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How To Marry a Millionaire Vampire
By Kerrelyn Sparks
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Kerrelyn Sparks
All right reserved.
Roman Draganesti knew someone had quietly entered his home office. Either a foe or close friend. A friend, he decided. A foe could never make it past the guards at each entrance of his Upper East Side Manhattan townhouse. Or past the guards stationed on each of the five floors. With his excellent night vision, Roman suspected he could see much better than his uninvited guest. His suspicions were confirmed when the dark silhouette stumbled into a Louis XVI bombé chest and cursed softly.
Gregori Holstein. A friend, but an annoying one. The vice president of marketing for Romatech Industries tackled every problem with tireless enthusiasm. It was enough to make Roman feel old. Really old. "What do you want, Gregori?"
His guest whipped around and squinted in Roman's direction. "Why are you sitting here, all alone in the dark?"
"Hmm. Tough question. I suppose I wanted to be alone. And in the dark. You should try it more often. Your night vision is not what it should be."
"Why bother to practice my night vision when the city's lit up all night?" Gregori groped along the wall till he located the switch. The lights came on with a muted golden glow. "There, that's better."
Roman leaned back into the cool leather of his wingback chair and took a sip from his wineglass. The liquid burned his throat. God-awful stuff. "Is there a purpose for your visit?"
"Of course. You left work too early, and we had something important to show you. You're going to love it."
Roman set his glass on the mahogany desk in front of him. "I have learned that we have plenty of time."
Gregori snorted. "Try to work up some excitement here. We had an amazing development at the lab." He noted Roman's half-empty glass. "I feel like celebrating. What are you drinking?"
"You won't like it."
Gregori strode toward the wet bar. "Why? Are your tastes too refined for me?" He grasped the decanter and sloshed some red liquid into a wineglass. "Color looks good."
"Take my advice and get a new bottle from the fridge."
"Ha! If you can drink it, so can I." Gregori tossed back a good portion before slamming the glass down with a victorious sneer aimed at Roman. Then his eyes widened. His normally pale face turned a purplish red. A strangled sound vibrated deep in his throat, and then the sputtering began. Coughing, followed by choked curses, followed by more coughing. Finally he pressed his palms against the bar and leaned forward to gasp for air.
God-awful stuff, indeed, Roman thought. "Have you recovered?"
Gregori took a deep, shuddering breath. "What was in there?"
"Ten percent garlic juice."
"What the hell?" Gregori jerked to an upright position. "Have you gone mad? Are you trying to poison yourself?"
"I thought I'd see if the old legends were true." Roman's mouth curled into a slight smile. "Obviously, some of us are more susceptible than others."
"Obviously, some of us like to live too damned dangerously!" Roman's attempt at a smile faded into oblivion. "Your observation would have more merit if we weren't already dead."
Gregori stalked toward him. "You're not going to start that "woe is me, I'm a cursed demon from hell' crap again, are you?"
"Face the facts, Gregori. We have survived for centuries by taking life. We are an abomination before God."
"You're not drinking this." Gregori wrenched the glass from Roman's hand and set it down out of his reach. "Listen to me. No vampire has ever done more than you to protect the living and tame the cravings within us."
"And now we're the most well-behaved pack of demonic creatures on Earth. Bravo. Call the pope. I'm ready for sainthood."
Gregori's impatient look melted into curious speculation. "Is it true what they say, then? You were once a monk?"
"I prefer not to live in the past."
"I'm not so sure about that."
Roman clenched his hands into fists. His past was a subject he would discuss with no one. "I believe you mentioned some sort of development at the lab?"
"Oh, right. Sheesh, I left Laszlo waiting in the hall. I wanted to set the scene, so to speak."
Roman took a deep breath and slowly relaxed his hands. "Then I suggest you begin. There are only so many hours in a night."
"Right. And I'm going out clubbing later. Simone just flew in from Paris, and boy--"
"--are her wings tired. That was old a century ago." Roman's hands fisted once again. "Stay on the subject, Gregori, or I will be forced to send you to your coffin for a timeout."
Gregori gave him an exasperated look. "I only mentioned it in case you wanted to join us. It's a hell of a lot more fun than sitting here alone, drinking poison." He adjusted his silk black tie. "You know, Simone has always been hot for you. In fact, any of the ladies downstairs would love to cheer you up."
"I don't find them particularly cheerful. The last time I looked, they were all dead."
"Well, if you're going to be picky about it, maybe you should try a live one."
"No." Roman jumped to his feet, grasped his wineglass, and zoomed with vampire speed to the wet bar in one second. "Not a mortal. Never again."
"Whoa. That hit a nerve."
"End of discussion." Roman poured the blood and garlic concoction down the drain, then emptied the remainder of the poisonous brew from the decanter. He'd learned his lesson long ago. A relationship with a mortal could only lead to heartbreak. Literally. And he'd rather not experience a stake through the heart. What a great choice he had for companionship--a dead female Vamp or a live woman who would want him dead. And it would never change. This heartless existence would stretch on and on for centuries. No wonder he was depressed ...
Excerpted from How To Marry a Millionaire Vampire by Kerrelyn Sparks Copyright © 2005 by Kerrelyn Sparks. Excerpted by permission.
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