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Home > Veil of Midnight (Midnight Breed #5)

Veil of Midnight (Midnight Breed #5)
Author: Lara Adrian

Chapter One

On stage in the cavernous jazz club below Montreal's street level, a crimson-lipped singer drawled into the microphone about the cruelty of love. Although her sultry voice was pleasant enough, the lyrics about blood and pain and pleasure clearly heartfelt, Nikolai wasn't listening. He wondered if she knew - if any of the dozens of humans packed into the intimate club knew - that they were sharing breathing space with vampires.

The two young females sucking down pink martinis in the dark corner banquette sure as hell didn't know it.

They were sandwiched between four such individuals, a group of slick, leather-clad males who were chatting them up - without much success - and trying to act like their bloodthirsty eyes hadn't been permanently fixed on the women's jugulars for the past fifteen minutes straight. Even though it was clear that the vampires were negotiating hard to get the humans out of the club with them, they weren't making much progress with their prospective blood Hosts.

Nikolai scoffed under his breath.

Amateurs.

He paid for the beer he'd left untouched on the bar and headed at an easy stroll toward the corner table. As he approached, he watched the two human females scoot out of the booth on unsteady legs. Giggling, they stumbled for the restrooms together, disappearing down a dim, crowded hallway off the main room.

Nikolai sat down at the table in a negligent sprawl.

"Evening, ladies."

The four vampires stared at him in silence, instantly recognizing their own kind. Niko lifted one of the tall, lipstick -stained martini glasses to his nose and sniffed at the dregs of the fruity concoction. He winced, pushing the offending drink aside. "Humans," he drawled in a low voice. "How can they stomach that shit?"

A wary silence fell over the table as Nikolai's glance traveled among the obviously young, obviously civilian Breed males. The largest of the four cleared his throat as he looked at Niko, his instincts no doubt picking up on the fact that Niko wasn't local, and he was a far cry from civilized.

The youth adopted something he probably thought was a hardass look and jerked his soul-patched chin toward the restroom corridor. "We saw them first," he murmured. "The women. We saw them first." He cleared his throat again, like he was waiting for his trio of wingmen to back him up. None did. "We got here first, man. When the females come back to the table, they're gonna be leaving with us."

Nikolai chuckled at the young male's shaky attempt to stake his territory. "You really think there'd be any contest if I was here to poach your game? Relax. I'm not interested in that. I'm looking for information."

He'd been through a similar song-and-dance twice already tonight at other clubs, seeking out the places where members of the Breed tended to gather and hunt for blood, looking for someone who could point him toward a vampire elder named Sergei Yakut.

It wasn't easy finding someone who didn't want to be found, especially a secretive, nomadic individual like Yakut. He was in Montreal, that much Nikolai was sure of. He'd spoken to the reclusive vampire by phone as recently as a couple of weeks earlier, when he'd tracked Yakut down to inform him of a threat that seemed aimed at the Breed's most powerful, rarest members - the twenty or so individuals still in existence who were born of the first generation.

Someone was targeting Gen Ones for extinction. Several had been slain within the past month, and for Niko and his brothers in arms back in Boston - a small cadre of highly trained, highly lethal warriors known as the Order - the business of rooting out and shutting down the elusive Gen One assassins was mission critical. For that, the Order had decided to contact all of the known Gen Ones remaining in the Breed population and enlist their cooperation.

Sergei Yakut had been less than enthusiastic to get involved. He feared no one, and he had his own personal clan to protect him. He'd declined the Order's invitation to come to Boston and talk, so Nikolai had been dispatched to Montreal to persuade him. Once Yakut was made aware of the scope of the current threat - the stunning truth of what the Order and all of the Breed were now up against - Nikolai was certain the Gen One would be willing to come on board.

First he had to find the cagey son of a bitch.

So far his inquiries around the city had turned up nothing. Patience wasn't exactly his strong suit, but he had all night, and he'd keep searching. Sooner or later, someone might give him the answer he was looking for. And if he kept coming up dry, maybe if he asked enough questions, Sergei Yakut would come looking for him instead.

"I need to find someone," Nikolai told the four Breed youths. "A vampire out of Russia. Siberia , to be exact."

"That where you're from?" asked the soul-patched mouthpiece of the group. He'd evidently picked up on the slight tinge of an accent that Nikolai hadn't lost in the long years he'd been living in the States with the Order.

Niko let his glacial blue eyes speak to his own origins. "Do you know this individual?"

"No, man. I don't know him."

Two other heads shook in immediate denial, but the last of the four youths, the sullen one who was slouched low in the booth, shot an anxious look up at Nikolai from across the table.

Niko caught that telling gaze and held it. "What about you? Any idea who I'm talking about?"

At first, he didn't think the vampire was going to answer. Hooded eyes held his in silence, then, finally, the kid lifted one shoulder in a shrug and exhaled a curse.

"Sergei Yakut," he murmured.

The name was hardly audible, but Nikolai heard it. And from the periphery of his vision, he noticed that an ebony-haired woman seated at the bar nearby heard it too. He could tell she had from the sudden rigidity of her spine beneath her long-sleeved black top and from the way her head snapped briefly to the side as though pulled there by the power of that name alone. "You know him?" Nikolai asked the Breed male, while keeping the brunette at the bar well within his sights.

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