All Hallie Matheson wants is someone to rent her apartment. What she gets is the handsome and wealthy, Ethan Butler. They hit it off instantly and Hallie thinks she has found a lifelong friend, until she tries to explore the sexual tension between them. Ethan rejects her and then avoids her for months, leaving Hallie confused and hurt.
Until one fateful night she finds Ethan collapsed and near death on her door-step.
Ethan has spent the last few years investigating vampires, until a sudden attack ends his mortal life. Now, he has even more reason to avoid Hallie, despite his desire to have her. Her continuous presence sparks a desperate hunger within him he can no longer control. No sooner has their affair begun when his worst fears are realized.
Desperate to do anything to keep her alive, Ethan vows to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Hallie had wiped away her tears by the time he cracked open the door, but he could still see the tracks on her face and the redness around her pretty green eyes. She’d lost a few pounds in the last couple of weeks, evident from the way the sweat pants that used to hug her lovely curves now hung loosely from her hips. Another thing he felt responsible for.
“H…hi,” she said, her voice still husky from crying. “Can I come in?”
Ethan wanted to tell her to stay away, but as he struggled to find the right words without causing her more pain, his delay in answering clearly upset her. Her beautiful green eyes sparkled with unshed tears. It physically pained him knowing he was the cause of her sorrow.
He moved out of the doorway, gesturing for her to enter, and took a last deep breath of air before her scent and taste assaulted his senses.
“Thanks.” Hallie took a seat, perching on the edge of the very sofa where he’d almost ended her life. Ethan didn’t join her. Instead, he remained standing, watching her silently. The highly sensitive awareness coursing through his body warned him she was more than a little angry. She was livid.
“Now I can see you’re perfectly okay. Do you mind telling me why the hell you’ve been so mean to me? I took care of you, only to find you had disappeared in the middle of the night, and I haven’t laid eyes on you since.” She stood up abruptly and moved towards him, her finger jabbing at his face. “The least you could do is thank me for helping your sorry ass!”
Ethan took a step back, unsure if he could handle it should she touch him. “I sent you some flowers. Didn’t you get—”
“Yes, I got them.” She sighed and the anger drained from her face. “But that’s hardly the same as seeing with my own eyes that you were alive. Ethan, I truly thought you were dying.”
“I’m sorry, really I am. But as you can see, I’m fine.”
He moved a little closer to the door, his hand extended as if to grab the knob. Any hopes that she’d accept his flippant answer and leave him to his misery were dashed when she walked back to the sofa and sat down again.
“Are you going to tell me what happened?”
She smiled, but it didn’t reach her tired eyes. “Besides the fact you owe me an explanation, I’m a lone woman living in a house with a man I don’t really know as well as I thought I did. If you have drug or alcohol problems—”
Ethan swallowed his offense at her words. “I don’t drink, and as for drugs, do I look like an addict to you?”
Hallie shook her head, a shy smile lighting her features. “Not really. You do look well, though. Amazingly so, considering how bad you looked two weeks ago…” Her voice drifted off and she seemed to lose her train of thought as her gaze crawled over him slowly. Ethan tensed and turned away.
“So, what happened?” she asked, the weariness back in her tone.
“I don’t know the details.” That much wasn’t a lie at least. “I was researching a story at this club and the last thing I remember is a young Creole woman—”
Hallie cast her gaze downward. “Did you…you know…with her?”
“Have sex with her? No.”
The blush crawling over Hallie’s cheeks almost made him growl. He didn’t need to be reminded that her warm, sweet blood lay mere millimeters below the surface of her skin.
“So what did she do to you?”
He shrugged, feigning ignorance. “I can only guess what happened but it doesn’t matter now anyway. As you can see, there’s no lasting damage.” Hallie fell silent. If he was very lucky, she’d let it drop. But since when had he ever been lucky?
“I’m sorry Ethan, but that’s bullshit. You’re a reporter for God’s sake. Do you really expect me to believe you didn’t try to find out what she did to you?”
“Like I said, it doesn’t matter—”
“Like hell it doesn’t! All kinds of shady stuff goes down in New Orleans. How do you know she didn’t poison you? DocFletcher said—”
“Whatever he said was wrong.”
“So you do know what it is.” Hallie got to her feet and closed in on him, her voice a gentle plea. “Tell me.”
She reached out to grip his t-shirt but he stopped her, wrapping a hand around each of her wrists and held her away. Hallie gasped from the contact, obviously shocked at how cold he felt. For him, her skin almost burned his palms as her heat radiated through his flesh.
“Please, I need to know,” she whispered.
“It would only frighten you.”
Ethan dropped his gaze, unable to look into her eyes while they silently begged him to open up to her. Instead, he gazed at her trembling lips, groaning when the sight of them caused a hard jolt of desire to course through him. Ethan let go of her and tried to move away but he stopped, frozen with dread when her fingertips caressed his cheek.
Ethan felt her heart thud with frenzy and she sucked in shallow, rasping breaths. He stared at her face, then her sensuous lips slightly parted as she tilted her head back, telling him without words she wanted to be kissed. Ethan drank the sight of her in, promising himself this was all he would take…but then he caught another aroma…one he couldn’t resist.
Hallie’s arousal perfumed the air, assaulting his senses without warning. The tiny amount of restraint Ethan had left, snapped, replaced by the hungry entity within him. He couldn’t control himself any longer, not when the intoxicating woman tormented his basic desires. He reached out and cupped her jaw, lifting her chin as his mouth descended.
Hallie sank into him, moaning softly when his lips slid across hers. Her hands brushed his hair and she tugged, trying to pull him closer, her body pressed against his. Her warm, soft flesh burned into him, even through his t-shirt, and he craved more of her heat. Ethan wrapped his arms around her back and trapped her against his torso, thrusting his groin into hers in response to the way she writhed against his erection.
He only intended to give her a little of what she asked for while taking a taste for himself, but he was unprepared for the spike of lust spearing through him when her tongue slid boldly into his mouth. An image of her, naked and writhing beneath him, leapt into his mind and he knew he no longer had the strength to stop.
Hallie pulled away first, her breath ragged as she released a throaty, self conscious laugh…but when she looked up at him, a hair-raising scream tumbled from her lips, as she stared in horror at his mouth.
Ethan brought his hands to his lips, wiping them quickly to check for her blood. He wiped again and winced as something sharp pierced the back of his knuckles.
Fangs. He’d forgotten about the fangs.