Saturday, December 27, 2008

Dangerous Cravings Collection by Kate Hill

Dangerous Cravings (Collection)
by Kate Hill

cover art by Karen Fox
ISBN (13): 978-1-59596-977-4
Genre(s): Paranormal
Theme(s): Vampires
Series: Blood and Soul
Length: Collection


Burgundy Peak. Safe haven for vampires… but nowhere is safe from affairs of the heart.

Sensual and captivating, Tavia could have almost anyone she desires, except the man she wants. But time is on her side. When his wife leaves him for a younger man, Tavia is ready to show Ash a new life, as the most powerful, passionate creature in the world -- a vampire…

Rude, arrogant, and merciless, Disdain's reputation precedes him. Haunted by memories of the past and an addiction that is slowly destroying him, he has no desire for a relationship -- until he’s faced with a woman he cannot resist.

While Mansi grieves for their lost lover, Apollo retreats into himself. Mansi fears her husband is beyond help… until Huxley enters their lives. The members of Dark Rhythm aren't likely to forgive and forget, however…

With the body of a goddess and the spirit of a warrior, Adira has fought at Ariel’s side since the dawn of man. Throughout the ages, Ariel has loved her, and feared her. She is the one temptation he could never resist, and therefore the one he could never surrender to. For the last three hundred years she’s been hunting him, and he has been running.

Now the running’s about to stop -- at Burgundy Peak.


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Summer 1994

Ash Collins walked up the steps of his new home in suburban New York, his wife, Jen, in his arms. Jen’s arms tightened around his neck and she kissed him, her tongue slipping into his mouth. Chuckling, he broke the kiss. “You’re going to make me fall down the stairs.”“We can’t have that,” Jen purred close to his ear. “We wouldn’t want anything to ruin our evening.”“No, we don’t.” He reached the top of the steps and carried her to the master bedroom. This would be their first night in the house they had purchased several months ago. Though it still needed some work, Jen was thoroughly pleased with it.She smiled dreamily. “I always dreamed of a big house in the suburbs.”“I admit I never thought I’d have one quite like this,” Ash said, stepping into the master bedroom that was about the size of his apartment when he’d been managing the restaurant.“Be quiet and kiss me.”Grasping the front of his shirt, she tugged him atop her as he placed her on the bed. Her hands slipped down his back and grasped his buttocks while he buried his face in her shoulder and kissed her soft, smooth flesh.“Oh, damn. I’m tired of waiting!” Jen tugged his shirt. She wedged her hands between their bodies and unzipped his jeans.Smiling, Ash stood and was about to yank off his clothes when he remembered the window facing the bed. He turned and crossed the room.“Where are you going?” Jen demanded.“To pull the shade.”“Why?” She grinned, peeling off her shirt and revealing her naked torso. “Let’s give the neighbors a show.”“Not a turn on.” He neared the window and paused, gazing at the house next door.Obviously Jen wasn’t the only woman prepared to give the neighborhood a thrill.Through a sheer red curtain covering a picture window, he could see an absolutely stunning woman wearing nothing but a black lace bra and panties. Tall and graceful with thick silver hair that hung halfway down her back, she looked almost magical. She unfastened the bra and slipped it off. A breeze stirred the sheer red curtain so that for a moment he glimpsed her bare breasts in all their alabaster beauty. Fleshy and slightly pendulous, they were simply made to touch.Suddenly the woman paused, her gaze fixed on him. Ash’s pulse skipped. Even from such a distance her eyes summoned him with almost preternatural power. He drew a sharp breath and forced himself to look away.What is wrong with you, Ash? You’re a married man.Even such brief sexual thoughts about another woman galled him. He would never become one of those men who disrespected the woman he had sworn to spend his life with. Besides, he loved Jen.Jen.His wife.He could scarcely believe how his luck had changed. After years of writing song lyrics by night while managing a restaurant by day, he’d quite by chance met the famous songwriter Woodrow Quint. Woodrow helped Ash make connections that changed his life. Last year, after one of the country’s biggest pop stars sang one of Ash’s love songs in a hit movie, he’d suddenly found himself in demand.Even better, he’d met and proposed to Jen, who was not only attractive, but devoted to him. To Ash, loyalty was mandatory. Jen had given him her heart, and there was nothing he would deny her.He reached for the shade and pulled it down. When he turned back to the bed, Jen lay naked, waiting, a seductive smile on her lips. Ash tugged off his clothes and slipped onto the bed beside his wife. Running a hand over her narrow hips, he covered her mouth in a kiss.

Chapter One

Spring 2004

Ash glanced at Jen from the corner of his eye. “You look lovely. New dress?”She sat in the car’s passenger seat, primping her hair in the vanity mirror.“No. I’ve worn it once before. You were probably buried in the basement working at the time.”What a surprise. Another dig.“I haven’t changed since you married me. My lifestyle seemed fine then.”“Exactly, Ash. You haven’t changed. You’re very successful in a profession where you have connections to exciting people doing exciting things, yet what do you choose for entertainment? The same old shit as a regular person.”“Should I have morphed into another species because I’ve written a few hit songs?”“I give up. I really do.” Jen flipped the mirror back into position and stared out the window. “So if you’re intent on sitting home and drying up, why did you decide to attend this awards dinner? Is it because you’re probably going to win again and you want to finally know what it’s like to be there to make the acceptance speech yourself?”No, dammit. It’s because I want to see in person the bozo you’ve been having an affair with. I’ve looked at enough photos of him from the private detective. Now it’s time for a look in the flesh.“Well, you seem to have enjoyed every moment of making them on my behalf over the years, so I can’t tell if you’re complaining because I don’t usually show up for myself or because for once you’ll be out of the spotlight.”“That was a cheap shot, Ash.”And you would know, you cheating bitch.Ash’s stomach twisted. It wasn’t in his nature to keep calm when faced with situations that annoyed him, and this went beyond a minor irritation to nearly uncontrollable rage. The one thing above all others that he hated was disloyalty. If Jen had simply told him she wanted a divorce, he could have handled it. Yes, it would have stung, but he would still have retained his dignity.To discover that for the past few years she had been cheating on him with a variety of men absolutely enraged him. Much younger men. Men who were more than happy to pleasure a rich mistress.His lawyer advised him to keep his cool and continue playing the decent husband. With so much evidence against Jen, there was no way she would receive the alimony she would undoubtedly seek. So Ash would keep his temper in check. There was no way he was going to allow her to humiliate him and then pay her for it.Two hours later, Ash was seated in the corner of a banquet hall. His peers, their guests, and the media mingled, one more desperate and phony than the next. His table was empty, since the group he was seated with had dispersed, including his wife. His gaze fixed on Jen. At forty-five years old, she was as thin and lovely as ever. Thanks to the plastic surgeon his money had paid for, she didn’t look a day over thirty. How blind and stupid did she think he was when she claimed to have visited her relatives on the west coast for a month last year and returned with boobs up under her chin and a face so tight one could bounce a quarter off it?Jen smiled at her dance partner -- and latest lover. Tall, lean, and conventionally handsome, the young man looked like the poster boy for a male modeling agency.“I’m surprised you’re here tonight. Jen managed to drag you out this time?”Ash glanced at his friend and sometime business partner, Woodrow Quint, the man who had gotten him his “big break.” Tall and rangy with dark hair and tinted glasses, Woodrow made a stunning appearance in an understated black suit. Apparently he was a regular visitor to the plastic surgeon’s office as well, considering the man hadn’t aged a day since they had met eleven years ago. It wasn’t as if Woodrow could visually notice the aging process since he was completely blind.“What do you mean drag me out?” Ash snapped.“Nothing personal. It’s just that I know how you feel about these gatherings.”“You don’t exactly have the reputation of a party animal, either. Have a seat.” Ash guided Woodrow’s hand to the nearest chair. His friend settled into it, his hands folded over the top of his snakehead cane.“Dechrista and I prefer other forms of entertainment to this kind of media circus.”That much was true enough. Though Dechrista was a famous vocalist and Woodrow one of the world’s most popular writers of musical theater, they lived a basically quiet life. They revealed little personal information about themselves, even to their friends. Being a private person, Ash had never pushed for details.“Yes. Circus. And the clowns are here in plenty,” Ash muttered, his gaze fixed on Jen and her gigolo.“Is something wrong?” Woodrow asked.“No. Well, yes.”“You should be happy. You won again.”“Whoopee.”Woodrow laughed.“It’s not funny. If you could see, I would ask you to look toward the dance floor where my wife,” Ash sneered the word, “is in the arms of a handsome budding pianist whom she has been faithfully fucking.”Woodrow’s smile faded. “Really? I’m sorry.”“I shouldn’t have said that. My lawyer would kill me.”“I won’t breathe a word of it.”Ash believed him. Woodrow had never been a gossip. He actually leaned toward the other extreme.“At least she knows how to be faithful to something, if not me.”“Don’t feel bad. When she gets tired of him, she’ll treat him the same way as she’s treated you.”“Doubtful, since she married me and that boy’s not rich enough for her. He won’t have to endure the illusion of a good marriage only to discover that his wife has slept with nearly every man from New York to Tokyo.”A quirky smile tugged at Woodrow’s lips, but he mastered it and managed to keep his expression serious.“Go ahead and laugh, but it’s the truth.”“I’m not laughing. I’m guessing she doesn’t know you know?”“Not yet, but soon.” Ash’s fingers stroked the sides of his wine glass. The urge to squeeze the glass until it broke almost overcame him. Sitting back, he drew a deep breath and released it slowly.“It’s not my business, but I always had the feeling she wasn’t your type,” Woodrow said. “She’s not good enough for you, my friend.”“Maybe it’s not entirely her fault. I guess my lyrics are far more exciting than I am.”Woodrow shrugged. “Depends on your idea of exciting, and lyrics don’t come from nowhere, you know. With the right woman, strange things can happen.”“Speaking of that, how are you and Dechrista?”“Great. We have our little arguments, but I’ve never been happier.”“I remember what that was like.”“You’re absolutely sure about that?”“What’s that supposed to mean?”Woodrow shrugged. “Just that sometimes you can think you’re happy when all you really are is content. Safe. Settled.”“This conversation is getting a little too deep for me.”“Sorry.” Woodrow lifted his chin, his head turning, as if he was looking for something, though Ash knew it was impossible. “Dechrista’s back from the ladies’ room. See her?”“Yes, she’s coming this way actually. How do you do that?”“What?”“Know when somebody’s coming even though you can’t see. That’s one thing about you I never could figure out.”Grinning, Woodrow pointed to his nose. “Exceptional sense of smell. It’s like a compensation.”
Excerpt from The Red Curtain

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