|She’d heard members of the Brotherhood were almost a separate species, but
she’d never thought that was true. Until now. Those two males were not just
colossal on a physical scale, they radiated dominance and aggression. Hell, they
made her brother look like an amateur in the hard-ass department and Rehvenge
was the toughest thing she’d ever come across.Dear God, what had she done in bringing Mary and John here? She was a little
less concerned for the boy, but what about Mary? The way that blonde warrior had
acted around her was flat-out trouble. You could have boiled an ocean with the
kind of lust he’d thrown off and members of the Black Dagger Brotherhood were
not used to being denied. From what she’d heard, when they wanted a female, they
Thankfully, they weren’t known to rape, although going by what
she’d seen just now, they wouldn’t have to. Those warrior’s bodies were made for
sex. Mating with one of them, being possessed by all that strength, would be an
Although Mary, as a human, might very well not
feel that way.
Bella looked up and down the hall, restless, tense. There
was no one around, and if she had to stand still any longer, she was going to
have a head full of cornrows. She shook out her hair and picked a random
direction to meander. When she caught the sound of a rhythmic pounding in the
distance, she followed the thumping to a pair of metal doors. She opened one
side and walked through.
The gymnasium was the size of a pro-basketball
court, its wooden floor varnished to a high gloss with bright blue mats laid out
here and there. Caged, fluorescent lights dangled from the high ceiling and a
balcony with stadium seating jutted out on the left. Beneath the overhang, a
series of punching bags was strung up.
A magnificent male was beating the
crap out of one of them, his back to her. Dancing on the balls of his feet,
light as a breeze, he threw punch after punch, ducking, hitting, driving the
heavy bag forward with his force so the thing hung at an angle.
couldn’t see his face, but he had to be attractive. His skull-trimmed hair was
light brown and he wore a skin-tight, black turtleneck and a pair of loose,
black nylon workout pants. A holster criss-crossed over his broad
The door clicked shut behind her.
With a swipe of his arm,
the male whipped a black-bladed dagger out and buried it into the bag. He ripped
the thing open, sand and padding pouring down in a rush onto the mat. And then
he spun around.
Bella clapped a hand over her mouth. His face was
scarred, as if someone had tried to cut it in half with a knife. The thick line
started at his forehead, went down the bridge of his nose and curved over his
cheek. It ended at the side of his mouth, distorting his upper lip.
Narrowed eyes, black and cold as the water in Mary’s pool last night,
took her in and then widened ever so slightly. He seemed nonplussed, his big
body unmoving save for the deep breaths he took.
The male wanted her, she
thought. And was unsure what to do about it.
Except just like that, the
speculation and odd confusion were buried. What took their place was an icy
anger that scared the hell out of her. Keeping her eyes on him, she backed into
the door and pumped the release bar. When she go nowhere, she had a feeling he
was trapping her inside.
The male watched her struggle for a moment and
then came after her. As he stalked across the mats, he flipped his dagger into
the air and caught it by the handle. Flipped it up, snatched it back. Up and
“Don’t know what you’re doing here,” he said in a low voice. “Other
than fucking up my workout.”
As those eyes went over her face and body,
his hostility was palpable, but he was also throwing off raw heat, a kind of
sexual menace she really shouldn’t have been captivated by.
“I’m sorry. I
“Didn’t know what, female?”
God, he was so close
now. And he was so much bigger than her.
She bummed up against the door.
The male flattened his hands onto the metal on either side
of her head. She eyed the knife he was holding, but then forgot all about the
weapon as he leaned into her. He stopped just before their bodies touched, his
Abruptly, the confusion came back to his face, as if he
didn’t understand what he was feeling.
He looked her over, an odd frown on
In the electric silence between them, Bella took a deep breath,
smelling him. His scent was more like a fire in her nose than anything she could
name. And she responded to it, warming, wanting.
“You’re sorry,” he
said, titling his head to the side and focusing on her neck. When he smiled, his
fangs were long and very white, but his anger came back. “Yeah, I bet you
“I am very sorry.”
“So prove it.”
“Get on your hands and knees. I’ll take your apology from
A door on the other side of the gymnasium burst open.
“Zsadist! Let her go!” Another male, this one with a long head of hair,
jogged across the vast floor. “Let her go, Z.”
The scarred male leaned
down to her, putting that misshapen mouth close to her ear.
pressed into her sternum, over her heart. His fingertip.
“You just got
He stepped around her and went out the door, just as the other male came up
“Are you okay?”
Bella eyed the decimated punching bag. She couldn’t seem to breathe although
whether that was from fear or something altogether sexual, she wasn’t sure.
Probably a combination of both.
“Yes, I think so. Who was that?”
The male opened the door and led her back to the interrogation room without
answering her question. “Do yourself a favor and stay here, okay?”
Good advice, she thought, as she was left by herself.
Excerpt Two: From LOVER ETERNAL, Rhage’s
When we see Rhage and Mary, Mary knows him as Hal E. Wood
and is unaware he’s a vampire…
Four a.m. There’d be no going back
to sleep. Mary pulled a fleece on over her T-shirt and boxers and went
downstairs. On her way to the kitchen, she turned on every light switch she
passed until all the dark corners in the house were
Destination: her coffee pot. There was no question that
answering some office email and getting ready for the break of Columbus Day
weekend was better than laying in bed and counting the hours to dawn.
She filled the Krups machine with water and went into the cupboard for the
coffee can. It was nearly empty so she took out her back up supply and the hand
held can opener and –
She was not alone.
Mary leaned forward,
looking out the window above the sink. With no exterior lights on, she couldn’t
see anything so she went around to the slider and flipped the switch next to the
A massive black shape was on the other side of
Mary scrambled for the phone, but stopped when she saw the
flash of blonde hair.
Hal lifted his hand in greeting.
voice was muffled through the glass.
Mary wrapped her arms around her
stomach. “What are you doing here?”
His wide shoulders shrugged. “Wanted
to see you.”
“Why? And why now?”
Another shrug. “Seemed like a
“Are you deranged?”
She almost smiled.
And then reminded herself that she had no close neighbors and he was practically
the size of her house.
“How did you find me?” Maybe Bella had told him
where she lived.
“Can I come in? Or maybe you could come out if you’d
feel more comfortable that way?”
“Hal, it’s four-thirty in the
“I know. But you’re awake and so am I.”
God, he was so
big in all that black leather, and with his face mostly in shadow, he was more
menacing than beautiful.
And she was actually considering opening the
door? Clearly, she was also deranged.
“Look, Hal, I don’t think it’s a
He stared at her through the glass. “Maybe we can just talk
this way, then?”
Mary stared at him, dumbfounded. The guy was willing to
hang around, locked out of her house like a criminal, just so they could chat?
“Hal, no offense, but there are about a hundred thousand women in this
zip code who would not only let you into their homes, but would take you to bed.
Why don’t you go find one of them and leave me alone?”
The darkness falling across his face made his eyes impossible to
read. But his tone of voice was so damn sincere.
In the long pause that
followed, she tried to convince herself not to let him inside.
I wanted to hurt you, I could do it in an instant. You could lock every door and
every window and I’d still get inside. All I want is… to talk to you some
She eyed the width of his shoulders. He had a point about the
breaking and entering. And she had a feeling that if she told him the best she
could do was a closed door between them, he would pull up one of her lawn chairs
and sit down on the terrace.
She unlatched the slider, opened it, and
stepped back. “Just explain something to me.”
He smiled tightly as he
came in. “Shoot.”
“Why aren’t you with a woman who wants you?” Hal
flinched. “What I mean is, those women tonight at the restaurant, they were all
over you. Why aren’t you having…” Crazy hot sex. “Er- fun with one of
“I’d rather be here talking with you than inside one of those
She recoiled at little at his candor, and then realized he
wasn’t being crude, just bluntly honest.
Well, at least she had one
thing right. When he’d walked away after that soft kiss, she’d assumed it was
because he hadn’t felt any heat. Evidently, she’d hit the nail on the head. He
wasn’t here for sex and she told herself it was good he wasn’t lusting after
her. Almost believed it, too.
“I was about to make some coffee, would you
He nodded and started wandering around the living room,
taking note of her things. Against all of her white furniture and cream walls,
his black clothes and heavy build were ominous, but then she looked at his face.
He was wearing this silly little grin, as if he were happy just to be inside her
house. Kind of like an animal who’d been chained in the yard and finally allowed
“You want to take off your coat?” she said.
He slid the
leather from his shoulders and tossed it over to her sofa. The thing landed with
a dull thump, crushing the cushions.
What the hell was in those pockets?
But then she looked at his body and forgot all about the
stupid coat. He was wearing a black T-shirt that showed off a powerful set of
arms. His chest was wide and well defined, his stomach tight enough so she could
see his six pack even through the shirt. His legs were long, his thighs
“Do you like what you see?” he asked in a low, quiet
Excerpt Three: When Rhage and
Mary first meet…
Rhage felt like holy hell as he
weaved down the corridor. Every time the beast came out of him, his vision
headed off for a little vacation, and as usual, it was taking its own sweet time
in getting back to work. And his body was whacked out, too. His legs and arms
were heavy, not exactly useless, but definitely sub-par.
stomach was still off. The very idea of food made him nauseous.
had it with being stuck in his room. Twelve hours flat on his back was enough
wasted time. He was going to go to the training center’s gym, get on a recumbent
bike, loosen himself up a little.
Rhage stopped, tensing. He couldn’t see
much, but he knew for sure he was not alone in the hall.
around and pulled the figure out of a doorway, grabbing it by the throat,
forcing the body into the wall. Too late, he realized it was a female and the
high-pitched gasp shamed him. He immediately eased up on his grip, but he didn’t
let her go.
Good lord, she was a human.
What was a human doing in
the brotherhood’s private compound?
“Who are you?” he demanded. “What are
you doing here?”
There was no answer, just quick breathing. She was
utterly terrified of him, the smell of her fear like woodsmoke in his
He softened his voice. “I’m not going to hurt you. But you don’t
belong here and I want to know your name.”
The skin under his palm was
warm, soft. The throat was slender, the blood racing through the veins running
up from her heart. Her hair was a dark, rich brown, falling over her
“My name is Mary. I’m here with a friend.”
stopped breathing. His heart skipped a beat and then slowed.
again,” he whispered.
“Ah, my name is Mary Luce. I’m a friend of
Rhage shivered, a balmy rush breaking out all over his skin.
The musical lilt of her voice, the rhythm in her speech, the sound of her words
spread through him, calmed him, comforted him.
He closed his eyes. “Say something else.”
asked, obviously confused.
“Talk. Talk to me. I want to hear your voice
She was silent, and he was about to beg her to speak, when she
said, “You don’t look well.
Do you need a doctor?”
himself swaying. The words didn’t matter so much, it was her tone. Low, soft, a
quiet brushing in his ears. He felt as if he were being stroked on the inside of
“More,” he said, twisting his palm around to the front of her
neck so he could feel the vibrations in her throat better.
could you please let go of me?’
“No.” He put his other hand up on her
collar bone so she couldn’t get away from him. “Talk.”
She started to
struggle. “You’re crowding me.”
“I know. Talk.”
“Oh, for God’s
sake, what do you want me to say?”
Even exasperated, her voice was
“Fine. Get your hand off my throat and let
me go or I’m going to knee you where it counts.”
put his lower body against her, trapping her with his thighs and hips. She
stiffened against him, but he got an ample feel of her. She was built lean, but
he had no doubt she was a female.
Her breasts hit his chest, her hips
cushioned his, her stomach was soft.
“Keep talking,” he said in her ear.
God, she smelled good. Clean. Fresh. Like lemon.
She pushed against him
and he leaned his full weight into her. Her breath came out in a
“Please,” he murmured.
“Since you won’t let me go, I have
nothing to say.”
He smiled, careful to keep his mouth closed. There was
no sense showing off his fangs. “So say that.”
Say nothing. Over and over and over again. Do it.”
She bristled, the
scent of fear replaced by a sharp spice, like fresh, pungent mint from a garden.
She was annoyed now.
“Fine. Nothing. Nothing.” Suddenly, she laughed and
the sound shot right through to his spine, burning him. “Nothing, nothing.
No-thing. No-thing. Noooooothing. There, is that good enough for you? Will you
let me go now?”
She fought against him so more, creating a
delicious friction between their bodies.
And he knew the moment when her
anxiety and irritation turned to something hot. He smelled her arousal, a lovely
sweetening in the air. His body answered her call, his hips moving in a circle,
rubbing against her.
He was hard as a diamond.
Her hands flattened
on his waist and slowly slid around to his back, as if she were unsure why she
was responding to him the way she was. He arched against her and felt her palms
move up his spine.
Rhage growled low in his throat and dropped his head
down so his ear was next to her mouth. He wanted to give her another word to
say, something like luscious or whisper or strawberry.
antidisestablishmentarianism would do it.
The effect she had on him was
drug-like, a tantalizing combination of sexual need and profound ease. Like he
was having an orgasm and falling into a peaceful sleep at the same time. It was
like nothing he’d ever felt before.
A chill shot through him, sucking out
the warmth in his body.
He snapped his head back as he thought about the
warning Vicious had given him.
“Are you a virgin?” Rhage demanded.
beg your pardon. What kind of question is that?” She shoved hard against his
Anxiety tightened his hand on her collar bone. “Have you ever been
taken by a male? Answer the question.”
Her lovely voice turned high,
frightened. “Yes. Yes, I’ve had… a lover.”
Disappointment loosened his
grip. But relief was right on its heels.
All things considered, he wasn’t
sure he needed to meet his destiny this ten minutes.
Besides, even if she
wasn’t his fate, this human female was extraordinary… something
Something he had to have for himself.