Authors: Jessica Lee
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Looking for more otherworldly stories? Entangled has you covered with these paranormal and urban fantasy novels…
Stone Cold Revenge
Stone Cold Seduction
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright © 2014 by Jessica Lee. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.
Entangled Publishing, LLC
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Edited by Erin Molta
Cover design by Kim Killion
Ebook ISBN 978-1-62266-531-0
Manufactured in the United States of America
First Edition April 2014
To Mr. Lee: none of this would be possible without you. You amaze me, and I’m the luckiest woman in the world. Love you. Always.
There are times in life when saving something or somebody you care about requires taking the risk that you’ll lose it all and have nothing in the end.
Guerin’s friendship with Kenric St. James, master of the Enclave, was a prime example of the possible nasty consequence. But it was a chance he had to take to keep his leader and best friend from once again getting screwed by his sire, Marguerite.
Even after her death.
Like a foreboding message, Guerin’s last conversation with Arran, the only Enclave warrior who knew the real reason he’d left, rolled to the forefront of his mind.
“So what will you do when you cross the pond and find Eve isn’t what Marguerite claimed she’d be, her vengeful, spiteful mother’s daughter? Will you wrap her up like a present and bring her back to her father? Kenric will never forgive us for keeping Eve’s existence a secret from him.”
It had been a valid question, but it was a decision he didn’t believe he’d truly need to make.
“She’s Marguerite’s spawn. How can the female be anything but evil?”
“Yet,” Arran responded, “if Marguerite was telling the truth, she only possesses half of Marguerite’s genes. There’s a part of her that’s Kenric as well.”
“Kenric never had a chance to be a part of her life, to impart any kind of moral compass for the female to follow.” Guerin had glanced over his shoulder and dread had settled like an anchor around his neck. “I wish like hell this wasn’t my journey to take. But what kind of friend would I be if I didn’t do this for him? No man should ever be asked to kill his own child.”
The bell tower chimed once, then twice, announcing the late hour to the empty, wet streets of Nuremberg, Germany. Guerin swiped the rain from his face and off the shadow of a beard that had grown during his ten-hour trek across the Atlantic. He picked up his speed as he made his way through the aged passageway, his boots splashing through the puddles littering the street. The weatherworn buildings attested to decades spent enduring the unyielding elements. Guerin understood all too well the harsh effects of existing for too many years.
The edifices were old—but he was older.
Guerin inhaled a lungful of the icy breeze, attempting to shrug off the heavy blanket of isolation that was trying to suffocate him. It had been more than a century since he and Kenric had teamed up and formed the Enclave. At first, it had been only him and his best friend defending the humans on the coast of South Carolina. Through the years, Kenric had recruited a select few males who’d demonstrated a strong desire to keep their darker side in check and protect others from those of their kind who couldn’t resist the urge to kill while feeding.
The Enclave had grown to five male warriors until earlier that year, when they’d lost Logan during the rescue of Arran’s mate and her sister. And then there was Markus. Physically, the bastard was back inside the Enclave’s walls, but the vampire’s head was so screwed up from Marguerite’s manipulations that Guerin doubted Kenric would ever be able to reach him.
With the high level of risk associated with his mission, crossing the Atlantic onto a master’s territory without notice and hunting down a vampire on foreign soil—a vampire none of them knew anything about—Guerin really should have his team at his back. Or his head examined. But this was something that had to be handled alone. There was no other way.
Slowing his pace, Guerin sampled the air once more. His informant was already here. He’d sensed the other’s presence a moment ago when he’d turned into the corridor. The vibrations and scent given off by another vampire were hard to miss, if they wanted to be found, that is.
“Guerino Lombardi?” A sultry female voice drifted from the shadows.
“Depends on who’s asking.” Guerin halted and fisted his hand around the hilt of his dagger. The steady pelt of the rain on the cobblestones drummed in his ears as a figure emerged from the darkness.
Long waves of cinnamon-brown hair draped the shoulders of a woman who appeared to be about a head shorter than his six-foot-two frame. A dark-crimson cape enveloped her, brushing her ankles and shielding her from the cold night of the early Bavarian winter. She reached up and pulled its hood over her head as she glided forward and slowed to a stop before him. Her eyelids shuttered, and her lips parted on a deep inhale. A sensual display, and one he was sure was for his benefit.
“Mmm…” She opened her eyes, and a flash of red circled her pupils. “My, you are an old one,” she said in a thick accent that hinted of a Russian heritage. The tips of her fangs glinted from beneath her upper lip. “I am Ana.”
Arousal and blatant lust rolled off the female like a tsunami wave and slammed into Guerin’s senses. He bit back a groan. One not formed from mutual desire, but of distaste.
“If you’re Ana, then yes, I’m Guerino. The one sent by Markus to locate Eve for his Mistress,” he said, omitting one small detail—Markus’s Mistress, Marguerite, was dead. She also didn’t need to know that Markus was in a silver-plated cage, wasting away like a fucking ice cream cone under a midday summer sun. Not that the Enclave’s master wasn’t trying to save him. Shit. For the past month, Kenric had attempted to feed him every other day, but for some reason, Markus had developed a damn martyr complex. Guerin swiped a hand through his hair, pushing back the rain-slicked layers dripping onto his face.
He hated how cold the rain was in Europe. “Do you have the information?”
“Ah, yes…Marguerite.” Ana lifted one brow and painted a smile on her red lips. “And how is dear Marguerite? It’s been too long since last we…played.”
“She’s eager to find her daughter. Marguerite lost contact with Eve after leaving the country, and you’re the only other person who knew of her existence. She’s counting on your cooperation.”
ed. “So impatient for one as old as you.” She closed the distance between them, reached up, and trailed her fingertips in a slow exploration down his chest. “You and I could have fun getting to know each other.” Her hand dipped below his belt. Guerin hissed, seized her wrist, and jerked her hard against him. The breath whooshed from her lungs in a cloud of vapor.
“You want to get to know me?” Guerin growled, dropped her wrist, and gripped Ana’s chin. “Lesson number one: I don’t fuck vampires.”
“Fine.” Ana pulled free of his hold and stepped back. “We don’t fuck.”
Guerin took a deep breath.
Shit. Get a grip.
He needed her. She was his only lead to finding Eve.
“Sorry,” Guerin said through clenched teeth. “Nothing personal.”
Ana huffed. “You’re lucky I’m loyal to Marguerite, or I’d tell you to go screw yourself.”
“Like I said. Nothing personal, Ana.” Guerin shrugged. “Just a preference.” He stepped closer. “Now, do you know where Eve is?”
“I do.” She smiled. Ana brushed past him with a come-hither rock of her hips, then circled him like a cat parading its kill before its master.
Yes. Finally a lead
. The blood surged in Guerin’s veins, but he forced back the adrenaline rush. He didn’t need Ana suspicious over his reaction.
“So where is Eve Devonshire, Ana?” It was all he could do not to grab her and demand an answer. He had to find her. Kenric, his best friend—his only family for the past century—didn’t deserve to live through another one of Marguerite’s choreographed nightmares. For a moment, his mind flashed back more than a hundred years ago to the night he and Kenric had met.
Guerin had only been in the low country of South Carolina for about six months when one evening, he stumbled upon a lone human going up against several crazed DEADs on the docks. Five against one. Those kinds of odds weren’t much to his liking—then and now. So Guerin had decided to crash the party and help the poor male.
For the first few minutes, everything had been going fine. In fact, he’d been kicking some ass and rather enjoying himself, until one of them pulled a knife and sank the blade into his flank. That’s when a stranger, with powers unlike any he’d witnessed in years, appeared out of nowhere. A wicked windstorm kicked up that knocked him back into a pillar and temporarily clouded his vision. Guerin had realized immediately that he was in the presence of a master vampire. Gurgling cries sliced through the air, and as quickly as it had all begun, the storm ended. The strong winds ceased, leaving only the sounds of the harbor surrounding them.
The powerful new vampire stood up from where he’d been checking the victim for signs of life, but the human’s wounds had been too great. As he turned and approached, the male’s dark coat billowed around his ankles in the sea’s slight breeze, and hair the color of a raven brushed the sides of his face. He closed in on Guerin and stopped, his pale blue eyes meeting Guerin’s. Energy, a strength only another creature of the night could detect, radiated off the male in palpable waves. Whoever he was, Guerin had known that the male was someone he didn’t want as his enemy. What the master did next, though, had caught him by surprise. As if they’d just met at a social event and not after having battled several DEADs, the master vampire stuck out his palm in a gentleman’s offering. “The name’s Kenric St. James, and who might you be?”
Ana pressed her shoulder into his, jarring Guerin back into the present, and came around his left side, stopping in front of him. Her bloodred cape swayed around her ankles. Hundreds of raindrops beaded on her shoulders like diamond dust in the moonlight, giving her an almost angelic appearance. A deceptive illusion he knew the lethal beauty used to her advantage. “Actually… She was here—last I saw her. Just outside of Nuremberg.”