Hey, everyone! I've been crazy busy getting the final proof of Wynter's Bite ready for its release on Valentine's Day!
The idea for this one created itself when I realized that Justus, the villain from His Ruthless Bite, was not what he seemed to be. All of the havoc he'd created was out of love for the woman he lost.
In Wynter's Bite, we get his side of the story. And he also reunites with his beloved. However, the dangers that face them both have only just begun.
For a PDF of this media kit, go HERE.
And since I already did an excerpt of the first chapter on my blog, I figured I'd do a bonus, never been read excerpt here.
Justus de Wynter, Viscount de Wynter, and second in command to the Lord Vampire of Rochester, frowned as he heard the group of tittering girls making their malicious plan. With his preternatural hearing, he knew that the young misses of the aristocracy were not the innocent paragons that they painstakingly paraded themselves as. But he usually ignored their mean-spirited gossip and little pranks.
This time, however, the chits meant to include him in their scheme. Justus gnashed his fangs in irritation at their presumption to use him. He would not oblige them by dancing like a puppet on their strings.
Their vituperative words repeated in his mind.
“Silly little greenhead. Just wait and see what she does when he gives her the cut direct. I wager ten pounds that she will cry.”
“I wager twenty she’ll faint.”
Though it was true that Justus was merciless in driving away any unmarried female who dared to approach him, this time, he would be gentle with the poor girl. Instead, he would guarantee that the malicious misses lost their wagers.
His gaze swept over the crowd, landing on the target of the girls’ prank.
She looked painfully young, likely barely out of the school room, and a picture of innocence with her golden curls and large blue eyes. However, the curves of her breasts above the neckline of her snow-white gown chased away all thoughts of her youth. Tearing his eyes from that tempting view, he once more looked upon her heart-shaped face as she made her way towards him with graceful, yet tentative steps.
A pang of worry struck his gut. She wouldn’t introduce herself to him, would she? Or God forbid, ask him to dance? Such gaffes would render her a pariah.
The young woman licked her lush lips as if about to speak. But thankfully, she halted and merely stood near him, occasionally glancing at him over her fan.
Good. So she wasn’t a half-wit after all. At this point, he could either ignore her presence and appear rude— something he did often— or have someone introduce them so he may engage her in conversation or ask her to dance.
For possibly the first time since he was Changed two hundred years ago, Justus opted for the latter. Catching Lady Ellingsworth’s gaze, he gave her a beckoning grin. She returned his smile and excused herself from the people she was conversing with and hurried his way.
“Would you do me a kindness and introduce me to that young lady?” he whispered.
Lady Ellingsworth glanced at the female in question and a line formed between her brows. “Although I’ve heard some tales, I have never seen you seek sport with a debutante.”
“No sport intended.” Already he was coming to regret his impending act of kindness. “I merely owe someone a favor,” he improvised.
“Well then, if you are seeking sport…” She placed her hand on his sleeve.
Justus forced a tight smile. “I know where to look.” He thought he’d made it clear to Lady Ellingsworth and every other woman he took his pleasure from that his liaisons were for one night only. He couldn’t risk any human learning what he was, so he kept his distance.
The hostess gave him a slightly petulant frown before pasting a placid smile on her face and patting the blonde maiden’s shoulder. “Miss Mead, have you met Lord De Wynter?”
The young lady blinked in surprise. “I have not had the pleasure, my lady.”
As the introductions were made, Justus bowed and concealed an amused smile at her shaky curtsy. Nervousness emanated from her subtly curvy form in tangible waves. Even when making an effort at kindness, he still appeared to intimidate. Just then, the strains of a waltz began.
Perfect. This ought to sever the vipers’ tongues.
Justus extended his hand. “Would you care to dance, Miss Mead?”
Her pale cheeks flushed the color of rose petals. Usually such blatant timidity was tiresome, but for some reason with her, he felt a tremor of delight. “Yes, my lord,” she said softly, and took his proffered hand.
Even through the thin fabric of their gloves, he could feel the heat of her fingers intertwined with his. Shaking off the odd intensity of his reaction to her touch, Justus concentrated on leading her to the dance floor and maintaining a mask of indifference at the surprised glances cast their way at the sight of him dancing with a debutante.
Her steps were slightly off time, but for some reason, he only felt sympathy rather than irritation. “You’re overthinking the dance,” he whispered. “Relax and let me lead.”
Her crimson flush deepened, but she heeded his advice and suddenly the dance became fluid, their bodies fitting together perfectly. Justus blinked in surprise. She followed instructions exceedingly well.
The scent of her skin, clean and tinged with the lavender oils she must have bathed in, awakened his lust even as the pulsing vein at the juncture of her neck and shoulder prodded his other hunger.
To combat the alarming reaction, Justus decided to converse. “Do you have any hobbies?”
Closing his eyes, he prepared for the usual prattle about needlepoint, the pianoforte, and watercolors. Not that he frowned upon any of these genteel pastimes, in fact, many young ladies produced admirably good paintings and played gorgeous music. But the fact of the matter was that they were so boring to talk about.
“I like to read.” An undercurrent of passion threaded through her voice.
Interest pricked at her answer. “I like to read as well. What are your favorite works?” Probably romantic novels, but some literacy was better than none.
“I adore medieval literature.” Her eyes sparkled with enthusiasm for their topic. “Especially Chaucer.”
Chaucer? Justus blinked in surprise. That meant she could read old English. Once more, pity welled in his heart. Women like her were always counseled to hide their intelligence. But she didn’t have to hide hers from him.
“I enjoy Chaucer as well,” he informed her with a grin. “My favorite is The Book of the Duchess. What is yours?”
“The Canterbury Tales.” Adoration infused her voice.
He couldn’t help but smile in understanding of her joy to speak of a favorite work. “But they were never finished.”
“I don’t mind. In fact, it leaves a little mystery to the experience of reading them, wondering where Chaucer was going, what else he intended.” A dreamy smile curved her rose pink lips. “Unfinished stories fascinate me.”
And she was beginning to fascinate him, despite his better wisdom. It was difficult to find someone whose passion for the written word matched his own. Justus’s best friend, the Baron of Darkwood and the Lord Vampire of Rochester, had little time for books between overseeing his territory and attending scads of country parties. And since Justus was Lord Darkwood’s second in command, all other vampires ranked below him, and thus were reluctant to engage in any sort of banter with him.
But he could not become close to this enchanting little reader. Women her age, by necessity, were only after one thing: matrimony, which he could not undertake without revealing that he was a monster and transforming her into one as well.
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