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Authors: Lauren J. Hunter

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Dream Vampire

BOOK: Dream Vampire
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Dream Vampire

by

Lauren Hunter

 

Copyright 2013 Lauren Hunter

Digital Edition published by Lauren Hunter, 2013

Cover design by Ramona Lockwood at
RomanceNovelCovers.com

Digital formatting by
A Thirsty Mind

All rights reserved. No part of this book, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews, may be reproduced in any form by any means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without prior written permission from the author.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, business establishments, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

The scanning, uploading, and distributing of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the copyright owner is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

Dream Vampire

“Are you sure you don’t want me to walk home with you? I’m happy to do it. I know how you feel about New Year’s Eve, Alana. There’s no reason for you to force yourself to be such a tough cookie all the time.”

Alana eyed her friend, grateful for her understanding. She watched as Vivian stood in the soft circle of illumination cast by the streetlight and fussed with the temperamental lock on the door of the metaphysical bookstore and gift shop the two women co-owned. The shop had hosted its annual psychic faire and costume party, and both owners were pleasantly exhausted.

“That’s sweet, Viv, but it’s only a few blocks. I’ll be fine. It’s time for me to face my fears and to let go of the past. And, besides, I
am
a tough cookie!”

Vivian laughed and wrapped her arms around Alana, giving her a motherly hug. She took a step back, rested her hands gently on the younger woman’s shoulders, and looked into her eyes.

“Well, promise me you won’t stay home on your days off. Get out and meet some men. Have some fun. Hell, have some sex! You’re young and beautiful. You used to be quite a wild woman, if I recall. Any man would be lucky to have you. A heart can only grieve for so long.”

Alana smiled. “What would I do without you, my friend? If it hadn’t been for you, I’d have fallen apart when Stephen was killed. You were my lifeline. And you’re right. It’s time. I promise I won’t hide in my apartment.”

“Well, if you do hide in your apartment, I expect you to be working on another one of those sizzling vampire romance books you used to write. I’ve missed those libido-rocking tales.”

They both laughed.

 “Yeah,” Alana grinned, “like your libido needs any help. Go on, now. That delicious man of yours is waiting to pounce on your voluptuous body when you get home. Give Andrew a kiss for me. I’ll call you tomorrow.”

Talking about her husband always made Vivian smile wide, and right on cue the corners of her mouth quirked up. “Yes, all right, I’m going. Bye!” She waved over her shoulder.

Alana listened to the staccato click-clack of Vivian’s heels on the sidewalk as her friend hurried up the street toward home. As the sound diminished, she stood for a moment, relishing the silence, before turning in the other direction. The recent Solstice—the ancient celebration of the longest night—had tiptoed in, turning the wheel of the year without any of its usual blustery fanfare. Shop customers had complained about the lack of snow for the holidays, but Alana hadn’t noticed. Just getting through the last few weeks had taken all her energy. The smell of winter was in the air—the earthy fragrance of decaying leaves and wood smoke from someone’s fireplace. The full moon imbued everything with a surreal shine.

The sound of her solitary footsteps echoing down the empty street made Alana feel sad. Vivian was right. There had to be an end to grieving. Didn’t there? Was four years long enough? Was any time ever long enough?

It was hard for her to imagine writing another romance story. It used to be so easy, because she knew exactly what it felt like to be that much in love. She smiled as she remembered writing steamy sex scenes, and trying them out on Stephen. He was always an eager participant. But those days were gone. She didn’t know what to do about her loneliness. It was a constant companion. She was almost afraid to write those erotic scenes she used to enjoy so much. What would she do with all the desire she aroused in herself? It wasn’t the physical release—she could take care of that. It was the emotional need. She pulled her long, black velvet cloak tighter around herself. The night was clear and cold; she could see her breath.

The shop and her apartment building were in two different parts of Old Towne. She’d chosen the location of the building purposefully because it was surrounded by historical, gothic-inspired homes and a wickedly intriguing, scary-movie-type graveyard. She’d always loved anything paranormal or metaphysical.

Stephen had shared her love of all things spooky. A sad smile curved her lips as she thought about their first kiss as teenagers and how he’d bribed her best friend to send Alana alone to the cemetery. She wondered if every community used its graveyard as a popular make-out spot? They’d been so happy together. A frown overpowered the smile as she recalled the horrible men who’d attacked and killed him on New Year’s Eve, four years ago.

That was when she’d stopped living, too.

But Vivian was right. Time to rejoin the human race.

Suddenly something—a sound, a feeling? She didn’t know—sparked her awareness and Alana froze, startled to notice that her mindless walk had taken her to the very spot she avoided at all costs. As she recognized the hated wrought-iron gate, her knees threatened to give way. Heart pounding, she studied the huge monstrosity of a mansion rotting behind the gate and felt a wave of grief so powerful she instinctively reached out to steady herself by grabbing one of the cold bars. As if the touch burned, she pulled away, taking a deep breath while the events of that terrible night replayed in her mind.

It was here, at the entrance to this nightmare of a house, where her beautiful Stephen had been stabbed to death. Apparently, for the few dollars he had in his pocket. Immediately thrust into Memory Hell, she relived every detail, as if it were yesterday. She watched his life blood spread in a crimson pool as he slipped into death. His long, golden hair fanned out around his face, making him look like a sleeping angel.

They’d spent the evening at that cute little British-wannabe pub on the next corner, laughing and holding each other, dreaming of a brighter future.

The police had asked her that night and later, if she’d been aware of anyone following them. She’d been too distraught to be helpful back then, but she now recalled with absolute clarity the sounds of voices following them out of the pub. The murderers had been in the very same room with them, and for all she knew, they were still in the area. That realization tightened her stomach. She scanned the empty street, eyes exploring the shadows. No matter how afraid she was, she wouldn’t run away. She wouldn’t give in to the fear. She fingered the ritual dagger she carried in her cloak pocket. It would be put to good use if she ever ran across Stephen’s killers. Even if she died along with them. Their faces were burned into her memory.

As she stood there, lost in her painful reverie, she had the eerie feeling that someone was watching her. Chills crawled up and down her arms. Snapping out of her tortured recollections, she lifted her head, searching the area for the presence she sensed. Holding her breath, she steeled herself for yet another terrible experience at this spot. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught a flutter of movement. She swiveled toward the disturbance. Nobody was there.

She took a few tentative steps, still braced for danger. Half expecting the same murdering drug addicts to jump out and grab her, she readied herself to pull the dagger from her pocket. Her heart thumped so forcefully that she swore she could hear it. Sweat broke out on her forehead. There it was again. That ripple of movement at the edge of her vision. And a soft sound, like breathing.

Walking suddenly became difficult—as if lifting one foot, then the other, was more complicated than she could manage. She felt too tired to take another step. Her head filled with cotton, her mind went fuzzy. Stumbling over to the iron fence, she leaned back, resting against the bars. A wave of heat poured through her body and she opened the front of her cloak. It didn’t make any sense that she was burning up out in the cold night air. Maybe she was having one of those hot flashes Vivian always talked about.

A fingertip brushed across her cheek. She gasped. Hands roamed over her body—hands she couldn’t see, belonging to nobody. She blinked her eyes repeatedly, just to make sure they were really open. She moaned without meaning to. The hands cupped her breasts, stroking them gently and pulling on her nipples. It had been so long since anyone had touched her. That could be the only plausible reason she was having such a graphic hallucination in the very place her husband had died. How odd that she’d chosen tonight to lose her mind completely.

She had the absurd idea that maybe it was Stephen’s ghost touching her. She almost hoped it was. Then she heard a whisper in her mind, “Not a ghost.”

The hands slid down to the juncture of her thighs, and she felt a palm massage her mound through her clothing. She felt the slick heat pooling between her legs and longed to invite the imaginary finger to slide inside her. Her clit ached to be stroked. Within seconds her invitation was accepted and she felt herself building toward a powerful orgasm. She moaned loudly. Imaginary lips pressed against hers and a soft, wet tongue pushed into her mouth as she came on a ripple of pleasure.

“Miss? Are you all right?”

Alana’s eyes flew open. She didn’t remember closing them. A gorgeous man was asking if she was all right. She didn’t know if she was all right. The only thing she remembered was the bizarre feeling of having an orgasm for no apparent reason while standing on a public street. She was so cold her teeth chattered and her cloak flapped in the wind. She pulled the edges together and fastened the buttons.

The man stepped closer. “Shall I call for help? Is there anything I can do?” he asked in a deep voice with a sexy English accent.

“No. Thank you. Don’t trouble yourself. I must’ve been more tired than I thought. I’ll be fine now.”

In the glow of the antique street lights, she studied him. He was breathtakingly handsome—like he’d stepped off the cover of a romance novel. A dream come to life, with very long, dark brown hair and sparkling blue eyes. Or, at least they looked blue in the soft light. His hair and eyes weren’t very different from hers. But he had perfect, chiseled features with a beautiful, generous mouth. He was several inches taller than her average height. His skin was pale—as if he’d been indoors recovering from an illness, or something. He must have attended a costume party, because he wore a long cape draped over his broad shoulders, and underneath that, a white shirt with ruffles at the neck and wrists. Or, maybe he really had just posed for a romance cover. And he smelled incredible—something spicy and masculine. He must be a visitor to the neighborhood because she’d never seen anyone like him in the area before.

She suddenly snapped back from her sensuous fantasy, realizing he’d continued talking to her while she appreciated his obvious charms, and she hadn’t answered.

He was standing very close to her now, and had taken one of her hands in his.

“Miss, please. You seem dazed. Allow me to escort you to safety.”

She looked down at her hand in his and started, instinctively pulling it away. Was she out of her mind, letting a strange man touch her? Being out of her mind seemed to be a foregone conclusion. It was time to make a quick exit. Shifting her gaze to his face, she mumbled, “I do apologize. I don’t know what’s wrong with me this evening.” She pointed down the street. “I haven’t been myself since leaving work a little while ago. My mind seems foggy.”

He turned his head from side to side, obviously looking for her place of business. “Where do you work that would keep you until 1 a.m.? And on such a cold, lonely night?”

“What do you mean 1 a.m.? We closed the shop at midnight and it’s only a ten-minute walk to where we are now. Your watch must be fast.” Her tone was less than friendly. Something about this man felt disturbing—dangerous.

He frowned, cocked his head and gave her a concerned look. “Ah, I see. So, you believe it’s shortly after midnight now? Have you lost time before?”

“I don’t
believe
anything. It
is
just after midnight. I’ve never lost time. Ever.”

He looked into her eyes and she felt immediately dizzy. “I... I guess I don’t really feel very well. I’d better sit down.” She started to slide down the fence toward the sidewalk, and the man scooped her up into his arms as effortlessly as lifting a small child.

BOOK: Dream Vampire
12.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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