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Kiss of Crimson (Midnight Breed, #2)(3)
Author: Lara Adrian

Dante rounded a corner, then crept into another narrow lane between a couple of old brick buildings. He heard a female scream somewhere ahead of him in the dark. Kicking it into high gear, he sped toward the sound.

And got there hardly a second too soon.

The Rogue had been stalking the two Darkhaven vampires and their female companions. It looked young, tricked out in basic goth garb beneath a long black trench coat. But young or not, it was big and it was strong, fierce with hunger. One of the women was held in a death grip, the Bloodlusting vampire already latched on to her throat while the would-be warriors stood by, shell-shocked and frozen.

Dante pulled a dagger from a sheath on his hip and let it fly. The blade struck hard, embedding between the Rogue’s shoulders. The weapon was specially crafted of steel and titanium, the latter metal being extremely poisonous to the corrupted blood systems and organs of the Rogues. One kiss of that deadly blade and a Rogue vampire would start cooking from the inside out at record speed.

Except this one didn’t.

It flung a savage look at Dante, its eyes glowing amber, fangs bloody as it hissed a vicious warning. But the Rogue weathered the dagger’s assault, holding fast to its prey and swinging its head around to drink with even greater urgency.

What the hell?

Dante ran up on the feeding vampire with another blade in hand. He didn’t waste a second, going for the neck this time, intending to cut it clean through. The blade sank in, slicing deep. But the suckhead spun out of the attack before Dante could finish it off. With a pained roar, it dropped the female and focused all of its fury on Dante.

“Get the humans out of here!” Dante shouted to the Darkhaven vampires as he yanked the woman out of the fray and shoved her toward the others. “Move it, now! Clean her up, scrub both their memories, and get them the fuck out of here!”

The two young males jolted into action. They grabbed the shrieking women and pulled them away from the scene while Dante considered the strangeness of what he’d just witnessed.

The vampire didn’t disintegrate as it should have from the double dose of titanium Dante had delivered. It wasn’t a Rogue, even though it had been hunting prey and feeding like the worst blood addict.

Dante stared into the transformed face, the extruded fangs and elliptical pupils swimming in irises awash in fiery color. A foul-smelling pink spittle crusted around the vampire’s mouth, turning Dante’s stomach with its stench.

Offended, he backed off, guessing the vampire to be about the same age as the two Darkhaven youths. A frigging kid. Ignoring the pulsing gash in its neck, the vampire reached back and removed Dante’s dagger from its shoulder. It growled, nostrils flaring as though it would spring at any moment.

But then it ran.

The suckhead bolted away at a fast clip, the hem of its trench coat flapping behind like a sail as it headed deeper into the city on a zigzagging path. Dante didn’t let up for a second. He followed it down one street after another, through alleyways and neighborhoods, then farther out, into the dockyards outside Boston proper, where empty factories and old industrial parks stood like bleak sentinels along the riverfront. The low throb of music pounded from one of the buildings, the heavy bass and intermittent flashes of strobe lights no doubt coming from a rave taking place somewhere nearby.

Ahead of him a few hundred feet, the vampire sped down a dock toward a rickety boathouse. Dead end. Spitting fury through its open jaws, the suckhead swung around and went on the offensive, roaring up on Dante like a lunatic. Fresh blood soaked the front of its clothing from the brutal assault on the human female. The vampire snapped and clawed at him, its large fangs dripping saliva, the gaping maw oozing more of the foul-smelling pinkish foam. Its amber eyes glowed with pure malice.

Dante felt the change come over him as well, battle rage coursing through him, transforming him into a creature not so different from the one he fought. With a snarl, he threw the suckhead down onto the wood planks of the dock. One knee planted in the barrel chest of his opponent, Dante drew his twin malebranche blades. The arced weapons gleamed in the moonlight, lethally beautiful. Even if the titanium proved useless, there was more than one way to kill a vampire, Rogue or not. Dante brought the blades down, first one, then the other, slashing deep into the fleshy throat of the crazed vampire and cleanly severing its head.

Dante kicked the remains off the dock and into the water. The dark river would conceal the corpse until morning, then the UV rays of daylight would take care of the rest.

A wind kicked up off the water, carrying the stench of industrial pollution and something…else. Dante heard movement nearby, but it wasn’t until he felt the burn of tearing flesh in his leg that he realized he was under a further attack. He took another piercing hit, this one in his torso.

Jesus Christ.

From somewhere behind him, up near the old factory, someone was firing on him. The gun’s report was silenced but unmistakably that of an automatic rifle.

His dull night was suddenly getting more interesting than he liked.

Dante dropped to the ground as another shot whizzed past him and into the river. He rolled, going for the cover of the boathouse as the sniper let another few rounds fly. One shot bit into the corner of the shingled structure, shattering the old wood like confetti. Dante had a handgun on him, a hefty 9mm backup for the blades he preferred to take into combat. He drew the piece now but knew it would be all but useless against the sniper at this range.

More rounds peppered the boathouse, one of them grazing Dante’s cheek as he peered around to get a sight on his attacker.

Oh, not good.

Four dark shapes were moving down the sloping embankment from the area of the factory, all of them carrying serious hardware. While Breed vampires could live for hundreds of years and withstand severe physical injuries, they were still essentially flesh and bone. Pump enough lead into them, sever major arteries—or worse, their head—and they died, same as any other living being.

But not without one hell of a fight.

Dante kept low and waited for the newcomers to come into range. When they did, he opened fire on them, taking out a knee of one and planting a slug into the head of another. He was oddly relieved to see that they were Rogues, the titanium in the custom-crafted rounds dropping them instantly and sending them into swift cellular meltdown.

The remaining Rogues fired back, and Dante narrowly avoided the spray, moving farther back along the side of the boathouse. Damn. Taking cover meant sacrificing the position of offense. Not to mention the fact that it impeded his ability to track his enemies’ approach. He heard them coming closer as he reloaded a new clip into the pistol.

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