Loving Dracula: A Fated Mates Vampire Romance (Dating Monsters Book 2)
Loving Dracula: A Fated Mates Vampire Romance (Dating Monsters Book 2)
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- Fated Mates
- Vampire Romance
- Protective Hero
- Human Turned Vampire
- Found Family
The Legend. The Immortal. My… Fiancé?
Life as a vampire is anything but dull, especially for me. I’m still trying to sink my fangs into this whole undead business. But just when I thought I had a handle on my new nocturnal lifestyle, I’m hit with the next challenge—introducing my soulmate and love of my life, Dracula, to my family. Think your family dinners are tense? Try bringing home the Prince of Darkness himself.
As if that isn’t enough, the Queen of Vampires has sent one of her inquisitors to question us about her mate’s untimely demise—courtesy of yours truly. It seems self-defense doesn’t fly in vampire court.
Man, my life has become really dangerous since dying. Who knew eternity would consist of surviving family gatherings and dodging a vengeful vampire queen? If we get through this, we’re definitely taking that long vacation I’ve been dreaming of—one with a moonlit pool and my sexy mate playing the role of a naked Cabana boy.
Wish me luck. I’m certainly going to need it.
“This is so stupid. Remind me again why I always go along with your plans?”
I huffed and rolled my eyes. I loved Lucy. She was the best friend a girl could ask for. But damn, sometimes she was a real stick in the mud, always cautioning me to smarten up and think things through. Well, where was the fun in that? Last thing I wanted was to tiptoe through life. Live fast and free, I always said. Gotta grab life by the horns. Yadda, yadda, yadda.
“We’ll be fine, I promise. Let’s go! It’ll be fun.” I gripped Lucy’s hand and dragged her to the front of the ridiculously long line.
Still, she dug in her heels. “You do know they don’t allow cellphones in the club, right?”
She was referring to Fallen—New Orleans’s hottest new vamp club. Of course, since vampires had only recently come out of their coffin-closets, who knew which club would make it to the very top of the five-star list. For now, this was the one.
In the week since I’d learned about this club, I’d researched the hell out of it, and came across some very interesting, albeit mildly disturbing, information. If my sources were trustworthy, this club had been around for a while, disguised as a Goth club. But true horror lay in the underbelly of this beast. A “blood farm,” as the dark web called it.
Apparently, all the big-named bloodsuckers frequented this establishment. And why? Because the owner/manager supposedly supplied the club not only with the newest synthetic blood products but also, as rumor had it, the real stuff too. The good stuff. As in, bottles of fresh human blood drained directly from the tap. Further digging revealed that someone had also sent an anonymous tip to the police, but the club had managed to clean up before the authorities had arrived. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across that juicy nugget of gossip. The perfect story just waiting to be revealed.
“Earth to Anna,” Lucy said, tapping the back of my head. “Did you hear me?”
I gave a casual nod. “I did. And I do know about their no cellphone rule. It’ll be fine.”
“Fine?” Lucy laughed. “Girl, I haven’t seen you go five seconds without your phone since you bought your very first one. You expect me to believe you’re okay with this? Ms. Modern Vlogger? Ms. Can’t Go Two Seconds Without Retweeting Someone?”
I snorted a laugh. “Oh, shut up.”
Sadly, she wasn’t wrong. Far from it, in fact. But I’d planned for this. The club definitely didn’t allow any form of cellular devices, but since I absolutely needed my phone tonight, I’d taken some precautions. My very dreams hinged on the success of my plan.
It’d been a week since vampires had made their startling debut, announcing their so-called “peaceful” presence to the world. A moment that would surely go down in the history books. In that time, there’d been mass confusion, a little hysteria, definitely some full-blown panic, and a whole lotta online chatter. While most people were still confused, wondering if this was some kind of prank, others—like myself—remained skeptical. Literary vampires had been around since long before the modern era, though the current stories seemed to focus on dramatic teenage romance. Some “lucky” girl who caught the eye of a big, bad—but actually good—vampire.
Pfft. I highly doubted such a thing existed.
There was no way a species that fed off human blood could be qualified as “peaceful.” In one night, these creatures had restructured the entire food chain, knocking humans down a peg. Sure, they’d tied in the release of their synthetic blood line with their show-stopping announcement, but I wasn’t fooled.
And that was the whole purpose behind Lucy’s and my presence here tonight.
I wasn’t a professional journalist—I lacked the credentials—but I still possessed a hungry appetite for uncovering the truth. And luckily, we lived in a digital age where any mook with decent equipment could build a story and slap it up on their website.
Despite my best efforts, the world had yet to discover me. But after tonight…. Imaginary stars shone in my eyes. After tonight, I would be famous. Celebritized. Viral. If the rumors were true, I would be the one to crack this story wide open. Just imagine, an exposé on vampiric blood slavery on my vlog. Everyone would know I’d scooped it. Not the police. Not the real journalists. Me. An eager twenty-four-year-old armed with a cellphone.
I shivered with excitement—nothing would stop me tonight.
Clutching Lucy’s hand, I dragged her into the line, butting in front of three women wearing more makeup than a burlesque performer and racy outfits that blatantly exposed their throats. In the last week, I’d seen so many articles about women like this—desperate for a nibble, flagrantly flashing their jugulars with the hope of catching a vampire’s attention. It didn’t surprise me. Too many vampire romances out there, glorifying sexy love bites and eternal life. I couldn’t imagine ever letting anyone—man or beast—sink their teeth into my throat. Didn’t these people realize how many germs the mouth contains? Yeesh and shudder. No thanks.
“Hey!” the woman closest to me shouted. She grabbed my arm, her dangerously sharp nails catching my skin. Make no mistake, these cougars were on the prowl tonight. “Back of the line, bitch!”
I ignored her shrill voice and instead stared up at the bouncer. I instantly knew he was a vampire, and my breath caught in my throat. Wow. I’d never seen one up close before. He was, in a word, impressive. I’d expected muscles—bouncers were always ripped. But this guy went beyond muscular to downright bulging with veins.
His keen gaze caught mine, and he watched with a raised brow as I grabbed a crisp hundo and slipped it into his pocket. After a slight hesitation, he gave an almost indecipherable nod and pointed to our purses. “Gotta check those. No electronics allowed inside.”
Damn, his voice was deep. The sort of deep that awoke something in the lady bits area. But now wasn’t the right moment to let his voice distract me. He needed to check our purses, and I most definitely had a cellphone in there. If found, they would ban us from the club. I couldn’t let that happen. We had to get inside. So, earlier today, I’d sewn a small pocket into the liner, hidden from sight—or rather, human sight. Then, just in case, I’d dumped silver shavings I’d purchased online into my purse and covered it up with a Styrofoam container chock-full of garlic bread.
I had absolutely no idea if this would work. I was working under the assumption that the myths were true. Supposedly, silver weakened a vamp’s senses, and they were apparently all allergic to garlic. Personally, I loved garlic. But I could see how someone with an enhanced sense of smell might not appreciate it.
I only hoped these two things combined convinced him not to look too closely.
The bouncer leaned in to inspect our bags. I popped mine open and shoved it toward his face. With a choking gasp, he staggered backward, clutching his nose. Even in the dark of night, I saw his lip curl upward as he wafted the air near his face.
“Oh!” I feigned horror. “I’m so sorry! My friend and I grabbed some pizza along the way. A girl’s gotta eat before drinking, you know. It came with free garlic bread. I wasn’t thinking when I put them in my purse. Just let me throw it out, then you can take another look.”
The offended vamp garbled something I didn’t understand, then pointed at the doors and waved us inside. If I wasn’t mistaken, the poor guy looked to be tearing up. I was tempted to lean closer and study his face, fangs and all. But seeing as how my dream had just been delivered to me on a silver platter, I choked back my curiosity and hurried inside.
Darkness and deafening noise instantly consumed us. The emphatic beat of what sounded like horrible techno music echoed off the walls and thumped beneath our feet.
I grasped Lucy’s hand and dragged her farther inside. A dimly lit staircase greeted us, leading us down to a sunken dance floor. Once we braved the first step, the entire place suddenly lit up with colorful strobe lights, as though the club had simply been waiting for us.
I grinned and squeezed Lucy’s hand. This was what I lived for. The excitement of a new story, the energy of chasing a lead, and the thrill of experiencing a new adventure. My mama always called me an adrenaline junkie with a penchant for gossip, which made me laugh, considering it described me to a T.
At the bottom of the stairs, mystical fog swirled around our feet. I snickered—trust vampires to be stuck in the past. Techno music and fog machines. Could they be any more ’90s?
“It’s loud!” Lucy shouted over the incessant noise.
I was used to clubbing and the expected deafness that tended to last for days afterward. Lucy often tagged along, seeing as I never gave her a choice, but she always remarked on the noise. I suspected she preferred dark and dank bars. Quiet, lonely, withdrawn—all the words I often used to describe her. How the hell we’d ended up friends, I had no idea.
I turned my attention toward the surrounding crowd and clapped my hands with delight. Now, this was a club. Everywhere I looked, I saw someone writhing and grinding against another person, their hips gyrating shamelessly. It reminded me of the movie Dirty Dancing when Baby first stumbled across the real dancers. The brazen touches, the heated embraces… hell, someone was actually necking off to the side of the room. And at closer inspection, fingering. Yup, that’s right. Some random guy stood pressed up against a woman, her skirt hiked up to her hips, his fingers boldly going where I assumed every man had gone before.
“Well, that looks fun,” I shouted, nudging Lucy’s shoulder and gesturing toward the scandalous couple.
If I had to guess, the no cellphone rule likely encouraged such dirty behavior. Easy to be naughty if there weren’t any repercussions to fear.
“Oh. My. God!” Lucy cried out. If the woman owned pearls, no doubt she would have been clutching them right now.
I grinned and shook my head.
Mr. Shameless ground against the woman, then slid his knee between her legs and pushed her panties down. With her ass and other goodies bared to the entire club, he continued to ravish her without a care in the world. And she seemed quite content in the moment.
Vampires, man. Guess they really did see things differently than us mundane humans.
It was difficult to tear my gaze away from the couple. They were like a freaking car crash. You kept looking back to see if things got worse, and every time I snuck a peek, they most definitely were. I had a feeling if we didn’t stop watching now, we’d catch the full act in a matter of minutes.
Every fiber of my vlogger-being wanted to whip out my phone and film this. It’d definitely get me some hits. Everyone loved a good sex scandal. But that wasn’t what we were here for, and I couldn’t risk exposing my cell for something so mediocre. No, we were here to investigate illegal bloodletting. I couldn’t allow something like this to distract me, not when there was a real story to unearth.
We had to dance if we wanted to blend in with the crowd. Any nearby vamps had to believe we were here for the same reason as Mr. and Mrs. Shameless over there. If they got even the slightest whiff of my true intentions, they’d shut me down faster than a restaurant infested with rats.
I led Lucy out onto the floor. With a teasing grin, I buried my hands in my hair and started dancing, swaying seductively to the beat. Lucy mimicked me, though her movements were stilted. Her attention seemed elsewhere, like she was imagining a million other places she could be right now.
Some sidekick she was turning out to be.
“Hey!” I tugged her hand and placed it on my hip. Touching didn’t bother me. We’d seen each other in our birthday suits more times than I could count. “Loosen up!”
She grimaced, her gaze still roaming the club.
I shook my head and chuckled under my breath. Typical Lucy. Here we were, in New Orleans, for crying out loud, getting our groove on in the hottest vampire establishment, and she still couldn’t relax and have a little fun. Most of our friends back home called her Mother Hen. Always pecking at us, nagging us to take our vitamins and wear sunscreen, because vitamin deficiencies and melanoma were two very serious problems. I loved her to death, but sometimes I wanted to shake the sensibility right out of her.
With an impish grin, I cupped her hips and drew her close, hoping to evoke some sort of reaction. Instead, she leaned forward and pressed her lips to my ear. To any common observer, I knew it looked sexual. Like she was taking a little taste of Anna. The guy beside us laughed and gave us two massive thumbs up.
“Vampire,” Lucy said, distracting me from Douche McDoucheson. “Up above. Your six o’clock.”
Excitement stirred my blood. I quickly spun and pressed my back flat against her chest, my hands now gripping her thighs and my booty shimmying against her abdomen. McDoucheson cheered and lifted his beer in our direction. I ignored him, like most men, and let my gaze stray across the upper floor. Sure enough, a single vampire prowled above.
Pardon the expression, but holy shit. This vampire looked nothing like our bouncer outside. Our bouncer had looked friendly. Muscled, yes, but in a way that suggested he worked out. Nothing dangerous had stuck out to me.
But this guy? He had a giant invisible sign above his head with a flashing arrow that read Vampire. Everything about this one screamed predatory. The vamp was tall, broad, muscular, everything my lady bits generally wanted in a man, but I didn’t like the way his hungry gaze raked over the crowd. In search of his next meal, maybe? One would assume Fallen’s patrons knew what they were getting into by frequenting this type of club, but I had to wonder if they’d come for the thrill or to be a snack.
Legally, a vampire had to get permission before feeding on a human. It was the quickest I’d ever seen a law pass. So quick that I, and many others, had our doubts. Maybe the government had known a little something-something in advance. Maybe they’d taken the time to pass this law before announcing to the world that vampires existed.
My wannabe-journalist brain didn’t believe a law could be passed in under a week. Government never agreed on anything. Seemed unlikely they’d agree on a law insisting on consent when cases involving rape were still being thrown out of court.
“Anna,” Lucy hissed in my ear.
I whirled around to face her.
With a pinched expression, she pushed her hands through her hair and quietly gestured over her shoulder. My gaze followed, and sure enough, another vampire was serving drinks behind the bar. His movements were downright fluid, and damn if I wasn’t jealous. My ballet instructor had tried for years to impart that particular lesson on me. It’d never stuck. I was as graceful as a drunken gazelle wearing six-inch heels and a purple tutu.
I scanned the crowd in search of more. Now that I’d seen the two of them, I knew what to look for. Impossibly pale faces, smooth complexions, thick luxurious hair, devastatingly seductive smiles. As though their exclusive club only accepted the incredibly beautiful. Well, that left me out. Lucy could make the cut—the woman’s skin was pale and flawless and her eyes as vivid as emeralds. Me? I was a mess. Tousled dirty-blonde hair tossed up into a sloppy bun and boring hazel eyes that never caught a man’s attention. Not with Lucy standing right next to me. I didn’t care though, or so I’d convinced myself a long time ago. Lucy was gorgeous, and she knew it, but thankfully, she wasn’t the sort to rub it in other people’s faces. And I appreciated that about her. She possessed a modesty and kindness that many lacked.
Focusing back on the task, I danced around Lucy in a tight circle and scoped out the rest of the club. Four doors that I could count. Emergency exit, two bathrooms, and then an obscured door toward the back of the dance floor guarded by a single vampire. A storage room, maybe? But why guard a storage room? Unless that’s where they kept all the blood. I could definitely see a need for a guard then, to ensure no one made off with their supply.
I studied the rest of the club. My attention landed on the bartender, and I watched as he served order after order. I’d never seen someone mix drinks so quickly before. And his martinis looked downright delicious. But now wasn’t the time to get distracted by yummy gin and vermouth.
Interestingly, though, he never seemed to serve blood. Every customer at his counter had been human so far.
So then where did the vamps get their drinks?
Or were we the drinks?
No. My intel had specifically mentioned illegal bloodletting. That had to mean a back room somewhere. My gaze drifted back to the guarded room. Maybe it wasn’t for storage after all. Really, there was only one way to find out.
“In about two minutes, I want you to create a distraction,” I shouted to Lucy.
Her sweaty brow creased. “What?”
“A distraction. You know, a ruckus. Big enough to attract everyone’s attention.” I slyly gestured to the lone guard near the back of the dance floor. I needed him to abandon his post so I could sneak in.
She closed her eyes and muttered something to herself, something I couldn’t catch with the music droning in my ear. But I imagined it was something similar to “why am I friends with you?”
“Two minutes,” I reminded her, holding up two fingers.
“What do you suggest?”
I shrugged. Then, with a naughty smile, I danced my way toward the women’s bathroom, all the while silently talking myself up. Oh yeah, tonight was gonna be the night. I was about to crack this story wide open. I was gonna show the world that vampires were far from the docile little pets they wanted us to believe they were. That their friendly neighborhood PR couldn’t save them. One video was all it would take. If something unsavory was happening in that room, I was gonna be all over it like white on rice. They had fangs, for cripes’ sake. Fangs meant to sink into our fragile little throats and drain us dry. I mean, humanity could barely tolerate mosquitoes sucking at our veins. How the hell were we planning on cohabitating with vampires?
I paused in front of the women’s room door and peered back into the crowd. By my Mississippi counts, Lucy had thirty more to go. Hoping not to attract any unwanted attention, I bent down and fiddled with my shoes. Men didn’t understand heels. They simply enjoyed the look of them in the bedroom. I could play with them for minutes, and no one would be the wiser.
At twenty Mississippis, I heard it. A scream. A shout. The crowd roaring with excitement. Then, suddenly, the music cut off with a grating screech. I watched as everyone turned toward the center of the dance floor, where my bestie stood eye-to-eye against Douche McDoucheson. Even from back here, I could hear her screaming a series of unflattering names that would have deeply offended his mama.
When she reached “self-righteous motherfucker,” the vamp guarding the sketchy door broke protocol and wove through the crowd to sort out this new problem. I, however, skedaddled my pert ass toward the newly abandoned door and gripped the doorknob. It turned without resistance, startling me. Who left a guarded door unlocked?
Whatever. Not my problem.
I snuck into the room, then skidded to a stop, my jaw slack.
This was not a storage room. Nor a kitchen. Nor a frickin’ back office.
No—this was a damn whorehouse. I honestly couldn’t think of a better term.
Naked women everywhere. Writhing. Moaning. And on top of the naked women were naked men. Naked vampire men.
A blood orgy?
I needed a second to adjust. Except, I didn’t have a second. This was my bloody story. The club wasn’t providing bottles full of fresh human blood. No. They were providing their vampire clientele with victims.
No wonder I hadn’t spotted a single vamp buying a drink out on the dance floor. Why buy when you could get fresh from the tap back here, holed up in a room that looked like the decorator had taken notes from Hannibal Lector, their greedy mouths latched onto the women?
And the sounds.
My God, the sounds.
I’d seen porn, and this didn’t compare. The sucking, the lapping, the moaning, the groaning, the thrusting… I couldn’t decide if I needed to throw up or slip someone a twenty. How the hell had they kept this so quiet? And no wonder they’d stationed a guard. Gracious! Imagine if an unknowing customer stumbled across this.
Someone like me!
I rifled through my purse and freed my phone from its fancy hidden pocket, then activated the camera. I had just hit record, and hadn’t even looked at the screen yet, when one of the closest vamps positioned himself between a pair of long legs. An unconscious woman lay beneath him, her head turned to the side, brandishing a fresh bite wound.
Oh hell no!
I refused to stand here and let that happen. Dead or alive, rape was rape. But before I could so much as move, he thrust into her.
Indignation rose hard and fast within me. I aimed my camera at him and opened my mouth, about to scream something—anything—when an ice-cold hand clapped over my mouth.
How quickly my rage turned to fear. Before I could so much as react, another arm snaked across my waist and dragged me back against a hard chest. His arms were like vices, too strong for me to struggle against.
He wrenched me backward, and my Jimmy Choos caught against the tiles, falling off my feet. The second my bare feet hit the floor, instinct flooded me. I would not become one of these women! I would not become some pin cushion for them to sink their fangs into while they sank something else in down below.
I dropped my phone, then screamed and kicked, slapped and bit, twisted and struggled. But no one so much as batted an eyelash in my direction. Hell, no one even bothered to look up, so consumed with their conquests to notice a woman in distress. Doubtful they even cared. And my attacker? All he did was laugh, the vile prick.
He dragged me down a dark hallway, and I heard him kick open another door. Fresh, cold air assaulted me, cooling my fear a few degrees. Maybe it was just the bouncer from out front, kicking me out for breaking the rules. Or maybe the guard had returned to find me inside and was ridding the club of a little problem—namely me. Honestly, I didn’t care which, so long as they didn’t hurt me.
My abductor spun me around and shoved me backward. I staggered from the force and toppled into a metal fence.
Gasping for breath, I clutched the fence and finally glanced up.
A vampire stood in front of me. And it was neither the bouncer nor the guard. And from the looks of the dumpster next to me, he hadn’t dragged me out into the street. No, he’d dragged me out the back, into a freaking alleyway.
This wasn’t good. Vampires weren’t legally allowed to feed on the unwilling, but hey, when did laws ever stop someone from doing what they wanted? And watching this predator pace in front of me didn’t fill me with any reassurances.
The vamp lifted his head, his eyes closed, and inhaled. “I love that smell.”
His voice. Oh God. He sounded like Death.
“Do you know what fear smells like?” he continued, enjoying his little monologue.
I didn’t bother answering. Instead, I searched for something I could use as a weapon. But apparently Fallen liked to keep their alleyway squeaky clean. The one time I wouldn’t have minded being thrown into a garbage pile.
Without waiting for my answer, my attacker darted forward. Ivory fangs flashed in the pale streetlight, his face terrifyingly monstrous. He slapped the fence by my head, then lifted his other hand and gripped my throat.
Fear snaked down my spine as a million thoughts raced through my mind.
“You smell like peaches,” the vamp rasped, his rank breath brushing against my throat.
Mouth gaping like a fish out of water, I beat him with closed fists, kicked him with bare feet, clawed at his face and arms, anything to get this monster off me.
Instead, he leaned forward and nuzzled my cheek. He gave another painful squeeze, then released the hold on my throat. I reared back, coughing, choking, gasping. But before I could so much as catch my breath, he struck. Like a viper, his fangs plunged deep into my neck.
I screamed, the hoarse sound likely to be the last thing I ever heard.
Because I was going to die here.
Strange how fast the darkness came. And when it completely consumed me, my last thought was I should have listened to Lucy.