Authors: Brenda Sparks
Tags: #Contemporary, #Paranormal, #Suspense
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
COPYRIGHT © 2014 by Brenda Sparks
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press, Inc. except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Contact Information: [email protected]
Cover Art by
Rae Monet, Inc. Design
The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
PO Box 708
Adams Basin, NY 14410-0708
Visit us at www.thewildrosepress.com
First Black Rose Edition, 2014
Print ISBN 978-1-62830-116-8
Digital ISBN 978-1-62830-117-5
Published in the United States of America
First and foremost, I want to recognize the readers,
who mean so much to me!
My deep appreciation goes out to my good friends
and beta readers Barbara, Elizabeth, Susan, Naomi, and Debra. Their insights and feedback have been invaluable to me.
Love and appreciation goes out to my family,
who gave me the kind of support I needed
while writing this book.
And last but most certainly not least,
I owe my sincere gratitude to my fabulous editor,
Callie Lynn Wolfe, cover artist, Rae Monet,
and the wonderful staff at The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
for helping me share the Alphas with the world.
Seven years earlier…
He stood stone still, wrapped in the darkness of the shadows. His crossed arms rested on the black T-shirt that stretched across his broad chest. Stunningly handsome with his chiseled features and platinum hair that shimmered down to his waist, he made most women, and even some men, sway like the pitch of the sea.
The music from the club pounded in his sensitive ears. One day he would learn to control the noise, but he was young, and had yet to hone that skill. No matter. It was not the music that brought him here this night. He came to this place for only one reason, to find a beautiful, delicious woman.
His gaze slid over the humans gyrating on the dance floor. They looked like fish flopping on the shore, gasping for air, awaiting death to overtake them. He smiled at the thought. They may not be gasping for air, but at least one of them waited for death—she just didn’t know it yet. His eyes slid over the horde, coming to rest on a buxom blonde. At least five-foot-ten by his estimate, she stood taller than most of the dancing mass around her. Her hair flowed around her shoulders, swaying in time with the music, but the
she moved attracted his attention most. Unlike the others on the floor, she was lithe, more graceful than the rest. Her every move fluid and smooth like fine cognac. She was…
He glided across the floor, the humans parting to give him room as if they could sense his inner predator and wanted to be sure they were not his main course. Moving with the grace of his kind, he approached the blonde, smoothly dancing his way in front of her. He caught her with his eyes, and her face went blank as he placed his hands on her hips. With him leading, they moved their bodies in perfect synchronicity to the beat. He maneuvered them smoothly through the crowd toward the exit as his two
flanked her rear, all four swaying to the rhythm of the music.
Once outside, he moved the party into the dark shadows of the alley behind the club. When they were deep enough to ensure they would not be disturbed, he released his enthrall. The leggy blonde blinked twice and shook her head, as if trying to sweep the cobwebs from her attic. She looked around in disbelief. “Where am…”
Cutting off her obvious question, he held up his hand. “You don’t need to finish that question. Everyone always says the same thing.” He addressed the other two with him. “Humans are so predictable.”
“I want to go back into the club.” She began to move down the alley on shaking legs.
He shook his head, tossing his platinum hair around his shoulders. “I’m afraid I can’t let you do that, pet.”
He heard her heart race, knew her blood flooded with adrenaline as she looked around and assessed her situation. Panic twisted the pretty features of her face when she noted the three muscular males surrounding her.
“Why not?” she asked, her voice shaky with fear.
“Because my friends and I aren’t done with you yet. It would be a shame for our transaction not to be completed.”
“Transaction?” She paused. “Do you want money? I don’t have much, but I’ll give you all I have.” She tried once more to back away, stepping up against one of his men. The body behind her was solid, walling her in. She looked over her shoulder to see an evil grin spread across his thick face.
“You’ll give us all you have.” When his man spoke, his fangs were visible, white and long. She must have noticed, because she blanched when he continued. “But it’s not money we are after.”
The three of them descended as one, bringing her down to rest on her back, uncaring that the hard asphalt would bite into her skin. Being the leader, he blanketed her with his body and sunk his fangs deep into her throat while his friends each sank their teeth into her wrists. She screamed in pain, flailing her legs wildly in an attempt to dislodge him, but the effort was for naught. She was no match for the three slaughterers.
They devoured the woman with such voracity they spilled as much of her blood as they drank. A puddle of dark red began to ooze past the woman’s feet, feet that stilled as her eyes rolled back into her head. He heard her heartbeat flutter, recognized the end neared.
The thrill of the kill almost kept him from sensing the vampire behind them. He tore his fangs away from her delicate neck and looked at the large male coming toward them. Muscular, he moved with a confidence that bespoke of years of training in the art of combat.
He knew a moment of panic, as the warrior pulled a blade from its sheath in a graceful slide and descended on the trio, just before his world went dark.
The penthouse kitchen was warm and welcoming, if not well used. Dark cherry cabinets descended from the ceiling. The black appliances matched the marble countertops which reflected the images of the people within. Tonight, the kitchen was abuzz with a flurry of activity.
Katrina Spencer glanced around the marble table. Her gaze landed on her best friend, Marcus Botticelli. Originally from Italy, he’d lived in the States so long he now called the U.S. home. His dark eyes and chestnut-brown hair complimented the form of his handsome face. His was a warrior’s face, one that could have been sculpted by the Gods for the battlefield. He wore a confident look that gave him a commanding presence.
Her eyes darted from her best friend to her co-workers, Dana and Cathy. They all sat in various stages of undress. A deck of cards, chips, and articles of clothing lay scattered about. Participating in their weekly strip-poker tournament, the group would most likely end the evening with at least a couple of people naked in one of the bedrooms.
The poker game always took place on Wednesdays because the girls didn’t work that night. The women danced together in an adult show, named Desire, which played five days a week at the club Marcus owned called Reapers. Performing that often kept them in fantastic shape. Shapes which Marcus claimed to appreciate without shame.
“Ha, I’ve got a full house. Ante up, Kitty Kat.” Marcus threw his cards down on the table and grinned.
Kat removed her bra, throwing it on the table before narrowing her eyes as she spoke. “I think you’re cheating. You’ve won almost every hand tonight. There’s no way you are that lucky.”
“What can I say? Lady Luck is with me tonight.” Marcus lifted her black lace bra off the table, put it on his head so that the cups covered his ears like a set of earmuffs, and sang the theme from the movie Weird Science. Kat, her friend Cathy, and Cathy’s sometimes girlfriend, Dana, all chuckled as they watched Marcus wiggle his body in his chair, dancing to the song he sang.
“Ohemgee, he’s hysterical,” said Cathy, between giggles. Cathy had been fairly fortunate herself and sat completely dressed, except for her missing shirt. “How did you ever get to meet this guy, Kat?”
Katrina glanced at Marcus and smiled. “It’s a long story.”
“Basically, I rescued her,” Marcus supplied, reaching for the cards.
“You did more than just rescue me, Marcus.” Kat turned her attention to the two women at the table, noting the looks of rapt attention on their faces. They wanted details, but there were only so many Katrina could share and keep Marcus’ secret safe. She promised her friend years ago she would never reveal what she knew about vampires, let alone that he was one. “I was attacked in an alley by three men. Marcus heard the commotion and came to save the day.”
“It was nothing.” Marcus gave an insouciant shrug as he started shuffling the deck.
Dana sighed. “Like a knight in shining armor.”
Marcus snorted and began to deal.
In more ways than one
. Kat took the card Marcus dealt reviewing it as she continued her story. “After he nursed me back to health, he offered me a job at his club.”
Cathy picked up her cards from the table, and perused them. “I bid five.” She tossed a chip into the middle of the table and looked at Kat. “How did you end up living here?” she asked, gesturing around the large home.
“I’m in.” Marcus tossed a chip down. “Once I found out about the hovel where she lived and the sleazy club she was dancing in, I couldn’t let her remain there.”
“I call.” Kat sent an appreciative smile his way and tossed in her bid. “He offered to let me stay here with him. Even gave me the master suite.”
“I knew there was a reason I liked this guy,” Dana jerked her thumb a couple of times toward the handsome male at the table. “I’ll take two.”
Marcus handed Dana two cards to replace the ones she discarded. “Anyone else want any?”
“No,” Cathy and Kat replied in unison.
“Then let’s see ‘em,” Marcus requested, laying his hand down on the table.
.” Katrina could not keep the incredulousness from her tone. She and the three other women each removed an article of clothing.
“Looks like it is definitely my lucky night,” Marcus remarked, doing his version of a seated happy dance.
“You still have my bra on your head.” Katrina laughed.
He cupped the bra over his ears with both hands. “It keeps my ears warm,” he quipped before starting into another round of singing the theme song from the movie Weird Science.
Dana giggled. “My deal, give me those cards Marcus, if you can stop your magnificent singing and dancing long enough.”
Marcus looked at the woman with a sly smile. “If you like my singing and dancing, wait until you see what I’ll do later for an encore, baby.” Marcus winked and slid her the deck.
Katrina watched in awe as Dana began to shuffle. Having worked in the casinos in Vegas, this was a skill her friend possessed on a grand scale. She sorted, flipped, and assembled a deck like no one else. She had her hands cupped ready to flip the two piles together when a figure appeared in the archway to the kitchen, drawing her attention.
Kat gazed at the man. His menacing, large frame filled the entryway to the kitchen. Hard sapphire eyes stared at them. His shoulder length hair, the color of dark chocolate, was tied back exposing the hard line of his jaw and perfectly chiseled features of his face with its scruffy five o’clock shadow. The black sweater he wore tucked into leather pants that were settled low on his hips, hugged his sculpted chest. A pair of shitkicker boots and a leather jacket finished his ensemble. The look on his face said he could kill you as easily as he could say hello, and Kat wondered just which of the two he would do to them.