I hope you’ve seen the news in the last week or so that I’ll be doing some more Nocturne Bites in 2011. Very excited about that, especially since one of them will be a very special short story with Diana Reyes and Ryder Latimer, two of my all time favorite characters. I’m also excited because in January and February 2012, THE CALLING vampire novels return with two new stories, tentatively titled ARDOR CALLS and VENGEANCE CALLS.
ARDOR CALLS features another favorite of mine, Stacia, a two thousand year old Roman vampire who is growing disgruntled with so many things in her seemingly endless existence. You may remember Stacia’s first appearance in DEATH CALLS when Stacia sets her sights on a romance with either Ryder or Diana. But Stacia also had her dalliance with Blake from FURY CALLS in a short novella that I did for Harlequin – DESIRE CALLS.
Will Stacia find true love in ARDOR CALLS? I think she’ll meet her match in sexy Alex Garcia, who you almost met in DEATH CALLS. Diana Reyes’s ex-lover is caring, honorable and way too loving not to convince Stacia that an existence without love isn’t much of a life.
In the meantime, here is a little excerpt for you to whet your appetite for a little more of Stacia. You can also click here to read the entire novella for free – yes, that’s for free! — at eharlequin.com.
The piazza always provided a fine selection for dining, Stacia thought as she sat on the railing along the edge of the Bernini fountain in Rome’s Piazza Navona. She gazed at the choices available in various spots around the square. French. German. Italian, of course.
Her stomach rumbled with hunger. It had been a day since she had eaten. Placing a hand over her belly, she rose and sashayed toward her first pick, but as she neared the Frenchman, she realized he was beyond loaded. The stench of cheap wine clung to his shirt and oozed from his pores.
Shaking her head, she thought of the oft repeated adage all those television chefs used: If it’s not good enough to drink, it’s not good enough for cooking. Or in her case, for eating. That cheap stuff just left a bad aftertaste in her mouth along with a wickedly nasty buzz.
She preferred something cleaner on her palate tonight.
Which definitely had her bypassing the Aryan god she had noticed just a short distance away from the Frenchman. Germans were always a trifle heavy in her belly. However, the broad set of his shoulders and well muscled chest made her reconsider. She loved her men big and strong and so she lingered by the front of the outdoor café where he was seated. Even made eye contact with him for a moment.
Amazing crystal–blue eyes twinkled with interest. That much was clear.
Stacia smiled back, thinking that maybe he might be worth a nibble after all. Maybe they might actually even click, finally providing her with true pleasure after nearly two thousand years of undead life.
Mr. Tall, Blond and Brawny rose from his chair, seemingly intent on making a move in her direction, but suddenly an equally tall, blonde and muscled woman joined him. Seeing that his attention was on Stacia, his companion began a harangue loud enough to make heads turn. The man plopped down into his chair, looking like a dog with its tail tucked between his legs.
No spirit. That was so not good, Stacia thought and moved onward, still in search of something to satisfy her hunger.
She needed a man who could not only take a lickin’, but gave as good as he got. And not just when he was in a fight. It had been a good long while since any man had really satisfied her in bed, one of the downsides of having lived so long. Of being a vampire elder.
Even her own kind avoided her at times, aware that with her age came not just vast power but also vast hunger. For blood. For sex. For control over lesser vamps. She didn’t want to admit that, in her case, she still hungered for love. For real passion and desire.
Things she hadn’t felt in way too long.
Some of the other elders said she was foolish to yearn for such things. That she should let go of the last little bit of humanity within her that prompted such desires. Then, and only then, could she truly relish the immense vampire power that her age provided.
Stubbornly, though, Stacia refused to relinquish that lingering trace of humanity. For want of something more than an eternal existence filled with only…
A fine–looking American caught her eye as he laughed at the antics of his rowdy friends in front of one bar.
He was as big and blonde as the whipped Aryan she had bypassed earlier, but as his gaze met hers, she saw steel there. Luscious grey eyes were framed by a sheath of shaggy, sun–bleached hair.
Stacia circled Mr. Surfer Dude, making eye contact and clearly letting the young man know that this might just be his lucky night.
It worked without her using even a bit of her vampire power. A flirtatious smile and her feminine wiles had been enough.
He approached, leaned down from his greater height and, in awfully accented Italian, asked, “Parla inglese?”
“Do we need to talk?” she said with a sexy wink, and inclined her head in the direction of a nearby alley.
The young man smiled broadly and after a quick glance back at his friends, who hooted and carried on at his “score,” he took hold of her hand and followed her.
Stacia led him farther back into the narrow alley, although not so far that he would think anything was amiss. Just far enough that he would believe a strong shout could still be heard out in the piazza. Not that she would give him the opportunity to call out.
Toward the middle of the alley, the night closed in around them, with only the dimmest light from the full moon above. Clothed in darkness, the young man surprised her by becoming the aggressor, grabbing her forcefully and pinning her to the jagged brick wall.
“Like it rough, do you?” she said, but he didn’t answer since, with quick hands, he had already undone the laces on her leather vest and was gazing down at her breasts as they spilled free.
When he bent to suck at them, she moaned, thinking that he was exceptionally gifted with his mouth. Between her legs, the throb of human desire rose up, aching for fulfillment.
She quickly undid his jeans, reached past the loose folds of denim to the boxer shorts below.
How she loved this new fashion that made it so easy to free him. To stroke the rather magnificent length of him.
He bit down on one nipple as she caressed him, dragging a gasp from her.
“Sorry,” he mumbled as he lifted the almost nonexistent hem of her black leather miniskirt, cupped her bare buttocks and urged her upward.
With a surge, she jumped up and wrapped her legs around him, then drove down, crying out as the long, thick length of him penetrated her. He was deliciously big, much like the rest of him.
His own groan was from the gut as she leaned back against the brick wall and he pounded into her, all finesse forgotten as he strove for release. He looked down and watched the play of his hips against hers as if fascinated by the sight. Of his blonde curls brushing the naked skin between her legs.
Stacia considered the emotions flitting across his face. Passion rose, dilating his eyes into shards of slate grey. Almost charcoal grey, she realized as he met her gaze before dipping his head down again to suck on her breasts.
Inside her, heat built. Desire awakened the demon that hungered for so much. She threw her head back, allowed the beast to emerge slowly so that it could experience it all. The dark of the night enveloped them in its secrecy. The strength of his youth brought her closer and closer to completion. The musky smells of their lovemaking pushed her over the edge.
She called out her physical completion and laid her face against his. Bent her head and kissed the crook of his neck. His skin was damp. Salty. His blood surged, singing through his veins as his pulse quickened while he worked for his own release.
Sweet, sweet blood. Pulsing beneath her lips.
In a heartbeat, she finally loosed her restraints on the beast. Her fangs burst forth and pierced the fragile skin of his neck.
He called out then in a strangled cry laced with pain, but also with the acknowledgment of passion like no other he had ever experienced—the passion borne from a vampire’s kiss.
Blood spilled onto her lips from her fangs as she drank, experiencing the surge of strength and lust that came from feeding. His sweet, young blood brought the rush of life to her undead body.
He tasted like the ocean and sun. Salty. So tasty that Stacia could have kept on going until she drained him dry, only he had done well by her tonight, satisfying one hunger while leaving another unfulfilled.
The young man’s knees weakened from the loss of blood, and Stacia hopped off him. With her greater vampire strength, she gently eased him down to the uneven pavement.
He was rather handsome, she thought, gazing down at him as he stared up at her, disoriented. The bite mark at his neck was already healing and come morning, he would remember nothing. Feel no worse off than if he had a bad hangover, she thought as she quickly closed up her vest.
And she would feel—
Still alone, she thought, hurrying from the alley as if by doing so, she could escape the bleakness of her existence.
Once out in the piazza, she realized that it was time to move on. She would not find satisfaction here.
As she strolled through the square, it occurred to her New York would be good this time of year. Lots of fine dining there and the wannabes at the Blood Bank were always good for a laugh.
Imagine, wanting to be human again, she thought. What good was that? she asked herself, ignoring the little voice in her head which reminded her that with humanity came…