Title: Possessed by a Vampire
Series: Immortal Hearts of San Francisco Book 4
Author: Susan Griscom
Genre: Paranormal Romance
They possess the power to make their dreams come true—but it won’t be easy.
Preston Knight—Elvis to his friends—loves being a vampire. The night he was turned was the first step to him becoming the kind of man he always hoped to be. Now, he’s a rock star. What could be better? But the one thing that would make his world complete is just out of reach. The woman he yearns for has some serious secrets, and despite him knowing that she wants him just as much as he wants her, she won’t let him in.
Lily Gray never asked to be a vampire. The choice was taken from her eons ago, and things never improved. Now, she finds herself peddling drugs on the streets of San Francisco and playing the part of doting wife to a possessive and sadistic vampire with delusions of grandeur. But family means everything to Lily, and she’s willing to sacrifice everything for it…even her one chance at happiness with the sexy-as-sin vampire who sets her heart ablaze.
When one night of passion opens the door for a century of secrets to be revealed, Lily and Preston must fight for not only what they believe in but also what they love.
“It’s up to you, Elvis.” Lincoln, the dealer, nodded in my direction and waited. I kept my gaze trained on the center of the table where chips sat in a small pile. I didn’t need to look at my cards again. I knew what I had: an eight and a queen of hearts.
There were six vampires at the table, counting both Gage and me. Gage had folded right after the deal, and so had one of the other players. I was the last to bet, and sometimes I liked to spice things up a bit, so I matched the bet and sat back.
Heavy smoke hung in the air like delicate streams of fog, swirling in circled patterns under the light hanging from a long cord above the table. Four other lamps hung on fixtures attached to the otherwise stark, tawny brown walls. Even with all the bulbs, the room seemed dark.
Maybe it was the darkness of the souls in the room. I wasn’t sure.
A droning sound buzzed from outside. It was a little annoying, but I managed to drown it out as I nonchalantly watched the faces around the table as the dealer placed the three cards of the flop face-up, revealing a nine of hearts. He slowly separated them, sliding the top card off the nine to reveal a jack of hearts.
It was raining hearts for some reason, and I held two of them already. I held my breath, waiting to see the third card in the flop. The dealer slid the jack over. Crap, an eight of diamonds.
Not exactly what I was looking for, but a pair of eights with a queen high wasn’t completely a loss so I decided to hang in there and see if one more heart would show. There were still two cards to go, and a flush was possible.
I kept my eyes straight, my thoughts blank—or I tried—like I usually did as each card was revealed, always attempting to keep my composure, never deviating from the norm, not wanting to give away my emotions. I was an expert at reading people. Especially in a poker game. A blink of an eye, a slight twitch, a swallow, the slightest movement, anything . . . different could give someone’s hand away. I wanted to reach up and finger my shades that sat on top of my head. Just one little nudge and they’d be sitting comfortably on my face, shielding my eyes. But not only were dark glasses frowned upon in this high-stakes game of Texas Hold ’em, but any movement out of the ordinary might tip someone off about my cards.
This wasn’t our normal gathering with my brothers at the mansion. This was a high roller, unsanctioned but heavily guarded poker game with some seriously high-powered city officials that I’d bet my right nut were a drug cartel of some sort or another. The two thugs in the monkey suits positioned on either side of the door to the entrance had stood like statues most of the night; the bulge of a holster protruding from under their jackets an obvious clue. At least they were on the outside of the room, but they still remained at the ready if their services were required.
Gage and I didn’t normally seek out games with such high stakes, but he’d been bored lately, and when he ran into Lincoln—the game’s host—at Club Royal a couple of weeks ago, Lincoln had invited Gage and me to join. Said they’d recently lost two of their regulars and needed a couple of fill-ins.
When Gage had approached me, I shrugged him off at first, not wanting any part of something that sounded so sketchy. But after he’d pestered me for the entire week, I finally gave in, needing a distraction from the long hours—sometimes days—apart from Lily, the sexy and sweet vampire I’d been trying to get to know better. Except, for the past few months, she was either playing hard to get, or just wasn’t that interested in me. Though I had a difficult time believing the latter of those two options since she continued to meet me whenever she had the time or, in her words, “could get away.” Away from what, I hadn’t been able to find out. Yet.
Getting thoughts of Lily off my mind was nearly impossible. Her fair, silky-smooth skin; her mesmerizing dark coffee eyes that could hold my gaze for hours on end; the tips of her long, thick locks kissing the cleavage of her breasts where my lips longed to skim. I managed to clear my head just in time, as it was my turn to bet again. I slid my bet forward, raising the pot three thousand for appearance’s sake. In truth, without another heart or a ten, I had squat. I didn’t think the pair of eights would cut it. I had an excellent chance for a straight or a flush if either of the next two cards went my way. Since Gage had already folded, he sat still as a statue beside me, his hands together on the edge of the table. I knew he was busting a gut wondering what I held in my hand.
There were only four of us left in this hand, and I didn’t want to go home with a loss. Not against these guys. Two of them sat puffing on brown cigarettes, looking rather tough. They were tough, the sort who would drain the blood from a homeless person and leave them to die in the gutter without so much as a “thank you, ma’am.” Particularly, the one at the end with the light brown, wool Stetson on his head. The word dangerous exuded from his pores. He wore that hat pulled low on his brow, shading his eyes just enough to where it was legal but not enough to reveal much about him. A neatly trimmed goatee graced his chin and upper lip. A long ponytail made of cornrow braids hung down his back. He seemed on edge, or maybe it was just an act to throw me off.
Which he did when he raised another five thousand. That was steep. Not that I didn’t have the money. These days, my bank account overflowed, but it wasn’t that way in the beginning. I hadn’t always been the man I was today, and money hadn’t been abundant back then. The circumstances surrounding my rebirth as a vampire weren’t something I would likely forget, though I’d never spoken about them, not even to Gage. The way I’d been turned hadn’t exactly been conventional vampire behavior and had left an ache in my soul I didn’t understand and an emptiness that I could never satisfy.
I peeked at my cards and considered the raise. Either the guy had something powerful, or he was bluffing his ass off and had nothing. Since I had the queen of hearts, I knew he couldn’t have a royal flush. But that didn’t rule out a straight or four of a kind. The bald-headed guy next to him folded, as did the next two. Now it was up to me, and six thousand was just about all I had left in chips, so I shoved the entire stack I had into the middle of the table.
“I’m all in,” I said with feigned confidence.
After the bet had been matched, the dealer flipped the fourth card.
A fucking nine of spades.
I watched out of the corner of my eye as cowboy hat’s mouth curved up on one side, the tip of his fang biting into his lower lip. Could mean he was nervous. Or cocky. Either way, my hand was dead unless a ten or another heart showed up.
My heart skipped a beat when the fifth card was flipped over. There it was, sparkling as if someone had lit it on fire. I managed to keep my composure as I chilled, though I could have sworn I heard fireworks go off outside.
The beautiful ten of hearts.
Susan Griscom writes paranormal and contemporary romance. She’s hooked on sexy romances and is a huge fan of superheroes and bad boys confronted with extraordinary forces of nature, powers, and abilities beyond the norm mixed with steamy romance, of course.
She loves those days when she gets to sit around in her sweat pants, doing nothing but writing emotionally charged stories about love and violence.
She lives in Northern California in wine country and one of her favorite weekend excursions is wine tasting with the love of her life. Together, she and her romantic husband have five great superhero kids and eight mini-superhero grand kids, so far.
Immortal Hearts of San Francisco