Crave the Night 12

By: Lara Adrian

THE UNDULATING CROWD PACKED ONTO THE DANCE FLOOR INSIDE the throbbing Boston nightclub seemed to collectively sense that death had entered the building.

Nathan took only the barest notice of the sudden change in atmosphere. As one of the Breed, he’d long grown used to the reaction he had on humans.

As a warrior member of the Order and a first-generation Breed male—the most powerful of his kind—Nathan’s presence often put even other vampires on alert.

But it was the other part of his nature, the fact that he was born and raised a Hunter, one of a dark legion bred for killing and stripped of all emotion or attachment, which broadcast an unspoken, visceral terror into the room. He saw it in every pair of eyes that furtively glanced his way now through the swirling dance lights in the darkened club.

“They don’t look happy to see us,” quipped Rafe, one of three other Breed warriors who reported to Nathan as their squad captain.

“I doubt Cassian Gray will welcome the Order with open arms either.” This from Nathan’s lieutenant, Elijah, in the slow, laid-back Texas drawl that belied the vampire’s quick skill with any one of the blades or firearms bristling from his weapons belt.

From the other side of Eli, Jax, the third member of tonight’s patrol, quirked a slender black eyebrow over his almond-shaped eyes. “It’s not like we left on the best of terms last time.”

No, they hadn’t. The last time Nathan and his crew had stepped inside the former church that was now one of the city’s most popular—and least reputable—hot spots, it ended with the club’s proprietor, Cassian Gray, calling in an armed unit of the Joint Urban Security Taskforce Initiative Squad. The Order didn’t have time to deal with any public or political fallout from JUSTIS tonight.

And if Cass thought he could hide behind the palms he’d greased so well within that combined Breed and human police organization, he was wrong. Dead wrong, if that’s the way he wanted to play it.

The Order had recently come across intel indicating Cass might have other, unknown allies in his pocket. Allies who would make his law enforcement and criminal underworld connections seem like worthless puppets.

Tonight, Nathan and his squad had been tasked with bringing the mysterious club owner in to the Order’s Boston command center for questioning.

“Come on. Let’s go find the bastard.” Ignoring the sharp spike of adrenaline and anxious perspiration injected into the general mélange of stale liquor, smoke, and perfume that hung like a fog in the club, Nathan gestured for his team to follow him deeper inside. “Eli, you and Jax search the public rooms. Rafe and I will take the offices in back.”

With the two warriors heading off on his instructions, Rafe fell in alongside Nathan to cut a path through the crowds on their way to La Notte’s owner’s quarters. There was no security to stop them once they reached Cass’s office, suggesting the man was either working the floor of his club as he so enjoyed or not in the building at all.

Nathan hoped it was the former. If not, this unannounced visit was sure to get back to Cass one way or another, and the Order didn’t want to give the son of a bitch any cause for alarm. They wanted nothing to send him to ground before they could interrogate him about who—or, rather, what—he truly was.

Nathan stalked up to the black-painted steel door with the word PRIVATE scratched into it from the tip of a serrated blade. The dead bolt and secondary lock were no trouble at all for the power of his Breed mind. Nathan freed the bolt and the other tumbled open with little more than a second’s concentration.

He pushed the door wide and Rafe followed him into the darkened office. Neither of them needed artificial light; Breed eyesight was flawless, all the more so in the dark.

Nathan made a quick visual scan of the empty room and cursed. “He’s already gone.”

No sign of Cassian Gray at all. The desk was cleared of all papers and personal effects. No computer tablet lying conveniently in the open for them to confiscate. Nothing but a carefully vacated office.

If Nathan had to guess, he figured Cass had been gone for several hours at least. Maybe a full day or more.

“Dammit,” he gritted through clenched teeth.

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