Love #Vampires? Bloodstorm PreRelease Sneak Peek
Release date (squee!!!) is this Friday the 13th. I love those days.
Also, don’t forget to come back on Friday for my Super-Duper Release Day Par-tay 🙂
****NOW FREE at all E-tailers****
When duty forces a shaman to stop a vampire from her revenge, love doesn’t just burn… it bites.
For two hundred years, Niki DeVeraux has been tracking the monster who murdered her family and made her a vampire. She finally catches up to him in a small Arizona town, only to face more than she bargained for. Amid an imperious vampire King, a shaky truce between the local clan and shifter pack, and a too-sexy sheriff who makes her remember she’s still a woman, Niki’s single-minded purpose is threatened for the first time since her turning.
Between his duties as Keeper of the peace for the Magic Council and heir to his tribe’s shamanistic magic, Sheriff Shane Spencer’s job is to protect humanity and stop the friction between the local Arcaine races before it turns into an all out blood war. To make matters worse, there’s an irresistible rouge vampire in town enflaming his senses.
When wolves start turning up dead, the tension between the paranormal races grows and suspicion falls on Niki. Shane knows she’s not to blame, and it has nothing to do with the primal urges she stirs within him. Working together, they must find a way to stop the hostilities from going over the edge. Trouble is, the desires raging between Niki and Shane might prove more dangerous than the surrounding threats.
The pitch black tunnel, complete with crumbling dirt walls and cobwebs, didn’t frighten Nicola DeVeraux. The dark held nothing to fear. She’d seen too many real monsters in the years since her death.
Besides, her night vision was as good as any human’s in the bright light of day.
She stepped over a skeleton, then around the grisly remains of a wild boar.
At the far end of the tunnel, candlelight flared to life, as if welcoming her into the witch’s den. Her boots stirred up dust as she entered the small cave.
The walls glinted with a mix of crystalline dirt and flecked stone. The scent of a nearby spring layered heavy moisture in the air. In the center of the cavern stood a long rectangular table, covered by a black velvet cloth. Strange items, some unrecognizable at first–or even second–glance, littered the top.
Spinning at the gravelly, androgynous voice, Niki grabbed for the dagger at her waist.
The old crone cackled as she entered, her grin nearly toothless. Stringy gray hair straggled around her plump, wrinkled, face. Jezamine glided to the table. “I didn’t think ye’d answer my summons.”
“You asked me to come, old woman. I assume there’s a reason.” Though the dark tunnel hadn’t scared her, the witch did. Niki forced herself to take another step, though she kept a tense grip on the hilt of her still-sheathed dagger.
“What question do ye ask the gods?”
Ignoring the tension roiling in her stomach, she moved to the woman’s side. “They’re finally ready to answer me?”
Jezamine laughed again, the sound sending skitters down Niki’s spine. “Ye know they take their time, girl.”
“Fine. I want to know if I’ll finally find the man who murdered my family.”
The old woman reached for a silver cup etched with strange markings. She shook it three times before dumping the contents into a circle made from small, round crystals. Human finger bones clattered against one another. She bent over the table.
Jezamine had looked as ancient a hundred years ago as she did now. “Hmm. Yes. Mmm.” The old woman poked at one bone sticking above the others. “But what ‘bout…”
Niki eased onto one of the dark wooden stools at the far end of the table.
The priestess sprung upright, staring at Niki with her fathomless dark eyes. Her inky black lips stretched in a grimacing smile. “It’s yer birthday. Samhain be a good day for birthin’.”
Niki clenched her fists in her lap. “Not really.”
Halloween was a cursed day to be born. It had brought her nothing but pain, brought her family nothing but death.
The old woman poked at the bones again. “Maybe. Maybe ye be finding the monster ye seek, maybe be getting some other kind of lucky.” Jezamine’s screeching laugh echoed from the cavern walls.
Shivers inched along Niki’s spine and flooded into her legs. Thankfully she was sitting down. “What do you mean, some other kind of lucky?”
Jezamine’s dark eyes glittered. “Girl, I don’t think ye want me telling. Don’t think the Fates want me telling.”
“Then what about Thomas?” Her nails poked painfully into her palms.
“Lil’ girl. Why ye wanna spend all yer time tracking down pure evil?”
Memories flashed. The Halloween ball, celebrating not just her seventeenth birthday, but her engagement as well. The plantation in the bayou, ringing with music and laughter. At least until dawn arrived, the sun shining down on nothing but death.
Niki shook the old pain away. “Duty,” she repeated. “He owes me vengeance.”
“’Tis a fine line ye walk between revenge and justice.” Jezamine shook her head, the corners of her lips drooping in a frown. “Revenge make yer soul dark as his.”
“I don’t care.” In the far corner of the cave, wisps of white fog crept up the walls. Soon they would form into the shapes of those long dead.
She jumped to her feet, turning away. “Can you tell me anything else?”
Jezamine walked around the table to face her. “’Ware child. He who turned ye may also be the cause of yer downfall.”
Niki lifted her chin, facing down the old woman’s words, the Fates themselves. “Not until after I’ve killed him.”
As Shane Spencer finished the last of his beer, his deputy, Chase Campton, strode by, slapping him on the back.
“Another re-election year well done, Sheriff.”
The small crowd in the bar cheered and the waitress, Rae, slipped another bottle onto his corner table.
Shane tipped his cowboy hat politely and plastered on a fake smile, unable to join in the spirit. All day, something dark had been hanging over the town. Not that anyone else sensed it. He needed to go to his childhood home. On the edge of town, the house sat at the borderline of the Apache reservation and Moss Creek.
His father, head shaman and seer, would know what the signs meant. Once again, doubt crept up inside Shane. How did the Fates pass over the eldest in their family and choose him as their father’s successor? It had never before happened in their tribe’s history.
He nursed the beer, deep in thought.
The door banged open, a cold autumn breeze swirled the smoky air. A woman followed it in, stopping just inside the bar. The air vibrated with unseen power. Even the deepest shadows shivered. Everyone in the bar fell silent, turning as one to look her way.
She held her head high, long black hair curling over her shoulders like silk. Her bright green gaze scanned the tables. She passed over Shane without pause, only to snap back to him.
Magic filled the room and the hair on his forearms rose. The other people in the bar were forgotten. Only the two of them existed.
His heartbeat slowed, skipped a beat, sped up like a race horse barreling down the track.
The doorframe towered over her slight form. Yet her body was ripe, lush with curves. The tight blue jeans emphasized her hips, the narrowness of her waist. And the sleeveless white tank showed her breasts off to perfection.
He swallowed, though his mouth was dry.
Her eyes widened and even over the distance of the room, he heard her soft, feminine gasp. Palms slick, he shakily set the bottle back on the table.
His blood screamed primitive urges… demanding he drag her off to his cave.
It wasn’t like him.
Women, even the most beautiful, had never affected him this way. He’d met with the rich and beautiful, models and actresses galore during his time in the city. Gathering the remaining shreds of his willpower, he closed his eyes calling on the magic of his ancestors. The spirits of the earth responded and power surged through him. Magic raised the hairs on his arms and the back of his neck as the whispers of the spirits of the nearby forest filled him. Ignoring it to concentrate on what was here and now, he reopened his eyes. Colorful hues surrounded everyone in the bar.
Her aura struck him like a punch to the gut. A deep maroon, with flecks of black, revealed exactly what she was.
And not local.
He blinked again, letting the sight fade.
The woman finally looked away and took another step into the bar. As quickly as it had hit, the power surging through the room dissipated. People once more talked and laughed, raising their glasses in toasts.
What the hell kind of vampire was she, to cause such a raging lust?
The woman strode to the bar, her glare shouting ‘Don’t mess with me’. Though she didn’t look old enough to drink, let alone be in a bar in the first place, the bartender immediately poured her a shot of whiskey.
Shane would be talking to Henry about it later.
First, he needed to figure out what this vampire was doing in Moss Creek. Sure, the small mountain town was a hub of paranormal activity, with the local vampire clan and the shifter pack taking advantage of the surrounding nature. But rogues generally tended to stay out of places dominated by orderly clans, knowing the structure and politics were handed down by the Magic Council.
And the Council didn’t like Rogues.
Cupping the shot glass in her hands, the woman leaned towards Henry before the older man could move away.
Shane tensed in his seat. If she was looking for a meal…
Henry murmured something. The woman nodded, downed her shot and laid some money on the bar before turning and striding out.
Shane tried to relax, but he still yearned for the stranger, to touch her, smell her, nearly as badly as when she’d been staring at him, as if she could see down to his very soul.
Niki kept to the shadows of the forest as she skirted the parking lot. The only light came from a blue neon sign on the building’s roof, claiming someone called Henry owned the Spitfire bar.
She stopped near a clump of three trees opposite the bar. The center one was marked with a red X. How original. Yet this was where her contact wanted to meet, so who was she to complain?
It was nearly a half-hour later than their appointed time and she wasn’t quite sure why she was still here. Her stomach grumbled lightly. She needed to eat, the blood she’d consumed earlier hadn’t been enough. Without both food and blood her strength would wane. She couldn’t afford that, not now when she was so close to her prey.
She’d give this snitch five more minutes.
Only three passed before the air whispered through the forest at her back. Niki turned, knife in hand, holding it hidden down by her thigh.
“Looking for me?” a husky whisper drifted out of the darkness.
“You Baal?” She tried not to snort. Sometimes vampires tried on grandioseness, as if eternal life made them superman. Which, she guessed, in some ways it did.
“Maybe. Depends. You got the money?”
“Sure. If you have the information you promised.”
“Lemme see the cash first, lady.”
Niki reached slowly into her front pocket and pulled out two one-hundred dollar bills. The snitch tried to grab it, but she held tight. “Information first.”
He stepped into a bit of moonlight and grinned, eyes flushed with red. His thin lips drew back, revealing long fangs as he chuckled. “I got something else for you.”
She sighed. “Let me guess. You’re not going to give me the information, assuming a creep like you even knows anything.”
“Got that right.” Confusion twisted his pale features, as if he didn’t quite follow. Then he grinned again. “But you sure gonna give me something. Ain’t just money.”
Never trust a snitch. “Let’s get on with it then.” She tucked the bills back in her pocket.
His grin twitched, eyes flickered, following the money. He shook himself, confidence coming back.
She tightened her grip on the dagger. He lunged.
Niki used his momentum to fling him against the trunk of the tree. His head slammed in to the painted red X.
“Damn it,” he yelled, quickly recovering and charging her again.
She waited until he was close, then rammed her knee into his groin. Not even vampires were immune to that pain.
Hope you enjoyed 🙂