Holidays Bite on First Sight Saturday
Every Saturday I welcome an author to share a first meeting excerpt. This week J. Rose Allister is sharing her paranormal Holiday Bites. After all, what goes together more naturally than vampires and Christmas?
J. Rose is well qualified to write a holiday story, since she got so excited about Christmas this year that she started sitting her decorations out right beside her Halloween ones. She couldn’t wait!
SETUP OF SCENE: When an annual holiday tradition turns into a near-fatal accident, Stephanie regains consciousness to find herself alone in a cabin with her rescuer–a man who is gorgeous, dangerously sexy…and undead. Despite the winter storm and her injuries, she knows she should run. So why does she keep winding up in the powerful, seductive embrace of the vampire who has exiled himself to avoid the worst time of year for temptation?
Sharp popping and crackling drew Stephanie’s awareness back, and she frowned at the annoying, insistent sound.
“Marcie,” she said with mumbled aggravation. “Quit snapping your gum.”
The voice held a tinge of surprise and did not belong to her sister. On the contrary, it sounded quite male.
She pried an eyelid open, regretting the action when a lance of pain stabbed through her temple. She groaned and tried again, slower this time. Through gritty eyes and the haze of a monster headache, she tried to make sense of what she was seeing.
Her voice sounded hoarse when she forced words from a raw throat. “Where am I?”
“A cabin near Yeltin creek,” the man’s voice said again. “My cabin.”
He stood across the moderate-sized room, tall but shadowed by the edges of firelight from a nearby hearth where wood hissed and popped. That explained the annoying gum-snapping noise.
The shadowy figure shifted. “I pulled you out of the creek. Don’t you remember?”
The creek. There was something familiar about that. How did she get in the creek? Her memory was muddled, her head spinning.
“No.” She frowned and thought harder. “I remember being on Stanton Peak, though.”
“Not very fitting weather for a swim.”
She glanced down at the hearth to see clothing laid out by the fire. Her eyes flew wide when she noted her parka, pants, and sweater were among them. She took further inventory and discovered she was lying on a couch, heaped with what looked like a pile of Grandma’s oldest quilts. With an uneasy feeling, she peeked beneath them and gasped.
“You took my clothes off?”
“I couldn’t leave you in them. They were soaking wet and you were freezing to death.”
Another look at the floor showed a man’s jeans and sweater lying alongside hers. She didn’t try to keep the suspicion from her voice. “So you figured you may as well take your clothes off, too?”
“I went into the water after you and wound up a bit damp myself.”
“Oh.” Still, her pulse fluttered. “God, you saw me naked.”
He moved toward her, and her breath caught when he stepped out of the shadows. Her rescuer was achingly handsome, with silvery blue eyes and broad, powerful shoulders. What woman wouldn’t want to be saved by this god?
“I tried not to look,” he said. “I didn’t pull you from the water because I wanted a date, you know. I was trying to save you from drowning.”
An image of this hunk carrying her in his arms and stripping her naked sent a shiver through her. “Who are you?”
“My name is Thomas. And yours? You know who you are, I hope.”
She huffed. “Of course I know that.” She hadn’t meant to sound harsh and softened her tone. “I’m Stephanie Mars. And thank you so much. For saving me.”
She pushed herself straighter, every muscle groaning with the effort. A pain shot through the side of her head once she managed to sit up.
The man appeared at her side, kneeling on the floor in front of the worn, but comfortable couch. She held back a gasp of surprise at his quick movement, as well as the discovery that he was even sexier up close. His hair fell in streaked caramel waves to brush below his shoulders, and his brown knit pullover fit tight enough to define admirable muscles.
“You hit your head,” he said. “There’s a nasty bump on this side.”
Her hand brushed his when they both reached for the spot, and though his hand was chilled, she felt a warm tingle shoot through her. She pulled the quilts higher, and after what seemed an endless moment with their eyes locked he cleared his throat and dropped his hand.
Hers went up to feel a tender lump on the right side of her head. She winced, and when she withdrew her hand it was speckled with dark red.
Thomas went rigid for a moment. Then he all but launched himself away from her to stand back near the fireplace.
She arched a brow. “You’re squeamish about blood?”
He faced away from her, leaning against the mantel. “You could say that.”