Read Lost Online

Authors: Lori Devoti

Tags: #Vampires, #Romance, #Young Adult, #Fantasy

Lost

BOOK: Lost
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Lost and Found

A Vampire Romance Bundle

Of Lost and Found, stories 1 and 2 in Lost series

 

Lost, Copyright 2009, Lori Devoti

Found, Copyright 2011, Lori Devoti

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or any portion thereof, in any form. This ebook may not be resold or uploaded for distribution to others.

This is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author's imagination, and any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

If you notice any typos or formatting issues with this book, the author would appreciate being notified.

Email her at
[email protected]

 

Lost

Story 1 in the Lost series

 

 

Chapter One

Rachel Daniels grabbed at the darkness. Shards of stone cut into her fingers and then fell into the void beneath her. Seconds passed before the bits landed with a light clatter, telling her she had climbed too far to consider returning the way she had come.

She tightened her fingers around the rock under her hand. Her chest was flat against the stone-faced cliff; blood oozed from her wounds. One false move and she would fall like that shard, roll, and break until she lay lifeless on the ground below.

Her eyelids screwed shut, and tears leaked from her eyes.

Now was not the time to panic, not the time to think about what she had left behind.

In the distance, or maybe only in her mind, she heard the noises again— metal screeching. Metal like a car being torn apart.

Another screech followed. This one from some animal or creature.

A shiver shot through her, but guilt did too.

She should go back. Her friends were still there, and Nancy at least was alive... or had been.

Rachel sucked in a breath and tried to regain control of her rampaging mind.

When she'd started up the cliff, it had seemed her only option, but now she realized what folly the choice had been. Up or down? Her foot slid back the way she had come. Her body slid too. One foot, two. She had lost control.

Panicked, she clawed at the stone. Her foot hit a root or plant that had somehow managed to grow out of the hard cliffside. Her heart hammered against her chest. She muttered to herself, told herself not to panic, that leaving had been the right choice.

Nancy had told her to call for help, but there was no cell signal near the car. When Rachel had run into the wall, she’d known she would have to climb to higher ground. However, in the dark, she hadn’t been able to see that the climb would be this steep or long.

And now she was committed. No easy way up or down.

She clung to the cliff’s face, reality settling over her. Her heart slowed, and her emotions calmed.

The noises... they weren't real. They were simply the product of her stressed mind, egged on by her friends’ stories of the deserted canyon and the monster that lived here.

Urban myths, fireside stories to scare Girl Scouts. Nothing more.

But the accident... That wasn't her imagination, and neither was the fact that her friends needed her to find someone, call someone, to help them.

It was up to her. She had to keep climbing. The cliff had to end somewhere. It had to.

o0o

Wind tore at Cameron Renault's hair. He lifted his chin and breathed in the biting breeze; the scent of vampire gone mad came with it.

Dorian was near.

Cameron lifted his lips and bared his teeth.

Damn Dorian for playing with danger, for coming to this cursed place one too many times.

Behind Cameron, over the cliff’s side, stones rattled.

He stilled, stopped even the habitual pretense of breath. His body quiet, he focused every sense on the source of the noise.

Another rattle, followed by a wheezing gasp.

Cameron's attention sharpened, and his instincts jumped forward. A new sound surfaced, the pounding of a human heart pumping blood, sweet and thick, through a body he couldn't see.

His eyes dilated, and he could feel his body shift from casual if annoyed observer to hunter. Heat wafted toward him, escaping that still-hidden fragile human form. His tongue darted from his mouth, flicked over one of the razor sharp canines that, alone in the woods, he hadn't bothered to conceal.

Prey was near.

He took a step forward.

A hand, pale in the darkness, appeared over the cliff's edge. It was small and delicate, each bone clearly visible as it grasped blindly, searching for some hold.

Saliva filled his mouth. He could taste....

He tensed and clamped down on the thought.

This place, the tales weren't all false. There was something about it, something that brought out the animal in the most docile of creatures.
Brought out the monster in those already teetering on the brink.

But Cameron wasn't teetering; he had never allowed himself to. And, unlike his brother, he hadn’t been to the canyon before. If an accumulation of visits was what had turned Dorian, Cameron was safe, from that at least.

He pulled his foot back and turned. Whoever was on the underside of the overhang, whatever their story, it wasn't Cameron's concern.

A feminine voice cried out. Despite himself, Cameron's gaze shot back to the hand. It scrabbled over the ground, and then, with another cry, it slipped from view.

With a curse, Cameron propelled himself forward. He flung his body to the ground and grabbed. His fingers wrapped around an arm: small, soft, and warm. Desire and hunger shot through him. He loosened his grip, enough the arm began to slip through his hold. The woman attached to it cried again, and, as if ordered, his fingers snapped tight this time, grasping a finely boned wrist.

He lay there, his white sweatshirt soaking in moisture from the snowy ground, the weight of the woman pulling on his shoulder as she hung from his grip, swinging ever so slightly like a pendulum.

If he'd had a heart, one that worked, it would have pounded like the woman's, but lacking that, only his mind pulsed with thoughts. He should let her drop. She wasn't his problem— at least not until he pulled her up to the ground beside him.

He should let her go....

“Hello?” The voice was soft and unsure... afraid... and it pricked at Cameron like a thorn.

He dropped his face to the ground and groaned.

“Are you... can you...?” The words were only a whisper now, as if she was afraid to hear his answer. “If you could manage to swing me just a little I think I can regain—”

Not waiting to hear her plan or to rethink what he was about to do, Cameron jerked his arm up and, in the same motion, surged to his knees. The woman's body shot upward too. He caught a flash of pale skin and fear-filled eyes. Then he dropped her.

She fell onto the ground before him— half of her anyway, her legs still dangled off the cliff's edge.

As she lay, her arms outstretched, hugging the ground, he shoved himself to a stand and turned to walk away.

“Wait.”

The word hooked into him and held him in place.

“My friends. We had an accident. I left to find help, but something—” She bit off her own words as if afraid to speak them.

Cameron turned back. “But what?”

Scrambling to pull her body the rest of the way onto solid ground, she didn't answer. When she finally looked up, she shook her head.

“Nothing. There was an accident. That's all.”

She was lying.

She rolled onto her side, farther from the drop-off, and patted the pockets of her loose-fitting jeans. Finally, she pulled out a cell phone studded with rhinestones. The glow of the tiny screen illuminated high cheekbones and bowed lips. She was pretty— pampered, little-girl pretty.

She punched in numbers and held the phone to her ear. With a curse, she shook the cell and stabbed at the keypad again.

The phone still cupped in her palm, she lowered her hand. “It doesn't work. There's no service. I climbed up that... And there's still no service.” Her voice shook.

Cameron shoved his hands into his pockets and turned away.

“Wait.”

This time he didn't.

“Wait!” Her voice cracked as she scuttled to a stand.

He pulled the hood of his sweatshirt over his hair and lengthened his stride. She'd said there had been an accident, that her friends were still there. Humans wounded, probably bleeding. Perfect bait for the monster his brother was becoming.

“Wait!” A hand grabbed the back of his shirt. The material tightened over his chest.

He spun. Air hissed from between his teeth.

She took a step back.

She should have run, would have if she could have seen him in the darkness. His fangs were fully visible, and he knew his eyes shone with hunger. He'd been hunting his brother for days. He was tired and angry... and hungry. Close to his own breaking point.

“My phone doesn't work. Can you take me to get help?”

“No.” He waited, both to make sure his control was back in place and that she understood his response. When she didn't move, he continued walking.

Behind him, footsteps sounded. Even on fresh snow and soft earth, the human couldn't conceal her movements.

He growled and stopped again.

“You can't leave me here. You can't leave them here.” Her voice was stronger, but with false bravery. She was scared, terrified. Little did she know, both emotions were dangerous, almost as alluring as fresh blood to his kind. He sniffed, realized the last clung to her too. She’d cut herself somehow, either in her wreck or her trip up the cliffside.

Another reason to leave her behind.

“I'll follow you,” she added.

With a muted growl, he weighed his choices. He could kill her. He could make her stay behind and believe it was her idea. Or he could take her with him.

Slowly, he pivoted. “How far?”

He couldn't smell other humans, and if they were close and wounded, he should have been able to.

Something in his stance must have alerted her. Her feet shuffled backward.

“How far?” he repeated.

“I don't know. Not too far...” She glanced toward the cliff that she had just scaled. “At least... It's down there, somewhere.”

He strode to the edge and stared into the darkness, pulled in another breath, searching for a scent of his brother or her hurt and bleeding friends.

Nothing.

He sighed.

“We can't go down that way, can we?” She stood six feet away, afraid of him or the edge. If she was smart, both.

“No, you can't.” At least not alive. Even in the pitch darkness, he could see her, not as well as when she had opened her phone, but well enough. She was small with fair skin and hair streaked with pink. Her clothes weren't that different from his own— jeans, V-necked tee covered by a zip-up-the-front hoodie, but her outfit was just that, a well-planned ensemble designed to cling in key places, to reveal curves without screaming for attention. Expensive too, if he had to guess. Or it had been before her trip up the cliff. Now her knees were caked in mud, and her sweatshirt hung off one shoulder, torn at the seam.

She opened her phone again and directed its glow toward him. He didn't move. Let her stare at him. He was under control now. Nothing she saw would give away what he was. Still, his hand slipped into his pocket and touched the dental caps tucked inside. When she turned off the phone, he took advantage of her momentary blindness to slip them onto his canines.

With that, he realized he had made a decision. He couldn't leave her here alone. Not unless he wanted her to become bait in his hunt for his brother.

And for whatever reason, he didn't.

His tongue flicking over his cap-covered canines, he strode past her. “Let's get going. If we arrive before midnight, maybe there will be something to save.”

 

 

 

Chapter Two

Maybe there will be something to save.

The words echoed through Rachel's head as she followed the enigmatic man.

She had thought he was going to refuse to help her.

Who did that? Who turned away from someone in such obvious need?

She stumbled over a root or a rock, something solid and unyielding that lay in their path. The man didn't pause. She could hear him striding steady and sure down the steep hillside ahead of her like he was part goat.

A shiver wracked her body. She felt hot and cold at the same time. She wanted to lie down and go to sleep, but she couldn't. The man would leave her behind, leave her here, alone.

She didn't want to be alone. Being with him, unsure though he made her feel, was better than being alone.

Concentrating, she picked up one foot and placed it in front of the other. Her body swayed to the side. She stumbled again but righted herself.

BOOK: Lost
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