Desire. Danger. Deception. The scion of the Falconer vampire clan inspires them all…
When a mysterious man rescues Madison Bainbridge from a random attack, she sees only his broad shoulders, his gray eyes, his kindness. But as she gets to know Dominic, her attraction wars with the certainty he’s keeping big secrets. Who is the menacing beauty following him around? What of the palm-reader who stops her in the park? And who’s watching them from the shadows?
Young vampire Dominic Falconer wanted nothing more than a few weeks in New Orleans, a chance to see the city on his own. He didn’t expect to be captivated by lovely Maddy—or for enemies to surround him, eager to use the stirrings of his heart to bring down his family.
A hostile rival is out for vengeance. Domonic’s fellow Hungarian vampires are vanishing without a trace. And the shadowy Knights of the Dark Wood want nothing more than to get hold of Dominic himself. But Dominic and Maddy have a connection worth fighting for—and a passion that will awaken the unexpected in them both . . .
Release date: August 23, 2022
Publisher: Zebra Books
Print pages: 400
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Enchant the Dawn
Quill Falconer. Even after more than a quarter of a century, she hungered for his blood. She had searched from east to west and north to south looking for him, but to no avail. He had taken his woman and his children and left the country. Twenty-five years and still she could not forget him—the taste of his blood on her tongue, the texture of it, the smell. The power.
Quill was incredibly powerful, as was his witch-wife, Callie, damn her to hell.
Claret lifted a hand to her throat, remembering the last time she had seen the vampire. He had been her prisoner then, hers to savor at leisure, until a powerful witch came to save him.
Once freed, Quill had destroyed the members of her coven and very nearly destroyed her as well. She had been at rest when he came for her. They had struggled, fangs and claws rending preternatural flesh, until he wrapped his hands around her throat, but his own blood, blood she had consumed, had given her the strength she needed to break his hold and vanish from the room. She had not seen him since.
But she had never forgotten him, and she never would. Someday, she thought, someday she would taste his blood again.
She paused at the sound of footsteps coming her way, thoughts of Quill momentarily forgotten as a young man rounded the corner ahead.
Anticipation stirred deep within her.
Dinner was about to be served.
Dominic Falconer strolled through the streets of New Orleans. He had always wanted to visit the Big Easy, and his great-grandmother, Ava, had finally given him the opportunity, much to his parents’ disapproval. His mother, especially, had been against his leaving Savaria, but Ava had insisted she would go along and keep an eye on him. His task was to find out all he could about the new leader of the Knights of the Dark Wood and what the Brotherhood’s intentions were, without revealing his parentage.
Dominic couldn’t help wondering why the sudden interest in the Knights. His parents had left the States soon after he and his sister, Ava Liliana, were born twenty-five years ago. His great-grandmother had followed them to the homeland a year later. It was only in the last month that he’d learned that his parents had left the States because they feared for his safety, and that of his sister.
Dominic frowned. Perhaps his parents’ interest was due to the fact that there was still a small number of Hungarian vampires residing in the States who might be at risk from the appointment of a new, more radical Elder Knight.
Whatever the reason, being here on his own gave him a sense of freedom he’d never known before. Not that he didn’t love his parents. They were two of the finest people he had ever known. His twin sister was his best friend. But ever since his vampire nature had kicked in, he had yearned to go out on his own, to test his powers and his abilities.
And Great-Grandma Ava had given him the chance. He wondered now if she had somehow divined his longing to be on his own all along, perhaps even fabricated her need to know about the new Elder Knight to give him a chance to get out of the country.
He had a hell of a family, he mused with a wry grin. His father was a powerful vampire, his mother and great-grandmother were witches, as was his twin sister.
Dominic came to an abrupt stop as he caught the scent of vampire. Not one of his kind, but the bloodthirsty, Transylvanian breed, as different from his people as night from day.
He felt a rush of excitement at the thought of finally meeting one of the others. And then he paused. Transylvanian vampires were notorious for taking his people prisoner in order to feed on their blood. Once they tasted it, they became addicted. Occasionally, one of them drank too much and went completely mad, but that risk didn’t deter the rest.
But all such thoughts fled his mind when he saw her. She was incredibly beautiful, with clear, tawny skin and eyes so dark they were almost black. A riot of red hair fell over her shoulders like a silken waterfall.
She slowed, then stopped when they came face-to-face. Nostrils flared, she ran her gaze over him. “Vampire,” she hissed. “What are you doing in my territory?”
“Just visiting,” he drawled. “Do you mind?”
The words were barely out of his mouth when, in a blur of movement, she was on him, her fangs sinking deep into his throat. One taste and she reared back, her eyes wide with disbelief. “Who are you?”
Dominic covered the bite with his hand. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
“I asked you a question.”
Eyes narrowed, he grabbed a handful of her hair, pulled her body against his, and buried his fangs in her neck. He took a good, long drink before he pushed her away. Damn. His father had warned him about Transylvanian vampires. Why hadn’t he listened? Muttering, “Now we’re even,” he vanished from her sight.
Claret licked her lips, reveling in the taste of the last drops of blood lingering on her tongue. Could it be? She inhaled sharply, drawing in his scent. And then she smiled. It had to be, she thought. Quill Falconer’s son had come to Louisiana. She had known many men—human and vampire alike. But she had never forgotten Quill, or the exquisite taste of his blood.
And now his son was here, like the long-awaited answer to a prayer.
Dominic materialized in a residential neighborhood several miles away from New Orleans. Damn! He had never been bitten by a vampire before and he wasn’t sure how he felt about it. Not that it had been unpleasant. Quite the opposite. Under ordinary circumstances, the vampire would have been able to find him again, but he had powerful witches in his family. His mother had woven a protection spell around him, one that thwarted Transylvanian vampires from tracking him. He wondered suddenly if his mother had had this particular vampire in mind at the time. He grinned inwardly. Although the vampire who had bitten him couldn’t track him, he could track her, if need be.
Hands shoved into his pockets, he strolled down the quiet street. It was late and most of the houses were dark. It was a lovely neighborhood, with well-kept, two-story homes fronted by lush green lawns and well-tended flower beds. Stately trees grew here and there, providing welcome shade.
Rounding the corner, he found himself thinking about the vampire again. She wasn’t his kind, that was for sure, which made her technically his enemy. She had looked surprised when she bit him, which was odd. She would have known what he was, so why had she been so taken aback?
Transylvanian vampires were vicious killers, whereas his people never killed their prey, or anyone else, unless it was to save their own lives or protect their family. But the main difference between his kind and the Transylvanian vampires was that his people were born that way, and the others were made. Perhaps that was why they were angry all the time, he thought with a wry grin. After all, few were given any choice in the matter.
He paused when he reached the end of the block, wondering which way to go. He had no sooner decided to retrace his steps when he heard a faint cry coming from inside the house across the street.
Frowning, he opened his preternatural senses, but the cry didn’t come again. Instead, he caught the tantalizing scent of fresh blood.
Maddy Bainbridge opened her mouth to scream again, but her attacker pulled a dirty handkerchief from his pants’ pocket and stuffed it into her mouth. He slapped her hard, twice, as he pushed her down on the floor, then straddled her hips.
Maddy bucked beneath him, hoping to dislodge him, but he outweighed her by a good forty pounds. She beat her fists against his chest, his back, his head, but to no avail. Face split in an evil grin, he tossed her nightgown over her head and trapped both of her hands in one of his. When she continued to struggle, he clipped her on the jaw. Momentarily stunned and unable to move, she could only stare at him, fear and horror like ice in her veins as he unzipped his jeans. Helpless and terrified, she closed her eyes and prayed for help she knew would never come in time. As she felt the man’s hands on her breasts, she let out a last, desperate scream for help.
And then, suddenly, there was the slap of flesh striking flesh, the sound of a heavy weight hitting the wall, and she was free.
Hardly daring to look, afraid of what she might see, Maddy opened her eyes.
A dark-haired man dressed in black stood over the thug who had broken into her house and attacked her. A shiver ran through her when the newcomer turned to look at her.
“Are you all right?” he asked. His voice was soft, melodious, almost hypnotic.
Too frightened to speak, Maddy nodded as she jerked her nightgown down over her knees.
The man’s gaze ran over her from head to foot, missing nothing.
She stared up at him, wondering if he had come to help or to take the other man’s place. He was tall, over six feet, with broad shoulders, inky black hair, and dark gray eyes that seemed to see right through her. His nose was a blade, his lips full and well-shaped, his jaw strong and square.
Her eyes widened when he offered her his hand. She hesitated a moment before letting him pull her to her feet.
“Did he hurt you?”
“If you mean did he rape me, no.” Trembling all over, she wrapped her arms around her waist. “I don’t know how you realized I was in trouble, but you got here just in time. Thank you.”
He shrugged off her thanks. “I heard your cry for help. Maybe you’d better call the police before he wakes up.”
“What?” She stared at him blankly for a moment. “Oh. The police. Yes, of course.” She reached for her cell phone, but her hands were shaking so badly, she dropped it.
“I’ll take care of it.” He wiped a bit of blood from the corner of her mouth with his fingers. “Your forehead’s bleeding. Why don’t you go get cleaned up while I call the cops?”
Maddy hesitated. Then, with a nod, she edged into the bathroom, closed and locked the door. Still feeling shaky, she sat on the edge of the bathtub, a washcloth pressed to her forehead. She wondered if she should have left him alone in the other room. What if he robbed the place?
Dominic took a deep breath, then licked her blood from his fingers. Pulling his phone from his pocket, he called 9-1-1. After ending the call, he grabbed a silk scarf from the top of her dresser and tied her attacker’s hands behind his back.
There must have been a cop car in the area, because one pulled up in front of the house a few minutes later. Not wanting to explain his presence, or get involved with the police and have to respond to a lot of questions he’d rather not answer, Dominic transported himself out of the house.
“I want to thank you for helping me,” Maddy said as she opened the bathroom door. “If there’s ever anything I can do for . . .” Her voice trailed off. The man who had attacked her lay on his stomach, his hands tied behind his back.
There was no sign of the tall, dark-haired man.
Dominic strolled down the dark streets until he came to a seedy bar that was still open. He paused inside the door and opened his vampire senses. Detecting no hint of danger, no hunters lurking in the shadows, he stepped inside.
He ordered a glass of red wine and carried it to an empty booth in the back. His first night in New Orleans had been interesting, to say the least. He thought of the two women he had met—an incredibly beautiful and dangerous vampire and the loveliest mortal woman he had ever seen. Like sunlight and moonlight, he thought with a grin, and wondered what his chances were of getting to know the pretty blond female better.
Thinking over what had happened, he was surprised he’d been able to enter her house. His kind usually required an invitation to cross a mortal threshold. And then he shrugged. Perhaps her desperate cry for help had been invitation enough.
Dominic tensed when he felt a shift in the atmosphere. The next thing he knew, his great-grandmother, Ava, was sitting in the booth beside him. He grinned at her. She looked nothing like a great-grandmother. She was another beautiful woman, with golden-blond hair and bright blue eyes. He knew she was over a hundred years old, but she appeared to be in her early thirties, an easy spell for a witch. Why look your age when you didn’t have to?
“What brings you here at this time of night?” he asked.
“What do you think? You were sent here to learn what’s happening with the Knights, not to provide nourishment for a Transylvanian vampire, or rescue a mortal woman from danger.”
“Would you rather I’d let her be raped? Perhaps killed?”
“Of course not!”
“What have you found out about the new Elder Knight?”
“Not a thing. All I know is that the Brotherhood has moved to a new location. They left nothing behind, not so much as a footprint. Every spell I tried failed, which can only mean one thing—they’ve found a new witch.”
“So, what do we do now?”
“Wait for them to find you.”
“We’ll track them to their new headquarters and speak to the Elder Knight. Perhaps we can reason with this one, although I doubt it.”
“And if he refuses?”
“One thing at a time. Three of our people have been killed in this city in the last few months, which leads me to believe that the odds of making peace with the Knights are slim at best.”
“Those deaths are the real reason we’re here, isn’t it?”
Ava nodded, her expression grim.
“Wouldn’t it be easier for my great-grandfather to call all of our people home?” His great-grandfather, Andras, was the undisputed leader of the Hungarian vampires. His word was law.
“It would, indeed. But those who live here have homes and businesses. Some were born here. Some have never been to the Homeland. Andras feels it would be unfair to demand that they leave behind everything they have worked for.”
Dominic grunted softly.
“Sooner or later, a member of the Brotherhood will make a mistake. Until that time, you be careful. I promised your mother I’d keep you safe. She’ll never forgive me if anything happens to you.”
“I’m always careful.”
Ava laughed at that. “I’ll see you at home.”
Dominic grinned. He had rented a house when he’d first arrived, and she had decided he needed a roommate. “A chaperone, you mean,” he had said with a scowl. But she’d just laughed and moved into one of the bedrooms.
Dominic blew out a sigh as she sashayed out the door. He was about to call it a night when the vampire he had met earlier slid into the booth across from him.
Eyes narrowed, she asked, “Who are you?”
“Who are you?”
“I’m Claret, mistress of the New Orleans coven. No one stays in my territory without my permission. What are you doing here?”
Dominic shrugged. “Sightseeing.” He tensed as her power rolled over him. She was strong, but he was stronger. He knew a moment of triumph as he easily blocked her efforts to probe his mind.
“You’re Quill’s son, aren’t you?”
Dominic’s eyes widened in surprise. “You know my father?”
“Indeed. You look just like him. I should have realized who you were right away.” Her eyes glinted red as she licked her lips. “Not only do you look like him, but you taste like him, too.”
Dominic stared at her. Who the hell was she? And how had she known his father? Surely they hadn’t been lovers. He was just as certain that his father hadn’t willingly given a Transylvanian vampire his blood. Had they been enemies, then? “What do you want?”
“The same thing I wanted from your father.”
“And what was that?”
Her gaze darted to his throat.
It was all the answer he needed. “What’s so special about my father’s blood?”
“It was powerful. The most powerful I’ve ever tasted. I’ve craved it ever since.”
“Well, forget it. I’m not sharing.”
“We shall see.” She smiled, revealing her fangs. “We shall see,” she said again and vanished from his sight.
Dominic had a lot to think about on his way home. The Knights of the Dark Wood were killing his people. A Transylvanian vampire who had not only known his father but had also tasted his blood was now hungry for his.
But it was the woman he had rescued who preyed on his mind. Who was she? Was she single? Engaged? Married? How could he arrange to see her again? It had to look like a chance meeting, he thought as he unlocked the door to the rented house he shared with his great-grandmother. He didn’t want her to think he was some depraved character who was stalking her.
In the bedroom, he undressed and slid under the covers. When he closed his eyes, her image rose in his mind—she had a wealth of wavy, dark blond hair, beautiful deep brown eyes, and a mouth he yearned to kiss.
One way or another, he had to see her again, he thought. And then he frowned. How was he going to explain his abrupt disappearance from her house? Dammit, he should have stayed and introduced himself. Instead, he had vanished without a word. No doubt she thought he had something to hide from the police, and that was why he’d taken off before they arrived.
Dominic swore under his breath. He had something to hide all right, he mused as he sank into the dark sleep of his kind. An ancient secret he was duty bound to keep.
Maddy woke late after a restless night. In the clear light of day, she felt foolish for leaving every light in the house on when she’d gone to bed, but the attack had shaken her badly. She no longer felt safe in her own home, even with all the doors and windows closed and locked. If the police released her attacker from jail, would he come after her?
Wondering if she would ever feel safe again, she went from room to room, turning off the lights, double-checking to make sure all the doors and windows were locked, even though she knew they were. She switched off the porch light and then headed for the kitchen in search of coffee.
Sitting at the table, she found herself thinking about the man who had come to her rescue. Who was he? How had he known she was in trouble? Had he heard her screams? Why had he left without a word? He had been an incredibly handsome man. Even now, she could see him clearly—tall and broad-shouldered, with thick, black hair and dark gray eyes. Like the Lone Ranger, he had come to her rescue and left without telling her his name.
With a sigh, Maddy refilled her cup. She hadn’t had any interest in men since she had ended her relationship with her last boyfriend nine months before. But her rescuer . . . there had been something about him. Or maybe she had just imagined it. After all, she had only seen him for a few brief moments.
Just her luck that she would likely never see him again.
Dominic rose with the setting of the sun, his first thought for the pretty woman with the deep brown eyes. He knew where she lived. Would she think it strange or suspicious if he stopped by her house? He could say he just wanted to make sure she was all right.
He thought about it while he showered, and the more he thought about it, the more reasonable it sounded. Stepping out of the shower, he pulled on a pair of jeans and a black T-shirt, stepped into his boots, and went out into the night.
She lived in a two-story white house with yellow shutters on a quiet street that smelled of jasmine and magnolias. Standing on the sidewalk, Dominic took a deep breath, then bounded up the stairs and knocked on the door before he lost his nerve.
A long moment passed before he heard the sound of footsteps, a shaky voice asking, “Who’s there?”
Her voice. He would recognize it anywhere.
“It’s Dominic. I’m the one who came to your aid last night.”
“What are you doing here?”
“I just wanted to stop by to make sure you were all right.” He heard the sound of a dead bolt sliding back, and then the door opened just enough for her to peer out.
Brow furrowed, she looked him up and down. He saw the uncertainty in her eyes as she decided whether or not to let him in.
“I don’t blame you for being cautious,” he said. “I won’t bother you again. Good day.”
“Wait!” She unfastened the chain and opened the door. “Please, come in.”
Dominic felt a familiar shimmer of power as he crossed the threshold. Some mortals were sensitive to supernatural power. She was one of them, whether she recognized it for what it was or not.. . .
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