Thursday, June 05, 2008


I’m thrilled to announce the publication of MIDNIGHT TREAT, an anthology from Pocket Books reprinting three erotic paranormal romance novellas from Ellora’s Cave by Shelley Munro, Sally Painter, and me. Meet three ravishing, not quite human heroes—a gargoyle, a ghostly werewolf, and my vampire, Claude, from “Tall, Dark, and Deadly.” Here’s the link:

Here’s a teaser from my story, in which Eloise, a writer of fantasy, horror, and paranormal romance, tries to persuade actor Claude Darvell to produce and star in her screenplay adaptation of VARNEY THE VAMPYRE (a well-known Victorian “penny dreadful”). Little does she suspect that he’s actually a vampire himself, hiding in plain sight by performing in horror roles. They first meet at an SF convention awards banquet, after which they go to her hotel room to discuss the potential film.

Excerpt from “Tall, Dark, and Deadly,” by Margaret L. Carter:

When Eloise opened her eyes, a rosy mist clouded her vision, and her throat felt dry. After dragging herself to a sitting position, she rubbed her face and looked around. *Oh, Lord, I can't believe I acted that way! How can I ever face Claude again?*

Come to think of it, where was he? His cape still hung over the chair, but he was nowhere to be seen, and she didn't hear any sounds from the bathroom. No way could she look him in the eye, at least not until she'd put some distance between herself and her humiliating cat-in-heat behavior. Maybe he'd be gentleman enough, next time they met, to pretend the encounter had never happened. Meanwhile, she had to get out before he reappeared. When he saw her gone, with luck he would return to his own room and leave her alone.

Standing up, she had to grab the bedpost until a surge of dizziness faded. Noticing how loosely the bodice of her dress hung, she reached behind and pulled up the zipper. Muzzy-headed, she staggered out the door and along the hall to the elevator, one hand on the wall for balance. By the time she'd ridden to the ground floor, the danger of toppling over at every step had passed. Her brain still felt like oatmeal, though. She drifted through the lobby to the main doors, with a vague idea of letting the night air clear her head.

She shoved through the double glass doors and meandered to the corner of Wilshire Boulevard.

* * * * *

Claude came back from his foray to the vending machines with a full ice bucket and a can of Coke. After her involuntary donation, Eloise would feel dehydrated. Even before unlocking the room door, he sensed her absence. What the devil had got into the woman? He hadn't expected her to wake so quickly, but what had possessed her to run off the moment she did?

And without her shoes, he noticed. Or her key, which he'd taken with him. While these thoughts ran through his mind, he was already heading for the stairs. He could dash to street level on his own power faster than the elevator could arrive and carry him down. If Eloise hadn't gone all the way to the first floor, he could search the hotel at leisure. The first priority was intercepting her if she was indeed wandering around the lobby barefoot and half-conscious. Damn, this was the last thing he wanted to be doing after the mutually satisfying "dessert" they'd sampled.

Hurrying from the stairwell into the lobby, he scanned the area. Just in time, he caught a glimpse of Eloise disappearing out the main entrance. He strode after her as fast as possible without breaking into a trot. She paused at the corner. As he walked toward her, he noticed the dreamy vagueness of her gaze. She stepped off the curb with no sign of noticing the red stoplight. Claude darted into the stream of traffic, wrapped his arms around her, and flashed back to the sidewalk too fast for human eyes to follow.

Clinging to him, she shook her head in obvious bewilderment. "Claude—?"

He sensed the fog lifting from her brain. In a second she would start complaining about the way he'd chased and grabbed her. He also sensed eyes boring into him. Not just the curious glances of people who wondered how a man in a tuxedo and a barefoot woman in a formal gown had suddenly appeared on the sidewalk. Hostile eyes that felt not quite human.

He wasted no time processing this impression. Choosing action over analysis, he draped himself in a psychic veil that repelled vision. He projected a "you don't see me" aura that amounted to invisibility. With Eloise held close to him, she fell under the same curtain. Casual passers-by would blink at their "disappearance," then instantly forget about them. As for the watcher who troubled Claude the most, if he, she, or it existed at all, the illusion might provide enough time for an unseen retreat to the shelter of Eloise's room.

Claude carried her, murmuring confused protests, up the stairs to that refuge. "What the blazes is wrong with you?" he said as he plopped her on the bed. "Where did you think you were going?" And why did his own heart hammer with alarm at her narrow escape? He tabled that question for the moment.

"Out, if it's any of your business." Her flushed cheeks stirred his appetite, even though he'd just feasted on her.

"It's my business when you nearly get yourself killed. What the devil did you want to run away for? Surely I didn't do anything to frighten you, did I?" He smoothed the hair straggling out of her braid.

She jerked her head away from his hand. "Of course not. I just wanted to be alone."

"Really?" He captured her eyes with his.

"If you must know, I was embarrassed." She gasped at her own frankness. He knew she must feel baffled by the way the truth had popped out.

Maintaining the gentle pressure of his mind on hers, he prompted, "Why in the world would you be embarrassed?"

"Humiliated. The way I acted when you, you know, touched me." The heat radiating from her skin made him want to absorb every drop of her essence.

"I enjoyed every minute of it. And so did you, didn't you?" He stroked her head, and this time she didn't resist. His hypnotic gaze and touch already had her partly tamed. "Here, you're thirsty," he said. He held the cold soda can to her mouth. She drank half of it and licked her lips in a maddeningly sensual way. He held her close and crooned a wordless song of languid pleasure until she went limp in his arms. "Don't worry about it. Lie down and rest. Everything is all right now."

He lowered her head onto the pillow and turned her on her side to unzip her dress. After peeling it off, he folded back the covers and tucked her in with the sheet up to her waist. He knew he ought to leave now, but her half-closed eyes watched him with drowsy lust that sparked a burning in the pit of his stomach.

*Damn, I want her again! I can't remember the last time I was this hungry for a donor!* If he couldn't remember, he told himself with an ironic smile, maybe the answer was "never". In any case, resisting temptation had never been his forte. Earlier, he could have satisfied his thirst without bringing her to climax. Her arousal alone would have spiced her blood. Her eagerness, though, had inflamed him past caution. Now the sight of her bare breasts, flushed with passion, and the aroma of her female musk, tinged with traces of soap and bath powder, overcame the remnants of his scruples. After all, what harm would another sip do?

-end of excerpt-

Margaret L. Carter

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