KOS MARAS’s orderly life is in shambles—he must distribute Blood Vine to a population of ailing vampires, but Hunters block him at every turn. To make matters worse, each night he watches over a temptingly beautiful woman sleeping in his bed. He is convinced love cannot last a vampire-long lifetime and an entanglement will only cause them grief, but he doesn’t have the heart to send her away.
From a long line of blood servants, LENA ISAAKSON is destined to serve a vampire, but a string of humiliating rejections thwarts her pleasure. When Kos shows her kindness, she hopes he will claim her. Instead he proves himself a coward in the face of love and sends her to serve another.
Will the dark seduction of a rakish new vampire finally bring Lena the pleasure she desires or deliver her into the hands of Hunters who want to destroy everything the Maras family has worked for?
She called out the moment she saw him. “I’m not going.” His father’s cook—no, former cook—sat on Kos’s sofa looking fierce and lovely.
“Hello to you, too.”
She seemed fine—no scent of fear, pulse slow and steady—surprisingly calm and composed. For the first time since she’d called, he took a full breath, because she was safe and unafraid. She drew her long legs up underneath her on the couch. That was good—he found them immensely distracting. She crossed her arms over those awe-inspiring breasts, which was also helpful.
“Come on, we’ve got to go.” He pointed his thumb at the door.
She pouted. “I said no.”
When had she grown so stubborn? Dropping into a squat with his elbows on the coffee table, he peered into her eyes, the same dark blue as the ocean outside. “You’re not safe.”
“I feel better than I have in years. Away from Andre, I’m my old self. I won’t go back. I have friends I can stay with in San Francisco. Take me to Santa Rosa and I’ll get a bus.”
Krist i svi sveci–by Christ and all the Croatian saints, she was difficult.
“Good chance the Hunters know your name,” Kos said, “which means they can find you anywhere. It’s possible they’ll even tail us from here.”
“I won’t go.” She shook her head and crossed her arms more tightly.
If her resistance weren’t so infuriating, it would have been cute. Kos set his jaw and put on his most determined expression. “You will.”
Her mouth opened in surprise, but she still said, “No.”
Damn, she had a way of making him tense. He rolled his shoulders. Reason wasn’t working, neither was coercion. He had one more option.
“Lena, do it for me. I’d never forgive myself if something happened to you.” It wasn’t strictly manipulation if it was true.
“What do you mean?”
He leaned over the coffee table. “In Croatia we lost four members of our household. I promised I’d never let that happen again. Please don’t endanger yourself and put me through that a second time.”
She inched toward him, still hugging herself tightly.
At last, she dropped her arms to her sides. “Okay. I’ll go if I can borrow one of your books.”
“I have loads of books at Kaštel too. You’re welcome to any of them.”
“But I like this one.” She touched the cover of A New Selected Poems by Galway Kinnell where it lay on the coffee table.
“I like the one about the footsteps.” She blushed, her eyes aimed at the book.
A lump formed in Kos’s throat—the poem was a favorite, about how Kinnell’s young son appeared every time his parents finished making love, to climb between them in the bed where he was conceived. The last time he’d read it, it had stirred longings for impossible things, so he’d abandoned Kinnell entirely.
Lena thumbed the pages of the book where it lay on the table. She still didn’t look at him. “It got me thinking I might not want to do the whole blood servant thing anymore. Maybe it’s time for me to leave household service and have a normal life.”
“I understand that feeling, but the decision will have to wait. I’ll help you find a job, with humans or vampires, but first we need to keep you safe.”
Her head tilted, but she finally nodded and grabbed her overnight bag.
Amber Belldene grew up on the Florida panhandle, swimming with alligators, climbing oak trees and diving for scallops…when she could pull herself away from a book. As a child, she hid her Nancy Drew novels inside the church bulletin and read mysteries during sermons—an irony that is not lost on her when she preaches these days.
Amber is an Episcopal Priest and student of religion. She believes stories are the best way to explore human truths. Some people think it is strange for a minister to write romance, but it is perfectly natural to her, because the human desire for love is at the heart of every romance novel and God made people with that desire. She lives with her husband and two children in San Francisco.
Find Amber @