She's his match--but he's not in her business plan.
A Fangly, My Dear story.
Hereditary witch Dominique LaPierre has always refused to use her powers, especially when it comes to business. Until now. Her new company, a computer dating service that hooks up the San Francisco human and para communities, thrives on crossing that boundary. Business is great despite opposition from the arrogant and conceited Antoine Thierry, a leader in the vampire community. And, to her irritation, she finds she's got the hots for him.
Antoine doesn't like or trust witches. Nor does he like the growing power of technology; real vampires, in his view, don't need it to have a social life. Besides, if he can't control the game, he doesn't want to play--except with Dominique. The heat between them could melt down any hard drive. She pushes his buttons on every level, from the board room to the bedroom. But he's holding out, especially when she looks to him to support her new business.
Antoine wants it all. His way--and his woman.
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May 12, 2008
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Excerpt from Byte Marks by Mardi Ballou
Just a few moments in Antoine Thierry's company helped Dominique understand the phrase hypnotic vampiric gazes. It took an effort to tear her eyes away, especially since she wanted to keep looking at him, no matter what games he was playing to rivet her attention.
"How long will you be in San Francisco?" His words flowed into her and took up residence in her most intimate core. This was nuts. All he'd asked was a simple social question.
"My original plan was to stay a week, but I'm flexible."
His eyes glittered, and she winced at the possible erotic images flexible could evoke. Great. Why did she tell him that? It was as if she were saying, "Hey, guy, I'm available." She wasn't. After her break-up with Mark, she'd decided it would be a long, long time until she put her heart on the line again for any man. If ever. Logic told her Antoine Thierry was a heartbreaker. She sensed he could damage her in ways that would make Mark's abandonment look like a romp at the beach.
"I'm glad to hear that. A week isn't nearly long enough to sample all we have to offer." He looked toward Lilith, who nodded in confirmation.
Time to nip this in the bud. "Though I'm between businesses right now, I still have obligations that might require me to cut short my vacation."
He had the most amazing, expressive eyes. "San Francisco is known to charm visitors into changing all sorts of plans."
He took her hand and rubbed one finger along the lines and flesh of her palm. The simple motion, perfectly acceptable in and invisible to mixed company, felt downright erotic. Dominique figured she should pull away, but she didn't know how to do that without looking ungracious, so she let him continue and struggled to hold on to her senses. She swallowed hard. "I'm sure Lilith has made lots of plans for us."
"I would consider it a great privilege if you would allow me to give you a special tour of the city tonight. I guarantee I will show you a San Francisco few tourists ever get to visit." He continued stroking her palm and part of Dominique wanted to agree to anything he was offering.
But then reason returned. She was Lilith's guest, for crying out loud. Antoine's invitation had not included her best friend--the same best friend who'd just been crying on her shoulder about her lack of a social life. How crummy would Dominique have to be to abandon Lilith on her first night in the city?
She managed to extricate her hand. He seemed to sense the instant she started to withdraw. "That's very kind and generous, Mr. Thierry."
"Antoine," he murmured again.
"But you see, I've just arrived. In my part of the world, it's late. I'm sure jet lag is going to strike with a vengeance any minute." There. She'd managed to come up with a polite and plausible excuse without using Lilith as a shield.
"Of course the invitation includes Lilith," he said smoothly.
Now he mentioned that. It was okay. She could still claim jet lag. For the rest, Dominique sensed something dangerous about Antoine Thierry. She wasn't scared of him as a vampire. But as a man, he threatened her hard-won equilibrium. After the recent disaster with Mark, she valued staying well-balanced. "If Lilith wants to go with you, that's fine. I expect after this drink, I'll be ready to call it a night."
Lilith laughed and shook her head. "No offense, Antoine, but I can see you any time. Dominique and I have a lot to catch up on. But I will take a rain check on that tour. I bet you could show me things most natives haven't seen either."
"Any time." Antoine, looking the height of elegant nonchalance, nodded. "I look forward to spending more time with both of you. Welcome to my club. I hope you will be my guests here often. And now if you'll excuse me--" In moments he'd vanished into the dense crowd.
"Are you really tired?" Lilith had drunk about half her virgin Bloody Mary.
Dominique had to stifle a yawn. "Yeah, much more than I thought I'd be. I'm ready to call it a night."
They finished their drinks and made their way through the room, now much more crowded than earlier. They returned to Lilith's car, which she'd managed to park a mere three blocks away.
Enroute back to Lilith's, her friend said, "Antoine seems quite taken with you."
"He struck me as a major player. I imagine he pulls that same Don Juan act with lots of women." Dominique squirmed.
"He hasn't pulled it with me, but I agree. He likes the ladies, and it's usually reciprocal. That said, I think he appeared genuinely taken with you. So what did you think? Would you go out with him?" Lilith chuckled.
Dominique knew her friend would not let her change the subject without getting an answer. In fact, if she tried to put Lilith off, the stubborn Taurus would dig in and insist on a response. "Please. Like I don't have enough complications in my life. The last thing I need is to get involved with another player."
"Oh. You never told me that about Mark."
"I wanted to spare you. Anyway, as I'm not into bicoastal relationships, it's a moot point. I live in Boston, Antoine's in San Francisco."
"I'm not asking if you're interested in a lifetime commitment. Just about going out with him while you're here. Heck, you could have a fling. He strikes me as the perfect guy to have an intense but meaningless affair with."
Dominique shook her head. "I meant what I said. I'm on an extended hiatus from any kind of social life. I'm not about to change my mind for Antoine Thierry."
"I think my lady protesteth too much."
Dominique was about to protest some more when Lilith pointed out there was no need. "I won't bug you any more about him. But have you ever been out with a vampire?"
"No," Dominique admitted. "You haven't either, have you?"
"Oh, yes," Lilith said.
"How come I didn't know about that? Since when do you hold out?"
"It must have been while you were tied up in one of your business deals. Unfortunately, the whole thing didn't last long--just like all my relationships. But you know what? It's true what they say. They are the most amazing lovers."
Of everything Dominique didn't need to hear tonight, Lilith's comment topped the charts. "You've been with lovers from enough groups to make a judgment like that?"
"Almost," Lilith said. "Pretty much everyone I want to date except shifters."
"It doesn't sound like your social life is as sorry a mess as you were saying earlier."
Lilith snorted. "Any statements I make are based on my excellent memory, not recent experience."
They'd arrived back at Lilith's place. Dominique found her friend's situation intriguing enough to stir thought processes. Besides, concentrating on problem solving would occupy her mind. She needed to keep from focusing too much attention on Antoine Thierry and imagining herself between the sheets with that sexy vampire.