Josh Barrett knows his priorities—reporting the news by day, drinking himself into a self-loathing stupor by night. His workaholic tendencies can’t completely mask the horrific night that changed his life forever … until a beautiful, sexy, and utterly mysterious woman enters his life and changes everything.
Newly turned vampire Chelle Masterson only wants to find her place. Her unrequited love and devotion for her maker, Lane, has left Chelle broken, vowing to never fall for any man again. She’s determined to find her way in the scary new world of the immortals and begs for the chance to prove herself. Unfortunately, she meets trouble head-on with her very first victim and ends up face to face with a very charming and handsome stranger. He seems to want to help, but trust might come with a price. This is book 2 in the Immortal Hearts of San Francisco, but can be read as a stand-alone with no cliffhanger. *This read is recommended for ages 18+ due to mature content.
“Where are you going? Lane yelled at me over his shoulder. I waved him off and headed down the alley in the opposite direction, but he was quick, and as I took my next step, I plowed right into him as he stood, blocking my way. His hands were on my shoulders, preventing me from moving. I could have just vanished from his grip, though I’d never wanted to. Until now. Something in me was changing. I wanted to be stronger, independent. “I said, where are you going?” he repeated. His condescending tone made me flinch. I hated that he could do that to me, make me feel like a child with only a few words, but I was determined not to let him notice. He smiled and skimmed the back of his finger down my cheek. He was gentle, and I hated it. I hated that he was so fucking gorgeous it made every inch of my skin tingle with desire. I hated him—for that and so much more. I glanced up at the sky. There were no stars, not even the moon. The fog had rolled in about forty minutes ago, stealing the heavens from our view. Just another indication of how fucked up my life was. It was my twenty-first birthday. Or would have been. And we were out on a celebratory feed. “I thought this was what you wanted, Chelle. To go out and get your own sustenance.” “I do. But…” “But what?” “It’s not exactly on my own if you’re with me,” I managed, even though he had me under his control. “But you’ve never done it alone before.” He brushed my short hair back away from my face. “I told you I wouldn’t interfere, that I’d let you do it all. I’ll just watch and make sure you don’t overindulge.” He worried a lot about that. He knew firsthand how easy it was to lose control, and I could appreciate that, especially since I’d been the one he’d lost control with. But I was determined and stubborn. “I don’t need a babysitter, Lane. I’ve got this. Just leave and let me do it. I promise I can handle it. I don’t want to hurt anyone.” He hung his head as if in defeat. “I can’t.” “For fuck’s sake, Lane, I want to be alone. Can’t you understand that? Please, just go. I’ll meet you back at the club later and we’ll drink to my success and celebrate my birthday there.” He sighed, then smiled. “All right. But if you’re not there in an hour, I won’t let you go out alone again for a long time.” “Two hours,” I said. “Give me two.” He shook his head. “One.” “Two, please. Two.” “What’s so fucking important that you need two hours?” “Trust me this one time. Please.” He gazed into my eyes, and I watched his silver-blue irises soften. He closed his lids, briefly, then took in a deep breath and nodded. “It’s against my better judgment, but okay, two hours. Happy birthday, Chelle,” he said and vanished into the darkness, leaving me alone at last. I strolled down the narrow street behind a row of houses where Lane had left me. A man sat huddled against the building. A dirty vagrant. Since this was my first time alone, I wanted it to be memorable. I didn’t want just anyone, and I didn’t want an ugly old beggar. I wanted someone I could actually get off with. I headed out of the alley and turned down El Camino Del Mar. Music floated out from a small bar across the street. A shiny, silver Harley was parked on the street just outside. Perfect. My nose twitched as the smell of stale cigarettes and Pine Sol assaulted my nostrils as I entered. San Francisco was a non-smoking city, but this was an older bar, and after years of seeping into the woodwork and fixtures, the fetid remnants of tobacco still infused the air. But the establishment itself was sort of swanky and upscale; much different from some of the dives down on Geary Avenue, where I’m sure I’d probably have better success. But it was my birthday, and I wanted nice. Not trashy. My eyes settled on an attractive man playing pool. He wore a light blue shirt, untucked from his pants and unbuttoned at the collar. A silver tie patterned with little blue diamond shapes hung loosely around his neck. His sleeves were rolled up to his elbows. A relaxed, just-got-off-work look. He bent over and positioned his cue at the white ball, then glanced up at me with the most gorgeous blue eyes I’d ever seen. They were almost translucent. As difficult as it was, I quickly looked away. I was too hungry and too horny, and someone like that just might make me lose control, so I set my eyes on the other guy playing pool instead. A large man, sporting black leather. Biker gear. Perfect. This was what I was looking for tonight. His brown eyes locked on mine, and I smiled. Yeah, he would do. He would do nicely. He stood with a cue stick in his hand, rubbing the tip with a square of blue chalk, and he smiled at me as I sat down on a stool at the bar. I gave him my best sexy smile and held his gaze for a few seconds. He had a clean-shaven face, which surprised me considering the way he was dressed—jeans and a well-worn jacket with some club’s logo inscribed on the back. Maybe a weekend warrior. He was tall and muscled, and I didn’t think there would be much danger of me taking too much. He looked like he would give me just what I needed. The bike outside had to be his since he was the only guy in here dressed for the ride. The other guy playing pool was handsome beyond comprehension. Not more than Lane, but different, and though he would probably make for a tasty treat, there was something in my gut that told me no. I thought the biker dude would be exciting, and I had a feeling he’d take me for a great ride. The bartender, a chubby, middle-aged guy with dark, curly hair, set a small, square napkin on the bar in front of me. “What can I get you?” “Johnny Walker, neat,” I said then hesitated. “Wait. Make it a cosmopolitan.” I smiled. I’d gotten used to drinking scotch with Lane and the rest of the band, and I’d become fond of it, but this was a nice place and I was all dressed up. A pink, girly drink just seemed to suit the occasion better. “Can I see some I.D.?” I grinned. This was exactly what I’d wanted for my twenty-first birthday. To be asked for my I.D. and actually be able to show it with confidence because I was finally of legal drinking age. He took the plastic card I handed him and studied it, then looked at me and smiled as he gave it back to me. “Happy birthday.” “Thanks.” I beamed, content with how that had gone. I placed the card in the back pocket of my short skirt. I didn’t carry a purse. Just cash in my pocket and identification. The I.D. wasn’t something I usually carried. I didn’t normally need it at the club where I usually hung out, but I’d been aching to show it on my twenty-first birthday, so I’d stuck it in my pocket before Lane and I had left earlier. The bartender set the pretty pink cocktail in front of me, and just as I reached into my pocket for my money, Biker Dude appeared at my side. “I’ve got this, sweetheart,” he said with a cocky grin that I found very attractive. “I overheard Clint say it was your birthday. Let me buy you a birthday drink.” “Sure. Thanks.” “I’ll get hers and I’ll have another Bud,” he said to the bartender and threw a twenty down on the bar. “Here’s to the birthday girl.” He clinked his beer bottle against my glass and we drank. I sipped my girly martini like I’d been taught. Lane’s voice reverberated in the back of my mind. “Scotch is something to be savored, not guzzled,” he’d said the first time I’d ever had it. I supposed the same went for cute and yummy pink drinks, too. “Thanks for the drink,” I said and slightly turned my back to him. Not all the way, just enough to let him think I wasn’t going to be that easy. “I like the way you dyed your hair. Reminds me of a rainbow. Why aren’t you out celebrating with your friends?” he asked. I swiveled in my seat to look at him. “Who says I’m not?” He laughed. “Well, sweetheart, you’re in here all alone.” I stuck my finger in my drink then slid it into my mouth, sucking off the sweet nectar. I slowly pulled it out and licked my lips. “No, I’m not. You’re here.” He coughed, choking on the sip of beer he’d been swigging as he watched me suck on my finger. I smiled and took another sip of my cocktail. “I’m meeting friends,” I supplied after enjoying the show of watching him recover from almost drowning in his bottle of beer. Old habits died hard, and telling a strange guy I was meeting friends was just something I’d always done in case they turned out to be a psycho killer. Though, these days, I didn’t really need to worry about that. “I just came in here to show off my I.D. and grab a drink, then I’m leaving.” “You had me going for a minute, Rainbow.” “Is that your bike outside?” I asked, hopeful. “Yeah. Do you like bikes?” “I do. Very much.” “What’s your name, Rainbow?” “You can call me Rainbow if you want. What’s yours?” “Trump.” “Trump?” “As in, my bike trumps any other bike in the club. It has for the past four years.” Aw, he was so fucking proud of that. It was rather cute. “Wanna go for a ride for your birthday?” he asked. “Maybe another time,” I said. “See ya later, thanks for the drink.” I finished my cosmo, set the empty glass down on the bar, and stood. He was slightly taller than me. Perfect. This was going to be fun. As I turned to leave, I glanced back at the guy with the dreamy, translucent blue eyes. Later, maybe. I walked out the door, leaving Trump standing there perplexed. I didn’t want to be seen leaving with him, just in case something went wrong. I didn’t need that connection, so I walked about twenty feet from the door then slowed my pace and waited. Hoping I’d charmed him enough to make him come outside. I was pleasantly surprised when I heard the door open. “Hey, Rainbow,” he called to me. I turned slowly, giving him my sexiest smile possible. “Did I forget something?” “No. I just thought, you know, if you like bikes, you wanna go for a ride?” “Seems I already said no. But it is tempting. I would, but my friends will be here soon.” “A short ride.” I looked up the street as if I were searching for a car that should be coming our way. “Well, okay. If we can make it quick. Before my friends get here.” “That works for me.” He was gullible. Easy, or maybe just horny. I hopped up on the brilliant silver Harley behind the guy, hiking my short skirt up my thighs so I could straddle the seat. I couldn’t help the slight moan of pleasure that escaped when the coolness of the leather made contact with the thin, lacy, red material of my panties and my bare legs. Trump turned to hand me a black helmet. I shook my head. “No, thanks.” “It’s the law,” he said and shoved the helmet onto my head. He didn’t bother to buckle it, and neither did I. What did I care if we crashed? I’d already died once, and vampires healed eventually. Granted, it would hurt like hell for a while. Having second thoughts, I reached up and buckled the ugly straps just in case. The engine roared to life, and it probably rattled every feather of every bird within a mile. A vibrating coolness skated all the way through to my clitoris and I grabbed on to Trump’s waist, slipping my hands up and inside his jacket as we took off down the hill. We rode for about fifteen minutes, and I was enjoying the ride, but I was growing hungry. I held on to him tightly. The tautness of his stomach excited me. I’d made a good choice. I slowly slid one hand down and cupped his package. I felt him tense a little, but he didn’t say anything. We were close to the zoo with the Pacific Ocean to our right. “Stop here,” I yelled over the roar of the engine, and he pulled off the highway and into the dirt parking lot along the edge of the rocks leading down to the sand and the water. “Let’s walk on the beach,” I suggested. We tugged off our helmets and hopped off the bike. He took my hand when I feigned a slip on the rocks, playing the defenseless damsel. Some guys liked weak women. It was easy enough to pretend, especially with how excited I was to get to a spot where we couldn’t be seen by anyone passing by. The minute we were secluded, that weak and pathetic young woman disappeared and I yanked open his jacket, splaying my hands over his tight, black t-shirt and the taut muscles of his chest. Moisture accumulated between my thighs, making my panties wet in anticipation of his blood running through my veins. I saw a little crate by the edge of the small cliff and stood on it, giving me a little advantage and him easier access to my core. I undid his pants. I didn’t care what he thought of me. He wasn’t going to remember any of this or me when we were finished anyway. He took the cue without much coaxing and hiked up my skirt, exposing the flimsy red lace of my panties. He splayed his palm over my sex, and I moaned as he pressed his lips against mine. His tongue darted into my mouth as his fingers rubbed against me. I shoved his jeans down to his knees, leaving him standing in his boxer briefs. I wanted him immobile, just the way Lane had taught me. “Oh, baby, yeah. I knew you were special when I saw you walk into the bar. But, man, I didn’t know you’d be this good.” “I am special. Very special. You’ll see.” His covered cock pressed against my sex and he rubbed himself against my core, teasing as he showered my neck and shoulders with little kisses. But I had no intention of screwing him. I only wanted him to think that was what we were about to do. I kissed my way up the side of his neck, licking the spot that I’d soon claim. His vein pulsed under my tongue; I hadn’t even needed to compel him. This guy was easy. I’d been certain that compelling him wouldn’t be required until afterwards, when I’d need him to forget about everything. Once I got my fangs into his vein, he’d be rendered defenseless under my draw. But the minute the sharp points of my teeth broke his skin, he stopped kissing me and shoved me backwards. His hand went to his neck. “You fucking bitch. You bit me.” He scowled, and before I realized that he was angry, before I had a chance to understand my mistake and take control, his knuckles slammed into me and he slugged me. Fucking hard, right in the jaw. I stumbled backwards, almost losing my balance, but managed to stay on my feet. “You’re a fucking vampire!” he barked. “Get the hell away from me!” I rubbed my jaw, the sting of what happened slowly registering in my brain. I was on him in an instant, taking his throat in my hand, squeezing just enough to make him gurgle. He was strong, but no match for my vampire strength. I held him up, his feet dangling about two inches from the ground. His hands grasped my wrist, trying to wiggle out of my hold. “Don’t you know you’re not supposed to strike a woman? You fucking asshole. Fuck you.” As he stared at me with glassy, bulging orbs, his complexion turning a shade paler than he’d been, I glared back into his eyes. “You will not remember any of this, or me, you fucking bastard. Right?” He uttered some sort of unrecognizable sounds. “Right? I repeated. I loosened my grip and let him stand on his feet, but I didn’t let go. “Yes, I won’t remember you or this.” “And, you will never hit a woman ever again.” He tried to shake his head. “Say it!” “I will never hit a woman ever again.” “Good. Asshole.” I let him go and he fell backwards, tripping over a rock and falling to the ground. I smoothed my skirt down and vanished from his sight.