The Bite of Winter by Lauren Smith is out today from Samhain Publishing and we’ve got a great excerpt for you to enjoy! Be sure and pick up your copy of The Bite of Winter today!
What could be better than a sexy, drool-worthy Irish vampire? Try two Irish vampires! I don’t know about you but I’m sucker (get it? Sorry bad vampire joke) for accents, but Irish ones, the way they have that lilting cadence just makes me go hot all over. When I wrote The Bite of Winter, I wanted to create two gorgeous hunky Irish vamps named Ian and Connor who were best friends.
While both of these tasty vampires are your genuine Alpha males, they are both a perfect balance to each other. Ian is the gentle, caring man who craves a taste of the paste human life he’s lost, while Connor is the brash, standoffish man who fears to fall in love again and have his heartbroken. In the scene below they’re both arguing over what to do with the human woman Zoey who they’ve rescued from death. She is still mortal, and in irresistible temptation to them. All of this is seen through Zoey’s eyes as she tries to come to terms with the fact that she’s just met two vampires, creatures she didn’t know existed. Even as she fears them, she can’t help but realize she’s drawn to them and their wounded souls…
Ian was a vampire? They both were? Zoey blinked, her brain short circuiting as she tried to process this information and failed.
“Oh my God. He bit me! Am I going to turn into one?”
Ian was suddenly above her, his hands on her neck, her legs, everywhere as he checked her for injury.
“No, lass, no. You won’t become a vampire. That takes more than just a bite to accomplish.”
Relief surged through her. She wasn’t going to go Bela Lugosi after all.
“Connor, you damned fool. What are you doing biting her?”
Connor, she’d been right to assume it was him, shifted uneasily by the door, his blond hair still wild from her hands running through it.
“You left me a message. Said she was my dinner and I had to scare her.”
“What? That’s not what I said, you amadan!” Ian scooped Zoey up into his arms. She burrowed into him instinctively. The remnants of her climax still rippled through her and his strong arms absorbed her trembling.
“Ian…” Connor growled.
“I said I had a guest and was bringing her dinner. I warned you to be sure not to scare her. Bloody hell man, she’ll never forgive me. Not after you attacked her.”
Ian carried her to the living room and settled her on the leather couch. He grabbed a heavy thick blanket and tucked it around her. Connor followed at a distance, his eyes avoiding Zoey’s. That irritated her, not that she could say why exactly.
“Ian, I’m sorry. The message cut out in places. I thought I heard what I heard. I didn’t know. It’s clear she’s your dinner. I didn’t realize you were bringing them home again. You usually eat out.”
Ian, who had been brushing hair back from Zoey’s face, tensed. His eyes caught hers and held them for a time before he spoke to Connor.
“She’s not my dinner. She’s a woman who’s in need of some help. I offered her a place to stay and to get her some food.” He pointed to the kitchen countertop, which had several take-out bags from the nearby restaurants.
The scent of the food drifted beneath Zoey’s nose. Her mouth watered. Hunger hit her stomach like a physical blow. Food. God, she was ravenous. She’d quite forgotten it when she’d been beneath Connor on his bed.
Her eyes strayed to the kitchen where the food was. It took every ounce of self-control not to run straight at it. Somehow she felt making sudden movements in front of a pair of vampires was a bad idea.
Vampires. She still had to process that, but she could do that later, when her stomach was full.
“Who is she, Ian?”
Ian lifted her up and sat back on the couch with her in his lap. “Her name is Zoey Blake.”
It probably should have bothered her that he just moved her about and picked her up without asking. But she liked that he simply took control—and more importantly, that he seemed to enjoy keeping her close. Even with the allure of food so nearby she was reluctant to leave his arms.
Connor’s eyes narrowed to slits. “And why did you bring Zoey here?”
The air about them seemed to vibrate, like someone had just plucked the strings of a harp and the sound waves still traveled along the air. The hair on Zoey’s neck rose and her skin tingled with awareness of the two men and the situation.
“She has nowhere else to go. The lass lost her family, her home. I found her dying in an alley where some whoreson had attacked her.” Ian’s voice was full of quiet desperation, but tinged with an edge of defiance.
Connor’s lips twisted. “So you thought you’d bring her home and play nursemaid? What about your promise to me? No more mortal lovers. Not after what happened to Lara.”
Zoey stiffened. Mortal lover? “Who’s Lara?” She glanced up at Ian. The movement brushed her lips across the line of his jaw. He tensed, chest and arm muscles hardening. The sudden bulge she felt beneath her had her blushing.
“You test me, love. Be careful.” Ian’s warm breath stirred the crown of her hair, eliciting small shivers from her. “Connor, she stays. Get used to the idea. She’s mine, and I will care for her. You are welcome to help, but do not make me choose between you. I will pick her. We swore once to protect the innocent. Zoey is as innocent as they come.”
“Hey! I’m not that innocent.” Zoey was no stranger to sex—assuming that’s what he meant. There had been a few boys in college before she was forced to drop out, and even if it had been a few years, she still remembered the mechanics of it. Even if she’d been involuntarily celibate lately, she’d still held her share of wicked fantasies, her current one featuring the pair of men both arguing about her.
Connor snorted. “You’re as green as the grass near Belfast.”
“I’m not sure what that means,” Zoey shot back, a tad uncertain but still riled enough to glower at him. “But I think I’m insulted.”
Ian chuckled, but it died once she glared at him with all the fury a woman could muster, which seemed to be enough to make his eyes twinkle despite his lack of a smile. She turned her glower to Connor, hoping to have a better effect.
“Don’t argue with me, pet,” Connor growled. “I’m liable to turn you over my knee and smack your arse until it’s red.”
“You’re not to touch her.” Ian shielded her with his arms, but she wasn’t scared. Connor’s threat had her body heating, and the promise of his hand on her ass, even in punishment, melted her insides. God, she needed help. This was so wrong. She shouldn’t want him to spank her, and it sure as hell shouldn’t have aroused her.
Connor turned his back on them and slammed his hands down on the granite kitchen countertop. His head dropped between his hunched shoulders.
Tension rolled off Connor’s back in waves. She couldn’t help but remember what happened minutes before when he’d had her on her back. There hadn’t been any tension there, only passion. Her surrender, his domination, and a release the likes of which she’d never felt before. Her womb clenched at the memory of his fingers pumping inside her. Then she remembered she was in Ian’s arms. She raised her head and saw his nostrils flaring. Surely he couldn’t…smell her arousal?
God, I hope not.
“She’s helpless, Connor. I refuse to put her back out onto the streets.”
Connor turned back to face them. “Another stray, like your cats. But you can’t keep her, Ian. She’s a human, not a wee animal.”
Ian’s shoulders stiffened. A low growl emanated from his throat. Zoey’s hackles rose, and she realized that Ian was just as dangerous as Connor, although he’d hidden it from her with his outward gentleness.
As the thought filtered through her hungry mind, she felt a sudden stab of anger, and the prickling of tears behind her eyes. Why hadn’t she seen it before? She would have, she argued to herself, if she hadn’t been so hungry.
Ian didn’t look at her with passion—he looked at her with pity. She’d mistaken his intentions in the bathroom earlier when he’d kissed her. Men did that, didn’t they? Sleep with women they pitied?
The pain of that thought wracked her insides with an angry sadness that choked her. Zoey was too angry to say a word. Emotions ripped through her and she didn’t dare open her mouth; otherwise she’d say a thousand things she’d regret.
Connor looked away. “You should have let nature run its course. We cannot save every mortal we come across.”
“Let nature run its course?” Ian’s reply was barely comprehensible as it came out in a vicious snarl. “Do you remember when nature ran its course back in Ireland? Our families starved, our people died on the streets, like the very animals I try to save. How dare you hold that against me, against her!”
She couldn’t stand to be there a second longer. She had to leave. Zoey shoved at Ian’s chest. Whatever was going on between these two, she didn’t understand it, and she didn’t want to. She was too hurt by Ian’s words. A stray? No better than a starving cat on the streets? That’s how he saw her? A thing to be pitied, not a person to be loved?
Ian fought her for only a second before he let her go. Somehow, that made everything worse. She bit back a fresh well of tears.
He didn’t even care enough to fight to keep her in his arms. It stung—no, it burned—like a knife sliding between her ribs and piercing her heart.
Lauren Smith is an attorney by day and author by night, who pens adventurous and edgy romance stories by the light of her smart phone flashlight app. She writes historical, contemporary, paranormal and gothic love stories. Lauren lives in Tulsa with her three pets: a feisty chinchilla, a sophisticated cat and a dapper little schnauzer. Fans are encouraged to contact her through LaurenSmithBooks.com where they can sign up for her newsletter on the home screen and can email her through the Contact tab. She’s also on Facebook and Twitter.