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Gisele was hungry tonight.
As she sat on one side of the hotel atrium's rectangular bar, the appetite gnawed at her from the inside out—burning through her with a destructive ache that tightened her belly. She had not taken sustenance for a couple of days, so it was time to feast.
Her keen gaze traveled the bar area, indoor foliage masking rain-spattered, summer-night-shaded windows and hovering over businessmen who had undone their ties as they nursed that one last beer before bedtime. She could detect slight tan lines on ring fingers, could infer the restless longing for company on a sales trip.
Gisele did not even need to reach into their minds to know their stories. The tale was always the same from bar to bar, city to city, state to state.
And it only made hunting for a meal that much easier.
Now her focus rested on one man in particular, a broad-shouldered stud in a pinstriped button-down who had already smiled at her for too long, his interest predatory.
She smiled back, taking care not to show her teeth so he would have no idea what he was inviting.
Her pulse hammered, her canines pushing at her gums in anticipation of tonight's drink—the blood she needed, the satiation it would bring.
She waited for the businessman to come to her and, sure enough, he snatched his beer bottle from the bar's surface and made his way around the corner, aiming for the open stool next to hers.
"You look pretty lonely," he said, his voice sales-call smooth, his bluegrass cadence telling her that he was local, maybe even from here in Lexington.
She lifted a brow, encouraging him, laying out her trap.
Then, out of the corner of her gaze, she saw Sam, hertwentyish-looking vampire comrade, sidling closer to the businessman's back. Her partner blended into the crowd, his sandy hair spiky, his lanky body in L.L. Bean-catalogue clothing while he listened to an iPod. He looked like a fraternity boy from the nearby University of Kentucky out for a late-night drink.
But Gisele had also caught something else in her peripheral vision. A flicker.
A scorching feeling, really.
A sense of being watched and noticed?
She glanced around, but found nothing amiss. Perhaps she was only reacting to the attention men paid to her appearance; after all, she had chosen to wear her tightest, most provocative red dress, and it clung to her body—that of an eternal twenty-two-year-old's—like an exotic oil slathered over skin.
Even so, she remained alert, her flesh alive with a strange heat she had never experienced in all her thirty-plus years of being a vampire .
During her pause, the businessman had backed off slightly."Hey, just let me know if I'm invading your space. I only thought you might like someone to buy you a drink."
She turned her full attention on him. "I would like. How about an amaretto over ice?"
His eyes lit up at her barely there French inflection; she had spent so many recent years in America that her accent—and many human instincts—had settled to a hint by now.
The dreamy young human girl fresh from university, the wonderer who had sought meaning from movies because she was not getting it from life, was only a bare memory.
Within seconds, the businessman had summoned the bartender, put a twenty-dollar bill on the bar and ordered her a beverage that she did not intend to imbibe. She was never thirsty for anything but blood, yet pretending she drank normally was a part of survival.
All the while, Sam inched closer to the businessman. Gisele knew her partner well enough to realize he had noted where their mark had stowed his wallet in his pants pocket.
Sam's human life as a pickpocket on the streets of late nineteenth-century New York came in very handy.
"So where're you from?" the businessman asked.
She negligently flicked her wrist. "Here. There."
"Ah. A cryptic woman."
"No. I am just not much for settling down."
For good reason, she thought, as the businessman took a swig of his beer, gave her a lingering scan and drummed his fingers on the bar. During the last two years, she and Sam had moved quickly and frequently, surviving in their own way, fugitives from yet another vampire—one she had created in the aftermath of a crisis.
While she tasted the memory of his blood on her tongue, his image clouded her mind, just as it did so often. With his dark-brown hair worn long to his jaw, he reminded her of the actor Johnny Depp playing the part of a rakish highwayman. The stirring impression was only emphasized by sloping cheekbones and a lithe, dangerous way of moving.
But his amber eyes always cut into the romance of the fantasy because they were so intense with the hatred she had earned when she had robbed him of the humanity he had so desperately sought .
The impulsive half of Gisele yearned for her created to find her, to be near. Yet, a disillusioned creature, Edward would not come in peace. After all, he had been in search of a soul, haunted by centuries of emptiness. And knowing that the only way for his kind to get his humanity back was to kill his creator, Edward had hunted down his estranged maker, drawing Fegan out of the shadows by draining blood from human women in Fegan's territory. Ultimately, Edward had murdered his master, reclaiming his soul and reaching his dream of becoming human again.
But as her revenge for him beheading the beloved mentor who had adopted Gisele when she had been but a new, confused vampire, herself, she had turned Edward back into a so-called monster.
Afterward, she had flown from him in an act of self-preservation, thinking that his old friends, the rest of Fegan's vampire set, also turned human, might gather weapons and slay her for what she had done to Edward.
The thing was, ever since biting him, he had become a part of her, an extension of her own self, and she could not forget how he had made her crave more of his blood, his presence.
Even though they had never had sex, which could heighten the sensation of a bite, there had never been a taste like Edward's.
Oddly enough, she did not feel that way about her other created, Sam. She never had to chase away an ever-present ache for him.
So why did she long for another taste of the vampire who hated her? And why was the craving like nothing she had ever experienced before?
Warped, that was what she was, because, if Edward ever caught her, she had no doubt he would exact vengeance. Besides, Gisele was now the only thing standing between him and his soul.
As the businessman nattered on, the bartender delivered her beverage, and she cupped the glass in her hands, condensation making her palms wet. Why hadn't she just left well enough alone when Edward had murdered Fegan? Why had she bitten and then turned him again?
Why even ask? Fegan, her surrogate father, had meant everything to her.
Yet, now that time had passed, she sometimes thought about finding Edward, herself, just so she might palaver with him—to seek an understanding or, if it came down to it, to tame him into an acceptance of their new bond. Taming him would be a matter of survival, since it would not do to have a vampire running around intent upon ending her existence.
She brushed off something that a human might define as remorse. It was not so much an emotion as an acknowledgment that she had brought more trouble upon herself by recklessly exchanging with Edward.
"So you're one of those free spirits." The businessman clearly had no idea that she had tuned out of the one-sided conversation for a while.
"Yes." Back in the seventies, as a human, she had been into free love, having her share of men with no attachment to any of them. The trend continued even now, although she would not call her physical expressions "love."
"I've always liked that kind of woman," he added. "I could tell right away that you're a little different from most gals I see on my road trips."
He was no doubt inviting her to ask about his profession, but Gisele had been through so many hunts that this leg of the activity bored her. She knew what he wanted, and the quicker he believed he would get it, the better.
Bluntly, she slid a hand onto his leg near his pocket. He sucked in a breath, and she knew it was not only because he could feel the coolness of her fingers through his trousers.
While he was distracted by her touch, Sam deftly moved in closer, slid out the man's wallet, then left the bar, going back to his room until they could meet up again.
After she had fed.
"How would your wife feel about this?" Gisele asked, squeezing his thigh for emphasis.
The businessman's skin grew ruddy. "I "
Gisele tilted her head, considering him. "No need to explain. You have an unhappy marriage. I understand."
She tightened her grip ever so slightly, then slid her palm down until she came to the middle of his thigh. There, she inserted her fingers between his legs.
He fumbled his beer onto the bar, spilling it.
Then she felt it again .
That same rattling-hot sensation of being watched too hard, too intensely.
A shiver—an erotic thrill—consumed her, and she glanced around the bar, scanning for a source of the electric invasion. But she did not see anyone's gaze on her.
Then all traces of the zinging discomfort were gone.
Just like that.
Gathering her composure, she leaned closer to the businessman. His blood pumped wildly, and she absorbed every throb through her fingers, through the air and into her skin.
So hungry .
"Just wondering," she whispered. "Is this how you improve your marital relations? By honing your libido on the road so you can favor your wife with your new expertise?"
The businessman swallowed, and there was guilt in his gaze. Yet, just as Gisele gained some hope for him, his eyes went hazy with desire again.
She might have sought out someone else for the night if he had changed his mind.
The music of his heartbeat pummeled her ears and danced in her belly, escalating her taut appetite.
Putting on a saucy grin, she slid off her stool, her fingers trailing out from between his knees.
If he was not going to back out, then she would go forward.
"Lighten up," she said. "I am only giving you grief. Married, engaged I do not mind."
Then she crooked a finger at him, backing away toward the bar's exit.
He followed, just as she knew he would.
Now the rest of the routine: get him to her room, soothe this willing victim with her voice and mind, take her fill of him, then stop the flow of blood from his wound with the psychic fusion of her touch, leaving crusted punctures that would heal rapidly. Her bite wouldn't cause him to become a vampire—he would also have to drink her blood for that—and a caress to the temple would cloud the details of the interaction, providing her a measure of secrecy.
Fegan had often laughed at her insistence on "fixing up" their victims after a bite, calling her—and the rest of his family—"vampires with soul." But none of them had been as old as Fegan, or as in need of as much stimulation to alleviate the unending passage of days .
Forgetting Fegan in her growing hunger, she led her victim through the hotel lobby, knowing that tomorrow night, she and Sam would repeat a similar process for his sake. Sam had taken his own meal earlier, but the newer vampire required more frequent feedings. Gisele, herself, would not need to hunt again for a few more nights—not unless she required some stimulation.
She turned the corner into the first-floor hallway where she had a room. Her body was pounding, her veins growling in famished greed.
She glanced over her shoulder to offer encouragement to her prey, but before she could open her mouth, a room door opened and she was bowled over by the same jolting awareness she had sensed back in the bar—
The rattle of silver was the only sound she heard as a chain wrapped around her bare shoulders, her arms, dragging her into the dim room. The door eased shut before the businessman even came around the corner.
The silver sapped energy from her skin—from her core—and she fell against a wall, sliding down as her fingers grasped for purchase.
Vaguely, she heard the businessman's voice outside as he called for her, but she could not answer. She did not have the strength.
Silver the weakness of every vampire she knew .
"Hello, Gisele," her captor said from behind her, a schooled British accent dancing over her skin with its refined edge, then plunging into her and leaving her gasping.
Her senses filled with a scent—a remembered taste—that had haunted her for two years.
Gisele turned to see who it was, even though she already knew.
Edward, looming like a tall avenger in a bulky Second-World-War-style military coat and gloved hands that were holding her chain as if it were a leash. His mouth tilted in a cruel smile—a gentleman hunter who had caught his prey—and his eyes blazed with fury, his high cheekbones lending him a triumphant arrogance.
Finally caught, she thought as her body dissolved into an instinctive need that split her from sex to chest, leaving her open to him.
More vulnerable than she had ever been, even in life.
Just kill her now, Edward thought. Take the stake from your bag and drive it through her heart so you can be human again.
Before his fateful encounter with Gisele, that was all he'd wanted for nearly three centuries of existence—a return to humanity. And he'd even possessed it when he had exterminated Fegan from the face of the earth. With the death of his first creator, Edward had been blissfully mortal for moments, drinking in the profound beauty of a soul returned.
Then Gisele had taken it all away by re-turning him.
Unfortunately, she had never understood Fegan's evil, had never even recognized it. Or maybe she had, and that was just one more reason she deserved extermination, too. It was the only way Edward knew of to regain his own humanity—kill the one who had savagely made him this way for the second time in his existence.
Now, he took in the sight of her slouching down the hotel room's wall. It was satisfying to see her so weakened by the silver, from which his gloves were protecting him.
He cocked his head. At the moment, Gisele wasn't his worst nightmare so much as a slumped woman in a sinful red dress, her black hair worn to the shoulders in a modern cut, her brown eyes the color of dying suns. Her body was sleek and long, yet still somehow demure as she plopped the rest of the way to the carpet.
Posted April 19, 2013
Posted September 23, 2008
Near the University of Kentucky, Edward Marburn is outraged to be changed into a vampire, as he just wants to remain mortal. Ironically this is the second time he has been changed and knows how to revert back to human: kill the vamp who converted you. ------------------------ Gisele knows Edward hunts and why he seeks her out. When she and her friend Sam seek their next meal, Edward manages to catch her away from her blood buddy. He plans to kill her, but is stunned by his attraction to her. When Sam frees Giselle and captures Edward, she persuades her friend not to kill their prisoner. Giselle is attracted to Edward and hopes to convince him life as a vampire can prove happy with the right partner.----------------- This is a terific heated vampire romance with the lead male having the paradoxical dilemma of wanting to revert back to human, but to do so he must kill the vamp he loves. The story line is fast-paced, passionate and hot from the opening sequence to the GOOD TO THE LAST BITE. Supernatural romance readers will appreciate Crystal Green's strong tale of love amongst the over bite crowd.------------- Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.