printed copy

Must Love Vampires

Heidi Betts

ISBN 9780758247643
Publish Date 9/4/2012
Format Paperback
Categories Brava, Paranormal

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

Ante Up

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 main floor.

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 creative ideas.

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 amusing.

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 every movement.

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 months ago.

A vampire.

About Heidi Betts:

National bestselling author Heidi Betts loves all things scary and paranormal…though she’s not a big fan of things that go bump in the night. (Hello! Sleeping, here.) When she’s not writing about vampires (among other things), she often dreams of being an undead creature of the night—if only so that she can sleep all day, stay up all night, and never age another minute or gain another pound. The drinking of blood doesn’t necessarily appeal, but it’s something she thinks she could get used to. Plus, she hears it tastes like chicken. For news, information about upcoming books, and tons of mischievous fun.

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