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Heart of a Vampire Book 1
Release Date: April 13, 2012
When duty forces a shaman to stop a vampire from her revenge, love doesn’t just burn... it bites.
For two hundred years, Niki DeVeraux has been tracking the monster who murdered her family and made her a vampire. She finally catches up to him in a small Arizona town, only to face more than she bargained for. Amid an imperious vampire King, a shaky truce between the local clan and shifter pack, and a too-sexy sheriff who makes her remember she’s still a woman, Niki’s single-minded purpose is threatened for the first time since her turning.Between his duties as Keeper of the peace for the Magic Council and heir to his tribe’s shamanistic magic, Sheriff Shane Spencer’s job is to protect humanity and stop the friction between the local Arcaine races before it turns into an all out blood war. To make matters worse, there’s an irresistible rouge vampire in town enflaming his senses.When wolves start turning up dead, the tension between the paranormal races grows and suspicion falls on Niki. Shane knows she’s not to blame, and it has nothing to do with the primal urges she stirs within him. Working together, they must find a way to stop the hostilities from going over the edge. Trouble is, the desires raging between Niki and Shane might prove more dangerous than the surrounding threats.
Niki emerged from the forest on the edge of a small farm. The house looked old, deserted. Dingy gray paint had nearly peeled away, though every window was freshly blackened. Tall weeds wrapped around the porch. The steps were cracked, one missing, two others broken.
She jumped up to the porch, landing lightly without a sound.
Inside the house, Robby screamed. It couldn’t be him. She’d made sure he was safe. Hadn’t she? Niki rushed the door, barreling into the dark interior.
More screams echoed below the floorboards.
Her eyes adjusted almost immediately and Niki glanced around the room. Empty but for a few scraps of wood and cloth. She slipped down a hall, into the kitchen. A doorway led into deeper darkness. The musty, damp scent drifting up from a basement told her where to go.
She headed down rickety stairs in silence.
As far as she could tell, no one was there. Yet the screams...
She stepped from the stairs and onto hard-packed earth. A light flashed on and she blinked at the glare. In the center of the room, on a small wooden table, lay a tape recorder, continuing to play. Robby’s tortured, pain filled whimpers filled the basement.
“You shouldn’t steal from other people, m’dear.” Thomas’ voice interrupted the recorded screams, sending shivers down her skin. “The boy belongs to me. Don’t worry, he’ll be properly punished for daring to escape. As for you, we’ll have our showdown soon. I do hope you are as excited as I am.”
The tape clicked off. Niki growled, picking it up and throwing it at the wall. It shattered, bits of metal and plastic and tape scattering on the floor. After a few deep breaths, she studied the basement. Chains were embedded all over the walls.
The stink of vampire was heavy.
But she was too late.
Thomas was long gone. Her fists clenched and she took another deep breath to keep from screaming.
At least her sire no longer had the boy to torture. And Thomas would never get him from the King’s protection. She searched for any clue, no matter how small. But nothing other than the tape recorder and the table had been left.
Thomas was sure to have more hiding places. How was she going to find him?
Steps sounded above, thudding into the living room.
Niki blended into the shadows behind the stairs, waiting for whoever was above to come down. The steps creaked beneath their weight.
A shadow stepped onto the floor and Niki flowed with the shadows, getting close. With a cry, she sprung, grabbing him by the throat and throwing him to the floor. Leaping fast, she pinned him down. Her fingers flexed as she struggled to control her anger.
Recognition hit and she blinked. “What are you doing here?”
Shane glared up at her. “Since you didn’t wait for me,” he growled, “I had to track you down. Again.”
She leaned back, still straddling him. “You’ve got to stop doing that.”
“Because.” She felt as inane as her answer sounded.
They realized their position at the same time. His body tensed. Slowly, his hands came to her waist.
Her breathing caught, then came faster as he hardened beneath her.
His eyes brightened with that strange golden glow. “Niki,” he whispered. “You want to move before I lose it.”
She scrambled away, trying to resist the urge to let him put his hands back on her. This time, on bare skin.
Shane shook himself as he sat up, fists curling against his thighs. His erection strained at his jeans. Niki flushed, yanking her gaze away.
“Business,” he ground out. After a long moment he met her gaze. “Where’s the boy?”
“I took him to MacDougal. The King can keep him safe.”
“Good.” He glanced around the room. “Did you find anything?”
She jerked her chin toward the broken recorder.
“You didn’t hear it.”
Standing, Shane held out a hand. She stared at him for a long moment before allowing him to help her up. As soon as she was on her feet, she released his burning touch.
“Thomas was here, but he’s long gone now,” she said. “I don’t know where to start looking.”
He leaned close, until their breath mingled. “That’s where I can help.”
“How?” she whispered, trying to swallow as her throat closed up.
“It’s my job to know what’s going on in this town, if you’ve forgotten.”
“No.” How could she forget who, what, he was.
“I know this place.”
“So where is Thomas?”
“First, we head to the bar.”
“I’m not up for a drink and dancing.”
Shane headed up the stairs. When she didn’t move, he turned around. “Coming?” His gaze was hard, daring her to say no.
Considering she didn’t really have a choice, she followed.
At the top of the stairs, Shane added, “Ever heard the saying ‘use all your resources’?”
“Is that what you are? A resource?”
He stopped and faced her. “I don’t know what I am to you.”
She fidgeted under the intensity of his stare.
“No smartass comment to that?”
“No.” What could she say? She was confused and uncertain. Niki didn’t even want to admit such a thing to herself.
He sighed and shook his head. “Let’s go.”
She stepped out onto the porch, Shane behind her. The sun had set while they were in the farmhouse and now only the last hints of day lit the sky.
Around them, the forest was unnaturally quiet.
Niki sniffed the air and caught the distinct scent of one of the vampires from the motel.
Shots rang out.
About the Author:
One of those rare breeds, Amber Kallyn is an Arizona native who can trace her family's history through six generations in the state. She lives with her sexy husband, and their four very active children. Included in the menagerie are two cats (though there's always room for more) and two dogs. We won't count all the fish. She also writes urban fantasy under the name Higley Browne.Amber loves the paranormal, from dragons to werewolves to vampires. She's currently at work on her next book, probably running around the house acting out a fight scene with her collection of swords and daggers. Or maybe, wishing she had claws to practice the other fight scenes.A voracious lover of the written word, Amber found at an early age that she could read fast. Really fast. She devours novels by the day, novellas by the hour, and is always looking to get her hands on more.
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