Sunday, April 06, 2008

Excerpt time ~ Tormented

My upcoming release (April 25) from Changeling Press, Tormented, is a follow-up tale to my Ellora's Cave novel Plagued but can be read as a stand-alone.

The heroine, a vampire named Rahenna, has a nasty infection she apparently received while feeding off a fisherman in the Azores. As it turns out, he was no ordinary man. Oops. (Can't tell you more without dishing up a spoiler.) Anyway, the primary manifestation of this condition is a vicious, amoral aggression unleashed by sexual hunger. So when Rahenna appears at the birthday party of one of her fledglings, a man who has recently reverted to mortality, her presence is hardly a welcome one.

But there is light at the end of this dark tunnel. Diagnosing and healing Rahenna's affliction requires the knowledge and services of an even older vamp. And what he does, he does extremely well . . .

By the way, reversion to mortality is indeed a very rare occurrence among vampires. It's explained both in Plagued and here, in Tormented.

In the following excerpt, Adin is the birthday boy and the third character is Adin's best friend. He ain't ordinary, either. Rahenna, much to her chagrin, is misbehaving.

* * * * *

Adin guided Rahenna around the corner of the house to a recessed doorway. He looked directly into her eyes. "Don’t touch that man," he said quietly but firmly. "And I mean, not so much as a handshake. Not so much as your knees brushing together beneath a table."

Half irked and half amused, she lifted her brows. "Why? He looks quite sturdy. I doubt he’ll break."

Adin lifted a cautionary forefinger in front of her face. "Don’t. Touch him. Not for a second." He lowered his hand. "You need to take me seriously, Raney. Steer clear of him." He looked around at the dimming sky. "Have any of them shown up yet?"

Rahenna knew what he meant, although she’d momentarily forgotten her reason for being here. Her beast had definitely grown restive. "No. It’s still a little too early. Now tell me why I’m not to touch your friend."

"I can’t get into that now."

"So I’m simply to let myself be ordered about, like a child?"

"Cut the petulant bullshit," Adin hissed. "Just trust me."

His anger excited her. Before Rahenna could think, her hand shot out and curled behind his head. She pulled him forward, crushing her mouth against his. Adin’s lips were a soft, humid pillow. She felt the delicate warm pumping of blood through their capillaries. Exquisite. Delicious. But he wasn’t returning the kiss. His mouth remained closed beneath hers; his lips, motionless. She pressed and rubbed her breasts against his chest, the tough mounds of muscle resistant to her soft flesh. The feel of his hard nipples sliding across hers drove her wild. But despite his quickened breathing, Adin was trying to push her away.

Rahenna wouldn’t allow it. Now far stronger than he, she easily had the upper hand.

"Get off me," he grated.

Her rape fantasy resurfaced with a vengeance. She felt the fangs emerge, their rapier points grazing the lining of her upper lip. Her fingers tightened in Adin’s silken hair, forcing his head back, exposing his throat. Simultaneously, her free hand slithered to his crotch. He had an incipient erection. Desire for him roared through her body.

And then her body was being forced away from his, as if a large wedge had been driven between them. Startled, gasping for air, Rahenna doubled over. Something was pushing forcefully at the anterior side of her body, something she could neither see nor touch. Suddenly, she was forced backward so abruptly that she tumbled to the ground.

Bewildered, she peered up at Adin through a thin veil of fallen hair. He was drooped forward, panting, staring at her with almost palpable scorn.

"I’m sorry," Rahenna whispered. "I couldn’t seem to stop myself." What else could she say?

"Save it," Adin snapped. He straightened, forking his hands through his hair. "That," he said, shooting a forefinger in her direction, "is precisely why you need to stay away from Jackson Spey. The two of you could really do some damage to each other."

A tall figure stepped out of the shadows. He extended a hand to help Rahenna up. As soon as she grasped it, something like an electric shock sizzled up her arm and along the length of her spine. When she tried to jerk her hand away, she couldn’t. She faltered to her feet and gaped at Adin’s friend.

"I would love like hell to fuck you to kingdom come," he said calmly, "but you seem to have a serious lack of impulse control."

Rahenna squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head. Her hands balled into fists. "God damn it, I have to find a cure for this!"

"Try killing one of the ‘uninvited’ guests," Spey suggested in the same wry tone. "It did the trick for Adin."

"That’s not what I’m talking about," Rahenna muttered. Forehead furrowing, she looked at him more pointedly. "You know?"

He answered with three languid nods.

"About Adin? About me?"

Two more nods. "Adin and I have been friends for a decade or so. And we talked on the phone last night." Spey leaned one shoulder against the edge of the doorway, casually crossing his arms and legs. He continued to watch her. The barest hint of a smile toyed with one corner of his mouth. "I’m beginning to wonder if there even will be party crashers. Or if you just sort of"—he pursed his lips for a second—"invented a big, fat vampire scare so Adin would invite you here. For protection, of course. You do seem to like him an awful lot."

"How dare you call me a liar!" Infuriated by Spey’s implication, Rahenna stepped toward him. Another invisible force pushed her back, but more gently this time.

She was about to ask, What the hell are you? when the answer came to her. "You’re a bloody wizard," she whispered.

Spey shrugged. "Everybody’s got to be something." He stood straight, cracked his neck, rolled his shoulders. "I just wish you wouldn’t use that adjective in conjunction with any reference to me."

Wearily, Adin chuckled in his pocket of darkness.


Rahenna tensed. They were coming.

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