Read an Excerpt
I was being followed.
If that wasn’t creepy enough, it was dark out, I was all alone, and I was standing in a smelly alley near Times Square.
Talk about a Wes Craven flick.
For me, however, it was just another day in the life of a fantabulous five-hundred-year-old (and hold- ing) born vampire. My name? Countess Lilliana Arrabella Guinevere du Marchette, but my best buds call me Lil.
Because of my BV heritage, I ooze sex appeal, and since it’s oozing out of a totally hot package (great body, great face, kickin’ highlights), I’ve had more than my share of stalkers. Like the rest of my kind, I attract the opposite sex en masse.
Okay. So maybe en masse might be stretching things a teensy bit. Particularly since I haven’t had an official date in . . .
Well, I can’t actually remember the last time. (Fix ups DO NOT count, Ma.) To make matters worse, I was sorta, kinda dumped recently by a megahot bounty hunter after our one and only night together (sniffle).
But neither of those is due to a lack of hotness on my part. The Dating Deficit? My choice. No, really. I’ve given up meaningless flings in favor of finding my eternity mate, settling down, and propagating the species.
As for the bounty hunter . . . I’m sure (fingers crossed) he’ll soon realize what a vampilicious babe I am and come begging my forgiveness. I, of course, will tell him—as would any female who’d been dumped with not so much as a Later scribbled on a Post-it—to go bite himself.
At least that was the revenge fantasy I was currently tuning into. In between numero uno—I rip off all of his clothes and we make like jackrabbits—and three—he rips off all of mine and we make like jackrabbits.
I know, right? It was one measly night. I should get a life (or an afterlife in my case) and forget all about him. And the way he kissed. And touched. And tasted.
Yes, I’ve tasted him, too, but not during sex. I’m weak, but not that weak. The tasting occurred before the sex.
I’d been staked and he’d been trying to help me recoup my strength. I’d drank from him and since then we’ve had this mental connection thing going on. He can send me thoughts and vice versa.
Not that he’s sent me anything in the past months.
No desperate apologies. No sweet nothings. No flowers. Not even a measly IOU for a night of hot, wild, primo mattress dancing.
All the more reason to push him completely out of my mind and get back on track, right? Right.
So, um, where was I?
Oh, yeah. Dark, creepy alley. My being followed. No huge deal.
Wedge heels tapped the pavement behind me and thundered through my head as I rounded a corner and started down another alley. The sharp aroma of cheap hair spray mingled with generic body spray burned my nostrils. I turned and caught a glimpse of a chipped manicure clutching a tiny disposable camera before my stalker realized I was looking and ducked behind a Dumpster.
A man I’d expected (see the long rambling above), but a woman?
While I knew chicks got off to really hot chicks everyday (I could appreciate the latest Angelina Jolie pic as much as the next mature, sexually confident, semilonely woman), I couldn’t shake the gut feeling that there was more to this than a love-struck groupie eager to feed her own private fantasies.
I kept staring at the Dumpster until she stole another glance at me. My gaze collided with hers for a nanosecond and her stats rolled through my head like movie credits (another perk of being a vampire is that I can look into someone’s eyes and read their mind).
Gwen Rowley. Thirty-nine years old. Italian. Full-time fourth-grade teacher and part-time private investigator. Divorced mother of three. Hated men. Even more, she hated her mother, who’d put her up to following a small-time matchmaker when she could have been (a) grading tomorrow’s math assignment, and then, (b) tailing her ex and his new girlfriend. They were going bowling. Gwen hated bowling, too.
She retreated behind the massive metal monster and the connection ended before I could find out the really good stuff.
Like who in Damien’s name was her mother and why would she want me followed?
And, more important, had Gwen started dating again?
FYI: In addition to being a hot, happening vampere, I’m also Manhattan’s newest primo matchmaker.
Gwen peeked around the corner once more, camera poised, and my instincts screamed for me to shift into Super Vamp mode, make like my last client fee, and—poof—disappear.
Our species, and the dozens of Others out there, hadn’t survived thousands of years by keeping a high profile. We exercised caution and kept to ourselves and avoided cameras at all cost.
I paused and made a show of adjusting my shoe (snakeskin Prada stiletto for the record), and gave her my best profile.
Hey, we’re talking stiletto. As in mucho P-A-I-N. I simply had to stop and wiggle my toes.
And ease my own conscience. What can I say? I’ve got a soft spot for potential clients. Even more, I’m a jumbo marshmallow when it comes to potential clients with bossy, overbearing mothers (DO NOT get me started).
The camera clicked a few times. Finally, I ceased with the hamming it up and shifted into action mode. I stepped forward, my feet moving so fast that I emerged from my back alley route a half a block away, walked into the massive high-rise near the heart of Times Square, and sailed onto the elevator before Gwen had a chance to blink, much less follow.
Did I mention that born vamps are superfast in addition to being total mind-reading hotties?
While I wasn’t opposed to giving the woman a few pics so she didn’t go back empty-handed, I hadn’t taken a back alley route for the great scenery. The last thing—the very last thing—I needed was to be caught dead (or undead) in a place like this.
I stepped off the elevator on the eighth floor and walked into the lobby of KNYC, a local cable network near the NBC studios. KNYC was responsible for several homegrown news programs, a handful of talk shows, and the recent reality smash Manhattan’s Most Wanted.
MMW was a local version of The Bachelor that paired up one of the city’s most sought after males with fifty marriage-minded, crème de la crème females, and let him weed them down to The One.
At least that was the idea. The last guy—a Wall Street financier—had narrowed his bevy of bombshells down to The One Who’d Taken the Rock and Hauled Ass. She’d pocketed the cash, headed for Mexico, and the financier had ended up on Dr. Phil.
This year’s bachelor? Some heartthrob weather guy at one of the local stations. Since I don’t really watch much television (except Date My Mom and I Love New York, both purely for research), I couldn’t say exactly which one. But being a super-intuitive vampere, I didn’t have to see him to know the really important stuff. Namely, he actually had a job and decent looks, otherwise he’d be telling fortunes on Coney Island instead of on television.
Inside the lobby of the station, plush gold carpeting cushioned my stance and eased the pressure on my tootsies. Pale yellow walls decorated with gold Art Deco mirrors surrounded me. Cinnamon-colored leather chairs traced the perimeter. Several tables overflowed with magazines. A man stood near a glass doorway marked studio a, a headset hooked around his neck and a clipboard in his hands.
The only man in a room that otherwise overflowed with single, successful, smart, attractive, desperate women.