Read Seduced by the Night Online

Authors: Robin T. Popp

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Horror, #Vampires, #United States, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Fantasy, #Contemporary Fiction

Seduced by the Night

 

SEDUCED BY THE NIGHT

By

Robin T Popp

 

BETHANY FOUGHT HER ATTACKER WITH ALL HER MIGHT... kicking her feet and bucking her body as he dragged her farther and farther away from Dirk—and safety. Something wet ran down her arms and she suspected it was blood from where his fingernails bit into her flesh. Desperation and terror consumed her. She didn't want to die like this.

Then Dirk was there, between her and the vampire, a towering wall of protection as he faced the enemy. He
plowed
a hand into the creature's face, knocking it back several more feet.
Bethany
took an involuntary step toward him and he must have heard her because he hesitated. At that moment, the creature lunged to its feet and attacked. Snarling, its lips curling to reveal fangs glowing pearly white in the moonlight, it thrust its mouth against Dirk's neck.

 

Copyright © 2006 by Robin T. Popp Excerpt from
Tempted in the Night
copyright 2006 by Robin T. Popp

Warner Books

 

To Dakota,
Mihka
, and Garrett -if I had all

the wealth and fortune of the world, you three

would still be my greatest treasures.

 

Acknowledgments

I would like to t
hank
Marlaine
Loftin
, Adam Popp, Mary O'Connor, Georgia Ward, Donna Grant, and
Corkey
Sandman for brainstorming plot ideas, reading various drafts, keeping me on track, and just generally being there for me.

I would like to t
hank
Rod O'Connor for sharing some of his biochemical knowledge and expertise with me. Any errors in the various research techniques, methods, or logic are completely my own.

I would like to t
hank
Karen
Kosztolnyik
for her continued support and for pushing me to be the best writer I can be.

Also, I would like to t
hank
Michelle
Grajkowski
for being such a terrific agent and having such enthusiasm for my writing.

Special t
hank
s to Katie Popp and Kevin Nowak who provided my family with a "port in the storm" when we evacuated our home during Hurricane Rita. What could have been a truly miserable experience turned out to be rather pleasant and I was able to finish work on this book and make my deadline.

Chapter 1

On an otherwise still and silent night, the faint noise and gentle breeze barely registered with Bethany
Stavinoski
, whose thoughts were focused elsewhere. On her way to the office, she walked another half a block along the deserted
Washington
D.C.
sidewalk before it occurred to her that a woman alone at night should be more cautious—and alert.

Spinning around, she half expected a mugger or vagrant to leap at her. She felt both relieved and a bit foolish when the only other person in sight was a man leaning against the inside wall of a building's doorway, half a block behind her. Strange, she thought. She hadn't noticed him before. The feeble glow of a nearby streetlight only touched the outer half of him, leaving the rest swallowed by the darkened entryway. His features were unclear and a trick of the poor lighting gave his eyes a reddish glow. He wore a long black duster over equally dark clothes. With one leg bent at the knee so he could  brace his foot against the wall, he smoked a cigarette, appearing both unhurried and extremely dangerous.

As she watched, he took the cigarette from his mouth to exhale and his lips lifted in a slight smile as he tipped his head in a subtle greeting. Afraid that her staring might be misconstrued as an invitation to approach, she turned and hurried away.

That's right, sweet thing. Be very afraid
. Dirk
Adams
watched the look of apprehension cross the young woman's face just before she turned and walked off. He raised his hand, bringing the cigarette to his mouth, and took a long drag before slowly exhaling the smoke.

He waited until she disappeared around the corner before flicking the cigarette to the street, where he watched the tip flare briefly as it bounced and rolled away. It wasn't even his; Dirk didn't smoke—not anymore.

"T
hank
s for the loaner," he said conversationally, turning to the creature he held pinned to the door by the neck. "But you know? They just don't taste as good as they used to. Probably just as well. Those
things'll
kill you." He smiled at his own joke as he studied the creature, more monster now than the twenty-something man it used to be. "I don't suppose that matters to you, though."

"I'm… going… to… kill… you," the creature choked out past the constriction of its throat, sounding harsh and wild. "You can't… stop me."

Sharp
clawlike
nails raked across Dirk's hand and he winced at the pain. It hurt like a son of a bitch and he felt his anger rise, but didn't loosen his grip. Instead, he let his lips curl back in a snarl.

The creature's eyes widened in surprise, then it renewed its struggles. Dirk hesitated to do what had to be done, hoping to get some useful bit of information while there was a modicum of coherent thought left in his captive. "Where are Harris and Patterson? Where is the lair?"

"Go to hell," it spat back.

"Right." Dirk pulled a small dagger from its sheath beneath his duster and drove it into the vampire's heart. "Save me a seat."

Bethany
anxiously glanced up and, seeing the familiar shape of the Van Home Technologies building ahead, breathed a sigh of relief. It wasn't a large building, only four stories in height, but it was home—more so than her apartment, lately. She'd worked there as a research biochemist for almost five years and enjoyed what she did. There was an inherent order to doing research that appealed to her. She liked her life neat, organized, and most important, uneventful.

She reached the door of the building and swiped her ID tag. The doors immediately opened and she crossed the lobby to the security desk, her footsteps ringing loudly in the silence.
Bethany
found it curious that the guard was not at his post, but assumed he was making his rounds. She signed the after-hours register, noticing her assistant's signature on the line above, and couldn't help worrying what havoc Stuart was wreaking in her absence. The thought sent her hurrying for the elevators.

Stepping inside, she pushed the button to the fourth floor, and as the elevator began its ascent, she thought about her latest project. It had her baffled, but she was determined to rise to the challenge even if it meant running a  battery of timed tests that dragged her into the lab at all hours of the night.

She'd questioned Miles Van Home about who had commissioned the project, but he'd remained stubbornly closemouthed. It wasn't that she expected the CEO to divulge that information to just anyone, but she was not only the researcher in charge of the project, she was his…
fiancee
.

The word rolled around awkwardly in her mind and she tried to view the very recent change in their status from a strictly analytical perspective. She had been dating Miles for almost a year now and although she'd considered it unwise to date the boss, he had been charmingly persistent.

Miles was quite a bit older than she and their physical relationship was more PG-13 than R, but that seemed to suit them both. They never mixed business with their personal lives and she thought it unlikely that she'd find anyone else as supportive of her research and the crazy work schedule she kept. Add to the equation
Miles's
wealth and status and the end result was that she could do a whole lot worse.

She'd made the right decision in accepting his proposal, she told herself, running her thumb over the band of the two-carat, emerald-cut diamond solitaire perched on her ring finger. All in all, theirs was the perfect relationship. So when he'd suggested they get married, why had she hesitated?

A soft voice whispered the answer in the back of her head and she silently scoffed at herself.
Love? Please
. She was far too realistic to believe in that fairy tale. The score of disastrous relationships before Miles flickered through her mind. No, this was a good, practical match.

As the elevator stopped,
Bethany
forced herself to mentally switch gears and glanced at her watch.
Damn
. She was running late and knowing Stuart, he'd started without her. She wondered, not for the first time, if she should talk to Miles about the man. Maybe if Miles understood how incompetent Stuart really was, he'd… he'd what? Fire Stuart?
Bethany
sighed. She didn't want to be responsible for someone losing his or her job.

Resigned to working with the man for now, she opened the door to her office and saw the light on in the lab beyond—Stuart hard at work, no doubt. Yeah, that was a laugh. Please don't let him have started the next phase of the experiment, she silently prayed.

She stashed her purse in her desk drawer, grabbed her lab coat off the nearby rack, and shrugging into it, hurried through the connecting doorway.

"Stuart—?" She came to an abrupt halt and felt her heart lurch.

Beakers lay shattered on the countertop while reagents ran off the edge, dripping onto the floor where puddles already formed. Stands that had held flasks and tubing in place now lay strewn about in broken pieces. Everything was ruined—all of her hard work, flushed down the proverbial toilet.

And Stuart was conspicuously absent.

She walked farther into the room to assess the damage. "Stuart. Damn it! Where the hell are you?"

She felt anger burning inside and fought to control it. Had he done this? There was no question that the man hated her. He'd practically accused her of sleeping her  way to the department manager position. This destruction was yet another childish act of professional jealousy. Well, this time, he'd gone too far.

Hurrying back to her office, she grabbed the phone and
dialed
the front desk. There was no answer so she hung up, her irritation growing to include the absent guard as she next punched in
Miles's
cell number. He picked up on the second ring but she didn't give him time to say a word, launching immediately into her tirade.

"Everything is ruined, absolutely ruined. I can't believe he'd do such a thing—"

"Who?"

"Stuart! He destroyed everything. All of my work on this project is now strewn across the floor. I still have my notes, of course, but now I have to start all over. Is this his idea of working together? How could he—?"

"
Bethany
!"
Miles's
raised voice stemmed the flow of angry words. "Slow down and tell me what's going on. Are you all right?"

She took a deep breath, trying to bring herself under control, and then, speaking more slowly, told him what she'd found.

"Are you positive Stuart did this?" he asked when she finished.

"Yes… no," she admitted reluctantly. "But who else could it have been?"

"We'll find out, okay?" Without waiting for her response, he continued. "I'm on my way. Don't touch anything. I'll be there shortly and then we'll decide if we need to call the authorities or not. If Stuart is responsible, he'll be dealt with. Just in case whoever did this is still around, though, I'd feel better if you called Frank to come wait with you."

She felt another stab of annoyance at the mention of the missing guard. "I tried. He's not at his desk."

"He's probably making his rounds. Go down to the lobby and see if he's back, but first call me back on your cell phone. I want to be in touch with you the entire time."

Bethany
hung up, grabbed her cell phone from her purse, and headed for the elevator. She knew the phone wouldn't work once the doors closed, so she waited until after she reached the ground floor to place the call. Though she'd grown accustomed to the silence of the office after hours, now the quiet took on an ominous quality.

"Okay, I'm downstairs," she told Miles when he answered. She crossed to the front desk and looked around. "Frank's still not here." Frustrated, she headed to the far corridor, thinking he might be in the men's room. She'd just passed the open door to the conference room when something she saw caused her to stop and take a closer look.

Frank was in the corner, lying with his legs bent at an angle too awkward to be natural. He didn't appear to be breathing. "Oh, God."

"
Bethany
, what is it?"
Miles's
concerned voice sounded in her ear.

She fought to overcome her squeamishness long enough to bend over the guard's body and place her fingers against his throat. "I found Frank."

"Good. Tell him to get his ass back to the desk where he belongs."

"I can't. He's dead."

 

Dirk hauled the body of the dead vampire from the back of his SUV and slung it over his shoulder. He didn't have to carry it far, only about ten yards to the "dump" pile. He threw it on top of the bodies already there and then studied the sight. Six vampire corpses—and he'd been responsible for bringing in four of them. The numbers bothered him because he knew that tomorrow there'd be more. It almost seemed that lately, Harris and Patterson, the two dominant or Prime vampires, had been engaging in some orgiastic feed-fest.

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