A Perfect Darkness
The Offspring, Book 1
Avon Books (January 27, 2009)
ISBN-13: 9780061690358 ♦ ISBN-10: 006169035X
They live ordinary lives, but they are extraordinary. They are the Offspring, children of a mysterious experiment gone awry—and they are in terrible danger.
A sexy stranger awakens Amy Shane in the dead of night. Lucas Vanderwyck barely has time to whisper a few words before three men burst into her bedroom and drag him away. But what Lucas reveals shatters Amy’s safe little world forever.
Lucas and Amy share a psychic gift—a gift that could put them in mortal danger. And as they share night after night of savage passion, as a shadowy government conspiracy tracks their every move, they will fight to save each other. But only with their powers of second sight can they escape the terror of a perfect darkness.
Read an Excerpt
Amy Shane was never too tired to hope for one of her dreams, the ones that woke her in panting breaths and damp with perspiration. A man whose face was always in shadow, touching, kissing, loving her. The same man in every dream. She grinned. Even in her dreams she wasn’t a slut.
She had seen his body, though, lean but muscular, olive skin, with a head full of dark, soft waves. In these dreams, she loved and was loved, there as never in her life. She was safe to let herself go. Four months ago, she had never felt an orgasm. Now she experienced the shattering of her body and soul every night. What an amazing realization, that she could physically experience what she dreamed about.
She slipped through the hypnagogic state of sleep, where she sometimes heard voices, and dove into REM. Deep in an ordinary dream her eyes snapped open, her heart thrashing against her ribs. She hadn’t heard a thing, couldn’t see a thing, but she knew someone was there.
Her second thought—after Oh, shit, someone’s in my room!—was: What can I use as a weapon? Clock. Brass table lamp with sharp corners. Bingo. Her hand darted out to grab it and collided with hard flesh. Before she could scream, he was on top of her, his hand over her mouth.
“I’m not going to hurt you,” he said.
Oh, God, he was going to rape her and kill her and cut her up in pieces. This can’t be happening. Fight! Kick! But he was on top of her, his weight pinning her down. Panic squeezed her chest.
He shifted to the side, reaching for something. She heard a click. Knife? Gun?
Light flooded the room. She blinked in the sudden onslaught. Her eyes focused on the man in front of her. Gorgeous, with gray-blue eyes, and dark brown, wavy hair, he didn’t look like a crazed rapist killer. That didn’t ease her fear any more than his words of assurance did.
It hit her then. He made no attempt to hide his face. That’s because he doesn’t intend to leave a witness. Whimpering sounds emanated from her, as though a small animal was trapped in her chest. She quieted them, because, dammit, she wasn’t going to go down like a mouse beneath an eagle’s talons.
He leaned close. A gold cross on a chain dangled before her eyes. The sight of it was surreal. A cross on a killer. If he tried to kiss her she’d spit in his face or, better yet, tear off his lip with her teeth.
His mouth hovered just above her cheek. He spoke in a low, soft voice that would be soothing if he wasn’t a terrifying intruder. “Amy, my name is Lucas, and there are things I need to tell you. I’m sorry, really sorry, I had to do it this way. I didn’t have time to gain your trust. Am I hurting you?”
She’d swear by the concern in his eyes that he cared about her comfort. He pressed his hand over her mouth only as much as necessary. She shook her head. Her heart pounded so hard she thought it might explode.
“Good. I’m here to talk to you about your father’s supposed suicide.”
Her brain scrambled to process his words. Her father’s suicide.
Gunshot coming from her house!
Spray of blood.
His eyes wide and fearful, pleading, Save me. Save me.
Twenty years ago, but it felt like yesterday. She’d found him in the garage that horrible day after hearing the gunshot on her way home from school. The man who claimed he loved her killed himself where he knew she’d find him. Her sole provider made no arrangements for his five-year-old’s care.
The bigger question was, why was this possible rapist and murderer talking about her father’s suicide? Unless he wasn’t a rapist and murderer. She must be crazy, because he didn’t feel like either. That’s when it her: his aura wasn’t like any she’d seen before. Not one color but all of them, like static on a television.
Wait a minute. Had he said her father’s supposed suicide?
He obviously saw her curiosity. “If I release you, you won’t scream? I’d rather not continue the conversation like this.”
She shook her head, and he freed her. She scrambled away from him, feeling the grooves of the headboard bite into her back when she slammed into it.
He sat back on her bed, his hands on his jean-clad thighs. The hair at his neck curled from dampness. “You don’t have to be afraid of me.”
She almost laughed. “A stranger breaks in, and I’m supposed to be cool with that?”
“Amy, we’re not strangers.”
The way he looked at her, with a soft smile and his gaze reaching right into her soul, corkscrewed her stomach. She pushed beyond that puzzling statement. “What do you know about my father?”
He reached over and turned on the stereo in her alarm clock. Evanescence’s powerful song, “Bring Me to Life,” filled the room, the tune she cued to wake her this week.
“Why’d you do that?” she asked, her words crammed together. What was he going to do that he didn’t want anyone to hear?
“Just in case someone is listening.”
“The walls aren’t that thin.”
“Listening equipment can pick up conversations from over a hundred yards away, through walls thick or thin.”
He leaned forward and for a bizarre moment she thought he was going to kiss her. His mouth grazed the shell of her ear and whispered, “My two friends, Eric, Petra, and I discovered that someone is watching us. They call us Offspring.” His breath caressed her ear. “You’re one, too.”
“Me?” she choked out.
“It’s how I finally found you. The Offspring we know about have two common links: we lived near Ft. Meade, Maryland, during the same time period, and we each had a parent who died either by suicide or accident within a year’s time.” He gave her a moment to absorb, looking toward the window and the darkness beyond.
She pressed her hands to her temples, trying to make sense of it. “Someone is watching you? Me?” When he nodded, she asked, “Who?”
“We don’t know. Probably some facet of government, which is why we can’t go to the police.”
“Do you have any…proof?”
He looked toward the window again. “Not yet. We need to find other Offspring so we can put the facts together and figure out what’s going on. You’re the first one we contacted.” He leaned close once more. “I know you have a lot of questions, or you will once you get your mind around all this. We need to meet somewhere tomorrow where we can talk more. I can’t stay here much longer, in case they’re watching you. They may suspect I’d come here, which makes it dangerous for me, but I had to warn you.” His expression grew dark. “You can’t tell anyone what I’ve told you.”
“Warn me about what?”
“Someone you trust is going to betray you, and someone is going to die because of that betrayal. It might be you.” She shivered at his warm breath in her ear as well as his words.
The depth of his concern baffled her. He looked at her in the way someone who had loved her for a long time might look at her. All she really had to go on was the way her father looked at her, and that was such a distant memory. And he hadn’t really loved her enough after all. Except Lucas said supposed suicide.
“How do you know?” she asked. “About this betrayal that’s going to happen?”
“I’ll tell you tomorrow, that and everything we know.” She saw the regret on his face when he said, “I hate that you’re involved in this. We don’t even know what this is yet.” He released a long breath. “Be prepared. Everything you think you know is going to change.” His body went rigid as he turned down the radio and cocked his head to listen.
“What is it?” Then she heard a soft crack.
He looked at her, fear in his eyes. “Trouble.”