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EMBRACE THE NIGHT
by Crystal Jordan

Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense, Erotic Romance, Paranormal

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Merek Kingston shoved his sunglasses up his nose and stepped away from the shattered window. His shoes crunched in the glass that littered the living room of the penthouse apartment. He swept the room in a glance. The woman's body lay crumpled near the entrance, her eyes blank and empty, her fangs still extended in a twisted snarl.

“Allesia Dawes. Thirty-five-year-old attorney. Vampire.” Selina Grayson, his partner of three years, flipped her notebook closed before turning cool, dark eyes on the scene. At over four hundred years old, the slim elven woman had seen more than her share of death.

“Who's our guy down on the street?”

“Coroner's still scraping the charcoal off the pavement, but my best guess is the owner--” she consulted her notes again “--Damien Raines.”

“Also a vampire.” It wasn't a question. Even if the man hadn't charbroiled in the sun, the Vampire Conclave owned this high-rise, and everyone in it. It didn't take a genius to do the math on the kind of Magickals who might live here. He tipped his head toward the window and the street below. “Anyone down there see anything useful?”

“No. We have a few Normal gawkers, but the telepaths first on the scene say no one even saw anything worthy of a memory tweak, let alone anything that might help us.”

Only certain Normals were permitted to know magic even existed. If a Normal married into a Magickal family. When officials were appointed or elected who had to interact with the Magickal branches in every governmental organization.

If those people no longer needed to know about magic, their memories could be adjusted. The All-Magickal Council made those decisions, and they were ruthless in upholding the nondisclosure laws. Merek was definitely in favor of those laws. They'd brought witch trials and vampire hunting to a virtual standstill a century or two ago, and that made everyone in Magickal law enforcement's job a whole lot easier.

Selina tucked her notebook into her jacket. “You get a read on the place yet?”

He grunted in response. Letting his eyes unfocus, he took in the room again, this time with his precognitive abilities. Power tugged in his chest, lifting the hair down his arms as it crackled in the air around him. He shuddered under the lash of magic that was almost painful.

The other officers in the room shifted away. Only Selina stayed near him while he “read” the room. Unlike the clairvoyant abilities of most Magickals, he was cursed with an overabundance of power. He could see the past, future, and present. A roaring sounded in his ears, ripping through his mind. Every historical event in Seattle tried to slam into him. Cold sweat broke out across his forehead, and his muscles shook from the onslaught. He pushed through the chaos and focused on just this building. Dark shadows of twisted memories layered over themselves in his mind as people raced in and out of the room in fast-forward. Then the walls crumbled into dust, and he stood midair over a city he didn't recognize. What he saw was the stuff of nightmares, the ragged end of humanity thousands of years in the future. Everything destroyed. Pulling back from the vision, he homed in on the room. The recent past.

Here he saw the door breaking wide, a man and woman fighting for survival. The woman begging while sinister shadows loomed over her. The man writhing and screaming in agony. Death. The images were smudged in his mind, without enough clarity to make out the perpetrators. Unusual, because he normally had visions clear enough to sear into his retinas.

Then a familiar face streaked through his mind. A woman with midnight hair and hazel eyes. She was nude, arched for him. The fire of his own desire made his skin feel as though it were too tight. Sweat beaded on his face as the woman whispered his name and reached for him. Irresistible. He wanted her. Always he wanted her. Craved her. His cock hardened to the point of pain, and a shudder racked his body. He groaned and pushed the image away. Not connected to this case. He'd seen her in his mind more times than he cared to admit, but she was a memory, not a vision. Chloe.

He became aware of reality by degrees, the smell of Selina's perfume, the chill wind blowing in from the window. A storm was coming, despite the brilliant sky. His hand lifted as though to touch the woman in his mind. He snorted and shook the visions away, dragging himself back to the task at hand, shoving away the gut-grinding punch of lust before he embarrassed himself. He didn't have time for a memory.