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“Come out, come out, wherever you are,” he murmured, scanning the street ahead.
A neon sign for Lavazza espresso glowed in the window of a café at the next corner. The ambient light sent a dull-yellow swath across the sidewalk, the illumination fading as it reached the street.
The sign flickered and then went out as two women emerged from the café door. Dominic waited, listening to their muffled goodbyes and quick double-cheeked kiss before one left in a cab and the other started toward him.
She was oblivious to him as he watched. Clouds had rolled in earlier, obscuring the moon, but as if God himself commanded, they parted as she stepped off the curb, and his breath caught in his throat.
“Beauty,” he murmured.
A riot of auburn curls framed a heart-shaped face, and soft hair kissed creamy shoulders. It fell in waves over bare skin highlighted by an off-the-shoulder spring sweater, and when she glanced toward the sky, he saw her eyes were amber.
Carlos said it. He had a weakness for pretty redheads, and this one was gorgeous, with just enough curves to make his mouth water and his fangs tingle.
You’re horny. Either that or you haven’t fed in a while...
Dominic smirked to himself at Carlos’s words.
…Knowing you, it’s probably both.
Dominic watched the woman turn the corner into a darkened street. Rome was safe. At least, that’s what the travel brochures liked to claim. Average humans had no idea what prowled the ancient streets in the small hours of the night. It wasn’t just muggers hunting for a quick hit.
He followed, keeping his distance. No matter how tempted, he had other business to attend to, but he could play the Good Samaritan for now and watch her safely to her door.
Her footsteps echoed in the silence, the tap-tap of her boots bouncing off buildings on either side. He hung back, but her senses were keen, and she glanced over her shoulder as if she knew someone followed.
She picked up her pace, heading for the fluorescent light under the façade canopy of a typical three-star side-street hotel. Two blocks. That’s all she had to walk before he got back to the task at hand. Once inside, the pretty woman was no longer his concern.
“Belinda…” a voice called from the shadows. “The mistress waits for you, and so do I.”
Startled, she stopped short on the sidewalk and glanced across her shoulder. “Is someone there?”
The voice laughed, and she took a step toward the darkened alley to peer into the gloom. “Who’s there? Show yourself!”
As if mesmerized, she took another step, but before she could move into the darkness, Dominic knocked her back to the pavement.
She fell with an expletive, pivoting on her heel to break her fall with both palms. “Ow! Shit!”
“Didn’t your mother tell you not to play in the dark?” His mouth pressed in a harsh line, but at the stunned expression on her face, he softened.
“No.” She slapped his hand away and got up on her own, dusting herself off. “She told me not to talk to strangers, especially pushy shovey ones!”
Taken aback, he almost laughed at the fire in her pretty amber eyes. “I’m sorry, but you were about to step into that alley, and someone was there, stalking. Someone you wouldn’t want to tangle with. Dangers live in the shadows, and they do much more than whisper.”
“Wait, you heard that?”
Belinda raked a sore palm through her hair. “So, I’m not crazy. I thought I was hearing things.” She hesitated, sparing a glance for the dark alley before glancing back to Dominic. “But he knew my name.”
He dipped his head, taking in every inch of the pretty redhead standing there confused, but defiant. “I heard. Belinda. It’s a beautiful name for a beautiful girl who almost got into a situation she might not have been able to get herself out of.”
She exhaled. “I’ve never been the dumb girl before, but I guess there’s a first time for everything,” she mumbled, giving him a sheepish smile. “I’m actually pretty smart.”
He bent to pick up her purse and handed it to her, itching to touch the satin of her skin. “Then do me a favor, smart girl,” he said. “Go back to your hotel and lock the door behind you. Pull the shades and don’t answer the door for anyone, at least not until morning.”
“Wait,” she said as he took a step toward the alley. “Where are you going? I don’t even know your name.”
He considered her, fighting every urge to take her and kiss her then and there. Another place, in another time. Maybe.
“It’s better that way, beautiful.” Dominic took off after the voice, knowing exactly who it belonged to.
Book Seven in the Cursed by Blood Saga
Born to darkness in a time when crusades raged between battling faiths, Dominic De’Lessep is taken prisoner of the blood. Cursed for spurning his maker for delivering him to an existence devoid of light, she condemns him to a life alone, where anyone he dared love, dies.
A millennium later, revenge is all he wants, that is until he meets Belinda force, a fiery student of antiquities who knows him for what he is and what he plans to do.
Perilously drawn to this mysterious stranger, Belinda ignores the danger in his eyes and the icy touch that makes her body burn. She cannot deny her deep connection to the man and his quest or his raging need for her...even if it kills her. Can true love break the curse that’s held him for a thousand years?