Desire By Blood

A man with a secret.

Nicodemus Blackburn has seen the best and worst of mankind. Five hundred years of dealing with them teaches the vampire to be very wary of the creatures. Unfortunately, alarming events leave him no choice but to enter the world of the ton to hunt a rogue vampire—one who is making his own army of blood thirsty vampires. Searching for the villain is not the worst of his troubles. That can be laid at the feet of bluestocking Lady Cordelia Collingsworth.

A woman on a mission.

Cordelia has always been an outcast, even in her own family. She has forged her way in the world with her ability to write, and Nico Blackburn is the focus of her next article. Before she can obtain any information about the mysterious man, she is pulled headlong into a scandal that leaves her with no choice but to marry Nico—a man with dangerous secrets.

A passion that consumes them both.

Thrust into a world she knows nothing of, Cordelia finds herself falling in love with a man who claims to be a vampire. As their passion grows, so does the danger around them and Nico will have to call on all of his powers to protect the one thing he has realized he cannot live without: his opinionated, infuriating, and thoroughly delectable wife.

©2012 · Melissa Schroeder Publishing · ISBN: 9780985447137 By Blood

Read an Excerpt

Prologue

Late in Queen Victoria’s Reign

 “He was Made?” Malik asked.

Nicodemus Blackburn did not look at his friend, but nodded and continued to clean the blood from beneath his fingernails. The only sound in the dank room was the splashing of water.

“How old?”

"I would say less than two months. Definitely not completely transitioned."

Silence. When Malik didn't respond, Nico glanced at him. His friend’s face passive, his eyes cold. They had learned long ago Malik would be the whipping boy for every damned Made vampire. 

"He was completely out of control. The woman..." Nico closed his eyes and swallowed back the fresh wave of nausea that threatened to bubble up. In five hundred years, he had never seen anything so brutal, so bestial. He had killed Mades before, but never happened upon one of their kills. He opened his eyes to find his friend with a knowing look on his face. "She did not die easily."

If possible, Malik's expression grew colder. "Meaning he raped her to death."

There was nothing to be said, for nothing would stop what was going to happen, what was already happening. Nico grabbed a linen cloth and started to dry his hands.

"We need to find out what the bloody hell is happening. This one had no connection to family. There has to be a reason for the Made vampires to be popping up all over the countryside"

Malik nodded. "I've heard more rumbling amongst the Borns. Not to mention the Carrier woman they found dead in London two nights ago. There might be trouble for my kind again."

Nico shrugged and retrieved another shirt. "I don't think you need to worry."

"Don't lie."

"You are always exempt from these witch hunts. You trace your roots back further than mine. Anyone who has made it through transition has no problem. They never lose control."

A cynical smile curved Malik's lips. "True. And so I shouldn't have to worry at all. But the youngest generation doesn't remember the Inquisition...they don't remember how many of us fought on your side. They will be out for blood."

Nico faced him. Irritation and worry gripped his stomach in a cold, hard fist. What Malik said was true. Before the Inquisition, the Borns regularly hunted for Mades, killing them before they gained control of their new powers. He could not defend what had happened in the past, only work to fix the present.

But, that would come later. Nico could still smell the corpse’s blood on his body. If he closed his eyes he could remember everything. The mutilation of the Carrier woman, the sickening feel of shoving a piece of wood into the vampire’s flesh. The word Suprema still echoed in his ears.

It was worse than it had been almost four hundred years ago. God, he did not want to do that ever again. But he would...he knew that down to his core. There was no way to avoid it. If he allowed someone else to lead the hunt, it would become a massacre of every Made vampire in England.

 He opened his eyes and looked at his best friend. They had seen the worst mankind could throw at them and the worst. Nico feared they were about to see things neither of them were prepared for.

“The trail leads to London,” Malik said.

“Yes. My father agrees.”

“Your father is the only family leader with any intelligence.”

 True, for he was the oldest of the four family patriarchs that comprised the vampire clans of England and Scotland.

“In father’s mind, he is the only one who matters. But, in this case he is correct. London would be easier…the maker could resort to the lower classes and it would not attract any attention.”

“Do you have any idea who it might be?”

Nico shook his head. “Not a clue. All I know is the sightings in the country have dwindled and those we have found all lead to London.”

“I hate London.”

Nico smiled at his friend’s irritation. Both of them hated London, the ton and all of their idiocy. But his father had asked him to go, and Nico could not refuse. "We go to London."

Malik studied him for a moment, and then nodded. "We go to London.”


Chapter One

He was avoiding her again.

Lady Cordelia Collingsworth searched through the milling crowd in the Smyth’s ballroom as irritation shot through her blood. This was the third night in a row he had lost her. The mysterious man was making it impossible to discover anything about him...or his shady businesses.

“Lady Cordelia.”

She grimaced before she could stop herself. Viscount Hurst. He had been dogging her steps at every event for the last fortnight. He always appeared at her side, a genial smile on his face, and pretty compliments. Drat the man. She smoothed her expression and turned to face the viscount.

Cordelia understood why he had been labeled “The Catch” by the ladies of the ton early this season. Just thirty years old, he sported a strong physique. Blonde hair and deep brown eyes had all the women sighing, or so she had been told. He was pleasant enough with that square jaw and all his proper manners, but there was something about him she did not like. Something that made her blood chill every time she came in contact with him. Even in the overwhelming heat of the ballroom, she could not seem to keep herself warm in Hurst’s presence.

He smiled down at her and she fought the shiver of dread that raced along her flesh.

“I hope you are enjoying yourself tonight.”

She forced her lips to curve into a welcoming smile as she offered her hand. He bent over it. Even with her skin protected by gloves, the top of her hand grew cold. Bile rose in her throat as she watched him. Most women—especially women decidedly on the shelf and with no dowry—would kill to be this close to him. The idea that she wanted to flee whenever she spotted him made no sense.

“I always enjoy the Smyth’s ball. It is very amusing.” She tugged on her hand, twisting it to free it from his grasp. “And you, my lord?”

“I thought to ask for your hand in the next dance.” The moment he said it, the first strains of a waltz filled the massive ballroom. A sick ball of dread filled her stomach. “I assume you are free?”

His smirk told Cordelia he knew she did not have one dance on her card. She rarely did. She was not on the marriage mart, far too old and poor to grab attention—except from the Viscount. Now she regretted not securing a dance partner for the first waltz.

“I--”

“Lady Cordelia.” A strong masculine voice filled the air around her and sent a rush of heat along her nerve endings. Even without turning she knew who stood behind her. The man she had been chasing for three days straight. The man she was positive ran illegal businesses in London. The subject of her now-due article.

Nicodemus Blackburn.

She turned to face him, her heart beating hard against her breast. As blood rushed out of her head, she felt a bit lightheaded. Where the viscount and his patrician features were attractive in a very English gentry way, Mr. Blackburn was dark and dangerous. If women sighed over the viscount, they fainted when Blackburn gave them his attention. Cordelia wanted to be the exception to that rule…but he was heady indeed.

“Yes, Mr. Blackburn?”

“I believe this is my dance.”

For a moment, she didn't respond. She couldn't. Her mind simply could not formulate a reply. Blackburn, who rarely danced and had been known for disdaining most of the ton, had just asked her to dance. No. He lied and said she had promised him the dance.

One black eyebrow rose as she said nothing. The curving of his lips was enough to pull her out of her trance.

She offered him her hand and said to Hurst, “If you will excuse me, my lord.”

Hurst tossed Blackburn a nasty look before offering her a pleasant smile. “Of course. Perhaps the next waltz?”

She merely smiled but said nothing. Cordelia would make sure not to be in sight of the viscount. Blackburn led her out to the floor and pulled her closer, swinging her into the rhythm of the dance. She drew in a deep breath. The scent of bayrum filled her scenes. That lightheaded feeling returned.

“A bit of advice, my lady.”

She looked up at Blackburn trying to keep her wits about her. Everyone sought information on this man, especially her editor who had told her to dig into his character and find out just where he got his money. And he was here, like a ripe peach for the picking. She had a list of questions memorized. Unfortunately, she found herself staring into his mesmerizing eyes and could not gather her wits long enough to ask him anything.

It was Blackburn’s fault. His attractiveness did not come from a trained valet who knew how to dress his employer. He possessed the most remarkable gray-blue eyes and blacker than midnight hair—worn unfashionably long. He was put together well, solid. She could feel his muscles flex as he guided her through the waltz, maneuvering around couples with ease.

His attractiveness turned heads, but there was more to it than that. It was the strength she sensed beneath the surface of the polished veneer. Something about him, dangerous and male, seethed just beneath his polite façade.  It almost made her giddy to be this close to him.

“Lady Cordelia?”

She blinked. “Yes? Oh, you had advice.”

“You should stay away from the Viscount.”

She nodded at his comment. No, not truly a comment. A command. She didn’t know Blackburn, knew nothing of his family—and he only could know of the gossip surrounding hers. But, for some unknown reason he felt the need to tell her what to do. Of all the cheek!

“Whatever to do you mean?”

His eyes flashed with irritation as they narrowed. “I mean the man is trouble. I fear that he is after but one thing in his pursuit of you.”

Where was the tact Blackburn was famous for? Everyone in the ton knew her situation, or thought they knew. It was much worse than she let people know, otherwise she would never be invited to these functions. And while everyone attending knew that her brother was drinking away her inheritance, none of them knew she was so close to living on the street.

People may gossip about her, but they did not do it in front of her. Did Blackburn realize he insulted her? Looking at his serious expression, she thought not. The man actually thought he was helping.

She adopted her most innocent look. “What would that be Mr. Blackburn?”

His expression blanked as he studied her. “I beg your pardon. I was led to believe you were somewhat of a...”

“What, sir?”

Oh, he did not like being put in the corner, but she was happy to shove the man there. The gall of him to insult her so. Granted, she was positive Hurst was after her for the reason Blackburn implied. Though, even that was odd because the viscount could have his choice of most women of the ton—married and unmarried. Why he would want the Lady Fionna's bastard daughter who had no dowry and penchant for books? His pursuit made little sense. But, most men of the ton had little sense.

With an aggravated sigh, he maneuvered them through the French doors out onto the patio. Light from the ballroom spilled out over them as the cool night air hit her skin, cooling her anger and desire.

Blackburn hesitated, then released her. The dark night surrounded them, the tension in the air rising. She walked away from him, to the edge of the terrace. “Whyever are we out here?”

When he did not answer, she turned to face him. He placed a hand on each of his hips and frowned at her. Again. “Stop playing the simpleton.”

She blinked. “Playing?”

“Lord Hurst is not a well man.”

That was not what she expected to hear. She dropped all pretense. “Not well?”

He hesitated then said, “There have been rumors about him.”

“Indeed. There are rumors about almost every eligible man here tonight, including yourself.”

He nodded in acknowledgement.  “He has certain...tastes that would shock you.”

“Do you mean he frequents the House of Rod?”

That had his eyebrows rising. “You know of that?”

“Why do you think I accepted your dance? I didn't have to. After eight years in the ton, I am well aware of how men behave. I know there is something wrong with the viscount.”

His gaze sharpened. “You do?”

His intense study suddenly made her very wary. It was if she were a specimen he was trying to decipher. Blackburn’s attention filled her with an unusual flash of warmth.

“Y-yes. He...well, he acting just a bit strange.” She could not come up with another way to describe it.

“Strange?”

She nodded. “Quite.”

He sighed. “Well, thank goodness you have some sense. Most women swoon over him.”

“Yes, but as you said, he isn't after my hand in marriage. Many ladies have set their cap for him. I am not one of them.”

 “Indeed. I do apologize for my insensitivity.”

She waved it away. “You are not the first, and you will not be the last.”

With a smile, he offered her his arm. “If you would allow me to walk you back into the ballroom?”

“Before you do, could you answer one question?”

He dropped his arm as his brow furrowed. “That depends.”

“I understand you are in the shipping business.”

“Yes.”

She bit back an irritated sigh. He was not going to make this an easy task. “There have been some questions about the nature of the shipments.”

His expression darkened, his eyes narrowing again as he studied her. As his gaze moved over her face, but she did not allow her own to waver. Breath clogged her throat; her pulse doubled. 

“I import many things, Lady Cordelia.” She opened her mouth to ask another question, but Blackburn took another step closer. He towered over her, but she did not feel threatened as when other men did it. She felt…hot. Her whole body shimmered with heat.

“My company is known for its fine silks. I understand they are in demand by many ladies. Have you ever felt truly fine silk?”

She could not answer. His voice had dipped lower, caressing her like the fine silk he spoke of. Cordelia knew she should step back, but she could not make her feet move. He inched closer, his legs now brushing the front of her dress.

When she did not answer, Blackburn continued, leaning down to place his hand on the stone wall behind her. He was now much closer than propriety allowed, and her heart threatened to beat from her chest.

 “Fine silk slides against flesh,” he murmured.

His breath heated her earlobe. Cordelia pulled in a deep breath trying to regain her wits. But her breasts brushed against his chest and tingles shot through her body like shooting stars.

 She shook her head. Other questions swirled in her brain, and she knew that Blackburn was trying to divert her attention. Her body did not care. Need coursed through her veins, urging her to move closer, into Blackburn’s heat.

At that moment, a group of younger people came out laughing and talking, their excitement of the season easily heard in their voices. Blackburn’s head whipped around, and a growl rumbled in his chest. For a moment, she thought he might attack them.

“Mr. Blackburn.”

She whispered the words as not to gain the others attention. He hesitated, then looked down her.  Fierce hunger darkened his eyes. Cordelia was not sure he even heard her, but a moment later, his expression blanked, the harsh lines of his face smoothing.  He drew in a deep breath, then stepped back, the cool night air replacing his heat. She shivered as goose bumps rose over her flesh. Cordelia should be thankful he had pulled back in time. With her background, she had to be careful. There was always a chance that she would step over the line. And at that point, her invitations would stop and she needed them to earn money.

He offered her arm once again. “May I escort you back to the ballroom, Lady Cordelia?” He pitched his voice just loud enough for the group to hear.

She nodded, laying her hand on his arm. “I do thank you sir for your help. Hurst is a nuisance and I could have deflected him. Your help just made it much easier.”

He guided her over to a group of matrons. “I trust you will be able to avoid him in the future.”

It was not a question, but an order. Odd, because, before tonight, she had barely spoken to him. She sent him a sharp stare to tell them man he had overstepped his bounds. Little shock that he ignored her.

Instead, he bowed and, loud enough for a group of nearby matrons to hear, he said, “Thank you for the dance, Lady Cordelia.”

She had been in his company for the last five minutes and had yet to ask him more than one question about his finances. As she stared at him, that eyebrow of his rose again. Mr. Blackburn knew she had questions for him…which was why he had avoided her for days. Now that he was dumping her with the matrons, she had no way of asking them. She was stuck—and he knew it.

She offered him a smile she reserved for the most vapid of young misses. “You are most welcome, Mr. Blackburn.”

His lips twitched as if he repressed a smile. After a nod to the matrons—watching the whole scene as if they were at the theater—he turned and walked away.

And Cordelia cursed herself again. She still didn’t know if the man earned his money legally or not. She thought back to the dance, the way his body pressed against hers, the heat she saw in his eyes and sighed. She had to learn how to keep her wits about her the next time she encountered Mr. Blackburn.

Her livelihood depended on it.

*

“You look ready to faint, Blackburn,” Grayson, Duke of Nothingham said, amusement threading his voice. “Done in by a little mouse of a woman?”

Nico threw him what he hoped was a nasty look and grabbed a drink as a waiter passed by him. Bloody hell, his hand was shaking.  “You are treading on thin ice.”

“I've never known Lady Cordelia to have this affect on anyone but Hurst, and seriously, I cannot understand why he is interested.”

Without knowing or caring what the drink was, Nico tossed back the contents in one huge gulp, wincing as the warm lemonade slid down his throat. God, he needed to get out of there, find a woman. The moment he thought it, he caught sight of Lady Cordelia. His body responded as if he’d been struck by lightning.

“So, tell me, how did Lady Cordelia ensnare you? Was it her modest gown, or her discussion on anything political?”

How could he explain it? Not once in society had he come so close to losing control. How could one petite, blue-eyed miss have brought him so close to the edge? Even now he had to grind his teeth together to keep his incisors from descending. He had been moments from taking her, and she would not have resisted. It was in her makeup to respond to him—even if she did not understand. His plan to divert her attention had gone horribly awry.  Even now, he could remember the feel of her hardened nipples as they lightly brushed his chest.

Damn! He pulled his attention away from Lady Cordelia and back to Gray who was now studying Nico with enjoyment.

“She's a Carrier.”

Gray's face lost all emotion, his body turning to stone. “You must be mistaken. I know every Born in the ton. She is not one.”

Nico glanced around looking to see if anyone had overheard and realized that the only attention they had were from eligible young women across the floor. With a sigh, he motioned with his head and turned, not even waiting to see if Gray followed. Nico knew the duke would. He found the library easily, and was relieved to discover it empty. Gray shut the door quietly and leaned against it.

“Do you really think she is a Carrier?”

“I don't think. I know. At age five hundred, I think I know the difference between a Carrier and a normal human female.”

“She is not descended from any line I know. Her mother was married to the Earl of Collingsworth.”

“He must not have been her birth father.”

The look of comprehension slid over Gray's face. “Of course. Only the oldest is his, the son. The daughters were said to have different fathers, all four.”

“Yes, and the youngest, Cordelia, is treated as an outcast by the others.”

Gray sneered. “That brother of hers is a bastard. Owes everyone in town, which is why he isn't here.”

“You mean she is in town alone?”

Gray crossed his arms over his chest and frowned. “Indeed. I think she stays in the family townhouse, but with little staff. Truthfully, I have no idea how she affords it. Her father...Collingsworth left her barely anything to live on from what I heard.”

“And there is no rumor of impropriety. She has no protector?”

“Not that I know of. And I assure you, with the notorious Lady Fionna as her mother, if there was a hint of scandal, it would be all over the ton.”

Nico shoved that aside and moved back the subject on hand. “Regardless, she is a Carrier.”

“Again, I point out that my family has kept track of all the noble families. She isn’t on that list and neither is Lady Fionna.”

 Irritation turned Nico’s voice sharp. “Think. When the church attacked us during the Inquisition, many families hid. We scattered to the winds, and I am positive we have yet to find everyone. There are probably several dozen Carriers in the ton and they have no idea…why would they unless they have mated with a Born? “

He had known about Lady Cordelia for days. Something about their first meeting, the way his body had reacted, had told him she was not just a simple bluestocking. He had immediately responded to her, despite the fact she was not his type of woman. He usually liked females tall, lithe and definitely experienced. Cordelia had none of these attributes, but she was a Carrier. So he was predisposed to respond to her.

Though in truth, he had never reacted even to another Carrier so strongly.

“You may be right,” Gray surmised.

“I am. It’s easy to scent a Carrier. It also explains why Hurst is after her.”

The young duke crossed his arms over his chest. “Hurst is not one of us.”

“Indeed. He's Made for sure.”

With satisfaction, Nico watched Gray's eyes widen in alarm. It was the first Made vampire to hit the ton in recent times. “Bloody hell.”

“Precisely. He has shown little to no interest in Lady Cordelia until recently. We need to find out where he was before his fascination arose. If he has not left town...”

He let his words trail off letting Gray draw his own conclusions. “And a nobleman at that. This is not a good development.”

“No. I need you to find out where he was, discover any of the places he frequents. Who he’s spent time with. We also might want to put a man on him.”

“Do you think we need to warn the other noble houses?”

Nico snorted. The other vampire families were notoriously stubborn. “Would it do any good? They refuse to believe there is a problem. My father is the only patriarch who is worried. No one else but the three of us seems to understand the gravity of the situation.”  He thought about Lady Cordelia and her role in everything. “I say that Hurst's attention started just over a fortnight ago. Something must have happened then. He does not appear to have gone completely into the Blood Lust, but there is a good chance he is not far from sinking there.”

“How do you know he isn't already there?”

Sometimes Nico forgot that Gray was too young to have seen Made vampires and their terrible descent into murderous madness. “If he had, you would have seen more than just a slight altercation when I asked Lady Cordelia to dance. It is very likely the bastard would've challenged me on the spot—possibly even attacked me.”

Shock crossed Gray’s face. “Truly? That would have been a sight.”

Nico ground his teeth again, but this time not to keep his teeth hidden. Gray was a good sort, but he was young, especially for a vampire. He was not around for the last purging, and he did not know just how bad this mess would end up.

“He probably doesn't know I am a Born, has no idea what is going on. His body is telling him to pursue her. And since she has no protection, such as your sisters and others in the ton, he knows she would be easier to prey upon.”

“I'll get a man on him, and I'll talk to father about his connections, where he has been before. I hope this doesn't end up like that bit of business you had to handle up north.”

With that, Gray left Nico alone with his dark thoughts.

There would be no way out of it; Hurst would have to die, but not before they got some information out of the bastard. The one he had to kill three weeks ago had been too far gone to question, but Hurst seemed to still be functioning surprisingly well…but Nico didn’t expect that to last. If they could grab the viscount off the street, they might be able to persuade him to talk. He'd make plans tonight with Malik. Time was precious when a vampire had been Made. If they were not handled properly, they would turn into a craven beast searching out the nearest Carrier to consume. If the woman didn't die, she would wish she had.

 Now Hurst had apparently set his sights on Lady Cordelia. And that bothered Nico. Exceedingly.

With a sigh, he straightened away from the desk. His body was still humming with anticipation of a joining. While he could not satisfy the mating call Lady Cordelia had nearly wrested from him, he could find a woman to slake his lust.

He walked to the door but it blew open, bringing Lady Cordelia with it. His body responded immediately. The normally perfectly coiffed curls that dangled over her ears were in disarray. A look of irritation marred her usually smooth features. She slammed the door shut behind her and then leaned against it much the same way that Gray had. Clearly, she did not notice him in the room.

“Stupid man.” She locked the door behind her and then patted down her hair. “He is becoming a real trial.”

“I hope you are not referring to me,” Nico said.

She started and then looked in the shadowed corner where he stood.

“Mr. Blackburn?”

He cursed himself the moment he realized she could not see in the darkness. If he had stayed quiet she would not have seen him. She had not mated yet, so she possessed only human abilities.

“It is I. I take from your comments that you did not follow me here.”

She sniffed. “Of course not. I am trying to avoid that idiot Hurst. Why on earth he has decided to bother me now is beyond me.”

Bloody hell. Hurst’s constant pursuit could herald the coming of his blood lust. If the viscount touched her, he’d likely sink into madness. Something would have to be done—tonight.

“Come, now, Lady Cordelia. You could easily attract his lordship’s attention for any number of reasons.”

She mumbled something under her breath that sounded like “not bloody likely.”

At least she understood there was danger. Unfortunately, it did not help his protective instincts. The need to shelter her, keep her safe, coursed through his blood, along with a healthy dose of lust. He did not speak for fear of revealing the depth of his need.

Silence loomed several moments, then without any warning she flashed him a brilliant smile. He blinked as he watched her approach, amazed at the change in her expression. And wary. No woman could be trusted, especially a Carrier. Those with the ability to birth vampires were frighteningly clever—they had to be to survive. He knew without a doubt, Lady Cordelia was working something out in her brain that would only bring about disaster for them both.

“Mr. Blackburn?” She stopped in front of him, her scent wrapping around him, tempting him. It was a mixture of musky woman and innocence that had his incisors threatening to descend. The woman was too bloody tempting for her own good. No wonder Hurst had been after her.

“Yes?” he asked, surprised that he hadn’t started panting. Or done something far more aggressive.  Even now as she gazed up at him as if she worshipped him. He reacted, his lust in full bloom. He wanted—ached—to throw her across the desk and strip her naked. Nico knew it was primal; it had nothing to do with the woman.

But he’d never had such a strong reaction to a Carrier.

“I wondered…” She pulled her bottom lip through her teeth, and he inwardly groaned. The woman was going to undo him with her innocent gestures. He curled his fingers into the palm of his hands.

“Lady Cordelia, what do you need?”

She blinked and hesitated. He did not blame her. Even he could hear how his voice had deepened, roughened. The earlier altercation still thrummed through his blood. Maybe she would flee the room, and he would be free of her long enough to ease his desires elsewhere.

 He should have known better.

She raised her chin, and said, “Can you explain a bit more about your shipping business?”

“W-what?” He could not concentrate on her words, but rather watched the way her lips moved in the slant of moonlight that illuminated her face.

Cordelia cocked her head to the side. “Are you unwell?”

He shook his head, his attention still on her mouth. Her tongue flicked out over the fuller bottom lip as she took a step closer. Bloody hell, he craved to taste her, to feel her mouth move beneath his. He wanted to feel her flesh beneath his and he wanted to sink his teeth into her neck.  With every bit of his control, he pulled his mind away from the image of her wearing nothing but the moonlight.

He needed her to go, far away. He made one last attempt.

“Lady Cordelia, I think you should leave.” He bit out each word, the lust he felt dripping from each syllable. Unfortunately, the woman apparently was oblivious.

She stepped even closer, determination stamped all over her face. Passion darkened her eyes.  She was magnificent.

“I will not be deflected again.”

Good God, the woman smelled of heaven. He could imagine rolling with her on a bed, the scent of her surrounding him, the tangy taste of her on his tongue. His incisors descended, primed for feeding. He did not even try to stop it. He knew it impossible.

Without another thought, he grabbed her. She gasped, the sound erotic in the darkened library. He had the satisfaction of seeing her eyes widen as he dipped his head.

“Mr. Blackburn, whatever do you think you are doing?”

“Shutting you up.”

Then he bent his head and took possession of her mouth.

End of Excerpt

Desire by Blood is Book One in the By Blood Series.
Book Two will be available Fall 2012. For information click here.

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