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Home > Ashes of Midnight (Midnight Breed #6)

Ashes of Midnight (Midnight Breed #6)
Author: Lara Adrian

Chapter One

BERLIN, GERMANY

The vampire had no idea that death awaited him in the darkness. His senses were overloaded with need, his hands and arms full of a half-dressed redhead who pawed at him with barely restrained lust. Too fevered to notice they weren't alone in his Darkhaven bedchamber, he willed open the carved double doors and guided his eager, panting prey inside. The woman teetered on a pair of tall heels, laughing as she twisted away from him and wagged a finger in front of her face. "Hans, you fed me too mush champagne," she slurred, stumbling into the dark room. "My head's all woozy." "It will pass." The German vampire's words were sluggish, too, though not from the alcohol that had inebriated his unsuspecting American companion.

His fangs were no doubt filling his mouth, saliva flooding over his tongue in anticipation of feeding. He tracked her with deliberate movements as he closed the doors behind him and prowled toward her. His eyes glowed like embers, transforming from their natural color to something otherworldly. Although the woman seemed oblivious to the change coming over him, the vampire held his head low as he approached her, careful to conceal the telling heat of his bloodthirsty gaze. Except for that shuttered amber glow and the dim twinkle of stars outside the tall windows overlooking the Darkhaven estate's private grounds, there was no light in the room.

Then again, being one of the Breed, he could see well enough without it. So could the one who came to kill him. Enveloped in shadows across the large chamber, a dark gaze watched as the vampire grabbed his blood Host from behind and got down to business. The first pungent copper whiff of the human's pierced vein made the observer's fangs erupt from his gums in reflexive response. He hungered, too, more urgently than he wanted to admit, but he had come here for a greater purpose than to serve his own base needs.

He had come for vengeance. For justice. It was that overriding mission that held Andreas Reichen's feet firmly to the floor as the other vampire drank greedily, blindly, across the room. He waited, patient only because he knew this male's death would bring him one step closer to fulfilling the vow he'd made some twelve weeks ago ... the night his world had disintegrated into a pile of ash and rubble. Reichen's restraint was held on a threadbare leash. Inside he churned with the heat of his anger. His bones felt like hot iron rods beneath his skin. His blood raced through his body, liquid fire that seared him from scalp to heels.

Every muscle and cell within him screamed for retribution--screamed it with a fury that bordered on nuclear meltdown. Not here, he warned himself. Not that. The price would be steep if he gave in to the full mea sure of his rage, and by God, this son of a bitch wasn't worth it. Reichen held that explosive part of himself at bay, but the effort came a fraction of a second too late. The fire in him was already swelling, burning through the fragile tethers of his self-control... The other vampire suddenly lifted his head from where he'd been feeding at the woman's neck. He drew in a sharp breath through his nose, then grunted, animalistic... alarmed.

"Someone is here." "What'd you say?" she murmured, still drowsy from his bite as he sealed her wound with his tongue then shoved her away from him. She staggered forward, huffing a couple of choice curses under her breath. The instant her sluggish gaze lit on Reichen, a scream ripped from her throat. "Oh, my God!" Feeling his eyes smoldering with the amber fire of his rage, his fangs tearing through his gums in readiness of the fight to come, Reichen took a single step out of the shadows. The woman screamed again, hysteria rising in her wild, panicked eyes. She looked to her companion for protection, but the vampire had no further use of her. With a callous sweep of his hand, he knocked her out of his way and stalked forward. The blow sent her careening to the floor. "Hans!" she cried. "Oh, God--what's going on?" Hissing, the vampire faced his unexpected intruder and crouched into an attack stance. Reichen had only a moment to cast a quick glance at the confused, terrified human. "Get out of here." He sent a mental command that unlocked the bedchamber's doors and swung them open.

"Leave, female. Now!" As she scrambled up from the polished marble beneath her and escaped the room, the Darkhaven vampire leapt into the air in a single, fluid arc of motion. Before his feet could touch down, Reichen launched himself at the bastard. Their bodies collided, the explosion of Reichen's forward momentum propelling both of them across the width of the chamber. Fangs huge and gnashing, fierce amber eyes locked on each other in the deadliest kind of malice, together they crashed like a wrecking ball into the far wall. Bones cracked with the impact, but it wasn't enough for Reichen. Not nearly enough. He threw the struggling, furious Breed male to the floor and pinned him there, one knee crushing his throat. "Ignorant fool!" roared the vampire, arrogant despite his pain. "Have you any idea who I am?" "I know who you are--Enforcement Agent Hans Friedrich Waldemar." Reichen bared his teeth and fangs in a profanity of a smile as he glared down at him.

"Don't tell me you have already forgotten who I am." No, he hadn't forgotten. Recognition flickered behind the pain and fear in Waldemar's slitted pupils. "Son of a bitch... Andreas Reichen." "That's right." Reichen held the bastard in a gaze so deadly furious it must have burned to hold it. "What's the matter, Agent Waldemar? You seem surprised to see me." "I--I don't understand. The attack on the Darkhaven this past summer..."

The vampire sucked in a choked breath. "I'd heard no one survived." "Almost no one," Reichen corrected tightly. And now Waldemar knew why he'd been paid this unexpected visit. There was no mistaking the bleak awareness in the other male's gaze. Or the stark fear. When he spoke now, his voice shook a bit. "I had nothing to do with it, Andreas. You must believe me--" Reichen snorted. "That's what the others said, too." Waldemar started to squirm, but Reichen pressed down harder with his knee planted heavily against the vampire's throat. Waldemar wheezed, trying to raise his hands as the weight began to crush his air channel. "Please...just tell me what you want from me." "Justice." With neither satisfaction nor remorse, Reichen grabbed Waldemar's head in his hands and gave a fierce yank. His neck snapped, then the Breed male's head fell back to the floor with a heavy thunk. Reichen exhaled a deep sigh that did little to purge his anguish, or the grief he felt at being alive and alone. The sole survivor. The last of his family line. As he stood and prepared to leave this latest death behind him, a glint of polished glass on one of the room's several mahogany bookcases caught his eye. He stalked over to it, his feet moving automatically, sharpened gaze fixed on the face of his enemy that stared out from within the silver-framed photograph. He grabbed the picture and stared down at it, his fingers hot where they pressed into the metal of the frame.

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