ENCHANT THE DAWN <br> Sequel to Enchant the Night
Dominic Falconer strolled through the streets of New Orleans. He had always wanted to visit the Big Easy and his great-grandmother Ava had finally given him the opportunity, much to his parents' disapproval. His mother, especially, had been against his leaving Savaria, but Ava had insisted she would go along and keep an eye on him. His task was to find out all he could about the new leader of the Knights of the Dark Wood, and what the Brotherhood's intentions were, without revealing his parentage.
Dominic couldn't help wondering why the sudden interest in the Knights. His parents had left the States soon after he and his sister, Ava Liliana, had been born twenty-five years ago. His great-grandmother had followed them to the homeland a year later. It was only in the last month that he had learned that his parents had left the States because they feared for his safety and that of his sister.
Dominic frowned. Perhaps his parents' interest was due to the fact that there was still a small number of Hungarian vampires residing in the States who might be at risk from the appointment of a new, more radical Elder Knight.
Whatever the reason, being here on his own gave him a sense of freedom he'd never known before. Not that he didn't love his parents. They were two of the finest people he had ever known. His twin sister was his best friend. But ever since his vampire nature had kicked in, he had yearned to go out on his own, to test his powers and his abilities.
And great-grandma Ava had given him the chance. He wondered now if she had somehow divined his longing to be on his own all along, perhaps even fabricated her need to know about the new Elder Knight to give him a chance to get out of the country.
He had a hell of a family, he mused with a wry grin. His father was a powerful vampire, his mother and great-grandmother were witches, as was his twin sister.
Dominic came to an abrupt stop as he caught the scent of vampire. Not one of his kind, but the blood-thirsty, Transylvanian kind, as different from his people as night from day.
He felt a rush of excitement at the thought of finally meeting one of the others. And then he paused. Transylvanian vampires were notorious for taking his people prisoner in order to feed on their blood. Once they tasted it, they became addicted. Occasionally, one of them drank too much and went completely mad, but it didn't deter the rest.
But all such thoughts fled his mind when he saw her. She was incredibly beautiful with clear, tawny skin and eyes so dark they were almost black. A riot of red hair fell over her shoulders like a silken waterfall.
She slowed, then stopped when they came face-to-face. Nostrils flared, her gaze ran over him. "Vampire," she hissed. "What are you doing in my territory?"
"Just visiting," he drawled. "Do you mind?"
The words were barely out of his mouth when, in a blur of movement, she was on him, her fangs sinking deep into his throat. One taste and she reared back, her eyes wide with disbelief. "Who are you?"
Dominic covered the bite with his hand. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"
"I asked you a question."
Eyes narrowed, he grabbed a handful of her hair, pulled her body against his, and buried his fangs in her neck. He took a good, long drink before he pushed her away. Damn. His father had warned him about Transylvanian vampires. Why hadn't he listened? Muttering, "Now we're even," he vanished from her sight.
Claret licked her lips, reveling in the taste of the last drops of blood lingering on her tongue. Could it be? She inhaled sharply, drawing in his scent. And then she smiled. It had to be, she thought. Quill Falconer's son had come to Louisiana. She had known many men – human and vampire alike. But she had never forgotten Quill, or the exquisite taste of his blood.
And now his son was here, like the long-awaited answer to a prayer.
Dominic materialized in a residential neighborhood several miles away from New Orleans. Damn! He had never been bitten by a vampire before and he wasn't sure how he felt about it. Not that it had been unpleasant. Quite the opposite. Under ordinary circumstances, the vampire would have been able to find him again, but he had powerful witches in his family. His mother had woven a protection spell around him, one that thwarted Transylvanian vampires from tracking him. He wondered suddenly if his mother had this particular vampire in mind at the time. He grinned inwardly. Although the vampire who had bitten him couldn't track him, he could track her, if need be.
Hands shoved into his pockets, he strolled down the quiet street. It was late and most of the houses were dark. It was a lovely neighborhood, with well-kept, two-story homes fronted by lush green lawns and well-tended flower beds. Stately trees grew here and there, providing shade in the afternoon.
Rounding the corner, he found himself thinking about the vampire again. She wasn't his kind, that was for sure, which made her technically his enemy. She had looked surprised when she bit him, which was odd. She would have known what he was, so why had she been so surprised?
Transylvanian vampires were vicious killers, whereas his people never killed their prey, or anyone else, unless it was to save their own lives or protect their family. But the main difference between his kind and the Transylvanian vampires were that his people were born that way, and the others were made. Perhaps that was why they were angry all the time, he thought with a wry grin. After all, few were given any choice in the matter.
He paused when he reached the end of the block, wondering which way to go. He had no sooner decided to go back the way he'd come when he heard a faint cry coming from inside the house across the street.
Frowning, he opened his preternatural senses, but the cry didn't come again. Instead, he caught the tantalizing scent of fresh blood.
Maddy Bainbridge opened her mouth to scream again, but her attacker pulled a dirty handkerchief from his pants' pocket and stuffed it into her mouth. He slapped her hard, twice, as he pushed her down on the floor, then straddled her hips.
Maddy bucked beneath him, hoping to dislodge him, but he outweighed her by a good forty pounds. She beat her fists against his chest, his back, his head, but to no avail. Face split in an evil grin, he tossed her nightgown over her head and trapped both of her hands in one of his. When she continued to struggle, he clipped her on the jaw. Momentarily stunned and unable to move, she could only stare at him, fear and horror like ice in her veins as he unzipped his jeans. Helpless and terrified, she closed her eyes and prayed for help she knew would never come in time. As she felt the man's hands on her breasts, she let out a last, desperate scream for help.
And then, suddenly, there was the slap of flesh striking flesh, the sound of a heavy weight striking the wall, and she was free.
Hardly daring to look, afraid of what she might see, Maddy opened her eyes.
A dark-haired man dressed in black stood over the thug who had broken into her house and attacked her. A shiver ran through her when the dark-haired man turned to look at her.
"Are you all right?" he asked. His voice was soft, melodious, almost hypnotic.
Too frightened to speak, Maddy nodded as she jerked her nightgown down over her knees.
The man's gaze ran over her from head to foot, missing nothing.
She stared up at him, wondering if he had come to help or to take the other man's place. He was tall, over six feet, with broad shoulders, inky black hair and dark gray eyes that seemed to see right through her. His nose was a blade, his lips full and well-shaped, his jaw strong and square.
Her eyes widened when he offered her his hand. She hesitated a moment before letting him pull her to her feet.
"Did he hurt you?"
"If you mean did he rape me, no." Trembling all over, she wrapped her arms around her waist. "I don't know how you knew I was in trouble, but you got here just in time. Thank you."
He shrugged off her thanks. "I heard your cry for help. Maybe you'd better call the police before he wakes up."
"What?" She stared at him blankly for a moment. "Oh. The police. Yes, of course." She reached for her cell phone, but her hands were shaking so badly, she dropped it.
"I'll take care of it." He wiped a bit of blood from the corner of her mouth with his fingers. "Your forehead's bleeding. Why don't you go get cleaned up while I call the cops?"
Maddy hesitated. Then, with a nod, she edged into the bathroom, closed and locked the door. Still feeling shaky, she sat on the edge of the bathtub, a wash cloth pressed to her forehead. She wondered if she should have left him alone in the other room. What if he robbed the place?
Dominic took a deep breath, then licked her blood from his fingers. Pulling his phone from his pocket, he called 9-1-1. After ending the call, he grabbed a silk scarf from the top of her dresser and tied her attacker's hands behind his back.
There must have been a cop car in the area, because one pulled up in front of the house a few minutes later. Not wanting to explain his presence, or get involved with the police and have to respond to a lot of questions he'd rather not answer, Dominic transported himself out of the house.
"I want to thank you for helping me," Maddy said as she opened the bathroom door. "If there's ever anything I can do for…." Her voice trailed off. The man who had attacked her lay on his stomach, his hands tied behind his back.
There was no sign of the tall, dark-haired man.