Russian vampire Nikolai Petrov is forced by his maker to a meeting in a shady nightclub run by werewolves when it hits him—a craving for blood and sex, like nothing he’s ever experienced before—and his darkest vampire desires are unleashed.
But then a delicious scent assaults him. That of his Bloodmate. And she’s in terrible danger.
Nikolai knows he has to find her. If he doesn’t, the Thirst will take hold for good, and the number of deaths will be catastrophic—including his own. But Nikolai isn’t the only one after his Bloodmate. An older vampire has paid to own her, because Nikolai’s Bloodmate isn’t purely human...
~ EXCERPT ~
“I can’t believe you’re asking this of me.”
Nikolai Petrov stood facing the floor to ceiling windows of his home, gazing out over the London skyline, so he didn’t have to look at the vampire behind him. Before him stretched London’s Docklands, with the Canary Wharf tower rising into the night sky. The winding curve of the River Thames appeared black at this time of night, the only light reflected from the surrounding buildings. This place was nothing like his motherland, Russia, but, after almost fifty years, it was a place he’d come to think of as home.
Nikolai shook his head then turned to his visitor. “You know I like to keep my business clean, Ivan.”
The second vampire was dark compared to his own fair looks, and had been older when he’d been turned, too, in his early thirties rather than late twenties as Nikolai had been. Both men were smartly dressed, though Ivan appeared more ruffled than normal, his tie yanked to one side, the top button of his shirt open. Nikolai’s shirt was also open, and he didn’t wear a tie. The sleeves of his shirt were rolled up his forearms, but he’d done this deliberately. Ivan’s dishevelled appearance looked less intentional.
The other vampire’s lips pursed. “You’re making a far bigger deal of this than it really is.”
Nikolai cocked an eyebrow. “Investing three million pounds into my funds is a big deal.”
“Bullshit. You deal with bigger funds every day.”
“Yeah, and I know exactly where that money is coming from. Don’t try to tell me this money is going to be clean. We both know Deacon Thorn deals in some dodgy shit.”
Ivan shrugged. “He used to have the occasional thing on the side, but he’s been moving away from all of that for a long time. His clubs are all legit now, and he wants to continue with everything being legal, which is why he asked me to come to you. I guess he thought you’d understand, what with your background.”
Nikolai frowned at him. “And why should he ask you for anything, Ivan? What did you do? What is it you owe him? Is it just about the money? If it’s about money, I have plenty. I’ll just pay whatever you owe.”
But Ivan shook his head. “No, it’s not. And he doesn’t only want the money. He wants an investment opportunity, and he likes how everyone knows you’re always above board. That’s why he asked me to come to you.”
“I won’t be above board if I start to get involved with that son of a bitch.”
Ivan’s dark eyes grew hard. “I’m asking one simple thing from you, Nikolai. Stop making such a big deal out of it.”
“Investing millions into my funds is not a simple thing.”
“All it would take you is the click of a key on a computer.” His shoulders slumped and his tone changed to pleading. “Just come and meet with him, Nikolai. He’s not as bad as the rumours make out. He’s a businessman, just like you and I.”
“He’s a wolf.” Nikolai wrinkled his nose. “That’s never a good thing in my book.”
“You should judge people on who they are, not what they are,” Ivan scolded. “People aren’t exactly fond of vampires either, you know.”
Nikolai gave a cold laugh. “Well, he fails on both who and what he is.”
He turned back to look out at the London skyline. Normally, the expanse of lights brought him some comfort, but tonight he found he could only focus on his reflection staring back at him. Nikolai’s eyes were a pale shade of blue, almost appearing silvery in some light. His dark blond hair was just a shade away from brown. The effect, together with his pale skin, made his reflection look like a ghost, and he found the thought unnerving.
Ivan exhaled a frustrated lungful of air. “I hope you’re not saying no to me, Nikolai, not after everything I did for you.”
“That was a long time ago.”
“And I’ve never asked for a single thing in return. If it wasn’t for me, you’d be dead, and most of your family would have been wiped out.”
“Most of them are gone now anyway,” he growled.
“That tends to happen after fifty years walking the earth, but they have descendents, which they wouldn’t have if I’d not stepped in.”
Everything Ivan said was the truth. Nikolai had moved to London not long after he’d turned him from human to vampire. He’d had to in order to escape theBratva—the Russian mafia—with which his family had been deeply involved. He was killed by a rival family who had put out a hit on him because they hadn’t liked some of the contacts he was making. They’d shot him and left him for dead in the middle of a frozen alleyway. But a vampire had stumbled across him and had turned him then and there, feeding him from his own veins, and leaving fresh blood drops in the white snow.
Ivan turning him meant Nikolai was able to kill the man who had ordered the hit, but knowing what he was, he worried it would come back on his family, so he left Moscow for London. He’d never been back, but that didn’t mean he didn’t miss the place with every fibre of his soul. He often wondered what the next generations were doing, if they’d managed to get out of the organised crime business, or if his family’s ancestors were still deeply involved. He hoped they’d made it out, but that was their business now. It wouldn’t do any of them any good for him to re-enter their lives. He’d cause them more trouble than anything else.
A low growl of anger rumbled deep in Nikolai’s chest. If it had been anyone else asking this of him, he would have caught them up by the throat and thrown them from his penthouse by now, but this wasn’t anyone. Ivan Sokolov made him who he was today, and he owed him more than just his life.
“If you won’t say yes right away, at least come and meet with Deacon. He’ll be able to convince you that he’s genuine about wanting to do business with you.”
Nikolai scowled. “I don’t doubt that. It’s the kind of business he wants to do that’s the problem.”
“He trusts you, Nikolai. He’s seen you have a head for the market, and he thinks you’re the one who can make his money grow.”
“It’s where that money is coming from that concerns me.”
Ivan’s lips thinned, his nostrils flaring. “One meeting, Nikolai. That’s all I ask. Surely you can’t refuse me that?”
Nikolai clenched his jaw, his fists balled at his sides. Ivan had put him in an impossible place. His maker had never asked for a single thing from him as thanks and had helped him take down the man who’d arranged to end his human life—something that hadn’t been easy when he’d been a new vampire and not yet in control of his bloodlust. Ivan had taught him everything, and he wouldn’t have the life he had now if it hadn’t been for Ivan’s help. He was only asking for a meeting, and then Nikolai could tell the wolf to get lost face-to-face, if that was what he decided. He would be able to take the blame, rather than it falling on Ivan.
“Fine,” he relented. “Arrange the meeting.”
Ivan’s shoulders relaxed. “Thank you. I’ll set up a meeting for tomorrow night.”
Nikolai lifted a finger. “First, one thing. What did you do to give a wolf something to hold over you?”
Ivan pulled a face. “I slept with his daughter.”