paranormal vampire romance book
genre: paranormal vampire romance book
length: 30000 words / novella
released: November 2010
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Vampire for Christmas
It was one last mission. Shannon, a demon hunter with the agency, is looking forward to leaving behind the small town and the vampire she’s been stuck with for the past two years. Things are getting complicated fast and she wants out. A fresh start, free of her vampire partner, awaits her if she can survive their final mission and the lonely Christmas holidays.
It was one last mission. Rafe, a vampire doing time with the agency, watches it approach with dread weighing heavily in his stomach. Two years of working with Shannon has been difficult, especially since he started falling for her, but he doesn’t want their partnership to end. He has barely a few days to make her face her feelings and stop her from leaving, and he intends to do just that.
When a slimy demon threatens the season of peace and goodwill, it’s the chance Rafe has been waiting for and the moment Shannon secretly fears. Rafe’s determination to prise open her heart and her own resolve to keep it closed clash as violently as they do with the demon, and threatens to end as messily.
Can Rafe make Shannon see that his love for her is real and that she feels something for him too? Can Shannon face her fears and her past, and stop herself from running away from both? Will a wish on a star bring her what her heart truly desires—a vampire for Christmas?
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His favourite prey.
Rafe stood on the lawn, his dark eyes following her from room to room in her large house. Shannon disappeared from view on the top floor only to reappear in the living room. He couldn’t see much through the open curtains but his senses made up for what he lacked in vision. He tracked her with them, focusing until the dark world around him drifted into the distance and there was only her.
She was muttering.
A smile tugged at his lips.
How many times had he told her not to mutter?
She reappeared and stood in the middle of the living room, tying her long fair hair up into a ponytail, her gaze on the television. The twinkling lights hanging around the room cast a myriad of colours, turning the scene from warm to cold and back again. She looked pale tonight. Had she been getting enough sleep? They had last worked together two weeks ago and she hadn’t seemed herself. He had tried to ask her what was wrong, but had failed to find his voice, instead leaving her to mull over whatever was bothering her in silence.
Rafe had killed the vampire that night. She hadn’t even noticed it. He’d had to report it to the agency. In a toss up between her being angry with him for telling her superiors about her dangerous lack of concentration and her being safe, the latter would always win with him.
His chest ached.
He hadn’t seen her smile in a long time. He stood in silence, unmoving, absorbing this rare beauty before him. She was a goddess when she smiled, and it always tugged at his insides, luring him to her. She turned towards the window and her smile slowly faded, her expression turning distant.
What was she thinking in there?
She couldn’t see him. Human eyes weren’t sharp enough to pick him out in the shadows of the tall trees on her lawn. The lights in the room would steal what little night-vision she had. He could observe her from the darkness without fear, could watch her and think over the things that plagued him every night.
During the day, Rafe could almost pretend they didn’t exist. The sun stole the world from him and his emotions with it, leaving him in a deathly slumber. At night, when he came to her, when he saw her again, everything returned, and each time it came back stronger.
He knew that Shannon didn’t like working with him, and the past two years had been difficult for them both at times, especially at the start, but it didn’t stop him from feeling something for her. They had been through so much together, so many fights for their lives, so many long nights passed in quiet company when no demons showed up, and so many long conversations when her guard slipped. When they had first been assigned to each other, he had wanted out of the deal straight away, but now he almost looked forward to the times they were required to work together.
His dead heart called him a liar.
He didn’t almost look forward to it at all. He waited for it. Yearned, in fact.
Rafe sighed and leaned back against the broad rough trunk of the pine tree.
It was no use anyway.
Come the New Year, the agency would separate them and relocate them at opposite ends of the country.
He stared at her. She swept a few rogue strands of golden hair back, tucking them into her messy ponytail, and laughed at something. The light from the television flickered across her face. Rafe smiled at the same time as she did. The sight of her chased the winter chill from his body.
He was going to miss her.
His little vampire hunter.
He had never wanted a partner, but she had changed that. Now, he didn’t want any partner except her.
Shannon smiled again and zipped up her red jumper, until the tall collar of it covered her neck. She pushed shorter lengths of her hair behind her ears and then looked out of the window again, and he felt as though she was looking right at him. She was so beautiful when she was unaware of him. Naturally so too. No trace of make-up touched her oval face. No kohl to highlight the depths of her green eyes, or lipstick to enhance the sensual swell of her coral lips. Everything about her was natural, right down to her curvy shape. He had tended to her wounds a few times before, each time battling his desire as he swept his fingers over her soft skin and laid eyes on the toned body she hid beneath her clothes. She trembled for him sometimes and refused to look at him whenever she did, and he was convinced that her shivers weren’t born of fear. He was convinced that part of her was attracted to him too. Her gaze shifted and settled on something partially obscured by the pale curtains.
He frowned and tried to make out what it was.
Ragged dark shape that tapered upwards. Shiny coloured lights. Glittering orbs. Tufted strings of foil.
A Christmas tree.
It surprised him that she celebrated the occasion. He had thought she would be indifferent to such human things since she was a demon hunter, but there she was, standing in a room bathed in twinkling lights, tinsel and festive trimmings. The entire street was alive with flashing reindeers, singing Santas, and fake snow on roofs. No decoration touched the outside of her two storey home, but it was different on the inside.
Rafe studied her as she adjusted a bauble on the tree. He might have been talking about her. The exterior she showed to him and others was different to how she was on the inside. He knew that best at times like these when he was watching her from the shadows. This was the real her, the one she hid beneath her armour and would never let him see. This was his only way of seeing the side of her that he wished she would show to him, and he couldn’t help himself.
He told himself that it wasn’t stalking. It was observing. It was hunting. It was having the chance to see the woman he wanted her to be around him and taking it.
Shannon moved away from the tree, towards the back of the house, her hips swaying in her snug blue jeans. His gaze slipped to her backside and he growled, desire spearing him in the gut. He loved the way she walked even when she thought no one was watching. There was something sexy about it, alluring. He cocked his head to one side and fought the urge that rose inside him.
It was useless.
She would never be his.
She had looked at him differently sometimes, almost as if he was human, but those moments rarely lasted. The barriers were swift to come back up, protecting her heart before he could reach out and capture it. During their past few hunts, he had struggled with the right words, trying to form them into a semblance of order and put his feelings in a way that she wouldn’t reject outright, in a way that would make her see that his emotions were real and that he would never harm her. He had never found the perfect moment though, or the perfect words.
And time was running out.
The ticking clock made him reckless. It didn’t matter anymore if she rejected him. He couldn’t let the chance slip through his fingers again. It was now or never.
This was their last mission together.
He wouldn’t leave without trying to make her see what he felt for her.
Shannon came out of the back room, her jacket in her left hand, and stopped in front of the Christmas tree again. She touched the same bauble she had before but this time her expression changed, turning troubled and distant. What was on her mind? Rafe had seen that look before, normally when she was lost in her thoughts, like the time he had reported to her superiors. They had told him not to worry about it and that they would speak with her. He wanted to be the one to speak to her about it. He wanted to know why she had joined the agency. She was young, barely over thirty, and she had never mentioned her family. Did her reason for hunting demons have something to do with them? Did it have anything to do with vampires?
He only hunted his own kind because the agency had him by the balls on several murder cases. He was a vampire. All of his species were susceptible to temptation and he was far from saintly. He had fought his addiction though and had come out the other side a better vampire for it. A stronger vampire because of it. He didn’t kill anymore. He could control that side of him now, and maybe it was time he made the agency realise that and made them let him go.
Rafe shook his head at the way he sounded. Childish. Petulant. Everything that a vampire his age shouldn’t be. And why? Because he didn’t want to leave her. He didn’t want to be reassigned to someone else, or sent off to work alone. He wanted to stay here, with Shannon, where he belonged.
She tugged her short black wool jacket on and Rafe knew it was time to make a move. She was expecting him and he had never been late before.
He moved further back into the shadows on her front garden when she approached the window. She didn’t see him. She closed the curtains, hiding her from view, and he resorted to tracking her with his senses again.
A car passed along the street behind him. The sound of carol singers drifted on the chill breeze. Rafe looked up at the crisp night sky and the twinkling stars. Christmas. He couldn’t remember if he had ever celebrated it.
He had forgotten so much about his former life on becoming a vampire.
His gaze dropped and stuck on something on her porch.
Rafe raised an eyebrow and then smiled as he left his hiding place and walked towards the front door.
Some traditions he definitely remembered from his life as a human.
* * * *
There was a knock at the door. Shannon knew from the impatient clip it had who would be waiting on the porch, and she took her time because of it. It wouldn’t look good if she rushed to answer it. The last time she had opened the door within a minute, because she had been passing it at the time, Rafe had teased her the whole night about how she had been waiting for him on the other side, desperate to go out with him again, and how attracted to him she was.
Total crap of course.
She wouldn’t be attracted to him if he was the last man on Earth. Shannon smiled to herself. He wasn’t even a man. She would have to be down to the last vampire too before she would ever consider him in that way.
Shannon slipped a stake into the inside pocket of her thick black wool jacket and another into the back pocket of her dark jeans. It was always a good idea to be well armed when out on a hunt. She wasn’t about to let the holiday season lure her into a false sense of security. Wretched demonkind didn’t celebrate the occasion, and some of her busiest times had been over the Christmas period. Besides, the stakes weren’t just for use on the bad vampires. Sometimes she considered using them on the apparently good vampires too.
Shannon opened the door.
Rafe stood on the other side, six feet plus of dark handsome devil perfectly capable of pushing every right button in a woman.
At least, every woman except her.
The left side of his sensual mouth tugged into a half smile that revealed the tip of a canine and his deep brown eyes slid up towards the porch ceiling. Her eyes followed out of curiosity.
Her gaze snapped back to him. He had to be kidding. He stared at her, dark eyes locked on hers in a silent challenge, and rocked expectantly on his heels. He clasped his hands behind his bottom, the action dragging his long black coat back too, revealing the athletic physique that his dark shirt failed to hide.
Shannon stepped backwards into the safety of her house.
She could almost hear what he was thinking, could read it in his eyes. She didn’t care if he thought she was rude because she had never invited him into her home. She had neglected to do so for good reason. It was handy at times like these when he was making her heart jitter and pulse race.
She was not going to kiss him.
There were a million reasons why, but she settled on the safety aspect because her heart couldn’t overrule that one.
If she abided by tradition and kissed him, she would be placing herself firmly within his grasp, and that was a place she didn’t want to be. What would start as a harmless festive kiss would end as a bloodbath with his fangs in her throat. Just the thought of it happening shook her deep inside, dredging up memories best left forgotten and pain she had fought to erase. She would never let anything like that happen again.
Rafe continued to stare, his dark gaze cool but demanding.
Sometimes, Shannon wished the agency hadn’t paired them together. She had never wanted to work with one of nature’s freaks. She just wanted to kill them and get revenge for what they had done to her and her family.
“Never going to happen.” Shannon pushed past him, slammed the door behind her, and locked it. She didn’t break her stride. Before he could respond, she was at the end of her garden path and walking towards the centre of town.
She didn’t hear him move. One moment he wasn’t there, and the next he was keeping pace beside her. Her heart leapt at his sudden appearance.
“I told you not to do that.” She drew her hand away from her back pocket. It had jumped to the stake on instinct. One of these days, he was going to surprise her and she was going to give him a nasty surprise of her own.
“No need for that.” He appeared on the other side of her, his hand slipping over hers and easing it away from the stake. He smiled at her, his cool fingers lingering against hers. “There is a no staking your partner policy at the agency, remember?”
Shannon snatched her hand back and wished she didn’t remember. It was the only thing stopping her from killing him. A quiet voice at the back of her mind whispered that it wasn’t the only reason she couldn’t bring herself to stake him. She shooed it away.
“So, where are we heading?” Rafe’s deep voice swept around her, bathing her in warmth she tried to deny, and she kept her gaze fixed ahead. If she pretended he wasn’t there, she might just make it through the next few hours, and then she was home free. It was one last mission.
For some reason, that caused a dull ache to settle inside her.
She had thought she would be happy. She should be happy. No more working with the enemy. They were reassigning her to warmer climes and a partner-free role. She had proven herself worthy of working alone, just as she had wanted from the start of her career with the agency, and she was finally getting that wish.
So why wasn’t she happy?
“Town,” Shannon said distractedly, frowning at the pavement and trying to piece together an answer to her own question. There had to be a reason and it couldn’t be the vampire walking beside her. She had grown used to him. That’s all it was. He had become a sort of friend. The only person she actually spoke to apart from her handler and a few people at the agency, and she had never told them a thing about herself. She had never talked them, not as she had to Rafe. Shannon cursed herself. She should have kept her distance and not gotten involved, just as she had planned, but two years was too long to work with someone without saying anything to them.
Rafe had slipped in unnoticed, had passed the first of her defences and somehow got her talking one night, and since then, she couldn’t stop her mouth sometimes. Sometimes it all became too much and she had to speak to someone, and he was always there, willing to listen to her silly troubles and doubts about her ability to hunt, her skill, and her future with the agency.
And he always reassured her, and made her feel better.
“Anywhere particular in town?” Rafe said and her attention snapped back to him. She stared up at him, still half lost in her thoughts, and found herself looking straight into his eyes. Windows to the soul. Rafe’s hid nothing from her. They betrayed everything that he was feeling, and sometimes it frightened her.
Not when he was showing his vampire side. His pale eyes didn’t scare her or the malice that she saw in them, the hunger for violence and bloodshed. It was this side of him that scared her. The gentle side. The one who looked at her with warmth and undeniable affection.
“Are you feeling alright?” He cocked his head to one side, his gaze holding hers, sparkling with tender concern.
Shannon forced her eyes down to the pavement and studied the cracks as she walked, unable to bring her voice above a whisper.
There was a long pause, full of expectation and unspoken things.
Sometimes, when this feeling washed over her, she had a sense that he wanted to say something to her. He never had though, and she often found herself wondering what it was he couldn’t put a voice to.
“So, where are we going? Into town, or beyond town... perhaps you called me all the way out here on a freezing cold night just to make me go gift shopping with you. If that is the case, I have to say it is in poor taste, as I am a vampire... I do not celebrate Christmas as you do.”
“I don’t.” Shannon wished she could take those two words back. They were going to cause questions that she didn’t want to answer. She glanced at Rafe, briefly making eye contact, and then looked away to her right, her gaze eating the streetlamp lit grass and shrubs that she walked past. He sighed but said nothing. She waited a moment longer, afraid that he might just be building up to it, and then released the breath she had been holding. “The report states that there was a demon sighting in the local cemetery just outside the town centre.”
“Cemetery?” Rafe sounded positively disgusted.
She glanced at him again. He looked it too. He seemed to take it as a personal affront whenever they had to hunt demons in places like old churches, cemeteries and disused factories.
“Some demons have no taste.”
Shannon smiled. “Speak for yourself.”
He frowned at her but it didn’t stick. It melted into a smile that threatened to steal her breath and she averted her gaze again. What was she doing? Her heart skittered about in her throat and she knew he would be listening to it, and he would know that he was affecting her. She could do this.
It was just one more mission.
And then she would be able to escape these feelings.
She was not going to fall for him.
He was a vampire. She was a hunter.
Her gaze snuck back to him, studying his noble profile, and her heart thudded hard against her chest.
There was no love more forbidden than this.
"This novella is well written and a great holiday treat as well. Felicity Heaton has a way in her writing to ensure you don't stop until the end... This is a great read to sit around the fire place and submerge your senses in the world of Vampires, Hunters and Forbidden Loves. Enjoy this season with Heaton's Vampire for Christmas."
-- Angela, Nocturne Romance Reads -- 5 out of 5 (read the whole review)
"Vampire for Christmas is a story that is full of downright comical action that will make you laugh one minute and have you, well, umm..., cringing the next! On the flip side, the emotions that surround the romance are true to the story and make you feel for both the hero and the heroine. This story was a very nice read that you could easily finish in one sitting and walk away with a smile... I have read quite a few of Felicity Heaton's books. I love her style. She breathes life into plain characters giving them real-to-life emotions, transforming them into people you want to care about. With each new story, Ms. Heaton's voice is becoming stronger and I know when I pick up her books, I will not be disappointed. "
-- Talina, Night Owl Reviews -- 4 out of 5 (read the whole review)