Hello everyone! I hope you are all have a lovely holiday season. I'd like to thank Reading Between the Wines for allowing me to share an chapter excerpt from my paranormal romance holiday novella, A Bewitching Christmas (Under Assassins, #1). This is a sexy tale of a vampire, a witch, and the spirit of magic. Enjoy!
Cole McRae took a deep breath. The sweet scent of magic filled his lungs. The entire town reeked of mystical energy. This was the perfect hunting ground for Silver. To him, every witch in residence was potential prey.
Cole silently crossed the snow dusted parking lot to the bar entrance.
This wasn’t his kind of hang out, but it would do while he waited for his mark. He preferred his bars to be loud, boisterous and crowded with dark corners where he could entertain a woman or two.
He paused in the entryway, wiping off his boots as he casually scanned the bar, noting all the exits and patrons. A vacant stage stood above an empty dance floor in the left corner, high round tables lined the sidewalls, with the bar located directly across from the entrance. A few bar stools were occupied by men who appeared to be regulars. For such a small, out of the way town, no one seemed interested in him, a stranger. The men at the bar continued to stare blankly at the flat screen TVs that played a never-ending loop of Sports Center. A group of young women sat in a corner, giggling and laughing. A few of the girls glanced his way and remarked on his “dangerous vibe” and “great ass”.
Cole claimed a bar stool and waved to the bartender.
The burly, red bearded human came over, “What’ll you have?”
The man quickly poured the Scotch and Cole asked him to leave the bottle. Yeah, it was one of those nights.
He’d been tracking his target, Silver, for six months. The werewolf was sly, but he wouldn’t escape him this time. That is, if the bastard had come to town. Witches overran this quiet, annoyingly cheery place and the werewolf had yet to make an appearance. Common sense told him his informant had led him astray, but his assassin instincts insisted Silver would show. His target was a magic thief and he wouldn’t be able to resist a tiny town like this. Cole just needed to wait and he hated waiting.
He was an assassin. He thrived on the hunt and the satisfaction of the kill. Sitting on his ass and playing the waiting game was not his thing, but he had no choice. His options were to hang out in a town decorated to the nines for Christmas with happy, smiling, contented humans and witches until Silver showed or head back to New York and wait for another tip. Both involved waiting.
Tension spread throughout his body, tightening his shoulders and his grip on his glass. He tossed back the Scotch and poured himself another two fingers.
Cole had already endured three days in this town. Everywhere he looked, people rushed about, buying gifts, and setting up their lawn ornaments. His favorite was the nauseating couples that window-shopped, holding hands, and sipping peppermint-flavored lattes.
He hadn’t been a fan of Christmas when he was human and nothing changed when he became a vampire. Orphaned at eight years old, he grew up on the streets of Boston, fighting not to die of starvation or exposure year in and year out. There never was anything to celebrate when he was a child. When he came of age, he joined the rebel army and died in battle in 1778 at the ripe age of twenty-two.
Cole took a sip of the liquor and savored the burn as it slipped down his throat.
He refused to think of the past. Those memories he had stuffed in a pine box and buried six feet under over 200 years ago, never to rise again.
Cole was about to take another long drink, when the door swung open. A strong, cold wind blustered in along with the unmistakable scent of female and…werewolf? No, the wet dog stench wasn’t strong enough for the woman to be an actual werewolf, but she had been in contact with one. He could talk to her and see if they knew the same wolf, Trent Millsap, a.k.a. Silver.
He glanced over his shoulder and found a tall blonde with all the right curves. Her green eyes were electrifying and her rose pink lips begged to be kissed. Even if they didn’t have a werewolf in common, he was going to get to know the woman, very well.
He watched her carefully remove her winter layers, his lust rising. This trip may have been nothing but a waste of his extremely valuable time, but he suspected one night with the tempting blonde witch would make up for his troubles.
* * * * * *
Analette peeled off her bulky snow jacket and hung it on the coat wrack just inside the bar’s entrance.
God, it seemed like an eternity since the last time she stepped foot in this place. It had been seven years since she had come home to Maine.
She was in desperate need of a drink. Make that several drinks. She would need to be stumbling drunk if she were to forget even for a precious second the image of her now ex-fiancé screwing some enthusiastic women who had twin tattoos of butterflies on the backs of her thighs. Oh, yeah, Trent had been giving that girl a work out. Analette had heard her moans as she walked down the hall to their hotel room. She had known what was going on before she opened the door.
Her fingers curled into fists as the image slapped her in the face again. Trent had been covered in sweat, his chestnut shoulder length hair dripped as he pounded into the woman from behind.
Where had he picked her up? Had he met her at the complimentary hotel breakfast that morning? Or had Trent gone out and found her while Analette had been doing some last minute Christmas shopping?
Analette shook her head. It didn’t matter when or where he had met his afternoon delight. The wedding was off and that dirty werewolf could get run over chasing cars, for all she cared.
She should have known this would happen one day. He was a mongrel and she was a witch. Witches tended to stick with witches, werewolves with werewolves, shifters with shifters, and so on, throughout Other Society.
Just be thankful you caught him cheating now rather than after the wedding, she told herself. Unfortunately, that fact didn’t take the sting of betrayal away. No, only alcohol could do that.
Analette crossed to the bar and took up two seats, one for her, the other for her purse. The bartender sauntered her way. He was cute and looked familiar, but she couldn’t think of his name. It had been ages since she’d come home and after what she just witnessed, she wished she had stayed in New York.
She gave a heavy sigh. She had come to visit with her grandmother who, according Analette’s mother, wasn’t doing well. Her health was fading and no one knew how many more holidays they would all have together. She had to shove aside her bad memories of this town and ignore her aversion to magic in order to come home. She had also hoped to introduce her soon to be husband to her family, but that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon now she was single.
“Dyson? Analette Dyson?” the bartender asked.
She nodded. “And you?”
“Miles O’Malley. We went to high school together. Damn, it’s been a long time.”
“Not much has changed around here,” she said, trying her best not to sound miserable.
“Your sister told me you’re living in New York.”
“Yeah, I’ve been there for a couple years now.” She had the perfect apartment in Central Park West, she worked as an editor for one of the top women’s health magazines in the nation, and up until an hour ago, she had the ideal fiancé. “I’m just in town for the holiday.”
“That’s good. I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother.”
“Well, what would you like?” Miles asked.
Analette had quickly learned in college that she wasn’t much of a drinker, but tonight she would make an exception. She glanced over her shoulder at the table of obnoxiously loud young women. They each had some type of colorful, fruity drink with tiny umbrellas.
No, thank you. However, I could use a tropical getaway right about now.
The men on the opposite end of the bar were nursing bottles of beer, not her thing either. Finally, her gaze fell on the lone man a few seats down. His shoulders were slumped and he leaned over the bar top, his eyes fixed on his glass. She could tell he was tall, despite his posture, his legs were long, his back broad. He seemed so out of place, with his rough, dangerous biker look. She wondered how she hadn’t noticed him when she first came in. He was hard to miss. His profile was strong, with a square stern jaw line, a roman nose, which looked like it had been broken at least once before, and prominent cheekbones. He had short, dark hair that he wore swept back.
I’d like to have him; she thought then shook her head.
“I’ll have a vodka tonic with a little lime.”
Miles quickly made her drink then went to sweep the floor by the door; customers had been tracking in snow.
Analette took a sip and gave an unladylike cough.
“You’ve got to learn to love the burn,” the man said with a deep chuckle.
Once her eyes stopped watering she replied, “Obviously, I don’t drink.”
He took a swig before turning toward her.
Holy, hell! A gasp escaped her lips. The man was not just handsome, he was knockout gorgeous. He had a face and a mischievous smile that would make any woman melt and his eyes were an impossible shade of ice blue.
Was he here alone? She doubted it. Men like him were never single, unless...Oh, God, please don't let him turn out to be a serial killer.
She took in a deep breath and slowly exhaled before taking another sip. “One of the worst days of my life.”
He raised his glass and said, “Here’s to self medicating,” then tossed the Scotch back. She cheered and polished off her vodka with one straight shot. Her face scrunched up, the alcohol stung her throat.
“I’d like to buy the lady another,” he called.
Miles returned and made up another drink for her.
“It’s all right. I’ve got it,” she insisted.
Ignoring her protests, he told Miles, “Add the rest of her drinks to my tab.”
“Really, that isn’t necessary.”
“I was planning on drinking alone. This way, I can enjoy your company.” He extended his hand. “Cole.”
She hesitantly reached out. “Analette, but you can call me Ana.”
His hand was large compared to hers. The chill of his touch was a pleasurable shock to her system.
She instinctively knew he was Other. He was not a witch, like her. His touch wasn’t hot like a werewolf’s, his eyes didn’t glow like a shape-shifter’s, and his skin didn’t shimmer like the fae. Cole was a vampire. That fact should terrify her. Yet, the thought of him pinning her against a wall and sinking his fangs into her throat was highly erotic.
Vampires were wild, unpredictable. His race was a mystery. It was believed that any human could become a vampire if they were near death and received a vampire’s blood. Rarely did they procreate naturally, though it was possible. The vampire population was small. They believed a mortal had to be worthy to receive the gift of immortality. Blood was sacred and those who changed humans as often as they changed their shirts quickly met their end, as did all their fledglings. She also had heard a rumored that the Under Realm Syndicate preferred to use vampires as their enforcers, soldiers who protected and upheld the law of the Others society.
Analette’s eyes narrowed. What was a vampire doing in her hometown? New York up to Eastern Canada was witch territory; everyone knew that.
“So, Cole, do you visit Maine often?”
He smiled, revealing the tips of his sharp canines. Her pulse fluttered.
“First time,” he answered.
“Visiting someone for Christmas?”
He took a drink. “I was expecting to meet someone, but I’ll be heading to New York shortly.”
“That’s where I’m from. Well, I’m really from here, but my life is in New York.”
“Yes, I heard,” he said.
Analette nodded. Vampires had over active senses. Naturally, he would have overheard her conversation with Miles.
“You said today was one of the worst ever. You’re family a nightmare or something?”
She shrugged. “No. There are certain things we don’t…agree on, but that’s true of every family.”
“Your love life took a hit,” he said so matter-of-factly she wanted to laugh.
“That would be putting it lightly. My love life blew up.”
“I’m sorry. That really sucks, but hey, you can now spend your night with me.”
Staggered, Analette could only blink in response. She blushed when she noticed her mouth had fallen open. Did the sexy vampire just ask her for a one-night stand? He wasn’t the first man ever to proposition her, but he was the first she ever considered. Cole had the mysterious, brooding, and sexy as hell thing going for him. She couldn’t recall ever being attracted to his type of male, but she would be a liar if she said his voice didn’t feel like velvet across her skin, that his icy intense gaze didn’t give her the most delicious shivers, or that she wanted to know how the Scotch would make his kiss taste.
Unable to form a response, she raised her glass to her lips and took a long drink.
“No longer engaged?”
Analette frowned. “How do you know?”
He tapped his ring finger then pointed at hers. “You have a tan line.”
She glanced down. “Oh, yeah.” She had thrown her engagement ring at Trent as he had gotten up from the bed. “You’re observant.”
“I really am sorry it didn’t work out with you and the wolf.”
Again, he caught her off guard. She was about to ask how he knew her ex was a werewolf when he tapped his nose.
She laughed, “I should be thankful you don’t have x-ray vision.”
He poured more Scotch as Analette finished her drink.
Cole studied her from the corner of his eye. She didn’t strike him as Silver’s type, not to mention, Silver had a woman, Brandy. She was his partner in crime, literally, and his mate. It wasn’t likely that Silver would date and plan a wedding with a witch, even one as captivating as the one beside him.
With his questions aside, he allowed himself to focus on his mission of the evening― Analette.
“Just a moment ago, did you ask me to go home with you?”
Her straightforward tone and no nonsense expression caused him to smile, which wasn’t something he did often.
“Only if you are interested. Though, I suppose I’m not your type.”
“I don’t discriminate,” she insisted after Miles handed her a fresh vodka tonic.
Cole’s shoulders shook with a laugh.
“The person you were waiting for…is that serious?”
“In a strictly business sense and the ‘person’ is a man, not a woman,” he answered.
Good to know, Analette thought. Not that she should be considering going to bed with the vampire.
Needing a distraction, she turned her focus to the music. A steady stream of classic rock Christmas songs played along with Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. At the moment, Bon Jovi’s Please Come Home for Christmas vibrated the speakers.
“Would you like to dance?” Cole asked.
Analette frowned. “Dance to what? Christmas tunes aren’t exactly club music.”
He threw back his last drink and stood. “I’m not into the holidays, but I’ve always enjoyed the music.” He sighed as he pulled his wallet out. “I do miss carolers.”
“Carolers?” Analette said with a slight slur. She giggled. The alcohol was doing its job. “I think some people are singing in the Town Square.”
Cole counted out the cash for their drinks and left a hefty tip. His gaze grew distant for a moment. Then he shook his head as if shaking free spider webs.
“So, have you made a decision?”
“About going home with you or the dance?” she asked.
He chuckled. “Either or both.”
She studied him from head to toe. He didn’t look like the dancing type, but he certainly was the rough and wild ride she could use. Going home with him would be very unlike her. She was boring, walking the tight rope of propriety her entire life. She deserved some fun. She had earned at least one crazy night. Right?
Am I trying to talk myself into or out of being with him? She wondered
“Since it is the season of giving, the least I can do is grant you a dance.”
Cole inclined his head. “Thank you, my lady.”
He laced his fingers with hers and led her to the dance floor. Cole drew her close. Analette fit perfectly against him. Inhaling deeply, he took in her tantalizing scent. She smelled like fresh baked cookies with the slightest hint of werewolf.
He wanted to cover her with his scent. Mark her. Claim her. The insane need made his cold blood boil.
She rested her head against his chest, the warmth of her cheek burned through his shirt. He could use some warmth in his life.
When Cole wrapped his arms around her, she melted against him. He smelled like crisp winter and snow. His hands were surprisingly gentle despite the hardness of his body, which was nothing but chiseled muscle. The way he held her made her feel comforted, protected, and…cherished. A frown creased her brow. Now that she thought about it, Trent had never made her feel that way.
As the song came to an end, she reluctantly stepped back. “Thank you for the booze and the dance.”
She turned and headed back toward the bar. Thank god, she wasn’t stumbling, though she was in no shape to drive. She could walk…where? Not back to her hotel. She couldn’t bring herself to sleep in that bed, plus Trent may still be there. In her rage, she had accidentally cast a spell that would have locked him in the room. She could always hike to her mother’s and explain that she no longer had a fiancé.
Analette groaned. No, that story would be best delivered tomorrow, Christmas Eve.
“Do you need a ride?” Cole asked.
She laughed. “I watched you drink half a bottle of Scotch. Do you really think I’m going to get in a car with you?”
“It would take three or more bottles to get me tipsy.”
She waved to Miles. “Can I get some water, please?”
Cole brushed her hair over her shoulder, revealing her neck. “Thank you for the dance.”
She pivoted towards him. He was so close and she had to fight not to throw herself at him. What was causing these feelings? Was it her desperate need to do something crazy, to step out of her up-tight, perfect box? Was it revenge? No, she wasn’t like that, she wouldn’t sleep with Cole to get back at Trent. She felt drawn to the vampire for some unexplainable reason. Something inside her told her this was right. He was right.
Swallowing the nervous lump in her throat, Analette whispered, “Would you like to know my answer to your first question?”
Cole let his gaze travel down her body. Analette trembled as if he had stroked his long, powerful fingers from her head to her toes. Yes, this vampire was stirring...something in her. Lust? Madness? She suspected both. What was she doing? She didn’t act this way. She didn’t go to bars and she certainly didn’t hook up with random men. Cole was introducing her to a side of herself she never knew existed. She liked it. Wild. Sensual. And she liked him.
He gave a slow nod and Analette conquered her nerves. Taking in a deep breath, she locked eyes with Cole and said, “Yes.”
Thank you so much for stopping by and reading the excerpt. A Bewitching Christmas will be on sale for .99cents throughout the month of December. Also, look for Surrender to the Chase (Under Realm Assassins, #2) - coming soon!
A Bewitching Christmas
(Under Realm Assassins, #1 )
by Amanda J. Greene
ebook, 75 pages
Published December 16th 2013
It has been seven years since Analette Dyson stopped practicing magic and headed to New York, where she created a new life, complete with a fabulous job, an apartment in Central Park West, and a sexy werewolf fiancé. She never planned on returning to her small home town in Maine, but when she learns her grandmother is ill, she decides to pop over for a visit and what better time than Christmas? Excited for her fiancé to meet her family, they head up a day early.
Worst idea ever!
After doing some last minute Christmas shopping, Analette returns to their hotel to find her fiancé in bed with another woman. Cursing the universe for her never ending bad luck with men and dreading telling her family about her cheating fiancé, she heads to the bar to self medicate.
Not one to celebrate the holidays, vampire and assassin, Cole McRae, has followed a lead to a rustic town in witch territory. But after a few days of research and waiting for his target to show, he begins to suspect he has wasted his time. That is, until he meets a curvaceous blonde with bewitching green eyes at the local bar. One night with the enchanting Analette could make this useless trip well worth his time.
Their passion is undeniable and unbeknownst to them, their fates are intertwined. Magic and romance will strike on Christmas, changing their lives forever.
~ A Holiday Novella, Erotic~
About the Author:
Amanda J. Greene is a paranormal romance author. When she is not writing, she can be found playing the role of a university student who also works full time at a cosmetology school. She lives in Southern California with her very supportive husband and their two dogs, a sweet cocker spaniel and a rambunctious blackmouth cur mix. Doing all the above and being a military wife is not easy, but rewarding! Of course, she accomplishes everything with a strong cup of coffee in her hand. http://amandajgreene.webs.com/
Amanda is giving away one digital copy of her Christmas novella to one lucky reader. To enter, just tell us - do you have a favorite Christmas story? Then be sure to fill out the rafflecopter below. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Did you mean a story we've read or a personal story? I'll share my favorite Christmas-time stories I read this year and the year before: Roxanne Snopek's Saving The Sheriff in 2014 and Kat Bastion's Bound By Mistletoe and Magick in 2013. They were both reads that left me with oodles of warm fuzzies. Thanks for the giveaway!ReplyDelete
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i am going with my favorite xmas story from tv...lolReplyDelete
that would be year without a santa claus...best kids movie ever even though i am an adult
It is hard to pick a favorite Christmas story. The Billionaire's Christmas Baby by Victoria James was such a good story.ReplyDelete
I don't know why, but I love While You were Sleeping with Sandra Bullock. I watch it every year :) Thanks for sharing!ReplyDelete
Im still a Christmas Carol fan, but I haven't read one I didnt tike yet eitherReplyDelete
Dicken's A CHRISTMAS CAROL for sure.ReplyDelete
Haven't met a Christmas story i didn't like, but the Christmas Carol is my fave, we had a company party where we went to see the play, it was great.ReplyDelete