My vampire trapped on a tropical island romcom finally has a date!
You’ll be able to meet the grouchy Jareth Hale, a recalcitrant vampire lord trapped on a tropical island due to a bad bet. And Laiken, the man with sun-kissed skin who’s pure himbo, that stops Jareth dead in his tracks.
The pre-order links are already up if you want to snag this romcom earlier!
“Can I have one too, Andre?” Laiken inquired.
The name of my minor nemesis was squirreled away in a cubbyhole of my mind. The rest of my neurons were too enthralled trying to memorize the face, neck, and half a shoulder practically pressed against me. By the dancing firelight, his skin glowed not as those advertisements on the back of body oils proclaimed, but with an actual radiance casting from every pore. Though, he was far from a trussed up dandy. No one with a jaw as square as the aft of a ship could be considered so.
My vision kept darting from the hollow below his ear to the edge of his jawline. What would it take to trace my tongue down that path and nip the edge of my fangs against it?
I flushed as if Andre had read my mind instead of passing me another drink. This one I held tighter to my chest while Laiken accepted his. “Here’s to this great party!” he announced, raising his glass.
I mimicked him, and Laiken smacked his drink into mine. The dull thunk of flimsy plastic striking together barely challenged the steady beat of his heart. As I drank, my ears tuned in to that sound. The longer I listened, the more my chest ached, as if the dead organ wanted to beat in time with his.
“Oh dear, well’s run dry. Shall we?” Andre asked, tipping over the pitcher as if I were the one to blame instead of his ego. The others rose from their sandy seats around the bonfire as the group began to shamble back to the house.
One of the girls wrapped half of her body around Laiken who took a generous drink from his glass. “Come inside with me,” she demanded.
Of course. He was magnificent to gaze upon and displayed a depth of kindness I’d thought impossible in this world. No man of that cut would not have a woman at his beck and call. Flushed with foolishness at how I’d acted, I turned away to stare across the pitch-black waves. They surged back and forth across the horizon like an army cursed to never return home.
It wasn’t as if I had any amorous intentions with him. A vampire and a mortal in bed was a recipe for shattered bones and punctured organs. I could still have him as dinner instead of for, if I waited my turn. After he’d spent himself with a woman seemed the perfect time to strike. Why should I even care what his intentions were?
“In a minute,” Laiken said, startling me. I twisted around and he caught my eye. A smile began aimed at me, but he turned it on her. “The night’s too perfect to leave just yet.”
She tossed her hair off a shoulder then flounced after the others, leaving me completely alone with the man from the beach. All of my machinations led to this moment. I wrapped my hands tighter to my red cup, crinkling the plastic inward as I swallowed my inhibitions and spoke to Laiken, “Do you like…sand?”
Jesus Christ. I slammed the cup to my mouth, trying to stop the mass of other idiotic questions flying from my lips. Some still came, bubbling up in the fruity concoction which I could only then drink down.
Laiken laughed and stared down at his legs. I did the same, discovering calves that’d have caused Renaissance sculptures to weep for days. “Sand seems to like me.”
“It does find a way to wiggle into the most inopportune areas on the body,” I said.
“Yeah, and it gets in all the cracks too!”
After the riveting sand conversation, our dialogue fell to stillness. Only the roll of the waves washed over us both staring out across the ocean. I kept glancing to the side, watching and waiting for the man to realize he’d made a terrible mistake and run inside to join his friends. Not that I could blame him. Being trapped in a conversation with myself sounded like damnation.
I finished off the last of my second drink. As it trailed down my throat, the burn softened to the sensation of warm butterflies brushing against my body. He had no reason to remain out here, no reason to even be attending my pathetic attempt at socializing.
“Thank you,” I whispered. When the sincerity in my voice reached me, I nearly flung myself into the sea.
“For the coconut,” I tacked on quickly, my lips knotted in a smile of mirth.
Laiken raked a hand through his hair and he nodded. “Happy to help. They do a lot of coconut parties where you’re from?”
“Not particularly. There aren’t many coconuts…or parties.” The last time I’d been surrounded by so many people they were trying to wrench my head off to boil it in lemons. Folklore had some strange ideas on vampires. “I’m afraid I’m quite out of my depths on this endeavor.”
“Really? Cause this one’s great. Look at all those happy people!” He gestured toward the house where I was able to spot a handful of couples laughing on the deck and one person on the roof vomiting over the side.
“Is that all it takes? Food and vino to placate the masses into a happy stupor?”
“Music helps too,” Laiken said honestly and it caused me to bark out a laugh.
“True. The beat is infectious, if not bone-crushingly loud.”
“That’s the best kind. You feel it all over.” He ran his hands from his exposed chest down his strong waist and over his thighs.
“I want to feel you all over.”
“Huh?” Laiken stared at me and I slapped a hand to my mouth. That was not spoken aloud. I’d thought it. Surely. What was in that drink?
My body tried to crumple into a heap while my legs remained rooted in the sand. Escape, flee, mesmerize him to forget what happened. The last seemed the best option. I took step closer, prepared to fool his mind, only for Laiken to turn to me and hold out his hand.
“You wanna dance?”
With you? And me? Our bodies swaying and sweeping practically against each other to an enchanting beat?
“That sounds…” Liquid courage intoxicating the blood in my system caused me to reach for his hand to take it.