Thanks so much to the Naughty Author Chicks for allowing me stop by today and introduce you to Arran MacLain. I hope you enjoy getting a little sneak peek into the mysterious and dark mind of the vampire whose story brings us Dark Desires at Midnight, A Warriors of the Enclave novel, book two.
Here we go.
I'm excited, and I must admit, a little on edge tonight. I've been granted a few rare minutes alone to talk with Arran MacLain. He's agreed—as long as it's something he's willing to answer—to an interview. Mr. MacLain walked out on the Enclave two years ago, and I'm itching to get his side of the story.
I've located him in a town called Fairfield, South Carolina. The city is like any small college community in the south. It's riddled with clubs and bars that cater to the out of town kids who want to have a good time away from mom and dad. I've found the vampire on the outskirts of Fairfield in one the seedier bars. A kind of place that one would hope mom and dad didn't find out that their precious baby frequented. At the rear of the bar, I find Arran palming a beer bottle, sitting in a booth with his back to the wall. I couldn't imagine, Enclave warrior or not, he ever sat any other way.
JL: "May I sit?" I brush my hand across the high back of the booth opposite the vampire.
AM: "Your time to kill—or waste. However you want to look at it."
JL: Nice. I ease into the seat, unable to believe I was once more sitting across from an actual vampire. Kenric St. James, Arran's former master of the Enclave, had been larger than life, fierce, with an aura of power that could make you pee your pants, if he so desired. Arran on the other hand, while just as large and fierce, had this bad boy look that made you want to forget your better judgment. Like a wild tiger, he appeared so deadly, yet so gorgeous at the same time that it was almost impossible to control the urge to reach out to him. You want to be the one who tamed the beast. To be the only one he allowed to touch him. "So…Arran. It's okay to call you Arran?"
AM: "That's my name."
JL: I cleared my throat before continuing, "Right. I appreciate you agreeing to talk to me tonight."
AM: "Why not. It's not like you're in my head, nosing around all the time anyway." He lifted the green Heineken and tilted it to his lips.
JL: "True." I couldn't help but smile. "But I wanted to hear it from you why you walked on the Enclave—the real reason. You know, the one you keep barricaded behind some wall inside your head. What are you hiding from me, Arran?"
AM: The beer bottle, gripped tight inside his palm, made a slow descent back to the table. Sage green eyes pinned me in a stare before Arran raised his opposite hand, threaded his fingers through his shoulder-length blond hair, and pushed one side back and away from his face.
"You know enough." His words came out more like a rumbled threat than a statement. "Don't go digging around in things that aren't your business." He leaned forward, elbows brushing the table and framing his Heineken. "You know what's been said about Pandora's Box…" One blond brow lifted, and he gave a slight tilt of his head.
JL: But I wasn't about to back down. I'd obviously struck a nerve. So, what would be the only thing to make a man—vampire—who'd probably seen more death and battle than any human male, become unsettled by a simple question? Ah, of course: a woman. It had to be, because if his reason for leaving had centered solely on his traitorous former partner, then why wouldn't he want to bend my ear about the asshole. No, this smelled like a case of a man who was distancing himself from a woman. And of course that woman had to be the beautiful brunette human who he'd saved from a vicious vampire attack seven years ago, and who had continued after the fact to work for the Enclave.
"So why did you feel the need to leave Gabrielle Stevens?"
Something flashed across Arran's features and then it was gone. Replaced by a stoic mask. But I knew it hadn't been my imagination. Was it sorrow? Regret? The expression had lasted for barely a second; it was hard to tell which emotion. But it had been there long enough to confirm my suspicions.
AM: "You don't know what the hell you're talking about." He retraced his movements, propped one arm along the back of the black vinyl bench, and wrapped his other hand back around his beer.
JL: "I think I do. Why now, Arran? After everything that's happened over the past seven years, why would you walk away? I know you care about her. Heck, everyone knows you care about her. So why aren't you there, fighting for her, instead of leaving her for some other male to claim?" An explosion of glass had me jumping in my seat and my heart slamming against my chest. I dropped my gaze to the table and found the shattered remains of Arran's Heineken. Shit. Slowly, I dragged my attention away from his fist and where a few small drops of blood had already fallen from his hand and stained the puddle of beer that drenched Arran's side of the wood. When my gaze finally made it to his face, I could hear my heart pounding in my ears. Arran's eyes swirled with fire, and the tips of his fangs now glinted beneath his upper lip.
AM: "Leave it alone, Jessica," he growled. "For everyone's sake, leave it alone."
JL: I swallowed back the lump in my throat and pressed forward one more inch. "You care, or you wouldn't be this upset."
AM: "Yes, I care!" he snapped. "That's why I'm fucking here, and she's there." He shook the remnants of glass from his hand and then grabbed a couple of napkins from the end of the table. With his head lowered, he jammed them into liquid and glass mixture. "Interview over."
He didn't give me another glance. I'd been dismissed.
Well that was certainly an interview I won't soon forget. Arran MacLain, up close and personal, was everything and more that I'd anticipated: dark, brooding, and sexy as hell. Desire to Die For, book one, brought us Kenric and Emily's love story.
Dark Desires at Midnight is Arran and Gabrielle's.
Arran MacLain is a vampire on a suicide mission, driven to kill his former partner who betrayed him and the Enclave they served. But two things stand in his way: Gabrielle, the human female who holds his heart, and the past that won’t let him go. If only death was enough to cleanse his soul.
Gabrielle Steven’s sister is missing. Her hunt for clues brings her face to face with the one vampire she can’t forget. Their missions combine and thrust them into the heart of evil. Will their passion be enough to overcome the pain from their past, or will their dark desires destroy them both?
Arran rolled his Ninja into the parking lot beside Gabrielle’s car and killed the engine. She’d taken the newsflash about Markus and Marguerite pretty much like he’d expected. She’d mumbled an oath of determination right before she’d kicked him out of the car. Gabrielle wasn’t a member of the Enclave in name only. It didn’t matter that she didn’t work patrol. Gabrielle was as much a warrior as any of the males. Life hadn’t dealt her any favors. And she wasn’t one to lie down and let it bulldoze over her. She stood and fought for every inch of ground gained.
He waited for her to get out of the car, then removed his helmet.
“You didn’t need to follow me home,” she said over her shoulder, heading for the front door of her sister’s townhouse. He was surprised when she’d led him here instead of a hotel. The place must have belonged to her sister. He palmed his keys, slid off his bike, and shoved the keys in his pocket.
“I wasn’t going to let you leave alone after the info I just dumped on you,” he said as he came up behind her while she unlocked the door. “I wanted to make sure you got home safe. And I wanted to be sure you actually went home.”
“Oh my God, you can be such an ass sometimes.” Her back was to him, but Arran could almost hear her eyes roll with that statement. She was right. He was an ass. But while he was here, he would be taking care of hers.
Gabrielle flipped on the lights, and he followed her inside. The heels of her boots clicked on the hardwood floor of the foyer, echoing in the open stairwell of the two-story apartment. She couldn’t have been in town long, but the air in the place already carried her scent. He pulled in another slow, deep breath through his nostrils. His heart rate quickened. Honeysuckle. Arran wanted to smile but repressed the grin. Ironic that such a delicate and sweet fragrance emanated from the hellcat with whom he’d just been reacquainted.
Her keys clinked as she dropped them in a bowl on a table near the staircase. Arran’s gaze devoured her provocative profile. He’d never seen her dressed like she was tonight. Living with five male vampires within the Enclave walls, she usually dressed a bit more conservatively. Not matronly, but definitely not this revealing. A short black leather skirt barely covered the lush curves of her ass, and a shirt that couldn’t have been more than a decked-out bra did its best to contain her full breasts. Shiny black leather boots wrapped her legs, highlighting the toned sweep of her calves. This couldn’t happen again. Arran slowly shook his head. He would end up killing someone if she dressed like this again.
She turned her head to the side, facing him. “I don’t need a babysitter. I’m more than capable of taking care of myself.” She shifted and faced him head-on. “You’ve been gone a long time, Arran. Things have changed. I’ve changed.”
“Maybe so. But you’re not taking on that colony alone. I can’t believe Logan let you come here without him.” Gabrielle turned her back, rearranging her purse on the table. Shit. He recognized the body language. “You didn’t tell him, did you?” Arran closed the distance between them.
“No. I didn’t need him here.” Gabrielle looked up, fierce determination written on her face. “I can handle this. Alex needed me. And I’m going to be there for her.” She shifted to face him again, leaning her hip against the table. “I’m smart enough to know if -- and when -- I need help.”
Arran closed in, crowding her personal space, wanting a reaction. Aching for it, actually. Gabrielle straightened and took one step back but stopped and lifted her chin, refusing to cower and give him the reaction he itched for. She caught on quick.
“You think you have it all handled, lass?”
“Yeah, I do.”
“You got it all under control?”
The amber color of her irises had grown near molten. He allowed a small smile to pull at the corner of his mouth, loving the way she got all hot and bothered when he pushed her.
“Yes. I do.” The words had barely left her lips when she attacked, one leg coming out to catch the back of his ankle. Caught off guard, he stumbled.
Before he could regain his balance, she had his wrist locked in her grip. Swinging his arm up, she spun underneath, twisted, and wrenched his arm up the middle of his back, then shoved him face-first into the dank-smelling wall.
Well, damn. Not bad. “You’ve been training,” he mumbled against the Sheetrock.
“A little.” She sounded quite proud of herself. She was good. He’d give her that. But her heavy breathing told him it was all she could do to contain him, and he hadn’t even come close to tapping into his full abilities. She’d caught him by surprise, but she was human, a woman, and no match for a mature vampire. Especially in a multiple attack.
With a burst of speed, Arran pushed back, forcing Gabrielle to release him instead of falling on her rear. He whirled, catching her before she hit the floor. In less than a second, their positions reversed. Except this time, he’d pinned her back against the wall, her hands imprisoned by his, over her head.
The position pushed her full breasts up, almost spilling them from her top. Nice. He lifted his gaze, prepared for a hard glare. If her eyes were molten earlier, they were near boiling now. He couldn’t have stopped the next words that spilled from his lips if he’d tried.
“You ass!” She squirmed and bucked against him like a feral cat. Instead of gaining her freedom, though, each maneuver jammed her tighter into his hold. Her every inhale shoved her breasts into his chest. Heat radiated off her body, threatening to scramble his brain. Before he knew he’d even moved, his lips hovered over hers. What made him stop, God only knew. Maybe it was the way she’d suddenly grown still? Or maybe it was the moment she’d parted her lips, releasing warm, peppermint-scented bursts of air that seduced his mind. So damn enticing. All he had to do was lean in one more inch, and he’d --
Fire shot up his arm. “Son of a…” Releasing her, he jumped back and flung his gaze to the offending limb. Blood.
A thin line of crimson blossomed along the outside of his bicep. She’d played him. Purposefully distracted him, so she could pull her hand free and reach for a blade that must have been hidden under her skirt and against her thigh. The little minx.
He swiveled his head back in Gabrielle’s direction. Air punched from his lungs. Christ. Blood surged to his cock. The overwhelming urge to stroke the rock-hard length at the sight of her was short-circuiting his brain. Gabrielle stood, one boot in front of the other, palming a short dagger. She was ready to fight.
He was ready to fuck.
Arran rocked from one foot to the other, searching within for the strength not to take what was his. Mentally, he shook his head. No. She’s not yours, asshole. But damn if his cock had the sense to listen.
“I know you weren’t about to kiss me, warrior. Were you?” She raised a delicate brow and tilted her head. “Because last I heard, my kiss was ‘forgettable.’”
Ouch. He’d had a feeling if he ever saw her again, that asinine comment would come back to bite him in the ass.
“Give me the blade, Gabrielle.”
“This?” She twirled the dagger, then palmed the hilt and held it up for display. “You want it?” A devious smile lit her face. With her other hand, she beckoned him with her fingers. “Come and take it.”
Bad, bad challenge, kitten. A tremor started in his gut and worked its way up, until it was a buzz inside his brain. Every cell in his body wanted to take.
A gasp of air in his ear was the only indicator that he’d grabbed her. He didn’t remember the trip. Arran lifted her feet from the floor, whirled, and gently laid her on the stairs, pressing his hips, his chest into hers. He had to get his body next to hers. Everywhere. The dagger fell from her hand, rolling and thumping its way down the steps, each tumble a hollow thud.
The loud percussions bypassed the noise inside his head and brought him to a dead halt. He lay with his hips between her legs, his groin pressed to hers. His mouth suspended above her lips. He dropped his gaze to her mouth. God, how he loved the delicate line of her lips, a perfect bow. So full and pink. Her tongue darted out and moistened the lower one. He couldn’t stifle the groan that rolled from the back of his throat.
He dragged his gaze back to her eyes. Passion mixed with doubt and fear stared back at him. “I’m sorry.” The whispered words tumbled from his heart.
She blinked, then swallowed. “Why?”
“For hurting you.”
Her eyelids shuttered, and her breath hitched. Did she believe him? Was an apology enough for what he’d done? He’d walked away, leaving her to think he’d never wanted her, when the truth was, he wanted her more than his next breath. Sorry sounded so insignificant, compared to how much damage he’d done to her heart.
“Gabrielle.” Long, dark eyelashes lifted. Beautiful, near gold eyes shimmered with unshed tears. Please don’t cry. If only he had the power to bring her tears of joy. Instead of the pain he was so damn good at. He wanted to kiss the hurt away. “Remind me.”
Her lips parted first in silence before she asked, “Of what?”
Arran released her arms and cupped her face with his palms. He caressed her lips with his gaze before lifting it back to hers. “What I walked away from.”
Thanks again for having me today, Naughty Author Chicks! As a gift for one of NAC's guests, I'd like to offer a $10 gift certificate to Loose Id as well as a copy of Dark Desires at Midnight to one randomly chosen commenter. Good Luck, and thanks for checking out Dark Desires!
Thank you for hanging out with us and for that hoooooottt excerpt!! Yummy! For more info on Jessica Lee, check out her website here. Or click her Loose Id author page!