Magic Graves Page 10

I'm not lying , I sent to him. The only people I'm trying to trap are Jackal, Pervert, Psycho, and Twitchy.

"Then you have nothing to fear from me," he said, not commenting on the other names. He clasped those deadly hands in front of him. "And it's time we were properly introduced. I'm Vlad, and you are?"

I hesitated, but replied with my real name because I didn't want to risk even a white lie with this creature.

Leila. My name is Leila .

"Leila." He said my name as though he could taste the syllables. That charming smile widened. "Now, tell me where you are."

*** *** ***

ONCE BURNED releases spring 2012. Please see Jeaniene's website at for more details.


Jeaniene Frost

Here is an excerpt from Jeaniene's story, Home for the Holidays, which will appear in THE BITE BEFORE CHRISTMAS anthology with author Lynsay Sands. From the back of the book:

Two of the hottest names in paranormal romance team up for the first time to offer this holiday treat-an anthology of brand new stories featuring familiar faces from the Argeneau and Night Huntress series. In Lynsay Sands' "The Gift," Katricia Argeneau knows grey-eyed cop Teddy Brunswick is her life mate. She just needs to convince him they belong together, and being snowbound in a secluded cabin will make this a Christmas neither will forget.

It's "Home for the Holidays" in Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series. Cat and Bones may long to wrap presents and set up a tree, but this Christmas, an evil vampire and long-buried family secrets will threaten to take a bite out of their holiday cheer.

Available everywhere, October 25th, 2011.


Chapter 1

I glanced at my watch. Ten minutes to midnight. The vampire would be back soon, and despite hours of careful preparation, I wasn't ready for him.

A ghost's head popped through the wall, the rest of his body concealed by the wood barrier. He took one look around the room and a frown appeared on his filmy visage.

"You're not going to make it."

I yanked the wire through the hole I'd drilled into the ceiling's rafter, careful not to shift my weight too far or I'd fall off the ladder I was balanced on. Fabian was right, but I wasn't ready to concede defeat.

"When he pulls up, stall him."

"How am I supposed to do that?" he asked.

Good question. Unlike humans, vampires could see ghosts, but tended to ignore them as a general rule. While this vampire showed more respect to the corporeal-impaired, he still wouldn't stop to have a lengthy chat with one before entering his home.

"Can't you improvise? You know, make some loud pounding noises or cause the outer walls to bleed?"

The ghost shot me a look that said my witticism wasn't appreciated. "You watch too many movies, Cat."

Then Fabian vanished from sight, but not before I heard him muttering about unfair stereotypes.

I finished twisting together the wires along the ceiling. If all went well, as soon as the vampire came through that door, I'd use my remote transmitter to unload a surprise onto his head. Now, to set up the last of the contraptions I'd planned -

The unmistakable sound of a car approaching almost startled me into falling off the ladder. Damn it, the vampire was back! No time to rig any other devices. I barely had enough time to conceal myself.

I leapt off the ladder and carried it as noiselessly as I could to the closet. The last thing I needed was a bunch of metallic clanging to announce that something unusual was going on. Then I swept up the silver knives I'd left on the floor. It wouldn't do for the vampire to see those right off.

I'd just crouched behind one of the living room chairs when I heard a car door shut and then Fabian's voice.

"You won't believe what I found around the edge of your property," the ghost announced. "A cave with prehistoric paintings inside it!"

I rolled my eyes. That was the best tactic Fabian could come up with? This was a vampire he was trying to stall. Not a paleontologist.

"Good on you," an English voice replied, sounding utterly disinterested. Booted footsteps came to the door, but then paused before going further. I sucked in a breath I no longer needed. No cars were in the driveway, but did the vampire sense that several people lurked out of sight, waiting to pounce on him as soon as he crossed that threshold?

"Fabian," that cultured voice said next. "Are you sure there isn't anything else you want to tell me?"

A hint of menace colored the vampire's tone. I could almost picture my friend quailing, but his reply was instant.

"No. Nothing else."

"All right," the vampire said after a pause. The knob turned. "Your exorcism if you're lying."

I stayed hidden behind the chair, a silver knife gripped in one hand and the remote transmitter in the other. When the sound of boots hit the wood floor inside the house, I pressed the button and leapt up at the same time.


Confetti unleashed from the ceiling onto the vampire's head. With a whiplike motion, I threw my knife and severed the ribbon holding closed a bag of balloons above him. Those floated down more slowly, and by the time the first one hit the floor, the vampires who'd been concealed in the other rooms had come out.

"Happy Birthday," they called out in unison.

"It's not every day someone turns two hundred and forty five," I added, kicking balloons aside as I made my way to the vampire in the doorway.

A slow smile spread across his features, changing them from gorgeous to heart-stopping. Of course, my heart had stopped beating - for the most part - over a year ago, so that was my normal condition.

"This is what you've been so secretive about lately?" Bones murmured, pulling me into his arms once I got close.

I brushed a dark curl from his ear. "They're not just here for your birthday, they're staying for the holidays, too. We're going to have a normal, old-fashioned Christmas for once. Oh, and don't exorcise Fabian; I made him try to stall you. If you were ten minutes later, I'd have had streamers set up, too."

His chuckle preceded the brush of lips against my cheek; a cool, teasing stroke that made me lean closer in instinctive need for more.

"Quite all right. I'm sure I'll find a use for them."

Knowing my husband, he'd find several uses for them, and at least one of those would make me blush.

I moved aside to let Bones get enveloped in well wishes from our guests. In addition to Fabian and his equally transparent girlfriend floating above the room, Bones's best friend, Spade, was here. So was Ian, the vampire who sired Bones; Mencheres, his young-looking vampire version of a grandfather; his girlfriend, Kira, and my best friend Denise. She was the only one in the room with a heartbeat, making her seem human to anyone who didn't know better. Our guest list was small because inviting everyone Bones knew for an extended birthday/holiday bash would require me renting a football stadium. Therefore, only Bones's closest companions were present.

Well, all except one.

"Anybody heard from Annette?" I whispered to Denise when she left Bones's side and returned to mine.

She shook her head. "Spade tried her twenty minutes ago, but she didn't answer her cell."

"Wonder what's keeping her."

Annette might not be my favorite person considering her previous, centuries-long "friends with benefits" relationship with Bones, but she'd be last on my list of people I'd expect to skip his birthday party. Her ties with Bones went all the way back to when both of them were human, and in fairness, Annette seemed to have accepted that her position in his life was now firmly in the "friends without benefits" category.

"She flew in from London to be here," Denise noted. "Seems odd that she'd decide a thirty minute car commute was too much."

"What's this?" Bones asked, making his way over.

I waved a hand, not wanting to spoil the festive mood. "Nothing. Annette must be running behind."

"Some bloke rang her right before we left the hotel. She said she'd catch up with us," Spade said, coming to stand behind Denise. With his great height, her head was barely even with his shoulders, but neither of them seemed to mind. Black hair spilled across his face as he leaned down to kiss her neck.

"Why am I the only one without someone to snog?" Ian muttered, giving me an accusatory glance. "Knew I should've brought a date."

"You didn't get to bring a date because the type of girl you'd pick would want to liven things up with a group orgy before cutting the cake," I pointed out.

His smile was shameless. "Exactly."

I rolled my eyes. "Deal with not being the center of slutty attention for once, Ian. It'll do you good."

"No it won't," he said, shuddering as if in horror. "Think I'll go to the hotel and see what's taking Annette."

Denise snorted. "Way to make do with who's available."

I bit back my laugh with difficulty. Denise's opinion of Ian - and Annette - was even worse than my own, but that didn't make her wrong. Still, out of respect for both of them being Bones's friends, I contained my snicker.

Far from being offended, Ian archly rose his brows. "Just following the American adage about turning a frown upside down."

Mencheres, ever the tactful one, chose that moment to glide over. "Perhaps we should turn our attention to gifts."

Bones clapped Ian on the back. "Don't take too long, mate."

"I'll try to limit myself to an hour," Ian replied with a straight face.

"Pig," I couldn't help but mutter. Hey, I'd tried to rein myself in! If vampires could still get diseases, I'd wish a festering case of herpes on him, but I suppose it was a good thing that Ian's ability to carry or transmit STD's died with his humanity.

Ian left, chuckling to himself the whole time.

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