Read Night's Cold Kiss Online

Authors: Tracey O'Hara

Night's Cold Kiss (2 page)

BOOK: Night's Cold Kiss
9.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

The dreniac’s shock was short-lived and his face twisted with rage. “You bitch.” He launched himself toward her for a third time.

She twisted out of his grasp, but not fast enough. His remaining hand raked just beneath the SWAT vest, opening a set of parallel wounds above her hip with his clawlike nails. A whiff of fresh human blood hit Christian, hot and heady. Nothing like the foul ooze spilling from the veins of the dreniac. Christian’s fangs nudged his gums and he tensed, ready to jump between them.

Before Christian could act, she spun and swung the blade in a wide powerful arc, using the dreniac’s speed against him. He ran right into the blade—stopping him dead in his tracks. His mouth formed a silent O as dark red, almost black, beads wept from the diagonal slash across his neck. As the body dropped to its knees the head tilted to the right, fell with a wet thud, and rolled toward her. The incredulous expression on the severed head looked almost comical as it stopped at her feet.

2
Over and Out

Antoinette’s vision swam and she leaned forward, arm braced against her knee for support, gasping for breath. Slowly, the agony in the side of her face dulled to a throbbing ache, and she breathed through the dizziness. It helped, but not much. When she finally managed to get enough air in her lungs to speak, she took the cell phone from her pocket and turned it on. A Venator never took an active cell to a hunt; dreniacs could sense the electronic hum.

“Nici, it’s done,” she said into the cell when it picked up.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

“Just a few cuts and bruises, nothing much.”

“Liar.”

Her brother knew her too well.

“There’s a girl in here, unconscious. Get the van closer and bring the first aid kit. I’ll guide you in.”

“Okay, I’ll be there in a minute.”

Antoinette pushed a crate to the window, grabbed a folding mirror from her left utility pocket, and climbed up to wait for Nici. Nausea washed over her from the exertion and she leaned against the ledge for support as a wave of dizziness made her head spin.

Headlights entered the narrow alley and flashed on and off. She held the mirror out of the window at an angle to catch the light. A few minutes later Nici jumped through the window and landed heavily on the floor with a grunt, then turned to help her.

“Don’t worry about me, check on the girl.” She slapped his arm away and his brow creased in that familiar you’re-so-stubborn expression of his.

While he busied himself with the girl, Antoinette climbed down, taking care not to move too quickly in case the throbbing in her head intensified. At the moment it had dulled from the level of being run over by a sixteen wheeler to merely a jackhammer drilling her brain.

“She’ll live,” Nici said after giving the girl a quick once-over. “Although she’ll have one hell of a headache.”

Her and me both.
“Can we move her?” For the first time Antoinette realized the victim couldn’t be more than fifteen.
So young.

Nici held open the girl’s eyelids and flashed the light across her pupils. “Don’t think there’s anything broken, but she has a pretty mean concussion.” He looked up at Antoinette. “And she needs to be cleaned up.”

The girl stank of fresh urine. She must have been scared half to death to piss herself like that.

He stood and wiped his hands on the back of his pants. “Okay, now let’s take a look at you.” He turned her face toward him and shone his flashlight into her eyes. “Hmm…You’re gonna have one hell of a shiner, and we’d better get you to a clinic to make sure you haven’t cracked your skull. What else?”

She lifted the bottom of the partially shredded vest and Nici lowered the flashlight beam to reveal the blood soaking her pants.

He sucked his breath through his teeth. “Nasty!” He took some gauze from the medical kit and taped it in place. “That’ll do for now. They’re pretty shallow and shouldn’t
need stitches but we’d better get some antibiotics into you.” Nici threw a glance at the headless body. “That dreniac doesn’t exactly look the Martha Stewart type.”

“You should see downstairs.” Her nose wrinkled with disgust.

“Then you’d better photograph the evidence up here while I do down there.”

“You’re on.” She carried a small digital in her vest pocket. “His pack is down there with his souvenirs—make sure you grab them for evidence.”

“The Department can arrange for them to be returned to the victims’ families.” He started toward the door then turned and pulled a drink bottle from his kit. “Here, catch.”

She snatched it out of the air and inhaled sharply through her teeth as pain slammed through her head.

“Sorry, sis,” he said with a shrug. “You’re getting a bit slow, but your reflexes are still pretty good.”

“Little brother,” she said, rolling her right shoulder, “you owe me a shoulder massage for that. I think you might’ve jarred something.”

“Sure I did.” He winked and strode to the basement door. His gait was marred by a slight limp, legacy of an accident a couple of years back. He must be cramped from sitting in the van, because she usually didn’t notice it anymore.

At the basement door, Nici dialed his cell. “I want to report a Necrodreniac excision carried out on target one-seven-nine-six-two-one-zero-six-alpha-charlie. We need NCB cleanup and verification at a warehouse in the Liberty City Area…” Nici’s voice faded as he descended the stairs while reporting the hit to Necrodreniac Control Branch, part of the Department of Parahuman Security—or the Department as it was more commonly known—a semi-governmental body responsible for parahuman law enforcement.

Once Nici had disappeared, Antoinette collapsed against the nearest crate and licked her dry lips. The liquid in the bottle sloshed invitingly as she popped the top and brought it
to her mouth. The warm sports drink flowed salty-sweet over her thirst-thick tongue and slid down her parched throat.

Antoinette picked up the katana to wipe the soiled blade with the bottom of her shirt. It would have to do until she could clean it with the proper care and attention it deserved.

After resheathing the blade, she snapped a few photos of the scene for the paperwork. They would get a good bounty on this one—he’d killed over fifteen girls they knew of, probably more.

Nici returned as she took the last picture with a nod to indicate he was done downstairs. They picked up the unconscious girl’s body and maneuvered her out the window and into the van.

Something still niggled at her, the same hair-raising feeling as before. She glanced at the dreniac’s headless body, lying where it fell, already fouling the air further with its stinking decay. Dreniac bodies went bad fast. She felt no sorrow—no remorse—only the usual rage burning deep in her heart. How many dreniac deaths would avenge her mother’s murder? How much blood would wash away the images of Mama’s pale corpse lying in a pool of crimson? She sighed and shook her head, taking one last look at the dark-cloaked rafters on the far side of the warehouse, and then followed her brother through the window.

 

The following night, Christian entered the hotel lobby. Bright light reflected off every available surface—from the marbled floors to the gilded mirrors. He slid his dark sunglasses into place to cut the glare.

A multitude of perfumes hammered him from all directions, overloading his senses. It was always harder to control his heightened abilities when tired and hungry. Christian crossed the foyer to the busy reception desk, ignoring the lustful glances across the lobby.

After the long night waiting for the dreniac in the warehouse, he’d spent an exhausting day with the local NCB boys
filling out reports and answering questions. He did learn one useful thing, the brother-and-sister Venator team was none other than Nicolae and Antoinette Petrescu. Now, there was a real blast from the past.

What he needed now was a hot shower and a bite to eat—literally. It’d been more than two days since his last meal and his hunger grew stronger and more insistent with every passing second.

A young couple stood at the desk, the boy-man in a wedding tux and the girl-woman in a bridal gown. Their faces glowed and eyes remained locked together like most young lovers. She turned her head at Christian’s approach and twirled a lock of hair around her finger, smiling as she swept an appreciative glance in his direction

The boy scowled and pulled her back to face him. “Hey.”

“Sorry, baby,” she said, throwing her arms over the boy’s shoulders and pressing herself against him, but her eyes stayed locked with Christian’s for a second longer.

While they waited, the couple continued to fondle each other with the eagerness of newlyweds. Their excitement intensified Christian’s already acute hunger, but he kept his ill temper in check—it wasn’t their fault he felt like he’d spent the day in a Dumpster.

He ran his tongue over the tips of his descending fangs, finding the couple’s sexual intoxication extremely appetizing.

“Mr. Laroque. May I help you, sir?” a male clerk asked.

Christian turned his attention from the honeymoon couple to the desk clerk. “Any messages?”

“Yes, sir,” he said, handing him a pile of slips.

He thanked the clerk and made his way to the elevator where the young couple was already waiting. If he didn’t feel so grimy from a day spent in the filthy warehouse, he would’ve waited for the next lift. But right now he needed a shower, some fresh clothes, and to feed. He put the last thought out of his mind as he entered and hit his floor number.

The couple continued their necking in the corner. The bride giggled and whispered, “Stop it, he’ll see.”

“So what? He won’t pay us no mind. You’re my wife now,” the boy whispered back and she giggled again. Neither was aware or cared that he heard every word of their whispered exchange.

The scent of their arousal filled him, driving his hunger to the edge of endurance. Their rising passion grew stronger; it would be so easy to have them both—right here, right now—a bit of seduction and they’d be his.

But he wouldn’t. It was no longer his way to take what was not offered of free will. Besides, the girl was pregnant—very early, but he detected the tiny fluttering beat under the girl’s passion-accelerated heart rate.

To distract himself, Christian glanced at the messages. His brow creased at the name on the last slip. The elevator door opened and Christian cleared his throat when they made no move to leave.

“Oh. It’s our floor, Ronnie,” the bride said, the shade of her already flushed cheeks deepening. “Thanks, mister.”

“No problem.” Christian stared ahead, not looking at them. “By the way, congratulations on your wedding and good luck with the baby,” he said as they left the elevator, knowing it would perplex them. A bit of petty payback for the havoc they played with his appetite.

The couple exchanged a surprised glance, and the girl cocked her head to the side, her forehead creased. “Um…thanks, sir,” she muttered before they hurried away, whispering in confusion.

With his hunger deepened by the couple’s passion, he entered his room, headed straight for the bar fridge, and took out a bottle. The blood lay cold in his hand and he stared at it before placing it back on the shelf. Tonight he needed more than a snack. Tonight he needed a meal. He crossed to the phone and dialed.

A businesslike voice answered on the second ring. “Crimson Angels.”

“This is Christian Laroque.”

“Yes, Mr. Laroque. What can we do for you this evening?”

“I want a girl, young, but not too young.” An image of the blond Venator entered his head unbidden, spiking his hunger.

“I have the perfect girl. Her name is Giselle.”

“Good, send her to the Fontainebleau Hilton. I’ll arrange it with the front desk.”

“She’ll be there within the hour, Mr. Laroque.”

He hung up the phone, took the slips from his pocket, and found the number on the last message.

“Viktor?” he asked when it connected.

“Christian, my old friend. It’s been a while,” said the familiar voice at the other end of the line. “What are you doing?”

“Came down on a job and got sidetracked with a little dreniac problem. What about you? Have you been in hiding from someone?”

“Only your mother.” Viktor chuckled at the old joke before his voice took on a more serious note. “It looks like it’s starting again.”

Christian ran his hand through his hair. They hadn’t spoken in years, not since the end of The Troubles. Christian knew exactly what it meant. “As bad as last time?”

“Worse, but I don’t want to get into it over the phone. When can we meet?”

“I’m finishing up here and will be flying back to New York early tomorrow night.”

“Good—I’ll meet you at the airport.” Urgency colored Viktor’s voice.

“All right, I’ll see you then…Oh, and Viktor—”

“Yes?”

“It’s good to hear your voice again.”

“Yours too, old friend, yours too.”

 

Christian contacted the front desk to make arrangements for his visitor, then he took a hot shower. A knock at the door interrupted his dressing. He slid his arms into a clean silk shirt and left it unbuttoned as he answered the door.

A beautiful young woman with creamy, coffee-colored skin and dark eyes focused on his naked chest and arched an eyebrow. “Mr. Laroque?”

“Yes. But please—call me Christian.”

A seductive smile graced her deep red lips as she crossed into the suite. “Good evening, Christian. My name’s Giselle.”

He took her hand and raised her long, slender fingers to his lips. Her pulse hammered through her wrist under his fingertips, sharpening his hunger.

She turned her back, encouraging him to take her coat. Beneath it she wore a strappy red mini dress that left her shoulders and neck bare. Her hair was pinned up and he bent forward to inhale her womanly fragrance. Like a connoisseur testing the bouquet of a fine wine, he breathed her in. He wanted to take her here in the doorway, but the predator in him yearned for the chase.

After closing the door and hanging her coat over the back of a chair, he guided her into the living room with a hand on the small of her back.

“Why don’t you wait on the balcony and I’ll join you there in a minute,” he said, pouring her some champagne. She tilted her head, raised the glass, and left him. Christian poured another for himself, which he downed in one swallow as he watched her for a moment through the billowing curtains. His predator stirred. He stepped out and ran his hand over her shoulder.

She gave a start at his touch and spun to look at him. “Oh…I didn’t hear you,” she said, a slight quaver in her voice.

You weren’t meant to, my sweet.
He smiled, and her pupils dilated as he held her gaze.

He licked his lips as his eyes drifted to the delicate curve of her throat, but he wanted to draw out the anticipation, let his hunger build to even greater intensity.

She tilted back her head, taking a sip from her glass. Mesmerized, he watched her throat work as she swallowed. A small drop escaped the corner of her mouth and ran down her neck to the hollow at the base. He bent forward and
licked it away. She sucked in and held her breath for a few heartbeats.

BOOK: Night's Cold Kiss
9.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Detective D. Case by Neal Goldy
Cobweb Empire by Vera Nazarian
The Gentleman Outlaw and Me-Eli by Mary Downing Hahn
Midnight Lamp by Gwyneth Jones
Taboo by Leslie Dicken
The Bobcat's Tate by Georgette St. Clair
The Poisoner's Handbook by Deborah Blum