Okay, so Allison isn’t able to post today because she has to shoulder the heavy burden of kicking back on a cruise, so Kim suggested that I put an excerpt from RAVENOUS today. I thought “oboy! great idea!” and was firmly convinced that today was Wednesday and went off to work, leaving a large note to myself to BE SURE that I posted when I got home so the post would go up first thing tomorrow. That’s me before coffee. I really don’t know what day it is.
So, anyway, here is the excerpt … late. This is NOT the teaser chapter from my website–this is not posted anywhere else. This is our hero and heroine meeting after a nasty fight with a possessed house. Hope you enjoy!
Holly saw Alessandro leaning against the side of the neighboring house, all but invisible in the shadows. He lifted a hand in silent greeting, the faint haze of the streetlights catching the pale fall of his long, curling hair and giving him an improbable halo.
The sight of him turned the tide on her ebbing energy. As she joined him, he straightened from his slouch against the stucco.
“I wanted to make sure you were all right. You scared me,” he said. Alessandro took her face in his hands.
There was something old-fashioned in the gesture, familiar and courtly at the same time. Her stomach squeezed, warm with a fleeting, half-conscious memory of him picking her up and cradling her body against his chest. Taking her to the ambulance himself.
The feel of his hands on her face was comforting. Vampire skin was soft as silk, cool as satin, and Alessandro had a sensitive, skilled touch. She wanted his hands all over her, wherever there was skin to be caressed, because a little contact wasn’t enough. That was the delight and the danger of his species. They always left their victims wanting that tiny bit more.
Holly drew a long breath. “I’m okay.” At the moment I feel more than okay.
“Thank you for getting me out of there.”
“Anytime.” Unexpectedly he bent, kissing her forehead, his lips cool and smooth. It was chaste. Brotherly. She pulled back, the innocent brush of lips burning her as surely as smoldering desire.
Feeling her start, Alessandro released her, eyes lowered. He recovered, giving her a bland smile. “Blessings on you, Holly. You should go, too. Go home and get some rest. Is there anyone staying with you tonight?”
Holly squeezed her eyes shut a moment, really not wanting to think about being alone. “I’ll be all right,” she replied, doing her best to sound casual.
“Are you sure? Can I take you home?”
She didn’t answer. The night had left her a raw wound. It was only now, when someone offered sympathy, that she fully allowed the pain of everything that had happened.
His hand stroked down the back of her head and neck, traveling strong and gentle over her shoulders. Her clenched muscles trembled, reluctant to release. She’d thought comfort was what she wanted, but now Holly wanted to weep. His kindness was making her hurt worse.
He kissed the top of her head.
At that moment, reaching for warmth was the only balm for her misery. She tilted her face up and took his hard, full mouth with hers. A quick, tentative pressure. She felt his shiver, the sudden, erratic beating of his heart. The vibration resonated through her flesh, heating things deep inside her body. His mouth was surprisingly warm, almost human-hot. They paused for a moment, their faces close together.
Holly’s blood raced to the pull of his maleness. It drew her like a physical force, as if she could crawl inside his lethal strength and wrap it around her for comfort. A sweet tension began to push against her fatigue, a warm, new curiosity.
She leaned in a little farther, taking his lips again. He pulled back, hesitating, but then returned the soft, subtle kiss with something far more demanding—and delicious.
He tasted of licorice—no, it was fennel seed. Vampires sometimes chewed it as an old-fashioned breath freshener. The cool, sharp flavor made her tongue tingle and she licked her own lips to get more of the sweetness. She slipped her arms around Alessandro’s neck, her hands tangling in the wealth of his hair. He smelled of leather and tobacco and some other, unique scent she could not place—the smell of him, of what he was. Holly drowned in it.
His hands held her, strong and steady. She kissed him more deeply, tongue glancing off the long, sharp edges of his corner teeth. Her lips quivered at the sensation, and she explored with the fascination of a primitive first seeing fire.
Alessandro’s hands were cupping her face, the strong length of his torso tight against her. She could feel the subtle motion of his whole being with each movement of his tongue and lips, his entire body dancing against her as he kissed.
Alessandro slid one hand up her ribs, over her breast, until he found the tab of her jacket zipper. He pulled it down slowly, the grate of metal on metal resonating with an explosive, erotic weight. About halfway down, he paused, pulling his hand back as if it had acted without his permission.
He shouldn’t have stopped. Holly leaned into him, her breasts aching. He touched her collarbone, the back of his fingers stroking the column of her neck.
“This isn’t what I meant for you,” he said, his eyes lost in shadow.
Holly’s heart thundered, heat roiling in her body. Slowly, she drew away, a tremor of yearning down low in her stomach. She wanted this angel of death as she had wanted nothing before. She had totally forgotten all her caution, all the reasons she had to draw a line between them.
Sometimes she really was too stupid to live. But I want him.
Holly panted in lungfuls of the cold Pacific air, feeling the wind on her hot cheeks. I can’t have him.
That kiss had gone far beyond anything she’d planned. She hadn’t expected him to respond with such fervor, but there was more than blood-hunger in his eyes. There was all the confused heat and hope of any lover. Who knew?
He pushed the hair from her face. “As much as I want this, Holly, I’m not safe. And you have a good life. You don’t need me. Not like this.”