About the Book
At the crossroads of death and desire, a woman tastes a pleasure no mortal is meant to survive...
In the frozen Alaskan wilderness, former state trooper Jenna Darrow survives an unspeakable breach of body and soul. But with her narrow escape comes an even greater challenge. For strange changes are taking place within her, as she struggles to understand—and control—a new hunger. To do so, she will seek shelter in the Boston compound of the Order, an ancient race of vampire warriors whose very existence is shrouded in mystery. Perhaps the most mysterious of them all is Brock, a brooding, dark-eyed alpha male whose hands hold the power to comfort, heal...and arouse.
As she recovers under Brock's care, Jenna finds herself drawn to the Order's mission: to stop a ruthless enemy and its army of assassins from subjecting Earth to a reign of terror. Yet in spite of their resolve, a purely physical relationship without strings soon binds Brock and Jenna together with a desire fiercer than life and stronger than death itself—until a secret from Brock's past and Jenna's own mortality challenges their forbidden love to the ultimate trial by fire.
"Keeping a long-running series evolving in an intriguing manner is no easy task, but Adrian pulls it off with seeming ease. It will be interesting to see what's next!"
—Romantic Times BOOKreviews
"A thrilling addition to the extraordinary Midnight Breed series!"
"TAKEN BY MIDNIGHT captivates and holds you hostage through its strong emotions and stronger passions. I couldn't put it down and I bet you won't be able to either. To say its Joyfully Recommended isn't quite enough, but it's the highest recommendation I can give Jenna and Brock's story."
"Readers who love Lara Adrian's Midnight Breed series will love her newest addition to the storyline. Readers who are new to her will be able to enjoy this story for all its complexities and subtleties as well as the wonderful romance and suspense that it provides."
—Eye on Romance
Excerpted from Taken by Midnight
by Lara Adrian
Published by: Dell Books (October 2010)
Copyright © 2009-2017 by Lara Adrian LLC. All rights reserved.
(Note: Excerpt may contain explicit language and sexual situations).
Brock didn't make excuses for what he was doing or where he was taking her. Merely strode out of the tech lab and carried her back up the corridor she'd come from with Alex a few minutes before.
"Let go of me," Jenna demanded, her senses still muddled, ringing with each long stride of Brock's legs. She shifted in his arms, trying to ignore how even that small bit of movement made her head spin and her stomach twist. Her head fell back over his muscled forearm, a pained groan leaking out of her. "I said, put me down, dammit."
He grunted, but kept walking. "I heard you the first time."
She closed her eyes, only because it was too hard to keep them open and watch the ceiling of the corridor contort and swirl above her as Brock carried her deeper into the compound. He slowed after a moment, then turned sharply, and Jenna glanced up to see that he had brought her back to the apartment suite that was now her private quarters.
"Please, put me down," she murmured, her tongue thick, throat gone bone dry. The pounding behind her eyes had become a jackhammer throb, the ringing in her ears a deafening high-frequency whine that seemed to want to split her skull wide open. "Oh, God," she gasped, unable to hide her agony. "It hurts so much . . . "
"Okay," Brock said quietly. "Everything's gonna be okay now."
"No, it won't." She whimpered, humiliated by the sound of her own weakness, and the fact that Brock was seeing her like this. "What's happening to me? What did he do to me?"
"It doesn't matter right now," Brock whispered, his deep voice held too tight. Too carefully level to be believed. "Let's just get you through this first."
He crossed the room with her and knelt down to place her on the sofa. Jenna lay back and let him gently straighten her legs, not so far gone with discomfort and worry that she didn't recognize the tenderness of the strong hands that could probably crush the life from someone with little more than a twitch of this man's will.
"Relax," he said, and those strong, tender hands came up near her face. He leaned over her and lightly stroked her cheek, his dark eyes compelling her to hold his gaze. "Just relax, and breathe now, Jenna. Can you do that for me?"
She'd calmed a bit already, easing into the sound of her name on his lips, the feathery warmth of his fingers as they skated slowly from her cheek to her jaw, then down, along the side of her neck. The short bursts of breath that sawed in and out of her lungs began to slow, to ease, as Brock cupped her nape in one hand, and glided his other palm in an unrushed, soothing back and forth motion across the top of her chest.
"That's it," he murmured, his gaze still locked on hers, intense and yet so impossibly tender at the same time. "Let go of all the pain, and relax. You're safe, Jenna. You can trust me."
She didn't know why those words should affect her as much as they did. Maybe it was the pain that had weakened her. Maybe it was the fear of the unknown, the gaping abyss of uncertainty that had suddenly become her reality since that frigid, horrific night in Alaska.
And maybe it was just the simple fact that it had been a long time—four lonely years—since she'd felt the firm, warm caress of a man's touch, even if offered only in comfort.
Four empty years since she'd convinced herself she didn't need tender contact or intimacy. Four endless years since she'd remembered what it was to feel like a flesh-and-blood woman, like she was desired. Like she might one day be able to open her heart to something more.
Jenna closed her eyes as the prick of tears began to sting. She pushed aside the swell of emotion that rose up on her unexpectedly and focused instead on the soothing warmth of Brock's fingertips on her skin. She let his voice wash over her, feeling his words and his touch work in tandem to coax her through the anguish of the strange trauma that had seemed to be shredding her from the inside out.
"That's good, Jenna. Just breathe now."
She felt the vise of pain in her skull loosen as he spoke to her. Brock caressed her temples with his thumbs, his fingers splayed deeply into her hair, holding her head in a comforting grasp. The piercing ring in her ears began to fade away, until, at last, it was gone.
"You're doing great," Brock murmured, his voice darker than before, just above a growl. "Let it go, Jenna. Give the rest of it to me."
She exhaled a long, purging sigh, unable to keep it inside her as long as Brock was stroking her face and neck. She moaned, welcoming the pleasure that was slowing devouring her agony. "Feels nice," she whispered, helpless to resist the urge to nuzzle farther into his touch. "The pain isn't so bad now."
"That's good, Jenna." He drew in a breath that sounded more like a sharp gasp, then exhaled a low groan. "Let it all go now."
Jenna felt a tremor vibrate through his fingertips as he spoke. Her eyelids snapped open and she gaped up at him, stricken by what she saw.
The tendons in his neck were strung tight, his jaw clamped down so hard it was a wonder his teeth didn't shatter. A muscle ticked wildly in his lean cheek. Beads of perspiration lined his forehead and upper lip.
He was in pain.
Staggering pain—just as she had been, not a few minutes before his touch had seemed to ease her agony away.
Realization dawned on her then.
He wasn't just calming her with his hands. He was somehow pulling her pain out of her. He was siphoning it, willingly drawing her pain into himself.
Offended by the idea, but even more embarrassed that she had let herself lie there and imagine that his touch was something more than pity, Jenna flinched out of his reach and scuttled into a seated position on the sofa. She breathed hard with outrage as she stared into his dark eyes, which flashed with specks of amber light.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" she gasped, leaping to her feet.
The muscle that had been ticking in his jaw gave a tight twitch as he stood up to face her. "Helping you."
Images crowded into her mind in an instant—a sudden vivid recollection of the aftermath of her captivity with the creature who'd invaded her cabin in Alaska.
She'd been in pain then, too. She'd been terrified and in shock, awash in so much confusion and horror, she thought she might die from it.
And she remembered the warm, caring hands that comforted her. The face of a grimly handsome stranger who'd come into her life like a dark angel and kept her safe, kept her sheltered and calm, when everything in her world had been thrown into chaos.
"You were there," she murmured, stunned to realize it only just now. "In Alaska, after the Ancient was gone. You stayed with me. You took away my pain then, too. And later, after I was brought here to the compound. My God . . . did you stay at my side all of the time I was in the infirmary?"
His eyes remained fixed on her, dark and unreadable. "I was the only one who could help you."
"Who asked you to?" she demanded, knowingly harsh, but desperate to purge the heat that was still traveling through her, unbidden and unwanted.
Bad enough he'd thought it necessary to coddle her like some kind of child through her prolonged ordeal. All the worse, when he seemed to think it was necessary to do so now as well. She'd be damned before she let him think for one second that she had actually welcomed his touch.
His expression still pained from what he'd done for her a few moments ago, he shook his head and blew out a low curse. "For a woman who doesn't want anyone's help, you sure seem to need it a lot."
She barely resisted the temptation to tell him where he could shove that sentiment. "I can take care of myself."
"Like you did last night in the city?" he challenged. "Like you did just a few minutes ago in the tech lab, right before my arms were the only thing that came between your stubborn ass and the floor?"
Humiliation stung her cheeks like a slap. "You know what? Save us both some grief, and don't do me any more favors."
She spun away from him and started walking toward the door that was still open onto the corridor outside. Each miraculously painless step she stook only heightened her anger at Brock. Made her all the more determined to put as much distance between them as possible.
Before she got within a yard of the threshold, he was standing in front of her. Blocking her path, even though she hadn't seen or heard him move.
She stopped short. Gaped at him, astonished by the preternatural speed he evidently had at his control.
"Get out of my way," she said, and tried to move past him.
He side-stepped her, putting his immense body directly in front of her. The intensity of his gaze told her he wanted to say something more, but Jenna didn't want to hear it. She needed to be alone.
Needed space to think about everything that had happened to her . . . everything that was still happening, growing more terrifying all the time.
"Move aside," she said, hating the small hitch that crept into her voice.
Brock slowly lifted his hand and swept a tousled hank of hair off her brow. It was a tender gesture, kindness she craved so badly but was too afraid to accept. "You're in our world now, Jenna. And whether or not you want to admit it, you're in way over your head."
She watched his mouth as he spoke, wishing she didn't find herself so riveted to the movements of his full, sensual lips. He was still weathering her pain; she could tell by the slight flare of his nostrils as he drew in his breath and blew it out on a controlled exhale. The tension in his handsome face and strong neck hadn't abated either.
Seeing him carrying a burden that belonged to her made her feel small and powerless.
All her life, she'd struggled to prove herself worthy—first to her father and her brother Zach, both of whom let her know in no uncertain terms they doubted she'd had what it took to make it in law enforcement. Later on, she'd striven to be the perfect wife and mother. Her entire life had been structured on a foundation of strength, discipline and capability.
Incredibly, as she stood there in front of Brock now, it wasn't the fact that he was something other than human—something dangerous and otherworldly—that made her want the floor to open up and swallow her whole. It was the dread that he could see through the hard shell of the anger she wore like body armor, and that he might know her for the scared, lonely failure she truly was.
Brock gave another faint shake of his head in the long silence that hung between them. His eyes took her in slowly, drifting all over her face before coming back up to meet her gaze. "There are worse things than needing to lean on someone once in a while, Jenna."
"Dammit, I said get out of my way!" She shoved at him, her palms connecting with his broad chest as she pushed with all the anger and fear she had inside her.
Brock flew backward several paces, nearly crashing into the far wall of the corridor.
Jenna sucked in her breath, stunned and amazed at what she'd just done.
Horrified by it.
Brock was a towering force, six-and-a-half feet tall and likely two-hundred-fifty-plus pounds of muscle and strength. Something far more powerful than her. Something far more powerful than anything she'd ever known.
And she had just physically shoved him a couple of feet across the floor.