Welcome to the Paranormal Romance Blog Hop. I mainly write contemporary erotic romance but a few years ago I was gripped by a story about a butcher girl working in London who had rare Bombay blood (yes, that's a real type!). Despite all the confusing smells around her two very sexy vampires discover her delicate and unique flavour and make her happiness and safety their sole concern for all of time. Here's an excerpt taken from near the beginning of Bite Mark. As you can imagine, it's quite a lot for Beatrice to get her head around but she's glad these vampires turn up when they do.
After dodging around the usual jam of trucks and vans I headed over Charterhouse and toward Smokehouse Yard.
It was the same as yesterday, still and quiet, the sun not penetrating the tall sweep of houses and the frost still thick on the ground. The windows were all dark, but when I glanced upward I noticed wisps of smoke coming from a few chimney pots.
There must be people living on this street. How odd that they weren’t heading out to work. Did they all conduct business from home? Were the kids all schooled by nannies in the comfort and warmth of their playrooms? Surely not.
I paused and studied the window nearest me, wondering if I could see any signs of life or get a clue to what was going on in this long row of houses.
Suddenly there was a flash of movement in the blackness. It was a man with light- colored hair coming into the room.
Gripping two black arrowheads on the row of railing, I leaned closer and went on tiptoes for a better look. I should have been worried about being spotted spying, but I didn’t care. I felt compelled to carry on watching.
Plus whoever it was in the room hadn’t seen me. His back was to the window.
Another figure, taller, wider, also male, went up to the first and wrapped his arms around him. They melted together, as though becoming one, kissing, cuddling. It was two men. I was sure of it. The way they stood, moved, their outlines.
The kiss heated. They were roaming their hands. A t-shirt was tugged off and tossed aside. The larger man stooped, kissed his way across the other one’s chest, down his sternum and abdomen before stopping at the fly of his jeans.
My heart rate picked up. What I was watching was private but I couldn’t pull my attention away. I felt bound to watch. And although it was just a silhouette, a show swamped in dense shadows, it was erotic as hell.
The standing man weaved his hands into the other’s hair as his pants were pushed down his legs. His cock burst free, long and thin and standing proud. I wished I could see more, the color, the shape of the glans, did he have pre-cum waiting to be licked off?
It seemed he had and the other wanted it.
Holding my breath, I watched the tip of the kneeling guy’s tongue poke out and dip in. He was busy with his hands too, working the shaft, feeding it upward to the attentions of his tongue. A web of spittle hung in the outline between the two figures, connecting cock and mouth for the briefest of moments, then the giver of the blowjob sank deep, absorbing the entire shaft into his silhouette.
The standing man tipped his head back, his mouth opened and the angle of the weak shred of light hitting him shifted.
Suddenly I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach, a real whack to the guts.
The standing guy looked just like him from what I could make out now. His profile, with a slightly oversized nose, the way his hair hung a little overlong.
Was it Denny? It sure as hell looked like him.
“Hey, flower, what you doin’? Waitin’ for me to give you a good fuckin’?”
I startled at the sound of Sean’s gritty voice and the feel of his hot breath on my neck. I’d been so engrossed in my voyeurism that I hadn’t even noticed him approaching or indeed following me.
“Get lost, dickhead,” I said. I had things to do. If that really was Denny in there I had to go to him, do something. Shit, but what could I do? If it was him he looked happy as Larry, that was for sure, and I couldn’t exactly interrupt.
I had to go find Aimery. Tell him what I’d just seen.
I tried to shove away from the fence but couldn’t move an inch. I was trapped. Sean had gripped the railings on either side of my hands and was pressing his body hard into my back. The spikes poked against my coat and into my chest. A bolt of fear ran through me. What felt revoltingly like his erection was jabbing though our clothing on to the small of my back.
“This how you want it?” he said into my ear. “From behind? In your pussy or up your arse? You choose; I don’t give a flying bollocks which.”
The stench of coffee and stale beer filtered to my nose and I shuddered. “Fuck off,” I said, jabbing my elbows back into his torso.
He didn’t budge from the impact. “Ah, you wanna play rough, do you? I can give you that and more.” He clamped a hand over my mouth and the other around my chest, above my breasts, then tugged me back, away from the railings.
I huffed in fury and writhed within his tough grip.
“You really think you can give me the finger in front of the whole market and get away with it?” He cackled, a nasty, sandpapery sound that chilled the pit of my stomach. I should never have underestimated the depths of Sean’s scumminess.
I glanced at the window again. I couldn’t see the fellating couple anymore. They’d either sunk to the floor or gone to bed. Capturing their attention for help was no longer an option.
Why does it have to be so freakishly quiet around here?
I squirmed harder and threw my head back, hoping to knock Sean off balance so I could wriggle away. But it did no good. This was a guy who’d traded intelligence for brawn and right now that worked in his favor.
“Get off,” I mumbled from behind his calloused hand. My heart was going at a dangerously fast pace, skipping and missing beats as it slammed against my sternum. “Mmmmmph.”
He spun us ’round, clamping my spine to his chest, and I saw to my horror that his squat white van was parked against the curb with the back doors flung open. The inside was lined with an old rug, and a spool of silver duct tape sat in the center. My gaze landed on a linen roll, the type used to transport knives.
I wanted to vomit. I wanted to scream. Shit, how could I not have heard him approach? I didn’t like the guy but I didn’t think he was this dangerous. It seemed I’d been wrong. Very wrong, and now I was going to pay the price.
He tugged me toward the van. Real primal fear knotted my belly, and adrenaline surged into my system. I fought all the harder, upped my wriggling and elbowing as though my life depended on it. I was beginning to believe that it did.
“Stop it, bitch, you know this is what you want. It’s what you asked for.”
His hold on me was unyielding, my feet were actually off the pavement now and he was carrying me, or rather bundling me, toward the van.
Shit, I was being kidnapped, about to be raped, possibly murdered, and in the broad light of day with Denny only feet away. This couldn’t be happening. I wouldn’t let this happen.
I tried to scream again but it came out as a muffled squeak, then I attempted to bite his finger but couldn’t make purchase.
The suspension of the van rocked as he shoved me inside. When he released me to grab the duct tape I scrabbled onto my knees, making the most of the freedom and trying to push past him, out of the half-closed door. “Leave me the fuck alone, you bastard, I—” My words were cut short.
There was someone standing behind Sean—someone tall, with wild blue eyes and hair the color of the palest sand.
Sean must have sensed another presence or at least seen me look over his left shoulder, because he stopped unpeeling the tape and started to turn.
But he didn’t get the chance.
Ryle head-locked him at the same time as he landed a kidney punch.
“Ah, fuck,” Sean cried, slumping within Ryle’s grip. “You arsehole,” he gasped. He panted for a few seconds, flashing his gold teeth, and then straightened.
I saw the glint of a knife in his hand, a short one, not a butchering knife. The sort used for gutting small fish.
“Shit, he’s got a knife,” I shouted, backing away from Sean and heading deeper into the van, out of the way of the sharp blade.
Ryle stared at me, unblinking. His nose twitched and he licked his lips. “I’m sorry you have to see this, Bea. But it appears I have no choice.”
“See what?” I bunched my legs beneath me and wished my entire body wasn’t quaking so violently. It was out of control.
Sean grunted in anger, spittle flew from his mouth and he raised the knife, ready to stab backward, into the face of his attacker.
But he didn’t. The knife simply fell to the metal floor of the van, then bounced to the road with a clink. His hand splayed open, as though suddenly immobile.
Ryle had attached his mouth to Sean’s neck.
I blinked rapidly, hardly able to believe what I was seeing.
Sean had gone utterly still and a slim trickle of blood was oozing down the column of his throat. I stared as it slid over his cobweb tattoo to the pale green hoodie he wore. Red dribbles spread like oil over the material, making a finger-shaped pattern.
I started to scream, juddering my hands up to my mouth, but no sound came out. Fuck. Ryle was biting Sean, and if my human anatomy was half as accurate as my bovine then he’d gone right through his jugular vein.
But Sean wasn’t protesting. In fact, he had a look of almost bliss on his face. It was freaky as hell. His mouth was slack, his eyes closed and his limbs had relaxed at his sides.
“Oh Jesus Christ,” I gasped, clenching my fists and pressing them against my cold cheeks. I must be hallucinating. That was the only explanation. Because it looked like Ryle was sucking blood from Sean’s neck and drinking the life from him.
Fuck, so I hadn’t been foolish to think that yesterday. It was the only sane explanation. Except it was insane. Vampires didn’t exist. Not in the real world anyway. They were from books and movies.
I wanted to run away but I was gripped by the gruesome sight. My mind muddled with outlandish thoughts.
Sean had slumped now, his head lolling to the side. His skin was paper-white and his lips tinged blue. A few puffs of his breath hovered around his face.
“Shit.” I managed. “He’s... You’re killing him.”
Ryle didn’t answer. His eyes were shut and he was gulping, his cheeks hollowing the way Aimery’s had when he’d sucked my finger yesterday.
Shit. Aimery too?
Of course he was.
My stomach knotted. My breath hitched. What the hell had I gotten myself involved with? This couldn’t possibly be happening. It was the stuff of nightmares.
“What is going on here?”
Aimery’s deep voice penetrated the sound of my pulse hammering in my ears. He stood behind Ryle, shirtless, shoeless and his hair mussed not in the careful way it had been yesterday, but flattened, as though he’d been in the shower and jumped out suddenly. His eyes were wide, his lips tight and his shoulders bunched toward his ears.
“Ryle. Stop,” he said.
Ryle ignored him.
“Ryle, for crying out loud. Remember where you are.”
Aimery’s harshly words appeared to jolt Ryle from whatever trance he’d fallen into. He lifted his mouth from Sean’s neck and stared directly at me. A fat drip of blood balanced on his chin.
I gasped. The sight of blood didn’t bother me in the slightest but the image of human blood smeared around someone else’s face made my stomach lurch. But despite this I couldn’t tear my gaze away. It was like a scene from a horror movie. I didn’t want to watch it but had to know what happened next.
Ryle licked his lips, rubbing his tongue over and around his teeth as though savoring the sticky sweetness of the scarlet mess. It had dripped down his neck onto the front of his white t-shirt, making him look like a trick-or-treater heading to a Halloween party. Though this was no party, the panic coursing through my veins told me that. And by the looks of it, Sean really was dead, or passed out at the very least. He hung limply over Ryle’s right arm, his face no longer visible as he’d bent double. He must have been some weight, all floppy like that, but Ryle didn’t appear to notice.
“In the name of Benedict, what the hell have you just done?” Aimery said, pushing past Ryle to look at Sean. “Was it really necessary to kill him?”
“Yeah,” Ryle said with a languid smile. “Bastard was just about to take out our Bombay. Got what he deserved.”
Aimery glanced at me. “Her name is Beatrice.”
“Yeah, that’s what I meant.” Ryle tossed Sean’s big body into the van. He landed next to me with his arms lying oddly and his head stretched back unnaturally. There were two black holes, side by side, on his neck. The tiniest trickle of crimson blood seeped out of one and ran in a skinny drip over his skin.
“Ah, fuck,” I squealed, scrambling to the door. “That’s really fucking freaky, you know. Anyone would think you were vampires.”
I willed my heart to steady, for it was trip-trapping alarmingly. Think rationally. Of course they weren’t vampires, and it was even more absurd to think that they were members of a worshipful company of vampires. My imagination had really got carried away this time. It was ridiculous.
I was ridiculous.
A tense silence hung in the air.
They both stared at me.
My God, they weren’t bloody denying it.
I jumped to my feet and despite shaking all over, I studied Ryle, looking for fangs. There were none.
Suddenly my peripheral vision started to blur, small black dots floated before me. I could hardly breathe, my chest was so tight, the air so cold. I grabbed my throat, wondering why it was constricting. Fear tore through me. I was going to die.
“Hey, hey, calm down.” Aimery reached out and put his hands on my shoulders. “It’s okay. Ryle was protecting you. You are perfectly fine.”
I gasped for air. A pitiful amount dribbled into my lungs.
“Shh, you’re making yourself hyperventilate,” he said. “Take it easy. You are safe. I give you my word. Nothing will or can harm you, I promise.”
“We promise,” Ryle added.
I dragged in a sudden, sharp lungful of air. It was harsh and frosty and nipped my throat.
“That’s it, nice slow, deep breaths,” Aimery soothed. “Good girl, you’re absolutely fine now. We’re here.”
My cheeks felt numb and my fingertips tingled. I wasn’t sure how long I could stand up. “I’m really glad Ryle came...when he did, but...” It was hard to get the words out. My air intake was limited and I didn’t know whether to shout or scream or break down and sob. “But that, seeing him... Shit.” I pointed at Ryle, who stood with his arms hanging loosely at his sides. “He looks like the blokes on that macabre tapestry hanging on the wall outside your office. They’re vampires, aren’t they? That’s what you are.”
“We are from an ancient order with customs and traditions I have yet to explain,” Aimery said, pulling me against his bare chest. “Ryle did what he needed to when he found himself without a weapon and a man about to hurt what is his.”
“His?” I was Ryle’s now? My knees were weak, my spine felt like dust and my vision was foggy.
I slumped and Aimery locked his arms around me and held me up. The support was welcome, as was his cinnamon, slightly soapy smell that replaced the metallic tang of blood in the air. His reassuring presence seemed to transport me from the horror, soothe my soul and make everything okay. In spite of the fact he hadn’t denied that he was a vampire, Aimery made me feel safe.
Shit, that word again. Vampire. My throat tightened and my belly lurched.
“Keep taking deep breaths,” Aimery murmured against my temple. “It is all okay now. You are quite safe.”
“Yeah, thanks to me,” Ryle said. “Where were you, Aimery?”
“I was bathing, it just took me a few seconds to pull on my trousers.” He rubbed his hand up my back and rested it protectively over my head, stroking my hair.
I hugged him a little tighter. He wore only suit pants and his skin felt chilly against my cheek.
“Well, your delay nearly lost us everything. It’s a good job I was keeping an ear to the ground.”
“Yes, it was.” There was both gratitude and irritation in Aimery’s voice. “But what the hell are you going to do about this mess?”
“Me?” Ryle sounded put out.
“Yes, you. You need to decide where you’re going to dump the body and then get on with it.”
Sean really was dead, then.
I lifted my head and looked up into Aimery’s dark eyes. “I...I didn’t like the bloke but...seeing him die, now dead...” I swallowed tightly. The terror of what Sean had nearly subjected me to made my innards clench.
“Shh.” Aimery smoothed his hand down my cheek. “He had what was coming to him. Ryle wouldn’t have reacted the way he did if this had been a good man.”
“He was going to bind you, take you out onto the heath, then rape you,” Ryle said, wiping his hand over his chin and smearing the blood further. “He would have murdered you once he’d messed up your body with those knives so badly you were no good to him any more.” He shrugged. “He got off lightly as far as I’m concerned.”
“How do you know that?” I asked, shuddering.
“Sometimes I have daydreams, like visions. I can see into people’s future if I try hard enough. That was how I knew he was tailing you. I’d been thinking of you and he popped into my mind. He was right behind you, pressing in tight and trapping you against the railings.”
I glanced at the body, shivered and thought how different this moment would be if it weren’t for the bloodied, animalistic man standing before me. There was no doubt in my mind Ryle had just saved my life. He may have weird vampire tendencies, and certainly seeing into the future was also pretty odd, but the facts spoke for themselves. The set of knives lying next to Sean was, thankfully, not going anywhere near me and I was on the whole unharmed.
“Thank you,” I said quietly.
Ryle grinned, a ghoulish, blood-smeared smile. “You’re welcome.”
“Come on,” Aimery said, tugging me away from the van and glancing left and right. “We shouldn’t push our luck. Get him the hell out of here, Ryle, and for crying out loud clean yourself up, you are always so bloody messy.”
“Sure thing.” Ryle peeled off his t-shirt and started scrubbing his face with it. “I’ll catch you both later, before chambers.”
To read the full novel please purchase Bite Mark (Amazon/Amazon UK). It also has a sequel, Claw Mark which features sexy shifters from the Rocky Mountains. (Amazon/Amazon UK)
Thank you for visiting my blog, do check out the other stops on the hop!