Publisher: Silhouette Intimate
Pub. Date: June 2005
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One night was all it could ever be . . .
Because Dr. Melissa Danvers was a vampireâ€™s keeper. Honor-bound to repay the man whoâ€™s always been there for her, Melissa hoped the 140-year-old immortal could uncover the mystery surrounding her parentsâ€™ deaths. Complicating her mission was Sebastian Reyes, the young, sexy entrepreneur whose wild lovemaking left her sated, yet burning for more.
One night of passion with the beautiful healer would haunt Sebastian the rest of his life. Now Melissa needed his computer expertise to unravel a crime and stay one step ahead of a desperate killer. Sebastian was strictly a no-strings-attached guy. Until danger and desire delivered him to the one woman his soul couldnâ€™t forget.
â€œThe first book, “Darkness Calls”, had fans begging for more. Silhouette heard the cries for more and responded by making it a series. . . Caridad Pineiro is an author to keep your eyes on. This series has the potential to only get better and better!”
~Huntress Book Reviews
â€œGrab your coat and join Melissa, Ryder, Diana, and her brother Sebastian as they try to find the killer and the reason for the murders. . . the mystery and drama gives the reader an enjoyable read. I have had the pleasure of reading and reviewing this author’s first novel and pleased to have done this her latest installment.â€
~Book Review Cafe
â€œ. . .This is a page-turner, and a great love story. Ms. Pineiroâ€™s stories are sensual, intriguing, and lovers of the paranormal genre will no doubt count her books as â€˜keepersâ€™ on their shelves. Donâ€™t miss the next book in this series, â€˜Temptation Callsâ€™ in October 2005.
â€œ. . . (A) fantastic thriller that grips the audience from the moment that Melissa realizes one of her late dadâ€™s journals has been stolen. Once again the audience will believe that vampires exist . . . Melissa and Sebastian star in this heated intrigue in which they attempt to keep Ryder safe while trying not to fall in love. In an incredibly short time, Caridad Pineiro is proving to be one of the sub-genreâ€™s best writers.â€
â€œIn this story about the redemptive power of love, Caridad Pineiro tells about a hero and heroine who are not good at emotional relationships. . . . With the charactersâ€™ genuine personalities and the intriguing plot, Ms. Pineiro creates a book that is thought-provoking and touches oneâ€™s heart. The captivating mystery along with the poignant love story makes DANGER CALLS an entertaining paranormal read, which will stir oneâ€™s imagination. I am very glad there are future books in this series.â€
â€œMs. Pineiro does a marvelous job with bringing a fresh outlook to the vampire realm. She does so with wit, charm and a pizzazz that keeps the pages turning. The tough vulnerability in her characters makes them all easy to fall in love with.â€
Westchester County, October 2004
The body twitched convulsively on the floor of the cage before death stilled its movements.
Only two more rats to go and the active cell strain would be gone, leaving just the frozen samples and the journal taken from Frederick Danvers’ lab nearly a year ago. Not that either had been of much use. The journal contained no instructions on how to prepare the frozen samples for use in test subjects. Multiple attempts to activate the preserved cell strain using standard lab procedures had been dismally unsuccessful. There was little of the precious sample left. In addition, the journal had not provided any clues as to the origin of the unusual cell strain so more could be obtained. The project was close to failure.
A nudge with a finger to the dead rat’s body — just to make sure since one had taken a rather nasty bite once — followed by a post mortem examination would hopefully yield some knowledge. If it didn’t, there was only one way left to secure what was needed to further the experiments. One very unpleasant way.
Unfortunately, such means were sometimes necessary when the possibility of reward was immense. And what greater prize could there be than the promise of immortality?
Westchester County, November 2004
Death would not be ignored that day.
It was in the bite of the chill wind as it ripped through the bare branches of trees, wailing plaintively. It was in the somber darkness of the clouds as it began to rain, as if they too were weeping.
Melissa Danvers stared down at the graves of her parents. A little more than a year ago the ground had been too hard to bury them. Now a carpet of green dulled by the frosts of fall covered the earth where her parents rested. But there was still no peace for Melissa. There were too many things that had been left unsaid and unresolved.
She murmured a prayer beneath her breath as the cries of the wind grew in intensity. Rain-turned-into-sleet beat a rat-a-tat-tat against her umbrella. Melissa almost didn’t hear those sounds as she concentrated on the graves that held her parents. She wondered what it had been like for them in those last moments before their car left the road and hurtled down the incline. Would they possibly be alive if she had called the police when they hadn’t arrived according to schedule? Had they suffered for hours before they were found or had it been quick?
A particularly forceful gust of wind grabbed at her umbrella. Sleet stung her face and she shivered. A second later, he wrapped a strong arm around her. Looking up, she met the gaze of her family’s oldest and dearest friend. Of the man who had been so many things to her — surrogate brother, fairy godfather, protector. Now, he was all the family she had left.
“You okay?” Ryder Latimer asked as he drew her close.
She leaned into the comfort of his solid presence which blocked the buffeting winds and provided her stability, much as he had most of her life. “I’m hanging in there. And you?”
Ryder stared down at the ground. Icy rain dripped from the brim of the fedora onto his face, but he seemed not to care. He looked paler than usual and Melissa worried that this outing was taxing his strength. He had yet to fully recover from the injuries he had suffered a few months before while assisting his FBI Agent lover with a criminal investigation. “Are you feeling all right?”
He nodded and without looking at her again, said, “I should have done more.”
“There’s nothing either of us could have done,” she replied, although her heart was heavy with remorse.
Ryder said nothing else, but she sensed that he shared her guilt. He had turned down an invitation to accompany her parents. If he’d been driving instead of her father . . . She stopped herself, unwilling to begin the blame game again. Especially with Ryder, who had always been there for her. Now she also had to be his support.
He handed her red roses and she took the flowers and laid one on each grave, pausing to pass her hand over the wet, spiky grass. Softly beneath her breath, she said another goodbye to a mother and father she had never really known.
Ryder also laid a flower on each grave. After he was done, he took hold of her elbow and they hurried to the limo that waited to return them to their Manhattan apartment.
As she neared the car, the driver popped out of his seat and came around to open the door. She struggled with the umbrella for a moment, then slipped inside. A second later, Ryder stepped in, sat in the seat opposite her and tossed off his hat.
She met his dark gaze, remembering a similar moment on the day her parents had been buried. He had been troubled that day as well. She hadn’t understood why until she had opened the envelope brought to the graveside ceremony by her father’s attorney. She’d wondered at the urgency of the lawyer’s mission.
With vivid recall, that day came alive again as they sat in silence while the limo pulled away.
The envelope had been old. Its age apparent from the brittleness and rich yellow color of the heavy parchment. There was a patina on the envelope’s surface, as if it had been handled often.
Ryder had clearly known what was within the envelope. He’d told her it was her destiny, but nothing could have prepared her for what was contained in the neat, precise words of the letter that defined a legacy from an ancestor dead for well over a century.
On that day, she’d had to deal with her parents’ deaths. But then again, virtually everyone everywhere had to confront Death and accept the inevitability that one day, Death would come for them as well.
Only Fate apparently interceded in ways hard to imagine.
On that day, Melissa had been forced to realize that Fate had just changed not only what she believed about Death, but the very nature of her existence. She could no longer just be a physician dedicated to saving lives. Fate had charged her with being the companion to Ryder Latimer, a one hundred and forty year old vampire.
After the shock of it, she realized every Danvers before her had answered the call. Honor demanded she do no less. Since Ryder had always been there for her, she had felt compelled to repay him for all the years he had been her champion. Not to mention that with her parents gone, Ryder was the only family she had left.
In the time since then, she’d slowly learned just what her duty to Ryder entailed and how difficult it was. Handling things that couldn’t wait until the sun was weak enough for Ryder to emerge. Obtaining the blood necessary for his feedings. Giving him medical assistance when the sun, garlic or a lack of blood taxed his system.
In the last few months, it had been a more exacting burden as she tried to care for Ryder after his injuries. He’d been too sick at first to tolerate even the weakest of sunlight, which had made him a virtual prisoner in their apartment. He’d required extra blood and medicine in an effort to help in his recovery. His lover, Diana Reyes, had assisted Melissa on many an occasion, but lacked the medical skills to deal with Ryder’s more complex needs. That was solely up to Melissa and it kept her almost constantly on the edge. Both mental and physical exhaustion seemed to be part of her daily routine.
For a brief moment, the exhaustion and the burdens of her life had been eased by a chance encounter with Sebastian Reyes, Diana’s younger brother Sebastian. In just one night, Sebastian had provided her a glimpse into the kind of life Melissa had come to think wasn’t possible for herself — one where she wasn’t alone. Maybe even one with a happily ever after with someone like Sebastian by her side at night, although it troubled Melissa to think that she would burden anyone else with the secret of Ryder’s existence and the commitment to keep him safe.
Ryder, she thought and looked at him again. He had closed his eyes and seemed to be resting. Although he was normally pale by human standards, his skin seemed almost bloodless today. Again she worried that he had pushed himself too hard. As if sensing her prolonged perusal, Ryder opened his eyes and met her gaze.
“I’m okay,” he said and Melissa wondered if mind reading was one of his vampire abilities? Or did he just know her so well that he could guess what she was thinking?
“You don’t look okay.”
“I’m doing fine — ”
She cut him off with an angry slash of her hand. “You’re not fine. It’s been over two months and you’re still weak. I’m worried.”
“You shouldn’t be. I’m healing slowly, but I am getting better,” Ryder insisted.
Melissa couldn’t argue that he appeared stronger and was doing more and more every day. But he still wasn’t healthy enough for her taste. “Your strength and energy levels — ”
“I’ve never been hurt this badly before, except for . . .” His voice trailed off, broadcasting his reservations.
With a wave of her hand, she urged Ryder to clarify.
He dragged his fingers through his dark hair, his frustration obvious. “Except for when I was first turned. Your great-great grandfather, William, tended to me until I seemed to get better.”
“Seemed to? It’s like being pregnant, Ryder. Either you are or — ”
“I got toothy,” he said harshly and locked his gaze with hers. “I got hungry and I got wild and the fangs emerged. You don’t want to know what I was like then.”
His hands were clenched tightly by his side. Melissa reached out and grasped one fist. “I know what you were like then from the first journals. But now . . .” She hesitated, unsure of how to continue without treading on very treacherous ground.
“One of the journals is missing and you’re uncomfortable that I’ve asked you to approach Sebastian for help?” Ryder questioned.
“Am I that easy to read?” she wondered aloud.
Ryder chuckled and said, “A big hint, Danvers. Poker is not your game.”
Melissa shook her head in amusement, then brought up a topic they had argued about often since a few days ago when someone had broken into her office and stolen the memoir she was reading. “There’s no reason why I shouldn’t keep reading to see how I can help you.”
“Not until we know that you and the journals will both be safe.”
“We can accomplish that by ourselves. We don’t need to ask anyone else for help,” she shot back, uneasy about bringing Sebastian back into her life.
Ryder shook his head as he said, “No, we can’t. At a minimum, we should ask Diana for her advice.”
“And then I will get back to reviewing my family’s papers,” she said yet again, giving a small nod to emphasize her statement.
Ryder delayed, searching her face purposefully. Finally he said, “Is it that important?”
Was it? she asked herself. Melissa was convinced that there had to be information in her ancestor’s notes that could help her heal Ryder faster. Her father had been able to concoct a mix to counteract the effects of too much sun and other poisons on Ryder’s system. The mixture had saved Ryder’s life two months ago. And with today’s medical advances, she hoped she could make a difference.
“Well?” Ryder prompted when she remained silent.
“I’m not naive enough to think that I’m the first to wonder if there isn’t a cure.” She avoided giving voice to how that might change her life as well. With a cure, Ryder might not need her as his constant companion. She could have a life
with . . . Again Sebastian came to mind as he did too often lately. He shouldn’t have made such a lasting impression after just one night, but he had. Which was why she was hesitant about seeking his help to safeguard her family’s papers.
Ryder vehemently shook his head back and forth. “I stopped hoping for that a long time ago, Melissa. I don’t want you to have your hopes dashed as well.”
But they’d already been destroyed, she suddenly wanted to lash out at him. Ever since she’d found out all that she’d have to do to serve him, her hopes and dreams had virtually disappeared. Somehow she’d persevered, creating the illusion of normalcy in much the same way Ryder adopted the semblance of humanity. The sham had worked for a little while. But now there were recent happenings in both their lives that suddenly made her wonder What if?
For starters, Ryder was in love with a human and from what she could see, the feeling was very mutual. Of course, his relationship with Diana Reyes hadn’t progressed to the living together stage. The marriage thing seemed out of the question. But what if Diana was here to stay? Would that free Melissa of her duty?
And if it didn’t, and Melissa somehow suspected that it didn’t, what about her life? What about the possibility of love?
Only she reminded herself that no one had mentioned love that night, only sex. Having sex with Sebastian had been . . . She wouldn’t call it a mistake, but it had certainly been unplanned. Spontaneous. Well, at least the first time. The second and third . . . Being a modern mature Sex and the City kind of girl, she knew that one night with a man did not a romance make. But in those very few and very infrequent free moments of time she’d had since then, she’d wondered whether a second or third or fourth date with Sebastian might change things.
After the craziness of such thoughts, she would stop to logic it out and acknowledge that whatever had happened that night had been as a result of transference. Or at least that’s what one of her psychiatrist friends would call it. She’d taken the caring shown by Sebastian toward his sister and Ryder, transferred it to herself since her parents had been emotionally distant and she was starved for affection. It had resulted in a very pleasant interlude.
But that was all it had been or could ever be, she reminded herself. In addition to the constraints of being both a doctor and Ryder’s companion, there was the sad realization that she wasn’t ready to trust her heart to anyone. It was too fragile after all the disappointments she had suffered in her life.
Her mother had been a physically frail creature, needing most of her father’s attention and with little patience for the inquisitive and energetic child Melissa had been. The remaining time her father had left was taken up by his medical practice. And of course, as she had learned at her father’s death, by Ryder and his demands.
Later, medical school and her residency had curbed her social life. Her few encounters during that time had intentionally lacked any emotional investment. Since becoming Ryder’s companion, her social life had become non-existent. Except of course, for Sebastian.
He hadn’t called in the two months since that night. Melissa suspected it was because Sebastian knew that their time together had been caused by the tension and danger of the moment. It hadn’t been a life altering experience. Not that she had much of a life.
And if she was to have any life at all, Melissa was certain she had to take control of certain things. To have control, she had to have more information than what she currently had at her disposal.
She wrapped her arms around herself, a little uneasy about the path she was about to embark upon. She wasn’t someone who normally challenged the status quo but maybe that one night with Sebastian had left her with a little of his rebelliousness. This was a good thing. For too long she had followed without question. Guarded her heart to avoid being rejected. She had little doubt now that it was worth the risk to go after what she wanted most — the possibility of a normal life with someone who cared for her. Someone like Sebastian.
When she spoke, the strength of her conviction was clear. “I’m not asking permission, Ryder. I plan on looking at the journals again. With or without your help.”
“And nothing — ”
“Nothing, not even getting toothy, is going to stop me.” She lifted her chin, daring him to see if she was bluffing. Putting on what she hoped was a good poker face.
Ryder considered her and gave one long slow nod. “Okay. You win. We talk to Diana about the missing journal and then we can decide what to do.”
Cover art: Copyright Â© 2005 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
From the book: DANGER CALLS
By: Caridad Pineiro
Imprint and Series: Silhouette Intimate Moments
Publication Date: June 2005
Copyright Â© 2005
By: Caridad PiÃ±eiro Scordato
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The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.
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