Immensely attracted to Chris, Jessica decides to break up with her emotionally absent, investment banker boyfriend-a decision that immediately sends her straight into Chris's arms and into a world where she feels complete, loved, and happy for once in her life. But when a group of vampires spot Jessica and Chris together, they report their findings to a council that punishes rebellious vampires. Now Jessica's life is in danger, and she must decide whether she should make the ultimate sacrifice to be with the man she adores.
Jessica never imagined that one choice could change her life so quickly. Only time will tell if she will she risk it all or walk away from Chris forever.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.51(d)|
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Love BitesA NOVEL
By Jennifer Green
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Jennifer Green
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe week that I met him started like any other. Just as the early July heat was warming up, I left my home late in the morning to make the thirty-minute commute to the city to go to work, then went for lunch at a deli across the street and got off work at 7PM to drive back home. When I walked in the door, I called up my boyfriend only to find that he wasn't answering his cell phone. "Dammit!" I exclaimed.
Before I go too far into my story, let me introduce myself. My name is Jessica Winters. I'm twenty-five years old and I work in the cosmetics department of a large department store in Munroeville, Tennessee called STARS where the motto is, "Everyone's a star." Yeah, right. Most of the customers that I deal with look more like a full moon and most of them need to go on one of those shows like What Not to Wear, but you didn't hear that from me. I give people makeovers and try to sell them a bunch of overpriced products, but really, I'm not a miracle worker. As for me, I've got long, blonde hair, blue eyes and I get some killer discounts on clothes that show off my model's physique. Unfortunately, all of that doesn't come without a price and so from time to time I've come across people who are jealous of me like my co-worker, Ashley Rogers.
My boyfriend, Hayden van Austen, and I live on opposite sides of the town of Hollingsford. Hayden's family is obscenely wealthy and if that wasn't bad enough, he's also an investment banker so most of our conversations are about money. It gets really old, really fast, especially when you don't have much of it yourself. My parents are middle-class, but lost a good chunk of cash to my dad's gambling habits and I'm not exactly making tons of money, either. I do alright with my job at STARS, but sometimes I take on odd jobs when money's a little too tight.
I never asked Hayden why he lives in Hollingsford, because it doesn't really seem to mirror his personality. It's just your average small town with a population near 2,000 where most people know one another, the lawns and boulevards are regularly trimmed and kept litter-free and there are so few businesses that they all fit on one main street. It's a nice place, don't get me wrong, but it's pretty mundane and rich people like Hayden stick out like a sore thumb. I guess he just wanted to try to make himself seem down-to-earth, which is pretty ironic considering he wears nothing but designer clothing, drives a Lexus and lives in a mansion. Munroeville, on the other hand, is a bustling hive of activity not unlike any other big city that you can think of and has a population of over 700,000. The skyline is quite impressive, consisting of multiple high-rise office buildings made up almost entirely of glass windows that sparkle in direct sunlight. The city is constantly abuzz with traffic, of both the pedestrian and vehicular variety, and is home to many beautiful parks as well as some of the best shopping and arts venues that the state has to offer.
The only highlight of the first few days of that week was that I actually got to talk to Hayden on Tuesday night. I somehow managed to catch him on a rare occasion where he wasn't busy. It didn't really feel like he was my boyfriend anymore, because he was always off at some sort of business meeting or else he had an appointment with a client. I had more of a relationship with his voicemail than with him.
On Wednesday night, I got off work a bit early, so I figured that maybe I'd actually be able to get home in time to watch an episode of my favorite TV show instead of watching it later on my PVR. I cut through a dark alley to get to the parking lot—yeah, yeah, I know that was a stupid thing to do—and all of a sudden, this guy jumped out and scared the hell out of me.
"What the fuck??" I shouted. The guy clutched one of my arms and held it down to my side, then gripped the other shoulder and prepared to clamp his teeth down on my neck. I thought it was weird as hell—why wasn't he trying to steal my purse?—but I was too scared to try anything. I closed my eyes as tightly as I could and braced for the inevitable. After a few moments had passed and nothing happened, I opened them and looked at my would-be attacker right in the face. A loud gasp left my lips. To my shock and horror, the guy's sharp teeth had retracted right in front of me. "What the hell?" I whispered, my voice betraying my true emotions.
"What happened?" the stranger asked me. "What did you do?" He stared at my eyes and all I could do in response was whimper pathetically and silently hope to some higher power that I could get away from him before I got hurt.
"What are you?" I asked him.
"Didn't you see my teeth? I thought it was pretty obvious that I'm a vampire. Don't you watch movies?"
"Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!" I freaked out. "I thought that vampires were just make-believe!"
"That's just what we want humans to think, until it's time for us to feed on them. There've been a bunch of humans who've found out our secret, but unfortunately for them, they only lived for a few seconds afterwards." He grinned in a really disturbing way, trying to get the hint across. "Great—vampire humor," I thought to myself. I head-butted him until he let me go and then I began trying to scratch and claw at his face with my fingernails, wishing that they weren't so damn short. I silently cursed myself for picking at them and tried to dig what remained of them into his face as best as I could, but they were unable to find much purchase in his tough skin.
"Nice try, girly," he sneered as he gripped me again, "but all that you're doing is wasting time hurting yourself." Well, he wasn't wrong about that. I could feel the beginning of a headache coming on and my hands weren't much better off pain-wise.
"Let me go!" I screamed, hoping that my voice was loud enough to attract the attention of a passer-by. I didn't care that it would only make the pain worse; I just knew that I had to do whatever I could to get help.
"I think something's wrong with me. I can't feed on you." He tried to bite me again, but couldn't as if some invisible force was preventing him from sinking his fangs into my skin. I didn't know what was going on, but I was thankful for the intrusion.
"Get away from me!" I shouted. I tried to pry his hands off of me, but they were like iron clamps and wouldn't budge.
"No—not until you undo what you did to me."
"I didn't do anything!" I exclaimed, my voice beginning to tremble.
"Maybe you didn't do it on purpose, but you did something. I've never had this happen before."
"Please, let me go!" I pleaded, tears threatening to fall from my eyes. "I won't tell anyone that you exist. I swear. No one would believe me anyway." I stared into his eyes again. I didn't know what I had hoped to achieve by doing that, but it seemed pretty obvious that my words hadn't made any positive impact and I had been about to die so I might as well just enjoy the view while I could.
"Stop that!" he growled.
"I'm sorry, I can't help it. I just think that you're so sexy." I chuckled to myself out of hysteria. "Here I am, scared out of my mind and about to be killed by a vampire, yet I'm thinking about how attractive he is. Maybe there's something wrong with me and I should be killed, so go ahead and do it after all!" The vampire had short, wavy, brown hair, dark brown eyes, perfectly sculpted eyebrows, high cheekbones and well-developed arm muscles. If he wasn't so dead or undead—depending on how you looked at it—he could've been a model.
"Alright, if you insist." He tried once again to bite me, but just as before, he couldn't puncture my skin. The constant rejection was angering him and he punched a hole in the brick to the left side of my head in frustration. Still keeping me in his tight grip, he panted from the exertion of the punch and tried to slowly calm himself down.
"What you said about me before, you were just saying that so I'll let you go, weren't you?" he asked, sounding accusatory.
"No. I really meant it."
"No human has ever found me attractive before. They're too busy screaming for help and begging me not to kill them, kind of like you just did."
"Well, maybe I'm not like other humans," I sniffled, trying to hold my head up high and retain some sense of dignity.
"What can I do to make you let me go?" I asked the vampire, sounding more pathetic and desperate than ever before. One way or another, I wanted this nightmare to end.
"Go out with me."
"What? How? When?" I stammered, shocked by this strange turn of events.
"What is this—20 Questions? Do you want me to let you go or not? I could easily just kill you right here and now and throw your body in a Dumpster if you'd prefer. I'd hate to let someone as pretty as you go to waste like that, though."
"Alright, I'll go out with you if those are my only options."
"They are," he said. "Good, I'll meet you on Friday night."
"How will you find me? What if I'm not here that night?" I asked.
"I'll be able to smell your blood and locate you," the vampire sniffed my neck to emphasize his point. Ew.
"If we're going to go out, can you at least tell me your name?"
"You're going to have to wait to find out," he grinned again. I closed my eyes and shuddered, but when I opened them again, he was gone. I gathered myself together, relieved to still be alive and continued the walk to my car, taking care to be more aware of my surroundings from now on.
During the drive home, I kept replaying the encounter over and over again in my mind. Why did I have to go into that damn alley? How could vampires really exist? What does that vampire look like naked? No, no, no, no! I couldn't think about stuff like that so I shook the mental image from my head. When I arrived at the house, I locked the car doors and dashed into the house, fearing that something else might try to get me while I was in such a vulnerable state. I fumbled with the keys as I tried to lock the back door and then I raced up the stairs as quickly as I could to get into bed. I couldn't wait for the day to finally be over.
On Thursday, when I wasn't trying to do my extreme makeovers on customers, I was thinking of the vampire. The image of his face was burned into my memory. His eyes were like bottomless pools and they were so mesmerizing that I could've looked into them forever—that was if I hadn't feared for my life. I imagined what it would be like to run my fingers through his hair. It looked like it might have been spun from silk. I also thought of his muscles. Oh my God, those muscles! Under different circumstances, I would've loved for him to hold me close with them.
"Are you alright?" Natalie Johnson, one of my co-workers asked me.
"Yeah," I replied, snapping out of my beautiful reverie.
"You've got a few more makeovers to do before noon. Speaking of which, do you want to come with me to this great Italian place a few blocks away? They do a great linguini with marinara sauce."
"Sounds good." As she walked away, I got ready to perform some more of my magic on a plump woman who, I guessed, was in her 50s. She wore purple from head to toe and looked like a giant grape. Note to self: the less purple worn, the better.
"What's with you today?" Natalie asked me when we were seated at the restaurant. "You seem like your head is up in space." I obviously couldn't tell her about my vampire encounter, so I told her about my troubles with Hayden. "I think that you should dump his ass. He's barely around enough to be your boyfriend, anyway," she said.
"Do you think he could be cheating on you?"
"No, but if he was, I've never found any proof. Besides, not everyone who says that they're working late is actually cheating. He's got clients from around the world so he's got to work some crazy hours."
"Would you even care if he was cheating?"
"I don't really know anymore. I mean, yeah, I'd be hurt, but it's already practically like we're not together. All that we need to do is make it official. I'd hate to have spent the past four years just to have it all go down the drain like this. I really thought that we could have a future together, you know? If it all goes to shit right now, then at least I can take some comfort in knowing that I didn't wait until we were married and popped out a couple of kids before calling it quits."
"Yeah, but I bet that you'd miss the money and gifts more than you miss him, wouldn't you?" Natalie asked and we both laughed and then tucked into the food that we had just been brought. It wasn't really true—I'm not a gold-digger—but I'm not going to lie and say that I didn't love getting the expensive gifts. Hayden had great taste and I had considered them to be consolation prizes for the times that he wasn't around, which was pretty often as of late.
When I got off of work on Friday night, I went to the employees' bathroom to freshen up and change my clothes. I had no idea what sort of date I was about to go on with my mystery man, so I had brought a knock 'em dead (or in this case, dead-er) outfit which consisted of a sparkly, red tank top, tight, black jeans and a pair of red sneakers just in case I needed to make a quick getaway.
As soon as I walked out of the bathroom, I was greeted to a few whistles of appreciation. "What's the occasion? Got a hot date?" Cynthia Walters asked me.
"You might say that," I replied casually and strolled out of the store, too nervous about what was going to happen to enjoy the attention my outfit was getting from the guys.
I walked down the main street, looking around for any sign of the vampire and figured that maybe I should go into that alley again in case he was waiting for me there. I tried to stand in the shadows and pulled on my black, leather coat so that I could blend in as much as possible. If the vampire really could smell where I'd be, it wouldn't matter, but at the same time, I decided that I'd rather not attract much attention from any other passers-by.
I kept checking my watch, feeling pretty weird and scared about this whole ordeal. After a while, I wondered if I should go back out onto the street because at least then I could walk around and have something to do. Maybe I could window shop?
A few minutes after the sun went down, the vampire found me. "Been waiting long?" he asked me, trying to appear friendly, which came off as rather creepy instead.
"You look lovely," he said, checking me out, which was somehow even creepier.
"Thanks," I replied. "I'd say the same to you." He was wearing white jeans, a blue dress shirt that accentuated his arms and some very expensive-looking black, leather dress shoes. I almost died as I drank in his fine form. "Dammit!" I mentally scolded myself. "I have to stop thinking about him like that. He's a frigging monster for crying out loud!"
"How are your head and your hands?"
"I've been better, thanks for asking. I took some Aspirin, but I still have a slight pain in my head so I've got to take it easy for another day or two. So, where are we going? What exactly do vampires do on dates?"
"I thought that we'd go to this nearby park. Have you eaten yet?"
"There'll be a few food places on the way there that you can pick something up from if you want."
"Have you eaten?" I asked. "On second thought, I don't think I want to know." If I thought too much about the topic, I'd have lost my appetite completely.
The vampire smiled at me, enjoying my discomfort. "I'll be fine."
"I'm not going anywhere with you until you tell me your name."
"I guess that it's the least that I can do for you after what happened the other night. My name is Christopher Sinclair, but you can just call me Chris. I haven't really used my full name since my human days."
"Pleased to meet you, Chris," I said hesitantly, making sure to maintain some measure of caution.
"I've shown you mine, now show me yours."
"I'm Jessica Winters, but my friends usually call me Jessi."
"Pleased to meet you, Jessica," Chris said and kissed my hand like a gentleman. "You're still frightened by me, I can tell, but you're also fascinated and maybe even a little turned on. It's interesting."
Excerpted from Love Bites by Jennifer Green Copyright © 2011 by Jennifer Green. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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