About the Book
Carlisle Crowley is a striking, beautiful vampire hell-bent on living her undead life to the fullest. The last thing she needs hanging around her is Bronwyn Hunter, a seventeen-year-old love-struck human girl. As Crowley struggles to reconcile her blood-thirsty instincts with her human past, Bronwyn proves to be an insightful and steadfast ally. When Crowley’s dark and mysterious past comes back to haunt her, the pair embark on a journey of self discovery that tests their relationship to the limit.
“Knight Predator is a good story about unconventional characters. It falls in among the many books that seem to revolve around this subject right now, but that doesn’t detract from it being a good way to be entertained.” — Lynne Pierce, Book Review, Just About Write
I kept a firm grip on her hand and led her into the house, shivering as the light of the moon touched me, washed over me. I left her standing in the living room, knowing she would not move, as I went to the CD player and put on some soft music. I turned to her.
She stood in place, arms moving as she fidgeted and fought with the idea of running away as fast as she could. The moonlight, softened by the slightly tinted windows, lit up her face, which was pale and expressionless, green eyes with their now familiar wariness, watching me closely.
I held out my hand. “Dance with me.”
She shook her head, trying to keep firm and to keep me at arms length, as though that would protect her. Nothing could protect her if I put my mind to hurting her.
“Dance with me.” I held out my hand, my eyes locked onto hers, as I willed her to relax a little. She hesitantly reached out and took my hand.
I pulled her in close to me and slipped an arm around her waist. I took her around the room, whirling and moving in time with the music, careful to keep her ensnared in my calm gaze. Her muscles remained tense as her body molded to mine.
A tiny smile teased the corners of her mouth. “MynameisBronwynHunter. What’s yours?”
Once again I found myself by the side of the road with a five-year-old girl.
“Carlisle Crowley. My friends call me Crowley.”
“Can I call you Crowley?” Her smile came out of hiding.
“Are you my friend?” My gentle smile matched hers.
She frowned, and her eyes glistened with unshed tears. “You’re my friend.” Her voice was so soft even I had to strain to hear it.
I knew what was going to happen next and wanted to let her down as gently as I could. “You can’t stay with me. I’m a complete waste of time.” Our lives were so different I could not see how the two could ever meld, even if I were of a mind to do it. I was also rare for a vampire—I did not take humans in thrall and use them as servants, as Sembur once showed me how to do.
“Please? No, you aren’t.” The question in the liquid green eyes was painful to see. She was young enough to think that there was such a thing as living happily ever after and that there would never be any problems. How wrong she was.
“I will bring you nothing but trouble. My lifestyle does not have room for you.” Though the words were harsh, I made certain my tone stayed gentle. I had never been blessed by tact.
“I’m eighteen, and have only two months of school left. After that I’m out of your hair.” She sounded so desperate.
I remained expressionless, studying her. She really was begging me. Could this work? No, I didn’t think so. If she stayed with me it was only a matter of time before she found out what I really was. For now, she appeared to have some glorious childhood image of me as her savior firmly planted in her head, and the truth was so far removed from this concept it was embarrassing.
What would happen if she found out? Would she try something exceptionally stupid like hammering a stake through my heart as I slept? More importantly, could she keep her mouth shut about what she saw when she was with me? I didn’t know the first thing about her, and quite frankly her reputation had preceded her. I didn’t trust her any further than I could throw her. I could not afford to trust her with my secrets.
“Do you trust me?” My voice caressed her.
We continued to dance, and not once did she lose her firm grip on my body. In fact, her fingers gained confidence and traced the outlines of my hard muscles moving under my cool skin as we danced around the living room.<.p>
“I think you’re an animal.”
I laughed. “The feeling’s mutual.”
Her face became expressionless as she absorbed the implications.
I took pity on her. “So, BronwynHunter. Still want to stay with me, given that you’re terrified of me and you don’t trust me?”
She smiled. “Given that I have no real choice, I’d still like to stay with you. Besides, I can’t help thinking you’re not the fucking bitch you sound so much like. It’s in your eyes, Crowley.” She sucked in a breath. “Are you still going to kill me?”
That was it. I laughed outright, spun her around, and dipped her. I leaned forward so our lips were almost touching and planted a quick kiss on the end of her nose.
I moved so suddenly she gasped, and equally suddenly she was upright in my arms as I whispered into her ear, “No, I’m not going to kill you.” I looked deep inside myself and knew this for the truth. I had two firm rules. One, if the gut hesitated about killing someone, then it was usually quite wise to listen to the objection, and second, don’t kill anyone you know. “As for my being a bitch, well, there’s a lot you don’t know about me. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Much to my intense surprise, she slipped her arms around my neck and gave me a deep kiss on the lips, pushing her whole body into mine. Shock prevented me from stilling the hungry hands that roamed all over my body. “I could be dead tomorrow, and if I die then at least I want to be able to say I kissed one of the hottest chicks alive. Does this mean yes?”
That was it. I was gone, laughing like a complete loon. I fell over backwards onto my sofa. “It means yes.”
“Thank you.” She stared at me in amusement, then more seriously as I recovered some of my self-control and raised an eyebrow. In one swift movement, I stood facing her.
“Don’t thank me too soon. My house does have some rules. I get up in the evening and go to bed at dawn. End of story. Not negotiable. Stay out of my room at all times. Do as I say when I say, and do not tell anyone about me. And above all, clean up after yourself. I’ll leave it to your imagination to find out what happens if you break any of these rules.”
As I enunciated each rule, I took one step closer to her until we were so close our bodies were only a hairsbreadth apart. I gave her a cold, feral grin.
She gulped, and went pale. “I can do that.”
“Was that ‘yes I agree to these rules’ or ‘yes I can imagine what you’ll do to me if I break them’?”
“It means ‘yes I agree to these rules.’” She forced herself to meet my fiery eyes, so I would see the truth. “I don’t intend to break them.”
“All right, then, let’s see how it goes.”
“Trust me, sweetie, I am no princess.” I grinned and swept her into my arms, and we continued to dance late into the night.
In the predawn hour, I picked up her sleeping body and took her to the master bedroom. I placed her in what was now her bed and covered her over with the colorful doona.
As I walked downstairs and into my own bedroom, locking myself inside, it occurred to me that I actually liked the girl. I could feel fire in her, her youthful energy. She wasn’t stagnating as I was. She was intelligent and challenging and had a spirit that matched mine. She reminded me of what it was to live, and not be alone and lonely. She was not afraid to stand up to me, although I clearly scared her badly at times.
Could this work?
Not in a million years. Something would happen, and I would have to leave.
Did I want it to work?
Yes. Yes, I think I did.