excerpts

Excerpt from THE TRUTH ABOUT VAMPIRES

His eyes bored into hers and suddenly the room smelled like the inside of a dark-chocolate bar and something even more seductive, sucking her in, setting off all her senses at once.

"You don't have anything to fear. I'll make certain of it."

She swallowed. She should be frightened of him. The strength of her reaction to him made no logical sense. It was as though he exhaled sex appeal. She leaned in closer to him, against every logical impulse that stammered in her brain.

"So, your mentor showed up here because..." She was close enough now that she could feel the heat of her breath bouncing off him. Her body squirmed. Tightened. Her heart beat against the confines of her chest.

"He wanted to meet the mortal who's revealing our existence to the world. Not every day you get to scrutinize a legend."

"Legend?" she breathed.

Dmitri brushed a strand of hair away from her cheek, his thumb caressing her skin. Jolts shot down her spine, to the tips of her breasts, turning her nipples hard. His eyes turned impossibly dark. If desire had been smoke, the alarms in the whole damn building would have been going off by now.

He cracked a smile, his sexy mouth all but daring her to kiss him. "You'll be a legend. The woman who discovered real vampires."

That sounded good. Better than Pulitzer good. But the buzzing sensation under her skin wasn't about being a legend.

It was all about the mojo he was throwing off like an intense light from a million-watt bulb. Just being this close to Dmitri amped her up, all circuits firing. She licked her lips with the tip of her tongue.

God knew whatever eddied in the air between them—whether pure unadulterated lust or just some wacky chemical pheromone thingy between human and vampire—hit home.

And hit deep. She ached to feel every inch of him against every inch of her. She intentionally leaned in further, her

sensitized breasts pressing against his rock-hard chest.

He flinched. "Don't." The darkness in his eyes swirled with secrets.

"Is this the part where you're going to tell me you're dangerous? Because I kind of already figured that out."

"But you don't know-" He looked away.

Kristin cupped his hard jaw in her hand, forcing him to face her. "I'm a big girl. I know what I want. And right now I want you to touch me."

His resolve crumbled right before her eyes. His seductive mouth locked down on hers. Hungry. Decisive. He seemed to saturate the air, that blend of dark chocolate, citrus and something utterly masculine seeping through her skin and into her bones, melting them.

For a second she couldn't breathe. She cursed the turtleneck, her bare skin screaming to feel him. He kissed along her jaw, growling in her ear, his hands threading into her hair. Kristin arched, letting her head fall back.

He inhaled the heady cinnamon-vanilla scent of her blood now spiked with the lush combination of honey and jasmine. Innocence and female desire. The pressure inside him was cresting, begging for release. But if there was one thing Dmitri excelled at, it was the art of denial.

The priests had beaten the lessons into him so well as a lad he'd never forgotten it. Just because you thought you needed something like your next breath didn't mean you truly needed it to survive. But one taste was all he wanted. Just one.

"Kristin..." He breathed her name like a fervent prayer. Her artery throbbed at the base of her jaw. But this was a hunger that could well drive him insane. It clawed and tore at him, a wild thing in his breast, demanding every shred of his attention.

He had to be careful, so very careful not to let the taste turn into death. His hand slipped beneath the soft cashmere as he kissed her, indulging in the delicious fullness of her soft lips. His fingers spread over her skin, which was far softer still. And hot, like sunlight on silk.

"Touch me."

He phased away the fabric, leaving her clothed from the waist up in nothing but the night air. He kissed the delicate shell of her ear and lower. Her throaty moan was like flipping on a switch. With a flick, his fangs extended.

Instantly her body tensed. "What was that? Was that your fangs?"

Dmitri pulled back and locked gazes with her. Her fear tinged the air with the musty odor of decay. "You don't have

to be scared. I'm not going to feed from you."

She scooted back, pulling out of their tight embrace, covering herself with crossed arms. "Then what's with the fangs?"

Her sudden coolness was mercilessly cold to him. He phased the black turtleneck back over her bare skin and retreated from her. "It happens sometimes. Vampires can't always control when their fangs extend. Most often when we are angered or aroused."

Kristin reached forward, tentatively sliding a finger down the length of his right fang. Dmitri closed his eyes, a shudder rippling through him. It was by far the most intimate place she could have touched him, even more so than her hand running down the length of his shaft. But the mixed messages of hot to cold and standoffish versus intimate were too cluttered for him to sort through at the moment. He blew out a frustrated breath and turned away from her. He had no right to claim her. He was supposed to be protecting her, acting as her guide, not her lover.

"Does that hurt?"

He glanced at her. "No. Just the opposite." The ragged edge to his voice betrayed him.

"Oh." She blushed and the pretty pink in her cheeks pierced him with desire and need. Dmitri swallowed hard against it, determined to deny the call.

"What did Achilles mean when he said you were pious?"

Dmitri's gaze flicked to the photograph of the abbey ruins shrouded in mist on the wall. He hesitated. "In my mortal life I was a priest."

"A priest?" she murmured, stunned. "Becoming a vampire must have been an enormously hard decision for you, then."

He moved so quickly she barely had time to take a breath before he pinned her against the couch. His unyielding, rockhard chest pressed against hers, his mouth a mere inch from hers, the tips of his fangs gleaming in the light.

The anger and fire erupting behind his eyes told her more than words ever could. "I never chose this life," he spat out.

She blinked and he was across the room, facing her. "I'm sorry," she said. "I didn't mean to bring up a bad memory for you."

His laugh had the brittle, crumbling edge of a piece of termite-rotted wood. Suddenly he seemed far more a shell of a man than a real man, or a blood-eating monster, for that matter. His fangs had receded, leaving his teeth looking perfectly normal, even and white.

It had been a shock to discover that Dmitri was a vampire. Her father—good grief, everybody she'd ever known—would see them as an anathema, an evil, an embodiment of the devil. The living dead. Bloodsuckers. Dracula and things that go bump and murder people in the night.

And now they'd somehow randomly selected her to introduce them to society? A light throb started behind her left eye. This was a way bigger story than she'd ever anticipated. Deep down in her stomach swished a bad cocktail of uncertainty and ambition. Did she have the chops to cover something this huge and not muck it up?

But looking at Dmitri, at this moment, she could see that, like people, not all vampires were the same. Good and bad fell somewhere in between the cracks, in the gray. There were likely a million different stories. The challenge would be putting a face to this story, making humans care about vampires. And give vampires a chance to prove that they could peaceably coexist with humans.

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