The Vampire Oracle: Birth
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by Diana Bold
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
Description: When Aidan Tremaine is wounded doing battle with another vampire who has gone rogue, he compels beautiful Kelly Stephens to help him. He plans to feed from his lovely rescuer, then erase his memory from her mind. But her passion shatters his defenses, and for the first time in over a century he considers taking a chance on love.
eBook Publisher: Cobblestone Press, 2008
eBookwise Release Date: November 2008
7 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [89 KB]
Reading time: 51-71 min.
All Other formats: Printing DISABLED, Read-aloud DISABLED
With dawn still half an hour away, Kelly Stephens stepped from the artificial heat of the police department and found herself buffeted by the icy chill outside. Shivering, she hunched her shoulders against the wind and hurried toward the parking garage across the street.
She loved her job as a police dispatcher, but tonight her twelve-hour shift had seemed endless. Too much hopelessness. Too many bad endings. She couldn't wait to get home, burrow beneath her heavy down comforter, and sleep the day away.
Her footsteps echoed across the concrete as she entered the garage. Slipping her hand in her pocket, she touched the plain white envelope she'd found in her mailbox before she'd left for work. A sliver of unease slid down her spine. When she'd opened it, she'd found nothing but a single tarot card, bearing the image of a handsome, blue-eyed man and one word:
She shivered again and picked up her pace. She couldn't imagine who had sent her such a thing. The postmark of El Dorado Springs, CO 80025 hadn't helped. Colorado? She knew no one there. But her name had been marked clearly on the envelope, and whoever sent it knew her address.
She'd shown it to one of the cops who strolled in and out of the communication center all night, but he'd laughed it off, convinced someone was playing a joke on her. Only one problem with that theory--she had no family, no friends except the people she worked with, and she couldn't imagine any of them sending her such an odd thing with an out-of-state postmark.
It didn't make sense, and she'd always needed for things to make sense.
Frowning, she released the envelope and grabbed her keys, hitting the remote door lock as she rounded the bumper of her bright red SUV. Still focused on the mystery of the tarot card, she didn't notice the man lying beside her car until she quite literally tripped over him.
Grabbing her car door to steady herself, she stared down at the stranger in horror. Curled in a fetal position, with blood streaking his face and chest, the man seemed in agony. Her gaze swept him from head to toe, and she realized that despite his injuries, he posed a threat. The long, dark coat covering his immense body flared open at his waist, revealing an arsenal of weapons.
She didn't recognize him, so he wasn't a cop. And she couldn't think of any other reason for him to be so heavily armed. Trembling, she stepped back, digging in her purse for her cell phone. Help was only a few hundred yards away, she told herself in an effort to control her panic. All she had to do was make the call.
"Please," he rasped. He lifted his head and stared right at her, his eyes eerily blue in the dim light. "Don't call anyone. I won't hurt you."
Hypnotized by the stark male beauty of his features, she froze, her hand still shoved deep within her purse. Dark, curly hair fell haphazardly across his high forehead, and pain shadowed his movie star handsome face. A sense of déjà vu rolled over her. He looks just like the man on the tarot card. The entire situation seemed surreal, and her last coherent thought was that she must have dreamt the whole thing.
* * * *
Aidan Tremaine cursed beneath his breath as he painfully staggered to his feet. The injuries he'd sustained vanquishing one of his own who'd gone renegade were far from life threatening, but the imminent sunrise presented a problem. He was far too weak to make it to sanctuary on foot. If he slunk to a corner, the concrete parking garage would provide some shelter from the sun's punishing rays, but he doubted he could survive the entire day here. Besides, the close proximity to the police department spelled trouble.
He had to get out of here. Now. And the only solution seemed to be the wide-eyed beauty who stood silently before him. He'd given her mind a shallow probe and found nothing but kindness and a sincere desire to help, tempered with a healthy dose of fear. Her job made her wary, with good reason. He'd had to exert quite a bit of mind control to keep her from finding her cell phone and making the call which would have destroyed him.
Probing a little further, he discovered her name was Kelly. Her nearby home would suit his purposes, at least temporarily. He could spend the day regaining his strength and leave when night fell.
"Take me home with you, Kelly," he instructed softly.
She blinked then gave a slow nod. "We should go. The door's unlocked."
Limping, he moved to the passenger side while she slid behind the wheel. With a soft exhalation of pain, he heaved himself into the seat, collapsing against the leather upholstery with a sigh. The girl started the car and put it in reverse, her motions wooden and a tad jerky as her natural inclination to get help warred with his mental instructions.
Strong-willed. He would never have attempted to control her if he weren't so desperate.
As they left the parking garage and headed east, he peered at her through his lashes, intrigued. In her mid-twenties, he guessed, with fiery auburn hair and clear green eyes. His reluctant angel was one of the loveliest women he'd ever seen in his long, hundred-seventy years of life.
Fuck or feed.
For over a century he'd lived by that motto, never mixing the two for fear of losing control. But for the first time in a long time, he was tempted. His injuries made feeding imperative, and the sweet pulse of her blood beneath the ivory skin of her throat made his canines throb. Yet at the moment, sitting passively beside her as she navigated her quiet suburban neighborhood, the urge to fuck her, to bury himself deep inside her at the precise moment his teeth broke the surface of her skin, overwhelmed him.
Christ. It had been so long....
He swallowed, imagining the sweet tang of her blood sliding down his throat. But dawn was only minutes away, and every cell in his body contracted in awareness of the danger. "How much further?"
"We're here." Her voice lacked all inflection as she pulled into a driveway in front of a modest brick rancher. She pressed her garage door opener then eased her SUV into the one-car space.
As soon as the garage door closed behind them, he allowed himself a small sigh of relief. He'd made it. As soon as he got to her basement, he could spend the daylight hours mending his body's damage and resting. By nightfall, he'd be ready to hit the streets again.
He fumbled with the car door. "I won't hurt you, darlin'. I just need a safe place to lick my wounds."
She slid out of the driver seat without comment, opening the door that led to the rest of the house. He followed her down an adjacent set of narrow stairs, growing weaker with each passing moment.
From his brief foray into her mind, he already knew she'd thoroughly insulated her basement bedroom from the daylight. She worked graveyards, so she was nearly as sensitive to the light as he was. When they reached the bottom of the stairs, he saw the only problem area was in the rec room.
"Close the curtains," he ordered, shielding his eyes as the first dim rays of sunlight limned the lone window on the east side of the house.
As she hurried to oblige, he entered her bedroom and sank down on the comfortable, king-sized, poster bed, closing his eyes in weary relief. Damn, it had been a long night. He'd like nothing better than to go straight to sleep. Unfortunately, if he wanted to heal, he must feed. And he couldn't control the girl's mind once he slept, so he'd have to find somewhere to secure her until nightfall. Then he'd erase her memories and be on his way.
Once she closed the heavy curtains, the basement fell into blessed darkness, save for the artificial light from the stairwell. He shrugged out of his heavy, blood-splattered duster and tossed it aside, a bit shocked by the amount of blood on the white shirt he wore beneath. Unbuckling his gun belt, he put it in the nightstand drawer so his lovely beauty wouldn't be temped to kill him with his own weapon.
The girl drifted back to his side, standing next to the bed like a life-sized doll. Regret swept through him as he remembered the purity and light of her personality. He longed for a woman like this one to give herself to him freely, without the coercion he must exert to keep her horror for what he was at bay.
He held out his hand, and she took it, sinking to the bed beside him. Her eyes were wide and unblinking as he carefully drew her against him. Her scent, a sweet blend of cinnamon and vanilla, filled his lungs. He lowered his head, brushing his lips across the tender skin at her throat, forcing himself to ignore his sexual hunger and focus on his need for her blood.
Fuck or feed, he reminded himself firmly. He could never mix the two, not after what had happened last time.
"I won't hurt you," he whispered, though he still held her in his thrall. And then he sank his fangs through her fragile skin, finding her vein and drinking hungrily.