Midnight Bite(2)

By: Cynthia Eden


She whirled back toward him and shoved into him with all of her might. The balcony’s floor was icy, and when Lark rammed into him, Charles slipped back. He staggered and hit the balcony railing. So she hit him again—and Charles the vampire toppled right over the railing. They were only on the second floor, a fall that wouldn’t kill a vamp, but it would sure as hell buy her some much needed time.

His hand ripped part of her jacket away as he plummeted over the edge. He bellowed her name and then—

Smack.

Lark was looking down. She saw him hit the pavement. And her eyes squeezed closed. Oh, man, that had been brutal. Her breath heaved in and out. In and out.

A vampire. In Chicago. She’d thought she was safe. She’d thought that she’d put that nightmare behind her. Everything should have been fine. She’d been content to live a normal life. Sure, she still carried a stake or two with her wherever she went, but Lark had thought that she was beyond the paranormal madness now. Her mother was dead. All of her family long gone. Lark had been surviving just fine on her own. And now…this.

Her eyes opened as she peered down below.

The vamp was gone. Only a big, dark spot remained where he’d been. A pool of blood? He was already up and…no doubt, hunting again.

She needed to get out of there, ASAP.

Her mother would’ve said that she needed to get her ass after the vamp. That she needed to finish what she’d started, but…Lark’s fingers touched her throbbing neck. I want to go home. She wanted to lock all of her doors and hide. Lark backed away from the balcony. Turned and ran back into the party. Voices were rising and falling and too much laughter filled the air.

“It’s almost time for the countdown!” The DJ blasted a beat of music after his announcement. “Grab your sweetheart and pull her close. You don’t want to miss the midnight kiss!”

Yes, she wanted to miss it. She wanted to miss every single thing about this night. Lark pushed her way to the door and made it out of the condo and into the stairwell. Her heels raced over the stairs as she fled. She’d get to the street. Grab a cab. Go back to her tiny apartment and forget that she’d had a run-in with a vamp. Just as she’d tried to forget the other times that monsters had made her life an absolute living hell.

Other humans got to pretend that the world was normal. She wanted the same luxury.

She pushed open the door on the first floor and rushed into the cold night. Lark glanced to the left and to the right, and she didn’t see any sign of Charles. The vamp should have run—if he was smart, that was exactly what he would have done.

A taxi waited a few feet away. She lifted her hand as she hurried toward—

“You’re not leaving me.”

Oh, hell. That was Charles. Obviously, he had not been smart. Now she was going to have to kill his undead ass.

Before she could reach the taxi, he lunged out and—

Charles didn’t touch her. Because, suddenly—as fast as she could blink—someone else was there. A tall, dark, and ever-so-built guy in a long, black coat. He’d put his body in front of Lark’s, blocking Charles from reaching her.

“Get the fuck back,” Mr. Mysterious snarled at Charles.

She should warn the fellow that he was facing off with a vampire. That he was in some serious freaking danger.

“She’s mine!” Charles yelled. “I tasted her, I—”

“You dared?” This deep, dangerous rumble came from her mystery guy. In the next breath, he’d locked one hand around Charles’s neck and lifted him up, holding him easily as Charles kicked out and tried to punch at her rescuer.

Lark took a step back. A normal man wouldn’t just pick up a vamp with one hand and hold him like he was a rag doll. No way, a normal guy could not do that.

“What is happening to my night?” Lark whispered. Then, because she did not want to deal with any of this—and because her sense of self-preservation was strong—Lark turned and fled. As fast as she could go. The heels she wore slowed her down, so she just kicked them off. The taxi at the corner had pulled away, but there was another cab waiting up the street. She could get to that vehicle. Get inside. Haul ass away and—

“I’m here to help you.”

Tall, dark and too strong was in front of her. He’d just moved way too fast as he cut off her escape. And he wasn’t even breathing hard.

His eyes were dark pools. His face seemed carved from granite. The guy was huge and handsome and incredibly scary.

His hands reached toward her.

“Don’t!” Lark yelled.

He stilled.

Her head turned, and she glanced over her shoulder. “Where is Charles? Where did he go?”

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