THE HUNTRESS (Also released as TWICE BITTEN)
Silhouette Bombshell #28
It was time to fight back
She'd lost her parents to a brutal murder, her peace of mind to nightmares and her privacy to paparazzi. And now heiress Camille Howard had lost the only man she'd ever loved. He'd been kidnapped...by a vampire.
Camille didn't believe in the supernatural, but to save Griffin , she had to change her attitude-and work with a mercenary whose goal was to kill as many vamps as he could. But when the mission went to hell, Camille had to choose between saving her lover-or herself. Because for one to survive, the other had to die..
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Excerpt from THE HUNTRESS/TWICE BITTEN
Camille cuddled against Griff as yesterday's rain continued. Clouds covered the moon, casting the room into pure darkness, spreading a chill due to the spent fire.
Today, she'd interviewed five more villagers for her thesis--men who tried to act like Peter Vladislav's rash words from yesterday hadn't mattered. She should've been excited to witness the effects of folklore in action, to see how the tales were coloring village dynamics and relationships.
Instead, she felt on edge.
Maybe it was because she could imagine Flora Vladislav, their morally superior innkeeper, bursting into their room to punish her and Griff for sleeping in the same bed. Maybe she felt protective of Griff in light of how the female vampires, the strigoiaca--even if they didn't really exist--preyed exclusively on men. Or maybe it was all these tales of the undead, seeping into her bones like water into earth.
Death can come back to life.
She wanted to believe it, wanted to pull her parents back from the grave, tell them how much she missed them. How much she wanted them to meet Griff.
The thought was attractive, but impossible. Silly. Vampires and resurrection existed only in fiction.
So why was she more willing to embrace the concept with each passing day?
In his slumber, Griff clutched her tighter against him, and Camille melted into his arms. Time to rest. Time to feel safe and warm, forgetting all of her questions.
She must've slept, because when she heard the night's first scream, she bolted, caging Griff with her arms.
"What.?" he mumbled.
Camille fumbled for the light. It wouldn't turn on. "Did you hear that?"
Her heartbeat was like a card stuck in the spokes of a bike wheel, fluttering. Caught.
Blinking away the sleep from her gaze, she froze, listening.
But hadn't both of them heard it?
They'd packed mini flashlights in their backpacks, so
Camille tumbled out of bed in her long johns, felt her way around the room, intent on finding one. "Go back to sleep, okay? It was a bird or." What?
Another scream. Closer this time.
Come on, she thought. Imagination working overtime.
"I heard that," Griff said.
While she battled the fear creeping over her skin, Camille finally found her backpack where she'd left it, by the foot of the bed. Digging into the front pocket, she groped for the small light device.
She heard Griff sit up. "Bloody dark. Tex ?"
"Griff, stay in bed. I'm going to knock on Mrs. Vladislav's door down the hall to see what's happening."
But it'd be nothing. She was sure about that.
Outside, the wind howled, slapping rain against the window. Then it calmed to a mere, eerie whistle.
She found her cell phone first, turned it on, lighting the space around her with a blue glow. "No signal."
The covers rustled as Griff tossed them away.
"Where're you going?"
"Down the hall, as you said." There was the swish of denim rubbing against itself. He'd found his jeans and had thumped back onto the bed to put them on.
She almost told him to bag his testosterone and get back under the covers. But why bother? What protection were blankets?
And why was she worried about it? What did she think was happening? One of the fabled vampire attacks?
She tried to laugh at the thought, but couldn't. There, the flashlight. She prepared to turn it on.
The door hinges squeaked, the opened barrier ushering in colder air.
"Griff, just stay in bed, okay?"
"I am in bed."
Time stopped, blood pounding in her head. Camille dragged her gaze to the doorway.
A pair of eyes were watching them. Red, glowing.
Bobbing as a slight buzzing sound filled the darkness, mingling with the moaning wind.
Sweet Jesus, she couldn't move.
Another male scream rent the air, but it was closer this time. It came from down the hall. A female yelled the name "Mihas!"
Then a shatter, glass breaking. An inhuman screech that yanked Camille to her feet, trapping her breath in her chest.
More from a jerk of terror than anything else, she flicked the flashlight switch.
The same monstrous yowl filled their own room as the thing in their doorway was revealed.
Moon-white skin. Shredded nightdress. Long, wild dark hair. Claws. Fangs.
And the eyes.
Camille dove toward Griff, covering him, sending them both crashing against the wall. The useless lamp smashed against the rug-covered floor planks. She wanted to get him out of here.to do something.anything.
"The hell?" Griff said in her ear.
But he barely had the words out when the thing zipped forward, bare feet never touching the ground as it winged to him.
Drawing on instinct, Camille thrust out her leg, kickboxing-style. Once. Again. Each time, the thing darted away.
Too fast. While Camille helplessly stood in front of her boyfriend, unarmed except for her balled fists, the vampire hovered, two feet away. Then, something long and slimy--its tongue?--shot out of its mouth and past Camille so quickly that she doubted she'd seen anything at all.
Behind her, Griff's body crumpled into hers.
Crying out in terror and rage, Camille launched toward the vampire, nails bared.
Get away from him.
But with one swoop of its arm, the female casually knocked Camille over the bed and into the opposite wall.
Her shoulder slammed against wood, numbing skin and muscle. The world swam and she throbbed all over. Still, she struggled to sit up.
This isn't really happening.
There were no such things as vampires.
From down the hall, Camille heard more screams, more crashes and devastation. But all that existed for her right now was this horror.
As the vampire floated before Griff, its body seemingly suspended in water, the moon turned its face away from the clouds. Light filtered through the window, shining on him.
Confused, he was leaning on the nightstand, looking toward Camille, eyes bleary. Dimming.
Have to get to him, have to.
She swayed to her feet, and he reached out to her.
"No." She scrambled over the bed, not knowing exactly what she was going to do, but she was going to save him, make the life come back into his gaze.
The vampire flashed its fangs at Camille, hissing.
"No, you back off," Camille said, her voice unrecognizable, low and garbled. Even though her body was wailing in agony, she crawled toward Griff, holding her hand out to him.
Their fingers brushed.
They're real, his gaze was saying.
Then he hunched forward, eyes rolling back in his head as he fell into the waiting arms of the vampire.
Camille's mouth opened, but no sound came out. Instead, the victorious screech of the creature shattered her heart. In a blur, it bundled Griff over its shoulder, shooting out the doorway.
Leaving Camille grasping air.
Motionless, she thought. Can't move.
Had it really happened? Maybe she going to wake up any second to find him next to her. That was it.
Numb with shock and the sharp anguish of her pulsing shoulder, she ran her hand over the indentation where he'd been sleeping only minutes ago.
Time to wake up, Camille.
But the nightmare only got worse.
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From the book: The Huntress
By: Crystal Green
Imprint and Series: Silhouette Bombshell
Publication Date: 01/05
By: Chris Marie Green
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The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.
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