Love At First Bite
Nightclub dancer Chloe Lamoureaux just met the man of her dreams: Aidan Raines is charming, considerate, rich, and hot. Of course, he’s a little mysterious about his age. And his favorite drink. And he’s not much for sunlight. But he’s asked her to marry him, and she’s ready to do it. Sure, she has a few secrets too—but they’ll have plenty of time to work things out while they’re living happily ever after. Right?
Her identical twin sister, Chuck, isn’t so sure. Maybe reporting for the local Bigfoot-sighting tabloid doesn’t make her an expert, but to Chuck, Aidan and his brother Sebastian look like honest-to-Dracula vampires. Especially Sebastian: beguiling, seductive, and just a hint of dangerous. Maybe she wouldn’t mind him taking a little taste. But with Chloe’s life in the balance, she has to know—do they want hot love or hot blood? Or maybe...a little of both?
Praise for The Bite Before Christmas
“Enjoyable reading.” —Romantic Times
“Inventive, gently humorous, and fast-paced, this steamy paranormal anthology offers an alternative to the typical holiday fare; perfect for readers who want their romances on the edgy side.” –Library Journal
Charlotte “Chuck” Lamoreaux stood in the shadows,
doing her best to remain invisible. Which wasn’t exactly
difficult in the main gaming room of a casino like the Inferno.
All around her, buzzers buzzed, bells rang, and tiny lights
in various colors either blazed or blinked, depending on how
much cash they were trying to leach from their willing victims.
But as bright and flashy as some of the machines were,
the rest of the casino was muted. Blood-red carpeting beneath
her feet, dark maroon paint and paper on the walls,
and the only other illumination coming from low-watt
sconces circling the room.
It was all designed to lull visitors into a stupor and keep
them at the tables and slot machines as long as possible. The
better to part you from your money, my dear.
And even though ninety percent of the people who walked
through the Inferno’s doors knew that, knew the cardinal
rule of Vegas—the house always wins—it didn’t deter them
one iota from copping a squat and squandering away their
paychecks, savings accounts, children’s college funds.
Not that Chuck was bitter or anything.
A big, hulking bodyguard made a quarter turn in her direction
and she hurriedly spun around, shoving a coin into
one of the penny slots she’d been half hiding behind and
yanking the one-armed bandit’s one arm.
All right, so maybe she was marginally bitter, but the way
she saw it, she had the right. Her father had been a brain-
dead zombie of the slots . . . and the roulette wheel . . . and
the card tables. He’d even occasionally gotten involved in
betting on the dogs and ponies, or putting money down on
sporting events like boxing matches and football games. The
man had never met a wager he didn’t like or a dime he could
hold on to.
No wonder her mother had finally kicked him out—something
that had devastated Chuck and her twin sister, Chloe,
at the time, but that they now realized was the smartest decision
their mother had ever made.
Their father’s gambling was also the reason Chuck made it
a policy to spend as little time near the bevy of casinos on
The Strip as possible. Chloe, however, had gone in the exact
opposite direction, following in their mother’s high-kicking
footsteps to become a showgirl. She worked right here for
the Inferno’s very own dance review, Lust.
So even though Chuck hated casinos, she still ended up in
this one often enough, just to visit her sister. Most nights, she
did her best to skirt the gaming rooms and head straight to
Lust’s dressing room.
But not tonight. Tonight, she was on a mission, and it very
much involved the casino itself.
Or rather, the casino’s elusive owner, Sebastian Raines.
Sebastian Raines was tall, dark, and filthy rich. He owned
businesses and properties all over the world, but the Inferno
seemed to be his pride and joy. At least judging by the
amount of time he spent in Las Vegas, living on the top floor
of the hotel in a penthouse suite that apparently took up the
entire floor. It was also rumored that the place was beyond
plush, beyond state of the art . . . it was supposed to be incredible.
Of course, that might only be wishful thinking on the part
of the local gossip mill, since no one had ever actually seen
Sebastian Raines’s private living quarters. No one who’d
lived to tell about it, at any rate.
Chuck was determined to be the first.
Raines, dressed to the nines in a dark designer suit and his
trademark dark glasses, started moving again. He was making
the rounds of some of the tables, something he did sporadically
on his way to press the flesh with the high rollers
and really high rollers in the private rooms at the rear of the
As usual when he made a public appearance, he was surrounded
by an army of black-suited bodyguards who looked
as though they downed steroid Big Gulps for breakfast,
lunch, and dinner. They were tall and wide and bulging with
Hulk-like muscles. But even so, Sebastian Raines stood out
above them all by at least three inches.
He might not be as broad in the shoulders or spend quite
as much time bench pressing armored vehicles as the members
of his entourage did, but he was definitely taller. And
handsomer. And more imposing.
Abandoning the penny slot machine she’d been pretending
to play for the past several minutes, she followed behind,
doing her best to look like just another bunco babe wandering
around in her natural habitat.
When Raines—and his trained goons—paused again, she
quickly did the same, diving at yet another machine waiting
to spin its row of pineapples and coconuts. Quarter slots this
time, and she dug into her pocket for the proper change.
She was probably the only person in the place hoping not
to strike it rich. But even though a nice, fat jackpot would do
wonders for her bank account—as well as eliminating her
reason for skulking around in the first place—the last thing
she needed was bells and whistles and alarms going off,
drawing all kinds of unwanted attention when she was trying
her best to blend in and go completely unnoticed.
She’d poked around and followed people before on research
trips, but never to this extent. Never for a story quite
like this one.
Normally, her investigations consisted of interviewing
loonies who swore they’d seen Bigfoot, or standing beside a stretch of scorched desert, pretending she believed some
lonely Trekkie’s account of being abducted by aliens. It was
her job to believe it all . . . and then add even more embellishment
in the stories she wrote for the Sin City Tattler.
She was actually quite good at it. A childhood spent sitting
backstage while her mother did three shows a night had apparently
paid off. While her sister had watched the dancers
with wide-eyed fascination, Chuck had always had a book
with her, as well as notebooks that she’d filled with her own
Writing for the Tattler wasn’t exactly her dream job, but it
paid the bills. It was also kind of fun. She wasn’t a UFO-
chaser or conspiracy theorist herself, but some of the stories
she covered—or, yes, invented out of thin air—were highly
The one she planned to do on Sebastian Raines, though,
was her very best idea yet. It was front page material, and if
she played her cards right—no pun intended, she thought
with a short mental snort as she scampered past a blackjack
table to the next bank of slot machines—it might even land
her a position at a larger, more prestigious, and definitely
more respected paper.
Provided she could pull this off.
The first order of business was to follow him, watch his
The second was to somehow get into his penthouse and
see if she could find evidence to support her theory that he
was not who—or more to the point, what—he claimed to be.
The third was to not get caught . . . which should maybe
actually be at the top of the list, since it would probably
mean jail time and a nice, fat restraining order, if she did.
And fourth and finally was to prove—prove without a
shadow of a doubt—that billionaire businessman and casino
mogul Sebastian Raines was exactly what she’d begun to suspect