Rush of Darkness

By: Rhyannon Byrd


Acknowledgments:


As always, there are so many people

who deserve my deepest thanks:

My wonderful readers, whose support

and enthusiasm keep me going.

Endless thanks to each and every one of you!

My amazing editor, Ann Leslie Tuttle.

My incredible agent, Deidre Knight.

The awesome team at HQN

who are beyond compare.

The lovely Madison Hayes,

who puts so much time and effort into my books

that I’ll never be able to thank her enough.

And last but not least, my family,

who mean the absolute world to me!




CHAPTER ONE




Paris, France

WHOEVER SAID THAT revenge was a dish best served cold obviously never had a taste for it, because all Raine Spenser could feel was heat—fever warm and searing through her veins—and it felt good. Better, in fact, than anything had felt in a long time, as if her life had finally been given purpose after so many draining months of weakness. Who cared if she was acting on visceral emotion rather than coolheaded logic? Her thirst for vengeance was an infusion of power ripping through her system, setting her on fire, and she liked it. A lot.

The May rain came down in a lazy, endless pour, drenching the city of Paris to its bones, the howling wind driving the cold drops against her face, and yet, she burned, aching with the need to catch her prey and make him pay for his sins. And for a woman like Raine, she was more than capable of dealing out a devil’s load of violence.

Unique among the ancient clans—nonhuman races whose existence had been kept secret from the majority of humans for thousands of years—Raine was a woman from two worlds: that of the Deschanel vampires and the Alacea psychics. Her parents had given Raine a childhood that was full of love, laughter and acceptance, and though they’d always done their best to protect her, she refused to make them a part of this.

This had to be her fight, and whatever happened, she would see it through to the end.

The young woman who had been raised in her parents’ caring home, gone to university, then traveled the world as an environmentalist seemed another person now. One Raine hardly knew or understood. After being kidnapped at the beginning of the year and held prisoner for nearly a month, the hope that had once burned within her had been transformed into something distorted and dark. But then, these were grim times for all the ancient clans and the crossbreed knew she wasn’t alone.

A war unlike anything that had come before was upon the world, though most of the humans continued on with their carefree existence, blithely unaware, believing the nightmares closing in on them were nothing more than mere figments of their imagination. But the nightmares were all too real, and if they weren’t stopped, life for the humans and the clans alike was never going to be the same again.

Monsters once imprisoned had found escape, and now the men and women who had helped save Raine’s life just months before were caught in the middle of a battle of epic proportions against a vile race known as the Casus. Immortal creatures that had been imprisoned for their gruesome crimes against humanity and the other clans more than a thousand years ago, the Casus had finally found a means of escape from the metaphysical prison called Meridian that held them. And although they could only escape one or two at a time, their numbers were steadily growing. But the most frightening part was that they were working to bring about “the flood,” when all of their brethren would escape Meridian in a mass exodus, wreaking their vengeance upon the world.

And that’s where the Watchmen came in.

An organization of shape-shifters whose job it was to watch over those clans who had survived the centuries, the Watchmen were the ones meant to ensure tranquility and peace. Though they lived in every corner of the world, it was a small unit of shifters from Colorado who had first begun the fight against the Casus. They were now established at a new compound in England called Harrow House, which was where Raine had been staying since last February, after they’d freed her from the madman who’d been determined to use her psychic powers to aid the Casus in their quest for freedom.

But while their fight was a righteous one, Raine wasn’t working with the Watchmen or their allies. She had her own agenda—one she planned to carry out with deadly purpose, no matter the consequences.

Tonight, she was a predator. And she was on the hunt.

Peering around the corner of a thick, weathered building made of ancient granite, Raine could see her prey lurking in the distant shadows, his tall form hidden at the far end of a narrow alley. He was one of the escaped Casus shades, living within the body of a human host, the man’s spirit destroyed so that the monster might wear his skin. Despite the rain, she was close enough to scent him, his sweaty stench overriding the wet stone-and-wood smells of the city, and she could sense his sadistic craving for pain and flesh. For that reason alone, she would have been justified in killing him, preventing him from taking another human life. But she had other reasons, as well. The Casus who lurked at the far end of that alley had committed unforgivable sins against Raine’s family, and she wanted his destruction so badly she could taste it.

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