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"Enticing." ?Romantic Times
"Captivating." ?Publishers Weekly
In the coastal hideaway of Clare Point, Delaware?home for centuries to the Kahill vampire clan?a vampire sworn to protection will make the ultimate choice. . .
After months spent eliminating some of the world's most ruthless criminals, Aedan Brigid is on sabbatical in Clare Point. Instead of relief, he ...
"Enticing." —Romantic Times
"Captivating." —Publishers Weekly
In the coastal hideaway of Clare Point, Delaware—home for centuries to the Kahill vampire clan—a vampire sworn to protection will make the ultimate choice. . .
After months spent eliminating some of the world's most ruthless criminals, Aedan Brigid is on sabbatical in Clare Point. Instead of relief, he feels on edge. Part of it is due to Dallas York, the gorgeous blonde bar owner whose touch just sparked an intense, inexplicable connection. But there's another reason too.
Centuries ago, Aedan lost his beloved to a depraved monster nicknamed Jay. Now Jay is back, more vicious than ever. Aedan is already breaking clan rules by getting involved with Dallas—even if her mysterious gift sets her apart from other humans. And soon, he'll have to decide whether he'll turn away from the only life he's known to protect a love he thought he'd never feel again. . .
Aedan rested his forearms on the scarred bar top, barely hearing the chatter of the other patrons or the beat of the blaring music. He reached for his Guinness and took a sip, savoring the slightly burnt flavor of the dry stout he'd been drinking for the last two hundred years. It was late. Time he headed home. But not before he finished his beer.
It was always like this for him. When he was gone—working for the sept, living among strangers—he yearned to be home in Clare Point amidst his own. But when he finally did have the opportunity to return, he felt as out of place here as he did on foreign soil. At least at first. It always took a week or two and quite a few solitary nights on a barstool, nursing a beer, before he could assimilate again. Out in the world, he was a killer. He survived by keeping to himself, keeping moving, remaining a stranger to those around him. In Clare Point, with relatives and friends, it took some time to allow himself to feel that closeness he shared with them. The closeness he always yearned for when away, the closeness he feared when he returned home.
It hadn't always been that way. He'd once been a trusting soul ... with his heart, at least.
Aedan took another sip of his ale. Someone bumped into him from behind. He turned around and glared, and the bearded offender in the Dogfish Head T-shirt threw up his hands.
"Sorry, man. My bad." The guy stumbled backward a step, obviously intimidated by Aedan's size. Or maybe it was Aedan's scowl.
Aedan eyed the drunk again, then returned his attention to his Guinness, memories tugging at his consciousness.
He had once sought out strangers. Particularly the pretty females.
The sound of the barroom patrons, the taste of his ale, the smell of the old bar top brought back flashes of memories like black-and-white images projected on a screen in his head. His memories were of another bar, life cycles ago. It was the nineteenth century, the south of France, in the little cliff-dwelling town of Beaumes-de-Venise near Orange. Madeleine had been her name. It was her father's pub; he let rooms above stairs, served food and drink below. Aedan had been there on assignment for the sept when he met the barkeep's daughter.
Aedan made a fist and then loosened each finger in controlled motions as he fought the bone-crushing ache he experienced every time he thought about her. Which was exactly why he tried his damnedest not to think about her at all. Even after hundreds of years, the memory of Madeleine hurt more than any physical wound—being stabbed, shot, garroted—he had ever suffered. He had loved her. It had been the kind of true love a man experienced only once in a lifetime.
And Aedan's lifetime was turning out to be pretty damned long.
Fifteen hundred years, give or take a few, he had lived on this earth. Once he had been human like Madeleine, before he had become vampire. As a human, he'd fought against St. Patrick in Ireland in the fifth century. He had defended his family and his pagan faith. And he had paid the ultimate price when God had cursed him and the rest of the Kahills. God had transformed them into vampires, forcing them to live lifetime after lifetime, immortal, their souls without hope of redemption.
Not much hope, anyway.
That, in a roundabout way, was how he had ended up at Madeleine's father's pub in Beaumes-de-Venise. How he came to be here now. He, and all the cursed Kahills, were trying to make amends for the sins they had committed against God. They now tried to protect His humans from the dregs of the earth, its most heinous criminals. Aedan's primary job was investigating serial killers. Occasionally, he assassinated one, but only after the order was passed down by the High Council. Who would die was not up to him. He was neither the judge nor the jury, only the executioner.
Aedan took another sip of ale, tasting a hint of bitterness on his tongue.
He had been young and foolish and full of hope when he met Madeleine. The ale she had served him that first night he met her had not been as well brewed as this Guinness. It had been homemade, brewed in her father's cellar, but it had tasted as sweet as honey on Aedan's lips because it had come from her hands.
Sweet Mary, Mother of God, he had loved her. Aedan tipped his glass and finished it. He had loved her, all right.... Then he had killed her.
"Another?" A female voice dragged him back to the present.
Aedan shook his head, not bothering to look up. After Madeleine, he'd lost interest in women. Not that he was celibate. He could always find one willing to join him in bed. But he'd lost interest in the magic of the feminine voice. Of the smoky look they gave you. The feel of their touch.
"Good, because I've served enough beer for one night. I'll get your check." Her voice faded as she moved away from him, dragging a bar mop past his empty glass.
Aedan didn't know what made him look up. Fate? He wondered later. He wasn't entirely sure, even at fifteen centuries old, if fate even existed. But something made him look up at that moment. Or someone ...
Her resemblance to Madeleine was uncanny. She was pretty. Not gorgeous, but pretty. Tall and slender. Willowy was how his Aunt Peigi would have described her. Blue jeans slung low on her hips, and a tight black T-shirt revealed the tiniest sliver of abdomen when she moved. The shirt read BREW and featured a witch's bubbling cauldron. Her natural blond hair was pulled back in a loose ponytail, piled up on her head the way women did when getting in the shower. Her hair was long. He could tell by how many times it looped out of the elastic band. It was an amazing color, yellow blond, like sunshine. Her eyes were dark brown. She wore no makeup. She had a sprinkling of freckles across her nose that made Aedan want to touch them with his fingertips.
Or kiss them.
He was so shocked by that thought as it bounced around his head that he rocked back on his barstool. He stared at the barmaid, intrigued. And a little scared.
She apparently didn't feel the vibe; she had already walked away.
It was all Dallas could do to not look back over her shoulder at the hunky ginger as she dropped the bar rag and went to the register to ring up his tab. The bar was busy tonight, busy for a Thursday in April. Busy was good. Tall, seriously big, good-looking ginger on her barstool, with blue eyes that could pierce a girl's heart. Bad.
He was here alone. She'd been watching him for a while. Trying not to, of course, which made it harder not to do. He'd come in alone two hours ago. He didn't speak to other patrons, not even the pretty singles cruising for men. He didn't glance up at the basketball game on the TV behind the bar. He just sat there, nursing one Guinness after another, his handsome face all dark and stormy and totally intriguing. She wondered, at first, if his girlfriend had just broken up with him and that was the reason for the morose face. But she decided, after a while, that that wasn't it; something more tragic than that simmered in those piercing blue eyes.
Dallas almost groaned aloud as she hit the total on the cash register and it spit out a little piece of paper. She checked it to be sure it was right ... and to stall. She didn't want to speak to him, whoever he was, her tall, handsome ... and tragic ginger.
Men were off-limits these days, especially the handsome ones. Definitely the tragic ones. She'd already had her share of tragedy and then some.
Dallas needed to just give him his tab and walk away. Make sure he walked away. Her bartender, Tat, waited behind her for the register. She couldn't stand there all night, and she couldn't afford to hand out free beers to every good-looking sob story that came into the bar. She'd sunk every dollar she had into this place when she'd bought it. It was all she and Kenzie had left; Dallas had to make it work.
She made a beeline for the redhead. She'd always had a weakness for guys with auburn hair. His was dark and thick, the same shade as his beard stubble. Hot.
Dallas didn't know what was wrong with her. It had been a long time since a pretty face had caught her attention. She slapped his tab down in front of him, purposely not making eye contact. "Have a good night. Be safe."
She almost got away cleanly, but he must have reached for the little slip of paper before she pulled her hand away. His fingertip brushed hers. They barely made contact, but it was enough....
What she felt ... what she saw, when they touched, nearly knocked her on her ass.
Her visions often came to her choppy and fast like old movie reel images, streaked with time and age. They came one right after another: people, places. And emotion. That was the worst part.
Dallas gasped, pulling her hand away as if she'd burned it on the French fryer.
"You okay?" Tat called. Her bartender was a big guy with a shaved head and two full sleeves of tattoos; he looked like an ex-inmate even though he was the nicest guy you would ever want to meet. He glanced at Dallas as he walked away from the register. He was looking at her strangely.
So was the guy on the barstool.
"Closing in five minutes," she announced loudly. She made her way to the far end of the bar, as far from the ginger as she could get, and began to pick up dirty glasses. She was shaking.
The music was still playing over the loudspeakers. She'd invested in XM radio for the nights she didn't pay a DJ or a live band. "Can someone hit the radio?" she called. She dumped five dirty glasses into a dishpan and picked it up, heading for the kitchen. More like running for the kitchen. "Someone?" She hollered to no one in particular, probably sounding bitchier than she needed to.
Aedan watched the blonde push through the door into the back, carrying a dishpan full of dirty glasses. The door swung shut behind her.
What the hell had just happened there between them? His hand had barely touched her, but a jolt of what felt like electricity had arced between them, scaring the bejesus out of him. Which was hard to do. Vampires didn't spook easily.
He didn't know what had happened or how. The only thing he was certain of was that they had made some kind of metaphysical contact.
His first impulse was to follow her. She'd obviously felt it, too, the way she'd taken off. And something made him think she understood far better than he did what it was.
He looked at the kitchen door. Did he dare?
Aedan's phone vibrated in his pocket, which was totally unexpected. Everyone knew he was on sabbatical for the next three months. He rarely got calls that weren't work-related, and never this late. Aunt Peigi was long in bed.
Curious, he slid off the barstool and fished his phone out of the pocket of his jeans. He checked the caller ID. It was his cousin Mark ... a state police detective. Aedan suddenly got a bad feeling. "Hello?" he said into the phone.
"Yeah?" He glanced around the bar. People were filing out. Someone had turned off the music and turned up the lights.
"It's Mark. Mark Karr."
He could hear the tension in his cousin's voice. Mark was one of them, a vampire moonlighting as a cop. Or maybe the other way around. Mark was a good cop. The best. "What's up?"
"I know you're on vacation...." He hesitated. "Sorry to bother you, but—"
Aedan heard the sound of an intercom in the background. A Doctor Wilkes was being paged. Mark was at a hospital. "What can I do for you, Mark?"
"I'm over at SCH. In Lewes. You need to come here. Right now."
Aedan frowned. "Is everything okay? Aunt Peigi?" Of course, that didn't make much sense. Kahills didn't do hospitals. They had a doctor of their own, and their bodies almost always healed without any intervention. It was hard to kill a Kahill. The whole immortal thing. And when they did die, they rose three days later, in the body of a teenager, ready to begin another cycle of their cursed lives. Aunt Peigi couldn't be sick or injured, dying in a hospital.
"A case," Mark said cryptically. "Like I said, I know you're on vacation and you're technically off duty, but you're going to want to see this."
Aedan glanced at the door that led to the bar's kitchen. The blonde hadn't come back out. Which was just as well. "I'm on my way," he said, dropping a twenty and a five on the bar. "Give me twenty minutes?"
"Come in through Emergency. They haven't moved her yet. I'll be looking for you."
Aedan hung up, slipped his phone back into his pocket, and walked out onto the street. It was chilly. He shivered as he headed for his car. Maybe it was just the cold. Or maybe he already knew what waited for him.
Dallas stood in the kitchen, peeking through the crack between the swinging doors, watching the ginger go. For a second there, the way he'd been looking at her, she'd been worried he was going to follow her into the kitchen. She held the hand that had touched his to her chest, feeling her pounding heart.
What the hell had just happened? How was it even possible—what she had seen in his head during that brief second she had made contact with him. She'd had a lot of crazy experiences in her life, but this went way beyond crazy.
She had what her mother had called the gift. Dallas called it the curse. ESP, mental telepathy, mind reading ... It didn't matter what label you attached to it, it was an intrusion on her life and on the lives of the people she touched. Literally. Since she had been a small child, Dallas had had the ability to see people's pasts, feel the emotions they had felt, just by touching them.
It was a curse, all right. One that had followed her through school, into college and now into adulthood. Over time, she had learned to turn it down, like the volume on a radio, but there was no mute button. And no matter what she did, she couldn't turn it off. Which meant she couldn't have normal relationships. At least not with anyone but her daughter, whose past she already knew. Whose past she had actively participated in. It was just too hard, seeing all the things other people saw. Feeling what they had felt. Knowing what they carried around inside.
So what was up with the ginger? How ... why had she picked up on so many people when she had touched him? It wasn't just pieces of the guy's life, but of lots of people's lives. Lots. Which wasn't possible unless ... unless maybe he had the same curse she did, and he was carrying all the people he had ever touched around in his head. Was that even possible?
Tat appeared in the crack of the kitchen door. He was a nice-looking guy, even with all the tattoos and the twogauge, stainless steel ear tunnels. He had kind brown eyes. "Hey, you okay?" he asked through the door. "'Cause you're acting weird."
As the front door closed behind the ginger, Dallas pushed through the swinging door. "I always act weird. We've already established that." She walked past him, grabbed a wet rag from under the counter, and began to wipe down the sticky bar. Bar patrons could make a pretty big mess in one evening, what with all the beer and bullshit they spilled.
He turned to watch her, nibbling on his lip ring. "Yeah, but you're acting weird, even for you."
"Can you herd the rest of them out?" Lifting her chin, she indicated a couple of guys standing around one of the two pool tables in a small room off the main barroom. Everyone else was either gone or headed that way.
"Sure," Tat said, but he still stood there. "That guy. The redhead. Was he bothering you?"
Dallas was dragging a wet bar mop over the polished wood and glanced up. "Nah, but if he was, I could handle it," she said lightly. "I hired you to tend bar; you don't have to be my knight in shining armor."
She wondered if the redhead was a tourist. It was early in the season for tourists, but he'd never been there before tonight. Not since January, when she had taken over the bar. She was positive. Otherwise, she'd have remembered him.
"I know." Tat hesitated. "But I would. I'd be your knight in shining armor. If you'd let me."
She smiled, feeling a little sad. That had to be one of the nicest things anyone had ever said to her. Tat had made it pretty clear the week he'd started working for her that he was interested in her, if she was interested in him. Her first thought had been just to get rid of him rather than have to deal with the complications of his unrequited love, but he was too good an employee to lose. Instead, she had told him the truth, flat out, that she wasn't interested. She'd given him the line about her dead husband, about it being too soon, and he'd said he understood. But sometimes she caught him watching her with a wistful look.
Excerpted from Voracious by V.K. FORREST Copyright © 2012 by Colleen Faulkner. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON BOOKS. 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.
Posted December 1, 2012
Wow! This is a cross between a suspense thriller and a vampire romance. I found V.K. Forrest's novel to be frightening and fascinating, so real that I couldn't put the book down. Aeden is a compelling character, and his romance with a mysterious woman and her special child kept me reading to the last page. I won't give away the end, but the book has a great twist. I can't wait to read more of this author. A ReaderWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 30, 2012
Great read! If you have not been reading V.K. Forest's Claire Point Vampire Series....start now. You won't be dissapointed. Keeps you turning those pages!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.