Dark Harvest (Kismet Knight, Vampire Psychologist Series #2)by Lynda Hilburn
Denver psychologist Kismet Knight counsels vampires. Her life changed forever when she discovered a dark preternatural underworld and became involved with gorgeous, eight-centuries-old Devereux, the powerful leader of a vampire coven. Still adjusting to her new role as an expert on all things paranormalas well as her unexpected notoriety and new… See more details below
Denver psychologist Kismet Knight counsels vampires. Her life changed forever when she discovered a dark preternatural underworld and became involved with gorgeous, eight-centuries-old Devereux, the powerful leader of a vampire coven. Still adjusting to her new role as an expert on all things paranormalas well as her unexpected notoriety and new clienteleshe schedules what she believes is simply another radio interview. She couldn’t be more mistaken. Not only does the radio host behave very strangely, but an ominous, on-air call turns Kismet’s world upside-downagain. Meanwhile, Luna, Devereux’s hostile, femme fatale personal assistant recognizes a perfect opportunity to throw a wrench into her boss’s blossoming relationship with the human psychologist and, to complicate matters further, Kismet’s old boyfriend, self-absorbed psychologist Tom Radcliffe, shows up with his own outlandish request.
Ms. Hilburn packs her story with all the action, romance and suspense readers are looking for, and makes Dark Harvest a difficult book to set down.
Dark Harvest is a rollicking good time that is hard to put down once started, though I highly recommend readers enjoy The Vampire Shrink first to understand each character's background, no to mention that it's just a great read.
Psychologist Kismet Knight has a most unusual clientele; she counsels vampires, a specialty that began with her discovery of Denver's supernatural underworld and her relationship with the powerful vampire lord Devereux. Agreeing to a radio interview in which she answers questions from callers interested in the so-called vampire subculture, she receives a sinister, threatening call from a stranger claiming to be an ancient vampire. Romance and vampire lore fill this supernatural romance by the author of The Vampire Shrink . Kismet is a heroine of many talents, not the least of which are her determination and her wry humor. A good choice for the ever-demanding aficionados of vampire fiction. For both romance and fantasy collections.
Read an ExcerptDark Harvest
By Lynda Hilburn Medallion Press, Inc.
Copyright © 2008 Lynda Hilburn
All right reserved.
Chapter One "Top o' the morning, guys and gals, and welcome to Wake Up, Denver! WOW Radio's top-rated talk show. I'm your humble host, Carson Miller, and sitting here with me in the studio today is Denver's own self-proclaimed vampire psychologist, Dr. Kismet Knight. She's ready and willing to answer all your bloodsucker questions. Give us a call. The phone lines are open. Welcome, Dr. Knight."
"Thanks, Carson." I leaned in. "I'm happy to be here."
He swiveled his head in my direction, and wiggled his eyebrows, still talking into the microphone. "Let me start by saying that you look finger-lickin' good this morning, Doc. Seriously babe-o-licious." He ran his thick, lumpy tongue slowly around his lips in a horror-film version of what I supposed he thought was a sexual come-on.
"Uh, thanks?" I studied his stained, too-small T-shirt and unfashionably faded jeans.
Oh, shit. Great. Another Howard Stern shock-jock wannabe, except fat and bald. What is it with all these radio assholes?
He slid his sweaty hand across my knee and grabbed on with claw-like fingers, clutching hard enough that I was sure there'd be bruises. I used both my hands to pry his grip loose and, when that didn't work, I dug my fingernails into the veiny, liver-spotted skin on the top of his hand. That got his attention. He opened his mouth in a silent yelp and Imanaged to shift my knees away. Grinning at me, he shook his fingers in the air, which was either an attempt to restore the circulation in his digits or his version of the universal, outdated frat-boy "hubba hubba" motion. The second seemed more probable. He continued speaking as if he hadn't just acted like an adolescent, predatory creep.
I glanced over at the door that led from our small sound booth to the engineer's room to calculate how many steps it would take me to escape if radio's Uncle Fester got another wild hair.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I have to tell you that it's a shame we aren't on TV, because Dr. Knight is a feast for the eyes. She's wearing a clingy black dress that hugs her curves in all the right places. Legs that go on forever. Big blue eyes. And she's got this great long, dark hair." He reached out to touch my hair and I smacked his vile hand away. He lowered his voice and gave it an extra layer of smarm. "It gives a guy ideas, if you know what I mean. Anyway, Doc. What the hell is a vampire psychologist? Are you a vampire?" He laughed, his belly flopping against the table, making the microphone wobble. "Hey, I heard this joke. A vampire and a werewolf go into a bar, and ..."
While he rambled on, I indulged in a graphic daydream about what Luna, a hostile Amazon-woman vampire of my acquaintance, could do to this jerk. And it was a good thing that my boyfriend, Devereux-boyfriend, significant other, geez, did that sound stupid, but I didn't know what else to call him-isn't a morning person, er, vampire. He doesn't suffer fools gladly and I knew he'd make short work of this mental midget.
Not that I needed Devereux to protect me, mind you. I didn't get the nickname The Highlander for nothing. Hey, behead one vampire and you get labeled forever. But if you had a studly master vampire who insisted on playing bodyguard, wouldn't you indulge him once in a while? Just one fang-flashing snarl from Devereux has been known to cause more than a few stupid mortals-or immortals, for that matter-to flee.
I was enjoying my mental walk down memory lane so much it took me a moment to realize Carson had turned to me, leering.
"So, Doc. What's the deal? Are you a vampire?"
I scooted my chair a bit farther away from the host, tilted my head, and beamed an insincere smile, focusing on his ridiculous question. If he only knew. "No, Carson, I'm not a vampire. I'm a psychologist who works with the subculture of individuals who believe they're vampires. Or who want to be vampires. People seeking meaning through role-playing and exploring the dark side of themselves-the unknown-and by flaunting society's ideas of good versus evil."
"Wow, Doc. That sounds pretty sexy," he oozed. "Are you saying that Denver has a lot of these people? These pretend vampires?" He slid his hand up my leg and I slapped it away, giving him the hairy eyeball.
He laughed and pointed to the microphone, expecting-or maybe daring-me to continue my interview despite his obnoxious behavior.
I glanced at the studio clock on the far wall, regretting the fact that I'd agreed to be a guest on the show for an entire hour. I definitely should've done more research to determine which media interviews would actually help my career, which ones had odious hosts, and which ones just wanted to exploit the fact that I'd been involved in a heavily reported serial murder investigation a few months earlier. A case dubbed the "vampire murders." Finding blood-drained bodies did tend to generate interest. Almost nobody knew that the perpetrator was a mentally defective vampire, diagnosed with what used to be called "Multiple Personality Disorder," and who was still on the loose. Nobody, that is, except a Denver police lieutenant, one cocky FBI agent, a bunch of vampires, and me.
"It seems the Doc here needs more coffee. She's a little slow on the uptake this morning. Let's go to the phones. Studio line is open."
He gave me an innocent look and shrugged, as if to say I shouldn't hold him responsible for his "performance" persona. I notched up the ice content in my glare and scooted my chair back a couple more inches.
The studio phone had two rows of buttons, eight in each row, and all of them were lit up and blinking. He reached over and pressed the closest one.
"You're on the air. Give us your first name and your question for the luscious Dr. Knight."
"Hello? Dr. Knight? This is Susan in Aurora. I want to know if you've ever worked with any real vampires?"
Why, yes, Susan. I actually chopped the head off one, was locked in a coffin by another, and have sweaty, wild, and crazy sex regularly with yet another.
Nope. Better not say that.
"That's an interesting question, Susan. Why do you ask? Do you think that vampires are real?"
"Well, not exactly, but I guess I wish they were real."
"Hmm. Why do you wish they were real?"
"Well, it would just be so cool to be with a guy who could read your mind and who could make you live forever. A guy who would want to be with you all the time. A guy who wouldn't cheat on me."
"Ah, it sounds like you've had a painful experience with a man recently. A nonvampire, right?"
"Yeah. But a tarot reader told me my boyfriend was a psychic vampire. I bet you work with a lot of those, too."
"I do come across a lot of psychic vampires." I glanced over at Carson. "They seem to be everywhere. And for the listeners who might not know what that is, a psychic vampire is someone who feeds on the emotions and energy of others-psychologically speaking. We all know people who suck on our energy-who manipulate and control things to their advantage. We can't make them stop trying to feed on us, but we can take ourselves off the menu. We can create healthy boundaries for ourselves so that no one can drain our energy without our permission."
Carson leaned into his microphone. "Hey, Doc. Why would anyone give permission for some psychic vampire to feed on them?"
I glanced toward him, smiling. "Well, sometimes we don't realize we're dealing with a psychic vampire until they've already stuck their psychic fangs in our necks. They can be very clever. Very manipulative. Extremely self-absorbed. We're bespelled before we even realize what happened. Or, sometimes a person with inadequate boundaries-or a poor self-image-unconsciously invites a predator into his or her life. Psychic vampires seem to sense the vulnerabilities in others and they prey upon them. They go from one victim to another, feeding and draining. Isn't that right, Carson?"
"How would I know, Doc?" He frowned, pursed his lips. "Are you saying that I'm a psychic vampire?"
"No, Carson. Of course not. Whatever gave you that idea?" I expanded the false smile and batted my eyelashes.
Okay. So I have a healthy Inner Bitch.
"Well, I want my listeners to know that I'm not any kind of vampire. Although I wouldn't mind doing a little sucking on various parts of your bodacious bod."
I gave him a cold stare and sneered.
He smirked and punched another button on the telephone.
"You're on the air."
"This is Crystal, Dr. Knight, and I'm calling because I have terminal cancer and the doctors say I only have a couple of months left to live. They've done everything they can. I'm only twenty-four, Doctor, and I don't want to die. I want to live at least a normal amount of years. If I can find a real vampire to bite me and turn me into one of them, will my body be cancer-free?"
Shit. They never taught this stuff in ethics class in graduate school. Do I tell her the truth, that yes, her body would be cancer-free, but she'd be the walking dead? Or, do I pretend that I still think the vampire thing is a fantasy and just let her die? Which is better? Dead or undead?
"I'm so sorry you're sick, Crystal. According to vampire legend, if a vampire brings you over, you no longer have a mortal body. So, yes. You'd be cancer-free. But you'd also be dead. Since there aren't any real vampires available at the moment to ask-Hey, that's true, they're all dead 'til sundown-I do have a medical suggestion for you. My office phone number is in the book. I'd like you to call me so we can discuss options. Will you do that?"
"Sure. I don't think it's going to do any good, but why not? I'll call you later today. Thanks, Dr. Knight."
Ah, Crystal. Be careful what you ask for because you just might get it.
"That's great. I'll talk to you then."
Carson edged close to his microphone, making loud sniffing and sobbing noises, pretending to cry.
"Gee, Doc. That was heartbreaking, wasn't it? I wonder if she'd be willing to have some hot sex before she bites the dust? Could you ask her when she calls you?"
He chuckled at the shocked expression on my face. He'd apparently wanted to see how far he could push me. But for what possible purpose? There was something very foul about Carson Miller.
"Keep those calls coming in, Denver." He clicked the next flashing button on the phone. "You're on the air with the succulent Dr. Knight and the humble Carson Miller. Speak now or forever hold your ... whatever."
"Hi, Dr. Knight! This is Amber. Me and my girlfriends are cosmetologists, and we're listening to you at our hair salon, along with our customers. We think you're cool." Clapping and cheers sounded in the background.
Carson slumped back in his chair, a demented grin on his fat face.
"Thanks, Amber." I put a smile in my voice. "I appreciate that. How can I help you?"
"Well," she began, her tone breathy, excited, "we're rabid vampire book fans. We read every vampire book that comes out, and there are lots of vampire romances these days. Why do you think women get turned on by the idea of having sex with a vampire? I mean, aren't their bodies cold and hard like statues? How arousing is that?"
I chuckled. "Let me begin with your first question. I think women are intrigued with the notion of having sex with vampires, because vampires are extraordinary. They're immortal and desperately need the woman's very blood in order to exist. Imagine being needed that intensely. That's a pretty powerful metaphor, don't you think?"
Be still, my heart ...
"Wow," Amber said. "I never thought of it that way."
"And," I said, "it's doubtful that a gorgeous vampire would be sitting in front of the television, night after night, drinking beer and ignoring her-like an undead Homer Simpson, right?"
She laughed. "You better believe it!" More catcalls and cheers from the salon.
"Women fantasize about males who are heroic, mysterious, or non-ordinary-as well as gorgeous with bodies to die for. And what's wrong with a good fantasy?"
I should know. Devereux is definitely fantasy material.
"Woot! Woot! Woot!" came from the speakers.
After they calmed down, I continued, "And about vampires having bodies like statues, some of the popular books do portray their vampires that way, but I definitely agree with you. I probably wouldn't find a cold, hard body appealing. I prefer the authors who give their vampires warm, almost-human characteristics. If I were going to write a vampire novel, I'd have the vampires retain control of their body functions: heartbeat, breathing, warmth, state of sexual readiness ..."
The softest, warmest lips imaginable ...
"Yes! Sex at the drop of a ... fang!" Wild cheering floated across the airwaves.
With a loud click, Carson disconnected the call and barked into his microphone. "Damn! That's enough of the sex talk." He cupped his equipment. "You guys are turning me on, and I won't be responsible for what happens. Next call." He punched another button on the phone.
"Dr. Knight? My name is Nancy Whitmore and I'm a social worker in Denver."
"Thanks for calling, Nancy. How can I help you?"
"I remember reading about the murder case you were involved in a while back when a couple of young people were killed. Vampire wannabes, the media called them. The murderer was never caught. I'm wondering if you've seen the numbers of kids getting into the vampire lifestyle decreasing or increasing since then? I would've thought the negative publicity would scare them off, but I'm finding more and more kids are getting lured in. Do you offer any groups or educational classes I can refer the kids to? Is there any validity to the talk about some kind of evil energy getting stronger in Denver?"
Carson stood and walked behind my chair, clamping his sausage-sized fingers on my shoulders, massaging roughly. The engineer on the other side of the glass in front of us shook his head frantically, gesturing at Carson to return to his seat. Carson's hands inched away from my shoulders, heading down toward my breasts. I bolted from the chair, grabbing my microphone as I slipped out of his reach.
Speaking of evil energy. What was up with this fool? I hadn't heard any feedback about him from anyone that would've led me to believe he was such a degenerate. Was he on drugs? He'd be a midnight vampire snack, if he didn't chill pretty soon. There was more than one benefit to hanging out with the undead.
I leaned against the glass separating the on-air room from the hallway, where spectators were lined up, laughing and pointing at Carson's supposedly clever antics. I tried to focus on answering Nancy's questions, while making sure I stayed out of Carson's vicinity.
He danced around the studio while I spoke, lifting the front of his T-shirt, pointing to his protruding, hairy stomach. His audience made its pleasure known. I tried not to lose my breakfast and kept my voice steady.
"Those are great questions, Nancy. Yes. I do offer both group and educational classes. Have them call my office. I have noticed an increase in people of all ages joining these cults. It doesn't make sense, because there's been so much negative publicity about the dark underside of the vampire lifestyle. But there does seem to be an escalating interest. I've also heard the talk about Denver being one of the places where evil is growing. A police friend told me recently that all forms of violent crimes are up here. People seem to be losing control of themselves. I admit I don't understand what could be causing the changes."
Well, at least not anything I can talk about.
Carson leaped back into his chair, drew his microphone close, and affected a whining, high-pitched voice, "Oh, my goodness gracious. There's evil in Denver. Somebody save me! That's enough with the social worker." He punched the next blinking button. "You're on the air, and I insist you be more interesting than the last caller."
There were a few seconds of silence, during which the hairs on the back of my neck rose and goose bumps swarmed over my arms. Although silence doesn't begin to cover it. It was more like the air had been sucked out of the room. Or a black hole had opened up-cold, bottomless, and terrifying. Even Carson seemed temporarily entranced. Then a deep, sonorous male voice spoke.
"Dr. Knight. I have looked forward to meeting you."
My solar plexus tingled as it always did when a vampire was near.
Whoa. What's going on here? This guy has the vampire voice, for sure. And his vibe is definitely bloodsucker. But it's daylight, so he can't really be a vampire. I shouldn't be able to feel a vampire over the telephone, right? I don't trust myself anymore to make judgments about who's a vampire and who isn't. Brother Luther slipped right under my radar and that almost got me killed.
Excerpted from Dark Harvest by Lynda Hilburn
Copyright © 2008 by Lynda Hilburn. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Lynda Hilburn is the author of The Vampire Shrink. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.
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