Awakening the Beast
A collection of sexy Nocturne Bites featuring:
Honor Calls, Return of the Beast, Mortal Enemy, Immortal Lover, Claws of the Lynx and Wilderness
by Caridad Pineiro, Lisa Renee Jones, Olivia Gates,
Linda O. Johnston and Barbara J. Hancock
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As FBI Assistant Director, Jesus Hernandez expects a fair share of crime in New York City. Yet nothing could have prepared him for what he witnesses outside a Goth bar called the Blood Bank: hunter Michaela Ramirez slaying an elder vampire. Jesus is skeptical at first, but Michaela is determined to make him believe in the supernatural beings that roam the city. And as Michaela draws him deeper into an underground world of darkness and danger, he finds her sexy bravado is more than can resist….
But there is one thing Michaela is afraid to tell Jesus: that she is part vampire herself. Because even though she’s fallen for the enticing agent, everyone she’s gotten close to in the past has run away…or died.
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Michaela had been tracking the vampire since she had sensed the thrum of elder power during her scouting mission in Central Park.
He wasnâ€™t the one she sought, but the heightened beat of his power told her he had just killed. Reason enough to track him until she found the right vampire and dispatched him. Then and only then could she leave New York City for a kinder gentler place.
She discovered the elder vampâ€™s victim just beyond one of the jogging paths. The kill was fresh, the remnants of the elder strong on the female runner who had been tossed into the underbrush like garbage. As she bent to examine the joggerâ€™s body in its shredded clothes, she realized the vampire had not just been content to drain her of blood. The woman had been sexually assaulted as well and in the most brutal of ways – ripped apart by the vampire sating his lust.
Michaela opened her senses to pick up every last scintilla of the elderâ€™s trail, from the metallic taste of the victimâ€™s blood on his breath to the unique wake of energy the immortal left behind.
She reached the southern end of the park and something ahead of her spooked one of the horses attached to a hansom cab waiting along Central Park South. The animal reared up, hooves flailing at the air.
She darted behind the hansom cab as the driver attempted to calm the animal and caught a glimpse of a blurry figure speeding through Grand Army Plaza. As she raced to the fountain in the center of the square, the pulse of undead power beat at her more strongly, signaling that she was getting closer to the ancient vampire.
Another indistinct flash weaving through the scattering of pedestrians on Fifth Avenue confirmed the immortal was within reach.
She focused on that vague shape, keeping a watchful eye and a respectful distance as she chased after him. She could not engage the vampire elder out in the open where either humans or other vampires might see what was happening. To do so might expose her presence in the city and possibly bring down the wrath of the vampire council.
At some point the elder must have sensed that he was being followed.
He increased his speed and movements, weaving in and out of the humans on the sidewalks; climbing up to the rooftop of a building in lower Midtown Manhattan and leaping from one structure to the next before dropping to the ground once again. The vampire moved at an almost frantic pace, as if he knew the nature of her mission.
Michaela kept up her determined pursuit, patiently waiting for the moment when the time would be right. Dodging pedestrians and vehicles as the vampire attempted to elude her. Well aware that she had to act before the immortal reached the safe haven of the Blood Bank.
If he made it there, she would have to pull back and wait for another night. There were too many undead in that place to risk a confrontation within its doors.
Too many and she was just one against them.
She drove back the crush of loneliness that nearly choked her, reminding herself that there could be no other way. Her life was filled with too much death and destruction for any kind of personal commitments.
The few people she had allowed to get close had either ended up dead or run away when they discovered the truth about her existence.
The truth about her.
In Union Square, the vampire geared down to human speed, using that pace to lose himself amongst the many mortals still present in the park. The beat of the humansâ€™ life forces and their scents served to disguise his presence.
Michaela paused at the far edge of the square, examining the walkways. Attempting to set apart the humans from her undead prey, but she was unable to pin down the immortal amongst the many humans in the park. She waited, hopeful that once the elder moved beyond the boundaries of the crowded area, she would be able to pick up his presence once again.
Her wait was futile.
Long minutes passed with no activity that she could discern.
She finally acknowledged that she had been bested by his subterfuge, but that didnâ€™t mean the chase was over.
She knew just where the vampire was likely to go.
If she could beat him there, she still might be able to take him out before he reached the safety of the club.
Hustling at a breakneck speed, she arrived at the mouth of the small cobblestoned street which led to the Blood Bank. At the clubâ€™s door was the ever present vampire bouncer and crowd of humans waiting to go within and mingle with both wanna-be and real vampires. Not to mention the occasional shapeshifter or two that was brave enough to cross into bloodsucker territory.
Michaela had never understood the human fascination with the undead. The almost veneration for the amoral creatures who had taken so much from her and others.
Vampires werenâ€™t meant to be idolized, she thought.
They were meant to be exterminated.