Read an Excerpt
Just One Sip
"Viva Las Vampires"
By Jennifer Ashley
Copyright © 2006
All right reserved.
"Her what?" Water sloshed as Mario, all six-foot-six of him,
stepped out of the sunken hot tub behind the sofa where Stefan
stared at the flat-screen television on the wall.
Stefan half-watched his friend's reflection in the monitor as
Mario reached for a pristine Egyptian-cotton towel before
collecting his half-consumed glass of wine and sauntering to
Stefan's leather sofa. Stefan knew without looking that little
pools of water marked Mario's footsteps across the marble and
onto the cashmere carpet.
"I said, her what?" Mario parked himself on the end of the
leather sofa and put his feet on the coffee table. Stefan's
feet were already there in leather boots that disappeared
beneath his jeans. Mario plopped his wine glass on the coffee
table, slopping over a crimson drop.
Mario always drank red wine. He'd been Italian for six hundred
years, he said, and couldn't break the habit. Whether he meant
drinking red wine or being Italian, Stefan never knew.
Stefan gestured with his remote. "Her."
Her was a late twenty-something, tall woman with red hair
scraped back in a sloppy pony-tail and wide green eyes taking
in every bit of Transylvania Castle's lobby. She wore a light
cotton dress good for the baking temperatures of LasVegas in
July, leaving her limbs bare, feet in sandals. She carried a
duffle bag over her shoulder as she walked through the casino,
heading for the check-in desk.
Mario grinned in appreciation. "So you do have taste."
Stephen took a swallow of vodka, the liquid tracing a fiery
trail to his stomach, and didn't answer.
The monitor showed feed that came through the security cameras
trained on the lobby and casino forty-seven floors beneath
them, piped to Stefan's penthouse at his request. He could
assess his guests, watch for people who shouldn't be there,
and generally make sure everyone staying at his hotel was
having a good time.
This particular guest interested him very much. As she moved
past the Coffin Bar and out of frame, Stefan picked up the
phone on the coffee table and spoke to his security team.
"Give me camera three. Zoom in on the red-haired woman in the
The view changed to the clear lobby space in reception and the
stream of people coming to check in, ready for their vampire
fantasy weekend. The picture remained fixed a moment, then the
focus widened and blurred, the camera zooming to Stefan's
It caught her just as she stepped up to the reception desk and
smiled at the young man behind it. Stefan's blood warmed. Her
crooked smile lit her eyes as she slung her duffle bag on the
marble-topped counter in front of the startled clerk and
unzipped it. The way she spilled out pens, packets of tissue,
books of matches, and various other jetsam was nothing short
Stefan spoke into the phone. "Zoom closer."
The camera obeyed. Her round smiling face and locks of flyaway
red hair filled the screen, the light catching the gold flecks
in her green eyes.
Mario laughed. "You twisted bastard."
"Have the desk clerk send you her name," Stefan told security.
"Yes, sir." Through the phone, Stefan heard him tapping
computer keys. He saw the red-haired woman smile and nod and
then speak. Though there was no sound, he knew she was giving
him her name.
"Meredith Black," the security man said in his ear.
A pause, more tapping of keys, another pause, and the security
man's deep voice. "Ten twenty-two."
Mario's dark brows shot up. "Planning a midnight visit?"
Stefan spoke into the phone again. "Give her tickets to Vegas
Vampires, vouchers for the restaurants and bars, and an
invitation to meet me in my penthouse. I'll give her dinner."
Stefan quietly set down the phone and returned his gaze to the
screen. Mario stared at him, his long black hair dripping
rivulets of water onto the leather sofa.
Then his coffee-colored eyes widened in understanding. "Oh,"
he said, voice subdued. "You mean it's her."
In a thousand years of existence, Stefan had never been much
for slang. He preferred precise speech to Mario's idioms that
changed every decade. But Americans of this century had a
phrase which he thought summed things up very well. He tossed
back the rest of his vodka and slid the glass across the
teakwood coffee table.
"Damn straight," he said.
Excerpted from Just One Sip
by Jennifer Ashley
Copyright © 2006 by Jennifer Ashley.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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