Human blood is an illicit and highly addictive drug--if you're a vampire. Known as Red, its side effects are insanity, and eventual death. A group of Red-addicted vampires known as Poisoners are killing women as part of an extortion plot involving a lost ancient vampiric tome, and they’re leaving a trail of bodies in their wake. The discovery of each new victim risks exposure of the entire vampire race to humans. Then one victim survives…
Dr.Evan Nichols, oncologist and vampire, lives a monk-like existence, by his own choice, focusing on patient care and research to benefit his vampire brethren. It’s been twenty-five years since his world turned upside down—the night he lost his fiancee and discovered his hidden vampire heritage. Now his government has ordered him to take a mate—or they’ll choose one for him. It’s a horrible prospect, and one that might push him over the edge—until Fate throws him together with a human female.
Wary of relationships, Tara West has poured her energies into work and inventing cutting edge climbing equipment. She doesn’t like the gorgeous Dr. Nichols, yet finds herself unaccountably drawn to him.
When a crazed vampire attacks and poisons Tara, Evan rescues her. With time running out, he has to create an antidote to the poison before he loses his chance at love.
In order to make the vaccine which might cure her, he has to find the bastards who poisoned her and take their venom—before they die of their addiction. If he doesn’t reach them in time, saving her will be impossible.
Thus the journey begins—into the Red!
He shifted, tracked her while she climbed the two steps to the kitchen. A lot of bare skin tonight compared to yesterday. The sway of her hips had pressure building in his groin. Better focus on business before his body decided to advertise his attraction.
She returned carrying a tray containing a plate of cookies and their drinks, a blue folder was tucked under her arm. She set the tray on the coffee table and handed him the folder.
“Here’s the schedule. The auction’s at the end.”
He skimmed the list of bachelors before flipping to the schedule. She settled next to him and tucked her feet up, her knee grazing his. The skin of her thigh beckoned him to drag a finger over it. He held back a groan and shifted the folder toward her. “Maybe you can explain the auction.”
“The silent auction will run from cocktails until the end. So will the bone marrow donor registration. The volunteers take care of those. The speeches come first”—she traced the paper with one finger—“and then dinner.”
She met his gaze. “Then the bachelor auction. You’re number twelve, the last one. You’ll wait in the back, and come out on stage when the auctioneer announces your number.”
“Got it. When the auctioneer opens the bid, you can start right in bidding on me.” He grinned and leaned forward to steal a cookie. Chocolate chip—his favorite.
She moved the folder to the coffee table and took a cookie. “What’s my limit?”
“For the auction? There is no limit.”
Her eyes widened as she bit into her cookie.
He grabbed another. Homemade. Did she bake on top of everything else?
She leaned in, eyes intense as she licked crumbs from her lovely mouth, and his pulse jumped. Hard to resist cleaning off those crumbs. With his tongue. The air subtly vibrated between them.
“You realize this could go above a thousand dollars, right?” Her eyes dropped to his mouth for a second, then back to catch his gaze. “Right?”
“Yep. That’s fine. Bid as high as you need to go, just win.” He brushed her shoulder with his fingertips. The feel of her skin—soft as a sable paintbrush. “Just win.”
Her eyes closed half way, the dilated pupils darkening the hazel. The bedroom expression from his drawing. She shifted toward him. “Win?”
He moved close enough to whisper in her ear. “Win.”
He bent his head to the hollow of her neck and inhaled, pulling her scent inside him. God, she smelled good. Clean, floral, and female. He had to know what her lips felt like. One kiss. Just one, and he’d go.
The atmosphere charged—equal parts anticipation and need.
Not a good idea, no matter how much he wanted it.
He should leave now.
Evan drew back and caught a glimpse of her tongue moistening her lips. Control slipped away, and he buried his hand in her hair and pulled her in for a kiss.
The first brush of his lips on hers, an electrifying sweep, shrank his world down to the two of them.
Her mouth had the perfect balance of heat and tenderness, fitting perfectly with his. Jesus, he hadn’t experienced this for so long, and it felt so good. He pressed his lips more firmly against hers. Slender fingers wove into his hair, and pleasure cascaded down his back and set off pressure in his groin. God, he should stop.
He pulled her into his embrace.
Damn good to hold a woman, warm and vital, after all these years of a cold and solitary existence. Tara had awakened a hunger, and he hadn’t realized the degree of his starvation until now. He had to get a taste of her.
He teased her lips with his tongue, and groaned in delight when she sighed and allowed him access. A flavor explosion—orange juice and chocolate chip cookies and steamy human woman, hot and vital. He stroked her tongue, penetrating, probing, shifting his mouth over hers to deepen the dance.
Tara gripped his shoulders, each one of her fingernails triggering tiny sparks of pleasure that flashed down to the small of his back.
Her enthusiasm was unmistakable. She wanted him too.
What would she feel like under him, his body buried in hers? Blood pulsed through him headed for destinations south, and his erection throbbed in readiness, shoving against his zipper.
Too fast, needed to slow down before his libido went off the rails.
As if sensing his thoughts, Tara broke the kiss but didn’t pull back. The heat of her breath warmed his jaw. At least one of them had sense.
Nope. He hadn’t gotten enough.
He captured her lips and mated his tongue with hers, and electric anticipation spread out across his skin. The fragrance of arousal poured off him, smelling of smoky bergamot, the unique signature of claiming and possession.
A mating scent. A whiff of answering desire hit his nostrils.
Had to get her closer, get his essence on her skin. He wrapped an arm around her waist. Soft breasts pressed against his chest, moving in concert with his breathing, and pushed desire to need.
So. Damn. Good.