From the bestselling author of Blue Bloods and Witches of East End comes a new novel that explores the battle between good and evil, in the city that never sleeps … Vampires of Manhattan: The New Blue Bloods Coven.
You’ll devour Melissa de la Cruz’s hot new adult novel, in which her Blue Bloods immortals have matured and are now exposed to new challenges, new loves, new threats, and a haute, hot hipster lifestyle.
It is ten years after the great war with Lucifer, and the Coven has rebuilt. Leader of the Fallen, Oliver Hazard-Perry, plans to celebrate this prosperity by throwing a Four Hundred Year Ball—and all Blue Blood society will be there.
And then, all hell breaks loose …
Release date: September 9, 2014
Publisher: Hachette Books
Print pages: 240
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The Vampires of Manhattan
Melissa de la Cruz
Ara wiped her hands and face on her lone, grungy, gray towel and took a rueful glance at the squalor that was her home—the nest of sheets, half-empty Chinese food containers on the kitchen counter, dust balls that seemed to be growing out of the walls like a cozy gray fungus. She should really clean this place once in a while. Or take a shower. She smelled pretty ripe, but there was nothing she could do about that now. If she was lucky and the L train was running without delays, she might just make it in time without catching heat from the chief, which she really didn’t need right now. He wasn’t exactly a fan of hers lately. Besides, she liked the way she smelled, like sweat and hard work, after spending the last seventy-two hours sitting on her suspect.
Policy mandated that anyone who didn’t read as mortal and wasn’t registered with the Coven had to be checked out. These days, that was all it took to rouse suspicion from the brass, who were still twitchy after last month’s raid. Things had been relatively peaceful for the last decade since the War had ended, except for a renegade vampire or a demon popping up every now and then. Lately, though, the Nephilim, those half-demon, half-human abominations, had started showing up in the city again in greater numbers, and just a few weeks ago the Venators had found their hive and destroyed it.
Ara had followed her guy for three days straight as he wandered around the city. So far he hadn’t done anything more malicious than fail to tip the barista at a trendy coffee shop, but she’d noted his visits to a few interesting locations, secret places that were known only to their kind: the burned-out building that used to house the Repository of History; the church of St. John the Divine, where a significant battle had taken place; the old Van Alen place on Riverside Drive, the childhood home of the girl who had saved all their skins and had slain the Coven’s nemesis, father of the Nephilim, Lucifer, the Morningstar, the Fallen Prince of Heaven. Schuyler Van Alen had thrust the archangel Michael’s sword straight through his black heart. Rest in peace, motherfucker.
But Ara lost the trail somewhere on the Upper West Side, so she’d called it a day and slept for fourteen hours straight. Not that it was any excuse for being late. Chief was a hard-ass about stuff like that. He was old-school and liked to remind the new recruits that he’d been battling dark angels in Hell when they were just getting their fangs.
She burst out of her apartment, boots clomping down the stairs, then abruptly turned around and ran right back up again. She must really be out of it to have forgotten these, she thought, as she stuffed her weapons—two crescent blades as beautiful as they were deadly—into their sheaths in her back pockets and checked to make sure her gun (outfitted with silver bullets they called demon-killers for that very reason) was secure in its holster.
It was a moonless night in September, chilly, and the sidewalks were teeming with young people congregating in front of restaurants and bars even on a Sunday night: girls with glasses that were too big for their faces wearing awkward-length skirts and ugly shoes, texting furiously on their smartphones as they headed to the next watering hole; boys in suspenders wheeling old-fashioned six-speeds home, twee bow ties around their necks, who looked like they spent their days editing copy with red pencils instead of on screens until their faces were as pale and bluish as the light from their computers.
This had been quite the ghetto neighborhood once, but the tornado of gentrification that swept through broad swaths of the city during the last decade shook up Williamsburg until it was almost unrecognizable. The dirty urban landscape of bleak tenements that had once been home to junkies and starving artists was now filthy with money, was hipster central, counting bankable artists, boutique owners, artisanal chefs, and earnest young bearded men who made small-batch chocolate among its residents. She entered one of the last remnants of the former neighborhood, her favorite bodega, a shabby storefront where candy bars were kept behind bulletproof glass, and nodded to Bahir, who had her cup of coffee at the ready.
At least some things never changed.
Ara walked toward the Bedford Avenue station sipping her coffee and occasionally blowing on it through the lid to cool it down. The subway platform was filled with Manhattanites heading home, the new bridge-and-tunnel crowd, she mused, remembering that old insult, when Upper East Siders like her used to sneer at the outer-borough weekend crowd. In her old moneyed life, she never even took the subway—maybe once in a while, just for kicks, to slum it with her fellow Merryvale girls. But that was as far as she went underground. She never even touched the subway turnstile with her hands if she could help it; she would push it with her hip.
For the first thirteen years of her life Ara had lived on Eighty-Third and Park Avenue and had worn the same thing every day: a white button-down shirt, a green plaid skirt, and a blue blazer with the gold school crest. She was a Blue Blood in every sense of the word; her family used to summer in the Hamptons and Bermuda and winter in Palm Beach. She’d had long glossy hair that fell past her shoulders, and her friends were rich and popular. Ten years later, the silly, spoiled girl she had been back then, back when she was still called “Minty,” was a distant memory. But some things remained the same—she still wore a uniform, she thought, looking down at her all-black outfit. Preferred it even since it was one less thing she had to worry about. Besides, black blended in with the shadows. Fading into black was the opposite of drawing attention, and attention was the one thing Ara couldn’t afford. Not in her particular line of work.
How far Minty had come since Merryvale. Good riddance. Ara missed nothing about her own life, not really. Well, maybe the manicures, she thought, examining her nails.
The train clacked into the station and screeched to a halt. She pushed in with the rest of the revelers calling it a night, finding a place to stand without having to touch anyone else too closely. It was amazing how polite New Yorkers were, how they allowed each other a certain degree of personal space even when shoved up next to someone’s armpit. No one made eye contact. It was only the perverts and the weirdos who stared directly at you; everyone else kept their eyes trained above at the Dr. Zit posters or below at the grimy floor.
Ara leaned against the doors and savored her coffee, zoning out with the rest of the passengers. She got off at Fourteenth Street and caught the N downtown. It was almost one in the morning and the subway car was empty now, rattling passengers like bones in a cage. Not a lot of people headed to the financial district in the wee hours. Ara wasn’t worried and for good reason. She was probably the most dangerous thing in there.
Her destination was the newly christened Orpheus Tower, the headquarters of the new Coven. Once upon a time the building had housed one of the most powerful investment banks in the world, but the bank had crumbled in one day, disappearing with most of the world’s wealth. The Coven had snatched the building up for a song. As Ara walked through the glass-and-chrome lobby, she never failed to marvel at just how much things had changed. Vampires no longer hid in their corescrapers, buildings that tunneled deep into the ground, as the new Regent—and he was still relatively new at ten years in, given their former leader had led the vampires for centuries—decided they had as much right to the sky as the rest of the world. She pressed the button for the top floor—SECURITY—and pricked her finger on the blood key. The elevator whisked her up and opened to a bank of surveillance screens surrounding a massive desk in front of an imposing steel door.
“Chief wants you,” the night clerk told her with raised eyebrows.
Ara sighed as the clerk buzzed her through.
Since she was already in trouble, she decided to pick up her files first. That suspect she was trailing had an unrecognizable aura; he was definitely immortal, but he wasn’t one of them. Chief might be interested to know the list of vampire hot spots he’d visited.
Her office was one of the corner ones with a floor-to-ceiling window and a panoramic view of the Brooklyn Bridge and the bright lights of the city. But as far as Ara was concerned the most impressive thing about it was the plaque on her door. The one that read:
It never failed to give her chills. Most nights she couldn’t believe she actually made it through training and was now part of this elite squad, the most prestigious and exclusive police force in the world. She was a card-carrying badass. A truth seeker. A hunter. A killer. Veritas Venator. Venators had the ability to read and destroy minds, enter and manipulate dreams. They brought death and destruction in the name of truth and justice.
The old Minty would have been terrified of what she had become, whereas the new Ara couldn’t have been prouder.
“Where’ve you been? Chief’s looking for you,” Ben Denham said slyly as he walked by her office. Denham was a new recruit, a new Venator—a noov, still in his first year of training and overly excited about everything. Baby cops were the worst.
“Tell me something I don’t know,” she said crossly as she looked through the stack of case files on her desk. Her office was as disorderly as her apartment, and every folder and piece of paper was stained with coffee rings.
“Hear what the day shift found?” Ben asked eagerly.
“You gonna tell me or do I have to guess?” she snapped, annoyed she couldn’t find her file. She swore she’d just left it on top of her desk before she left yesterday.
“Another pentagram,” said Ben.
“Sewers below Canal, and bloody this time.”
“Bloody?” she asked, looking up at him.
“Juicy,” he said, nodding.
“Like mortal blood, you mean?”
“Yeah.” He grinned, flashing his fangs. “Tasty.”
Pentagrams were popping up all over the city lately. Chalk-drawn ones against brick walls in Soho, neon spray-painted ones on billboards in Chelsea, tiny little ones scratched on the glass windows of taxicabs. A bloody pentagram? Mortal blood? In the sewers below Canal? What was that all about? Was he serious or just pulling her leg?
“Really?” she asked, looking directly at him. “This isn’t just some noov bullshit you’ve gotten all scrambled in your soft little head?”
“Might’ve caught a body, too. They don’t know yet. Chief wants you.”
She nodded, her heart starting to pound in her chest. There hadn’t been all that much action around here until she and her former partner had busted the Nephs—and Ara still felt a flush of pride when she remembered that night, when she’d empathically proven she was worthy of her badge and title. Orders from on high were to meet each threat, however small or trivial, with vigorous force and finality, and that was exactly what she did. No trial, no courtrooms—justice was meted out by the Venators’ blades, by bullets from their fancy new guns. The Regent of the Coven didn’t mess around.
Ara gave up looking for the file and walked down the hall and straight into the chief’s office without knocking, a habit she’d been trying to break. But she’d stormed in before she remembered she wasn’t all that welcome in there anymore. Sam Lennox looked pointedly toward his watch.
“What about the fifteen-minute grace period?” she protested.
“What happened, you hit the wrong button?” he asked. Chief knew her too well, and she tried not to blush.
“Sorry, Chief—they said you, uh, wanted me,” she blurted, then bit her tongue.
“I did,” he said. “I mean, I do,” he quickly added, which made the awkwardness between them even more palpable. Sam had the world-weary air of a longtime security enforcer, a melancholy sadness underneath his gruff demeanor. He was stocky, and his hair had streaks of gray.
Her blush deepened and she looked away. The chief hadn’t been too happy with the way she’d figured out where the nest was hidden. She’d taken a Death Walk and invaded a captured demon’s mind, entering its psychotic subconscious, risking her own immortal life and sanity in the process. She still shuddered when she thought about the things she’d seen there, when she remembered what it felt like being immersed in that much darkness and evil, but it was worth it. She got what she needed. When the chief found out, though, he was furious. “Death Walks are too dangerous,” he’d yelled. The dangers of jobs like theirs weren’t limited to death by stray silver bullets, and that little trick of hers could have gotten her killed. But what was the point of being a Venator if you couldn’t stretch your muscles? Use your powers? Besides, he’d trained her well, and the Neph hadn’t gotten the better of her. No Neph would ever get the better of her. “So what’s up?” she asked. “This about the pentagram?”
“What penta—Damn noovs talk too much. Yeah, but you can deal with that later. Called you in ’cause we got you a new partner,” he said. “Starts today.”
Ara frowned. She still missed her old partner, Rowena Bailey, who had recently moved up in the food chain. Ara had been offered an opportunity to move up as well but preferred to remain right where she was. She didn’t want to shuffle papers and fall asleep at conclave meetings. She wanted to be in the center of the action. She liked the street. She liked the energy and the adrenaline. She also liked not having to look bullshit in the face every day and act as if she didn’t see it.
“Yeah, who’s the lucky asshole?” Ara couldn’t get the edge out of her voice, not that she was trying that hard.
Sam motioned toward the doorway in his office. It was cracked open to the adjoining room.
Ara jerked her head and blanched. “No way.”
The guy slouched against the wall was her suspect. The one she’d been trailing for three days.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” she said and noticed the file she was looking for was right on the chief’s desk.
“What can I say? If you had taken the time to report your findings to your superior officers like you were supposed to, you wouldn’t have wasted your time or mine,” he scolded.
“What do you mean? I was too busy doing my job. He’s unregistered. He’s immortal. He’s lucky I didn’t shoot him on sight. He has a demon’s aura.”
“Yeah, but that can’t be helped considering where he’s from,” chief agreed. “Come on, it’s time you met him.”
Ara frowned as she followed the chief into the conference room.
“Ara Scott, meet Edon Marrok.”
Had she heard that right?
How could she not have known?
She supposed it was because the scruffy, dirty guy in the faded flannel shirt and beaten army jacket who was standing in front of her wasn’t quite what she pictured when she thought of Edon Marrok, the legendary golden wolf, one of the heroes from the final battle. The wolves were skinchangers, keepers of the Passages of Time, creatures of the underworld, and bred in Hell, which accounted for his shady aura. They were also beautiful and powerful, and without their help the vampires would have lost the War to Lucifer and his legions.
Edon sure wouldn’t win any beauty contests right now. His hair was dry and brittle, and his eyes were red and bloodshot. His beauty was all but destroyed, a ghostly memory in the lines of his haggard face. No longer the golden wolf of legend but a dirty yellow mongrel. He looked like he crawled out of the alleys of Nevada, not Las Vegas, but its outskirts—Henderson, those little desert towns. Nowhere towns. Although she couldn’t help but admit there was still something magnetic and compelling about him, from the sexy stubble on his jaw to his hungry, hooded topaz-colored eyes.
She looked away, trying not to stare. Trying not to let on that she was impressed, that she cared anything at all about what he’d done or where he’d come from.
The wolves had taken up their historical positions as guardians of Time, so what was Edon doing in New York? Plus, the wolves had an uneasy alliance with the Fallen; they were no fans of the vampires.
She glanced back at him, just in time to catch him shooting her a yellow grin, and for a moment it looked as if his incisors were as sharp as points.
She inhaled sharply.
“Hey, angel,” he growled, rolling his vowels like he had all the time in the world. “Looks like you’ve drawn the short straw.”
“Chief? A word?” she asked.
Sam nodded. “Help yourself,” he told Edon, motioning to the pink box of doughnuts on the table.
Ara followed the chief back into his office and shut the door. “What the hell?”
Sam shrugged his shoulders. “He’s been helping out Venator squads all over the world, specializing in Nephilim activity. Thought you’d be best for him since you’ve been following him around anyway.” He grinned, clearly enjoying himself.
“So why’d he spend three days sniffing around taking the vampire history tour, then?” she asked, annoyed.
“Ask him. Nostalgia? Curiosity? I fought next to him in the War. He’s a good guy. I trust him. You’ll learn to.” Sam attempted a real smile this time. “C’mon, Scott, be a team player for once.”
“Fine,” she said, gritting her teeth.
Ara stomped back into the room where Edon was finishing his breakfast. “Let’s go, wolf, but if you call me angel again, I’ll strap a collar around your neck so fast you won’t have time to beg for a dog biscuit,” she said.
“Woof, angel. What’d I ever do to you?” he asked, feigning hurt.
She considered punching him in the face but stopped short.
He stood up, wiping crumbs from his mouth with a napkin. “Come on, Scott, let’s start over,” he said and offered his hand to shake.
She took it warily. She could already tell he was going to be just another pain in the ass.
As the chief liked to say, New Coven, same old shit. She was a Venator and there was work to be done. Nephilim were back in New York, and now there was a bloody pentagram in the sewers below Canal Street.
Ara felt invigorated, her heart pumping, her fingers itching, ready for whatever monster their investigation would turn up. She would hunt them. She would find them. And, if necessary, she would kill them, even if she had to walk that dog along with her to do it. She would uncover the secrets of the darkness and bring the truth to light.
ONE HUNDRED LAPS and he wasn’t even tired. Oliver Hazard-Perry pushed off the shallow end one more time and took a deep breath, one that took him across the seventy-foot-long Olympic-sized pool without having to take another. He burst up at the other side and sent a spray of water splashing against the glass windows. Pulling himself out in one smooth motion, he grabbed one of the extra-long Turkish cotton towels that were rolled and stacked pyramid-style on a nearby bench. He dried off and wrapped the soft cloth around his waist, shaking wat. . .
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