Psychic burlesque dancer, Lyric Morrison, is attacked on the street late one night after a show. It’s a vampire that comes to her rescue. Jade is enchanted with the lovely young dancer but she can never be more than prey to him.
When Lyric has a vision that Jade may be in danger, she goes out of her way to find him. However, somebody else is also seeking him out. Someone with a serious need for vengeance. Jade is soon faced with his dark past and the choice to love again without fear or to always wonder what might have been.
Originally published by Liquid Silver Books 12/2009. Re-released by Dark Mountain Books 04/2012.
Cover Art by: Stella Price
It was quiet. Too quiet. Not a dry autumn leaf crinkled nor a dog barked. The cold night stood in near silence. How deceitful. Beneath the stark illusion lay a world of darkness where things grew and pulsed, thriving on horrors and death. Creatures from the expected to the impossible nightmare existed solely to extinguish life and love.
Blood thirsty and exhausted, Jade Kenyan walked in shadow. Alone, for tonight anyway. He was growing bored with the women that he’d begun using to fill the empty space at his side. They did nothing to soothe the real longing, the pain of so many years. On this night, more than any other, the ache of several long decades cut him so much deeper; another year had passed already since he’d last mourned the anniversary of the death of his wife.
Tonight he hunted without care. He stalked the streets of Gray Falls with only one thing on his mind now: an easy kill that no one would miss. Plenty of those were on this side of the city. It was just a matter of singling one out.
Cars continued to pass by but no longer in droves like during the peak hours. Jade tried to blend in with the few people walking down the street. Nobody cared enough looked twice at him anyway. Long hair tied back neatly, well dressed in a black Italian suit, he looked like one of many men who worked in the business district ten blocks away. They often strolled for a little after-hour’s action from the girls on the strip. In no time at all, he should be satisfying the bloodlust, if nothing else.
A few working girls called to him before Jade spotted the one he wanted. After only a moment, Jade realized that she wasn’t a working girl at all. Rather, she appeared to be waiting for the bus. He slowed his pace and pretended to check his phone. He wanted a better look at the raven-haired woman half a block away.
What was she doing out here so late if not working? Most women out after midnight in this end of town were looking for trouble of one kind or another.
* * * *
Lyric Morrison dug her cell phone out of her bag and double-checked the time. If she’d missed the last bus, she was screwed. This was the last time she agreed to accept payment by check; she doubted that she had enough cash on her to take a cab home. She hated being out alone like this, but her car had recently died so public transit had become the temporary alternative.
She should have caught a ride home with one of the other dancers. Maybe she should try Storm again and pray for an answer. She’d already left two messages. If anything, her friend had gone to one of her noisy, late-night hangouts. The music would be too loud to hear her cell phone. Why couldn’t she just use vibrate like everybody else?
Lyric searched for a cigarette, discovering an empty pack. Well, she was trying to quit anyway. Cursing, she redialed her friend. No luck and still no bus. Shit! People were walking toward her. No big deal, she told herself. It’s cool.
Pulling her long, faux-fur coat tightly around her, she worried that the five-inch stilettos made her look as if she was out to turn tricks. Lyric was actually a well-trained burlesque dancer. She was in this part of town only because she and the girls had performed at a birthday party for a rich, aging millionaire.
Something didn’t feel right. She watched the people nearby suspiciously. For Lyric, being psychic didn’t mean being able to know everything about everyone, but her visions did occasionally give her substantial insight.
A man in an expensive suit lingered half a block away. Tall, dark and handsome. Her gaze lingered on him. Probably on the prowl for what he wasn’t getting at home. A couple had turned off down another street, and the atmosphere seemed to grow cold. Another man, much closer, seemed to be fumbling with something in his pocket. A gun?
His eyes were fixed on her, and his lips moved, but the sound he produced was slurred and inaudible. Lyric watched him, frozen. She saw it then as the vision flashed before her eyes. The glint of the knife as it sliced through the air to bury itself fatally in her abdomen. The drug fiend was out to rob what he thought to be a prostitute with a few bucks in her purse.
The man charged her suddenly, and she threw her hands up to ward off the blow. The knife was there in his hand, but he didn’t swing. Reeking of cheap booze and days old sweat, he groped wildly for her bag.
Lyric tried unsuccessfully to defend herself, balancing precariously on her impossible shoes. Fully expecting a blow from the blade that glittered in the streetlight, she’d barely gotten a scream out when her attacker was snatched away.
The man in the suit, his eyes glowing with a feral light, held her attacker immobile. With the unmistakable snap of bone, the man was disarmed. Her rescuer silenced the resulting pained howl with a hand, dragging him into the shadows between two buildings.
Lyric stared open-mouthed into the shadows. Vampire. Gasping to catch her breath, she could only shake her head. As a true psychic, she’d learned to identify vampires early on. Those with supernatural abilities could often sense one another. The gift had run in the women of her family for generations, each of them possessing something uniquely her own. Lyric’s abilities encompassed spontaneous visions of the future.
She hadn’t felt him as a vampire at first. He must naturally shield hard, which one had to when possessing any kind of mental capabilities of the sixth sense. However, the fact that she’d had no sense of him whatsoever meant he was certainly a powerful one.
He was incredibly handsome. She had never seen a man with such amazing hair: the deepest brown and just past shoulder length. Common sense told her to run, but something else made her stay. She strained for a better look into the dark, asking herself what the hell she was doing.
Her eyes focused on the moving shapes beyond the street front. The vampire fed voraciously. There was a strangled groan and then silence. Lyric couldn’t tear her eyes away from the shadows. She would be damned if that bus showed up now.
It felt like ages before the vampire stepped into the glow of the street light. He had not even a hair out of place. Green eyes rimmed in gold met Lyric’s uneasy gaze. If he came for her, there wasn’t much she could do.
“Are you ok?” The vampire asked. He held a hand out to her, as if he were harmless. She didn’t budge.
Looking into her storm-colored eyes, he wore a solemn expression. It struck Lyric as strange, but she was inexplicably drawn to the shadows that danced behind his eyes.
She was shielding so tight that she knew he couldn’t help but be even more aware of her. She was a gifted human, rarer than the average fortune teller would have you think.
“I’m fine, thank you.” Her voice was soft and breathy as she studied him. “You just saved my life.”
“What are you doing out here alone? This isn’t the street you want to be walking after dark.” He was careful not to address her statement, as if he was nobody’s hero.
“I know,” she replied, shivering in the cooling night air. “I just did a show. I’m a dancer. A trained burlesque dancer, not a triple x dancer.” She was adamant about the kind of dance she did. It was artistic and took a lot of training and hard work. Nudity was brief and minimal at best. “I didn’t think I’d get stuck out here. My damn car just broke down. Last import I’ll ever buy.”
“I think you missed the bus.” He looked up and down the street. Only a few cars went by. The night was dying down.
“Yeah, that figures.” She glanced up and down the street uselessly. Strangely, she didn’t feel so afraid anymore.
“Do you live far? Why don’t you let me get you a taxi?”
“Oh, I couldn’t ask you to do that.” She protested.
His eyes barely left her ruby red lips. He watched her with a transfixed look. She knew that her jet-black hair and those bad-girl heels invited him to guess what was beneath the faux-fur coat. Desperately, she began to punch numbers into her cell phone.
“You didn’t ask. And really, it’s nothing … Just to ensure you get home safely.”
Though everything about what he said was genuine, Lyric couldn’t resist teasing. “Your gesture is appreciated Mr. … Vampire, but how am I to be sure I won’t be your next midnight snack?”
He gave her a look of obvious surprise. He apparently hadn’t expected her to recognize him for what he was.
“Why don’t you tell me?” he asked. There was no mistaking his meaning. She wouldn’t have expected a vampire not to know that she had metaphysical abilities. However, a level of safety lay in the fact that he could not know the extent of her ability, unless he chose to test her.
She knew damn well this creature had just killed a man in cold blood. Still, it wasn’t the first nor would it be the last murder she’d witnessed; her link to the supernatural world had resulted in many such incidents. Perhaps his chivalry didn’t work quite right for the human world, but he had saved her, and having only that to base her decision on, she slipped her phone back into her bag.
“Thank you. I will gladly and gratefully accept a taxi ride home.” She now offered him her hand. “I’m Lyric.”
“Jade Kenyan,” he said, accepting her offered hand gently, as if it were made of fragile glass. “I’m incredibly pleased to meet you, Lyric. That is a beautiful name. Your mother must have been a singer.”
“She was,” Lyric nodded. “She was a flower child of the sixties. To this day she claims to have jammed with Hendrix.”
She laughed then and pulled her hand away. Jade’s touch was just too warm and inviting. He was nothing but a stranger to her. He chuckled along with her but reacted subtly to her sudden change in demeanor.
“I’d better be going,” Lyric glanced down the street, looking for the glow of an approaching taxi. “If you’d like to give me a way to reach you, I’d like to pay you back. At least for the cab.” She doubted there was any way of thanking him for her life.
Jade raised a hand to flag down the next cab to come down the block. As it eased up to the curb next to them, he pressed a handful of bills into her palm.
“Consider it a favor. No worries.” He flashed a smile and opened the car door for her. When she was inside, he spoke through the open window. “Have an evening as truly beautiful as yourself, Lyric.”
He stepped back, and the car pulled away quickly. Too quickly.
She glanced back at him for one last look before he was out of sight. Strange. Lyric couldn’t deny that he was mesmerizing but definitely dangerous, no matter how nice he’d been. Opening her closed fist, she carefully unfolded the crumpled bills. Her eyes widened.
He’d given her more than a hundred dollars for a forty-dollar cab ride. He might not have been born in this century, but he existed in it. Surely, he knew the average cost of a cab ride across the city. It was more than generous. She would definitely have to pay him back.
Though, she wasn’t sure how. He’d avoided giving her too much information about himself. Jade Kenyan. She didn’t recognize the name. However, Lyric knew well that life worked in mysterious ways.
Jade had been in the right place at the right time to save her life. If their paths were meant to cross again, they would. Until then, she owed him one hundred dollars.