Fifteen years ago Jared Bonatelli had it all. The youngest son of one of the founding families in the Conservatorship of The Dark Order he lived a life you only thought existed in novels and nightmares. He had just graduated from Oxford University and became engaged to his childhood sweetheart when he lost it all in one violent act. The very next day he found himself shipped off to New Orleans with only the money in his pocket and whatever he could fit in one suitcase. Since that night he has suffered reliving his fiancé’s murder repeatedly in his dreams. It isn’t until he finds himself summoned back to New York for an emergency meeting of the Conservatorship that the comfortable world he lives in begins to crumble around him.
Alexandra Toscano has been searching for the one assignment that could catapult her journalistic career. When her editor Gene O’Hanlon drops a manila folder in her lap, Alex is immediately skeptical. At first glance the information he hands her seems like a publicity piece that is till she comes across an article he wrote some fifteen years ago about Vampires murdering a young woman in Central Park. She is ready to laugh it off as a work of fiction until he points out he was an eye witness to the whole thing. But that wasn’t all. The girl’s boyfriend was a member of a prominent Italian family who vanished the very next day.
Now as Alex begins to dig deeper into Jared’s life she begins to question her own past. Could the answer she seeks be found in the glowing eyes of the one person she is sworn to expose? Or will they both find themselves torn apart by a world Beyond the Sun?
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Alex sighed and relaxed in the strong embrace. It had been a long time since anyone held her so protectively. The murmur of voices around her slowly let reality back in. Alex opened her eyes to find Jared watching her.
“If you wanted to get my attention, you’ve certainly found a way of doing it. Let’s find a more comfortable place for you to throw yourself at me, shall we?”
Alex wanted to tell him where he could put his comment and exactly how far he could shove it in said place, but all she could do was shake her head slowly. She tried to hide her face from the curious glances of the other guests Jared passed on the way out of the room and into a waiting elevator.
The doors closed, and she found her voice. “Put me down.”
“You can’t be serious? You’ll fall on your face.”
“I said, Put. Me. Down.”
“Your wish is my command.” He set her on her feet and stepped away.
Alex speed walked down the hall the moment the elevator doors opened, heading for the nearest exhibit. It didn’t matter which one, so long as she was away from him. Her footsteps echoed too loudly. She stopped dead in her tracks. No one else was on this floor but the two of them. He hadn’t moved and watched her from the doorway of the elevator, face impossible to read.
“What are you looking at?”
“I can see that, but why?”
“I’m trying to figure out why a beautiful woman such as yourself is here all alone. If you hadn’t noticed, this isn’t a singles bar.”
Alex struggled not to grind her teeth. “Who said I was here alone? You took it upon yourself to manhandle me like a caveman. You didn’t bother to ask if I wanted help.”
Jared raised his hands in surrender. “Hey, if it was your goal to fall on your face in front of the elite of New York, I’m sorry for ruining your moment. I didn’t see anyone else running to help. Call me crazy, but I can’t stop myself from assisting a beautiful woman in distress.”
Her nerves stood on end. He stepped from the elevator toward her. Bonatelli moved with the slow grace of a lion stalking prey. Her heart jumped into her throat.
Alex’s eyes darted around the room, but her disobedient feet remained right where they were. Her ability to piss people off by glancing at them had gone one step too far. If he wanted to take her out, there was not one to stop him. No witnesses. It was an eerie echo of Gene’s article. Jared was a killer of things which went bump in the night. The likelihood of her getting away from him was next to nil.
Focusing on his hands, she knew without a doubt, that they could easily snap her neck. Instead of raising a hand to her, he walked past and through the next darkened doorway. Her shoulders relaxed, but she remained on guard, wishing she had thought to bring her pepper spray.
“You’ll be more comfortable in here.”
“Like I’d go anywhere with you.”
“You already have.”
“Not by choice.”
When she made no move to follow him, Jared appeared hurt, and placed a hand over his heart. “Hey, I’m being perfectly honest here. Nothing is going to harm you, least of all me. Lord knows I have enough women throwing themselves at me. To tell you the truth it creeps me out. ”
“And I should believe you, why? I don’t even know you.”
“Don’t you?” His brow rose. “Come on, I promise I don’t bite. That’s better than you’ll get from some of the guests downstairs. I only bite if it’s consensual.”
Her eyes grew wide. The reaction brought a twitch of amusement to Jared’s lips. He winked and vanished through the doorway.
Against her better judgment, or maybe it was the inquisitive reporter in her, Alex followed. Jared held the curtain back for her. Once she passed inside, he let it fall back into place. Darkness engulfed them. The room, even in the dark, felt warm and inviting, protecting her from the ills of the world.
No place had been a comfort zone for her, especially none of the foster homes she’d been dumped into. Those had been the worst. The foster parents, if that’s what one wanted to call them, made things look great when Social Services came for a visit. On the surface, it all appeared hunky dory. But when they left, all hell broke loose, drinking, drugs, and the ever popular prostitution. Her foster homes were like going to the circus, only no kid should have to be exposed to this particular one. So Alex got out as fast as she could and made her own way in the world.
“Hang on, I’ll be right back.” Jared’s footsteps trailed away from her.
Light filled the room seconds later making Alex’s mouth hang open. Just a few feet in front of her stood the most realistic model of a dragon she ever laid eyes on. It was ten feet tall and three times that in length. Its silvery green wings spread out to an amazing fifteen-foot wingspan. The dragon appeared poised and ready to take off at any moment. She reached out and touched it. Scales. Those were real scales; nothing else could duplicate the sensation. Their iridescence flowed like water over the dragon’s entire body, giving it the appearance that it was a living breathing animal. It defied all logic. She gazed into the extremely realistic yellow eyes of a creature that shouldn’t exist. She knew in her heart this was no model, but it had to be an illusion.