Ready for an excerpt break? We know we are! Today we've got a treat for you, Virna DePaul's Turned, a intriguing vampire romance. It's the story of FBI Agent and vampire Ty, who's trying to recruit ex-gang member Ana to join Belladonna, a secret agency that monitors vampires. RT reviewer Melanie promises a crisp narrative and stellar pacing. Want to take a peek? Read on, vampire fans!
Ty strode out of Ana’s coffee shop and kept walking despite the strong urge to go back to her. To kiss her again. To do far more to her soft lips, her slick tongue, and her warm, fragrant body.
Lust the likes of which he’d never felt before, even during the first two months of his transition, was riding him hard, making him nearly dizzy. When he’d first been turned, his lust had been for sex, regardless of who it was with. Now, his lust seemed reserved for Ana alone.
Shaking, he headed toward the flat he’d rented. It was across the street from Ana’s house, so that he could easily keep her under surveillance. Thankfully, the more distance he put between himself and the coffee shop, the calmer he seemed to get. Within minutes, although he still ached to have her, he no longer felt like he was going to die if he didn’t. His surroundings, rather than his desire for Ana, became his focus.
Since it was past midnight, the streets were quiet. Eventually, the trendier neighborhood where Ana worked gave way to a seedier part of the city, one where gunshots and sirens weren’t uncommon and some streets were virtually abandoned. Ty’s flat—-apartment, he reminded himself—-was nothing to brag about. It was on the top floor of an anonymous three--story brick building with a clear view of Ana’s little house. Carly had paid the rent in advance for several months, although Ty had no plans to be there that long. The renting agent was glad to take the cash and asked no questions, handing over the keys and assuring Ty that there was no extra charge for the furniture.
One tug on the greasy string dangling from the bare--bulb light fixture in the ceiling and he’d seen why. The previous tenant had left only a beat--up sofa and a rickety table and chair. There was a hot plate. Shabby digs, but all he needed for the temporary stakeout. Dragging cumbersome items from a van into the building would have attracted attention, something Ty wanted to avoid.
He’d braced the table so it could safely hold his surveillance monitors. The rest of his gear—-flash drives and micro-engineered spy stuff, including items designed specifically for Ana—-weighed next to nothing.
He slouched comfortably into the chair in front of the monitors, touching a few keys to adjust certain settings. A half hour later, she arrived home.
For a second, Ana looked straight into a tiny camera she didn’t know was there.
Ty sat up, mesmerized by the catlike wariness in her brown eyes. He was relieved when she looked away. She moved around inside her house, her expression calm.
Ana was a natural beauty. Thin gold hoops were her only jewelry, piercing plump little earlobes that he wanted very much to nip. With flawless light caramel skin, she didn’t need makeup and she didn’t seem to use any besides eyeliner. Her fine features and dark, winglike brows had a delicate symmetry, unlike her full mouth. Her lips were luscious, the lower noticeably more full than the upper. Made for kissing.
And that body was made for loving. Ana was petite and slender in an athletic way, with small breasts he longed to caress and a shapely ass that filled out her jeans. All that combined with her long, dark brown hair had him aching for her.
She went into her bathroom and shut the door. Not that she had a roommate or a lover who might barge in. Ty had satisfied his curiosity on that score after hours of surveillance. Just as she kept to herself at the coffee shop, Ana lived alone and seemed to like it that way. Then again, it made sense that anyone who’d been in prison would come out with a compulsive need for privacy.
After a few minutes, he could just see wisps of steam curling around the edges of the door. Hot shower.
Thinking about what she looked like naked and wet made him a candidate for a cold one.
Frustrated, he leaned back, tipping the chair so that the two front legs rose from the floor. A sharp creak brought him quickly back down. He stood, bending to lift the loose floorboard where he’d hidden a compact nylon zip bag filled with several forms of ID and a reserve smartphone.
Ty was a true believer in backup, especially during a solo stakeout. He took out the zip bag to check on the contents. Even with the high--tech locks he’d installed on the door and windows, it wouldn’t do to be too cocky. Not in this neighborhood.
Everything was there. Real and fake driver’s licenses and passports, and several government--issued picture IDs.
His British passport was no more than a sentimental token by this point. He hadn’t been back in more than a decade. The picture resembled his father at the same age, a secret agent himself, but for MI6.
No one had known about Gil Duncan’s double life. He had been born into wealth and its attendant privileges, turning himself into a master of spy craft simply for the thrill of it.
Ty, his mother, and his sister, Naomi, scarcely saw him for months on end. They lived in luxury, but explanations for the absences were never forthcoming, and depression became a way of life for his mother, with her spending more and more time in bed, barely able to take care of herself let alone her kids. Just before Ty moved from London to the United States to attend university, his father had told him about his double life and advised him to get a desk job. To raise a family and spend time with them. To reject secrecy.
Too little and too late.
One learns what one lives. Ty knew that all too well.
Two months after his mother died, Ty was recruited stateside. Of course, his father hadn’t approved. Not that it was any of his bloody business. Ty could have forgiven the way his old man had treated him, but the way he’d ignored his mother’s and sister’s needs, leaving the burden of their care to Ty? He couldn’t forgive Gil for that. They were still estranged. Ty being a vampire simply made it a thousand times more likely they’d remain so.
He put the nylon bag back into its hiding place and glanced at the monitor. The steam was still curling out from around the closed bathroom door.
Ty forced away thoughts of his father, guilt about his own failings when it came to Naomi, and pleasurable fantasies of joining Ana. He went to the window and absently looked through the slatted blinds. When his mind continued to spin with images of death and blood and sex, he cursed. He had to get out—-and walk faster than he could think.
On his way out, he took a last glance at the lighted windows of Ana’s house. Given how serious she seemed about leaving her past behind, he marveled that she’d chosen such a dangerous neighborhood to live in. Then again, she didn’t have much choice. Since she was an ex--felon, it had been a miracle she’d gotten a small business loan to start her coffee shop. After she paid her expenses, there was barely anything left for rent. Even so, she was making a life for herself, one symbolized all too well by the small house she kept well tended and freshly painted despite the punks who frequently vandalized it and the dilapidated shacks surrounding it.
She was trying so hard to be something better than what she’d been; he couldn’t help wonder—-was he really going to fuck all that up for her?
Carly swore that wasn’t going to happen. She insisted that although Ana was going to be risking a lot to help them, she’d get what she really needed in the end—-the better life she’d been seeking, but one unhindered by an unhealthy attachment to her sister, who was also living under an assumed name—-Helena Esperanza. Ty hoped that would be the result, but despite Carly’s optimistic spin on things, he felt that a happily--ever--after probably wasn’t in store for Ana any more than it was for him. He’d damn well do everything in his power to protect her and the other female recruits, but he knew better than most that sometimes there were things you couldn’t protect against, things far worse than dying.
Unfortunately, Carly was right about the fact that they needed Ana. All their attempts to get inside Salvation’s Crossing had failed, including Ty posing as a wealthy man interested in funding Hispanic rights activities. His cover was extensive and airtight. Anyone checking into Ty Nunes would find ample documentation of his birth, privileged childhood, and even more privileged adulthood. There were several articles on the Web identifying him as a billionaire with a social conscience. There were also tons of pictures of him with gorgeous girls on his arm, hanging out with celebs, paparazzi flashing away. As far as Salvation’s Crossing should be concerned, Ty the famous philanthropist was a reality.
Even so, he hadn’t even gotten a return phone call or thank--you--for--your--interest email telling him politely to go to hell.
Because of Ana’s background and—-though it was unknown to her—-her connection to the cult, she could ultimately be the key to Belladonna getting inside.
One month from now, the public leader of Salvation’s Crossing, Miguel Santos, aka Miguel Salvador, the man who’d first introduced Ana to gang life, was going to make a rare public appearance at a fund--raiser for the Hispanic Community Alliance.
An event that Ty hoped Ana would attend as his date. Miguel’s failure to respond to Ty’s phone calls and emails signaled suspicion. With Ana on his arm, maybe, just maybe, Ty would be able to convince Salvador that not only was he interested in Hispanic rights, but that he was a trustworthy vampire interested in a new food supply line, as well.
It wasn’t a foolproof plan, but the only alternative would be full--scale covert ops and forced entry. Given Belladonna’s limited numbers and resources, as well as the FBI’s instructions to keep their missions—-their very existence—-on the down low, that wasn’t going to happen.
Ana was their best chance of getting what they needed.
He couldn’t help himself. Despite the fact that his body had finally started to calm, he deliberately conjured the memory of the kisses they’d shared.
Kissing her hadn’t just been about shaking her up or capitalizing on the attraction he sensed she felt for him. It hadn’t been about coercing her into agreeing to work for Belladonna. No, despite his resolve to remain clean—-to drink only animal blood and refrain from having sex—-he wanted her. Wanted her more than he’d ever wanted anything. Wanted her enough to kiss her not just once, but twice. And he’d barely been able to stop himself from doing it again.
Just like that, the memory of kissing Ana caused Ty’s lust for her to return with a vengeance. His hands and teeth began to clench as he fought the strong urge to turn around and retrace his steps. He needed to find Ana. He needed to do more than just kiss her. He needed to mark her and make her his.
Mark her by biting her neck and drinking her blood.
Make her his by taking her, over and over again, until no one could deny the truth of their connection.
His primal reaction confused him. Scared him.
Six months ago he’d been a man. A human. He’d under-stood himself.
Now, he didn’t know where the line between Ty, the former human, and Ty, the vampire, was drawn. Was there even a distinction? His brief moments of closeness to Ana had triggered his vampire urges, but apparently being away from her did the very same thing.
His fangs unsheathed. He groaned and staggered, nearly coming to his knees.
His body shook as if he were caught in the throes of a major earthquake, and determinedly, he placed one foot in front of the other, pressing forward.
Instinctively, as he felt the power of the monster within him growing, Ty walked faster. He was crossing the street when a wave of dizziness hit him.
He suddenly felt parched. Starving. His stomach began to cramp, threatening to eat him alive from the inside out. He’d felt this feeling before. He knew what it meant.
His lust for Ana had triggered more than his vampire need for sex. It had triggered his need for blood, as well. Human blood.
Damn it, no. He wasn’t fully vampire, he told himself. Part of him was still human, and if he wanted to keep that part of him alive, he had to maintain control. He had to hurry . . .
There were several bottles of animal blood in the flat’s fridge. He increased his speed. He was almost there when a shout came from behind him. He whipped around. A homeless man reeking of alcohol stumbled down the street. Fresh wounds were visible on his forearms and legs. He was bleeding, and the scent of that blood drifted on the wind and embedded itself in Ty’s nostrils.
Ty stumbled back. “No,” he whispered. “No.” But even as he said the words, he sucked in another whiff of the guy’s scent and trembled.
“Hey . . . hey, man,” the man called out. “Can you spare some change?”
Ty opened his mouth to say no again. A hiss came out instead.
The man’s eyes widened with fear and Ty felt that same fear take hold of him.
Before Ty knew it, he was moving toward the stranger. Not walking. Not even running. But barreling toward him with inhuman speed.
The smell of the man’s blood and his dark memories combined with his interaction with Ana, his hunger for her, called forth his deepest primal urges, the ones that he normally kept controlled by sheer force of will. He opened his mouth. Barely managed to choke out, “Run. Get out of here.”
Luckily, the homeless man heard him and didn’t question the command. He turned. Tried to flee.
But that, unfortunately, only made Ty’s predatory instincts kick into higher gear.
Blood. He has the blood you want. The blood you need.
Get it. Get him.
Before Ty knew it, he’d dragged the man between two buildings and had him trapped against a wall face-first, the same way Ana had trapped him earlier. But instead of letting him turn around, instead of backing away the way she had, Ty punched his fangs into the man’s neck and began to drink.
The whimper that escaped Ty was one of despair but it quickly turned into satisfaction. The metallic bitterness of the man’s blood was an explosion of nirvana on his tongue.
He drank. And drank. And drank.
With every swallow, thoughts of his human life vanished.
He lost himself in the pleasure of drinking blood how it was meant to be drunk, fresh from the vein. From a warm body. From a human who was weaker than him . . . a human who was meant to serve him . . .
Ty gasped, horrified enough by his thoughts that he somehow found the strength to pull his fangs out of the man’s throat. The sound of a car backfiring and distant shouts made him jerk and look wildly around him, but there was no one in sight. Didn’t mean someone wouldn’t show up soon and discover him. Discover what he’d done . . .
With a shudder, Ty returned his attention to the man he still held. As soon as he’d bitten him, the man had gone compliantly silent and even now dangled in his arms. Ty stared at him, his previous thoughts echoing in his ears. The way he’d thought of the man as a mere human, as something weak and existing only for his own benefit, had him stumbling back, his arms falling to his sides.
The man crumpled to the ground, groaning. Blood trickled from the puncture wounds in his neck, but Ty could hear his heart thudding and his blood flowing. He was okay. Ty would leave him here, and the man would never know what had happened. At most, he’d assume he’d been so drunk he’d hallucinated a feral monster attacking him . . .
Shakily, Ty swiped his sleeve across his mouth, noting the light streaks of blood there. He expected himself to throw up, because his thoughts had indeed sickened him. Instead of puking his guts out, however, he felt a renewed energy and vitality zipping through his veins. His senses, already heightened, became even more acute. This was what was intoxicating. Addicting. Even more than the taste of the blood itself, how could anyone resist this feeling of strength? Of sheer power?
He could feel the moisture in the air changing, telling him it would rain before dawn. He could see the fleas on the cat that balanced on a Dumpster thirty feet away.
And he could smell . . .
He took a deeper breath.
He could smell someone approaching. His mind screamed at him to run. With a final glance at the homeless man he’d terrorized and a muttered curse, Ty obeyed.
Ready to read it all? Turned hits stores on April 1. In the meantime, why not visit our Everything Paranormal page, for more bloodsucking good reads?