Rogue Darkness by Dianne Duvall
Don't skip if you're an Immortal Guardians fan!
I always endeavor to write each book in my series so that new readers who haven’t read the previous books can pick up the latest and enjoy it without feeling lost. To that end, I’ve included a Prologue in Rogue Darkness that reveals how the hero and heroine—Sean and Nicole—first met Tessa Hayes, a strong secondary character. If you’re new to the series, the Prologue will let you experience that initial explosive meeting firsthand, which I thought would be far more effective than simply telling you about it later. It will also give you a glimpse of Sean and Nicole in action before their relationship changes.
Immortal Guardians fans: If you’ve read Death of Darkness, you can skip the Prologue. The only new addition is a little bit told from Nicole’s point of view. The rest remains the same. Also, if you’ve read An Immortal Guardians Companion, you’ll recognize the first scene in Chapter One. It appeared in the companion as one of the deleted scenes I cut from Death of Darkness to reduce the word count. But that scene is what made me want to give Sean and Nicole their own book, so I considered it the perfect beginning for their adventure.
I hope you’ll enjoy Rogue Darkness!
A few months earlier
Sean Linz threw a dagger that buried itself in a vampire’s neck, then swung his katana at the opponent in front of him. Clangs, growls, grunts, and cries of pain disrupted the night’s quiet as he, his sister—Krysta, and her husband—Étienne fought a large vampire crew that had descended upon UNC Chapel Hill’s campus.
There must’ve been almost two dozen of them. If the enhanced sense of smell Sean had gained when he’d become immortal hadn’t warned him otherwise, he would’ve thought they were frat boys out making mischief. But his nose had caught the scent of blood that clung to their clothing.
As Sean sliced up the vampire in front of him, another slipped around behind him and tried to hamstring him. Sean shifted at the last moment, grunting when the blade cut across his outer thigh. After decapitating the vampire in front of him with a swipe of his sword, he spun around to confront the asshole behind him.
These vampires all appeared to be newly turned. Most still retained enough sanity to look nervous when their companions began to fall beneath the Immortal Guardians’ blades.
Not so confident now, are you, dipshits? Sean thought.
He spared his sister a glance to see how she fared.
Krysta was kicking ass, as usual, thanks to her ability to see auras and anticipate the vampires’ next movements.
Étienne grunted as a gash opened on his cheek.
“Stop watching me, damn it,” Krysta snapped. “Keep your eyes on your opponent.”
“Watching you kick ass,” Étienne called back, “is far more entertaining.”
Both were holding their own.
The body of Sean’s latest foe hit the ground and began to shrivel up at his feet.
“Sean?” Krysta called. “How you doing over there?”
“I’m good,” he answered, opening the carotid artery of his next opponent.
Panic lit the vampire’s glowing blue eyes as he stumbled backward, dropped his long bowie knife, and tried to stem the rapid blood flow. One of his fellow vampires didn’t move out of the way fast enough and accidentally stabbed the vamp in the back.
Sean saluted him. “Thank you.” He pivoted to face the vampire behind him.
The vampire’s gray eyes lost their glow as they rolled back in his head. His bowie knives clattered to the pavement as he sank to the ground, a tranquilizer dart protruding from his chest.
Nicole. He should’ve known his Second would shadow them. Like Melanie, she had minor precognitive abilities and had warned him earlier that she had a bad feeling about tonight.
Something flew past Sean’s left ear with a thwit.
He spun to find the vampire who had accidentally stabbed his friend lunging toward him with his blade raised high.
The vamp stopped short and frowned at the dart that now stuck out of his chest. Then his eyes rolled back, and he sank to the ground.
“Damn it!” Krysta shouted suddenly.
“They’re running,” Étienne announced, his French accent tinged with disgust. “Bloody cowards.”
Sean looked around. Seven vampires streaked away with preternatural speed. One jerked to a halt and sank to the ground, thanks to another dart fired by Nicole. “Go,” he told the couple. “I’ll take care of these.”
Krysta shook her head. “Seth said not to hunt alone, to—”
“I’m not alone. Nicole is backing me up.” And Sean doubted Seth—the immensely powerful leader of the Immortal Guardians—would want this crew to live to kill another night.
A dart struck one of the four remaining vampires in the neck.
“See?” he added. “I’ll be fine. Don’t let those bastards get away.”
Though both looked uncertain, Krysta and Étienne took off after the others, leaving his sight within seconds.
Two vampires struck Sean in tandem while the third—wearing a baseball cap—hung back and bided his time. Nicole took out one of the vamps Sean fought with a dart before the bastard could sneak around and attack his back. Sean wounded the second, then turned to face the third.
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