Read an Excerpt
Sex and the Single Vamp
By Robin Covington, Alethea Spiridon Hopson
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2014 Robin Covington
All rights reserved.
Washington, DC, 2014
The bastard was making her wait.
Felicity "Cici" Trent looked around the plush office and had to admit she couldn't bitch about the location, just the waiting. If she didn't already know that the owner was a rich, powerful player on the local scene, her surroundings made the point quite well.
The office in Aura Mortis Security sat in the corner of the penthouse in an exclusive building in downtown Washington, DC, with a spectacular view of the many prestigious marble buildings and monuments that acted as landmarks to tourists and locals alike. The office was warm and comfortable, anchored by heavy high-end pieces of dark furniture, soft upholstered seating, and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and display cases. Even the small kitchen area was equipped with snacks and beverages — soft, hard, and bloody.
Suddenly thirsty, she grabbed a bottle of A-positive and poured the liquid into a glass whose heft attested to the quality of the crystal. She could say one thing about Thomas Samuel Deacon — he didn't skimp on quality and treated his guests like queens and kings while he cavalierly missed their appointment.
Too antsy to sit down and mess up her pristine and carefully chosen Vera Wang suit, she took a stroll around the room and through three hundred years of history. She recognized the Northam family crest on a few items, wondering how many of them Deacon had brought over with him on the ship that transported him to America.
With every step around the perimeter, each carefully labeled artifact took her to a memory she'd filed away with each passing decade of her life. She'd long ago learned to let go of the past as two hundred and thirty-nine years had flown by at the speed of horse and buggy, then automobile, then airplane, and then space shuttle. Life flew by even when you had forever.
In all the memorabilia, Deacon failed to change. Dark hair; brown eyes with a hint of copper; large, broadly built body that perfectly suited his height of six feet three inches; and angular features that hinted at his lofty human pedigree. He was a damn sexy vampire, always outshining whatever general, movie star, intelligence director, dictator, or president he was standing next to in the photos lining the shelves. He was the last person on the planet she ever wanted to ask for help, but these photos reinforced her knowledge that he was the only one who could help her.
"Happy." The voice was deep, rough, and right fucking behind her. She spun to greet the man in the flesh.
She barely caught a glimpse of his face before he drew her close and pressed his lips to the skin of her cheek, almost touching her mouth, but just shy of a real kiss. His scent, male with a dash of expensive aftershave and the essence of cold winter air that always surrounded those of their kind, immediately took her back to the time when he'd abandoned the colonial formality of using only full names and first uttered that particular nickname in her ear and cast his wicked spell.
She was once again in that dark alcove all those hundreds of years ago, with the murmuring of the party crowd just beyond the edge of propriety where she'd gone with him and allowed the first touch of a man's lips against hers, eagerly opening to his searching tongue, and experiencing the unfamiliar ache of wanting. In the present, she automatically reached out, lightly grasping the soft fabric of his T-shirt, but it was the memory that assaulted her equilibrium.
Deacon was first to pull back from the greeting, his expression dark, but softened by the arc of memory and emotion pulsing between them. She looked up at him, her body swaying toward his, and he mirrored her own movements until her breasts brushed his chest. She bit down, suppressing the urge to let her fangs descend and bite into the sweet spot where his neck met his shoulder. She knew he'd taste sweet and spicy, like all things forbidden.
"You haven't changed at all," Deacon said, his voice low and deep.
"A blessing or a curse of our kind. Your perspective is a vampire's choice."
Deacon's head dipped closer, his full lips coming dangerously close to completing the kiss promised a few seconds earlier. She remained still, willing her body not to lean forward and meet him. Damn, even after all this time their very inconvenient passion still raged between them. How many lifetimes would it take to put it out?
"In your case ..." His gazed roamed her face, so intense she had to fight back the urge to hide, to avoid his scrutiny. He was the last man she wanted to get in her head. "... or should I say in my case, it is a blessing."
He turned away. His retreat gave Cici plenty of time to gather her wits and ogle his fine ass before he slid into the leather chair behind his desk. He was quick but not fast enough to hide the rim of glowing topaz around his iris that betrayed his arousal, his reaction to her presence. Cici blinked to clear the shot of blue she knew was in her own eyes. This particular quirk was the bane of vampire existence — they didn't need to wear their emotions on their sleeves when they flashed like neon from their eyes. But now she knew Deacon still felt the pull between them. Good to know she wasn't the only one who hadn't cooled down in over two centuries. This man played high-stakes poker–dangerous and deadly. You could never have too many aces up your sleeve.
He was back to the usual Deacon — cocky, calculating, and charming. He leaned back in his chair, long legs extended to prop his heavy boots on the exquisite desktop as he shook back his shoulder-length hair and gestured toward the previously unnoticed third person in their party. "My second-in-command, Andy Silverfox."
The tall man, Native American in appearance and shy in demeanor, walked over and put out a long graceful hand to her. "Ms. Trent, good to meet you."
She smiled. His skin was warmer than hers and his scent was not vampire. "You're a were."
"Yes. Sioux were-shifter." He nodded toward the empty chair and remained standing until she was seated, his old-school manners giving her a decent clue about his real age. Shifters were long-lived depending on their ancestry, and she'd known a few ancient Sioux in her time.
"Sit down, Andy, and stop making me look bad." Deacon smiled slightly, his fangs hidden away, customary of the older generation. Required to hide their true identity, the teeth came out only when engaged in one of the three Fs: feeding, fighting, or fucking. Cici couldn't rule any of them out. He turned his attention back to her.
"Don't be fooled by the 'aw shucks, ma'am' routine. He isn't quite housebroken."
"Bite me." Andy laughed as he lowered into the seat beside her.
"I think that's my line." Deacon grabbed a paperweight from his desk, turning the metal cube over and over in his hand. Silence enveloped them and dissipated the easy camaraderie of a few moments before.
"So, Cici. We haven't spoken since 1943 and while I'd love to think you're here because you're finally going to pay the fifty dollars you owe me, I'm not holding my breath." He paused and shrugged at his own comment. "If I actually breathed, that is."
It wouldn't have surprised her to hear a bell ring, signaling the beginning of round one.
"You cheated. I don't owe you the money," she said, surprised at the decades-old indignation burning in her belly.
"The deal was that you would pay me if I had to save your ass."
"I didn't need your help. I was fine, but you had to sweep in and be the hero." She crossed her arms and her legs knowing how childish she looked. Deacon had the ability to make her lose her well-honed cool. And she didn't know if it was the loss of control or the fact that she enjoyed it that bothered her more.
"You were surrounded by Nazis. You were not fine."
"It wasn't the first time and I had a plan that you screwed up with your theatrics. I'm not paying you."
"Wait? Nazis?" Andy asked, looking back and forth between them as though he was watching a tennis match. "How long have you two been friends?"
"We aren't friends." They answered in unison, the moment almost comical with the way their gazes crashed into each other across the room.
"Okay ... so, how long have you two not been friends?"
"Two hundred and thirty-nine years," Cici said.
"Two hundred and forty." Deacon paused the turning of the cube as he interrupted her. "It was just after I moved to Williamsburg. You were still human."
His eyes locked with hers and she recalled that he had the right of it. It had been a very long year waiting for Master Thomas Samuel Deacon from Northam Glen plantation to speak to her, and her world had spun on its axis when it finally happened. He'd asked what book she was reading and she'd fallen in love. Silly girl. But several lifetimes had banished that girl for good, and the woman who remained needed to get down to business.
"Deacon, I need your help and I don't have anywhere else to go." Cici didn't think it would do any good to mince words when desperate times called for eating decades-old crow. She absolutely hated owing anyone a favor, but she was truly at the end of her rope.
"Well, that's honest and I know how much you hated to say it. Spill." He placed the cube on the desktop, lowered his legs and leaned forward, completely focused on her. The attention was comforting, but it also made her squirm with awareness of him. She planted her ass firmly in the seat, steadfastly refusing to get up and pace the room. She was a professional. She was a successful business owner. She was not the girl who'd longed each day to see him walk down Duke of Gloucester Street from behind the counter of her father's shop. That girl died a long, long, time ago, along with the rest of her family.
"I have a dating agency, Your Other Half." Cici recrossed her legs; just talking about her worries made her skin crawl.
"I'm familiar. It's hard to miss your tour of every magazine and talk show recently," Deacon said, barely disguising his dislike of her using the media. He avoided the spotlight just as the young vampires had to avoid daylight to avoid the "crispy critter syndrome," which only succeeded in making sure he was on the front page more often than she was. Nobody, not even the media, could resist the hot guy who refused to be caught in their high beams.
"I enjoyed your spot on Entertainment Nightly," Andy said with a smile that won an eye roll from Deacon.
"Thanks." Cici jumped back into the problem. "So, you also know I specialize in matchmaking humans with our kind, and I've come under some criticism for doing it." She paused, wondering if she should state the obvious, and then decided to drag all their dirty laundry into the light. "You're one of my most vocal critics."
"Maybe you should listen to me and get out of the business. Problem solved."
That signaled the beginning of round two.
"I know you don't think people should have the right to love who they choose. Or marry who they want."
"Whoa. I'm not looking for a fight over politics. The Equal Rights Amendment guaranteed our legal equality under the law in 1970 — done and done. I'm talking about the foolish decision, legal or otherwise, to shackle yourself to someone you're going to lose and outlive by centuries." Deacon shook his head in disbelief. "Humans and Others aren't supposed to be together. That's just reality."
"Your opposition to the mingling of Others and humans is well-documented. You'd have to be blind, deaf, and dumb to miss your numerous sound bites in opposition to love."
"Actually, I'm opposed to relationships of any kind for us. Love, marriage, all that emotional baggage that humans use to make themselves miserable. It isn't for us. We live forever." He flickered a glance at Andy, including their long-lived but not immortal member. "Or a damn long time. The thought of settling down for eternity gives me the chills."
"I'm acquainted with your aversion to anything resembling a commitment." And she was. He'd seduced her, even gone so far as to dangle the carrot of marriage and love in front of her, and then backed out before he had to put up or shut up. "I remember it quite well."
"I don't have the same recollection." He looked perplexed, brows creased in a frown.
"Water under the bridge." She waved off the rehash of the past. "Not everyone is you. Some of us want that connection with another person."
"You can get that in a night spent between sweaty sheets. You don't need to sign up for an eternity of playing happy family to be connected. People keep confusing physical need with some other deep, Oprah-book-club emotion. The sooner our kind recognizes and embraces our innate difference from humans, the better off we'll all be."
Cici stood, unable to stay in one place for a moment longer. This had been a mistake. She'd known Deacon's opinion on this issue. He wasn't shy about sharing it, and the media had a field day playing their opposing positions against each other to create a buzz. But she believed in love — longed to have it for herself — and was quite happy getting it for other people.
"Love ... to have it even for a little while is worth it," she said, forcing her voice to steady and averting her eyes just in case they flashed with emotion she didn't want to share.
"Losing it and living without it for eternity is a bitch." Deacon held his hands up in front of him, his lips twitching in a half grin at her evident surprise. "At least that's what I've been told."
"Loss is a part of living. You can't get away from it."
"Living is what humans do. We exist."
"And you exist quite well." Cici's glance flickered around the room, taking in the show of wealth on display.
"Yes, I do, and I'm not going to apologize for it. I served my country for many years, saw horrible things and did horrible things, as you did." He gestured around the room with his hand, his expression unapologetically proud. "Aura Mortis Security is successful and I'm enjoying myself immensely. The benefits of immortality suit me. It's like AARP but without having to join anything."
"We're off topic." She corralled her thoughts and tamped down her irritation with Deacon and his narrow-minded opinions. She needed his help and the sooner she got him to agree the sooner he would discover the truth. "I need your help. Some of my clients are dead and I think it has something to do with my business."
"Are the cops looking at you for the four deaths?" Deacon asked.
"How did you know there were four?" Cici was shocked, creeped out, and a little impressed by his knowledge. She'd just found out about the third and fourth deaths this morning.
Deacon shrugged and leaned back in his chair, completely unconcerned with whatever shady thing he'd had to do to get information that wasn't even released to the public yet. "You call me up and demand to get on my calendar after seventy years of radio silence, and I do my homework."
"The cops came by this morning and talked to me about them. I get the feeling they think I was involved." She made eye contact with both men to emphasize her point. "I'm not. I didn't kill anybody."
"But you have in the past and the cops know it," Deacon said.
"That was different. It was war."
"To the human side of the force, they don't always see the difference when it comes to our kind."
Damn. She knew he was right. She could practically feel the pointy ends of the pitchforks the police were sharpening just for her. The urge to run was almost impossible to overcome. Fight or flight. The instinct only became more powerful when you turned into a vampire — immortality shifted to a craving once you'd tasted it.
"All I know is that four of my clients, friends, are dead and I need to find out who did it before I lose everything. My business. My life." Cici stopped pacing at the edge of his desk and captured Deacon's gaze with her own. "I need your help. I'll pay whatever ..."
"Your money is no good here." He held a hand up to stop her from continuing as he rose from his chair and stalked over to stand in front of her. He was close, so close that only their shared memories could slide in between them.
Excerpted from Sex and the Single Vamp by Robin Covington, Alethea Spiridon Hopson. Copyright © 2014 Robin Covington. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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.