When a dismembered body is found near Crystal Lake located on the Winthrop Estate, reporter Morgan Charles accepts the chance to interview noted recluse, Terrence Winthrop, III. Due to inclement weather she ends up stranded on the estate facing night terrors that lead her into a world of the unknown.
Rence Winthrop never expected his guest, Morgan Charles to be a woman, let alone one so enticingly beautiful. With no electricity and no way down the mountain, an idle card game leads them into a sizzling encounter, and a game of vengeance neither one can afford to play.
Will they survive the predator’s pursuit and their newly developed emotions, or will Rence’s curse send them separate ways?
Hopefully? Did she suspect the danger looming in the hallway? He didn’t want to encourage her by discussing the subject. Last night had been particularly difficult for him. This morning he awakened on his recliner in front of the fireplace in his study, stark naked, his clothes scattered on the floor around him. Where had he been last night? God help him, how long would this evil curse last? Every time he changed, the lust for blood became stronger. Morgan is a beautiful woman. How will I protect her? I shouldn’t have invited her for the interview. But, how was I to know the weather would strand her here. I must get her down the mountain before the beast destroys her.
He groaned with anguish, realizing once again he was a prisoner in his own home. He had to find a cure or die. The fear of injuring someone intensified every day, even though his blood lust wasn’t for humans. Then again, could he be sure he hadn’t committed the most grievous of all evil—murder? Yes, he’d encountered another beast, but the mutilated body was on his land. If only I could remember.
When lunch was over, he eyed Morgan from across the table. “Shall we adjourn to the living room and finish the interview?”
“Do you mind if I take notes? My laptop, as you know, isn’t working.”
“No problem,” he indicated eyeing her. “If you can’t do the interview, maybe you’d like a game of cards or just chatting.”
“Let’s do both.” She smiled, sending a jolt of lighting through him. “The big problem is—I don’t know how to play cards.”
“Well then, now is a good time to learn.” He smiled back at her. “I’ll teach you.”
He offered her a seat at the circular table in the corner of the room, and then took a chair on the opposite side. Half way through the first instruction Rence felt a chill from a nearby window. His housekeeper had drawn the drapes earlier to allow light in, but the pouring rain created a dismal, cool atmosphere. He rose from his chair, closed the drapes, and added more candles to the table; all the time conscious she watched his every move. Beneath her lowered lids he sensed a raw emotion held in check.
“I dislike dreary days and cold rooms. Do you mind?” he asked.
“The candles are a nice touch. And, no I don’t mind. I dislike the effect rain has on my mood, also.”
He sat down and shuffled the cards, throwing in a few of his fancy tricks. She laughed and he caught himself enjoying her company. She seemed to be genuinely at ease and having a good time. Her lush sensuality fascinated him—the way her lips curled into a smile as he performed for her. He’d been alone too long. He didn’t necessarily resent the isolation, because he had learned many things he never would have bothered with otherwise. Such as card tricks.
“Shall we start a game? You picked up five card draw quite easily.”
“Sure. By the way, you’re a good teacher.”
“Let’s make it worth our while. What should we bet?” he asked.
“I have some change in my purse.”
“That’s too easy. Let’s go for a higher stake.”
One brow rose slowly, highlighting the excitement in her eyes. What was this self-confident woman about to come up with?
“Just what did you have in mind?” she asked.
“If I win, you spend the entire evening with me through midnight.”
“That doesn’t seem like a high stake. What’s the catch?”
“You cannot leave the room under any circumstances.”
“That’s an odd bet.” She eased back into her chair. “Care to explain?”
“Just an old wives tale I read somewhere. If the lady is with the man through midnight, his past disappears, and she has a clear path to his heart.”
“I’ve never heard that one before.” She grinned. “What happens if I win?”
“Name your poison?” Rence knew she had no clue what she was in for. He waited while she contemplated her options.
“Make love to me!”