Marked by the Vampire Page 1

Author: Cynthia Eden

Series: Purgatory #2

Genres: Romance


“Are you quite certain that you understand the risks?”

Olivia Maddox straightened in her chair as she met the rather doubting stare of Eric Pate, a man with enough power to basically make or break her career. Pate was a big deal at the FBI, and if she didn’t convince him that she could handle this assignment, then he’d be kicking her out of that shiny office door any moment and her ass would be bouncing into the street.

Olivia cleared her throat and tried to appear like she was in control as she said, “I have a PhD in criminal psychology, and I have spent years studying and profiling some of the most infamous killers in the United States—”

He waved that away. “Fantastic for you, really,” he cut through her words, sounding everything but impressed. “But when we talk about sending you into Purgatory, well, we’re sure not talking about letting you mix and mingle with your run-of-the-mill human killers.”

Her heart raced in her chest, but she schooled her expression to show no emotion. She knew that he would be looking for a sign of her fear, and she didn’t want to appear weak before him.

Pate’s nostrils flared a bit and his green eyes narrowed on her.

“I am aware that the prisoners at Purgatory aren’t…human,” Olivia said. This was rather tricky. Most humans didn’t know about the werewolves and the vampires. They didn’t realize that paranormals were right beside them every day and night, hiding in plain sight.

Most paranormals weren’t looking to hurt or kill prey. But some…some very dangerous werewolves and vampires seemed to relish giving pain to humans. It was those particular individuals who found their way to Purgatory, the only paranormal prison in the U.S.

It was a prison that wasn’t even supposed to exist. Modeled after Alcatraz, Purgatory sat on a small island off the coast of Washington. No prisoner there was ever supposed to escape. Once you enter Purgatory, there is no going back. The inmates there were vampires and werewolves who’d lost their control and attacked—killed—humans.

When it came to the paranormals in the area, Eric Pate was the man in charge. “I know that you’re in charge of Seattle’s Para Unit.” An elite FBI team that was far, far off the books.

“And how do you know that?” His voice was mild, curious.

She figured it was time to put all of her cards on the table. “Paranormals attacked me once. Werewolves—they came after me. I’ve known for a long time about their existence.” Others could pretend that monsters weren’t real, but she’d never wanted to hide from that truth.

Instead, she wanted to understand the monsters. Olivia needed to know why some became such brutal killers yet others maintained their control perfectly and were able to live side-by-side with humans.

“That doesn’t explain how you know about the Para Unit. It just explains how you know about the wolves.” He raised one brow as he studied her. Eric Pate was a handsome, powerfully built man in his mid-thirties. He was also a guy that she definitely didn’t want for an enemy.

“Senator Donald Quick is the man who referred me to your office.” And Donald was an old family friend, a man who’d helped Olivia when she’d been at her most desperate. “He’s the man who got your Para Unit up and running. He’s the one who gave me clearance to learn about the work you do.”

“Yes…and he’s the one who insisted on this little meeting.” A flash of anger appeared in Pate’s eyes. “I don’t like having assignments forced onto me.”

Wait, was she an assignment?

“Senator Quick spoke highly of you, but when it comes to Purgatory, I just don’t know that you have what it takes…”

Olivia’s spine hurt because she was holding it so straight. “I’ve interviewed serial killers. I’ve seen the carnage they left behind, and I’ve seen into their minds.” Her breath whispered out. When she inhaled again, her lungs seemed to chill. “Humans or paranormals…they can both be monsters, and it’s my job to understand why they turn into killers.”

Silence. Silence that stretched far too long. Oh, that couldn’t be a good sign.

“I can handle myself,” she assured him. “I am not some green rookie. I am the woman who has the best knowledge to get this particular job done.”

She kept holding Pate’s stare because to look away then would be a sign of weakness. Pate would pounce on any weakness, she knew it. His head cocked as he studied her, and that silence kept right on stretching.

“There are only two ways to access Purgatory,” Pate finally said, “by ferry or by seaplane. The seaplane only lands for emergencies, and the ferry goes across one time each week.”

He is going to send me there. For an instant, she almost felt light-headed.

“The werewolves are collared with silver, so that keeps them contained, and the vampires are given diluted blood—”

“You mean drugged blood?”

His lips curled into a smile that was just cruel. “Would you rather we allowed them to remain at full power? These aren’t some romantic, sweet, glittering vampires. These are savages that have been placed in that hell because they’ve killed, again and again, without mercy.”

Her palms were sweating.

“And you want to go in there with them?” Pate still seemed doubting.

“Not all werewolves are killers. Not all vampires go dark and drain their prey to the point of death. If we can find out why these individuals have lost their control, then perhaps we can help others.” That had always been the point of her research. To understand the killers so that she could save lives.

But Pate shook his head. “Sometimes, there is no why, Dr. Maddox. Sometimes, there’s just evil.”

She didn’t want him to be right about that, but she knew…he is.

“One month. I will give you access to certain inmates for one month, but I want you to forward me all of your case files and notes immediately after you complete each research session with the Purgatory inmates.”

“But confidentiality—”

Pate’s laughter filled the room. “You don’t understand what’s happening here. Things at Purgatory are not quite what they seem. There are certain individuals in power who thought it was a brilliant, damn idea to get all of the most dangerous Paras off the streets and into Purgatory.”

So the humans would be safe.

“Then there are others…” His hand slid over the hard line of his jaw. “Others who think it was the worst, f**king plan ever to get so many powerful Paras in one place. When you bring that force together, what do you think can happen?”

Chaos. Hell.

“One month,” he said again, voice hard, eyes glittering with intensity, “and you give me all of your research data.”

The deal was going to be her only way into Purgatory. “One month,” Olivia agreed as she stood. Her skirt slid down to brush against her knees as she offered her hand to Pate.

He rose slowly. His fingers curled around hers. “Get packed, doctor. That ferry will be leaving at 5 PM.”

Her eyes widened. She gave a fast nod and pulled away from him. Olivia hurried toward the door. She’d have to make a mad dash to Wellswright University in order to get her notebooks and files and—

“They’ll be able to smell your fear there.”

His words stopped her just as Olivia’s hand reached for the doorknob. She glanced back at him. “Excuse me?”

“They’ll know you’re human. Weak. Prey. They’ll smell your fear, and they’ll like it.”

She gulped, and remembered the instant earlier in the interview when his nostrils had flared and his stare had hardened on her. Is Eric Pate human? Her gaze slid over him. He looked human, but most paranormals did…until they were ready to let their beasts out to play. He was tall and muscled, and a predatory air clung to him.

Monster…or man?

“Once you enter Purgatory, I won’t be able to help you.”

His words made goosebumps rise on her arms. “There will be guards there.” She swallowed and hoped her voice would sound less raspy. “Surely they can protect me.”

“If hell breaks loose, look for a dragon. He might be able get your ass to safety.”

She had no clue what the guy was talking about. “Right. I’ll just look for a dragon.” As far as she knew, there weren’t any dragon shifters. Oh, please, don’t let there be any! Fire terrified her, and a giant reptile-like beast that was basically a fire-breathing snake? No. No, thank you.

Olivia opened the door.

“Good luck, doc…” Pate’s drawling voice followed her from the room. “You’re sure going to need it.”

Chapter One

Olivia ran to the edge of the dock. She was late. Embarrassingly, ridiculously late for the ferry. It had taken her too long to gather all her files from the university.

Olivia’s heels rapped over the wooden dock as she raced for the boat. She was clutching her briefcase—containing all of her precious files—in one hand, and her other hand was frantically waving toward the ferry. “Wait! I’m here!” Big, fat raindrops plopped down on her as she ran.

Olivia rushed forward. The ferry was still tied up to the dock. They weren’t leaving her. They weren’t—

“ID.” A towering, bald man with tree trunk arms appeared in her path.

Olivia almost slammed into him, but she managed to stagger to a stop just in time. Then she fumbled with her coat pocket and pulled out her ID even as the rain dropped down harder and harder.

The guy scanned her ID. She noted the gun at his side. Correction—guns. He had a gun strapped to each hip. She had no doubt those guns were loaded with silver bullets.

“You’re clear.” His voice was cold, as cold as his gray eyes.

She hurried past him and hopped onto the ferry. The waves were starting to get rough, and the boat rolled beneath her. “I’m so sorry that I’m late,” Olivia began, voice breathless, “I had to rush back to the university to—”

Her words ended in a dead stop because she’d just gotten a look at the other passengers on that ferry.

Three armed guards, all wearing black, all with their weapons out and pointed at the man who stood just a few feet away from Olivia. At the man who was currently watching her with a predatory stare. His green eyes seemed to glow with an unholy hunger…a dark need…as they swept over her.

“Well, well,” the man said, his words low and rumbling. “This trip just got one hell of a lot more interesting.”

He was shackled. The chains circled his hands and his feet, but the shackles just seemed…ridiculous on him. Useless. Power emanated from him, and the guy’s strong body made a mockery of the restraints. He was big, easily six foot three or four, and his shoulders were wide, his arms rippling with power and—

“Like what you see?” he asked, lifting one blond brow. “Because I sure do.”

Olivia sucked in a sharp breath then she jerked her gaze off that prisoner. Instead, she focused on the nearest guard. “I-I didn’t realize a prisoner transport was occurring today.” Her heart thudded too hard in her chest.

“I’m a special delivery,” the bound man said, his voice—if possible—even deeper.

A shiver slid over her, and it wasn’t caused by the cold rain.

The guard she was staring at—a man with dark brown hair and dark eyes—stepped toward her. “You don’t have to worry, ma’am,” he told her, his Texas drawl reassuring. “This vamp won’t hurt you. He won’t hurt anyone again.”

Helplessly, her gaze slid back to the prisoner. Vamp? He smiled at her, and flashed fang. Deliberately, she was sure.

Her thudding heartbeat sped up even more.

“We’re losing our light!” A sharp voice barked.

She turned to see a man in cargo pants and a dark blue shirt heading toward her. A captain’s hat was slipping down his forehead. “Storm is coming,” he added, giving a hard nod. “The ride across is going to be damn rough.”

Olivia exhaled slowly. She’d taken a motion sickness pill a few minutes ago, but she didn’t know how long it would be before the thing kicked in. The boat was already rocking beneath her feet, and judging by the way those dark clouds were swirling overhead—yes, “damn rough” would probably be an apt description of their journey.

The captain stopped and frowned at the vampire. The captain’s grizzled jaw locked. “Another one of your kind?”

The vampire’s faint grin never slipped.

“What’d he do?” the captain asked the guards.

It was the dark-haired guard who responded. “Left a path of blood behind him.”

Fear twisted inside of Olivia. Her head turned and she found the vampire staring at her. His smile widened.

They’ll smell your fear.

She’d always been able to hide her fear from the human killers that she interviewed. They never saw her fear or her revulsion. Never realized that when she left them, her knees were trembling. But this man…he would know everything.

The captain grunted. “I’m gonna need help on deck.” He jerked his thumb toward the vampire. “So take that guy down below and make sure he won’t be trouble.”

Olivia was quite sure the vamp would be trouble.

“Then someone needs to come up and help me through the storm.”

The guards vanished with the vamp, heading down a flight of steps. Olivia held tight to the railing and tried to make her body move with the pitching waves. The ferry chugged away from the dock, and the clouds overhead erupted with a full fury. The rain wasn’t just plopping down any longer—it was pelting their vessel.