Meghan Davies has been living a dream as the bass player for the all-female hit rock band, The Sirens. But the dream becomes a nightmare with the discovery that cancer, undetected and now too far gone, heralds the end of everything.
Romney Kearns has been watching the sharp-tongued, flame haired woman from afar, wanting, but never approaching because he can offer her nothing but death.
When he discovers that death already has her marked, he sets out on All Hallow’s Eve to seduce her, claim her, and make her willing to accept his dark offer. An alternative. Not life as she’s known it, but a kind of rebirth. Eternity with him and immortality for her to make night music.
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Copyright 2006 Charlene Teglia
All rights reserved
Meghan wasn’t surprised to see the orchids waiting for her when the band finished for the night. They were signed with nothing more than the initials R.K., but she knew they came from her mysterious Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome. He never spoke to her, although she often saw him at their concerts, no matter where in the world they performed.
This was their last live performance of the year, so she would have been amazed if he hadn’t sent her flowers, even if she hadn’t seen him in the audience.
She was going to miss the flowers. Meghan wondered briefly if he’d send them to her funeral, then dismissed the thought as ghoulish. It might be Halloween tonight, but that was no reason to dwell on the dark future. The present mattered, and in the present she could enjoy the shape and scent of orchids and be happy that somebody had thought of her.
In spite of the increasing incidence of violence from stalkers, Meghan’s mystery man didn’t worry her. Not just because she was a dead woman anyway, but because Lorelei wasn’t worried. And because he fascinated Meghan. She was always a little disappointed when he vanished after a performance.
“He sent you flowers again,” Lorelei said, appearing beside her as if conjured by the thought of her name.
“You didn’t think he’d forget tonight, did you?” Meghan asked.
“No.” Lorelei touched one blossom with a fingertip. “Invite him home with you.”
“I’d have to talk to him to do that,” Meghan pointed out.
Lorelei smiled at her. “He has a backstage pass.”
“And you know this because you’re psychic?”
“I know this because I gave it to him. I checked him out. Erik checked him out. Erik says he can afford you, by the way.”
Erik had high standards when it came to finances. Mystery Man had serious net worth. That might be nice to know if she was contemplating anything long-term, but long-term was not an option.
“I’m not exactly in the market for a relationship,” Meghan said. “And you know why.” It was unfair and it pissed her off, and anger gave her voice a serrated edge.
Lorelei shrugged. “So don’t have a relationship. Have sex. He looks like he’d make it worth your while.”
Meghan felt her mouth twitch. “Go out with a bang.”
“Well, you can limit yourself to hands if you want to, but I think you’ll be missing out.” Lorelei gave her a wicked look, then went to join her husband across the room, as if the conversation had given her ideas. Or maybe she just wanted to work off the charge built up from performing. The Sirens played sexually charged music rumored to have a very enjoyable impact on the audience’s libido.
It affected Meghan’s libido, enough to make her seriously consider taking Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome home with her.
Go out with a bang. That would be some trick or treat. Well, why not? She wasn’t too tired. She’d rested all day and the performance hadn’t drained her. At least, if it had she wasn’t feeling it yet. This was likely to be her last opportunity, and Lorelei was right, he did look like he’d make it worth her while. He looked predatory and dangerous and not at all gentle.
That suited her mood. Meghan didn’t want gentle. She wanted release from the unbearable tension inside her, the anger and want and need abrading her nerves. Angry because she wasn’t finished, wasn’t ready. She wanted more, needed more, and couldn’t find it in herself to accept her fate.
Fate could kiss her ass.
She was going to miss out on plenty. She didn’t have to miss out on tonight. If he came backstage. If he gave her an opportunity, Meghan was going to take it.
And then he was there, in front of her. He seemed even more dangerous up close. Good.
Meghan gave him a long look. “You didn’t disappear this time.”
Rom smiled at her, liking her attitude, her straightforward manner. She didn’t flirt. She simply stood there and looked at him, an attitude of sexual challenge in the line of her body and her posture and her eyes that said come and get me if you dare.
“No. I didn’t disappear this time.”
She smiled then, her red-lipsticked mouth curving in that shape that made him want to take a bite. “I should ask you your name. I should ask you what you do.”
“My name is Romney Kearns. I do software.”
“Oh.” Her soft smoky gaze moved over him in unhurried, lingering exploration. The way her eyes turned darker told him she liked what she saw. “You don’t look like a geek. Not skinny enough.”
“Too much pizza,” Rom explained.
She nodded. “The staple of software wizards. I guess you’re safe to leave with, then.”
“Not safe,” he corrected softly. He smiled into her eyes and gave in to the desire to taste her. One taste, in a room full of people. He could take that much and be certain it wouldn’t go too far. His hands spread over her shoulders, drew her close. His head lowered to hers.
Her mouth was soft, sweet, filled with dark mystery and living heat. Hunger grew and licked at them both with fiery tongues. The kiss deepened, turned savage. Rom tasted the bright copper flavor of blood and gentled, kissing it away, savoring each drop and the essence of her.
Hunger thrummed in his veins, and it was an effort not to scrape his teeth over her lower lip and spill more. He wanted to sink his teeth deep into her flesh and drink until his thirst was quenched.
Rom knew his eyes burned when he loosened his hold and set her from him. “I’m not safe at all. You should run away.”
She touched the tip of her tongue to the graze in her lower lip. “I’m not much for aerobics. Not much for playing it safe, either.”
“No,” Rom agreed, still tasting the sweet, reckless flavor of her. She tasted wild, hot, as if the life that was slipping away wanted to use itself up.
He didn’t want to take her home with him, to the suite of offices and living space he shared with Val. He didn’t want to share her or this night with Val, and not because he wanted to spare the man’s feelings. Rom wanted to mark her, to possess her, claim her, and instinct told him to take her far from any potential rivals. He had never wanted another woman the way he wanted this one. He wanted her alone and aware of only him.
“We’ll go to your place. Invite me.”
Her brows arched at his wording. “You’re invited.”
“I accept.” Rom picked up a blossom in one hand and placed the other on the warm curve of her waist. He tucked the flower behind her ear, in the long fall of her hair.
The flower’s exotic perfume mingled with the scent of aroused woman. The change heightened all senses, allowing him to note minute differences in respiration, the rush of blood beneath the skin heralding a blush—the thousand tiny physical signs of human reaction were his to read. Fear, deception, lust, they all marked the body in various ways.
Meghan wasn’t hiding anything from him and she didn’t fear him. She wanted him. That might change, but for now the pulse beating at her throat meant desire. The musky scent of her heat made the hunger sharpen. He pictured her naked, limbs open and sprawled in invitation, allowing him to taste her everywhere.
The thought alone strained his control. It may have been a mistake to go to her without feeding elsewhere first, but he hadn’t wanted to wait. He’d waited long enough already.