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Authors: Lisa Kessler

Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Paranormal

Night Walker (8 page)

BOOK: Night Walker
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Gregorio dropped the body in sudden disgust. What had he done?

But he knew, and worse yet, he enjoyed it. He was truly a monster, a blood-drinking demon. Scanning the smoke-filled clearing, relieved to see no one witnessed his atrocity against humanity, Gregorio ran.

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Chapter Six

Calisto woke as the sun dipped behind the horizon. With a sigh, he rubbed his hands over his face, still shaken by seeing Kate in the priest’s mind the night before.

The Fraternidad knew where she lived, and he did not. How could he protect her from them if he couldn’t find her?

But he would find her. He had to find her.

Stepping out of a hot shower, Calisto quickly towel-dried his hair and stared at his face in the mirror. He would find Kate tonight after his business meeting. With Betty’s help searching on the computer, he would find her. If necessary, he would hire a private detective to locate her during the daylight hours.

Before the Fraternidad sent a replacement for Father Cardina.

Perhaps after they received his message at the mission’s doors, they would finally leave him alone.

He dressed in a pair of black slacks with a dark green turtleneck and the tweed sports coat Betty gave him for Christmas. Seeing him wear it would make her smile, and he owed her at least that much.

Her obvious infatuation with him made reading her thoughts unnecessary. He tried not to exploit her feelings. He cared for her as best he could, and never gave her false hope of a relationship between 56 LISA KESSLER

them. She was the closest thing he had to a friend in this world, but he learned long ago having mortal friends made it far too painful to leave when the time came.

Calisto didn’t allow himself to care for or love anyone, not ever.

He did strive to treat the mortals around him with respect, and if he made them happy in the process, so much the better. As long as he didn’t become too attached, or entangled in their lives. He remained ever watchful not to cross that line.

Upstairs in the main house, he settled behind his desk and found the address for the restaurant to meet Betty. The scent of her perfume still lingered on her stationery. He smiled at the personal touch as he folded the paper and tucked it into his coat pocket.

He stepped out of the house and glanced at the stars. The sight of the moon reminded him of Kate. He wondered when they would meet again. For the first time in centuries he remembered what it felt like to carry hope in his heart.

It was a dangerous thought.

Shaking his head, Calisto pushed the feeling from his mind.

Tonight he would focus on business. First, he needed to feed or his skin would be too cold and far too pale. He had an hour before his meeting with Betty, not much time. Walking down the beach, he vanished into the darkness.

§

Kate signed the final paper documenting her mother’s donation of the piano and sheet music to the foundation and couldn’t help but notice Betty glanced at her watch several times.

“Sorry I’m so slow. I like to know what I’m signing.” Betty shook her head with a smile. “Not a problem. I’m expecting the founder any minute, and I’m starting to worry he might have lost the address or something. He’s not usually late.”

“Calisto’s coming here?” When she saw Betty’s perfectly plucked eyebrow arch, Kate struggled to rein in her excitement. “My mom mentioned him to me before…. He’s Spanish, right?”

“Yes.” Betty’s smile brightened as she watched the door open.

“And it looks like he just got here.”

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§

Calisto followed the hostess back to the table Betty reserved, surprised to find she wasn’t alone. Another woman sat with her back to him.

“Calisto!” Betty rose from the table to greet him, the picture of sophisticated beauty, dressed in a simple black cocktail dress that accentuated her long, shapely legs. She usually kept her blonde hair pulled into a tight French twist, but tonight it fell loosely down her back.

He smiled, taking her hand and pressing a kiss to her knuckles.

“Good evening, Bettina. I apologize for my tardiness.” He turned to acknowledge the other woman at the table. “I didn’t realize you invited anyone else to our—”

His words caught in his throat the instant he saw the other woman. Her large eyes were dark as midnight, except for the tiny crescent, and the sight of her smile as she stood to offer her hand felt like a summer breeze warming his cold heart.

He took the chance encounter as a sign. Destiny had crossed their paths again, offering their souls another chance at love. He prayed fate would be kinder to them in this lifetime.

Betty gestured to Kate with a curt, businesslike smile. “Calisto, this is Kate Bradley. Martha Bradley’s daughter.” He fought to keep from pulling her into his arms. Instead, he managed a nod. “I am sorry for your loss. Martha was a wonderful woman. She will be missed by all.”

Martha Bradley. In his excitement over seeing Kate at the Mission, he hadn’t recognized her last name. Martha was one of Foundation Arts’ longtime donors, yet in all those years he’d never met her beautiful daughter.

Tala had been close to him all this time, yet just out of his reach.

The thought caused his chest to tighten.

He watched her mouth, waiting to hear her voice again. He ached to touch her. It was the sweetest torture he’d ever known to see her alive once more, and not be able to hold her in his arms, to kiss her soft lips. Fire licked at his heart, awakening passion he had long ago 58 LISA KESSLER

forgotten.

“Thank you.” Kate offered her hand in greeting. “I’ve heard a lot about you. I didn’t realize who you were when we met at the mission the other night.”

He was unprepared for the electricity that shot through him when he took her hand. Touching her again after lifetimes apart made him feel both weak with gratitude and selfish. He never wanted to let her go.

Her skin felt warm against his lips as he pressed a lingering kiss to her knuckles. “The pleasure is mine, Kate Bradley.” Clearing her throat, Betty stepped closer to Calisto and took his arm, her smile growing when he finally forced himself to relinquish Kate’s hand.

“This coat looks wonderful on you. Isn’t it the one I gave you for Christmas?” Betty stood nearer to him than she ever had before.

Calisto raised a brow. “I believe it is.” For the first time, Calisto wished he’d not used her infatuation to keep her pliant and unsuspecting. He’d waited so long to see Tala again, and the last thing he wanted to stand in his way were petty jealousies.

He forced himself to shake off his irritation as Kate glanced at Betty with a momentary look of concern. Kate flashed a smile and stepped back, and Calisto casually removed Betty’s hand from his arm.

“Kate signed the documents for Martha’s piano so we can pick it up for her,” Betty said, turning to face him more fully, using the movement to move close to him again.

Calisto nodded, putting some space between him and Betty.

Kate looked stunning in her burgundy lace dress, her full lips tinted with wine-colored lipstick. The way her black hair spilled over her shoulders made him yearn to run his fingers through it. How had he survived so long without her?

“I think I’ve signed everything, so I guess I’d better get going.” Kate smiled at Betty, and cast a brief glance in Calisto’s direction. “I don’t want to interrupt your business.”
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“Nice to finally meet you in person, Kate,” Betty said with a stiff smile.

Kate returned the pleasantry as she shook Betty’s hand. “I enjoyed seeing you again, Calisto.”

She was leaving. He couldn’t let her go, and yet he couldn’t make her stay. His heart pounded. Taking her hand, he placed another tender kiss to her knuckles. “Again, the pleasure was all mine.” Kate lifted her hand from his and smiled. She picked up her purse and offered a final nod. “Good night.” With one last look over her shoulder, she walked away.

His mind raced with panic as he watched her go. He needed to see her, and soon. Nothing would keep him from her.

Visions from Father Tomas filled his mind and anger flooded through him. The Fraternidad knew she lived again. Tomas had seen her. His train of thought ground to halt. The monk told him they would not allow him to make another blood drinker.

They must believe he would make Kate a Night Walker.

Even now, after centuries had passed, the church still tried to keep them apart. But they would not succeed this time. Kate gave his empty life new meaning with a simple smile. He would not allow anyone to steal it away. Not this time.

§

Kate drove away from the bay with a dreamy smile. Why was she so stuck on this guy? Hearing him talk made her heart flip.

She shook her head as she drove back to Point Loma. Infatuation was a strong emotion when you were alone. Kate tried not to think about the way he stared at her, the way his dark eyes held her in his gaze, like he could undress her with just a look.

Her skin flushed hot thinking about it. She recalled her mother mentioning he was handsome, but geez, handsome was an understatement.

Ok, so he was incredible. It was time to move on. The last thing she needed was another man in her life. Tom’s betrayal was too fresh, and trust wasn’t something she was ready to try again anytime soon.

Infatuation might be harmless and fun, but it needed to end there.

60 LISA KESSLER

How could she work on a new life and a better future when she let a hot guy with a silky voice break her focus?

She didn’t have the emotional fortitude for anything more than getting her life back together.

Turning up the radio, she tightened her grip on the steering wheel.

Tonight turned out better than she expected. She sang along with the music and pulled off when she saw a familiar taco shop. Good Mexican food was the one thing she missed most when she moved to Reno. Nothing else measured up to the spicy flavor of a carne asada burrito from a San Diego taco shop.

Her mouth watered thinking about it.

She ordered her burrito, hold the salsa, and a large iced tea. As she waited at the window for her food, she thought about what might have happened if she’d stayed at The Fish Market with Betty and Calisto. Part of her wished she had, but it would have been awkward.

Betty made it obvious they had work to do. Besides, no sense in tempting herself with some crazy infatuation for a rich Spanish bachelor who probably dated a new supermodel every week. In fact, that was the last thing she needed.

She definitely made the right decision when she left. So why couldn’t she stop thinking about him?

Kate traded the cashier a few dollars in exchange for her dinner and drove home. Time to focus. She needed to shove thoughts of Calisto aside and consider her long-term plans. She still hadn’t decided what to do about her teaching position in Reno. She wanted to investigate her career options in San Diego.

If she could immerse herself in a job search and dealing with her parents’ estate, Calisto Terana would fade into a distant memory. She was certain of it.

Her thumb unconsciously traced over the back of her other hand where his lips brushed her skin a couple of hours earlier, and her pulse pounded at the memory of his touch. Kate rolled her eyes and sighed.
Get a grip.

After polishing off her dinner, Kate sipped her iced tea and surfed the websites of the county’s many school districts. There
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weren’t many openings, but she had a few options, including an opening for a position on an east county reservation. When she clicked the link for more information, the page loaded a photo of Calisto and described the grant he created to fund cultural music and art teachers for the school. She stared too long at the photo, thinking about how he looked at her. With a start, she realized she’d lost track of time again.

Really, this was getting ridiculous.

She stabbed at the keyboard to shut down the computer.

Tomorrow, she would polish her resume and research local private schools. For now, she wanted to play the piano, possibly for the last time. Maybe if she played something, she’d be able to think about something other than Calisto.

But the longer she played, the more she wondered what he would do with her mother’s instrument. Betty told her he was an accomplished pianist. Would his fingers touch these keys?

It was hopeless. Kate closed the cover over the keyboard and grabbed her purse. She was going to a movie. It didn’t matter what was showing, as long as it gave her something else to think about.

§

Word of Father De Cardina’s death traveled quickly back to Spain. The monsignor let out a sigh, crumbling the courier’s letter. He had hoped to avoid more bloodshed.

For centuries, the Fraternidad Del Fuego Santo kept a quiet watch over the Night Walker, a monster who had once been one of their own.

During the Alcala Massacre, a lone monk had watched the carnage from the shadows. He witnessed the Night Walker feeding, drinking the blood of one of the guards, and rewrote history. Father Jayme was named the first Catholic martyr in the New World, and Father Salvador, along with his lover, Tala, were erased from all written records in the Catholic Church, but not forgotten.

The Fraternidad del Fuego Santo hid the story of the native woman with the moon in the iris of her right eye and the creature with a thirst for blood.

62 LISA KESSLER

They still hadn’t found a way to kill the unholy abomination. In recent years they resigned to keeping a sentinel on the Pacific coast to observe his movements and be certain he did not spread his curse.

The truth behind the Mission de Alcala uprising had been buried for centuries. They could not risk allowing the world to discover what the Church had unknowingly unleashed. From Brother Cardina’s communications, they learned the Night Walker had met a woman with a strange marking in her right eye. Brother Cardina seemed convinced the abomination believed the woman to be the reincarnation of his Native American lover.

BOOK: Night Walker
8.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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