Excerpts


Dating the Undead – Chapter One

 

Silver

New Year’s Eve, almost midnight, and I’m leaving the party early.

I say leaving, but actually, “kicked out” is closer to the truth. Anyone would think it was me who’d just been caught kissing another girl’s date.

“Oh, relax,” I say, rolling my eyes at the statuesque blond whose hand is wedged firmly between my shoulder blades. “I’m sure it’s not the first time she’s had a drink thrown over her.”

“It is at one of my parties,” she retorts snootily.

By now, we’ve reached the long, narrow hallway leading to the front door. I vaguely remember it from on the way in, though it already feels like a million years ago. Back then, I had a date—one I envisioned kissing at the stroke of midnight and not kicking in the balls after catching him sucking face with some Latvian skank.

Life is full of surprises.

I stop dead in my tracks by the coat hooks, enjoying how Blondie stumbles against the back of my heels. “At least let me get my coat,” I snap, delving into the dark, lumpy masses on the wall.

As I rifle through them, looking for my gray wool coat, my eye snags on a shiny, cream label that reads “Chanel” in proud, black lettering. Without a second thought, I unhook the slinky beige satin. “Here it is!” I shrill, holding it up in victory.

I deliberately take my time putting the coat on, fastening the buttons all the way down, while Miss Busty Blond taps her foot impatiently on the black-and-white tiled floor. When I finally meet her cold, blue gaze, I smile sweetly. “Happy New Year,” I say in honeyed tones. “And don’t worry. I’m sure more people will turn up to next year’s party.”

With eyes shooting me daggers, she snatches the door open, and I swish past, chin in the air, into the crisp, dark night.

The door slams loudly behind me, instantly muffling the steady thud of music. I get all the way to the end of the narrow path before my smug charade dies a sudden death. I’ve left my clutch bag behind—money, bank cards, and phone along with it.

My shoulders droop in defeat, and I sigh, shooting a cloud of breath out into the chilly night air. “Shit,” I mutter, spinning on my heel toward the house. “Shit,
shit, shit.”

Now I have a dilemma. I either go back in and face Joshua and his new “friend” or do the dignified thing and leave. Their final memory of me will either be the wine-throwing, ball-kicking incident, or a groveling girl asking for her purse back. Call me vain, but I sort of prefer option number one.

I stare longingly at the black front door. From behind it, distant sounds of merriment drift onto the street, high-pitched voices and laughter swirling amid a blur of white noise.

A voice cuts into the night, a dagger slicing through velvet. “Are you going in?”

I spin around, surprised to see a man has appeared from the darkness. Funny, I didn’t even hear footsteps.

Pulling myself to full height, I stare directly into his eyes. “Actually, I just left.”

When I first moved to London, I took a self-defense class—Dad paid for it; he said it gave him peace of mind—and they told us if a strange man approaches you on a dark street, make direct eye contact. Apparently, it makes you less of a potential victim.

I step aside to let him pass. “It’s a crap party,” I say, shoving my hands deep into the pockets of the stolen coat. “Unless you enjoy the company of spoiled, overgrown brats living off their trust funds.”

Slowly, a smile begins to unfurl from the corner of his mouth. The effect is devastating. His eyes—green and bottomless, framed by a forest of dark lashes—crinkle around the edges. I’ve been so busy trying to appear unvictim-like that I forgot to notice he’s something of a hottie. Scrub that—a lot of a hottie. I rake my gaze over him, not caring whether or not he realizes I’m checking him out. I mean, if he’s going to cruise the streets looking this sexy, he should expect a violent eye assault or two.

His hair is dark brown, curling over the tips of his ears and just ever so slightly mussed. Sex hair, I think, going a little weak at the knees. His skin is pale and creamy, and when he smiles, a tiny indent appears in each cheek. On some, dimples are cute—on this man, they are dangerous.

He is the antithesis of Joshua—dark where Joshua is light. Joshua is the type of guy who spends a day on a yacht with friends. This man looks as though he belongs onstage at a rock concert. If Joshua is a day out on the river, this guy is a late night drinking whiskey on a bed of rumpled satin sheets.

“Is that why you’re leaving?” he asks, his gorgeous green eyes roaming my body like a secret caress.

His voice has a soothing Irish brogue, like a seductive lullaby, and I shiver, though not from the cold. “Yes. That and I’ve just made a bit of a scene.”

“A scene? What did you do?” He leans back against the gatepost, resting one foot against the red brick, and for some reason, I think of James Dean in that old movie Rebel Without a Cause. There’s that vibe about him—that he breaks all the rules.

I flip a wavy lock of auburn hair over my shoulder.“I threw a drink over a girl,” I say with an unmistakable hint of pride.

He chuckles, cocking his head to one side. “And why exactly did you do that?”

I’m tempted to say, Because I felt like it, but I don’t. I tell him the truth. “She kissed the guy I came with. Right in front of me.”

He half frowns, half smiles. “Who was the guy?”

I shrug. “Just some guy I’ve been out with a few times.”

“What about him? Did he get the same treatment?”

It’s my turn to smile. “No, but he got a kick in the nuts for his trouble. He would have got way more if the idiot hostess hadn’t pulled me off.”

He laughs, and that too is sexy, gravel all wrapped up in silk. “What’s your name?” he asks, looking straight into my eyes.

“Silver,” I tell him, staring back unblinkingly. “Silver Harris.”

“Well, Silver Harris,” he says, my name intimate on his tongue, as though he’s said it a thousand times before.

“How about I go in, get your bag, and walk you home?” I scrunch my face up, trying not to show my surprise.

“Why do you think I left my bag? I have my phone and wallet right here in my pocket.” I tap the side of the empty coat.

He takes his foot off the wall and stands up straight before taking a step closer. Even in my heels, he’s a good six inches taller than me. As he leans in, I catch a whiff of his scent—a
smoky, masculine blend of leather, aftershave, and soap. “I know,” he whispers, “the same way I know that’s not the coat you arrived in.”

My breath catches and I take a step backward. How does he know about the coat? I keep my voice as normal as possible. “Why don’t you join the party before I call the police?”

He flashes a smile and then, without warning, completely disappears. There is nothing in front of me but empty air and a slight breeze, the front door of the house flapping open as if caught in a sudden gust of wind. It takes me about three seconds to realize what he is.

A vampire.

A few years back, a famous Hollywood actress, no doubt fed up with being questioned about plastic surgery, publicly announced she was a vampire. Of course, the world’s media went nuts with it.

“Vampires Exist!” the headlines screamed. And it didn’t end there. Before long, vampires from all over the globe began to emerge from the shadows. They pretty much blew all the old myths out of the water, reassuring humankind that yes, they are real, but no, they don’t need blood to survive. Since then, things have remained relatively unchanged and most vampires continue to keep a low profile. I mean, you aren’t going to run into one at the village fair buying a lemon meringue pie or walking their Labradoodle in the local park or anything like that. As far as I can tell, they stick mainly to cities or places with a happening night scene. Places like London.

A moment later, the front door slams shut and he’s back, holding my small, sequined clutch bag.

I arch a brow, as if superhuman speed is something I see every day. “How did you know it was mine?”

He flashes a cocky grin. “I looked for a girl with a wet face and a bloke holding his crotch in agony. Hey, presto, it was there on the floor.”

I take the bag from his outstretched hand, expecting him to hold on to it, but he lets it go easily. “So,” I say, pretending to fiddle with the clasp. “You’re a vampire?”

“Beauty and intelligence—my two favorite things in a woman.”

I look into his chiseled face. Man, he is hot. If I’m going to die, there would be worse ways to go. “Just so I know—are you planning to murder me or not?”

He smiles again. Clearly he finds me amusing, which makes a change as, usually, men don’t. “Do you really think I’d have fetched you your bag if I were?”

I shrug. “How am I supposed to know? Maybe you like to mess with your victims before you drain their blood.”

He shakes his head, still smiling. “I didn’t think people believed in that old myth anymore.”

“So, what do you want?” I ask, tucking my bag under my arm and gazing at him with narrowed eyes.

“Just to see you home safely,” he says. “It’s dangerous to walk around London on your own at night.”

I give off a little snort of derision and purse my lips, glancing up and down the quiet street. “Fine,” I say. “Walk me home.” I lean forward in what I hope is a menacing way. “But you should know, I have pepper spray in my purse and I’ve attended the finest self-defense classes in the greater London area.”

He chuckles, shaking his head. “Silver, I have no doubt you’re a force to be reckoned with.”

I nod, stepping through the wrought-iron gate. “Shall we?” I ask, with a sweep of my arm.

We walk along the street in silence. The night air is chilly, the pavement glittering with frost. Above, the moon is shaped like a sickle, casting an eerie silver glow across the front of the half-brick, half-stucco houses. Each time we pass under the yellow light of a streetlamp, I sneak a look at the vampire, and each time, he catches me, holding my gaze, his brilliant-green eyes piercing mine. In spite of the cold, I burn with desire.

“How old are you?” I ask suddenly. “I mean, how old were you when you turned?”

“Twenty-five,” he says. “And before you ask the next question, I’m just a few years shy of my two-hundredth birthday.”

I gulp, trying to keep my voice neutral. “Well, you know what they say: life begins at fifty. I guess that works to your advantage.”

He laughs. “I suppose. How old are you, Silver?”

“Twenty-four,” I tell him, and then, without thinking, “Twenty-four and never been kissed.”

“The first bit,” he says, “I can believe. As for the other part, I think there’s about as much chance of that as there is of you owning the coat you’re wearing.”

My brows knit together. “What are you trying to say? I couldn’t afford a Chanel coat?”

Before he can answer, a rowdy bunch of partygoers appear around the corner ahead. There are four of them—young men, all clearly inebriated—leaning into each other and all talking loudly at the same time.

One of them, a stocky-looking guy in his twenties, leers at me as they pass. “Blimey, she’s a bit of all right,” he says loudly to his friends, who squawk in agreement, like a bunch of wild monkeys at the zoo. His lazy eyes fall on the vampire next to me. “Be sure to give her a good porking tonight, mate,” he says, a sick grin plastered across his puffy, red face.

Another member of the group guffaws loudly, grabbing at his crotch and making thrusting movements.

“Yeah! Give her one from us.”

One second, the vampire is beside me; the next, he has the two who spoke by their throats and is holding them aloft, one in each hand, several inches from the ground. “I think you owe the lady an apology,” he hisses angrily.

I watch, stunned, as the men struggle for freedom, legs thrashing wildly beneath them. When their friends scamper off into the night, he lowers them back to the pavement and lets go. Instantly, they cough and splutter, holding their throats. Their faces are the color of boiled ham in a butcher’s window.

“I said, apologize,” the vampire demands, his low, throaty voice the only sign he’s lost his cool.

One of them makes a desperate, wheezy noise that sounds a little like sorry, while the other bends double, gasping for air.

“Sorry,” he says at last, in ragged breaths.

The vampire takes me gently by the elbow, motioning with a slight jerk of his head to continue walking. At his touch, a tingly sensation shoots from my arm straight to my core. Excitement, rather than horror, unfurls in the pit of my stomach.

As the coughs begin to fade behind us, the vampire looks at me, his jaw clenched tight. “I’m sorry, Silver, but nothing winds me up more than disrespectful men.”

If I were the type of girl who swooned, I would, but I’m not, so I flash him a smile instead. “I thought the fat one was going to cry,” I say, biting my lip to stifle a giggle.

The vampire smiles back, staring deep into my eyes, and for some reason, I feel suddenly afraid—though not in the way I would expect.

My shoulder brushing his, we turn onto the tree-lined embankment, where hundreds of people are gathered by the river, waiting for the fireworks at midnight. The air hums with voices, and the gray bulk of the Thames is gold and glistening beneath the bright city lights.

I look at my phone—there are just ten minutes until midnight. “Seeing in the New Year with an undead guy,” I say, sliding my phone back into my bag. “I guess that’s one I can tick off my bucket list.”

He cracks a smile. “Glad I could oblige.”

When we reach Oakley Street, just minutes away from my flat in Jubilee Place, I ponder if I should lead him to a fake address. I mean, he’s a vampire, and although he’s behaved like the perfect gentleman, I don’t really know him from Adam. Deciding to err on the side of caution, I lead him along a side road a block or so from home.

It’s dark and drafty on the street, the breeze blowing up from the Thames swirling between the buildings. I pull the flimsy satin coat tight across my chest and peer ahead, trying to decide which house to pretend is mine. I’ve just chosen a large, three-story
town house when the peals of Big Ben suddenly ring out through the streets. At once, the night is filled with fireworks, their shrieks and bangs ricocheting off the walls around us,
the sky as bright as day.

I stop at the gate of the house. “Well, this is me,” I say.

He nods, his eyes rounded with some unfathomable
emotion. I wonder if he knows I’m lying. “Good night,
Silver. Happy New Year.”

As he turns to leave, I reach for his arm, my fingers gripping hard muscle through the thin leather sleeve of his jacket. “Don’t I get a New Year’s kiss?” I ask brazenly.

Some people are cursed with shyness. I am not, nor will I ever be, one of those people.

His brows lift in surprise. I can tell he wasn’t expecting me to say that. Smirking, I take a step closer. My face inches from his, I inhale the leathery freshness radiating from his beautiful body—eau de man…or eau de vampire, depending on how you look at it.

For one awful moment, he remains frozen to the spot, and I wonder if I’m about to be rejected for a second time this evening. But then his arms gently circle my waist, and he lowers his lips to mine.

My life changes forever.

If you must know, I’ve kissed my fair share of guys in the past, but there has never been anything quite like this. I’m pretty sure if it wasn’t New Year’s Eve, I’d still be hearing fireworks.

He starts off slow, lips gently parting mine, hands sliding over the contours of my body. I push my breasts against his chest as he begins gently flicking his tongue against mine, and I groan into his mouth.

His hands knot into my hair as the kiss picks up speed, and a lick of heat, as exotic and consuming as a blast of tropical air, roars through me, turning me liquid with desire. If he wasn’t holding me up, I’m fairly certain I would be no more than a puddle at his feet.

I mold into him, lost in the sensation of his lips on mine, hard and soft in all the right places, our tongues dancing back and forth in tender rhythm. Wanting to explore, I
slide my hands beneath his T-shirt, caressing the taut muscles of his stomach, silky and warm under my fingers.

I now regret leading him to the wrong house. If we were outside my flat, I would waste no time in dragging him inside and having my wicked way with him on the sofa. As it stands, I can hardly admit I’ve lied.

But there is something else I’m willing to try—something that can be done right here on the street. As his mouth leaves my lips, trailing hot, feverish kisses along my jaw, I lean over, exposing my neck to his mouth.

He pauses, his lips warm on my throat. “Are you sure?” he whispers, voice low, crushed beneath a weight of desire.

“Yes,” I say, my voice raspy, running a hand into the waistband of his jeans. “Do it.”

There is a faint, exquisite pain as his teeth sink into my flesh, and as my body sags against his, my mind is filled with an unusual feeling of peace. I see a riot of colors—yellows and pinks, like a sunset—and slowly, they flood my senses, pulling me down into a whirlpool
of bliss, until all sense of reality is lost.

When I’m finally pulled back into the present, I realizehis mouth is no longer at my throat. He’s holding me against him, stroking my cheek with the back of his hand.

“Am I dead?” I ask dreamily. “I don’t feel the cold.”

“No,” he murmurs, kissing the top of my head. “But I’m afraid I had to stop.”

I pull away a little. “Is kissing a vampire always like that?”

He smiles, a smug glint in his eye. “Without wanting to sound arrogant, it is with me. Or so I’ve been told.”

Smiling, I prod him with an index finger. “Check out the vampire stud.”

He chuckles softly and holds open the little gate at the front of the house, standing aside to let me pass. “I have to go now, Silver.”

I walk through and turn around, still dazed from the bite. “Wait,” I say, hating the edge of desperation to my voice. “You didn’t tell me your name.”

Hands in his pockets, shoulders set in arrogance, he grins. “Perhaps I’ll tell you some other time.”

As quickly as he arrived, he disappears into the night, a mini cyclone of skittering leaves the only evidence of his departure.

I sag against the garden wall, my lips still buzzing from his knee-trembling
kiss.

How will I ever go back to human guys after this?


 

Advertisements