Vampire undone, p.1

Vampire Undone, page 1

 

Vampire Undone
 


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Vampire Undone


  Her cruelest temptation...

  A werewolf’s bite has just one cure, and vampire Lucien Marchetta intends to find it. But first he must convince Professor Natalie Segova to help him. Natalie once considered Lucien a friend and protector...until he abandoned her to a terrible tragedy. And yet she still struggles to resist his tantalizing allure and the intimate memories of their past.

  Racing to locate the cure, Lucien and Natalie tangle in a seductive power play where every move ratchets up the intensity of their blistering attraction. But time is running out and the veil between death and life is shifting. If Lucien doesn’t reclaim Natalie’s heart soon, he could lose her—and everything he values—forever.

  “I don’t believe we’ve met.” Natalie kept her expression blank. Not in this lifetime, anyway.

  “Natalie?” Lucien gave his head a little shake. “It can’t be...”

  “I am Professor Natalie Segova,” she assured him politely. “Was there something you needed?” Natalie looked up at the hunky, gorgeous—ugh—vampire in front of her.

  He tilted his head, his eyes narrowing as though trying to make sense of the insensible. “Uh, sorry, you—you remind me of someone.”

  “I must have one of those faces.” She shrugged again and started to turn away.

  “Wait—uh, Professor. Could I ask you some questions? About your studies,” he clarified in that rich, deep timbre. God, it still had the ability to draw her attention, to suck her in and make her forget everything else around her. She remembered that voice murmuring softly to her in the darkness.

  Yeah, she remembered a lot of damn things.

  Shannon Curtis grew up picnicking in graveyards (long story) and reading by torchlight, and has worked in various roles, such as office admin manager, logistics supervisor and betting agent, to mention a few. Her first love—after reading, and her husband—is writing, and she writes romantic suspense, paranormal and contemporary romance. From faeries to cowboys, military men to business tycoons, she loves crafting stories of thrills, chills, kills and kisses. She divides her time between being an office administrator for the Romance Writers of Australia and creating spellbinding tales of mischief, mayhem and the occasional murder. She lives in Sydney, Australia, with her best-friend husband, three children, a woolly dog and a very disdainful cat. Shannon can be found lurking on Twitter, @2BShannonCurtis, and Facebook, or you can email her at contactme@shannoncurtis.com—she loves hearing from readers. Like...LOVES it. Disturbingly so.

  Books by Shannon Curtis

  Harlequin Nocturne

  Lycan Unleashed

  Warrior Untamed

  Vampire Undone

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  VAMPIRE UNDONE

  Shannon Curtis

  Dear Reader,

  This book was such a challenge—and so much fun—to write. I created quite the problem for myself with the ever-fatal werewolf bite, an inescapable fate for a vampire. It created many an interesting conversation with gal pals and writerly friends in a variety of public places on how a werewolf bite could be cured—if it could be cured. The strange looks we got...

  But then again, it was lovely getting this couple together, too.

  There were also a couple of new characters here who kind of hijacked the story—you’ll have to let me know who you want to see in a story! (I love getting those sorts of emails!)

  I hope you enjoy reading Vampire Undone.

  Take care, and until we meet again, happy reading!

  With love,

  Shannon Curtis

  This story is dedicated to Allison Rogers—Lucien is your hunk!

  Thanks so much for the inspiration :-)

  Contents

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Excerpt from The Witch and the Werewolf by Michele Hauf

  Chapter 1

  “What about a nice, fresh Zinfandel?”

  Natalie Segova ignored the suggestion and kept reading her book of poetry.

  “Or perhaps a glass of Merlot? Something warm and full-bodied to ward off the chill evening?”

  “You know you can’t serve me anything, Terry,” she whispered as she kept her eyes glued to the page.

  “What about some nuts? Do you need some nuts? Advice? What’s troubling you tonight, honey?”

  Natalie adjusted her spectacles then rested her elbow on the bar and leaned her chin on her palm in a move that looked comfortable but also masked her mouth from others within the bistro. “Terry, we’ve been over this before. If people see me talking to you, they’ll think I’m crazy. Shoo.”

  “Can I get you something, Natalie?”

  Natalie looked up as Darren, the bartender, approached her with a smile. She smiled back. “I’d love a Chardonnay, please.”

  Darren winked. “Coming right up.” He turned away to ready the drink and Terry, the flamboyant ghost who refused to leave his job, folded his arms.

  “Oh, so you’ll give him your order, but not me, huh? What am I, chopped liver?”

  Natalie rolled her eyes at the apparition’s insulted expression and peered at him over her glasses. “Terry, for the last time, you’re a ghost. Deal with it,” she whispered as she again tucked her chin into her palm.

  “Give me something, sweetheart,” Terry whined, his hand moving in a flapping gesture as he leaned his hip against the bar. “I’m here all by myself and you’re the only one who will give me the time of day.” He eyed his fingernails. “Which is a crime, as far as I’m concerned, letting all this go to waste.” He gestured to his form. Terry, fit and toned when he was alive, wore dark shoes, black trousers and a black bow tie, and that was it.

  “I still can’t believe that used to be the uniform here,” Natalie said softly, eyeing his outfit—or lack of one.

  Terry’s smile was more of a grimace. “Well, this place used to have a very different clientele. Now they’ve snootied it all up.” He sighed. “Friday nights used to be the best. The drag queens used to perform in that corner.” He waved casually to a corner near the window. He arched an eyebrow as he returned his gaze to hers. “Now we get—what? Prissy chicks reading—” He tilted his head so he could see the cover of her book and winced in horror. “Oh, my lord. Poetry. This place is going to the dogs.”

  She smiled as the very corporeal Darren placed her glass on a coaster in front of her and then walked back to serve another patron.

  “And you’re still here,” she murmured, sighing as Terry’s bottom lip protruded in a very good imitation of a sulk. She leaned back in her seat. “Fine. Give me some nuts,” she whispered and waited patiently as Terry moved and unsuccessfully tried to lift the nut bowl further down the bar. Out of habit, she toyed with the silver chain lariat around her neck, her fingers sli
ding along the links as she watched her “friend” do his thing.

  After a few more attempts, the ghostly bartender got impatient and swiped at the bowl. The bowl flipped off the bar and nuts spilled across the floor. The bartender and other patrons startled then froze, staring at the mess on the floor that seemed to have sprung from nowhere. Terry placed his hands on his hips as he walked toward her, frustration etching his forever-young features.

  “You did that on purpose.”

  She shrugged, a tiny movement that was almost undetectable. Terry tried to serve her every time she came in to McKinley’s Bistro, and refused to accept the limitations his phantom form put on him. But she did so enjoy watching him try. She dropped her chain and returned to reading her book.

  “Did you see that?” an older woman sitting at the bar muttered. She gazed dubiously at the glass of amber-colored liquid in her hand before placing it gingerly back on the bar.

  “Uh, must have been a breeze,” Darren suggested quickly before ducking into the back room and returning with a broom and dustpan.

  “I’m outta here,” another man said, reaching for his laptop bag as he climbed hastily off his bar stool.

  “Come on, Nat. So I can’t serve you a drink. So what? I can still listen,” Terry suggested as he placed his folded arms on the bar. “Tell Uncle Terry what’s bothering you.”

  Natalie held the book of poems determinedly in front of her face. “Nothing’s bothering me,” she said, trying not to move her mouth.

  “Oh, right. So you’re here, all by yourself, every Friday night, and nothing’s wrong?”

  Natalie frowned. “I happen to like my own company.”

  “Honey, nobody likes their own company—not if they keep winding up in a bar,” Terry said sagely. “Especially not wearing that.” He gestured in a figure eight that both encompassed her outfit yet still managed to convey disdain.

  Natalie’s frown deepened as she glanced down at her collared shirt and jeans. Her outfit was presentable and comfortable. “What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?”

  “Uh, nothing...”

  Darren looked over at her in surprise as he emptied the contents of the dustpan in the trash can under the bar, and color flooded her cheeks as she realized she’d spoken too loudly.

  “Thanks, Darren,” she said then focused intently on the works of John Keats she held in her hands.

  “Do you mean that outfit is intentional?” Terry gasped, his hand rising dramatically to his chest. He shook his head. “And do you think that simple necklace is going to dress this up? It’s worse than I—Oh, hello.” Terry’s attention whipped to the door of the bistro.

  Natalie glanced over her shoulder and froze. Blinked. Whirled back around to bury her nose in her book. Her heart fluttered in her chest then took off in a thumping race.

  Oh. My. God. Him. Here. It couldn’t be. Her guardian angel.

  No, not her guardian angel, she corrected herself. More like a devil in disguise. She knew exactly what he was and she wanted to run for the hills.

  Natalie willed herself not to run, not to stare, not to flinch. Of all the bistros, in all the teeny, tiny college towns, in all of Argon, why did he have to walk into hers? His kind weren’t common here. That was why she’d chosen to establish herself here. No shadow breeds, just humans.

  The newcomer walked up to the bar and Natalie twisted away in her seat, trying to make it look like a nonchalant move as she closed the book she’d ceased to read. Maybe she could get out before he noticed her, recognized her. She slid the book into her bag, her fingers brushing, lightly grasping, then relinquishing the handle of the blade she always carried. It matched the one strapped to her ankle.

  “Excuse me, I’m looking for Professor Segova. I was told I’d likely find her here...”

  Good grief. That voice. Like smooth chocolate, all rich and dark and hinting of nights and mischief. He hadn’t changed a bit.

  Well, duh. He’s a vampire. He’s bloody immortal.

  They didn’t tend to age. Or change. Or die, damn it.

  And he was looking for her. She didn’t want to see him. She never wanted to see him. Never again. She sure as hell hadn’t expected him to walk into her bistro, looking for her.

  “Oh, wow, Mr. Hottie wants you,” Terry whispered unnecessarily.

  Mr. Hottie was an understatement. The man was undeniably handsome, in an intent, coolly detached way. He wore a black suit, a dark, collared shirt and no tie. With his dark hair and piercing blue eyes he looked every inch a potential dark angel. Shoulders broad, chin set at a challenging angle, he effortlessly commanded attention.

  But not hers. Nope. Not anymore. She was too wise to his ways to let herself be entranced by a searing pair of stunning blue eyes and lips that suggested all sorts of steamy seduction. No, sirree.

  She slid off the bar stool and turned away slightly, praying that Darren would get the message her body language was screaming, and send this particular patron on his way. She dug for her wallet and pulled out some notes to pay for her meal and drinks.

  “Professor Segova? Yeah, she’s right there.”

  Darren hadn’t gotten the message. Well, there went his tip for the night. She put the money on the bar and busied herself with her coat. She lifted her bag to her shoulder.

  “Ooooh, honey, he’s on his way over to you,” Terry sighed before biting his bottom lip.

  Once again, Natalie did her best to ignore the ghost.

  “Excuse me, Professor Segova?”

  She forced a politely inquisitive look on her face as she turned to face him. Well, his chest. She’d forgotten how tall he was. Wow. Had he always been so...built? She forced herself to lift her gaze to his.

  Er, wow. His eyes were still that stunning azure color. Nope. Not getting distracted. At all. She pulled her lips into a cool smile.

  “Yes?”

  He blinked. Gaped. “You! You—You’re Professor Natalie Segova?” Recognition battled with confusion. She hoped confusion won.

  Showtime. “Yes?” she inquired innocently.

  “Natalie?” he repeated.

  She kept her expression bland as she nodded. “Yes, I’m Natalie Segova. How can I help you?”

  “It’s me—Lucien,” he said. “Lucien Marchetta.”

  She continued to look at him blankly, then gave an apologetic shrug. “Sorry, I don’t believe we’ve met.” Not in this lifetime, anyway.

  He gave his head a little shake. “It can’t be...”

  She raised her eyebrows, her expression turning expectant. “I am Professor Natalie Segova,” she assured him politely. “Was there something you needed?”

  “Oh, I’d be happy to help,” Terry said suggestively.

  Natalie shot him a grim look before turning back to the hunky, gorgeous vampire in front of her.

  He tilted his head, his eyes narrowing as though trying to make sense of the insensible. “Uh, sorry, you—you remind me of someone.”

  She shrugged again. “I get that a lot. I must have one of those faces.” She slid the strap of her tote up to her shoulder and started to turn away.

  “Wait—uh, Professor. Please. I was wondering if I could ask you some questions? About your studies,” he clarified in that rich, deep timbre.

  God, it still had the ability to draw her attention, to suck her in and make her forget everything else around her. She remembered that voice murmuring softly to her in the darkness.

  Yeah, she remembered a lot of damn things.

  She started to back away from him, her expression still polite. “I’m sorry, I really have to go—but if you’d like to call my office, my assistant can make an appointment for you,” she suggested. And she had absolutely no intention of keeping it. She’d be halfway across the Red Desert before he realized she’d fled town, fing
ers crossed.

  This time his confused gaze turned serious, intent, and he met her gaze directly. “Wait,” he said in a tone that took his voice to an even deeper timbre. “You want to talk with me. Now, as a matter of fact.”

  She could feel something fluttering along the edges of her mind and her smile tightened. He was trying to compel her, damn it.

  Well, that put her in quite a position. If she resisted the compulsion, he’d realize something was up, that she wasn’t the human she pretended to be, which would lead him to the next realization, that she could very well be the person he thought she was. She couldn’t have that.

  She tilted her head back, easily ignoring the shadowy effect trying to cloud her brain. “I’d love to talk with you,” she lied. “Why don’t you walk with me? My place is only a couple of blocks from here.”

  He smiled at her and she glanced away. He still had that sexy smile that was all mischief.

  “After you,” Lucien said, gesturing for her to lead the way.

  She smiled through clenched teeth. Great. She just needed to play along with this farce long enough to get to her home, to safety. Okay, she could do this. She could act normal, even flirt if she had to, if it gave her enough time to get in her front door. She slid her hand inside her bag to clutch the handle of her blade as she walked out into the cool evening.

  * * *

  Lucien strolled along Main Street, surreptitiously glancing at the woman at his side as they went.

  It was remarkable. She looked so much like Nina—but it couldn’t be. Nina was dead. Years ago—it had made front-page news, everywhere. Besides, even if the papers had gotten it wrong, Nina would be in her sixties now. This woman looked to be in her twenties. Blond hair that fell in soft, barely-there waves to her shoulders, hazel-gray eyes behind black-rimmed glasses, and a pale complexion that was currently just the slightest bit flushed. She was pretty. Hell, she was more than pretty, but...well, it felt weird, thinking of her like that, particularly with the confusing mishmash in his mind with Nina. He frowned.

 
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