Demigod Seth is enraged. The recent defections of his two favorite lieutenants have sparked a conflagration of fury within him and a bitter need for vengeance. Someone will pay, and pay dearly!
Who better than Josslyn Haliday? Her two scheming sisters seduced and destroyed his friends, luring them straight into the camp of his mortal enemy.
What Seth doesn't count on is Joss's own anger. After losing her parents as a child, she'll now do anything to find her two dear sisters and bring them back to safety. Anything.
Including making a deal with the devil--him. But how far is the soft, pliant temptress willing to go?
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
February 01, 2011
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Vampire Sheikh by Nina Bruhns
Present day Winter Palace Hotel Luxor, Egypt
There was someone in her hotel room.
Josslyn Haliday bolted upright in bed, listening intently in the midnight darkness. She heard nothing. But she felt a presence--a thick, almost physical energy creeping over her bare skin. Dark. Ominous. Threatening.
"Who's there?" she called into the black void of the room. No reply.
Unbidden, her sister Gemma's last warning echoed through her mind....
Beware the vampire.
Despite the heat of the Egyptian desert pressing in through the open balcony door, a chill of goosebumps spilled down Joss's arms.
Slowly, she eased her hand toward the shotgun she'd hidden under the hotel's luxurious bed linens. Her fingers clasped the familiar wooden stock and eased it upward.
"Show yourself or you'll live to regret it," she called out in Arabic, and she snapped the gun up, sweeping it in a half-circle, seeking the unseen intruder.
Joss did not believe in vampires.
Or shape-shifters or mummies or any of the other fantastical creatures of the myths and legends her ethnographer sister Gemma seemed to take at face value when listening to the stories of the local villagers. Josslyn was an archaeologist, a scientist, and she needed to see hard evidence to instill belief.
This prowler was a common thief, nothing more. Josslyn's few possessions and those of her two sisters which she had managed to grab on her way out the door of the villa after reading Gemma's dire warning note were all stashed in this room. Their money. Their research. Their passports. Someone was obviously hoping to steal those.
Clearly, it had been a mistake leaving the balcony door wide open. But when she'd gone to bed earlier, the hotel had been in the midst of one of the ubiquitous Egyptian electrical brownouts, and she would have melted into a puddle of sweat if she'd left it closed and locked.
No problem. She'd deal with this thief. She racked the gun. The loud ka-chunk ricocheted comfortingly off the plaster walls, bolstering her courage.
Just outside the French door there was an almost imperceptible scratching noise. Then suddenly a tiny flame flashed red. The silhouette of a large hand cupped it, and the tip of a black Egyptian cigarette flared to life. The rich, acrid smell of tobacco wafted to her nose in the hot stillness.
"What are you planning to do, shoot me?" a deep masculine voice asked. His English was cultured, his tone unsettlingly unperturbed by her threat.
She narrowed her eyes. Not exactly what she'd expected. "Stay on my balcony one minute longer and you'll find out," she returned.
A thin drift of smoke was caught in a golden luminescence, reflected by some unseen light below.
"This is, in fact, my balcony as well," the man said silkily. "I believe we share it."
She frowned and searched her memory of the verandah's setup.
Damn. He was right.
Still. "That hardly gives you license to intrude on my privacy."
"I do beg your pardon. That wasn't my intent. I couldn't sleep and found myself wandering."
Another puff of smoke oozed into the room. Normally she hated the smell of cigarettes, but there was something almost...alluring about the spicy fragrance of his blend. A shiver raced over her arms. Along with the heavier brush of an indefinable sense of unease. The air was electric with it, like a touch of foreboding.
She didn't believe his assertion of innocence. His presence on her balcony had a purpose, and she'd bet her last dollar it wasn't insomnia. She was also beginning to fear it wasn't to steal passports, either.
"Get away from my room," she ordered. "Or I will shoot you."
He chuckled softly and took a half step closer to the open door. Her pulse leapt. A roll of weird energy, like the electric crackle of an approaching storm, raised the fine hairs on her arms. He halted at her threshold, framed by the French doors. She could just make out his body silhouetted against the backdrop of the night sky. He was big and broad.
She really wished she could see his face.
"Your sister sends her greetings," he said conversationally.
Joss faltered. What? The gun wavered in her hands. "Gemma?" Scrambling up to her knees on the bed, she raised the gun again. "Where is she?" she demanded harshly. "What have you done with her?"
At least she assumed he'd meant Gemma. Both her sisters, Gemma and Gillian, had disappeared over the past two weeks. Gillian with a man claiming to be a British lord, an expatriate living on an unlikely estate somewhere on the west bank of the Nile River. Gillian had sent a note saying she was with him, and not to worry, but Joss and Gemma became skeptical when she didn't come home after a week. Then a few days ago Gemma had been following a clue to Gillian's whereabouts, and was abducted by a mysterious band of fierce desert warriors and their sheikh leader. Gemma had also been able to smuggle a note to Josslyn, parts of which were burned in her memory.
Pack a suitcase...quit the villa.... Those men from yesterday are coming back to kidnap you.... Go! Now!... Beware the vampire! Do not trust him....
Of course, that last part was crazy. If Joss weren't so desperately worried, she'd think Gemma had gone totally off the deep end. Could she have been drugged? Possibly by the very man on Joss's balcony? He didn't look like a desert warrior.but he did look fierce.
The shadowed figure at the French door took another drag on his cigarette, dropped it and ground it out under his shoe. "Actually," he said, "it is of your other sister I bring word."
"Gillian? But--" Joss finally unfroze and reached for the lamp on the nightstand. She needed to see this guy.
The light snapped on, dimly illuminating the features of the man. He really was big. Tall. His handsome features were Middle Eastern, but he was dressed as a Westerner, in an elegant white linen suit with stylish European leather shoes. Not menacing, exactly. But arrogant and... Okay. Yes. Menacing. An unpleasant shiver crawled down her spine.
"Who are you?" she demanded. "Are you Gillian's new--" Lord, how to put it? And please, God, no "--gentleman?"
His lips curved. "Lord Rhys? No, I'm not. My name is Harold Ray and I'm...an acquaintance of his. Please, call me Ray."
Lord Rhys? Obviously Gillian's expat boyfriend. But the name rang a bell somewhere else in her mind. Though she couldn't put her finger on it. "What do you want?" she asked Ray. "Tell me what Gillian said."
Harold Ray tilted his head. "Wouldn't you like to put down that gun first?"
Was he kidding? "No. Talk to me. Now."
He tsked. "I must say, your sister has much better manners." He took another step forward, this one bringing him across her threshold.
"Hey! Stop where you are!"
The absurd thought came to her that at least the intruder couldn't possibly be a vampire. Didn't they need an invitation to enter one's abode? And she could clearly see his reflection in the glass of the French door.
Good freaking grief. Not that she believed any of that bullcrap.
It was a testament to her completely frazzled nerves over her missing sisters that the thought had even entered her desperate mind.
Ray gave her a little knowing smile and brazenly wandered into the room, casting a casual glance around. The storm brewing in the air stirred ominously. He extended a finger and touched the head of a bronze statue of Sekhmet that decorated a reading table. It seemed to light up.
Along with her nerves. Jesus. Was he really going to make her shoot him?
"Gillian is fine," he said, temporarily delaying her itchy trigger finger. "And very much in love with Rhys Kilpatrick."
The name finally hit her like an icy dash of hard evidence. Now she knew this guy was lying. Lord Rhys Kilpatrick was a dead man. Long dead. A British officer in General Gordon's infamous 19th Hussars, he'd been killed in 1885. It was his grave marker her historian sister had been searching for when she went missing.
"I don't doubt Gillian is in love," Joss drawled. But not with anyone in this jerk's acquaintance. Time to get rid of this Harold Ray character, whoever he was. He was giving her the creeps, big time. His body actually seemed to be getting bigger, shimmering in the golden glow of the nightstand lamp.
She slid gingerly off the bed, keeping the gun carefully trained on him. And did her best to ignore the way his lascivious gaze slid over her body, which she realized must be all too visible in the lamplight through the opaque fabric of her thin summer pajamas.
"Get out," she told him firmly. "Get out now, or I swear I will pull this trigger."
His gaze strayed to the gun, slid up her arm and paused on her neck, then went to her eyes. "You are a brave thing, I'll give you that, Miss Haliday. I can see why Seth wants you."
Seth? Who...? He must be talking about Gemma's kidnapper. And the lying bastard in her room was obviously in league with him. Oh, my God. They must be holding both Gemma and Gillian captive!
"You and your buddy Seth can go straight to hell," she ground out, fighting a wave of nausea at the thought. "I'll get my sisters back if it's the last thing--"
She didn't see him move. One second he was across the room, the next he was standing in front of her, his hand reaching for her gun. Her pulse surged. Not a chance!
She pulled the trigger.
Nothing happened. A harmless click echoed through the room.
Oh, shit. Shitshitshit.
"Believe me, Seth is not my buddy," Ray returned as though he hadn't even noticed he'd just been meant to die. He smiled down at her. Now he looked really menacing. Downright sinister. The air crackled with that weird, otherworldly energy. It sparked off him like static electricity. She swore she saw actual sparks. He loomed over her, and hissed, "Seth is my mortal enemy."
Seeing the ferocity bloom in his eyes, she believed him. And suddenly feared this was far more complicated than she ever dreamed.
She tried to back away but couldn't move. Literally. It was as if she were frozen in place, her muscles useless.
Sick fear crawled up her spine. What was going on? How was he doing this to her? What did he want?
"I have vowed to take everything from Seth," Ray said, the syllables of his words cutting the air like shards of ice. "Everything he owns in the world. Everything he wants to own."
He slipped the gun from her fingers and tossed it harmlessly onto the bed. He leaned down and whispered in her ear, "Including you, my dear Josslyn."
Panic grabbed her heart and squeezed tight. Oh, God. The man was insane!
He grasped her arms and gently eased them down to her sides. At his touch, her body clenched in unwilling reaction. A rush of hot, shivering, erotic sensation poured through her flesh, her breasts tightening involuntarily. No! Another wave of nausea heaved in her stomach
along with the unwanted coil of physical arousal. What was wrong with her?
"So brave. So pretty," he murmured, brushing his lips over her cheek. "So sweetly responsive."
She shuddered in revulsion and tried desperately to pull away.
"No, don't fight me, my dear. It's no use, you see."
His strong fingers combed into her hair, bunched it and pulled back her head, exposing the bare column of her throat. She watched in horror as he drew the forefinger of his other hand slowly down the vein that throbbed there wildly. The expression on his face terrified her. He looked...hungry. As though he wanted to bite her like a--
His lips parted. That's when she saw his two eye teeth begin to lengthen. And sharpen. Like fangs.
Oh, God. OhGod, ohGod!
She tried to scream but couldn't make a sound. She tried to struggle but still couldn't make her muscles work.
"You'll enjoy this," he murmured, touching the end of his tongue to the tip of his fang. A drop of blood blossomed and he curled it into his mouth. "I promise."
She squeezed her eyes shut and prayed to wake up from the nightmare. This is not happening!
Suddenly the night silence was shattered by a frantic pounding at the hall door. "Miss Haliday!" a muffled voice called. "Miss Haliday, are you there?"
Ray peered furiously at the door. Joss did, too, summoning every ounce of strength and trying with everything she had to cry out. Still no sound emerged.
The pounding continued. "Miss Haliday!" She didn't recognize the voice. Couldn't even tell if it was a man or a woman. She didn't care. She just wanted them to come in and save her!
Ray swung his glare back to her. "Do not think this is over, Miss Haliday. I will be back," he growled. "And don't try to run. Make no mistake, I will find you, wherever you are."
He let her go, and with a rush of blood, movement returned to her limbs. She jumped away from the monster and lurched for the hall door. "I'm here!" she cried to her nameless rescuer. "I'm coming!"
Harold Ray gave her one last evil look. "And I'm warning you. Stay away from Seth-Aziz."
With that he turned, and in the blink of an eye he was out on the balcony. There was a rustle of what sounded like wings, a shower of sparks, and then he was gone. Vanished.
For a second Joss was paralyzed with disbelief. And by an overwhelming incredulity that filled her whole being over what she'd just been through, what she'd just felt, and witnessed.
She quickly shook herself and rushed to the entry door, flinging it open.
"Thank you! Oh, Lord, you have no idea how--"
But no one was there.
Just a lone copper-colored cat stalking noiselessly down the middle of the Persian carpet with tail erect. Otherwise, the corridor was silent and completely empty.