Bloodlust - By Michelle Rowen


Thank you to Eve Silver for beta-reading and loving Declan as much as I do. To my editor, Cindy Hwang, and my agent, Jim McCarthy, for continuing to make it possible for me to share my imagination with others. To my readers for being ridiculously awesome and embracing my new, darker world of vampires. To caffeine for being my drug of choice. And to my characters for letting me be very mean to them—not that they have much choice in the matter.



I’d arrived at the seedy North Hollywood bar a half hour ago. A friend had sent an email earlier today asking me to meet him here tonight at ten o’clock because he “had to talk to me about something very important.” So here I was—ready, willing, and able to talk.

But by ten thirty he still hadn’t shown. And I was getting worried.

Maybe he’s dead, a little voice in my head whispered.

My chest tightened at the thought. No, he was too smart. Too wily. Too young and cocky. I refused to allow myself to believe he’d let himself get killed. Tonight he could possibly have the information that would help get my life back to normal.

Where are you, Noah?

My attention shifted to a blond guy in a leather duster approaching the far left of the small dance floor. A heavy metal tune had begun to blare through the speakers, making it difficult to concentrate. Even in the dim light of the club, his skin was so pale it seemed to faintly glow, easily making him stand out from the rest of the crowd. He scanned the few dancers, coming to rest on a petite redhead wearing a micro-short leather skirt.

When he smiled I saw the subtle glint of fangs beneath his upper lip.

She noticed him looking and smiled back at him, thrusting her ample chest forward—the universal easy-girl’s signal for “Come and get me, bad boy.”

The girl had no idea this bad boy was a vampire.

“For fuck’s sake,” I said under my breath. “Don’t be so stupid.”

Two weeks ago I thought vampires didn’t exist. But they do. There were those who preferred to keep their distance from humans, but others like this one, well . . . they were just really hungry.

The redhead was going to die.

I wasn’t psychic. I had no special supernatural powers, no superstrength, no otherworldly abilities—but I knew her fate. I saw it in the vampire’s pale gaze as he flicked a smug look at his friend, also standing at the edge of the dance floor.

A large part of me didn’t want to get involved. I had my own vast and varied problems to deal with. Plus, not to judge a book by its cover, but girls like this one, seemingly alone and vulnerable at this kind of dive, would likely find trouble sooner or later. If she couldn’t protect herself, if she had no one around to keep an eye on her, then I didn’t think her future was a bright one.

But it didn’t mean I was just going to let this monster make her his nightcap.

After another quick scan for the missing-in-action Noah, I slid off the tall stool and began weaving my way through the rough-looking crowd toward the exit. The vampire and the girl were now dancing together, if you could call it that. His hand closed on her ass under her short skirt, pulling them groin to groin as he pressed his lips to her throat. It looked sexy—kind of romantic, even—but I knew it wasn’t. Or it wouldn’t be for long.

I froze in place as a horrible thought occurred to me. He was going to bite her right in front of everyone.

I wanted to walk away, pretend I hadn’t seen the vampire, leave this club, and contact Noah another night, but I couldn’t do that. I’d never be accused of being a sweet and softhearted woman who wanted to help the helpless, but if there was a problem that was standing right in front of me and I might, possibly, be able to do something about it, then I had to. My conscience wouldn’t allow otherwise.

“I really don’t want to do this,” I whispered to myself.

But I did it anyway.

I forced myself to walk close enough to brush against the vampire. He immediately caught my scent and released the girl.

I kept walking. I didn’t have to look over my shoulder to know he was now following me. He was the mouse and