Enchant the Night
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In the arms of a centuries-old vampire, a woman awakens to newfound passion—and magical powers of her own.
Hungarian vampires are born, not made—and can breed with mortal females. Being one of the oldest of his kind, Quill Falconer has honed his skills at hunting just the right kind of prey, which is why his latest victim confounds him. She shouldn’t remember his drinking her blood. And he shouldn’t still be craving more . . .
Callie Hathaway’s life is as normal as it can be after the death of the beloved grandmother who raised her. Until one night, feeling foggy and fatigued, she realizes that a strangely sensual encounter with a dark, handsome man didn’t occur only in her imagination.
As Callie and Quill’s unique connection draws them together, an ancient order of knights seeks Quill’s destruction. Being together puts Callie in mortal danger—until she uncovers a magical family legacy. Side by side they’ll fight for survival, and for each other, as the brotherhood of vampire hunters gather for one final showdown.
Release date: August 25, 2020
Publisher: Zebra Books
Print pages: 400
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Enchant the Night
Times changed. Centuries rolled on. The old myths and legends lost their power. He had seen the rise and fall of nations and kings. But he remained forever the same, a solitary creature with little hope of forgiveness either in this life or the next. He had traveled the world from one end to the other. Made love to many women—but loved none of them. They had provided fleeting moments of passion in a long line of conquests that satisfied his lust as their blood fed his hunger.
He had long ago accepted that he was forever damned. With that acceptance came a measure of peace. He had not chosen this life, but bemoaning what he was, what he had to do to survive, accomplished nothing.
His needs were few and easily met. Still, after the first few hundred years, there had been times when he had grown weary of his solitary existence. It didn’t happen often, but when it did, he went to ground, seeking rest and relief.
The last time he had done so, he had risen to a new generation filled with inventions and technology he had never imagined. Computers and cell phones, jet planes and drones and satellites, and a hundred other amazing devices, some that would have been viewed as witchcraft or the works of the devil in the century when he’d been born.
It was a new age, and he reveled in it. Humanity no longer believed in his kind anymore. Hiding from the world was, in some ways, easier than ever. There were so many other monsters roaming the planet—remorseless gangs that preyed upon the weak, drug dealers who sold death in pretty pills to innocent children, politicians who betrayed their country for cash and power.
All thought of the past faded as his gaze settled on a young woman emerging from the shop in front of him. She was petite and comely. A cloud of golden wheat-colored hair fell over her shoulders and down her back in a riot of waves. She radiated youth and vitality as she hurried down the street, her stiletto heels clicking on the sidewalk.
Increasing his stride, he moved up beside her and caught her arm. A few quiet words calmed her fears as he led her into a shadowy alley between two large buildings. She stared at him blankly, eyes unblinking, lips slightly parted as he caressed her cheek.
He had intended to drink deeply, but something in the depths of her midnight-blue eyes changed his mind. Muttering an oath, he drew her into his embrace, bent his head to her neck, and satisfied his most basic need.
Feeling as if she was wandering in a fog, Callie Hathaway walked to her car and drove home. Plagued by an overwhelming thirst, she hurried into the kitchen and filled a glass with water. When that didn’t satisfy her, she gulped down a can of root beer. It helped but only a little. Tossing the empty container into the trash, she wondered why she was so thirsty. And why the side of her neck tingled. And why she couldn’t remember what had happened between the time she’d left Sally’s Boutique and the moment she’d slid behind the wheel of her hot-pink VW.
Brow furrowed, she padded into the living room and sank down on the sofa, a throw pillow clutched to her chest as she tried to remember that missing half hour. Was she losing her mind? Developing Alzheimer’s? Had she suffered a stroke? Been kidnapped by aliens? She had never experienced any memory loss before. At least she didn’t think she had. But how was she to know? Feeling suddenly tense, she went into the bathroom and filled the tub, thinking a warm bath might help her relax.
Later, submerged to her shoulders in lavender-scented bubbles, she closed her eyes.
A tall man dressed all in black. Deep, dark eyes that captured hers. Strong arms holding her close. A faint prick in the side of her neck. A sudden sense of warmth that permeated her whole being . . .
Callie bolted upright with a start, water sloshing over the sides of the tub as she glanced around the room, her heart pounding as the memory of what had happened that night flooded her mind.
The man had bitten her!
In his lair on the other side of the city, Quill’s head snapped up as the woman he had preyed upon earlier woke to the realization of what had happened to her in the alley. How was that even possible? He had wiped the memory from her mind. He frowned into the darkness. No one had ever resisted his compulsion to forget. How had this female managed to do so?
Rising, he paced the floor of his lair as he considered his options. There were really only two. He could drain her dry or he could wipe the recollection from her mind again and hope this time the memory stayed submerged.
Killing her was the best solution. He hadn’t existed this long by being careless. Not only would it solve his problem, but it would allow him to taste her again, something he had been desperately wanting to do since the first crimson drop had slid over his tongue.
It had been decades since he had taken a human life to preserve his own existence. But sometimes, like now, it was necessary.
Tomorrow night, he would seek her out and do what had to be done.
Quill rose with the setting of the sun, showered and dressed, then left his lair. Opening his preternatural senses, he pinpointed the scent of the woman and followed it to a small, single-story house on a narrow street. Lights shone behind the windows. A faint breeze stirred the wind chimes on the front porch.
Veiling himself in shadow, he settled down to wait.
Hours passed. Like all predators, he had the patience of Job.
Focusing his attention on the house, he heard the woman moving from room to room, smelled the fried chicken she cooked for dinner, heard the voice of a local news anchor as he reported the events of the day. At eight, she switched to a movie channel. At ten, she fixed a cup of hot chocolate.
Shortly thereafter, she bathed and went to bed.
Thwarted, Quill stared at the front door. He was the most powerful creature on earth, yet something as flimsy as a threshold had the power to repel him.
Cursing softly, he willed himself to the next town in search of prey.
The woman had been lucky tonight, he mused. But, sooner or later, she would leave the safety of her home. And when she did, he would be waiting.
Callie woke late on Sunday morning, unsettled by the fact that she had dreamed of the dark-haired man in the long, black coat again. He had invaded her dreams the night before, too, although that one had been more like a nightmare, filled with gruesome images of bodies drained of blood and hideous eyes as red as hellfire. And always the man in the long, black coat had been there, lurking just out of sight. Who was he? And what did her dreams mean?
Recalling what had happened Friday night had kept her in the house all day Saturday. Was she going to hide inside today, too? And what was she really hiding from? Some memory that couldn’t possibly be real? A dream that made no sense? Nightmares couldn’t hurt you.
She lifted a hand to her neck, felt an odd tingle in her fingertips. Had he really bitten her? Or had she imagined the whole incident?
Moving to the bedroom window, she parted the curtains and glanced outside. It was a beautiful morning, the sky a clear bright blue. A lovely day for a walk, she decided. And maybe lunch at her favorite hamburger stand and an early movie.
Callie had planned to be home well before dark. Not because she was afraid, she told herself, even though she knew, deep down, that it was a lie. She was afraid. However, like the best laid plans, hers didn’t work out. She ran into her best friend, Vivian, at the movies and when it was over, Vivian insisted on going out to dinner at Tony’s Italian Restaurant. If there was one thing Callie couldn’t resist, it was Tony’s pasta. He made the best spaghetti and meatballs in the city, not to mention the world’s best garlic bread.
“So,” Vivian said, after they’d ordered, “what’s new and exciting?”
“I’m exhausted. I photographed a wedding last week. It was the biggest job I’ve ever had. Ten bridesmaids and ten ushers. Not to mention the parents of the bride and groom and their combined siblings, which ranged in age from five to twenty-five. Oh, and the aunts and uncles and grandparents, of course. Naturally, the bride wanted a picture with her mom and dad and then with her whole family. And the groom needed pictures of his whole family. The worst of it was, they wanted the photos taken in the park across from the church, which just happened to have swings and slides. Trying to keep all those kids corralled was impossible!”
“I don’t envy you, that’s for sure.”
“And then there was the reception and all the usual photos—first dance, cutting the cake, throwing the bouquet. Pictures of the guests and toasts to the bride and groom. Thankfully, I don’t have anything else scheduled for a while.” Callie didn’t really need to work, but doing so gave her a sense of purpose. Most of the time, she loved what she did, and the fact that she set her own schedule was the icing on the cake. “How are you doing?”
“Same old, same old. I’m thinking of looking for a new job.”
“My old boss is retiring and his son is taking over.” Vivian shook her head. “You don’t need an assistant, do you?”
“Not at the moment, sorry. Are you really going to quit?”
“Probably not.” Vivian worked for Dean and Shipman, an up-and-coming software company that offered good pay and excellent benefits.
They made small talk over dinner, reminiscing about old boyfriends and all the crazy things the two of them had done in college. They’d lost touch for a while, until Viv had moved back home.
“Are you dating anyone?” Vivian asked.
“Not since Bryan.” Callie had met him at a friend’s wedding earlier in the year. They had dated for a couple of months. He’d been nice enough, but they’d had little in common and even though he’d been easy to get along with, he’d been as dull as dishwater. She’d felt bad when she’d broken up with him, but there had been no real chemistry between them, no sparks. She had the feeling Bryan had felt the same and was relieved when she called it quits so he wouldn’t have to. “How about you?”
“I met a new guy. We’ve only been out a few times, but he seems really nice,” she said, grinning ear to ear. “I have high hopes for Greg.”
“That’s great. I hope it works out.” Vivian rarely had trouble meeting men. She was tall and slim, with fiery red hair and bright green eyes.
“You’re awfully quiet tonight,” Vivian remarked as she helped herself to another slice of garlic bread. “Something on your mind?”
Callie ran her fingertips around the rim of her glass. “Can I ask you something?”
“Well, sure, hon. What is it?”
“I had a really weird experience on Friday night.”
“Oh?” Folding her arms on the table, Vivian leaned forward expectantly.
“You’ll probably think I’m crazy. I think so, too, but this guy took me into an alley—”
“What? Are you all right? Did you call the police?”
“I’m fine. The thing is, I’m just not sure if it really happened. It was like some bizarre nightmare. When I got home that night, I couldn’t remember what happened from the time I left Sally’s to when I got into my car. It was like those stories you hear about people who’ve been abducted by aliens and how they lose hours of time.”
“You think you were abducted?”
“No, nothing like that, but it was equally creepy.” Callie lifted a hand to her neck. “I think the guy bit me.”
Vivian stared at her in disbelief.
“I know, it sounds crazy.”
“But the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced it really happened.”
Vivian leaned back in her chair, arms crossed, brow furrowed. “So, you’re saying this guy, whoever he was, took you into an alley and bit you?”
Callie nodded, wishing she had never mentioned it. Said out loud, it sounded preposterous.
“Maybe he was a vampire,” Vivian said, stifling a grin.
“That’s not funny! What if he was some crazy homeless guy and he had some horrible disease?”
Vivian leaned forward again, her gaze narrowing. “Did it leave a mark?”
“No. But it kind of tingled for a while afterwards.” Callie took a deep breath and blew it out in a long sigh. She never should have said anything.
Callie was reaching for the check when the oddest sensation engulfed her. Almost as if drawn by some invisible hand, she turned toward the entrance, felt a sudden chill snake down her spine when she saw the tall, dark-haired man standing in the doorway. It was him! The man who had bitten her. She was sure of it. “Vivian! Look! Over there, by the entrance! It’s him!”
“Where? I don’t see anyone.”
Callie frowned. “But . . . but he was there a second ago. I saw him! I know I did.”
Quill melted into the shadows, shaken by the peculiar sense of awareness that had passed between him and the woman when their gazes had met. Had she felt it, too?
And what the hell did it mean?
At home, Callie couldn’t relax. She tried to watch a movie, only to turn it off and reach for a book, which she soon put aside. A cup of hot chocolate didn’t help to calm her nerves. Neither did a warm bubble bath or a lavender-scented candle.
Clad in her favorite PJs, she paced the living room floor, unable to forget or understand the odd sensation that had thrummed through her when she’d met the stranger’s eyes—some weird connection she couldn’t explain or deny, almost as if his soul had touched hers.
She told herself that was ridiculous. She didn’t believe in psychic soul mates or love at first sight, although what she felt was far from love. The man was stalking her, and that scared her to death. What if he wanted to bite her again?
What if, as Vivian had so flippantly suggested, he really was a vampire?
She dismissed that thought out of hand, but having once considered it, it kept sneaking back in. He certainly looked like a vampire. Long, dark hair. Long, black coat. Hypnotic eyes.
She shook her head. Nobody believed in vampires these days, not when there were so many other, scarier, things to be afraid of.
Mentally exhausted, she stretched out on the sofa. Unable to get comfortable, she shuffled into the bedroom, slid under the covers, and closed her eyes....
And he was there. A tall, broad-shouldered man with mesmerizing deep-gray eyes and thick, brown hair so dark it was almost black. A jagged white scar started at the edge of his jaw, ran down his neck, and disappeared beneath his shirt collar.
She shivered as his gaze caught and held hers, stood frozen as he glided toward her.
Callie. He whispered her name, drawing it out like a caress.
The sound of his voice did funny things in the pit of her stomach. When he extended his hand toward her, she was helpless to do anything but go to him. She whimpered when he took her in his arms.
His gaze searched her face. Who are you? he asked, his voice filled with a note of wonder. What are you?
She stared up at him, not knowing what to say.
He trailed his knuckles along her cheek and down the length of her neck, then ran his fingertips over her lips. His touch, as light as butterfly wings, sent a frisson of desire racing through her.
Callie. Just her name. A single word filled with intense longing.
When he brushed her hair aside and lowered his head to her throat, she trembled from head to foot, whether from fear or anticipation, she couldn’t say. His breath was hot against her skin.
She moaned softly when he bit her, surprised by the warmth that swept through her in wave after wave of sensual pleasure. He was a stranger, and yet it felt like the most natural thing in the world to be in his arms, to press her body to his. She felt bereft when he lifted his head, would have cried his name, had she known it. Would have begged him not to stop. Tears burned her eyes when he kissed her lightly, then vanished from sight....
Callie woke abruptly, her cheeks damp with tears, her whole body quivering for his touch.
Lost in thought, Quill stood outside the woman’s house. He had intended to call her to him and dispose of her, but when his mind touched hers, he had discovered she was dreaming about him. It had taken little effort to merge his thoughts with hers. He didn’t know what had surprised him more, the fact that she was dreaming of him—or that he soon became as aroused as she. Dream or no dream, he had never felt such desire, such intense longing for any other woman.
Moving to the back of the house, he used his preternatural powers to open the bedroom window. Though the room was dark, he saw her clearly. She slept on her side, facing him, lips slightly parted, one hand beneath her cheek, the blankets bunched around her hips.
She stirred but didn’t wake.
We need to meet.
She nodded in her sleep.
I’ll be waiting for you in Hunter Park tomorrow, just after sundown. Come to me.
Who are you?
Quill. Remember, Hunter Park. Tomorrow, after sundown.
She didn’t answer, but a faint smile of anticipation curved her lips.
Callie woke slowly, only to lie in bed staring up at the ceiling and listening to the melody of the wind chimes outside her window. Grandma Ava had told her that wind chimes drove away evil spirits.
Turning on her side, she frowned. She’d had the most peculiar dream, by turns unsettling and erotic. Strangest of all was the feeling that she needed to go to the park near her house tonight after sundown, though she couldn’t imagine why.
Shrugging it off, she slipped out of bed and wandered into the living room. It was Monday and she didn’t have anything scheduled for the day.
The morning stretched before her. Ordinarily, she would have been happy to have the time off, but not today. Today, she needed something to keep her from dwelling on the bizarre happenings of the weekend.
Shuffling into the kitchen, she fixed tea and toast for breakfast, then sat at the table, her mind replaying the dream she’d had the night before. Was he real, that strange, sexy man in the long, black coat, or just a figment of her all-too-vivid imagination? And if he did exist, who the devil was he? Maybe the Devil himself, she thought, fighting down a burst of hysterical laughter.
“Quill.” His name fell from her lips. How on earth did she know that?
The rest of the day passed in a blur. She vaguely remembered making her bed, talking to Vivian on the phone, thumbing through one of her photography magazines, eating lunch. But always in the back of her mind was the memory of her dream and the sound of a man’s voice in her head, calling her name, telling her to meet him in the park after sundown.
She was becoming obsessed, she thought. Obsessed with a shadow man.
As the sun set, she pulled on a pair of jeans and a sweater, stepped into a pair of boots, and headed for Hunter Park. She told herself she must be crazy, going to meet a stranger in the park at night.
But it didn’t keep her home.
Anticipation flowed through Quill as he watched the woman enter the park, a wary expression on her face as she strolled along the winding path that led to the fountain in the center. How long had it been since he had known this sense of excitement? A hundred years? Two? It pulsated through him, making him feel vital and alive again, as if he were a young man filled with the juices of life.
She was incredibly lovely, her figure slender and ripe, her skin glowing with good health.
She came to an abrupt halt when he stepped out of the shadows. Eyes wide and afraid, she stared up at him.
She swallowed hard, then nodded. It was him. She would recognize that deep, whiskey-smooth voice anywhere. He wasn’t a figment of her imagination, after all. He was tall and broad-shouldered and exuded an air of strength and power that was frightening in its intensity. Why had she come here? Everything within her urge. . .
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