Excerpt from Tempted by Blood
(From Arianna’s point of view)
One of the bags tipped over and several lemons rolled out. As she leaned into the trunk to retrieve them, footsteps sounded behind her. Looking under the crook of her arm, she saw a pair of cowboy boots on the pavement. Large snakeskin ones. She jerked herself upright, banging the top of her head on the trunk lid.
“Careful there.” The man’s voice was deep and tinged with amusement.
Rubbing the top of her head, she started to ask if she could help him with anything, but as she turned around, the words locked in her throat.
It was the man from last night.
Panic tore a hole in her stomach and her fingers and toes went instantly cold. George was right. They were after her.
Before she could run, he closed the trunk and shoved her into the car. He moved so quickly she hardly knew what was happening until the inside of the passenger door slammed against her shoulder.
“I know what you are.”
“Believe me. I know that.”
He gave her what he probably hoped was a disarming smile. Was that supposed to calm her down? Get her to go
along with him? Thank God she didn’t see any fangs.
“You can’t do this.” She tried the door handle but it wouldn’t open. Stupid car. “Where are you taking me?”
He tossed his leather coat on the seat between them, backed the Caddy out of the stall with a screech and jammed it into Drive. “Tell me where Krystal is.”
Krystal? Why in the world did he want to know where her cousin was? “Like hell am I going to tell you that.”
“If you’re smart, you will.”
Huddled as far away from him as possible, she glared at him. He wore a black t-shirt that stretched tight over his chest and she’d be willing to bet that he purposely bought it too small to make his muscles look bigger. On his bicep, the colorful snake tattoo—the one Krystal had mentioned—looked coiled and ready to strike. Normally, the inside of the Caddy felt huge, but with his presence soaking up all available airspace, it felt like a teacup.
Ha. Smart by whose definition? “W-why? I’m not telling you that. You have me now, so leave her alone. She’s an innocent girl.”
“If you want to hear why you and your cousin are in grave danger and what can be done about it, then you’d better tell me.”
She would’ve thought he’d have stopped by the house first. Maybe he had and Krystal wasn’t there. Maybe she was at her friend’s house. Hope sparked in the pit of her stomach. If only she could get word to her, tell her to stay away, call the authorities. “And why should I trust you? You’re a…vampire.”
“Because I’m the one who saved you.” There was that practiced smile again. “Remember me?”
Like a dope, she recalled the hard plane of his chest pressed against her, his demanding mouth, the feel of his muscular shoulders as she’d wrapped her arms—
“Yeah, I do. You tried to pull some mind-control thing on me and make me forget what I saw. In fact—” His words still rang in her head as he kissed her that night. The rich, lulling tone. Intoxicating her. “In fact, you tried to charm me as you forced yourself on me.”
With the sweep of a hand, he brushed his blue-green hair from his face and she noticed it wasn’t pulled back like it had been before. “I do not force women. If you had wanted me to stop, all you had to do was step away.”
“That’s not what I remember. You made me…want you.”
He cocked an eyebrow, the one with the tiny scar. “I didn’t make you do anything. You wrapped your arms around me of your own free will.”
“Free will. My ass.”
Laughter rumbled from his chest. He gripped the steering wheel and the snake flexed. If she’d had a black Sharpie right how, she’d have drawn Xs over its eyes.