The City Beneath (Night Blood #1)
by Melody Johnson
As a journalist, Cassidy DiRocco thought she had seen every depraved thing New York City’s underbelly had to offer. But while covering what appears to be a vicious animal attack, she finds herself drawn into a world she never knew existed. Her exposé makes her the target of the handsome yet brutal Dominic Lysander, the Master Vampire of New York City, who has no problem silencing her to keep his coven's secrets safe…
But Dominic offers Cassidy another option: ally. He reveals she is a night blood, a being with powers of her own, including the ability to become a vampire. As the body count escalates, Cassidy is caught in the middle of a vampire rebellion. Dominic insists she can help him stop the coming war, but wary of his intentions, Cassidy enlists the help of the charming Ian Walker, a fellow night blood. As the battle between vampires takes over the city, Cassidy will have to tap into her newfound powers and decide where to place her trust...
The man’s chest rattled.
I stared at the man, hard. He’d been pronounced dead, and I had a story to write. That alone should have been enough to send me on my way, but staring at the scar on his chin, at the proof of a life lived before this burned hell, I couldn’t simply leave him the way I’d found him.
I texted Nathan to bring me a backboard, and he appeared around the corner a few minutes later. His thick black hair was straight and identical to mine except for the cut. Where mine hung past my shoulders and was usually yanked back in a high ponytail, Nathan’s was close-cropped at the edges and longer toward the top in a faux hawk. His nose ring glinted in the streetlight as he approached.
“If she thought an animal attack in the middle of Brooklyn was crazy, she won’t have a clue what to make of him,” I said, pointing to the man between us.
Nathan whistled. “None of the other victims were burned. Does he have any animal bites?”
“Not that I could tell, but I need you to take a look. The other paramedic wouldn’t treat him, and he’s still breathing, Nathan.”
He frowned. “I thought that Donavan pronounced him dead.”
“That’s Donavan? Your partner?” I asked. At Nathan’s nod, I snorted. “Donavan can’t hear a pulse, but I—”
“If he doesn’t have a pulse, then he’s not breathing,” Nathan said flatly.
“I can hear him breathing,” I insisted stubbornly.
Nathan stared at me, hard. I knew that look. He was checking my pupils and watching my reaction, calculating the possibility that I was high. I hadn’t abused painkillers in four years, and had, in fact, gritted through my hip pain during occasions when a Percocet was probably necessary because I never wanted to slip down that steep spiral again.
I gave him the look right back, annoyed that even after all this time, even after everything I’d accomplished, my brother was the one who still couldn’t forget.
Nathan sighed heavily, but nevertheless, he squatted next to the man and pressed his ear to his chest. “If I had the opportunity to confront the people responsible for crimes like this, I wouldn’t wait for them to confess their side of the story. I’d make damn sure they never—”
The man exhaled in a high, rattling hiss.
Nathan met my gaze, his eyes rounded with shock. “Oh my God.”
“You heard it?” I asked, astounded.
Nathan bounded to his feet and unbuckled the backboard straps. “I told you he was breathing. I told you that—”
“Fuck, don’t just stand there. Help me board him!”
I ignored my hip and helped Nathan clip the man onto the backboard. “As much as I hate to say it, I can’t help you carry him—”
I looked up from the backboard straps and groaned. Donavan was jogging toward us, and if the frown creasing his brow was any indication, he had a temper to rival mine.
“What do you think you’re doing? The police haven’t processed this scene yet. You can’t just—”
Nathan stood to face Donavan, and I finished snapping the buckles on my own.
“He’s still breathing,” Nathan whispered hotly.
Donavan paused, midrant. “What are you playing at?”
“You take his head. If we can get him back to the ambulance, maybe—”
“He’s dead,” Donavan said, shocked. “Why would we—”
“No, he’s not.” Nathan said. “We’ve wasted enough time, time we could’ve spent treating him. Help me get him back to the ambulance.”
Donavan shook his head. “You’re crazy. I checked him myself. He’s been dead for a while, and I—”
Nathan leaned closer, so I had to strain to hear his next words. “Mistakes happen. Sometimes people notice and sometimes people don’t. Cassidy and I noticed, but if you help me get him back to the ambulance, no one else has to.”
Donavan stared back at Nathan, shock and anger giving way to fear as he realized that Nathan was serious. He looked down at me. I stared back at him, trying to convey that my mouth was a steel trap, but mostly, I felt wary. He looked back at Nathan, and I knew Nathan’s expression as well as my own reflection. Even three years my junior, our shared grief and bitterness could line Nathan’s face with an identical aged determination.
“He didn’t have a pulse,” Donavan whispered, but he bent in front of me and gripped the head of the backboard anyway.
Connect with Melody Johnson