About the Book
The climactic novel in Lara Adrian's New York Times bestselling Midnight Breed series—and her hardcover debut—Darker After Midnight invites readers to enter a thrillingly sensual world where danger meets desire.
In the dark of night, a blood war escalates within the hidden world of the Breed. After existing in secret for many long centuries, maintaining a fragile peace with the humans who walk beside them unaware, a single act of retaliation has put the entire vampire nation at risk of discovery. It falls to the Order—a cadre of Breed warriors pledged to protect their own and humankind alike—to stop Dragos, the power-mad vampire at the center of the conflict, before his push for domination can explode into catastrophe.
At the center of the Order's quest is Sterling Chase, once a morally rigid enforcer of Breed law, now a warrior fallen from grace, whose biggest battle is the one he wages against his own savage nature. With addiction beckoning him toward eternal darkness, Chase's path to redemption has never seemed more out of reach—until he finds himself drawn to a beautiful young woman who may be something much more than she seems . . .
"Adrian pulls out all the stops as she makes the move to hardcover. After ten edgy and passionate books, the final confrontation between the Order and Dragos is at hand. Over the course of this terrific series, Breed warrior Sterling Chase has been on a downward spiral as he battles against Bloodlust...Adrian ensures readers are taken on a redemptive journey filled with passion, treachery and danger. Awesome!"
—RT Book Reviews (4.5 Stars — TOP PICK!)
"DARKER AFTER MIDNIGHT is Sterling Chase's book, and while I felt like I had been waiting for it forever and was afraid that I had put too high of expectations on it, I should never have worried... this book was fantastic—everything I was hoping for and SO much more...LITERAL ADDICTION gives DARKER AFTER MIDNIGHT 5 skulls and feels like that isn't even adequate for the gift of this book. We recommend it to everyone—Paranormal Romance lovers, Urban Fantasy readers, anyone who loves fast paced, action packed, intense reads with gripping characters and spectacular storylines woven into a phenomenally crafted world. If you haven't started the Midnight Breed series yet, we highly suggest that you bump it up to the top of your TBR list and get started today."
—Literal Addiction (5 Skulls)
"Action packed, sexy and enticing...Lara Adrian's wild imagination and creativity is amazing. This is a must read, one that will open your mind and imagination to what is coming next."
—Reading Divas (5 Hearts)
"Every book in this series was great but I have to say that DARKER AFTER MIDNIGHT is the EPIC book of the series and was truly phenomenal. You will fall in love with the world Lara created and all of the characters in it. This book is a MUST read for all Midnight Breed fans, as the story line from the previous books comes to a conclusion and opens up a new world for the Breed. Truly an EPIC read!!"
—Book Monster Reviews (5 Stars)
Excerpted from Darker After Midnight
by Lara Adrian
Published by: Dell Books (February 2012)
Copyright © 2011-2017 by Lara Adrian LLC. All rights reserved.
(Note: Excerpt may contain explicit language and sexual situations).
"Please make yourself comfortable, Ms. Fairchild. This shouldn't take long." The police detective who met her at the station opened the door to the witness viewing room and waited as she walked in ahead of him. Several grim-faced men in dark suits and a handful of uniformed officers were already waiting inside.
Tavia recognized the federal agents, men she'd been introduced to in the hours following the shooting at the senator's party. She nodded to the group in greeting as she stepped farther into the room.
It was movie-theather dark inside, the only light coming from the oversized pane of glass that looked into the empty lineup area on the other side. Overhead fluorescent panels bathed that room in a stark white glow that didn't make the place any more inviting. A height measurement chart traveled the length of the back wall, with the numbers one through five stenciled in evenly placed intervals above the seven foot mark.
The detective gestured to one of several vinyl-upholstered chairs positioned in front of the large window. "We'll be starting soon. Have a seat, if you like."
"I'd prefer to stand," she replied. "And please, Detective Avery, call me Tavia."
He nodded, then strode over to a water cooler and countertop coffee maker in the far corner. "I'd offer you coffee, but it's nasty even when it's freshly made. End of the day like this, it's worse than crude oil." He put a paper cup under the water cooler dispenser and pushed the lever. The clear jug belched a few big bubbles as the cup filled. "House white," he said, turning to hold the water out to her. "Yours, if you'd like it."
"No thank you." Although she appreciated his efforts to make her feel at ease, she wasn't interested in pleasantries or delays. She had a job to do here, and a laptop full of schedules, spreadsheets and presentations to be reviewed once she got home. Normally she didn't mind long hours of work that spilled into long nights of the same. God knew, she didn't have to worry about a social life getting in the way.
But she was on edge tonight, feeling the strange mix of mental hyper-intensity and physical exhaustion that always dogged her after a round of treatments and examinations at her family clinic. She'd been under her doctor's care for most of the day, and while she wasn't thrilled about having to make an evening pitstop at the police station, part of her was anxious to see firsthand that the man who'd opened fire on a crowded room of people and then went on to orchestrate a bombing in the heart of the city was, in fact, behind bars where he belonged.
Tavia walked closer to the viewing window, and gave it an experimental tap with her fingernail. "This glass must be fairly thick."
"Yep. Quarter-inch safety." Avery met her there, and took a sip of water. "It's one-way glass, looks like a mirror on the other side. We can see them, but they can't see us. Same goes for audio; our room is soundproof, but we have speakers tuned in to monitor their side. So when the bad guys are standing against that wall out there, you don't have to worry about any of them being able to ID you or hear anything you say."
"I'm not worried." Tavia felt nothing but resolve as she met the middle-aged man's eyes over the rim of the Dixie cup. She glanced at the other officers and agents. "I'm ready to do this. I want to do this."
"Okay. Now, in just a minute, a couple of officers are going to bring a group of four or five men into that room. All you have to do is have a good look at those men and tell me if any of them could be the man you saw at the senator's party." The detective chuckled a little and shot a wink at his fellow officers. "After the detailed description you gave law enforcement following the shooting, I got a feeling you're gonna ace this exercise here tonight."
"Whatever I can do to help," she replied.
He swallowed the rest of his water and crushed the paper cup in his fist. "Normally we wouldn't disclose facts about our investigation, but since the guy confessed to everything and waived his rights to legal counsel, tonight's lineup is just a formality."
Avery nodded. "He knows we got him nailed on the trespassing and attempted murder charges. No way he could weasel out of that one when the sketch details you provided were a dead ringer for him and he's sporting fresh gunshot wounds from his escape."
"And the bombing downtown?" Tavia prompted, looking to the federal agents for confirmation. "He's admitting responsibility for that too?"
One of the suits tipped his chin in acknowledgment. "Didn't even try to deny it. Says he orchestrated the whole thing."
"But I thought there were others involved. The news stations ran coverage of the police pursuit all day. I heard officers killed all three bombers at some local private estate."
"That's right," Avery cut in. "He stated he enlisted the three backwoods malcontents to rig the explosion at the city's UN building. Obviously not the sharpest tools in the shed, seeing how they led us right to him. Not that he put up any kind of fight. He came out of the house and surrendered to police right after they arrived on the property."
"You mean, he lives there?" Tavia asked. She'd seen images of the mansion and its expansive grounds on the news. It was palatial. The pale limestone construction with its soaring four-story walls, black lacquered doors and high, arched windows seemed more suited to old-money, New England elite than a violent maniac with apparent terrorist leanings.
"We haven't been able to substantiate who actually owns the property," the detective told her. "The estate has been held in private trust for more than a hundred years. Got about ten layers of lawyers and legalese wrapped around the title to the place. Our perp claims he's been renting it for a few months, but he doesn't know anything about the owner. Says it came furnished, no contract, and he pays the rent in cash to one of the top law firms downtown."
"Has he said why he did all of this?" Tavia asked. "If he confessed to the shooting and the bombing, is he offering any excuse for what he's done?"
Detective Avery gave a loose shrug. "Why does any lunatic do these things? He didn't have a concrete answer for that. In fact, the guy is almost as much of an enigma as the place he's been living."
"We're not even sure what his real name is. The one he gave us doesn't have a social security number or any record of employment. No driver's license, no automobile registration, no credit report, voter card, nothing. It's like the guy's a ghost. The only thing we did turn up was a donation given to a Harvard University Alumni association made in his name. The trail dead-ends there."
"Well, that's a start at least," Tavia replied.
The detective exhaled a grunt of a laugh. "It would be, I suppose. If the record didn't date back to the 1920s. Obviously it's not our bad guy. I may not be the best judge of age, but I feel pretty certain he's nowhere near eighty years old."
"No," Tavia murmured. Thinking back on the night of Senator Clarence's holiday party and the man she'd witnessed firing from the second floor gallery of the house, she would have placed him somewhere around her age, mid-thirties at most. "A relative, maybe?"
"Maybe," the detective said. He glanced up as the door in the other room opened and a uniformed officer stepped in ahead of the line of men behind him. "Okay, here we go, Tavia. Showtime."
She nodded, then found herself taking a step back from the one-way glass as the first of the suspects entered the lineup room.
It was him—the one she'd come to the station to identify.
She knew him on sight, instantly recognizing the chiseled, knife-edge cheekbones and the rigid, unforgiving jut of his squared jaw line. His short golden-brown hair was disheveled, some of it drooping over his brow, but not enough to conceal the piercing color of his steel blue eyes. And he was immense—every bit as tall and muscular as she remembered. His biceps bulged beneath the short sleeves of a white T-shirt. Loose-fitting heathered gray sweats hung from his slim hips and hinted at powerfully muscled thighs.
He prowled into the space with an air of defiance—of unapologetic arrogance—that made the fact that he was in a jail with his hands cuffed behind his back seem inconsequential. He walked ahead of the others, all long limbs and a loose gait that felt more animal than human. There was a slight limp in the otherwise smooth movement of his legs, she noticed. A spot of blood rode on his right thigh, a deep red splotch that soaked into the lighter fabric of his sweats. Tavia watched the stain grow a little with each long stride that carried him across the length of the lineup area. She shuddered a bit inside the warmth of her winter coat, feeling queasy. God, she never had been able to stand the sight of blood.
Over the speakers, one of the police officers instructed the man to stop at the number four position and face forward. He did, and when he was standing facing the glass, his eyes fixed squarely on her. Unerringly so.
A jolt of awareness arrowed through her. "Are you sure they can't—"
"I promise, you're perfectly safe and protected in here," Avery assured her.
And yet that scathing blue gaze stayed rooted on her, even after the last of the three other men was led into the lineup and made to face forward. Those other men slouched and shifted, anxious eyes held low beneath inclined heads or darting around and seeing nothing but their own reflection in the large pane of one-way glass.
"If you're ready," prompted the detective from beside her.
She nodded, letting her eyes travel down the line to the remaining three men even though there was no need. The others looked nothing like him. They were a rangy mix of shapes and sizes and ages. One man was rail-thin, with stringy brown hair hanging limply around his shoulders. Another was the size of a bull, broad shoulders and a big belly. He had a mean face framed by thick, dark waves, and small eyes that glared out over the swollen red beak of his nose. The third was a balding lump of a man, probably in the neighborhood of fifty, who was sweating profusely under the bright glare of the spotlight.
And then there was him . . . the intense, almost cruelly handsome menace who still hadn't taken his eyes off her. Tavia wasn't the sort to let things rattle her, but she could hardly stand the weight of that stare—even if she was safely concealed in the darkened viewing area behind quarter-inch safety glass and surrounded by half a dozen armed law enforcement officers.
"That's him," she blurted, pointing toward position four. Although it had to be impossible, she could have sworn she saw his mouth lift into a half-smile as she raised her hand to single him out. "That's him, Detective Avery. He's the man I saw at the party that night."
Avery gave her hand a light pat as the cops in the other room began instructing the men to step forward one at a time. "I know I said this is just a formality, but we still need you to be sure, Tavia—"
"I'm absolutely certain of it," she replied, her tone crisp as the blood in her veins began to buzz with some kind of innate alarm. She glanced back into the other room just as Number Four took his two steps forward. "There's no need to continue here. That man is the shooter. I would know his face anywhere."
"Okay, then. That's fine, Tavia." He chuckled. "What'd I tell ya? Done in no time. You did great."
She dismissed the praise as unnecessary, giving the officer a mild shake of her head. "Will there be anything else?"
"Ah, nope. It'll just take a few minutes for us to wrap things up here, and we can get you on your way. If you'd like me to see you home—"
"No thank you. I'm sure I'll be fine." As she spoke, her eyes clashed once more with the man who might have killed someone at Senator Clarence's party. If he truly was the mastermind of the bombing downtown this morning too, then he had the lives of several innocent people on his hands. Tavia held that penetrating stare, hoping that he could see through the glass to the depth of contempt she held for him in her eyes. After a long moment, she pivoted away from the viewing window. "If that will be all, detective, the senator has a big presentation tomorrow morning, and I have a lot of logistics and other work to catch up on yet tonight."
The deep growl—the unexpected sound of her name on a stranger's lips—made her freeze for a moment where she stood. She didn't have to wonder who spoke. The low rumble of his voice went through her with the same cold certainty of the bullets he'd rained down on the crowd of party attendees the other night.
Still, shocked by what was happening, Tavia swiveled a questioning look on the detective and the other agents and officers. "This room . . . I thought you said—"
Avery sputtered an apology and grabbed for a wall mounted phone next to the viewing window. As he spoke into the receiver, the man standing in the number four spot kept talking to her. He kept looking at her, as though there were nothing standing between her and his deadly focus.