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Authors: Susan Krinard

Daysider (Nightsiders)

BOOK: Daysider (Nightsiders)
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Human/vampire relations are in turmoil in a stunning new
series by
New York Times
and
USA TODAY
bestselling author Susan Krinard

Tensions between human and vampire factions are escalating.
Peace hangs in the balance. And like two ill-fated stars, Alexia Fox and Damon
are destined to collide. She’s a seductive human operative on a mission to
infiltrate an illegal vampire colony. He’s a vampire and represents everything
she loathes—and all that she desires. Their attraction is scorching,
immediate…and could explode like the fragile truce they’ve both been fighting
independently to preserve. Now the world’s last hope hinges on their ability to
work together. As enemies they are doomed, but as allies they just might save
the world.

The man who walked out from behind the bushes was tall.

That was the first thing Alexia noticed as she drew a bead on his chest directly over his heart. Then she looked up into his face. He was one of the most beautiful things she’d ever seen. Not beautiful like a woman, but in the perfect harmony of his features: the strong chin, straight nose, high cheekbones, expressive lips.

And his eyes. They were dark…not maroon like those of a Nightsider, but the deepest sapphire imaginable. His short hair was not white, like most vampires, but a hue somewhere between brown and gold, and his skin was deeply tanned.

Alexia swallowed. She had met her first Daysider at last, and he was so much…more than she had expected.

Also by Susan Krinard

HARLEQUIN NOCTURNE

Holiday with a Vampire 4
#149
“Halfway to Dawn”*
Daysider
#165*
*Nightsiders

HARLEQUIN HQN

Code of the Wolf
Luck of the
Wolf
Bride of the Wolf
Lord of Sin
Lord of Legends
Come
the Night
Dark of the Moon
Chasing Midnight
Lord of the
Beasts
To Tame a Wolf

HARLEQUIN LUNA

Hammer of the Earth
Shield
of the Sky

SUSAN KRINARD

has been writing paranormal romance for nearly twenty years.
Her books include a number of novels for Harlequin HQN. With
Daysider
she begins a series of vampire paranormal
romances, the Nightsiders series, for Harlequin Nocturne.

Sue lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her husband,
Serge, her dogs, Freya, Nahla and Cagney, and her cats, Agatha and Rocky. She
loves her garden, nature, painting and chocolate…not necessarily in that
order.

DAYSIDER

Susan Krinard

Dear Reader,

Welcome to a world of vampires, dhampires and humans, a world following a devastating war between the Opiri—an ancient vampire race risen from centuries-long sleep during the cataclysmic event known as the Awakening—and humans fighting for survival.

Humans and Opiri have struck an uneasy peace and divided the earth into vampire Citadels and human Enclaves. Between and around them lies the Zone, a no-man’s-land where only very special agents operate—the half human, half Opir race called dhampires and the Daysiders, mutant vampires who can walk in daylight.

As the threat of a new war looms, dhampir Alexia Fox and Daysider operative Damon have been chosen to work together in maintaining the peace. Only their courage and developing love for each other give them any hope of sparing the world another terrible war…one that may result in the destruction of civilization.

I hope you’ll enjoy this story and the next two books in my Nightsiders series for Harlequin Nocturne.

Best,

Susan Krinard

With thanks to both “L’s” for their
patience and support.

The first known offspring of a voluntary union between a human female and a male Opir, aka “Nightsider,” was born in the San Francisco Enclave during the seventh year of the Opir-Human War, conceived during the brief period of the first Truce. The child, Jenna Donnelly, daughter of Special Forces Captain Fiona Donnelly and Opir refugee Kane, remained the only documented example of such a union until the last year of the War, when other hybrid children—christened “dhampires”—and their mothers, who were accused of willingly “consorting with the enemy,” were brought into the capital city of San Francisco.

In the final year of the War and immediately afterward, human soldiers sweeping the newly created Zone—otherwise known as “No-man’s land”—between Enclave and Opir territories discovered lost, abandoned dhampir children, as well as those in hiding with their mothers. Unlike the women of the first “wave,” these mothers had been impregnated by male Opir soldiers without their consent, and they were often unaware that they had conceived until weeks after the encounter.

Such women and their children were given full refugee status in the Enclave, though their acceptance among Enclave citizens was slow in coming. This acceptance was impossible in Opir society, where hybrid children were considered undesirable half-castes and even abominations. It was a common belief in the Enclave that any children born to human serfs in Opir territory, particularly the city of Erebus, were destroyed before birth—a credence that was largely refuted in subsequent years, though the practice was not unknown.

In spite of their awkward status within the Enclave, dhampires soon proved to be invaluable assets. With the ability to see clearly in the dark, along with keener senses, strength and speed than
homo sapiens,
these children were soon recruited by Aegis, the Enclave Intelligence agency responsible for Opir-Human relations.

On its face, Aegis studied Opir society and arranged ambassadorial visits between Erebus and the Enclave, but in practice it also ran covert infiltration, intelligence operations, espionage and counterespionage within the Zone, occasionally inserting specially trained moles, posing as serfs, into Erebus itself.

Though not required to undergo Aegis training, most dhampir youths eventually sought affirmation by serving the Enclave as covert operatives. The only complication in utilizing such resources lay in some dhampires’ need for blood, another trait they held in common with their Opir Sires.

With few exceptions, dhampires rejected the taking of blood from humans. While fully sixty percent of dhampires could survive on human food alone, the remaining forty percent, in addition to being immune to the bite of a full Opir, required a special drug to allow them to digest human fare.

In time, scientists developed a means of delivering the drug into the body through a subdermal patch. This allowed the “immune” dhampires to work in the field for extended periods without requiring blood.

But dhampir operatives faced yet another challenge: Opir scouts who, while dependent on blood for survival, were capable of sustained exposure to sunlight. These “Daysiders,” outcasts within their own rigid society, nevertheless served as counterparts to Aegis agents and hindered the gathering of intelligence and other clandestine operations within the Zone.

—from the Introduction to
A Brief History of the Nightsider War, San Francisco Enclave

Prologue

San Francisco, California

M
ommy was crying. Alexia knew it had something to with do the lady on the TV, talking in soft words that didn’t match the angry expression on her face.

Behind the lady was a picture of a city, a black, upside-down bowl that gleamed like a beetle’s shell in bright sunlight. “Erebus,” the lady on the TV said. Alexia didn’t know what that meant, but it sounded like a very bad word. And somehow, it was making Mommy sad.

Alexia got up from her seat on the thin carpet and went to Mommy, searching her face anxiously. There were dark blotches under Mommy’s eyes, and her nose was red.

“What is it, Mommy?” Alexia asked, reaching up to be taken into her mother’s arms.

Mommy picked her up and sat her on the couch beside her. “Nothing’s wrong, Lexie,” she said, trying to smile.

Alexia always knew when Mommy was fooling. It wasn’t just that she smelled different, or the way her voice got very tight, even though she was smiling. There
was
something wrong, and it made Alexia upset that Mommy was unhappy. Upset and angry.

“What are they talking about?” Alexia asked, pointing at the TV.

Mommy pulled Alexia close and stroked her hair. “It’s a city,” she said.

“Like San Francisco?”

“Not the same,” Mommy replied. She breathed in and out in a funny way that made Alexia’s heart hurt. “You remember when we talked about the Nightsiders?”

Alexia made a face. “They’re nasty. We had a big fight with them.”

“That’s right.” Mommy bent her head so her nose pressed against Alexia’s hair. “That is the city they built in what we used to call the Sonoma Valley. They made it all for themselves, where they don’t have to be in the sun.”

“Sun kills them,” Alexia said solemnly.

“That’s right.”

“And they used to kill people all the time, didn’t they? During the big fight?”

Mommy covered Alexia’s eyes as if she didn’t want her to see the TV anymore. “You shouldn’t know about that,” she said, a funny warble in her voice. “No child should know.”

“Don’t worry, Mommy.” Alexia pulled her mother’s hand away from her eyes. “The kids at school talk about the bloodsuckers all the time. I’m not scared.”

“Oh, God,” Mommy whispered. “Do they... Are the other kids...nice to you, at school?”

“Oh, they’re okay. Some of the girls are mean sometimes. They give me funny looks. The boys just stare at me a lot.”

Mommy cupped both her hands around Alexia’s face. “What do they say?”

Alexia shrugged the way she had seen grown-ups do when they were pretending something didn’t matter. “Silly things, about my eyes.” She touched her own eyelids. “They say I’m like a cat because I can see in the dark.”

“That’s right,” Mommy said in a completely different voice than before. “Like a cat. And cats are beautiful, aren’t they? So graceful and brave.” She smiled, moving Alexia to sit in her lap. “But you know what? I think you look even more like a fox. Remember the pictures I showed you?”

Alexia nodded. “It was red, like my hair.”

“And quick and clever. Like you.”

They were very nice words, but Alexia couldn’t help looking at the TV again, and at the ugly city with the scary name.

“The bloodsuckers aren’t ever going to come
here,
are they?” she asked, just a little bit scared after all.

“Lexie, that word—”

“Isn’t that what they are, Mommy?”

Mommy made a sound a little like a laugh, but it wasn’t a happy one. “Yes,” she said. “But you don’t have to worry about that.”

“I’m not worried.” Alexia bit her lip. “We aren’t ever going to get in a big fight with them again, are we?”

“No.” She took a big, long breath. “I wish—”

Alexia wriggled free and looked up into Mommy’s eyes. “What do you wish, Mommy?”

“I wish things could be the way they were before...before the big fight.”

“When my daddy was alive?”

Mommy’s face seemed to crumple all at once. She sobbed, and Alexia knew it was because of what she had said. It was all
her
fault.

“It’s okay, Mommy,” she said, stroking her mother’s trembling hand and soft, wet cheeks. “I won’t ever talk about Daddy again.”

“Oh, my baby,” Mommy said, gathering Alexia up again so tightly that she could barely breathe. “I will never, ever let anyone hurt you. Not anyone. I’m going to keep you with me forever and ever.”

Alexia pressed her face to the pulse in Mommy’s neck. It was so warm and sweet. It made her feel safe.

But she didn’t want to just be safe. She wanted to find a way to make Mommy happy.

And keep those nasty bloodsuckers in their ugly black city from making anyone afraid, ever again.

BOOK: Daysider (Nightsiders)
5.8Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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