It’s time for Snippet Saturday! Each week has a theme or is author’s choice. This week the theme is Jobs.
This week my snippet comes from Forbidden Blood, which a stand alone vampire romance novel, and another of my favourite stories.
It’s yet another long one this week… I really will get my snippets under control soon and actually resembling snippets. Promise! Since the subject this week was Jobs, I couldn’t resist using a scene from this vampire romance book as it perfectly suited the theme. Kearn, a vampire of Noble blood, has just saved a human female, Amber, from a vampire intent on taking her rare blood. He’s brought her back to his home, has bandaged her cut hand, and used that opportunity to taste her blood to confirm what she is and also to give him some control over her so he can keep her safe from his target.
Kearn focused on thinking over everything that had happened tonight. The woman was lucky that he had been patrolling the area and had smelt the blood. It had been the vampire’s blood that had caught his attention, carried on the night air in a rich vein that had been easy to detect. Unfortunately, he couldn’t use its scent to recognise the man. Vampire blood all smelt the same. Heavy and strong.
Human blood was a light fragrance. He resisted the temptation to take a deep breath and see if he could smell her blood. He was almost in control again.
The knife, the vampire’s blood, the man’s appearance, none of it was the break he needed.
But she was.
He looked at himself in the mirror again. Green eyes welcomed him back, cold and empty, familiar in their darkness. He turned away from them, hating the sight, and walked back through the bedroom to the living room.
The woman was still fraying the ends of the bandage around her right hand. Her gaze fixed on him and she frowned. Water dripped from the jagged tips of his silver hair and soaked into his black shirt. He raked his hair back, picked up the bowl and paper towels, and walked past her to the kitchen area. Her eyes followed his every move, her focus intent on him. She could look all she wanted. She wasn’t going to figure him out, not even with her blood in his veins.
“Are you feeling any better?” Kearn ignored the warm sedated buzz in the depths of his bones that constantly switched between whispering hungry words to him and making him want to smile. He felt normal. There was no reason to get ideas about her blood. He was in control and she was nothing but a lead.
He couldn’t kill a human.
“Just now.” Her voice ran as deep in his veins as her blood, teasing his senses. The soft sound of it wrapped around him, caressing him and making him want to look at her. He ignored it too. It was just her blood affecting him. “My head feels clearer.”
That was what he had wanted to hear. It was difficult to use her blood in his veins purely to control the effect of the vampire’s on hers rather than controlling her, but he would keep it up for as long as he could. Soon her blood should have cleared enough that the vampire wouldn’t be able to control her at any great distance.
Kearn filled a glass with water and carried it back to her. He placed it on the coffee table in front of her and then sat beside her again. The smell of her blood drifted on the air and flowed down into his lungs with each breath he drew, pushing at his restraint. He had never smelt anything as alluring and tempting.
The connection between their blood shattered.
“What was he?” she said without any hint of trepidation.
“I’m sorry?” He tried for confused while he struggled against her blood and the vampire’s. The bastard was pushing for control.
The woman scratched at the bandage. Kearn kept an eye on her. If she made any move to open the bandage, he would stop her and restrain her. Until then, he would keep fighting the vampire’s hold over her.
“I’m not crazy, and I know what I saw would make me sound as though I am, but I wasn’t imagining it.” Her hand left her other one and settled on her thigh.
He made the mistake of looking at it. There were damp spots on the black material of her trousers. Blood. Delicious, fragrant, blood. Diverting his eyes before they changed again, he stared out of the window.
She leaned forwards into view and frowned at him. “That man had fangs. They couldn’t have been fake. It all felt so real. He wanted to drink my blood… I felt it inside me. Some dark hideous hunger. He had some sort of power over me. Now either tell me I’m insane and heading for a spell at the nearest asylum, or tell me the truth. He’s a vampire.”
Kearn’s silver eyebrows rose. There was no point in lying to her if she had already figured out what she was up against and believed it.
She gasped and grabbed his hand. The contact sent a sharp jolt through him and pushed at his control. Her blood called to him. The same dark hideous hunger she had sensed in the man. He fought his desire to look at the smooth column of her throat, knowing that if he did he wouldn’t be able to stop himself from licking it and acting out his desire to sink his fangs into the soft flesh and drink his fill of her.
Instead, he kept his eyes fixed on her face and was struck by a different sort of hunger.
She was beautiful.
He had never paid much attention to humans. They had been nothing more than a mission to him for centuries and only a meal before that, but now he had stopped to look at one and some part of him wished he hadn’t because she mesmerised him.
Her wide round hazel eyes were fascinating. The overhead lights of his apartment played on them, highlighting the flecks of gold and green. Long wavy brown hair caressed her face, cascading over slender shoulders. Rosy lips spoke to him and he didn’t hear a word they said. He watched the way they moved and the sensual shapes they made, and the tiny flash of soft pink tongue against straight white teeth.
“What’s a Venator?”
That question broke his reverie.
“You?” She stared blankly at him. No, through him. She was trying to remember something. “I knew that word. I wanted you to kill that man and then I wanted to stop you. I knew you. There was something else too. I wanted to taste my blood.”
She sounded as confused as she felt.
“The man desired to test you to see if you were a Source Blood.”
“Source. I knew that word too and that it meant something different. You said my blood is valuable.”
“It is.” He picked up the glass and offered it to her. The water would thin her blood and lessen the vampire’s control over her, but it would weaken his too. It was a risk he had to take. “It is very valuable on the black market but also extremely illegal. My job is to find those who dare break the law by attempting to purchase, sell or harvest the blood.”
No fear touched her features but he could feel an underlying sense of nerves in his veins that belonged to her.
He studied her blood and the strength flowing through it surprised him. Her blood within him, and the vampire’s within her, was enough to convince her that she wasn’t going insane and that everything that had happened tonight was real. She understood and accepted it, and had even found some sense of resolve to face it all. He had expected her to be more fragile and sensitive, to panic and plead him to protect her. Her calm acceptance of the situation made him reassess his earlier thoughts about her. It wasn’t the vampire’s blood in her veins that made her unafraid. It was her own natural strength, and it only added to her beauty.
“Why is it worth so much? Are all humans Source Bloods to vampires?” She took the glass, tilted her head back and drank some of the water.
Kearn refused to look at her throat.
“No. Source Bloods are very rare. It refers to a specific gene in your blood that affects vampires. Vampires believe that millennia ago, they branched away from humanity and evolved separately. At that time, the same gene in their blood was stronger. Over the generations, it weakened to what it is today and has remained that way.”
She frowned and lowered the glass. “So I share a gene with vampires?”
He nodded. “Your bloodline did not evolve and gain the ability to use the power that gene gives you.”
She swallowed and a sense of unease ran in his veins. Her blood. It was potent. He was constantly aware of it and how it mixed with his, stirred it to a frenzy of hunger and need. Kearn shifted his focus back to her, using all of his strength to keep it pinned on her and not his blood.
“I’m like a vampire?”
“No, you are human, but different. Special.”
A hint of colour touched her cheeks and she dropped her gaze. He raised an eyebrow at her reaction and cocked his head to one side. Her blood whispered warm words at him, teasing him into submitting to her. She had watched him earlier when he had removed his shirt and sometimes her pupils dilated until they darkened her hazel eyes. Desire? Was she attracted to him? A human? As though he could desire such a weak creature in return.
The colour on her cheeks deepened, sending a gut-tugging jolt through his blood, and his lips parted. He swallowed when she shyly raised her eyes and looked at him through her dark lashes. His body burned with the desire to sweep her into his arms and taste her again. Kearn forced his eyes down to the floor. It was just her blood commanding him to do as she wanted. It wasn’t his desire.
It couldn’t be.
He cleared his throat and frowned, trying to make sense of the feelings running riot in him. Not all of them could be hers. Some of them had to be his.
“Do vampires only drink from people like me?” Her voice shook and he was tempted to touch her hand again to reassure her, but restrained himself.
If he did such a thing, he would have a hard time resisting pulling her against him and slaking his growing thirst for her. Taking her blood had been a mistake. He had less control over himself than he had anticipated. He had forgotten how potent Source Blood was.
“Vampires gain sustenance from all human blood. Source Blood is different. It is a drug to vampires. Most only drink enough to produce a natural high that makes them giddy and removes their inhibitions.” He battled his need to look at her throat. “Others are seeking something more sinister. In a large enough dose, it temporarily restores the strength in the shared gene, enhancing them and reinstating the devastating power they once commanded. With enough Source Blood in their veins they would become living gods.”
His gaze slid to her neck and he turned away, cursing himself for tasting her. He had needed to be sure that she was a Source Blood though and needed to calm her enough to get answers.
“That man knew I was a Source Blood and that’s why he followed me?”
“No.” Kearn shook his head, as much to clear it of the whispered command to feast on her as to answer her. “Source Blood is difficult to detect if the human is not bleeding. You said he gave you his blood. He was seeking to turn you compliant so he could kill you. When his blood joined with yours, he realised that you were different. Your blood saved you.”
“It doesn’t feel as though it saved me. I feel as though it damned me.”
Would she rather be dead than in this situation? He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. He couldn’t sense any fear in her, but there was an edge to her eyes, a look that said she was desperately trying to be strong but everything was beginning to take its toll on her.
“I will protect you,” he said and felt her look at him. He couldn’t meet her gaze, not yet, not until the need to look at her throat and taste her blood had passed again. “If you help me, we can find the man who hurt you. I have been searching for him for three years. If we can capture him, you can go back to your life. No one else will know what your blood contains.”
“What will happen to him?”
“He will be sentenced.” He looked at her now, trusting himself not to change and frighten her. She wasn’t likely to help him if she knew that he was also a vampire.
“Are you a cop? Is that what a Venator is?”
“No—sort of. I have to carry out the sentence on the people whose names are given to me by my… bosses.” He had never needed to explain his position before. It was difficult to put it into words that didn’t sound medieval or make him a murderer. He hunted those the Sovereignty deemed had broken the law. He sentenced them to eternal darkness. Usually they knew the name of the law-breaker. This time there wasn’t one. There had only been a location to start looking. “Will you help me?”
He didn’t really need her to answer. Either way he wasn’t letting her leave. He needed her and she was going to help him, although he would prefer that she did so of her own free will. Forcing her wouldn’t solve anything but he would if she left him no choice.
“He’ll come after me.” She looked down at her hands, playing with the bandage again. Her pulse began to pick up pace and he sensed her rising panic. Was she remembering what had happened to her? Her blood inside him whispered of fear and death. She looked up at him, blinked away her tears and nodded. “I’ll help you if you promise to keep me safe.”
“It is a promise.” Kearn tried to think of how humans made deals. He held his hand out to her.
She slipped hers into it and shook it a single time, and then her hand lingered in his.
And his eyes fell to her neck.
Did you enjoy the snippet?
More about the book:
In a dark world where vampires exist and where Source Blood, a rare human blood type, can bestow godlike powers upon them, the vampire Venators of the Sovereignty fight to protect the humans by banishing those who drink it to the endless dark.
Exiled from his family and with only his duty to sustain him, Kearn has been on the trail of an elusive Source Blood abuser for three years. When he saves a beautiful human female from the vampire’s grasp, it turns out she’s the lead he’s been waiting for. Amber is a Source Blood and the perfect bait, but for who?
As they race to catch the vampire and survive the cruel games he plays, Amber is pulled deeper into Kearn’s world and discovers the painful secrets he hides behind his handsome but emotionless exterior—hurt that she has the power to heal if she is brave enough.
Forbidden Blood is a dark, sensual tale of betrayal, revenge and a love that knows no bounds.
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