Beyond the Night by Rayne Forrest/KC Kendricks

Carrick McCormick knows there is a special woman waiting for him. He can sense her but has yet to locate her. Moving to Lime Kiln Mountain is a calculated risk. She’s near and now he has a better chance to find her. That’s the first step. Explaining his nature, what he is and how he needs to live won’t be as easy. 

Rachel Rossington has one thing in common with every woman in small, rural Lime Kiln Mountain. She’s curious about the town’s newest resident, the reclusive Carrick McCormick. An early morning chance encounter puts her in his path - literally. She hits a dog and he almost hits her car.

Rachel harbors no schoolgirl illusions. She’s a nurse in a small town. Her life is mundane, serene. Men like Carrick McCormick don’t give women like her a second glance. Carrick’s world is one of wealth and luxury, foreign to everything Rachel knows. 

She doesn’t know just how foreign. But she will.



He was all sophisticated charm and Rachel wanted to kick his shin to see if she could snap him out of it. 

“Mr. McCormick,” she responded, matching his tone perfectly. He had some nerve following her here. 

“May I buy you a drink?”

Rachel pushed her glass toward the bartender, who filled it with straight cola. Carrick paid and shook his head when asked what he wanted to drink. 

“Is this your first time in here?”  She knew it was. If he’d been in here before the town would have buzzed with it. Now it would buzz that he’d come in here to speak with her. Wonderful, just wonderful. 

“Yes, it is. I felt like getting out of the house.”  His silvery eyes glittered with reflections of the dance floor’s light display. 

“So you just happened to end up here?”

“So it seems.”  He perched on the barstool her now ex-girlfriend Amy had vacated when she’d abandoned her. “I took your advice on the dog. He’s much cleaner now.”

“You followed me here to tell me that?”

“No. I didn’t expect to find you here.”

“I see. I’m not sure I believe you, Mr. McCormick. It’s too coincidental for my liking.”

Rachel downed the rest of her cola and snatched her purse off the arm of the barstool. She didn’t need to tell Amy and Carla she was leaving. There was no point in making the effort. She knew they’d been taking turns watching her and Carrick, just soaking it all up like two nosey sponges. 

She sensed Carrick following her and unease shivered up her spine. She hoped her busybody pals were making their way to the door as well. 

Carrick called out to her, asking her to wait. She ignored him and didn’t stop until she’d crossed the parking lot and reached her car. She turned intending to tell him to leave her alone and the floodlights that illuminated the parking lot blinked off leaving her standing in shadows with him. 

“What do you want?” she demanded with more bravado than she felt. 

“To apologize, yet again.”  He held out his hand to her, palm up. “I didn’t mean to frighten you. Please, let us begin anew.”

“Oh, I don’t think so,” Rachel said, looking up at him. The man was trouble with a capital T. He was way out of her league and she knew it.

“I’ve got to go. I have to work tomorrow.”  She turned to unlock her car door. 

“Of course. And it’s very late, I understand.”  He closed the distance between them, coming so close Rachel could feel the heat radiating off him. 

“You have nothing to fear from me, Rachel.”  He tipped her chin up and lowered his lips to hers. 

Surprise jolted through her. Her eyes closed of their own volition. His lips were soft, with both question and promise, moving slowly on hers and sending a shrieking awareness of his closeness through her. She took a step toward him.

Just as quickly as it began the kiss ended. She was standing in the parking lot alone, wondering how she’d gotten there, and why the hell she’d imagined Carrick McCormick had been there and kissed her.

*  *  *  *

Carrick waited until the police cruisers disappeared to step into the woods. He didn’t expect to find anything left at the scene. He was sure forensics had been meticulous in their search. The shock of seeing the body swept him anew. 

Meticulous or not, the humans wouldn’t know what to make of the one piece of evidence he’d spotted. The one thing that made the blood run cold in his veins. He’d seen the mark of the H’eth, the ruling council of the Hethrin, on the man’s cheek. 

To the investigators, it would appear as a random blood smear. But he knew and understood the message he’d been given. What he didn’t know was why, or from whom. 

He reached inside himself once more, carefully reaching past his awareness of Rachel to avoid the distraction she was to him and expanding his Hethrin senses. Nothing. Not a whisper of the presence of another Hethrin. That in itself was disturbing. Someone had been willing to risk their life to leave so quickly and completely. He reached out again and still sensed no one. 

Not quite true. His senses snapped into focus, honing in on one special person. Rachel waited above and all else would have to wait until he’d seen her and touched her again. He’d never be able to focus on anything else until he kissed her again. 

He breathed in deeply and exhaled slowly, re-centering himself. The memory of their brief kiss had plagued his rest and now sent a shiver up his spine. Her lips were soft, sweet like honey. He’d sensed her sudden response to him and the need to take her had engulfed him. He’d done the only sane and safe thing he could. He sent himself away from her and the possibility of further stupidity. 

He drove the GNX slowly up the hill, not bothering with headlights. He didn’t need them with his acute night vision. Rachel’s little car sat in the driveway. No lights were on in the house. The dog greeted him when he climbed out of the Buick. He smiled. 

So. She had been in the house. 

Be quiet. The dog whined, once, but Carrick knew the animal would obey. He walked noiselessly up the steps and around the deck to the front where he knew Rachel slept. 

She was curled up on his favorite chaise, the light blanket covering her. A strand of her dark hair lifted in the evening breeze. 

Against all his better judgment, with all he knew to be dangerous, and painful, he wanted her. He wanted her to accept him to the point of having full knowledge of him. 

Such a foolish thing to want. 


RayneForrest/KC Kendricks

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