This is what I've been reading this week. Jessica was sweet enough to give me a copy. This books is absolutely great and if you're into vampires and paranormal romance you should definitely check it out.
Genre: Vampire Paranormal
Length: Novel Plus
Kenric St. James wants revenge. Three hundred years ago, an ancient, female vampire turned him against his will and killed the woman he loved. He's spent more than a century building an Enclave of warrior vampires who have sworn their allegiance to defend humanity and to eliminate the ancient vampire determined to destroy them all. After two centuries of denying his body's needs to gain strength, he's poised to take his vengeance when he meets a new love, who he burns to claim as his own. But giving her his love will surely mean her death.
Emily Ross is a nurse struggling to start a new life. She's a survivor, coming off the tail end of an abusive relationship and the tragic death of her parents. All she wants is time alone to learn who she is without a man and to save the home that holds her heart. The last thing she wants is another controlling, dominant male calling all the shots, in bed and out. Never would she have thought stopping her car one night to save a dying man might change her mind, and her life, forever. But is what they have, their desire, worth dying for?
His head hurt like a bitch.
Someone was trying to pickax their way out of his skull.
The metallic smell of dried blood weighed heavy in the air. A wave of hunger coursed through him, tightening Kenric’s stomach into an agonizing spasm. His veins burned, demanding to be fed.
A thick fog clouded his mind. Where the hell was he, and what the hell happened?
Muffled voices chattered in the distance. The lethargy throughout his body had sealed his eyelids.
Pushing through the haze muddling his brain, he assessed his surroundings. Along with blood, there was an acrid scent of antiseptic. Above his head, the repetitive sound of a mechanical heartbeat pinged. Shit!
How long had he been in a hospital?
Through the insistent pounding within his skull, the memory of his battle with the DEADs returned. He’d been about to call Guerin when he’d blacked out. Where the hell was his phone? He had to get out of here. The itch beneath his skin, like a fucking sundial, warned him time was running out.
The heart monitor over his head lurched into a rapid succession of beats. Get a grip, Kenric. He couldn’t risk drawing any unwanted interest. With a fierce hold on the gurney’s rail for strength, he focused on the pounding of his heart, slowing it to a steady rate.
Now, to find his damn phone. He searched along his left side, feeling for the lining of his coat. A cool draft floated in under the thin sheet. Shit! Where the hell is my coat…and the rest of my damn clothes?
Approaching footsteps and a trio of voices grabbed his attention. Taking a deep breath, he stilled his movements.
“You guys go ahead and get out of here. Can you give me a rain check on breakfast? I want to check in on our John Doe one more time before I leave.”
“Come on, Emily. You’ve been here a year already, and you keep turning me down every time I try to get you to meet someone. Jake is really interested. I know you two would hit it off if you’d give it a chance.”
“I promise I will. Soon. Just not this morning. Not yet.”
“Fine,” a female said with a sigh.
The sharp sound of metal rings sliding over a rod near his head indicated one of them had entered his area.
Emily closed the privacy curtain of the trauma treatment room. The unidentified patient she’d found earlier at The Docks lay unconscious on the hospital gurney. Bloodstained bandages covered his flank and neck.
Once the paramedics had gotten him here, the ER had been able to stabilize him with a few universal-donor transfusions. He remained in need of additional units to bring his hemoglobin into an acceptable range, though. Unfortunately, the lab was taking longer than usual to type and cross-match him. They’d found some kind of anomaly present in his blood work. There was even talk that he possibly had some form of leukemia on top of everything else, due to the extreme elevation in his white-blood-cell count.
Emily followed the slow and easy rise and fall of his chest. She couldn’t help but admire the sheer will this man had to survive. And she couldn’t ignore the fact that even though he lay there covered in bandages, he was the most gorgeous man she’d ever seen.
His hospital gown stretched to encompass the breadth of his shoulders, while the arm openings strained to contain his biceps. She did love a nice set of biceps. The bedsheets covered the contours of his torso, but she remembered how his body tapered to a narrow waist and those amazing, washboard abs.
Wavy hair, a little longer in front than back, fell over his forehead, almost covering his eyes. The color was amazing. A black so deep, it shone under the fluorescents.
The dark waves framed a regally defined face; beautiful, but not in the feminine sense. Not too perfect. In fact, a pale, thin scar ran along his right cheekbone, ending about an inch above his lip. To others, the scar may have damaged his looks; to her, it added character that accentuated his masculine features. His nose was long and straight, ending above lips that, God, she could kiss all night. From the moment she had laid eyes on him, everything about him had captivated her.
Her tongue traced her upper lip, and her body tingled.
Stop it, Emily! You’re a professional nurse who shouldn’t be ogling a patient. Just take his vital signs and get out of here. She needed to leave this man alone.
Lifting his arm to check his blood pressure, she noticed a tattoo wrapped around part of his right bicep. Unable to resist, she traced the outline of the connecting loops. It formed a figure eight lying on its side. Infinity.
The symbol intersected with a dagger that pierced the center of the joining circles. Red drops of what looked to be blood dripped from the blade.
“What were you doing out there tonight?” she whispered.
Everything about this man was a very intriguing mystery.
Kenric lay perfectly still as the female approached him. Until he knew whom and what he was dealing with, he didn’t want to give away any clue that he was conscious. She paused at his bedside for a moment before lifting his right arm and placing a cool device under his bicep. She must be a nurse. He savored the warmth of her hands on his skin as her fingertips glided over his bicep. She traced the symbol of the Enclave. His flesh tingled in the wake of the pads of her fingers.
Suddenly her touch disappeared as a cuff tightened around his arm. He clenched the fist of his opposite hand, struggling to maintain his tenuous control. Why had she stopped touching him? His fist ached from keeping such a tight hold on his denial. He wanted to grab her hand and beg for one more brush of her fingertips. Anywhere. Everywhere.
Her hair teased his chest, sending chills skating across his body. Desire stormed. He drew in a long, deep inhale in hopes of calming his thundering need. The scent from her hair and skin filled his nostrils, burrowed deep inside his mind. And did nothing to quell the storm or soothe the growing need that threatened to unravel the edge of his control.
Her fragrance reminded him of wildflowers after a spring rain. Warm, sweet, and spicy.
Another deep breath filled him, sparking every neuron in his brain. She was intoxicating.
Good God. The blood that remained within him surged into his groin, lust and hunger intermingling. Get a grip, man, before you do something you’ll regret.
His mind struggled to hold the vampire in check.
As if starved for her scent, he inhaled again, stifling a groan. His fangs lengthened. The drive to feed the hunger twisted in his gut.
Time had run out.
Harnessing the strength that his hunger provided, Kenric opened his eyes and reached for the woman.
She swung her head around with a startled shout. A wave of dark auburn hair fell over her shoulder.
Long, dark eyelashes framed hazel eyes specked with a hint of blue, green, and brown at the center. Her heart-shaped face held a small, upturned nose and rose-colored lips, the bottom one slightly fuller than the top. Lips that were made to form a perfect, warm satin glove for the hard ridge of a man. No, not any man’s cock. His.
Kenric dragged his gaze away from her mouth. He needed to concentrate on holding her attention, not linger on the fantasy his mind and groin wanted to study in greater detail.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to frighten you,” he whispered.
“I’m fine. Are you…okay?” Her gaze met his, giving him all the opening he needed. Kenric slipped inside her mind to give her the mental nudge she’d need to accept his verbal commands.
“Don’t be afraid. I need you very calm and very quiet. You are safe. Do you understand?”
“Good.” His voice resonated, maintaining his hold. “What’s your name, Wildflower?”
“Emily… Emily Ross.”
“Emily, I need your help to get out of here. I want you to disconnect me from these monitors and tubes without bringing attention to us.”
She didn’t move; instead, her mind pushed back, attempting to block his control.
“Now, Emily.” He pushed in return, harder this time. His body trembled from the effort to maintain his presence in her mind and the rhythmic beat of his heart, so that the heart rate monitor kept its orderly beat. Red hair suited this female. The color matched the spirit of her fight.
Emily removed the leads of the cardiac monitor from his chest and the IV from his forearm. She moved about the room, as if on automatic pilot. Her compliance took every ounce of telepathic influence and skill left at his disposal.
Once completed, she returned to his side.
He caressed the right side of her face, the warmth of her skin a heated embrace to his cool palm. With the gentle persuasion of his hand, Kenric brought her gaze back to connect with his.
“Lean closer to me, Emily.”
She complied, lowering her head. Kenric pulled her in, positioning her neck near his lips, and brushed a stray curl away from her neck.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered against her skin. “If there were another way, I would take it. You see, you have something I’m in desperate need of.” He didn’t know why he felt the sudden, overwhelming desire to explain. He had to feed. And he would make sure she didn’t remember when he finished. But something inside him needed her to understand and not be scared. “I’m not trying to hurt you. I promise, I will be as gentle as possible.”
He savored another whiff of her sweet scent before tasting the area above her pounding pulse. She shivered, wringing a groan from his throat. He could wait no longer.
His fangs pierced her supple flesh. Tightening his hold, he held her immobile, not wanting to tear her skin. A moment later, Emily’s body relaxed. He loosened his grip and gently caressed her arms, soothing her as he drank.
Her blood spilled into his mouth, a flood of hot and sweet. It filled his starved body in a tidal wave of sensation and pooled in his groin. He’d never tasted anything as luscious as the woman in his arms. And he wanted more. With each pull at her neck, his erection pulsed, greedy for her affection.
Reaching farther around her body, Kenric lifted her onto the gurney with him. He wanted, no needed, the feel of her whole body next to his. Her hip pressed against the length of him. His eyes rolled in exquisite pain. If he were in a different place and it were a different time, he would be buried so deep inside of her, she would no longer know where he stopped and she began.
Reluctantly, he withdrew his fangs, licking the remaining spicy droplets of blood from the small twin holes on her neck. Pressing his tongue to the wound, he held pressure on the area for a few seconds to ensure clotting had taken hold with the aid of the agent releasing from its surface.
“Thank you, Emily,” he whispered into her ear, easing his arms from around her. She slumped.
“Shit!” He hadn’t stopped in time. What the hell was wrong with him? A frantic shuffle ensued as he worked to slide out from beneath her and onto his side. Holding his breath, he checked for a pulse.
There was a strong beat.
Air rushed from his chest with relief. She’d passed out.
Good man, Kenric. This is really the way to get out of here unnoticed. He punched the pillow beneath them and silently groaned when he’d have much rather shoved his fist through a wall.
Now, not only do they have a slashed-up John Doe who will go missing but also an unconscious nurse with bite marks on her neck.
Nice inconspicuous exit, asshole.
Kenric gripped the side rail of the gurney, pulling himself to a standing position while lowering Emily onto her back. His legs trembled under his weight, and he struggled to gain his balance. It would take a few moments to feel the full restorative effects of her blood.
Studying the auburn-haired woman in blue scrubs, he couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt more alive than he did moments before when holding her. But he needed to get the hell out there, fast. Wipe her memories and be gone. He could take care of the mess he’d made after the fact.
With the back of her head in his palm, he closed his eyes, focusing on the memories he needed to capture from her mind.
He lowered her head back to the mattress, then whirled, giving an exasperated swipe to his hair.
“What the hell’s wrong with you? You’re not a damn fledgling.”
He couldn’t concentrate. Every time he’d find the memory he sought, it faded, slipping from his mind. It wasn’t like he didn’t have to perform this little trick at least once a week when he needed to feed. What was different about her that had him so rattled?
Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath and slowly let it out. Back at the gurney, he held her head in his hand, searching once again for focus. This had to be done.
His mind rebelled. With a grimace, he lowered her head and threw his hands up in surrender. He couldn’t do it. She didn’t deserve to wake up alone, confused and sick, lying in an empty gurney. She didn’t deserve to be confronted for an answer to what the hell happened to John Doe. And maybe, he didn’t want her to forget him.
Where the fuck did that come from? He shook his head and huffed. He didn’t need the complication of being responsible for any woman.
But cleaning up all traces of the John Doe from the hospital, with help from the inside…
He stared at his dilemma sleeping on the gurney. If he trusted this woman to help him, he would place the entire Enclave at risk. Kenric ran an impatient hand through his hair. He couldn’t and, in truth, did not want to leave her here like this.
“Guess there’s only one way to handle this situation.” He brushed a stray auburn lock of hair from Emily’s check. “Wildflower, you’ll be coming with me.”
In a hospital bag on the counter in his room, he found his clothes and coat. He reached in and pulled out his shirt and jeans. Sliced pieces of denim and cotton dangled from his hands. Damn. The hospital gown he had on was going to cover more of his body than the scissored mess the ER staff had left behind of his clothes. His phone was still in the coat pocket, though, and luckily in one piece. He pressed speed dial one for Guerin, who answered on the first ring.
“Kenric, where the hell are you, man? We’ve been trying to reach you all night. Arran’s been out searching for you for hours.”
“I’ll explain when I see you. I don’t have a lot of time. I need you to send a car to… Hang on.” Kenric eased closer to Emily. Picking up the ID badge lying on her chest, he continued, “Elizabeth Bay Memorial.”
“Elizabeth Bay Memorial! Shit, how the hell did you end up there?”
“Like I said, I don’t have time for the details.” Kenric’s pulse thumped in his temples. “Just get me a car,” he growled. “Pull up outside the ER, ring my phone once you’re in position, and I’ll phase into the back.”
“Give me about ten minutes. We found your Mercedes where you parked it. Michael’s also out searching and should be near you. I’ll get him to grab your car and haul ass over there. In the meantime, make yourself scarce.”
Kenric snapped the cell phone closed, leaving it on vibrate to wait for the signal. Damn good thing they’d left his car where he’d parked it. It wouldn’t take but a few minutes to get here, and with the extra tint on the windows, it would keep his ass from going crispy.
Moving silently over to the curtain enclosing his private treatment room, Kenric pulled back the edge of the blue-checked material, scanning the area. A few distant conversations along with the clatter of equipment moved in the opposite direction. Good, the area’s clear for now. Hopefully, it would stay that way for the next few minutes. He rubbed the stubble along his chin and sighed. With any luck, the staff would believe Emily had already left, her shift over.
Emily moaned and shifted on the gurney. Releasing the curtain, Kenric returned to her side. She was a little pale, but her pulse beat steady under his fingertips.
“Damn.” He couldn’t believe he’d been so reckless. His father had trained him for discipline and self-control since before he could walk. In his childhood home, those traits either came to you naturally or you learned them under the whip.
He never lost control when feeding.
The phone buzzed in his palm. The car was here. He dropped his phone into the hospital bag he held in his hand, then reached down and slid his arms underneath Emily’s shoulders and knees and lifted her. She was a full and curvy woman, soft in all the right places, and fit perfectly in his arms. He loved the way she felt.
She whimpered and snuggled closer. Closing his eyes, Kenric fought the distraction of her body in order to focus on bringing the image of the car’s interior into his mind. It would take most of what energy reserves Emily had been able to restore to phase them both the short distance. He didn’t have a choice. It was his only option for getting out of there unnoticed. A passed-out nurse in his arms, and his ass flapping in the breeze while he waltzed out the front door, would not make for a subtle departure.
Slowing his heart rate, Kenric sharpened the image of the car’s backseat in his mind. His body tingled. A brief falling sensation and momentary disorientation confirmed the phase. Less than a second later, he opened his eyes. They’d made it into the back of his Mercedes.
“Glad to see you’re safe, sir,” Michael said, turning around to toss a thick black blanket to his newly arrived passenger. Nodding his head of sandy blond waves at the woman in Kenric’s arm, a slight smile curled at the corners of his mouth. “I see we’ll be having a guest at the compound.”
“That’s correct. And we’ll also be keeping this between us for now. Understood?”
“Yes, sir. However you want it.” Michael faced forward.
“When we arrive at the compound, park the car near my private entrance.”
It would buy him some time. Keep her scent under wraps until he could explain -- to her and to his warriors.
His skin stung even from the subdued morning light coming in through the tinted windows. Covering his face and body with the supplied blanket, and Emily as well, he eased back into the soft leather seat with Emily resting against his chest.
The car bumped and dipped leaving the hospital parking lot. Michael revved the engine, accelerating them into the flow of traffic.
Kenric’s mind raced with the upcoming task at hand: How could he convince Emily to help him erase his presence from the hospital? Not to mention, how to tell her why he needed it erased in the first place?
He was a vampire. Not just any vampire, but one who had already helped himself. He squirmed in his seat. Damn, how was she not going to be scared out of her mind? It was scary enough for a human to learn vampires were not a myth. Top that little bit of information off with the fact they’d already been snacked on. Not good. Not good at all.
Inside the blanket, Emily’s sleeping face lay pressed against his chest. His heart swelled at the sight, and he pulled her in tighter. He relished the stark contrast between the rough wool scraping at his arms and the softness of the woman contained within.
Draped in darkness, he found no escape from thoughts of her. Unable to avoid it, he drew another intoxicating breath. He hoped working with Emily didn’t take too long, because when he inhaled her scent and embraced her like this, all his self-control turned to shit, and every cell in his body screamed one word.
Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: BDSM content (including/not limited to: bondage, domination, whipping), bloodletting, multiple partners/orgies, strong violence.