He needed to be inside her.

He needed -

Holy hell.

A light breeze eddied through the alleyway, carrying with it the stench of vampires gone Rogue. And there was spilled blood too. Human blood. A damned lot of it, mixed with the vile odor of bleeding Rogues.

Nikolai froze with his hand still on his fly, shocked stupid in one blinding instant.

"Jesus Christ."

What the fuck was going on?

He yanked the woman's skirt back down and swept his tongue over her neck wound, sealing up his bite.

"I said, don't st - "

Niko didn't give her a chance to finish the thought. With a glance of his palm over her brow, he scrubbed her mind of the entire thing. "Get out of here," he told her.

He was already jogging up the alley by the time she shook out of her daze and started moving. He followed his nose to a dilapidated building not far from where he'd been. The stench emanated from inside, a couple floors off the street.

Nikolai climbed the lightless stairwell to the second floor. His eyes were practically watering from the overwhelming stink of death that rolled out from under a closed door. His hand on the gun holstered at his hip, Niko approached the place. There was no sound on the other side of the battered, graffiti-tagged door. Only death, human and Breed. Niko turned the loose knob and braced himself for what he would find.

It had been a massacre.

An apparent junkie lay in a supine sprawl amid discarded syringes and other trash that littered the blood-soaked floor and a fouled mattress. The body was so ruined it was hardly recognizable as human, let alone a distinguishable gender. The other two bodies were savaged as well, but definitely Breed - without question, both of them Rogues judging by the size and stench of them alone.

Nikolai could guess what might have happened here: a lethal struggle over prey. This fight was fresh, maybe only minutes old. And the two dead suckheads wouldn't have been able to shred each other so thoroughly before one or the other went down. There had been at least one more Rogue involved in this scuffle.

If Niko was lucky, the victor might still be in the area, licking his wounds. He hoped so, because he 'd love to give the diseased bastard a taste of his 9mm's custom rounds. Nothing said "Have a nice day" like a Rogue's corrupted blood system going into allergic meltdown from a dose of poisonous titanium.

Nikolai went to the boarded-up window and tossed the crudely nailed panels aside. If he was looking for action, he'd just found it in spades. Below, on the street, stood an enormous Rogue. He was bloodied and battered, looking like ten kinds of hell. But holy shit...he wasn't alone.

Alexei Yakut was with him.

Incredibly, Lex and the Rogue walked toward a waiting sedan and got in.

"What the fuck are you up to?" Niko murmured under his breath as the car roared up the street.

He was about to leap out the open window and follow on foot when a shrill scream sounded behind him. A woman had wandered into the carnage and now gaped at him in terror, an accusing, shaky finger pointed in his direction. She screamed again, loud enough to wake every crackhead and dealer in the neighborhood.

Nikolai eyed the witness and the bloody evidence of a struggle that looked anything but human.

"Damn it," he growled, glancing over his shoulder in time to see Lex's car disappear around the corner. "It's all right," he told the shrieking banshee as he left the window and approached her. "You didn't see a thing."

He wiped her memory and shoved her out of the room. Then he took out a titanium blade and stuck it into the remains of one of the dead Rogues.

As the body began to sizzle and dissolve, Niko set about cleaning up the rest of the mess that Lex and his unlikely associate had left behind.

Chapter Twelve

Renata stood at the counter of the lodge's galley kitchen, a knife gripped loosely in her hand. "What kind of jelly do you want tonight - grape or strawberry?"

"Grape," Mira replied. "No, wait - I want strawberry this time."

She was perched on the edge of the wood countertop next to Renata, her legs swinging idly. Dressed in a purple T-shirt, faded blue jeans, and scuffed sneakers, Mira might have seemed like any other normal suburban little girl waiting on her dinner. But normal little girls weren't made to eat the same thing, practically day in and day out. Normal little girls had families to love and care for them. They lived in nice houses on pretty, tree-lined streets, with bright kitchens and stocked pantries and mothers who knew how to cook endless wonderful meals.

At least, that's what Renata imagined when she thought of the ideal picture of normal. She didn't know from any kind of personal experience. As a child of the streets before Yakut found her and brought her to the lodge, Mira didn't know what normal was either. But it was that wholesome, normal kind of life that Renata wished for the child, as futile a wish as it seemed, standing in Sergei Yakut's dingy kitchen, next to a beat-up range that probably wouldn't work even if it did have a gas line running to it. Since Renata and Mira were the only ones at the lodge who ate food, Yakut had left it up to Renata to see that she and the child were regularly fed. Renata didn't particularly care what she had for sustenance - food was food, a necessity of function, nothing more - but she hated not being able to treat Mira to something nice once in a while.

"Someday you and I are going to go out and have ourselves a real dinner, one with five entirely different courses. Plus dessert," she added, slathering the strawberry jam over the slice of white bread. "Maybe we'll have two desserts apiece." Mira smiled under the short black veil that fell to the tip of her little nose. "Do you think they'll be chocolate desserts?" "Definitely chocolate. Here you go," she said, handing the plate to her. "PB&J, heavy on the J, and no crusts."

Renata leaned back against the counter as Mira bit into the sandwich and ate like it was as delicious as any five-course meal she could imagine. "Don't forget to drink your apple juice."


Renata stabbed the plastic straw into the juice box and placed it next to Mira. Then she started putting things away, wiping down the counter. Every muscle tensed when she heard Lex's voice in the other room.

He'd been gone since dusk. Renata hadn't really missed him, but she had wondered what he'd been up to in the time since he'd left. The answer to that question came in the form of a drunken female cackle - several drunken females, by the sound of the laughter and squealing going on in the main area of the lodge.

Lex often brought human women home to serve as his blood Hosts and general entertainment. Sometimes he'd keep them for days at a time. Occasionally he'd share his spoils with the other guards, all of them using the women however they saw fit before scrubbing their memories and dumping them back into their lives. It sickened Renata to be under the same roof while Lex was in a party mood, but no more than it infuriated her that Mira had to be exposed - even peripherally - to his games as well. "What's going on out there, Rennie?" she asked.

"Finish your sandwich," Renata told her when Mira stopped eating to listen to the ruckus in the other room. "Stay here. I'll be right back."

Renata walked out of the galley and down the hallway toward the disruption.

"Drink up, ladies!" Lex shouted, dropping a box of liquor bottles on the leather sofa.

He wouldn't be consuming the alcohol, nor the other party favors he'd procured. A couple of clear, rolled-up plastic bags, each fat with what was likely cocaine, were tossed out onto the table. The sound system came on, a bass beat throbbing behind crude hip-hop lyrics.

Lex grabbed the curvy brunette with the giddy cackle and brought her under his arm. "I told you we were going to have us some fun tonight! Come here and show me some proper gratitude."

He certainly was in a rare, good mood. And no wonder. He'd come back with quite a haul: five young females dressed in tall heels, skimpy tops, and micro-short skirts. At first, Renata guessed them to be prostitutes, but on closer look she decided they were too clean, too fresh under their heavy makeup to be part of the street life. They were probably just naive club girls, unaware that the persuasive, attractive man who picked them up was actually something out of a nightmare.

"Come in and meet my friends," Lex told the giggling group of women as he motioned the other Breed males around to view his evening's catch. There was a moment of palpable apprehension as the four muscle-bound, heavily armed guards leered hungrily at their human appetizers. Lex pushed three of the women toward the eager vampires. "Don't be shy, ladies. This is a party, after all. Go say hello."

Renata noticed he was keeping a tight hold on the two prettiest girls. Typical of Lex, he had obviously reserved the best for himself. Renata was about to turn around and go back to Mira in the kitchen - to try to ignore the bloody orgy that was about to begin - but before she took two steps away, Sergei Yakut came thundering out of his private quarters.

"Alexei." Fury rolled off the elder vampire in waves of heat. He glared at Lex, his eyes flashing amber. "You've been gone for hours. Where were you?"

"I've been in the city, Father." He attempted a magnanimous smile, as if to say his time away from his duties hadn't been entirely about serving his own selfish needs. "Look what I brought you."

Lex pulled one of the females away from the guards and held her out for Yakut's inspection. Yakut didn't even spare a glance for the prize Lex offered. He stared only at the two women Lex was keeping for himself.

The Gen One grunted. "You would scrape shit off your boot heels and tell me it's gold?"

"Never," Lex replied. "Father, I would never so much as consider - "

"Good. These two will do," he said, indicating Lex's females.

As irate as he had to be, as humiliated as he must have felt by the public jab to his pride, Lex didn't say a word. He dropped his gaze and waited in silence as Yakut collected his two female companions and strode with them toward his private quarters. "I expect not to be disturbed," Yakut ordered darkly. "Not for any reason."

Lex gave a nod of restrained obeisance. "Yes, Father. Of course. Whatever you wish."

Nikolai heard music and loud voices before he was even five hundred feet out from the lodge. He stole in close, moving through the woods like a ghost, past Lex's car parked around back, the hood still warm from the drive out of the city. Niko wasn't sure what he was going to find. He wasn't expecting a damned party, but that's what seemed to be going on inside the main house. The place was lit up like a Christmas tree, light pouring out of the windows of the great room where someone was apparently entertaining a number of females. Hard-core rap vibrated all the way into the earth beneath Nikolai's boots as he drew up to the side of the building and peered inside.

Lex was there, all right. He and the rest of Yakut's bodyguards, gathered together in the rustic hall. Three young women danced on the pelt rugs in just their panties, all of them clearly intoxicated, based on the amount of liquor and narcotics spread out on the table nearby. The four Breed guards howled and cheered them on, the vampires probably just seconds away from pouncing on the un-suspecting females.

Lex, meanwhile, sat in a pensive slouch on the leather sofa, his dark eyes fixed on the women even though his thoughts seemed to be miles away. There was no outward sign of the Rogue Lex had been cozying up to in the city. No sign of Sergei Yakut either, and the fact that his entire security detail was tied up with this convenient little peep show made Niko 's warrior instincts switch to instant red alert.

"What the hell are you up to?" Niko mouthed under his breath.

But he knew the answer even before he started moving for the rear of the lodge, where Yakut kept his private chambers.

Where a subtle yet persistent odor confirmed Niko's suspicions with the worst kind of dread.


The Rogue was here.

Nikolai smelled freshly spilled blood too, basic human stock, the scent of it almost overwhelming the closer he got to Yakut's quarters. Blood and sex, to be exact, as if the Gen One had been gorging himself on both for some time.

A sudden scream rent the night.

Female. A sound of total terror, coming from within Yakut's chambers.

Then, muffled gunfire.

Pop, pop, pop!

Nikolai flew through a rear door of the lodge, hardly surprised to find it unlocked to the outside and flapping open. He crashed into Yakut's room, his semiauto pistol gripped in hand and ready to unload its chamber full of titanium high-test rounds. The scene that greeted him was total carnage.

On the bed was Sergei Yakut, sprawled naked atop a female who was pinned beneath his lifeless body, her throat torn open where the vampire had been feeding on her just a second before. She wasn't moving, and there was no telling the color of the woman's skin or hair because most of her was currently saturated in blood - her own and Yakut's.

Half of the Gen One's face was missing. Sergei Yakut's head was little more than shattered bone, tissue, and gore from the trio of bullets that had been shot point-blank into the back of his skull. He was dead, and the Rogue who killed him was too gripped by Bloodlust to realize Nikolai's presence. The suckhead had put down the gun he'd used to kill Yakut and was currently getting busy with another naked female who'd been trapped in the corner of the room. Her eyes were rolled back in her head and she wasn't moving. Shit, she wasn't breathing either, although the Rogue kept drinking from her, savaging her neck with his huge fangs.

Niko moved in behind the suckhead and put the muzzle of his Beretta against the big, shaggy head. He squeezed the trigger - two dead-on, titanium-laced blasts into the bastard's brain. The Rogue dropped to the floor, writhing and spasming from the hit. The titanium kicked in fast, and the dying vampire let loose with a howl so loud and otherworldly it shook like thunder in the old wooden rafters of the lodge.


***P/S: Copyright -->Novel12__Com