2017-07-31

Excerpt from In the Dark

The Children of Night series returns today! Needless to say, I'm very excited about that. The first six books (there are two more in the works) are currently on sale for only .99 each as part of Entangled's Paranormal Sales Event. 



Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo


Looking back, I'm not sure if I ever actually shared an excerpt from the first book, In the Dark, here on my blog. Well, there's no time like the present! So here's the new blurb, and an excerpt. Enjoy! 

Blurb

Vampire Conrad Quintano has been around for centuries—long enough to know falling for a human is a terrible idea. Much less falling for adventure-seeking hippie Desert Rose and agreeing to raise her babies.

Raised in virtual isolation, Marc and Julie Fischer have never known their unique status in the world. But once they’re in San Francisco, the family reunion is nothing like they anticipated and they’re thrust into a world they’re completely unprepared for.


Excerpt

“Sounds like someone’s throwing a party,” Marc observed as they stepped inside the dark, paneled entrance.

“You think maybe it’s for us?” Julie suggested hopefully. “You know, like a surprise homecoming party or something? I mean, we still don’t know why we’re here so…it could be anything, right?” 

It had been a shock to be so suddenly summoned here, with no explanation offered, after years of
being told that either the time or the circumstances weren’t right.

Marc shook his head. “Little noisy for a surprise, don’t you think?” He put their bags on the floor next to the ornate brass coat tree and glanced distractedly around the empty foyer. “I dunno. Something doesn’t feel right.”

They hesitated for a moment longer but no one appeared 
to greet them. Curious, they followed the sounds—the laughter, the music, the chatter of voices—toward the rear of the house.

The closer they drew to the noise, the stronger the smells became. Wine and incense, arousal and sweat and most potent of all, layered beneath the rest, the sweet, rich, coppery scent of fresh blood. Julie’s mouth was watering by the time they reached their destination.

“Holy shit,” her brother muttered, stopping dead in his tracks. Julie found herself nodding in agreement. The center of the large, dimly lit room had been cleared of furniture to serve as a dance floor. Most of those dancing were barely clothed and phenomenally well-toned and all of them, male
and female, vampire and human alike, wore expressions of almost orgasmic bliss.

“And then some.” Julie’s gaze traversed the room’s perimeter, which seemed to have been lined with a succession of chaises and sofas and piles of pillows, all occupied by small groups feeding from one another. “Wow.”

Suddenly, a loud commotion arose from the low dais at the far end of the room. “Ay, ay, ay,” a familiar voice called out in greeting. “Mis queridos— you’re here!” Make that almost familiar. Julie stared in consternation as a tall, sculpted fiure rose from the chaise upon which he’d been reclining and hurried forward to greet them. The voice was Damian’s, all right, but the tone—high-pitched and
excited—was entirely more Chihuahua-like than she’d been expecting.

Marc gave a strangled gasp as their uncle strode toward them, his arms held wide, his long black hair streaming out behind him. He was wearing an open, floor-length, red- and black-patterned kimono over gauzy black pants—and a sly smile that suggested he knew exactly the kind of impression he was creating and was loving every scandalous second. Gold rings glittered on his fingers, his ears and both nipples. The crowd parted deferentially to let him pass.

“Stop staring,” Julie whispered urgently to her brother. “It’s not like we didn’t know.” Damian had never kept his sexual orientation a secret, but even so, they’d never seen him quite like this before. Tonight, he wasn’t just out of the closet, he’d brought the whole closet out with him.

Before Marc had a chance to resist, Damian swept him up in a big hug and kissed him loudly on both cheeks. “Ah, mi amor,” he crooned, pinching his cheek as he let him go. “It’s been too long.”

Next, Damian turned his attentions on Julie. As his arms closed tightly around her she found herself transported back to her childhood. This was the Damian she remembered. Big, warm, comforting. The uncle who’d read her bedtime stories and tucked her in at night. Who’d wiped away her tears when she fell and skinned her knees—never once pointing out that the scrapes had sometimes healed before the tears even started.

Julie returned his embrace. She went up on her tiptoes and kissed his cheek. “Nice threads, Uncle Damian,” she whispered in his ear. “I like this whole ‘Queen of the Damned’ look you’ve got going on.”

Damian threw back his head and roared with laughter.“That’s my baby girl.” Pressing an enthusiastic kiss on Julie’s forehead, he smiled at her approvingly. “I knew I could count on you, chica.” Then he drew back and looked at them both. “Now, mis niños, let me look at you. How was the train? Did
you have a good trip? You must be famished.” He waved a hand at the surrounding crowd and suggested. “Why don’t you go find yourselves something to eat?”

“Where’s Conrad?” Marc asked, ignoring the pleasantries, startling Julie with his abruptness. His gaze scanned the room. “He’s not here. Where is he?”

“Oh, who knows where he’s gone!” Damian heaved a long-suffering sigh. “That man. Always running here, flitting there—who can keep track? Entre nous? Given all the places he tries to be in at one time, I’m almost afraid the big silly has begun to believe he can turn into a bat.”

“Has Conrad left town?” a male voice inquired. Julie stared at the new vampire with interest. He was slim with auburn hair; not quite as tall as Damian. He had a delicious cleft chin and an unsettling inquisitive gleam in his hazel eyes. “I hadn’t heard.”

A shadow passed through Damian’s eyes, something dark and dangerous, and then it was gone. He smiled at the newcomer. “My dear, dear Armand, I’m sure your guess is…oh, well, let’s see…probably almost as good as my own, n’est pas? But, wherever he’s gone, I’m sure he’ll be back to
delight us all again very soon.”

“What do you mean you don’t know?” Marc demanded, the tone of his voice practically turning the words into an accusation. “I thought you said Grandfather wanted to see us? Isn’t that why we’re here? Why would he leave town if he knew we were coming? And…what on earth are you wearing, anyway?”

Julie stared at her brother, perplexed. What was wrong with him? It wasn’t like Marc to be so confrontational. It wasn’t like either of them, come to think of it. At almost forty years old, they both still found it nearly impossible to act counter to the expressed wishes of the two men who’d raised
them. Especially Conrad. Her pondering was cut short when her attention was snared by a soft, amused chuckle.

“Grandfather?” A disbelieving smile had curled Armand’s lips. His gaze flicked curiously over them all. “Are you referring to Conrad? I’m sure he must love being called that! But, come, Damian, you must introduce me. Are these yours?”

Once again, Julie caught sight of that dark gleam in Damian’s eyes. He flashed a look at both twins, warning them to silence, before turning back to Armand with another saccharine smile. “Why, yes, Armand, indeed they are. And now you know all my little secrets. But, aren’t they just too precious? This is Julie and her brother, Marc. Marc’s a little cranky at the moment. He gets that way when he isn’t fed.”

“Who doesn’t?” Armand sent a cursory, disinterested nod in Marc’s direction before bowing low over Julie’s hand. “Mademoiselle. Enchanté.”

Julie shivered in delight as he pressed his lips to her hand and the warmth of his kiss traveled all the way up her arm. “Likewise.”

Armand’s eyes met hers and he smiled in gentle amusement. Then he turned his quizzical gaze on Damian.

“I must admit, mon ami, you’ve caught me off guard. I didn’t think your tastes ran in quite this…direction?”

“Oh, Armand.” Damian raised his eyes to the ceiling and sighed theatrically. “You disappoint me. Can you not see that they’re twins? How could I break up such a pretty set? It would have been…gauche.”

Relieved laughter burst from Armand’s lips. “Of course. My apologies. I should have guessed it was something like that.” He eyed Julie one more time, a little more intensely than before, then he gave her hand a final squeeze and let go.

Tres bon. I’ll leave you three to your reunion,” he said as he bowed once again. “Au revoir.”

Damian watched as Armand disappeared back into the dancing crowd, then he turned his attention back to the twins.“Watch yourself around that one,” he advised Julie sternly. “Don’t get too close.” He regarded them thoughtfully for a moment, then suggested, “In fact, I think it might be best if
you two were to wait for me in the kitchen until I’m done here. It’s down at the end of the hallway, toward the back of the house. Go eat. We’ll talk later.”

Disappointed, Julie was turning to leave when Marc shook his head. “No. We’ll talk now. I’m not going anywhere until you tell me what’s going on. Where’s Conrad?”

“Marcus,” Damian’s voice, though pitched low, held a note of warning. “You will do as I tell you. Conrad always said you two couldn’t handle this environment yet. This is no time for you to be proving him right.”

Julie held her breath as the two men stared at each other, each refusing to back down. Finally, Damian sighed. “I have no time for this,” he grumbled as he shook his head. He looked to be about equal parts aggravated, worried and quietly proud. He turned away abruptly, so suddenly that his robe flared out around him. Clapping his hands to be heard above the music he called, “Out! Out! Vayamos! Party’s
over! Everyone go home!”

A chorus of disappointed groans and half-hearted protests rose from the crowd but Damian stood fim. Smiling serenely, he repeated the order. “Out! Everybody. Now.” The authority in his voice was such that even Julie found herself once again turning to leave. She saw Marc begin to do the same until Damian reached back and grabbed hold of their wrists. “
Not you two.”

The disgruntled guests filed slowly out through the doorways. Armand was among the last to leave. The parting glance he shot in Damian’s direction was filed with seething animosity. Julie stiffened in alarm, but Damian appeared not to notice.

Finally they were alone. Damian sighed as he let go of their wrists. Reaching for the tiny strings that fastened his kimono he drew the garment around himself and secured it in place. “Now, then,” he said as he threw an arm around each of their shoulders and propelled them from the room. “Let’s go down to the kitchen and have something to eat while we talk, shall we?” Drawing them both even closer,
he pressed a kiss against the side of each of their heads. “I baked cookies. Who wants chocolate chip?”





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