I’m thrilled to reveal the cover of Sexual Appetites of Vampires, the first book in my Sexual Appetites of Unearthly Creatures novella series along with an excerpt. I know you’re all used to me writing books about Highlanders, but I wanted to spread my writing wings a bit. So for those of you who like paranormal, I hope you’ll give it a try when it’s released in March. And for those looking for more Highlander books, the first book in the Macinnes Sisters Trilogy, The Highlander’s Stolen Heart will be released this spring.
(cover by The Killion Group)
Lara stood staring at the house and smiled. If she didn’t know any better she would think that she had been swept away to the British countryside to a stately manor home. She had to admit it was stunning especially with the wooded hills framed behind it, though its gothic veneer did make one pause before approaching it.
She had been at Molly’s Place, a quaint little eatery whose omelets were to-die-for, by nine and had asked around for a ride to Valaine’s home. Molly, who wore a perpetual smile that was contagious, had expressed how it must be serendipity since her husband Joe was headed that way and could drop her off.
So here she was on Michael Alexandru Valaine’s doorstep at ten o’clock in the morning with the hope that he wouldn’t turn her away. Having to be back in the village by twelve gave her about two hours, at the most, to interview him and with a bit of luck get a look at his vampire book collection.
Lara no soon as knocked on the door than it opened. A stocky, elderly woman in a brown wool coat stepped out, yanking her hood up and over her short, white curly hair.
“Go on in, he’s expecting you, not that he’s happy about it. Can’t say I blame him. You can thank Molly for him seeing you. She called ahead, which is what you should have done and she explained that you were a nice young woman who needed only a moment of his time. So make sure it’s only a moment you take. He’s in the library, up the steps to your right, the door on the left.” The elderly woman shook her finger at Lara. “Then make sure you are gone before the snowstorm hits.” With that she yanked her gloves from her coat pocket and slipping them on, walked down the path.
Like she would want to be stuck here, Lara shivered at the thought. She turned to the large oak door that stood ajar and with steps born of let’s-get-this-over-with more than confidence stepped into the house.
The large foyer captured the eye with its highly polished wood and numerous framed, painted landscapes. She turned to close the door, but it had already clicked shut. She left her suitcase near the front door and hurriedly followed the elderly woman’s directions and took the few steps to her right to find herself in a narrow hallway with two doors…one to the right and one to her left.
The one to her left stood ajar and she knocked on it as she eased it open and called out, “Mr. Valaine? Lara Bennett here. I’ll only take a moment of your time.” She pushed the door open further and stepped inside. It was a magnificent room, walls of bookcases and every shelf overflowing with books. A fire burned brightly in the fireplace and overstuffed chairs urged you to grab a book and have a seat. Lights on the various side tables created ample lighting, though shadows lingered in corners—and one moved.
Lara jumped and watched Michael Valaine emerge from the shadowed corner slowly, as if the darkness was a lover that refused to release him, clinging possessively to his arm, his shoulder, his waist, until she had no choice but to let go.
And Lara couldn’t blame her…he was a gorgeous hunk of a man. Tall, dark, and handsome didn’t do him justice and didn’t fit, though he was tall, at least two maybe three inches over six feet. Not dark, though paler skinned and not handsome—drop-dead gorgeous. Any woman would kill for his perfectly arched dark brows and long lashes, not to mention his eyes. Dark brown, no intense black, no lighter…oh, forget the eyes what about his lips? Slim and lusciously kissable. Dark hair, shoulder length. What man wore his hair even a bit long today? Confident ones, her thoughts whispered. And damn if his smoky gray sweater didn’t display just enough muscle to entice. Gorgeous, hunky and wealthy. What was she thinking? This wasn’t a social meet, this was business. She was here to find out about vampires.
Recalling her reason for being here, Lara got right to the point. “I am terribly sorry for showing up without an appointment, but I have limited time and from what I’ve learned around town you may have information I’m looking for.”
Michael Valaine walked over to two oversized chairs by the fireplace and pointed to one. “Sit and tell me what you want from me, Ms. Bennett.”
“Lara, please,” she said and sat in the chair or actually sunk in it. It was so soft and comfortable that she could imagine herself sitting there for hours lost in the pages of a book. “I’ve been contracted by a NY publishing house to write a chapter on vampires and with the myth that vampires settled Mull, my editor thought this was a good place to start.”
He didn’t say a word; he simply stared at her with those dark eyes that unnerved.
Lara continued with some unease. “Whatever you can tell me of the myth or if you have your own unique take on vampires due to your family being the founding family of Mull, I’d appreciate anything you have to offer.”
Michael crossed his leg, running his hand down the crease in his black wool trousers. “Exactly what do you want to know about vampires?”
“Anything you can tell me,” she said eagerly.
“With limited time before you must leave, Lara, I suggest you be more specific.”
The way her name rolled seductively off his lips raised goose bumps along every inch of her flesh and she had to stop herself from shivering. She forced a smile and said, “Their appetites.”
“For blood or sex?”
If he intended to intimidate her with his blunt response, he was in for a surprise. “Both,” she said and leaned forward in the chair, “and with as much detail as possible.”
“An easy answer—ravenous. Vampires thirst for blood is as ravenous as their hunger for sex.”
“And you would know this how?” she asked certain he was doing nothing but humoring her.
“I’m a vampire.”
“Very funny, Mr. Valaine,” Lara said not at all amused by his tactless response.
“Michael,” he corrected, “No, being a vampire isn’t funny, voracious for human blood isn’t either, and then there is the ravenous appetite for sex. Not human sex with passable climaxes, but sex that engages the couple down to the very core of their being. Where everything is felt beyond what is imaginable, where a climax is not the end, but the beginning.”
Lara slipped off her red wool jacket and loosened her scarf around her neck, feeling suddenly much too hot and—much too sexually charged. And too sexually curious. “And how do you know this?”
“I am a vampire,” he repeated.
A sudden chill replaced the heat that left Lara in a flash. She braced her arms across her chest not just for the warmth, but feeling the need to protect herself. Was Michael Valaine so angry with her for showing up unannounced that he was making her appear a fool for asking about vampires or was he simply nuts? Either way, she thought it was best that she leave sooner than she had planned.
“You see, Lara,” he said continuing, “a vampire can have sex the human way and make it more than enjoyable for his partner and adequate enough for himself, but when he truly wishes to satisfy his sexual appetite then he must find a willing woman who doesn’t mind being…bitten.”
“And made a vampire?” she asked, finding the conversation ridiculous, yet curious.
“When bitten by a vampire you become one is a fallacy as are many other myths associated with vampires.”
“Like a willing woman? Doesn’t a vampire simply take what he wants?” Was she really playing into this game of his? It certainly made for good material for her chapter, but it was also feeding his absurdity? Fantasy?
“Don’t humans take what they want? There are good and evil in all races and creatures, though vampires continue to be portrayed far differently than they truly are. But then it’s not likely that a vampire will scream discrimination.”
He spoke with such conviction that it was hard to imagine that he was simply making fun of her. If he wasn’t that would mean he was insane. What the hell had she gotten herself into? A chill so deep ran through her that her whole body quivered.
Michael was out of his chair in an instant, his hands reaching out around her to grab her jacket behind her and drape it over her shoulders. Then his long fingers went to her scarf and gently adjusted it around her neck.
The scent of him hit her when he leaned over her and stole her breath for a moment. When she did breath again, she thought she would have been wiser not to. His scent was so richly sexual that she felt herself grow moist between her legs.
She almost jumped when his finger grazed her chin. Had she expected it to be cold like a vampire’s touch? It was warm like any human’s touch, though it did leave a tingle in its wake.
“Do I make you nervous, Lara?” he asked after returning to his seat.
She slipped her jacket on letting him know she was ready to leave. “Should I be? Do you intend to bite me?”
“Only if you want me to,” he said with a sly smile.
Lara stood. “I think I got what I came for. Again I am sorry for arriving unannounced—”
“But you didn’t.”
She startled for a minute, and then realized what he meant. “Yes, Molly did call and let you know that I would be arriving.”
“No. Last night when I caught your scent—a most intoxicating one—I followed you. I knew then you would come to see me.”
Her eyes turned wide and she stepped behind the chair. She really needed to leave and right away. “Well, I have, and now it’s time for me to leave.”
“But I haven’t even begun to touch on sexual appetites of vampires.”
He knew the title of her chapter. No one knew it except Vera Duluth and she had sworn Lara to secrecy. This was just too creepy even for her. She had met plenty of people who believed themselves a creature of the night. Some were just plain nuts while others played at it. She wasn’t sure if Michael Valaine fell into either category. And that was even more frightening.
“The need for sex can border on complete madness when a vampire is in need of it.”
Madness. Now there was something she could agree with. Michael Valaine was stark raving mad.
“But that type of aching hunger, a need to devour, is what vampires try to keep at bay for it comes with consequences. So we keep ourselves well satisfied with sex with willing human women of which there is an abundant supply.”
Lara finally had it. “You’ve got to be kidding me. You really expect me to believe this bullshit. I get it. You’re annoyed with me for showing up unexpected, and so you decide to play a little game with me. See if I frighten easily. Well, you chose the wrong woman, buddy. But I do have to thank you for giving me some great material for the book. Now I’m leaving and will never darken your already dark doorstep again.”
“What were you expecting to find when you came here?” he asked accusingly.
His dark eyes grew so intense that Lara thought they glowed black. “Certainly not a grown man who claims he’s a vampire.”
“So you’re upset because you meet a vampire who can answer your questions about sex?”
Lara rolled her eyes. “Really? You’re going to continue to claim that you’re a vampire. A blood-sucking, unearthly creature that is ravenous when it comes to sex.”
“I thought you came for the truth.”
“The truth would be nice, but it seems that you are intent on continuing your little game. I, however, do not wish to play.”
That sly smile of his surfaced again. “I guarantee that you would enjoy playing with me, Lara.”
“That’s it, I’m leaving.”
Michael stood. “I’ll see you to the door.”
“Not necessary, I know the way out,” she said, buttoning up her jacket.
“Just because I am a vampire doesn’t mean I’m not a gentleman,” he said and stepped aside for her to pass.
“A gentlemen vampire now there’s an oxymoron if ever I heard one,” Lara said as she scooted past him, eager to get out of the house and as far away from Michael Alexandru Valaine that she could get.
A phone rang when they entered the foyer and as Lara made her way to the front door, Michael picked up the phone on the side table behind the vase of a beautiful winter flora arrangement.
“Michael Valaine. I see. No, not to worry I will see to the matter. Thank you for calling and see that you take care in this storm. I hear that it is to last at least two days. Good. I’m glad to hear that. My regards to your family.”
He sounded so civilized and so normal that Lara grew more annoyed. Why had he treated her in such a ridiculous fashion? Why hadn’t he simply told her that he wasn’t interested in speaking with her and send her on her way?
He approached her slowly, almost predatorily, and she was damn glad she was leaving.
He stopped next to the door, taking hold of the handle. “That was Martha. She has calls for her bed & breakfast forwarded to her sister’s place when she’s not there. Your car service called and cancelled. The snow has already started and with predictions worse than they first thought, they won’t endanger their driver or you. It looks like you’ll be my guest for the duration.”
“Hell no! I’ll find someplace to stay, but it won’t be with you,” she said and shoved his hand off the door to swing it open. Her heart dropped along with her mouth at the sight of the blizzard like conditions. She could barely make out what was in front of her, since the snow was falling so heavily.
Michael pulled the door closed and turned the lock. The click sounded so final, as if a jailer was locking her in and there would be no escape. She was trapped with a sexy hunk of a man who thought himself a vampire. It sounded more like the setting of a romance novel than real life. But she was no swooning heroine.
She looked Michael Valaine straight in those dark eyes of his and felt like a fool saying, “Tell me you’ve been playing me and that you’re no vampire.”
“Oh, sweetheart, if only I could.”
His eyes began to glow red, his lips curled back, fangs dropped down, and Lara fainted.
Sexual Appetites of Vampires
Book 1 in the Sexual Appetites of Unearthly Creatures Novella Series
Available March 2014