A Vampire’s Honor
Sins Of The Past ...
Rowan Harper thought being with a vampire would keep her out of harm’s way. But true evil lurks in the darkness, and not even her lover, Gabriel, knows all of its tricks. Rowan may be his Promise, the one woman who can save Gabriel’s soul, but the two of them have a long and complicated history that Rowan is only now discovering–complete with old enemies who will stop at nothing to make them suffer.
When Rowan is abducted and forced to witness unspeakable violence, secrets of the past begin to unfold. Secrets that show Gabriel’s best friend Aleksei in a new light. Will the truth destroy all three of them or bind them more tightly together, and if evil prevails, will it be Rowan’s soul that ultimately needs saving?
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The real estate woman was flirting with Gabriel … and really starting to piss me off. Even though I knew women were going to come on to him, it wasn’t always easy to accept. Or watch. I’ve often wondered if they’d be just as enthusiastic if they knew he was a vampire. Honestly? I don’t think it would make the slightest difference. I’ve seen little old ladies throw out the most amazing innuendoes when he’s helped them to a seat, and little girls play peek-a-boo from behind their mother’s skirts because he smiled at them. I have no problem with old ladies and little girls. It’s the ages in between.
I realize that much sex appeal is going to arouse any healthy libido, so I do my best to ignore the suggestive glances, fluttering lashes, and breathy voices. Especially as I know the interest is never going to be reciprocated. I can even turn a blind eye to the occasional oops-I-didn’t-really-mean-to-press-my-boobs-against-you contact, because when that happens - and it has - Gabriel uses the moment to demonstrate that he’s with me. Usually with his tongue in my mouth. But every now and then there’s a woman who views his affection for me as some sort of unspoken challenge. And Claudia Benton - Exclusive Properties was such a woman.
I stood at one of the apartment’s large picture windows, pretending to be mesmerized by the view of nighttime Greenley Heights. The city’s neon splendor sparkled like a Christmas tree, but I was too busy surreptitiously observing my would-be antagonist to give it more than passing notice. Busy pointing out the features of the kitchen’s built-in wine cooler, Claudia Benton was hanging onto Gabriel’s every word. He said something I didn’t quite catch, but it made Ms. Benton laugh, and I watched as she put her hand on his muscular forearm, keeping it there far longer than a real estate agent should. Even if she did want to make her commission.
“Oh please, you must call me Claudia,” she said looking up at him, “I feel like we’re such good friends already.”
She pronounced her name Cloud-ia, which struck me as somewhat pretentious, but she could call herself Ophelia, Queen of the Outhouse, for all I cared. I knew the first-name invitation didn’t include me.
Narrowing my eyes, I took her in from head to toe. If I had to guess, I’d put her in her early thirties. Her dark suit was tailored and looked expensive, as did her high heels. The blonde hair may or may not have come from a bottle. Unless I could see roots, I couldn’t tell for sure. And she wore no wedding ring.
Having exhausted the finer points of the wine cooler, Cloud-ia was extolling the virtues of the kitchen’s other appliances when she suddenly stumbled, managing to save herself from kissing the hardwood floor only by grabbing the arm she’d just been caressing. Apparently flustered by her clumsiness, she apologized and thanked Gabriel for his gallantry.
I was fully prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes a stumble is just that, and she did seem embarrassed by her clumsiness. But then she glanced over at me, and the smile on her face told a different story. It was a sly, malicious smile. One that said if she tried a little harder she could make Gabriel look her way, and once she had him looking, who knows what else he might want to do?
It was absolute crap of course. She stood no chance of persuading him to sample what she was offering, but she didn’t know that. Vampires, once they make a commitment, don’t cheat. At least not while the object of their affection is still able to draw breath. And, as one of the most possessive creatures ever created, a vampire’s focus only becomes a problem if those feelings aren’t reciprocated. Gabriel and I had no worries in that regard. The proof of our devotion to each other had sent a tremor through the Dark Realm that blew the lid off the Richter scale.
But even if all of this was known to my wanna-be rival, I suspect it would have simply made her more determined. Some women think they’re irresistible. My inner bitch, who hadn’t had much to harangue me about recently, now tapped my mental shoulder. You gonna let her get away with that?
No fucking way.
“Ms. Benton.” I’d stab myself in the eye with a pencil before I called her by her first name, no matter how she pronounced it. “Would you mind showing me the bathroom?” I asked.
“But you’ve already seen it, dear,” she replied in a condescending tone.
“Yes, I know, but if it’s not too much trouble I’d like to see it again. There’s something I need to check out.”
“Oh?” The lift of her brow was as condescending as her smile. “And what might that be?”
“Counter height.” If my smile was any sweeter I’d give myself a cavity, but as I passed Gabriel I made sure my fingers brushed the back of his hand, causing a spark to flash in his neon blue eyes.
There was a pleasing warmth about the bathroom, even if the décor reflected the taste of a strong male presence. Tile that looked like bricks covered the walls and floor in a color palette ranging from beach sand to a dark, coppery red. An old-fashioned claw-foot tub with curved sides took up a good amount of space, but there was enough left over for a spacious, modern shower with a glass door. The toilet was hidden behind a discreet half wall, and a double sink vanity completed the necessary appointments. I stared at the space between the two sinks. It certainly looked like it would be adequate.
“I never thought of the shower as being small … until now,” Ms. Benton murmured, her eyes glazing over as she gave Gabriel’s wide shoulders a lingering look. I could just imagine what was going on inside her head and decided I’d had enough. Standing next to the open bathroom door, I put one hand on my hip and gripped the door knob with the other.
“Ms. Benton, would you give us a moment, please?” I really wish I could have seen her expression when she heard the lock engage.
I turned and reached for Gabriel, my fingers slipping inside the waistband of his jeans as I pulled him to me. I saw a glimpse of white as his mouth covered mine. He’d dropped his fangs, and a tremor of anticipated pleasure ran down my spine as my tongue slid between them.