A woman's memory returns when she falls in love with the monster who took it from her.
Calli tattoos her skin to fill the holes in her memory, thanks to an accident that left her mind damaged and empty. But a nasty encounter with a fired employee leaves her in the arms of her unlikely savior: Nycholas, a predatory, serpentine Vesper on the run from his brutal master.
Nycholas’ clandestine world holds the secrets to mankind’s origin and survival… but he only wants one thing before his time is up: a few colorful nights with Calli, the fragile, tattooed, human woman he pursued and saved.
The more Calli learns about Nycholas, the more her own darkened memories return to her. Despite her haunted past, she loses herself to passion and desire with her immortal captor.
Now, Calli must overcome the demons of her past, or allow Nycholas to kiss her memories away and spare her the trauma of loving a doomed immortal. But each choice comes with dire consequences – some that endanger not only herself, but her family as well.
“I startled you.” His voice was dark and smooth, and reminded me of wine. He stood a few inches taller than me in a long, worn-out brown leather coat that swung near the backs of his knees.
He kept his head down, long, blond hair spilling over his shoulders in a way that reminded me of dreadlocks, though the hair shone of cleanliness, like cords of solid gold, or yellow steel, or…
Stranger in my shop. Focus. No gold or wine.
“Um, sorry, we’re closed.” My voice rang with the high-pitched curl of panic on the ends of my words, and I thought about stooping to pick up my cash but didn’t dare take my eyes off the stranger. Something about his stillness, the unnatural bend of his head, eyes on the floor… it left me with a chill on my flesh. His broad shoulders heaved once as he blew out a sigh.
I waited for a moment, glancing about. “You wanna make an appointment? I’m booked tomorrow, but sometimes we have walk-in space…” I trailed off, that damn breathy tone to my offer again. Big, broad, and seriously long hair.
I might not have a type, but if I had one, it would look something like that stranger in my shop. At least, that’s what I thought… until he raised his head and I realized this gorgeous man was not human.
My jaw dropped and my heart slammed against my ribcage, pounding my lungs down into submission… I couldn’t breathe. Holy fuck! Not good! Not good!
I sucked in a breath to scream, but a leather-gloved hand – that same, worn, brown leather over a palm so thick I could hardly see around it – clamped over my face. My scream rang more in my own chest than in the shop: a muffled squeal no one outside could have heard.
I hadn’t even seen him move before he was upon me.
Boring into my gaze were eyes of solid black, no whites behind the irises; just a glimmer of silver in the center left the impression of a pupil. His skin was bleached pale, and something black inked across his eyebrows and temples, running down the sides of his face and wrapping behind his ears.
He wore an angry snarl on his lips - pale lips in a sharply-angled jaw peeled back over pearl white teeth that glinted with an odd fluorescence, like the lights flickering above my head or the neon sign on the door. I stared at his mouth, unable to scream for the hand wrapped over my face, and stilled with horror when I realized the bright teeth nestled behind those pale lips were fangs.
Fangs. Long, pointed, and deadly.
I wanted to scream again. I wanted to bite his hand and kick him in the groin and run away, but he raised his chin and glared down at me along his nose, and took a breath to speak.
I didn’t hear his words. My heartbeat swelled in my ears, ringing with a heady cacophony, and I tried to make fists, to stay upright, anything… but my vision fell away from me, distant, tumbling down a sewer drain like a dropped coin, and everything around me vanished.
For a moment, all I felt was something smooth along my cheek - the silk of my pillowcase, perhaps. So tired. I blinked but there was nothing to see, so I closed my eyes again and let rest have me.
It felt like morning when I opened them again, and the silk was gone, replaced by unforgiving air. Cold. Was I outside? No, air conditioner. Energy surged through my fingers and toes and I wanted to sit up, but something weighed me down. I blinked a couple times and rolled my head to the side, gazing at my shoulder… a brown leather blanket draped over my exhausted bones, and memory rekindled my fight or flight response.
Worn brown leather. Stranger in my shop. I fainted!
I shot upright and gasped, and then let out a scream with every speck of air my lungs held. I tried to look around me but my vision blurred… I ran out of air and screamed again, scrambling backward, kicking off the coat and trying to get my knees under myself… stand up, Calli, dammit, stand up!
My legs obeyed, and I launched myself to my feet and stumbled forward. I slammed my hand into the sharp corner of the cash register, caught myself and heard a masculine breath rush out behind me. I didn’t need to see him to know it was him.The stranger. The monster. I shoved away from the desk and ran on vacant feet, my heart pounding and my head buzzing angrily like I had a tattoo machine between my teeth. I swiped the back of my hand over my eyes to shed the tears from my lashes and try to clear up my vision. The street looked blacker than usual – shit, still nighttime! - and the air chilled me so bone-deep it hurt my skull.
About the author....
Nola is a mother, wife, writer, and giggle-a-holic, living in Canada and raising a pack of kids. In her spare time she can be found geocaching, guzzling coffee, or tending to her garden. Her VESPER series is on submission by her agent to publishers, along with WILD HYACINTHE, a paranormal romance co-authored with Emily Faith.
Links:Represented by Michelle Johnson of Inklings Literary Agency www.inklingsliterary.com
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