The First Episode of the Hit Billionaire Vampire Serial
Introducing a world in which vampires are born, not made….
She wanted life. He needed her blood.
Cora Shaw will do anything to live. Diagnosed with terminal cancer in her senior year of college, she is given a choice: Call hospice, or seek out a mysterious man who promises an impossible–and insanely dangerous–cure.
She knows him only as Mr. Thorne, a reclusive billionaire whose very touch fills her mind and body with reckless cravings. A man with strange, impossible powers over her, who can turn even the darkest pain into intense pleasure.
A man, she discovers, who is not a man at all.
I cried, laughed and melted whilst reading this first book of Cora and Mr Thorne’s story!
This story is riveting and I could not put it down- it grabbed me from the beginning then reeled me in. It will have you craving more! I can not wait for the next installment!!!
Paranormal romance books are a dime a dozen these days, so it’s rare to find … one that is well-edited, has a great hook for the story, and ‘talks’ to you like you’re the adult that you are. It’s refreshing to read a novel that offers all of these things in one pretty package.
Shadows crowded in the corners of Mr. Thorne’s office, spilling toward the center of the room. The marble tile of the rest of the office gave way to elegant parquet here, scattered with rugs that were worth every penny of my student loans and more. Oils of hunting scenes hung on the paneled walls, and the ceiling, at least a dozen feet above my head, was intricately coffered.
No, it didn’t seem much like a biotech company at all.
“Ah, Ms. Shaw.” The voice came from the shadows at the far end of the room. It was rich, low, and dark with some private humor.
I stepped forward, feeling the heat rise in my cheeks. “Cora,” I offered.
“Yes, I know. Please, take a seat.”
I could make out the shape of the man behind the enormous, gleaming desk, but the discreet lighting seemed designed to conceal his face. Two massive armless chairs crouched on lion’s paw feet in the center of another thick rug. Cautiously, I took one, sitting on the very edge of the brocaded seat. The recessed light above me shone directly into my eyes. I squinted to see beyond it and could only get the impression of wide shoulders and dark hair.
“Mr. Thorne, I’m sorry. I think there must have been some kind of mistake,” I began.
“There has been no mistake.” That voice again—warm and amber. It was effortlessly intimate while being entirely polite.
I shivered slightly and wished that the door to the reception room was still open.
“I have your medical record here, Ms. Shaw,” the man continued. Hands emerged from the shadows—strong and masculine, with long blunt fingers. He flipped open the laptop in front of him with a carelessly graceful gesture, and in the sudden glow, I could make out his features.
I swallowed hard. His black hair swept immaculately to the side, and his long jaw and broad forehead were balanced by an elegant, slightly aquiline nose. His face seemed a little too symmetrical, almost artificially so, like it belonged to the paintings on the walls instead of to a living, breathing man.
I wished suddenly that the lush rug under my feet could swallow me up.
“Cora Ann Shaw. T-cell prolymphocytic leukemia. Terminal. Is that correct?”
The cold summary hit me like a blow. I opened my mouth, and for a moment nothing came out. He raised his gaze to meet mine. His eyes were icy blue, and they seemed to look right through me.
“Yes,” I breathed. “That’s right. Dr. Robeson said you could help me.”
“You must understand that you are first required to pass the initial tests,” he said, his brow low and stern.
“I understand,” I said, even though I didn’t.
Mr. Thorne opened a drawer and took out a small black case. He stood and circled the desk until he stood above me, so close that I might have reached out and touched the hem of his pinstripe suit jacket. He was, I thought, quite tall.
He set the case on the edge of the desk and unzipped it, opening it to reveal a kind of blood collection kit. I sat up straighter. With the last round of medication, I’d become used to regular injections, but I still wouldn’t say that I was exactly blasé about needles.
And anyhow, blood collection? In an office? That was…unconventional.
“The results of the screening will indicate if you are a good candidate for the procedure,” Mr. Thorne said. He selected a needle from the array inside the case, locking it into a holder. “But you must know, even if the outcome is encouraging, the treatment is only successful in a small minority of cases.”
“How small?” I asked, as much to distract myself from his preparations as out of a desire to know the answer. I could always Google for details later.
“One in a hundred,” he said. “Perhaps less.”
“Oh,” I said in a little voice. “That is small.”
“And if the procedure is unsuccessful, it always results in death,” he continued.
“Wait, what?” What the hell kind of procedure was that? “So a one percent chance of cure, and a ninety-nine percent chance of death? That doesn’t sound like smart odds to me.”
He looked up from the needle. His gaze pierced me, his eyes deep and hollow under his straight black brows. As handsome as he was, he didn’t exactly look the picture of health, either. “What are your chances now?”
I opened my mouth, then shut it. My chances were exactly nil. Put that way, gambling on an outside chance didn’t seem quite so insane.
“That is why we only select terminal patients,” he said, pulling out a glass blood collection tube.
“What about relapse?” I demanded. As a cancer patient, I’d learned that the disease could lurk in my body for months or years, undetectable until it spread out again to kill me.
“There is no risk of relapse. If you are cured, you are cured.” That mesmerizing gaze caught me again. “Forever.”
He dropped to one knee next to my chair, and my heart did an unexpected backflip. Oh, God, he was a beautiful man, more beautiful than he had any right to be. I tried to think about something else, anything else, because this certainly wasn’t the right kind of response of a patient to her doctor. But this close, I could smell his cologne, all sandalwood, leather, and musk, and my mind refused to obey my order to find something else to dwell on. Pink elephants, pink elephants, pink elephants….
How old was he? I wondered. He carried the authority of an older man, but this close, I could see that his pale skin was almost inhumanly flawless, not so much young as…perfect.
At least it was too dark for him to see my furious blush.
He held out a hand. I stared at it for a moment before I realized that he wanted my arm.
“Shouldn’t you be wearing gloves?” I asked.
“I am not at risk of blood contamination,” he said, sounding unaccountably amused.
For some reason, I believed him, even though I had no reason to. I gave him my arm, inner wrist facing upwards. His fingers touched my skin, cool and commanding, as he slid the sleeve of my sweater up to bare the crease of my elbow. It sent a deep shiver through me, a tightening in my center that made me blush even harder. My jacket slipped from my lap to crumple on the floor between us. I tried not to look at him, but I could not stop myself from staring at the top of his head with such intensity that I was half-surprised that his impeccably combed hair didn’t combust.
He’s about to stick you with a needle, you idiot, I snarled at myself. Don’t you have any sense or dignity at all?
He looked up at me, one side of that delicious mouth quirking, and my breath tangled in my lungs. No, no I don’t, I thought distantly. No sense or dignity at all.
Mr. Thorne wiped the inside of my elbow with an alcohol-soaked swab. The smell of evaporating ethanol turned my stomach a little.
“It won’t hurt,” he said, discarding the swab and taking up the needle. “I promise.”
I started to protest such an absurd claim, but just then, the needle met the skin above my vein. Something else happened at the same moment—some sensation that came from the touch of his hand against my wrist. It spiraled outward, up my arm and deep into my center, rippling back up into my head so suddenly that I gasped. The needle pushed through my skin at the same moment that a heady wave welled up to carry the pain of the needle and turn it into a deep, twisting sensation that sent my heart racing as heat flooded my groin.
I stared at the needle in my arm as the shivering reaction swept over me. My skin was burning, my body flushed against the impossible coolness of his fingers. The blood collection tube was almost full. Swiftly, Mr. Thorne pulled it free, then slipped the needle from my vein.
“No—” I said involuntarily as the sensation was cut off. I needed—I needed it back. I needed him.
What was wrong with me?
I turned my bewildered gaze to Mr. Thorne. His face was still as pale as ivory, but there was a dark glitter in his hooded eyes that matched my need and sent my heart skittering out of control.
“What did you do to me?” I whispered.
“You would say yes,” he said, the dark hunger of his voice tinged with an infinite sadness as he stood and discarded the used needle, setting the blood collection tube upon the desk. “If I told you right now that I knew you would die, you would still say yes.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said, even as my body said, I would say yes—to anything, anything at all…
He bent over me, and I tried not to notice the scent of him. He touched the bead of blood that had formed upon the needle’s exit. I could hear his breathing now—irregular as mine had become. With the tip of his forefinger, he scooped up the droplet, holding it suspended just as he held me with the force of his regard.
A shudder went through his frame, and he curled his fingers into a fist, smearing the blood across his palm. Suddenly, he seemed to grow, as if some darkness were uncurling inside him, extending past the limits of flesh and bone.
“Go,” he ground out. “Go now, before I damn my best intentions.”
It was as if some invisible bonds that had been holding me to my chair had been broken. I sprang up, snatched up my jacket, and fled, banging through the tall mahogany doors and not stopping until I jabbed the down button on the elevator.
“Goodbye, Miss Shaw,” the secretary said unconcernedly from behind her desk. “You can expect the results within a week.”
The door slid open, and I stumbled into the elevator compartment, slapping at the ground floor button frantically until the doors finally, reluctantly closed.