Chasing Midnight [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Susan Krinard
eBook Category: Fantasy
eBook Description: There are far worse evils than jazz and lipstick... By day, Allegra Chase lives among the artists and eccentrics of 1920s Greenwich Village, in search of adventure. By night, she haunts the city's back alleys and seedy speakeasies, driven by a more primal hunger. Here, amid the glitz and unrestrained morals of jazz-age society, even a vampire can fall prey to the temptations of the flesh. One look into the golden eyes of the dashing Griffin Durant, and Allegra knows she's not dealing with just a man... Though their kind have been enemies for centuries, Griffin has never encountered a vampire as independent, uninhibited or eager for his touch as Allegra. Yet their newfound desire is threatened by a jealous vampire master, and a race war seems inevitable. Griffin and Allegra must struggle to stay out of harm's way--and hold on to their dream of an eternity of passion.
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/HQN, Published: 2007
Fictionwise Release Date: October 2007
14 Reader Ratings:
New York City, 1926
GRIFFIN DURANT STEPPED out of the elevator, strode across the polished lobby floor and slipped through the revolving doors, fortifying himself for the assault of smell and sound that crouched on Broad Street like an attentive predator awaiting its next victim. He pushed his hat lower on his head, wrinkling his nose against the acrid blend of gasoline, fermenting refuse and human sweat. His ears buzzed with the grinding of engines and the wildly varying pitch of human voices…but, as always, it was only a matter of moments before he was able to bring his senses under control and face the world with reasonable calm.
A hand tugged at his coat, and he looked down at the smudged, familiar face of the corner newsboy.
"Paper, Mr. Durant?"
Griffin reached inside his pocket and pulled out a coin. "Here you are, Bobby," he said, tucking the paper under his arm.
Bobby stared at the coin and gave a joyful whoop. "Gee, thanks, Mr. Durant!"
Griffin sighed. It took so little to make a difference in this boy's life, yet he was only one of millions who called this city their home…teeming multitudes cast up on the shores of the biggest city in America. A metropolis that was rapidly becoming a place of corruption, violence and sudden death.
You could have chosen another city, he thought.
A city without such a thriving bootleg trade, for instance—though one couldn't escape the traffic in illicit drink anywhere in the United States. New York's business was simply bigger and more notorious than in any other municipality except Chicago.
You could have stayed in England. But then Gemma might never have come to know her native country. And he would never have escaped the reminders of the Great War that haunted him every time he read the latest news from Europe.
Griffin shook off the crawling sensation that raised the hairs on the back of his neck, took a firm grip on his briefcase and flagged down a taxi to take him to East Forty-second Street near Grand Central Station. The cabbie let him off a few blocks from the dressmaker's shop. As he walked, Griffin dispassionately examined the women with whom he shared the sidewalk: soberly dressed dowagers with small dogs clutched in their arms; working girls in conservative suits; tycoons' daughters in afternoon frocks from Worth or Chanel…and the flappers in their brazenly short dresses, daring anything male to gawk at their rolled stockings and rouged lips.
Frowning in disapproval, Griffin averted his gaze. Thank God Gemma had only left her English boarding school a few months ago and hadn't yet been exposed to what passed for fashion among the fast set. The gown he'd ordered for her birthday was elegant, expensive and eminently tasteful. He had meant to commission a frock from Molyneux, but there simply hadn't been time to have anything made overseas. With any luck, Gemma wouldn't notice the difference.
A short walk brought him to the couturière's. He summoned up a smile for the salesgirl who hurried to meet him.
"Mr. Durant," she said, "you've come for the gown?"
"I have, Miss Jones. Is Madame Aimery available?"
"Of course, Mr. Durant. If you will excuse me…" She vanished through the back door, leaving Griffin alone with the shop's other customer.
The young woman was slim and pretty, her warm brown skin a pleasant contrast to the pale green of her frock. Griffin tipped his hat to her, and she smiled in return.
"A very pleasant day, Mr. Durant," she said.
Griffin started. "I beg your pardon…have we met before?"
She laughed, a soft, rich chuckle. "I heard Miss Jones speak your name…and who hasn't heard of Mr. Griffin Durant?"
"Am I as notorious as all that, Miss…"
"Moreau. Louise Moreau." She offered her hand, and he took it. Her grip was firm. "Your notoriety is of the salutary variety, Mr. Durant. I—"
She broke off as Madame Aimery emerged from the back room with Miss Jones and another assistant, both assistants laden with ribbon-tied boxes.
"I beg your pardon for the wait, Monsieur Durant," Madame Aimery said in her light French accent.
"No trouble at all," Griffin said. He glanced at Miss Moreau. "Please attend to this young lady first. I'm in no hurry."
Madame Aimery gestured to her assistant, who approached Miss Moreau with three wide boxes. "Good afternoon, Miss Moreau," she said briskly. "Would you care to examine the dresses?"
Miss Moreau smiled slightly, matching Madame Aimery's almost imperceptible coolness. "That will not be necessary. I'm certain that Miss Chase will find the dresses very much to her liking."
"Mademoiselle Chase must not hesitate to call if we may be of further service."
"I shall so inform her." Miss Moreau took the boxes and tucked them under her arms. "Thank you for your time, Madame Aimery."
The couturière nodded and signaled Miss Jones to fetch the remaining box. "Monsieur Durant—"
"A moment, if you would. Miss Moreau…"
The young woman paused at the door. "Mr. Durant?"
"May I call a taxi for you?"
She smiled, her eyes crinkling at the corners. "Thanks so much, Mr. Durant, but I'm to meet my employer at a café down the street. The boxes aren't heavy."
He moved to open the door for her. "If you're quite certain…"
"I'm stronger than I look." She winked at him and swept through the door.
Madame Aimery gave a discreet cough. "Monsieur Durant, if you are ready…"
Griffin accepted Gemma's gown, paid in full and escaped into the cool breeze of twilight. Tall buildings cast long shadows that darkened the streets well before the sun went down, but for Griffin it was still as bright as noon. He considered hailing a taxi to take him to Penn Station, but he found that he, like Miss Moreau, preferred to walk.
Copyright © 2007 by Susan Krinard.