Scanguards Vampires Book #2
Vampire Amaury LeSang is cursed to feel everybody’s emotions like a permanent migraine. The only way to alleviate the pain is through sex. When he meets the feisty human woman Nina, a cure for his ailment seems within reach: in her presence all pain vanishes.
Unfortunately, Nina is out to kill him because she believes he’s involved in her brother’s death. And she would succeed if only Amaury’s bad boy charm didn’t play havoc with her hormones and catapult her into his arms and his bed every time she was near him.
As every kiss brings them physically closer, danger is lurking and threatens to destroy the little trust they have in each other.
Nina pulled the hood of her dark sweatshirt closer around her head. For the hundredth time this night she tucked an errant dark-blonde curl back behind her ear. If she let her hair grow longer, she would be able to pull the unruly locks back into a ponytail. But long hair was impractical, especially in a fight.
In any case, she wasn’t girly. At five foot eight, she certainly wasn’t petite, a fact she was grateful for, particularly since she was up against some big bad guys.
The fog had dissipated hours earlier, making this a gorgeous, starry, yet moonless night. Almost peaceful in its stillness, it guarded the sleeping city.
Nina continued watching the beautiful Victorian house from her hiding place across the street. Over an hour ago, she’d seen several of them enter, and none had come out yet.
Them. She knew what they were. A month earlier, she’d gone through her brother’s possessions and pieced together what at first she’d thought was impossible. She’d immediately dismissed her findings as ludicrous. But the more she went back, the more she dug, the clearer everything had become.
She’d found notes in Eddie’s datebook, drawings of weapons and weird symbols. And in the margins of a book about the paranormal he’d made more notes. Then under his mattress she’d found a list with names. Next to each name he’d put either Human or Vampire.
The moment Nina had read the word she’d thought he’d gone crazy. And for a short while she’d believed that he was guilty of what he’d been accused of. Mental illness would explain it. But there had never been a sign of instability in him. Eddie wasn’t crazy—no way would she believe that.
So she’d dug deeper and followed those he’d classified as vampires on his list. Most worked for Scanguards.
Nina sniffed and wiped her nose on the sleeve of her sweatshirt. Her dark clothes made her frame melt into the doorway behind her. Nobody would be able to notice her even if they looked into her direction.
Several weeks of following those she suspected of being vampires had turned into a crash course in stealth. Until now, she’d stayed far enough away from them to be out of danger. Tonight, she would have to get close.
The sound of a door opening pulled Nina out of her thoughts. A quick glance at the person exiting the large Victorian home confirmed it was one of the vampires, the biggest of them, Amaury.
She’d followed him several times, figured out where he lived and tried to find his weak point. She wasn’t particularly keen on him being the first she would have to take down, but maybe this was how it should be. Get rid of the biggest, baddest vampire first; the rest would be easy pickings by comparison.
Nina watched him stagger down the front steps, almost as if he was drunk. On the sidewalk he stopped and braced himself against the gate to his right. The light from the streetlamp illuminated his face. Instead of the broad smile he so often sported in the company of others, his face was distorted, deep grooves around his mouth and eyes creating a mask of pain.
Pain? She frowned. From everything she knew about vampires, she was almost certain they didn’t feel much pain, if any at all. Yet Amaury looked as if he was in the throes of a migraine, the heels of his hands pressed tightly against his temples.
With bated breath she watched his chest rise and fall as he inhaled and exhaled deeply. There was something so human, so vulnerable about him, it made her own chest tighten in sympathy. She instantly shook the thought from her mind. A few seconds passed before he finally straightened up, his face normal again.
Nina remained at a safe distance behind him as she followed, the damp pavement absorbing the sound of her soft-soled shoes. From the direction he took, she realized he was heading home. Why he lived in the Tenderloin, one of the shabbiest neighborhoods of San Francisco, when he could surely afford a much better place, was a mystery to her. His clothes, while casual, looked expensive. And once she’d seen him in his car, a Porsche.
As she trailed him down the hill, slowly entering the less savory parts of the city where so many of the homeless and drug addicts congregated, she had already decided on a place to take him down. Patiently, she bided her time, each step bringing her closer to the spot which would give her a definite advantage.
Nina stepped around yet another homeless man passed out on the sidewalk. The scent of alcohol and urine assaulted her senses. Suddenly, the drunk twitched and grunted, startling her. Adrenaline pumped through her veins. She glanced down at the man, ready to defend herself if necessary, but he was out cold. When she looked back up, Amaury had just turned a corner. She only caught sight of a flap of his long coattail.
Immediately, she quickened her stride. She couldn’t afford to lose him when she was so close to her goal. Two blocks further was the location she’d scouted out days ago.
The old obsolete stairway she’d discovered led over the roof of an abandoned one-story building. At the diagonal corner of it, it provided a clear viewpoint above a narrow alley—an alley Amaury liked to take. He would pass by it, and she would be able to jump onto him from above, stabbing him at the same time.
Nina slipped her hand into her pocket and touched the stake. The wood felt smooth in her hand as she caressed it like a lover, fitting it to her palm.
Amaury LeSang, you’ll be one dead vampire in a minute.
Such a big man, yet such a small object would bring about his death. It was almost poetic. For all their strength and power, vampires were surprisingly vulnerable to something as simple as a piece of wood. There was justice in this world after all. She would call on this justice tonight.
She rounded the corner he’d turned only seconds earlier. The narrow street was dark and—empty. Nina skidded to a halt. Had he noticed her after all and started running once he’d been out of her direct line of sight?
She scanned the sidewalk and doorways. Nothing, except for a couple of homeless men arguing and a teenager lurking in the shadows, probably waiting for his drug dealer, if he wasn’t one himself. No sound or sight of anybody else in the vicinity. A cold shiver travelled down her spine, spreading unease in her body.
A block further was the turn-off to the alley. Maybe he’d already reached it and taken it. A few steps ahead to her right she ducked under the small arch which led to the old stairway. Taking two steps at a time, she climbed it. If she hurried, she could still be in place in time to strike.
Nina picked up speed and ran up the last few stairs before it made an abrupt turn. A short sprint across the roof and she reached the vantage point which exposed the narrow alley beneath. She knew he liked taking this shortcut to his home. She’d seen him do so several times.
Only this time, he wasn’t in the alley. She’d missed him. All her work for the night was for nothing. A complete waste.
Nina stomped her foot in frustration and pushed the air out of her lungs. A faint sound behind her made her spin on her heels. Only her quick reaction saved her from being grabbed from behind, but the large hand still caught her arm. Her breath hitched, and fear clamped around her throat at the unexpected contact. Without even looking up at his face, she knew whom she was dealing with.
Amaury was built like a tank: hard, unyielding, and unstoppable. She felt his raw power send electrical charges along her skin. Genuine worry hummed through her. Without the element of surprise on her side, she had no chance of winning a fight against him. He could easily steamroll her, and she’d be giving him as much resistance as a blade of grass in the wind.
Escape was her only option at this point. She wasn’t proud or stupid enough to stick around.
With a swift move she twisted her arm out and jerked it away, making him lose his grip on her. A firm kick into his shin, and she darted past him, muffled curses chasing her. When she felt his hand grab her sweatshirt, she kicked back with her leg, then spun on the other foot and used both her arms to twist his to force him to release her clothing. But she had underestimated his strength—or the strength of any vampire for that matter.
“Who the hell are you?” Amaury spat out. The deep rumble of his voice sent a tremor through her body and made her skin prickle. “And why were you following me?”
His imposing frame towered more than half a foot over her, crowding her senses. One hand still on her sweatshirt, he wrenched her hood off with the other, ignoring her flailing arms. Her curls tumbled out. Nina tried unsuccessfully to shake his hand off when he used it to tip her chin up, forcing her to look at him.
“You’re a woman!”
His eyes widened as he looked at her. She used his moment’s hesitation to twist out of his grip and run for it. She didn’t even make two steps before his arms snatched her again and held onto her. Tighter this time, hauling her into his hard frame. He turned her around. Pressing her lips together in a thin line, she glared up at him—and looked into the bluest eyes she’d ever seen.
Nina had always observed Amaury from afar, always from a safe distance. This was the first time she was within inches of his face and his massive body. He was tall and muscled, big-boned, and broad-shouldered. But there wasn’t an ounce of fat on him. His hair was as black as a raven, not quite shoulder length, and curling slightly at its ends.
But it wasn’t his hair or his strong body which captured her, not even the hands that kept her imprisoned against her will. It was his eyes. As blue and as deep as an ocean they stared at her—hypnotized her.
Maybe she could have shaken off his hands somehow, but not his eyes. Nor the sensual curve of his mouth, the fullness of his lips, or the strong outline of his jaw. Even his nose was in perfect proportion to his size, long and straight, almost Greek.
Never in her life had she come face to face with a man so ruggedly handsome and sensual at the same time. Despite the precarious situation she found herself in—captured by a vampire—she didn’t struggle to get out of his arms and away from his body. Rather, she found herself inching forward, moving ever closer to him to savor the heat that radiated from him. Amaury smelled of earth and leather, purely male. Her belly clenched in response. The wanton reaction of her body sent an alarm bell ringing in her head.
What in the devil was she doing? She should be kicking his sorry ass from here to Alcatraz, not ogling him like a star-struck groupie. He was the enemy, one of the men responsible for the destruction of her little family. Why was her body not moving when she should have at least tried some of her karate kicks to escape his hold?
His narrowed eyes were sharp and assessing, watching her with suspicion, yet he said nothing. She didn’t think he could still be shocked by the fact a woman had followed him, but something was restraining his tongue.
Nina lowered her lashes to gaze at his mouth and saw his lips part as if in invitation. Firm and sensual lips which beckoned for a brush against them, if merely to confirm she wasn’t dreaming the perfection in front of her.
No. Still the enemy. Bad vampire.
She could resist this temptation. She was strong—until he exhaled, and she took in his breath—musky and earthy. His scent was intoxicating, drugging, as if it contained a secret substance designed to make her dizzy. Moistening her dry lips, unable to think clearly now she stretched upwards and tilted her face toward him. Was he leaning toward her now, or was it an illusion?
Really bad vampire.
Yet, so enticing.
She had to fight this, fight him.
Yes, she had to turn this around, make it her advantage. Find his weakness.
Think! You’re a smart woman, damn it, think!
That was it: a woman. She was a woman, and his weakness was women. She’d seen him in the company of many of them—yes, she could use that. It could work.
Or blow up in your face.
Nina didn’t listen to her doubting inner voice. Instead she inched forward once more, closer to his perfect face and pressed her lips to his.
He appeared startled, his lips remaining rigid for a moment. But then his hands released their deathlike grip on her arms, and he pulled her into his body. One hand circled her waist, the other steadied her head, his strong fingers burying themselves in her curls the way a lover would. Her heart leapt with relief—it was working. She would be able to distract him and escape.
But the moment his lips responded to hers, and his tongue invaded her, her body took over. His kiss flipped the off switch to her brain and shut out every sane thought she’d ever had—wiping her brilliant plan from her mind as if it had never existed.
Amaury drew the human female closer to him, crushing her breasts into his chest. Her short blond curls felt soft under his hand, like silk.
As soon as he felt her lips part under light pressure, he responded with a guttural moan. And then he kissed her back. She welcomed his tongue dueling with hers, encouraging him to explore her. He wouldn’t disappoint her. Angling his head, he sought a deeper penetration and found her eagerly accepting his demand.
In her shapeless clothes he’d mistaken her for a juvenile delinquent, not the warm and willing woman she turned out to be. But what had really thrown him for a loop was the fact he couldn’t pick up on any of her emotions, which was more than a little unnerving and—fascinating.
For once he could kiss a woman without focusing on his release. It felt like a gift from heaven to be able to enjoy a kiss like the one he now shared with her. A kiss full of fire, passion, and desire. He had no idea why she kissed him, who she was, or what she wanted, but her body pressed against his felt utterly right.
Of its own volition his hand dipped below her waist, splaying over her rounded derrière. With a groan, Amaury hauled her against his growing erection and took charge.
Her lips tasted of vanilla blossoms, of innocence. He inhaled her scent, taking it in deep and letting it fill him. Waves of pleasure poured through his body, igniting the lust he kept barely checked within. Her taste was intoxicating, purely female, and indescribably sexy. Unwilling to hold back, he ravished the caverns of her mouth like an invading barbarian, wild and savage.
Instead of withdrawing from his assault, she flung her arms around his neck as if to ensure he wouldn’t stop. No chance of that happening, not as long as his cock throbbed with need and her tongue sent tiny shocks through his body every time she stroked against him. The woman knew how to drive a man insane with her kiss.
Her sweet taste was like ambrosia to him, like a long lost delight he had forgotten about. She reminded him of emotions long buried and stirred his flesh like no other woman had in four centuries.
Under his greedy hands, he captured the warmth and softness of a female overflowing with passion, a woman who could match his own needs. The sounds of pleasure coming from her were like bursts of little fireworks to him, stoking his desire even more. It made him want things he’d never dared acknowledge: closeness, affection, warmth.
Amaury caught her next moan and swallowed it down where it ricocheted in the cavities of his chest, bouncing off his lungs and against his cold heart. And for one instant, a spark ignited where his pounding heart lay almost frozen.
The next second, his heart beat faster than it ever had before. A moment later he heard a sound behind him.
Out of reflex, he released her instantly and swiveled. Behind him was only darkness. Nobody else was on the roof but the two of them.
The moment he turned back to her, she’d already moved away from him and sprinted toward the edge of the building. A second later she was gone. He heard the loud thump and followed the sound. As he reached the edge, he looked down. Beneath him was the alley he so often took on his way home, and there, at the end of it was the woman, running away from him.
“Wait,” he called out to her. “Who are you?”
But she’d already rounded the corner and was out of sight. Amaury swallowed. He could still taste her on his tongue, still feel the ghost of her soft form pressed into his body. What the hell had just happened?
He shook his head. Generally he was the one doing the seducing. But this time, a woman had turned the tables on him. And he liked it. A lot. It was a shame she hadn’t gone any further. Why had she suddenly run when everything was going so well?
And why hadn’t he been able to sense her emotions, not a single one of them, when only minutes earlier his head had throbbed painfully?
The only reason he’d discovered her following him was because he’d heard her footsteps, but her mind had been completely and utterly silent. As if she had no emotions. Yet, her passionate kiss had said differently.
Maybe something was happening with him. Was it possible that the sessions with his shrink Drake had somehow helped? It could be a start, a sign his curse was waning.
As he turned and walked back toward the stairs, he stumbled over something, but caught himself instantly. He bent down and picked up the item. His breath caught, and his heart beat in his throat. The instant his fingers touched the wooden implement, he knew what it was. Its shape was known to him and any vampire and feared by all of them.