Book 1 in series
Author: Tracy L. Ranson
Club Inferno was a busy nightclub, filled with people looking for a good time. All Raphael looked for was a meal. He scanned the crowded room and found nothing to his appetite….that was until he saw her, his beloved Elizabeth.
Liz Quartermaine couldn’t understand why she was at Inferno. Nightclubs weren’t her scene…actually she had no scene. Mousy with thick glasses and waist, she knew she didn’t belong.
That was until the darkly mysterious stranger across the bar captured her attention.
Thick wafts of cigarette smoke filled Club Inferno, the hottest nightspot in Morrisonville. Dance music, a mix of hip-hop and techno, blared from the giant sound system originating from the wiry DJ working the CDs in the booth. Fake devils and flames comprised the décor with shades of red and crimson throughout. Humans could be, at best, simple creatures. Surely, they could have come up with something more provocative than visions of hell.
Raphael Chamberlain surveyed the room with narrowed, hooded eyes. So far, no one deserved to die tonight. Oh, sure, there were a few pervs, perps and cheaters out there looking for a good lay but nothing to lose their lives over. He only fed on those who truly contained the blackest of souls with a mark for death.
“Nothing suits you, I see.” Alexandra swept yards of long black hair over her shoulder as she looked around the bar herself. Her ethics were questionable and didn’t match his. Who was he to say? She fed on who she pleased. He always made sure that her meals were those who deserved what they got. It wasn’t easy in his position to keep the others in line.
He leaned back and stretched out his long, denim-encased legs underneath their table nestled in a darker part of the bar. He preferred the blackest part of shadows. They were much safer than being out in the open. “Not a damn thing.” His voracious hunger didn’t gnaw at him tonight as it normally did. Why, he wasn’t sure.
Egyptian-born Nicholas joined in on the mirth. “Our dear Raphael isn’t in the mood tonight for a little fun, I suppose.”
“There’s more to life than a good fuck.” He scanned the room once again to see if anyone else had entered worth eating. His senses returned nothing. No one else entered worth taking.
Why did he keep searching? There was nothing worth eating here. He snickered. It reminded him of a story someone once told him of the humans: If they were bored, they had a tendency to go to the refrigerator to find something to eat. When nothing suited them, they closed the door only to return several minutes later under the conclusion that something new had appeared. “I’m tired of this place. Let’s go somewhere else.”
A sudden unfamiliar heaviness invaded the room and diverted his attention. His senses flared. That normally only happened if another vampire had entered the same bar. None of the other vampires, save the two at his side, ventured to this side of town. So why was he feeling this way?
Turning toward the main source of the strange feeling, Raphael caught the eye of a young woman at the bar. There was really nothing unusual about her. Mousy hair slipped past her shoulders, clipped at the crown by what the humans called a barrette. Thick, black-rimmed glasses covered her eyes, perched on a nearly perfect nose. Lush full lips resided underneath, the color of dew-covered roses. He sat up straight, his gaze scraping up and down her body slowly. What was it about her that drew his attention?
Alexandra’s Spanish-lilted laughter broke through his thoughts. “It looks like Raphael has finally found something.”
“Screw you, Alex.” He watched the woman with his predatory gaze. Her movements were a little nervous and stilted, almost as if she was completely out of her element. From the vibe she was giving off, more than likely she was.
“Who’s the lucky woman?” Nicholas joined in, his annoying laughter mingling with Alex’s. He ignored their under-the-breath comments. They knew better than to piss him off, especially since he was the Guardian of the Northern area. Since his appointment to the sheriff-like position, he had become a vampire of great power and all bowed to his demands. Alex and Nicholas were his seconds in command. Drake and Siobhan rounded out the council that oversaw the trials of the vampires of the sector. He was the sole judge while the others had been relegated to the roles of jury. They alone decided the fates of rogue vampires.
He said nothing as he watched the strangely familiar woman. Her long fingers, tipped with well-manicured nails, danced around the rim of her glass. She stared at the atmosphere around her with frightened, wide eyes. Fright radiated from in her a large swell. What was she doing here?
Behind him, he could hear Nicholas and Alex’s banal conversation. He ignored them. He remained fixed on the intriguing young woman. There was definitely something about her that he couldn’t quite place.
Closing his eyes, he probed her mind. He tapped into her innermost secrets in search of the key to her essence. From what he could see, she was a very shy, insecure woman, especially about her looks. Why did she feel this way? Probing deeper, he viewed her memories, feeling a little like a thief doing so.
She had a normal childhood, along with doting parents. Unfortunately, she was the only child and, in her eyes, not even remotely pretty. Digging ever deeper, he saw that she suffered from horrible nightmares. What caused them?
Let me see.
Like a ghost rising from the mist of the Moors, those dreams made their presence known. In her most horrific nightmare, the woman was in the clutches of a creature not of this earth, dying the same way his beloved had died.
His eyes flew wide open as his chest constricted. His hard belly tensed as if a rock slammed into it. No, it couldn’t be!
His beloved Elizabeth had returned from the grave.
Alex’s black brows knitted together in concern when she saw his face. “What’s wrong, Raphael?”
Nicholas jabbed him in the arm. “He’s got a case of the I-need-to-get-laid-blues.”
“I don’t believe it.” Raphael couldn’t drag his attention away from the woman even if he wanted to. His fists clenched. “I don’t fucking believe it.”
“Don’t believe what?”
Raphael swallowed the hard lump in his throat. “It’s Elizabeth .”