was going to put an end to it. He was close enough to the woman now to tune in
to the rapid nervous tattoo of her heartbeat as she took a step forward, her
head moving from side to side as she searched for him around the club. Reaching
out he gripped her arm tightly as he pulled her back against him and murmured
close to her ear;