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Taken

Rebecca Rivard

I’m a slayer. I’ve dedicated my life to killing monsters. Until I’m assigned to slay a Vampire Syndicate prince with the face of an angel…

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Read an excerpt from Taken

Zaq Kral didn’t look like a monster.

He looked like an angel in a faded T-shirt and jeans. A beautiful, exhausted angel.

He sprawled bonelessly on a plastic chair in Charles de Gaulle Airport, long legs stretched in front of him. Sun-streaked brown hair curled over his ears, and dark stubble covered his lower face. Beneath his sunglasses, his eyes were closed.

The fatigue was genuine. He’d just spent six weeks working with refugees in North Africa, most of that underground as bombs rained down on the city. He’d been everywhere—transporting injured humans, aiding the doctors and nurses, even burying the dead. The man apparently didn’t sleep.

A real live angel come down to earth, if you believed his press.

I knew better.

Zaq Kral was no angel. He was a monster in a pretty package, a rich and powerful vampire syndicate prince.

Peel away the do-gooder veneer and Zaq Kral was just another cold-hearted, entitled bloodsucker.

I sank onto a chair two seats down, setting my backpack between us. The sunlit atrium was packed with passengers waiting for the flight to New York. French mingled with English and a handful of other languages.

I flicked a look at Zaq from beneath my sunglasses. No visible weapons, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t carrying a blade. A dominant dhampir like him could compel a human guard to look the other way.

The waiting area grew more crowded, but Zaq remained in his own bubble. The facial scruff and worn-out, wrinkled clothes were the perfect camouflage. The humans didn’t seem to realize he was one of the famous Kral brothers, the vampire world’s heartthrobs.

Still, no one but me took a seat within three yards of him. Humans have a sixth sense about these things, an instinct that warns them a predator is nearby.

The hair on my nape stirred. Somehow, I knew it was Zaq. Looking at me.

I chanced a glance. He eyed me from beneath half-open lids.

My heart jittered.

I gave him a fake-shy smile and reminded myself to breathe.

He took in my purple Baltimore Ravens hoodie and frumpy brown wig, lingering on my sunglasses.

I fought the urge to squirm. Should I take them off? But the early morning sunlight pouring through the atrium’s windows hurt my eyes. Even some of the humans wore sunglasses.

And if his father’s people hacked into De Gaulle’s security feed, the wig and dark glasses would prevent them from getting a clear image of me.

Zaq nodded back, clearly deciding I wasn’t a threat. He slumped deeper in the chair and closed his eyes again.

An incoming flight arrived and deboarded. The chatter in the lounge grew louder. Zaq’s flight would begin boarding soon.

Almost showtime.

I touched the switchblade in my hoodie pocket for luck—the blade that security had been bribed to ignore—and loosened my muscles.

Jaw, neck, shoulders, fingers.

Tension distracted you. It wasted energy, added to your mental strain. When you were tense, you made mistakes.

And mistakes could get you killed.