As part of my Paranormal Pandemonium 2011 Blog Tour, I’m going to be posting the first FIVE chapters of my next release, Forbidden Blood. I posted chapter one last week.
Forbidden Blood is a dark vampire romance novel, and the first book in the Vampire Venators series. I’ll be posting more information about the series closer to the release of Forbidden Blood. In the meantime, here’s chapter two, and here’s a link to the previous chapter: Chapter One
In a dark world where vampires exist and where Source Blood, a rare human blood type, can bestow godlike powers upon them, the vampire Venators of the Sovereignty fight to protect the humans by banishing those who drink it to the endless dark.
Exiled from his family and with only his duty to sustain him, Kearn has been on the trail of an elusive Source Blood abuser for three years. When he saves a beautiful human female from the vampireâ€™s grasp, it turns out sheâ€™s the lead heâ€™s been waiting for. Amber is a Source Blood and the perfect bait, but for who?
As they race to catch the vampire and survive the cruel games he plays, Amber is pulled deeper into Kearnâ€™s world and discovers the painful secrets he hides behind his handsome but emotionless exteriorâ€”hurt that she has the power to heal if she is brave enough.
Forbidden Blood is book one in the Vampire Venators series and a dark, sensual tale of betrayal, revenge and a love that knows no bounds.
genre: paranormal vampire romance
length: 126000 words
released: June 18th 2011
Book 1 in the Vampire Venators series
Kearn closed the door to his apartment behind them and locked it. It wouldnâ€™t stop the man from entering if he wanted to reclaim the woman, but it would make her feel safer. He walked past her where she stood in the middle of the large white open plan room holding her black leather handbag and pointed towards the living area to his right beyond the modern fireplace that divided it from the study near the door. She followed him and stopped near the back of the long low black couch that faced the wide bank of windows, setting her bag down on the cushions. She stared out of the windows, her hazel eyes bright with fascination. He had grown bored of the view of London from his apartment a long time ago. He rarely looked out at the rooftops now.
He looked at her instead. She reached up and removed the band from her messy ponytail, freeing her long brown hair. It fell down in loose waves over her shoulders and blended into her black suit jacket. Its rich shade contrasted against her pale face. The colour was gone from her skin, the only visible sign of her ordeal. She placed the band around her wrist and then stood with her left hand clutching her right, the palm of that hand turned upwards, crimson staining it. She remained still and he frowned after a few minutes. Had she slipped into shock? He couldnâ€™t sense it in her.
She seemed incredibly calm considering everything that had happened to her and her situation. A little too docile for his liking. He studied her. It wasnâ€™t normal for a human to be so unafraid after everything she had experienced. He had expected her to put up more of a fight about remaining with him and coming up to his apartment.
The man had given his blood to her. She was under his influence. It would explain why she was so at ease and why not a trace of fear laced her scent. The man wasnâ€™t afraid, so she wasnâ€™t either.
Kearn kept his guard up and approached her. She wasnâ€™t herself and wouldnâ€™t be until her body had eradicated the manâ€™s blood from her system. She had flitted between afraid and angry during the journey here and in the garage. The man was using his blood to control her.
â€œMake yourself comfortable.â€ He stripped off his holster and then his white shirt.
Her gaze moved to him. It roamed unabashed over his body. He headed back to the door and tossed the ruined white shirt onto the floor of the beech wood kitchen. When he turned around, the woman didnâ€™t take her eyes off him. She continued to stare at his torso. He touched his ear and then frowned at the blood on his fingers. Without looking at the woman, he crossed the room to the bedroom door and opened it. He dropped the holster and his gun onto the deep brown duvet covering his double bed to his right and then flicked the light on. The dark earthy walls and low lighting in his bedroom soothed his tired eyes.
Kearn touched his ear again and walked straight through the gap between the foot of his bed and the built-in wardrobe, heading for the door across the room. He flinched when he turned the light on in the en-suite bathroom. He needed to put a dimmer one in at some point but it always slipped his mind. The white tiles bounced the light around, making it too bright for him. He looked into the large black-framed rectangular mirror that occupied the wall above the wide black sink cabinet in front of him. The cut had already started to heal but he still needed to help it along, if only to stop it from bleeding down another shirt.
He washed the blood off his neck and chest, watching the red swirl down the drain of the white oval sink. The cut began to bleed again. He took a small dark brown hand towel off the side of the black cabinet, dabbed his ear to dry it, and set it back down. Before his earlobe could bleed, he spat on his index and forefinger, and rubbed the saliva into the nick. It stung. The man hadnâ€™t been aiming at the woman. He had wanted to use her distracting him as a chance to kill him.
He should have realised sooner that the woman was under his control.
Kearn stared in the mirror, through his bedroom to the main room of the large open plan apartment. The knife in his car would yield nothing. Only her blood had been on it and the man had been wearing gloves. The woman was his only clue, and the best one heâ€™d had since he had started hunting this man three years ago.
He looked at his reflection and cursed the sight of it. It was still strange to him. Not himself staring back at him but someone else. He hadnâ€™t seen himself in the mirror for over one hundred years, and he never would again.
He crouched, opened the two doors on the sink cabinet, and took out anything that would help a human heal. There wasnâ€™t much. He could only offer bandages.
Or he could help her heal.
It wasnâ€™t going to happen. The woman was a lead and that was all. Her wound would heal with time. He didnâ€™t need to interfere. If she were a Source Blood as he suspected, then drinking from her would be dangerous.
He grabbed a fresh black shirt from the built-in oak wardrobe in his bedroom and then walked out into the living room. The woman looked up from the couch facing the window, her hand still held in front of her. It was bleeding badly, filling his apartment with the sweet scent of blood.
Kearn stopped beside the couch that lined the wall between the living area and his bedroom.
He wasnâ€™t sure what to do with the cut or with her. He had never worked with a human before nor had this sort of contact with one. Normally they were dead by the time he met them. The thought of tending to one was disgusting, but she was the lead he had been searching for. He was sure that the man who had attacked her was part of the group he was after, if not the leader. They had been testing her in the side road, and the man had been powerful enough to control her and make her try to drink her own blood even at a great distance. He would have to be a Lesser Noble or a Noble to be able to determine through their connection alone whether she was a Source Blood.
The woman continued to look at him, a dull edge to her hazel eyes. The manâ€™s blood was still affecting her. Kearn scanned the separate areas of the room. There was nothing she would be able to reach before him and use as a weapon, and she was only human so the furniture posed no threat. She wouldnâ€™t hurt him if she used her fists, although she had done a good job with her knee back in the garage. He placed the bandages down on the large square wooden coffee table in front of her.
Her gaze followed him across the room, unmoving from his back as he went into the kitchen. He filled a clear bowl with warm water and placed it down on the black granite work surface while he unravelled a wad of paper towel from the roll. He crossed the room back to her and placed the bowl and paper towels down next to the bandages. She watched intently as he put his black shirt on, leaving it unbuttoned, and then looked at her hand when he came to sit beside her.
This close to her, the smell of blood was overwhelming.
Kearn clamped his teeth shut and held the change at bay. It had been too long since he had smelt anything like her and it pushed at his control. He had been able to subdue the effect of her scent when he had been at a distance from her, but he couldnâ€™t contain it now. His gut clenched and twisted, saliva pooling in his mouth and his fangs itching to extend as hunger to taste the blood that went with the divine scent tore through him.
â€œKeep still,â€ he said from between his teeth and soaked some of the paper towel.
Kearn took her hand in his and forced himself to focus. Her skin was warm and soft, and he used his senses to see how much vampire blood was in her system. Enough to keep her under control and stop her from answering his questions. He had promised that he would make her feel better. He only had one way of doing that and he wasnâ€™t sure if he wanted to go through with it or not.
He wiped the blood from her hand. It mixed with the water and covered his, ran down his arms in beautiful rivulets, soaking into his shirtsleeves. He slowed without thinking, fascinated by how her blood blossomed on the surface of the cut and savouring the warm alluring smell. He swallowed the burning ache in his throat and focused. She inhaled sharply when he wiped the blood away again and he grabbed the bandage. He wound it around her hand as quickly as possible and pinned it on her palm. The smell of blood lessened but it was all over his hands. He licked his lips. The fiery thirst in his veins begged him to quench it. Did he really want to do this?
â€œWhy did he make me do that?â€ she whispered and Kearn looked at her. There were tears in her eyes as she stared at her hand. They trembled on the brink of falling. Her feelings travelled through their joined hands, filling him with a sense of fear and confusion. He released her fingers and sat back.
â€œThere is a reason he made you drink his blood. It will help him find you, which is why I need to keep you with me.â€
She didnâ€™t seem shocked by what he had said. He had expected her to react with disbelief or horror. Perhaps the blood in her veins and what she had witnessed was enough to make her believe him.
â€œWhy did he cut me?â€ She raised her hand and toyed with the bandage. The blood was already soaking into the edges of it.
Kearn looked down at the scarlet ambrosia coating his hands. â€œYour blood may be of a type which is valuable to his kind.â€
He curled his fingers into fists. They shook.
â€œI must wash my hands.â€ He stood and headed straight through his bedroom and into the white and black bathroom. He stared at his hands. The blood looked even redder against the white sink beneath them. They trembled uncontrollably.
Did he really want to do this?
He needed answers and to get them he needed to eradicate any control the vampire might have over her.
Kearn lifted his hand to his nose and sniffed the blood. It smelt strong and enticing. His mouth watered. He took a deep breath followed by another two, trying to prepare himself. This could be a grave mistake.
Closing his eyes, he tentatively reached out towards his fingers with his tongue. The moment the blood touched it, a jolt rocked his body. She was definitely a Source Blood. He hadnâ€™t tasted forbidden blood since becoming a Venator but he hadnâ€™t forgotten the effects.
He licked his finger and swallowed. The jolt became an intense buzz and his fangs extended. His eyes shot open and familiar red ones looked back at him from his reflection, a fragment of the real him that he didnâ€™t often see. He grasped the edge of the cabinet with his other hand to steady himself and then licked the blood off his other fingers, gaining pace. He needed more. Just a little more, so he would be sure of his ability to command her and clear her blood of interference. That was the only reason he had to suck each of his fingers clean. It had nothing to do with the delightful way her blood made him tremble, made his breath stutter and his heart beat faster, at an almost human speed.
He went to lick the blood from his palm and stopped himself. Unpeeling his fingers from the edge of the cabinet, he forced himself to turn on the tap. The water ran fast and hard down the drain but he couldnâ€™t bring himself to put his hands under it and wash the blood away. He only wanted a little more. A warm pulsing feeling relaxed every muscle in his body and his head felt light. His eyelids fell to half-mast and the warm buzz became a hot inferno in his blood, an ache to feed and give in to his animal instincts. His breath shuddered. Just a little more.
Kearn forced his head under the water instead of his hands but it did nothing to stop the hunger gnawing his stomach and the hard ache in his trousers. He groaned under his breath and kept his head under the freezing water, begging it to clear. He didnâ€™t want to remember.
High laughter. The scent of sex. The mindless lust. The painful betrayal. The blood on his hands.
He didnâ€™t want to remember any of it.
He didnâ€™t want to feel that way again.
Kearn squeezed his eyes shut and shoved his hands under the water the moment he pulled his head out of it. The scent of blood instantly diminished and his control came creeping back. He focused on it, trying to expel the effects of her blood on him. It was difficult. Her blood was more potent than what he had experienced before. He had never had blood direct from a Source, only diluted from anotherâ€™s veins. He closed his eyes and kept his hands under the water, gradually clawing back a sense of calm and shutting his rampaging feelings down.
The cold water numbed his hands. He kept them there, not trusting himself. If any trace of her blood remained on his skin, he would be tempted to lick it off, and it would undo all the work he had done to regain some control over himself. He grabbed the bar of soap from the side of the basin and washed his hands with it, erasing every drop of crimson on his pale skin. When he had been washing them for nearly ten minutes, he turned off the tap.
He glanced at himself in the mirror.
His eyes were still red.
The colour of blood.
Kearn focused on thinking over everything that had happened tonight. The woman was lucky that he had been patrolling the area and had smelt the blood. It had been the vampireâ€™s blood that had caught his attention, carried on the night air in a rich vein that had been easy to detect. Unfortunately, he couldnâ€™t use its scent to recognise the man. Vampire blood all smelt the same. Heavy and strong.
Human blood was a light fragrance. He resisted the temptation to take a deep breath and see if he could smell her blood. He was almost in control again.
The knife, the vampireâ€™s blood, the manâ€™s appearance, none of it was the break he needed.
But she was.
He looked at himself in the mirror again. Green eyes welcomed him back, cold and empty, familiar in their darkness. He turned away from them, hating the sight, and walked back through the bedroom to the living room.
The woman was still fraying the ends of the bandage around her right hand. Her gaze fixed on him and she frowned. Water dripped from the jagged tips of his silver hair and soaked into his black shirt. He raked his hair back, picked up the bowl and paper towels, and walked past her to the kitchen area. Her eyes followed his every move, her focus intent on him. She could look all she wanted. She wasnâ€™t going to figure him out, not even with her blood in his veins.
â€œAre you feeling any better?â€ Kearn ignored the warm sedated buzz in the depths of his bones that constantly switched between whispering hungry words to him and making him want to smile. He felt normal. There was no reason to get ideas about her blood. He was in control and she was nothing but a lead.
He couldnâ€™t kill a human.
â€œJust now.â€ Her voice ran as deep in his veins as her blood, teasing his senses. The soft sound of it wrapped around him, caressing him and making him want to look at her. He ignored it too. It was just her blood affecting him. â€œMy head feels clearer.â€
That was what he had wanted to hear. It was difficult to use her blood in his veins purely to control the effect of the vampireâ€™s on hers rather than controlling her, but he would keep it up for as long as he could. Soon her blood should have cleared enough that the vampire wouldnâ€™t be able to control her at any great distance.
Kearn filled a glass with water and carried it back to her. He placed it on the coffee table in front of her and then sat beside her again. The smell of her blood drifted on the air and flowed down into his lungs with each breath he drew, pushing at his restraint. He had never smelt anything as alluring and tempting.
The connection between their blood shattered.
â€œWhat was he?â€ she said without any hint of trepidation.
â€œIâ€™m sorry?â€ He tried for confused while he struggled against her blood and the vampireâ€™s. The bastard was pushing for control.
The woman scratched at the bandage. Kearn kept an eye on her. If she made any move to open the bandage, he would stop her and restrain her. Until then, he would keep fighting the vampireâ€™s hold over her.
â€œIâ€™m not crazy, and I know what I saw would make me sound as though I am, but I wasnâ€™t imagining it.â€ Her hand left her other one and settled on her thigh.
He made the mistake of looking at it. There were damp spots on the black material of her trousers. Blood. Delicious, fragrant, blood. Diverting his eyes before they changed again, he stared out of the window.
She leaned forwards into view and frowned at him. â€œThat man had fangs. They couldnâ€™t have been fake. It all felt so real. He wanted to drink my blood… I felt it inside me. Some dark hideous hunger. He had some sort of power over me. Now either tell me Iâ€™m insane and heading for a spell at the nearest asylum, or tell me the truth. Heâ€™s a vampire.â€
Kearnâ€™s silver eyebrows rose. There was no point in lying to her if she had already figured out what she was up against and believed it.
She gasped and grabbed his hand. The contact sent a sharp jolt through him and pushed at his control. Her blood called to him. The same dark hideous hunger she had sensed in the man. He fought his desire to look at the smooth column of her throat, knowing that if he did he wouldnâ€™t be able to stop himself from licking it and acting out his desire to sink his fangs into the soft flesh and drink his fill of her.
Instead, he kept his eyes fixed on her face and was struck by a different sort of hunger.
She was beautiful.
He had never paid much attention to humans. They had been nothing more than a mission to him for centuries and only a meal before that, but now he had stopped to look at one and some part of him wished he hadnâ€™t because she mesmerised him.
Her wide round hazel eyes were fascinating. The overhead lights of his apartment played on them, highlighting the flecks of gold and green. Long wavy brown hair caressed her face, cascading over slender shoulders. Rosy lips spoke to him and he didnâ€™t hear a word they said. He watched the way they moved and the sensual shapes they made, and the tiny flash of soft pink tongue against straight white teeth.
â€œWhatâ€™s a Venator?â€
That question broke his reverie.
â€œYou?â€ She stared blankly at him. No, through him. She was trying to remember something. â€œI knew that word. I wanted you to kill that man and then I wanted to stop you. I knew you. There was something else too. I wanted to taste my blood.â€
She sounded as confused as she felt.
â€œThe man desired to test you to see if you were a Source Blood.â€
â€œSource. I knew that word too and that it meant something different. You said my blood is valuable.â€
â€œIt is.â€ He picked up the glass and offered it to her. The water would thin her blood and lessen the vampireâ€™s control over her, but it would weaken his too. It was a risk he had to take. â€œIt is very valuable on the black market but also extremely illegal. My job is to find those who dare break the law by attempting to purchase, sell or harvest the blood.â€
No fear touched her features but he could feel an underlying sense of nerves in his veins that belonged to her.
He studied her blood and the strength flowing through it surprised him. Her blood within him, and the vampireâ€™s within her, was enough to convince her that she wasnâ€™t going insane and that everything that had happened tonight was real. She understood and accepted it, and had even found some sense of resolve to face it all. He had expected her to be more fragile and sensitive, to panic and plead him to protect her. Her calm acceptance of the situation made him reassess his earlier thoughts about her. It wasnâ€™t the vampireâ€™s blood in her veins that made her unafraid. It was her own natural strength, and it only added to her beauty.
â€œWhy is it worth so much? Are all humans Source Bloods to vampires?â€ She took the glass, tilted her head back and drank some of the water.
Kearn refused to look at her throat.
â€œNo. Source Bloods are very rare. It refers to a specific gene in your blood that affects vampires. Vampires believe that millennia ago, they branched away from humanity and evolved separately. At that time, the same gene in their blood was stronger. Over the generations, it weakened to what it is today and has remained that way.â€
She frowned and lowered the glass. â€œSo I share a gene with vampires?â€
He nodded. â€œYour bloodline did not evolve and gain the ability to use the power that gene gives you.â€
She swallowed and a sense of unease ran in his veins. Her blood. It was potent. He was constantly aware of it and how it mixed with his, stirred it to a frenzy of hunger and need. Kearn shifted his focus back to her, using all of his strength to keep it pinned on her and not his blood.
â€œIâ€™m like a vampire?â€
â€œNo, you are human, but different. Special.â€
A hint of colour touched her cheeks and she dropped her gaze. He raised an eyebrow at her reaction and cocked his head to one side. Her blood whispered warm words at him, teasing him into submitting to her. She had watched him earlier when he had removed his shirt and sometimes her pupils dilated until they darkened her hazel eyes. Desire? Was she attracted to him? A human? As though he could desire such a weak creature in return.
The colour on her cheeks deepened, sending a gut-tugging jolt through his blood, and his lips parted. He swallowed when she shyly raised her eyes and looked at him through her dark lashes. His body burned with the desire to sweep her into his arms and taste her again. Kearn forced his eyes down to the floor. It was just her blood commanding him to do as she wanted. It wasnâ€™t his desire.
It couldnâ€™t be.
He cleared his throat and frowned, trying to make sense of the feelings running riot in him. Not all of them could be hers. Some of them had to be his.
â€œDo vampires only drink from people like me?â€ Her voice shook and he was tempted to touch her hand again to reassure her, but restrained himself.
If he did such a thing, he would have a hard time resisting pulling her against him and slaking his growing thirst for her. Taking her blood had been a mistake. He had less control over himself than he had anticipated. He had forgotten how potent Source Blood was.
â€œVampires gain sustenance from all human blood. Source Blood is different. It is a drug to vampires. Most only drink enough to produce a natural high that makes them giddy and removes their inhibitions.â€ He battled his need to look at her throat. â€œOthers are seeking something more sinister. In a large enough dose, it temporarily restores the strength in the shared gene, enhancing them and reinstating the devastating power they once commanded. With enough Source Blood in their veins they would become living gods.â€
His gaze slid to her neck and he turned away, cursing himself for tasting her. He had needed to be sure that she was a Source Blood though and needed to calm her enough to get answers.
â€œThat man knew I was a Source Blood and thatâ€™s why he followed me?â€
â€œNo.â€ Kearn shook his head, as much to clear it of the whispered command to feast on her as to answer her. â€œSource Blood is difficult to detect if the human is not bleeding. You said he gave you his blood. He was seeking to turn you compliant so he could kill you. When his blood joined with yours, he realised that you were different. Your blood saved you.â€
â€œIt doesnâ€™t feel as though it saved me. I feel as though it damned me.â€
Would she rather be dead than in this situation? He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. He couldnâ€™t sense any fear in her, but there was an edge to her eyes, a look that said she was desperately trying to be strong but everything was beginning to take its toll on her.
â€œI will protect you,â€ he said and felt her look at him. He couldnâ€™t meet her gaze, not yet, not until the need to look at her throat and taste her blood had passed again. â€œIf you help me, we can find the man who hurt you. I have been searching for him for three years. If we can capture him, you can go back to your life. No one else will know what your blood contains.â€
â€œWhat will happen to him?â€
â€œHe will be sentenced.â€ He looked at her now, trusting himself not to change and frighten her. She wasnâ€™t likely to help him if she knew that he was also a vampire.
â€œAre you a cop? Is that what a Venator is?â€
â€œNoâ€”sort of. I have to carry out the sentence on the people whose names are given to me by myâ€¦ bosses.â€ He had never needed to explain his position before. It was difficult to put it into words that didnâ€™t sound medieval or make him a murderer. He hunted those the Sovereignty deemed had broken the law. He sentenced them to eternal darkness. Usually they knew the name of the law-breaker. This time there wasnâ€™t one. There had only been a location to start looking. â€œWill you help me?â€
He didnâ€™t really need her to answer. Either way he wasnâ€™t letting her leave. He needed her and she was going to help him, although he would prefer that she did so of her own free will. Forcing her wouldnâ€™t solve anything but he would if she left him no choice.
â€œHeâ€™ll come after me.â€ She looked down at her hands, playing with the bandage again. Her pulse began to pick up pace and he sensed her rising panic. Was she remembering what had happened to her? Her blood inside him whispered of fear and death. She looked up at him, blinked away her tears and nodded. â€œIâ€™ll help you if you promise to keep me safe.â€
â€œIt is a promise.â€ Kearn tried to think of how humans made deals. He held his hand out to her.
She slipped hers into it and shook it a single time, and then her hand lingered in his.
And his eyes fell to her neck.
â€œDo you remember anything else?â€ he whispered, those words distant to his ears as he perused the gentle sloping grace of her throat.
Her hand left his and he dragged his eyes away, forcing them up to hers. They were watching him again, giving him the impression that she was looking for a secret or trying to see past his exterior and down to his heart. It wasnâ€™t going to happen.
Kearn stood and walked around the square coffee table to the windows. He placed his hands behind his back. The rooftops of London stretched into the distance, lights twinkling in the darkness. It was barely past midnight. The night still lay before him.
â€œThe man was in a courtyard. Theyâ€™re always cleaning it with disinfectant in the morning. The other two, the ones who held me, were there too, carrying black sacks over their shoulders.â€
He turned to face her.
â€œI need you to show me this place,â€ he said and she nodded. â€œAnd we need to lure the man out. The man will want to finish what he started and test your blood. He will come looking for you. I will keep my promise and see to it that nothing happens to you. Would you be willing to act as bait?â€
She didnâ€™t look so sure now. She was silent and a myriad of emotions flickered in her hazel eyes.
A sense of resolve laced his blood. Her resolve.
â€œIf it will get rid of that man, Iâ€™ll do anything. Just keep me safe.â€
He wouldnâ€™t let anything happen to her.
A voice deep inside him said that it wasnâ€™t only because he needed her as bait. There was something else at work here too.
She really was beautiful.
But she was forbidden blood.
And he had tasted her.
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