About the Book
Delivered from the darkness, a woman finds herself plunged into a passion that is DEEPER THAN MIDNIGHT...
At eighteen, Corinne Bishop was a beautiful, spirited young woman living a life of privilege as the adopted daughter of a wealthy family. Her world was changed in an instant when she was stolen away and held prisoner by the malevolent vampire Dragos. After many years of captivity and torment, Corinne is rescued by the Order, a cadre of vampire warriors embroiled in a war against Dragos and his followers. Her innocence taken, Corinne has lost a piece of her heart as well—the one thing that gave her hope during her imprisonment, and the only thing that matters to her now that she is free.
Assigned to safeguard Corinne on her trip home is a formidable golden-eyed Breed male called Hunter. Once Dragos's most deadly assassin, Hunter now works for the Order, and he's hell-bent on making Dragos pay for his manifold sins. Bonded to Corinne by their mutual desire, Hunter will have to decide how far he'll go to end Dragos's reign of evil—even if carrying out his mission means shattering Corinne's tender heart.
"The Midnight Breed series is one of the consistently best paranormal series out there . . . Adrian writes compelling individual stories (with wonderful happily ever afters) within a larger story arc that is unfolding with a refreshing lack of predictability. DEEPER THAN MIDNIGHT rocks!"
—Romance Novel News (A Recommended Read)
"Whenever I pick up a new novel by Ms. Adrian I find myself in a personal utopia . . . DEEPER THAN MIDNIGHT is such a compelling story as I watch Corinne fight her attraction for Hunter, the fear she has to live with due to her captivity, and the secret that will complicate everything. Whether you are a longtime fan or just discovering this tantalizing author, you will soon find yourself completely and utterly caught within these magnetizing pages."
—Coffee Time Romance (5 Cups)
"Lara Adrian has penned another wonderful addition to her Midnight Breed world that keeps the suspense of the series going strong and fans of the series wanting more. She has continued to bring excellence to the world that she has created with even more fantastic characters and heart-pounding intrigue. This is a book that I'm definitely adding to my keeper collection. I am delighted to recommend this book to others who love this genre and to who would love this story."
—Night Owl Reviews (5 Stars, Top Pick)
Excerpted from Deeper Than Midnight
by Lara Adrian
Published by: Dell Books (July 2011)
Copyright © 2010-2017 by Lara Adrian LLC. All rights reserved.
(Note: Excerpt may contain explicit language and sexual situations).
Corinne stood at the edge of a wide marble terrace patio that overlooked the snow-filled rear courtyard of the Order's estate on ground level. Alone for a moment while Gabrielle fetched coats for them inside the mansion, she tipped her head back on her shoulders to draw in a long breath of cold December air. The winter sky was dark and cloudless above her, a fathomless sea of midnight blue speckled with bright, glittering stars.
How long had it been since she'd smelled the crisp, faintly smoky scent of winter on the breeze?
How long since she'd felt fresh air against her cheeks?
The decades of her imprisonment had crept by slowly at first, in the days when she'd been determined to mark the time, fighting every second as though it may have been her last. After a while, she'd realized it wasn't her death her captor wanted. For his purposes, he'd needed her alive, even if barely. It was then that she'd stopped counting, ceased fighting, and her concept of time had blurred into a single, never-ending night.
And now she was free.
Tomorrow, she would be home with her family.
Tomorrow, her life would start over and she would be a new person. She had survived, but in her heart she wondered if she could ever be whole again. So much had been taken from her. Some things that could never be won back.
And others . . .
She would have time later to mourn all the things she'd lost to Dragos's evil.
Closing her eyes, she breathed in another deep, cleansing draft of the bracing night air. As she released it, the sound of a child's laughter startled her into a jolt.
At first she thought it was only a trick of her mind, one of the many cruel games that darkness had liked to play on her during her time in captivity. But then the delighted little giggle came again, carrying on the breeze from somewhere in the vast garden courtyard beyond.
It was the laughter of a young girl—a child of perhaps eight or nine years, Corinne guessed, watching as the girl raced happily through the calf-deep snow, bundled up like a pink snowman in a thick parka and matching pants.
Behind her just a few paces came a pair of grossly mismatched, unleashed dogs, tongues lolling joyfully out of the sides of their mouths as they pursued her. Corinne couldn't help but smile at the stubby brown terrier that tried so desperately to get ahead of the larger, more elegant dog. For every unhurried gait of the beautiful, wolfish gray-and-white animal, the scrappy little mutt barked and jockeyed in its wake, finally dashing right through its companion's long legs in order to be the first to reach the girl.
She squealed as the small dog raced up on her ankles and tackled her, barking merrily as the second dog loped up to them with its thick tail wagging and began to lick the child's face.
"Okay, okay!" the little girl giggled. "Luna, Harvard—okay, you win! I surrender!"
As the pair of dogs let up on her to wrestle and growl with each other instead, two women now strode across the snowy lawn from another section of the garden courtyard. One of them was clearly pregnant beneath her oversize down coat, walking at a careful pace alongside a tall, athletic-looking female who held the pair of leashes in her mittened hand.
"Play nice, Luna," she called to the larger of the two dogs. It responded at once, abandoning its canine playmate to lope over and run a happy circle around its obvious owner.
"That's Alex," Gabrielle said, strolling out to the edge of the terrace where Corinne stood. She was wearing a dark wool coat, and held another out to Corinne. It carried the faintest fragrance of cedar, and felt as comfortable as a warm blanket as Corinne slipped into it. "Alex is Kade's mate," Gabrielle continued. "She was out with him when you arrived earlier tonight, so you didn't get the chance to meet her."
"I remember her, though," Corinne replied, her thoughts spinning back to the eve of her rescue. "She and a few other women were the ones who helped bring us out of those cellar cages. They were the ones who found us."
Gabrielle nodded. "That's right. Alex and Jenna were there, along with Dylan and Renata. If Tess wasn't about to pop any day now with Dante's baby, I think she'd have been right there with them too."
Corinne glanced back out to the courtyard as the two women spotted them and each lifted a hand in greeting. The young girl fell into another round of giggles, flopping into a nearby drift with the two dogs eagerly chasing after her.
"The adorable little hellion over there is Mira," Gabrielle said, shaking her head at the child's antics."Renata had been looking after her when the two of them lived in Montreal. When she and Nikolai fell in love last summer, they brought Mira home to the compound with them to live together as a family." Lucan's mate was beaming when she glanced back at Corinne. "I don't know about you, but I love a happy ending."
"The world could use a lot more of them," Corinne murmured, warmed by Mira's good fortune even as a cold sort of ache opened like the tiniest fissure in the center of her being. She pushed the emptiness away as Alex and Tess walked together, up the wide marble steps of the terrace patio.
Gabrielle's breath misted into the darkness. "It's not too cold for you out here, is it, Tess?"
"It's wonderful," replied the heavily pregnant beauty as she waddled alongside Alex. Her cheeks were flushed a rosy pink inside the deep hood of her parka. "I swear, if Dante tries to keep me cooped up inside the compound for one more day, he may not live to see his son's birth." The threat was diffused completely by her dancing aqua eyes and sunny smile. She stuck out her mitten-covered hand. "Hi, I'm Tess."
Corinne briefly clasped the handful of warm wool and gave a small nod of greeting. "Nice to meet you."
"Alex," said the other Breedmate, offering her hand and a welcoming smile as well. "I can't even tell you what a relief it is to know that you and the others Dragos had taken are safe now, Corinne."
She nodded in response. "I am grateful to you all, much more than words can ever say."
"And tomorrow night, Corinne is going home," Gabrielle added.
"Tomorrow?" Alex glanced over in question. "Does that mean Brock and Jenna are on their way back from Alaska now?"
"They're still delayed by the snowstorms," Gabrielle replied. "But Hunter has volunteered to escort Corinne to Detroit in Brock's place."
In the lengthening silence that seemed to fall over the women of the Order, Corinne relived the moment that the immense, eerily unreadable warrior had blurted his offer to take her home. She hadn't expected it from him, certainly. He hadn't seemed the charitable sort, not even on the night of her rescue, when he and a few other warriors from the Order had driven Dragos's freed captives to the Darkhaven in Rhode Island.
Hunter had been hard to miss that night. With his chiseled, forbidding features and six-and-a-half-foot frame of bulky muscle, he was the kind of male who dominated any room he entered without even trying. While the hours after the rescue had been ripe with emotion for everyone involved, Hunter had been the quiet one, the one who kept to the periphery and merely carried out his tasks in stoic efficiency.
Later that night, one of the other women had whispered that she'd overheard Andreas and Claire talking privately about Hunter. She'd said it sounded as though he had once—not long ago—been allied in some way with Dragos. Corinne could hardly pretend that she hadn't recognized the air of danger that surrounded the mysterious warrior. She couldn't deny that the thought of being near him unnerved her, then and now.
It didn't take much to picture him as he had been in the compound a short while ago, with his bloodstained combat clothing and the arsenal of terrible weapons that he wore circled around his slim waist. It took far less effort to recall the striking golden color of his eyes and the way his hawklike stare had locked on her the instant he saw her.
Why she had caught his attention so thoroughly, she couldn't begin to guess. All she knew was she'd felt trapped by his penetrating gaze, scrutinized in a way that had made her feel both enlivened and exposed.
Even now her skin tingled with the remembered awareness of him.
She shivered with the feeling, though her body was nothing close to cold within the insulating folds of her coat. Nevertheless, she tried to rub away the sensation, running her hands up and down her arms to dispel the peculiar, heated prickle of her nerve endings.
"Hunter!" Without warning, little Mira leapt up from her game in the snow and launched into a headlong run toward the terrace patio. "Hunter, come out with us!"
Corinne pivoted her head along with the other women, following Mira's excited dash right past and up to the set of open French doors that looked out over the grounds from the mansion behind them.
Hunter stood just inside those framed glass doors.
He was no longer dressed in gore-covered head-to-toe black, but recently showered, wearing loose-fitting denim jeans and an untucked white button-down shirt that hinted at the elaborate pattern of the dermaglyphs that covered his chest and torso. His big feet were bare despite the time of year, and the short damp spikes of his blond hair hung limply over his brow.
And he was studying her again . . . studying her still. How long had he been standing there?
Corinne tried to look away from him, but his piercing golden eyes would not release her. His gaze didn't move from Corinne to acknowledge the approaching child until the last moment, as Mira giddily threw herself into his strong arms.
He lifted her effortlessly and held her aloft in the crook of his left elbow, listening as the little girl chattered animatedly about all of her day's adventures. Corinne could hardly hear what he said, but it was obvious that he favored the child, holding his voice to low, indulgent tones.
In the few moments that he conversed with her, something passed over his otherwise unreadable face. Something that made him go quite still. He sent one further glance in Corinne's direction—a lingering glance that seemed to bore straight through her—before slowly setting the child down on her feet. Then he walked away, back into the heart of the compound.
Even after he was gone, even after Mira had run back to play with the dogs in the snow-filled yard and the other Breedmates had resumed their own conversation, Corinne could still feel the unsettling heat of Hunter's eyes on her.