Midnight Embrace - By Amanda Ashley

He prowled the moonlit streets and shadowed byways, driven by a relentless hunger and an overpowering need to help, to heal. It was who he was, what he had been born for, until Tzianne swept into his life and literally turned his days to night.

He thrust her memory away. He emptied his mind of all thought and listened to the heartbeat of the city, homing in on the one soul who had what he needed. Who needed what he had.

Gathering his cloak around him, he became one with the dark shadows of the night.
Chapter One
She was dying. She had always feared death, certain it would be accompanied by terrible unending pain and horror. But now, lying on a narrow bed in a darkened hospital room, with long fingers ofsilver moonlight making ever-changing patterns on the wall, she felt nothing but an overpowering weariness and a vague sense of curiosity about what came next. Was there truly life after death, a place of peace and rest without pain, as the priest had promised her? Or was there nothing beyond this life save an endless black void?

She felt herself slipping away, teetering on the brink of sleep, or perhaps the eternal abyss of death, when she felt it, a sudden coolness in the room, more a feeling than an actual physical chill, and with it the certain knowledge that she was no longer alone.

Fear came quickly, manifesting itself in the nervous shivers that wracked her body, in the sudden dampness of her palms.

"Who's there?" Filled with apprehension, she glanced nervously around the room. "Dr. Martinson? Is that you?"

He appeared out of the shadows, black against black, almost as if he were a part of the darkness itself.

"How are you feeling?" His voice was low, filled with a dark sensuality that sent a shiver of awareness down her spine.

"Who are you?" She huddled deeper into the blankets. "Where's my doctor? Where's Dr. Martinson?"

"The good doctor asked me to look in on you."

She stared up at the hooded stranger, her heart pounding as he moved closer to her bedside. He was tall and broad-shouldered beneath the fine black wool cloak thatfell from his shoulders in graceful folds to the floor. She couldn't make out his features, only that his hair was long and dark, blending into the shadows around him.

"Are you a doctor?" she asked tremulously.

"Yes. I am not going to hurt you." His hand on her brow was cool, gentle. "Are you in pain?"

She shook her head, mesmerized by his eyes. They were blue, a deep, dark blue that seemed to be lit from within. Strange, she could see the color of his eyes when she could see little else.

He leaned toward her. She tried to look away, but it was impossible to take her gaze from his. She felt as though she were being drawn into the very depths of his eyes, until all she could see, all she was aware of, were his eyes. Blue, so very blue, like a fathomless indigo sea beneath a moonless night.

She felt his hand at her neck as he brushed her hair aside and then leaned over her. She felt a brief, sharp pain, as though something had bitten her. Moments later, his gaze captured hers once again.

"Drink, Lisa." She tried to look down, to see what it was he was offering her, but she could not draw her gaze from his face. Something thick and warm dripped into her mouth. "Drink."

Helpless to refuse, she did as he asked and was immediately filled with a sense of euphoria. Gone was the weakness that had plagued her, the weariness that had weighed her down, the coldness so deep inside her. Warmth flowed through her veins, strengthening her, making her feel as though she could leap from the bed, as if she could run. As if she could fly.

"Sleep now."

She didn't want to sleep, not now when she seemed filled with new life, but his voice wrapped around her, low and soothing and seductive. And completely irresistible.

She stared up at him, trying to see his face, trying to fight the sudden lethargy stealing over her limbs. She wanted to ask who he was, what he was, but a blackness as deep as eternity swept her away before she could form the words.

She woke to the singing of birds and the rattle of the milk wagon on the cobblestones below, woke feeling better than she had in weeks. Almost, she felt as if she could jump out of bed,

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