(This is more than a snippet. Love and Brimstone was my first published book, so it has a very special place in my heart. And it’s not your typical vampire story. Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Boston Legal. Originally released in e-book only by another publisher, it was re-released by Siren in e-book and print. I have plans for at least four more books in this series. Book two, Brimstone Blues, is also available from Siren.)
Two weeks later, Taz was settled and busy. The office layout was a little smaller, but similar to the LA building, with their executive offices on the top floor. Except now Tim had the office on the other side of her, there wasn’t a security office, and they had a lovely shaded outdoor terrace she took the liberty of outfitting with several large potted tropical palms.
Matthias was out of the office, or so she thought. Albert and Tim were somewhere together doing research when the receptionist buzzed her.
“I’m sorry, Ms. Proctor. There is a Mr. Babson here to see you.”
Taz checked her calendar. “I don’t have anyone listed,” she said.
“He says he doesn’t have an appointment. He’s very sorry about that, but needs a few minutes of your time for some forms.”
Murry chose that minute to jump on her desk. Taz gently shooed him off. He returned, meowing loudly, and she wondered if he’d been fed yet. He suddenly seemed very agitated.
“Okay, ah, hold him for ten then send him up with a visitor access pass.”
“Yes, Ms. Proctor.”
Just what I need, she thought.
Murry jumped up on her desk again and loudly meowed.
“Stupid—listen!” she thought she heard someone say. But she knew she was alone and shook it off.
Must be a radio on somewhere. “Murry, you can’t do that. What’s gotten into you?” She scooped him up, scratching him under the chin. “Are you feeling ignored?”
He shrugged out of her grasp and bolted out the door. She sighed, finished what she was working on, and kept an eye on the time.
* * * *
Murry knew Matthias, Albert, and Tim were two floors down. He ran for the stairwell.
This is bad. Very bad.
* * * *
Taz eyed the elevator lights and timed it so she was standing in the hall when the doors opened. She caught a whiff of a strange odor, rotten eggy, reminding her of high school chem lab. She’d have to call Engineering to look at the AC unit.
“Mr. Babson, was it?” she asked.
He nodded. He was about her height and wore a cheap grey business suit a size too large. He had flat slate-grey eyes, and thinning reddish hair stuck up at odd angles like he’d been caught in a wind tunnel. He carried a large, scuffed leather briefcase.
“Sorry to drop in unannounced like this,” he said. “I was told to ask for you in person, that you had the authority to look through these papers.”
She motioned him to follow her, suddenly not wanting to shake hands with him. “What’s it regarding?”
There was that funny odor again. Chemical? It was acrid, not smoky, but close. Sharp, odd. She led him to the conference room.
“I don’t know what that is. I’ll need to get my laptop. Please wait here and make yourself comfortable.”
He nodded, and she walked to her office.
* * * *
Murry found the three men and bounced, hard, off Matthias’ knees.
The men looked at the cat and then bolted for the stairs as one.
* * * *
Taz smiled as she returned and set her laptop on the conference table. Babson had opened his briefcase and laid a couple of files on the table. He now stood across the room, examining the bookcases, his back to her.
“Can you please spell that for me?” she asked.
He did, working his way along the wall toward her, browsing titles while she searched, his back to her, hands in front of him.
Taz turned to speak to Babson and saw him approaching, a large knife in his hand. She didn’t have time to register what was happening. Matthias suddenly roared through the open conference-room door, carrying a large, upraised sword, and sliced through the intruder.
By the time Taz scrabbled backward away from them, the knife Babson wielded hit the floor, a bright orange flash lit the room, and then an acrid cloud of dust settled to the carpet.
Her mouth fell open, her scream imminent.
Albert and Tim flanked Matthias, who turned to her, lowering the sword as he reached out to her. “Anastazia, are you okay?”
Murry chose that moment to jump on the conference table, startling her. She screamed—loud, long, panicked. She backed away from Albert and Tim, her hands in front of her, warding the men away.
Albert turned to Matthias. “Put that damn thing down. Can’t you see she’s frightened?”
Matthias looked at the sword, laid it on the conference table, and held up two empty hands. “It’s okay, Anastazia. It’s gone. I took care of it.”
She stopped screaming only because she had to take a breath.
“Here it comes,” Tim said. Albert shot him a warning look.
“What the fuck was that?”
* * * *
Taz looked at the men, still backing away, still warding them off. Had time slowed? Stopped? Because in the space of less than a few seconds a strange-smelling man attacked her with a knife, her employer took him out with a sword, and the attacker disappeared in a cloud of smoke.
Not your normal day at the office.
Matthias tried again. “Anastazia, it’s okay. You’re safe—”
“What the hell is going on?” she shrieked. Matthias winced.
Robertson smiled. He was used to her volume. “That’s my girl. She’ll be fine.”
She turned on him. “What the hell is going on? I want answers!”
Matthias took a step toward her. She backed away from him. “Calm down and I’ll—”
“Calm down? Did you just tell me to calm down? What the fuck just happened? Where did that guy go? What the hell is going on—is that a sword?”
Murry, always helpful, chose that moment to reveal himself to her. “Calm down, sweetie. It was just a demon. Well, not technically a demon, but close enough.”
She’d started to scream something else, but it died on her lips as she stared at the cat. Her eyes grew even wider as a frightened squeak escaped her slack jaw.
The cat stepped toward her, across the table, deftly avoiding her laptop. “Yes, you heard me. A demon.”
She looked at the men, certain she’d just lost her mind. Obviously, what happened was that stress had triggered some sort of mental breakdown and—
“Yes, Murry just spoke to you,” Tim said gently.
Must. Focus. On. Breathing. And Taz did just that, the astonishment frozen on her face. She thought. She couldn’t tell for sure, because her whole body had gone numb.
* * * *
She kept the conference table between herself and the men and warily eyed the sword. Albert had pulled Matthias back for fear she’d bolt from the room. They let Tim take point.
“Taz, honey, it’s okay.”
“What?” It came out a whisper. She wasn’t screaming anymore, but somehow this was worse. She sounded like her sanity had slipped a cog. Tim couldn’t blame her. Get her through the initial shock first, then figure out how the hell a demon not only tracked her down, but got into the office.
“Anastazia, Taz, look at me—look at me, sweetheart.” If he could just get her to look into his eyes, he could hopefully calm her, or, if necessary, push her over the edge into a faint. Then they could regroup.
Her eyes glazed over. She still wouldn’t look at him. Instead, she looked from the sword, to Matthias, who still had his hands up in front of him, showing her they were empty, to Albert, to the cat, who was now licking himself.
Repeat as necessary.
“Anastazia, look at me,” Tim tried again. When he took a step forward, she took a step back. He was actually happy to see that, because it meant at least some of her instincts were trying to kick in.
She was slipping toward shock. Barely a minute had passed.
He opted for a change in approach. “Anastazia!” He used his angry parent tone, and she looked at him, but before he could catch her gaze she stared at the sword again.
With his focus still on her, Tim said, “Get. The sword. Out of here.”
Albert grabbed it and set it around the corner, outside the door.
“See?” Matthias said. “The sword—”
“Shut up, Matthias,” Tim and Albert said together.
Surprisingly, that was all it took to bring her back.
“What did you call him?” she asked Tim, her tone still too low and far too quiet for his liking.
“Anastazia, it’s okay. We have a lot we need to talk—”
“Oh, you bet your ass we do!” Her normally calm and professional veneer had finally shattered.
The Ice Queen, melted.
Her eyes still wide, her gaze rapidly skipped from one man to another. She started to tremble, shock imminent.
Tim tried again. “Sweetheart, look at me. Now.”
She finally focused on his eyes long enough he could take her. He motioned to Albert, who brought a chair.
“You have to calm down.” Tim reached out for the woman he loved like a daughter, took her hand, and gently guided her to the chair. He stepped back. He didn’t like to do this to her for too long, but at least she was seated.
He released her. She blinked and looked at the three men. Her voice still trembled, sounding near breaking. “Will one of you please explain what the hell just happened?”
Tim struggled to keep his voice low and soft. “It’s very difficult to explain, and it’s a very long story.”
[Siren Classic: Erotic Paranormal Romance, vampires, HEA]
The soul always comes home…
Ice queen Anastazia “Taz” Proctor is an aloof attorney, a “fixer.” Hunky Matthias Hawthorne wants her for more than just an employee…much more. Will she believe him when he reveals their shared secret—that they’re vampires, but that it’s not the way Hollywood portrays them? Maybe not, but with someone out to kill her, she might not have a choice. She also can’t ignore what her body tells her about her handsome boss.
An escape with Matthias to the safe refuge of Yellowstone National Park leads Taz to discoveries about her lineage and what she can do with her newly awakened powers. Even more disturbing is her unexplainable attraction to Matthias’s handsome cousin, Rafael.
Time grows short as a traitor in their midst makes another attempt on Taz’s life. Will she and Matthias survive when they’re caught in a vicious showdown between Love and Brimstone?
Note: This book has been extensively revised. It was previously published with another publisher.
A Siren Erotic Romance
You can find all my Siren releases as Tymber Dalton, Lesli Richardson, Macy Largo, and Tessa Monroe on my Siren page at: