Chicago 1962. Gideon Keel is the most feared vampire in the city. Nobody dares to stand up to him -- until somebody does.
When his path crosses that of the charismatic civil rights activist’s, Gideon faces the first person in over sixty years to threaten his existence and live to tell the tale. Mary Straughn is beautiful, driven, and most of all, determined not to let anyone -- even a vampire -- hurt the people she is trying to lead into a better life.
He knows he should kill her. Yet, when she needs help finding the vampires responsible for murdering two children, he finds himself agreeing to search the city for them. And all he asks in return is for one night alone with her.
“If bloodshed is what you’re after, then you’ve come to a wrong place. That’s not what we’re about here.”
Gideon reached the front of the church but didn’t stop, climbing the two short steps onto the pulpit. Mary didn’t flinch, even when he circled her once, deliberately looking her over. Distance had not done her justice.
“That’s why you’ll lose, then. Because the people you’re trying to convince aren’t in here to hear you.”
“Then we’ll go out to them.” Her voice didn’t waiver as he moved closer, invading her personal space. Nobody in the church made a sound, not even the annoying, and over-eager assistant pastor. “And we’ll find them and we’ll make them listen to us until they can’t ignore us anymore. Our brothers and sisters in Alabama and Georgia have already proven you wrong.”
Gideon halted in front of her, his back to the congregation, and tilted his head as his gaze raked over her. She was nearly as tall as he was, her scent overpowering that of all the others in the room. This one, he was going to leave for last. She was going to be absolutely delicious.
“I’m not wrong. But I’d be willing to let you try and convince me in private, if you want.”
Mary took a step towards him, closing the space between them. She dropped her voice to an intimate level. “Don’t let my preference for passive resistance fool you, Mister. If you don’t leave now, you’ll get a taste of that bloodshed you’re so keen on.”
“You know what?” He leaned toward her until their noses were almost touching. “That’s kind of what I’m counting on.”
Without otherwise moving, his hand shot out and grasped the throat of the young man who’d tried approaching him from behind. Gideon smirked at Mary before turning toward the congregation, letting his fangs descend at the same time. A collective gasp of horror rippled through the group.
“You’re all idiots.” Ignoring the hands clawing at his, he dangled the man in front of them, shaking him for good measure. “You think a few pretty words mean anything? The world doesn’t care. The world’s laughing at you, because while you’re sitting in here singing your songs and trying to coax God out of retirement, it’s moving along, and it’s going to leave you behind.”
“You’re right.” Mary’s voice behind him, still calm despite the rich wave of fear coming from her follower’s. “Talk is cheap. And you’ve already done too much.”
Gideon heard her take a step, felt the heat from her skin as she moved closer to him. The man he was holding kicked out, the toe of his boot connecting hard enough to sting a little. Gideon shifted his weight to his other foot, just as a burning pain radiated through his back. Startled, he looked down to see the tip of a crucifix sticking out of his chest.