It's getting really cold here in the UK and last week the norovirus hit our house with hurricane force. I had it first, but it's extremely contagious and since I was incubating it for a day or so beforehand, I could have infected a fair few people. Without going into details, let's just say it's very, very nasty.
I have to say, I'm constantly astonished by the people who want to read the stories I wrote for myself for so long. It's opened a new world for me, one where I get to do a bit of globetrotting, after a lifetime of travel sickness and disability, and it means I can get to visit places I've always dreamed about. Next year, as well as Romantic Times in Columbus, I'm going to Chicago for the three big miniatures fairs. I can hardly wait! So for those of you to go to either event, I'll see you there and please tell me, so we can meet. This year has seen slow but steady progress, and a consolidation of several areas, not least the new STORM series, which has fulfilled my hopes for it, and the development of the historical arena. I'm working on a new series now, but I want to make sure I get it right before I discuss it in any more detail!
Thanks for helping make a lifetime's dream come true.
Gearing up for Christmas now. I refuse to think seriously about Christmas until December arrives. In the city where I was brought up, Leicester, October mean Divali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, and they used to leave the lights up afterward, so they kind of merged with the Christmas lights later in the year. Very pretty! But it's December already and I haven't even got the tree in place.
So now for the book news.
The page for "Red Shadow" is here. http://www.jasminejade.com/ps-7828-50-red-shadow.aspx
On the historical front, the book I told you about last month, the new Triple Countess book, has been accepted. It's to be called "A Betting Chance," and features Corin, Lord Elston, and Sapphira Vardon, the daughter of a wealthy Cit, who is looking for a way out of an unwanted marriage alliance. But not in the conventional way! It's scheduled for release next April from Samhain Publishing.
I'm taking part in the new Samhain contest, which is currently being put in place. Check with http://www.thesamhellion.com for some really wicked prizes!
I was so pleased that so many of you bought "Beauty of Sunset," and accompanied me into the world of contemporary romance. I loved writing the book and I'm hoping to write another.
Red Shadow(Ania has attended a function she part-owns, suspecting that the manager is running a prostitution scam on the side. She's incognito, dressed as a waitress. Johann is looking for a contact.
Then Ania drops a tray of champagne glasses.)
Now read on.
Shocked, she moved her hand and felt the sting. Crying out, she pulled away and felt the glass scratch her hand. “Oh no!” Instinctive reaction had her bringing her hand to her mouth, sucking the side where the glass had touched.
A strong hand pulled it away. “Let me see.”
Silence surrounded them like their own island of peace. A touch, warm and strong, took her hand in a warm grasp. A male rumble of sympathy.
She knew who had her hand, who had hunkered down to help her. Tall, dark and oomph. She tried to think rationally. This man could save her from Chase recognizing her and assuming she was in on the deal. But all she could feel was his hand, warm against hers, and the slightly rough texture of his handkerchief when he pressed it against her wound. His touch shot through her senses. He drew it away and then replaced it after he’d folded it to a clean side. “It’s not so bad. You won’t need stitches.”
“Are you sure?” She had to get out of here before Maynord recognized her and blew her cover. “I think there’s a first aid guy downstairs. Maybe I should go see him.”
“I’ve done some first aid. Enough to know you’re breathing regularly, not unconscious and not bleeding to death. Look, let’s get out of here so I can treat it for you.”
That suited her perfectly.
She let her hair fall over her face, but just before she exited the ballroom, someone stood in her way. Jeanine. A quick glance showed her Chase was standing a little way off. She pivoted so he couldn’t see her face.
“I hope you realize that you needn’t bother coming back?”
She met Jeanine’s gaze and bit her lower lip, the best she could do right now to offer regret. But a tutting sound reminded her she wasn’t alone. “Could you please move aside? This woman is bleeding.”
Jeanine spared a glance at Ania’s napkin-shrouded hand. She sniffed. “We can’t have blood on the glasses. Perhaps it’s as well they were smashed. Normally I’d expect you to clear up the mess, but I suppose you’ll have to take care of your hand first. I’ll get someone else to deal with it. I’m most displeased.” She glanced at the man beside her. “You don’t have to concern yourself with this, sir. I’m so sorry about it. Since the band has just struck up, may I introduce you to a suitable partner?” She moved aside to stand in front of Chase Maynord, effectively blocking his view.
The man smiled. “I have some first aid experience and the accident was more than half my fault. I wish you would reconsider your decision to fire her.”
Jeanine’s smile was all about sex and nothing about sincerity. “I have to stand by my decision.” She paused. “Unless you would prefer to engage her services.”
Ania caught her breath. How dare this woman be so blatant? She had to get out of this fast, before Jeanine implicated her. Her heart plummeted.
Her expression must have fooled Jeanine into thinking she was in despair, because the woman put up her elegant, pointed chin and stared down her nose at her. She must have four inches advantage on Ania, especially since Ania had dumped her usual high heels in favor of flats tonight. Jeanine hadn’t, which would make her around five ten in stockinged feet.
It didn’t help to know that.
Elegant, classy women had always intimidated her. She couldn’t help what she was or that underneath lay a bullied schoolgirl who’d never quite lost her awe of the soignée seniors, but at least she’d gotten better at hiding it.
This time she didn’t try. She let her hair hang over her face and bowed her head. “I only dropped a tray.”
“I’ll have the bill for damages sent on to you.”
Then the stranger next to her surprised her. He reached into his pocket and drew out a wallet before handing Ania a couple of bills. Two hundred bucks. “If that doesn’t cover it, let me know. I was at least half to blame.” Before she could protest, which she had every intention of doing, he cupped her elbow and gave her a gentle push. “We really have to get that cut seen to. Can’t have you bleeding all over the ballroom.” He guided her out, but not before he leaned toward Jeanine and murmured, “I’ll see you later. Don’t forget.”
“No, of course not,” she replied, but they were already on their way.
They stepped into an elevator and he pushed a button, then pushed her elbow so her hand was thrust up. “Hold it up until we get there.”
He said nothing until they were out of the elevator and partway along one of the plush carpeted hallways that led to the hotel’s suites. Not a room. She chuckled low in her throat, the sound escaping before she could suppress it. “The tux really was misleading.”
With a lithe movement he pivoted to face her. She found his lopsided grin endearing. “Guess it was. Come on.” He led her halfway down then swiped a card through a slot. What surprised her was the extra level of security when he pressed his thumb against a plate on the door.
She walked in after him. “That’s not usual in hotels.”
The large room was lit by soft lights inset in the ceiling and several table lamps, two of which he flipped on when he walked across to the large windows. “Come into the bathroom,” he said.
Ania didn’t think about not doing it until he led her past the large, Spanish-style bed to the well-appointed bathroom. She’d never seen a hotel room like it. Oh she knew they existed, but this was something else. Seeing it, smelling the delicately perfumed air, feeling the soft carpeting under her feet, added to the sense of luxury.
“Sit.” The bathroom even had a chair. She was used to sitting on the toilet seat at home and she didn’t exactly live in squalor. Obediently she sat on the soft cushions covering the cane seat. He shrugged off the coat and threw it over the back of the chair. “Let’s see.”
“It’s not so bad.” It stung, but it wasn’t throbbing. She peeled off the napkin and revealed the cut.
He turned on the faucet over the sink and took the napkin from her, soaking the part that she’d left unstained. “I know. We’ll clean it up and get a bandage on it. You should be fine.”
He sounded completely unconcerned, totally unlike his attitude downstairs. As if he read her, he squatted down in front of her, taking her hand and turning it. He dabbed at the wound, wiping away the blood that made it look worse than it actually was. Ania shuddered. He paused and looked up at her. “Are you okay?”
It was worse when he looked at her, his dark eyes perceptive. Touch and sight. Now all she needed was taste. His voice was dark and velvety, his scent perfect, all soap and aftershave and pure male. And she knew she couldn’t deny her attraction. The more she pretended it wasn’t there, the worse it got and it had done so ever since she’d first met his gaze in the ballroom.
Warmth spread through her mind, as if, as if…
His smile broadened. “Yes. I wondered if you’d notice before I told you.” He examined her scratch, because that was all it was once he’d cleaned off the blood. “I’m a Talent.”
She snatched her hand back but his hold on her wrist firmed and she found herself trapped. “Why didn’t you say something before?” She tried to keep her breathing steady. She’d never knowingly been this close to a Talent before. Mythical creatures who’d been living among them all this time, vampires, shape-shifters, even merpeople. In the last year she’d seen a dragon on TV and a vampire talking calmly about his lifestyle on Larry King. And now she was staring at one. Her tension racked up to panic.
“Hey, calm down. We’re human, just like you. Just a different kind of human.”
Ania stared at the man, trying to imagine him as a different creature, changing his shape. But she couldn’t see anything other than his broad-shouldered frame. “So you say.”
He smiled. She wished he wouldn’t do that. “You know I’m in the outer part of your mind, don’t you? I read you when you dropped the tray. You didn’t want Chase to recognize you. You two got history?”
She bit her lip. “Something like that.” She didn’t trust him enough to tell him the whole truth, at least not yet. After all, she’d heard Johann arrange to meet the hag later.
“Well, he’s not available now. Jillian came back.”
She frowned. “Jillian?”
He tilted his head to one side. “An old flame. The love of his life. He thought she’d died three years ago. She hadn’t. So Chase is now a blissfully married man.” His smile twisted to one of cynicism. “Sooner him than me.”
“You don’t believe in marriage?”
“I think it’s fine—for other people.” He touched the napkin to the wound then threw it aside. “That should do. Let’s get this bandage on.”
He crossed the room, something that would take him a maximum of two steps in her small bathroom, but in this room it took five strides. She counted. He opened a cabinet and took out a small pack of bandages, selecting a couple after rejecting one or two others. Fastidious then. Fussy, even.
“Very particular,” he said as he came back to her.
“I wish you wouldn’t do that,” she said, irritated.
He looked up at her through his ridiculously thick lashes. “What?”
“Answer things I haven’t asked, only thought.”
“You should learn to control your thoughts.”
He carefully applied a bandage across one end of the long scratch. “That will sting for a couple of days.” He took the other one and peeled off the backing tape. She coughed.
She stared at him and watched fire spark in his eyes. Perhaps he was a dragon. She’d love to see a dragon for real.
He bent down and presented his hand, his mouth quirking up in a smile. “I’m Johann Kozac. Pleased to meet you.”
She took his hand in her unmarked right one. “Ania Zelinski.”
“Third generation. My grandparents came over in World War Two.”
“I was Czech, came over at about the same time as your grandparents, I guess.”
She stared at him. “I thought you were in your mid thirties. I guess it’s hard to—to—”
“You’re doing real well.” His voice softened and he reached up a hand to smooth back her wayward hair. “Is this your first close encounter with a Talent?”
“Does it bother you?”
She gave a short laugh. “I used to read a lot of fairy stories when I was a kid. So when we heard Talents did exist, it was kinda expected. I don’t know, but it didn’t come as much of a surprise as it should have done. And now we know for sure.”
“Come on.” He tugged her to her feet. “Let’s get a drink.”
“Shouldn’t you go back to the ball?” She let him draw her up and found herself disturbingly close to him. Close enough to feel the heat of his body against hers.
Instead of releasing her, he curved an arm around her waist. “My work there is done.” He stroked her waist and she felt him through her clothes as if she were naked. Disturbingly intimate. “I’ll gladly miss the rest of it.”
Red Shadow from Ellora's Cave
A Vampire For Ania
Order Page: http://www.jasminejade.com/ps-7828-50-red-shadow.aspx
Johann isn’t happy with his latest assignment for STORM. That changes when he meets Ania.
Johann and Ania ignite passion that lights up the Los Angeles sky. They can’t get enough of each other, even though Johann thinks Ania knows more than she’s telling about his quarry, the elusive Dr. Bennett.
Ania should be concentrating on her failing catering company and her sick brother, not spending her days and nights in sexual ecstasy. She just can’t stay away from Johann. When Johann introduces her to his best friend, she discovers what it’s like to have two demanding, lustful men in her bed.
She’s falling in love with Johann, even though she knows, as a vampire, his lifespan is much longer than hers. Perhaps in his arms she can discover what forever feels like. Or perhaps they’ll both die, if they don’t find Bennett before he finds them.