Erotic Vampire Romance
Book One in the DEEP IS THE NIGHT Trilogy
May 8, 2016
Available for Kindle
Available from Barnes & Noble
Available from Kobo
Available from iBooks
DEEP IS THE NIGHT
Some towns are quaint...
Some towns are old...
Pine Forest is quaint, old, and the most haunted place on earth. But now more than ghosts prowl the night. Someone or something is attacking women and draining their blood. Three sexy, special couples will encounter dark, dangerous love and discover that sometimes there are more things in heaven and earth....
Whispers, secrets, and tales of ghosts abound in Pine Forest, but new librarian Erin Greenway doesn't believe in goblins. Yet the Victorian monstrosity she works in creaks and groans and speaks of horrible secrets she cannot deny. When Scot Lachlan Tavish claims to be chasing a thousand year old vampire, Lachlan's dark, sexual allure make her wonder if he's the hunter... or the hunted.
"In the still of the night...."
Erin Greenway sang the last notes of the song as she pulled her Subaru Forester into the library parking lot. She surveyed the misty October evening and the empty area.
No sign of Gilda's red Jag. Lights shown from the bottom floor windows and one solitary light illuminated a window on the second floor, so Gilda must be here. Erin glanced at the clock on the dash and the digital readout showed five thirty.
She glanced out the windshield at the tall, imposing building. Tendrils of fog drifted over the face of the Gothic Revival house now used as the public library. Soon the moon's silver illumination would give way to inky blackness and the old structure would look sinister.
Three stories of one hundred year-old stone bristling with old west history.
It sounded appealing on the local tourist brochure, but at night the structure became an eerie presence that made even Erin's steel nerves prickle with apprehension.
She shivered, grateful for her fleece hat pulled down over her ears, long coat, and thick mittens. At a frosty nine thousand feet altitude, the mountain town suffered under winter weather on a regular basis. A snowstorm should be here in another day or two and then she'd struggle through flurries. For now, though, the town appeared appropriately scary for the time of the year.
Clicking off the oldies radio station, and then shutting off the ignition, she stared at the library. Her best friend, Elaine Panzer, grew up in Pine Forest, Colorado and warned Erin before she left Arizona that the town held an unusual sway over unsuspecting residents. Elaine claimed Pine Forest was chalk-full-o'-specters. Erin figured she could blame Elaine's ghost tales for making her feel as jumpy as a frog in a frying pan. Yet even if Elaine didn't talk about ghostly phenomena three fourths of the time, Erin would have heard about them from the rest of the people living here. Everyone in town believed in ghosts, or so it seemed.
Yeah. Right. Ghosts and goblins don't exist. A whole town couldn't be rife with bogie men.
"Pfft!" Erin reached for her tote bag and unlocked the door. "As grandma would say... hogwash."
As she stepped into the night, the icy evening wrapped around her and she smiled. She could almost sense Halloween coming. The kids would love the spooky story time kickoff tonight. She hoped Gilda started on the decorations earlier in the day.
Just as she headed down the sidewalk, she heard the rustling in the bushes toward the back of the parking lot. Something big and heavy. Erin stopped, all her senses on alert. She sniffed. A musty, intrusive smell filled the air. Yesterday's headlines in the Pine Forest Sentinel sprang into her mind.
Young Woman Attacked In Park.
Person or persons unknown had assailed a young woman jogging at four in the morning in a secluded park and had bitten her on the neck.
The woman survived, but she now owned the biggest hickey this side of Texas.
While the article disturbed Erin, she believed the woman should have used common sense. Jogging alone at four in the morning before light touched the horizon didn't seem prudent to Erin.
She heard the sound again, this time closer. The huge Ponderosa pines hovering near the library rustled, their needles moved by a soft wind. Everything within her came to attention, captured in an inertia that wouldn't allow her to twitch a muscle. Fear, primal and stark, slid through her like a serpent's touch. Utter dread, the kind that makes humans afraid of the dark, made her body tense. Her heart picked up a pounding pace. Suddenly Halloween loomed out of the darkness like a monster, ready to swallow her with one enormous gulp.
A whisper touched her ears, shadowy and hot.
Want me. Need me. Erin.
A wave of dizziness filled her body and made her stagger. She put one hand out and found no support. As her vision started to go dark she wavered, her knees threatening total collapse. Her temples started to throb.
A picture formed, immediate and lucid. A bed, draped with blood-red satin sheets. A man lay in the center of the bed, his arms tied to the bedposts and his legs spread wide. Incredible musculature graced his tall, strong body. Her mouth opened in awe as she scanned from his tumble of black hair, over his angel-of- darkness face, past a hairy and muscled chest. A stomach hard with strength next caught her gaze. She licked her lips and felt warmth intrude in her gut. Drawn exorability downward, her attention landed on his hips. His erection thrust upward, bold and without shame. Hard, long, and ready to service.
A new voice, deeper and tinged with heated seduction, filled her mind. A voice heavy with desperation. Erin. Don't listen to the darkness.
She snapped out of the visualization with a jolt.
Nausea filled her center and her vision blurred again. "What's happening?"
With both hands she reached out, her sense of reality boggled by this weird event. As her sight cleared she glanced around at the menacing night. Nothing moved, not even the wind. All around her the silent neighborhood seemed unearthly quiet. Tall trees lined the wide avenue. Their pine needles seemed to whisper messages even though there was no breeze to speak. Darkness pressed close like a mantle, a blanket of evil she'd never experienced before. Shivers rippled through her body as she scanned the illuminated windows of houses across the street. A little piece of evidence that something lived gave her some comfort.
Why had she seen a naked man in her mind's eye? She'd never experienced a vision much less an intuition about anything in her life. At least she didn't think so. Sure, she'd fantasized about a handsome, well-hung lover on cold nights when it felt like she'd never have a date again. She even recalled inventing a scenario one night about a man with dark hair and haunting eyes. But imagination wasn't reality, and she doubted a man that devastatingly attractive would be interested in her anyway.
She put both hands to her cheeks and felt heat blazing under the skin.
I am going insane.
Once again the menacing voice spoke, as much in her mind as on the air. You are mine, Erin. There is no escape.
Fright jumped on the bandwagon as she stood in shocked silence. She shivered as new apprehension rolled up her spine in a wave. Move, Erin. Move! Now! Now! Now!
She didn't question instinct. She broke into a run and covered the few yards of concrete in swift strides. Erin hadn't won races in high school and college for nothing. She might be short, but her legs didn't care.
She scrambled up the few steps and reached for the right doorknob on the huge mahogany double doors. She twisted the knob. Nothing.
Erin heard the ruffling of the wind behind her like a voice. A whisper that called to her in strange tongues. Whirling, she peered across the street again to the other quiet old homes. She didn't see anything or anyone, but the urge to get inside the building came at her like a relentless chant.
Erin. Erin. Get inside the building. Now. The inky voice, rumbling and exotic with Scottish accent, overran the earlier voice that told her she couldn't escape. Two voices taunted her in the night, and if a psychiatrist had been there right now, they would have declared her insane on the spot.
She looked around again, wondering for the first time if maybe the neighborhood kids started Halloween early and decided to play a trick on her. Smiling at her own gullibility, she wrestled with panic. Strange visions not withstanding, she couldn't let her imagination play tricks on her. Ignoring the little creeps would be the best way to save her dignity. Maybe. If they saw her running like a scared rabbit, they accomplished what they set out to do.
Fumbling in her purse, Erin found her keys and jammed the correct one into the lock. Once inside, she slammed the door and locked it.
Glancing around the interior, she leaned against the door and felt the trembling that rolled through her body. She called out. "Gilda?"
Silence greeted her. Maybe Gilda had gone upstairs to finish decorating.
Good. At least Gilda wouldn't have witnessed her flight into the building. After that ridiculous reaction outside, she needed to put things in perspective and stop acting like a dumb heroine in a horror flick.
Then, maybe, she needed to make an appointment with a shrink. Shaking her head, she decided to put aside the weirdness for the moment and attend to business.
Erin checked her message slot behind the counter high desk but saw no messages. She took off her heavy wool cloak and hung it in the closet in the small break room.
She headed into the bathroom and took in her appearance in the mirror. Her short black hair floated around her head in out of control wisps that defied every styling product she'd tried. Bed head was in style, so she supposed she should be happy. Not! She hated the wild and messy trend. She tried fluffing her hair with her fingers. Defiant tuffs continued to stick out. Growling with frustration, she smoothed her hands down the sides of her royal blue sweater dress.
Well, most little kids didn't give a rip what librarians looked like. A five feet three inch, twenty-nine year old librarian with a heart shaped face that made her look like a twelve year old rarely got respect. Erin couldn't recall the number of times people patted her on the head like she might be a cute, if precocious kid.
She blinked, and her large grey eyes seemed startled and insecure. Young and old alike assumed things about Erin, and she learned to live with their odd expectations.
Since she left Arizona more than a month ago and taken on this position, she hoped people in this town would treat her differently. For the most part, they did. People seemed friendlier around here than in her old town, and that made her more comfortable right away. Years of conditioning imprinted unwanted expectations on her mind; she thought people would dislike her more often then they would like her.
Her father and mother's desires once took up far too much of her life, and the awkwardness she experienced abated as time passed here in Pine Forest. Running from her family's expectations meant loneliness in a whole new way. With them she always felt different and unable to fit in to their down-to-earth, no frills lifestyle. They made her believe for so long she couldn't get along in the big, bad world outside the little hamlet of Louis, Arizona. Now she resided in Pine Forest, she needed the promise of new friends to go with her new life.
Erin sighed and made a pledge to herself in that moment.
Each day is new. I can make a difference, and I can be happy here.
That is, if I'm not losing my ever-loving mind.
Still disturbed by the odd hallucination she'd had outside the library, Erin left the bathroom and entered the sprawling first floor area. She heard another rustling noise, this time distinct and unmistakable, like long skirts brushing against the stacks. Erin looked around as she walked, her pumps making clicks against the hard wood floor.
"Gilda? I swear if you're playing an early Halloween joke on me, I'll-"
A long, hollow groan, like metal or wood expanding, echoed throughout the entire building. Again Erin stayed glued to the spot. Waiting. Listening. The sound didn't come again.
A cold sensation slipped over her skin, almost as if she'd stepped outside, into the dark dampness of a crypt. She fought back the creeping trepidation she encountered outside earlier.
Treading cautiously, she went toward the stairway. She caught sight of the huge stained glass window gracing the area between the divided staircases. The glass depiction of angels clashing with devils looked sinister even under the blaze of lights from the large chandeliers that spilled warm light over the entire first floor.
Taking a deep breath, she decided she wouldn't allow this situation to get out of hand. What on earth possessed her to worry this way? She headed upstairs, thankful for the threadbare stair runner masking her steps.
Before she reached the second landing, the odd echoing noise rammed through the building again. Erin gasped and almost took a step back. The sound became as much a feeling as a noise, vibrating the entire area, pulsating the wood under her fingers as she held on to the banister.
"What on earth?" she asked, keeping her voice to a whisper.
Unnerved, she continued upstairs. Seconds later the noise came again, reverberating like a drum of tremendous size. When she reached the second floor she saw light streaming from the east side of the room, beyond the children's stacks to the niche that served as the story time area. She reached for the switches near the entrance to the second floor and welcome light flooded the area.
She started toward the alcove. A loud crash made her heart come to a standstill.
Instinct roared to life again. She took two steps back. Then three.
Another sound, this one more menacing and meaningful, dug into her hearing like a nightmare.
A soft snarl, almost like that from a small dog, came from the children's stacks.
She rushed toward the first floor without a clue what she'd do next other than to get the hell out of this building. When she reached the first floor, she heard steady and determined knocking on the front door. She placed her hand over her thumping heart and turned just enough to see if anyone or anything followed her. Nobody there.
Erin, get a grip. You don't believe in monsters.
Maybe some parents and their kids had arrived. The grandfather clock bonged out the hour. So they were thirty minutes ahead of schedule. Let them in and have safety in numbers. Besides, ghosts didn't knock on doors to ask permission to enter, did they?
Right that second her toe caught on a snag in the rug and she went face down with a grunt and a painful thud.
Her entire body throbbed as she lay immobile for a moment, embarrassed at her clumsiness. Good going, Erin. If a monster had been behind you they would have eaten you by now.
Hurrying on a spurt of adrenaline, she lurched to her feet and grabbed a letter opener from the front counter to use as a possible weapon.
The knock came again, this time more impatient.
"Okay, okay. Keep your panty hose on," she muttered.
Erin unlocked the heavy door and pulled it open.
Her breath stopped right along with her heart. She couldn't remember her name for a few seconds as she absorbed one startling fact.
The smiling vampire standing in front of her, sharp teeth and all, was the man in her vision.