Authors: D. B. Reynolds
Vampires in America Book Five
D. B. Reynolds
Dedicated with love to my sister Bridget,
who fights the good fight every damn day
Other Books by D. B. Reynolds
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Duncan Copyright 2011 by Donna Beltz. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express permission of ImaJinn Books, Inc.
Cover design by Patricia Lazarus
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Cyn shivered slightly and moved closer to the wave of heat coming from the Learjet’s engines. It made the frigid hangar marginally bearable. She hunched deeper into her coat and peered through the dim light. Raphael was down near the nose of the aircraft, deep in conversation with Juro. She could only make them out because of the multicolored glow of the jet’s cockpit coming through the windshield. Raphael looked up briefly, and his eyes flashed silver. Her heart twisted at the sight. He was so gorgeous. It still took her breath away sometimes.
“He worries about you.”
Cyn controlled an involuntary jerk of surprise at the sound of Duncan’s voice over her left shoulder. “Duh,” she said, rolling her eyes in his direction.
Duncan laughed as she turned towards him. “I will miss you, Cyn, you and Raphael more than anyone else.”
“It’s all happening so fast,” she complained softly.
Duncan leaned forward. “Not really. We’ve planned this for some time, but it’s been only days that we knew the time was right. And you haven’t been yourself lately—”
“What? You thought I’d have a relapse or something if you told me? It’s my body that was injured, Duncan, not my mind. I’m not
He was silent for a long time, standing perfectly still, the way he did sometimes, until she could almost forget he was there.
“You didn’t see him, Cynthia,” he said at last. “When we thought you would die, you didn’t see what it did to him. You weren’t the only person damaged that night, and you need to take care of him now, because I won’t be here to do so.”
Cyn grabbed his hand when he would have turned away. “I love him, Duncan. More than anything in the world.”
“I know that. But you need to
for him as well. I couldn’t leave otherwise.” He tightened his hold on her hand and raised it to his lips, kissing it softly.
“Duncan,” Raphael’s deep voice interrupted, his hand leaving a line of welcome heat as he trailed his fingers down Cyn’s back before resting a hand on her hip.
“My lord,” Duncan responded with a respectful nod.
Raphael grinned. “Not for much longer.”
Duncan lifted one shoulder. “You may no longer be my lord officially, Sire. But in truth, it will always be so.”
Cyn stepped back to give the two of them their moment, their voices a bare rumble of sound over the whine of the jet’s engines. It was pathetic the way they stood there pretending to be all manly about their feelings. Far better if they’d just hug, maybe shed a tear or two, and get it over with. But no, that wasn’t going to happen. Raphael shot her a glance over his shoulder, looking as close to desperate as she’d ever seen him. She snickered. Apparently, the hugs and tears were going to be left entirely to her.
“All right, my turn,” she said, taking pity at last. She stepped up to Duncan and threw her arms around him in a big, honest-to-goodness hug. No back patting to nullify the emotion of the moment, no quick kiss-kiss sort of fakery. She hugged him long and hard. He hugged her back, too, although she was certain he was being careful of his vampire strength and her still-healing body. But despite all of that, he hugged her, and she felt his head turn away from Raphael, as if to conceal the emotion on his face.
“I’ll miss you, Duncan,” she whispered. “He’ll miss you, too.”
“I know,” he murmured at her ear.
“And I’ll take care of him for you.”
“For both of us.”
He laughed then, and she stepped back, slipping her arm around Raphael’s waist while still holding Duncan’s hand.
“We’ll visit,” she promised. “And you can visit us. None of that vampire territorial bullshit, okay?”
Duncan exchanged a look over her head with Raphael, and Cyn pursed her lips in thought. Those two were up to something. They wouldn’t tell her what it was, of course, but she’d figure it out. She frowned, glancing at the big, industrial clock on the wall of the hangar. Nearly ten p.m. here in California. By the time they got clearance and were off the ground . . .
“Aren’t you cutting it kind of close?” she asked worriedly. Duncan was taking the smaller of Raphael’s two jets. Small was a relative term when it came to private jets, but she couldn’t remember how fast this particular aircraft could go, assuming she’d ever known. She was pretty sure it couldn’t make D.C. before sunrise, though, and both of the pilots were Vampire, too.
Duncan squeezed her fingers in reassurance. “We’ll be stopping in Atlanta tonight, going on to D.C. tomorrow night.”
“There are things Duncan must do immediately upon arriving,” Raphael explained. “He needs to land in Washington as soon as possible after sunset so he has the entire night to work with.”
Raphael dropped his arm over Cyn’s shoulder and tightened his hold, effectively pulling her hand away from Duncan. She smiled privately. His move seemed casual enough, but she knew he’d planned it. His vampire possessiveness couldn’t permit even Duncan to hold her hand for long. Which brought her back to her biggest complaint about this whole affair.
“I still don’t see why he has to go there all alone. Why can’t some of your people—”
“It’s taken care of,
,” Raphael said patiently. “You must trust us.”
Cyn tightened her lips against the automatic comeback that came to mind. She did trust them, but it was always possible they hadn’t thought of some detail or other. Sometimes these guys couldn’t see the forest for all those testosterone-laden trees.
Juro appeared at Raphael’s elbow. “Everything is set, my lord.” He gave Duncan a brief nod. “Good fortune, Duncan,” he said, then walked back to stand near the waiting limo.
“Sire,” Duncan said, straightening into something like attention and bowing slightly from the waist. “It is has been an honor to serve at your side for so long.”
“The honor has been mine, Duncan. But Cyn was right. We’ll see you often.”
Cyn put a gloved hand over her mouth, trying not to cry. Now that the time was here—
Raphael tugged her back against his chest, wrapping both arms around her. “Go while you can, Duncan. I believe my Cyn feels another hug coming on.”
Duncan laughed and gave her a wink, then spun on one heel and, with vampire speed, disappeared into the Learjet in the blink of an eye. The pilot made a brief appearance in the hatchway as the stairs retracted and the hatch was sealed, and before she knew it, the jet was taxiing out of the hangar and Duncan was gone.
She turned in Raphael’s arms, burying her face against his neck. “I feel like a mother sending her baby off to college or something,” she muttered, rubbing the tears from her eyes on the soft wool of his coat.
Raphael chuckled and gave her a tight hug, before leading her over to the limo. Cyn paused long enough to look up at him and say, “Duncan tells me I’m supposed to take care of you now that he’s gone.” As she slid into the cushy interior of the limo, she saw Raphael stiffen in reaction to her comment and grinned in satisfaction.
“What was he thinking?” Raphael muttered before he ducked inside and pulled the door closed.
“I heard that,” she said as he settled her in the curve of his arm.
“Of course, you did.”
She huffed a laugh, then pulled back to see his face. “I love you, you know,” she said seriously. “Even when I’m a bitch, I still love you.”
Raphael touched his lips to hers in a lingering kiss. “And I love you, my Cyn. Always and forever.”
The big vehicle rolled away from the airport, winding its way down the hill to Marina del Rey and through Santa Monica before they finally hit Pacific Coast Highway. Raphael held her against his side the entire ride, one hand stroking absently up and down her arm, as he stared at the dark city rushing past. Cyn was quiet, too, content to be with him, and to know that, like her, his thoughts were with Duncan far overhead as he winged his way into the most dangerous challenge of his long life.
A few miles outside Washington, D.C.
The Learjet rolled up to the darkened hangar, a pale ghost of a plane appearing out of the shadows of a moonless night. Miguel Martinez scanned the private airfield, his vampire sight piercing the near darkness easily. The place was nearly abandoned. No one around but the lone tower controller who’d been paid well to look the other way and ask no questions.
He returned his gaze to the arriving jet. It was running nearly as dark as the night, with nothing but the gleam of the cockpit’s instrument panel through the windshield to light the pilot’s way into the black interior of the hangar. It should have been impossible. It would have been if the pilots had been human. But, like Miguel, they were vampires and starlight was enough to see by.
The aircraft eased to a gentle stop, its engines a loud burr of sound that hurt the ears and echoed off the flat spaces and high walls of the empty hangar. The pilot shut down the engines and the sudden silence was nearly as shocking as the noise had been.
Miguel crossed the bare concrete of the hangar, nerves singing with excitement, with the awareness that his Sire was here at last. He fisted his hands at his sides and straightened his back, determined to make a good impression, to prove himself worthy of the honor he’d been given.
The hatch opened. Miguel took one step and then another, until he was only a few feet from the open door. The stairs deployed with a hydraulic hiss.
A figure appeared in the hatchway, a tall and broad-shouldered male, little more than a darker shadow against the unlit interior. He paused briefly before ducking his head to clear the low overhead, then took the stairs downward quickly and with purpose.
Miguel went to one knee. “Sire,” he said reverently, pleased that his voice revealed none of the jittery nerves making his muscles twitch beneath his finely tailored suit.
“Miguel.” A hand touched the back of his head. “Now, get up and give me a proper greeting.”
There was laughter in his Sire’s voice, and Miguel jumped to his feet with a grin, reaching out to take the proffered hand, feeling himself pulled into a quick embrace.
“Duncan,” Miguel said. “It’s so very good to see you.”
* * * *
“Victor?” Duncan asked, as they strode directly to the BMW Miguel had left idling on the far side of the hangar.
“He’s at the house, hosting a small dinner party.”
“Always. The only vamps he keeps around are his four guards.”
“The humans will have to be dealt with, then.”
“Not a problem, my lord,” Miguel said as he dropped into the driver’s seat of the sumptuous vehicle. “Louis and I can handle it.”
“Where is Louis?” Duncan asked, closing the passenger side door with a muted thump.
“Waiting outside the house, keeping an eye on things.”
“You anticipate trouble?”
“No, but tonight’s too important to leave to chance.”
Miguel drove out of the hangar and made a sharp right turn toward the access road. Duncan saw the doors of the hangar begin to close behind them almost immediately.
“How was your journey, my lord?” Miguel asked.
“Uneventful. Raphael sends his regards.”
“So,” Duncan said, settling in for the drive back to the city. “What do I need to know about Victor’s setup tonight?”
“Same as always. He has his four vampire guards, two in his presence, two on guard elsewhere inside the house. They’re complacent in the routine, and the two not with Victor personally usually sit in a room near the front door, watching TV or playing video games. I’ve never seen them leave the house unless Victor’s with them. Exterior security, including the gate, is handled by humans around the clock, and they’re
permitted inside the residence. There’s a guest house that’s set up as a barracks if the human guards want it, but most of them have homes of their own and go there at the end of their shift. The estate is walled, with the only gate locked down during the day. At night, the human guards pretty much limit their duties to guarding the gate, with only the occasional perimeter patrol.”