Copyright 2011, Lauren Dane
All rights reserved, The Berkley Publishing Group
Releasing November 1, 2011

Meriel stretched her legs out the open car door, unfolding her body to stand beside the shiny curves of steel. Part of the reason people stared was the car, and she totally got that. Normally, Meriel drove an Audi. Low slung, sporty and temperamental. Sort of like she was on a good day. Heh.

Still, maybe a little bit of Nell’s sexy-momma mojo would rub off on her.

The valet tried to look sullen and bored as he approached with an outstretched hand. A valet at an industrial nightclub? What was the world coming to?

Sullen and on the verge of tears seemed to be similar looks for this boy. No way was he more than a hair this side of nineteen. His skinny jeans only emphasized just how thin his legs were. It must have been a serious workout for him to move in those big boots he had on. Couldn’t have been more than a hundred pounds soaking wet. Probably why his guyliner was running. Or maybe that was on purpose. Whatever, she didn’t really care. Emo boys were not her cup of tea anyway. As long as he didn’t scratch the car, he was free to weep and write bad poetry all day long.

She dropped her keys into his palm and raised one eyebrow. Might as well put on a show all the way and throw a little Edwina in there. “Do be careful, won’t you?” She added a touch of magick to be sure he was.

He nodded, Adam’s apple sliding up and down as her magick tickled his skin and permeated his brain. She briefly toyed with also telling him to eat a sandwich, but let that go.

“Tell me”—she paused, looking at his nametag—”Spider. Very goth, by the way, Spider.” She tried very hard not to snicker. “Is Mr. Bright in this evening?”

“Should be.” Spider tried to look tough, but she could use him to pick spinach from her teeth with one hand so the effect was lost on her.

She nodded, taking her tag and sauntering past the line and through the doors. The bouncer took one look, a smile settled over his features and he stepped back, letting her pass.

Once inside, the scent caught her attention. Mmmm. Humanity. Sex, lust, greed, anger. Beautiful. The hard-edged beat vibrated off her skin as she prowled through the crowd. In every flash, flash, flash of the strobe lights bodies moved, arms up in the air.

Magick drifted through the large room, catching her attention, drawing her to its source. It wasn’t hard to find the go-between, the place normals wouldn’t see but Others would be drawn to, and through, into their own private club.

Heart of Darkness—not a bad name for a club, really. One of her favorite books too. Too bad Gage wasn’t here. The women would have been falling over themselves to get to him. Her mother would also have a cow when she heard Meriel had disobeyed her orders and had come out unescorted, but for goodness’ sake, it wasn’t that dangerous to talk to a thief in public. And hello, she wasn’t fifteen. It had been a long time since Meriel had looked to a mother to do any taking care of her. And last, it amused her to visualize her mother having a cow.

Despite her amusement and admittedly, no small amount of admiration for how much talent it took to set this place up, Heart of Darkness had the potential to be dangerous for them all. Dominic Bright took risks he had no right to. Not on Owen ground and certainly not with Owen font magick.

Though the Weres had been out for a decade and the vampires discussed it endlessly, witches were far less enamored of the idea.

They’d been there and done that and many of them hadn’t survived. In fact every time humans focused on them it involved hanging or drowning or being burned alive so they were obsessive about keeping what they did quiet. Pagans and Wiccans already got enough hatred; if humans knew there were witches like Meriel, well, she didn’t like thinking about it overlong.

This place was a risk of exposure on top of the fact that one simply didn’t just steal from Clan Owen and not face consequences. Clan witches loved rules. Rule breaking was frowned upon because risks were dangerous.

Mr. Bright needed to be taught that it was the height of offense to a clan to come in this way. Some of them would have sent enforcers in and he’d never have been heard from again. Lucky for him, Meriel thought that a big show of aggression would be an overreaction. At least until she learned more.

And then, if he needed to be disappeared, Nell would make it happen. The weak got preyed upon and Clan Owen wasn’t weak.

Already she knew he had some sense. The closer she got to the go-between door, the more the repulsion spell increased in intensity. The entrance looked like a back door and the presence of two large bouncers looking like bartenders would stop interlopers.

The nature of the club would tend to have their kind blend in, although she didn’t know a single vampire who actually looked like the ones she saw in movies. Still, she’d have to talk to Bright about it.
Ignoring the stares and touches from men and women alike as she passed through the crowd, she moved with single-minded purpose toward the warded entrance.

The bouncers didn’t bother removing their sunglasses. They wouldn’t need to. Even with shades on, they’d see the magick crackle over her skin with their othersight. With the patented bodyguard nod, they stepped aside and let her pass.

The sound dampened and the energy changed as magick of all sorts sparked against hers. The wards recognized her and she passed through the human part of the club and into the domain where her people walked. She recognized the flavor of the magick as Owen font magick. This was their power being used to hide that doorway. Oh, that naughty man. Against her better judgment and a lifetime of training, instead of apprehension, a glimmer of excitement slid through her. A challenge.

4 comments to “Excerpt – HEART OF DARKNESS”

  1. Danielle West
    June 27th, 2011 at 12:35 pm · Link

    Heart of Darkness sounds so cool! Very excited for the new series

  2. Maryam
    June 27th, 2011 at 5:51 pm · Link

    Can’t wait!! This is going to be just so delicious!

  3. Christine
    June 30th, 2011 at 11:46 am · Link

    great beginning. can’t wait for Meriel and Dominic to meet

  4. Lauren
    July 6th, 2011 at 5:01 pm · Link

    Danielle, Maryam and Christine – I’m so excited for this one. I hope you all like it