Bitten and Smitten (Immortality Bites Series #1)by Michelle Rowen
In Rowen's death-defyingly funny debut--a cross between "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Sex in the City"--Sarah Dearly goes on a blind date . . . with a vampire. Original.
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Bitten & Smitten
By Michelle Rowen
Warner ForeverCopyright © 2006 Michelle Rouillard
All right reserved.
Chapter OneFor a dead woman, I felt surprisingly good. I figured I had to be dead, since the first thing I noticed after opening my eyes was someone burying me in the cold ground. I was only in a few inches deep, but steady shovelfuls of dirt were landing on my chest, creating a rapidly growing mound.
The air smelled of moss and worms ... and cheap cologne.
Cheap cologne? I craned my neck to look around. An ornately carved gravestone stood not five feet away from my eyes. I blinked. It was dark, but I was pretty sure it wasn't my name carved on it.
The next dirt sandwich hit me squarely in the face. "Hey!" I managed before I started to cough. I freed my right hand from under the heavy pile to wipe at my face.
"Oh, you're awake," a surprised male voice said from my left.
"What the hell is going on?"
"You're awake and asking questions." He sounded dismayed. "I was afraid of this."
Something sharp and metallic hit the ground behind my head. Sounded like a shovel. Then the owner of the voice crouched down and moved his pale, thin face close to me.
"Hello there," he said. It was Gordon Richards, my blind date from earlier that evening, although I'd already recognized his voice. And his cologne. Whiny and nasal, it gave the impression of belonging to a very needy person.The voice, not the cologne, that is. The longer the date had gone on, the more I'd realized that the voice didn't lie.
"Hi?" I started to squirm around. "Get me out of here, you lunatic, before I call the cops."
He frowned. "But the dirt is an important part of the healing process."
"Healing process? I'll give you a healing process as soon as I get out of here."
"Sorry." Gordon began to push the dirt off me, and I struggled to pull myself free of the loose earth. He offered his hand to help me stand, but I ignored it and managed to get to my feet all by myself.
I attempted to brush the dirt off my new, not to mention very expensive, silk dress and tried not to panic. My three-quarter-length burgundy leather coat could be easily wiped off, but I knew immediately that the dress was ruined. Although, I think it was safe to say that was the least of my problems at the moment.
This guy was obviously psychotic. I took a good look around. Just as I'd suspected, thanks to the big clue of the gravestone, we were standing in the middle of a cemetery. My blind date had just attempted to bury me in a cemetery. Filled with dead people. And bugs.
I shuddered, then I looked at him standing patiently nearby.
"Well, thanks so much for the date." I tried to make my voice as relaxed as possible. Calm, cool, and not ready to freak out. Yet. "I guess I'd better be heading home now."
"What exactly do you remember?" I forced a reluctant smile. "That I had a lovely time. And that I'll have to thank Amy for setting this up. Yes, she won't be hearing the end of this anytime soon. I can promise you that. Anyhow, super meeting you." I made a move to leave, but he grabbed my arm and pulled me back to face him.
"What's the last thing you remember?" Gordon asked, harsher now. "It's important."
I swallowed hard. "We had a lovely dinner. Then we went for a walk"-I glanced around-"but not here. Over by the river and the bridge, the Bloor Viaduct. We were looking down at the river, and um ... you were saying something...."
"How lovely you are," he murmured as he ran a hand down my coat sleeve.
I gritted my teeth and jerked away from his touch. Why hadn't I ever signed up for that self-defense course Amy was always begging me to join with her? My eyes narrowed at the thought. Amy. She was so dead for getting me into this.
"Right." I tried to turn my gritted teeth into a pleasant smile. "Me being lovely. Or whatever. And then ..."
I frowned as I tried to remember, but things seemed a bit fuzzy.
"I offered you eternity." Uh-huh. I did remember that part. That was the moment when I decided that the date was officially over. And then-
My eyes widened as I looked at him. "Then you bit me, you weirdo."
Gordon looked very apologetic. "It'll heal quick. I promise."
I touched my neck and then pulled my hand away, staring with horror at the blood left behind.
"You bit me on the neck? What kind of a sorry-ass vampire wannabe are you, anyhow?"
I grabbed for my dirt-covered purse that lay by my feet. I kept a can of pepper spray in it for protection, or at least I used to. Did I still have it? Did those things have an expiration date? Didn't matter. If I had to, I'd just use it to bash him over the head.
"I'm not a wannabe." He actually had the audacity to look insulted. "I am a vampire."
Psycho, I thought. Total psycho.
"Look," I said tentatively, "you've had your fun. I'm not all that into the role-playing scene, or whatever this is, but the bite doesn't seem to be too bad. I think. So, let's just say no harm done and leave it at that, okay?" "From the moment I saw you last month at the hotdog stand outside your office, I knew that you had to be mine, Sarah." He smiled wistfully.
His teeth did look a little bit pointy, now that I was paying closer attention, but it was probably just the moonlight playing tricks. Still, unnerving to say the least. Also unnerving was the fact that somebody had secretly watched me getting my near-daily Italian-sausage fix. Creepy.
"You had to have me, huh?" I stared at him for a moment. "And you couldn't just do what everyone else does and try to get me drunk?"
Usually, making a joke made me feel better. At the moment, it was all I could do to keep my voice from trembling.
"It took forever to get into your friend's good graces so she'd set us up on this date, but it was worth the wait. Now you're mine. We'll be together forever."
Without another word I turned and started walking briskly away from him. Still calm. Still in complete control. Just like my panty hose.
Gordon yelled after me a couple of times and then ran, catching up to me in only two or three steps. He grabbed my elbow and spun me around to face him.
"It's rude to walk away when someone's offering you eternity." I didn't like the way he was looking at me now. Not in the slightest. And his voice didn't sound needy and desperate anymore.
I yanked my arm away from him. "Keep it. I don't want it."
He grabbed me again. Despite his scrawny appearance, his grip was crushing.
"Let go of me ...," I began, but then he hit me hard across my face with the back of his hand. My vision exploded in multicolor waves and my teeth loosened slightly in their sockets as the impact shook me right to my toes.
"It's too late to take it back, bitch." His snarl showed the full length of his sharp fangs. "The bite on your neck makes you mine. It's a no-return policy."
Then he appeared to come back to his senses. His face relaxed and his eyebrows knitted together into a frown as he reached toward me. I scurried back out of his range, eyes wide, pressing my hand against my stinging cheek.
"Oh, God, I'm so sorry," he sputtered as he moved closer to me. "I didn't mean to do that. What the hell was I thinking?"
I wrapped my other hand around the cool can of pepper spray at the very bottom of my purse. My eyes were still unfocused, but I managed to yank the can out and spray him long and hard in the eyes. He howled in pain and clawed at his face.
I turned on my heels and did what any self-respecting girl with a neck wound does when she finds herself in a cemetery after midnight with a crazy guy who thinks he's a vampire.
Ran like hell. Crazy. Yup. Definitely bipolar, and very likely in need of some serious therapy. It was probably something that happened to him in childhood that had turned him into such a loon. I'd minored in psychology during the year I spent at the University of Toronto before dropping out. Loony. That was the professional verdict. In serious need of help.
Just like I was at the moment. I ran through the cemetery. Big cemetery. Where the hell was the road? Finally I saw the stone entry gates straight ahead of me. I heard Gordon, not that far behind, yelling for me to slow down. Yeah, like that was going to happen. Not bloody likely.
The three-inch heel on one of my black leather slingbacks chose that moment to snap off. Those shoes had cost me the better part of last month's paycheck, so it was a little disappointing, to say the least, that they couldn't take a little pressure. I crashed to the ground in a heap, but sprang up just as quickly, like one of those Bozo the Clown punching bags. The adrenaline coursing through my veins was definitely helpful, but I felt lightheaded. The loss of blood from the bite on my neck was finally catching up to me. Maybe it was more serious than I'd originally thought.
I pulled off what was left of the shoe, spun around, and threw it in the direction of my pursuer.
"Ow!" he yelled as the slingback met its mark. Since it was impossible for me to run lopsided, I sent the other shoe sailing in the same direction like a small, expensive, Italian-leather missile. That one missed the target, so I hurled a few choice expletives behind it.
"Come on!" Gordon called after me. "Sarah, baby, we can work this out!"
I ran through the entrance of the cemetery and straight into something firm and unyielding. I looked up. It was something tall, muscular, and blue-eyed. A streetlamp shone above him like a beacon from heaven itself.
"Whoa there, miss," the unyielding stranger said. "Slow down."
I was gasping for breath after my sprint. "Oh, thank God! You have to help me."
The man's gaze slid from my neck wound over to my date from hell, who had almost reached us.
"Don't worry about a thing, darlin'," he said and smiled. His teeth were shiny white in the moonlight.
Two more men emerged from the shadows, one as thin as a rail with stringy blond hair, the other big and burly with so many tattoos that they peeked out at the edge of his neck past his dark shirt and jacket. I hadn't noticed anyone else around until they'd moved.
Hey, the more the merrier. The man with the shiny teeth gently pushed me aside. "You wait right there, darlin'. We'll deal with you in a moment."
I nodded and exhaled deeply. Wow, it was just my luck that these fine gentlemen were out for a walk in the cemetery.
After midnight. I frowned. What the hell were they doing here, anyhow? Seemed like quite the lucky coincidence, if you asked me. But since it was working out in my favor, I kept my questions to myself.
Gordon skidded to a halt in front of us, blinking rapidly and rubbing his eyes from the shot of pepper spray. There was a small red mark on his forehead-probably from the shoe.
I had my arms wrapped around myself to keep from shivering. I was dressed for a date, not a jog through a cemetery in late November. If I'd known that was in the cards, I would have at least worn a nice scarf. I felt ill, too: from the fear, from the loss of blood ... and possibly from the fajita I'd had earlier for dinner.
"Why were you running?" Gordon looked confused. "I wasn't going to hurt you."
"Bite me," I told him. He was so going to get charged with assault. I might even have to put a restraining order on his sorry ass. "Oh, wait a minute, you already did bite me, didn't you ... you psycho!"
He rolled his eyes. "You're really going to have to get over that if this relationship is going to have half a chance."
Gordon finally noticed that we weren't alone. "Oh" was all he said as the men approached him. "Look, guys, this isn't what it looks like."
I glared at him and then tried to smile at "Whiteteeth." He sure was cute. Maybe my night was turning out better than I'd thought. "Look, if you guys just want to help me find a cab, I'd really like to go home. Make sure he doesn't come near me again, and I'll owe you one."
White-teeth smiled broadly. "Look what we have here, boys. Girlfriend and boyfriend vampire in a bit of a squabble."
"He's not my boyfriend," I assured him. "I'm not a vampire," Gordon said quietly. "That's funny. He told me he was a vampire just a minute ago. That's why he bit me." I rubbed my neck tenderly. "He's definitely crazy."
"Yeah. Crazy," White-teeth said before turning to his friends. "How many is this tonight?"
The stringy-haired guy piped up, "It's been a great night. Maybe five? No, six."
"Listen, guys"-Gordon looked scared to death- "we can work something out. I have money-" White-teeth punched Gordon in the stomach. He clutched at his belly and fell to his knees, coughing and sputtering.
"Hey," I said, frowning hard. "I don't think that's necessary. Look, all I want is for you guys to help me get home. That's all." "Shut up," White-teeth snapped at me. Gordon struggled to his feet, only to get punched again, this time in the jaw. That's no way to treat a crazy person. They need supervision, not violence.
I marched over to White-teeth and grabbed his arm. "That's enough. There's no reason to be such a big bully...."
He looked at me for a moment, then smiled. "Darlin', you need to learn your place." He pushed me hard enough to make me fall backward, and I yelped in pain as my ankle twisted.
Something glinted in the hands of my so-called rescuers, catching the moonlight. Some kind of metal.
Knives. "Stringy-hair" held a switchblade, and "Burly" had a small ax. I also noticed they had sharp wooden spikes tucked into loops on their belts.
Then Gordon screamed. White-teeth was so close to him now that they seemed to be slow dancing, shuffling around in a partial circle. White-teeth moved back and I saw the handle of a knife sticking out of Gordon's stomach.
"But I told you I had money," he gasped. White-teeth extended his hand like a doctor might, waiting for his next tool. A wooden spike was slapped down into it.
I opened my mouth to say something, to stop this before it went too far, but the only sound that came out was a tiny squeak.
"But, vampire, this is so much more fun than money," White-teeth said and arched his arm upward, slicing into Gordon's torso.
I brought a hand to my mouth in stunned horror and scrambled backward on the ground. A bolt of pain went through my ankle as I tried and failed to get to my feet. My heart beat wildly. All three men joined in then, taking turns hacking and stabbing and slicing my date. They were so busy with Gordon that they appeared to have forgotten I was even there. I was beginning to think that was a good thing.
Finally I was able to stand up unsteadily. But I felt frozen in place as I watched the straight-out-of-a-horror-movie scene before me. I'd changed my mind. Didn't want their help anymore. Nope. And what had he said before? They'd deal with me in a moment?
Gordon was no longer screaming or begging for his life. He'd stopped moaning. Stopped moving. In fact, he appeared to be disintegrating. The more they stabbed at his prone body, the less there seemed to be of him, until finally there was nothing but his empty clothes lying in the middle of a nasty dark stain on the road.
Then White-teeth turned to me. I shuffled backward a painful step at a time. My brain was screaming for me to run, and I finally decided that was the best idea I'd had all night. I turned around, but Stringy-hair had quietly moved to stand behind me. He grinned as he put his now-bloody wooden spike back in his belt, then grabbed my wrists to pull me closer to him. I tried to twist away. "Where do you think you're going, vampire?" His breath smelled like rotten eggs.
I wanted to argue, to tell him I wasn't a vampire because vampires didn't exist. I also wanted to tell him to invest in a good mouthwash. But I still couldn't find my voice. A hot tear slipped down my cheek as I looked at the other two men and took in a shuddery gulp of air. I had a funny feeling these guys wanted to add more stains to my ruined dress than the grass and the dirt that were already on it.
I wished I had another shoe to throw. "Look at her; she's petrified," White-teeth said with amusement.
"She's new," Burly answered. "It's almost cruel to exterminate her so soon. She looks like she might be fun. Check out those legs. Can't it wait till the morning?"
White-teeth's smile widened. "Yeah. Maybe we can wait a bit. What do you say, darlin'? Want to buy yourself a little time?"
"In your dreams," I managed to hiss at him. He laughed. "There is only one answer, darlin', and that is whatever I say it is. Now come here, or else."
I decided I'd rather have the "or else." The man who'd seemed so attractive when I'd first bumped into him, my potential hero, now was grotesquely ugly to me. His face was splattered with Gordon's blood.
Excerpted from Bitten & Smitten by Michelle Rowen Copyright © 2006 by Michelle Rouillard. Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Michelle Rowen is a full-time writer and self-confessed bibliophile living in Ontario, Canada. Her first young adult fantasy novel will be published in Fall 2009 from Walker Books for Young Readers. Under the pseudonym Michelle Maddox she has also written futuristic romantic suspense for Dorchester.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Three words for the quickie review. 'I. Love. It!' I hate to say it, and all you Anita Blake and Southern Vampire and Carpathian addicts out there -- don't stake me. This (and its sequel) are my favorite paranormal romance books. (Oh, wait, oops, I probably just offended said Anita Blake audience by lumping the books under that heading. Oopsies -- but I'll go into that when I do my Hamilton reviews...) Why? Because, and I'll just take Bitten and Smitten and not sequel Fanged and Fabulous in this review... it's *not* a true paranormal romance. It has this little thing called plot. And believability. And it's a damned good plot. With bite. I'll stop punning one of these days. One thing I won't ever forget from a writing panel at a sci-fi convention I went to a few years back was a comment an author made about catching a reader right off the bat, and not to take half an hour of reading time to introduce every character before any action strikes. Damn. Does Ms. Rowen take that advice, or what? I love it! Sarah Dearly is a secretary. Er, executive assistant. Then she goes on a bad blind date and ends up in a cemetery. Hmm. Then, quickfire, the local hunter crowd wants to stake her and a hunky vampire rescues her. Ohhh yeah, this book's gonna be good. And it also should be in Toronto's travel packet. I want to go see Toronto now. Heh. Yes, I'm biased. Yes, I love Thierry, Sarah's vamp 'flame'. Yes, I want him... to get with Sarah. Yes, that really was what I originally planned to type. Really it was! Thierry has all the makings to be a 'generic' dark and brooding master-vampire-Angel character. But he's more... human than that. He's got dark and brooding and sexy down, but there's something different. There's an almost, dare I say it... boyish charm to him? And he's really a pain in the ass who does his share of stupid, masculine things. But I love him anyway. The thing that I kept getting through the book is how damned believable it is! No, we're not dealing with the oh-so-soulless Buffy vampires, or the complex and twisted universes where the world has to be 'altered' to let vampires have their play-room. These are real people that are vampires who can sun on a Mexico beach and show up in photographs. All the side characters, all the main characters. Michelle Rowen 'gets' it. Characters that take lots of interesting twists and turns. Though I must wonder -- will Sarah go through a few psychological issues where all her friends end up fangy? Clearly it's not the end of the world, but no more pasta? Ow. That's gotta bite. (I promise to stop punning. Soon.) Also, for the record, I adore Quinn. I am of Sarah's mold -- made for Thierry, but Quinn is... hot in an irresistably sexy-hunter-gone-sympathetic-character way. I'm just glad drooling is allowed for both, and unlike her, I don't really have to decide. Thank God. Oh, yeah, before I forget, I like the 'shard' concept. Like, love it. Heh. And yes, for those that must have their were-thing fix -- we have a werewolf. We do have a werewolf. absolutely adore that name, too. Barkley. And we get Buffyverse mentions! In a word, w00t! Okay, I'll stop, and try not to gush and give away the entire book, but... twists and turns and more twists in an exciting plot that doesn't devolve at all as the novel goes on. Like the eternally-cliche energizer bunny, it keeps going and going and going... and the only disappointing part when it ends only in that it has ended! (Which is why there's 'Fanged and Fabulous'. Go buy it so you can jump from one book to the next with no pain.) The ending, too? Love the ending. And the book hits a good, 'you-start-to-panic' climax, too. In short, I love it! The book rocks. Go buy it. To the author: Fangs for this book!
Her blind date Gordon Richards is tossing a dirt sandwich on Sarah Dearly in a gravesite at a cemetery. She thinks he is lunatic, but he reminds her that he offered her eternity and bit her in the neck. He claims she belongs to him as her vampiric creator, but Sarah assumes the word lunatic is not strong enough. That is until the hunters arrive and kill Gordon. --- Sarah flees into what she thought was the night, only to end up in the arms of another crazy person claiming to be a vampire, six century old Thierry de Bennicoeur. She soon realizes that she was changed and her only hope to survive remains Thierry as her bloodsucking mentor. Meanwhile someone has sold out the vampires to the hunters who are killing them one at a time. Sarah falls in love with her teacher, but he insists it is time for him to die once he uncovers and kills the traitor. She has waited a lifetime for love so, refusing to allow Thierry to not exist, she plans to teach him a thing about life. --- BITTEN & SMITTEN is a terrific vampiric chick lit tale filled with biting humor due to the caring antics of Sarah who goes from one calamity to another. She is the Perils of Pauline of the undead and other paranormal species while Thierry is her reluctant Dudley Do-Right always coming to the rescue when all he wants is to end his existence. Ironically, he has eternity to do so except he seems to spend all of his time kissing, biting, or saving the newest bloodsucker. Readers who appreciate a witty lighthearted supernatural romantic romp will want to read this fun tale of love and rescue amongst the night crowd. --- Harriet Klausner
I was browsing for almost an hour when I finally found this book and I'm so glad I did! It was such a great read -- witty, clever, dark, romantic. Loved the heroine Sarah. She was self-reliant, tough and completely sassy. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes the 'chick lit' genre or a fun, light, paranormal read.
Sarah knew her date with Gordon was going badly, but really, when he starts burying her in a grave, that is going too far. Still, she didn't mean for the guys she met in the graveyard and asked for help in escaping the psycho who claimed they were both vampires to kill him, much less go after her! Her first bit of good luck is meeting Thierry, who also happens to be a vampire, and suicidal, but is willing to help her adjust to this new life that facts simply force her to accept. Suddenly, Sarah finds vampires or hunters everywhere she goes. Her problems continue to pile up she is fired for attacking her boss, her friends and family are being affected by her little lifestyle change, and she's been accused of dating everyone but the guy she wants to date, Thierry. Now, a vampire hunter turned vampire wants to find the cure for them both, no matter what the price, and Sarah has to find a way to stop the fallout from the guy's crisis. This has got to be the worst week of her life. ..................... ***** Ms. Rowen has created a laugh out loud new version of the vampire legend. Whether or not there will be a sequel is not clear, as the story's loose ends all seem to be tied up neatly. Whether Sarah's adventures continue or not, this is a writer to watch. *****
I've read four other Michelle Rowen books which I loved and could not put down. This one I had a hard time keeping focused on. I found at times that Sarah's actions twanged the nerves. I'll still stay with the series because I think the author is a really good one. I just would put this one at the end of my list of her books to recommend.