Entangled Publishing is celebrating the holidays with 25 Days of Holiday Steals. Every day they’re spotlighting a special steal of a deal from December 1st through December 25th. So be sure to check back each day to see what special offer is up for grabs!
Sometimes the holidays totally bite...
This Christmas, Mara Livingston is determined to start over. But as she's driving to her “new” home, a freak winter storm forces her off the road. Now she's stranded in the middle of nowhere. Then he shows up. And there's something strangely familiar about him...
Connor Reese never expected to see Mara again. Nor is he prepared for the onslaught of emotions―including an unimaginable rush of desire―she stirs within him. Now he has a chance to claim the woman he's always wanted. Except, there are a couple of small details that Mara doesn't know. The first is that Connor is a vampire. And the second is that if his family finds out about Mara, she will most certainly be killed...
Conner Reese gazed down at Mara.
The woman who had haunted his dreams for nearly a decade was face down in the snow in front of his secret hideaway. After one dance at a wedding eight years before, he never expected to see her again.
The growling wolves were more important than his reminiscence, though. An intense need to protect the dark- haired woman overcame him. He stepped forward to face the beasts in challenge. He hissed like a snake and felt fire burn within his belly, blood pulsing through his veins as a primal rage clouded his mind.
Obviously fate brought her to his door tonight, and no wolf would take that away from him now.
He reached for a nearby branch and snapped it off the tree. It was thick as a baseball bat. He swung, hitting the closest wolf so hard it sailed across the snow, landing yards away. The second wolf hunched down, creeping forward with fangs piercing through the darkening night. He leapt, but Conner was quicker. The branch connected even more soundly than the first time. The wolf yelped as snapping bones echoed around him. It dropped onto the fresh snow, dead. The third wolf, the brightest one, fled. Dropping the branch, he knelt down and collected Mara into his arms.
It had been a long time since he held a woman. The softness of her curves and the sweet fragrance of her body were as maddening as he remembered. He closed his eyes, searching for the calm within the storm of his thoughts. How could this woman stir emotions in him so raw after such a long time? Why did he feel as if he'd known her for more than just one dance?
He stared down at her pale face, then examined her body. She wore a winter jacket that would have been fine in a tropical climate, but not in weather like this. She had to be frozen solid. He quickened his steps. He needed to get her warm and check her for injuries.
Pulling her closer, the palm of his hand rested alongside her soft breast. His body warmed. A tight lump formed at the back of his throat. He swallowed it down.
After kicking open the front door, he hurried inside and placed Mara on the cushioned leather chair beside the roaring fire he kept blazing every night. He didn't use much electricity tucked away in the middle of nowhere, but he always had a fire to keep warm.
He stripped off her jacket, and her soaked shoes and socks. He would have undressed her completely if not for the simple fact that he was already having trouble keeping it together with her in his living room.
He rushed to his room and yanked the comforter from the bed, then returned and wrapped it around her for extra warmth. Then he retrieved a damp towel and dabbed at her brow. The scent of her blood stirred him as it soon soaked the cloth. He tossed it aside. He'd take care of the rest of the blood later. At least the wound didn't look life threatening.
He pulled the ottoman closer and propped her legs up, noticing how swollen her ankle had already become. He placed a pillow underneath her foot, then went to the kitchen and threw some ice cubes into a plastic baggy. He made his way back to her with superhuman speed and delicately covered the tender area with the makeshift ice pack.
A wave of satisfaction flared inside him knowing he'd protected her and made her as comfortable as he could.
He leaned against the arm of the chair and watched her, guarding her like a treasure. The soft glow of the fire danced over her sun-warmed brown hair. A different style than he remembered. Still beautiful.
When Conner had last seen her, she wore it back in a tight bun for an elegant, sexy look. Now it flowed around her freely and bright. He preferred it this way. His fingers itched to caress the softness of those stands, curl it around his fist, haul her up against him to devour her mouth. She would taste exquisite. Her blood would taste exquisite.
He'd never forgiven himself for passing up the opportunity to taste her all those years ago. Now she, against all odds, appeared at his doorstep, states away from their homes. He'd come to these woods to escape the outside world, the one filled with bitter memories and resentment. She'd found him nonetheless.
Even his covenant didn't know where to find him. That had been the idea. Vampires tended to live in larger cities. Easier to find food. They didn't come to the outskirts of Amarillo. That was the main reason he'd chosen the place. He wanted to be alone.
But now a woman he desired in a raw, astonishing way was in his chair. So much for being alone.
No matter what he felt for her—had felt for her—his decision was made long ago. His last lover was dead, and in many ways, so was he. He couldn't take that pain again. To keep Mara safe, to keep everyone safe, he would never share his secret again.
The prickle of emotions burned the back of his eyelids. He blinked and bit the inside of his cheek, finding comfort in the twinge of pain that distracted him. He wasn't meant to love again. He was meant to be left alone. Forever.
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