Erotic Vampire Romance
Book Three in the DEEP IS THE NIGHT Trilogy
May 8, 2016
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As Halloween approaches friends will band together to defeat an evil more potent than anything they could have imagined.
A last battle is brewing...
Clarissa Gaines remembers Pine Forest as a sedate, creepy little town of her childhood. Determined to add Pine Forest to her book of haunted places, she wanders the night in search of the supernatural. Vampire Ronan Kieran has fought the ancient one and knows he must make a mortal woman fall in love with him in order to defeat the world's oldest vampire. While necessity and overwhelming desire bring Ronan and Clarissa together, she fears the powerful emotions she is starting to feel for him. And Ronan finds he will do anything to protect her, do anything to make her his as a battle between good and evil rages around them.
"Give me your money, bitch."
Clarissa Gaines' heart stopped and her breathing ceased.
At least that's what it felt like as a dark form stepped out from behind a crypt and into her path. She took one step back as the man leveled a gun on her, his black-gloved hand steady.
A tremor ran over her body as dread froze her blood. Icy wind blew across the graveyard, rustling the pine trees into a chilling whisper. Last rays of sun were swallowed by encroaching clouds. Shadows swept across the gravestones, darkening their gray faces. Cold seemed to encroach on the churchyard and blanket her soul.
Night came and apparently so did the neighborhood kooks.
Or the serial killer haunting this town.
Seconds drew out as she took in the horror caricature. Dressed like a pirate of old, the tall man's swirling cape, tall boots, and feathered hat would have looked dashing at any other time. The Freddy Kruger Nightmare on Elm Street mask ruined the effect.
He moved a step closer and she flinched. "I said, give me your money."
Guttural and determined, his request sounded more than dead serious.
Good deal, Clarissa. Go ahead and prove your friends right. Put one step into Pine Forest and get dead.
Her brain kicked in and she took a deep breath to steady herself. She hitched her camera case higher on her left shoulder. Licking her dry lips, she tried to piece together a coherent sentence. "I only have a couple of dollars."
The man snorted and waved the weapon back and forth. "You're lying. What's in your fanny pack?"
"Car keys, driver's license-"
"Take it off and give it to me."
She unclipped the fanny pack and started to hold it toward him. He stepped forward and snatched it. The movement wrenched her right ring finger, the fanny pack strap catching on her large, citrine ring. Pain stabbed through her hand. He grabbed her right forearm in a harsh, bruising grip.
She gasped. "Let me go!"
He yanked and she stumbled into him. The man smelled of sweat and whiskey. She wrinkled her nose in disgust. "You're askin' for it, bitch. What if I give you some?"
She pulled back from his revolting stench and he let her go.
Before she could blink he slapped her across the face. Sharp pain stabbed her jaw as she fell backwards and dropped like a rock. Her camera case went flying.
Dizziness assaulted Clarissa as she lay on her back. Stunned, she couldn't gather her foggy thoughts except for one. She must escape. She struggled to sit upright, one hand to her bruised face. If she'd expected to find death in a graveyard, it hadn't been at the hands of a pistol-welding pirate with no sense of humor. The bastard was definitely not playing trick or treat.
What she saw next defied logic and sanity.
A brown cloaked form materialized with an audible pop behind and to the right of the pirate. The pirate flinched. Breathless and beyond surprised, Clarissa didn't budge.
Before the pirate could make another movement, the large cloaked form clamped one hand on the pirate's neck and whirled him around. The Freddy Kruger wannabe dropped her fanny pack and it landed a short distance away.
"What the-?" The pirate tried to bring up his weapon.
The cloaked form wrenched the gun from the man's hand and jammed the barrel against pirate's throat. The pirate's hat landed in the snow. Greasy dark hair hung lank around the purse snatcher's head.
"This is my territory." Harsh, husky, and vibrant with an Irish accent, the deep voice issuing from the cloaked stranger sent a strange shiver over her skin. "And you are bloody well trespassing."
His territory? Oh, shit. She'd stepped from one fire into another. Maybe if she tiptoed away neither man would miss her.
She saw the pirate's Adam's apple bob up and down. "I didn't-I didn't know-"
"You ought to feckin' know," the cloaked man said, his tone unforgiving and hard.
"Please, let me go." The pirate's voice wobbled. "Please. I won't ever come back."
Incredibly, the cloaked figure lifted the purse snatcher by the shirt collar. The pirate's legs dangled and kicked in the air as he started to choke and gasp.
She could barely see the cloaked man's face in the encroaching night, but his voice, inflexible and determined, told all. "Never, ever treat a woman that way. If you come near her again, I will break every bone in your body. If I hear you've mistreated or tried to rob anyone, I will hunt you down and kill you myself."
Somehow the cloaked figure's words sounded old-fashioned, the inflection tinted with centuries of understanding. The vibrancy, the sheer assurance in his tone guaranteed severe punishment to anyone who defied him.
Clarissa shivered with reaction, her heart pounding and her fingers trembling as she reached for her camera case.
"Is that understood?" the cloaked form asked.
The pirate made a choking noise and rasped, "Yeah. Whatever you want. I'll do anything you want."
The cloaked man tossed the pirate aside. A screech left the pirate's throat as he sailed into the air and landed on his back just short of a gravestone. Whimpering in fear, the man scrambled to his feet and ran.
Sunlight shifted as it dipped between parting clouds, then descended behind the mountains, casting deeper darkness across the area. Renewed apprehension gathered inside her as a cold lump grew in her stomach. Her ring finger throbbed and so did the rest of her body. A strange disorientation plagued her, as if she'd stepped into a surreal dream.
In a blink of an eye the remaining man yanked off his cloak and it landed at his feet. Her savior turned and started toward her. She scrambled to her feet, ready to flee if the man made one suspicious gesture.
His gaze flared yellow, as penetrating and abrupt as cat eyes in a dark room. Her heart leapt with unholy fear, her muscles strung taut. His long legs ate up ground, and although self-preservation told her to retreat, she found she couldn't move.
Common sense made her struggle against the fear holding her in place. Suddenly a voice whispered in her mind. You are safe. There is no need to fear me.
Despite the reassurance, her anxiety grew. I must be losing my mind. He can't be in my mind. He can't be. Her entire body trembled.
He appeared one-hundred-percent capable of ripping a person to pieces. Evening meshed with the stranger, as if he belonged to the night more than the day. His open long black leather coat, black sweater and black jeans made him a part of the shadows. Why on earth would he wear a cloak over that gorgeous leather jacket?
Impressions assaulted her like a gale, knocking her breath from her lungs for the second time in a few minutes. His visage defined hard, rugged masculinity to perfection. If anyone asked her what made him handsome she would say his intenseness, the undeniable heat in those searching, searing eyes.
As a photographer she appreciated the surreal scene of a menacing stranger stark against gravestones. As a woman she drank in the most incredible man she'd ever seen.
His shaggy chocolate, collar-length hair ruffled in the breeze. Sooty, dense lashes framed obsidian dark eyes that sparked with golden fire. In profile his nose seemed almost perfect, a compliment to his high cheekbones. His sideburns lined all the way down his jaw and to his chin in a close-clipped beard, turning cinnamon at his mustache and chin.
She would love to photograph him.
Clarissa snapped out of her thrall, her voice whispery. "Thank you."
His attention dropped to her lips, his warm gaze a physical caress along first her upper, then lower lip. When he didn't answer, she wondered about the sanity of waiting for him to speak. Anxiety twisted in her stomach.
Finally she heard his rusted, husky voice. "Do not be afraid."
As rich and full as one glance from his glorious, thickly-lashed eyes, the stranger's tone trapped her in place like a rabbit under the hunt. Maybe he lured victims with the liquid, soothing tone wrapped around a dangerous, telltale rumble. She cursed her defenselessness and his ability to see her apprehension.
When he stopped a short distance from her, the man's gaze played over her features then down the length of her red wool pea coat. His unswerving assessment warmed her entire body with strange flutters of attraction.
He had to be at least six-four, his shoulders wide, his chest broad. She allowed her imagination to conjure a fleeting fantasy about the body he owned under all those clothes.
Without a doubt mystery man would be built like a god. She visualized taut muscle under smooth skin, dark hair sprinkling over hard pecs and a muscled stomach. And further down his manly attributes would be large to fit the rest of him.
Untamed sensation hit her in the stomach, a powerful and stunning craving. She felt hot and needy, itching for his touch.
As she looked up into his eyes, she noticed a stunning firelight in the center. Gold melded with rich, deep mahogany. As the light swirled and tumbled, so did her equilibrium. Her knees felt unsteady and she couldn't look away. Yellow flecks swirled in his irises, spinning with the intensity of a hurricane, and she felt weightless.
"Your eyes," she whispered in amazement. "How... ?"
He blinked and the strange light went out. Maybe the face slap the pirate had given her rattled her more than she thought.