Even by vampire standards, Reaper is a loner, and his current mission to destroy a gang of rogue bloodsuckers is definitely a one-vamp job. Then fate takes a hand, and before he knows it, he's surrounded by a ragtag crew of misfit helpers: the newbie, the princess, the shape-shifter and the human healer.
Maggie Shayne spreads her wings in three new tales of immortal love . . .
Seth is new to immortality, but he's sharp and strong--and he'll risk anything for the rogues' strange female captive, a secretive creature he doesn't understand but feels compelled to save.
Vixen is confused by the emotions that swirl through her at the sight of her impulsive hero. She only hopes the brutal Gregor and his bloodthirsty renegades will leave her alive long enough to explore them.
Or will Reaper himself be the one to destroy them all?
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November 30, 2007
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Excerpt from Demon's Kiss by Maggie Shayne
Seth Connor was cornered and low on energy, crouching on the top of a crumbling crypt in the middle of a cemetery. Toxic sludge had seeped in, covering the ground on all sides, so getting down and running for it was not an option. He wouldn't last long if he stepped into that muck. Besides, he was surrounded by zombies--half-witted, yeah, but still dangerous. The sludge didn't seem to bother them, or maybe they were just too zoned out to notice. Still, between them and the bubbling green chemical cocktail down there, he wouldn't stand a chance. He was going to have to try to jump the gaping distance between where he was, and where he needed to be--the roof of the caretaker's cottage. And it was a long jump. He wasn't sure he had enough juice left in him to make it.
But standing still wasn't an option, either. He shouldered the shotgun, emptied it into the mob of zombies, who were already trying to climb onto the roof themselves, just to clear himself a path, then pushed off hard. His body somersaulted through the air, once, twice, three times, poisonous muck flashing beneath him with every flip, and then it seemed to be getting closer. Hell! He stretched, straightened, reached--and just barely caught the edge of the cottage roof with his fingertips.
His legs dangled. Zombies were reaching for him, grabbing on, trying to tug him down. He kicked at them, then managed to draw his handgun. Hanging by the fingers of one hand, he peppered the bastards with lead.
They fell away. He dropped the handgun--a hell of a loss, but he might be able to find another at the next level. Tugging himself up onto the roof of the caretaker's cottage, he took a look around and saw the path to safety: a power line suspended from the roof's far side. He headed for it, hopped on and tightrope-walked his way to Level Nine.
Blowing a relieved sigh, Seth dropped the game controller onto the coffee table, stood up and stretched the kinks out of his back. It had taken a while to get through that last level, but the feeling of triumph, though bright, was only fleeting. It was a game. A fun distraction from the constant waiting that had become his life. He didn't even know what he was waiting for. But the sense of nervous anticipation, that electrical charge just before a lightning strike, that feeling that something big was about to happen, had come on stronger today than it ever had before.
He was destined for something important. He'd always known it. But he was getting awfully bored waiting to find out what it was.
His phone rang. He jumped, that was how tightly wound he was. Then he grabbed it with the half-formed notion that this might be the call that would start him on his way toward whatever it was he was supposed to be doing. A glance at the caller ID box wiped that notion away. It was only J.J. calling from The Hole, the local sports bar where Seth had been promoted to manager.
Sighing, he picked up the phone. "Yeah, pal, what is it?" It was always something.
"Seth, I don't know what to do, man. Tommy's supposed to be on grill, but he went home sick. We're out of grenadine and the dishwasher's acting up again. And we're packed tonight and short on staff."
"Dude, you call me every time I have a night off."
"It's a crisis, Seth."
"No. It's normal. A crisis is when things are unusually bad. This is stuff that happens all the time. Normal, J.J. You gotta learn how to handle it."
"I'm trying, but there's only one of me."
Seth lowered his head, then sighed and figured what the hell. It wasn't as if he had anything else to do. Maybe go to bed early. Maybe dream about her again. The beautiful little redhead with the eyes that looked right through to his soul. The one who had something to do with his destiny. The one he'd never met, but had dreamed of for as long as he could remember.
He sighed. She would be there waiting in his subconscious, no matter what time he went to sleep. "I'll be right over, okay? Meanwhile, call Bobbie to come in and handle the grill. She's closest, and she always loves picking up extra hours. Call Tanya in to wait tables. She goes right by the liquor store on her way in, so have her pick up a couple of bottles of grenadine on the way, and that'll tide us over until the truck arrives tomorrow. I'll be there in five minutes."
J.J. sighed audibly. "Thanks, Seth. You're a freaking hero, you know that?"
Yeah. Some hero. Master of broken-down dishwashers and missing waitstaff, he could leap stumbling drunks in a single bound. He closed his eyes and shook his head, before grabbing his hoodie off the hook by the apartment door and yanking it over his head on the way out.
Four hours later, the bar was closed, stools upside down on the mahogany counter, chairs upside down on the tables, floor freshly mopped and filling the place with the scent of pine cleaner. Seth was heading out for what was left of the night, which wasn't a hell of a lot.