I have a new series coming very soon! Blood and Rain will be released this winter (December or January). It’s the first in the Blood Series from Dreamspinner Press. Yes, it’s about vampires (and vampire hunters). No, these vamps don’t sparkle, but they do have some unusual abilities you’ll discover as the series unfolds. Yes, it’s definitely a romance! But it’s also an adventure with plenty of action, much like my Mermen of Ea Series.
Each week for the next 4 weeks, I’ll be teasing you with a bit more of the gorgeous cover from Dreamspinner Press cover artist Reese Dante, as well as a long excerpt from the book. I’m also running a cover reveal contest that will end at midnight on October 11th, midnight after the day the full cover is revealed. The Rafflecopter giveaway is here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/cf0ba9496/ Or you can enter by clicking directly on the Rafflecopter widget below.
The Blood Series takes place in both the present day and in France in the late 1800s, and features three couples. The main focus is on Adrien Gilbert, the youngest son of a French vampire hunter family, and Nicolas Lambert, an ancient (born a vampire, not created) vampire.
So please join me in some fun in welcoming my sexy hunters and vampires! The first excerpt and unofficial blurb are below. Enjoy! -Shira
Blood Series: Book 1
Adrien Gilbert is a vampire hunter sworn to avenge the murder of his brother, Francois. When the ancient vampire, Nicolas Lambert, offers to help Adrien locate his brother’s killer in exchange for Adrien’s protection, Adrien agrees. Nicolas has pledged to marry the daughter of a rival vampire clan for the sake of peace between their warring clans. But when Adrien begins to fall for the gentle Nicolas, Adrien’s mission becomes one of both self-discovery and heartbreak.
What Adrien and Nicolas don’t know is that there is another force at work, intent on destroying the fragile peace between vampire clans. That same force threatens to tear apart the world of the hunters. Adrien must put aside his feelings for Nicolas and stop a full-blown war between Hunters and vampires. He’s just not sure he’s willing to let Nicolas go forever to do it.
Note: This is the first in a series of three anticipated novels tentatively entitled Blood and Rain, Blood and Ghosts, Blood and Eternity. The series it set in France in 1895 and in the present, and features three MM pairings. Books in this series must be read in order.
Under contract to Dreamspinner Press. Tentative Publication Date: December 2014-January, 2015
Chapter One: On the Edge of Forever
Sunset wove fingers of purple and red through bands of clouds and vapor trails that crisscrossed the sky. The scent of exhaust from trucks and cars mingled with the tang of salt from the ocean. People scurried about as they returned from work, trying to finish last-minute errands before dinnertime, all oblivious to the lone figure perched atop the high-rise at the edge of the Miami River.
Adrien Gilbert gazed down at the tiny figures below, vaguely aware of their presence. For more than a century, he had seen generations of humans be born, reach adulthood, start families, grow old, and die as their loved ones watched, helpless to slow time. He had grown numb to the cycle of life—a cycle to which he was immune. He was an immortal, a hunter who had shared the soul of an ancient vampire. His beloved soul.
He closed his eyes, trying to picture that perfect face. It had grown strangely difficult to remember over the years, and yet he could still easily remember the face of his mother, who had been killed when he was just a child.
I won’t forget you… Nicolas.
It would have been far easier to give in, to erase Nicolas from his memory forever. Certainly far less painful than knowing Nicolas was out there somewhere, unable to find the way back to him. Less painful, too, than admitting he couldn’t find his way to Nicolas. He would suffer the pain of knowledge; it was a small price to pay to preserve the memory.
The irony that a hunter sworn to protect humankind would suffer the loss of a vampire so keenly was hardly lost on Adrien. He’d believed that in spite of the treaty between hunters and the hunted, vampires were not to be trusted. He’d believed his duty as a hunter was simple, straightforward: kill those who threatened humanity, tolerate those who did not. But that had been before he’d met Nicolas. Before he’d lost his heart. Before Nicolas had given him immortality.
Adrien had everything a human might wish for. The small transportation business he’d started when he moved to the United States over a hundred years ago had blossomed into an international empire with cargo ships, airplanes, trucks, and dozens of storage facilities around the globe. He owned homes in Europe, Thailand, Japan, the US, and a dozen other places he rarely visited. Despite his prosperity, the men with whom he shared his bed—human, vampire, hunter—rarely stayed long. He had seen to that, with his aloof manner and his cold heart. One man had ever touched his soul.
The evening had started, as it always did, on a far better note. Adrien had stopped by one of his favorite haunts, an upscale martini bar not far from the city center. He’d developed a penchant for gin over the past few decades, enjoying the quick work it made of his long-term memory. Three or four martinis and he could forget, even if only briefly.
The bar was small and full of people. A Sinatra song played in the background as he walked over to the stainless-steel bar, filled with men, some of whom he’d already discarded, others new faces. Eager, all of them. He sensed their eyes on him and felt the hunger they didn’t understand. He understood that hunger. The scent of his blood created it in them. The same irresistible scent that had lured many a human to fall prey to the vampires now drew them to him.
He sat down at an empty barstool and nodded to the bartender, who set to work making the driest martini possible with his most expensive gin, dropping in a tiny bit of lemon peel instead of an olive. He handed Adrien the drink without saying a word, and Adrien brought the glass to his lips.
“Nice,” a male voice said from behind him.
The man was beautiful, tall, with shoulder-length black hair and deep green eyes. He wore pair of tight-fitting jeans and a crisp button-down shirt that emphasized his muscled chest and narrow waist. Late twenties, perhaps. A new face, but a familiar presence.
“It’s not bad.” Adrien took a sip of his drink and pretended not to care. It was easy.
“I wasn’t talking about the drink.” The man lifted his drink to his full lips but watched him intently.
“I wasn’t either,” Adrien replied without missing a beat.
“So you are.”
They left the bar together for his apartment, where his housekeeper had already set a table for two. A bottle of Puligny-Montrachet chilled in a cooler by the table. Between them, they finished that bottle, although Adrien drank very little. Alcohol affected immortals far more than humans or vampires.
After dinner Cole stood and walked over to the railing, looking out over the river below. “You know what I am.” Cole’s voice was as smooth as the wine.
“Yes. I know what you are.” Adrien had sensed Cole was a vampire the moment he’d seen him. No self-respecting hunter would have missed the subtle electricity in the air or the scent of mingled blood. He lifted Cole’s hair off his neck, then trailed his lips over his silky skin. Cole smelled good—an earthy and primal scent that caused the bloodlust to rise in Adrien. Once, he had embraced his lust for blood.
When he’d first become an immortal, Nicolas’s blood had done far more than sustain him. They had shared their bodies, their blood, and their souls. The blood had been their bond, the bloodlust a welcome reminder of Adrien’s love for Nicolas. Now the lust for blood had nothing to do with Adrien’s heart. It was another bitter reminder that his body would not let him perish, even though he cared nothing for living.
It’s been too long.
Cole moaned. The deep, throaty sound made Adrien’s mouth water in spite of himself. Adrien despised his body’s response, but he’d long ago learned he couldn’t fight it. Once, he had gone nearly twenty years without giving in to the call. He’d been weak, pathetic, barely able to think. He’d prayed he would die. He’d lost consciousness, but he’d awoken to find himself drinking his fill. He’d come perilously close to killing the human whose blood he’d feasted on, but he’d managed to stop. However miserable his existence, Adrien would only feed on vampires—he’d not break the oath he’d taken to protect humans when he’d become a hunter.
Adrien licked the skin of Cole’s neck, feeling the blood pulse there, hearing it call to him. Cole tilted his head in anticipation, opening himself to Adrien.
Adrien buried his teeth in Cole’s skin. Blood flooded his mouth and danced on his tongue, sweet and salty. Too long. His body was far more vampire-like in its craving for blood than when he’d first been given the gift of an ancient vampire’s soul. He wondered if it was the same for other immortals.
Adrien tried to ignore the images that flashed through his mind—the sound of silvery laughter, a mother’s loving caress. Cole’s memories. Adrien despised this forced intimacy, but he’d come to see it as the price of blood. Something to be tolerated.
It hadn’t always been that way. When he’d shared Nicolas’s blood, Adrien had experienced great joy. He’d seen himself through Nicolas’s eyes and felt the depth of Nicolas’s love. Each drop of that precious liquid had opened new doors. Each taste offered insight into Nicolas’s heart and soul. A beloved memory. A mystery—the mystery of Nicolas—unfolding with every swallow.
Adrien drank his fill, then claimed Cole’s mouth. This kind of contact he could stomach. He didn’t need sex to survive, but he enjoyed the release. Cole unbuttoned Adrien’s black silk shirt and his cock swelled against Adrien’s thigh. Adrien moaned as Cole skated his fingertips over his chest.
“I have never known a hunter to crave blood,” Cole whispered in his ear. “I thought only we experienced the bloodlust.”
“You were wrong,” Adrien said as he pulled Cole’s shirt over his head and mouthed a pretty pink nipple. Sex was always better after he fed, and Adrien’s cock was already hard at the thought of fucking such a lovely ass. He drew Cole’s body against his, walked backward into the living room, and pulled Cole with him onto the rug. Soon they were naked and he was no longer a hunter or an immortal, he was simply a man, seeking release, seeking pleasure.
Adrien lay there afterward, only partially satisfied. Nothing new. Sex was like the bloodlust—it always left him wanting more. Cole brushed his fingers over Adrien’s chest, then his neck. He licked Adrien’s earlobe, then ran his tongue over Adrien’s Adam’s apple.
“May I?” he asked.
“No.” He would willingly share his blood with only one person.
“Too bad.” The vampire was clearly disappointed. “I would have liked to have known the secrets of your blood.”
Adrien watched Cole dress but said nothing.
“Perhaps another time, then.” Cole turned and smiled at him before he walked out the door.
For at least an hour after, Adrien lay on the floor and allowed the night air to caress his bare skin. He closed his eyes and dozed.
The voice awakened him. Nicolas’s voice again. Why sleep if it only served to reawaken the pain he sought to suppress?
He stood and pulled on his jeans. He walked onto the balcony in his bare feet, then climbed to the roof of the penthouse.
Having reached the edge, he spread his arms. He leaned forward and fell unimpeded, riding the wind like a sigh. The glass of the building sailed by him, the breeze buffeting his face. He hit the water and sank into the cold blackness. He wished he could die.