About the Book
IN A WORLD OF SHADOWS AND DARK, CONSUMING HUNGERS, DESIRE IS THE DEADLIEST WEAPON...
Fueled by pain and rage over a shattering betrayal, the warrior Rio has pledged his life to the war against the Rogues. He will let nothing stand in his way—least of all a mortal woman with the power to expose the entire vampire race. But now an ancient evil has been awakened, and a stunning darkness is on the rise.
For journalist Dylan Alexander, it began with the discovery of a hidden tomb. Suddenly she is at the center of a gathering storm of violence and secrets. But nothing is as dangerous as the scarred, lethally seductive man who rises from the shadows to plunge her into his world of dark desire and endless night. Here she is powerless to resist Rio's touch, even as she uncovers a shocking link to her own past. Now Dylan must choose: Leave Rio's midnight realm, or risk it all for the man who has shown her true passion and the infinite pleasures of the heart . . . .
* New York Times bestseller
* USA Today bestseller
* Publishers Weekly bestseller
* Borders bestseller
* Der Spiegel bestseller (Germany)
* Nominee — 2008 Romantic Times Award "Best Vampire Romance"
* Nominee — 2008 P.E.A.R.L. Award "Best Vampire Romance"
"I am having a hard time trying to explain how fabulous I found this book without sounding like a gushing Lara Adrian fan-girl! MIDNIGHT RISING is absolutely superb . . . as soon as one 'mystery' would get explained, Ms. Adrian would add more teasers to entice . . . This is a spellbinding series!"
—RomanceJunkies.com (5 Blue Ribbons)
"Packed with danger and action, [MIDNIGHT RISING] also explores the tumultuous emotions of guilt, anger, betrayal and forgiveness. Adrian has hit upon an unbeatable story mix!"
—Romantic Times (4.5 Stars)
"MIDNIGHT RISING is yet another solid and engrossing vampire romance. . . . [Dylan and Rio] are a superb pairing and a testament to the healing power of love."
"Another thrill ride from talented Lara Adrian! A 'not to be missed' and definite keeper for any paranormal lover."
Excerpted from Midnight Rising
by Lara Adrian
Published by: Dell Books (April 2008)
Copyright © 2007-2017 by Lara Adrian LLC. All rights reserved.
(Note: Excerpt may contain explicit language and sexual situations).
If Dylan was confused before she and her abductor left Prague, their arrival in what she could only assume was somewhere in or around Berlin only made things all the muddier to her. When she woke up in the middle of a large, silk-covered bed in a darkened room that looked like an upscale European bed-and-breakfast suite, she wondered if she'd dreamt the whole thing.
Where the hell was she? And how long had she been here?
Even though she felt fully awake and alert, there was a kind of cloudiness to her senses, like her head had been wrapped in thick cotton.
Maybe she was still dreaming.
Maybe she was still somehow in Prague and none of what she recalled had actually happened at all. Dylan turned on a nightstand lamp, then got off the bed and walked over to the tall windows on the other side of the luxurious room. Behind the beautiful drapes and curtain sheers, a tightly fitted panel shade covered the glass. She looked for a pull-cord or some other means to open it, but she couldn't find anything. The blind was completely immobile, as though it was locked in place over the glass.
"The shade is electronic. You won't be able to open it from in here."
Startled, Dylan spun around at the sound of the deep, but now familiar male voice.
It was him, sitting in a delicate antique chair in the opposite corner of the room. She knew the unmistakable dark, accented voice, but the man staring at her from the shadows didn't look anything like the filthy, ragged lunatic she expected to see.
He was clean now, and wearing fresh clothes—a black button-down dress shirt with rolled up sleeves, black trousers, and black loafers that were probably Italian and probably very expensive. His dark hair gleamed from a fresh washing, no longer the dingy hanks that hung limply into his face but swept back now in glossy espresso-brown waves that set off the unusual color of his intense, topaz eyes.
"Where am I?" she asked him, taking a few steps closer to where he sat. "What is this place? How long have you been sitting there watching me? What the hell did you do to me that I can hardly remember coming here?"
He smiled, but it couldn't be called friendly. "Barely awake and already starting in with the questions. You were a lot easier to take when you were sleeping."
Dylan wasn't sure why she should feel insulted by that. "Then why don't you let me go if I annoy you so much?"
The smile quirked a little, softening the grim line of his mouth. Good God, if not for the scars that ran from temple to jaw on the left side of his face, he would have been drop-dead gorgeous. No doubt he had been, before whatever accident had happened to him.
"I would like nothing better than to let you go," he said. "Unfortunately, the decision of what to do with you is not mine to make alone."
"Then whose is it? The man you were talking to in the hallway before?"
She'd only been half-conscious, but she'd been awake enough to hear the exchange of two male voices as she was placed in the room—one of them belonging to the man glaring at her now, the other clearly German based on the accent. She glanced around at the wealth of antique furniture and fine art, at the ten-foot ceilings and ornate crown moldings, all of which practically screamed multimillion-dollar estate. And then there were those light-blocking, Pentagon-grade window shades.
"What is this place—headquarters to some kind of government spy ring?" Dylan laughed, a bit nervously. "You're not going to tell me you're part of a well-funded, foreign terrorist cell, are you?"
He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. "No."
"No, you won't tell me, or no, you aren't a terrorist?"
"The less you know, the better, Dylan Alexander." The corner of his mouth lifted as he said it, then he shook his head. "Dylan. What kind of name is that for a female?"
She crossed her arms over her chest and shrugged. "Don't blame me, I had nothing to do with it. I happen to come from a long line of hippies, groupies, and tree-huggers." He just looked at her, those dark brows lowering over his eyes. He didn't get it, apparently. The reference seemed to go right past him, like he had never bothered with pop culture and probably had better things to do with his time. "My mom named me Dylan—you know, as in Bob Dylan? She was really into him around the time I was born. My brothers were named after musicians too: Morrison and Lennon."
"Ridiculous," her captor replied, scoffing under his breath.
"Well, it could be worse. We're talking the mid-seventies, after all. I had just as good a chance of being named Clapton or Garfunkel."
He didn't laugh, just held her in his piercing topaz gaze. "A name is no insignificant thing. It frames your world as a child, and it lasts forever. A name should mean something."
Dylan shot him a sardonic look. "This coming from a guy named Rio? Yeah, I heard your German friend call you that," she added when he pinned her with a narrowed gaze. "It doesn't seem that much better than Dylan, if you ask me."
"I didn't ask you. And that's not my name. Only a small portion of it."
"What's the rest of it?" she asked, genuinely curious, and not just because it seemed like a good idea to gather whatever information she could about this man who was holding her captive.
She looked at him—at his scarred, yet ruggedly attractive face, the powerful body contained within his expensive new clothes, and she wanted to know more. She wanted to know his name and all the rest of his secrets, which she was certain had to be plentiful. He was a mystery she wanted to solve, and she had to admit that interest had very little to do with the cave, her story, or even her own sense of self-preservation.
"I've gone through your computer files and e-mail," he told her, ignoring her question like she fully expected him to do. "I know you've sent the cave photos to several individuals, including your employer." He calmly rattled off the full names of her boss, Janet, Marie, Nancy, and her mom. "I'm sure we could find them with little effort, but this will go much faster if you give me their current addresses and places of employment."
"Forget it." Dylan bristled at the idea of her privacy being so casually invaded. Inappropriately intrigued by him or not, she was not about to unleash this man or his shady cohorts on anyone she knew. "If you have a problem with me, fine. But don't think I'm going to drag anyone else into this."
His face was grimly set, unflinching. "You already have."
Dylan's heart sank at the flat statement that seemed so calm, yet so ripe with threat. When she said nothing else, he got up out of the dainty chair. God, he was huge, every inch of him swathed in lean, powerful muscle.
"Now that you're awake," he said, "I'll see that you have something to eat."
"And give you the opportunity to drug my food? No thanks, I'd rather fast."
He exhaled a low chuckle. "I'll bring you some food. Whether or not you choose to eat it will be up to you."
Dylan hated that her stomach seemed to churn eagerly at the thought of eating. She didn't want to accept anything from this man or his associates, even if it meant starving to death in the process. But she was beyond hungry and she knew that even if he brought her a bowl of lumpy, ice-cold gruel she'd gratefully gobble it down.
"Don't get any ideas about leaving this room," he added. "The door will be locked from outside, and I'll know the instant you try anything. I think you know that you wouldn't get far before I caught you."
She did know that, in a place inside her that was all raw, animal instinct. This man, whoever he was, now held her completely at his mercy. Dylan didn't like it, but she was smart enough to know that whatever she was dealing with here was deadly serious. Like the woman in her, the journalist couldn't deny a certain fascination too, a need to know more—not only about what was truly going on, but also about the man himself.
"What, um . . . what happened to you . . . to your face?"
He threw a scowl at her, one that said of all her many questions, this one angered him the most. She didn't miss the way he turned his head slightly to the left, an almost unconscious move that helped to hide the worst of the damage. But Dylan had already seen the burn scars and pebbled skin. From the look of them, she guessed that they had to be combat wounds. Very grave, front-line combat wounds.
"I'm sorry," she said, although whether she meant she was sorry for asking or sorry for what he went through, she wasn't totally certain.
He reached up with his left hand and raked it through the thick hair at his temple, like he didn't care if she stared now. But it was too late for him to call back his initial self-conscious reflex, and no matter how darkly he glared at her, Dylan knew he was bothered by his condition.
And as he moved, she caught a glimpse of an intricate pattern of tattoos on his forearm. They peeked out on both arms from under the rolled sleeves of his shirt, quasi-tribal markings done in a unique, variegated color blend of pale scarlet and gold. On first glance, she thought maybe they were some kind of membership markings, like the kinds American gangs used to show their allegiance.
No, not like that, she decided the longer she stared at them. Not like that at all.
The markings on Rio's arms were very much like the symbols and strange writings that were on the walls and crypt inside that cave.
He brought his hand down and the flash of warning in his eye all but dared her to question him about them.
"Tell me what they mean," she said, looking up to meet his hard gaze. "The tattoos. Why do you have the same kind of symbols on your body that were in that mountain cave?"
He didn't answer. In silence, he stood there unmoving, looking even more dangerous in his civilized, tailored clothing than he had in the tattered rags he'd been wearing before. She knew he was immense, tall and broad and covered in lean, hard muscle, but he looked even more so as she approached him, determined to have this answer.
"What do the markings mean, Rio?" She took hold of his arm. "Tell me."
He stared down at her fingers wrapped around him. "It doesn't concern you."
"Like hell it doesn't!" she replied, her voice rising. "Why would you have the same kind of markings on your body that are in that cave—on that crypt?"
"You are mistaken. You don't know what you saw. Then or now."
It wasn't an argument so much as a complete refusal to take the conversation any further. And that really pissed Dylan off.
"I'm mistaken, am I?" She grabbed her long, loose hair and lifted it around to one side of her neck. "Look at this and tell me I don't know what I saw."
She bent her head, putting the exposed base of her neck—the patch of skin that bore her unusual birthmark—in plain view to him.
The silence seemed endless.
Then, finally, a hissed curse.
"What does it mean?" she asked him, lifting her head and letting her hair fall back in place.
Rio didn't answer her. He backed up as if he didn't want to be near her for another second.
"Tell me, Rio. Please . . . what does all of this mean?"
He was quiet for a long moment, his dark brows low over his eyes as he stared at her.
"You will know soon enough," he said softly as he went to the door and stepped outside.
He closed her in, then turned the lock, leaving her in there alone and confused, and very certain that the path her life had been taking had just irrevocably changed course.