Raphael

Raphael by D. B. Reynolds Read Free Book Online

Book: Raphael by D. B. Reynolds Read Free Book Online
Authors: D. B. Reynolds
oaks, ironwood, even the sharp tang of eucalyptus scented the night air. Tangled undergrowth crowded the smoothly paved road, while the closely packed trees arched overhead to form an almost seamless canopy and seal out the night sky. There was no lighting along the road at all, only the random bits of moonlight that managed to make it through the thick foliage overhead. Vampires had excellent night vision; they'd have no trouble with the stygian lane. Humans on the other hand...
    About a hundred yards in, Lonnie's taillights abruptly disappeared. Cyn's heart did a little jump of surprise, but as she drew closer, she saw he'd actually turned, pulling up to the entrance of a heavy steel gate set into a thick stucco wall about ten feet high. Cynthia couldn't see much, but in the wash of her headlights, the wall looked more beige than white. Sandstone maybe. One of those designer color names for what was really plain old beige. Two guards approached Lonnie's car and she noticed two more standing at each side of the gate. All of the guards wore dark, SWAT style clothing and were armed with heavy automatic weapons. Tight security. Was it always like this, or had whatever happened caused the vamps to bring in the troops? Did she really want to know? Maybe not.
    Lonnie said something to one of the guards, who glanced up at Cyn, studying her in the faint light. She swallowed a gasp when his eyes flashed almost yellow in the glow of her headlights, and she felt her heart beat a little bit faster. She'd met with plenty of vamps. Talked to even more of them on the phone. But this was the veritable lion's den. Raphael was old ... really old and really, really powerful. He had probably held this territory for longer than she'd been alive. Hell, longer than her grandparents had been alive. She wondered abruptly if there were any other humans here tonight. Would she be the only one? Not a pleasant thought.
    Whatever Lonnie said to the guards, it worked. The big steel gate rolled back and the Porsche's engine revved noisily as it bumped over the threshold. Cynthia followed closely, careful to keep her eyes looking forward, but keenly aware of the vamp guards’ scrutiny as she went by. The big gate rumbled closed behind her, and she began to see some low-profile lighting, first along the drive and then throughout carefully landscaped and beautifully maintained grounds. She breathed a sigh of relief, only to suck it back in a silent “oh” when the big house came into view.
    She'd expected something gothic, or maybe faux Southern with moss hanging from a columned front porch. Instead, Raphael's house was a modern architect's dream, with the sweet, clean lines of the southwest. It was modest by Malibu standards, the main house maybe 8000 square feet with two smaller outbuildings and a long, six bay garage. The structure was two-storied, with the second floor set far back, leaving a broad, high terrace open to the stars and sea. Cyn figured there was also a basement level she couldn't see, because, after all, vampires lived here.
    In sharp contrast to the darkened approach from the highway, the house was almost saturated with light, carefully designed to display the architectural highlights, as well as the many smaller balconies and alcoves along its length. A full-sized infinity pool took up one entire side yard, with even more light shining up from within its depths. Cyn wondered if vampires took midnight swims. No umbrellas, she noticed. Which made sense if you thought about it.
    The drive rolled down a slight hill to a simple entrance, with stairs leading up to a set of elegantly glassed double doors on a wide, covered porch. Vampire guards were visible here, all along the courtyard, and even more could be seen in constant movement in and around the various buildings. Now that she knew what to look for, Cyn spotted dark profiles on balconies and even hulking beneath the overhang along the pool.
    Guards surrounded her vehicle as soon as she

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