Stolen Innocence: Blood Thief #1 (Alpha Billionaire Vampire Romance)
Text copyright 2016 by Mac Flynn
All rights reserved.
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The paranormal has a way of creeping up on you. For me it strolled through the doors of the flower shop I worked at.
The old shop was a few blocks off the downtown business district of the busy metropolis. It was one of those window-front shops with faded lettering over the single, mostly-glass door. The sidewalk outside was cracked and the potholes were large, but the old company kept a brisk business. And we delivered, too. That was a perk I would regret existed.
It was just after sunset on an early winter evening when the door opened. I stood behind the counter at the rear of the small shop area. The vases brimming with flowers on a round table in the center of the room prevented me from having a perfect view of the entrance. On either side of the door were wall-to-wall coverings of roses, carnations, lilies, and dozens of other plants that would make an allergenic miserable.
All I saw of the new customer was a black top hat. I leaned to one side to catch sight of the figure and glimpsed a black cloak move to the other side of the table. I frowned and leaned to the other side. I had my first full view of the man, and I didn’t quite know what to think.
His age was about thirty with jet-black hair and pale skin. He was tall, a little over six feet, and carried himself with a confident step. He was dressed like he just walked out of a black and white movie. There was the black dress pants, a dress shirt with coat, and a long, flowing cloak that buttoned at the front. The guy wore a top hat and held a cane with a silver top in his left hand.
His eyes flickered to me without he head turning. He faced me and removed his hat. I blinked at him as he bowed to me. “Good evening. I’ve come for some of these wonderful flowers.”
The vibe I got off the guy was weird. He was a little strange in that old-fashioned getup, but he gave off an unnatural creepiness that made me wary. Usually I got the owner to handle the customers, but I wanted this guy out fast.
I slipped around to the front of the desk, but didn’t approach him any further. “Were you looking for something in particular, sir?” I asked him.
He stepped up to the display against the wall and examined the flowers on either side of him. “I was looking for a very special flower.” His wandering eyes fell on me and a sly smile slipped onto his pale lips. “One that blooms once every century.”
I frowned and shook my head. “I don’t think we have that kind of flower here. Maybe you could come back tomorrow and ask the owner for some numbers.”
The man walked over to me, and I retreated until my back hit the front of the desk. He stopped a half foot from me and his clear blue eyes swept over my face. His lips curled back in a crooked grin that showed off a fine pair of chompers. He leaned towards me. His breath brushed against my cheek. He lowered his voice to a soft, sensual whisper.
“Or perhaps you will do.”
“No way.” I ducked underneath his bent self and scooted around to the other side of the desk. “You go find yourself another shop, mister, because I don’t play that way.”
The man blinked at me for a moment with wide eyes, but his grin soon returned. There was interest in his eyes now, and I regret to say it was all on me.
He chuckled and straightened. “Perhaps you really can help me,” he mused.
My eyebrows crashed down. “I told you we don’t have-”
“What’s going on here?” a voice spoke up.
I inwardly groaned as my short, pudgy employer, Mr. Vorax, waddled through the rear door. He took in the scene and naturally misunderstood it because he turned his angry eyes on me. “Miss Luvena, I have spoken to you before about treating our customers with proper respect.”
“On the contrary, she was treating me with all the respect I deserved,” the stranger spoke up. I looked askance at him, but his attention was on my employer. “I was too forward with her, but I will make it up to both of you.” He turned towards the rose section and nodded at the five sets of a dozen red ones that were left. “I’ll take those.”
My employer perked up and gave the man his widest grin. “Which bouquet, sir?”
“All of them.”
My employer’s eyes widened. “All of them, sir?”
The stranger nodded. “Yes, and I wish to send them to-” I felt a strange tingle in my head, “-Marvin Apartments, apartment sixteen, Gardens Street.”
I started and my eyes widened. That was my address. My employer, not knowing nor caring where I lived, smiled and nodded.
“Very well, sir. My delivery boy has gone home for the evening, but they might be delivered tomorrow evening,” he offered.
“That will do,” the stranger agreed. “I would also like two dozen yellow roses. One dozen to be sent to this address-” he pulled a card from inside his overcoat and handed it to my employer, “-and the other to Park Place Penthouse, suite 30, Park Place Avenue.”
My employer’s mouth dropped open. I couldn’t blame him. The Park Place Penthouse was the swankiest place in the city.
“My goodness, sir! You honor us with such a delivery.”
“You would do me a greater honor if this young woman-” he nodded at me, “-performed the delivery. Let’s say around this same time?”
Vorax raised an eyebrow. “Her, sir? But she’s only an assistant, and I have a very dependable-”
“I would like this woman to make the delivery, or I would like all the deliveries canceled,” the man insisted.
The color drained from my employer’s face. “B-but sir, this is very irregular-”
“I am a very irregular gentleman, sir. If you’ll oblige me this once I’ll pay you very well,” the stranger promised. He pulled out a thick wallet and opened the top.
My employer’s eyes widened as he glimpsed the long line of hundred dollar bills. The denomination bounced through his eyes and broadened his smile.
“My good sir, we can certainly oblige your-well, your request,” my employer assured him.
“Then I will settle my bill tonight and look forward to the deliveries tomorrow,” the stranger agreed.
The money was exchanged, and the cash tendered, reluctantly on the part of my employer, to me. The stranger watched me put the cash in the register with that peculiar smile on his face.
“Could I have the name of such a lovely young woman?” he asked me.
“I’m just another employee in a small shop,” I replied.
My employer glared at me and turned to the stranger. “She’s modest, sir. Her name is Mandy Luvena.”
The stranger smiled and bowed to me. “Good evening to you, Miss Luvena. I hope to see you tomorrow.”
“Maybe,” I replied.
I was never so relieved as when that man left. Vorax shut the door behind him, but paused and glanced after the man.
“A limo!” I heard him gasp. He locked the door and turned to me with a shake of his head. “I wish I would’ve marked up those flowers.”
I ignored his greedy ramblings and grabbed my coat off the hanger behind the desk. Vorax’s eyes fell on me and he frowned.
He marched over to me and shook his chubby fist under my nose. “What the hell were you doing? Trying to run me out of business?” he growled.
I leaned away from him and frowned. “He was hitting on me.”
Vorax’s face grew red. “I don’t care if he proposed to you on the spot! You treat the customers like they’re kings!”
“What if it’s a woman?” I teased.
He jabbed a finger in my face and shook with rage. “One more stupid remark like that and you’re out of here!”
I pursed my lips, but lowered my eyes. “Yes, sir.”
“All right. I’ll see you tomorrow.” He marched past me and through the back doorway.
I maturely stuck my tongue out at him and went out through the front. The early-winter evening was dark with a hint of chill in the air. The bare trees along the wide sidewalk swayed in a slight breeze. I wrapped my coat around me and marched down the sidewalk and onward to home.
My apartment building was a good twenty minutes away from work, but it was the closest place I could find without paying more in rent than I made. The last half of my long walk took me into the tough neighborhoods. The blocks of towering old brick buildings almost swayed in the wind as their ancient, drafty windows glared down at me. A third of the streetlights were out and graffiti covered the alley walls between the six-floor buildings.
I reached the stoop of my apartment building and paused on the bottom step. The light over the front door was out, but I could just make out a familiar figure seated in the doorway with their back against the front of the building. Hobo Harold. Nobody had any idea if Harold was his real name, but he answered to it. The guy was a sort of smelly mascot for the apartment building, and had been for ten years. Most of the time he could be found seated at the top of the stoop in the recessed doorway. His worldly belongings consisted of two thick blankets, one of which he always sat on, his clothes, and a large leather duffel bag, the contents of which he never revealed to anyone.
Harold was about fifty, or maybe seventy, with a scruffy gray beard, thinning hair, and a toothy smile. His summer garb consisted of a worn pair of jeans. For his winter garb he added a thick wool shirt and long coat that looked like it’d seen better days during the Revolution. The American one, not the one in the 1970s.
“Hey, Harold,” I called to him as I trudged up the short flight of steps.
“‘Morning, Miss Luvena,” he replied
I pulled out my apartment keys and smiled. “It’s evening, Harold.”
He looked up at the sky and squinted. “I guess it is. Where’d the time go?”
I would’ve suspected he was into drugs or alcohol, but he did neither. He looked haggard, not high.
“Sucked away by employment,” I quipped.
He furrowed his brow and shook his head. “No, I don’t think it’s that. I don’t have none of that. Haven’t for a long time.”
I put my key into the locket and turned it. “I don’t know if I should envy or pity you, Harold.”
Harold shuffled deeper into his array of overcoats and worn, soiled blankets. “Neither, Miss Luvena. I get along.” He had a way at pulling at heart strings even after they’d been stretched tight by a long day in the service sector. I pulled out a dollar and handed it to him. He grinned and tipped his head at me. “Thank you, Miss Luvena. It means a lot to me.”
I smiled and stepped a foot inside. “No problem, but don’t spend it all in one place.”
He tucked the dollar into his myriad of pockets and nodded. “I’ll try not to, Miss Luvena.”
I waved at him and entered the lobby of the dingy old apartment building. The small space was just large enough for the desk at the rear, and on the right side of that were the narrow stairs that led up to the rooms. The owner of the apartment building, an older gentleman with tired eyes by the name of Mr. Marvin Copo, sat on a stool behind the desk. One elbow was propped up by the desk and in his other hand was the paper.
I walked up to the desk and nodded at the archaic form of news distribution. “You still read that?”
He looked up and smiled at me. “Evening, Miss Luvena.” He picked up the paper and folded it shut. “I thought I’d catch up on the world for a bit, so I bought a paper. Don’t know where I’d get my news except from the old gossips in this place.”
“There’s always the internet,” I suggested.
He shrugged and returned to his paper. “Can’t wrap my head around that thing and all them pages. I’ll stick with the devil I know.”
I swept my eyes over the front page. “So what’s the devil telling you today?”
“That the rich are getting richer except the ones that are having their things stolen,” he commented.
I raised an eyebrow. “That thief again?”
He nodded. “Yep. The cops don’t know who’s doing it, but it’s got all them swells on Park Place Avenue up in a bind.” I frowned. That was the second mention of that street in less than two hours. Copo flipped over the paper and shook his head. “Maybe they’ll catch him, or maybe they won’t, but at least he’s giving me some entertainment.”
“Mind if I borrow that paper?” I asked him.
He looked up and raised an eyebrow. “I thought you said it wasn’t no good.”
I smiled and shrugged. “You live and learn.”
He shook his head, but pulled out one section and passed the rest of the paper over to me. “All right, but don’t go messing with the ad section. I’m not doing look at it.”
“I promise I’ll be careful,” I assured him as I turned to the stairs.
My apartment was located on the third floor. I unlocked the door and stepped inside. The lights were already on, and a woman was in the small kitchen. She was hunched over a frying pan with her back to me. A few swear words floated over to me.
“Damn it! Why the fuck won’t you obey me!” she growled.
I smiled and walked over to the chair, couch, and coffee table that made up our living room. “Trouble with the sunny-side eggs?” I guessed
She yelped and spun around. In her hand was a egg-splattered spatula. She glared and shook the spatula at me. Bits of egg flew onto the kitchen table that stood between us.
“Are you trying to give me a heart attack?” she scolded me.
I plopped myself on the couch and leaned back with a sigh. The paper hung from my hand over the arm of the couch. “If you’d pay more attention to your surrounding you would’ve heard me.”
“How can I hear a ghost?” she retorted.
I tossed the paper onto my lap and stretched my arms over my head. “Maybe have a Ouija board set up over the door? It might start spinning if a ghost comes around.”
She snorted and returned to her cooking. “You’re nuts.”
I glanced down at the paper in my lap. The bottom-fold headline was in large, bold letters: . Not a catchy headline, but I read further.
Felicia came up and set two cups of cocoa on the coffee table in front of me. She nodded at the paper. “It must’ve been a tough day if you’re reading from that.”
I tossed the paper onto the table and took one of the cups. A sip of the delicious chocolate and I felt better. My eyes flickered up to my friend who seated herself in the chair opposite me. “You happen to know of another dead-end job that’s open?” I asked her.
She raised an eyebrow. “The boss bothering you again about the wilting flowers he forgot to water?”
I set down the cup and shook my head. “No, worse. He’s got me running errands.”
Felicia frowned. “Isn’t that what Johnny’s for?”
I shrugged. “Supposedly, but this rich guy came into the store just before closing time and demanded I take some of his order to an apartment on Park Place. He was going to cancel the order if I didn’t.”
My friend snorted. “Must have been a big order.”
I tucked a leg underneath myself. “Yeah. He spent my entire month’s salary in a few minutes.”
Felicia blinked at me. “Seriously?”
I nodded. “Seriously.”
She leaned forward and studied me. “This guy doesn’t happen to be really cute, does he?”
I rolled my eyes. “A little, but he puts off this creepy vibe. And he tried to hit on me.”
Felicia snorted. “I bet that got him far. Did you shoot him down or did he make a crash-landing?”
I shrugged. “I tried to shoot him down, but Vorax came from the back and shot down.”
“Damn. So where are all of these flowers going?” she wondered.
I picked up the cocoa mug and furrowed my brow as I looked at the contents. “That’s one of the funny parts. Some of them are coming here.”
Felicia frowned. “You didn’t like the guy hitting on you, but you gave him your address?”
I shook my head and looked my friend in the eyes. “That’s what’s so weird. I give him my address.”
“Maybe Vorax mentioned it?” Felixia guessed.
I snorted and took a sip. “ doesn’t even know where I live.”
Felicia shrugged. “Maybe he overheard you mutter something to yourself? You do that a lot.”
I glared at her. “I never mentioned my exact home address while he was there.” I slunk in my chair and took another sip as I replayed the confrontation in my mind. “There was definitely something weird about that guy.”
My friend laughed. “Maybe that creepy vibe was just you trying to run away from a guy who was seriously into you. You don’t exactly notice when they look at you.”
I rolled my eyes. “If I want a guy to notice me it’s not going to be some rich jerk buying flowers for some other girl.”
Felicia furrowed her brow and rubbed her chin. “I see your point.” A loud hissing sound alerted her to danger. She stood and walked over to the kitchen to where her frying pan awaited. “And so you’ve got to deliver flowers to his place tomorrow?”
I sat up and felt the color drain from my face. I hadn’t even thought that the delivery would be to his own apartment.
My friend scratched her eggs onto two plates and grabbed a pair of forks. “Or maybe he wants you to meet his mom already and that’s where you’re going,” she teased as she walked back to the living room. She set a plate in front of me and paused when she noticed my face. “You okay?”
I shook myself and straightened. “What? Oh, yeah, I’m fine. I just never thought he’d have flowers delivered to himself.”
She plopped into her chair and shrugged. “I could be completely wrong about where you’re going. Maybe it’s his girlfriend and the ass just wants to show you what you’re missing.” She took a bite of the blackened remains of the eggs. Her face wrinkled and she put the plate down. “How about I take your mind off things with some nice Chinese?”
I looked down at my plate. The blackened eggs stared sadly back at me. I set the plate down and stood. “Agreed.”
The next day arrived, and with it came the eventuality of the evening. I dreaded the five o’clock hour, and made more than my fair share of mistakes that day.
At four-thirty Vorax threw his arms in the air. “That’s enough! You’ve drowned enough flowers today! I don’t care if the order early! Out with you!”
The requested bouquets were duly stuffed into my car and I made the trip to the spacious uptown neighborhood of Park Place Avenue. The city I lived in was divided by a river that ran from the northern mountains to the port in the south. The majority of people lived on the southwestern side while the commercial district took up the eastern shores. The Avenue, however, was different.
Park Place and its equally fashionable cousin Boardwalk Avenue were situated in the center of the commercial district. It was an old area filled with brownstone homes and luxurious high-rise apartments. Around the shore homes and tall apartments was the business heart and-if it had one-soul of the city. Skyscrapers mixed with skyline and brownstone with business to create a cacophony of confusion.
I stopped in a long line of traffic a few blocks from my destination. A glimmer of the last bit of sunlight shone off the largest building in the city, Indigo Towers. I leaned forward and frowned at the strange, capital ‘I’ shaped structure that ruled the skyline. Its glistening windows slyly grinned down at the rest of us. Even someone in a position to live at Park Place couldn’t compete with the wealth behind that monstrosity of wealth.
The light ahead of me turned green and traffic moved onward. I fell back against my seat and followed the lines of cars. One-by-one the drivers in front of me veered off onto side streets until only me and a few posh imported cars drove forward.
I spotted the Park Place Penthouse. It was an imposing tan-colored stone building some forty floors tall. The edifice was ornate, with flowing curls above the windowsills and wide ledges that marked each floor. Hunched gargoyles sat on its corners and glared down at the people who passed by. The front doors were accessed via wide, long steps.
I parked my car on the sidewalk and stepped out. The doorman in front of the building hurried down the steps. His eyes swept over my car and his lips curled back in disdain.
“I’m sorry, miss, but this parking is for guests of the Penthouse,” he told me.
I walked around my car and dug out a folded business card for the flower shop. “I’m here to make a delivery,” I told him as I hand him the card.
He read the contents and his eyes widened. “Oh yes, you’re expected,” he told me as he handed back the card. He dug out a card and handed it to me before he pointed to his right. “If you would, the parking garage is around the corner. You’re in berth thirteen.”
I glanced down at the card. It was a parking pass. “I don’t really need this. It’ll only take a few minutes,” I assured him.
“I’m afraid it’s the rules, miss. Deliveries must park in the garage,” he insisted.
I frowned and crumpled the parking pass in my fist. “Fine, have it your way.”
I slipped back into my car and drove around the corner. The road narrowed, and on the right was an open garage door. A booth sat between the entrance and exit. I pulled up to the window and held out the card. A man pulled aside the glass and leaned out.
“Delivery for room 30,” I told the man.
He took the pass, punched it, and smiled at me as he returned the paper. “That’s a good pass. You can stay here for as long as you like with that one.”
I raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”
He leaned on the sill of his window and nodded at the paper in my hand. “That pass is good indefinitely. You can come and go whenever you please, and stay as long as you like.”
I glanced down at the pass. There really was no time limit anywhere in the description. “Thanks. I’ll remember that,” I replied.
He smiled and nodded. “No problem, and don’t forget to put it on the dashboard.”
I drove forward into the garage. Parking spot number thirteen was on the first floor and around the first corner. It was a straight shot to the berth, and both fourteen and fifteen were empty. I parked and stepped out. A stairway and elevator just behind me and across the way allowed access to the residential part of the apartment building.
Whoever lived here, they had money.
I pulled out the bouquet of flowers and walked into the elevator. Number 30 was the last floor on the list. I pressed the button and stepped back as the doors shut. The elevator shot up, and so did my heart rate. I pressed the flowers close to me and prayed that a woman would answer the door.
I reached my destination. The doors swung open and revealed a small lobby. The walls were white and the floor was real wood. On the opposite side of the lobby from the elevator was a pair of white doors. I stepped out and the elevator doors shut behind me.
The flowers were just about ruined by the time I stood in front of the pair of doors. A buzzer lay on the right side of the doors. I stretched out a finger to press the button.
The door in front of me creaked open. I stiffened as the portal opened into a dark realm. The light from the lobby barely penetrated the darkness that lay beyond the doors. I stepped forward and peeked inside. Dark shapes of furniture lay in the center of the penthouse. The windows on the left and right were blocked by thick, blood-red cloth curtains.
“Hello?” I called. My voice echoed through the large room.
I screamed and stumbled to my left. My back gouged into the closed door and the flowers fell to the floor. I spun around and swung my fist in the direction of the voice. My hand was captured in a palm and eclipsed by a strength greater than mine. The open door slammed shut and lights were flicked on.
I found myself in the grasp of the strange man from yesterday. On his pale lips was a sly smile. He wore an elegant evening suit of black pants and a white shirt that lacked the usual black coat.
“I’m sorry I frightened you,” he apologized.
I pulled my fist from his grasp and rubbed my sore back. “I doubt it. You meant to do that,” I accused him.
He chuckled. “I must admit I did, though I didn’t mean for you to injure yourself, nor drop these wonderful flowers.” He stooped and scooped up the bouquets. The yellow color of the flowers accentuated his pallor. He swept one arm towards the living room that lay in the center of the room. “Won’t you sit down?”
I pulled out the acceptance slip and a pen, and held them out to him. “I’d rather you just sign this so I can go.”
“We’ll be leaving in a minute,” the man promised as he turned away .
“What does that mean?” I questioned him.
The strange man walked over to a large, empty vase on the thick cherry coffee table. He set the bouquets inside the vase and turned to me. “I have quite an evening set out for us.” His eyes swept over my body. “Though your attire does leave something to be desired.”
I stalked up to him and jabbed the pen and paper into his chest. “I just need you to sign this and I’ll be leaving. your company.”
He took the pen and paper, and tucked them into his pants pocket. “I will gladly sign the receipt, but we’ve had our fun.”
“ not having anything except a quick goodbye, now please sign the receipt or-” He grasped my hands in his cold grip and pressed me against him.
I tilted my head back and looked up into his dazzling blue eyes. He leaned down and spoke in a soft, seductive whisper. “Don’t you wish to stay?”
He was handsome and enticing when he wasn’t being a creep, and right then he was being a creep. I pulled away from him, but couldn’t free my hands. “No, now let me go or I’ll call the cops.”
He straightened. The sly smile remained on his lips. “Very well.” He opened his hands and I slipped mine out from his.
Except now there was something in one of my palms. I frowned and opened my hand. My eyes widened as I beheld a beautiful gold chain. Attached to the bottom of the chain was a small red ruby shaped into a perfect circle. I looked up at him with my mouth agape.
He leaned forward and clasped the necklace around my neck. I pressed my hand against the beautiful gift. It fit perfectly above my breasts. “A little gift, for your trouble.”
I glanced from his face to the necklace and back. “For. . .for me?”
He nodded. “Yes. For the trouble I’ve caused. It could be a parting gift, if you wish, or one of many. That is, if you choose to join me this evening.”
I leaned back and raised an eyebrow. “What exactly did you have in mind?”
His smile widened and he swept his arm to a closed door. “Inside you will find an evening gown. It’s been fitted to your size. I’d like for you to join me this evening at a small gathering of my-well, my acquaintances.”
I half-turned away from him and studied his face. “Why me?”
“Why not?” he returned.
I shrugged. “I’m not exactly in your league when it comes to credit card limits.”
“Does that matter?” he wondered.
My eyebrow arched higher. “Shouldn’t it?”
He chuckled eyes and shook his head. “It matters not to me.” He glanced at his watch. “Unfortunately, you have only a few minutes to choose. The dinner begins at six, and I make a habit of being punctual.” His eyes fell on me, and he held out his hand to me. “Won’t you come? I promise the evening won’t be dull.”
I hesitated for a moment. My eyes flickered between his dazzling face and his pale hand. The pros and cons flitted through my mind. His strange vibe both attracted and repulsed me, but I found myself strangely drawn to him. The heavy weight of the necklace was a definite pro, but one problem stuck in my thoughts.
“I don’t even know your name,” I pointed out.
He swept his arm across his chest and bowed to me. “It’s very rude of me, isn’t it? I must apologize for that by telling you my name. It is Simon Cruor.”
“Never heard of it,” I commented.
He raised his head and smiled at me. “I prefer to keep a low profile.” He straightened and offered me his hand again. “But will you come, or would you rather return to that flower shop tomorrow with nothing but fleeting memories of what might have been?”
I pursed my lips, but shrugged. “Why not?”
His eyes sparkled with a strange autumn hue and his smile widened. “Then it will be an honor to show you what the night offers.”
I took his hand and let him lead me to a new fate.
That fate started through that closed door, and I found it was a bedroom. A large king-sized bed sat against the back wall and draped over the foot of its elegant white comforter was a bright-red dress. The straps were as thin as pencils and the neckline left little to the imagination.
He stopped us at the foot and slipped behind me. “What do you think?”
I glanced down at the dress and my eyebrow received more exercise. “It looks like it could fall of at any moment.”
He leaned close to my neck and chuckled. “That would be a shame, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately, nothing so wonderful will happen as the straps are quite tight. Would you like some assistance putting it on?”
I spun around and crossed my arms over my chest. “I said I’d go on a date with you, not get into bed.” I jabbed a finger at the door. “Now out.”
He took a step back and bowed his head to me. “I am your humble servant, Miss Luvena.”
I tilted my head to one side and studied him. “How do you know so much about me, anyway? Are you stalking me or something?”
He straightened and shook his head. “No. Let’s just say I investigate my business associates very thoroughly.”
I frowned. “Business associates? You mean the flower shop?”
He nodded. “Yes. I gathered that your employer wouldn’t ask questions of my order if I offered him cash, and-”
“And he didn’t fail to disappoint,” I commented.
Cruor chuckled. “Exactly. Now if you wish I can assist you in changing.”
I nodded at the door. “I think I’m old enough to dress myself.”
He retreated to the door and bowed his head. “As you wish, my lady.” He closed the door behind him.
I turned and studied the dress. A sigh escaped my lips and I shook my head. “What have you gotten yourself into this time, Faith?”
A quick change and I felt like a half a million dollars. The other half of the money was with the other half of the dress. The neckline was low enough to reveal ample cleavage and a slit in one side traveled up to my hip. Walking would be difficult. Somehow, though, the outfit complimented my ample curves.
I stepped out of the room with my old clothes draped over one arm. This Cruor fellow was still a near-stranger, so I’d be keeping my clothes with me. He stood off to the left and against the wall where a long, wide kitchen was located. His back was to me, but as I entered he downed an entire champagne glass of red liquid and turned to me. His sly smile and attentive eyes were enough to show me he approved.
He set the glass down and walked over to me where he bowed. “A picture of beauty no Renaissance painter could capture,” he complimented.
I blushed. “It’s a little flimsy,” I commented as I tugged on the slit.
Cruor straightened and smiled. “And yet you wear it with such elegance that it appears to be a part of you.” He stepped up to my side and offered me his arm. “If you would, it’s time to leave.”
I looped my arm through his and hugged my clothes against my other side. “All right, but I’m keeping my clothes with me.”
He bowed his head. “As you wish, my lady.”
Cruor escorted me to the door where we paused to pick up his coat, hat, and cane. We proceeded to the elevator and rode it down to the parking garage. The doors opened and revealed a limo that waited with its engine running. The suited driver stepped out, a pale young man of twenty with unruly dirty-blond hair, and opened the rear door for us. He bowed his head as Cruor escorted me to the vehicle.
“Ladies first,” he offered.
I hesitated in front of the door. The interior was pitch-black. “How about we break with tradition just this once?” I suggested.
Cruor bowed his head. “As you wish.”
He ducked into the car. My eyes flickered to the driver who stood behind the door. His eyes were pale gray and his skin was the same pallor as that of Cruor.
I jerked my thumb at the entrance to the car. “Are you two related?” The driver shook his head, but didn’t speak. I shrugged. “Just thought I’d ask.”
I ducked into the interior. The opposing seats were leather and each was broken into two chairs by a separating armrest in their center. I took the seat opposite Cruor who sat in the back. The door shut behind me, but an overhead light allowed me to see my host, though most of his face fell into shadow. Behind me was the closed window that connected the rear to the front.
The car started, and we turned the corners of the parking garage and bumped onto the streets. I glanced out the window. The world sped by in brightly-colored hues of dazzling lights.
“You are ill at ease,” Cruor commented.
I tried to avoid pulling my neckline for fear he would glimpse more than some of my previous boyfriends got to see. “I’m alone with a wealthy stranger, in a strange dress, going to a strange party.”
He chuckled. “Yes, I must admit I wasn’t sure you would agree to such an adventure, but you didn’t fail to disappoint.”
I frowned. “You sound like you know me really well.”
He leaned back. His face was completely covered in shadows. “You could say our meeting yesterday piqued my interest, and I made a few inquiries.”
My eyebrows crashed down and I pointed an accusing finger at him. “Then you did stalk me!”
He held up his hand. “Perhaps I did inspect more thoroughly than is proper, but I will offer you a trade.” He stretched out his arms and I saw a glint of teeth as he smiled. “You may ask me anything you like, and I will answer with the truth.”
I snorted. “And I’m supposed to believe it?”
His smile slipped away and his voice grew firm. “I give you my word, and I break my word.”
I furrowed my brow and studied him for a few moments before I cleared my throat. “How old are you?”
“Five hundred and sixty years old.”
I choked on my spittle. “You said you’d tell the truth!”
He chuckled. “I did, and I have, but why don’t you ask another less compromising question?”
I crossed my arms over my chest and glared at him. “How rich are you?”
“I haven’t tallied my assets in quite a while, but billionaires would envy me were they to know the truth,” he replied.
“So how come I haven’t heard about you?” I countered.
He clasped his hands on his crossed legs. “As I said before, I prefer to keep a low profile. That includes revealing my riches. Even my close friends are unaware of the full extent of my wealth.” He leaned forward and his shimmering bright eyes fell on me. “You are perhaps the only one outside my small circle who knows.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Should I feel honored?”
He fell back and shrugged. “That’s entirely up to you, but wouldn’t you rather ask me more questions?”
I jerked my thumb at the window to my right. “Where are we going?”
Cruor chuckled. “I am a terrible date, aren’t I? We are attending a private dinner given by Mr. Edric Eres in honor of his daughter having graduated college.”
I furrowed my brow. “Isn’t she the one who had the bracelet stolen last night?”
“The very same,” he confirmed.
“How do you know them?” I asked him.
“I made their acquaintance in Europe when Miss Eres was choosing her college,” he explained.
I fidgeted and pressed my street clothes close against me. “And there’ll be a lot of these rich folks at the party?”
His voice was soothing in that strange way of his. “About a dozen, but you needn’t worry. Their false beauty cannot compare to your natural-well, shall we say you have a very exuberant life energy surrounding you.”
I stopped my fidgeting and raised an eyebrow. “Thanks. I think.”
The car slowed and turned onto a smooth road. I glanced out the window and saw the landscape was much changed. Gone were the skyscrapers and noisy, honking streets. Streetlights were replaced by elegant lampposts and the glass buildings changed to tall, imposing mansions. Blocks gave way to vast estates, and the smell of water drifted to my nose.
Cruor gestured to the window. “There is nothing quite like nature to remind one of our more primitive roots. Perhaps that’s why so many congregate on the fringes of the uncontrollable waters and forests, not least of which the wealthy of society.” His eyes fell on me and there was that bright glimmer again. It was almost as though his eyes glowed in the dark. “It makes one think of ages past, and of futures yet to come.”
I shrugged. “I guess, but history’s never been my strong suit.”
He chuckled. “We must do something about that, but after the dinner.”
We drove a few more miles through the expensive landscape before we reached the final road that followed the southeastern shoreline of the port. On the other side of the river lay the port itself, but the large mansions dominated the land on this side. Their small parks were fenced by tall stone walls and iron gates. We pulled up to a pair of those gates and stopped for a moment before they opened and allowed us entrance.
The park of the wealthy Eres family held a variety of ancient oak and maple trees. They cast their long shadows across the paved driveway and all the way to the three-floor Colonial building they called home. The two imposing columns on either side of the tall pair of white doors felt like bars on a cage that kept the world out. The tall, wide windows glared down at us with their curtained glass turned up in high fashion.
Behind the mansion stretched a large, green lawn enveloped by shadows. The port waters lapped against the far stretches of the lawn, and a long dock disappeared into the darkness. A light fog floated onto land and enveloped the trees and lawn in a soft gray blanket.
The driver parked the car in front of the tall portico and opened the car door on my left. I blinked against the bright lights from the windows that fell over the darkness inside the car.
Cruor exited first and offered me his hand and a smile. “It’s time for your first foray into a new world.”
I reluctantly set my clothes on the seat and took his hand. Cruor pulled me from the car and led me up to the shut entrance. He pressed the doorbell and the entrance was answered in half a moment by an elderly man. Behind him were the white walls of the entrance hall. A curved stairway hugged the left-hand wall and disappeared into the second floor.
The man stepped aside and bowed to us.
“Good evening, Mr. Cruor,” he greeted my companion. At least he hadn’t lied about his name like his age.
Cruor stepped inside with me by his side and bowed his head. “Good evening, Promus. I hope we’re not too late.”
“You are punctual as always, Mr. Cruor,” Promus replied.
Cruor removed his coat, hat and cane, and handed them to the butler. “And the others?”
Promus nodded to a doorway off to our left. “In the parlor, sir. Refreshments have been ordered before dinner.”
“Excellent. If you will excuse us.” Cruor offered me his arm, and I took it as a lame man would take a cane.
He led me to the doorway where we paused. The parlor was a grand room filled with horsehair furniture and a black oak coffee table. A billiard table stood to our far right at the rear of the room. On the opposite side of the room from where we stood was a large fireplace that burned brightly with thick logs. A half dozen men in coats and as many woman in dresses congregated together. They varied in ages from thirty to sixty, but they all held the sort of air of one possessed of great confidence and great money.
A portly man of forty turned to us and his eyes widened. “Simon! How wonderful to see you!” He set his wine glass on a tray held by a servant and hurried over to us with his arms spread wide and a smile on his chubby face. The man clasped Cruor’s offered hand and shook it with a great deal of energy. “I must tell you what a pleasant surprise it was for Eileen when your yellow roses arrived!”
“Papa!” a melodious voice interrupted.
The portly man stepped to the side and we all turned to the stairs. A young woman in a white, flowing gown hurried down the steps in heels that made me wince. She had the same bright smile on her face as the man, and it was entirely for Cruor’s benefit.
She offered him her hand and batted her eyelashes. “It’s always a pleasure to see you, Simon, and as Papa so selfishly told you, I was very pleased with the roses.”
Cruor took her hand and pressed a kiss on the top. I couldn’t help but frown. My displeasure was noticed by the young woman. Her eyes fell on me and one of her eyebrows raised.
“Who is this, Simon? A friend?” she asked him.
Cruor swept one hand towards me and pulled me forward with his other one. “My escort for the evening. Miss Faith Luvena, this is Miss Eileen Eres.”
Miss Eres raised an eyebrow, but offered me her hand. “A pleasure to meet you, Miss Luvena.”
I took her hand and gave it a firm shake. “Um, likewise.”
She removed her hand from me and her eyes swept over me. “I don’t believe I know that family name. Is your father in the port trade?”
“She is rather a new transplant in our world,” Cruor spoke up. He turned to me and flashed me one of his strange toothy smiles. “You might say I picked her as one does a beautiful flower, and set her in our small vase.”
Eileen laughed. “You are so amusing, Simon! And the things you say! You almost make me forget about the horrible ordeal two nights past!”
Cruor glanced between our host and his daughter. “Is there are word on who might have done such a thing?”
Mr. Eres pursed his lips and shook his head. “Not a clue. It may as well have been a ghost from what little the police can deduce.”
Eileen grasped Cruor’s arm and leaned against him. “And it’s such a pity that you didn’t buy the bracelet first. I remember that you so admired it when Papa showed you the bracelet when we first met in Paris.”
Cruor nodded. “Yes. Fate is cruel that it should only be in your possession for such a short time, but perhaps the culprit will be found.”
Mr. Eres stepped up to the pair and swept his arm towards the parlor. “But enough of this sad business! Come! Let us join the others!” He guided our little group into the parlor where we joined the other six guests. He clapped his hands together and quieted the small party. “Tonight is a great night! Tonight we celebrate my little angel’s graduation with a degree in fine arts!”
“And what do you hope to do with such a degree, Miss Eileen?” one of the older women asked her.
Eileen shrugged. “Perhaps work in a museum, or perhaps an art house. I haven’t really thought that far ahead. Perhaps I’ll even return for another degree.”
One of the gentlemen of thirty laughed. “You could gather enough diplomas to make a dress!”
Mr. Eres wrinkled his nose. “Heaven forbid! There aren’t enough colleges that are worth the money, and those that are would drain my bank!”
I stood off to one side and far from the group. Cruor’s back faced me as he spoke with an older couple. He glanced over his shoulder and his eyes fell on me. He half-turned to me and offered me his hand.
“Faith, I’d like to introduce you to these lovely people,” he called to me.
I reluctantly walked over to him and took his hand so he pulled me close to his side. He gestured first to the man and then the woman. “Mr. and Mrs. Gemmarius, this is Faith Luvena, a new acquaintance of mine.”
Mr. Gemmarius bowed his head, but his wife smiled and shook my hand. “A pleasure to meet you, my dear. How did you come to know this rascal?”
“I plucked her from a flower shop,” Cruor spoke up.
The woman laughed and tapped Cruor’s shoulder with her closed fan. “What a tease you are!” She turned to her morose husband. “Isn’t he a tease, darling?”
The man rallied himself from his thoughts and managed a smile. “A very ingenious man with his tales, certainly.”
Cruor turned his attention to the husband. “You seem distracted tonight, Mr. Gemmarius. Is something the matter?”
Mrs. Gemmarius sighed. “It’s all these jewelry thefts. You know, my husband’s jewelry store also is the vault for many of our friends. He’s afraid it will be robbed at any moment.”
Cruor raised an eyebrow. “Really? I had no idea, but I’m sure it will be very safe. I might perhaps place some of my valuables in your safe.”
Mr. Gemmarius perked up and his smile brightened. “You don’t say? Well, I feel I must tell you that I don’t keep them for free. Insurance and security costs, you see.”
Cruor smiled and bowed his head. “Of course. If you’d like, we could discuss the terms right now.”
Mrs. Gemmarius grabbed her husband’s arm and scowled at him. “Business at a social? Really, darling, that’s too much.”
He plucked her hand off him and laid it against her side. “It will only be a moment, my dear. We’ll be back before dinner is called.”
The two men strode from the room, and I was left with the flustered Mrs. Gemmarius. She pulled out her fan and waved it in front of her. “Men! What nuisances they can be with their business! I would think Simon would have better manners than to encourage Midus in his rude behavior.”
An idea flashed through my mind and my eyes flickered to her. “Have you known Mr. Cruor long?”
She shrugged. “Oh, not for too long, perhaps five years. My husband and I met him on our yearly travels through the diamond markets of the world. We were at Surat at the time haggling for a beautiful ruby of exquisite quality when Simon comes out of nowhere and buys it out from under our noses. Well, when he heard how disappointed we were do you know what he did?” I shook my head. She pressed her fan against her cleavage and smiled. “The darling just up and gives us the jewel. He even offers to pay the cost of the cut, but we were happy with its raw form.” She leaned close to me and lowered her voice. “And since you’re such a darling friend of Simon’s I will tell you it wasn’t easy to remove the ruby from the country. Such a rare steal as that has some very tight embargo, if you understand my meaning.”
I raised an eyebrow. “How much did it cost?”
She shook her head. “I haven’t any idea, but we were asking a good million for it, and he outbid us.”
“So you got to keep the ruby?” I guessed.
She sighed and gave a nod. “Yes, but only for two years. It was stolen from our country home in upper New York, and the police never discovered who took it.”
I frowned. “You had a jewel stolen, too?”
Mrs. Gemmarius’s gaze wandered down to my neck and her eyes widened. “Why, what a beautiful necklace! And that gem!” She leaned down and squinted. “My goodness, but the cut is perfect!” She raised her head and winked at me. “You and Mr. Cruor must be very close.”
I glanced over my shoulder in the direction of the doorway. “Yes, very close. If you’ll excuse me.”
I slipped away from her and out of the parlor. The entrance hall was empty. Two doors stood across the hall. The front one was open and revealed a large dining room with a long table. The places were set with half a dozen utensils and the napkins were folded into hats.
The second door to the left was partially hidden in a narrow hallway and behind a large suit of armor. My ears detected the faint sound of voices. I walked across the hall and placed my ear against the door. The knob hadn’t latched and the door gave way a few inches, allowing me a view into the room.
It was a study with large bookcases and a giant globe. An oak desk stood opposite the door, and in front of the desk stood Mr. Gemmarius. His arms were crossed over his chest and he had a frown on his lips.
“Really, Simon, I thought you would be more reasonable, but I can’t offer you sufficient protection at such a small price,” he commented.
Cruor stood to the right just out of my line of sight. His tone was one of bemusement as he chuckled. “I thought perhaps you might feel that way. As it is I will accept your offer as a token of our friendship.”
Mr. Gemmarius dropped his arms to his side and grinned. “Excellent! I knew you’d see things my way. Let’s shake on it.” He stretched out his hand, and Cruor’s hand came into view. They joined hands and shook.
I shrugged and turned away, but Cruor’s calm voice brought me back.
“Now if you would kindly tell me the location and combination of your safe, our business will be finished.”
I frowned and looked over my shoulder. Gemmarius stood stiff as a board, and his face was devoid of emotion. His eyes were wide and vacant. Cruor released his hand and it dropped lifeless to Gemmarius’s side.
When Gemmarius spoke it was in a flat tone. “The vault is behind the picture of Queen Elizabeth the first,” he revealed. “The combination is 1-25-52.”
Cruor chuckled. “Your birthday? That’s very unwise of you to use such a known date, Mr. Gemmarius.” The man didn’t reply.
“Simon! Simon, where are you?” Eileen cooed.
I swung around in the direction of the hall. My shoulder hit the door and swung it open. Cruor turned to me. My hand flew to my mouth to stifle my gasp. His eyes were as red as coals and his teeth were long and sharp, like fangs. I stumbled backwards until my back hit the opposite side of the narrow hall.
Cruor was one moment five yards from me, and the next moment his hand slammed into the wall to the left of my head. He leaned his face close to mine. Those blood-red eyes stared into mine.
“Say nothing of this,” he hissed.
I felt a strange tingle in my mind. My mouth bobbed up and down. I couldn’t release the scream I so desperately desired.
Eileen appeared around the corner. “Simon! There you-oh.”
Cruor face reverted back to human before he looked to Eileen with a smile. I ducked under his arm and rushed behind her. My shivering hands grasped her shoulders and my voice choked on my tremble.
“H-he’s a monster!” I told her.
Cruor raised an eyebrow, but I noticed his body tensed.
Eileen glanced over her shoulder at me and frowned. “What are you going on about?”
I nodded at Cruor. “He’s some sort of monster! I saw it! He had red eyes and was doing something to Gemmarius!”
At that moment the aforementioned gentleman stepped out of the study. He was all smiles as he nodded at us. “Well well, we have quite the crowd here, don’t we?”
Cruor stepped aside, but his eyes never left me. His smile had no warmth and there was a shadow in his eyes that made me shudder. “Yes. I was just telling Miss Luvena about the view from the shoreline.”
Eileen beamed with pride. “Yes. Papa bought the house specifically for the view. It was a nice deal, too.”
I stepped out from behind her and pointed a finger at Cruor. “Are you listening to me? He’s not human!”
Gemmarius raised an eyebrow and his eyes flickered to Cruor. “Is your date quite right in the head, Simon?”
Cruor closed his eyes and shook his head. “I’m afraid the light in the study has played a trick on her.” He stepped towards me and stretched out his hand. “Perhaps we should leave.”
Eileen gasped. “Leave before dinner?”
I stepped away from his outstretched hand and shook my head. “Like hell I’m leaving with you.”
Eileen turned to me, and all three of them stared at me with disconcerted eyes. She glanced at Cruor. “I think perhaps you should take her upstairs to let her lie down.”
I’d seen enough movies to know where this conversation was headed. Neither Eileen nor Gemmarius believed my story. Heck, even I couldn’t quite what I saw, but I still had faith in my eyes.
That’s why I turned away from their concerned gazes and rushed to the door.
“Faith!” Cruor yelled.
He was the last person I would stop for. I rushed out into the night. The limo was gone and the driveway was empty. Worried voices echoed in the entrance hall behind me.
“What’s going on?” Mr. Eres boomed.
“Midus! Midus!” Mrs. Gemmarius called.
The last voice was Cruor. I rushed down the driveway. My feet pounded against the pavement in the direction of the gates. They were shut, and there was no guard to call to open them. I grabbed the bars and shook them.
Footsteps behind me made me look over my shoulder. Cruor stood five feet behind me. The driveway behind him was empty. His arms hung by his side and in the dim light his eyes glowed that unnatural red color. I swung around and pressed my back against the bars. Now I felt the full foolishness of my choice to come with this stranger, this monster.
He held out his hand to me. “Come back to the house with me, Faith.”
I frowned and shook my head. “Hell no.”
He took a step towards me. “You trusted me before.”
I looked him up and down. “What the hell are you?”
“Your friend, if you will allow me, and something more if you wish it,” he promised. He took another step towards me.
I slid along the bars to the right. “That doesn’t answer my question.”
He dropped his hand and a coy smile slipped onto his pale lips. “Do you wish for the truth, or the lies I give to others?”
“I want the truth,” I insisted.
Cruor sighed. “Then I will tell you I am a vampire.”
I frowned. “I said the truth.”
He folded his arms across his chest and shrugged. “That is the truth. I haven’t lied to you.”
I snorted. “No, you’ve just omitted some pretty important facts. Like this.” I held out the ruby in my necklace. “This ruby was stolen from the Gemmarius’s, wasn’t it?”
His smile danced across his lips. “You are very astute. Perhaps that’s why my powers have no control over you.”
I frowned. “What powers?”
Cruor repeated his speed trick. One moment he stood four feet from me, and the next there was barely a few inches from us. I gasped and squeezed against the bars. He leaned down. His red eyes swept over my face. My heart thumped in my chest.
When he spoke his voice was soft and seductive. “I find I cannot control you as I do those puppets inside the house.” He reached up and cupped my cheek in his hand. I shivered against the cool feel of his hand. My body ignited with heat as he leaned down and brushed his lips against mine. “But perhaps because of that I find myself irresistibly attracted to you.”
He pressed his lips against mine in a strong, possessive kiss. His arms wrapped around me and captured my body against his. The heat inside me burst into a warm, delicious flame. I grasped the front of his shirt and groaned into the kiss.
He pulled us apart. I panted. He didn’t. A warm blush covered my cheeks as I blinked at him.
A sly, crooked grin slipped onto his lips. “How very intriguing.”
I leaned back and frowned. “What’s that mean?”
He chuckled. “It means you don’t detest me. Most humans have a natural abhorrence for my presence, but you seem to delight in my physical contact.”
My eyebrows crashed down and I tried to push him away. “I just want you to let me go!”
Cruor leaned down and captured my lips in another sensual kiss. I was paralyzed by lust. His hands slid up the smooth back of my dress and massaged my ass. I gasped and broke our kiss. He pressed soft, hot kisses down my neck. I leaned back and closed my eyes. His teasing nips stopped where my neck met my collar bone.
I felt two sharp pinches against my flesh, and then ecstasy. My body filled with a thick, agonizing heat that pooled between my legs. He pressed me closer to him and deepened his bite. I gasped and moaned. My flesh was consumed by a deep, aching lust. I craved his body, his touch, his bite. Every trickle of blood he took from me was a small orgasm.
I whimpered when he broke from me. His wide eyes shimmered in the darkness and now he, too, panted for breath. A few droplets of blood from his fangs slipped down his chin, leaving streaks of red against his pale skin.
A sudden fatigue washed over me. My knees buckled beneath my weight. His arms kept me from dropping to the ground. I had trouble keeping my eyes open.
“My god. . .” he whispered.
“Mr. Cruor,” a voice spoke up.
Simon clasped me close to his side and spun around. In the middle of the driveway and ten feet from us stood our driver. His pale skin stood out in the darkness.
Simon relaxed his tense body, but kept me clutched close against him. “What is it, Certus?”
Certus bowed. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but there is trouble.”
Simon frowned. “Fledglings?”
The driver straightened and nodded. “Yes, sir.”
Simon swept me into his arms and looked down at me. His red eyes softened. “It seems our evening must wait.”
Certus stepped up to us. “Would you like me to take her home?”
Simon pursed his lips and shook his head. “There isn’t time, and she would be safer with us.”
Certus’s eyes flickered down at me. His eyes widened and he started back. He looked to Simon. “You’ve marked her?”
Simon carried me past him and towards the house. “We haven’t time for this discussion.”
Certus bowed. “Yes, sir.”
Simon carried me up to the house. The party inside the mansion stepped out onto the portico. Our father-daughter hosts were in the lead, and Mr. Eres stepped down onto the walk.
“What’s wrong? Does your friend need a doctor?” he asked us.
Simon stopped in front of him and shook his head. “No. It’s merely a slight attack of anemia of which she suffers from every so often. A short rest and she’ll be well.”
I tried to speak, to tell them the truth, but the words wouldn’t come. My body was still weak from the loss of blood.
Eres stepped aside and swept his arm towards the open door. “Please feel free to make use of any of our bedrooms.”
Simon smiled, but shook his head. “There’s no need. I’ve called my driver and-” At that moment the jet-black limo came from the darkness at the left of the house. “And he’s as punctual as always.”
Simon turned to leave, but Eileen swept down the stairs and grasped his upper arm. She looked into his face and her lower lip quivered. “Won;t stay for a while longer? As you said, your friend will be fine, and we haven’t even dined.”
Simon gently pulled himself from her weak grasp. “I’m sorry, but as she is my companion for the evening I must attend to her.”
Eileen’s eyebrows crashed down. She crossed her arms over her chest and turned her face away. “Very well, but this is all very vexing.”
The car pulled up to us and forced our hosts to back up. Simon looked to the other guests over the top of the car and bowed his head. “If you will excuse me.”
Certus stepped out and opened the right-side rear door. Simon stooped and stepped inside with me still in his arms. He settled in his usual spot and the door shut behind us. This time there wasn’t an overhead light to illuminate the interior. Only the tinted windows provided visibility.
In the dim light a little of my strength returned. I shifted in his hold.
Simon clasped me harder to his chest without looking at me. “Don’t try to move. You’ve lost a great deal more blood than I intended.”
My voice was hoarse and my lips dry, but I managed a few stuttering words. “Where. . .are you taking me?”
The window that divided the rear from the front lowered. I glimpsed the back of Certus’s head.
Simon looked up at his driver and pursed his lips. “Where are the Fledglings?”
“Downtown, sir, and close to Mr. Gemmarius’s shop,” Certus told him. “The police tried to intervene, but they escaped into the alleys.”
A sly, crooked grin slipped onto Simon’s lips. “I see. Then we may well take care of two birds with one stone.”
I wanted no part in whatever black-hearted plan this monster concocted. I pressed my palms against his chest and tried to push myself away. My efforts were futile, but I did catch his attention.
He glanced down at me. His eyes softened. “You think you’ll be safer farther away from me, but the truth is quite the opposite.”
I stopped my feeble attempt at escape and glared at him. “I will. . .risk it,” I gasped.
Simon sighed. “You are very stubborn, but I suppose that is no more than I deserve.” The sly grin returned to his lips. “Perhaps a weak woman would not have been to my liking, anyway.”
“I am your woman,” I growled.
The demon chuckled, but I was glad when he half-turned in the seat and set me down beside him. “No, but you mine. This-” he brushed his hand against the right side of my neck, “-proves as much.”
His fingers slipped over the two tiny holes I knew were there. Still, I reached up and touched them with my quivering fingers. There was a slight twinge of pain over the skin, but the hollows themselves were numb and sealed. There wasn’t even a drop of fresh blood.
I shuddered and dropped my hand. A whirlwind of thoughts flew through my mind. All the old horror movies and books I’d read rose to the surface, and with them came the thought that my action, my choice to go with this monster, had doomed me for eternity.
Simon studied my face. His expression softened. He cupped my left cheek in his hand and smiled at me. “Your thoughts are confused, but there’s no need to worry. Modern culture has proven to be an unreliable storyteller of vampire fact.”
I swallowed the rising fear inside me. “Then. . .then I won’t turn into a vampire?”
His face fell, but his eyes met mine. “That is one of the kernels of truth in the lore. My biting you will change you into a vampire.”
His proclamation hit me like a punch to the stomach. I dropped my head into my hands and burst into sobs. My sorrow wracked my body. Tears streamed down my cheeks and into my hands.
Simon pressed me closer against his cool chest. His voice was low and gentle, and one hand petted my hair as he spoke to me. “The tales are not entirely accurate. There is some time left to you in your human form. A great many months, if we decide it.”
I pulled my face away from his shirt and glared up at him. “You mean if decide it.”
He closed his eyes and shook his head. “The choice is both of ours to make. I will not force you into this arrangement until you are better prepared.”
I balled my hands into fists and my voice grew louder. “You’ve already forced me-” Something slammed onto the hood of the car.
Certus spun the wheel. The rear portion of the long car swung to the left and slid until it was nearly perpendicular to the front. Simon threw his body over mine and pinned me between him and the cushioned seat. Outside horns blared and tires screeched. The vehicle came to a jerky stop a dozen yards down the road. The motor idled and outside all was quiet.
Certus’s voice broke the silence. “Sir.”
Simon lifted his head and looked to the front. I followed his gaze and my eyes widened. A dark form was hunched on the hood of the car. Their feet stood in the indents made by their landing. They faced us, and their red eyes peered into our vehicle. A pair of gleaming fangs poked out from beneath their upper lips.
A pair of headlights from opposing traffic shone on the figure. It was revealed to be a young man of twenty with a smirk on his lips and short brown hair on his head. He wore a dark t-shirt and black jeans. The young man laughed and leapt straight up. He disappeared out of sight, and didn’t reappear.
Simon leaned towards Certus. “Remain with her. I’ll take care of the Fledgling.”
Certus turned in his seat and frowned. “But sir, there may be more.”
“We’ll have to take that chance,” Simon replied. He turned to me and smiled. “It seems Fate is insistent on ruining what remains of our evening together. Remain here. Certus will protect you.”
I glared at him and turned my face away. The next I heard was the door opening and he slipped out. I looked back in time to see the door shut.
Certus moved the car forward until we came to a wide alley. He pulled into the block-long alley and shut off the vehicle. The world descended into silence. There was only my breathing. Certus didn’t make a noise.
Everything was quiet, but too quiet. This was a city full of people, and yet I heard and saw no cars pass behind or in front of us.
The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end. Trouble was coming. My eyes flickered to the door on my left. I glanced at the driver. He stared straight ahead. I reached for the door handle.
“I wouldn’t attempt to remove myself from the car,” Certus warned me.
I glared at him. “Try and stop me.”
I lunged for the door. The locks initiated. I tugged, but the door wouldn’t budge. I whipped my head to Certus.
“Unlock the door!” I demanded.
He looked at me through the rear view mirror. “I was given the job to protect you, and I will not fail.”
His employment started when something slammed onto the trunk of the car. It was another black-clothed twenty-something, though this time it was a girl. Two more creatures dropped onto the car, one on the hood and the other on the top.
The girl behind me leaned forward and pressed her pale hands against the rear window. Her eyes fell on me. A sly smile slipped onto her mouth and her tongue flicked out to wet her parted lips. “What do we have here? A bit of dinner before we have more fun?” Her companions laughed.
I heard a door unlock, and Certus stepped out. He shut the door behind him. Two of our uninvited company hopped off the car and surrounded him. The one on top climbed to the edge of the car and looked down at him.
The girl stopped beside my door and folded her arms across her chest. “That was real stupid, old man.”
The guy in front laughed. “Yeah. Now we don’t even have to drag you out of there.”
Certus stood among them as stiff as a statue. He stared straight ahead and his arms hung limp by his side.
The guy atop the roof leaned over and stretched out his hand towards Certus. “Let’s get this over with. I’m starving.”
Certus spun around and grabbed the creature’s arm. He swung the young man over his shoulder and into the brick wall in front of him. The young man slammed face-first into the bricks and dropped to the ground. His face left an indent and blood in the hard material. He didn’t get up.
The woman and other man hunched down and extended their hands. I had a clear view as their fingernails extended into long, sharp claws.
The woman growled at Certus. “So you’re a vampire like us, huh?”
Certus turned his head to her and frowned. “I am nothing like you.”
She tensed and snarled at him. “Yeah. You’re gonna be permanently dead soon.”
Both she and the guy in front lunged at Certus. Now was my chance. I dove over the divider between the front and back. There was a long, wide pad on the right side of the driver’s seat that controlled everything in the car. I slammed my hand against all the buttons. My door unlocked. I opened it and scooted out. The battle in front of the car was just about finished.
Certus noticed my escape. “Wait!” he called. He tried to move towards me, but another of the monsters jumped onto his back and grabbed his neck.
I turned away from the scene and dashed away.
I stumbled out of the alley and onto the sidewalk. All the streetlights along both sides of the road were broken. No cars nor people dared entered a neighborhood that was shrouded in darkness. I noticed an alley on the opposite side of the street, and made a straight shot for it. My clumsy feet tripped over broken slabs of pavement and glass that littered the road, but I made it unharmed into the alley.
The narrow road stretched across the width of the block to the next street. Another, living world awaited me there. The streetlights there were unbroken, and I glimpsed traffic. My feet pounded pavement and splashed through mucky puddles. Mud soaked the bottom hem of my dress and soiled my shoes. I felt my heart thump against my chest and I gasped for breath.
At the halfway point I risked a glance over my shoulder. My heart skipped a beat as a half dozen shadows dropped fifty feet off the rooftops and landed neatly in the alley. They stood and their red eyes followed me. I looked ahead and pumped my arms faster. The alley exit loomed in front of me. Just a couple more yards.
Two figures stepped out of the darkness. They wore black suits like those who fought the driver, and both of them grinned at me with sharp teeth protruding from their mouths. I skidded to a stop and half-turned towards the way I’d come. The six shadows strode towards me. A chuckle returned my attention to the exit.
One of the pair stepped forward. It was a man of thirty with dirty-blond hair and a cruel smile on his pale lips. His hands were tucked into the pocket of his jeans and his feet didn’t make a sound on the pavement as he circled me. The other man blocked the exit, and the six to my left shut off that way of escape.
The older vampire, I couldn’t deceive myself that these were humans, eyed me with a hungry, bemused gaze. “What’s a fancy kitten like you doing in a place like this?”
I leaned away from him. “P-please, I just want to leave.”
He stopped on my right side. His hand whipped out and grabbed my wrist. He pulled me against his chest. His horrible breath wafted over me. It smelled like a charnel house. I shut my eyes and turned my face away.
He leaned down and slid his long tongue against my cheek. I shuddered and tried to pull away, but he held me tight against him. He lowered his head and his breath wafted over my neck.“You taste delicious. I bet your blood’s just as-” A shadow dropped from the sky and landed on my right.
The vampire’s eyes widened and he turned his head. “What the-” A pale hand shot out from the shadow and wrapped around his neck.
The leader yelped. His hold on me broke and I stumbled back. I tripped over the uneven ground and fell onto my rear. The leader was lifted off the ground and flung into his companion, who caught him. The shadow turned their red eyes on me, and I recognized the pale face of Simon.
He leaned down and held out his hand to me. “Are you all right?” he asked me.
I nodded and took his hand. The enemy of my enemy was my friend, and the vampires around me were definitely my enemies. Simon looped his arm around my waist and pressed me against his side. The six vampires pressed closer and their leader shoved his lackey away.
He marched to within two yards of us and sneered at Simon. “Get lost, old man. This is prey.”
Simon’s eyes flickered from the pair to the six behind us. They closed in closer to us. “She is under my protection. If you wish to live then I suggest you leave this city.”
Their leader scoffed. “Fuck off, old man. We just got here, and we’re not about to let all these tasty treats go.” He glanced past us at the other six and raised his hand. His fingers snapped together.
The six behind us leapt twenty feet into the air and arched downward towards us. Their fingers were splayed out and their nails lengthened into long, sharp claws. They hissed and pulled back their hands to swipe at us.
Simon swept me behind him and caught the first attacker by their neck. He swung the vampire up and the attacker collided with two of his fellow vampires. Simon walked forward and side-stepped the remaining three vampires. They landed on their feet around him and swung their clawed hands. He ducked and blocked their blows with his arm against theirs. His own nails lengthened into weapons, and he sliced his nails across the neck of one of the attackers.
The male vampire let out a bloodcurdling scream and stumbled back. He clutched the bleeding wound across his neck. Blood drizzled from his mouth. Simon swiped again, and the vampire’s head was cleanly cut from his neck. The decapitated vampire fell to his knees and his head rolled off his shoulders.
A pair of strong arms wrapped around me and lifted me off the ground. It was the companion of the leader. His strong grasp squeezed my rib cage and the pain caused me to cry out.
Simon spun around and snarled at my captor. My eyes widened as I watched his opponents come at him from two different directions.
“Watch out!” I screamed.
The two remaining attackers stabbed Simon with their claws. He dropped to one knee and winced. Blood dripped from the stabbing wounds and onto the filthy ground. The leader stepped forward and held up one hand so the palm faced outward. The two bowed their heads and backed up.
He looked past them at the pile of three vampires, the first who Simon had felled. “Get up!” their leader shouted.
The three roused themselves and struggled to their feet. The count was now seven against two, and I was no help. The leader’s eyes flickered to Simon and he sneered at him.
“You’re tougher than you look, old man, but not tough enough for my gang.” He strode over and knelt in front of Simon. A smirk danced across his lips. “I handpicked these guys myself. There’s no way any one person can defeat all of them.”
“What about two?”
The vampire who held me stiffened and the pressure on my rib cage loosened. His arms opened and I dropped to my feet. I looked over my shoulder and gasped. The vampire’s head was missing from his shoulders. His headless corpse fell to the side and revealed Certus behind him.
The leader of the vampires jumped to his feet and trembled with rage. He stabbed a finger at Certus and looked to his minions. “Get-” He didn’t have time to finish his sentence before Simon stood and swiped his hand cleanly across the leader’s neck.
The leader stumbled backwards towards me. Blood dribbled onto the ground. He choked on his life fluid. “Fuck. . .you,” he choked out.
He fell backwards. The impact of the fall loosened the final thread that attached his head to his neck. The head rolled across the ground and stopped at my feet. His lifeless eyes stared up at me. I stumbled back and into Certus’s waiting arms.
Simon glanced at his driver and frowned. “Protect her this time.”
Certus bowed his head. “Yes, sir.”
The remaining vampires hissed and leapt at Simon. He jumped into the air and flew past them all. His arms were blurs as he swiped left and right through their ranks. When they crashed to the ground they were nothing but piles of limbs. Simon landed neatly beyond them and turned to us. He brushed himself off and strode over to us. Certus held still, but I shrank from him.
Simon’s eyes flickered from me to Certus. “Release her.”
Certus frowned. “But sir.”
Certus’s hands opened and he stepped back. I pressed my arms against my chest and glanced from one vampire to another. “W-what are you going to do with me? Kill me like you did them?”
Simon shook his head, and when he replied his voice was soft like an autumn breeze. “No. These vampires were far too dangerous to allow them to exist.”
I frowned. “So then what? Keep me captive until I change into one of you?”
A sly grin slipped onto Simon’s lips. “As tempting as that sounds, I would rather let you go home. That is, after a short overnight stay at my penthouse to ensure you’re physically and mentally well.”
I raised an eyebrow. My arms slipped a little lower down my chest. “And if I say no?”
He shrugged. “Then you would have said no, and will still remain overnight at my penthouse.”
My eyes flickered between Certus and Simon. “And you’ll let me go tomorrow?”
Simon swept his hand across his chest and bowed to me. “You have my word.”
I snorted. “A word of a vampire?”
He raised his head and straightened. “Have I lied to you?”
I pursed my lips and studied him. “No, but you haven’t been entirely upfront, either.”
He chuckled and offered me his arm. “True enough, but that can be remedied before the night is over. I offer you another chance to ask me anything you like, and now that you know the correct questions it should be quite illuminating for you.”
I glanced from his arm to his face. “What if I left and called the police on you?”
He dropped his arm and that smooth smile of his slipped onto his lips. “I needn’t tell you it would be rather uncomfortable for both of us. Now shall we go, or do you wish to remain among this filth?” His eyes flickered to the ground. I followed his gaze and shrank back.
The bodies of the vampires were aged beyond their youthful appearance. Many looked to be seventy or eighty years old. The body that belonged to the leader of their group was more bones than flesh.
I felt a tingle in my mind. Simon’s voice intruded on my disgust. “They have reverted to their true age. When the sun rises they will turn to dust.”
My eyes flew up to his smiling face. I narrowed them. “You’re reading my mind, aren’t you?”
He bowed his head to me. “I am.”
I balled my hands into fists and glared at him. “Stay out of it!”
Simon chuckled. “But your thoughts are rather interesting. That in itself is unusual for a human.”
I marched up to him and tried to meet him face-to-face, but he was a head taller than me. “I said stay out!”
He chuckled and stepped back to offer me his arm again. “Very well, but shall we go? I hear the sounds of the police, and I’m sure none of us wish to explain how these dead bodies came to be here.”
I glanced over my shoulder. Behind Certus was the bright lights of the living city. I looked back to Simon. His pale face and red eyes were another path.
A voice inside me pulled me towards Simon. I grudgingly agreed to its demands and stepped up to him, ignoring his arm. My eyes met his and my voice was firm. “Fine, I’ll go.”
We returned to Simon’s car and drove away from the scene of the crime. Simon and I were seated opposite each other. He smiled at me with his legs crossed and his hands folded into his lap.
I swept my eyes over his relaxed form. “You said I was going to change into a vampire.”
He nodded. “Yes.”
“There’s no cure?”
Simon closed his eyes and shook his head. “No, unless you call true death a cure.”
I cringed. “Not exactly.”
“Then no. Your fate is set.”
My heart sank. I glanced out the window. The world sped by as a blur of colors and shadow. My eyes drooped and my voice softened. “So what now?”
“Now I show you how to live.”
I whipped my head to him and narrowed my eyes. “How am I supposed to live if I’m dying?”
He chuckled. “Undeath is not the end of living. It’s merely the end of one path and the beginning of another.”
I snorted. “Like those vampires you killed in the alley?”
His smile slipped off his lips. “A vampire is already dead. Only destruction can give them eternal death.”
I rolled my eyes. “They’re still lying in piles in the alley.”
His eyes narrowed and his tone sharpened. “The Fledglings deserved nothing less for touching you, though nothing that severe if they had left the city.”
I raised an eyebrow and leaned forward. “Fledglings?”
Simon nodded. “Yes. Vampires without an old master are called Fledglings.”
“But they had a leader,” I pointed out.
“They did, but he was not old enough to be a master,” Simon explained.
I leaned back against the seat and clutched my head in one hand. “Jesus Christ. A vampire hierarchy.” I paused and furrowed my brow. “So I can say Jesus Christ without bursting into flames?”
He chuckled. “Yes, and read Scripture on Sunday in a church.”
I shrugged and folded my arms over my chest. “There goes a couple centuries of theory. What about the sun and sleeping in a coffin?”
“The sun will destroy full vampires, and I sleep in a bed in a dark room,” Simon told me.
The car stopped and Certus opened the door to my left to reveal the parking garage of the Park Place Avenue Penthouse. Simon slipped out and offered me his hand. I pursed my lips, but accepted his help and stepped out. Beside the limo sat my old rusted car. The chill from the garage made me shiver.
Simon set his hands on my shoulders and leaned to one side of look into my face. “Are you cold?”
I shrugged. “A little.”
He guided me to the elevator. “My home is quite warm, and there are refreshments.”
We stepped into the elevator and rode it to his penthouse. The rooms were quite warm and I plopped myself on one of his couches. Simon slipped over to the stainless-steel kitchen. He returned with a platter of cheese, two wine glasses, and a bottle of red liquid. I eyed the bottle as he popped the cork.
He noticed my attentive gaze and chuckled as he poured out the contents into one of the glasses. “Red wine, if you prefer it.”
My eyes flickered up to him. “Is it really?”
He offered me a glass. “Smell it.”
I leaned forward and sniffed. The pungent odor of wine floated into my nose. I wrinkled my nose and leaned back. “I’ll pass.”
Simon scooted the platter closer to me and seated himself in the couch opposite me. He took up my wine glass and took a sip before he gestured to the platter. “Please, help yourself. My body doesn’t handle food very easily, but wine is another matter.”
I watched him take another sip of wine. “Can you get drunk?”
He smiled and shook his head. “No. My body is dead, or mostly dead, and a great deal of its functions ceased a very long time ago.” His eyes swept over me and his smile grew sly. “Though the important ones remain.”
I blushed under his gaze and distracted myself with a small block of cheese. “So what do I do now? Wear sunglasses at night and start sleeping under my bed?”
Simon set his glass on the table and leaned against the back of the couch to study me. I turned my face away from those heated red eyes. “You live your life as the changes allow you. Some changes will be sudden, like the cold you feel now. Others will take time, like the ability to jump great distances.”
I stood and paced the room. Anything to get distract myself from his beautiful red eyes. “Jump great distances. Kill people by slicing off their heads.” I paused and ran a hand through my hair. A lump formed in my throat and a bitter smile slipped onto my lips. “And all because I delivered a bunch of stupid flowers.” I choked on a sob. “Stupid job! Stupid boss! Stupid me!”
Warm arms wrapped themselves around me and pressed my back against Simon’s chest. His voice was soft and soothing. “I’m sorry. I truly never meant for things to happen so quickly.”
I spun around. His hands dropped off me. I beat my fists against his chest as warm tears slid down my cheeks. “You did this! You’ve ruined my life! You’ve ruined everything!”
The sobs came faster than I could talk. I leaned my forehead against his chest and cried my eyes out. He embraced me again and we stood there for a while as I wept for my humanity, for my life, for everything I knew.
Simon raised one hand and petted my hair. “I was wrong to turn you so quickly, but I swear nothing will happen to you.”
I raised my tear-soaked eyes to him and blinked. “Why do you care what happens to me?”
He smiled down at me and chuckled. “Do I hide my feelings so well that you don’t see them? Perhaps I should show you.”
He leaned down and pressed my lips against his. That familiar warmth filled my body and stroked my skin with a delicious fire. He wrapped his arms around my waist and pressed me close against him. I moaned as I felt his swollen manhood rub against me. His hands squeezed my rear and massaged the fleshy mounds.
I groaned into our kiss. He broke us apart. His shimmering red eyes warned me of the danger, but my lust didn’t care. I wanted him, and he wanted me.
“Are you sure?” he whispered.
I smiled and slipped my finger over his pale lips. “Just promise not to bite too hard.”
A crooked grin slid onto his lips and he whisked me into his arms. “I think that won’t be a problem.”
He swept me into his arms and strode into a large bedroom. The curtains were opened and revealed the dazzling city lights far below us. The room was sparsely furnished, but a wide, long bed stood opposite the door. Its white satin sheets tempted us.
He lay me atop the sheets. The straps on my flimsy dress slipped off my shoulders and down the upper part of my arms. The neckline grew worse as the cloth slid down, and my breasts were mostly exposed. He lay atop me and nipped at my pert nipples. I gasped and squirmed. His hands grabbed my wrists and pinned my arms to the bed.
He raised his head to look at me. His shimmering eyes were blood-red and full of need. The tint of his white fangs shone in the dark. He panted, and my heaving chest mimicked his movements. His feral gaze swept over my body. I slipped off my heels and pressed my thighs against his hips.
“Are you afraid?” I teased him.
He growled. The sound excited me. Seductive warmth inside me reignited the passion I held for this strange, exotic creature. He swooped down and captured my lips in another searing kiss. His hands worked away at my dress. Those long claws that could kill a human instead sliced open my dress. The pieces fell onto the covers and left me naked beneath him.
He tore off his own clothes and flung them aside. Our sweat-covered bodies ground against one another. Every rub was an agonizing pleasure. Every slip of him against me created unbearable lust. His hands touched me everywhere. Anywhere he pleased, and I let him.
I craved his caresses, his teasing nips and massages. I wanted him to take me and make love to me. Wild, sensual love.
His teeth nipped at my flesh and his lips suckled at my swollen breasts. I groaned and squirmed, but his hands and body held me tight against the bed. He positioned his swollen manhood at my wet entrance and pushed himself inside. I gasped as he filled me from wall to hot, soaked wall. He clenched his teeth, but a hiss escaped his lips.
“So. . .tight,” he whispered.
“Oh god,” I moaned.
He pulled out and penetrated me again. Every inch of him stroked my sensitive nub and sent bolts of pleasure through my body. His body slipped against mine as he thrust into me in slow, torturous movements.
I leaned my head back and groaned. My flesh craved him. My mind knew nothing but thoughts of him. I wrapped my legs around his waist and deepened our union.
He groaned and thrust harder. His actions dominated our love-making. I was his to love, to desire, to please, and he didn’t disappoint. His hands caressed me. His lips nipped and suckled at the bare flesh of my trembling neck. I lay my head to the side and exposed my throat to him, tempting him.
He sank his teeth into my sweat-soaked flesh. The deep, agonizing ache inside me doubled. My body was aflame with a hot, unbearable lust. Every touch, every rub of his body against mine drove me to the brink of insanity. I needed him to take me and make me his, to embrace me in every sense of the word.
“Oh god, yes,” I murmured.
He thrust harder as his teeth sank deeper into me. I was consumed by heat. Every part of me strained for completion, for the heaven only his wonderful touches and thrusts could bring to me. I was his, only his. I clung to him and groaned. My whispered chants echoed off the dark walls of the room.
“Yes. Oh god, yes. More. Oh please, more.”
He growled. The sound reverberated through my body. I panted for breath. My chest heaved up and down. He thrust harder and faster. I couldn’t keep up. All I could do was revel in the feel of him inside me, taking me again and again, making me his and his alone. His fangs held me still and suckled the blood that slipped from my pierced flesh. My chanting grew louder as the lust inside me reached a hot, wet climax.
“Yes! Oh god, yes!” I threw my head back and screamed my love to the shadowed room. “Take me! Make me yours!”
He tore himself from my neck and looked down at me. My blood trickled from his lips and his red, searing eyes stared into mine.
“Mine. Only mine,” he growled.
His possessive proclamation sent me over the edge. My body convulsed with wave after hot wave of sensual orgasm. He continued our love-making with long, hard thrusts. My climax stretched into more and more sweet pleasure. I chanted his name to the heavens.
“Simon! Simon! Simon!”
My body convulsed a few more times before exhaustion overtook me. He thrust again and again until he stiffened. His body relaxed and he hung his head for a moment. The only sound in the room was our panting.
Simon lifted his head. His red eyes glistened in the weak light. A smile flashed across his pale lips. “That was quite entertaining. Shall we do it again?”
My mind was willing, but my body was not able. I shifted and winced. My muscles already felt sore. Simon chuckled and rolled over, taking me with him and pressing me against his chest. He petted my hair and I snuggled into the lingering warms of our love-making.
His soft, soothing touch led me into sleep.
For all books by Mac Flynn visit her author’s page or visit Mac Flynn’s website.
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The paranormal has a way of creeping up on the least prepared. For Faith Luvena it strolls through the doors of the flower shop where she works. The pale gentleman has a dark allure around him that draws her to him and draws out a hidden, lustful animal within her. She decides to follow him into the shadows of the night, and her decision leads her from the highest society to the darkest alleys of the city, and among the undead. Undead that have every intention of making her permanently dead. The Blood Thief series is an episodic serial where each book contains a conclusive story within an over-arching tale of sensual fun.