Book 1 in the Vampires of Crimson Bay Series
Release date: July 26th, 2011
From the back of the book:
Either one or both of your parents has vampire blood. Welcome to the vampire race!
Please keep a few things in mind as you ease into the most difficult phase of your life:
1. Light sensitivity, humming teeth, and stomach pains are completely normal. You’ll also be faster, stronger, and sexy as hell (if you’re lucky).
2. You’ll bloodlust and go crazy if you deny your body’s urge for blood. Why fight it?
3. Do not pierce the skin of a mundane involuntarily. We’re not animals and will not behave as such.
4. Therians, our shapeshifting brethren, cannot be trusted. Their loyalties shift as often as their identities.
5. Lighten up—you’re not dead.
Contact Dylan, owner of ReVamp, in Crimson Bay, California, for more information.
“Crisp writing, an intriguing world, wicked humor and scorching romance. I love Kristin Miller’s InterVamption…Get ready to be blown away.” –Virna DePaul, National Bestselling Author of Chosen By Blood
“Behold, I send you out as sheep amidst the wolves…”
–King James Bible: Matthew 10:16
“Hello, welcome to ReVamp. How can I help you with your vampiric needs tonight?” Dylan smiled, watching the young male shuffle to the counter.
“I, um, need to feed, I guess.”
“Okay, do you have a feeding file open with us already?”
His wide crimson eyes tracked across the room. “No. I’ve been here before, attended some meetings, but … I’ve handled feeding on my own until now. I was told you could help me.”
He did look a little familiar, but Dylan couldn’t place him off-the-bat. Seeing as ReVamp had a client list of about a thousand vamps from San Francisco and surrounding cities in CrimsonBay, it didn’t strike her as odd. She couldn’t be expected to remember everyone from a few seconds of face time.
Dylan reached across the counter for a clipboard and a new patient’s form, and slid it in front of the timid vampire. “What I need you to do first is fill out this information. It’s a whole new process for feeding, as our systems are separate. We’ll need your name, address, and other basic information like your age and parents’ names, if you can remember them.” She flipped the paper over. “Then we’ll need to know your medical history dating back to your change and the names of those facilities where you’ve been examined. We also like to know feeding preferences, if you’ve been mated, and whether you’ve sought vampiric services through another facility, although that information is optional.” She smiled to lighten the load.
As the shaggy redhead grabbed the clipboard, Dylan had the fleeting thought that he was going to bolt.
After a pause and a glance around the empty office he whispered, “That’s it?”
“That’s … what?”
“That’s, ah, all you need to know?”
“Yes, unless you feel there’s something more you’d like to share.” Dylan’s eyes narrowed as she leaned across the counter. “We’re here to help ease this process . . . ” she prompted with raised brows for his name to fill the silence.
“David, we’re here to help. Whoever referred you here received the same treatment and wouldn’t have sent you if they were uncomfortable.”
He lowered his eyes.
“There’s nothing to be ashamed of in feeding. We may not be human, but we’re certainly not the animals therians have painted us to be.”
When he finally looked up, Dylan watched his expression change. Shadows shifted across his face.
“What if therians are right? What happens if I want to be an animal?” He grabbed the clipboard, his nails curling over the silver edge. “Could you offer protection to those I left behind if I … lost control?”
Words abandoned Dylan’s tongue, rendering her speechless. What if therians were right? How could he think such a thing? Therians had spent the last hundred years trying to prove vampires were out of control and leading society toward destruction, even though the numbers of vampire street feedings were at an all-time low. Dylan had the numbing realization that this vampire was not like the others she treated. He wasn’t a victim looking for help from his natural-born urges. He didn’t want to blend with society, break prejudices and unfair barriers imposed by shape-shifters across CrimsonBay.
The idea that this shaky vamp wanted to become the animal therians believed he was blew Dylan’s mind. “We don’t offer that kind of service. I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong place.”
He snatched her tiny wrist and squeezed, his eyes glossy with desperation. “Please don’t send me away. This is the only place left for me to go.”
“Surely your khiss could better guide you or offer private counseling services.”
“They’re after me.” He checked the door over his shoulder. “And I can’t run from my fate much longer.”
“Who’s after you? Your khiss?”
“The Court,” he whispered.
She twisted her wrist in his grip. “Don’t be ridiculous. The Court isn’t after anyone. Their sole purpose is to organize our society, not draw attention to its members by making them attack mundanes.”
“You don’t know anything.”
“I know the Court has organized an effective system. It’s worked for centuries.” And it was the system that had funded ReVamp from the beginning, giving them a leg up on finding what was tainting their blood supply. They didn’t have any leads yet, but with the Court’s assistance, it wouldn’t be long until they discovered what was weakening the wills of vampires across the area. Although bloodlusting street crimes were at a record low, they were climbing, despite her best efforts.
Dylan moved her free hand beneath the counter to the emergency button. The one that would call her guard, her protector, into the room in a flash. “Now let go of my arm before you lose your head.”
Blood-red eyes measured her face, her fear. And then David let go of her steady hand. “You don’t understand. They want to enlighten me.”
Dylan’s heart warmed at the thought. His aversion to the vampire equivalent of modern-day marriage was laughable. She moved her fingers away from the glowing red button beneath the counter. He wasn’t a danger after all; he merely had a case of extremely cold feet. Funny thought, considering vampire lore would have mundanes believe vampires were inherently frigid to begin with.
She shuffled through closing-shift paperwork, the pressure in the lobby lifted. “So let yourself be enlightened. There are worse things that could happen than being a part of one of our oldest, most revered ceremonies.” Number one on Dylan’s list at the moment was the fact that she could’ve just been attacked by this unstable vamp. Time to install heavier security in the institution. Cameras, alarms, a big freakin’ dog . . . on second thought, she supposed that’s why Ruan was assigned to her office; for her protection. Where the hell was he anyway?
Tunneling his fingers through his flaming red hair, the vamp paced a circle. “Really? You think there are worse things than going through with the Valcdana? Tell me something worse than being enlightened for life by someone you don’t love. Tell me that.”
“How is losing control going to solve your problem? All that will get you is a stake to the heart by one of your own kind.”
“You didn’t give me an answer.” He stopped in front of the oversized bay window and watched sunlight-protecting blinds clamp into place. A dim red light bulb on the ceiling flickered, then kicked on full force, spreading a deep glow over the walls.
Morning was upon them. The only thing separating Dylan and David from a lethal case of sunburn was the secured windows and the swinging door from whence he came.
Dylan put down her paperwork, moved around the counter. Damn, she should’ve locked the door as soon as he came in. “I still don’t understand why you’d rather let yourself lose control and feed from a human than be enlightened. Most of the chosen in your position consider it a privilege.”
He stared far beyond the closed blinds a long time before turning back to her. When he finally did, his face was sunken in, his eyes hollow pits in his face. He was the closest thing to a skeleton she’d ever seen.
Misery, she thought. Standing before her was utter misery in vampire form.
“Tell me something worse than being enlightened by someone you don’t love.”
She blurted the first thing that came to her mind. “You could cease to exist.”
He nodded again and again, slow and methodical. Took a step toward the unlocked door. “I suppose you’re right. I suppose to die honorably in the eyes of the one I love is better than disrespecting what we have.”
She hated herself for having to throw logic into the wind of his emotional firestorm, but couldn’t hold back from stating the obvious truth. “David, if you die you’ll have nothing. You’ll be nothing. You won’t even get to experience the love you two share.”
“If they take her from me, they take everything I am!”
He glanced longingly at the exit as if a beautiful sanctuary waited on the other side, barely out of reach. She imagined the natural swing of the door, guessing how far streams of sunlight would invade the room. The hypothetical line of death landed right at her feet. She moved toward the back room. Just to be safe.
“David, why don’t you follow me into the back so we can talk about this? I could show you around.” Then tie you down until you’re psychiatrically evaluated.
“What’s there to talk about?” He took another step toward the door. And then another. “You already said you can’t help me. But if I die, could you at least offer my lover protection?”
“There’s no need for that. There are other ways to—”
“Could you protect her?” he begged.
“I . . . I suppose I could try.”
“Thank you.” Even though his mouth spoke words of appreciation, his eyes whispered goodbye.
Dylan shook her head. “I can’t promise—”
“Eve. Her name’s Eve Monroe.”
“David…” Dylan stepped toward him. No, toward the back. A step closer to safety. God, if she only had the courage to get to him before he barbequed them both.
He reached a pale, shriveled hand for the door. “Tell her I would be enlightened by no other.”
Dylan barely had time to dive for cover below the counter before sunlight engulfed the room. Cold winter wind howled in her ears, silencing David’s screams for Eve, for his love, for the future they’d never share.
After heavy-duty springs snapped the door closed and extinguished the last trace of light, Dylan stayed sprawled on the floor, wondering why in her two hundred years on this earth it never occurred to her to question the Court’s rules. It seemed that ability had come to David so easily.
How on earth she was going to tell Eve Monroe that her lover would never return to her arms?