Dark Predator (Dark #19) by Christine Feehan Read Online (FREE)
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Smoke burned his lungs. It rose around him in bellowing waves, fed by the numerous fires in the surrounding rain forest. It had been a long, hard-fought battle, but it was over, and he was done. Most of the main house was gone, but they’d managed to save the homes of the people who served them. Few lives were lost, but each one was mourned—but not by him. He stared at the flames with hollow eyes. He felt nothing. He looked on the faces of the dead, honorable men who had served his family well, saw their weeping widows and their crying children and he felt—nothing.
Zacarias De La Cruz paused for just a moment surveying the battlefield. Where before the rain forest had been lush, trees rising to the clouds, home to wildlife, there were now flames reaching to the heavens and black smoke staining the sky. The scent of blood was overwhelming; the dead, mangled bodies staring with sightless eyes at the dark sky. The vision didn’t move him. He surveyed it all—as if from a distance—with a pitiless gaze.
It didn’t matter where, or which century, the scene was always the same, and over the long, dark years, he’d seen so many battlefields he’d lost count. So much death. So much brutality. So much killing. So much destruction. And he was always right in the midst of it, a whirling, dark predator, merciless, ruthless and implacable.
Blood and death were stamped into his very bones. He’d executed so many enemies of his people over hundreds of centuries, he didn’t know how to exist without the hunt—or the kill. There was no other way of life for him. He was pure predator and he’d recognized that fact a long time ago—as did anyone who dared to come close to him.
He was a legendary Carpathian hunter, from a species of people nearly extinct, living in a modern world, holding to the old ways of honor and duty. His kind ruled the night, slept during the day and needed blood to survive. Nearly immortal, they lived long, lonely existences, color and emotion fading until only honor held them to their chosen path of looking for the one woman who could complete them and restore both color and emotion. Many gave up, killed while feeding to feel the rush—just to feel something—becoming the vilest, most dangerous creature known—the vampire. Every bit as brutal and violent as the undead, Zacarias De La Cruz was a master at hunting them.
Blood ran steadily from numerous wounds, and its poisonous acid burned all the way to his bones, but he felt calm steal into him as he turned and walked quietly away. Fires raged, but his brothers could put them out. The acid blood from the vampire attack soaked into the groaning, protesting earth, but again, his brothers would seek that vile poison out and eradicate it.
His stark, brutal journey was over. Finally. Well over a thousand years of living in an empty, gray world, he had accomplished everything he had set out to do. His brothers were safeguarded. They each had a woman who completed them. They were happy and healthy, and he had eliminated the worst threat to them. By the time their enemies grew in numbers again, his brothers would be even stronger. They no longer needed his direction or protection. He was free.