Tantalize (Tantalize Series #1)

Tantalize (Tantalize Series #1)

by Cynthia Leitich Smith

NOOK Book(eBook)

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Are you predator or prey?


Quincie Morris has never felt more alone. Her parents are dead, and her hybrid-werewolf first love is threatening to embark on a rite of passage that will separate them forever. Then, as she and her uncle are about to unveil their hot vampire-themed restaurant, a brutal murder leaves them scrambling for a chef. Can Quincie transform their new hire into a culinary Dark Lord before opening night? Can he wow the crowd in his fake fangs, cheap cape, and red contact lenses – or is there more to this earnest face than meets the eye? As human and preternatural forces clash, a deadly love triangle forms, and the line between predator and prey begins to blur. Who’s playing whom? And how long can Quincie play along before she loses everything? TANTALIZE marks Cynthia Leitich Smith’s delicious debut as a preeminent author of dark fantasy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780763651527
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication date: 03/02/2010
Series: Tantalize , #1
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 139,121
Lexile: HL740L (what's this?)
File size: 1 MB
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Cynthia Leitich Smith is the acclaimed and best-selling author of three books in the Feral series, as well as the Tantalize quartet and two graphic novels based on the Tantalize series, both illustrated by Ming Doyle. She lives in Austin, Texas.

In suburban Kansas City, I began as a child poet and grew into a journalist. I was the editor of my junior-high and high-school newspapers. I went on to study journalism at the University of Kansas and law at the University of Michigan Law School.

Along the way, I had a ton of jobs. I worked as a popcorn popper at a movie theater, a cashier at a gas station, a waitress at a Mexican restaurant, a switchboard operator for a bank, a telemarketer, and a receptionist for a small law firm. I served as a reporting intern for various small-town papers and the Dallas Morning News as well as a marketing intern for a greeting-card company in Kansas City, an oil company in Oklahoma, and a nonprofit organization in Topeka. I also held summer/semester clerkships at a judge’s office in Kansas, a small women’s-rights firm in Michigan, and a legal aid in Hawaii.

After graduation I moved to Chicago, where I worked briefly in the law office of the Department of Health and Human Services. But after six months (and a long talk with some ducks in Lake Michigan), I quit my day job to write full time. I eventually relocated and settled in Austin.

I love to literally plunge into my fictional worlds.

For Tantalize, I went house shopping for my characters, confessed my intentions to the realtors, and walked away with floor plans and photos. At the local coffee shop, I tapped hirsute folks on the shoulder and asked if I could take pictures of them to use as models for shape-shifters. I also made a point to dine at every Italian restaurant in Austin.

For the New York Times best-selling novel Eternal, I walked every Chicago street that my characters did, trying to see the landscape anew through their eyes. I made notes about the sounds, the smells, the chill in the air. The ink in my pen froze on Navy Pier, and I ended up cutting that scene anyway.

For the Feral trilogy, I strolled ash-strewn acres of Texas that had been ravaged by wildfires and spent hours at Austin’s rescue zoo communing with lions.

Hearts Unbroken was more of a journey into memory. I had to revisit being a teen journalist whose editorials sometimes crossed swords with suburban Kansas sensibilities. I had to reflect on what it felt like to navigate Native identity on every level, sometimes in the face of bigotry, while also seeking joy and celebrating daily life, culture, and community.

What I love most about being a young adult author is hearing from young adult readers!
I’m happy to answer questions about my novels and to recommend additional books by other authors.

Read an Excerpt


Lousy idea, us sitting like that on the railroad tracks. If we had had to jump, it would have been a heart-stopping drop to the lake below. But Kieren had said he could hear a train coming from far away, in more than enough time for us to scramble from the middle of the bridge to safety. And I trusted him. Liked him watching out for me, too.

To the west, the fading horizontal clouds had turned a bloody tangerine color, fuzzy and tinged with violet, like the inside of a conch shell. So, I imagined picking one up, a curved shell, and shaking it to see if theanimal within had died.

Then Kieren’s fingernails began tracing the pattern on my upturned palm, and it was hard to think about anything. I knew it bothered him, though, my laugh line, my love line, my lifeline. Slight and severed, all of them.

This was four years ago, so we were in middle school, past due for handholding. I’d been staying with Kieren’s family, helping with the baby, while my folks were in Guatemala doing whatever professors with archaeology Ph.D.s did there. Daddy anyway. Mama had just gone along for the ride. They’d be back the day after tomorrow, I realized. And tomorrow could be gone in a heartbeat or two.

"It’s not just a sunset," I said, going for poetic. "It’s a moonrise, too."

Kieren’s nostrils flared at that, which I found exceedingly manly. Besides, I’d always loved this time of day, late evening when the world went smoky and soft. Dusk. Twilight. Such pretty names. We owed somethingto the night, didn’t we?

I tried pressing my newly rounded right boob against his forearm. Even though it was well covered in a sweatstained T-shirt, even though the temperature had to be over ninety degrees. I had it on good authority that most boys my age were due to go boob crazy at any time. But my hand was all he was interested in.

As the sun melted into the horizon, I stared into the rippling water and decided to take the lead. If Kieren backed off, I’d make like I was joking.

It seemed to take forever, turning my palm until our fingers aligned, rested against one another, ready to intertwine. His face was flushed, moist from the heat, and his expression didn’t tell me anything.

Taking a shallow breath, I went for it. There. My fingertips touched the back of his hand. His fingertips touched the back of mine. And he was letting it happen. I was about to say something — I didn’t know what — when distant but sure I heard the train.

"Kieren?" I whispered.

I’d distracted him.

A cause for celebration if it hadn’t been for the penalty.

His head snapped in the direction of the oncoming threat, the one that would reach me first, and his eyes in the evening light looked flat and yellow. I didn’t feel the pain when I first heard the wet crunching, didn’t feel it for long even, wicked hot, turning my sweat cold. There was an instant, just one, when I looked down at my hand and felt the blood dripping and realized his nails . . . claws . . . had extended, piercing clear through, five crescent-shaped punctures, catching raw muscle andsplintering bone.

"Oh," I said, like that explained everything, and suddenly, the train didn’t matter so much anymore. Then the world swirled, faded, took me floating into the darkness.


"You’re nuts!" I exclaimed after swallowing a bite of tender scallops twirled in garlic fettuccine. "My uncle will never sign off on this."

"No, no, not nuts, Quincie," the chef countered in an accented baritone. "Garlic. He said ‘Italian.’ Change this. Pave that. But still, Italian. So, garlic."

"But Vaggio!"

His triumphant smile let me in on the joke. "Ah, bambina, so predictable."

It was nearly 9 p.m., and since sevenish that evening, I’d been playing taste tester for the teasing and tiring chef. Each dish had been sensual, succulent, but none had screamed, "Presto: blood lust!" And that’s whatwe were going for.

Sanguini’s was to be Austin’s first restaurant built around a vampire theme. More class than kitsch, but not without a sense of playfulness. A reboot of Fat Lorenzo’s, the family-style Italian restaurant on South Congress that had once belonged to Gramma and Grampa Crimi, who’d left it to Mama. She’d often called the business her "other child" and seemed more at home there than she did in the house.

At least until three winters ago, when she and Daddy died on the icy 183 exit ramp off MoPac Expressway, orphaning me and the restaurant. The will had placed both of us in the care of Daddy’s younger brother,Davidson, until I hit twenty-one.

Back then, Uncle D was in his mid-twenties, barely out of Texas State University. I was only fourteen, and the marinara in my veins came from Mama’s side of the family, not Daddy’s. But Vaggio, the chef who’dknown my late grandparents since back in their Chicago days, helped Uncle D get up to speed. And from then on, I spent more time at Fat Lorenzo’s than anywhere else, even Kieren’s.

All was well until last year when Pasta Perfecto opened a few blocks south. Though our regulars had stayed regular, their parking lot was twice the size of ours. Within six months, Fat Lorenzo’s was in the red.

Something had to change, I’d said, or we’d find ourselves out of business. Vaggio had argued that we should stick with Italian, claiming he didn’t know how to cook anything else. Uncle Davidson had suggestedthe vampire concept.

"Can’t we just do a ghost?" Vaggio had asked. "It’s an old building. We could make up a story, say somebody who worked here died."

"Nah," Uncle Davidson had replied. "Haunted has been done to death."

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