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By Caridad Piñeiro The first book in THE CALLING Vampire novels, returning in September 2013 as THE REBORN Vampire Novels
Logic. Reason. They were the cornerstones of her profession. Diana used them every day in trying to solve the cases she was assigned. But sometimes there was intuition and a gut kind of instinct that ran contrary to what logic or reason told her should be the outcome. Like the gut feeling she was having right now that had raised the hackles on the back of her neck. An almost preternatural sense of something not quite right nearby. She looked up and around. Someone was watching. Above her, the catwalks and wires swayed and the movement was too great to be just that caused by the breeze. Someone had been up there. The killer maybe? she thought. The high tangle of metal and cables would provide a perfect observation deck. She examined the area, but the glare of the spotlights blinded her, making it impossible for her to see much besides the barely discernable lines and curves of the infrastructure close to the ceiling. When she lowered her gaze, the brightness of the lights left spots in her eyes, like when you stared at the sun too long, making it difficult for her to pick out anyone in the crowd who might be paying just a little too much interest. She blinked a few times, closed her eyes and experienced a kaleidoscope of color behind her eyelids while her sight cleared. When she opened them again, the sensation of being watched had passed. Still she searched the crowd, hoping to meet a gaze, see a face that would trigger that feeling again, but failing to do so. Across the way, David was likewise scoping out the crowd and for a brief moment their gazes connected across the length of the club. She motioned to him, pointing to where she was headed and spoke softly to confirm it, hoping the wire would pick it up over the noise of the band and the crowd. In her ear, she heard David acknowledge and saw him nod. He would make his way across to meet her eventually. She pressed through the bodies, brushing up against one or the other, shooting a glare at one young man who groped her as she inched past. He shrugged sheepishly at her pointed rebuke but didn’t press her further. Continuing onward, she finally reached the open door providing the cool current of air she had savored earlier. There was a bouncer by the exit, sitting in a chair tilted far back onto two spindly legs. She was surprised the metal chair could hold his weight, for he was quite big and heavily muscled. Walking to the door, she stopped and he looked up at her, his gaze sharp and questioning. “Ya leave this way, ya gotta get back on line,” he growled, obviously annoyed. Diana shrugged. Getting back on the line wasn’t a problem. She was here to see and be seen. While the bulk and attitude of the bouncer might put off many, it might not have been enough to discourage the two victims or the killer who had followed them. She exited through the door into the chill of the alley. It had rained while she was inside. The dark stone walls and cobblestones on the ground glistened with wet and water had puddled in various spots. The sky was dark with heavy clouds obscuring the half moon that had been out earlier. A storm breeze kicked up, pushing along the clouds, allowing an occasional ray of moonlight to pierce the dark of the night.
Goosebumps erupted on her skin from the sudden change in temperature. She rubbed at her arms, glanced at the back section of the blind alley. The shadows were strong there and unlike the area leading to the street, there were no lights. With the lack of moonlight, it would be easy for someone to be hiding there, waiting. And yet with no way out, they’d have to take the victims past the bouncer at the open door or the crowd at the far end of the alley. If that had been the case, she didn’t think the victims had fought him, otherwise the struggles would have attracted attention. Unless the alley had a back way out. She took a step toward the darkness, keeping the wall of the building behind her so as to not be surprised. She had gone deep into the alley, but had not yet reached the end of it when the eerie sensation from before returned. The hairs on the back of her neck tingled, as did those on her arms. As her eyes adjusted to the lack of light, a colder, deeper silhouette took shape just a few feet in front of her. It was a man. She squinted, but it was too dark to see his face even though he was close. Too close for her to pull out her weapon. It was a true Mexican standoff, the two of them considering each other in the dim light, neither one speaking. In her ear, the running comments of various agents crackled and she tried not to let them distract her. A few feet from them, a small spot of moonlight suddenly illuminated the space as the wind drove the clouds away. It might be a fleeting opportunity if the winds shifted again, obliterating the moon once more. For now, the light was strong enough. If the man across from her would only move that short distance, it might give her the answers she needed. “Step into the light,” she said, striving for a tone of authority despite the situation, hoping David and the others would hear. The seconds of silence stretched out after her command and then came his short bark of a laugh. “And why would I want to do that?” he said, his low voice gravelly, as if it had been a long time since he had used it. There was a trace of an accent. Southern, she thought. Louisiana, she confirmed as he issued his own determined instructions. “Darlin’, if you have a lick of sense, you’ll turn right around and head back into the club.” He surprised her with the tone of concern, the command meant to protect. She couldn’t take that statement at face value as maybe the others had done, turning their backs on this man and then finding themselves . . . It was likely David would be here within minutes. His instructions were to keep her in sight and he had known where she was heading. But she couldn’t wait for her partner. If this was the man, the delay might prove fatal and she had no intention of ending her life in some alley that stank of stale urine. “Step into the light where I can see you and I’ll go,” she said calmly, not trusting that he would listen. Preparing for what she would do if he didn’t. “Do you think — ” “You’re a fool?” she finished for him.
He expelled a harsh breath and challenged, “I’m not the fool who’s out running around with a killer loose.” Despite his comment, there was a tone of resignation in his voice, as if he too recognized that there was little either could do. She wasn’t surprised therefore when he said, “On three, we both move where we can see one another.” “On three,” she confirmed and counted down. As promised, she took the few steps to her right, mirroring his movement. As they both reached the safety of the light, she detected a note of surprise in his features before he carefully schooled them. He had a severe, yet handsome face, his eyes a flat, unholy black against the dark of the night. They were intense, unblinking. Soulless, she thought for a moment, and then suddenly, as her gaze finally met his, there was a moment of connection, as if she somehow recognized him. She berated herself silently for letting her imagination get the better of her. “Satisfied?” he asked, his voice still husky. He stood mere feet away, a commanding presence. Tall and strong-bodied, he was dressed in all black, like most of the crowd inside. Only on him it was more than just a color. It was an aura of dangerous energy that made her take a step back. “Who are you?” she pressed, aware that they were still the only ones in the alley. She listened intently to the chatter on the wire. Nothing so far to indicate help was on the way. Before Diana could register his intentions, he closed the distance between them and grabbed hold of her wrist, yanking her to him. Years of training took over. An elbow to his face had him rocking backward and she followed up with a jab that straightened him, leaving him totally vulnerable for a full-force roundhouse kick. She connected to the side of his head, the blow making a thick thud, and he tumbled to the rough cobblestones. Before she could react, he was on his feet and retaliating with a sharp backhanded slap across her face which sent her flying back onto the brick wall. Her head impacted hard and stars danced across her vision. She fought off the dazing blow and pressed her hands against the rough surface of the wall, struggling to find purchase so that she wouldn’t fall to the floor. The chatter had ceased in her ear, which meant the wire had stopped working, not that it had been doing much good up to this point. As her assailant neared again, David finally called out, “Hold your position or I’ll fire.” She closed her eyes and held her breath for a moment. When there was silence, she opened her eyes and struggled to focus her blurry gaze as her attacker stood before her, his hands on the top of his head. David stood behind him, inches shorter, his gun pointed up at the base of the man’s skull. David looked at her and asked, “You okay?” Her cheek was throbbing painfully from his blow. She raised her hand to the back of her head. There was a lump growing there beneath her hair. Even though her head was swimming and her vision was not clear, she told herself the bumps and bruises were nothing but minor discomforts. “I’m okay,” she replied and took a step toward the man.
“Who are you?” she asked, getting right next to his face, her nose nearly bumping the edge of his jaw. He smiled tightly and was about to answer when the bouncer seemed to awaken to the fact that something was going on in the alley and ran out, stopping short as he realized what was happening. “Boss man, you okay? Should I call the police?” the muscular man asked her assailant. David kept his bead on her attacker and Diana stepped around, approached the bouncer. “You know this man?” “That’s Ryder Latimer. He’s the owner of the club. Came out to make sure nothing funny was going on,” the bouncer explained. Diana sighed harshly, glanced at her partner who lowered his weapon, holstered it and then spoke softly into the wire to call off the imminent arrival of reinforcements. She walked up to the man and noted he bore an imprint below his left eye from one of the blows she had inflicted. Small satisfaction considering the burning pain across her cheek and the increasing pounding in her head. “I guess we all need to talk.” “I guess we do at that,” he said and turned on his heel, barking a command to the bouncer as he walked into the club. David and Diana remained behind, staring after him in surprise. The bouncer inclined his head in the direction of the door and held out his hand. “After you,” he said facetiously. Diana gritted her teeth to hold back a hasty comment. A bad mistake. The movement sent a shaft of pain up the side of her face and into her skull. She moaned and David reached out to steady her as she swayed. “You need to see a doctor,” he said as she closed her eyes and battled the swirling dizziness in her head. She reached for the wall again for support and instead encountered a rock-hard body. Opening her eyes, she met the sharp-eyed gaze of her assailant, who actually seemed concerned. It was the last thing she thought as she passed out into his arms.
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 © 2004 by Caridad Piñeiro Scordato All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, is forbidden without the written permission of Caridad Piñeiro Scordato. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of publisher.
Visit Charity/Caridad’s websites at www.caridad.com and www.charitypineiro.com. Copyright Cover design by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
Additional Books by Charity Pineiro NOW AND ALWAYS June 2013 ASIN B00DIGN3B6 Amazon FAITH IN YOU July 2013 ASIN B00DQBIS8Q Amazon Additional Books by the Author Writing as Caridad Pineiro Books in The Gambling for Love Series THE PRINCE’S GAMBLE November 2012 ISBN 9781622668007 Entangled Publishing TO CATCH A PRINCESS August 2013 ISBN 9781622661329 Entangled Publishing Books in The Sin Hunter Series THE CLAIMED May 2012 ISBN 978-0446584609 Forever Grand Central Publishing THE LOST August 2011 ISBN 978-0446584616 Forever Grand Central Publishing Books in The Sins Series STRONGER THAN SIN November 2010 ISBN 0446543845 Forever Grand Central Publishing SINS OF THE FLESH November 2009 ISBN 0446543837 Forever Grand Central Publishing Other Novels by Caridad THE FIFTH KINDOM July 2011 ISBN 9781426891885 Carina Press SOLDIER’S SECRET CHILD Dec 2008 ISBN 0373276109 Silhouette Romantic Suspense Novellas GHOST OF A CHANCE, paranormal short story November 2012 ISBN B00AUGV89G Caridad Pineiro Publishing HER VAMPIRE LOVER October 2012 ISBN 9781459242289 Nocturne Cravings Novella NIGHT OF THE COUGAR June 2012 ISBN 9781459231153 Nocturne Cravings Novella THE VAMPIRE’S CONSORT April 2012 ISBN 9781459222731 Harlequin Nocturne Cravings Novella NOCTURNAL WHISPERS February 2012 ISBN 9781459221437 Harlequin Nocturne Cravings Novella AMAZON AWAKENING December 2011 ISBN 9781459282766 Available Harlequin Nocturne Cravings Novella WHEN HERALD ANGELS SING novella in A VAMPIRE FOR CHRISTMAS October 2011 ISBN 0373776446 HQN AZTEC GOLD January 2011 ISBN 9781426891045 Carina Press Novella Crazy for the Cat in MOON FEVER Oct 2007 ISBN 1416514902 Pocket Books Books in THE CALLING/THE REBORN Vampire Novel Series BORN TO DIE (tentative title), December 2013, ISBN Not Available Entangled Publishing BORN TO LOVE, November 2013, ISBN Not Available Entangled Publishing TO LOVE OR SERVE, October 2013, ISBN Not Available Entangled Publishing
FOR LOVE OR VENGEANCE September 2013 ISBN 9781622662937 Entangled Publishing KISSED BY A VAMPIRE (formerly ARDOR CALLS) October 2012 ISBN 9780373885589 Harlequin Nocturne AWAKENING THE BEAST Collection featuring HONOR CALLS October 2009 ISBN 0373250940 Silhouette Nocturne FURY CALLS March 2009 ISBN 0373618077 Silhouette Nocturne HONOR CALLS February 2009 ISBN 9781426828362 Nocturne Bite HOLIDAY WITH A VAMPIRE December 2007 ISBN 0373617763 Silhouette Nocturne THE CALLING COMPLETE COLLECTION October 2008 ISBN 9781426807657 Silhouette Includes Darkness Calls, Danger Calls, Temptation Calls, Death Calls, Devotion Calls, and Blood Calls–as well as a the online read Desire Calls. BLOOD CALLS May 2007 ISBN 0373617631 Silhouette Nocturne DEVOTION CALLS January 2007 ISBN 0373617550 Silhouette Nocturne DEATH CALLS Dec 2006 ISBN 0373617534 Silhouette Nocturne TEMPTATION CALLS Oct 2005 ISBN 0373274602 Silhouette Intimate Moments DANGER CALLS June 2005 ISBN 0373274416 Silhouette Intimate Moments DARKNESS CALLS Mar 2004 ISBN 0373273533 Silhouette Intimate Moments Romantic Suspense Series SECRET AGENT REUNION Aug 2007 ISBN 0373275463 Silhouette Romantic Suspense
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