At half-past midnight, Eva made her way through a throng of half-dressed bimbos in Manolo Blahniks. There was no freakin’ way in hell she’d wait in line.
Okay, Eva. It’s time to turn on the charm. Work it, girl.
She sauntered up to the two burly men posted outside the main entrance. They wore expensive tailored suits and stunk of cheap cologne. Eva flashed them her most brilliant smile.
“I’ve come to see Mr. Kristopolous.” Eva’s sultry voice flowed like warm honey, over-emphasizing the word “come.” “I should be on his VIP guest list.”
Both bouncers whirled around. One lifted his brow and licked his salacious lips while the other grinned from ear-to-ear and bared his blood-stained fangs. Four sets of eyes looked Eva up and down, letting their gaze linger in all the right places. The filthy bloodsuckers made her skin crawl.
“Welcome to The Crypt. Mr. Kristopolous is lucky man. I think you not the only one to come tonight.” The vampire chuckled in a heavy Russian accent, his speech riddled with grammatical errors.
Eva read the name printed on his nametag. “Thanks, Ivan.” She winked at him. Both bouncers stepped aside to allow Eva into the club. A soft giggle slid past her lips as she recognized these clowns for what they were. A walking contradiction. With fancy clothes and spit-shined loafers, they oozed power and money on the surface. But their ten-dollar-a-bottle cologne easily gave them away. No doubt they were a mere paycheck away from being shipped back to the mother country.
Why did the son of a filthy-rich oil tycoon from Athens, Greece need the Russian mafia to do his dirty work? The answer to that question proved complicated. For years, Andreas Kristopolous remained an enigma. To Manhattan’s social elite, he served as an upstanding member of the community. A successful businessman and philanthropist, he had a penchant for the arts and an insatiable appetite for women. But Mr. Kristopolous hid a deep, dark secret. He was a blood-thirsty vampire.
Andreas boasted a giant-sized ego. His overblown self-importance claimed its own living, breathing place in the world. It didn’t help that he was damn good at his job. A pillar of society, he controlled the notorious New York City vampire coven like a chess master maneuvering across a game board. The bastard had the balls to bolster his own utter perfection. With a chiseled physique, piercing green eyes, and rock star good looks, he was the ultimate sexual predator. Nevertheless, the ladies continued to swoon over his drop-dead gorgeousness. A simple glance was all he needed to transfix female victims. He enjoyed the power he held over the opposite sex. Those poor, unsuspecting women had no idea that behind his mesmerizing stare, a vicious beast awaited them. So what vampire in his right mind would have the nerve to behave in such a manner? Only a vampire that dripped money and sexual prowess. A man like Andreas Kristopolous. No wonder he boldly named his uber-exclusive night club on the Upper East Side The Crypt? It was the perfect hangout for a vampire.
The smell of expensive liqueur inundated her senses as Eva stepped through the velvet ropes. The sounds of techno music and the flash of neon lights momentarily blurred her vision. When she finally got her bearings, she saw the open floor plan of the club. With no interior walls to obscure her view, the three elaborate levels were laid out before her like a smorgasbord. Eva entered on the second floor. Above her, people danced and mingled over the edge of finely ornate terraces accented by dim torch light. Below her, luxurious VIP suites were filled with champagne flutes and velour lounge chairs. Several couples mimicked sexual acts as they lounged on the sofas and in dark corners of the club. Their writhing bodies pressed together as soft moans filled with both pleasure and pain echoed over the sharp beats of the music. It was the ultimate public display of affection.
How many of these foolish idiots were human? Were they here of their own free will? Eva shrugged her shoulders, dismissing the eerie sense of doom emanating from the room. Her mission tonight wasn’t about saving these poor bastards. If people were stupid enough to end up in a bar owned and frequented by vampires, that was their own damned problem. I’ve got bigger fish to fry. Besides, she came tonight to scope out Mr. Kristopolous and find out everything she could about him, his family, and their business dealings.
While the Kristopolous family and their associates lived in New York City for generations, no one in law enforcement had ever been able to prove any wrongdoing on their part. Countless bodies found mangled in the sewers and alleyways of the city, as well as at the bottom of the Hudson, resulted in little or no leads. Even with tell-tale pin pricks on their necks, or other less conspicuous parts of the body, no definitive evidence had been collected. Local law enforcement viewed vampires as nothing more than a legend. They had no way to connect any serious crimes to the Kristopolous family. Eva intended to right that atrocity.
Her objective remained clear. She needed to find evidence of illegal activity on the part of the Kristopolous family – embezzlement, fraud, tax evasion – it didn’t really make a difference. Once the police had them in custody, the people Eva worked for would take over. She’d been sent by the BPA. Bureau of Paranormal Affairs, the U.S. division of an international organization charged with fighting the supernatural forces of evil. Her job required her to carry out justice in the name of the innocent to vanquish evil from the world. The agency dealt with all types of supernatural beings from ghosts and goblins to werewolves and vampires. Eva concentrated her efforts on bloodsuckers. Kicking ass and staking hearts was what she did best.
But her interest in vampires wasn’t just professional. It was highly personal. Her parents, Giuseppe and Carmella Sambucco, died viciously. Murdered at the hands of a rogue band of vampires in the London suburbs ten years earlier. That was the real reason she’d trained to be a killer. She would never forget that day. Her family had just left an ice cream shop in the tiny town of Devonshire before they embarked on the long sea voyage back to America. Hand-in-hand, Eva skipped along the cobblestone streets with her father. They had no warning before three monstrous-looking creatures with red, beady eyes and crazed expressions, jumped from the shadows and attacked them. Vampires. She’d read about them in books, but had never seen one in real life.
“Run, Eva! Run!” Her mother screamed in terror, her face twisted in panic and fear. Eva’s eyes widened, recognizing the emotion in her mother’s eyes. She heeded the command and raced like a bat out of hell down the uneven pavement to the end of the street. Her heart rate quickened as sweat beaded down the side of her cheek. She turned the corner at the end of the narrow road and through her peripheral vision, saw one of the animals brutally slit her father’s throat. His blood splattered along the pebbled street as the vampires guzzled down the red-hot liquid. She was only eleven-years-old when it happened, yet she could still smell the metallic scent of her father’s blood as it flowed out of his lifeless body.
After the initial shock of their deaths, Eva went back home and lived with her mother’s second cousin in Brooklyn. She was never the same again. Throughout high school, she tried her best to keep a low profile. But teenagers were cruel. They taunted her for wearing all-black clothing and ostracized her for being an orphan. Soon, Eva’s anger and resentment over her life’s unfortunate circumstances got the better of her. She fought back with actions instead of words. By the time she was eighteen, she’d gotten into so much trouble for ditching class and getting into fights, that her probation officer gave her an ultimatum: join BPA or spend a year in a juvenile detention facility.
Since then, Eva worked hard to transform herself into the huntress. A warrior honed to track down and kill vampires. She endured five long years of blood, sweat, and tears, but it was well worth it. Her training fully prepared her to take down the Kristopolous family, leaders of the world’s most infamous vampire coven. But this case would take more than just brawn. Eva had danced around the ring with the best of them. Even so, Kristopolous was smarter than the average Joe, and the word “surrender” didn’t exist in his vocabulary. She needed a lot more than a black belt in Jiu Jitsu and a solid right hook to take him down.
Eva walked up to the bar to order a drink. The bartender spied her and lowered his gaze to her breasts as she leaned against the bar’s ledge. She cleared her throat, which forced him to look up.
“What’s your pleasure, darlin’?” His southern drawl was smooth like spiced whiskey sliding down your throat. He tipped his cowboy hat and flashed her a great, big smile. Cute in a boy-next-door kind of way. He wore a black leather vest sans shirt. His sandy blond hair and blue eyes complimented his outfit in an odd contradiction of sorts.
“How about a Sex on the Beach?” She batted her eyelashes at him and flirted shamelessly.
“Hmm. Not a bad idea.” His hungry eyes stared back at her. “But considering we’re in New York City and it’s forty degrees out there, would you go for sex on the bar instead?” The sweet cadence of his southern twang thrummed through her senses. He toyed with her mind and body as if plucking the strings of a guitar. Pretty darn sexy. Too bad he was a bloodsucker. Otherwise, she would have already succumbed to his powers of persuasion.
“What’s your name?” Eva laughed, amused at their carefree banter.
The bartender pursed his lips together, hesitant to answer. “Bobby. Bobby Dubois from the beautiful city of New Orleans at your service,” he offered with a bow. “And you are?”
“Unlisted. But you know what, Bobby? I think you’re right. It is a little chilly in here. On second thought, give me a shot of Patrón. Straight up.” Eva tossed him a mischievous little grin. When he handed her the drink, she laid a twenty dollar bill on the counter, downed the contents of the glass, and swaggered away seductively without another word. Surely, this wouldn’t be the last time she crossed paths with the charming and charismatic Bobby Dubois.
The hair on the back of Eva’s neck stood on edge. She watched intently, waiting for someone or something to jump out at her from the shadows. It was at that moment that Eva spotted the man she came to find. She peered down to the first floor VIP area, and she saw him lounging on a sofa in the middle of the room. Andreas Kristopolous. He had a commanding presence and demanded the attention of everyone in the room. A trio of pale beauties surrounded him. Their immaculately polished features were angelic, yet pretentious. They crowded next to him. Their perfectly painted complexion set them apart from the other females in the club. Like a collection of China dolls taken out of the display case. Two blondes and a red-head--each one hovered over his tightly-coiled body. The spectacle made Eva’s stomach lurch, suddenly feeling overwhelmed with nausea. His groupies clung to him and the son-of-a-bitch seemed to relish every minute of it.
With so many good-looking people around, still Eva’s attention remained riveted on Andreas. He was all male. Strength and virility wrapped up into the perfect package. Thick brown curls fell past his broad, well-defined shoulders. Lean muscle draped over steel. Eyes the color of emeralds. A deep and penetrating green. Cherry blossom lips just begging to be kissed. He’d fed recently, too, because he seemed far from the pale lifeless shell you’d expect of your typical vampire. More than likely, he’d sampled one of his female companions. But it was more than the flush in his cheeks. The sun-kissed beauty of his olive skin reflected the neon lights reverberating off the dance floor. He had something about him. An intoxicating quality that even the most well-trained BPA agent couldn’t resist.
Eva moved her head from side-to-side and tried to shake off the trance. At the same time, Andreas looked up and stared back at her. She became paralyzed in place; her feet anchored to the floor as if stuck in quicksand. His gaze pierced right through her, leaving Eva raw and exposed. At the mercy of his ministrations, she stood completely still as his eyes roamed over her. His head swirled from left to right as if memorizing the curves of her body. Shameless and unapologetic in his perusal, Eva fought to gain control of her mixed emotions. The bastard meant to hypnotize her. But that was his MO. Trap women with his mesmerizing gaze and reel them in for the kill. With great effort, Eva pivoted on her heels and walked toward the winding staircase that led to the third floor of the club.
Keep your head in the game, girl. You need to get to the administrative offices, snoop around, and see what you can find.
Having studied the architectural layout of the building, she knew exactly where to go. She slipped past the guards so easily it was like taking candy from a baby. Eva lifted her skirt up past her thigh. She pulled a lock pick out of her garter belt and picked the lock on the office labeled “Mr. Kristopolous,” located at the end of the long hallway. She shut the door without a sound. The first thing she noticed, an elegant settee covered in luxurious red velvet in the middle of the room.
The chair appeared well-worn and comfortable. The perfect accessory for a smokin’ hot vampire looking to engage in a bit of hanky panky. Naughty thoughts invaded her mind as she imagined Andreas there pleasuring a beautiful woman. Eva groaned, annoyed with her inability to focus. She took a deep breath and concentrated on her surroundings.
Some distance behind the settee, situated in front of a large picture window, sat a beautiful desk made of rich mahogany. She tiptoed over to his desk and rifled through the documents placed underneath a heart-shaped paperweight. Several invoices from various liquor vendors were piled one on top of the other. She fumbled through the desk drawers only to find a few random credit card receipts. One for the purchase of deejay equipment and the other two from a restaurant supply business.
Let’s see if I can hack into his laptop. Eva turned on the monitor, and in an instant, a blue screen popped up and prompted her to enter a password. She performed a hard re-boot of the computer and then pressed the shortcut key that took her to the computer’s command prompt. Eva chewed on her bottom lip as she tested out the skills she’s acquired in BPA’s Hacking 101 course. But after a few minutes trying, she threw her hands up in the air in surrender. She’d be the first to admit, computer expertise was not her strong suit. Besides, there were other ways to catch a vampire with his pants down.
Andreas had to keep a safe hidden somewhere in his office. She turned back toward the settee and scanned the room. A couple of expensive paintings by that French painter famous for making pictures out of dots hung on the walls. She couldn’t seem to recall his name at the moment. After she looked behind both pieces of artwork, Eva became distracted by the bookshelves that lined two of the four walls.
Well, I’ll be damned. Is that what I think it is? Eva squealed in anticipation. With the utmost care, she squeezed her thumb and index finger together, careful to pry the book off the shelf. It had fine black leather binding, with the title written in faded gold leaf along the front. She couldn’t believe her eyes. She opened the tome to the acknowledgement page. It released a plumb of dust into the air. Talk about an antique. She may not be able to hack into a computer, but Eva’s knowledge of books was unsurpassed. How the hell had Andreas gotten his hands on an 1847 first edition copy of Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë? It must have cost him a small fortune. Her heart rate increased, thudding loud in her chest. She was giddy with excitement. She continued to peruse the shelves of Kristopolous’s library and came across hundreds of very rare and valuable works by some of the world’s most renowned authors including Dickens, Fitzgerald, Hawthorne, Tolstoy, and Voltaire to name a few.
“So I see you like my taste in books.” A deep, sensual voice whispered in her ear as hot breath glided across her suddenly prickly skin. Eva knew unequivocally it was Andreas. Any other vampire would have already taken a bite out of her. Instead, his body brushed up against hers and molded itself to her wickedly feminine curves. She resisted. Her instinct nagged at her to pull away. But the sleek feel of his trousers against her bare thighs felt cool and soothing. Andreas reached out in front of him to caress her belly with the inside of his palm. Her reflexes took over and she arched into him.
Eva felt the hard tip of his erection meet the slickness of her folds. The G-string she wore under her short, leather miniskirt provided very little protection from the onslaught of his desire. A soft whimper edged its way to the surface as her lips formed in preparation. Before any words escaped, Eva forced herself into action. She grabbed the hand Andreas wound around her waist, twisting and turning until they stood staring eye to eye with one another. In the same instant, Eva slammed her fist into his solar plexus and followed it up with a roundhouse kick that sent him flying halfway across the room.
“Beautiful and deadly. That’s quite a combination. But you’re crazy if you think I’m going to fight a woman.” Andreas’s expression remained smug as he found his balance and wiped the blood that dripped from his bottom lip. Eva didn’t let him off the hook so easily. She rushed him with fists flying. The vampire refused to fight back, blocking her powerful blows with swift precision. He met each one of her punches using a defensive move so graceful and effective, he barely seemed to move at all.
“Fight back, you bastard!” Eva roared at him, blood pumping even quicker through her veins as the adrenaline kicked in. Furious, she pulled a stake from the holster strapped to her thigh-length boot and charged at him. Andreas dodged the weapon. He bobbed and weaved like a prize fighter. His skill as a warrior truly impressed her. Ruthless in her assault, Eva’s spike hit its target and embedded itself above his right shoulder blade. It wasn’t a killing move. Nonetheless, Andreas’s mouth gaped open as his pale-grey shirt stained from blood. He looked down at the wound, stepped toward her, and flattened his hand to the center of her chest. Andreas shoved her body back until it met with the ice-cold glass of the window pane. The cool sensation hit her thighs, in opposition to the feverish wave the vampire ignited inside her. She stared at him, and felt her nipples bead expectantly.
Andreas’s eye color changed from deep green to crimson red. Eva watched as his anger bubbled its way to the surface. He snatched her up by the neck with one hand and squeezed her windpipe. She struggled for air. She gulped and wheezed as she waited for her flailing body to go limp. After several tenuous moments, Andreas flexed the muscles in his hand then eased his grip on her throat. He slammed his eyes shut as if deliberating her fate before he inched closer.
“You smell so sweet. Like gardenias. I wonder if you taste just as delectable?” Andreas snarled between clenched teeth. Pressed up against him, she once again felt his erection, thick and rigid along her pelvic bone. He groaned and the sound reverberated in her ear. The perfect mixture of lust and contempt. Andreas lowered his head farther and came into contact with Eva’s pulsating vein. She shuttered in response as he lifted his head and smiled, revealing his blood-stained fangs.
Andreas’s red-tinged canines prompted Eva to react. In one fluid motion, she lifted her right leg and kneed him directly between his legs. Andreas fell to his knees, hunched over in agony, and Eva wasted no time. She shielded her face, kicked out the picture window behind her, and jumped to safety. She plunged three floors below and landed with a thud into the back of a dump truck filled with sand.
“Ouch. That hurt like hell.” Eva grabbed a hold of her throbbing ankle as the truck slowly rolled away. She groaned and left The Crypt in the dust as the truck drove back to headquarters. “Kristopolous will pay for that! Just as soon as I’m able to walk again.”