Sacrifices had to be made for the greater, bloody good.
At least that's what vampire Aiden Sinclair kept telling himself when he woke up in an unfamiliar city with no memory of how he'd gotten there, or why. When he happens upon a cheeky witch in distress who's being hunted by beasts he is all too familiar with, Aiden must make a choice: Suppress his fears and be with the girl, or embrace the truth and save them all.
Destinies will be fulfilled.
Grace Moss may be a witch, but her magic totally sucks. Hence the reason she finds herself saying yes to an unexpected offer of aid from a dusty, yet yummy-smelling, vampire. With a sexy British accent and bright grey eyes that dance with mischief, his touch makes her blood sing. Yet, something about him makes her skin crawl, and it's not just the fact he has fangs.
To survive, Aiden will have to trust that her love will be enough to save him, and Grace will have to accept him as he is - into her heart, and into her arms.
Release date: December 26, 2015
Publisher: Everblood Publishing, LLC
Print pages: 306
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A Vampire Possessed
Aiden awoke with a jerk and tried to suck in a breath. Fine grain filled his mouth and nose, suffocating him. More came in as he tried to spit it back out, and he panicked. His heart rate rose to a violent staccato as he tried to raise his hands to his face to wipe it off, only to find he couldn't move at all.
What the fuck?
Adrenaline flowed through his tired limbs, flooding them with a sudden spurt of energy. He tried to swing his arms and legs back and forth, but it was so thick it was like pushing against a wall. Determined to find his way out of this wonky situation, he kept wiggling his body around, until little by little, the grain loosened a bit around him.
More adrenaline surged into his muscles with every inch he gained, and a desperate longing to be free stimulated his exceptional strength until he was able to swim through the stuff.
It was kind of like swimming through a mass of thick quicksand, but he kept going, hoping like hell that "up" was actually above his head and he wasn't working his way deeper into the stuff. He needed air. And he needed it now.
The rough granules stuck to his sweat-soaked clothes and skin, but those that didn't stick trickled down the pile every time he raised an arm or a leg, gradually adding up enough so he had some purchase.
It was an exceptionally slow and painful process, but after what seemed like an eternity, he managed to haul himself to the top. As soon as his nose and mouth broke free, he spit the crap out of his mouth the best he could and sucked in a huge lungful of hot, stale tasting air.
Exhausted, he hung out where he was for a bit while he inhaled some much-appreciated oxygen. He didn't really need it to survive, but the habit was so ingrained, he couldn't help but freak out if he didn't have it.
Gathering up some more energy, he pushed with his legs until his entire head was free. He worked an arm out and wiped the grit off his face. Blinking it out of his eyes, he took a look around.
"Bloody hell," he rasped from his dry, aching throat.
He was lucky he'd stopped "swimming" when he had, or he would've smashed his head into the top of the damn metal shipping container he was in.
How in the world had he managed to get in here? And for that matter, where exactly was "here"?
Following the line of the container around to the front, he found a crack where the door must be, and he started kicking and paddling through the grain towards it. He had just enough room to keep his head above the top of the pile.
Keeping a wary distance from the opening until he saw that no sunlight was shining in, he moved closer and stuck his eyeball right up against it. Straining to make out something...anything...that would give him a clue as to where he was, he turned his head this way and that. But all he saw were more shipping containers.
So he was either in a shipyard, or on a ship, and being that he wasn't feeling any movin' or groovin' going on, he would hazard a guess that he wasn't in the middle of the ocean.
Now, how to get out of this bloody thing? There wasn't enough room for him to get a decent amount of momentum going to bust his way out, not fighting through the grain that filled this thing, and not in the weakened state he was in.
Maybe he could find the latch for the door? Bust it open? But at the thought of voluntarily burying himself again to get down to it made him shudder.
Right then. Perhaps not.
He was racking his brain for an alternative plan when he heard the beautiful sound of male voices heading his way. Tilting his head to hear better, he calmed his breathing and listened, trying to make out what they were saying.
After a moment he frowned, pulled back from the door and shook his head. He must have grain in his ears, for he was having a hard time understanding them, even with his supernatural hearing.
Working his way closer to the door again, he pressed his ear right up against it.
He stared at the door in disbelief. Was that...Chinese?
He was going daft.
His heart rate accelerated back up to double-time as he pressed his eye back up to the crack: Nothing there but other shipping containers no matter how he strained to see around them.
Okay, mate. Just stay calm. No need to make things worse by having a fit.
He backed away from the door as well as he could and tried to think through this new information logically. Truly, he could be back in Seattle for all he knew. There was a large Chinese population there, and they spoke their native tongue with each other all the time. It didn't mean anything that these humans weren't speaking English. There was no need to get all riled up just yet.
No matter how his instincts were telling him to do exactly that.
The voices of the two males wandered closer, still talking. Aiden leaned in towards the crack again, and this time he could see them as they approached.
In all of his years, why had he never bothered to really learn this language? All he could pick out was a word here and there.
One of them swung his arm up as his voice rose with it, apparently to make an important point in the conversation. His scent wafted through the air and up to the small opening to infuse the air within the container.
The scent of sweat, and spices...and blood.
His gums burned as his fangs burst through, his body eager to feed. His guts felt shriveled and loose, and his stomach nearly about to cave in on itself.
A feral growl rumbled from his parched throat, and his body tensed, preparing to strike.
Crazed with thirst, he snapped into predator mode. Sweat stinging his eyes, they zeroed in on the door as the humans approached it.
A clanking noise resonated loudly throughout the metal container, followed by a low humming sound. The box jerked as the hydraulics underneath it came on, slowly lifting the back end and tilting it forward.
His mouth watered and his throat burned with thirst as his muscles swelled and tightened in preparation for the hunt. The grain started to shift forward as the back end inclined, carrying him with it. He let it take him, not wasting his energy fighting the heavy mass, saving what he had left for taking down his prey.
He needed to feed.
The grain engulfed him completely again just as the doors began to swing open, concealing his presence from the humans. Closing his eyes, he pushed away the fear of being buried again, opening his remaining senses and moving within the grain to keep his body upright. The back end tilted up higher, and he slid out through the opening as the doors swung open wide.
Landing in a graceful crouch on the concrete beneath a waterfall of grain, he wasted no time, launching himself to the side and barely escaping the gritty cascade of granules as it was dumped out of the container.
Following the scent of the humans, he tracked them to the back of the shipping container, where they were waiting for the last of the grain to spill out so they could switch off the lift.
They never even saw him coming. He moved so swiftly and silently, he was nothing but a dark blur in the deepening twilight.
He grabbed one of the humans around the throat. Holding him at arms length with ease, he pulled the other one towards him and sank his fangs deep into his throat, directly into the artery. Sucking down deep swallows of the life-giving liquid, he quickly drained the first male dry and tossed him aside.
The other human's eyes bulged from their sockets as he turned to him, the stench of fear and piss souring his scent right before he became the second course. The man's body quickly joined his friend's on the ground.
As soon as he finished feeding, his knees buckled and he collapsed beside them, his ass hitting the asphalt hard enough to jar his teeth. He gripped his head in his hands as he fought down the guilt that wracked him.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
He hated killing them. He really did. It went completely against his nature. He never killed the innocent. Ever.
He wasn't a bloody monster.
Taking a deep, shuddering breath, he slowly lifted his head, and resigned himself to the fact that he didn't see how it could have been avoided. Although he couldn't remember how he'd gotten to this place, or how long he'd been here, it was obvious he hadn't fed in quite a long time. Really no sense in beating himself up about it.
He stared down at himself. Looked like he hadn't changed his clothes for a while either, for that matter. Of course it was hard to tell with the coating of dust that now covered him.
He slapped at his jeans and removed his hoodie to shake it out, trying to dislodge some of the stuff.
The last thing he remembered was Leeha, the sneaky tart, filling him in on her latest hijinks. She had told him she was sorry, and her blood red eyes had filled with tears.
His hoodie dropped to his lap as the memories came flooding back.
She'd told him about the altar, and the demons that were tied to it, and how she was giving them bodies to possess. Vampire bodies. Vampires who'd been created by Luukas, the same Master vampire who'd created him, because the vamps she made weren't strong enough to handle the possession. That in spite of all of her efforts, her creatures were slowly rotting, turning into smelly, grotesque, grey monsters that resembled the demons that possessed them more than the vampires they'd used to be. They only lasted long enough for them to be used for the easier tasks, like guarding her lair and kidnapping unsuspecting witches.
She'd seemed sincerely sorry that he was about to be the next one on that altar.
He looked down at himself in confusion.
But I'm not possessed. I'm still here.
Yes! Of course he was! He was looking at himself at this very moment.
Maybe she hadn't been able to go through with it.
As he rolled that thought over in his mind, wondering if it could possibly be true, something within him seemed to sigh sadly.
He stilled, listening, but that strange feeling didn't return again. With a self-conscious chuckle, he gave himself an internal shake and scrubbed his face with his hands.
Get it together, mate.
His hands came away bloody. Scowling at the memories and his unusual lack of decorum during his feeding frenzy (he wasn't normally quite so messy about it), he leaned forward and wiped his hands clean on one of the humans' pant legs, then ripped off a piece to wipe off his face.
Well, he could at least give them a decent burial, and then he'd get back to the business of figuring out where the bloody hell he was. He needed to find a phone at least, and call Nikulas. His best friend was probably worried sick. He should be able to pinpoint the location of the call and come and get him.
Also, a shower and some new clothes would be nice.
Grace Moss dropped down behind a parked car before she was seen, ignoring the beep from a passing bus because she was in its lane. Duck walking awkwardly around to the back of it, she peered around the bumper and watched as the three men she'd been following walked up to the entrance of a tall, industrial looking building.
The last one to enter paused briefly on the threshold and took a quick look behind him. He had a small, black duffle bag slung over his shoulder.
She barely stopped herself from squealing with happiness when she spotted it. Until now, she hadn't been able to risk getting close enough to them in the darkness to be able to see if they still had it.
As if he could sense her watching, he frowned suspiciously and gripped the bag tighter to his side. But after another quick scan of the empty street, he turned and followed his friends inside.
Taking off as fast as she could go in her favorite strappy sandals with the wedge heels, she ran to the door and stuck her arm inside right before it closed and locked.
She winced as the heavy steel smashed against her forearm, and stuck her sandaled foot in to share some of the burden. Dammit, that was gonna leave one hell of a bruise.
If she were any kind of a witch worth her salt at all, she'd be able to open that heavy door with nothing but a thought. But unfortunately, she was pretty damn useless as far as witches went. Even her family thought so. Why else would her parents have risked death to bring her here when the new High Priest had taken over? Other than to hide their worthless daughter where no one would find her?
Only she and her mother had made it out. Her father had died the day they'd escaped the coven.
She stayed as she was for a few heartbeats, wanting to be sure no one had noticed that the door hadn't slammed shut. When she didn't hear any alarms being raised, she used her other hand to pry it open just wide enough for her stick her head through and peek inside.
Leaning forward one cautious inch at a time, she squinted into the gloom, then pulled her head out again with a frown. It was pitch black in there. She couldn't see a damn thing. Why the hell didn't she carry a flashlight with her? Just in case?
Oh, wait! She did have a flashlight. On her phone! If she could just get it out of her back pocket...
"Whom are we spying on, poppet?"
The low, masculine voice came from directly next to her right ear. With a surprised screech, she leapt back away from the doorway, colliding solidly against a hard, male body.
She froze at the impact, momentarily shocked at the body heat that now warmed her from her shoulders to her ass. Helplessly she watched as the steel door in front of her slammed shut in with a loud "clunk", effectively locking her out.
Her heart resumed pounding again at the sight, hard and heavy at first, then gradually slowing to its normal rhythm. She shook her fist at the door. "Dammit to hell!"
With a frustrated sigh, she suddenly realized the tall dude behind her was, at this very moment, noisily smelling her hair.
Spinning around to give him a piece of her mind, she was caught off guard for the second time when she found herself eye to eye with a dusty T- shirt that had the saying "I <3 Girls In Wellies" sprawled across the front in bold, blue letters.
Wellies? What the hell were wellies?
Refocusing...again...she craned her head back to let him know exactly how not amused she was by his sneaking up on her like that. But as she caught her first up close and personal look at her interloper, the angry words got stuck somewhere in the middle of her throat. And to make matters even more awkward, her mouth hung open for a good five seconds before he reached out and closed it with a gentle finger under her jaw.
Whatever she'd been about to say had gone up in smoke, and she found herself blinking stupidly at the pair of luminescent grey eyes smiling down into hers.
Framed by long, dark lashes, with little creases at the corners, they glimmered from the shadow of his hoodie like beacons of light in the darkness.
Backing up a step, she boldly ran her eyes over all six feet or so of him. Living where she did, it was rare to see a man taller than she was. It was rarer still to see one of his ethnicity (meaning anyone that wasn't Asian) that wasn't a total computer nerd. And this one was most definitely not a computer nerd. He looked more like a model.
She squeezed her eyes shut to make sure she wasn't having some kind of psychological breakdown, but he was still there when she opened them, looking all hot and yummy in his form-fitting jeans, combat boots, and grey hoodie. Having been up close and personal with him, she already knew those dusty clothes covered nothing but lean muscle underneath. His nose was straight, his cheekbones were high, and he had a slight dimple in his chin.
"Who the hell are you?" she blurted out in English.
He smiled, revealing straight, white teeth and small lines that crinkled around his eyes and created attractive crevices in his cheeks. "So sorry, love," he said in a charming British accent. "That was rude of me. I should have introduced myself before scaring the bejesus out of you." He stuck out his hand. "My name is Aiden. Aiden Sinclair."
She stared at his large hand a moment before taking it tentatively with her own.
Instead of shaking her hand, he flipped it over and lifted it to his mouth to press a soft, firm kiss on the middle of her palm with his perfectly sculpted lips.
Her mouth dropped open in surprise for the second time as warm tingles shot up her arm and straight down to her groin at the feel of his lips on her skin, where they morphed into fluttering butterflies.
She tamped those suckers down with sheer force of will, unwilling to let him see how much he affected her. Instead, she raised a skeptical eyebrow at his blatant attempt at flirting. "Really, dude?"
His beautiful eyes narrowed at her knowingly, one side of his mouth curving up into a half smile, but he released her hand.
"So!" He clapped his hands together, rubbing them together in anticipation. "Now that we've been properly introduced, tell me, who are we spying on?"
Her irritation with him returned. "I wasn't spying on anyone."
He quirked an eyebrow.
"Well, not really. I wasn't spying, I was following. Those dudes in there took my Mojo, and I need it back. I was about to sneak in there and get it, before you so rudely scared the hell out of me, causing me to jump back in fright, dislodging my arm and foot from the opening. So now that very large, very thick, very heavy door has closed, and it's locked and I can't get in."
Aiden cocked his head and stuck his hands in the pockets of his hoodie. "Your mojo?"
"Yeah. My Mojo."
He eyed her up and down as boldly as she had him. "You do realize, poppet, that if you're going to be sneaking around and following people, you should really make yourself less conspicuous. And wear stealthier shoes."
She looked down at her jeans and moss green pullover shirt. "What do you mean? I'm dressed like most of the girls do around here."
"That may be." He reached out and picked up a lock of her long, wind-blown mahogany hair, skimming his fingers lightly along the top of her breast as he did so. "But this hair is quite beautiful, and quite distinctive. You should cover it if you're going to be out and about 'not' spying on people."
Grace's pulse raced at his too-brief touch, and she frowned. She never reacted to men like this. Not even disgustingly gorgeous ones. Jerking her head back, she pulled her hair out of his grasp.
"Also," he continued, putting his hand back in his pocket. "You're quite taller, and paler, than most females around here, so you do stand out a bit."
She crossed her arms in front of her chest self-consciously. It was true. Although she was only 5'5", she was a good few inches taller or more than the majority of the women here.
Pushing his hood back, revealing short, messy dark hair, he scratched his head in confusion as he looked around. "By the way, would you be so kind as to tell me exactly where we are, poppet?"
It took her a moment to catch up to his change of topic. "You don't know where you are?"
"Not exactly, no. But let me back up. I realize I'm in China; I'm not completely daft. I'm just not certain of the exact location."
She scrunched up her face at him. "How does a person not know where they are? I mean, you know who you are, so you don't have amnesia or anything. And you got yourself here, didn't you?"
"Yes, you see, about that...I, uh..." He shrugged and let out a breath, as if to say what the hell. "I just kind of woke up here, over by the docks there. And the events leading up to my arrival here are a bit...hazy. And by that I mean I don't remember anything at all."
Grace studied his expression. He sounded sincere, and he certainly was good looking, but there was something about him...something that wasn't quite...right. Something weird. Something that was making her instincts fire off caution signals all over the place. She should lose this guy, and the sooner the better.
Except, he really was panty dropping hot. And that was something a girl didn't come across very often in real life.
"Were you drunk?" she asked, her tone conveying her disgust with that type of behavior.
"No. No. I never over imbibe with alcohol."
"Do you remember anything of your life at all? Up until now I mean?"
He gave her a roguish grin. "Oh yes. Quite well."
She wasn't even going to ask what that grin was all about.
"It's just the last...um, what day is it?"
He looked thoughtful for a moment. "Tuesday...of what month?"
A slightly panicked look crossed his face, but it was gone so fast she wondered if she'd only imagined it.
"Look," she told him. "Do you want to use my phone? Maybe call someone who can come and get you?"
He gave her a hurt look, slapping his chest with the palm of one hand over the vicinity of his heart. A small dust cloud poofed off of his shirt and floated away. "Are you trying to be rid of me already, poppet? And here I thought we were well on our way to becoming fast friends, you and I."
"Yeah, look dude..."
"Besides, you still haven't told me where I am. And what about your mojo?"
She faltered, crossing her arms in front of her and thinking quickly. He had a point there. It would be helpful having another person with her. There were three Suits in there that she knew of. He would help even the odds.
"Trust me," he added, dropping his eyes to her chest, pushed up as it was by her arms. "I think I'm just the male to help you get that mojo back."
She tilted her head to the side and returned his look with an Are you kidding me? one of her own.
Dropping her arms back down to her sides, she sighed. "Look, dude, do you want to use my phone or not?"
He tore his gaze from her chest with a regretful sigh and smiled. "Yes. That would be helpful. Thank you."
Pulling it out of her back pocket, she handed him her cell. "Take as much time as you need, I have unlimited everything. Oh, and international calling."
She watched him punch in a number from memory (who remembers phone numbers these days?), and the thought crossed her mind that she should probably give him some privacy. But then again, if he was worried about her listening in, he gave no indication of it. And she didn't want him taking off with her phone.
Glancing up at him from under her lashes, she caught him watching her intently. She'd never found herself under such intense scrutiny from a guy before, and she didn't like it. It made her uncomfortable. Glaring at him irritably, she crossed her arms in front of her, only to drop them again when his eyes immediately fell to her cleavage.
She rolled her eyes. Men.
He just grinned.
"Nikulas? Yes, yes, it's me. Would you be so kind as to send a plane to..." He looked at her pointedly.
"Dalian, China," she told him automatically.
His mouth went slack and his brows lifted in surprise. "Dalian. China, yes." He tilted the phone away and looked around at the buildings as excited shouting sounded from the other end of the line.
"Dalian. Really?" he asked her. "It's changed a bit since the last time I was here."
He put the phone back to his mouth. "Yes, I seem to be fine." He paused again. "I have no idea, mate. It's a bit of a mystery to me as well. I woke up in a container full of grain. I'm still shaking it out of my trousers. I'm quite chafed. This stuff is worse than sand." He scowled off into the distance. "Don't laugh, you Estonian bastard."
Grace's lips quirked as she fought back a giggle and failed.
His eyes came back to her as if drawn there by some invisible force. They roved over her smiling features, burning brighter with every second, and then he smiled back at her. "Actually, mate, if you would hold off on that plane a bit. I'll call you when I'm ready to come home. Just ring this number if you need me. The lady who'll answer is Grace."
The smile fell from her face.
"I'll be fine, mate. Yes, I'm sure. I just need to help her out with something. All right. I'll talk to you soon." He clicked off the call and handed her cell back to her.
"Thank you, love."
She automatically reached out to take the phone from him and shoved it back into her jeans pocket.
"Why did you tell him to wait? And what makes you think you're going to be anywhere near my phone, or me for that matter, if your friend decides to call?"
He gave her a roguish grin, and took a step closer. "Because, poppet, I've decided to stay here for a bit and help you get your mojo back."
She opened her mouth to let him know that she could handle things just fine on her own, remembered the locked door and three Suits inside, and snapped it shut again. He hadn't done anything threatening towards her so far, and he certainly appeared to be in good shape. She wondered if he could fight.
"Do you think you can get this door open?"
His grin widened. "Quite!"
The butterflies fluttered as she stepped out of his way. This was either the best or worst idea she'd ever had, but she wasn't so stupid that she would turn down help getting her Mojo back.
Especially when that help was looking at her with sparkling grey eyes, and smelled like the clean outdoors, in spite of the dust covering him.
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