My Immortal Knight 4: Relentless
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MY IMMORTAL KNIGHT: ENDLESS KNIGHT
Print-Combo of MIK 3: ALL KNIGHT LONG and MIK 4: RELENTLESS
Format: Trade Paperback
On Sale: November 30, 2006
To supercop Max Weir, the only good vampire is a dead one. Since his special police unit integrated with vampires, he’s had to suppress his natural hatred to work side-by-side with the undead to hunt down and terminate the deadliest killers. Now the unit is hot on the trail of a new menace in town, a pack of werewolves prowling for vampires, who don’t care whether humans get in their way.
When a stakeout goes awry, Max enters a bar looking for a fight or a woman to help him blow off a little steam. What he finds is a winsome siren who has sexual appetites to match his own.
Vampire Pia D’Amato is on a secret mission to take out Max — either by seduction or by turning him. He’s become a liability to the Masters’ Council setting up jurisdiction in southern Florida, and she isn’t leaving until she’s done the job. But Max is more man than she bargained for and has a deadly secret of his own.
Note for Readers: You must be of legal age in your country of origin to read this excerpt.
With only slivers of moonlight to guide his way, Max Weir crept through the saw palmetto and pine thicket toward a house curtained by vegetative neglect. He’d forgone the use of the night-vision goggles that most of the human members of his team wore. On the prowl for a monster, he preferred his own senses, his own two eyes.
The Special Unit’s stealthy assault was aided by a wind that howled through the trees, bending the tops so pine needles pelted the team. A constant low roar, like the sound of the ocean, filled his headset. God or Karma was with the SU tonight. The wind blew away from the house and its occupants, disseminating the scents of gun oil and the uninvited humans-they’d never know what hit them.
A cancer grew inside the small, cinderblock house at the center of the property. Max had been in this line of work long enough to know what took place in the nondescript house, but he’d never understand the attraction that brought humans willingly to the door of a vampire’s den.
Anger knotted the muscles of his chest. Not until the disappearance of a college student was linked to one of the parties hosted here did the SU kick into gear. This killing field should have been ringed with fire and its occupants consigned to hell when the den was first discovered and documented.
But that wasn’t how they operated now. It wasn’t simply enough to find a vamp and stake his heart to dirt. Now the vermin had to be proven guilty of crimes by the Masters’ Council before the team got the green light to strike.
“So Dylan, how’d you talk Emmy into sittin’ this one out?”
Max ignored the chatter in his headset. Not long ago, he would have joined the banter, which eased the guys’ tension as they waited for the order to move on their target.
“We could sure use her tonight. Emmy’s got a ruthless side to her,” Phil Carstairs, one of the good guys-a human-continued.
“Toward a doughnut, maybe.” Darcy Albermarle snickered from her position in the command van. Darcy, once upon a time a friend, consorted with the enemy now-fucked one of the bastards on a nightly basis.
“Em would take offense to that comment,” Dylan O’Hara replied. “Her tastes have become a little more refined over the past months.”
Max’s shoulders bunched with revulsion at the sound of the Irish vampire’s dry amusement. The vamp and his growing coven didn’t belong in the SU-they belonged at the end of a stake. His, preferably.
“Yeah, she’s moved on from doughnuts to the Danish!” Phil said. “Although, I gotta admit, your wife has no conscience. She’d try to talk the bastards to death.”
Soft laughter followed. Emmy O’Hara’s penchant for running off at the mouth when she grew excited was a well-known fact.
Max’s lips twisted in disgust. They acted like the female vamp was part of “the family” now. Was he the only one of the original unit who understood how wrong it was to befriend the demons? And worse, let vamps lead a hunt for other vamps? As far as he was concerned, the only good vampire was a dead one.
“Get set,” Darcy said, her voice suddenly sharp. “Traffic barriers are in place. Mobile phone jam is on. No one’s driving in or calling for backup.”
Max’s hand tightened on his crossbow, which was already cocked with a steel-tipped arrow. The first of many, he hoped. He itched for a battle, something he could pour his adrenaline into.
“Captain says, move in,” Darcy said. “Good hunting, guys.”
“You heard it, men. Team One, circle around the back,” Dylan said.
From the edge of the seedy lawn, the first team raced across the clearing to nestle close to the house before circling to the back entrance.
After a few tense moments, Max heard a crackle in his headset, then, “Team One’s in position,” Phil said.
“Team Two,” Dylan said, “wait for my command.”
As if the house sucked in all sound within its vicinity, an ominous silence settled around the clearing. There was no music, no shouts of laughter from within, even though a couple dozen people and vamps had to be inside going by the number of cars lining the driveway and street. This was supposed to be a party-an orgy of sex and blood sharing.
From the corner of his eye, Max watched Dylan streak across the lawn and flatten his back against the wall beside the door. Unencumbered by a flak jacket or heavy armaments, the vamp held only a stake in his hand.
Max tensed, waiting for the signal to rush the door.
Dylan straightened, his head lifting to scent. “Something’s wrong.” His whisper broke the silence. “Do you get that smell, Quent?”
“Coming.” The second vamp, Quentin Albermarle rushed across the lawn in a blur of black, his blond hair shining silver in the moonlight. Flanking the door, he too paused and lifted his head. “That’s not something you find every day,” he said, his British voice even, yet hard-edged.
“Team, have your pistols ready,” Dylan said. “Safeties off. We’ve a different sort of monster inside.” Without further explanation, he whipped around, lifted a booted foot, and kicked the door open.
Max cursed. “Team One, the front door’s been breached. Go, go, go!” With his crossbow raised, Max charged toward the house, his heart pumping so fast blood roared in his ears.
“Maybe, we should wait for Dylan’s signal,” Joe Garcia said, easily keeping stride with them.
Max wished he could ignore the vamp beside him. A twinge akin to pain reminded him Joe had been his friend. “Why? So he can help them escape out the back?” he asked, without trying to mask the acid in his tone.
Joe didn’t respond. Since his “death”, he’d remained aloof. Probably knew Max could hardly stand the sight of him. Still, old habits seemed to die hard-even when one was undead. Joe looked and acted as he always had. He still wore the SU’s black uniform and used his issued weapons. The only difference was he’d left off the flak jacket.
Were all vamps arrogant assholes? A jacket could have protected him from an arrow or a stake. His cockiness would get him killed.
Not that Max gave a damn.
He reached the door, propped the stock of his weapon on his shoulder, and then stepped through the door. Sighting down the beam of his crossbow, he found the living room empty, save for clothing lying in piles among small hills of brownish-black soot. Vamp remains.
“Shit!” Joe said. “Did they leave us anything to do?”
Max caught himself before he smiled. Joe had always been eager for action.
“There’s no way those hotshots took care of this alone. What do you think happened here?”
Max barely heard him. Odors assailed his nose. Singed flesh-the vamps, he guessed. And something else, wet and musty. He tensed. It can’t be.
A prickling unease raised the hairs on the back of his neck. He followed another smell-which grew more overpowering the closer he came to the source-followed the sound of muffled voices, Dylan’s and Quentin’s, he recognized as he drew closer. He stole down a hallway toward a brightly lit space that opened wide into a game room.
Once again shouldering his weapon, he stepped through the entrance. He found what his nose already told him was there. Human carnage in vivid splatters that dotted the ceilings and drowned the shag carpet. Opened carcasses with bowels unstrung like wads of yarn across the floor.
“Holy Mary, mother of God,” Joe whispered beside him. “No fucking way a vamp did this.”
Max’s body tightened in rejection of the horror he witnessed. For all his years on the force, he’d never seen carnage on this scale. Shit like this had never happened before the SU went soft on vamps. A monstrous evil had found Vero Beach’s leniency too inviting and was making itself at home. Once you negotiated with one evil.
Like hell he’d let it continue! His finger closed around the trigger of his bow. Dylan’s back was exposed as he knelt over one body. Damn, but he was tempted!
“Don’t do it, Max,” Joe said, his voice low, but firm. “My wife would never forgive me if I let you dust one of her new friends.”
Max trembled with outrage, but he slowly lifted his finger off the trigger and lowered his bow. Now wasn’t the time.
At Quentin’s nod, Dylan looked over his shoulder. His glance fell to Max’s crossbow and he lifted one eyebrow in challenge.
“Good choice,” Joe said and slapped his shoulder as he passed him to squat next to his new buddies.
Max stared at the three of them, thick as thieves. Max could remember a time when Joe swore he’d rather die than turn-even asked Max to set him in the sunshine to fry if it ever happened.
“So what the hell did this?” Joe asked.
Dylan cast Quentin a wary glance, before replying softly, “Werewolves.”
“Did I hear you right?”
Max jerked at the sound of Phil’s voice as he stepped through the door. He’d been so engrossed in the scene before him he hadn’t heard Phil’s approach.
Phil’s eyes widened. “Shit!” His face tightened as he took note of the bodies strewn around the floor. “The rest of the house is secure. Only dust bunnies left.”
“When did werewolves move into the neighborhood?” Joe asked, his hands fisted at his sides.
Phil, his gaze still glued to the floor, asked, “Am I the only one who didn’t know werewolves existed?”
Max shook himself. He had a job to do. “I’ll start the teams on a sweep of the area. See what we find.” As he turned to leave, he cast a scathing look at Dylan and Quentin.
Joe, he ignored.
Dylan sighed and stood up as Max left the room.
“He’s not going to change-voluntarily, that is,” Quentin murmured.
“I know,” Dylan said. “I’ve already made the call to Navarro.”
Quentin nodded. “We can’t let anyone stand in the way of our setting up a southern council.” He waved his hand at the room. “This only makes it all the more vital we handle him quickly.”
Dylan glanced at Joe to see his reaction.
The younger vamp was still torn by old loyalties-trying to ride the fence between his new “life” and his old friends. Joe took a deep breath, his face a grim mask. “Well, shit. How are we going to keep a lid on this mess?”
Max pushed through the door of the bar determined that tonight he’d either get shit-faced or fucked. Which, didn’t matter. So long as he could blow off the steam that had been gathering a head since the botched mission hours before. The bar was a regular haunt-only a block from his house. If need be, he could crawl home. The smoky air, the loud grinding music, and the smell of stale beer appealed when he had an axe to grind.
The SU had swept the area for signs of the wolves that killed the vampires before turning on the humans in a mutilating frenzy. Their bloody paw prints led beyond the house to a gravel road where they’d disappeared. The pack had made their getaway in cars. This hadn’t been a roaming band’s target of opportunity, but a takedown.
The grim faces of the vampires telegraphed their worry. He hoped they were shaking in their boots. Not that the thought of a rogue wolf pack wasn’t just as unsettling to Max.
But seeing the cocksure Quentin lose his perpetual smirk was gratifying. Dylan had been grim-faced and pale. Perhaps the bastard saw his own fate in the house.
However, Joe’s silence had been the most telling. He hadn’t looked the least bit surprised.
Max made his way through the tables ringing a small dance floor. The place was nearly empty, save for the men hovering near the bar for the night’s last drinks. The tension in his shoulders knotted tighter. All it would take would be one smart-ass comment. He hungered for an excuse to drive his fist through something.
The crowd parted, and a flash of a slim white ankle snagged his attention. Every trace of anger, bitter regret, and frustration coalesced into a single, burning need.
The men blocking his view shifted, and the ankle drew his glance upward to a bare knee. The woman’s legs parted, and one slid atop the other. Her foot sawed up and down, and a slender, functionless sandal dangled from the tips of her painted toes. God, he wanted to help her lose the shoes altogether.
He advanced toward the men standing between him and his goal. Their faces registered annoyance for only a moment before they stepped aside. The hard hunger that rode his belly must have turned his face into an implacable mask.
As he drew near, her shape was revealed one tantalizing curve at a time. Sweetly turned hips were clothed in a stretchy black skirt that ended at the top of her thighs-not a hint of underwear marred the smooth fit. Conveniently tied behind her neck, a miniscule top bared the gleaming, supple skin of her back and midriff-again, no sign of a bra. Her nipples puckered invitingly against the black fabric that barely contained the apple-like curves of her small breasts.
Finally, his gaze rose to her face. She could have been a whole lot less than appetizing, and he’d still have wanted her on the merits of that ride-able frame. But her face only made him more determined to have her.
Large, doe-like eyes, framed by thick lashes, blinked as she caught his stare. Her upper lip was a fraction fuller than the lower and inspired delicious, succulent fantasies. Her face was round, her jaw small, and a thumbprint dimple carved her chin into two delicious halves. His tongue itched to slide along that little notch.
As he reached the bar, he drew a deep breath, eager to catch the scent of her perfume. He wasn’t disappointed. The woman smelled like sex. Hot, nasty, spicy sex.
His body hardened along with his intentions. With only a fleeting thought for how aggressive he might appear, he loomed over her, his gaze sweeping downward. When he glanced back up to her eyes, he schooled his expression into something shy of predatory. He didn’t want to frighten her away before he’d even learned her name.
Instead of looking intimidated or frightened by his intensity, as so many women would have, she raised a single dark eyebrow. She didn’t say a word, just returned his stare. Somehow, her bold action felt out of sync with the wariness lurking in her eyes.
Then he noticed the movement of her throat as she swallowed. Did he make her nervous?
Her expression betrayed no such fear. Part amusement and part calculation, it changed as her gaze dropped from his face to sweep down his chest and lower. Interest with only a hint of alarm flared her nostrils and tightened her jaw, causing her to open her mouth to take a deeper breath.
She had good reason to be wary. If she told him to back off, he’d be hard pressed to obey. Every male chromosome in his body screamed at his groin to take her.
His gaze never leaving hers, he took a deep, calming breath and forced himself to follow the ritual. “Can I buy you a drink?”
“I’m not thirsty.” Her voice pleased him. Feminine, but not too dainty, with a hint of aged whiskey.
Undeterred, he nodded to the bartender hovering behind her. “Two draft beers.”
Her brown eyes narrowed, but she remained silent.
He raised an eyebrow. “Maybe I’m just thirsty.”
“Or impossibly arrogant,” she muttered, just loud enough for him to hear.
He bit back a grin. “I haven’t seen you here before,” he said, and then cursed himself for using such a tired line.
“I’m new to the area,” she said, sounding bored. Her foot sawed faster.
Great! They sounded like trained parrots. How could he think of conversation when all he wanted was to slide his hands around her naked back? “What’s your name?”
Pia. Cute name, a little sassy like she was. Or rather, like he thought she might be if he could just figure out how to get her talking.
At least she hadn’t tried to bolt. He leaned past her to reach for one of the beers the bartender laid behind her on the bar. He held it out.
Her hands remained in her lap, her expression defiant.
Well, hell! His luck wasn’t running any better. He lifted the glass and gulped the foam.
She watched him, her eyes following the movement of his throat. Her tongue licked her full lower lip.
Before he gave it a thought, he handed her the same beer again.
Rather than pouring it on his shoes, her hands slid around the glass. Her gaze remained on the beer.
Satisfaction throbbed in his belly. She’d probably like an introduction before he asked her to go home with him. “Name’s Max.”
Her lips pressed together and then curved into a smile that stretched the full lower lip. The lady had a rather large mouth. It was perfect. “As in Maximus?”
The smile warmed him while giving him confidence he hadn’t totally blown it. He shifted his feet and stepped closer, bringing her crossed legs between his. “Do you doubt it?” he asked, his voice low.
Her head tilted back, and a frown drew together her finely arched brows. “Do you think I’m impressed with your caveman tactics?”
His glance slid down to her breasts. Her headlights were erect little points that stabbed toward him. “Damn right,” he said, hoping he hadn’t read her body language wrong.
With a toss of her hair, she uncrossed her legs, her knee caressing the inside of his thigh. “Sorry about that,” she murmured, although she didn’t look sorry at all. She’d just checked him out.
His heart kicked into a slow, thrumming throb. The lady knew where this was leading. She’d accepted his beer.
The part of him that had tensed in pursuit relaxed. She could be his if he didn’t overplay his cards. And he had a decision to make. Savor a slower rise to climax or take her hard and fast? “Dance with me.”
She shook her head, which swept the ends of her curly brown hair across the tops of her bare shoulders. “I don’t dance.”
He reached for the beer she held in her lap and set it on the bar. His fingers closed around her slender wrist, and he tugged her up from the stool.
“What do you think you’re doing?” She tottered on her heels for a moment, and her nipples brushed his chest. Her gaze, wide-eyed, set his heart thumping in a slower, heavier beat. He swept his arm around her waist and pulled her along to the dance floor. He needed her in his arms now.
They were the only couple on the small square of parquet-printed linoleum. Max didn’t give her a chance to protest, he simply pressed his body to hers-chest to hip, and slid his leg between her thighs. The heavy, grinding rhythm of the rock music suited his mood just fine. He shifted on his feet from side to side, not so much a dance as foreplay. His body introducing itself to hers.
She stiffened inside the circle of his arms. “Do you ever pay attention to what a woman tells you?” she asked, her words clipped.
Encouraged she hadn’t hauled off and slapped him yet, he leaned down to whisper in her ear, “Sweetheart, I was listening, but not to what your lips were saying.”
Her head jerked back, and her gaze bored into his. “Perhaps you should.”
The look halted him in his tracks. He’d pushed her too hard. “All right.” Sighing his regret, he stepped away. “I’m sorry. I misread the situation.”
But she didn’t walk away as he expected. Instead, her head tilted to the side, and she studied his face for a long moment, her teeth worrying her lower lip.
He wiped his expression free of hunger, hoping for another chance.
Finally, she looked around the bar and shrugged. “Well, seeing as I’m here.”
He didn’t wait for her to change her mind. He pulled her into his arms.
She nestled her face in the crook of his neck and groaned. “This is happening too fast.”
Relaxing to savor the sensations, he chuckled and pulled her closer. “I know what you mean,” he murmured. A dark, musky floral scent rose from her hair and skin, wrapped him in heat.
Her arms snuck up around his neck, and her small, firm breasts pressed against his chest.
Once again pretending to dance, he shifted her slightly to glide her nipples across his chest. They’d been erect before their bodies met-they were hardened little bullets now.
“Do you think you’ll overcome every one of my objections as easily?” she asked, her breath gusting gently in his ear.
“I promise you won’t have one when the time comes.” He lifted his leg and rubbed his thigh against her crotch.
Her head fell back, and her chocolate eyes glinted with amusement. “Sure of yourself, aren’t you?”
He was getting there. He leaned down to whisper in her ear. “I smell your arousal.”
Her breath gasped, but she didn’t pull away. A tremor shook her body. “Do you think you’re just going to get a quick-”
Placing a finger over her lips to shut her up, he said, “Whoa, sweetheart.” He nuzzled her cheek. “Nothing about this’ll be quick. This is just the appetizer.” He bent his neck and kissed her sleek shoulder.
Her head fell back exposing her creamy throat, inviting him to slide his lips along her throat-which he did.
“You sound like you’re going to eat me,” she said, half-laughing, half-moaning.
Max stiffened and spoke between tightened lips, “I will, if you ask me sweetly.”
Again, she gasped, following with a burst of soft, strained laughter.
Not the outright “yes” he hoped for, but promising just the same. He wished he had a glib tongue so he could put her at ease, but his body was too insistent, too ready to pounce for him to think straight.
Every sense tuned to her. Her body draped languidly across his chest. Her legs slid along either side of his thigh, and he wondered if she wanted another rough caress. He decided to test her by rubbing his thigh against her femininity.
She moaned-a sexy sound that made his dick throb.
His hands glided over her back, then smoothed to her sides. With his thumbs, he caressed the edges of her breasts. She didn’t stiffen in his arms. “Look at me,” he said.
Her head tilted back. Her eyes were wide open.
He swept his thumbs beneath the fabric of her top and went straight for the ripe little berries at the center of her breasts.
Her gaze darted beyond his shoulder to the bar.
“They can’t see a thing. It’s too dark.” He swooped down to capture her lips.
Sounding like a kitten, she whimpered, pressing hard against his thumbs. Her hands clutched his shoulders.
He raked her tongue with his, and then swept around her mouth to touch her teeth, the roof of her mouth, before he pulled away to drag air into his lungs. “Baby, I want a bed beneath your back for what I’m gonna do to you.” No way could he be subtle or patient with this one. She has to want this as much as I do.
Again, her throat moved. “And if I can’t wait?”
He stilled for a moment, and then muttered, “Christ!” His need crowded insistently against the placket of his jeans. With a quick glance around the bar for the nearest exit, he pulled her down a hallway and into the restroom.
Once inside, he locked the door. Then he turned and stalked her, backing her into the old-fashioned wooden stall. “You have to spell it out for me. Do you want me to stop?”
Her eyes rounded. “I don’t know. I don’t know you.”
His jaw clamped tight. “I won’t hurt you. Or at least I’ll try not to.”
Her tongue wet her lips. “Good enough,” she whispered.
Max palmed her breast with one hand; his other hand glided up her bare thigh and pushed up her short skirt. He went straight to the scrap of nylon covering her sex. He tipped the lid of the toilet closed with the toe of his boot and sat.
The woman, Pia, wasted no time climbing onto his lap, her thighs straddling him. Her breasts were level with his mouth, and she pushed the hem of her cropped top up, exposing them.
Max took the hint and groaned, rooting with his lips until he held a burgeoning nipple between them.
She grasped the back of his head, pushing her breast deeper into his mouth. Her sex ground against the hard ridge of his cock, riding him, wriggling her hips so eagerly he thought he might spill his seed in his pants like a teenager.
He dragged his mouth from her breast. “Wait.” He pushed her off his lap and stood, then placed his hands on the sides of her waist and lifted her high. “Hold onto the top of the stall, sweetheart.”
Quickly catching his drift, she spread her arms wide across the top of the wooden stall and gripped the edge. He hefted her higher and stepped backward. She “lay”, suspended from the top of the stall, her legs parted and draped over his shoulders. His face was poised at the opening of her legs.
He glanced up at her flushed face. “I did say I’d eat you, if you asked sweetly.”