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by Richard Laymon

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It has been too long since a Richard Laymon novel was published in an affordable paperback edition here in the U.S. Laymon is a bestselling writer in England, even if he is American-born and lives in California. Bite is coming out in June, and it's sure to send chills up and down your spine as Laymon, a master of horror and suspense, takes you on a wild andSee more details below


It has been too long since a Richard Laymon novel was published in an affordable paperback edition here in the U.S. Laymon is a bestselling writer in England, even if he is American-born and lives in California. Bite is coming out in June, and it's sure to send chills up and down your spine as Laymon, a master of horror and suspense, takes you on a wild and unforgettable ride.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
One of the benefits of Dorchester's ambitious horror line--the only such line from a major American publisher--is the return of Laymon to domestic mass market. Laymon's vigorous, daring tales were popular here in the 1980s, but recently he has been overlooked by mainstream American houses (though he sells well in Britain and is published here by specialty houses, e.g., Cemetery Dance, The Midnight Tour, 1998). It's a shame, then, that his reentry to our paperback racks comes with this novel (published in Britain in 1996), not one of his best. A kind of sequel to The Stake (1991), the story opens as Santa Monica narrator Sam, 26, is visited by old flame Cat: she wants him to kill Elliot, an unwelcome nightly visitor whom she claims is a vampire. Sam agrees, slaying Elliot with a stake in a scene that, typical for Laymon, is bloody, tinged with eroticism and unfolds a whisker away from black humor. The remainder of the novel details Sam and Cat's violent misadventures, including run-ins with homicidal drifters, as they try to dispose of the body. There's some thematic play about the vampire in us all, and Laymon's writing is as crisp and gleefully malevolent as ever, but the characters are thin and the plotting is too linear, incident piled upon incident, dissipating suspense. Still, Laymon fans won't want to miss this one. (June) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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Amazon Publishing
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5.40(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Somebody knocked on my door. I opened it, and there stood Cat.

    I hadn't seen her in ten years, not since we were both sixteen. But this was Cat, all right. In the flesh. In the flesh and a blue silk bathrobe and apparently nothing else. Her feet were bare. She didn't even carry a purse.

    `Cat?' I said.

    A corner of her mouth tipped up. `How are you doing, Sammy?'

    I was barely able to stay on my feet. That's how I was doing.

    `Come on in,' I told her, and staggered out of the way.

    She stepped into my apartment, swung the door shut, then leaned back and rested a hand on the knob. `It's been a long time,' she said.

    I responded with, `It's great to see you.' Which may have been the understatement of all time. I was shocked. I'd loved Cat Lorimer. Though I hadn't seen her since she'd gone off to live in Seattle with her parents all those years ago, I'd dreamed about her plenty. I'd daydreamed about her plenty. I'd even toyed with fantasies of looking her up — going on a Cat Lorimer hunt — a pilgrimage in quest of my one-and-only true love.

    And here she was.

    Right in front of me, appearing out of nowhere in the middle of the night, wearing a royal blue silk robe that matched her eyes.

    `You're lookin' good,' she said.

    `You, too. You look great.' She also looked tired and a little too thin.

    `My God,' she said, `we were just a couple of kids ...'Eyes fixed on me, she did her half-smile again and shook her head. `You recognized me right away, didn't you?'

    `Of course.'


    `You haven't changed much.' She'd changed a lot, but not in ways that made her difficult to recognize. She still had hair like sunlight, the same blue eyes, and the pale slit of a scar like a nick on her right cheekbone. Her face was more defined, more mature — in some ways more beautiful — but it was still the face that had haunted my life for the past decade. I would've known it anywhere. And cherished it. `You look better than ever,' I said.

    `You, too,' she said. `You turned into a man.'


    `Yeah.' One of her shoulders hopped up and down, sliding the silk against her breast. `What've you been doing with yourself?' she asked.

    `Not much,' I said.


    `Nope. You?'

    `Not anymore.'

    So she had been married. I'd suspected as much. Every guy wants a girl like Cat, so it only made sense that one had gotten her. I despised him.

    But apparently he was no longer in the picture, which pleased me.

    `Divorced?' I asked.

    `He was killed about a year ago.'

    `Oh.' I scowled as if troubled by the news. `I'm so sorry.'

    `Thanks.' She raised her eyebrows. `You haven't been married at all?'

    `Not yet.'

    `Never found the right girl?'

    The question slugged me. She seemed to know it, too. Some answers popped into my head. Things like, `I found her, but she got away.' And, `I've never wanted anyone but you, Cat.'

    Only a guy doesn't say stuff like that. Not unless he wants to look like a jerk.

    All I said was, `Nope. Guess not.'

    She made her shoulder hop again. `So you're basically unattached at the moment?'


    `So you could ... come with me?'

    `Come with you?'

    `Over to my house.'




    `Are you all right?' she asked.

    `Sure. I think so.'

    `I think you're in shock.'

    `Maybe a little.'

    `I'll drive,' she said. `My car's out front. Maybe you should get your toothbrush and whatever else you might need for the night.'

    `I'm staying overnight?'

    `Is that all right?'

    `Sure,' I said.

    `Do you have a job, or anything?'

    `No. Yeah. But it's summer vacation. I teach. So I'm off till September.'

    `Great. This'll work out great. If you'd like, you could pack some things and maybe stay for a few days.'

    I nodded.

    And just stood there, gaping at her.

    Nothing seemed quite real.

    But real enough. Even though the past three or four minutes seemed like a wish-fulfillment fantasy, I wasn't dreaming. I was awake. Only a lunatic can't tell the difference.

    `What's going on?' I asked, surprising myself that I was able to come up, at last, with a sensible question.

    `I need your help,' Cat said.

    All I needed to hear.

    Hell, I didn't need to hear that. I would've gone with her, no matter what her answer had been.

    `You aren't in some sort of danger, are you?' I asked.

    `You might say that. I'll tell you about it on the way over.'

    `Okay. I'll go get a few things.'

    When I left the living room, Cat was still leaning back against my door. My first stop was the bathroom. Instead of just grabbing my toothbrush, I used it. I couldn't avoid the mirror; it was straight in front of my face while I scrubbed my teeth. My hair was shaggy and mussed. I had a two-day growth of whiskers. My T-shirt was coming apart at the seam in front of my left shoulder, and its faded front showed a turkey vulture looking dour. The caption under the vulture read, `Patience, my ass. I'm gonna kill something.'

    I looked like a bum.

    The last thing I had expected, that night, was a surprise visit from the only girl I'd ever loved.

    Sprucing myself up would've taken too long, so I only brushed my teeth. Then I took my toilet kit into my bedroom, dragged an overnight bag out of my closet, and started to throw things in.

    `Don't bother to change,' Cat called from the living room. `You're fine the way you are.'

    I wasn't so sure about that. But maybe a nasty old vulture T-shirt and ragged blue jeans were appropriate attire for whatever brand of `help' she required. Socks were not, so I put sneakers on over them. Then I pocketed my wallet and keys, and hauled my bag into the living room.

    Cat was standing in front of my bookshelves, her back to me. She didn't look around. `I see you're still a reader,' she said.


    `I remember that. You never went anywhere without a paperback.' Turning her head, she smiled and gave her right buttock a smack through the clinging robe. `Here in your pocket. Even when you took me out. You wrote such beautiful poetry.'

    `I've mostly switched to prose.'

    She turned around. `Do you still have that old copy of Dracula?'

    `Sure. Somewhere. I never get rid of a book.'

    `It got all wrecked by the rain.'

    `I still have it,' I said. There was a tightness in my throat. Because she remembered.

    `We got soaked, too,' she said. She tilted her head to one side. `Remember?' she asked.

    `Sure. The Santa Monica Pier.'

    `We ate fried clams.'

    `And got caught in a downpour.'

    `Drenched.' Head still tilted, she smiled a little sadly. `And then we went under the pier to get out of the rain. Do you remember that?'

    `Yeah. I do.'

    `It was the first time we ever kissed,' she said. `Standing in the sand under the Santa Monica Pier. It was cold under there. And scary.' Her smile suddenly lost its sadness, and she laughed softly. `You kept telling me the trolls were gonna get us.'

    I had to smile, too. `Did I?'

    `I guess that's why I'm here.'

    `Huh? Trolls?'

    Shaking her head slightly from side to side, she walked toward me. `Because I felt Safe with you. I always felt safe with you, Sam. But especially that night under the pier when we were drenched and the rain was coming down and ... the trolls were all around us. And we kissed.'

    Stopping just inches in front of me, she stared up into my eyes. She smelled the same as when she was a teenager: like cotton candy and Wrigley's Spearmint Chewing Gum.

    `And you had Dracula in your back pocket,' she whispered.

    `Yeah,' I said. My heart was thundering. I put my bag down on the floor.

    `I want to feel safe again,' she told me.

    By the look in her eyes, I thought she wanted me to kiss her. I wondered if her lips would feel the way I remembered them.

    They were slightly parted, the lower lip full and pursed out a little.

    I was about to kiss them.

    But she said, `Take a look at this, okay?'

    And fingered open the front of her robe, sliding the glossy blue silk sideways to the left, exposing a sliver of bare skin all the way down to the sash around her waist. Just as her left breast started to show, she cupped it with her right hand to hold the robe in place. Her other hand slid the fabric almost to her shoulder.

    She tilted her head to the right, giving me a good, clear view of the left side of her neck.

    She had a pair of holes down low where the curve was. As if she'd been stabbed there a day or two ago with an ice pick or a freshly sharpened pencil. Neat little punctures, an inch or so apart. Tiny craters plugged by dark, dried fluids.

    `What do you think?' she asked.

    `You're not going to tell me a vampire did this,' I said.

    `Think again.'

    `A vampire?'

    Gazing into my eyes, she said, `He comes into my bedroom at night, bites me and sucks my blood. What would you call him?'

    Lucky, I answered in my mind. And felt like a jerk for thinking it.

    `Let me feel,' I said.

    She hoisted an eyebrow. `Go ahead.'

    I used the tip of my forefinger. Her skin was slightly puffy around the edges of each hole. I really couldn't feel the punctures; they were too small.

    `They're real,' Cat said.

    `Yeah. They are.'

    Real, but possibly self-inflicted.

    A decade had gone by.

    At thirteen, fourteen, fifteen and for the small part of her sixteenth year before I'd lost her — Cat had been impish, tender-hearted, innocent, full of dreams and game for anything.

    How much of the old — the young — Cat remained?

    Had she turned strange, gone mad?

    Though her sudden arrival in the middle of the night dressed in nothing but a robe was very odd, she didn't strike me as nuts.

    Drawing her robe shut, she said, `I want you to stop him, Sammy. I just can't stand it anymore. I've tried to kill him myself, but he's too strong. I thought maybe you could hide and take him by surprise the next time he comes.'

    `You want me to kill him?'

    `Would you?'

    `I don't know,' I said.

    `Just come over and be with me, okay? Can you do that?'


Chapter Two

Cat's car was parked on the street in front of my apartment building. On the way out to it, we didn't run into anyone. I walked behind her, carrying my bag.

    It was a warm July night. A breeze was blowing softly. It came from the ocean, about eight miles away. If you wanted to be wandering outside in nothing but your robe, this was a good night for it.

    At the rear of her car, Cat took the keys out of her pocket. She unlocked the trunk. I swung my bag in. The trunk lid made a good, solid thunk when I shut it.

    We split up. I walked to the passenger door, and she went around to the driver's side.

    `It isn't locked,' she said.

    When I opened it, the overhead light came on. We both climbed in. Cat had a difficult time keeping her robe closed. I looked away to avoid embarrassing either of us. We shut our doors and the light went out.

    After taking a couple of seconds to straighten her robe, she started the engine. `I should've gotten dressed,' she said.

    `It's a nice robe,' I told her.

    She put on the headlights and swung away from the curb. `I just wanted to get away as fast as I could. Didn't even know where I was going. I threw on my robe, grabbed my keys and ran. And ended up at your place.'

    `You knew where to find me?'

    `Sure. I've known for a while.'

    `For a while?'

    She turned her head. I looked over at her. `Actually,' she said, `I've always known. I've never lost track of you.'

    Her words stunned me.

    She faced forward again to watch the road.

    `You're ... like my safety hatch,' she said. `The one person I figured I could count on, no matter what. So I always had to know where you were living. Just in case.'

    `That must've been a pretty good trick.'

    `I've stayed in touch with Lynn.'

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