Kiss of Midnight: A Midnight Breed Novel by Lara AdrianKiss of Midnight: A Midnight Breed Novel by Lara Adrian

Kiss of Midnight: A Midnight Breed Novel

byLara Adrian

Mass Market Paperback | May 1, 2007

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He watches her from across the crowded dance club, a sensual black-haired stranger who stirs Gabrielle Maxwell’s deepest fantasies. But nothing about this night—or this man—is what it seems. For when Gabrielle witnesses a murder outside the club, reality shifts into something dark and deadly. In that shattering instant she is thrust into a realm she never knew existed—a realm where vampires stalk the shadows and a blood war is set to ignite.

Lucan Thorne despises the violence carried out by his lawless brethren. A vampire himself, Lucan is a Breed warrior, sworn to protect his kind—and the unwitting humans existing alongside them—from the mounting threat of the Rogues. Lucan cannot risk binding himself to a mortal woman, but when Gabrielle is targeted by his enemies, he has no choice but to bring her into the dark underworld he commands.

Here, in the arms of the Breed’s formidable leader, Gabrielle will confront an extraordinary destiny of danger, seduction, and the darkest pleasures of all. . . .
Lara Adrian is the New York Times bestselling author of the Midnight Breed series, including the novels Kiss of Midnight, Kiss of Crimson, Midnight Awakening, Midnight Rising, Veil of Midnight, Ashes of Midnight, Shades of Midnight, Taken by Midnight, Deeper than Midnight, Darker After Midnight, Edge of Dawn, Crave the Night, and the e...
Title:Kiss of Midnight: A Midnight Breed NovelFormat:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:432 pages, 6.86 × 4.17 × 1.16 inPublished:May 1, 2007Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0553589377

ISBN - 13:9780553589375


Rated 5 out of 5 by from love it The very first book i read of this series and fell instantly fell in love with it. Just enough of back story and plots including the interactions of the people here put me on edge.
Date published: 2017-12-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Kiss Of Midnight I really like this series and its gets better with every book.
Date published: 2017-11-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from really like this series Really love this series and I'm VERY dissapointed that we can no longer get the book in paper forms. This first installement is amazing since you get to meet the world of vampires and humans and see how they work seperatly and togetter at once. A little weird about the baby and Gabriella but still very good intrigue, sexuality and suspence. Enjoy!
Date published: 2017-08-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Kiss Of Midnight There are a lot of similarities between this series and Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J. R. Ward. I absolutely love BDB but this wasn't as good but its not totally bad as well.
Date published: 2017-04-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from amazing Good storyline, loved the characters. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-02-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome Series Bought this book on sale to give it a shot. After getting through the first chapter I was hooked and ended up reading the entire book in one sitting (just could not put it down). Will be buying the rest of the books in the series for sure.
Date published: 2016-11-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Kiss of Midnight Held my attention to the end.
Date published: 2014-05-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read Very entertaining, easy read! Pretty sure I'm already hooked to the series...
Date published: 2014-01-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Kiss of midnight The story didn't seem to reach its full potential, I'll give book number 2 a try before moving on.
Date published: 2013-12-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Eerie similarities ... As I am in BDB (JR Ward) withdrawls, someone recommended I pick up this series. It bears alot of similarities to the BDB series, but wasn't a bad series opener, and I'm on to book 2 already. I think I still prefer the Brotherhood, to the Breed, but I'm hoping that the similarities will fade and the series will take on a voice of its own. I'm willing to give it a try. As with most series openers, there is alot of "explaining" and not enough story-telling. That said, the plotline kept you wanting more, had a few twists I didn't see coming, and the romance was nice and steamy. In all, enough to get me to commit to reading the next one.
Date published: 2013-02-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from An Okay Start to a Series I am unsure how to review this book. I liked it, but also found it somewhat infuriating at the same time. It has all the elements of a great Paranormal Romance that I usually go for: great hero, interesting twist on vampire lore (aliens), steamy love scenes. And it does share many common traits with other authors I love (mainly JR Ward and Sherrilyn Kenyon). And, for the most part, I did enjoy it. One thing that irked me about it was how similar this series is to the Blackdagger Brotherhood. From the Alpha leader with a disability, to the set up of the compounds in both series, to the way that the general population of vampires views and interacts with the warrior class, it really does hot very close to home to BDB. Switch Caldwell with Boston, and *poof*, you get Breeds. The other thing that gave me pause was the amount of violence/blood in this series. It is much more dark and violent than mostother PNR that I am used to. Usually, the violence and blood are glossed over, ornot expounded on. Not in this series. It is shown in all its gory glory. So, I will continue the series (I already have the next book, after all). But it is not at the top of my "oh-my-God-I-have-to-make-everyone-read-this" pile. And maybe my thoughts will change as the series goes on.
Date published: 2011-11-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from New favorite Series A Kiss of Midnight is book 1 of the Midnight Breed series by Lara Adrian. This book revolves around Lucan, a leader of the warrior vampires known as the Breed. Vampires in this book are living breathing men who are their own race and are born by breedmates. We also follow Gabrielle, a photographer who doesn't feel like she fits in anywhere. One night she witnesses a murder at a club, but what she sees has her thrown into the world of the Breed. I loved this book! At first reading I found many similarities between this book and J.R Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I know that this series is often compared to each other, but there are enough differences that it doesn't really matter to me as soon as I looked past them. The only thing is that JR's book I felt more connection and cared for her characters more. I still cared for these characters but in a different way. JR’s characters are larger than life. I loved the concept of how Vampires came to be. I'm reading theses book and very excited that I found a new series that I love and will hopefully follow for years to come.
Date published: 2010-10-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This is a Series I'll Definitely Keep Following! Gabrielle Maxwell has felt peculiar and unique since her childhood. Deep down, she knew she was uncommon and distinctly separate from others, but she never knew why until she met Lucan Thorne. After witnessing a brutal murder outside of a nightclub in Boston, she becomes part of Lucan’s world. Lucan, a very old Breed warrior, hunts and kills dangerous Rogue vampires that have succumbed to Bloodlust and pose a huge threat to humans and the Breed alike. He is distant and unwilling to commit himself to a woman, but he starts to feel things for Gabrielle that he cannot deny for long. Kiss of Midnight is the first novel in Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breed series, and let me say, it’s a very good start. I enjoyed Adrian’s take on vampire origins and lore. It was different, and I admit to being a little hesitant about it at first, but Adrian manages to weave it all into a fabulous story that works very well. The way the Breed universe is laid out made it easy to immerse myself into the plot and characters pretty quickly. I liked the novel from the beginning, but I wasn’t immediately hooked. After about 100 pages I couldn’t put it down! There were two aspects to the plot in the book: Lucan and Gabrielle’s interactions, and the continuing plot involving the Breed as a whole. The plot involving the two main characters was highly charged and fast paced. The “bigger picture” plot was set up nicely, but it left a lot more questions than it answered, making me very eager for the next novel. Gabrielle was a likeable character from the start. She came across very sweet but isolated. Lucan was very mysterious, but bits of his past were revealed throughout the novel to give a much clearer picture of him. Lucan is a rather distant character, but when paired with Gabrielle’s strong, determined nature it’s easy to see that they balance each other well, which I find important for my enjoyment of a paranormal romance. If I don’t feel the characters are a believable fit for one another, I find it hard to enjoy the book. There were a lot of steamy scenes in Kiss of Midnight starting early on, so be prepared to need a cool glass of water to sip to prevent yourself from overheating! The progression of Gabrielle and Lucan’s relationship was full of ups and downs and was hard to tear myself away from. There were many themes touched on in their relationship such as trust, control, desire, denial, and internal struggles. Many other warriors are introduced during the novel. These guys are definitely hot so I’m very excited for each of their stories! If you are looking to start a new paranormal series that has action and passion, the Midnight Breed series is the one to read. I started on the second book right away because I couldn’t wait, so you may want to buy the first couple books before you start Kiss of Midnight if you think you will like the series.
Date published: 2010-03-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Good Start to a Series First in the Midnight Breed series. Gabrielle witnesses a murder and has the pictures to prove it and the only one who believes her is Lucan. Lucan in a breed warrior and through him Gabrielle is thrust into the world of vampires and finds a heritage she never knew. What I liked - I liked that Gabrielle character is not as emotionally strong as some heroines are written, and I found that more realistic to me. What I didn't like - not much, well written and a great start to a new series. 52/1000
Date published: 2010-02-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I love it!!!! If you have read and enjoyed books by JR Ward, Jeaniene Frost or Lynsay Sands, then you will love this series! Gabrielle and Lucan are great character's that will pull you in to their world of danger and seduction!
Date published: 2009-08-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good Well, if you are familiar with JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood (BDB) series, and are a huge fan of the series and then you start reading this one by Lara Adrian, you will undoubtedly note the similarities between the two series and make some comparisons. To me, i loved the BDB and it is my measuring stick for any similar series' out there. Unfortunately for Lara Adrian's Kiss of Midnight the first in the Midnight Breed series - it came up short. HOWEVER, i still enjoyed the book and plan on reading the complete series! In this book, we are introduced to Adrian's interpretation of vampire warriors who are fighting to protect their race. Her explanations for vampires existence is one i have not heard before where vampires are essentially aliens who came from another world/planet. I can't say it's my favourite explanation but it is different and i do appreciate the change. Adrian also let's us readers in on the fact, that there are no female vampires but rather female breedmates who are set apart from other females through a tear drop birthmark and an ability to be bare children with vampires. These warriors' enemies are vampires consumed by bloodlust that turn them into Rogue vampires, destined to destroy and drain any human in their path. Bloodlust is a vampire's biggest weakness, it is like having no choice but to survive off of heroin without getting consumed by its addictive components - very difficult. And the older you are, the harder the bloodlust is to control!! Assuming each book will focus on a different warrior and their breedmate or female, this particular novel deals with one of the oldest vampire warriors/leader Lucan Thorne. He is a Gen One vampire, meaning he is the offspring of one of the original alien vampires to land on earth - very rare now, as most have been killed due to their bloodlust and becoming a rogue. Daily he struggles to keep his bloodlust under control in order to destroy the Rogues and keep the order (brothers/warriors set out against the Rogues) together. It is getting increasingly difficult and the pain and struggle is not eased when Gabrielle Maxwell enters his life - who happens to be a breedmate although she is unaware of her destiny at first. He is drawn to her, and essentially becomes distracted by her! the only problem, is even with his attraction to her, he is really stubborn and thinks he is above any warrior or vampire with a breedmate. He believes he should be committed to the Order, and the Order alone, and therefore has a serious case of denial for his feelings throughout the majority of the book. While his feelings are conflicted, and Gabrielle is coming to terms with Lucan and her "destiny", there is a war brewing with the Rogues. It seems the normally uncontrollable, impulsive, destructive Rogues, are getting organized, and are being led by a very powerful force that may prove to be a difficult opponent for Lucan and the warriors... Overall, there was some great action, some good steamy bits, and the overall story is solid. I felt there was still something lacking, and that may be because i feel so strongly about the BDB series and how those characters all interact. Maybe i'm just missing some of that in this series! That being said I am still interested to see how this series progresses, and i look forward to reading the next one! Enjoy!
Date published: 2009-06-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! I was pleasantly surprised with this book. I really didn't think I would like this book as much as the Black Dagger Brotherhood but, boys, was I wrong. I really liked the idea of the vampire race being descended from aliens, that was really cool. This series is definitely on my reading list. Any fan of JR Ward should give Lara Adrian a try. You won't be disappointed, I promise!
Date published: 2009-06-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Almost as good as the Black Dagger Brotherhood Being a big fan of JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series, I was trying to find something similar and Lara Adrian's books do the trick. If you like romance, action, and a LOT of romantic action **Hint hint!!** don't miss out on Kiss of Midnight. It's a great vampire series.
Date published: 2009-05-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dangerously erotic and seductively enticing Wow! Nothing more then amazing can sum up what this novel was. Grips and never lets go, from the prologue. It has everything, from the perfect leading man, great, passion filled sex, a heart warming tail of love, great action. What more can one ask for. This book rates in my top five. Erotic, gripping, sexy, action packed. A definite great vampire read, kept me up all night reading and still I want more! Lucan and Gabby were great!
Date published: 2008-11-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Pretty good! I actually really enjoyed this novel. Its in romance, so it does have some content that surprised me a little bit! While it can never compare to Twilight for me, I definetly enjoyed the good vs bad vampire idea. Some things freaked me out a bit (I get scared easily!) but I definetly enjoyed. Onto the rest of the series!
Date published: 2008-09-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from good read This book is the first of the series and it is fun quick read. I know this series is compared to the BDB by JR Ward. Some of the fans of that series feel realllly strongly. I read BDB and it is good, but so is this. I don't feel the need to be loyal to BDB. I like Adrian's take on the vampire thing. It s different than the BDB. I enjoy both series and can't say that reading one will ruin the other for you. This is a nice addition to the vampire genre.
Date published: 2008-07-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Totally Awesome Novel!!! First, I need to thank Crystal. Had it not been for her review and recommendation, I may never have heard of Lara Adrian or her novels. Thank you, Crystal! An excellent novel! I know it took me two days to read it, but I was having a hard time putting it down when I was. Every description of the scene and location has you feeling like you're there, taking it all in with your own eyes. Action scenes have you damn near holding your breath in anticipation - enough of them and all in the right places. Erotic sex scenes make you hot under the collar - enough of them and in all the right places, LOL! And the characters! Nothing simple about them, especialy the main characters. You completely understand their world, what they are, who they are, why they do what they do and what it means to them. The vampire world comes to the reader in a small, different twist from the norm. I can only think of one other author where the vampire world came about with a slight similarity and that's Angela Knight. Otherwise, original. A great new author. I just pulled her second novel, Kiss of Crimson, from my TBR pile!
Date published: 2008-01-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Classic Vamp! If you like the classic vampire novels with a little romance thrown in, you should like this. In all genres, you usually have good guys vs the bad guys and the good guys always have his woman. So here, we have good vampires vs bad vampires and the hunky good vamps saves the day and finds love. The Midnight Breed series is similar to J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series.
Date published: 2007-07-19

Read from the Book

Chapter OnePresent DayRemarkable. Just look at the use of light and shadow . . .""You see how this image hints at the sorrow of the place, yet manages to convey a promise of hope?"". . . one of the youngest photographers to be included in the museum's new modern art collection."Gabrielle Maxwell stood back from the group of exhibit attendees, nursing a flute of warm champagne as yet another crowd of faceless, nameless, Very Important People enthused over the two dozen black-and-white photographs displayed on the gallery walls. She glanced at the images from across the room, somewhat bemused. They were good photographs--a bit edgy, their subject matter being abandoned mills and desolate dockyards outside Boston--but she didn't quite get what everyone else was seeing in them.Then again, she never did. Gabrielle merely took the photographs; she left their interpretation, and ultimately, their appreciation, up to others. An introvert by nature, it made her uncomfortable to be on the receiving end of this much praise and attention . . . but it did pay the bills. Quite nicely, at that. Tonight, it was also paying the bills for her friend Jamie, the owner of the funky little art gallery on Newbury Street, which, at ten minutes to closing, was still packed with prospective buyers.Numb with the whole process of meeting and greeting, of smiling politely as everyone from moneyed Back Bay wives to multipierced, tattooed Goths tried to impress one another--and her--with analyses of her work, Gabrielle couldn't wait for the exhibit to end. She had been hiding in the shadows for the past hour, contemplating a stealth escape to the comfort of a warm shower and a soft pillow, both waiting at her apartment on the city's east side.But she had promised a few of her friends--Jamie, Kendra, and Megan--that she would join them for dinner and drinks after the showing. As the last couple of stragglers made their purchases and left, Gabrielle found herself gathered up and swept into a cab before she had a chance to so much as think of begging off."What an awesome night!" Jamie's androgynous blond hair swung around his face as he leaned across the other two women to clutch Gabrielle's hand. "I've never had so much weekend traffic in the gallery--and tonight's sales receipts were amazing! Thank you so much for letting me host you."Gabrielle smiled at her friend's excitement. "Of course. No need to thank me.""You weren't too miserable, were you?""How could she be, with half of Boston falling at her feet?" gushed Kendra, before Gabrielle could answer for herself. "Was that the governor I saw you talking with over the canapes?"Gabrielle nodded. "He's offered to commission some original works for his cottage on the Vineyard.""Sweet!""Yeah," Gabrielle replied without much enthusiasm. She had a stack of business cards in her pocketbook--at least a year of steady work, if she wanted it--so why was she tempted to open the taxi window and scatter them all to the wind?She let her gaze drift to the night outside the car, watching in queer detachment as lights and lives flickered past. The streets teemed with people: couples strolling hand in hand, groups of friends laughing and talking, all of them having a great time. They dined at cafe tables outside trendy bistros and paused to browse store window displays. Everywhere she looked, the city pulsed with color and life. Gabrielle absorbed it all with her artist's eye and, yet, felt nothing. This bustle of life--her life as well--seemed to be speeding by without her. More and more lately, she felt as if she were caught on a wheel that wouldn't stop spinning her around, trapping her in an endless cycle of passing time and little purpose."Is anything wrong, Gab?" Megan asked from beside her on the taxi's bench seat. "You seem quiet."Gabrielle shrugged. "I'm sorry. I'm just . . . I don't know. Tired, I guess.""Somebody get this woman a drink--stat!" Kendra, the dark-haired nurse, joked."Nah," Jamie countered, sly and catlike. "What our Gab really needs is a man. You're too serious, sweetie. It's not healthy to let your work consume you like you do. Have some fun! When's the last time you got laid, anyway?"Too long ago but Gabrielle wasn't really keeping track. She'd never suffered from a shortage of dates when she wanted them, and sex--on those rare occasions she had it--wasn't something she obsessed over like some of her friends. As out of practice as she was right now in that department, she didn't think an orgasm was going to cure whatever was causing her current state of restlessness."Jamie is right, you know," Kendra was saying. "You need to loosen up, get a little wild.""No time like the present," Jamie added."Oh, I don't think so," Gabrielle said, shaking her head. "I'm really not up for a late night, you guys. Gallery showings always take a lot out of me and I--""Driver?" Ignoring her, Jamie slid to the edge of the seat and rapped on the Plexiglas that separated the cabbie from his passengers. "Change of plans. We decided we're in the mood for celebrating, so ixnay on the restaurant. We wanna go where all the hot people are.""If you like dance clubs, there's a new one just opened in the north end," the cabbie said, his spearmint chewing gum cracking as he spoke. "I been takin' fares over there all week. Fact, took two already tonight--fancy after-hours place called La Notte.""Ooh, La No-tay," Jamie purred, tossing a playful look over his shoulder and arching an elegant brow. "Sounds perfectly wicked to me, girls. Let's go!"The club, La Notte, was housed in a High Victorian Gothic building that had long been known as St. John's Trinity Parish church, until recent Archdiocese of Boston payouts on priest sex scandals forced the closings of dozens of such places around the city. Now, as Gabrielle and her friends made their way inside the crowded club, synthesized trance and techno music rang in the rafters, blasting out of enormous speakers that framed the DJ pit in the balcony above the altar. Strobe lights flashed against a trio of arched stained-glass windows. The pulsing beams cut through the thin cloud of smoke that hung in the air, pounding to the frenetic beat of a seemingly endless song. On the dance floor--and in nearly every square foot of La Notte's main floor and the gallery above--people moved against one another in writhing, mindless sensuality."Holy shit," Kendra shouted over the music, raising her arms and dancing her way through the thick crowd. "What a place, huh? This is crazy!"They hadn't even cleared the first knot of clubbers before a tall, lean guy swooped in on the spunky brunette and bent to say something in her ear. Kendra gave a throaty laugh and nodded enthusiastically at him."Boy wants to dance," she giggled, passing her handbag to Gabrielle. "Who am I to refuse!""This way," Jamie said, pointing to a small, empty table near the bar as their friend trotted off with her partner.The three of them got seated and Jamie ordered a round of drinks. Gabrielle scanned the dance floor for Kendra, but she'd been devoured in the midst of the crowded space. Despite the crush of people all around, Gabrielle could not dismiss the sudden sensation that she and her friends were sitting in a spotlight. Like they were somehow under scrutiny simply for being in the club. It was nuts to think it. Maybe she had been working too much, spending too much time alone at home, if being out in public could make her feel so self-conscious. So paranoid."Here's to Gab!" Jamie exclaimed over the roar of the music, raising his martini glass in salute.Megan lifted hers, too, and clinked it against Gabrielle's. "Congratulations on a great exhibit tonight!""Thanks, you guys."As she sipped the neon yellow concoction, Gabrielle's feeling of being observed returned. Or rather, increased. She felt a stare reach out to her from across the darkened distance. Over the rim of her martini glass, she glanced up and caught the glint of a strobe light nicking off a pair of dark sunglasses.Sunglasses hiding a gaze that was unmistakably fixed on her through the crowd.The quick flashes from the strobes cast his stark features in hard shadow, but Gabrielle's eyes took him in at once. Spiky black hair falling loosely around a broad, intelligent brow and lean, angular cheeks. A strong, stern jaw. And his mouth . . . his mouth was generous and sensual, even when quirked in that cynical, almost cruel line.Gabrielle looked away, unnerved, a rush of warmth skittering along her limbs. His face lingered in her head, burned there in an instant, like an image set to film. She put down her drink and braved another quick glance to where he stood. But he was gone.A loud crash sounded at the other end of the bar, jerking Gabrielle's attention over her shoulder. At one of the crowded tables, liquor seeped onto the floor, spilled from several broken glasses that littered the black-lacquered surface. Five guys in dark leather and shades were having words with another guy wearing a Dead Kennedys wife-beater tank and torn, faded blue jeans. One of the thugs in leather had his arm slung around a drunk-looking platinum blond, who seemed to know the punker. Boyfriend, apparently. He made a grab for the girl's arm, but she slapped him away and bent her head to let one of the thugs put his mouth on her neck. She stared defiantly at her furious boyfriend, all the while playing with the long brown hair of the guy fastened to her throat."That's messed up," Megan said, turning back around as the situation escalated."Sure is," Jamie added as he finished off his martini and flagged a server to bring another round. "Evidently that chick's mama forgot to tell her it's bad news not to leave with the guy who brought you."Gabrielle watched for another moment, long enough to see a second biker move in on the girl and descend on her slackened mouth. She accepted both of them together, her hands coming up to caress the dark head at her neck and the pale one that was sucking her face like he meant to eat her alive. The punker boyfriend shouted a string of obscenities at the girl, then turned around and shoved his way into the spectating crowd."This place is creeping me out," Gabrielle confided, just now noticing some clubbers openly doing lines of cocaine off the far end of the long marble bar.Her friends didn't seem to hear her over the driving pound of the music. They also didn't seem to share Gabrielle's unease. Something wasn't quite right here and Gabrielle could not shake the feeling that eventually the night was going to get ugly. Jamie and Megan began talking between themselves about local bands, leaving Gabrielle to sip what was left of her martini and wait on the other side of the small table for an opportunity to break in and make her excuses to leave.Essentially alone at the moment, her gaze drifted over the sea of bobbing heads and swaying bodies, as she surreptitiously searched for the sunglass-shaded eyes that had been watching her before. Was he with the other thugs--one of that gang of bikers still stirring up trouble? He was dressed like them, certainly carried the same dark air of danger about him.Whoever he was, Gabrielle saw no trace of him now.She leaned back in her chair, then nearly jumped out of her skin when a pair of hands came to rest on her shoulders from behind."Here you are! I've been looking all over for you guys!" Kendra said, sounding breathless and animated at the same time, as she leaned over the table. "Come on. I've got a table for us on the other side of the club. Brent and some of his friends want to party with us!""Cool!"Jamie was already on his feet, ready to go. Megan took her fresh martini in one hand, Kendra's and her pocketbooks in the other. When Gabrielle didn't rush to join them, Megan paused."You coming?""No." Gabrielle stood up and looped the strap of her handbag over her shoulder. "You go on, have fun. I'm beat. I think I'm just going to catch a cab and head back home."Kendra gave her a little-girl pout. "Gab, you can't go!""You want some company for the ride home?" Megan offered, even though Gabrielle could tell she wanted to stay with the others."I'll be fine. Enjoy yourselves, but be careful, right?""You're sure you won't stay? Just one more drink?""Nah. I really need to take off and get some air.""Suit yourself, then," Kendra chided with mock venom. She stepped in and planted a quick peck on Gabrielle's cheek. As she withdrew, Gabrielle caught a whiff of vodka, and, beneath that, something less obvious. Something musky, queerly metallic. "You're a buzzkill, Gab, but I still love you."With a wink, Kendra looped her arms with Jamie's and Megan's, then playfully tugged them toward the churning mass of people."Call me tomorrow," Jamie mouthed over his shoulder as the trio were slowly engulfed by the crowd.Gabrielle immediately started her trek for the door, anxious to be out of the club. The longer she had stayed, the louder the music seemed to get, drumming in her head, making it hard to think. Hard to focus on her surroundings. People pushed at her from all sides as she tried to pass through them, squeezing her into the press of dancing, flailing, gyrating bodies. She was jostled and nudged, pawed at and groped by unseen hands in the dark, until, finally, she stumbled into the vestibule near the club's entrance, then out the heavy double doors.The night was cool and dark. She drew in a deep breath, clearing her head of the noise and smoke and the unsettling atmosphere of La Notte. The music still throbbed out here, the strobe lights still flashed like small explosions behind the tall stained-glass windows above, but Gabrielle relaxed a bit now that she was free.No one paid her any mind as she hurried down to the curb and waited to hail a ride home. Only a few people were outside, some passing by on the sidewalk below, others filing up the concrete steps and into the club. She spotted a yellow cab coming her way, and thrust out her hand to call it over."Taxi!"As the empty cab navigated across the lanes of nighttime traffic and roared up beside her, the doors of the nightclub burst open with the force of a hurricane."Hey, man! What the fuck!" Behind Gabrielle on the steps, a male voice rose to an octave just north of fear. "Touch me again, and I'll fuckin'--""You'll fuckin' what?" taunted another voice, this one low and deadly, and flanked by several others that were chuckling in amusement."Yeah, tell us, you little asswipe punker piece of shit. What're ya gonna do?"Her fingers gripping the door handle of the cab, Gabrielle swiveled her head, half in alarm, half in knowing dread of what she would see. It was the gang from the bar, the bikers or whatever they were, in black leather and shades. The six of them circled the punker boyfriend like a pack of wolves, taking turns jabbing at him, toying with him like prey.