Love’s First Bite
900 page of vampire goodness from six bestselling authors who can bring the heat and the darkness.
The Wolf Within by Cynthia Eden – FBI Special Agent Duncan McGuire spends his days–and his nights–tracking real-life monsters. After a brutal werewolf attack, Duncan begins to change…and soon he becomes one of the very beasts that he has hunted. Dr. Holly Young is supposed to help Duncan during his transition. It’s her job to keep him sane. But the growing desire between them could be a very dangerous thing…because when a vampire and a werewolf mate…their dark need may become an obsession that could destroy them both.
The Vampire Affair by Vivi Anna – Mak, an unconventional journalist, risks everything including her job to get the goods on billionaire businessman Jonathan Devane, a man who enthralled her for a single passionate kiss months prior, a man who makes her blood race, a man with dark secrets…
The Dark’s Mistress by Michele Hauf – Beguiled by the devil Himself, her only hope was the vampire who could not love her dark and tainted heart.
Blu and Creed’s daughter, Kambriel has come to Paris to ‘find herself’ and finds more than she bargained for when the man who seduces her with extravagant gifts and fine things reveals his true nature. Now she is desperate for freedom.
Johnny Santiago falls for the beautiful vampiress singing at Club l’Enfer, yet he doesn’t expect his rival to be the devil Himself. Can he rescue Kam from the dark prince before she loses her soul and forgets everything and everyone she has ever cared for?
A Taste for Passion by Patrice Michelle – Rana Sterling finally meets the man of her dreams and boy does he know how to push all the right buttons. Only, Mr. Tall, Dark, and Too-Good-to-Be-True turns out to be just that–he’s beyond her world.
After searching seventy years for his reincarnated fiancé, Lucian Trevane finally finds his mate in Rana, but with time working against him and a vengeful vampire determined to destroy the one ray of happiness he’s found, Lucian will have to call upon all his vampire skills and beyond in order to protect Rana and draw her fully into his world.
Captured by Erica Stevens – Captured, taken from her beloved family and woods, Aria’s biggest fear is not the imminent death facing her, but that she will be chosen as a blood slave for a member of the ruling vampire race. Aria’s world is turned upside down when the vampire prince Braith steps forward to claim her. Torn between her loyalties to the rebellion, and her growing love for her greatest enemy, Aria struggles to decide between everything she has ever known, and a love she never dreamed of finding.
Paris After Dark by Jordan Summers – NY homicide detective, Rachel Chang is on a forced leave in Paris grieving over the loss of her partner, when she comes upon a violent attack outside the walls of Cimetiere du Montparnasse. A simple domestic dispute quickly turns into something far more sinister, when Rachel ends up on the wrong side of some very sharp fangs.
Read an Unedited Excerpt of Paris After Dark
Rachel Chang pinched the cigarette between her lips and reached into her pocket for her lighter. Five years of being nicotine free was about to go up in smoke, if she could just get this damn thing to light. She flicked the Zippo, brought the flame to the tip and inhaled, then proceeded to choke. Eyes watering, Rachel flicked the cigarette onto the sidewalk and stubbed it out with her toe as a high-pitched scream pierced the night.
One hand moved to where her weapon should be, while the other automatically reached for the St. Michael medal dangling from a chain around her neck. For a moment Rachel saw her partner lying in a puddle of blood. He looked up at her.
“Why didn’t you help me?” he gasped, then dragged himself toward her. His body scraped across the pavement, leaving a crimson trail behind. “You should’ve been the one to die that day. Not me.” He glared at her through eyes as black as tar pits.
Rachel’s heart thundered in her chest and her vision swam. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “It’s not real. You’re not real.” The panic attack eased and she opened her eyes once more. This wasn’t New York. And this wasn’t her problem. Let someone else clean up the mess for a change.
A second scream followed the first, then ended abruptly. There could be a lot of reasons for that—none of them good. Rachel remained immobile while her conscience called her every foul name in the book. Unfortunately, the voice in her head wasn’t loud enough to drown out the struggle she could hear taking place on the dimly lit road off Boulevard Raspail. She swore, then headed in the direction of the sound.
“You have no authority here. You don’t even speak French. Let the Parisian police handle it,” Rachel muttered under her breath as she came upon a dark-haired man grappling with a woman. Rachel couldn’t see her face, but the black scarf around her head loosened and fell to the ground, exposing long blonde hair. The woman’s thin pale arms flailed as she beat at the man’s broad shoulders with her clenched fists.
The man wasn’t striking her back, but he held the woman tight to deflect her blows. If she was hurting him, he didn’t show it. He seemed too focused on what he was doing to notice.
At first glance, it looked like a typical domestic dispute. Only a fool got in the middle of those. They were more dangerous than a gang shootout. Victims often turned on their rescuers. Rachel had been foolish once and it had cost her dearly. Never again. She shoved her hands in her pockets and kept walking. Her booted feet thudded on the sidewalk as she continued on.
She passed the street and saw a sign for the Cimetiere du Montparnasse affixed to a high gray brick wall. No matter where she wandered death followed. Rachel glanced at the sky. With all the lights in Paris, it was hard to see the stars. “Trying to tell me something, partner?”
The blood roared in her ears as she waited for some kind of sign—anything that would let her know that he was still around. Of course Paul didn’t answer. No one did. Like the residents of the fancy French cemetery, he was dead, his body rotting in a grave back in New York. All that was left were her memories of the man who’d saved her ass more times than she could remember, and the St. Michael medal around her neck.
The patron saint must have been on a coffee break the day her partner caught a bullet in the chest—a bullet that was meant for her. Rachel felt like that bullet had been chasing her ever since. She rubbed the spot over her heart, but the ache refused to fade.
Rachel glanced at the cemetery wall once more, then asked herself what Paul would do. The answer was obvious. She cursed long and hard, then tromped back to the mouth of the street. This was a bad idea. Her gun and NYPD badge currently resided an ocean away inside her Captain’s desk. She’d have to count on the man fleeing when she confronted him. As plans went, it sucked. Rachel ran the odds of that occurring in her head mumbled a fresh string of expletives.
The woman no longer struggled and now hung loosely in the man’s arms. Had he struck her after she left? Rachel hated bullies. Hated people who thought their size gave them free reign to do as they pleased.
“Hey buddy,” she shouted, making sure she used her cop voice.
The dark-haired man didn’t acknowledge her, but Rachel saw his broad shoulders tense.
“Yeah, I’m talking to you. Parlez-vous…Anglais?” Did it matter if he spoke English? Not really. Some things were universal. “Let the woman go,” Rachel ordered, wishing she’d paid attention to the French CD’s she’d checked out of the library.
The man slowly turned to look at her.
Rachel caught a glimpse of shimmering green eyes. The color was so unnatural it couldn’t possibly be found outside the animal kingdom. Had to be contact lenses. It was the only thing that made sense. But it wasn’t his eyes that held her in place. It was his teeth—his long, very sharp, very bloody teeth.
She reeled back. What kind of freak was she dealing with here?
Rachel watched the blood drip down his chin onto his dark suit before he stepped back into the shadows, dragging the woman with him. What in the hell had he been doing to her? When she’d walked by earlier it had looked like the woman was the aggressor. She’d been wrong…again.
How many people had to die for her to get it right?
She automatically catalogued the scene, so she could give her statement to the police later. Rachel could see the man moving around in the shadows, but couldn’t tell what he was doing. “Come out with your hands up!” she shouted.
He stepped into the pale yellow pool of light coming from the lamppost. The woman was still in his arms. Her blonde hair shrouded her face as he slowly released her. She slumped to the ground like discarded rags. Rachel couldn’t tell if she was breathing. She couldn’t afford to take her eyes off the perp. The man grinned, flashing those macabre, blood-covered teeth. His attention was now riveted on her.
She tried to get a good look at his face, but the shadows kept shifting. Rachel knew the fact she was a petite Chinese-American woman made her look like an easy target, but her size was deceptive.
“The police are on their way.” She pointed to the sidewalk. “Get down on the ground.”
If the dark-haired man understood her, he didn’t let on. He kept approaching at a steady pace. He was almost at the mouth of the side street. She should be able to see his face by now, but the shadows seemed to follow him, obscuring his pale features. It struck her as odd, but ultimately it didn’t matter. Rachel was sure she could identify him from his eyes alone, although they didn’t seem as bright as they’d been moments ago. Must’ve been a trick of the light.
“Stay back,” she said. “This is your last warning.” Rachel held her hands up like her Krav Maga instructor taught her to do. It looked like a defensive posture. It wasn’t.
The man smiled, giving her an up close and personal look at his nasty mouth. He had abnormally long incisors that ended in jagged points. A chill snaked down her spine. He used his blood-covered tongue to caress his teeth as he closed the distance between them.
Give an asshole prosthetic fangs and a dose of bath salts, and he thinks he’s a fucking vampire.
Rachel took a step back. She didn’t dare look over her shoulder. He’d be on her before she could make it twenty yards. She needed to draw someone’s attention. Someone who’d call the police. The man must’ve read her mind because in a blink he went from ten feet away to in her face.
She didn’t have time to scream. He slammed into her, lifting her off the ground. Rachel flew through the air and hit the high wall surrounding the cemetery. The air rushed out of her lungs with a loud whoosh as pain radiated through her body. She slid down the wall and landed with a sickening thud.
Rachel blinked to clear her vision. The perp growled low in his throat as he approached. When he was within arms length, his coppery breath fanned out over her face, gagging her. The shadows still obscured his features. She brushed at them, but they refused to move. Logic told her it wasn’t possible. What in the hell was he?
You probably just hit your head too hard. Yeah, that made sense. He’d rung her bell pretty good.
The guttural sounds grew louder.
Instinct made Rachel throw her hand up a second before he attacked. The man’s teeth clamped onto her forearm like a pit-bull. Her leather jacket ripped. He tore through the thick material as if it were made of butterfly wings. His sharp incisors punctured her skin. The excruciating pain snapped her out of her initial shock.
Rachel drove her palm into her attacker’s nose and heard something crunch, then saw blood splatter across his face. He reeled back in shock. She wasn’t sure who was more surprised. Her hand came away covered in crimson. Rachel swung at him again, but her blood-slick palm only grazed his cheek.
Fury filled his glowing green eyes and he attacked again. The grip he had on her arm tightened and he shook his head, shredding muscle. The human pit-bull was going to break her arm, if she didn’t get him to release her.
Rachel slammed his nose as hard as she could, spilling more blood. He grabbed her arm, while his other hand latched onto her throat and began to squeeze. She gasped, then choked. Blood roared in her ears and black spots appeared before her eyes. He was going to kill her. She fought harder.
It was one thing to contemplate taking her own life. It was quite another to have him take it from her. He didn’t have the right. No one did. Rachel thrust her hips forward and kneed his groin. He grunted and released her arm, but the hand around her throat remained.
She tried to break the grip on her neck, using every technique she’d been taught, but nothing worked. Rachel hit him until her palm hurt, then hit him some more. His nose was now bent at an odd angle and made a strange whistling snort every time he inhaled. She reached for his fingers and began prying them off one at a time. A small sliver of air passed through to her burning lungs. He tightened his hold. The chain on her neck sliced her skin, then Rachel felt the links snap.
“Fuck you,” she grit out.
He didn’t respond to her curse. Instead, his head whipped around. He stared into the darkness, his gaze searching the shadows. Beyond the dark side street, the lights of Paris twinkled. One second he was strangling her and trying to rip her arm off, the next, he ran…taking her broken St. Michael medal with him.
“No!” She cried out in anguish, grasping for what was no longer there. “Give it back.” Pain knifed through her heart and Rachel dropped to her knees. She coughed and cried as she gulped air into her lungs. Her neck felt naked without the comforting weight of the medallion. When he’d ripped it off her, it felt as if he’d ripped away her last connection to Paul, too.
Her forearm burned like he’d doused it with acid. She clutched her injured limb, then glanced at the woman lying on the ground. She didn’t appear to be breathing. Rachel crawled to her and felt for a pulse. There wasn’t one.
She forced herself to her feet and stumbled to the corner. The perp ran down Boulevard Raspail and ducked into a darkened area. He hadn’t gone far. If he got away he’d be back on the streets in a few days to do the same thing to another woman.
Rachel scrambled down the sidewalk. She gave a quick glance at the oncoming traffic and rushed across the road. Horns blared as the Parisian drivers narrowly missed her. No one braked or gave her a second glance.
She pushed on until she reached what looked like a small park. Rachel kept to the shadows. She couldn’t afford to let him catch her off guard. He’d done it once and it had nearly killed her. As her eyes adjusted to the dark, she saw a tall wrought iron fence running alongside a small green gothic-looking building that resembled an ornate garden shed.
The wrought iron ended at a small gate, which squeaked in the cool evening breeze. A short nose of an entrance poked out the front of the building. Metal mesh covered the front door. Or at least it had. The mesh had been ripped away. Rachel glanced down and saw a lock lying on the ground. It had been smashed. She hadn’t seen a weapon on him—with those teeth he didn’t need one. Yet he’d obviously been carrying something, unless he’d suddenly become a character out of a James Bond film.
Rachel knew she should call the police. It was the sensible thing to do. But by the time she found the number and someone who could understand her broken French, the killer would be long gone and so would Paul’s necklace. She couldn’t allow that to happen, even if all she managed to do was find his hiding place. Despite what the department shrinks thought, she didn’t have a death wish…most days.
She pushed the gate open. The metal screeched, announcing her arrival. He’d have to be deaf not to have heard her. Rachel cringed, but kept going until she could squeeze through. The light over the sign above the building had been smashed. Broken bits of bulb crunched under her boots.
The main door was open a crack just enough for her to see the darkness beyond. Rachel turned back and grabbed the mangled lock. It wasn’t a perfect weapon, but at least it would aid her punches. Maybe she could knock out his expensive dental work this time. He wouldn’t be so tough without the fangs.
Rachel walked back to the door and inched it open. She tilted her head and listened. She could hear the soft fall of footsteps growing fainter by the second. He was getting away. She took a breath and stepped through the opening. The door slid shut behind her, extinguishing what little light had been cast.
She pulled out her lighter and flicked it on. A closed door stood to the left. A tiny archway that opened into a crude office, which lay empty except for a lone chair, flanked the door. Rachel raised the lighter and spotted a ramp, leading off to her right. There didn’t appear to be anywhere else he could’ve gone.
She shored up her courage and followed. Rachel stepped lightly, praying the sound wouldn’t carry. She could barely hear his footsteps now. Soon she’d lose him completely. The ramp ended abruptly at a set of winding stairs. Rachel couldn’t see the bottom.
What in the hell was this place?
She moved her head. Her neck stung, reminding her once more why she was here. Rachel flipped the lighter closed and began a slow, steady descent. Every twenty or so stairs she’d stop and listen. She couldn’t hear his footsteps any longer, only the steady drip of water pinging off rock. The air had gone from fresh to stale. It reminded Rachel of the time her friends had dragged her to Howe Caverns in Upstate New York. But this wasn’t a cave. They were in the heart of Paris. So where was he leading her? The sewers?
Rachel was about to call it quits and turn around, when the stairs ended abruptly. She couldn’t hear anything over her pounding heart, but the steady drip, drip, drip of the water. Did she dare use her lighter again? What if he was waiting in the shadows? Did she really have a choice? You’ve come this far. No going back now. Rachel flicked on the lighter.
The mouth of a pitch-black tunnel greeted her. She slowly turned in a circle, but the room was empty. The fact that she was alone should’ve been a relief, but it wasn’t. The tunnel appeared to be the only way to go unless she wanted to climb the hundred or so stairs she’d just come down. Then what? She’d still be in the same situation she was in a moment ago. The killer had something of hers. Something Rachel wasn’t willing or able to let go of just yet.
She stared into the dark tunnel unable to see more than a few feet. The blackness seemed to swallow the light. If she hadn’t been claustrophobic before, she would be now. Rachel couldn’t stretch her arms out without hitting rock walls. The narrow corridor had a low ceiling and loose gravel floor. The man would’ve had to hunch over to walk through it.
The place seemed to press in around her as Rachel walked down the tunnel. The slight slope told her she was going even deeper underground. It was impossible to be quiet with gravel beneath her feet, so she kept the lighter on. This was the weirdest sewer system she’d ever seen.
Rachel stopped every few yards to listen. It was hard to hear anything with her mind playing tricks on her. The sound of dripping water grew louder and the tunnel eventually opened into a larger chamber. A dark doorway stood on the far side of the room. She checked the area, then walked over to the door. The sign above it was written in French.
‘Arrete! C’est ici l‘empire de la mort.’
It was easy enough to translate: Stop! This is the empire of the dead.
“Wonderful,” she murmured, half expecting someone to cue horror music.
Rachel hesitated for a second. Was this worth risking her life over? Her partner’s face flashed in her mind. She stepped through the archway and came face to face with…a wall of skeletal remains.
The bones rose from the floor and stood over ten feet. Twelve inches was all that separated them from the ceiling. Faces of people who’d lived long ago stared at her from empty eye sockets, their bones neatly arranged in macabre designs. There were thousands of them. Thousands of bodies that had been culled from the cemeteries around Paris and piled like kindling. Realization dawned. She knew where she was. The freak had lured her into the catacombs.
Suddenly the room was too warm. Rachel pulled at the front of her jacket, as her heart slammed into her ribs. There were miles and miles of bone-filled tunnels down here. According to the brochures she’d picked up in the airport, the place was such a maze that people routinely got lost and died.
No one would hear her scream this far below the surface. And even if they did, they’d never be able to find her. So much for discovering his hiding place and reporting it to the police. She had to get out of here.
Rachel took a step back—and slammed into a hard male body. It was impossible. He couldn’t have gotten behind her. There was nowhere he could’ve hidden. She couldn’t breathe. For a moment, fear kept her paralyzed, then panic set in. She opened her mouth to scream. A large pale hand covered her lips before Rachel could draw breath. Her lighter burnt her fingers and she dropped it, plunging them into darkness.
She elbowed the man and tried to smash his nose with her head, but only succeeded in hitting his chest. Rachel braced, expecting a fist to the face. The man made no attempt to strike her. Why should he? He had her right where he wanted her.
A warm breath brushed her neck. His jagged teeth flashed in her mind. He was going to bite her just like he’d bitten the woman and there wasn’t a damn thing she could do to stop him.
“No.” The plea came out garbled behind his hand, but Rachel knew he understood. “Don’t.” She jerked her head and only succeeded in hurting herself.
“Stop fighting,” he hissed, tightening his grip.
Her breath rushed past his long fingers and Rachel did the only thing she could. She bit him.
“Ow, stop that!” He pressed his face closer.
Rachel tensed and began to tremble as she waited to feel the slice of those fake fangs on her flesh. The pain never came. Heat from the body holding her began to sink into her bones. A moment later firm lips brushed her earlobe and she quivered.
What was he playing at?
Nuzzling her hair, he inhaled. “American. Figures,” he said with distaste in a low French accent. “If you are here to explore the catacombs at night, then you must have a death wish, mademoiselle.”
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