Authors: Allie Quinn
Tags: #Vampire; Paranormal
IN THE DEAD OF COLD
In the Dead of Cold
Copyright © January 2014 by Allie Quinn
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Editor: Ann M. Curtis
Cover Artist: April Martinez
Published in the United States of America
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This e-book is a work of fiction. While reference might be made to actual historical events or existing locations, the names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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To Rachel, Ben, and Stephanie, with love.
Jane Smyth dashed out of the bookstore, stopped suddenly, and looked around. Terror seized her heart and froze her insides. The lungful of cold mountain night air she sucked in cleared her head. It awakened her senses and gave her the strength to keep from turning back to the false warmth she’d felt inside the store. Yet she could have sworn she heard a deep voice in her head, calling her to return. The man of her dreams waited inside.
No, he doesn’t.
What felt like an invisible hand tugged on her shoulder. It took every ounce of her strength to step away. At this rate, she’d never escape this nightmare. Jane slapped her cheek—hard. She winced. The sting helped wake her up, though. So did the cold. She’d hung her coat over a chair in the café, and that’s where it would stay.
She had to get away. She had to warn…
She ran. Her SUV was around the corner in the alley. Damn it, she needed to move faster! The distance felt like miles. Despite the cold horror of what she’d just witnessed, by the time she reached her vehicle, her legs burned from running. She pulled her keys from her pocket and hit her fob. The door didn’t unlock.
She tried a few more times before she reached the vehicle, but no luck. Forced with no other alternative, she slid the key into the door lock.
A hand suddenly covered hers. Her racing heart moved up her throat and choked her. She didn’t even get the chance to scream.
“Not leaving so soon, are you? You forgot your coat.”
She turned and looked at him and was instantly caught in his black, endless gaze. To her horror, he leaned closer. His breath, hot and putrid, touched her. Then his tongue was on her face. My God, he
She felt as if she were drowning in the evil that filled him. She couldn’t breathe.
His darkness pulled her, called her closer. She wanted nothing more than to lean against him, test his kiss. Then snowflakes landed on the spot where his tongue had touched her. The cold woke her from the spell he’d wrapped her in.
He smiled the most evil smile she’d ever seen, and showed his fangs. She knew she had to do something, or she’d be feeling those sharp incisors. She concentrated on trying to push him away. She sent a surge of energy swirling through her. As she felt it build in her like a million thread-like tornadoes, she envisioned the threads clustering together, strengthening before she sent them out. Never before had she unleashed so much energy with a single thought. The power of it frightened her almost as much as he terrified her. Her energy hit him in the chest and sent him stumbling backward. He might have fallen on his ass had he not collided with the brick building on the other side of the alley.
When Jane saw how fast he recovered and that her blast had done nothing more than surprise him, horror clenched her heart. There was not enough room within the small alley to knock him farther away. Hell, he was still on his feet! He should have been flat on his back. His grin grew.
He thought she’d challenged him.
He came at her and slammed her against the bricks of the store so fast she didn’t see him move. But she felt his fist collide with her chin. She found herself on her hands and knees in the snow, her entire body burning with flashes of pain. He grabbed the collar of her blouse, ripping it in the process, and pulled her to her feet.
In another second she knew she would feel something worse than his tongue or fist.
There. On the opposite side of the alley from her car near a Dumpster. A cart. The metal rods
… She gathered her energy and sent it to the cart. Like a huge dart, the first rod slipped from its place and shot through the air. It hit his shoulder, knocked him away from her, impaled him, and slammed him against the building a few feet away, deeper into the alley. He stared at her. His grin disappeared. Anger filled his gaze. Without looking away from her, he reached up and pulled the rod from his shoulder. The horrid sucking sound filled the air around them. Blood oozed from the wound. The heavy, coppery smell of blood made her stomach roll. Then she watched in horrified fascination as the gaping hole slowly closed, leaving nothing more than a tear in his shirt. He licked his lips.
“I am so going to enjoy you.”
Her heart stopped. His words and his ability to heal his wounds so quickly… Shit. She’d never encountered such a person before.
Without hesitation, she sent the remaining three rods at him. She didn’t wait to see if he could free himself so easily from all of them at once. She turned back to her SUV, unlocked the door with the key that was still stuck in the lock, jumped inside, and locked the doors. Then she started the SUV and peeled out of the alley.
She had no qualms about where she needed to go.
The Moonlight Resort.
Not only did she have to warn Graham Masterson, but the Moonlight Resort was the only place she knew she’d be safe.
Shaking with cold, Jane struggled to open the Moonlight Resort’s lobby door. Until now, adrenaline had kept her warm, despite the frigid temperature and snow outside. She stopped short inside the large foyer. The sudden heat on her sodden clothes made her feel even colder. Gooseflesh covered her like sharp nails. She clenched her teeth together to keep them from chattering.
The lobby was extravagant. Flames licked the logs filling the huge circular stone fireplace in the center of the room, sending out waves of warmth. The alluring aroma of coffee and chocolate from the café on the other side of the curved registration desk penetrated her senses. She would kill for a cup of coffee right now. Three kids were making s’mores at the fireplace. Her stomach twisted and gurgled, letting her know she hadn’t eaten in a while. The place was filled with noise and laughter and motion as people ate and enjoyed the evening.
She quickly glanced down at herself. She looked like she’d been in a major fight. Fire burned through the numerous skinned areas all over her body. With the way her right shoulder blade felt, she could have sworn it had a knife stuck in it. Her head throbbed as if tiny men beat away at her skull with sledgehammers and ice picks. Her snow boots caught her eye. Thank goodness she’d worn them; her feet were the only thing dry and uninjured on her.
Her skirt had been ripped up the right seam and revealed several inches of a scraped thigh. The back of her blouse was probably dirty from where she’d been shoved against the bricks. She rolled her shoulder. Oh yeah; it was ripped too.
She swallowed hard. It was impossible to calm her hammering heart. She was safe here. At least, she told herself she was safe.
What if she wasn’t?
Whether she was or she wasn’t, it couldn’t be helped. There was nowhere else she could go where she was safe. And she needed to warn Graham Masterson.
Jane deeply inhaled, trying to dredge up some courage. She tensed her body to keep the shivers that were coming fast and strong at bay. With purposeful strides, she made her way to the front desk. The clerk behind the counter looked up. The automatic smile she wore disappeared the moment she took in Jane’s appearance.
“How can I help you?” the young girl asked, her blonde ponytail swinging behind her.
“I need to see Mr. Masterson immediately.” Jane leaned against the counter and fought the urge to rest her weary head in the palm of her hand. She wished like hell for a drink of water.
“Perhaps I should call the hotel doctor or an ambulance for you instead. Did you fall on the slopes or something?”
Yeah. She always wore a skirt and blouse to go skiing. And did this cute little clerk wearing a bit too much eyeliner see her wearing any ski gear? She gripped the polished marble counter in an effort not to grab the girl by her polo shirt. Jane couldn’t touch her. Not now. The last thing she needed was to feel anyone’s emotions. Blood still felt like it coursed through her veins at a hundred miles an hour. Jane looked at the girl’s name badge.
“Mandy?” When the girl nodded, Jane continued. “I don’t need an ambulance or the hotel doctor.”
Well, yes, I probably do, come to think of it.
“I need to speak with Mr. Masterson. It’s urgent.”
“Do you have an appointment?”
Hell, she did
have time for this.
“No, I don’t. I’m sorry to say that when emergencies come up, you can’t always plan for them with a two or three days’ notice.”
“Would you like me to make one?”
Mandy’s high voice was like salt rubbing into every one of her wounds. Jane forced in another deep breath before she could speak. “Yes, please do.” She glanced at her watch and hoped to hell Mandy caught the sweet sarcasm in her words. “I need to see Mr. Masterson in the next thirty seconds.”
Another man approached. “Excuse me. I’m Tim, the concierge. May I help you?”
Didn’t concierges generally work on getting people better accommodations or tickets to the ballet?
Jane didn’t care as long as he got her to Mr. Masterson. Mandy smiled. Probably relieved to be handing Jane off to someone else. “I hope so. I need to see Mr. Masterson right away.”
“And you don’t have a scheduled appointment?”
Jane cleared her throat. “No.”
“It’s after six. Mr. Masterson may no longer be in his office. Would you mind stepping over here, please?”
Jane thought it was a waste of valuable time—time she and Mrs. Masterson didn’t have—but in order to keep from wasting any more, she followed Tim to his small sitting area next to the concierge podium. She licked her lips and ignored the heat of all the stares she felt touch her back from the patrons moving through the lobby.
“Please, sit down,” he offered as he sat.
“No, thank you. I don’t have the time.” She also didn’t have the patience for this small talk or the strength to get back up if she did sit down. “Please, I need to see Mr. Masterson. It’s urgent.”
“And whom shall I tell him needs to see him?”