Ph.D student Angela Locke has a crush on her sexy professor, Dr. Nikolo Bartrev. When she learns he's actually a Sentinel with extraordinary powers, she joins forces with him to catch a psychopath. But soon, their hottest pursuit is of each other. . .
Praise for Alexandra Ivy's Born in Blood
"Ivy's fans will be invested in the development of romances introduced between supporting characters as well as further building of this conflicted universe." —Publishers Weekly
"An exciting and sizzling new paranormal romance series." —RT Book Reviews
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Out Of Control
By Alexandra Ivy
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2013 Debbie Raleigh
All rights reserved.
The nightclub near the University of Missouri wasn't anything to brag about. Hell, it wasn't much more than a leaking roof held up by four walls and a prayer. In the center was a cramped dance floor surrounded by tables and at the back a long bar ran the length of the wall. Up the narrow staircase you could find pool tables and a few old-time pinball machines, while in the back parking lot the dealers strolled from car to car, searching for shoppers interested in less legal means of intoxication.
A typical college hangout.
Seated in a booth nearly obscured by shadows, Angela Locke watched the crowd of college students bump and grind to a heavy beat that was making her eye twitch.
Not that she wasn't enjoying herself, she sternly chided herself. She might be a few years older than most of the kids in the club, but that didn't mean she was a complete party pooper. Right?
On cue she winced as two girls shrieked with laughter at a nearby table, the aggravating sound some sort of homing signal to the guys who eagerly crowded around their table.
Okay, this wasn't really her scene.
She'd spent the majority of her twenty-six years in musty libraries or high-tech labs, which meant she was more comfortable with petri dishes and microscopes than the opposite sex.
Her dark thoughts were interrupted as she belatedly realized she was no longer alone.
Glancing up, she met Megan Wagner's exasperated frown. The pretty, pleasantly rounded blonde was one of Angela's few friends at the university. In the process of recovering from a disastrous marriage, the older woman was taking classes to earn her teaching degree.
"Oh, for God's sake," Megan complained. "I didn't bring you here to hide in the corner."
Angela wrinkled her nose. "I'd rather hide in corners than park myself in the spotlight where everyone can see me sitting alone."
Megan folded her arms under her ample bosom, her lush curves displayed in a tight red dress and her blonde curls allowed to fall freely over her shoulders.
"You wouldn't be alone if you didn't put out vibes that you're—"
"A geek? A nerd? A first-class egghead?" Angela offered wryly.
"Are you kidding?" Angela shot a glance down at her jade stretchy top that was scooped low enough to reveal the soft curve of her breasts and the too-tight jeans that threatened her circulation. "In this outfit I not only look available, I look like I charge by the hour."
"It's not your clothes. It's your attitude."
Angela blinked. Attitude? She didn't know she had an attitude.
"What do you want me to do?"
Megan placed her hands flat on the table, eying Angela with the same stern expression she used on her students at the local preschool.
"Pay attention to the men who are here, not the one who isn't."
Angela tried to squelch the renegade blush that stole beneath her cheeks.
"I don't know what you mean."
"I mean that it's all fine and dandy to moon over Professor Hottie, but what's it gotten you?" A blonde brow arched. "Unless there's something you're not telling me?"
Angela ducked her head, allowing her finger to trace the beads of moisture that trickled down her untouched drink.
Or, better known as Dr. Nikolo Bartrev.
He'd arrived at the university six weeks before. A tall, dark stranger who'd been invited by the president to review their science curriculum. Angela didn't know precisely what his work entailed, but she did know that one glance into those pale blue eyes and she'd been lost.
Head over heels in lust for the first time in her life.
A damned shame he didn't return her aching need.
"There's nothing to tell," she muttered.
"And that's the point," Megan pressed. "He stops by your lab once a day—"
"Sometimes it's twice."
Megan snorted. "He makes a little chitchat and disappears."
Angela hunched a shoulder. It was true enough.
The first time Dr. Bartrev had strolled into her lab she'd nearly had a heart attack. She'd just finished teaching a freshman biology class and he'd waited for the giggling girls to drag themselves past him before he slowly approached her desk.
She hadn't known what to expect, but after a few minutes of questioning her about her research, he'd turned and left.
Just like that.
Since that day, he'd made a habit of stopping by when she was in the lab, sometimes discussing her research and other times just randomly discussing her day.
She assumed that he was cleverly extracting information from her to use in his assessment, but she didn't have a clue what he was searching for.
And she didn't care.
His fleeting visits were enough to make her giddy for the rest of the day.
"So?" she muttered.
"Has he ever revealed anything remotely personal about himself?"
Angela grimaced. After six weeks she didn't know a damned thing about the man.
Well, she knew the precise scent of his warm male cologne. And the way his cashmere sweaters stretched over a wide chest and how his pants clung to his tight ass.
But anything about the man beneath the gorgeous exterior? Nothing. Nada. Niente.
"Has he ever asked you out, even to lunch?"
"Has he ever brought you anything? Flowers, candy, a bagel from the cafeteria?"
"Has he tried to get his hand down your shirt?"
Megan heaved a sigh. "Honey, that man ain't interested, no matter how much you might want him to be."
Angela lifted her head to meet her friend's sympathetic gaze. "I know."
The blonde grabbed the plastic sword that held a candied cherry from Angela's glass.
"Then drink your gin fizz and give that nice stud muffin by the door a big smile." She pointed the sword toward the delectable blond Neanderthal standing across the dance floor. "And remember—"
Angela rolled her eyes. She had a mirror. She might not be the Bride of Frankenstein, but she was a long way from beautiful.
Average brown hair she kept in a ponytail. Average height with average curves. Average features that were pale from the hours she spent in the lab.
The only thing remarkable was the wide brown eyes that were heavily framed with dark lashes, but most of the time they were hidden behind her protective lab glasses.
In summation she was ... average.
"It's going to take more than one gin fizz to make me believe in fairy tales," she retorted.
"Maybe a kiss will wake you, Sleeping Beauty." Megan waggled her brows. "She was, after all, the first true wallflower."
Angela gave a choked laugh. Her friend charged through life at full throttle.
"I wish I could be like you, Megan," she said wistfully, thinking of all the nights she sat in her cramped apartment alone.
"Yeah, right," Megan scoffed. "You're a genius who's only weeks away from receiving your PhD in molecular biology and I'm trying to struggle through my undergraduate degree."
Angela shook her head. Because of finances Megan was forced to take night classes while she worked full-time, but there was no doubt her love for children would allow her to achieve her goals.
"You know you're a fabulous teacher, not to mention ..." Angela's comforting words dissolved into a silent shock as her heart slammed against her ribs.
"Hey, that was just getting good," Megan grumbled. Then, noticing that Angela's attention had strayed, she frowned in confusion. "What's wrong? Did Professor Lewis get drunk again and take off his pants?"
Angela reached for her glass to take a deep drink of the gin fizz.
"Niko." She grimaced as the overly sweet drink hit her empty stomach. "I mean, Professor—"
Helplessly she watched his determined approach.
Oh ... crap, but he was gorgeous. From the tip of his glossy dark hair that was threaded with hints of autumn fire and tousled as if he'd just run his hands through the short strands, to the tips of his Italian shoes.
His lean face was perfectly carved with a wide brow and narrow nose. His cheekbones were angular, hinting at his Slavic origins, and his jaw surprisingly stubborn with just a shadow of stubble from his heavy beard.
He wasn't by any stretch of the imagination "pretty." His features were too hard, too ruthless, for that. But there was something compellingly beautiful about his sheer maleness, and when he offered one of his rare smiles ... well, there wasn't a female on campus who didn't do a little melting.
He was dark and broody and delectable. The sort of man who haunted the fantasies of every repressed virgin.
And if she'd caught sight of a menacing glint in the piercing blue eyes that spoke of hidden power and predatory danger, well, she'd convinced herself that it only made him more exciting.
"Okay, I have to admit he is lickable," Megan grudgingly conceded, glancing over her shoulder. "Like a double-fudge ice cream cone."
"Megan," Angela protested, although she couldn't deny the desire to tug off his blue sweater and gray Chinos to do a bit of tongue therapy.
Megan turned back to stab her with a warning gaze. "He's also gay or married."
Angela's eyes widened. "How do you know?"
"Because he hasn't tried to get you in bed." Megan leaned toward her. "Don't let him ruin your night."
With a tug on Angela's hair, that was for once left to brush her shoulders, Megan was disappearing toward the bar, leaving Angela alone to face the man now towering beside her table.
"Hello, Angela," he greeted, his voice a dark velvet rasp that sent renegade shivers of excitement down her spine.
Oh ... crap.
She licked her dry lips, trying to squash the embarrassing thrills of excitement.
"Dr. Bartrev," she breathed, her voice barely audible over the music blasting from the overhead speakers.
With a fluid ease, he perched on the edge of the table, his hard thigh brushing her arm.
"I thought we agreed to Niko?"
Yeah. She was so not going down that road.
He was Niko in her fantasies. In real life ... well, she needed to avoid making an idiot of herself.
"I didn't expect to see you here," she said instead.
"I could say the same." His brooding gaze shifted to the surrounding crowd that was amping up the loud factor with every round of tequila. "This isn't your usual style."
She shrugged. "Megan convinced me this was my last chance to get out and party before everyone leaves for spring break."
"Ah." The piercing blue eyes returned to study her upturned face. Angela shivered beneath the sheer intensity of that gaze. He had an uncanny habit of appearing completely focused on whatever he was doing. "A girls' night out."
"Something like that." She managed a smile. Play it cool, Angela. It's not attractive to drool all over the handsome professor. "What are you doing here?"
"Actually, I was concerned."
She stiffened. "Concerned?"
"Why?" She sucked in a sharp breath, suddenly struck by a terrifying thought. "Is there something wrong with my research?"
"Your work is flawless. As always," he swiftly eased her fear, a strange edge in his voice although she was too relieved to notice. "It's something we'll discuss later."
"Then what is it?"
He hesitated, almost as if considering his words.
"I heard rumors there was a stalker in the area."
"A stalker?" She blinked in surprise. The small Midwest town had its share of petty crime, but violence was extremely rare. "In town or on campus?"
"The person has been seen on campus as well as in the surrounding neighborhoods."
"I haven't heard anything. Have the police been notified?"
"Of course." His gaze swept down to her breasts that were on blatant display, and just for a moment she thought she might have seen a flicker of heat in the icy depths. Then, clearly unimpressed, he returned his interest to her flushed face. "You haven't noticed anything unusual, have you?"
She shook her head, telling herself she didn't give a damn. "Not that I can think of."
"There haven't been any strangers lurking around?"
Her lips twisted in a humorless smile. "Most people will tell you that I'm not the most observant person," she said, recalling her mother's resigned complaint that Angela could recite the periodic table when she was barely five, but didn't know the name of one classmate. She hastily squashed the age-old pain before it could fully form. Her mother's death last year meant that the older woman could no longer be disappointed in her only child. "Outside the lab I tend to be distracted."
"What about when you're home?" he demanded. "Have you seen anyone new in the neighborhood?"
"No." She frowned. "Shouldn't the police be asking these questions?"
His smile didn't reach his eyes. "They didn't want to spook the students so I agreed to do a bit of discreet investigating for them."
"Oh." It seemed weird to have a visiting professor investigating a potential stalker, but what did she know? "I'm sorry I can't help."
He reached into his pocket to pull out a pen, scribbling on a piece of napkin.
"Here," he murmured, folding the paper before he lightly pressed it into her unresisting fingers.
Angela's heart slammed against her ribs as pleasure exploded through her. Her head might warn her to stop weaving futile fantasies about this man, but her body hadn't received the memo.
His fingers were hot—shockingly hot—against her skin. A branding heat that sent darts of excitement to the pit of her stomach.
And his scent was wrapping around her like a cloak of invitation.
"What is it?" she husked, becoming lost in the astonishing blue of his eyes.
"My phone number."
"I want you to call me."
Her heart gave another stuttering leap. "You do?"
"I ..." She licked her suddenly dry lips. "When?"
"The very minute you notice anything out of the ordinary."
Shit. She came back to earth with a resounding crash.
The stalker. Right.
She lowered her head, determined he wouldn't guess her flare of humiliation.
"If you notice anything," he insisted. "No matter how small."
"Yeah, I got it."
Without warning his hand was cupping her chin, tilting her face up so he could study her with a faint frown.
There was another jolt of sensation before she was pulling free of his destructive touch and rising to her feet with a stubborn expression.
"Cross my heart and hope to die."
"I need to find Megan."CHAPTER 2
Standing near the railing of the second floor of the nightclub, Nikolo studied the throng of people that moved below him.
College students jerked and hopped around the dance floor while townies and aging professors lined the bar at the back.
Over and over, his gaze skimmed the swarm of norms before returning to the slender brunette who'd moved to a front table with her friend.
He didn't worry about the aggravating scientist catching sight of him. He couldn't actually make himself invisible, but he could ... convince people not to notice him.
It was a talent of most Sentinels. Along with heightened senses, predatory instincts, and a cunning patience that would allow him to track his prey from one end of the world to other if necessary.
He also had the ability to sense when a high-blood was near.
Of course, the public was far more accustomed to the Sentinels who performed as guardians to high-bloods. Those Sentinels were raised and trained by monks in mysterious arts that were never spoken of outside the monasteries. They were also heavily tattooed to protect them from being controlled by psychics or attacked with spells.
They were lethal beasts, but they were also ridiculously noticeable in a crowd.
Massive killers tattooed from the top of their bald heads to the tips of their toes tended to attract attention.
Which is why the Sentinels also needed hunters who could travel unnoticed.
Hunters like him. Oh, and the man currently standing a few feet away.
Never allowing his gaze to stray from Angela Locke, he gave a tiny motion of his hand. All high-bloods understood you didn't approach a Sentinel when he was locked on his prey.
Bad, bad things could happen.
"Arel," he murmured, recognizing the scent of the fellow Sentinel.
The younger man stepped forward, the flashing strobe lights shimmering over the honey highlights in his light brown hair and turning his eyes to molten gold.
Excerpted from Out Of Control by Alexandra Ivy. Copyright © 2013 Debbie Raleigh. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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