Break the Day - Lara Adrian


Rafe stroked his fingers over tender female flesh, his thumb lingering at the carotid, where the human’s pulse pounded as hard and fast as her panting breaths.

As blood Hosts went, this one was more than willing to give him her vein. She either didn’t notice or didn’t care that they were seated at the bar in full public view of the other patrons at Asylum tonight.

Which suited Rafe just fine.

Lowering his head to the side of the woman’s bared throat, he took a long moment to savor the scent and sound of coppery red cells rushing just beneath the surface of so much fragile skin. His fangs elongated in reflex, pushing out of his gums in anticipation of the first bite.

“Feeding curfew ended at midnight, warrior.”

On a growl, Rafe paused and swiveled a dark look at the bartender who’d issued the warning. The man was Breed, like him. A big male with a shaved, tattooed head and shoulders as wide as a tank.

Asylum mainly catered to a human clientele, given that the Breed had only one drink of choice: blood taken from a freshly opened vein. Still, in the twenty years since Rafe’s kind had been outed to man, the tavern in Boston’s old north end had become a popular gathering place for members of both races.

At this late hour, the place had thinned out to a few dozen diehards and the usual smattering of inebriated newcomers who’d evidently grown tired of the flashy dance clubs and sim-lounges in the tourist areas and had wandered deeper into the city for a taste of the local color.

From time to time, Rafe and his teammates from the Order had hung out here as well, sharing some laughs together after their patrols.

Damn, how long had it been? A few months by now. Not since the summer, when he’d been pulled off all Order missions.

Not since his epic fuck-up in Montreal.

Worse than a fuck-up, the near catastrophe had almost killed him. And it might also have cost the lives of everyone closest to him if Opus Nostrum’s beautiful, but treacherous, mole hadn’t been stopped by Rafe’s best friend and comrade, Aric Chase.

Rafe had been played for the worst kind of fool, blinded by a pretty face and a seductive mouth that had spewed nothing but lies.

Never again.

He shook off the bitter reminder with a curse uttered low under his breath. Self-directed anger put an even sharper edge to his voice as he glared at the big bartender. “Why don’t you do us both a favor and get off my dick? I don’t hear the lady complaining about feeding curfews.”

The male scowled. “Listen, man, I don’t make the laws.”

Rafe grunted. “Neither do I.”

“Yeah, but isn’t the Order supposed to enforce them?”

“He ain’t Order. Not anymore. Rumor has it they bounced his ass.”

The comment came from a group of Breed civilians from area Darkhavens occupying one of the tables behind him. Affluent and useless in their polo shirts and khakis, they were the vampire version of rich frat boys. Rafe had earned the scorn of the five young males the minute he arrived and the human blood Host they’d been plying with alcohol for most of the night decided she’d rather spend her time in Rafe’s lap.

He swung his head around to glance their way now, sensing the contempt simmering at his back. A couple of the ego-rankled boneheads actually looked stupid enough to want to take him on.

Rafe had to curb his smile. He was ready for a fight tonight.

Hell, it was the reason he was there in the first place.

“My father works in law enforcement,” the mouthpiece of the Darkhaven males added helpfully. “He says it’s been all over JUSTIS for weeks that Golden Boy here got his ass handed to him by Lucan Thorne and they cut him loose. Evidently ‘gross insubordination and conduct unbecoming’ isn’t a good look, even for the members of the Order.”

“That true? You’re not one of the Order’s warriors anymore?”

Rafe pivoted back to the scowling bartender. “Do I look like I am?”

He knew damn well he didn’t. His dark blond hair was grown out in loose waves that broke at his shoulders, windblown from the ride on his motorcycle, which he’d parked outside the bar. Thick whiskers shadowed his face and jaw. He hadn’t put on the Order’s black fatigues and weapons belt in months.

Tonight he was dressed in jeans and a dark T-shirt under his black leather jacket. He more resembled one of the cluster of menacing-looking