Authors: Wendi Zwaduk
A Total-E-Bound Publication
ISBN # 978-0-85715-275-8
©Copyright Wendi Zwaduk 2010
Cover Art by April Martinez ©Copyright August 2010
Edited by Jess Bimberg
This is a work of fiction. All characters, places and events are from the author’s imagination and should not be confused with fact. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, events or places is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form, whether by printing, photocopying, scanning or otherwise without the written permission of the publisher, Total-E-Bound Publishing.
Applications should be addressed in the first instance, in writing, to Total-E-Bound Publishing. Unauthorised or restricted acts in relation to this publication may result in civil proceedings and/or criminal prosecution.
The author and illustrator have asserted their respective rights under the Copyright Designs and Patents Acts 1988 (as amended) to be identified as the author of this book and illustrator of the artwork.
Published in 2010 by Total-E-Bound Publishing, Think Tank,
This book contains sexually explicit content which is only suitable for mature readers. This story has been rated
To EH, CM, MO, JS, MA, KC, and all those others who were willing to help me bring Stevie and Storm’s story to life—you helped so much and I wouldn’t have gotten this done without you.
To Jess for helping me hone my skill and being an awesome editor.
To JPZ…you might not be My Immortal, but you are mine.
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction:
Chevy Camaro: General Motors Company
Chevrolet: General Motors Company
NASCAR: National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing
“Just pretend we like each other. That shouldn’t be too difficult.”
Storm Richardson stared at his partner, Stephanie ‘Stevie’
across the bench seat of her beloved jet black 1978 T-top Chevy Camaro. She ran her fingers through her dark hair and gave the curls a fluff as her other hand slid across the steering wheel with a lover’s touch. Hell yes, he wanted those hands all over his body.
Stevie checked the mirror and bit her bottom lip. “If we act more like a couple, then people won’t think we’re spying on them.”
If he had his way, he’d force Stevie to stop the car so he could scoop her into his arms.
I already like you. Hell maybe I even love you, Stevie.
Pretending to be her boyfriend wouldn’t require an act on his part. He’d liked her from the moment he saw her five years ago, except she’d made it clear she didn’t mirror the feeling. He assumed she liked him as a friend, but he wasn’t sure. Hell, every moment he spent around her, he smelled her arousal. The problem was she didn’t know his true identity. How could you love someone you hardly know?
He liked her endearing tendency to chatter in excess in almost every situation. Stevie insisted on talking when all he wanted to do was stare at her.
She gripped the steering wheel and her knuckles turned white. Was she nervous? Excited?
“Storm, we’re working the Chatty Catty Club tonight to catch Bruce Tripp in the act. Edie’s ready to rip me apart because we haven’t produced any damning pictures. Doesn’t your friend Falco bounce there?”
Storm frowned and glared out the window at the illuminated main drag of New Haven,
Being a vampire hyper charged his senses. He could see things at great distances, feel the tiniest pinprick on his supersensitive skin, and hear every conversation in a crowded bar. He didn’t need the work as a private investigator—being immortal gave him a lot of time to save up his resources. Then again, to stay under the radar, he didn’t stick to one profession for more than a few years. Blending in worked just fine, until he met Stevie.
Stevie managed to whip his sense of smell and taste into warp drive. The sweet scent of her fear knotted his insides. He didn’t want her to be afraid when they were on the cusp of catching yet another cheating spouse. What was the true reason for her apprehension? He yearned to climb into her mind and help ease her fears.
For the night to go smoothly, he needed to pull his thoughts away from Stevie and continue mentally prepping. Their current client, the ever-exciting Edie Tripp, was just that—a trip and a pain in the ass. She made his brain ache. She suspected her husband of cheating with his secretary and wanted Storm and Stevie to catch him in the act, or as close to ripping the sheets as possible.
He needed something to get his mind off the pesky woman and the lousy way he was about to spend a perfectly beautiful Friday night.
“So, will Todd be there?” Stevie asked
her voice tinged with annoyance. “You didn’t answer me.”
Todd’s the bouncer, and yes, he’ll be there.” Storm smirked. His friend and fellow vampire, Todd Falco, could crush iron with his bare hands.
At the traffic signal, Stevie screeched to a halt. She turned to him and rolled her eyes. “You know what I meant, Storm. Do you think he could get us through the line faster? I hate to wait in heels. Then again, you know how much I hate working in heels to begin with.”
Storm rubbed his jaw, blotting out a smile. She hated anything but comfy sneakers or good old socks. Unfortunately, clubbing required sexy clothing and footwear. Whether she was comfy or not, she looked darn cute jacked up four inches in knee-high boots.
“If we cut in line, honey, then we’ll give ourselves away. The point is to blend in. Don’t worry about the heels. You’ll be able to sit at the bar. Allan’s waiting on you to give you the scoop about our clients.”
Though it was nearly impossible for
to disappear in the crowd; he was a freaking vampire.
A bloodsucker and damned sex fiend.
He couldn’t blend in if he tried.
Women clung to him in droves, claiming they liked his raw sex appeal. He never understood the draw. When he looked in the mirror, all he saw was a monster in expensive clothing longing to regain his humanity.
Stevie stuck out her bottom lip in a pout and distracted him from his pity-party. “Fine, but this time, you’d better act like you want to be there with me. The only attention I got Tuesday night came from the tacky bartender and what he wanted was a better tip. Fortunately, Allan’s more of a gentleman. Still, we aren’t acting like a convincing team when you pretend I don’t exist.”
Storm frowned. Oh, she existed and blocked out the image of every other woman in the room. She inhabited his dirtiest fantasies each time he closed his eyes. In his latest dream, he wanted to throw Stevie against the nearest wall and make love to her until they both screamed with delight.
He couldn’t tear his eyes away from her. But then Stevie never saw that because of the never-ending line of women dogging his heels. What would she say if he finally told her the truth? She had an open mind. When he asked her about ghosts, she claimed to believe they existed.
Vampires were people, too…
Storm clenched his jaw. His heart thudded and fear thundered through his veins. The reason he kept his identity secret was the sheer terror of knowing she’d run screaming into the night if she knew.
When the song on the stereo ended, Stevie interrupted his thoughts. “I don’t know how you do it, but you manage to find a willing woman everywhere we go.”
“For your information, I didn’t force Sallie Carmen to give me her phone number.” He studied her profile. Stevie turned his insides out in every delicious way. No other woman existed. “And I never called her.”
Stevie made a gagging noise. “Right,” she replied, drawing the word out. She fiddled with the radio and turned it up a bit to sing along with the Vinnie Joel song. Storm grinned. Stevie’s alto voice complemented Joel’s country twang well.
As she continued to harmonise, Storm took the opportunity to take a good look at her. Her long mahogany hair cascaded down her ivory shoulders in soft waves. She wrapped her hands around the steering wheel, caught up in the emotion of ‘Best Mistakes’. He smiled. Her delicate hands could wield a gun with deadly accuracy under the toughest circumstances. If he was a gambling man, he’d bet he was already in love with her and had been since the day he first saw her.
At the stoplight, she smoothed back the fringe of hair partially covering her eyes and glanced at him. He could get lost in those pale blue orbs. The thick liner and mascara gave her a hint of mystery and concealed her innocence. Her devotion and compassion ensured she’d make any man a good wife. He’d bet she was a hellcat in bed, not that he actually knew firsthand. Each time he tried to get close to her, she shied away and it drove him nuts. He’d like to kill the bastards that made her so gun shy—if he could get the whole story out of her.
“So what do you plan to do to capture my attention?” He raised a brow.
Because I want to catch you with your guard down…
“I know how you hate to lose, so I’m placing a wager.”
“Okay, what’s your wager?” He grinned. A sparkle lit her eyes and made his cock twitch. True, he hated to lose, but with Stevie as the reward, he’d gladly suffer defeat and tell her who he really was.
“Instead of crashing on the couch tonight, I’ll sleep in your bed. But you have to pay attention to me to win. If you accept numbers and dances from any woman tonight, then I win and you have to sleep on the floor, Storm Richardson. Do we have a deal?”
For the past three weeks, Stevie insisted on staying at his house after their evenings of playing detective and catching misbehaving spouses. She claimed she hated driving the extra half an hour home, but he knew the real reason. She needed the reassurance that someone had her back in case one of the angry spouses wanted retribution.
Storm insisted on being her protector. Plus, he had a sneaking suspicion that Gypsy, her younger sister, had probably moved back into her apartment. Her presence grated on Stevie’s nerves. Gypsy tended to take whatever she saw, even if it wasn’t hers to have.
Damn, he wanted Stevie in his bed every day and night. Yes, indeed, the idea of winning sounded pretty damn rewarding.
With a curt nod, he spoke. “Give the valet the keys and get in line with me.”
As she pulled the car to a stop, she stared at him. “Well? Do you agree? I won’t get out of the car until you tell me.”
He unhooked his seatbelt. Her feisty streak had reared its hot little head. Unspoken sexual tension clouded around them, along with a new scent—her arousal.
Time to kick it up a notch.
“I’ll tell you while we wait. Or do I have to spank you to get you to behave?”
A smooth eyebrow curved while she bit her lip, as if pondering his words. He refused to give her much choice in the matter.
Storm walked around the car to open the driver’s side door for Stevie. He dipped his head in greeting to the parking lot attendant and held his hand out to Stevie. She blushed and gave in with timid acceptance. He twined their fingers together and led her to the end of the short queue. “At least we’re here early enough to scope out the patrons.”
She wrapped her arms around her body and huddled close to him. The thin, fire engine red halter dress barely covered her voluptuous frame. Goose pimples rose on her pale skin and he thought he could hear her teeth rattle.
“It’s the middle of August and at least eighty-eight degrees here in New Haven. I can’t fathom why you’re cold,” he murmured in her ear. This time when she shivered, it wasn’t from the chill. “Let me warm you, baby.”
Needing to feel her in his soul, he pressed her back tightly against his stomach and curled his arms around her body. She stood eight inches shorter than him in bare feet and the sexy boots put her at perfect kissing level. His gums ached for a taste of her and it took the utmost concentration to force the hunger away.
“So when does this bet take place, Stevie?”
When she cocked her head, she gave him a great view of her porcelain neck. Her jugular vein practically called to him.
“Why not start right now, Storm? I’ll bet you can’t focus on me tonight, but calling me ‘baby’ was a good start.” She angled her head so her lips hovered mere millimetres from his ear. “And maybe, I want you to spank me.”
Her husky whisper sent a fresh jolt of desire to his cock and his mouth watered. He wanted to smack her ass and sink his body deep within hers until she screamed his name.
Grief, he was in trouble
“And when I win?”
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.” She curled her fingers around his hands.
He felt the sizzle from her touch straight to his groin and his heart. She’d be his undoing and he welcomed the challenge.
When he bent to nuzzle her neck, a strange new scent charged his senses. The aura of roses and baby powder danced around her body. The lack of male musk meant she hadn’t partaken of sex for quite a while. The stronger, pure scent of her arousal slid over his senses.
She wanted him.
“You split from Ace, didn’t you?” He licked his lips.
She let go of him and whirled around. Her gaze didn’t quite meet his. “Yeah, well, there wasn’t much to it, but I don’t want to go into that here.” Her fingers knotted together. “How did you know?”
Cupping her chin, he forced her to look at him. Her blue eyes clouded, making them the blue of the deepest ocean water or the sky before a raging thunderstorm. Would her eyes darken when they made love? He needed to find out and soon.
Her tongue darted out to moisten her bottom lip. The nervous gesture sent shivers along his spine. A couple of inches lower and he could taste her sweetness. He forced his lust aside. She needed a friend, not a horny vampire. Not yet.
“What did he do to you?”
As she squared her shoulders, she took a deep breath. “He screwed Gypsy and then claimed he thought she was me. I don’t know how, since she’s five-nine and honey blonde. He said something about being shit faced and needing my comforts. I didn’t buy it then, and still don’t. It was pitch-black when I caught them in
Storm fought the twin waves of relief and anger. He hadn’t liked Ace from the beginning and the fact the jerk screwed her good-for-nothing sister only confirmed his feelings. His heart still ached for Stevie, better off or not. Life tended to dump on her in garbage truck proportions.
“Why did you think scum like that would make you happy? His name is Ace, for God’s sake.”
A lock of glossy, dark hair swept across her forehead when she looked away. “Actually, his name is Herbert Axel Blake.”
He tried to contain it, but the laughter bubbled up on its own accord. She eyed him curiously then burst into giggles, too.