If Tristan Chance believed in curses…
He never would have denied his brother’s claims that the Chance men are cursed to watch their soul mates perish, powerless to stop destiny from claiming them.
And he wouldn’t have questioned the truth of his body’s response to Lara Montgomery, a woman who calls to every aspect of his dark, sensual nature. After all, he’s been alive for three hundred years, and in all that time he’s never felt such an irresistible pull toward anyone. Yet each time he sees Lara, he wants nothing more than to rip those prim and proper accountant clothes off her body and reveal the sultry vixen he knows hides beneath…
And he definitely wouldn’t have acted on his tempestuous arousal if he had known the family curse would put Lara’s life in danger.
But even alpha vampires can be wrong. Tristan might be stubborn, but he’s not reckless. One bite, one taste, and he knows he can’t let her go. Tristan will do everything in his power to keep Lara by his side, even if it means taking on fate itself.
Reader Advisory: Novel contains a graphic ménage scene.
Read an Excerpt
The dim, private atmosphere of the place was inviting enough, in a tacky, oversexed kind of way. Blue neon lights glittered from golden sconces set in mosaic patterns against black-painted walls. Only the ceiling boasted bright color. A fresco portraying a luminous blue sky and nude women frolicking among the clouds stood out in stark contrast to the dark walls, the mahogany tables, the black leather seats.
Twenty-four tables, each seating six, had been arranged around the room. Unlike in Richard’s office, only one woman lay on each table, her body strategically covered with artfully arranged food. None moved as men grabbed for the most tempting morsels-those covering their breasts and pelvic areas.
Against one wall, a mirrored bar held hundreds of bottles and upturned crystal glasses. In the center of the room was a raised stage and a dance floor, but both stood empty. Tristan doubted the dance floor received much use. Unless they worked here, women didn’t come to Bitter Sweet and Tristan supposed the lounge’s clientele had a reputation to uphold and wouldn’t be caught dead dancing with one another, no matter how many of those bottles lining the bar they’d indulged in.
Although the odors tickling his nose were milder here than they’d been in Richard’s small office, he still easily distinguished the unmistakable scents of arousal, body heat, tobacco and too much alcohol.
He walked through the crowd, trying to avoid brushing against anyone as he passed. As much as the smells revolted him though, the sounds human bodies made intrigued and enticed him. In particular, the soft vibration of blood rushing through thick veins made his mouth water.
Gritting his teeth, Tristan glanced at his watch. The first light of dawn would make an appearance in a couple of hours. He’d indulged in a fleeting taste of nourishing blood before the meeting but he’d need a full meal before sunrise.
A waiter dressed in black slacks and a turtleneck bore a metal tray on which a dozen martini glasses balanced precariously. Swirling liquid gleamed a navy blue in each of them. The man stopped beside Tristan and tilted his head in invitation. “On the house.”
“No need. I’m leaving.”
The waiter chuckled. “No one leaves this place before closing time. You’d have to be a fool to leave before all the food is gone.”
“I don’t like what’s on the menu.”
“Hey, suit yourself, man. There are plenty of gay bars down the street.”
Tristan didn’t bother explaining. It didn’t matter what the waiter thought and besides, feeding was feeding. Women were much easier to feed upon but a gay man would easily do in a pinch.
Elbowing his way past a middle-aged man wearing a Hawaiian shirt, Tristan had almost reached the door when he spotted the woman lying on a table situated in the darkest corner of the room.
His mouth went dry. He stopped in mid-stride, instantly alert.
It wasn’t just that she was stunning, though she certainly was that. A riot of midnight-black curls fell in tight waves around her creamy shoulders, drawing his attention to the faint blue vein pulsing at the side of her slender throat.
No, what really made the breath catch in his throat was the knowledge that he’d seen her twice before, just that evening. As he’d climbed into his limo, he’d noticed her crossing the street against the light. A couple of hours later he’d bumped into her again as he pushed past the waiting crowd to enter Bitter Sweet.
That’s how it starts. The curse knows, Tristan. It gets you when you least expect it, with nothing more menacing than random sightings and coincidental run-ins.
Annoyed at himself for letting his younger brother’s insistent ramblings intrude upon his thoughts, Tristan neared the table.
When he’d seen her outside, he’d been attracted to the way her long legs peeked out from under a knee-length jacket, flashing the barest hint of a metallic miniskirt. Now the only items camouflaging the perfection of her supple, lean body were the assembled bits of food and an abundance of gold jewelry. Rings, a long triple-strand necklace, bracelets, anklets and two toe rings shone against her pale skin.
As he drew closer, the air around her shifted. The men feasting upon her didn’t notice but Tristan did. Energy sheltered her-an undulating tide of pure bright light that flowed and pulsed with the rhythmic rise and fall of her chest. He blinked hard, trying to dispel the vision, but it didn’t fade. Instead, the light intensified as he stopped inches away from her.
That’s when he noticed she had her eyes closed. The other women had all focused intently upon the ceiling, but her lashes didn’t as much as flutter. On impulse, Tristan reached out and stroked the tender skin at the hollow dip of her collarbone.
“No touching,” she said. Her throaty, confident voice sent a jolt of heat to his groin. She sounded like a woman used to being admired, a woman utterly unashamed in her nudity and comfortable in her own skin. These days, that was practically a miracle. “You may grab the food,” she continued, “and if your hand brushes against me once, fine. But fondling is entirely out of the question.”
“Is that the establishment’s rule or yours?”
She lifted a slender shoulder in a delicate half shrug, but she didn’t smile. At last she opened her eyelids a fraction. When she spotted him, panic flashed in her hazel eyes.
“Oh God,” she whispered in a voice so low he was certain only he could hear. “It’s really you, isn’t it?”
A sigh hitched in Tristan’s throat. How did she know him? He was sure he didn’t know her.
“Leave us,” he said to the men gathered around the table. Until that moment, they’d hardly given him a second glance, content to elbow each other and snicker in delight as they uncovered inch after flawless inch of the woman’s satiny skin.
“Hey, man, this is our table. Do you have any idea how much we paid to get in here tonight?”
“That’s really none of my concern.” Tristan eyed the man closest to him, a kid barely out of college. A chain extended from his nose to his ear, hooked through two identical rings. Briefly Tristan pictured himself yanking that chain, tossing the man toward the door and taking his spot.
“Well, it sure as hell is mine,” a man built like a pro football player said from across the table. He pushed his chair back and rose to his full height, a head taller than Tristan’s six feet. His upper lip curling in a snarl, the man crossed his brawny arms across his chest. The scowl etched on his features made Tristan think of a pit bull in heat.
“Gentlemen, we can do this the easy way or we can do it the hard way. The choice is yours.”
Pit Bull laughed and the harsh sound carried above the loud, gregarious chatter permeating the lounge. “I never do anything the easy way.”
Tristan sighed and glanced down at the woman. She hadn’t moved but her eyes remained open and she watched the events unfolding around her with obvious interest.
“Don’t ask me,” she said. “I get paid no matter which one of you sits here.”