Read HeatintheNight Online

Authors: Margaret L. Carter

HeatintheNight

Heat in the Night

Margaret
L. Carter

 

Vampires don’t fall in love with each other. When a female
enters one of her rare heat periods, she chooses a mate for a night or two of
raw sex to satisfy their mutual lust and possibly conceive a child. But young
vampire Ingrid, brought up by human foster parents, has absorbed human notions
about love and romance.

When she begins her first estrus, she gets thrown together
with her dear friend Bron, who can’t stand to let any other vampire have her
first. Realizing she has fallen in love with Bron, Ingrid embarks on a night of
wild passion, determined to keep him from learning her shameful secret—that one
night will leave her with a yearning for love that would baffle and repel most
of her kind.

 

A
Romantica®
paranormal erotic romance
from Ellora’s Cave

 

Heat in the Night
Margaret L. Carter

 

Chapter One

 

With a sigh of sensual pleasure, the unshaven man in
olive-green fatigues sagged against the front passenger door of the car, his
eyes drooping shut. Ingrid licked the last traces of blood from her lips and
pressed her fingertips against the tiny incision in his neck to stop the
trickle of red.

His vital elixir and the heat of his desire warmed her to
the core. Why didn’t she feel as satisfied as she normally would? With her
thirst quenched, she still suffered a gnawing need. A donor’s lust should spice
the feeding with the psychic energy that made human blood an essential part of
her diet. It shouldn’t make her skin prickle as if infested by fire ants, her
nipples harden and the flesh between her thighs tighten.

She shook her head with impatience at herself. Why evade the
obvious? She craved more than blood, something she couldn’t get from an
ephemeral. Her time was creeping closer by the hour.

With one long fingernail, she tilted the man’s chin and
turned his head toward her. “You won’t remember anything that happened after I
picked you up. I gave you a ride and money for food. That’s all.”

He responded with a drowsy nod.

“You’ll walk to that fast food place in the next block and
buy a meal. Then you will go to this shelter and ask for help.” She took a
business card from a stack in the glove compartment and tucked it in his shirt
pocket. “Understand?”

He nodded again.

“Then go.” Putting his Will Work for Food sign into his
hands, she reached across him to open the car door. Even though he smelled
cleaner than most of the homeless population and wasn’t tainted by alcohol or
drugs, she didn’t want him around any longer than necessary. Not when his
masculine body only taunted her craving with a promise it couldn’t keep. No
human male had the stamina to satisfy a female of her kind.

After her prey had ambled down the street out of sight, she
pulled the car away from the tiny park where she’d stopped to feed and headed
home in the gathering twilight. Maybe her mentor Morella would have answered
her message by now. Ingrid couldn’t wait much longer to choose a mate for her
first estrus.

Back at her oceanfront townhouse in La Jolla, she paused on
her balcony to savor the cool evening air, the crash of waves on rocks and the
trail of moonlight on the water. Even the beauty of the night couldn’t distract
her for long, though. Her normally cool skin burned so that she felt half
tempted to strip naked and plunge into the surf.

Instead, she poured a glass of brandy to take the edge
off—for what little effect alcohol had on her metabolism—and switched on the
computer in the dining nook she used as an office. To her relief, she found an
email from Morella waiting. Surely by now her mentor would have found a willing
stud. Female vampires chose their own mates but Ingrid had so few acquaintances
among her own species that she’d asked for her adviser’s guidance.

“You realize this has not been easy,” the message began.
“It’s no fault of yours, but as I mentioned before, many potential mates are
put off by what they regard as your excessively human tendencies. They think
you’ve been weakened by your unconventional upbringing and are reluctant to
have their offspring corrupted by such attitudes.”

Ingrid snarled under her breath. As if any of them should care,
the hypocrites. Vampire fathers served only as sperm donors and had no say in
the rearing of their offspring. Those reluctant males probably didn’t want to
look desperate by agreeing to mate with a female who’d been “corrupted” the way
she had. Not that she considered the influence of Grandma Doris and Granddad
Allen either corrupting or weakening.

Of course, she knew perfectly well they weren’t her
grandparents, even though she’d lived with them from the age of five. As her
mother’s loyal servants, they’d hidden her in their cottage while a pair of
vampire hunters had vandalized the main house and slain her mother. Afterward
Doris and Allen had informally adopted her, posing as her grandparents to avoid
questions in the town where they’d made a new home for her. Her mother’s murder
was another reason why some of her kind viewed her bloodline with suspicion. If
a vampire couldn’t protect herself against a couple of mere mortals, did her
genes deserve transmission to the next generation?

Ingrid sipped the brandy and turned her attention back to
the email. “However, I’ve managed to persuade Leon Marcato to serve as stud for
you. He’ll meet you tomorrow night at a cabin I’ve reserved for you on Big Bear
Lake.” The address followed.

“Managed to persuade.” I guess I should wallow in
gratitude.
She gnashed her teeth. She’d never met Leon but that scarcely
mattered. Any male vampire would ignite with lust when exposed to her
pheromones and that response would ensure that he’d supply what she needed. As
for the cold tone of Morella’s note, that came as no surprise. She’d accepted
the role of Ingrid’s adviser only because, as a distant cousin of Ingrid’s
mother, she considered that task her duty. Morella didn’t try too hard to hide
the fact that she shared the disdain for Ingrid’s “excessively human” behavior,
such as rewarding her victims for their unwitting donations.

Shaking off these negative thoughts, Ingrid closed the
browser and stood up with a long stretch. She could hardly stand the idea of
waiting until the following night to quench the heat that sizzled in her veins.
Her nerves twanged. She pressed a hand to her mound and moaned aloud. She
couldn’t appease her own arousal the way a human female could. She’d already
tried and only made the torment worse. Maybe a brisk run along the beach
followed by a swim in the chilly Pacific would help after all. Not in the nude,
though. No point in shocking any ephemerals she might encounter and having to
wipe their memories. She hurried into the bedroom and switched her blouse and
jeans for a bikini.

* * * * *

Early the next evening, after a restless day of sleep
plagued by scarlet-tinged dreams, she drank a warmed-up unit of blood from the
supply in the refrigerator, followed by a vanilla milkshake for dessert. Milk
gave her sustenance too, though it couldn’t replace blood. Next she flipped
through her closet for something to wear to the rendezvous with her prospective
stud. She settled on a lilac sheath dress that highlighted the violet flecks in
her silver-gray eyes, clung to her willowy shape and contrasted vividly with
the sable hair cascading to the middle of her back. Checking her reflection
after she finished dressing, she had to laugh at herself. What difference did
it make how she looked? Appearance had little effect on a vampire’s appetites.
Her scent would goad her mate to instant lust and the outfit wouldn’t last more
than half a minute.

Bron would understand why I care how I look. He’d take a
second to compliment the dress before he ripped it off.

Not that she would consider inviting Bron Griffin to
initiate her. She wouldn’t risk distorting their relationship that way. It had
been Bron, a friend of her mother’s, who’d searched for her after the hunters’
attack, refusing to give up until he’d found her. Grandma Doris and Granddad
Allen had hidden their new home so carefully it had taken Bron ten years to
unearth them. Bron, not Morella, had supplied most of Ingrid’s instruction in
how real vampires behaved. Her foster grandparents had conscientiously ensured
that she knew her true nature despite the human guise she had to live under.
They’d taught her she belonged to a naturally evolved species at the top of the
food chain, not an undead creature diabolically resurrected from the grave.
They’d made sure she didn’t pick up any of the superstitions that handicapped
some of her kind, such as fear of crosses and silver. They’d supplied animals
to nourish her with their blood when she outgrew the ability to digest meat.
Still, she’d had a lot to learn when Bron had tracked her down, just at the
stage when she’d begun to need human blood and life-force.

He’d lavished endless patience on her without showing any
contempt for what others called her “weakness”. They’d developed an unusually
close friendship for their solitary species. She would have reveled in taking
him for her first mate.

Which is exactly why I won’t do it.
Sex between
vampires was supposed to serve purely biological functions, relieving lust and
begetting offspring. Emotional attachment had no place in the frenzy of mating,
a fact Morella had emphatically impressed on her. Ingrid wouldn’t shame herself
by exposing her emotions to Bron at this vulnerable time.

After packing a change of clothes, she started the drive
northeast before the sun had fully set, eager to meet this Leon person and
discharge the pressure building in her loins. Even with dark glasses and the
tinted windows of the car, she developed a headache from the fading light. Or
maybe the pain behind her eyes was another symptom of her heat rising to its
height.

Dark had fallen by the time she headed into the San
Bernardino Mountains and finally reached Big Bear Lake. She followed a winding
road through the woods to the cabin described in the directions. A black sports
car was already parked in the driveway under an overarching tree. She pulled in
behind it, her pulse accelerating and a trickle of wetness welling between her
thighs. She didn’t care how Leon looked or what he thought of her as long as
her scent made him hard enough to fill the hollow place within her.

Although the cool air of the May evening refreshed her
flushed skin, she didn’t pause to enjoy it. She grabbed her overnight bag and
rushed up the porch steps to the front door. Finding it unlocked, she flung it
open and dashed inside.

The moment she stepped into the wood-paneled living room
with exposed ceiling beams, a fireplace and pseudo-rustic furniture, a familiar
scent wafted to her. Cool and metallic with a hint of masculine musk, as she’d
anticipated, but not the spoor of a stranger. Her nostrils flared.
No, it
can’t be.

Chapter Two

 

The last man she’d expected strode into the room. Five
inches taller than her own five feet nine, he had the same alabaster skin as
all their kind but flame-red hair in contrast to her black. In the near
darkness the centers of his silvery eyes glinted crimson. Glowering, he grabbed
her shoulders and loomed over her. “I see you’ve dressed up for the occasion.”

His hands seared her skin through the light cloth. “Bron!
What the hell are you doing here? I was supposed to meet someone named Leon
Marcato.”

“Leon.” He practically spat the name. “As soon as I learned
Morella chose him for you, I contacted him and told him to forget about it.” He
shifted his grip to her bare upper arms and dug his fingers into her flesh.

An ache spread between her legs. Fighting to ignore it, she
said, “What made that your business? How did you even find out?”

“You thought I’d forget you’re almost thirty and ready to go
into heat for the first time? Or I wouldn’t hear about it when Morella starting
looking for a stud? I got her to tell me what she’d arranged.”

“But why?” Ingrid’s head was spinning from his aroma and
touch. She couldn’t surrender to the stimulation until she got this puzzle
straightened out.

“Why didn’t you ask me first?” he countered. “Aren’t we
supposed to be friends?” He reached around her to pull down the zipper of the
dress.

Cool air from an open window whispered over her exposed
skin. She wore no bra, not needing one with her small, firm breasts. “That’s
exactly why not.” She caught herself panting and drew a deep breath to steady
herself. “I didn’t want to complicate things. You’re my friend and mating isn’t
supposed to involve emotions.” Hardly aware she was doing it, she insinuated
her hands under his polo shirt.

“You don’t believe that tripe.” He shoved the dress off her
shoulders and let it slither down her body. “That’s not what your human family
taught you.”

She froze, a flood of humiliation mingling with the heat
that suffused her. “So you think I was corrupted by them too?”

“Dark powers, no. You know I’ve never thought that.” He
pushed her hands aside and peeled off his shirt. “They cared for you at the
risk of their own lives. I appreciate their value even if some of those other
idiots, including Morella, don’t.”

“Then what’s your point?” She splayed her palms on his
chest, which felt cool in contrast to the scorching brand of his fingers on her
shoulder blades.

“If we have the relationship I thought we did, I should
initiate you, nobody else. Hell, I suspected you passed me over because of my
lack of experience.”

“Your what?” She didn’t know a thing about his sexual
history.

“I’ve never been chosen to mate before. After all, I’m not
much older than a hundred and fifty. I assume that’s why Morella didn’t bother
to approach me.”

“I don’t give a damn about your experience. My reason was
just what I said.” Wandering down his chest with a life of their own, her
fingers reached the snap of his jeans.

“I want to make tonight the best possible for you. There’s
no valid reason it has be impersonal rutting. Now that we’ve cleared that up,
let’s get out of these blasted clothes.”

Her eyes widened at the fire in his. “You really want to
mate with me?”

He buried his face in her neck and inhaled a long, hissing
breath. “Ah, gods of night, you have the most intoxicating fragrance. What do
you think I want?” Clasping her hand, he guided it to a hard ridge in the front
of his pants. “I didn’t expect the reaction to build so fast.”

“Neither did I.” She jerked his zipper down and helped him
strip off his jeans and briefs. She unbuckled and tossed away her sandals,
noticing he was already barefoot. Wrapping her arms around him, she raked his
back with her nails. The scent of blood blossomed in the air, different from
human but still tantalizing. Why that should happen when vampires couldn’t
nourish each other, she didn’t know. How would it taste? Since mating didn’t
usually involve blood-sharing—much more intimate for her kind than sex—she
would never find out. She brushed aside the question, incapable of
concentrating enough to analyze her response at that moment.

His erection jutted out. She stroked the shaft—like satin
over marble—evoking a groan from Bron.

“If you keep that up, I’ll shoot off without you.” His cock
twitched, nudging her triangle of hair just above the place that ached most
urgently.

“Don’t you dare.” Her skin felt too tight, a sensation
painfully intense in her nipples and clit. Her pulse raced beyond any hope of
controlling it as she normally could.

“Your aura is blazing.” So was his, roiling with swirls of
lurid red. His heartbeat pounded in her ears. “And you’re wet. I can tell from
your musk.” He slipped a finger inside the elastic of her panties as if to test
that perception.

He glided over the swollen bud and dipped into her slit.
Liquid warmth welled up inside her and her inner muscles rippled. “I need you
right now.” She pushed him toward the nearest couch.

With a feral smile, he let her shove him into a sitting
position. Not waiting for her to step out of her panties, he ripped them off
and flung them aside. When she straddled him, he clawed her back as if to
retaliate for her scratches. “Your blood smells like champagne.” He clamped his
hands onto her waist.

With her hands on his shoulders, she hovered above him, her
legs trembling. She lowered herself onto his cock and he met her with an upward
thrust. Her sheath clenched around him.

He shuddered under her grasp. “That’s incredible,” he
growled. Since he wasn’t shielding his emotions, she felt his arousal, like
hunger and thirst, but centered lower.

The same craving burned at her core. She rocked back and
forth, reveling in the subtle changes of pressure as he moved within her. But
she needed more.

So did he, judging from the way his hands spasmodically
clutched her rib cage. They urged her upward while his hips flexed. She
straightened her thighs slowly, then abruptly descended. At his gasp, and the
wave of excitement that surged from him, she repeated the motion over and over,
faster by the second, plunging up and down. His thrusts shot bolts of electricity
through her entire body. Her head spun and a crimson mist hazed her vision. The
pressure inside her expanded to an explosion that ripped a scream from her
throat.

He locked her in his arms, both of them shaking with the
force of their shared release. Although more intense than tasting a victim’s
passion, the climax was centered in one spot instead of diffused like the
pleasure of drinking human life energy. Ecstatically satisfying yet a bit
strange.

When she opened her eyes, she found Bron gazing at her with
a lazy, feline smile. His eyes glowed in the dark, which wasn’t dark to their
nocturnal sight. The moonlight gave them all the illumination they needed.
Glancing at the open window, she emitted a wordless sound of dismay.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “This cabin is isolated enough that
we don’t have to worry about anybody hearing us. And I liked the way you showed
your appreciation.”

With a mock growl, she ran a nail down his chest. A thin
line of blood appeared. She knew the scratches she’d inflicted on his back
would already start healing. “I don’t have to ask if you appreciated it. I felt
you coming with me.”

“Blunt your claws, tigress. I felt you coming too,” he
purred. “I see from your aura that you’re well fed.”

She nodded. After her feeding on the previous night she
wouldn’t need live human prey for at least a couple of days. She sensed Bron
had fueled up too. “I drank a unit of bagged blood this afternoon, so I won’t
get hungry even for that until tomorrow night.”

His palms skimmed along her flanks. “Fine, we can go nonstop
until morning. Ready for another round?” Nuzzling her neck to sample her scent,
he said, “As if I couldn’t tell.”

With his cock still half erect inside her, she felt a twinge
of renewed arousal. After squeezing him with her inner muscles once, though,
she climbed off him and stood up. “We might as well move someplace more
comfortable.”

He stood, curved both arms around her and scooped her off
the floor. A squeak of surprise escaped her but she relaxed, wrapped her arms
around his neck and let him carry her along the short hall. On the way she
glimpsed the kitchen they wouldn’t use and a screened deck with a hot tub,
which had interesting possibilities for later. The bedroom had a king-sized bed
with satin sheets already turned down. When Bron placed her there, Ingrid
stretched her arms above her head and wiggled invitingly.

Having made it through the first “round”, she felt less
apprehensive about having him for a mate. He could sense her emotions, of
course, as long as she made no effort to shield them, just as she could pick up
his. Fortunately, though, he hadn’t caught anything from her except raw lust.
The unsuitable feelings she’d been afraid he would notice could remain hidden.

His next words shook her confidence in that assumption. “My
fierce tigress, were you completely satisfied? Or was there something else you
wanted from me?”

She squashed a spike of alarm. “What are you talking about?
It was totally ravishing. You’re an excellent ravisher.”

“I’m glad to hear that.” He bared his teeth in a wry grin.
“Yet I sense that even if your body is sated, you aren’t content for some
reason. What is it?”

If she could have blushed like a human female, she would
have. Instead, she avoided his eyes and murmured, “Nothing. It’s silly.” More than
that, it was positively idiotic for her to judge his technique by the
descriptions of sex in the romance novels she’d read out of curiosity. “Falling
in love” the way humans claimed to do had no place in the mating behavior of
her kind.

He cupped her chin and tilted her head up. “Nonsense. I
won’t think that about anything you desire. My mission is to please you
completely.” When she hesitated, he tightened his grip and his voice roughened.
“Tell me.”

“Okay, if you insist.” She’d probably never have another
night with him, so why not take full advantage of this chance? “Ever since I
was a teenager, I’ve wondered about lovemaking the way books and movies show
it. It would be interesting to try some of those, uh, embellishments.”

“Oh you want foreplay?” He ran a finger down her torso
between her breasts to her navel.

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