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The Love at Stake Series - Kerrelyn Sparks
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The Love at Stake Series - Kerrelyn Sparks  Répondre en citant  

Avon Books, ISBN# 0-06-075196-7

Welcome to the dangerous—and hilarious—world of modern day vampires. There are vampire cable channels, a celebrity magazine called Live with the Undead, and just like the living, vampires have dental emergencies. That’s how dentist Shanna Whelan, a mortal female, meets the smolderingly undead Roman Draganesti, and finds her life turning absolutely batty… Smile


Chapter One

Even in the dark, Roman Draganesti knew someone had quietly entered his office. Either a foe or close friend. A friend, he decided. A foe could never make it past the guards at each entrance of his Upper Eastside Manhattan townhouse. Or past the guards stationed on each of the five floors.

With his excellent night vision, Roman suspected he could see much better than his uninvited guest. His suspicions were confirmed when the dark silhouette stumbled into a Louis XVI bombé chest and cursed softly.

Gregori Holstein. A friend, but an annoying one. The vice-president of Romatech Industries tackled every problem with tireless enthusiasm. It was enough to make Roman feel old. Really old. “What do you want, Gregori?”

His guest whipped around and squinted in Roman’s direction. “Why are you sitting here, all alone in the dark?”

“Hmm. Tough question. I suppose I wanted to be alone. And in the dark. You should try it more often. Your night vision is not what it should be.”

“Who needs night vision when the city’s lit up all night?” Gregori groped along the wall ’til he located the switch. The lights came on with a muted golden glow. “There, that’s better.”

Roman leaned back into the cool leather of his wingback chair and took a sip from his wineglass. The liquid burned his throat. God-awful stuff. “Is there a purpose for your visit?”

“Of course. You left work too early, and we had something important to show you. You’re going to love it.”

Roman set his glass on the mahogany desk in front of him. “Over the years, I have learned that we have plenty of time.”

Gregori snorted. “Try to work up some excitement here. We had an amazing breakthrough in the lab.” He noted Roman’s half-empty glass. “I feel like celebrating. What are you drinking?”

“You won’t like it.”

Gregori strode toward the wet bar. “Why? Are your tastes too refined for me?” He grasped the decanter and sloshed some red liquid into a wineglass. “Color looks good.”

“Take my advice and get a new bottle from the fridge.”

“Ha! If you can drink it, so can I.” Gregori tossed back a good portion, then slammed the glass down with a victorious sneer aimed at Roman. Then, his eyes widened. His normally pale face turned a purplish red. A strangled sound vibrated deep in his throat, and then, the sputtering began. Coughing, followed by choked curses, followed by more coughing. Finally, he pressed his palms against the bar and leaned forward to gasp for air.

God-awful stuff, indeed, Roman thought. “Have you recovered?”

Gregori took a deep, shuddering breath. “What was in there?”

“Ten percent garlic juice.”

“What the hell?” Gregori jerked to an upright position. “Have you gone mad? Are you trying to poison yourself?”

“I thought I’d see if the old legends were true.” Roman’s mouth curled into a slight smile. “Obviously, some of us are more susceptible than others.”

“Obviously, some of us like to live too damned dangerously!”

Roman’s attempt at a smile faded into oblivion. “Your observation would have more merit if we weren’t already dead.”

Gregori stalked toward him. “You’re not going to start that ‘Woe is me. I’m a cursed demon from hell’ crap again, are you?”

“Face the facts, Gregori. We have survived for centuries by taking life. We are an abomination before God.”

“You’re not drinking this.” Gregori wrenched the glass from Roman’s hand and set it down out of his reach. “Listen to me. No vampire has ever done more than you to protect the living and tame the cravings within us.”

“And now, we’re the most well-behaved pack of demonic creatures on Earth. Bravo. Call the Pope. I’m ready for sainthood.”
Gregori’s impatient look melted into curious speculation. “Is it true what they say, then? You were once a monk?”

“I prefer not to live in the past.”

“I’m not so sure about that.”

Roman clenched his hands into fists. His past was a subject he would discuss with no one. “I believe you mentioned a breakthrough at the lab?”

“Oh, right. Sheesh, I left Laszlo in the hall, waiting. I wanted to set the scene, so to speak.”

Roman took a deep breath and slowly relaxed his hands. “Then I suggest you begin. There are only so many hours in a night.”

“Right. And I’m going out clubbing later. Simone just flew in from Paris, and boy,--”

“Are her wings tired. That was old a century ago.” Roman’s hands fisted once again. “Stay on the subject, Gregori, or I will be forced to send you to your coffin for a time out.”

Gregori gave him an exasperated look. “I only mentioned it in case you wanted to join us. It’s a hell of a lot more fun than sitting here alone, drinking poison.” He adjusted his silk black tie. “You know, Simone has always been hot for you. In fact, any of the ladies downstairs would love to cheer you up.”

“I don’t find them particularly cheerful. The last time I looked, they were all dead.”

“Well, if you’re going to be picky about it, maybe you should try a live one.”

“No.” Roman jumped to his feet, grasped his wineglass and zoomed with vampire speed to the wet bar in one second. “Not a human. Never again.”

“Whoa. That hit a nerve.”

“End of discussion.” Roman poured the blood and garlic concoction down the drain, then emptied the remainder of the poisonous brew from the decanter. He had learned his lesson long ago. A relationship with a human could only lead to heartbreak. Literally. And he’d rather not experience a stake through the heart. “I believe Laszlo is still waiting in the hall.”

“Right. Sorry.” Gregori tugged on the cuffs of his snowy white evening shirt and admired his elegant onyx cufflinks. “Remember the mission statement for Romatech Industries? Make the world safe for vampires and humans alike.”

“I’m aware of it. I believe I wrote it.”

“Yes, but the major threat to peace has always been the poor and the Malcontents.”

“Yes, I know.” Not all vampires were ridiculously rich like Roman, and even with his company making synthetic blood affordable and accessible to all modern-day Vamps, those who were financially challenged would always be tempted to feed off a human for free. Roman had tried to convince them that there was no such thing as a free lunch. The victimized humans tended to take offense. Then, they would hire a few Buffy wannabes, and those vicious little killers would destroy every vampire who crossed their path, even the peaceful, law-abiding Vamp who wouldn’t bite a flea. The sad truth was that as long as any vampire persisted in attacking humans, no vampire on Earth would be safe.

Roman ambled back toward his desk. “I believe I put you in charge of the poor problem.”

“I’m working on it. I’ll have the presentation ready in a few days. Meanwhile, Laszlo had this brilliant idea for handling the Malcontents.”

Roman sat heavily in his chair. The Malcontents were the most dangerous group of vampires in existence. The secret society called themselves The True Ones and spurned the more evolved sensibilities of the modern-day Vamp. The Malcontents could afford to buy the richest blood manufactured by Romatech Industries. They could afford the most exotic, gourmet blood from Roman’s popular line of Vampire Fusion Cuisine. They could even afford to drink from the finest crystal. They just didn’t want to.

For them, the thrill of drinking blood was not the blood itself. These creatures lived for the bite. They believed nothing could replace the intense pleasure of sinking one’s fangs into the warm, pliant skin of a human’s neck. In the past year, communication between the Malcontents and modern Vamps had degenerated until an undeclared state of war hovered over them. A war that could result in many deaths—-both human and vampire.

“Have Laszlo come in.”

Gregori zoomed to the door and opened it. “We’re ready.”

“About time.” Laszlo sounded upset. “The guard out here was about to perform a cavity search on our guest of honor.”

“Och, ye have a bonnie lass there,” the guard murmured in his Scots accent.

“Leave her alone!” Laszlo marched into Roman’s office with a female clutched in his arms like the two of them were doing the tango. Not only was the female taller than the short vampire chemist, she was noticeably naked.

Roman jumped to his feet. “You brought a human here?” A naked human?

“Relax, Roman, she’s not real.” Gregori leaned toward Laszlo. “It seems the boss is a little nervous about humans.”

“I am not nervous, Gregori. Every nerve ending in me died over five hundred years ago.” Roman could only see the back of the false female, but her long blond hair and rounded derriere certainly looked real.

Laszlo set the female in a wingback chair. Her legs stuck out straight, so he leaned over to bend her legs. With each adjustment, her knees made a small pop.

Gregori squatted beside her. “She’s very lifelike, don’t you think?”

“Very.” Roman eyed the curly hair, trimmed in a narrow, stripper style, between the false female’s legs. “Apparently, she’s a dyed blonde.”

“Look.” With a grin, Gregori nudged her legs apart. “She comes fully equipped. Sweet, huh?”

Roman gulped. “Is this—-” He cleared his throat and tried again. “Is this some sort of human sex toy?”

“Yes, sir, she is.” Laszlo pried open her mouth. “Look. She even has a tongue. The texture is incredibly lifelike.” He inserted a short, stubby finger. “And the vacuum causes a very realistic sucking sensation.”

Roman glanced down at Gregori who was kneeling between the female’s legs, admiring the view, and at Laszlo who was slipping his finger in and out of the doll’s mouth. God’s blood. If he were capable of getting a headache, he’d have a migraine by now. “Shall I leave you three alone for twenty minutes?”

“No, sir.” The short chemist struggled to free his finger from the doll’s greedy mouth. “We just wanted to show you how real she is.”

“She’s amazing.” Gregori ran an approving hand down her leg. “Laszlo sent for her in the mail.”

“It was your catalog.” Laszlo looked embarrassed. “I don’t usually have human sex. Too messy.”

And too dangerous. Roman dragged his gaze away from the doll’s beautifully shaped breasts. Maybe Gregori was right and he should enjoy himself with one of the lady Vamps. So what if they were cold and dead? Vampires could have sex without touching each other. It was all in their heads.

Gregori lifted one of the doll’s feet for a closer look. “This little babe is tempting, though.”

Roman sighed. This human sex toy was what they called a breakthrough with the Malcontent problem? They were wasting his time, not to mention making him feel horny and damned lonely at the same time. “All the Vamps I know prefer brain sex. I assume it’s the same with the Malcontents.”

“Not possible with this one, I’m afraid.” Laszlo tapped the doll’s head, producing a ripe-melon echo.

Roman noted her vacant, blue glass eyes. “So, she has the same I.Q as Simone. What a pity. All this time, we thought Simone was unique.”

“Hey.” Gregori scowled as he cradled the doll’s foot to his chest. “That’s not nice.”

“Neither is wasting my time.” Roman glared at him. “How can this toy possibly solve the problem with the Malcontents?”

“But she’s much more than a toy, sir.” Laszlo fiddled with the buttons on his white lab coat. “She’s been transformed.”

“Into VANNA.” Gregori gave the doll’s little toe a playful tug. “Sweet little VANNA. Come to Papa.”

Roman gritted his teeth, remembering first to make sure his fangs were retracted. Otherwise, a Vamp could accidentally pierce his bottom lip. “Enlighten me, please, before I resort to violence.”

Gregori laughed, apparently unconcerned by his boss’ anger. “VANNA is a Vampire Artificial Nutritional Needs Appliance.”

Laszlo twirled a loose button on his lab coat, his brow furrowed with worry. Obviously, he took the boss’ temper much more seriously. “She’s the perfect solution for the vampire who is still compelled to bite. And she’ll be available in whichever race or gender you prefer.”

“You’re going to make male toys, too?” Roman asked.

“Yes, eventually.” The loose button tumbled onto the floor. Laszlo picked it up and stuffed it in a pocket. “Gregori thought we could advertise her on the Vampire Cable Network. You’d have your choice of VANNA Brown, VANNA Black--”

“And this would be VANNA White?” Roman grimaced. “The legal department will love this.”

“We could take some promotional photos of her in a fancy evening gown.” Gregori stroked the arch of her foot. “And some sexy, high-heeled, black sandals.”

Roman gave his vice-president a worried look, then turned to Laszlo. “Are you saying this doll can be used for the purpose of feeding?”

“Yes!” Laszlo nodded enthusiastically. “Just like a human female, she’s capable of multi-tasking, satisfying both your sexual and feeding needs. Here. Let me show you.” He leaned the doll forward and brushed her hair to the side. “I did the work back here where it wouldn’t be so noticeable.”

Roman studied the small switch and U-shaped cut. At the base of the U, a small tube protruded with a clamp on the end. “You put a tube in her?”

“Yes. It’s specifically designed to simulate a real artery. We developed a circular pattern inside her.” Laszlo ran his finger over her body to show the location of the false artery. “It travels through her chest cavity, then up one side of her neck and down the other, finally returning to the chest.”

“And you fill it with blood?”

“Yes, sir. She’ll come packaged with a free funnel. Blood and batteries not included.”

“They never are,” Roman noted dryly.

“She’s easy to use.” Laszlo pointed at the clamp. “You remove the clamp, insert the small funnel, select two quarts of your favorite blood from Romatech Industries, and fill her up.”

“I see. Does she light up when she’s running low?”

Laszlo frowned. “I suppose I could put in an indicator light—-”

“I was kidding.” Roman sighed. “Please continue.”

“Yes, sir.” Laszlo cleared his throat. “The switch here turns on a small pump inserted inside her chest cavity. A false heart, so to speak. It will cause the blood to flow through the artery and simulate a real pulse.”

Roman nodded. “And that’s where the batteries come in.”

“Mmmm,” Gregori’s voice sounded muffled. “She keeps going and going.”

Roman glanced at his vice-president and found him raking his teeth over VANNA’s big toe. The red glow in Gregori’s eyes served as a different sort of indicator light. “Gregori! Back off.”

With a low growl, Gregori dropped the doll’s foot. “You’re no fun anymore.”

Roman took a deep breath and wished he could pray for patience. But no self-respecting God would want to hear the supplications of a demon with a human sex toy. “Has she been tested yet?”

“No, sir.” Laszlo flipped on VANNA’s switch. “We thought you should have the honor of being first.”

First. Roman’s gaze swept over the doll’s perfect body, a body that now pulsed inside with life-giving blood. “So at last, a vampire can have his cake and bite it, too.”

Gregori smiled as he smoothed out his black dinner jacket. “The taste test challenge. Enjoy.”

Roman arched an eyebrow at his vice-president. No doubt, this testing was Gregori’s idea. He thought his boss needed a little excitement in order to feel alive. He could be right.

Roman extended a hand to touch VANNA’s neck. The skin was cooler than a real human’s, but still very soft. Beneath his fingertips, the artery throbbed, strong and constant. At first, he felt the pulse with only his fingers, but then, the pounding sensation crept up his arm and into his shoulder. He swallowed hard. How long had it been? Eighteen years?

The pulse spread inside him, filling his empty heart and all his senses. His nostrils flared. He could smell the blood now. Type A Positive. His favorite. Now, his entire body throbbed in sync with the female. His rational thought seeped away, overpowered by a driving sensation he hadn’t experienced in years. Bloodlust.

A growl vibrated deep in his throat. His groin hardened. He curled his fingers around the doll’s neck and dragged her toward him. “I’ll take her.” With lightning speed, he tossed her onto a velvet reading chaise. She lay still, her legs still bent and now sagging open at the knees. The erotic sight was almost too much to bear. The small amount of blood in Roman’s veins cried out for more. More woman. More blood.

He sat and brushed her blond hair away from her neck. As he leaned over, he caught sight of a reflection in her blank, glass eyes. Not him, for his form could not be mirrored. All he could see were the red, glowing lights of his own eyes. VANNA had turned him on. He turned her face away to expose her neck. The pulsing artery within her sang out. Take me. Take me.

With a low growl, he pressed against her body. His fangs sprang out, causing a ripple of pleasure to surge through his body. The scent of blood rushed through him, stripping away the last shreds of self-control. The beast within was unleashed.

He bit her. Too late, his frenzied mind realized an unusual fact. Her skin might feel soft on the surface like a human’s, but the inner texture was totally different. Tough, thick, rubbery plastic. If this was relevant, it didn’t register, for the smell of blood shattered his thoughts. His instincts claimed victory, howling in his brain like a starving animal. He sank his fangs in deeper and deeper ’til at last, he felt that sweet popping sensation as he broke through the arterial wall. Heaven. He was swimming in blood.

With a long suck, the blood gushed into his fangs and filled his mouth. He gulped it down and greedily ate more. She was delicious. She was his.

He smoothed a hand down to her breast and took possession. What a fool he’d been, content to sip blood from a glass. How could that possibly replace the hot rush of blood flowing through one’s fangs? By the devil, he’d forgotten how sweet this was. It was a total body experience. He was rock hard. All his senses were on fire. He’d never want to drink from a glass again.

With another tug on her neck, he realized he’d drained her dry. Good to the last drop, but then, a touch of clarity broke through the sensual daze. Bloody hell, he’d lost control. If she were human, she’d be dead. And he would have murdered another child of God.

How could this possibly advance the cause of civilized vampire behavior? This doll would remind every vampire how intensely pleasurable it was to bite. No vampire, even the most evolved, modern-day Vamp, could partake of this experience without wanting the real thing. All he could think about now was biting the first human female he came across. VANNA was not the answer to human preservation.

She was the death knell to their existence.

With a groan, Roman ripped his mouth away from her neck. Blood splattered onto the doll’s white skin, and at first, he thought she’d sprung a leak. But no, he was sure he’d drained her dry. Damn, the blood was coming from him. “What the hell?”

“Oh, my God,” Laszlo whispered.

“What?” Roman looked at her neck and there, lodged in the tough plastic, was one of his fangs.

“Sheesh!” Gregori stepped closer for good look. “How’d that happen?”

“The plastic—-” More blood dripped from Roman’s mouth. Damn, he was losing his lunch. “The plastic is too tough and rubbery inside. Not at all like human skin.”

“Oh, dear.” Laszlo attacked another button with his nervous fingers. “This is terrible. The texture was so real on the outside. I didn’t realize...I’m so sorry, sir.”

“That’s the least of our problems.” Roman wrenched his tooth from the girl’s neck. He’d explain his unfortunate conclusions later. For now, he needed his fang fixed.

“You’re still bleeding.” Gregori handed him a white handkerchief.

“The feeding vein that connects to the fang is open.” Roman pressed the handkerchief against the gaping hole where his right fang should be. “Thit.”

“You could use your own healing powers to seal the vein shut,” Laszlo suggested.

“It would be clothed permanently. I’d be a one-thided eater for all eternity.” Roman removed the bloody handkerchief from his mouth and attempted to reinsert his fang into the hole.

Gregori leaned over to look. “I think you got it.”

Roman released his hold on the tooth and attempted to retract his fangs. The left fang did as it was told, but the right one fell from his mouth and landed on VANNA’s stomach. More blood seeped from the wound. “Shit.” Roman stuffed the handkerchief back in his mouth.

“Sir, I suggest you go to a dentist.” Laszlo picked up the fang and offered it to Roman. “I’ve heard they can put a lost tooth back.”

“Oh, right.” Gregori snorted. “What’s he supposed to do, waltz into a dental office and say, ‘Excuse me, I’m a vampire and I lost a fang in the neck of a sex toy.’ They’re not going to line up to help him.”

“I need a vampire dentitht,” Roman announced. “Look in the Black Pageth.”

“You mean, the Black Pages?” Gregori zoomed to Roman’s desk and began opening drawers. “You know, you’re starting to lisp.”

“I have a bloody rag in my mouth! Look in the bottom drawer.”

Gregori located the black phone directory for vampire-owned businesses and flipped it open to reveal the white pages within. “Okay.” He ran a finger down the advertisements. “Coffin repair. Crucifixes--fifty percent off. Ha! Like that’s going to help.”

“Gregori,” Roman growled.

“Right.” He turned the page. “Okay. D’s. Dance lessons--learn to move like a Latin lover. Dirt deliveries—-sleep like a baby in topsoil from the Old Country. Dracula costumes--small to plus sizes.”

Roman groaned. “I’m in deep thit.” He swallowed hard and grimaced at the taste of stale blood. The meal had tasted better the first time down.

Gregori turned another page. “Draperies--guaranteed to block out that annoying sunlight. Dungeons—--your choice of several floor plans.” He sighed. “That’s it. No dentists.”

Roman slumped into a vacant wingback chair. “I’ll have to go to a human.” Damn. He’d have to use mind control, then wipe the dentist’s memory clean afterwards. Otherwise, no human would be willing to help him.

“We may have trouble finding a human dentist who’s available in the middle of the night.” Laszlo dashed to the wet bar and grabbed a roll of paper towels. Then, he proceeded to wipe the blood off VANNA. He gave Roman a worried look. “Sir, it might be best for you to keep the tooth in your mouth.”

At the desk, Gregori thumbed through the Yellow Pages. “Sheesh, there’s a ton of dentists.” He straightened with a jerk and grinned. “I found it! Lower Manhattan Dental Clinic--open twenty-four hours a day for the city that never sleeps. Bingo.”

Laszlo let out a deep breath. “What a relief. I’m not sure, since I’ve never heard of anything like this happening before, but I’m afraid if your fang is not successfully implanted tonight, then it never will be.”

Roman sat up. “What do you mean?” Laszlo threw the bloodied paper towels in a trashcan by the desk. “Our injuries are naturally healed while we sleep. If dawn comes and you fall asleep with your fang still missing, your body will close the feeding veins and the wound for good.”

Shit. Roman stood. “Then, it mutht be done tonight.”

“Yes, sir.” Laszlo fingered a button on his lab coat. “With any luck, you’ll be in perfect shape for the annual conference.”

God’s blood! Roman gulped. How could he have forgotten the annual spring conference? The Gala Opening Ball was scheduled for two nights from tonight. All the major coven masters from around the world would be there. As master of the largest coven in America, Roman was hosting the big event. If he showed up, missing a fang, he’d be the brunt of jokes for the next century. He, his followers, and his company would lose all respect in the vampire community.

Gregori grabbed a piece of paper and scribbled down the address. “Here you go. You want us to come with you?”

Roman removed the hanky and tooth from his mouth so his directions would be clear. “Laszlo will drive me. We’ll take VANNA with us so everyone will assume we’re taking her back to the lab. You, Gregori, will go out with Simone as planned. Nothing will appear out of the ordinary.”

“Very well.” Gregori zipped over to his boss and handed him the address of the dental clinic. “Good luck. If you need any help, just give me a call.”

“I’ll be fine.” Roman gave his two employees a stern look. “This incident will not be spoken of again, not to anyone. Do you understand?”

“Yes, sir.” Laszlo picked VANNA up.

Roman watched the chemist’s hand curve around one plump buttock. God’s blood, with all that had happened, he was still hard. His body thrummed with desire, craving more blood and more female flesh. He could only hope that this dentist would be male. God help any human female who crossed his path right now.

He still had one fang, and he was afraid he’d use it.

Message 11/05/2007 13:50:31


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Message 11/05/2007 13:50:31

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The Love at Stake Series - Kerrelyn Sparks  Répondre en citant  

je l'ai... heu appelé très fort et il est arrivé dans mon ordi par miracle... je vais le lire !

Dis donc laetitia quand tu vois les Ward que moi je trouve GENIAL ! pour toi y a t-il des romans de ce genre encore au-dessus ?

Ne te venge pas ! Assieds-toi au bord de la rivière et tu verras passer le cadavre de ton ennemi. Lao Tseu
Message 11/05/2007 13:52:23
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The Love at Stake Series - Kerrelyn Sparks  Répondre en citant  

Avon Books,
ISBN # 0-06-075201-7

In How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire—

Shanna fell in love with Roman Draganesti
Shanna found Roman’s harem and kicked them out!
What will the harem do?

They need a new master! Where can a bunch of beautiful vampy women find a man who’s rich, sexy, and undead? On a reality show, of course! Introducing the Digital Vampire Network’s hottest new show of the season—The Sexiest Man on Earth. Fifteen gorgeous men from around the world will compete for the title Sexiest Man on Earth and vie for the affections of five beautiful women.

Darcy Newhart is a television reporter who stumbled onto the world’s most carefully kept secret---the existence of vampires! As a result, she has been locked away in Roman Draganesti’s harem for four long years. She longs for freedom and the chance to resume her career in television. When she’s offered the job as director of the new vampire reality show, she jumps at the opportunity. She asks her dear friend, Gregori, to be the host. She even plans some wild and wicked surprises. Why not make vampire men compete with mortal men for the title of Sexiest Man on Earth?

But there’s a surprise even Darcy doesn’t know about.

Two of the mortal men on the show are undercover operatives from the CIA Stake-Out team. And one of those men is a perfect match for Darcy’s vision of the Sexiest Man on Earth.

Vamps and the City also features your favorites characters from How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire—Roman, Shanna, Connor, Laszlo, Ian, Gregori and more!


Chapter One

Darcy’s Job Interview at the Digital Vampire Network

Darcy Newhart came to an abrupt stop inside the lobby of DVN. She could hardly see the black and red décor, the room was so crowded. There had to be over fifty Vamps here, all jabbering with excitement. Good God, were they all seeking employment?

Gregori bumped into her from behind. “Sorry,” he murmured, his gaze wandering about the room.

“I didn’t expect so many.” She checked her leather portfolio one more time. Her neatly typed résumé was still there, looking the same as it had five minutes ago. How could she compete with so many? Who was she kidding? She would never get this job. The familiar tentacles of panic curled around her, squeezing the air from her lungs. She would never be free. She could never escape.

“Darcy,” Gregori’s sharp voice cut through the rising panic. He waited ’til she met his eyes, then he gave her the Look.

In the first year of her forced confinement, Gregori had become a good friend and pillar of support, repeatedly telling her, This is the only world you have now. Deal with it. Now, he only had to look at her to remind her to be strong. She nodded and squared her shoulders. “I’ll be all right.”

His brown eyes softened. “Yes, you will.”

Maggie adjusted the pleats on her short plaid skirt. “I’m so nervous. What if I see Don Orlando? What will I say?”

“Don who?” Gregori asked.

“Don Orlando de Corazon,” Maggie repeated his name in a reverent whisper. “He’s the star of As a Vampire Turns.”

Gregori frowned. “That’s why you came? To drool on the stars? I thought you wanted to give Darcy moral support.”

“I do,” Maggie insisted. “But then, I thought if Darcy can find a job, maybe I can, too. So I decided to audition for a soap opera.”

“You want to be an actress?” Gregori asked.

“Oh, I don’t know anything about acting. I just want to be with Don Orlando.” Maggie clasped her hands to her chest and unleashed a long sigh. “He’s the sexiest man on earth.”

Gregori gave her a dubious look. “Okay. Good luck with that. Excuse me.” He grabbed Darcy’s arm and pulled her a few feet away. “You’ve got to help me. The harem ladies are driving me crazy.”

“Welcome to the club. I was ready for a padded cell four years ago.”

“I’m serious, Darcy.”

She snorted. So was she. It had stretched her sanity to the brink when she’d discovered the existence of vampires. But for a modern woman to be forced to live in a vampire harem and obey the dictates of a master? It was more than she could bear.

She’d tried to escape once, but Connor had tracked her down and teleported her back like a lost pet. Even now, the humiliation curdled her stomach. Her new master, Roman, had sat her down for a firm lecture. She knew too much. The mortal world believed she was dead. Because of her job on mortal television, her face was recognizable to millions. She had to remain hidden. But the good news was she would be safe and sheltered within the confines of his harem. Roman had explained it all calmly and gently, while she had silently fumed and wanted to scream.

Trapped. For four long years. At least Roman’s recent engagement had put him in a good mood. He’d finally agreed to let her venture out into the world, as long as it was the vampire world.

“I can’t take it.” Gregori gave her a desperate look. Darcy knew he was already regretting his offer to house Roman’s newly rejected harem. “It took me a week to move their luggage. Princess Joanna had fifty-two boxes. And Cora Lee had so many trunks—-”

“Thirty-four,” Darcy muttered. “It’s all those hoop skirts she wears. They take up a lot of room.”

“Room I don’t have.” Gregori dragged a hand through his thick chestnut hair. “When I offered to take them in, I didn’t realize they would come with so much crap. And they’re acting like they plan to stay forever.”

“I understand. I’m stuck there, too.” Ten women squashed into two bedrooms, sharing one bathroom. It was a nightmare. But unfortunately, dealing with horror was nothing new to Darcy. “I’m sorry, Gregori, but I don’t know how I can help you.”

“You can show them how to get a life,” he whispered. “Encourage them to be independent.”

“They won’t listen to me. They consider me an outsider.”

“You can do it. Already Maggie is following your example.” He lay a hand on her shoulder. “I have faith in you.”

If only she had some in herself. There had been a time when she’d glowed with confidence. She took a deep breath. She needed that old Darcy back. She needed this job.

Gregori glanced at his watch. “I have an appointment in thirty minutes, so I’ll catch up with you later.” He looked around the room and grinned. “I think I see some babes I know.”

Darcy smiled as he sauntered off. Gregori was such a charmer. She never would have survived without his friendship.

Maggie sidled up close, a frown creasing her youthful face. “There are so many people here. And they look more...dramatic than me.”

“Don’t worry. You look adorable.” At the beginning of her confinement, Darcy had been shocked by the way the harem ladies dressed. Each one was trapped in an individual time warp, still clinging to the fashions they had experienced as mortals. She’d encouraged them to modernize their tastes, but only Maggie and Vanda had been willing to invent new looks for themselves. Maggie’s usual attire was a short plaid skirt, fishnet hose, and a tight black sweater to highlight her generous bosom.

Darcy turned to face the reception desk. It seemed a mile away. Clutching her portfolio to her chest, she weaved through the crowd with Maggie close behind. The Vamps had gathered into groups, chatting and gesturing wildly with their hands. Darcy passed one group, noting the heavy makeup and clothes that showed too much skin. Sheesh. Whatever happened to manly men? She turned to check out the females instead.

“What happened to Gregori?” Maggie looked over the crowd, her eyes wide with worry. Her short stature made it easy for her to lose people.

Darcy spotted him with a group of women, each with hair dyed an unnatural color. They arched around him like a rainbow. When he smiled and spoke to them, they tittered with laughter.

“He’s fine.” Maybe those women thought green, blue, and pink hair was wild and wicked, but Darcy thought they looked more like a cuddly clan of Care Bears. Hi! My name is TenderHeart Vamp. Do you need a hug? She suppressed the image with a shudder. Good God, she’d been cooped up for way too long.

The receptionist was painting her fingernails a glossy blood red to match the highlights in her hair. “If you’re here for the auditions, sign in and wait your turn.” She pointed a wet nail at a clipboard.

Maggie studied the clipboard, her eyes growing wider. “Sweet Mary, I’ll be number sixty-two.”

“Yeah, it’s like this every night.” The receptionist blew on her fingernails. “But you won’t have to wait very long.”

“Okay.” Maggie added her name on the bottom of the list.

“What about you?” The receptionist wrinkled her nose at Darcy’s conservative business suit.

“I have an appointment with Sylvester Bacchus.”

“Yeah, right. If you’re here for an acting job, you’ll have to wait your turn.” The receptionist pointed at the clipboard.

Darcy pasted a smile on her face. “I’m a professional journalist, and Mr. Bacchus is expecting me. My name is Darcy Newhart.”

The receptionist snorted to convey how underwhelmed she was, then checked a paper on her desk. Her mouth fell open. “No freakin’ way.”

“Excuse me?” Darcy asked.

“You’re on the list, but...” The receptionist narrowed her eyes. “Are you sure you’re Darcy Newhart?”

“Yes.” Who else would she be? Darcy’s smile withered away.

“Well, that’s freakin’ weird. I guess you might as well see him. Third door on the left.”

“Thank you.” Not a good start. Darcy squelched a feeling of doom. She rounded the desk and strode down the hall.

“You’d better knock first,” the receptionist yelled in her nasal voice. “He may be in the middle of an audition.”

Darcy glanced back. The receptionist was lolling back in her chair, wiggling fingers in the air while she admired her nail polish. Maggie gave Darcy an encouraging smile. She smiled weakly back, took a deep breath, and knocked on the door.

“Come in,” a gruff voice hollered.

She entered the room and turned to close the door. Behind her, she heard a curious sound. A zipper?

She pivoted to face Sylvester Bacchus. He looked about fifty in mortal years, though there was no way she could estimate his age as a vampire. Mostly bald, he had embraced the condition by keeping the rest of his hair buzzed short. His moustache and beard were closely cropped and well-groomed, dark hair sprinkled with gray. His brown eyes immediately checked her out, focusing on her chest for far too long.

She lifted her leather portfolio to block his view. “How do you do? I’m—-”

“You’re new.” His gaze drifted to her hips. “Not bad.”

Her face heated up as she debated the long-range ramifications of starting a job interview by slapping the prospective employer in the face. Her dilemma was cut short when she noticed a blond head slowly rising from behind the desk.

“I’m sorry.” Darcy retreated toward the door. “I didn’t realize you were busy.”

“No problem.” Mr. Bacchus glanced at the blonde. “That’ll be all, Tiffany. You can...polish my shoes another day.”

She tilted her head. “You want me to do your shoes, too?”

“No,” he grumbled. “Just come back in a week.”

Darcy realized the zipper she’d heard was real. Good God, if this was how auditions were conducted, she needed to warn Maggie. She’d always been under the impression that vampires preferred vampire sex, a purely mental exercise that was considered superior to sloppy and sweaty mortal sex. Obviously, Mr. Bacchus possessed a more open mind. And a more open zipper.

Meanwhile, Tiffany had jumped to her feet and was pressing her hands to her plump breasts. “You mean I’m being recalled?”

“Sure.” Mr. Bacchus patted her on the rump. “Off you go.”

“Yes, Mr. Bacchus.” Tiffany executed an amazing walk toward the door, managing to sway her hips and jiggle her breasts all at the same time. She leaned over to turn the door knob, jutting out her derrière and arching her back as if the act of opening a door could spiral her into fits of orgasmic ecstasy. She paused halfway out the door to toss a seductive smile back at Mr. Bacchus, then slithered down the hall.

Darcy kept her face carefully blank so her simmering anger wouldn’t show. She should have known the Digital Vampire Network would adhere to archaic, chauvinistic rules of behavior. It was the same way throughout the vampire world. Most of the female Vamps were at least a hundred years old. Many were centuries old, so they didn’t know about the advances mortal women had made. They didn’t want to know. They were so sure their own world was vastly superior.

The end result was tragic. Female Vamps had no idea how poorly they were treated. They simply accepted their lot as normal. Darcy had told the harem ladies about the brave women who had suffered in order to obtain the vote. Her passionate tribute had been dismissed as ridiculous hogwash. No one voted for coven masters in the vampire world. How dreadfully plebian.

But this was the world she was stuck with. And since DVN was the only television network in the vampire world, it provided her only chance for the type of job she desperately wanted. And the independence she craved. So she had to be polite to Mr. Bacchus. Even if he was a sexist pig.

“Come on in. Don’t be shy.” Mr. Bacchus lounged back in his chair and propped his feet on the desk. “And shut the door, so we can have some privacy.” He winked.

Darcy’s eye twitched, and she prayed it hadn’t looked like she was winking back. She shut the door and approached his desk. “I’m delighted to meet you, Mr. Bacchus. I’m Darcy Newhart, a professional television journalist.” She removed the résumé from her portfolio and placed it on his desk. “As you can see--”

“What?” He lowered his feet to the floor. “You’re Darcy Newhart?”

“Yes. You will notice on my résumé that I have—-”

“But you’re a woman.”

Her eye twitched again. “Yes, I am, and as you can see”-- she pointed to a section on her résumé --“I worked several years at a local news station here in the city--”

“Goddammit!” Mr. Bacchus pounded a fist onto his desk. “You were supposed to be a man.”

“I assure you, I’ve been a female all my life.”

“With a name like Darcy? Who the hell names a girl Darcy?”

“My mother did. She was very fond of Jane Austen--”

“Then why didn’t she name you Jane? Shit.” Mr. Bacchus leaned back in his chair to glower at the ceiling.

“If you could look at my résumé, you would see that I’m more than qualified for a position on the Nightly News.”

“You’re not qualified,” he muttered. “You’re a woman.”

“I fail to see how my gender has anything to--”

He rocked forward suddenly, pinning her with a glare. “Have you ever seen a woman on the Nightly News?”

“No, but this would be an ideal opportunity for you to rectify that error.” Oops. Poor choice of words.

“Error? Are you crazy? Women don’t do the news.”

“I did.” She tapped a finger on her résumé.

He glanced down. “That’s the mortal world. What the hell do they know? Their world’s a mess.” He crumbled up her paper and tossed it aside.

Darcy’s heart fell into her stomach. “You could hire me for a month on a probationary status, so I could prove my ability--”

“No way. Stone would tear this place apart if I tried to pair him up with a female co-anchor.”

“I understand. He’s an excellent news anchor.” Dull as a rock was more like it. “But Stone does all the stories, droning--I mean, talking for the entire thirty minutes.”


“The Nightly News would be more exciting and faster paced if you included reports from correspondents in the field. That was my specialty, and I would be delighted to--”

“I was considering doing that. And I was thinking about hiring you, but you turned out to be a woman.”

Her heart dropped a few inches lower. “I fail to see--”

“News is serious business. We can’t have females doing it. People would miss something important, ’cause they were looking at your perky little breasts.”

Her shoulders slumped, taking her perky little breasts with them. This was it--the impenetrable wall of male vampire chauvinism, and once more, she’d slammed right into it. If only she could take a sledgehammer to it. Or a baseball bat to Mr. Bacchus’ egg-shaped head. “I could work behind the scenes. I used to write my own--”

“You can write?”


“Can you be entertaining?”

“Yes.” Her reports had been considered humorous.

He studied her. “You strike me as somewhat intelligent.”

Her eye twitched. “Thank you.”

“We’re flooded every night with the flashy ones who want to be in front of the camera. Finding someone with intelligence and experience to work behind the scenes is a major problem.”

“I’m very good at solving problems.”

“Are you? Then I’ll tell you what I really need at DVN.” He leaned forward. “I need a big hit.”

With a baseball bat? “You mean a new show?”

“Yeah.” Mr. Bacchus stood and wandered toward a dry-erase board on the wall. “Do you realize that since DVN has been on the air, our lineup of shows has never changed?”

“Everyone loves your shows. Especially the soap operas.”

“It’s boring! Look at this.” He pointed at the board where DVN’s schedule was displayed. “Every freaking night, it’s the same thing. We start at eight o’clock with the Nightly News with Stone Cauffyn. Then, at eight-thirty, it’s Live with the Undead, our celebrity gossip magazine.”

“With Corky Courrant. I saw her a few weeks ago at the Gala Opening Ball.”

Mr. Bacchus pivoted toward her, his eyes wide. “You were invited to the ball?”

“Yes. I...used to be associated with Roman Draganesti.”


“I worked part time at Romatech.” She’d refused to take an allowance from Roman, so Gregori had arranged for her to work in a back room at Romatech a few nights a week. Roman had okayed it, as long as no mortal ever saw her.

“Draganesti is one of our top sponsors.” Mr. Bacchus watched her, scratching his beard. “How well do you know him?”

A blush crept up to her cheeks. “I...lived in his house.”

“Really? You were in his harem?”

“I--you could say that.” But she never would.

“Hmm.” Mr. Bacchus’s heated gaze wandered over her body. Clearly, her non-writing abilities were being reassessed.

She lifted her chin. “You were describing the schedule?”

“Oh, yeah.” He turned back to the board. “In the nine o’clock slot, we have As the Vampire Turns, starring Don Orlando de Corazon. Then at ten, we have All My Vampires, and at eleven, General Morgue. But what happens at midnight?” He jabbed a finger at the dry-erase board.

Darcy frowned. There was nothing there. What did come on at midnight? By then, she was usually at Romatech, immersed to her ears in boring paperwork.

“Nothing!” Mr. Bacchus yelled. “We start over again and repeat the whole damned schedule. It’s pathetic! The midnight hour should be our greatest show ever, the pièce de résistance. But we have...nothing.” He trudged back to his desk.

Darcy took a deep breath. This was her chance to show her true worth. “You need a new show, but not another soap opera.”

“That’s right.” Mr. Bacchus paced behind his desk. “Maybe a cop show. A vampire cop. We could call it Blood and Disorder. That would be different. What do you think we should do?”

Gulp. She racked her brain. What had been the rage before her world had fallen apart? “How about a reality show?”

He whirled around to face her. “I like it! What could be more real than vampires? But what would be the premise?”

Her mind went completely blank. Damn. She sat in a chair and arranged her portfolio across her lap to buy herself some time. A reality show. What was real? The harem’s new dilemma? “How about an expelled harem in need of a new master?”

“Not bad.” Mr. Bacchus nodded. “Damned good, actually. Hey, wasn’t Draganesti’s harem just kicked out?”

“Yes. Corky did a feature about it on Live with the Undead.” But none of the ladies had participated. It was too humiliating.

“You know, some of those harem ladies are famous. Could you get them to do the show?”

“I--I believe so.”

“You know Draganesti really well, right?” Mr. Bacchus’s mouth twisted with a knowing smirk. “Could you get him to rent us a big, fancy penthouse for the show? You know, one of those glitzy ones with a swimming pool on the roof.”

“I--I suppose.” Maybe Gregori could figure something out.

“It’s gotta have a hot tub. Can’t have a reality show without a hot tub.”

“I understand.”

“And you have experience in television?”

“Yes.” Darcy glanced at the trash can that now held her neatly typed résumé. “I graduated in television journalism at the University of Southern California and worked in that region for several years before moving to New York and a position at Local Four News—”

“Fine, fine.” Mr. Bacchus waved a hand to shut her up. “Look, I want this reality show. If you can get us a fancy location and guarantee that Draganesti’s old harem will participate, then you’ve got a job. Director.”

Her heart lurched. Director of a reality show? Okay. She could handle this. She had to. It was this or nothing.

“So can you do it? Deliver the penthouse and the harem?”

“Yes.” She clenched her portfolio with a white-knuckled grip. “I’d be delighted.” God help her.

“And don’t forget the hot tub.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it.”

“Great! I’ll have an office ready for you tomorrow night. What do you want to call the show?”

Her mind raced, searching for a pithy title. How to Dig your Own Grave in less than Five Minutes? “Well, the women will be selecting the perfect man to be their new master.”

Mr. Bacchus perched on the corner of his desk and scratched at his beard. “The Perfect Man? Or The Perfect Master?”

Not exciting enough. Darcy closed her eyes briefly to concentrate. Maggie would think Don Orlando was the perfect man. What had she called him? “How about The Sexiest Man on Earth?”

“Excellent!” Mr. Bacchus grinned. “And call me Sly. It’s short for Sylvester.”

“Thank you...Sly.”

“This has gotta be a hit. Not just an ordinary show, but one with twists and surprises.”

“Yes, of course.”

“Auditions will be easy. As you can see in the lobby, there’ll be lots of male Vamps trying out for the show.”

Darcy winced. Somehow her idea of the world’s sexiest man didn’t include makeup. “Do they all have to be Vamps?”

Sly snorted. “We’re talking about the sexiest men on earth. Of course they’ll be Vamps.” He strode toward the door.

Of course. Darcy stood, gritting her teeth. Everyone knew vampires were superior in every way. A sudden idea sparked in her head. Why not put Sly’s claim to the test?

She smiled as she walked toward the door. So her boss wanted the show to include some surprising twists? No problem.

She would deliver a doozy.

Message 11/05/2007 13:52:43

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The Love at Stake Series - Kerrelyn Sparks  Répondre en citant  

Ah mais tu me l'avait préter le premier!! c'est avec la fille dentiste??
Message 11/05/2007 13:54:24

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The Love at Stake Series - Kerrelyn Sparks  Répondre en citant  

A Very Vampy Christmas”
ISBN # 0-06-113695-6

Sugarplums and Scandal is an anthology of six novellas—
Three Mysteries and three Romances, all with a theme of Christmas!

In “A Very Vampy Christmas,” Maggie O’Brian takes a job at the Digital Vampire Network (DVN) as an actress on the soap opera, As a Vampire Turns. Her leading man is Don Orlando de Corazon, the greatest lover in the vampire world. But who is Don Orlando really? Even his hairdresser doesn’t know for sure. Maggie and Don Orlando travel to New Orleans and Texas in search of his mysterious and crazy past.


As chapter one begins
, Maggie O’Brian is an actress on the vampire soap opera, As the Vampire Turns.

“It’s over, Don Orlando.” Maggie O’Brian lowered her gaze. The tears that blurred her vision had little to do with the role she was playing--Jessica Goodwin, mortal doctor, hopelessly in love with a vampire. Like any good soap opera actress, Maggie turned her back to the person she was addressing and looked sadly at the camera. “You must never come here again.”

“Don’t say that!” Don Orlando rushed to her side and sank gracefully to one knee. He seized her hand and kissed it. “My darling Chiquita, I could never let you go.”

Chiquita? What sort of cheesy person was writing this nonsense? Maggie inwardly cursed the writer while trying to ignore the way Don Orlando was brushing his lips against her knuckles. Sweet Mary, now he was nibbling her fingers.

But it meant nothing. He was only acting. Rumor had it he’d nibbled a lot more than women’s hands in the last few years.

The tear that rolled down Maggie’s cheek was worthy of a daytime Emmy. Unfortunately, her lack of a pulse during the day precluded her from attending the ceremony. And how could they give Emmys to a group of actors they didn’t know existed? Only a few mortals employed at the Digital Vampire Network knew about vampire soap operas, and they were sworn to secrecy. The mortals knew if they blabbed, they would pay in blood. Literally.

Maggie yanked her hand from Don Orlando’s grasp. “I’m sorry, but it was never meant to be.”

As Don Orlando rose, he flipped his black silk cape over one shoulder, revealing half of his muscled torso and a thatch of very black, very thick chest hair. Maggie knew this movement caused Vamp viewers at home to sigh in ecstasy. She should know. She’d been one of them. And if Don Orlando executed the famous double flip, throwing both edges of his cape over his shoulders to reveal his entire chest in its muscle-rippling glory, his female fans were known to swoon. No doubt, a few male ones, too.

Maggie wandered to the empty desk of her pretend office. “How many times must I tell you? This is a hospital. You shouldn’t come here without a shirt.”

“I couldn’t wait to be with you.” His voice sounded as smooth as his black silk cape. “And the nurses never complain.”

“You’ll catch a terrible cold.” She glanced at him over her shoulder. “Why, it’s snowing outside. It’s almost Christmas.”

He shrugged his massive shoulders. “Mortal diseases do not frighten me. I will heal during my daily death-sleep.”

Maggie pressed a hand against her chest and gazed at camera number two. “I swore an oath to protect life. How could I fall in love with one of the Undead?” She whirled to face him and pressed her hands on the desk behind her. This pose was designed to highlight her ample bosom. “That’s how you seduced me, isn’t it? You used some sort of insidious vampire mind control.”

“It was you who seduced me with your pure and noble heart.” His gaze lingered on her breasts. “I could not help myself.”

“I must resist you. Somehow.”

He bowed. “I am Don Orlando de Corazon, the greatest lover in the vampire world. No woman, alive or undead, can resist me.”

“But I must!” Maggie strode toward camera number two. “I’ve worked so hard to get where I am today. Years of med school, endless hours in the ER. And now, I’m a famous brain surgeon. People need me.”

“I am very proud of you, my Chiquita.”

“Don’t say that! I have a reputation to maintain. I need the respect of my peers. How can I have an affair with an undead trumpet player from a mariachi band?”

He lifted his chiseled chin. “I’m a very good trumpet player. And the greatest lover in the vampire world.” He swaggered toward her, a hand on the low waistline of his tight black leather pants.

Maggie turned away with a gasp. “Don’t tempt me, Don Orlando!”

“Come away with me!” He pulled her into his arms. “We will make beautiful music together.”

“No, no, no!” She shook her head in rhythm to her cries.

“Yes, yes!”

She planted her hands on his chest to push him away. The ring on her right pinky finger gleamed under the stage lights, bright gold against the mound of coal black chest hair.

He embraced her tighter. “Kiss me and tell me you don’t love me.”

She turned her tear-streaked face to camera number one. “You’re so cruel to make me suffer. Please let me go!” She shoved hard at his chest.

He stumbled back. “Aagh!”

“Aagh!” Maggie’s higher-pitched scream joined his when she realized what had happened.

Grimacing in pain, Don Orlando pressed a hand against his now bare chest. And dangling from Maggie’s right hand like a dead rat was the mat of black chest hair.

“Aagh!” She shook her hand. “Get it off!” It flopped wildly around her hand, tangled in her pinky ring.

“Dammit, woman!” Don Orlando winced as he rubbed the red welt on his hairless chest. “You nearly ripped my skin off.”

“Cut!” Gordon, the director, yelled. “Makeup! We need Orlando’s hair glued back on.”

Maggie looked at Don Orlando’s bare chest, then at the furry pelt dangling from her ring. It was fake? Sweet Mary, she should have known. How many men had body hair like an English sheepdog? She ripped it from her ring and offered it to its owner. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

Don Orlando’s mouth curled up, and he tapped the red splotch on his chest. “Want to kiss it and make it better?”

“No!” Maggie tossed the chest-toupée at him. “Why do you wear such a silly thing?”

He actually looked embarrassed. For about half a second. “They thought I would look sexier with more hair.” He gave her a lopsided smile. “Though right now, I’d be happy if I just had some skin.”

Maggie smiled back. For about half a second. Her amusement died when he checked out the makeup girl with a leering grin.

“Hola, pretty senorita,” he murmured to the makeup girl. She blushed as she painted his chest with adhesive.

“Shall we adjourn to my dressing room?” He winked. “We could bring the glue and get all sticky.” She giggled.

Maggie clenched her fists to keep from slapping him. Sweet Mary and Joseph, she was angry. She’d been angry ever since she’d found out that her adored hero, Don Orlando de Corazon, was nothing more than a womanizing pig. And now, she realized it was even worse. He was a totally fake womanizing pig.

Message 11/05/2007 13:54:40

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The Love at Stake Series - Kerrelyn Sparks  Répondre en citant  

Avon Books
ISBN # 0-06-111844-3

ON SALE March 27, 2007!
When a beautiful mortal starts slaying vampires in Central Park, the Vamps call on their most powerful warrior to stop her—the general of the Vamp Army, Angus MacKay!

The war is on, but will it end in their destruction…or in total surrender to a passion for the ages?

Be Still My Vampire Heart is the third full-length novel in the Love at Stake Series.

It is the evening of St. Patrick’s Day, and Angus MacKay, the general of the Vamp army, has a new mission—- Stop the mortal who’s slaying vampires in Central Park.

Chapter One, Scene 2
Emma Wallace stomped her feet silently in the grass. The chilly air felt good as long as she was walking, but whenever she crouched behind a tree for very long, her legs grew stiff.

This part of Central Park was dead, even too dead for the Undead. Time to move on. She slung her canvas tote bag over her shoulder and enjoyed the comforting sound of wooden stakes clattering against one another. She slipped out of her hiding place and skidded down the sharp incline to the brick path below. Her movement startled some birds from a nearby tree. They cawed, beating the air with a fluttering of wings as they flew into the darkness.

Emma waited, blending easily into a tree’s shadow with her black pants and jacket. All was quiet once more. Hard to believe that a short walk south would deliver her to noisy avenues where postparade celebrations still raged.

Maybe that was why the park was so quiet. The vampires could be hunting in the streets. After a long day of green beer and whisky, the revelers would never remember what bit them.

Suddenly the brick path beside her was clearer. Brighter. She could make out individual trees and bushes. She moved quietly onto the pathway and looked at the nearly full moon. The clouds had moved away, leaving the orb bright and glowing.

A slight movement caught her attention, and her gaze lowered. To the south, a lone figure stood on top of a huge crag of granite. His back was to her. Wisps of clouds floated past him, stirring his kilt. Moonlight gleamed off his dark red hair.

Mist swirled around him, making him look ethereal. Like the ghost of a Highland warrior. Emma sighed. That’s what the world needed more of today—-brave warriors, willing to fight evil.

Sometimes she felt vastly outnumbered by the creatures of the night. As far as she knew, she was the only vampire slayer in existence. Not that she blamed anyone for that. Most people didn’t know about vampires. But she did blame her weak and ineffectual boss. Sean Whelan was afraid to pit their small team of four against a group of vampires in battle, so he had assigned them to merely watch and investigate.

Watching wasn’t enough for Emma. Not since that horrid night six years ago. She refused to dwell on it. She’d found a much better remedy than grieving. The trick to killing vampires was to find one alone in the act of feeding, then take him by surprise with one swift stake through the heart. With every vampire she turned to dust, she was one step closer to finding peace.

She patted her bag of stakes. With a permanent marker, she’d written Dad on half of them and Mum on the other half. The stakes were working great, and the death count was up to four. It could never be high enough.

She glanced again at the kilted man standing on the boulder of granite. Where had all the brave men gone? Fierce warriors who could stand alone in the face of danger.

The mist drifted away, leaving the man’s form outlined in silvery moonlight. Her breath hitched. He was stunning. His broad shoulders filled the dark sweater he wore. His kilt fluttered slightly in the breeze, revealing strong, muscular thighs. Good heavens. He would make a great warrior. Strong and relentless in battle.

He fumbled at something below his waist. Emma winced. Was he playing with himself? He lifted something to his mouth and drank. Moonlight glinted off the metal. A flask. Super. With a sigh, she turned north and walked away.

What a silly waste of her time, fantasizing about a brave Highland warrior. She should have known he was just one of the thousands of kilted, liquor-guzzling men roaming the city after the parade. Besides, in her line of business, she couldn’t afford to get sentimental. The enemy was ruthless.

Scrunch. Emma halted and listened. The path curved to the left and out of sight, but she could hear the sound of footsteps shuffling through dead leaves. She lunged to the left and hid behind a tree. The footsteps grew closer.

A lone man came into view. Emma caught her breath. He was wearing a long black trench coat. The vampire she’d killed last night had sported one just like it. Maybe they all shopped at the same store, Vampires “R” Us. She lowered her tote bag to the ground and retrieved one stake.

He came closer. He’d be easier to kill if he was feeding, but there were no victims nearby. Emma slipped the stake into her belt behind her back. She’d lure him in, using herself as bait.

She sauntered onto the path and gave the man an innocent look. “I think I’m lost. Do you know the way out of the park?”

The man halted and smiled. “I was hoping to find someone like you.”

Right, someone to feed from. Damned bloodsucker. Emma widened her stance so she wouldn’t lose her balance when he attacked. She reached behind her back and curled her hand around the stake. “I’m ready when you are.”

“Okay!” The man untied the belt on his trench coat.

It was then that Emma noticed the hairy calves below the hem of his coat. Good heavens. He wasn’t wearing any pants.

“Ta-da!” The man whipped open his coat.

Shit! He wasn’t wearing any clothes at all. She grimaced. Just her luck to go vampire hunting and find a flasher.

“What do you think?” The man fondled himself. “Pretty impressive, huh?”

“Excuse me a moment.” She let go of her stake and removed her cell phone from its holster on her belt. She’d call the local police to pick this guy up before he gave some poor lady a heart attack.

“Oh, is that one of those picture phones?” The flasher grinned. “Great idea! Could you put me on the Internet? Here, let me give you a profile shot.” He turned to the side so his erection would stand out.

“Brilliant. Just hold that pose.” Emma flipped open her phone. A dark shadow obliterated her view.

She immediately reached behind her back. False alarm. She released the stake. It wasn’t a vampire. Even so, her heart raced, for there in front of her was the man in the kilt.
Message 11/05/2007 13:56:08

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The Love at Stake Series - Kerrelyn Sparks  Répondre en citant  

Originally posted by marnie
je l'ai... heu appelé très fort et il est arrivé dans mon ordi par miracle... je vais le lire !

Dis donc laetitia quand tu vois les Ward que moi je trouve GENIAL ! pour toi y a t-il des romans de ce genre encore au-dessus ?

Je ne sais pas Marnie, ça dépends vraiment des gouts et affinitées de chacuns et chacunes ! J'adore tout ce qui est paranormal alors forcement je suis assez impartiale quand a ce genre, cependant j'ai vraiment adoré la série Breeds de Lora leigh qui a vraiment créee un univers vraiment bien a elle mais il faut etre ouvert d'esprit pour vraiment l'apprécier !
Message 11/05/2007 13:58:27

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The Love at Stake Series - Kerrelyn Sparks  Répondre en citant  

Originally posted by Gaelle
Ah mais tu me l'avait préter le premier!! c'est avec la fille dentiste??

Oui gaelle c'est bien celui la !!
Message 11/05/2007 13:59:00

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The Love at Stake Series - Kerrelyn Sparks  Répondre en citant  

la série Breeds de Lora leigh qui a vraiment créee un univers vraiment bien a elle mais il faut etre ouvert d'esprit pour vraiment l'apprécier !

Message 11/05/2007 13:59:28

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The Love at Stake Series - Kerrelyn Sparks  Répondre en citant  

C'est très erotique ce qui en soi est une bonne chose mais je l'ai conseillé a des personnes qui etaient peut etre moiuns ouverte d'espris que moi et qui n'ont pas apprécié le fait que les breeds soient des hommes ou femmes avec de l'ADN animal !!

Moi j'avais pourtant adoré, d'ailleurs j'attends le dernier Tanner's scheme avec une grande impatience !
Message 11/05/2007 14:04:51

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The Love at Stake Series - Kerrelyn Sparks  Répondre en citant  

Comme Vane?? l'adn animal?
Message 11/05/2007 14:05:33

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The Love at Stake Series - Kerrelyn Sparks  Répondre en citant  

bon sang j'ai cru que tu m'alignais du style : avec ton esprit étroit de petite bourgeoise coincée !

Donc, vu ta précision, je ne dois pas me sentir visée par la remarque "certaines personnes" ?

oui je rigole encore.... je sais je sais Laughing Laughing Laughing

Ne te venge pas ! Assieds-toi au bord de la rivière et tu verras passer le cadavre de ton ennemi. Lao Tseu
Message 11/05/2007 14:07:04
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The Love at Stake Series - Kerrelyn Sparks  Répondre en citant  

Non Marnie je ne t'alignais pas Laughing quelle idée tu sais bien que si je devais te dire quelque chose je te le dirais directement Laughing Laughing

Oui gaelle un peu comme Vane mais les histoire sont bien plus érotiques que les SK ! Smile
Message 11/05/2007 14:08:54

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The Love at Stake Series - Kerrelyn Sparks  Répondre en citant  

Encore plus interessant Laughing
Message 11/05/2007 14:20:50

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The Love at Stake Series - Kerrelyn Sparks  Répondre en citant  

je vous ai envoyé a toutes les deux un exemplaire du début, vous me direz ce que vous en pensez ! Smile
Message 11/05/2007 14:26:04
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