Vampires faith, p.1
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       Vampire's Faith, p.1

           Rebecca Zanetti
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Vampire's Faith


  Cover Copy

  Fangs? Okay. This wasn’t a joke.

  Somebody was seriously messing with her, and maybe they wanted her hurt. She couldn’t explain the eyes and the fangs, so this had to be bad. This guy was obviously capable of inflicting some real damage. His eyes morphed again to the electric blue, and somehow, he broadened even more, looking more animalistic than human.

  “I don’t understand,” she said, her voice shaking as her mind tried to make sense of what her eyes were seeing. “Who are you? Why were you unconscious in a coma? How did you know my name?”

  He breathed out, his broad chest moving with the effort. The fangs slowly slid back up, and his eyes returned to the sizzling aqua. “My name is Ronan Kayrs, and I was unconscious because the shield fell.” He eyed her, tugging her even closer. “I know your name because I spent four hundred years seeing your face and feeling your soft touch in my dreams.”

  Also by Rebecca Zanetti

  The Dark Protector series

  Fated

  Claimed

  Tempted

  Hunted

  Consumed

  Provoked

  Twisted

  Shadowed

  Tamed

  Marked

  The Realm Enforcers series

  Wicked Ride

  Wicked Edge

  Wicked Burn

  Wicked Kiss

  Wicked Bite

  The Scorpius Syndrome series

  Mercury Striking

  Shadow Falling

  Justice Ascending

  Vampire’s Faith

  Rebecca Zanetti

  LYRICAL PRESS

  Kensington Publishing Corp.

  www.kensingtonbooks.com

  To the extent that the image or images on the cover of this book depict a person or persons, such person or persons are merely models, and are not intended to portray any character or characters featured in the book.

  LYRICAL PRESS BOOKS are published by

  Kensington Publishing Corp.

  119 West 40th Street

  New York, NY 10018

  Copyright © 2018 by Rebecca Zanetti

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the Publisher, excepting brief quotes used in reviews.

  All Kensington titles, imprints, and distributed lines are available at special quantity discounts for bulk purchases for sales promotion, premiums, fund-raising, educational, or institutional use.

  Special book excerpts or customized printings can also be created to fit specific needs. For details, write or phone the office of the Kensington Sales Manager: Kensington Publishing Corp., 119 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018. Attn. Sales Department. Phone: 1-800-221-2647.

  Lyrical Press and Lyrical Press logo Reg. U.S. Pat. & TM Off.

  First Electronic Edition: June 2018

  eISBN-13: 978-1-5161-0745-2

  eISBN-10: 1-5161-0745-4

  First Print Edition: June 2018

  ISBN-13: 978-1-5161-0749-0

  ISBN-10: 1-5161-0749-7

  Printed in the United States of America

  Dedication

  This one’s for Baby Whitman. Welcome to the world, little one. It’s a much better place with you in it.

  Acknowledgments

  We’ve headed back to the Dark Protectors! I have many people to thank for getting this book to readers, and I sincerely apologize to anyone I’ve forgotten.

  Thank you to Big Tone for the support, love, kisses, flowers, and Panera on demand. I like you and I love you forever.

  Thank you to Gabe and Karlina for being such amazing human beings. Being your mom is my biggest blessing. You went from toddlers to teenagers way too quickly, and I’m truly excited to see what you do next.

  Thank you to my hard-working editor, Alicia Condon, whose class, intuition, and dedication are an inspiration every day.

  Thank you to Alexandra Nicolajsen, whose ingenuity in this business is only matched by her incredible kindness.

  Thank you to the rest of the Kensington gang: Steven Zacharius, Adam Zacharius, Lynn Cully, Vida Engstrand, Jane Nutter, Lauren Jernigan, Lauren Vassallo, Arthur Maisel, Kimberly Richardson, and Rebecca Cremonese.

  Thank you to my wonderful agent, Caitlin Blasdell, whose support, clear thinking, and wisdom have provided very much needed guidance for me as an author.

  Thank you to Liza Dawson and the entire Dawson group, who work so very hard for me.

  Thank you to Jillian Stein for the absolutely fantastic work and for being such an amazing friend.

  Thanks to my fantastic street team, Rebecca’s Rebels, and their creative and hard-working leader, Minga Portillo.

  Thanks also to my constant support system: Gail and Jim English, Debbie and Travis Smith, Stephanie and Don West, Brandie and Mike Chapman, Jessica and Jonah Namson, and Kathy and Herb Zanetti.

  Finally, thank you to the readers who have kept the Dark Protectors alive all of these years. It’s because of you that we decided to return to the world of the Realm.

  CHAPTER ONE

  Dr. Faith Cooper scanned through the medical chart on her tablet while keeping a brisk pace in her dark boots through the hospital hallway, trying to ignore the chill in the air. “The brain scan was normal. What about the respiratory pattern?” she asked, reading the next page.

  “Normal. We can’t find any neurological damage,” Dr. Barclay said, matching his long-legged stride easily to hers. His brown hair was swept back from an angled face with intelligent blue eyes. “The patient is in a coma with no brain activity, but his body is…well…”

  “Perfectly healthy,” Faith said, scanning the nurse’s notes, wondering if Barclay was single. “The lumbar puncture was normal, and there’s no evidence of a stroke.”

  “No. The patient presents as healthy except for the coma. It’s an anomaly,” Barclay replied, his voice rising.

  Interesting. “Any history of drugs?” Sometimes drugs could cause a coma.

  “No,” Barclay said. “No evidence that we’ve found.”

  Lights flickered along the corridor as she passed through the doorway to the intensive-care unit. “What’s wrong with the lights?” Faith asked, her attention jerking from the medical notes.

  “It’s been happening on and off for the last two days. The maintenance department is working on it, as well as on the temperature fluctuations.” Barclay swept his hand out. No ring. Might not be married. “This morning we moved all the other patients to the new ICU in the western addition that was completed last week.”

  That explained the vacant hall and nearly deserted nurses’ station. Only one woman monitored the screens spread across the desk. She nodded as Faith and Dr. Barclay passed by, her gaze lingering on the cute man.

  The cold was getting worse. It was early April, raining and a little chilly. Not freezing.

  Faith shivered. “Why wasn’t this patient moved with the others?”

  “Your instructions were to leave him exactly in place until you arrived,” Barclay said, his face so cleanly shaven he looked like a cologne model. “We’ll relocate him after your examination.”

  Goose bumps rose on her arms. She breathed out, and her breath misted in the air. This was weird. It’d never happen in the hospital across town where she worked. Her hospital was on the other side of Denver, but her expertise with coma patients was often requested across the world. She glanced back down at the tablet. “Where’s his Glasgow Coma Scale score?”

  “He
’s at a three,” Barclay said grimly.

  A three? That was the worst score for a coma patient. Basically, no brain function.

  Barclay stopped her. “Dr. Cooper. I just want to say thank you for coming right away.” He smiled and twin dimples appeared. The nurses probably loved this guy. “I heard about the little girl in Seattle. You haven’t slept in—what? Thirty hours?”

  It felt like it. She’d put on a clean shirt, but it was already wrinkled beneath her white lab coat. Faith patted his arm, finding very nice muscle tone. When was the last time she’d been on a date? “I’m fine. The important part is that the girl woke up.” It had taken Faith seven hours of doing what she shouldn’t be able to do: Communicate somehow with coma patients. This one she’d been able to save, and now a six-year-old girl was eating ice cream with her family in the hospital. Soon she’d go home. “Thank you for calling me.”

  He nodded, and she noticed his chin had a small divot—Cary Grant style. “Of course. You’re legendary. Some say you’re magic.”

  Faith forced a laugh. “Magic. That’s funny.” Straightening her shoulders, she walked into the ICU and stopped moving, forgetting all about the chart and the doctor’s dimples. “What in the world?” she murmured.

  Only one standard bed remained in the sprawling room. A massive man overwhelmed it, his shoulders too wide to fit on the mattress. He was at least six-foot-six, his bare feet hanging off the end of the bed. The blankets had been pushed to his waist to make room for the myriad of electrodes set across his broad and muscular chest. Very muscular. “Why is his gown open?”

  “It shouldn’t be,” Barclay said, looking around. “I’ll ask the nurse after you do a quick examination. I don’t mind admitting that I’m stymied here.”

  A man who could ask for help. Yep. Barclay was checking all the boxes. “Is this the correct patient?” Faith studied his healthy coloring and phenomenal physique. “There’s no way this man has been in a coma for longer than a couple of days.”

  Barclay came to a halt, his gaze narrowing. He slid a shaking hand through his thick hair. “I understand, but according to the fire marshal, this patient was buried under piles of rocks and cement from the tunnel cave-in below the Third Street bridge that happened nearly seven years ago.”

  Faith moved closer to the patient, noting the thick dark hair that swept back from a chiseled face. A warrior’s face. She blinked. Where the hell had that thought come from? “That’s impossible.” She straightened. “Anybody caught in that collapse would’ve died instantly, or shortly thereafter. He’s not even bruised.”

  “What if he was frozen?” Barclay asked, balancing on sneakers.

  Faith checked over the still-healthy tone of the patient’s skin. “Not a chance.” She reached for his wrist to check his pulse.

  Electricity zipped up her arm and she coughed. What the heck was that? His skin was warm and supple, the strength beneath it obvious. She turned her wrist so her watch face was visible and then started counting. Curiosity swept her as she counted the beats. “When was he brought in?” She’d been called just three hours ago to consult on the case and hadn’t had a chance to review the complete file.

  “A week ago,” Barclay said, relaxing by the door.

  Amusement hit Faith full force. Thank goodness. For a moment, with the flickering lights, freezing air, and static electricity, she’d almost traveled to an imaginary and fanciful place. She smiled and released the man’s wrist. “All right. Somebody is messing with me.” She’d just been named the head of neurology at Northwest Boulder Hospital. Her colleagues must have gone to a lot of trouble—tons, really—to pull this prank. “Did Simons put you up to this?”

  Barclay blinked, truly looking bewildered. He was cute. Very much so. Just the type who’d appeal to Faith’s best friend, Louise. And he had an excellent reputation. Was this Louise’s new beau? “Honestly, Dr. Cooper. This is no joke.” He motioned toward the monitor screen that displayed the patient’s heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, and intracranial pressure.

  It had to be. Faith looked closer at the bandage covering the guy’s head and the ICP monitor that was probably just taped beneath the bandage. “I always pay back jokes, Dr. Barclay.” It was fair to give warning.

  Barclay shook his head. “No joke. After a week of tests, we should see something here that explains his condition, but we have nothing. If he was injured somehow in the caved-in area, there’d be evidence of such. But… nothing.” Barclay sighed. “That’s why we requested your help.”

  None of this made any sense. The only logical conclusion was that this was a joke. She leaned over the patient to check the head bandage and look under it.

  The screen blipped.

  She paused.

  Barclay gasped and moved a little closer to her. “What was that?”

  Man, this was quite the ruse. She was so going to repay Simons for this. Dr. Louise Simons was always finding the perfect jokes, and it was time for some payback. Playing along, Faith leaned over the patient again.

  BLEEP

  This close, her fingers tingled with the need to touch the hard angles of this guy’s face. Was he some sort of model? Bodybuilder? His muscles were sleek and smooth—natural like a wild animal’s. So probably not a bodybuilder. There was something just so male about him that he made Barclay fade into the meh zone. Her friends had chosen well. This guy was sexy on a sexy stick of pure melted sexiness. “I’m going to kill Simons,” she murmured, not sure if she meant it. As jokes went, this was impressive. This guy wasn’t a patient and he wasn’t in a coma. So she indulged herself and smoothed his hair back from his wide forehead.

  BLEEP

  BLEEP

  BLEEP

  His skin was warm, although the room was freezing. “This is amazing,” she whispered, truly touched. The planning that had to have gone into it. “How long did this take to set up?”

  Barclay coughed, no longer appearing quite so perfect or masculine compared to the patient. “Stroke him again.”

  Well, all righty then. Who wouldn’t want to caress a guy like this? Going with the prank, Faith flattened her hand in the middle of the guy’s thorax, feeling a very strong heartbeat. “You can stop acting now,” she murmured, leaning toward his face. “You’ve done a terrific job.” Would it be totally inappropriate to ask him out for a drink after he stopped pretending to be unconscious? He wasn’t really a patient, and man, he was something. Sinewed strength and incredibly long lines. “How about we get you out of here?” Her mouth was just over his.

  His eyelids flipped open.

  Barclay yelped and windmilled back, hitting an orange guest chair and landing on his butt on the floor.

  The patient grabbed Faith’s arm in an iron-strong grip. “Faith.”

  She blinked and then warmth slid through her. “Yeah. That’s me.” Man, he was hot. All right. The coming out of a coma and saying her name was kind of cool. But it was time to get to the truth. “Who are you?”

  He shook his head. “Gde, chert voz’mi, ya?”

  She blinked. Wow. A Russian model? His eyes were a metallic aqua. Was he wearing contacts? “Okay, buddy. Enough with the joke.” She gently tried to pull loose, but he held her in place, his hand large enough to encircle her entire bicep.

  He blinked, his eyes somehow hardening. They started to glow an electric blue, sans the green. “Where am I?” His voice was low and gritty. Hoarse to a point that it rasped through the room, winding around them.

  The colored contacts were seriously high-tech.

  “You speak Russian and English. Extraordinary.” She twisted her wrist toward her chest, breaking free. The guy was probably paid by the hour. “The jig is up, handsome.” Whatever his rate, he’d earned every dime. “Tell Simons to come out from wherever she’s hiding.” Faith might have to clap for her best friend. This deserved applause.

  The guy
ripped the fake bandage off his head and then yanked the EKG wires away from his chest. He shoved himself to a seated position. The bed groaned in protest. “Where am I?” He partially turned his head to stare at the now-silent monitor. “What the hell is that?” His voice still sounded rough and sexy.

  Just how far was he going to take this? “The joke is over.” Faith glanced at Barclay on the floor, who was staring at the patient with wide eyes. “You’re quite the actor, Dr. Barclay.” She smiled.

  Barclay grabbed a chair and hauled himself to his feet, the muscles in his forearms tightening. “Wh—what’s happening?”

  Faith snorted and moved past him, looking down the now-darkened hallway. Dim yellow emergency lights ignited along the ceiling. “They’ve cut the lights.” Delight filled her. She lifted her voice. “Simons? Payback is a bitch, but this is amazing. Much better than April fool’s.” After Faith had filled Louise’s car with balloons filled with sparkly confetti—guaranteed to blow if a door opened and changed the pressure in the vehicle—Simons had sworn vengeance.

  “Louise?” Faith called again. Nothing. Just silence. Faith sighed. “You win. I bow to your pranking abilities.”

  Ice started to form on the wall across the doorway. “How are you doing that?” Faith murmured, truly impressed.

  A growl came from behind her, and she jumped, turning back to the man on the bed.

  He’d just growled?

  She swallowed and studied him. What the heck? The saline bag appeared genuine. Moving quickly, she reached his arm. “They are actually pumping saline into your blood?” Okay. The joke had officially gone too far.

  Something that looked like pain flashed in his eyes. “Who died? I felt their deaths, but who?”

  She shook her head. “Come on. Enough.” He was an excellent actor. She could almost feel his agony.

  The man looked at her, his chin lowering. Sitting on the bed, he was as tall as she was, even though she was standing in her favorite two-inch heeled boots. Heat poured off him, along with a tension she couldn’t ignore.

 

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