Before I get to the teaser/snippet, I offer a bit of a contest. For those who've read my other works, you might be aware that I am somewhat obsessed by a certain book that became a stage musical. Contained below is a reference to that book hidden amongst the beginning of my little tale.
What you need to do is:
1. find that reference
2. identify it in the context of the book
3. post your answer in the comments :) Yes, I'm a comment whore. Sue me.
What you win:
I"ll ask the winner for their email (privately, don't want the spam bots to pick up) and will send them an inspiration pic for Daevas Malphas (which will go in the bios eventually) and the following chapter by email when that chapter's snippet is posted. So, not terribly early, but before anyone else.
Good luck and enjoy!
There's a Fine Line...
Blake Simons drummed his fingers upon the conference table and idly contemplated murdering his terminally boring Chief Financial Officer. Today’s meeting was focused on the annual budget review of the multi-billion dollar company as well as voting on the proposed budgets for the upcoming fiscal year. The dark haired CEO hated reports in general but reserved a special level of loathing for financial reports. They were generally a regurgitation of the same report from the previous year with little changes beyond accounting for inflation and increases in the costs of living. While such reports were considered necessary, he could see little advantage to listening as the thin, prune-faced man droned on about the financial stability of Simons Enterprises as well as the instability of several of the large conglomerate’s select clients. He’d heard it all before at the last financial review and once more began plotting his advisor’s death. A simple grip on the man’s narrow head, a quick twist, and the torture would be over for the day. He could go home and have a glass of Madeira and relax. How charming that would be!
“…and the figures from the third quarter indicate that Leroux, Inc., has experienced a marked decrease in…”
A marked decrease in your incessant tediousness would be far more welcome, Simons grumped silently to himself. He wondered, yet again, why he hadn’t turned over the running of his company to some younger underling and just raked in the profits. Oh, yes…he was a controlling bastard who trusted no one. That was it.
Deciding that a nasally tone of voice and pedantic manner of speech were insufficient reasons to go through the trouble of covering up the man’s death, he, instead, allowed his mind to wander to a subject that was as equally appealing as it was appalling: Alicia Johnston – his mate. Like every other wide-eyed, fresh faced youngling, he, too, had once believed in the drivel poured into his naïve ears about soul mates that would make the interminable years ahead bearable. But when the years passed – years, then decades, and then centuries – without this mythical being, he felt the veil forcibly ripped from his eyes. Nothing could soothe the utter dreariness of outliving your friends, family – even their grandchildren’s grandchildren were now dust and forgotten. Until that damnable Summit; until her. His scowl grew fierce and the CFO nervously stumbled over his words before falling silent. Though he much preferred the silence, Blake sighed and motioned for him to continue.
“Um…yes, well…meanwhile, Poligny & Debienne has seen a steady increase in…”
The only increase I want to hear about, Barnes, is the speed of your damned speech before I rip your tongue from your mouth and force you to eat it, the vampire owner and Chief Executive Officer thought sourly. He really hated meetings. As the CFO droned on, he allowed himself to drift back to the events that led up to his finding his mate.
Had it only been two months ago that he’d been approached by a member of the Vampire Council to investigate the leader of the hate group, the Human Purity League, Colonel Friedrich Hunsinger? That he’d been chosen as the Primary Investigator hadn’t surprised him; he was one of the few high-profile nonhumans who hadn’t stepped forward after the Reveal. He’d enjoyed a fair amount of speculation from both colleagues and rivals alike over the last five years and it had amused him to fuel the fires of both opposing opinions. When he learned that the Colonel had planned to capture several of the children of the attending Ambassadors, he passed the information on to his contact and gave it little additional thought. Vampires couldn’t have children so what did it matter to him if some Shifter’s brats were kidnapped? A few less mutts in the world couldn’t be a bad thing, could it? So, he’d made his report but failed to follow up with the Council to discover their next plan of action.
The Council had remained silent on the matter which had surprised him. With Elizabeth Pierce as the local Council Chair and the Colonel being her mate’s mortal father, he’d expected some kind of official stance on how to handle the situation. Instead, his reports had been met with nothing but silence. It was only the interception of a wayward pixie spy that informed him that the Colonel’s plan had been implemented and he’d been furious. He’d stormed the hotel to confront his friend only to discover that his reports had somehow gone astray. The Council hadn’t reacted because they hadn’t known. It seemed there was someone amongst the council members with their own agenda.
The lights in the meeting room dimmed, pulling Blake from his thoughts. His eyes shifted closer to those of his inner beast’s, more crimson than his dark brown, in order to pierce the low light. When the projector flared to light, he barely stifled his groan. PowerPoint was the bane of every meeting in the corporate world and he had half a mind to hunt down Bill Gates and kick his ass for allowing the damned thing to be created.
“As you can see by this table, the changes in the Board of Directors of Larrabie, Inc., has caused stockholders to…”
Holy fuck, was the man still talking? Ripping his head off was far too kind. Perhaps he could pin him to the wall like a wingless butterfly and peel the skin away in small squares…
Immersed in the pleasurable contemplations of his CFO’s torture, Blake returned to his thoughts of the recent past. When the others had left the room, he’d remained behind – drawn by something he couldn’t name. It wasn’t until he’d paced the room more than a dozen times that he’d learned whom the elves had been tending. The young human female wasn’t what he normally indulged in when it came to sex or food, but her scent had captured his attention the instant he’d gotten close. Once those annoying elves had moved out of his way, he’d gotten his first good look at the girl. His beast had hissed his pleasure…and his need.
She was a little thing, short and slim, with gently waving light brown hair that fanned out over the pillow like a honeyed halo. Dark brown lashes kept her eyes hidden but the scattering of freckles across her cheeks and bridge of his nose had his fingers itching to trace each and every one. In sleep, she looked far younger than her nineteen years and yet the gentle swells of her breasts beneath the thin sheet had belied her childlike appearance. She wasn’t, perhaps, classically pretty but she was petite, cute, and called to him on such a deep level that, in his eyes, she was the most beautiful creature he’d ever been privileged to see.
The blood that stained her shirt had been the evidence of a vicious wound and he barely remembered asking the elven shaman how she’d obtained the injury. The answer had been a dagger straight to his soul. Alicia had been injured helping the children – those same children he’d written his reports about and then dismissed. The pain he’d felt when he’d gazed upon a near-mortally wounded, young, human girl and realized that his complacency had caused her injury very nearly crippled him. It was his fault she was injured; he should have confronted the Council after his first report went unanswered.
And then there was the knowledge that another of his kind had drank from her – placed their bloodied and savage fangs upon the creamy flesh of her delicate throat and defiled what was his. He didn’t care if it had meant their escape; reason had little to do with the vampire’s visceral and instinctive reaction. Blake’s inner beast rose sharply at the thought with but one purpose, to kill, but he ruthlessly subdued his vicious nature. For as cruel and bestial as his inner beast was, it had learned quickly in the earliest days of their shared existence that the human was far colder, more cunning, and deadlier than it could ever aspire to be.
But now, both were undone by a girl. A Girl! His low growl caused those nearby to shift uncomfortably in their chairs but he paid them little mind.
Once she’d healed, he’d visited her in her room and asked her to dinner. Granted, she’d been in the shower when he’d entered and it had been quite a struggle to keep from joining her. Just the thought of the water flowing over that young, nubile body to wash away the frothy bubbles that hid her delightful curves from his eyes had very nearly shattered his monumental self control. Fuck, it was damaging it even now as the memory of her in that fluffy robe, with her hair wet and tousled, had him hard as granite in his pricey A. Caraceni. The surprise on her face when she’d found him in her room, followed quickly by a perfectly thrown knife aimed for his head, had him ready to ruin his expensive tailored suit.
And then he’d tasted her.