Read an Excerpt from Shadowmaster

Susan Krinard’s Nightsiders series from Harlequin Nocturne continues this month with Shadowmaster. Read on to learn more the book and read an excerpt…

About the Book

Humans and vampires stand on the brink of war in this gripping series by New York Times bestselling author Susan Krinard

In the crumbling outpost of San Francisco, a fragile truce is threatened by an assassination plot. Half-dhampir agent Phoenix Stryker has the beauty, brains—and blood—to infiltrate the vampires’ secret society and save the city. But once she’s in, she finds that her target, the assassin Drakon, is not the monster she expected. Handsome, honorable and irresistibly attractive, Drakon will stop at nothing to save his people—and protect the woman he needs even more than the blood that keeps him alive. Now the key to the world’s survival may lie in their dangerous alliance….

Excerpt

“We don’t know who he is,” the director said. “We know it’s a he, and we believe he goes by the name ‘Drakon.’ There are certain unconfirmed reports that he has connections in the Fringe, here in the city. We don’t know where he’s hiding, if he’s working alone or if he has contacts within this very agency.”

Aegis Director of Operatives Julia Chan swept the table with her gaze, pausing to search each pair of eyes locked on hers. Phoenix was only one of many, but she felt as if Director Chan were looking into her soul. Weighing strengths and weaknesses. Going over a mental checklist of successes and failures in Phoenix’s relatively brief and undemanding career—mentally studying her psych eval, deciding if the agent’s abilities and qualifications were up to the task.

No doubt the director was wondering if an agent who was only half-dhampir like herself—only a quarter Opir and three-quarters human—and had never had a major mission in the field, could possibly be capable enough for a job that could mean life or death for the largest Enclave of humans on the West Coast of the former United States of America.


Then the director’s gaze moved on, and she nodded brusquely. “You’ll have full, detailed reports on your tabs. Study them thoroughly. We’re sending only one agent during the initial stage of the search. We’re betting that the assassin is heterosexual, and like most Opiri, he’ll naturally be attracted to dhampir blood.” She swept the audience with a cold stare. “Let me be very frank—you may have to use sex as a way of getting to him, not to mention your blood. As always, if you feel or believe you’re not up to the task of using every personal asset to find this killer before he brings down our government, tell me now. You’ll receive no black mark on your record for declining, under the circumstances. And, as always, every word spoken in this room is strictly confidential. Any leaks will be investigated and the traitor will face the harshest possible penalties.”

She closed her tab, gathered up a few printed notes and left the room.

“Well, that was clear enough,” Yoko said close to Phoenix’s ear as they rose from their seats at the table. “We always knew what we were getting into when we joined Aegis.”

“Joined?” Phoenix said, shaking her head. “Since when did you dhampires have any choice in the matter? You can’t be left to run loose in society, half-vampires that you are.”

Yoko took Phoenix’s arm, her catlike pupils dilating. “You talk as if you don’t think you’re one of us. Just because you look fully human…”

“I inherited my looks from my mother, eyes and all. And she didn’t go through what most of yours did. She wasn’t taken during the War by some bloodsucker against her will.”

“No. But she married one of the first dhampires ever to be identified,” Yoko said, her round face suddenly serious. “Even the people who adopted him as a kid before the Awakening had no idea where he came from. At least most of us knew our real mothers.”

“But not the Nightsiders who made them pregnant,” Phoenix said, brutally blunt. “Who abandoned them as soon as they were done with them. I had a complete family to begin with, even though no one outside a few in the old government knew my dad was working against the bloodsuckers during the War.”

“And kept on working for us after,” Yoko said, “even when he could have retired with honor.”

“Do you really believe that?” Phoenix asked, unable to hide the bitterness that never quite went away. “In the end, he left us like any true dhampir’s ‘father.’”

“He died on a mission. He was a hero, and everyone knows it.”

A hero, Phoenix thought. The kind she could never be. And all her anger, all her hurt couldn’t change that fact.

“Aegis was everything to him, more important than his own wife and child. I’d rather have a live father than a dead hero.”

For once, her voluble friend had nothing to say. It wasn’t as if this were the first time the subject had come up between them, but sometimes—when Phoenix least expected it—the anger came boiling up again.

Oh, Aegis had provided well for the widowed wife and fatherless child. And once Mother died, the agency had become Phoenix’s only family: deciding, after much evaluation, that the half-dhampir child was worth training, though her abilities were constantly tested and weighed against those of every full dhampir, the agents sworn to maintain the Armistice between humans and Nightsiders by every means possible. Unauthorized combat, ambush, deceit, submission, sex. Whatever it took.

Because only dhampires, with their almost catlike eyes, could see by night like full-blooded Opiri, could move nearly as fast and were nearly as strong, could meet Opir operatives in the Zone with some hope of survival.

But this wasn’t the Zone. An Opir assassin was inside the walls of San Francisco Enclave, ready to kill the mayor and foment chaos in the city at a time when the volatile politic situation could be set off by the smallest spark. The forthcoming election had the two factions— the mayor’s and Senator Patterson’s—at daggers drawn. And every report confirmed that the bloodsuckers were preparing for a major offensive.

And yet the mayor insisted that peace could be maintained and renewed. Mayor Aaron Shepherd. The man Phoenix had once loved. And had thought loved her.

Yoko seemed to read her mind. “I know,” she said. “This is kind of personal for you.”

Phoenix didn’t encourage further conversation on the subject, so Yoko moved on. “‘Contacts within this agency,’” she quoted Chan. “If they think that’s even possible, it’s bad. Could make this job a suicide mission.”

“So what’s new?” Phoenix asked as she and Yoko stopped by the mess hall for coffee and sandwiches. “I’d go in a heartbeat if I thought they’d pick me.”

Yoko grabbed a steaming mug and chose a table. The room was nearly deserted. Once they were seated, Yoko looked around and leaned close to Phoenix again.

“Maybe you didn’t notice how long Chan stared at you,” she said. “Maybe they haven’t sent you on any really dangerous missions. They haven’t been able to look past their prejudice. But you’re still Titus’s daughter.”

Titus’s daughter, Phoenix thought. That was the thing, wasn’t it?

“I don’t want any lives in my hands,” Phoenix said, sipping the nearly scalding coffee and welcoming the almost painful burning on her tongue.

“But you don’t have to cut yourself off from everyone,” Yoko said, laying her hand on Phoenix’s wrist. “I worry about you. You don’t go anywhere or see anyone. Except me, of course.”

Phoenix smiled. “Stop worrying, Yoko. I keep busy. I don’t feel deprived.”

“Look, Shepherd was one guy. There are guys who don’t care what we are, whether it shows or not. They won’t try to keep you hidden. Like Abdul…we’re happy together. Might not last forever, but almost nothing does.”

No, Phoenix thought. Nothing does. Not even life.

“Not interested,” she said. “I don’t like having those kinds of ties to weigh me down.”

“Because no matter how much you may complain about our being forced to join Aegis because of what we are,” Yoko said, “you live for the work, like your father. That’s another reason why Chan didn’t leave you off the list.”

“Or they just think it would be safer to send in someone who doesn’t have dhampir eyes. A lot easier than performing surgery on one of you.”

Yoko bit her lower lip. “It all depends on their tactics. A full dhampir could really tempt the assassin, and the Agency doesn’t seem to think your blood would be addictive. But if Aegis wants to keep a low profile.”

“I guess we’ll have to wait and see,” Phoenix said.

Uncharacteristically quiet, Yoko gazed into the depths of her cooling coffee. “Phoenix.can you be objective if they assign you to this mission?”

“Whatever my past relationship with Shepherd,” Phoenix said, drawing herself up very straight, “I know what he means to the Enclave. He’s holding everything together, giving the people courage and hope. He wants to end the mandatory deportation of minor lawbreakers to Erebus.”

“Which the bloodsuckers will never agree to,” Yoko said. “They have to have serfs, after all.”

“But he’s against it, and that’s a very popular position now that the Enforcers are scraping the bottom of the barrel to find citizens to deport,” Phoenix said. “I respect him for that.”

“And the alternative is Senator Patterson, who wants to crack down on so-called ‘offenders’ even more.”

“What else can you expect from a guy who used to be commissioner of the Enforcement Bureau?” Phoenix asked.

“The elections are going to be ugly this year, no matter how civil they try to be.”

“That’s why they have to choose just the right operative,” Phoenix said.

“You may not think you can do it, Nix, but I have faith in you.” Yoko covered Phoenix’s hand again. “I hope you’re the one.”

Yoko got her wish.

Chan called Phoenix into her office the next day. The spring morning was sunny but cold, with a brisk wind off San Francisco Bay.

“You read the report?” Chan said as Phoenix took the seat on the other side of the wide and very valuable cher-rywood desk.

“I did,” Phoenix said.

“What were your thoughts?”

“I assume you chose me because I look human.”

“That was indeed a major factor, Agent Stryker. It was not the only one. You also have no need for blood or a patch to help you digest human food like all full dhampires, though your protein requirements must be met to the best of your ability. Any further thoughts about this mission?”

“I can get him,” Phoenix said, half-afraid of appearing so much more confident than she felt.

The director looked at Phoenix as if she were peering over the tops of old-fashioned reading glasses. “You will have a great deal of personal discretion in this, but your job is not to ‘get him.’ It is to watch and listen, try to make contact with someone in the Fringe who knows Drakon, locate his headquarters if possible and report back without being caught. That is more than sufficient.”

But not for me, Phoenix thought. Dad died for this city. If I have any way to bring this assassin down myself…

“The question is whether or not your former relationship with the mayor could in any way compromise the mission,” Chan said, shaking Phoenix out of her thoughts. “Do you believe there is any chance it might in any way affect your performance?”

Phoenix knew she couldn’t avoid the issue now, as she had with Yoko. The affair was supposed to have been secret. Aaron had convinced Phoenix that it would be a good idea if the then vice mayor kept his personal relationships private. He didn’t want to be seen as having possibly influenced her acceptance as an operative for the Agency.

“It’s different with us,” Aaron had said. And Phoenix had accepted, because she’d been hungry for love, for acceptance by those who couldn’t decide where she fit in.

They’d parted “friends.” At least from Aaron’s side of the equation. It was easy enough for him. He didn’t have to think of her at all. She saw his photo on her tab nearly every day. Mayor Shepherd, one of the most successful and beloved leaders in Enclave history.

Phoenix sat very straight and held the director’s gaze. “No, ma’am,” she said.

“No resentment of this Agency for sending your father off to die?” Chan asked bluntly. “No undue hatred of the Opiri for killing him?”

“No, ma’am. No more than any dhampir operative would have.”

The director cocked her head. “Honest, at least. Is there anything else you wish to say?”

“I know the mayor must be protected at all costs for the sake of our survival.”

“All costs,” Chan said, looking down at her tab. “Including the possible seduction of whomever seems likely to assist in your locating Drakon. There are several known Bosses in the Fringe you might approach in your search for him. You’ll find a list on your tab, but our preferred candidate is a Boss called The Preacher.” She paused. “Are you up to that, Agent Stryker?”

“You don’t forget how to ride a bicycle,” Phoenix said.

For the first time, the director smiled in apparently genuine amusement. “You’re beautiful, Agent Stryker. Most men would consider you very desirable, regardless of species. You wouldn’t have been considered if you didn’t have most of the advantages dhampires possess. And your blood shouldn’t be addictive to Nightsiders, ei-ther.which could be a mixed blessing.”

“But it’ll still attract them,” Phoenix said. “And I can use that.”

“It’ll be at your discretion whether or not you wish to reveal your dhampir heritage at any point during the mission,” Chan said, “but remember that you are not to engage Drakon or his followers unless you have no other choice. If the enemy recognizes what you are and fails to believe any of your cover stories, there won’t be anyone to get you out.”

“Understood, ma’am.”

“And you have to remember that though you’re still stronger and faster than humans, you’re at a disadvantage in a head-to-head with most other dhampires and certainly all Opiri, with very few exceptions.”

“Yes, ma’am. I’m grateful for your confidence in me.”

“Frankly,” Chan said, chewing on her stylus, “I was against it. I think you still have something to prove. You were an orphan, mother dead by suicide, no other living relations. Your father’s legacy is all you have to define yourself. During this mission, you have to put all that behind you.”

“Ma’am, I’ve always—”

“You’re not out there to be a hero, Stryker, only to complete the mission as outlined in the briefing.”

“I understand completely, Director Chan.”

“I hope you do.” Chan sighed. “The committee believes you can handle this. But again I must ask, are you prepared to carry out this mission with every asset at your disposal, without qualms or emotional involvement?”

“If there are any doubts,” Phoenix said stiffly, “perhaps it would be better if another agent is assigned.”

“No. The committee has faith in you, and I’ll have to do the same.” She typed a quick note on her tab. “There’ll be a more detailed report, your eyes only, waiting for you in your quarters, outlining your cover stories and the support you’ll receive from the Agency. Not to be shared with anyone, is that clear?”

“Yes, ma’am. Very clear.”

“Then you’re dismissed. Be prepared to move out at 0100 hours tomorrow morning.”

“Yes, Director.” Phoenix rose, turned and walked out of the office. Her heart was pounding, but not with fear. She’d have a chance to show them again. She wasn’t that weakling orphan anymore, and she would never stop proving it.

No matter what it took.

Louis Vuitton Gm Purse
Buy Louis Vuitton Handbags In Handbags &Amp; Totes
Off Authentic Louis Vuitton Speedy 30 Uk Store
Louis Vuitton Alma Bag New
Nwt Rose Indian Louis Vuitton Ikat Neverfull Gm Articles De Voyage Champs Elysee
Louis Vuitton Impulsion Sunglasses Price
Louis Vuitton Sunglasses 2010
Louis Vuitton Used Speedy 30
Louis Vuitton Warehouse Jobs
How Much Is A Louis Vuitton Bag In Qatar
Sac Louis Vuitton Alma Pm
Louis Vuitton Monogram Bedding
Louis Vuitton Val D&Amp;Europe
Knock Off Louis Vuitton China
Louis Vuitton Alma Mm Epi Leather Black M5289N Handbags
Louis Vuitton Naissance Luxe Moderne De Wo Aesthetic Line
Louis Vuitton Ellipse Mm Monogram Canvas Handbag
Louis Vuitton Neverfull Gm Monogram Canvas M42421
Louis Vuitton Logo Pattern Iphone 5 Cover Case
Louis Vuitton Air Balloon Commercial Song
Louis Vuitton Made In Usa Wallet
Sacs Louis Vuitton Neverfull Gm Monogram Toile Marron M40157
What Stores Carry Louis Vuittone Handbags
Louis Vuitton Outlet Stores In Ny
Strongwinter 2013 Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton Philippines Head Office
Louis Vuitton Handbag Sales
Louis Vuitton Globe Shopper Cabas Mm Tote Bag
Louis Vuitton Belt Box Fake
Louis Vuitton Scarf Price Uk
Louis Vuitton Cheaper In Paris Or Usa
Dropshipping Supported Louis Vuitton Travel Lv Finest Materials
Luxury Ladies Louis Vuitton Damier Ebene Canvas Key Pouch N62658
Louis Vuitton Purses Damier Canvas
Louis Vuitton Edible Prints
Louis Vuitton Women Sunglasses Soupcon Gm
Authentic Louis Vuitton Etoile Exotique Tote Mm Bag
Qaz Louis Vuitton Replica Belts
Louis Vuitton Bloomsbury Gm Damier Ebene Canvas Brown N42250
Louis Vuitton Women Handbags Galliera Pm Brown M56382
Cheap Louis Vuitton Evidence Glasses
Louis Vuitton Porte Valeurs Organizer
Louis Vuitton Keepall 55 Airplane
Louis Vuitton Favorite Pm M40717
Venice Film From Louis Vuitton With David
Fake Louis Vuitton Bags Speedy 30
Discount Louis Vuitton Damier Azur
Louis Vuitton Jobs Uk Manchester
Louis Vuitton Antheia Ixia Pm M97070
Louis Vuitton Rabbit Fur Scarf
Louis Vuitton Singapore Used
The Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton Presents The ‘Turbulences’ Exhibit
Cheap Louis Vuitton Scarf And Hats
Genuine Louis Vuitton Shoulder Bag
Compare Louis Vuitton Neverfull Mm Gm
Louis Vuitton Daejeon Galleria Store
Speedy Graffiti Louis Vuitton
Justin Bieber Louis Vuitton Jacket Buy
Duplicate Louis Vuitton Monogram Vernis
Louis Vuitton Inclusion Ring Wo Aesthetic Line
Louis Vuitton Taschen Outlet Fake
Louis Vuitton M58136 Iris Wallet
Louis Vuitton Epi Leather Neverfull Mm M40953
Louis Vuitton Saumur Pm Monogram Idylle Encre M40666 Handbags
New Zealand Top Louis Vuitton
Belts Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton Return Policy In Store
Louis Vuitton Pictures
Louis Vuitton Sevigne Gm Epi Leather Black M40512 Handbags
Louis Vuitton Jobs Z
Louis Vuitton Monogram Vernis Alma Gm Makes An Impression
Louis Vuitton Neverfull Mm Pre Owned
Louis Vuitton Suhali Leather Le Somptueux Wallet Black Tanami White M95853 Handbags
Celebrities With Louis Vuitton Bags 2013
Louis Number Purse Serial Vuitton
Fake Louis Vuitton Mini Pochette
Louis Vuitton Papillon 30 Monogram Canvas Brown M51385 Handbags
Louis Vuitton Multicolor Keepall 45 Duffel Bag White
Louis Vuitton Boots China
Louis Vuitton Noe Epi Leather Ivory M4084J Handbags
Louis Vuitton Zippy Coin Purse Dimensions
Louis Vuitton Sunglasses Parts
Louis Vuitton Bags Batignolles Coffee M51156
Difference Between Real Louis Vuitton And Fake
Strongstyles Of Louis Vuitton Bags
Latest Louis Vuitton Bags 2012
Real Louis Vuitton Jaspers For Sale
Louis Vuitton Sac 2013
Louis Vuitton Men Handbags Yack Black M93082
Excellent Cheap Louis Vuitton Luggage For Sale At Low Price
Where To Buy Fake Louis Vuitton Dons
Ladies Louis Vuitton Bags M93652 Purse Monogram Vernis Handbags Fashion
Fake Louis Vuitton Rainbow Bag Cheap
Louis Vuitton Alma Real Or Fake
Louis Vuitton Bag Prices Japan
Louis Vuitton Conspiration Pilote Canvas Silver Z0203U
Louis Vuitton Eleonor Hat Wo Aesthetic Line
Louis Vuitton Monogram Vernis Sherwood Pm M91494
Fake Louis Vuitton Jewellery
Genuine Louis Vuitton Papillon Handbag Vintage Vuitton
Fake Louis Vuitton Tote Bag
Louis Vuitton China Fake
Vintage Louis Vuitton Bags Toronto
Louis Vuitton Monogram Denim Porte Epaule Raye Mm M95334
Kim Kardashian’S Louis Vuitton Clutch
Can I Use A Macy Gift Card At Louis Vuitton
Authentic Vintage Louis Vuitton Monogram Speedy 30 Handbag
Louis Vuitton Epi Neverfull Price
Louis Vuitton Harrington Jacket
Louis Vuitton Cheap
Louis Vuitton Speedy 32 Monogram Idylle M56703
Louis Vuitton Alma Mm M5289N
Louis Vuitton And Yayoi Kusama Canvas Bag
Louis Vuitton Sunglasses A1123
Louis Vuitton Speedy 25 Monogram Canvas M40390
Louis Vuitton Case Cover
Sac Louis Vuitton Mahina Xl
Louis Vuitton China E-Commerce
Louis Vuitton Trevi Pm Price In Malaysia
Louis Vuitton Speedy 25 Speedy 30
How Many Louis Vuitton Stores In Europe
Louis Vuitton Marketing Strategy
Lv Iphone 5 Skin Case Cover Green Louis Vuitton Patron
Louis Vuitton Damier Wallet White
Is Louis Vuitton More Expensive In Italy
Forum Louis Vuitton Pas Cher
2. Louis Vuitton Monogram Canvas Accessories Pochette
Louis Vuitton Bowling Pm
Louis Vuitton Tokyo Seibu Shibuya
Louis Vuitton Batignolles Verticalid Monogram Canvas Brown M51153 Handbags
Louis Vuitton Artsy Mm Base Shaper
Louis Vuitton Nomade Leather Lockit Nomade M85388 Handbags
Cheap Louis Vuitton Bags Outlet Store For Sale Louis
Louis Vuitton Speedy 30 Damier Base Shaper
Louis Vuitton Bassano Mm Epi Leather Black M54032 Handbags
Louis Vuitton Epi Neverfull Black
Luxury Handbags Louis Vuitton
Cheap Replica Louis Vuitton Bags
Louis Vuitton Women Handbags Antheia Hobo Gm Fumee M93157
Louis Vuitton Alma Nomade Handbag
Original Louis Vuitton Factory Outlet Online Store Up 70
Louis Vuitton Monogram Artsy Gm Vs Mm
Louis Vuitton Neverfull Mm Price Singapore
Fake Louis Vuitton Speedy 30 Damier Ebene
Louis Vuitton Date Code M51980
Louis Vuitton Women Bag Charms And Key Rings Rock Flower Bag Charm Multicolour M65851
Louis Vuitton Belt Gucci Belt
Louis Vuitton Monogram Empreinte Speedy Bandouliere 25 M40762 Peach
Louis Vuitton Original Purses
Sale Bags Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton Graffiti Keepall 50 Bag
Louis Vuitton Men&Amp;S Iphone Case
Louis Vuitton Lv Women’S Leather Shoulder Bag Details
Louis Vuitton Lockit Clutch
Where To Buy Hello Kitty Louis Vuitton Bong
Louis Vuitton Iris Pm Z0266W
Louis Vuitton Fall 2012 Bag Collection
Louis Vuitton Busan Lotte Centum
Louis Vuitton Damier Long Wallet
Louis Vuitton Women Handbags Neo Cabby Gm Black M95352
Louis Vuitton Backpack Philippines
Louis Vuitton Online Boutique
Louis Vuitton Purses In China
Louis Vuitton Bag Pegase 55 Bu
Cheap Real Kanye Louis Vuitton Monogram Montsouris Gm
Louis Vuitton Neverfull Mm How Much
Delightful Ladies Louis Vuitton Monogram Vernis Summit Drive
Lvmh Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton Mc
Sacs Louis Vuitton Monogram Fascination Lockit M40601 Noir
Dubai Shopping Festival 2013 Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton Damier Delightful
Louis Vuitton Pegase 65 Damier Graphite N23301
Louis Vuitton Dog Collar X Small
Louis Vuitton Australia Fashion
Louis Vuitton Outlet In Wisconsin
Louis Vuitton Vernis Wilshire Mm Price
Louis Vuitton Mens Card Case Wallet
Cheap Louis Vuitton Damier Bags
Borse Louis Vuitton Outlet Online Italia Sito Ufficiale Vendita 2013
Louis Vuitton Mono Coffret Tresor Trunk
Louis Vuitton Prices Barbados
Louis Vuitton Belt Men 42
Louis Vuitton Galliera Pm Price
Original Louis Vuitton Wallets Sale
Louis Vuitton Accessories Outlet
Louis Vuitton Handbags Online India
Louis Vuitton Bags Burned
Louis Vuitton Original Leather Mahina Belts M9679 Black
Free Louis Vuitton Purse
Louis Vuitton Neo Robusto 3 Ardoise M32742 Handbags
Louis Vuitton Flore Veau Soie Calfskin Hazelnut M94355 Handbags
Louis Vuitton Speedy Bandouliere 30 Orange Totes M40756
Louis Vuitton Damier Belt Wholesale
Louis Vuitton Handbags Online Shopping In
Fake Louis Vuitton Speedy 30
Is There A Louis Vuitton Outlet In Italy
Louis Vuitton Damier Canvas Trevi Gm N51998
Louis Vuitton Rtw Spring 2014
Sacs Louis Vuitton Deesse Mm N91214
Louis Vuitton Bag Charms And Key Rings Rainbow Bag Charm Rouge M66166
This entry was posted in excerpt and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Read an Excerpt from Shadowmaster

  1. Loved the excerpt- thank you for sharing <3 Phoenix.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current day month ye@r *