For beautiful heiress Sheree West, vampires are more than a fantasy. They are an obsession. Night after night, she dresses in black and immerses herself in L.A.'s goth club scene. Searching for a lover who is more than a man. A creature of the dark who lusts for her blood. A legend who lives in the shadows and not just her dreams. Then, one fateful night, she meets him…
Derek Blackwood is no ordinary vampire. Descended from a bloodline as old as Cleopatra, and blessed with unearthly powers of seduction, he is everything Sheree wished for—and more. When he takes her in his arms, she is powerless. When he kisses her neck, she is his. But when the full moon rises—and passions flare— something is unleashed in Derek he's never felt before. Something wild. Something dangerous. Something he cannot control or stop…unless she can save him.
NOR Reviews said: "A story with many twists and turns guaranteed to keep readers interested and wanting another Amanda Ashley novel."
Romantic Times Bookclub said: "A consistently entertaining and well-written vampire romance. Perfect for curling up with when you're hoping for an enjoyable, steamy read."
Sheree Westerbrooke stood in the front of the full-length mirror in her bedroom, admiring her new Goth look. It had taken her days to find just the 'right' ensemble, but it had been worth it. If one wanted to fit in, one had to look the part. After all, she couldn't just waltz into a vampire club looking like a tourist. She needed fake fangs, some black Goth style clothing, shoes, and jewelry. She had debated dying her shoulder-length blonde hair black, but decided to buy a long black wig instead. Her own mother wouldn't recognize her.
Sheree smiled at her reflection, pleased. She had always loved vampires - the ugly ones with pointy ears and hairy hands, like Nosferatu. The suave, handsome ones, like George Hamilton, Gerard Butler, and Frank Langella. The comic ones who spoke with funny accents, like Leslie Nielsen. The scary ones, like Gary Oldham and Christopher Lee. She loved them in comic books and movies, in novels and fantasy magazines.
She had vampire posters on her walls, a collection of vampire figurines, a Lady Dracula costume she wore on Halloween. She had seen every movie and play about the undead she could find, read every book of fiction and non-fiction in the local library. She had even tried her hand at writing vampire poetry which, you should pardon the pun, sucked.
It didn't matter that Sheree's parents and friends told her there was no such thing. They insisted that vampires by any other name - Nosferatu, Undead, Dracula, vampyr, blood-sucking creatures of the night - whatever - simply didn't exist except in low-budget horror movies and novels.
But Sheree refused to accept that. People had believed in vampires for thousands of years. Since the beginning of recorded history, every culture and civilization had its own vampire legend. Surely, if vampires were only a myth, any interest in them would have faded away long ago.
Ergo, vampires must exist. There were vampire chat rooms online, vampire night clubs and hangouts. Out of all those hundreds and thousands of people who were pretending to be vampires, there had to be at least one who was the real deal.
And Sheree was determined to find him – or her - no matter where he or she was hiding.
Being rich, single, and bored, Sheree had decided to visit every vampire hangout between California and New York until she found what she was looking for. Hence, her new look.
Taking a deep breath, Sheree picked up her new Ferragamo black leather bag which held her make-up, cell phone, wallet, and a sharp wooden stake. Plucking a small bottle of holy water from her dresser, she dropped it into her bag.
"Don't leave home without it," she said, grinning as she headed out the door.
Drac's Dive, located in Hollywood, California, was Sheree's first stop, She paused inside the entrance, letting her eyes adjust to the dim lighting. At first, it looked like the place was empty, but, gradually, she realized it looked that way because the walls were painted black and that everyone in the place – waitresses, bartenders, the band and patrons - were all attired in black clothing.
The air reeked of alcohol, perspiration, and incense.
As soon as she took a seat at the bar, three men approached her, all wanting to "get to know her better." The first was tall and thin, with greasy blonde hair, close-set brown eyes and a long, thin nose. The second was short, with brown hair, blue eyes and regular features. The third had short black hair and dark brown eyes. And fangs that were obviously fake when he smiled at her.
She declined each invitation. After thirty minutes and several more questionable offers which she also refused, she left the club. So, she hadn't found a real vampire at Drac's Dive, but there were other clubs out there that catered to the Goth crowd. And what better place for a vampire to hang out than in the midst of a bunch of Undead wannabes?
Pulling a slip of paper from her pocket, she perused the list of names she had found on the Internet – Blood and Wine, The Black Rose, Nosferatu's Den, Demon's Delight.
A check of the addresses showed Nosferatu's Den was only two blocks away. Maybe she would have better luck there.
Derek sat at the bar, his gaze moving over the crowd, considering and rejecting one patron after another. Many were familiar to him. He had dined on a few. It never failed to amuse him, the lengths humans would go to make themselves look like vampires, though he had rarely known a real vampire with skin as pale, or lips as red, as those of the wannabe bloodsuckers in attendance, The men were all dressed like Bela Lugosi – black suits, crisp white shirts, long black capes, some lined in red, some in white. A few even mimicked Lugosi's accent. The women also wore black – mostly long flowing gowns with plunging necklines that displayed their cleavage, real or enhanced.
He had never understood the human fascination with vampires. His kind were, for the most part, merciless hunters of mankind. Some, like the members of his family, resisted the urge to kill their prey. Knowing how tempting it was to drain mortals dry, to drink their blood, their warmth, and their memories, he admired his family's determination to take only enough to survive.
He was thinking of changing his hunting ground to Hollywood Boulevard when a bewitching scent tickled his nostrils, drawing his gaze toward the entrance and the slender woman framed in the doorway. Like the others, she wore black from head to foot, from her hooded cloak to her high-heeled boots. When she lowered her hood, he saw her hair was also black. Dyed, he thought, or perhaps a wig. Her eyes were a deep golden brown beneath thick lashes.
His gaze followed her progress into the club. He noted that she had attracted the attention of several other men, as well.She sat at the other end of the bar, the slit in her skirt parting to reveal a slender calf clad in black silk.
In spite of the music and the low rumble of conversation, he heard her order a Bloody Mary, which she sipped slowly as she glanced around the club. Was she looking for someone in particular, he wondered. Or just looking.
During the next half-hour, he watched her reject the advances of one man after another, finally agreeing to dance with a tall, dark-skinned man with an Italian accent.
Derek stared at them through narrowed eyes as they moved across the floor. Seeing her in the arms of another man aroused an unexpected stab of jealousy. It was a new emotion for him and he examined it closely, wondering what had provoked it. He didn't even know the woman.
Almost before he realized what he was doing, he crossed the floor and cut in on the woman and her partner.
Sheree offered a tentative smile to the man who took her partner's place on the dance floor, felt a jolt, like an electric shock, sizzle up her arm as he gathered her into his arms.
Startled, she looked into his eyes – deep blue eyes that seemed to pierce her very soul.
"Good evening, lovely lady," he murmured. "I hope you don't mind my cutting in."
"Uh…no. I guess not."
He smiled, revealing even white teeth. "Have you a name?"
"Of course," she replied. "Everyone has a name."
"Care to share yours with me?"
She stared at him, unable to shake the feeling that it would be dangerous to tell this stranger who she was.
He lifted one brow, his expression amused. "It's just a name."
"Names have power."
"Only if you're a witch." He cocked his head to the side. "Are you a witch?"
"I think not." His gaze moved over her from head to heel. "A dark angel, perhaps."
Sheree smiled in spite of herself. "No, but you're getting warmer."
"Ah. A vampire?"
She batted her eyelashes at him. "Why, however did you guess?"
He laughed softly. "Just a hunch, darlin'. Let me see your fangs."
"I'm sorry, but I left them home tonight. Can I see yours?"
"Maybe later. Can I buy you a drink?"
Sheree intended to say no but found herself accepting instead. She wasn't sure if it was because he was without doubt the sexiest man she had ever seen, or if it was his smile, or the way her heart had skipped a beat when he called her darlin'. She grinned inwardly, thinking all of the above.
When the music ended, he led her to a table, excused himself to get their drinks. She'd asked for a Bloody Mary and he made it two, though his drink of choice was wine.
She was swaying to the music, her eyes closed, when he returned.
For a moment, he found himself staring at her. What was there about her, he wondered, that enchanted him so? She was pretty. She smelled good. She had a winning smile and she laughed easily. But it was more than that. What more, he had no idea.
"Here you go," he said, placing her drink on the table.
She opened her eyes and smiled as he sat down.
"A toast?" he suggested, lifting his glass.
"All right." She lifted her glass as well. "What shall we drink to?"
"New beginnings," she repeated, and touched her glass to his.
Her scent tantalized him, as did the steady beat of her heart, the sight of the pulse throbbing in the hollow of her throat. He clenched his hands when his fangs brushed his tongue. Damn. He needed to get away from her, needed to feed now, before he did something reckless.
"Will you be here tomorrow night?" he asked, his voice tight.
"Are you leaving?"
He forced a note of humor into his voice. "It's feeding time."
"Oh, of course," she replied, playing along.
"Tomorrow night." He had intended to return to his own home in Sacramento, but that could wait a few days. Pushing away from the table, he brushed a kiss across Sheree's cheek. "Ten o'clock."
Before she could answer, he was moving toward the exit.
Sheree stared after him, then shook her head. She was either drunk or seeing things, but she would have sworn she saw a faint red glow in his eyes.