The Third Book of the Third Billionaire Vampire Serial
The billionaire vampire Dorian Thorne has searched the world to find Cora Shaw, a once-human woman with whom he has formed an eternal bond. But his triumph is shattered when Cora is attacked, sendigoodng her running from their sworn enemies. Dorian is determined to rescue her before she can come to harm—and wreak his vengeance upon those who have tried to destroy them both.
Great book with a lot of intrigue and a dash of hot sex, fantastic read! I love this series told from Dorian’s POV!
The scream came through the speaker and tore through my chest like a lance.
“Cora!” I shouted, as if my voice could help her.
The only answer was the clatter of her cell phone striking something hard, and an instant later I was left staring at my useless phone, the connection dead.
But Cora was alive. She had to be alive because with the bond between us now, I would know if she were dead.
Instead, I could taste her fear like bile on my tongue. Tapping swiftly on my cell, I checked the position of the tracker we’d put on her phone. It was stationary, unmoving in front of the address of her university residence. But the other tracker dot was weaving swiftly across the map. Her car.
My heart jumped. Cora was alive, and her car was moving. Most likely, she was in it, either of her own free will or else as a subject of a kidnapping.
I shook myself free from staring at that dot of hope. If I was to save her from whatever had happened, I had act now.
I looked up at the other agnates—vampires like me—who stood in a tight, expectant knot around me in the elevator. Tension came off them in waves. Whatever happened to my consort had repercussions for every one of them.
“The security team shadowing my cognate has been neutralized, and my cognate is on the move,” I said curtly. “We must launch an extraction.”
“What do you need of us, Dorian?” Etienne asked softly as the elevator descended—so slowly, impossibly so. I could have taken the stairs in a fraction of the time with my vampiric speed, but speed without planning would get me nowhere.
“I have a fleet of five hardened SUVs that will meet us on the way,” I said, addressing everyone. “I don’t know what has happened yet except that my cognate has been attacked by an aether—from the description, likely an agnate or a djinn—and is still alive. I think I have her position through a tracker on her car, but she appears to have lost her phone, so she has no means to contact me. If she escaped the first attempt, I do not know where she will go, but I doubt that her pursuers will let her go without trying again.”
“The Kyrioi?” Dalton asked, his mouth a hard line as he named our enemy faction.
“Indubitably,” I said. There was no one else who would benefit from neutralizing my cognate, and I had not managed to amass any purely personal foes in over a hundred years. I simply had not been alive enough to do so. Not before Cora. It was a mere two days after she had awakened from the blood kiss that had transformed her into my consort, and her life was already in danger.
“I will counteract any interference with human officials,” Etienne said.
Our faction, the Adelphoi, were not supposed to meddle in human governmental affairs. But since the Kyrioi had no such qualms, we had to take certain steps to counteract them. That had long been Etienne’s particular skill, sharpened by his many years in Venice.
“Good,” I said. I typed rapidly on my phone. “Clarissa, I am sending you coordinates for the location of her cell. She appears to have dropped it, so it must be the scene of some kind of altercation. I would like you to investigate and report back.”
Clarissa rolled her eyes, but she knew better than to protest being left out of the center of the action. If there was some unknown person from my past holding an ancient grudge against me, it seemed wise to keep my daughter out of the fray.
“I also have a hardened fleet.” The voice was Svetlana’s. When everyone looked at her in surprise, she shrugged. “Old habits. I have oil and gas interests in Chechnya, in Tajikistan. One takes precautions. I will call them up, but I must send Oleg home before I join you.” She put a possessive hand on her cognate’s shoulder.
“Excellent,” I said. “Make the arrangements. As for the rest of you….” I looked at the gathered agnates, Uche and Karen, Prasong and Dalton and the rest even as I tapped out swift orders through the app with which I communicated with my staff. “I cannot command you, but I would ask for your help. You know what the significance of my cognate is—to us all. If she does not make her introduction….” I trailed off just as the elevator doors opened onto the parking garage.
“We know,” Karen said flatly. “We will help.”
I nodded even though she had no more right to speak for them all than I did. “Follow me, then. My thralls will catch us up.”
There was a brief turmoil in the garage as the agnates made decisions about which cars to take and which to leave. Clarissa and Etienne left first in their separate vehicles, Clarissa peeling out in her red Corvette. Svetlana bundled Oleg into her car with their chauffeur to be taken home and then took Dalton’s keys while Dalton swung into the Murcielago next to me.
The delay was frustrating, even maddening, for all that it was over in seconds, but I well knew that a lack of coordination could mean Cora’s capture…or worse. I reversed out of the parking space and then slapped the car swiftly into drive. Three other cars fell in line behind me, containing the other seven agnates.
I held my phone up so I could see the map and the tiny moving dot that was Cora’s car. My personal app ran in the background, keeping me in contact with my thralls. Only the footman had been there to answer my first call, but upon my orders, the full security team had been scrambled, years of drills finally yielding a result.
The team chief was issuing orders over the secure line even as he drove to the security nerve center at the Georgetown house, and the others were obediently converging on my armory. The team members reported their ETAs: five minutes, ten minutes, three minutes.
I cursed myself for dismissing all but two guards to enjoy Christmas day with their families. It had been a spur-of-the-moment decision, made while I was full of post-bonding glow. Now Cora’s guards were gone, likely dead, for they didn’t respond to the urgent calls of the security chief, and Cora herself was in the wind.
I should have kept a small force in reserve. No, not a small force—I should have kept a full team on standby because my cognate was out there, almost alone, and Clarissa had let me know in no uncertain terms that with Jean in the picture, secrecy was a farce.
But no one had attacked a cognate in some five hundred years. Not in this part of the world, at least. Cora wasn’t formally recognized, not yet, so the full protection of agnatic tradition did not apply to her, technically speaking. But centuries of peace….
I cut off those thoughts. They were of no use to anyone. Beside me, Dalton was tapping on his own phone, and out of the corner of my eye, I recognized the screen for the Adelphoi communications system. He added people swiftly, and even the icon of Etienne, who normally shunned technology, blinked green as he joined the group.
“That’s everyone from the office. Anyone else?” Dalton asked.
The stop light in front of us turned red. With traffic stacked three cars deep, there was no chance of running it. I should have had this car, like the SUVs, fitted with a traffic light preemption device, like human emergency vehicles had.
I hadn’t thought. I was not prepared. And that, perhaps, was the most infuriating thing of all.
“Add Tiberius, Raymond, and Rebecca,” I said. “Just in case we need their help.”
“Got it.” They were added swiftly, and after the briefest of moments, their icons turned green as they joined.
“Add a location fix on us so that the others can follow even if we lose visual. Then put me on speaker.”
He did just as the traffic light ahead of us finally turned green.
As briefly as possible, I explained what was going on for the benefit of the new arrivals, and then I outlined plan, such as it was. This convoy would meet my fleet of hardened cars as Svetlana got hers so that we could to arm ourselves against potential enemies before retrieving my cognate from whatever situation she was in.
The questions came flooding in then, not just from Tiberius and Rebecca but also from the others who had been in my office.
No, I had no idea who had attacked her. Yes, she was alive. No, I didn’t know for certain if she was hurt, but I thought so. No, I did not know how badly. No, I did not know if she had been taken or if she had escaped. No, I had not been able to actually confirm that she was in her car.
What I did know and did not say was that she was afraid, so afraid that it took all my iron control to shove down her white-hot panic into a tight writhing ball in the back of my brain. So afraid that her fear twisted in my gut and brought a bitter taste to my mouth.
So afraid that I swore I would make whoever was making her feel this way pay with his own blood.
As I fielded questions from the other agnates, we finally made it onto the freeway. On my phone, reports were coming in from my own security team. There was an APB out on Cora’s car from the state police, in which she was described as an armed suspect in a recent murder.
The car was damaged, according to the police, and the suspect was likely to be either injured or covered in the victim’s blood. Approach with caution. Allay her suspicion. And whatever it took, bring her in.
My fingers tightened so hard on the steering wheel that it bent slightly under the pressure. With great deliberation, I eased up. If I disabled my car, I might lose her forever.
It’s good news, I told myself. Good news, because it meant that unless the police chatter was an elaborate ruse, Cora was in her car, and she was free. For now.
“Pull up a secure line with Etienne only,” I ordered Dalton.
“Done,” he said as he punched it through.
“I’ve heard the reports.” Etienne’s voice came over the connection before I could speak. “It seems like I need to make a little visit to the superintendent of the state police to get that taken care of. I was already on my way. I’ve also dispatched allies to deal with nearby county and city departments, but it appears that my thralls in the FBI have been untouched, so they won’t be involved.”
Either the superintendent was under Kyrioi thrall or one of his subordinates was. Fortunately, it would be the work of moments to replace one agnatic thrall with another.
“Find out who did it, if you can,” I said. I was already planning my retribution upon them, whomever they might be, in gory and specific detail.
“You know as well as I do that even if we find that out, the one who exercised the thrall may not be the one who’s ultimately behind this. We can’t know who is in charge.” Etienne’s voice was testy.
I did not want to hear that. “Trace the threads, Etienne. Eventually, they will lead us somewhere.”
He just grunted. “You need to schedule your cognate’s introduction now.”
I started to snap at him. In this moment, a formal party was the last thing on my mind. But an instant’s reflection told me he was right. Cora had been vulnerable because she had occupied a no-man’s-land in agnatic culture, in which she was my cognate in fact but yet unrecognized.
The introduction itself would afford her the complete protection of our traditions, but even an invitation, if issued correctly, would send the message that the full force of Adelphoi wrath would fall on anyone who touched her.
“We’ll hold it the day after tomorrow,” I said. “I am going to ask to abuse your good name, as well.”
Etienne knew what I meant—his name, added as a co-sponsor, would give the invitation more weight. “Anyone else?”
I rattled off the names. “Better to ask forgiveness than permission, in this case.”
“I will arrange it,” Etienne said.
The security team line came alive again.
“It’s confirmed that the mistress’ car is being pulled over by state police right now,” the chief said. “And your security detail is rolling out of the garage in Georgetown, too.”
They were half an hour away from her, at least. And we were no closer. I looked at the map on my screen. There had been a small delay between when my security team relayed the information and when it had occurred: The golden dot on the map indicated her car was already still.
She had been caught.
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