The sequel to the bestselling Blood Rush...
Myra Danson has to die. The only question that remains is the kind of afterlife she’ll enjoy.
Selling her blood with a side of sex as a blood courtesan was supposed to have been about saving her mom, but now Myra has to go deeper into the vampire world in order to save herself. A hidden past she never knew existed is coming for her and now everyone wants her; dead or alive.
Being blood bound to the handsome vampire Kristos Anastos offers some protection, but her only real hope? To die faster than they can kill her.
An erotic vampire romance novella that completes the story started in Blood Rush. Approximately 30,000 words (also known as half a novel). Warning: Contains sexy vampires along with fast paced action and adventure.
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In order to live, I have to die.
Turning that truth over and over in my mind, I sipped my caramel latte amidst the hustle and bustle of a very busy coffee shop in New York’s Upper East Side. It was late fall now and the crisp air drove people into the small cafe. I watched with mild disinterest as they ordered their favorite brew in harsh New York accents and waited for their orders, hands thrust in pockets because the weather had shifted so suddenly that no one had gloves yet. Yesterday it had been seventy, today it was in the thirties. They left the shop in self-important whirls of light coats meant for warmer weather and hands wrapped around steaming takeout cups, soaking up the heat. What I wouldn’t give for such an easy solution to the chill permeating my life.
When a dark, swarthy man standing in line seemed to spend a little too much time looking at me, I slouched down in my chair, pulling the collar of my coat up to hide my face. It was better if no one noticed me. There were a lot of people who would like to know where I was and whether or not I was dead already. And if I was still alive, they would be only too happy to rectify that oversight.
He stared at me as if he recognized me from somewhere and then abruptly answered his phone, turning his back to me as he spoke. Shaking his head as if irritated, he rushed out of the cafe without even placing an order. I held my breath as he went and didn’t resume breathing until the door shut after him. He hadn’t bothered to look at me again so it must’ve just been a coincidence. Maybe I looked like an old girlfriend. That could happen, right? Surely not everyone was out to get me? But I couldn’t shake a little niggle of suspicion. His expression had been sharply intent.
I probably shouldn’t have even come to the coffee shop, but I was going stir-crazy sitting in the apartment and needed the change of scenery. Every afternoon for the last week, I’d been sneaking down here for a quick caffeine fix. Security relaxed when the sun was at its zenith and I could slip out without raising any alarms. It helped that there was an ATM directly across the street from the apartment building, which made it easy to get cash.
I never had enough cash, which was why I’d signed up to be a blood courtesan in the first place--out of financial desperation. My mom needed money for her cancer treatments and selling sex mixed with blood to vampires was a fast way to earn a large amount of cash. Not to mention it had been the only way to raise funds I could find outside of a bank heist. I didn’t have the skill-set to rob banks, but I did have a blood. It only seemed logical to trade on what assets I had in order to help my mom.
In hindsight, I probably should’ve robbed a bank.
Instead I became a blood courtesan and had been sent out on a paid audition. Then bullets had started to fly and I had the stitches in my hand to prove it. I’d survived that first attack as well as the second one that followed thanks to Kristos.
Just the thought of the handsome vampire sent a tingle through me. In the back of my mind the connection that we shared ever since I’d drank his blood flared to life. I could feel him as if he was right there and pressed up against me. He was sleeping at the moment. While he could walk during the day, he preferred to sleep until the sun set.
Part of the reason why security was so lax during daylight hours was because he was the exception to the rule. I’d learned most vampires didn’t have a choice about when they were up and about. The sun came up and they powered down like someone had abruptly removed their batteries. I’d seen it happen to the men Kristos had brought in to protect me. One second they were awake, and the next they were the equivalent of a poseable doll.
As far as he knew, Kristos was the only day walker of his kind. “We are just like humans, Myra,” he’d said with a sardonic smile, his blue eyes glittering with a mixture of amusement and restrained impatience at my constant stream of questions. “We’re all different.”
“Can some of you fly?” I’d asked, idly running my hand over his chest. We’d been in bed--we were always in bed--and I loved to touch him. He was smooth and hard, like a river rock molded by forces of nature I couldn’t comprehend.
He‘d shrugged and ran his hand down my back, reciprocating. “I’ve heard rumors but never seen it myself.”
I’d traced the outline of his pecs, biting my lip as his nipples hardened at the attention. I loved his chest. “Turn into bats?”
Kristos had shaken his head. “No shape shifting that I’m aware of.”
I smiled at the memory of that conversation. I’d peppered him with so many questions, he’d finally silenced me with a long, drawn out kiss that completely changed the subject.
He was a good kisser and an amazing lover, so I’d allowed him to distract me. But during the day, when he wasn’t there to divide my focus, all the unanswered questions swarmed my mind, stinging me with anxiety and worry.
I gripped my coffee cup a little tighter, wincing when it pulled at the stitches in my hand, and scanned the cafe again. There were maybe five people in the coffee shop now, noses buried in their laptops or smart phones. I relaxed and contemplated the pastries in the display case. A brownie the size of my hand beckoned me with its glistening chocolate ganache icing. My stomach growled at the sight of it.
Sad, but true: When I died, my ability to eat brownies would die with me. That fact had been established fairly early on in my questioning.
My priorities quickly rearranged themselves to include a brownie, a cinnamon scone and a gingersnap that was bigger than the brownie. If I ate it all in one sitting I invited diabetes and a five pound weight gain, but those kinds of health consequences weren’t much of a concern anymore.
Some people might call that an upside to my situation, but I was too wound up about things to take it as a plus. It was more stress eating than anything else.
I took the sugary confections to go, and, clutching the bag against my chest, I made my way back to the apartment. As I went, I scanned both in front of me and behind me for sinister figures or signs of being followed. I hadn’t seen any cause for concern on my previous jaunts to the coffee shop and today was no different. If I was on the vampire world’s most wanted list, they weren’t working too hard to find me.
The safe house wasn’t as nice as the penthouse suite Kristos had taken me to after the first shooting. I shook my head recalling how we’d both thought they were after him, neither of us realizing it was me they wanted until it was almost too late. As it turned out, my father had been (was? I was a little foggy on whether or not he was still out there somewhere) one of a handful of vampires able to sire children the old-fashioned way. I was his daughter and that made me a hot commodity among the fanged set.
The apartment building was in the same block as the coffee shop, but on the opposite end. So it only took a few minutes to walk back. Just as I was about to step into the entrance, a cadre of armed men dressed in black spilled down the sidewalk on the other side of the street. They tried to look casual, but the way they scanned the street--as if they were looking for something and knew exactly how to find it--made me nervous. They walked with a purpose and every so often their hands would go to their sides as if reaching for a gun.
I ducked inside the building and pulled the door shut after me. Thankfully, the glass foyer of the building was tinted--you could see out, but not in. Another plus, access required a key card. Unless they were willing to shoot out the glass, they wouldn’t get in. I worried my bottom lip and watched them gather round the ATM I had used to withdraw cash a few days ago.
One of the men seemed to sense my presence and turned his head sharply, zeroing in on my building. He was blonde with an ugly red scar down the side of his face. His gaze seemed to penetrate the tinted glass.
With a gasp I stepped back. My heart raced as adrenaline shot through me, ready for fight-or-flight. My hand shaking, I pressed the key card against the access pad for the second door and rushed inside to the main lobby. When I looked back, the man was still there, watching, but one of his buddies nudged him forward. With a frown, he moved along with the rest of his group.
They spread out as they went with a few crossing to my side of the street. I could see now that they had ear pieces and were communicating with each other and maybe who ever had sent them. I fled before they reached my door, eschewing the elevator for the stairs. Climbing all twenty flights was out of the question, but I didn’t want to be found waiting for an elevator on the main floor if they somehow gained entry.
By the tenth flight of stairs, my heart pounded like it would explode and my breathing was loud and labored. I staggered into the hallway, thighs burning, and headed for the elevator. It was Kristos who made me think of things like taking the stairs. He helped me keep up with my new action-adventure life style.
“Be ready at all times,” he’d said to me time and time again. “Zig when they think you’ll zag,” was another favorite line.
Hopefully I’d zagged while they were looking for a zig. I shivered even as the sweat trickled down my back from my impromptu workout. That had been close. I should probably stay in for the next few days.
The elevator delivered me to the top floor with a soft ding. The doors opened and I jumped because Kristos was standing there, waiting for me, his gaze a dark glower.
“Hey, Kristos.” I stepped into the hallway and tried to sound nonchalant.
“Myra,” he said, his voice almost a growl. He took my elbow, fingers digging into me with disapproval, and guided me back to the apartment.
“What are you doing up so early?” I asked, feigning innocence. He was not going to be happy about me sneaking out or the black ops team that had infiltrated the area. I wanted to delay the bad news as long as I could.
He shoved me through the entrance to our living quarters---a four bedroom with a rather mundane view of the street below. We slept in one bedroom and the rest of his team shared the other three. For a billionaire CEO like Kristos, I imagined it was like living in a trailer park.
“You woke me up,” he said.
“I did?” I thought back to all the times his name had come to mind, wondering which of them had drawn him to consciousness. I still wasn’t used to the link between us. In fact, I hadn’t even noticed it at first. Now, I knew it was there, but didn’t know how it worked. Baby steps, I guess.
“The bond we share,” he gestured to himself and then me, “means I can track you, know what you are feeling.”
“Oh.” I paused wondering how that felt during sex. Did he feel the desire rising in me? Could I feel his? I would have to try it the next time we made love.
“I saw the men on the street from the window. They’re looking for you, tracing your debit card. You know you weren’t supposed to leave the apartment and now they know you’re here.” His tone was full of reproof.
I opened my mouth to defend my disobedience, but nothing came out. Kristos was right to be upset. Finally, I asked, “How did you know about the debit card?”
“Because they wouldn’t have cared about the ATM otherwise.” With a long suffering sigh, Kristos grabbed my purse and pulled out my wallet. Flipping through it he located my bank card. Holding it up so I could see, he crushed it in his hand. He didn’t even grimace either. Vampires were stronger than humans, I knew that, but it always chilled me to see it up close and personal. He’d thrown Samira out a skyscraper window like she weighed nothing and then the vampire had gotten up and walked off like nothing had happened. She’d been stolen away from Kristos and was supposed to tell her new master I was a vampire. We were counting on that lie to keep me safe. If everyone believed I’d already been claimed, it made me less of a target. In theory at least.
He opened his hand to reveal my now crumpled debit card. “It’s just luck that you weren’t found, that you’re still alive.” Kristos took the bag of pastries from me and opened it. He wrinkled his nose at the sugary scent that rose in the air. “Is this worth it?”
I thought of the chocolate brownie with its luscious ganache icing and gave a half shrug. In an attempt at levity, I said, “Asks the man who was born before chocolate was invented.”
“No, asks the man who is trying to save your life. At great personal cost, I might add.” He was irritated now and fisted his hands in my hair, pulling me in for a stern, admonishing kiss. While he kissed me, he took my purse and dropped it to the floor. The bakery bag followed suit and he paused just long enough to give me a look.
“What? I was hungry.” I did my best to look innocent and my stomach growled on cue.
He bared his fangs at me, but smiled as he did so. “You left me with nothing to eat.”
“I came back, didn’t I?”
“You were never supposed to go out in the first place.” His eyes narrowed. “You realize both our lives are at stake?”
I evaded his gaze. One, he could play mind tricks on me if I looked at him too long and two, I didn’t want him to see that I felt guilty. “I was going crazy in the apartment.”
“Go crazy or go dead, your choice, love. Just try not to take me with you.” He kissed me again and pulled my coat off my shoulders, using it to pin my arms behind my back. “You smell delicious, by the way. What did you eat?”
“Just a caramel latte.” I lifted my head to look up at him, aware that the small movement exposed my throat.
He sniffed the nape of my neck, burying his nose there, his fangs just pricking my skin. “The contrast between bitter and sweet is tantalizing.”
“Mmm,” I moaned as I pressed up against his fangs, wanting them to break my skin. I welcomed the pain; it meant I was still alive. Also the things he did to me while feeding were pretty spectacular.
He refused to bite and pulled back, releasing me as he did so. “I could have sent someone out for your latte.”
I shook my head and removed my coat, draping it over a dining room chair. The compact apartment layout had the dining room just inside the entrance. “It’s not the same.” I’d wanted the freedom to pretend everything was normal. Pretend being the key word. I was probably in the denial phase of my life going to hell.
“Neither is a bullet to the head.” He made a gun with his finger and aimed it at me. “They’ll shoot you and either bury you or make you rise to their bidding like a slave. Is that what you want?”
I sighed. “It’s just the suspense is killing me. Sitting here feels like a mistake.”
His expression became serious. “I can turn you tonight.”
I gulped, the offer making my blood run cold. To his credit, Kristos was giving me a lot of space and time to try and process the inevitable. He’d also set my mom up with medical care in a first class clinic under an assumed name to protect her. He was an all around gentleman...if that could be said for a bloodsucking vampire. I trusted him, except for when I didn’t.
I also wasn’t so sure about this ‘become a vampire’ thing.
He gave me a fatherly kiss on the forehead. “You’re going to have to decide soon, Myra. I can’t keep you safe forever.”
I leaned against him. “Thank you for trying though.”
He hugged me and then his hands began to roam my curves. His fingers tugged at the buttons on my blouse.
I put up a hand to stop him. “What are you doing?”
“I’m up. I’m hungry. We have no place to go and some free time before the others wake. In short, we are alone and I plan to take full advantage of that fact.” A wicked grin spread across his mouth as he spoke. “Consider this your punishment for breaking the rules.”
I arched an eyebrow. “You’re letting me off lightly.”
“That,” he peeled my shirt away from my chest, exposing my bra, “remains to be seen.”
Kristos led me to the bedroom we shared, discarding my clothes as we went. By the time we crossed the threshold, I’d lost my shirt, my bra and my pants. He pushed me down on the bed and inched my panties off, tossing them over his shoulder.
I reached for him, wanting to undo his shirt, but he evaded my touch. “Not yet, love. Look into my eyes.”
I hesitated. “That’s such a cliché. I can’t believe you just said that.”
He chuckled. “Just look into my eyes, Myra.”
“What if I don’t want to?”
Kristos ran his hands along my stomach and up to cup my breasts. I shivered as he caressed their sensitive tips. “You’ll be missing out.”
I made the mistake of looking up and making eye contact, wanting to see his face. His gaze captured mine in less than a second. I’d been mad when I realized he’d been doing this to me since we met. I’d thought his eyes were irresistible because they were sparkling aquamarine blue, but it really was whatever magic that made a vampire a vampire.
“Come for me, Myra.” His voice sounded distant and distorted as if he spoke underwater. My body, however, heard him crystal clear and bucked as a hard and fast orgasm washed over me. The whole time our eyes were locked on each other, the windows to our souls wide open. His were full of darkness that threatened to spill out and consume me. I imagined mine were like those of a doe cornered by a hunter, wide and brimming with shattered innocence.
Kristos allowed me a second to recover and once my breathing had resumed at its normal rate, he said, “You will come every time I command it, understood?”
I gave a slow nod, bowing to his compulsion. A shiver went through me at his forcefulness, the way he just took my body and made it his. He was a considerate man and attentive to my needs...except when it came to sex, then he just took what he wanted, what he needed without asking. I’d been a virgin when we first met and he’d indoctrinated me into a world where blood and sex were one and the same.
I could never go back.