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Authors: Lisa Carlisle

BloodlustandMetal

BOOK: BloodlustandMetal
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Bloodlust and Metal

Lisa
Carlisle

 

Book 4 in the Underground Encounters series

 

On the run from a master vampire,
young vampire Layla Black flees London to reinvent herself as the singer of an
Eighties cover band in Boston. Devon St. Clair is the bounty hunter hired to
track her down. As a shapeshifter with extraordinary skills, his reputation is
known throughout the supernatural world. Capturing Layla should be an easy gig
that will net a nice profit.

The situation doesn’t go as Devon
plans. He wants Layla in his bed, but shapeshifters and vampires don’t mix.
They should hate each other, but instead they’re keeping the sheets steamy.
When circumstances force them on the run together, their preconceived notions
are challenged. If they can evade those hunting them and convince his fellow
shapeshifters to help her even though she’s a vampire, they just might have a
chance to explore where all that hot, sweaty sex can take them.

 

A
Romantica®
paranormal erotic romance
from Ellora’s Cave

 

Bloodlust and Metal
Lisa Carlisle

Author’s Note

 

I would like to thank my husband for his endless support,
including spending his vacation reading through my early drafts. I would also
like to thank my brilliant sister for reading anything I send her, even though
she has four young kids.

 

All songs titles mentioned are copyrighted by their owners.

 

Chapter One

 

Devon

On the flight from London, I studied a road map to drive
from Boston up to the nightclub Vamps where Bloodlust Diamond was playing.
Vamps was hidden in the warehouse district in Caterina’s Cove, a little coastal
village on the coast north of Boston. A brochure advertising condos described
it as a quiet seaside setting, the perfect place to have access to the ocean
without the typical tourist crowd that attacked most of the other beaches on
the North Shore.

The brochure conveniently left out how Cat’s Cove, as it was
called, was also home to an underground/Goth club that attracted “freaks and
weirdoes” as one regular had described it online. In my word-of-mouth research,
I discovered it also attracted a small but growing crowd of supernatural
beings. Rumor spread it was once owned by a vampire. After an explosion took
out a good chunk of the club, it was bought and rebuilt by the current owner.
Employees described him as tall, dark and utterly mysterious; some speculate
whether he is a vampire as well.

Vampires. I hated them. Always have. Cold, dead creatures
stalking the Earth and sucking sustenance out of humans.

Pathetic.

When I got the call from a vampire named Stefano, one part
of me cringed. I loathed dealing with these blood-lusting walking corpses.
Since this one was willing to pay a large fee and it sounded like an easy gig,
I swallowed my revulsion and took the job. All I had to do was hunt down a
female vampire who stole from him and ran away. If he disposed of her, even
better. One less vampire in the world.

After we landed in the US and waited at the long lines at Customs,
I found the car rentals. Earlier I had requested a black car with tinted
windows and plenty of space in the backseat and trunk, either of which might
serve as a temporary abode for Miss Costa. Of course, I told the rental agent I
had a lot of luggage. I smirked at the visual of having that bloody vampire
bound in the car. Then I drove north to Cat’s Cove.

Stefano knew better than to hire a human to find Layla. They
relied on paper trails and online transactions, both of which vampires kept to
a minimum, especially considering their extended life periods. He needed
someone like me, with abilities beyond a typical human’s. With those and the
skills I’d learned in the British military, I had established a lucrative
career as a bounty hunter. A job I enjoyed more than I like to admit.

Most of my targets were scumbags. They deserved to be caught
and brought to justice. Not all, though. On a few occasions, I suspected the
person whom I was hired to bring in might be innocent. But I had to stay
objective. It wasn’t my job to judge a person’s guilt or innocence. It was my
job to track them down and bring them to whoever hired me. This time, it was
the thieving little vampire Layla Costa.

Tracking her down wasn’t that difficult, but it did take
longer than I had expected. I caught her scent all over Stefano’s place. It was
rather sweet, reminding me of herbs and flowers, and not the smell of the dead
I’d associated with most vampires. This distinctive scent helped me track where
she’d gone next. With her photograph in hand and scent imprinted in my mind, I
asked about her at each location. One location led me to another. And
eventually I discovered that Layla Costa was now portraying herself as Angelica
Blackwell, a singer for a heavy metal cover band called Bloodlust Diamond. She
changed her appearance dramatically, but I could still discern the same
features.

She was quite striking, I noted. Both as the dark-haired
vampire Layla Costa and the wild heavy metal singer with teased multicolored
hair Angelica.

What did her looks matter, I corrected myself. She was just
another job. I would simply grab her, take her to Stefano and collect my money.

 

Layla

I teased my variegated black-and-blonde hair to get into
character for the show. After all these years as a brunette, it was strange
seeing myself with blonde. The hair stylist I paid big money to “reinvent me”
insisted this is the look to capture attention as the new singer of an Eighties
hair band.

“Heavy metal,” I’d corrected.

He’d snickered. “Okay, princess.”

What did he know about music anyway?

He’d bleached one side of my hair a platinum blonde and dyed
the other side black. Then he added a few streaks of black amid the blond and
white amid the black.

If I turned one way in the mirror, my reflection showed a
raven-haired woman. When I turned the other way, my reflection showed the
blonde. Amazing how the hair color made me look like two different women. Then
I looked at my reflection dead on from the front. Whoever was looking at me
would focus on my wild hair, which commanded attention, rather than my face.
Money well spent. The better I disguised myself as Angelica, rock singer, the
less I resembled Layla Costa. Which would make it harder for Stefano to find
me.

I accentuated my eyes with black eyeliner, extending them
slightly beyond my lash line to give me a cat’s-eye style. Then I added two
coats of black mascara. It was too easy for features to wash out under the
stage lights. With some blush and a dark-maroon lipstick, I made sure it
wouldn’t happen tonight.

I put on red stiletto boots over the tight black vinyl pants
and readjusted my tank top in the full-length mirror. Then I took a nip of the
blood from my flask. Just a little bit to take off the edge. Immediately after
drinking blood, I felt almost drunk so I tried not to overdo it before going
onstage. But a little sip was my ritual to fortify me for the energy I’d expend
tonight.

“Here we go again,” I said to my reflection. Then I drove to
the rehearsal space to meet up with the rest of Bloodlust Diamond, the band I’d
joined six weeks ago. Their lead singer had quit to enter drug-and-alcohol
rehab. I was looking for a new opportunity after running away from Stefano.
What would be more fun than reinventing myself as a sexy rock star for a fun
metal band?

 

With our equipment stashed in the back of the van, we drove
to Caterina’s Cove, a town I’d never heard of north of Boston. A woman named
Maya Winters had called us from Vamps, some sort of Goth/underground club.

“We’re having a theme week,” she’d explained. “Hair and
Roses—the best and worst of the Eighties. We’d like to book you to play here a
couple of nights.”

Since Bloodlust Diamond was usually out there soliciting
gigs, we jumped on the opportunity.

“How did you hear about us?” our guitarist Joey Bangs asked.

“I’m always looking for new talent to book here. I asked our
regulars if they knew any good bands who played Eighties covers and a few
mentioned you. They’d seen you play around Boston. So I checked out your
website and liked what I saw.”

 

When we walked through an alley to reach Vamps, I thought
we’d probably made a mistake. Who would come to a hidden club in a town nobody
had ever heard of? But when we reached a building with gargoyles perched on
each side of the front door, my interest was piqued.

The bouncer called some of the staff to help us unload and
set up our instruments, which was cool since we weren’t big enough to hire
roadies. When I opened a door with a sign reading “Abandon Hope All Ye Who
Enter Here” and entered the main area of the club, my initial impressions
changed drastically. Judging by the wall-to-wall people, this place was
definitely not unknown.

The dance floor was packed with people jumping or dancing
wildly to Ozzy Osborne’s
Crazy Train
. Although a number of people got
into the spirit when they came to our shows, almost everyone here had dressed
for the Eighties theme tonight. Most of the women had teased their hair to make
it bigger and harder than nature intended. Some of the guys had long hair, but
I couldn’t tell if it was natural or very good wigs. I should go out there and
give some a little tug.

Many of them wore band shirts with torn jeans. I read some
of the shirts—Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, Testament, Biohazard, Danzig. Some of
the women opted to vamp out in tight black spandex pants or animal print.

A smaller portion of the crowd dressed from the older punk
scene. Spiked hair, hair shaved into an asymmetric style, or mohawks. I
wondered if they were punk rockers or just going all-out for the night. Punk
band shirts—The Ramones, The Clash and Black Flag—and a lot of spiked belts. An
even smaller portion sported a Gothic look. Black clothing, pale faces and eyes
painted dark and smoky.

Despite the variety of couture, one accessory was a
given—black boots everywhere.

The sounds of
Crazy Train
faded out and I noticed the
DJ at the back of the club. He’d play before and after we had our set. The
crowd slowed down as the music dimmed. The DJ blended the final notes into Nine
Inch Nails’
Head Like a Hole
and the crowd’s energy rose again.

 

While the guys from the club helped us set up our equipment
onstage, I walked up to test the mic and adjust it to my height. Whoever played
here last had to be extremely tall as I moved it all the way down to reach my
much smaller stature of 5’2”. Maybe I could inch up to 5’ 5” or 5’ 6” in
stilettos.

Then I met up with the guys backstage and we went over the
set list. Joey caught a glimpse of a tall, striking woman striding toward us.

“Hi, Maya,” he said. I noticed he used the tone he reserved
for women he found attractive. “This is Mark, Rocco and Layla. Guys, this is
Maya Winters, the woman who booked us.”

After we all exchanged hellos and nice to meet yous, Maya
ran over the last-minute details about our set.

 

Maya walked out onstage as the DJ faded out the end of the
song.

“Good evening, everyone,” she said. “I’d like to welcome you
to a special event at Vamps tonight. As you know we’re having Eighties week
here, Hair and Roses, bringing all of you back to the best—and the worst—of the
Eighties.” Lots of shouts and hollers from the crowd. “Judging by the outfits
here tonight, I’m glad you’ve all gone for the best.” More hoots from the
crowd. “We’re also going with the best by bringing you an awesome band
recommended by some of you regulars out there. Thank you. You know who you are.
So without further ado, get ready for some of the best of Eighties heavy metal.
Let’s welcome Bloodlust Diamond!”

The crowd applauded.

“Ready?” Joey said.

“Ready,” Mark Dudley, who we called Studley, said.

“Let’s go.”

More cheering as the guys walked on the stage, raising their
hands in welcome as they took their positions at their instruments.

I sipped another nip of blood while nobody was looking to
counter the initial stage fright that consumed me before I went on. Once I
started singing, I was fine. It was that quiet moment between walking out there
seeing the crowd and beginning to sing that gave me an issue. I checked my lips
for any signs of blood that the dark lipstick wouldn’t camouflage. Then I
walked out to join the guys, striding confidently to compensate for my nerves.

Maya touched my shoulder as she passed and said, “Break a
leg.” I had to look up at her. Damn, she was tall. What I would do for long
legs like that.

Enough of that for now. I’d already reinvented myself for
more than one lifetime.

 

Devon

“This is bullshit,” I overheard some guy in the club say.

“What is?” his friend asked.

“This whole fuckin’ night. I thought we were going to see
Bloodlust Diamond play. Now they have some lame-ass chick singing. When did
that happen?”

I took a sip of my beer, pretending not to listen to the
conversation.

“Don’t be such a dick, man,” his friend said. “The other
singer left. Went into rehab or something. Their new singer is a woman. Big
whoops.”

“She’s going to kill the band. How can a woman sing metal?
The way the other singer did? No fucking way.”

“We’ll find out soon, won’t we? In the meantime, relax,
dude. Go hang out at the bar if you don’t want to listen.”

“Good idea. You know where to find me.” He walked away in a
huff.

His friend noticed me and must have assumed I heard the
whole conversation. “I don’t know what crawled up his ass,” he said, then
focused his attention on the stage as three guys and then a woman came out.
“Who cares if she can sing or not? She’s smokin’ hot.”

I nodded. He was right—she was quite ravishing. The
photographs of her didn’t do her justice and I had thought she was striking
when I saw those. Now I was transfixed. Looking at the males in the club
staring at her with rapt expressions on their faces, I wasn’t the only one. She
wore a heavy black trench coat that hid her body and drew all attention to her
face. Her large eyes sparkled and her cheeks looked so soft I wanted to touch
them. Her lips with the perfect amount of plumpness were just begging to be
kissed.

Not only had her presence commanded the attention of every
guy in the club, but most of the women as well. What they couldn’t perceive,
but I could, was she wasn’t human; her skin was far paler and eyes much
brighter.

I examined the others in the band. Humans. Did they know
their singer was a vampire?

When Layla yelled out, “Hello, all you motherfuckas!” the
rest of the crowd looked up too. “We’re Bloodlust Diamond and we’re here to
have a wicked time rocking out tonight. Who’s with us?” A bunch of people
hooted and cheered. “Good. I don’t want anyone creeping around in the back of
the room. Get up closer. I want to see you. I want to hear you!” The crowd
screamed again. “We’re going to start with some old-school Metallica.” She
turned to the band and said “One, two, one, two, three, four.”

The drummer launched a heavy beat and the band joined in.
Then Layla leaned close into the mic and sang the beginning lyrics to
Am I
Evil
.

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