If you post a comment today, you’ll be in the running
for a free download of any backlisted Immortal Knight book!
Rather than whine again today about my lack of progress with my current book, I’m going to start getting you revved up for the new book coming your way on October 27th. It’s set in the Immortal Knights’ universe—a werewolf story featuring wolves from Dark Mountain, North Carolina.
Since I have four days, I thought I might remind you of furry highlights from books past. This first excerpt is from All Knight Long, originally published in March 2004.
(Psst! For those of you waiting on pressies in the mail, I do have a few more prize packages to prep for mailing, but I’m almost done!)
A member of an elite police unit sworn to hunt vampires, Joe Garcia’s life is turned upside down when he’s transformed into one. On a quest for a cure, his search brings him to New Orleans in a last ditch effort to recover his humanity.
Professor Lily Carlson, a renowned expert in vampire lore, has a “condition” of her own. Her sexual libido has been in hyper-drive for months. Her only defense is to hide behind her glasses and tweed suits and stay as far away from men as possible. However, she’s thrilled to discover vampires really do exist when Joe shows up on her balcony.
Although Joe deflects her attempts to make him a case study and confirm a few vampire statistics, he is drawn by her powerful allure. When werewolves join the chase and track her through New Orleans, Joe’s cop instincts tell him there’s a mystery to solve. Intent on protecting her, he must seek help from the last vampire on Earth he wants to ask. While his hopes for deliverance from his fate dwindle, Lily’s life is forever altered by an unexpected “inheritance”.
“Now, Miss Lily. I would read your cards.” Madame Leveque slid the deck across the table toward her.
Joe slid from the chair and held it out for Lily. Lily sat and carefully shuffled the deck, before handing it back to the old woman. Joe placed his hands on Lily’s shoulders and he felt some of her tension ease.
Again, Madame drew three cards. As soon as the first was turned, all three people leaning over the table laughed.
“The Queen of Wands! Appropriate, non? A woman of passion and energy. You are fond of nature—wild things, yet you are practical.”
The second card brought the tension back. A man dangled by his foot from a rope that hung in the air.
“The Hanged Man. Dis indicates you’ll experience suspense and change. There may be sacrifice for great gain, or a search for inner truth. A change in point of view may be needed.”
“But what does that mean?” Lily asked.
Madame settled back in her chair and folded her hands on her stomach. “Your choices have brought you to dis point. Now it is up to you to gain wisdom from your search for truth.”
Lily shook her head, but Joe squeezed her shoulders. He wanted to see the next card.
Madame’s hands remained on her belly and she smiled at Lily. “Turn the next one, my dear.”
Lily reached a tentative hand to the card, and Joe had to smile. For all her professions of belief in empirical proof, she was enthralled. She flipped the card.
A beautiful woman blended two bowls of water into a single stream.
“It is called ‘The Star’ and represents the blending of the past and present. An awareness and acceptance of two worlds.” Madame glanced pointedly between Lily and Joe.
Feeling a little mesmerized, Joe murmured, “Thanks, Madame.”
She nodded her acceptance, and then swept her hand toward the sofa. “Please, take a seat and we’ll talk. “
Joe held his hope in check and sat down. Dragging a hand through his hair, he tried to figure out a place to begin.
“Joe wants to be human again.”
Joe smiled ruefully. Lily’s eagerness eclipsed his.
Madame’s dark gaze seemed to look straight through him. “What about your new existence can’t you accept?”
“I’m a damn parasite!” Frustration made his reply angrier than he’d intended. “I feed off humans.”
“Do you take more than they can give?”
His hands dug into his thighs. “Sometimes, I want to. It’s hard to fight the hunger.”
“God gives us all tests.”
“I don’t think God has anything to do with my current state.” Darcy and her bloodsucking boyfriend do!
Madame nodded. “I think you will find your mortality.”
He stared, hope rising. He leaned forward. “How? What do I have to do?”
“You must face your past. Go home.”
Not what he wanted to hear. He shook his head and looked at Lily. Her bleak expression reflected his heart’s dismay. “I don’t understand.”
“I can’t tell you anythin’ more.”
His head dipped. He’d come all this way only to hear that he had to go home. Something he already knew.
“Madame,” Lily’s voice broke through his disappointment, reminding him of the other danger lurking. “There’s one other problem I need your advice concerning.”
The old woman reached across the table and took Lily’s hand. She turned the palm upward. “You haven’t figure it out yet, have you child?”
“Tell me first. What disturbs you?”
“There are so many things. I have intense…cravings. And then there’s this …thing following me.”
Madame tilted her head toward Joe. “Does this man satisfy your…cravings?”
Lily nodded her head, blushing.
“Then isn’t your problem solved?”
“What I feel isn’t normal.” Lily gripped the edge of the table. “I want too much. Besides, he’s leaving.” She shrugged her shoulders and bit her lip. “And then there’s the other…thing.”
“The wolves? Do wolves follow you now?”
Lily exchanged a shocked glance with Joe before dragging her gaze back to the woman. “Yes. Or at least one does.”
Madame turned to Joe. “The only way to keep them from her is to take her with you.”
Joe nodded. “Why do they follow her?”
“For the same reason you do.” Her little smile told him he wouldn’t like what she said next. “To mate.”
His body tightened. “Is it because of her increased sex drive?” he asked. “Do they smell her constant need?”
Lily’s eyes darkened and Joe recognized the signs of her growing arousal. Just the mention of sex and she was primed.
“It is dat. And something more,” the old woman said, her expression growing amused. She hadn’t missed the exchange between Joe and Lily.
Frustrated with her cryptic comments, Joe blurted, “Why do they follow her?”
“Because she leaves her scent all over the city. She’s in heat.”
* * *
Lily slid the strap of her handbag over her shoulder and shivered despite the balmy night air. Still reeling from shock, she wrapped her arms around her middle and stumbled toward Bourbon Street. “I’m one of them?”
“You heard what she said.” His words were clipped, his face hard as stone. “Not yet.” His hand pressed the small of her back, hurrying her along. “Although, I’m wondering why you’d fight the change! The wolves don’t mean you any harm. They just want to fuck you. Something you want.”
Anger burned away the chill. “So I should just give into my nature? I should let any Duke or Fido take me because my body is ready to breed? That’s so hypocritical coming from you! Why do you fight what you are?”
“I wasn’t born to be a vampire. You were born to be a werewolf.”
“Well, I don’t accept that.”
“Now you know how I feel. Neither do I.”
He sounded so angry she felt like crying. Didn’t he care strange werewolves wanted to mate with her? “I don’t want them. Besides, I won’t just get pregnant—I’ll whelp! I could have a whole litter of puppies.” That thought led to another more horrifying. “Oh God, does that mean I’ll grow a row of breasts?”
They reached the corner and turned right onto the busy thoroughfare, blending with the strolling crowd.
“You think that’s a problem?” Joe asked, his voice purring close to her ear.
Cream trickled down to soak another panty liner. That’s all it took. One sexy rumble from this man and she was ready to shuck her pants in the nearest alley and have a go. She was insatiable. No. She was in heat!
“Shouldn’t you be eager to get home and start taking notes?” he asked. “You’ve obviously been studying the wrong breed.”
She dug in her heels. “Stop it!” She rounded on him, her hands clenched. “There’s no need to be snide.”
The hard set of Joe’s jaw indicated he wasn’t ready to let go of his anger.
Lily wondered if he even knew why he was angry. “You can’t just give me over to them.”
Joe stepped close, crowding her against a wall. “Course not,” he said. His head lowered until his face was inches from hers. His eyes glittered dangerously. “I thought you’d bake them up a bunch of doggie treats and invite them over.”
Ignoring the amused stares from passersby, she grabbed a fistful of his shirt and pulled him closer. “I don’t want them. I want you.”
He planted his hands against the wall on either side of her shoulders, trapping her inside his embrace. “Well, that’s too bad. I told you, I’m not staying.”
Lily licked her lips, enjoying a little thrill of power when his smoldering gaze followed the motion. “You could take me with you.”
A muscle in his jaw rippled. “Not possible.”
Her hands swept up to caress the hills of his chest. “You didn’t seem so averse to that thought when Madame Leveque first mentioned it.”
“That was before I knew my interest was chemically induced. You’re not any more human than I am.”
Lily flinched as though he’d slapped her. “What? You think this thing we have going is all about werewolf pheromones?”
“Isn’t it?” The muscle along his jaw rippled again and his nostrils flared. He ground his crotch against her belly. “Baby, it makes me as crazy as it does you. You wouldn’t care if I dry-humped you right here, would you?” He slid his knee between her legs and raised it to grind against her pussy. “Would I have followed you to your apartment if I hadn’t already been snared by your scent?”
“Silly me,” Lily said around a gasp, her body already climbing the peak. “I actually thought my irresistible personality might have had something to do with it.” The tips of her breasts swelled and she rubbed herself shamelessly against his chest while she rode his thigh.
His mouth slammed down on hers, his tongue stabbing between her lips.
Lily kissed him back with all the love she had. He thought this was just chemistry—an artificially induced arousal. She knew better. She’d fought her urges for months until this man presented himself on her balcony.
Joe groaned into her mouth and lifted his knee higher.
It was just enough to send her over the edge. Her whole body stiffened. Wide-eyed with shock, her body convulsed—her thighs clamping around his leg as waves of shuddering contractions gripped her empty vagina.
Slowly, the tight coil of desire in her belly unraveled. Spent, her body and mouth slackened. If not for Joe’s knee still rammed between her legs, she would have melted to the ground.
Joe gave her a final sliding kiss and lowered his knee. His gaze smoldered darkly. “See what I mean? You’d let me take you anywhere.”
Suddenly tired and near tears, Lily let go of his shirt and leaned back against the wall. “Why don’t you just go now? You’re wasting nighttime.”
He stepped back a pace so their bodies no longer touched. “I’ll see you home, first.”
“You don’t need to do that. I’m not in any danger, remember? They just want to fuck me. Something I want, right?”
“I’ll see you home.”
Lily felt like screaming. Any moment now she was going to break into a million pieces. “Joe, they won’t harm me, but they’ll kill you.”
“Only because you stand between them and me. I don’t want you hurt because of me. You should just go.”
“For all we know, there’s only the one wolf. Even odds. What are the chances of a pack existing here in New Orleans?” His face tilted and suspicion twisted his mouth. “Or would you like that? A half dozen wolves nosing around your pussy?”
Lily stared, her heart breaking. He hadn’t a clue how she felt—and he wouldn’t care if he did. She turned on her heels and walked away from him.
“You’re going the wrong way,” he called after her.
She ignored him and walked faster.
“Dammit! Lily stop!”
She was running now, blinded by the tears streaming down her face.
Heavy hands landed on her shoulders, bringing her to a screeching halt. Lily didn’t bother to turn. Instead, she drew ragged breaths and fought against more tears that burned the back of her throat.
“Baby, I’m sorry,” Joe said. “I was out of line.” His body pressed against her back.
Lily blinked rapidly. This was too humiliating. She’d thrown herself at him and been turned down cold. His pity was the last thing she wanted now.
“You sure don’t run like a wolf,” he said, next to her ear.
“I’m not,” she said, hating that her voice sounded clogged with tears. “Not yet.”
“That’s right.” His hands slid down her arms and encircled her middle.
Lily accepted his embrace, letting her head fall back against his chest. “But I’m a breeder. That’s what she called it, right? I’m just a bite away from being canine. Sooner or later they’ll find me—just like you did. By scenting me.”
His hands closed around her shoulders and he shook her once. “You can fight it. You aren’t turned yet.”
“What am I supposed to do? Lock myself in my apartment every time I come into heat? Avoid anyone whose nose twitches when they draw near me?”
“What good will that do? I have to survive—I have to work. I’ll meet some good-looking guy squeezing Charmin in the grocery store and my desire will overpower me. I’ll let him take me home.” She sniffed and rolled her head on his chest. “I won’t be able to help it. One bite and it’ll be finished.”
Joe nuzzled her neck. “You’re sure you don’t want that? It might be easier to just go with the flow.”
“You’re not the one who’s going four-legged.” She scraped tears from her face. “I have no desire to run on all fours and smell other dog’s butts. And think of the expense of all that waxing!”
Joe’s shoulders shook. He turned her around, but she stubbornly kept her gaze on his oversized feet. He put a finger under her chin and brought her face up. By his crooked grin, she could tell he was exasperated.
Lily shrugged. “Think about it. No Remington razor will do the trick.”
Joe drew his T-shirt over his head and used it to mop her face, ignoring the whistles from several grinning women as they walked by.
Lily scowled at every one of them.
“Let’s get back to the car. We’ve got plans to make.”
“Like flight plans. And you need to pack.”
Lily brought her gaze slowly up, hoping her heart wasn’t shining in her eyes. She was so pathetic. “Don’t say that unless you really want me with you.”
Joe’s eyes burned her like a four-alarm blaze. “Don’t want you?” He pulled her hand down and forced her palm to follow the curve of his erection. His face was still hard. Still angry. But the remorse in his expression said the anger was for himself.
“Let’s get back to my place quick,” she said, her heart thrumming.
He grabbed her hand and pulled her back down Bourbon Street.
“Wait, put your shirt back on!”
He laughed and pulled her faster behind him.
She’d parked on another side street, but as soon as she turned the corner she knew something was wrong. She didn’t need to have all her werewolf powers to know eyes followed her progress. “Joe?”
He slowed his pace and his head lifted. He sniffed at the air. “Yes. I know. They’re here.”
“What do we do now?” Her hand clutched at his like a lifeline.
“Make your choice, Lily.”
What choice? A blood-drinking vampire or a pack of horny dogs? “I’m afraid.”
“You can be what you were born to be, or you can come with me. But choose now.”
“Damn, they followed my scent, didn’t they? I should have bought that strawberry douche.”
“What’s it going to be?” he repeated.
“I think—” A low growl sounded from the far side of the street. “ Run!”
Joe didn’t need to hear her say it twice, he ducked down and his shoulder hit her belly. She draped over him like a rucksack, and he took off in the direction they’d just come.
Lily was glad for his strength and his speed. His feet ate up the pavement. She’d never have kept up. She leaned up and caught sight of a man straightening from his hiding place beside her car. The man from the diaper aisle! He leapt to the sidewalk and ran after them, tearing away his T-shirt and ripping open his pants.
What the hell was he doing?
He stopped for a second and pushed his jeans down his legs, and then he was running after them, again. Lily had a glimpse of his powerful, nude body as his legs stretched to increase their pace. Then he was changing, morphing, his face growing longer, fur sprouting all over his body. He lunged and he was running on all fours, his transformation complete. A werewolf!
She would have told Joe, but she hadn’t the wind to scream with her body bobbing on his shoulder. Faster! Run faster, she wanted to say. The wolf was closing in on them.
Then there was a second wolf, loping into view from another side street—and another. They drew closer—so close she could see their eyes glowing like flat, gold disks in the light from the street lamps, their tongues lolling from the sides of their mouths.
At that moment, she was sure she didn’t want to be a werewolf. A lolling tongue was not something she ever wanted to aspire to. Faster, Joe!
Joe turned onto Bourbon Street, but didn’t slow his pace. She heard screams and lifted her head again to see the wolves loping around the corner. Exposure to the crowds didn’t seem to be a deterrent. Her pheromones must indeed be a powerful thing.
Lily heard the squeal of brakes and a loud horn.
“Mister! This way! Get in the car!”
Lily found herself tossed onto the vinyl back seat of a taxi. Joe jumped on top of her. Heedless of the fact they were only half inside the car, the driver hit the gas.
Joe hauled her the rest of the way inside and slammed the door. Lily pushed Joe to the floor of the cab and scrambled on the seat to look out the rear window. The taxi was pulling away from the wolves. One by one, they stopped, their heads low to the ground, chests billowing, as they watched the taxi leave them in the dust.
Lily turned to Joe and for the first time realized the screams she’d heard could just as well have been for him. His wore his monster face.
He’d collapsed against the back of the seat, dragging lungfuls of air into his chest.
“Joe!” she hissed.
His eyes shone like the wolves in the dim light when he turned toward her.
“Your face!” She tilted her head toward the driver.
Joe took several deep breaths and his face reformed into the handsome one she preferred.
“Holy shit! Did you see that?” the taxi driver said, excitement in his voice. “What did you two do to piss those dogs off? Steal their bone?”