Slayed by Darkness
Book 17.5 in Guardians of Eternity
Only an idiot would try to kidnap Jayla. She’s a take-no-prisoner kind of vampire who rebelled against the previous King of Vampires, and now regularly battles with both human and demon enemies who resent the success of Dreamscape casino she manages in Hong Kong. So when she’s snatched off the streets, she doesn’t bother to struggle. Instead she starts plotting her slow, bloody revenge.
The last creature she expects when she arrives at her destination is Azrael, the mysterious mercenary vampire she killed a century ago.
Azrael has never forgotten Jayla, and not just because she tried to stab a stake through his heart. He’d never encountered a female who could match him in battle. Her raw courage was sexy as hell. And it didn’t hurt that she was drop-dead gorgeous. But, he didn’t abduct her because he desired her. Or at least, that wasn’t his main motivation. He needs her rare talent to stop time. An evil fey has stolen his sword. The weapon is magically bound to him, and unless he retrieves it, he’s doomed to a painful death.
Read an Excerpt
Moscow 1237 AD
It was more luck than planning that brought Jayla to Moscow during the invasion of the Mongolian Golden Horde. The chaos of the ruthless siege meant she could move through the battered city unnoticed.
There was nothing like plundering, pillaging, and massive carnage to provide a distraction.
Blending with the shadows, Jayla avoided the wooden houses and thatched roofs being torched by the invaders. Not only because vampires and fire didn’t mix, but she couldn’t risk being seen by hidden watchers.
The ultimate rule of an assassin was to be invisible. And that’s what she was.
Jayla slowed as she caught an unmistakable chill beneath her feet. The thick layer of ice and snow that coated the cobblestone street wasn’t the cause. It was a subtle warning that crawled beneath the ground and spread throughout the neighborhood. Any demon in the area would know a vampire’s lair was nearby. And if they had a brain, they would turn around and scurry away.
Following the chill toward a house on the edge of the city, she eyed the structure with a lift of her brows. It looked more like a fortress than a home with thick stone walls, narrow, heavily shuttered windows, and a steeply angled roof currently coated in snow. A human had no doubt built it to protect those inside from the cold, as well as from any invaders, but it was a perfect lair for a vampire. No sunlight, no chance of fire, and few access points.
Jayla did a quick circle around the building, searching for any hidden traps. The second rule of being an assassin was: Don’t get caught.
Once satisfied, Jayla chose a narrow door at the back to enter. She waited for a pair of human soldiers to scurry past before wading through the snow to the door. If they had glanced in her direction, they wouldn’t have noticed more than a small figure wrapped in a heavy woolen robe with the hood pulled over her head. Just another beggar. But the third rule of being an assassin: Leave no witnesses.
Once they were gone, Jayla tossed off the robe. Now that she was at her destination, she didn’t need a disguise. She needed speed. The thick material of the robe hampered her movements.
Pushing open the door, she stepped into the cramped vestibule. It was a small, dark space with a low, open-beamed roof and stone floor. There was a fireplace, but it was empty, leaving a frigid bite in the air. Jayla didn’t mind. It would take her hours to wash the stench of the burning city from her skin.
Scanning the darkness, Jayla wasn’t surprised to discover a vampire standing guard in front of the opening leading deeper into the house. Azrael was rumored to be the most lethal mercenary among all vampires. He wouldn’t make it easy for her to sneak up on him.
Thankfully, her arrival caught the male by surprise. And, as usual, the sight of her lulled her opponent into a false sense of complacency. When they looked at her, they saw a female who was as small and delicate as a dew fairy. Her raven-black hair was twisted into elaborate knots and held in place with jade ornaments. Her dark green eyes and the lush temptation of her ruby lips dominated her golden, oval face. A short silk tunic that revealed her slender legs and a jade pendant hanging around her slender throat completed her fragile appearance.
The male blinked, peering through his shaggy brown hair that hadn’t been combed in the past few decades. Probably the same time he’d last bothered to take a bath. Whatever his talents, they didn’t include personal hygiene.
“Who are you?” he growled, prowling forward.
“A gift.” She offered a disarming smile. “For Azrael.”
The male narrowed his muddy brown eyes. “From who?”
Jayla hesitated. Should she lie? No. It was always better to stay as close to the truth as possible. Less opportunity to get tripped up later.
The male stiffened. The King of Vampires instilled equal parts respect and fear among his people. “Why would he send a gift?”
“The Anasso has been impressed by the rumors of such an impressive fighter. He sent me to express his admiration.”
Warily, the guard inched forward. “How do I know you’re not a Trojan horse?”
Jayla frowned. What was he…? Ah. She belatedly recalled the tactical ploy by the Greek humans to conquer the city of Troy.
Her lips twitched. The male might smell as if he’d climbed out of a dunghill, but he was smarter than he looked—a reminder not to underestimate her opponent.
She spread her arms, her lips pursed into a pout. “Do I look like a horse?”
Lust smoldered in the guard’s eyes as he halted in front of her, but he remained suspicious. “Strip,” he commanded.