It’s been seven years since Nikulas’ brother walked out the door of his Seattle apartment and never came back. All he knew was that the he was on his way to meet with the leader of a neighboring vampire colony who’d been causing trouble, and neither of them have been seen since. Now, with the first lead he's had in years, Nikulas discovers that a witch went missing around the same time. Coincidence? No way. And even better, she has a sister. And that sister is hot. Nikulas knows as soon as he sets eyes on Emma's strawberry-blonde head that he should stay away from her...the moment he tastes her blood, he knows he won’t be able to. Because Emma is HIS.
Seven years after Emma witnessed her sister’s kidnapping, there’s still no sign of what happened to her. She, herself, spent three months in the hospital after the “bear” attack, and still has the scars to prove it. Now, as day after day passes with no news of her sister, she has to fight against the loss of hope…until she gets a phone call from a seductive stranger who claims to have new information. He seems harmless with his teasing manner and Hollywood pretty-boy looks, but she can sense a predatory air of danger about him. Instead of warning her away, however, she finds herself irresistibly drawn to him, and agrees to go with him on a rescue mission to find their missing siblings.
Although Nikulas aches to keep Emma with him always, a ghost from the past won’t let him. And he soon finds out that she her own demons to fight. Determined to resist the Blood Hunger, Nikulas decides that she deserves more than spending her life with a vampire, even if it means losing his own in the process. However, Emma is just as determined to prove to him that they can fight their ghosts…together.
Release date: December 19, 2014
Publisher: Everblood Publishing, LLC
Print pages: 302
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A Vampire Bewitched
Nikulas pushed himself off the ground and rose to his full height. He rolled his head on his shoulders, then looked toward the house he’d been watching.
Or rather, the female inside the house—Emma Moss.
He’d been here every night for the past week, watching, waiting, learning her habits and her routine, hoping to pick up on something that would confirm his suspicions.
So far he’d learned…absolutely nothing. Except she worked too much and seemed to be a vegetarian.
This was the first time he’d spent the entire night there, though. Usually he’d find a good vantage point in one of the trees surrounding her place right after sunset—about seven or eight at night—and he’d hang out until she went to bed around eleven. There was nothing much to see after that.
As far as he could tell, Emma was a loner. She had no family. No friends. She didn’t even have a pet.
And wasn’t that interesting in and of itself.
In spite of the fact he’d learned nothing to support what he knew about her, he didn’t consider the past week a complete waste of time. Mainly because Emma Moss was fucking hot. Boring…but hot.
Even from halfway down her driveway hiding under a canopy of trees, he could see her well enough to know the female had been blessed with some good genes. Her body was lean and petite, and her face—framed by shoulder-length hair of some light, indecisive color…blond, maybe—could be on the cover of a magazine.
He’d love to be able to see that hair in the sunlight…run his fingers through it…lift it to his nose. He’d bet she smelled great with all the showers she took. One every night as soon as she came home, and probably again in the morning. She seemed to be the type.
Nik had just decided it was time to leave when he saw her bedroom light come on. Curious as to what her morning routine was, he leaned back against his favorite tree, crossed his muscular arms over his hard chest, and prepared to watch the show. His eyes followed the light trail as she made her way downstairs in the god-awful robe she always wore and walked into the kitchen and out of sight.
He waited where he was, thinking she wouldn’t be there long. Probably just getting a drink.
Yup, there she goes, back upstairs, glass of water in hand.
He grinned widely, proud of himself that he’d guessed correctly, but between one second and the next, his smile turned into a scowl.
Man, I need to get a fucking life.
Emma walked across the bedroom and into her bathroom. A few minutes passed, then the lights turned off one by one as she made her way downstairs annnd…out the front door.
Nik shoved away from the tree. Shit! He needed to hightail it out of there, he wasn’t ready to be seen. Besides, it was way too close to dawn. Still safe for him to be out, but just barely. He really needed to go.
Instead, he pulled his hood up to cover his light hair and silently moved to a more concealed vantage point behind the tree.
He watched as she strode across the porch to the top of the steps and stretched, grabbing her feet behind her—first one, then the other. Nik’s eyebrows lifted when she bent over to touch her toes, giving him a full view of her ass. A pose that brought an interested lift to other parts of him, as well. She shook out her arms and legs, put her ear buds in, and headed his way at an easy jog.
As she came closer and closer, Nikulas became as still as the trees around him. Standing in the pre-dawn shadows of a large maple, he watched, mesmerized, as the most stunning creature he’d ever seen passed within mere feet of him, completely unaware of his presence.
His lungs began to ache as she jogged by, reminding him to breathe, and he sucked in a big gulp of air. A second later, he wished he hadn’t done that.
Her luscious scent hit him hard, and his body responded instantly, gums burning as his fangs elongated. Saliva filled his mouth and his muscles hardened in preparation to hunt. To feed.
He’d spent the past week watching her from afar through the windows of her house, but nothing had prepared him for the sight, and smell, of her up close and personal.
His eyes followed her with an interest bordering on obsession. She moved with the easy grace born to a natural runner. Her…oh yeah…strawberry-blond ponytail bounced in the breeze, and her flawless, alabaster skin was just starting to flush a bit from the wind and exertion. He watched her cute little backside—in those tight running pants—bounce by him and out to the end of her driveway, where she turned right and headed down the rural road.
He scrubbed a hand over his mouth as he watched her.
The burning of the sun’s rays as it peeked over the horizon rapidly cooled his ardor, and Nik took off to head back to the tricked-out RV, about two miles from Emma’s house, where he and Aiden—Guardian of Nik, Hunter, best buddy, tech wizard, and all around badass vampire—were holed up.
They’d found a clearing in a secluded area of the woods to park their pimped out mobile unit. It had started out as a Fleetwood Pace Arrow, which was worked over to include things like steel shutters over the windows, technology out the ass, weapon caches, and a souped-up engine (think Meet The Fockers).
Luckily for him, vampires were blessed with supernatural speed. He laughed out loud as he raced the fiery rays of the sun, feeling high off the adrenaline flooding his system and the close call with Emma. Nik barreled through the RV door like a SWAT officer, seconds away from turning into a bonfire and grinning like an idiot.
Aiden swung his chair around from the security monitors and watched, unperturbed, as his friend frantically slapped at the smoking areas of exposed skin on his arms and face.
“One of these days, mate, you’re going to cut it too bloody close. And I’m the one who’ll be chasing your ashes all over these bloody woods come nightfall, trying to collect enough to have a decent funeral. I will give you a brilliant elegy, and finish it just in time for Luukas to throw me into the sun for not doing my job of protecting you.” Aiden squinted his eyes at his friend of over 300 years. “What’s with the grin?”
Nik pushed his blonde hair out of his face. “Today is the day, my friend…or night rather. I’ll call Emma at work and have her meet me after dark, somewhere public…that little bar down the road, maybe…and get her on our side.”
“Do you know how you’re going to manage that?” Aiden asked.
“You doubt my skills of persuasion, Aid? After all the years you’ve known me?” Nik scoffed. “Besides, how could she resist this handsome face?” He gave him his best roguish grin.
“You’re sure she’s the right girl? I would hate to kidnap the wrong one.”
Nik stared at him. He had to be joking.
“Alright, I’d hate to kidnap the wrong one this time. And besides, those other times weren’t really kidnappings, they were just weekend dalliances of mutual consent…for the most part.”
Nik rolled his eyes and shook his head. This was a conversation for another day. Another day a long time from now. Like, never.
“It’s her. I’m sure of it. There’s no way she knows anything, though. She’s totally clueless. As far as I can see, Emma Moss doesn’t know who, or what, she is.”
Aiden unfolded his six-foot one-inch frame from his chair and stretched his arms over his head. His shirt rode up, exposing a strip of flat, muscular stomach. “You really think she’s unaware she’s a witch? How can she not know?” He yanked his shirt down and pressed a button on the console that locked down the RV for the day. “How does she explain all of the unexplainable in her life? The premonitions? Things moving around on their own and such?”
Nik shook his head. “I’ve been watching her all week, man, and I’m telling you, she’s completely clueless. She has no idea what she’s capable of.”
Aiden nodded, a thoughtful look on his face. “Well, that would explain why she hasn’t gone after her sister, yet. I’ll ring up the guys and tell them to prepare.” Aiden turned back to grab his cell. “And then you and I need to get some rest, mate. I don’t know about you, but I’m bloody knackered. And we’ve a busy next few days ahead of us.”
The grass in the field has grown above Emma’s knees and tickles her bare legs. It catches on the bottom of her short, summer skirt as she runs, pulling at the flimsy material. Her sister, Keira, is chasing her, and Emma laughs as she chances a look back over her shoulder. Keira is about to catch her, so she squeals and runs faster! Behind her sister, she can see the white lights of the Ferris wheel lighting up the night sky.
It’s so pretty.
The tinkling of the carnival music fades as she and Keira run toward their car parked by the edge of the field. Laughing, they zigzag through the grass, trying to catch each other, stumbling every so often on the uneven ground.
Emma glances back again to find Keira has stopped running. The stuffed dog Emma won for her hangs limply at her side. Out of breath and giggling, Emma shoves her hair out of her face and stops, too.
“Come on, Keira!” Emma shouts, but her sister doesn’t move, doesn’t look at her. Gradually, Emma’s smile fades.
Keira’s eyes are white-ringed with terror.
Emma stares at her, confused. “Keira? What’s the matter?”
The hair on the back of her neck lifts straight up. Someone, or something, is behind her. Something that has scared her normally brave sister into immobility.
Slowly, reluctantly, she turns around to face this thing that has so rudely intruded upon their night. The first fun time they’d had in the months since their parents died.
The sight before her takes a few seconds to sink in, as it’s made from the stuff of nightmares.
Staggered along the tree line are monsters. Actual monsters. Grotesque creatures with skin oozing the rotting smell of death and bleeding, bulging eyes. Their bodies are tall and muscular, yet emaciated at the same time. Powerful arms hang almost to their knees. Long, yellowed claws curl at the ends of their fingers. They wear no clothing, and their genitalia hang obscenely between their legs.
The one closest to Emma opens its mouth wide, and saliva drips down sharp, pointed teeth. It pushes its nearly hairless, distorted head forward on its neck and hisses loudly at them.
Emma screams as Keira yells, “RUN, Emma! RUN!!”
Emma got to work at 7:55am on the dot, just like she did every morning. And like every morning, she walked through the reception area with a “Good morning, Linda!”
The receptionist put the romance novel she was reading in the desk drawer. “Good morning, Emma.”
Emma waved her badge over the access pad, waiting for the security system to beep before she pushed through the door and strode to her cubicle. Locking her purse in her desk drawer, she sat down to boot up her computer. While she waited for the outdated thing to wake up, she took a sip of her soy latte and tried to shake off the effects of the dream she’d had.
She worked for an independent furniture company in their accounting department. Not the most exciting career, but it suited her. The work was routine, with very few surprises, which was exactly how she liked her life.
Or so she told herself.
At 8:00am exactly, her boss arrived. Smiling broadly, he stopped by Emma’s desk. “Good Morning, Emma! You look especially nice today.”
She glanced down at her clothes. She was wearing her usual work attire—black pencil skirt, silk hose, black, 2-inch heels, and a forest green blouse buttoned up to her neck. A black sweater thrown over her shoulders completed the ensemble. Her wavy hair was styled back off her face, and she wore minimal makeup.
“Um. Thank you, Mark.” She felt a bit awkward as he beamed at her like he’d just won the lottery.
“I have some meetings this morning, so I’ll probably be here late tonight catching up on the regular stuff. Let me know when you’re leaving and I can walk you to your car.”
“Sure. Thanks.” Truth was, Mark walked her to her car almost every night since she’d started working here a year ago.
“I’ll see you then.” Mark rapped her desk once with his knuckles and continued to his office.
She sipped her latte and turned back to her computer.
“He likes you, Emma,” Darlene, her co-worker in the cubicle across the aisle, whispered loudly.
Emma furrowed her brow and whispered back, “Mark is nice to everyone.”
“Yeah, he is. But Mark doesn’t stop and say good morning to everyone, or compliment what they’re wearing, or offer to walk them to their car every night.” With a knowing look, Darlene turned back to her computer.
Emma frowned at the back of Darlene’s gray head. She decided to ignore the comments and turned back to her computer, which had finally gotten to the log in screen. After all, Mark was married with three kids. He was just a nice guy who was gentlemanly enough to walk her to her car after everyone else was gone.
Besides, she didn’t date. Not since the “bear attack.” Well, other than that one small fling she’d had with a Marine who’d been home on leave. Otherwise, she hadn’t been out with anyone since Keira disappeared. And that was just fine with her. She liked her life the way it was. Orderly, unexciting, and peaceful. And yeah, sometimes a little boring.
Okay, a lot boring. But she didn’t have to worry about anyone but herself. She did what she wanted, when she wanted, and she didn’t have to explain herself.
Emma gave a heavy sigh. Not like she ever really did anything except work and exercise. And on the weekends she spent her time volunteering at the Women’s Center, helping victims of abuse learn skills to be able to take care of themselves and their children. Anything to keep her mind off of her lack of a sex life, and the reason behind it.
Darlene handed her some purchase orders, pulling her from her thoughts. “Are you going to sit there staring into space all day, girl?”
Emma felt her face flush. “No. Of course not. Sorry.” Shoving her personal problems out of her mind, where they belonged while she was at work, she logged onto her computer and started her day.
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