Thursday, August 4, 2011
The Reckoning ~ Kimberly Van Meter ~ GREAT INDIE FIND!
Isabella stepped from the shower, her thoughts moving in a linear line straight to the tasks set ahead for the day. She wrapped a thick towel around her body before reaching for her cell phone on the bathroom counter to send a quick text to Mary-Ellen. God help her if Mary-Ellen forgot to input the blood quantum results as she’d asked her to do first thing this morning. It seemed since the vampire had been acquired, Mary-Ellen had gone from competent research assistant to hormonal teenager. Although she’d miss Mary-Ellen’s signature wry humor, Isabella thought with a sense of resignation, that it might be a good idea to find a less hands-on job for Mary-Ellen. She didn’t trust Mary-Ellen around the vampire and any slip up in protocol could wreak terrible consequences. She hit send — her thoughts already traveling to the next task on her mental to-do list — and swallowed a horrified shriek when Julien de Valsan stood framed in her doorway.Impossible…how? Her throat worked convulsively on a scream that wouldn’t budge. The slow, terrible smile on his finely aristocratic mouth caused her to take a faltering step back until she touched the shower door. No escape, her mind cried though she kept her lips seamed shut until she quieted the fear under a blanket of iron will. “How did you get out?” she asked, mentally going through the exhaustive fail-safes that somehow, he’d managed to circumvent.
A muffled twittering sounded from his pant pocket and he fished out a cell phone with a wicked curve of his lips. She gasped when she recognized Mary-Ellen’s cell phone. “I’ve always found the modern age with its gadgets and technology to be tedious and tiresome with all their beeps and bells but I must confess, your assistant’s device was most helpful in finding you. I might have to get one of my own. Or I could just keep this one. Mary-Ellen won’t be needing it any longer.” He crushed the phone in his palm and dropped the fragments to her floor as he advanced. “Enough with the pleasantries. There will be a reckoning between you and I, and I do not wish to delay my gratification a moment longer.”
Her eyes watered. “What did you do to Mary-Ellen?” she asked, knowing her own death stared at her through the eyes of the man stalking her, yet she had to know what had befallen her assistant. The memory of her parents’ death bloomed in her mind and her knees threatened to buckle. “What did you do to her?” she cried, hating him, hating his race of monsters.
In an instant he was on her, ripping the damp towel from her body and yanking her against him, her frantic struggles as she beat his chest and kicked with her bare feet did little to loosen his grip. If anything, her attempts at violence seemed to spark a hunger that had less to do with sustenance and more to do with sex and dominance. His face so close to hers, she could feel his breath on her cheek, could see the irregular black spirals in his pale blue iris that gave away his alien nature. Yet, as horrific as it was, there was a hypnotic beauty that sucked at her, seduced her with its difference. Noooo, she wouldn’t succumb to die at his leisure. She ceased her useless flailing to conserve her strength and lifted her chin to stare into those deep, fathomless eyes, daring him to kill her now or forfeit his chance. “Likely a platoon of heavily armed Marines are canvassing this house this very minute,” she said with a calm that was only surface deep. Inside something quivered and shook, but not entirely from fear. She pushed aside the obscenity, not willing to examine it more closely. “If you wish to live, you will leave me and go. You have only a few minutes before the sun rises. We’ve watched you long enough to know that you cannot withstand the sun.”
He ignored her statement for the moment and chose instead to inhale deeply at the junction where her shoulders met her neck. She couldn’t quite quell the shiver that followed. “I could kill you and be gone within seconds,” he murmured, his lips touching her bare skin with the softest touch until something sharp grazed and she realized with a shudder he’d raked her flesh with his canines. “The question is…do I slake my hunger now with little preamble or finesse, or do I take you with me to savor for many nights to come?”
Take her with him? She stiffened in horror. “I would never be your plaything. I would kill myself first,” she hissed, wishing for something sharp and deadly to plunge through his black heart. “I swear I’d die before letting you touch me in anyway.”
He chuckled as if her spitting fury amused him but when he drew away, she saw nothing of mirth or merriment in his strange eyes. In fact, she saw deadly promise. “Oh my pet, you will die. Be assured of that. But when you gasp your last breath, it will be I who hastens your end and none else.” Isabella gasped as his grip tightened, hating his touch and the traitorous flutters in the pit of her belly as he snarled softly, revealing the tips of his sharp canines, “I’ve made my decision. You come.”
She opened her mouth to scream but within seconds all was black and she knew of nothing else.
I've been fascinated by vampires since I can remember, though oddly, my first book was a straight contemporary. Realizing my career trajectory was headed in the contemporary romance genre, I shelved my secret love for men with fangs and focused on writing amazing men without a penchant for blood. Don't get me wrong, I love writing contemporary romance but deep inside pulsed the raw idea for a vampire story that finally wouldn't stay silent. I built the story of Julian de Valsan and Isabella Beckett and submitted to Silhouette Nocturne. Alas, it was rejected. I won't lie, I pouted for a bit but then shelved it once again and moved on. Except...I couldn't let it go. Then, a friend of mine told me how much fun she was having writing cozy mysteries and self-pubbing on the Kindle. Immediately, I thought of my beloved vampire story that was currently homeless and receiving no love from its cyber shelf and thought, "I'm gonna go Indie with this bad boy!" And, so with a fair amount of trepidation but whole lot of chutzpah, I went for it. And, to be honest, I've been thrilled with the reception this little novella has received. So many readers have asked me when the next installment is coming and it thrills me to my toes that it's been so well-received. Unfortunately, I'm bound to sticking with novellas due to my agent clause but I'm very excited to start the next story, which will be about Savannah, the abducted sister. The problem? Keeping to the short format! The story keeps expanding and I have to rein it in! Anyway, going Indie has been a blessing and a journey that I never could've foreseen. Everything is still new and I'm stumbling around trying to gain my footing but one thing is for sure, I'm thankful for this opportunity that Indie publishing has given me. Without it, THE RECKONING would likely remain shelved, gathering cyber dust and creating dust bunnies...with fangs.
Kimberly Van Meter
Don't miss Kimberly's newest Harlequin Romantic Suspense series, Native Country.
• SWORN TO PROTECT, July 2011
• COLD CASE REUNION, August 2011