Available September, 2013:
Sang Croc Island – French Polynesia
The night breeze blowing in from the ocean brought with it the intoxicating aromas of suntan oil and blood. Although there weren’t a lot of humans on the beach now that dusk had fallen, the heady scent of the rich, red fluid was strong enough that the vampire could still smell it just beneath the surface of their flesh. He drew in a breath and slowly exhaled. Delicious.
The moon drifted in the black sky and shone on the white sand, providing enough light so that, even if he weren’t a vampire, he could still see clearly. He strolled along the beach, blending in with the handful of human tourists hanging about. He’d been itching for the sun to go down, had barely slept all day. He was hungry. Jonesing for a feed. Mostly, though, he was anxious to put the next phase of his plan in motion. Slow and steady. Wasn’t that how the tortoise had won the race?
He strode across the soft sand, looking out at the glassy surface of the ocean. A sight he would never see the way it was mean to be seen, in sunlight. The cruel irony of being a vampire on a tropical island wasn’t lost on him.
Ah well, he might not be able to enjoy the daytime, but fortunately, beautiful, tasty women were always out in abundance, even after darkness fell.
As if to prove his point, he spotted two girls in barely-there bikinis at the edge of the ocean. They kicked water on one another, giggling and squealing in oblivious delight.
Girls. They were the easiest.
They passed a bottle of Lambrusco back and forth, chugging straight from the neck. He grinned. How fitting. In a matter of moments, he would be chugging straight from the neck.
He approached silently, not speaking until he was within a foot of where they frolicked. “Ladies? Enjoying yourselves?”
They turned startled eyes on him. The expression on the tall brunette’s face became a flirty smile when she saw him. The shorter of the two still looked wary.
“Tons,” the brunette said. She held out the bottle. “Want a sip?”
His lips spread into a grin. “More than you can imagine.”
She laughed and released the Lambrusco into his grip. He put it to his mouth and drank. The wine was a cheap, sweet red. The taste couldn’t compare to the sweet red of the blood flowing through the girls’ veins. Veins he would tap into shortly.
“Skyler, we’d better be heading back to the hotel,” Miss Blond, Short, and Skeptical said to her friend.
He moved closer to the blonde, walked into the ocean, ignoring the unpleasant feel of water-soaked shoes. He stared down, letting his eyes capture hers. “Why is that? The party’s only just begun.”
She swallowed audibly, and the pulse in her neck jumped with the movement. Excitement bloomed in his chest. He hadn’t been sure which one would die, but now he knew. This one had spunk. She would not only taste delicious, conquering her would be more exciting.
She started to look away, but he gripped her chin in his fingers. “What’s your name?” he asked softly.
“Mine’s Skyler,” her friend said from behind him, as if he hadn’t just heard the blonde call her by name. “She can go back to the hotel if she wants and—“
“Silence!” He whirled on the brunette. She blinked at him in hurt confusion. Sensitive little thing. For God’s sake. It wasn’t like he said her bikini made her look fat.
Still holding the blonde’s chin, he focused on the brunette’s eyes. “Look at me and listen carefully.” He kept his voice low, commanding. “Stand there quietly and don’t move. Don’t make a sound until I tell you it’s okay. Understand?”
“Hey,” her blond friend said. “You can’t tell her what to do.”
He let out a frustrated breath. Mesmerizing two chicks at once was not an easy feat.
He turned back to the blonde and made sure they were eye to eye. Made sure he had her complete attention. “You will also be quiet. Do exactly as I say. Understand?”
A frown marred her brows, but she gave a quick, jerky nod. Barely under. Good. He didn’t want her too docile when the time came.
Back to the brunette, he said, “No matter what happens, no matter what you see, you won’t make a sound. You won’t move. Got it?”
She nodded slowly and immediately quieted. The only sounds were those of crashing waves and distant conversations of other humans.
“Your name?” he demanded again.
“Patrice,” she finally muttered.
“Well, Patrice, because you’re so enticing, so remarkable, you will have to be sacrificed. But take solace in the fact that your friend will be spared.”
She blinked rapidly. Her mouth dropped open, and little mewling sounds came out. “What? I…you’re going to…?”
He released her chin and gripped a handful of hair at the back of her head. “Not a sound, I said.” She fell silent, and he reveled at the terror in her eyes. So easy.
He yanked her to him, tugged her head back. With a growl, he protracted his fangs and drove them deep into her flesh. Hot sweet blood with just a hint of wine flowed into his mouth. He nearly moaned in satisfaction. The feeding was good…great, but being another step closer to exacting revenge…well, that was about as good as it got.
She struggled silently, clawing at his shoulders, trying to shove him away. Nice. He liked a little fight. But the fight soon fled. Her body went limp. The flow of blood slowed. Her heart no longer pumped it to him. He released her, and her body hit the water with a splash.
He turned back to her friend, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. Silent tears coursed down her cheeks. Her body trembled violently, but she remained silent, standing where he’d left her.
He ignored the flicker of sympathy crowding its way into his soul. He was a vampire, after all. It was in his nature to feed…to kill. No room for a conscience. No room for weakness.
He stalked to the brunette and grabbed her shoulders, looking down into her eyes. “Listen carefully, he said. “I want you to wait ten minutes, then run up the beach, screaming. Report this to the police. You understand?”
“Good. And this is what you’ll tell them…”
Liberty Van Helsing could almost believe last night had been a dream—that she hadn’t hunted vampires, hadn’t actually killed vampires—had it not been for the aches in every muscle of her body and the bandage on her arm that covered a bullet wound.
Business was slow tonight at the tiki bar. But of course her boss, Jerome, wouldn’t let her off early. The Perfect Getaway had to be fully manned at all times, with the bright smiling faces of a staff eager to serve. All she felt like doing was going home and pulling the covers over her head, sleeping for a week.
“How are you making it?” Ryan Kelly spoke at her shoulder as she loaded plates from the warmer onto a tray.
Her pulse quickened at the sound of his voice. She glanced up to find his dark eyes roaming over her from head to toe, worry evident in their black depths. “I’m fine.”
He frowned. “I don’t think so. Tell me how you’re really doing.”
She swallowed back a lump of tears. There’s no crying in vampire hunting…
She’d learned less than a month ago that she was a descendant of the vampire hunter, Van Helsing. She’d traveled from her small Oklahoma hometown to this strange island to meet the father she’d never known existed. And gotten so much more than she bargained for. Her father passed away before she really got to know him. And here she was, destined to take up where he left off. Hunting and killing vampires when she was barely out of high school, had never even had a fist fight, and the sight of blood made her hurl. Some hunter she was.
“Well, how I’m really doing is that I’m a little freaked about what I did last night. My arm hurts like hell, and I’ve barely slept. Better?”
He shrugged. “More honest, at least.” He covered her hand with his. “I’ll do whatever I can to help you through this. You know that, right?”
She nodded. “I’ll be fine. Really.”
“Let me take that. You don’t need to be lifting with that arm.” He took hold of the tray and scowled at her. “You should have called in.”
“I’m fine. I can get this.” She tugged on the tray, but he didn’t release it. “Ryan, you can’t coddle me. And you can’t do my job. You’re tending bar tonight, and I’ll just have to suck it up. Jerome would murder me if I’d called in.”
“Bloody dingo,” he muttered.
Liberty smiled. Although she didn’t understand all of his Australian idioms, she was sure the insult fit their boss perfectly. “Come on, get behind the bar, and let me do my job. I appreciate your concern, but if I’m going to be a hunter, I need to suck it up, get tougher.”
He winked and flashed his adorable grin, making the laugh lines around his eyes more pronounced. “I like you soft, just like you are.”
Warmth spread through her lower belly. She liked Ryan. Maybe not as much as he liked her, but he was ten times better than the cheating boyfriend she’d left behind in Oklahoma.
She lifted the tray and instantly regretted not taking Ryan up on his offer. The wound on her arm screamed with the weight, even though she was using her good arm to bear most of it.
Gritting her teeth against the pain, she headed to the table. Female laughter shrieked through the room, and Liberty knew exactly where it came from. She smiled at her customers, but inside she seethed. Eli was here with two girls. How dare he show his face after what had happened last night? It wasn’t like the Getaway was the only bar on the island.
“Jerk,” she mumbled under her breath. “Can I get you anything else?” she asked the two couples she was serving.
“We’ll have another round.”
“Coming right up.” She put the empty tray on the rack and started toward the bar to order the drinks, glancing at her other tables to make sure they didn’t need anything as she tried to ignore Eli Barkley.
But in spite of her determination, her eyes strayed to his table. He was leaned back in his seat, arms draped on the backs of the bamboo chairs on either side of him. Each chair held a female—one blonde and one with flaming red hair—both with envy-inducing curves.
Eli’s dark blond hair was in its usual disarray, his silvery eyes glinting as he laughed. His pose was relaxed, like nothing had happened. Like she wasn’t in the room. Like he didn’t give a damn.
Fine. She didn’t give a damn either.
Lips compressed, she stalked to the bar. “Two margaritas, a hurricane, and a Bloody Mary.”
Ryan peered at her, eyes narrowed. “You okay?”
She nodded. “Yeah, I’m okay. It’s just that Eli is getting under my skin.”
“Did he say something to you?”
“No,” she admitted reluctantly. “I just think he could have picked a different place to drink and whore around after what happened last night.”
“You know, it’s really not his fault. It was kind of a dick move for me to tell you he used to be one of the Evil Ones.”
She compressed her lips. “No, it was a dick move that you didn’t tell me in the beginning. I had a right to know who would be training me. Who I’d be spending hours alone with.”
“Yeah, but he’s different now. He’s on our side.”
Her gaze went back to the table. Irritation tightened in her throat. “I think Eli is only on Eli’s side.”
Ryan slid the drinks onto her tray. “He’s not a bad sort, really.”
The friendship between Ryan and Eli baffled her. A thoughtful, sensitive human and a lying, heartless, jerkwad vampire. Go figure. She stole another glance at Eli and his companions. “Who are those girls?”
“I don’t know the blonde, but the redhead is Grace. She’s a…friend…from Eli’s past. They met during the Civil War.”
The Civil War? Even though she knew of the existence of vampires, she couldn’t help but be stunned at the reality of it all.
“How old is Eli?” She’d never asked the question. It hadn’t really occurred to her that he could possibly be centuries old.
“Twenty-one in human years. In vampire years, he’s about two-hundred and fifty. He was turned in the 1700’s.”
She shook her head. Unbelievable. He’d been around in the Revolutionary War. It seemed implausible, but she knew it was true. The last month had taught her that nothing was beyond the realm of possibility.
“I know.” Ryan grinned. “Hard to accept, right? It took me a while. I would say you’ll get used to it, but I still haven’t.”
“I totally get that.” She took the tray of drinks to her table and dropped the check. “I’ll take care of that whenever you’re ready.” Maybe they would get the hint. It was closing time, and there were only a few customers left, Eli and his friends included. At least they weren’t in her section. She could go as soon as her last table left.
“Here, we’ll take care of it now.”
Relief flooded her when one of the men handed her a credit card. She could finish up her closing duties and take off. Finally.
After clearing her section and settling her money for the evening, she headed to the parking lot. Her first several weeks on the island, she’d had to depend on rides from others. But Antoine—the manservant she’d inherited from her dead father—had insisted she have her own transportation, and they’d purchased a nearly-new red cobalt for her use. She was still nervous driving in a strange country, but it was damn convenient to have her own wheels.
The Perfect Getaway sat on the beach, and the parking lot was lined with palm trees and red and pink hibiscus plants. The scent of vanilla orchids hung in the air. Such a paradise, yet it held such darkness and evil. She shivered.
She jumped at the sound of Eli’s voice. Speaking of darkness and evil…
She turned a glare on him. He stood directly behind her, hands shoved in his pockets, yet he’d been chilling in the bar only seconds ago.
“Don’t do that,” she snapped. She looked back at the tiki bar. “How the hell did you…?” She shook her head. “Never mind. You’re a vampire. You move with the speed of light.”
He grinned and slanted his upper body toward her. “Yeah, but we’ve got all that darkness brewing inside. Ironic, isn’t it?”
She swung away from him and lifted the handle to open the door. “Whatever. I’m tired, so you’ll understand if I don’t feel like hanging out and bantering with you. Besides, your dates are waiting for you.”
She snorted a laugh. “No. Sympathetic. Better them than me.”
“Why is it I don’t believe you?”
“Maybe because you’re delusional?” She gave him an overly sweet smile before turning away to jerk the car door open.
“I see you’re still pouting because I didn’t tell you I was once a big, bad vampire.”
“It doesn’t matter. You warned me early on not to trust you. I should have listened.”
“And now you should put on your big girl panties and get over it. You’re a hunter, Liberty. You need to toughen up.”
Toughen up? Was he kidding? She’d risked her life last night, had worked her ass off training, and he was calling her a wimp. To hell with him. She started to slide into the car, but his voice stopped her.
“You can be mad at me all you want, but you can’t completely shut me out.”
“Watch me,” she bit out, not turning around. “Let me ask you something. What difference would it have made if you’d known in the beginning?”
She slammed the door and whirled on him. “At least I’d have known who—what—I was dealing with.”
“Would you still have let me train you?”
She shrugged. “I’m not sure. But I had the right to know. To have all the facts before making that decision.”
“If you had chosen not to let me train you, how do you think you would have fared last night? Not knowing the truth was for your own good.”
She gave a bitter laugh. “Yeah, and I’m sure you’re all about what’s best for me.”
“Look, you’re going to have to put all that behind you. Like it or not, you still need me.”
“No, I don’t. I’ll keep practicing. I’ll be fine.”
“You can’t take that chance. If I hadn’t saved your ass last night, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
Just like him to throw that in her face. She huffed out a sigh of irritation. “Thanks for that, but from here on out, I can take care of myself.”
He stepped closer, backing her up to the door. The only way she could get away from him was to climb into the car. But she didn’t.
“What’s wrong?” He raised his eyebrows, amusement lifting the corners of his mouth. “Are you afraid of me now?”
She tilted her chin up and met his eyes. Eyes that looked like molten silver in the semi-darkness. “Not afraid. Pissed off. There’s a difference.”
He chuckled. “Well, it’s nice to know I have an effect on you.” His gaze dropped to her throat. “Your pulse is beating like crazy. Right here.” He stroked a finger down her neck, sending heat skittering over her flesh. Damn him. She sucked in a breath and clenched her teeth.
“I can see it.” He dropped his hand, and his gaze locked onto hers. “No matter how much you’d like to be, you’re not immune to me, Liberty Van Helsing.”
She swallowed hard, trying to slow her racing pulse. “I need to get home. Let me go.”
His lips curved in a grin, and his voice lowered to a near whisper. “I’m not touching you.”
I hope you enjoyed the excerpt, please feel free to leave comments if you would like…thanks for dropping by!
CHANCE TO WIN A FREE COPY OF BOOK 1 in the Isle of Fang Series – The first 5 people to email me at Aliciamdean@aol.com with the subject line: ‘Liberty Awakened’ will receive a free Kindle version of Liberty Awakened, Isle of Fangs Book 1.
Blurb for Liberty Awakened:
Evil lurks beneath the surface in the beauty of the tropics…
After graduation from her small, Oklahoma high school, Liberty Delacort is looking forward to a fun-filled summer before college. But when the people she trusts the most betray her, and a letter arrives claiming her deceased father is still alive, she jumps at the chance to travel to an exotic island to meet him.
But her excitement is short-lived. Her father is dying, and he doesn’t want her around. And, in spite of its outward tranquility, the island is filled with danger and ominous secrets. The secrets soon begin to unravel, and she discovers she is a descendant of Van Helsing, the vampire hunter.
The one up side is her budding romance with the sweet and sexy Ryan Kelly. But even that is threatened when—in spite of her fear of him—she finds herself attracted to an insolent, formidable vampire. Her plan to stay away from him fails when she learns he is the only one with the ability to train her to fulfill her destiny—to save humans from a faction of vicious vampires.
Will her inexperience lead to her death—and the death of others—or will she rise to the challenge and realize her full potential as a Hunter?
Buy Link: AmazonFollow Alicia Dean On...