Book 3 of the Second Billionaire Vampire Serial
Cora Shaw was bonded to billionaire vampire Dorian Thorne twice—once by blood and again by choice. But with the death of one of her best friends, she discovers that her choice was far more dangerous than she ever expected.
Everything is falling apart, from her role in Dorian’s research to any sense of normality remaining in her ordinary life. And as the stakes keep getting higher, her wedding day grows ever closer.
Time Out of Mind is filled with pain and pleasure, lust and passion, and keeps you on the edge. It is gritty, dark, intense, shocking, addictive, raw, emotional, twisted, delicious, sexy, steamy, captivating… everything you would want in a paranormal romance book.
Be still my heart! I loved it. Ms. Black has once again dazzled us with her exceptional talent and writing ability with Time Out Of Mind! I did not think it possible, but this series just gets better and even more exciting!
This exceptional series just keeps getting better! As always there’s excitement, anticipation, love and mystery. And again, I am sitting here waiting for the next book with baited breath! I cannot say how much I appreciate reading such well-written stories, thank you for your amazing work VM Black.
“It works like this,” Jane said primly. “Beside each plate is a card with the name of the dish and a choice of rating, one to five. From this, I will determine which caterers are your favorites and will develop a possible menu for each. Then you will give me your final approval of one.”
“That’s very…practical,” I said.
“There are pens for each of you,” she said diplomatically, nodding to a pen stand at the head of the table with two identical silver pens sticking up from it. “And the maid will gather the cards when you’re done.”
A stream of maids entered with trays that were crowded with slices of cake. The small individual plates were arranged in an evenly spaced line down the table, their cards placed precisely next to them, and we were given cake forks.
The entire troupe then rolled back out of the great double doors again, shutting them with only the faintest of clicks of the latch.
I let out a breath of air. The entire thing had been accomplished in a magnificent silence, a kind of domestic choreography that I’d never before seen from Dorian’s staff.
“Well. It’s time for cakes, then,” I said, surveying the table. “I can eliminate most right now.” I flourished the pen and walked around the table, writing a big, slashing numeral one on every card that was next to a cake any flavor other than chocolate.
Dorian saw what I was doing as I marked off the one nearest him. “I believe I have read that yellow cake is the traditional type for a wedding,” he said.
“Oh, reading up on human traditions, are you?” I asked him. “Why yellow cake?”
He quirked an eyebrow. “I believe that it stands for the bride’s purity.”
I giggled. “Yeah, I don’t think we’re going to worry about that.”
“No,” he agreed. “I don’t think we will.”
I used the fork to spear a corner off the first chocolate cake, going back the other way, and took a taste. It exploded in my mouth. Citrus buttercream, I read. Chocolate ganache. Whatever. It was getting a five.
“The wedding must be like a step back as far as you’re concerned,” I said, heading to the next one. I tried it. Five. Damn.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“In your mind, we’re, well, more than married.” That one had coconut. Two.
“In your mind, we’re not.”
Queen of Sheba. Five. “Does it bother you? That it matters to me?” I asked.
“Does it bother you that it doesn’t matter to me?” he returned.
“That’s not true,” I said, marking three in succession: four, four, three. I’d made it all the way to the far end of the table, and I looked back at Dorian across its length. “It matters, or you wouldn’t have asked me.”
“As a political statement,” he granted. “And as a gift for you.”
“Which was more important?” I countered, working my way back up the table again. Devil’s Food. Four.
“Each was sufficient on its own merits,” he said.
Ouch. “That means that politics came first.” The next sponge cake tasted dry in my mouth. Two.
He dropped his voice. “My first thought was you, Cora. You and your doubts and your fears. I wanted to give you anything I could to dispel them.”
I looked up quickly, meeting his eyes, and the pain I saw there rocked me.
I said, “What I almost did, what I thought I wanted—”
He cut in. “I could give you so much more. I had given you so much more.”
“I know,” I breathed. “But I had to—have to give up so much, too. Every day. I know you don’t understand, and I know it hurts you. I can’t let you go, but it costs me so much to hold on. And it will keep costing me. Every day I look in the mirror, and I wonder when I won’t look like the girl in my graduation photo anymore.”
“You will always be Cora,” Dorian said.
“Will I? Will I even know if I’m not?” I went through the last three cakes quickly, then took a deep swallow of water.
“People change all the time. Humans, Cora—it seems to us that they are as inconstant as the wind. But those who love each other make each person into a better version of what they might be,” Dorian said. “And that’s what you do for me.”
Was it what he did for me, too? I wish I knew. Cora Shaw had never been anything special or grandly ambitious, and now…now, I was going to try to help him change the world.
Perhaps I was also my better self.
“And you also make all the wedding decisions for me, as well,” Dorian said then, lightly.
“Oh, really?” I asked, smiling despite myself. “And am I going to pick out the groomsmen’s gifts, too?”
“Of course not,” Dorian scoffed. “That’s what we have staff for.”
I laughed. “You really are incorrigible. Come on. You have to try at least one of these cakes. Some of them are fabulous.”
“Apparently, only the chocolate ones,” he said.
“Naturally.” I snagged the nearest one I’d given a score of five and pulled it over. “Just taste it,” I urged, taking a small piece on the end of my fork and leveling it temptingly near his mouth.
His eyebrows went up again, and he covered my hand with his own, steering the cake into his mouth. He chewed, swallowed.
“Well?” I asked. “How was it?”
“I’d rather taste you.”
My laugh was breathy, and on a ridiculous impulse, I hooked a gob of frosting on one finger and flicked it onto his nose.
Or at least I tried to, because he caught my wrist and took my finger into his mouth, sucking the frosting from it in a single long stroke. A small smudge of the white buttercream lay against his bottom lip. My eyes were locked on it. Even as he held my wrist pinned in his grip, I leaned across it, my tongue darting out to lick the frosting from his mouth.
And then he was kissing me hard, his tongue in my mouth, his grip on my wrist so hard that it almost hurt.
“You want me to try the cake, Cora?” he said when he broke away. “Do you really want me to try it?”
My heart was so loud in my ears that I could hardly hear my own answer because I knew exactly what he was asking. “Yes,” I breathed. “Oh, yes, I do.”
“Then convince me,” he said, letting me go all at once.
He was sitting on one of the armless chairs, turned out slightly from the table to face me. A hundred thoughts went through my mind, and I said, “I think I can do that.”