In Melbourne's urban underworld, there's a nightclub for every fantasy and desire. But for Riley Jenson, one such club has become an obsession. Riley, a rare hybrid of vampire and werewolf, hasn't come in pursuit of pleasure but of an unknown killer who's been using the steamy nightspot as his hunting grounds.
Leave it to Riley to find the only ticket into the heavily guarded club: Jin, a deliciously hot-bodied bartender who might just provide the key to unmasking a killer unlike any other in the Directorate's experience. Taunted by a former colleague turned rogue, distracted by an ex-lover's attentions, Riley follows Jin into a realm of pleasure she could never have imagined. And as danger and passion ignite, a shocking mystery begins to unravel--one where Riley herself becomes the ultimate object of desire....
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March 26, 2007
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Excerpt from Dangerous Games by Keri Arthur
I stood in the shadows and watched the dead man.
The night was bitterly cold, and rain fell in a heavy, constant stream. Water sluiced down the vampire's long causeway of a nose, leaping to the square thrust of his jaw before joining the mad rush down the front of his yellow raincoat. The puddle around his bare feet had reached his ankles and was slowly beginning to creep up his hairy legs.
Like most of the newly risen, he was little more than flesh stretched tautly over bone. But his skin possessed a rosy glow that suggested he'd eaten well and often. Even if his pale eyes were sunken. Haunted.
Which in itself wasn't really surprising. Thanks to the willingness of both Hollywood and literature to romanticize vampirism, far too many humans seemed to think that by becoming a vampire they'd instantly gain all the power, sex, and wealth they could ever want. It wasn't until after the change that they began to realize that being undead wasn't the fun time often depicted. That wealth, sex, and popularity might come, but only if they survived the horrendous first few years when a vampire was all instinct and blood need. And of course, if they did survive, they then learned that endless loneliness-never feeling the full warmth of the sun again, never being able to savor the taste of food, and being feared or ostracized by a good percentage of the population-was also part of the equation.
Yeah, there were laws in place to stop discrimination against vampires and other nonhumans, but the laws were only a recent development. And while there might now be vampire groupies, they were also a recent phenomenon and only a small portion of the population. Hatred and fear of vamps had been around for centuries, and I had no doubt it would take centuries for it to abate. If it ever did.
And the bloody rampages of vamps like the one ahead weren't helping any.
A total of twelve people had disappeared over the last month, and we were pretty sure this vamp was responsible for nine of them. But there were enough differences in method of killing between this vamp's nine and the remaining three to suggest we had a second psycho on the loose. For a start, nine had met their death as a result of a vamp feeding frenzy. The other three had been meticulously sliced open neck to knee with a knife and their innards carefully removed-not something the newly turned were generally capable of. When presented with the opportunity for a feed, they fed. There was nothing neat or meticulous about it.
Then there were the multiple, barely healed scars marring the backs of the three anomalous women, the missing pinky on their left hands, and the odd, almost satisfied smiles that seemed frozen on their dead lips. Women who were the victims of a vamp's frenzy didn't die with that sort of smile, as the souls of the dead nine could probably attest if they were still hanging about.
And I seriously hoped that they weren't. I'd seen more than enough souls rising in recent times-I certainly didn't want to make a habit of it.
But dealing with two psychos on top of coping with the usual guardian patrols had the Directorate stretched to the limit, and that meant everyone had been pulling extra shifts. Which explained why Rhoan and I were out hunting rogue suckers on this bitch of a night after working all day trying to find some leads on what Jack-our boss, and the vamp who ran the whole guardian division at the Directorate of Other Races-charmingly called The Cleaver.
I yawned and leaned a shoulder against the concrete wall lining one side of the small alleyway I was hiding in. The wall, which was part of the massive factory complex that dominated a good part of the old West Footscray area, protected me from the worst of the wind, but it didn't do a whole lot against the goddamn rain.