Home > Kiss of Crimson (Midnight Breed, #2)(2)

Kiss of Crimson (Midnight Breed, #2)(2)
Author: Lara Adrian

Dante came forward, tipping the female’s head aside, mouth watering in hunger. He glanced past her and saw two Darkhaven vampires, part of the general Breed population, observing him from a few yards away. They looked like kids—current generation, no doubt. They whispered among themselves, clearly recognizing him as one of the warrior class and trying to decide whether or not to approach him.

Bugger off, Dante thought in their direction as he parted his lips and prepared to open his Host’s vein.

But the vampire youths ignored his dark glare. The taller of the two, a blond male in desert camo pants, biker boots, and a black tee-shirt led the way. His companion, tricked out in baggy jeans, high-tops, and an oversize Lakers jersey, strutted along behind him.

“Shit.” Dante didn’t mind a small bit of indiscretion, but he sure as hell didn’t need an up-close audience gawking at him while he fed.

“What’s wrong?” his would-be Host whined when Dante pulled away from her.

“Nothing, sweetheart.” He placed his palm against her forehead, wiping the past half hour from her mind. “Go on now and join your friends.”

She obediently got up from his lap and walked away, fading into the press of bodies on the dance floor. The two Darkhaven vampires gave her only a passing look as they approached Dante’s table.

“What’s up, fellas.” Dante tossed the greeting out with zero interest in chitchat.

“Hey.” Blondie in fatigues nodded, striking a pose with his muscled arms crossed over his chest. Not a single visible dermaglyph on that young skin. Definitely current-generation Breed. Probably not even out of his twenties yet. “Sorry to interrupt, but we had to tell you, man—that was some kick-ass business you guys dealt the Rogues a few months ago. Everyone’s still talking about the way the Order took out an entire colony of suckheads in one night. Blew that mofo sky-high. Freakin’ awesome, man.”

“Yeah,” added his homeboy companion. “So, we was wonderin’…I mean, we heard the Order is looking for new recruits.”

“Did you, now?”

Dante leaned back in his seat and exhaled a bored sigh. This was hardly the first time he’d been approached by Darkhaven vampires hoping to join up with the warriors. Since the raid on the Rogue lair housed in the old asylum that past summer, the once secretive cadre of Breed warriors had gained a lot of unwanted notoriety. Celebrity, even.

Frankly, it was annoying as hell.

Dante kicked his chair back from the table and stood.

“I’m not the guy to talk to about that,” he told the hopefuls. “And anyway, recruitment into the Order is by invite only. Sorry.”

He strode away from them, relieved to feel the vibration of his cell phone going off in his jacket pocket. He dug out the device and clicked on to the incoming call from the Breed compound.

“Yeah.”

“How’s it going?” It was Gideon, resident genius of the warrior class. “Any topside activity to report?”

“Not much. Things are pretty dead out here right now.” Dante scanned the crowded club, noting that the two vampires had decided to move on. They were heading for the exit, taking a couple of costumed human females with them. “No Rogues in the vicinity at all so far. And doesn’t that just suck ass? I’m itching for some action here, Gid.”

“Well, try to cheer up,” Gideon said, a grin in his voice. “The night’s still young.”

Dante chuckled. “Tell Lucan I spared him from another couple of wannabes looking to sign on. You know, I liked things a hell of a lot better when we were feared more than revered. Is he making any progress on the recruiting, or is our boy too caught up with that gorgeous Breedmate of his?”

“Yes to both,” Gideon replied. “As to the recruiting, we’ve got a candidate coming in soon from New York, and Nikolai’s got feelers out to some of his contacts in Detroit. We’ll have to arrange some trial runs for the newbies—you know, take them through the paces before we commit.”

“You mean, hand them their asses on a platter and see which ones come back looking for more?”

“Is there any other way?”

“Count me in,” Dante drawled as he moved through the club toward the door.

He strolled out into the night, avoiding a group of human clubbers dressed like zombies in tattered clothes and death-warmed-over face paint. His acute hearing picked up hundreds of sounds—from general traffic noise to the shrieks and laughter of drunken Halloween partygoers clogging the streets and sidewalks.

He heard something else too.

Something that raised the hackles on his warrior senses to high alert.

“Gotta go,” he told Gideon on the other end of the line. “I’m homing in on a suckhead. Guess the night’s not a total waste, after all.”

“Check back in after you smoke him.”

“Right. Later.” Dante clicked off the call and pocketed the cell phone.

He stole down a side alley, following the low grunt and stale, wafting stench of a prowling Rogue vampire as it stalked its prey. Like the other warriors of the Order, Dante had a deep contempt for members of the Breed who’d gone Rogue. Every vampire thirsted, every vampire had to feed—sometimes kill—in order to survive. But each and every one of them also knew that the line between necessity and gluttony was thin, just a few meager ounces of blood. If a vampire consumed too much, or fed his need too frequently, he ran the risk of addiction, of entering a permanent state of hunger known as Bloodlust. Lost to the disease, he would turn Rogue, becoming a violent junkie who would do anything for his next fix.

The savagery and indiscretion of the Rogues jeopardized all of the Breed to exposure to the human race, a threat that Dante and the rest of the Order would not abide. And there was a larger threat blooming as well: As of a few months ago, it had become apparent that the Rogues were organizing, their numbers increasing, tactics becoming orchestrated toward a goal that seemed nothing short of war. If they weren’t stopped, and stopped soon, both humankind and Breed alike could find themselves at the center of a hellish, blood-soaked battle to rival even the worst Armageddon scenario.

For now, while the Order focused on locating the Rogues’ new command post, the warriors’ mission was simple. Hunt down and eliminate every Rogue possible. Exterminate them like the diseased vermin they were. It was a charge Dante relished, never more at home than when he was on the move, prowling the streets with weapons in hand, looking for a fight. It kept him alive, he was certain; even more, it kept the darkest of his demons at bay.

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