Read Dark Cravings Online

Authors: Pryce, Madeline

Dark Cravings

Dark Cravings

Madeline
Pryce

 

Ella Grey’s life sucks. A
half-breed vampire, she does her best to pass the time killing demons and
secretly admiring her Shadow Hunter partner, Micah. He’s hot, dangerous and
knows it. He’d be just Ella’s type if he weren’t likely to kill her the moment
she put a toe out of line.

A chance encounter with a succubus
changes everything. From the second the succubus’ spell washes over them, Ella
and Micah are helpless to keep their hands off one another. The sex, when it’s
not leaving them on the verge of death, is earth shattering and for the first
time in ages Ella is connected with someone on a level she’d feared lost
forever. But a dangerous prophecy has been set into motion, and if Ella’s not
careful it’ll pull her straight from Micah’s arms and into the deepest bowels
of the underworld.

 

A Romantica®
paranormal erotic romance
from
Ellora’s Cave

 

Dark Cravings

Madeline Pryce

 

Chapter One

 

A breeze stirred the air, teasing the fragrance of rust and
honey closer. The bittersweet aroma of blood surrounded me. I froze. As if
savoring the first bite of a favored delicacy, I drew in another slow, deep
breath and let my eyes fall shut. I struggled not to moan.

Don’t fight it, min älsklin.
The voice inside my head
was velvet, compelling and so wrong it made everything right.
I feel your
need.
My sire’s whisper was taunting, persuasive.
Feed. Drink. Take what
belongs to you.
The voice amplified my need to sink the fangs growing in my
mouth into warm flesh. I uttered a strangled, pathetic sound.

I swept my tongue slowly over my lower lip. Copper. I’d cut
my lip on my fangs again. It didn’t matter that it was my blood awakening my
senses. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t more than a drop or two. I wanted more.

“Hey, fang girl, snap out of it,” a voice, not one inside my
head, growled from behind me.

The rich male baritone made even the crudest of remarks
appealing, unless of course he was talking to me. Instead, his drawl sobered me
quicker than a bucket of cold water. Micah McGregor had that effect on me. For
an instant I’d actually managed to forget my fellow Shadow Hunter was stalking
behind me, waiting for me to make a mistake so he could tattle back to Daddy.

“Letting you out of your cage is suicide,” he mumbled.

He didn’t seem to notice or care that my back stiffened at
his words. A gentleman would have ignored my bloodlust, would have looked away
and let me compose myself without snide remarks. Not Micah. He loved two things—himself
and throwing my flaws in my face. I’m not sure which was number one on his
list.

I didn’t turn to face him. Mind over matter. If I didn’t
acknowledge him, he didn’t exist. Instead, I concentrated on what we’d come
here to do. My gaze wandered over the cracking marble headstones, huge crosses
and decaying stone lions that marked Barnstable County’s oldest, deadliest
graveyard. A pack of red-eyed, rabid vampires was on the loose and it was my
job to put them down—if I could find them. I’d lost their trail almost an hour
ago.

I eyed the rusty, wrought iron gate of the cemetery’s
perimeter we’d just come through. If the barricade wasn’t deterrent enough, the
willow trees that hung low with their drooping green tendrils might as well
have had a sign that flashed,
It’s creepy in here, stay out
. A gust of
wind spurred those branches, drawing them along the ground like caressing
fingers.

Pushing everything from my mind, I closed my eyes. Julian,
my sire, ex-lover and sacred member of the Vampire Court, had taught me how to
immerse myself in the shadows and let my senses guide me. That was the only
meaningful thing he’d done before abandoning me after the attempted turning.

Attempted
was the operative word. I wasn’t human, not
anymore. But I wasn’t fully a vampire either. When Death stood laughing behind
my shoulder, Julian had shown what an opportunistic bastard he was. That night,
my once-lover had both saved my life and condemned me to hell. Trusting him had
been the one mistake I would never be able to forgive myself for. In the end, I’d
neither died nor survived. My soul had been corrupted into something that
should not have been possible. I, Ella Grey, Shadow Hunter, was now the thing I’d
been raised to kill.

Doing as I was taught, I roused life into the darkness that
clung to my soul like a parasite. If Micah and I botched yet another hunt,
Uncle Roy would skin us alive.
Concentrate
.

The first thing I sensed was the five-point arsenal I
carried on my person. The stench of sulfur tickled my nose from the two
Brimstone daggers in sheaths attached to my forearms. I had a single stake
holstered at the small of my back and two Silverstone knives tucked into my
boots.

Despite the obvious death around me, the cemetery was
reeling with vitality. Awareness filled every ounce of me. Sights, sounds,
smells—they all intensified until it was almost impossible to tell up from
down. In that chaotic mess I found my answer. No vampires.

Damn it.

The brittle sound of leaves breaking shifted my attention.
Each crunch disturbed the silence of the night. Not even crickets dared chirp
here. My perception morphed against my will, narrowing until the only thing I
could focus on was Micah walking behind me—his scent, the strong beat of his
heart, the way he drew in breath and pushed it back out. Focusing on him was a
mistake, one that could get us killed. I was too distracted by the details and
not concentrating on the big picture. I didn’t have to worry about what was
right behind me. The real danger came from the shadows lurking in the distance.

Micah was too close for me to sense anything other than him.
The way my body reacted to his was unsettling. The man didn’t occupy space, he
claimed it. The heat from his too-hot body lined my back and set my nerves on
edge in a way that was both unnatural and wholly unwanted. Heat engulfed me and
I knew it was his fault. Despite the icy clouds from my breath, sweat beaded
along my upper lip.

I needed to step away and put some distance between us.
Thinking became impossible when Micah’s hot breath fanned across the back of my
neck. I shoved my bloodlust to the side with ruthless abandon. All that
remained was an overwhelming surge of sexual desire. What the hell was wrong
with me? Micah was sexy, sure, but he was also an ass. I’d never—okay, I
rarely
—wanted
to rip off his clothes and rub myself against him.

“It’s almost dawn, are the vamps here?” The roughness of his
voice sent a shiver down my spine.

“No.” I swallowed. “I think tonight’s a wash.”

My galloping heart chased away my self-control. When my
hands began to tremble, I shoved them into the front pockets of my tight
leather jacket and hugged the lapels around me as if it would protect me. He took
one more step. My body hummed with the restraint it took not to turn around and
nuzzle his throat. The closer he got, the more erratic his thunderous heartbeat
became. The rushing sound of blood was gasoline on a fire that was rapidly
surging out of control. Did the man know nothing about vampire hunger or raging
hormones? Both were equally dangerous.

The cold, dark night spun around me. Black skies blended
with serried gray stones. Between the two there was a splash of green and then
there was Micah. Right in front of me. I didn’t walk to him. I didn’t spin
around to close the distance between us. I just blinked, vanished, blinked and
appeared in front of him. The muscles in my stomach jerked.
Shit. I shouldn’t
have been able to do that.
My brain raced with the implications of what I’d
done. The technical term was
phazing
. I was too young. Lightheaded and
nauseous, I stumbled and rammed my nose into Micah’s chest. If it weren’t for him
cupping my elbows, holding me upright, I would have fallen.

Despite the fact that the organization I worked for had been
around for the last six hundred years, keeping humanity safe and ignorant of
vampires and demons, the information we had on the so-called “enemy” was
pathetically weak. As far as I had been taught, phazing was an ability only
ancient, master vampires could achieve. The fact that I could, on scarce
occasion, manage the feat was terrifying. Not that I’d ever really accomplish
it, though. The dozen or so times I’d done it over the last several months were
because I’d been so irrationally angry at Micah that the only thing I could
focus on was my hands around his throat. Poof. The second I appeared before
him, dizzy, disoriented and ready to throttle him, I normally ended up on my
knees, puking my guts out. Micah thought it was hysterical.

Either I was getting better at this phazing business or
there was something about the delicious warmth of his body against mine that
soothed the side effects. This time I didn’t throw up.

The longer I stood there, nose against Micah’s sternum, the
harder his pulse drummed.
Push away. Push away. Push away.
I wanted to.
I really did. Palms flat over his hammering heart, I caressed the hard muscles
of his chest beneath his leather jacket and molded myself against him. I loved
the scent of leather. Adored the way it creaked when it moved. His jacket smelled
of darkness, cologne and the very faint odor of smoke he’d picked up
frequenting clubs in the district where he preferred to hunt. I tilted my head
up, gaze lingering on the curve of his square, muscular jaw before meeting his
eyes.

They were a beautiful fusion of blue and green. Micah would
tell you they were blue. His collection of fake IDs confirmed that. He was a
liar. The color was teal.

I would’ve expected Micah to look startled that I’d phazed,
successfully, right in front of him, or annoyed that I was plastered against
him. Nope. Those too-full lips of his were curved in an inviting half-smile
that I was ninety-nine percent sure he practiced in front of a mirror. The
laughter in his eyes made them watery and the shade electric.

“If you puke on my jacket, I’m going to be pissed,” he said.

Reality backhanded me across the face. The blow stung. This
was Micah, for god’s sake! He was the man who had been the nonstop pain in my
ass for the last eight months. He was the man who’d been sent to spy on me for
his rat-eyed, fascist father. Using the leverage of my hands on his chest, I
shoved. He stumbled back a few feet but didn’t fall like I’d hoped. God forbid
the son of the Shadow Agency’s leader be thrown on his butt by a girl. The
bastard managed to make his lurch back look purposeful, as if he’d meant to do
it. When he swaggered over to a dull-gray headstone engraved with an angel and
propped his hip against it, I almost lost it.

I funneled all the annoyance and frustration I could muster into
my voice. It was a lot. “One more word and I’ll bite you.”

The warmth in his eyes frosted. His nostrils flared and a
puff of moisture blew out. When the seductive line of his mouth hardened and
bowed, fine lines crinkled the corners of his narrowed eyes. In an instant he
was transformed from
GQ
sexy to hideous. Judgmental damnation wasn’t a
look he wore well.

“Try it,” he said, “and I’ll shove a stake through your
heart.”

The words didn’t hurt. His unwillingness to accept me did. I’d
saved him more than a dozen times. Proven that I wasn’t what he or the fucking
holier-than-thou Shadow Agency thought I was. There was no gray area in their
eyes. A demon, benign or malicious, was a demon. Vampires sired into this life,
by choice or not, were the same—dead, malevolent, bloodsucking parasites. It
made no difference that my circumstances were…different. If my ancestors hadn’t
been instrumental in founding the agency, I probably would’ve been out on my
ass.

Before the debacle of my turning, hunting had been my
birthright, my gift. I was a tenth-generation hunter. Within the Shadow
community I was almost royalty. Besides the fangs, the bloodlust and the
schizophrenic voice in my head, not much had really changed. The major
difference was I no longer just enjoyed the hunt. I craved it.

The feel of my hair tickling my shoulders, my neck, my
cheeks, when I sprinted through the night was intoxicating. The rap-rapping
sound of my fists connecting against flesh in a fight was addicting. Hell, even
the feel of my stake piercing flesh and the bitter taste of ash that erupted
after the kill was satisfying in a way it had never been before.

My uncle Roy had psychoanalyzed me once. He’d suggested the
perverse pleasure I got in slaying my brethren had something to do with
self-hatred and guilt. I hadn’t argued.

I stepped closer to Micah, let my gaze drop from his face,
to his chest and then lower. His well-worn black jeans weren’t snug, but they
were fitted enough to draw my attention and capture it. Every single instinct I
possessed told me to back off.

“If you actually had the balls to stake me, I might be
scared.” Mirroring his defensive posture, I crossed my arms over my chest and
glared up at him.

His disgust melted into something I was too afraid to name.
Lust, desire? My pulse jumped in direct correlation to the dark look upon his
face. Under his tightly controlled façade, violence and need lurked. The
thought of being the one to make him lose control, to bring out all of those
emotions, should not have turned me on.

I traced the blur of his movement a second too late. He was
quick, frighteningly so. Micah wrapped one hot, rough hand around my wrist and
tugged until I was up against his body. He slid the callused pads of his
fingers from my wrist to my palm and the pain from his too-tight grip vanished.
My stomach clenched. I’d finally driven him to distraction.

“Oh honey. I’ve got the balls.”

I managed to rip my hand away a second before he could press
my shaking palm against the zipper of his Levi’s. We stared at each other, eyes
large, lips parted and the unspoken challenge heavy between us.

Who knows what I would have done if a high-pitched squeal
hadn’t shattered the silence.

Simultaneously we stepped away from each other and scanned
the darkness.

All I could hear was the rough in-and-out sawing of Micah’s
breathing behind me.

“Will you shut it?” I hissed.

Micah made a rude sound in the back of his throat. “Why don’t
you suck it?”

“That’s real mature.”

With a slow, deep inhalation, I pushed my will farther into
the distance. Below me, the scent of decay from the rotting corpses that rested
as peacefully as they could in a zombie-infested graveyard reached my nose. I
walked quickly but carefully, to avoid sinking into the soft soil beneath my
boots.

Past the smell of death, I sharpened the vampire senses I’d
spent the last seven years learning to cope with and picked out the scent of
blood. We crossed the graveyard at a run and moved from the Falmouth Burying
Grounds to the Davisville Cemetery.

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