Today’s tease comes from the book Love Immortal, which is a stand alone vampire romance novel, and my longest single novel to date.
Lauren kicked the hem of her dark jeans so they covered the tongues of her black trainers and then tugged on the sleeves of her plum long sleeve kimono-style top. She smoothed the thin material over her breasts, allowing a modest amount of cleavage to show. It was cold in her top but she wanted to look good. She wanted Julian’s attention.
She combed her fingers through her red hair, twisting the ends so they flicked up and out.
She only wished that she could straighten out her nerves as easily.
Julian had left when she’d been dressing. He’d told her to pass the day away with Kuga, Leo and Piper if she couldn’t sleep, and to come to Duke’s office the next night. Piper had kindly gone out and bought her some beauty products and other necessities. She’d used all of them to make herself look more presentable and as pretty as she could manage. It had taken a while, giving her time to see the night fall and to think about why Julian would want her to go to Duke’s office. Now she stood outside it, trying to get her feelings into order and still wondering what awaited her on the other side.
Only one way to find out.
She opened the dark wooden door and stepped inside. The first thing she noticed was Astra talking to Julian. He stood to her right near the bookcases, with his hand resting on the hilt of his katana where it hung at his side, hidden beneath his coat. Astra glanced over at her and then smiled at Julian with bright red lips, touching his shoulder as she did so. She moved closer to him, a sway in her hips that Lauren didn’t like. It caused the slit up the side of Astra’s long black dress to open and reveal her thigh. Her smile widened and she ran her fingers through her glossy black hair, pushing it out of her face. A flicker of jealousy flared into life inside Lauren when Astra’s fingers slid slowly and sensually over the black material of Julian’s coat and she laughed, high and very feminine, about something.
“You’re looking better.” Duke came out from behind his large mahogany desk and crossed the room to Lauren. “Are you feeling better?”
Lauren threw a furtive glance Julian’s way and saw that Astra was now smiling right into his eyes.
“I was,” she muttered and turned her back on Astra.
Duke frowned. It didn’t suit him. It made his face dark and vicious, and gave him a menacing look when combined with his backdrop of the huge gun collection mounted on the dark red wall behind him. Lauren smiled, hoping to alleviate whatever was bothering him. She touched his arm.
“I’m fine.” Her hand slid down his arm. His gaze followed it intently. She was about to withdraw it when his hand came forwards so they touched. She went to take her hand back but he caught hold of it and turned it palm upwards. His fingertips grazed the lines on her hand, tickling her. “Are you going to tell me my future?”
He laughed—a rich deep sound that made her smile and made his intense brown eyes sparkle. While Astra’s laugh had been forced, Duke’s one had been real, like Kuga and Leo’s. It seemed all the male Ghosts enjoyed a good laugh. Lauren didn’t have the energy to laugh with her heart. She could only manage one as fake as Astra’s.
“I don’t tell fortunes.” Duke’s thumb brushed hers again, a caress that was both sensual and alarming. She stared wide-eyed at him, not knowing what to do. Julian wasn’t watching, and so what if he was? He probably wouldn’t do anything about Duke’s over-attentiveness. She probably meant nothing to him. Her life was a mere blip in his and when she died, another would come along to take her place. “But I could try… for you.”
“That’s fine.” Lauren extricated her hand from his. “I was just joking anyway.”
Duke swept the pad of his thumb over his fingers. Lauren stared at the roses on his palm.
“They’re beautiful tattoos.” She tried to get a closer look but Duke curled his hand up and lowered it.
“They would be if they were tattoos.” He smiled but this time it was as phoney as hers were recently and it didn’t touch his eyes. They were cold and empty, fixed on his fist where it hung at his side.
Another peal of laughter from Astra made Lauren’s fists clench. What on Earth was Julian saying to her that was so funny? Lauren glanced over at them. Julian said something she couldn’t quite hear but his look was serious, no sign of humour in it. When Astra touched Julian’s hair, brushing a rogue black strand from his eyes, Lauren’s temperature shot up.
She couldn’t believe that Astra was openly flirting with Julian, acting as though she wasn’t even there. Not that Julian was hers.
“Are you feeling alright?” Duke said with a look of concern.
Lauren shook her head, cursing the hot tears that burned her eyes. She hated how confused her feelings were, especially when it came to Julian.
Unable to bear hearing Astra with Julian, Lauren looked around her. To the left of the three arched windows was a white door with a green fire escape sign on it. Escape sounded good.
“I need some air.” Lauren went straight out of it and climbed the black metal spiral staircase to the flat roof.
The night was cold, a bitter wind blowing, but it was fresh and soothing, and it cleared her head. Astra’s flirting had hurt her more than she’d thought possible and she didn’t want to think why.
Lauren gripped the black metal railing that edged the roof around the fire escape and stared up at the sky. It was cloudless and inky, but it did nothing to make her smile as clear starry winter nights normally did. She felt as though she was drowning in it, pulled under by feelings that were out of control and that she didn’t understand.
There was a laugh from the room below. Astra.
Lauren’s grip on the icy railing tightened and she glared at the sky. Why wasn’t Julian coming to her? Hadn’t he seen her leave? Had he even noticed that she’d arrived or was he too busy with the beautiful Astra?
She almost laughed at herself. She’d come out into the cold for a reason other than the fresh air. She wanted Julian to come to her. She wanted him to choose between her and Astra. Where had it gotten her? Five minutes had passed and he wasn’t coming. All she’d gained for her stupidity was heartache and misery, and probably the start of a cold.
The door below opened and that same heart jumped for joy until Duke appeared on the staircase. She turned away again. The old warehouse opposite was full of people working. She watched them, remembering that today was Friday and that it was only just gone five. Soon everyone would be going home for the weekend. She wished she could go home.
Her gaze tracked the people. Normal life was going on around her, unaware of the monsters that lurked in the darkness or even walked amongst the office workers. Werewolves appeared human at times. How many of them had jobs? Was one of them down there now, in that office working amongst innocent people?
How many had she met during her life?
“It’s best that you’re not alone right now.” Duke leaned against the railing beside her.
Lauren didn’t look at him. She stared into the office, trying to spot any unusual behaviour that might give someone away as a werewolf and trying to ignore the creeping jealousy and anger in her heart.
“I want to be alone,” she whispered. A man walked past the window on the floor down from her in the office building. He seemed inconspicuous enough and he didn’t pay the slightest bit of attention to her. In the darkness, he probably wouldn’t be able to see her. The moon wasn’t strong tonight. It was nothing but a sliver in the sky, surrounded by bright twinkling stars that not even the city lights could drown out.
“So you didn’t come out here to get Julian’s attention then?”
Lauren tensed. Was it that obvious? If it was, why hadn’t Julian come? Didn’t he want to be with her?
She laughed, more at herself than at what Duke had said. “Not at all.”
Duke sighed and ran his fingers back and forth along the black railing, his short fingernails scraping at the paint.
“Astra can be incorrigible and Julian is too polite.” He paused and turned around so his back was resting against the bar. Lauren looked over the edge and wondered how Duke could be so trusting of the balcony railing. It was a long drop to the quiet road below and the rail didn’t feel that sturdy under her fingers. Wasn’t he frightened of death? “Come back in.”
“I’m fine out here.” She wasn’t. She was freezing and miserable, but it was better than being around Astra. In the office, people were coming and going, some were leaving for the night. Life was going on without her. This past day she’d lost touch with the world and had felt as though only her, the Ghosts, Julian and the werewolves had existed. She’d forgotten that people still had lives to lead.
Lauren expected Duke to go back inside but he didn’t move. He hummed a tune for a while, a melody that she didn’t recognise, and then sighed. Her eyes shifted to him. He was watching her. When he saw her looking, he smiled.
She wished that it was Julian with her.
“How are you holding up?” Duke’s words were quiet and cautious, giving Lauren the impression that he felt as though he was handling fragile glass that was likely to smash at any given moment.
She was stronger than he thought then, but weaker than she needed to be.
“This wasn’t exactly what I had imagined when I had wanted to know who I was and what I wanted out of life.” Lauren smiled back at him, genuine and heartfelt, amused by how she’d longed to discover who she was and now that she had, part of her wanted to go back to her old life. “It isn’t what I wanted.”
Duke placed his hand on her shoulder. The weight of it against her was comforting, the warmth of his hand noticeable through her top. He frowned, removed his dark grey suit jacket and placed it around her shoulders. It warmed her through and she took hold of both sides of it, pulling it as closed as possible, and smiled her thanks at Duke.
“There isn’t a person here who hasn’t been through this moment of disbelief and fear.” His voice was low, intimate. It unnerved her slightly but she didn’t pull away from him. Instead, she looked up at the moon, feeling drawn to it tonight. “None of us felt more than a shadow of what you must feel though.”
It was hard to drag her eyes away from the moon but she managed it. Duke’s brown eyes were black in the low light, dark pools that were bottomless and empty but shining with feeling. Was he flirting with her again? She was never sure whether Duke was just being friendly or whether he was after something more than that. Just a few days ago, she would have said that he was too old for her because he was in his forties. Now she couldn’t use that excuse, not when she wanted a man who was three thousand years her senior. Duke touched her chin, making her jump, and slowly tilted her head back.
“I never imagined that you would be so—”
The sound of sliding metal sent ice racing over her nerve endings. Duke’s hand fell from her face and the corners of his lips lifted into a smile. His eyes slid to the side, towards the staircase.
“All yours, big man,” he said with an easy, unaffected air. “I was just giving her a little needed company.”
He walked away, taking his jacket with him. Lauren’s gaze followed him but halted when she saw Julian. He blinked slowly. The tiny trace of moonlight made his eyes shimmer. He’d changed into whatever state it was that he normally fought in. His sword was slightly drawn, a sliver of blade reflecting the moon. He slid it back and looked at the staircase with a frown as the door below closed, and then back at her.
Did he perceive Duke as a threat?
Lauren dragged her courage up to her chest and turned to face Julian. He stared at her, his silver irises eerie but beautiful. She stepped towards him, until she could feel the heat coming from him. Her heart sped, driven by her rising fear, but she reached up towards his face. His gaze shifted to her hands but she didn’t stop. Not this time.
This time she was going to seize the moment.
She was going to be strong.
With trembling fingers, she unclipped the two bands of metal that held the thick funnel collar of his coat closed. She sucked in a sharp breath of anticipation that he stole when the collar fell open to reveal the defined line of his jaw and his straight nose—all masculine and classical beauty. Her gaze fell to his sensual dusky lips. They tempted her, begging for a kiss that she would all too willingly give him. Her tongue swept over her dry lips and she swallowed. Her whole body warmed when she thought about what she wanted him to do right now, and the things she dreamed he would do in private.
“Show me.” Her eyes locked with his.
A flicker of a frown creased his brow and his eyes searched hers, as though he was trying to read her mind.
Now that he was unmasked and she’d leapt the first hurdle with relative ease, she found the strength to continue. It was a shame that she couldn’t find her voice. It failed her, but where it did, a touch could succeed, and it would be a far sweeter form of success.
Her thumb caressed the line of his jaw, as light as she could manage, running over scratchy dark stubble until she reached his chin. A momentary shiver danced through her along with a sense of concern. Her eyes widened as she stared into Julian’s. Not her feelings but his. They were all there in his silver eyes. He was worried. He’d realised what she was asking of him.
Did he think that it would frighten her? She wanted to see what would happen to her. She’d seen the scars on his wrist. Bite marks. When his lips parted, she would see fangs instead of teeth. And she needed to see them. If he showed her, if she saw them with her own eyes, then maybe she would finally totally accept that this was real and that it would happen to her soon.
“Let me see,” she whispered, low and coaxing, no longer nervous.
His lips parted to reveal the barest hint of pointed canines. Caught in a trance, transfixed by the sight of them, she rubbed the pad of her thumb across his lower lip. It was soft and warm. He breathed in sharply, his reaction empowering her, and his mouth opened to reveal his fangs. They glistened in the moonlight, white and sharp, but they didn’t frighten her.
What did was the fact that his gaze shifted to her neck.
Her heart hammered against her chest, blood rushing through her head. She shifted her eyes upwards to his and froze, mesmerised by the way he was staring at her neck with such forceful hunger glowing in his eyes. The silence stretched between them, his eyes locked on her neck and her thumb against his lips. His breath was warm against it, coming out in short heavy bursts that matched her racing heartbeat. She licked her lips again, couldn’t stop herself from imagining what it would feel like to have his mouth on her throat, his teeth in her flesh. The very thought made her tremble and prickly heat scorched her body.
“Do you… need to… need… blood?” Those words were harder to say than she’d thought they would be. Her fingers shook against his jaw.
Julian’s gaze snapped to hers as though she’d startled him and he stepped backwards, leaving her standing with her hand held in the air. In an instant, his eyes were pale blue again.
“Go inside,” he said, tone commanding and urgent at the same time. His fists shook at his sides.
Lauren edged towards the staircase and then stopped, looking back at him. “Are you coming too?”
He shook his head. The muscle in his jaw twitched as though he was grinding his teeth. Clamping them shut? His body language screamed of restraint. Had her touch triggered this internal war she was witnessing? He seemed to be fighting something.
“Where are you going?”
Her heart missed a beat. He was hungry. She hesitated and then moved back towards him, her throat tight again. She didn’t care how he would react. She had to know.
“Can you feed without killing?”
He nodded and then his gaze dropped to her neck again. She touched it. His eyes switched briefly to silver and he backed away another step.
“Go inside.” This time his voice was strained, his eyes showing the struggle that she could now feel in him. They switched again, flashing between silver and blue, darting between her throat and her face. “I cannot be near you. Not when I am hungry. Go… stay with the others.”
“Why?” Lauren ignored him and took a step towards him. He countered it with another step back, keeping the distance between them steady. Sheer agony filled his eyes and his expression changed to one of pleading, as though he was silently begging her to do as he’d asked. She trusted him. He wouldn’t hurt her, not even when he was hungry. She believed that.
His eyes melted back to silver and, when he spoke, she saw his canines had extended again. “They will keep you safe.”
“No,” Lauren said with a frown, unwilling to go until he’d answered her real question. “Why can’t you be near me?”
His eyes went to her neck. He frowned. When he met her eyes, he looked pained.
“It is forbidden.”
Before she could ask why, he leapt over the edge of the building. She gasped and leaned over the railing, only to see him land on his feet in the street far below and then disappear. Her heart started beating again. He could have told her that he could fall that far and not be hurt.
Lauren stared in the direction he’d gone.
She touched her bare neck, his hungry look burned on her memory.
He could have told her why it was forbidden.
Did you enjoy today’s tease?
Caris Roane is also posting a Teaseday snippet, so be sure to check out her blog and read it! http://www.carisroane.com/2013/01/teaseday-2-5-2013/
Rescued from werewolves by the most breathtaking man she’s ever seen, Lauren is dragged into the fight of her life and a dark world she never knew existed. There, she discovers that she’s the latest reincarnation of a goddess and must drink the blood of her immortal protector, Julian, in order to reawaken and continue her three thousand year old mission to defeat Lycaon, the original werewolf.
With the help of Julian and an organisation of people with supernatural abilities, Lauren fights for her life, their future and the fate of mankind against Lycaon and his deadly army, but can she succeed when Lycaon has killed all of her predecessors?
Can she crack the armour around Julian’s heart and seize her happily forever after with him? And can Julian bring himself to trust Lauren with the fragments of his heart after everything he’s been through?
Available in e-book from: