Smitten with the Vampire King: A Fated Mates Vampire and Werewolf Romantic Comedy (Dating Monsters Book 7)
Smitten with the Vampire King: A Fated Mates Vampire and Werewolf Romantic Comedy (Dating Monsters Book 7)
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- Fated Mates
- Vampire Romance
- Vampire King!
- Protective Hero
- Kickass Heroine
- Found Family
Every girl dreams about finding her happily-ever-after. Even me. Especially me. But never—and I do mean never—did I imagine my HEA would come in the form of a tall, dark, and handsome vampire.
I mean, I’m a vampire slayer. He’s the vampire king. It’s my job to kill his kind. Not fall in love with him. Heck, I didn’t even know that was possible, considering I’m a werewolf.
But apparently it’s more than possible. It’s inevitable.
Which is why I have to save him.
Someone put a bounty on his head, and it’s up to me to save his insufferable, entitled—and oh so deliciously firm—ass. Even if that means kidnapping him. It’s for his own protection, I swear. My friend's cabin out in the middle of nowhere will keep us safe. At least until we can figure out who wants him dead.
And kill them first.
Now, if only I can keep my hands off him…
“Come on, Maddie, get your shit together,” I hissed at myself as I put on another burst of speed. My legs ached and my lungs burned from the chase this demonic little vamp was leading me on, but I couldn’t give up. In all my years as a slayer, I hadn’t missed a single target, and I wasn’t about to start tonight.
Fuck, I hated running. I knew people who loved it and even saw it as a recreational sport, but I wasn’t one of them. I didn’t even enjoy it in wolf form—which, according to my sister and her husband, made me one odd duck. But I hated everything about it. The sweat, the panting, the muscle cramps, the post-run agony, all of it.
Unfortunately for me, running was a huge part of my job.
As much as I would appreciate it if they did, vampires didn’t stand around waiting for slayers to stake them for their crimes. And apparently, this one had been training for a marathon, cuz sweet Jiminy Cricket, he was fast. I mean, all vampires were fast. But this little turd was faster than Usain Bolt.
We tore through LaFleur’s Bluff State Park at speeds humans wouldn’t be able to track. Luckily for me, it was nighttime and the middle of February. Mississippi winters were mild, but people still tended to avoid the chillier temperatures. Meaning, the park was quiet, and no one was here to witness me running at top werewolf speed. That would change, though, when we crossed the highway and entered the ’burbs.
My target threw a quick glance back my way, surprise widening his eyes.
Guess he thought he’d lost me back in the brush.
Guess again, fang-daddy.
I would have loved nothing more than to shift right now, but I couldn’t waste the precious time. It wouldn’t take long—I’d mastered the art and reduced my shifting time to thirty seconds—but those thirty seconds were pivotal right now. I couldn’t lose track of this vamp. Not after what I’d seen tonight.
The vamp stole another glance back at me, cursed, then banked a hard left turn, toward the Museum of Natural Science.
The museum sat right next to I-55, and on the other side of that was housing. Which meant people. And that put me at a disadvantage. The public knew about vampires and had been quite accommodating to them, but they didn’t know jack-shit about werewolves. And no one from my community seemed willing to reveal that little secret. I certainly wouldn’t be the one to expose us. If he crossed over into a populated area, I’d have to slow down and risk losing him.
No way in hell would I let that happen.
This dude murdered three women. And when I found him tonight, he’d been chomping down on number four. Thanks to me, she would survive. But I refused to let him escape.
The sound of traffic rose to my ears, and I swore.
I wouldn’t catch him now.
Luckily, I had one last ace up my sleeve.
“Hey Siri,” I called quietly to my cell phone, hoping I was loud enough for it to pick up my voice, but not too loud that the vamp overheard me. “Call Jaden.”
“Calling Jaden, mobile,” chimed Siri’s voice through my Bluetooth earpiece.
Thank the stars for virtual assistance because I knew from experience I couldn’t keep sprinting and dial Jaden manually. Last time I’d tried, I’d dropped my phone on the pavement and shattered the screen. Hence my shiny new device, complete with Siri.
The call connected, and Jaden’s whispered voice carried through the speaker. “Maddie?”
“Where are you?” I demanded through a wheezing breath, praying that she was where I hoped.
“I’m about to leave class,” she said. “What do you need?”
Relief nearly had me tripping over a stupid tree root. About a year ago, Jaden had started taking night classes at Belhaven University, which was a little more than a mile from here. It chapped my ass that I’d have to slow to human speeds, but I had no other options. I wouldn’t catch him before he crossed into the nearby residential area.
“I’m in pursuit,” I told her. “We’re passing the Museum of Natural Science and heading in your direction. This bastard’s fast. I think I can herd him down Riverside if you can cut him off?”
I listened as she gathered her books. “I’m on my way now. Josh is here too, so we can both help.”
“He is?” Then I shook my head. Not important. I could ask about his presence later. “Meet me at Linden and Riverside in a few minutes. Can you make it there in time?”
“It’ll be tight.” But she was already on the move. I heard her repeat my directions to Josh right before the call disconnected.
The vampire shot across the interstate without any difficulty. My gaze immediately darted to the oncoming vehicles. Shit, this was going to be close. Gritting my teeth, I dove across the highway. Brakes screeched behind me, and I waited for the sound of metal crunching, which, thankfully, never came. Traffic resumed after a few honks.
I blew out a relieved breath and continued my pursuit, sadly at slower speeds now that I had to weave through a throng of pedestrians.
God, I hated this.
I’d petitioned the alphas more than once to reveal our kind to the public, but they refused. Keeping this secret made my job difficult, but they didn’t care. My job’s challenges didn’t trump the safety of every other werewolf in the world. Hell, my friends didn’t even know I wasn’t human. And believe me, that was a hard secret to keep.
When the vampire started heading north, I cursed and altered my course, pushing him back toward Riverside. Who knew I’d make a good vamp herder? At least I had him headed toward the college now, because my reduced speed meant the gap between us kept widening. It wouldn’t be long before I lost track of him.
The vamp and I crossed St. Ann Street when he made a sudden break for a huddle of college kids. Screams echoed a second before they scattered. Soon after came the unmistakable glows of smartphones. Because of course they’d decided to record us instead of, oh, I don’t know, helping me. Lucky for the fanger, cameras and his kind didn’t mix, so he didn’t have to worry about going viral. I, however, wasn’t so lucky.
My phone rang, and Siri announced Jaden as the caller.
“Answer,” I said, connecting the call.
“Josh and I are in position,” Jaden immediately said.
“We’re almost there. You won’t miss us.”
“I’ll leave the line open in case he changes direction,” she said.
I nodded, even though she couldn’t see that, and pressed onward. The leech was a full block ahead of me, but I grabbed Sir-Stab-A-Lot from my tactical belt and gripped him hard, preparing myself for the kill.
“I have visual,” Jaden quietly murmured.
“Good. Take him down,” I ordered.
“Go!” Jaden hissed.
Rustling carried over the phone line, and I watched as Josh and Jaden appeared out of nowhere and tackled my target. The three tumbled to the ground in a mess of limbs.
Screams erupted from the crowd surrounding us, but Jaden and Josh ignored them, and focused on the target.
I forced my legs a little faster, hoping no one questioned my speed, then came to a stop next to the heap.
Josh and Jaden were both human. But like me, the Vampire Slayer Academy had trained them. They knew how to take down a vamp. Which is why, without any direction from me, Josh wrenched back the vamp’s arms, giving me a clear target. I gripped Sir-Stab-A-Lot and slammed him down, right into the vamp’s black heart. His eyes widened, then with a slow breath, he went slack on the pavement, his eyes glazing over.
“It’s okay!” Jaden shouted, waving her badge—the one we carried in case the real police ever questioned us. We weren’t true law enforcement, but they respected us. “We’re with the VSA.”
The screams faded, but college students gathered around us, gasping in horror and fright at the sight sprawled before them.
Staking a vampire wasn’t clean. Nor was it anything like what they showed on television shows. When we staked them, they died the same as everyone else—in a heap of blood and gore. I’d never once seen a vampire turn to dust. Unfortunately.
Breathless from my impromptu marathon, I yanked Sir-Stab-A-Lot free and slowly rose to my shaky feet.
“How long were you chasing him?” Josh asked.
I bent at the waist and flattened my palms against my thighs. “About thirty minutes or so.”
“At top speeds?” Jaden asked, her voice filled with awe.
I merely nodded. It wasn’t like I could tell them the distance. Ten miles in thirty minutes wasn’t possible by human standards.
“Good for you!” Jaden said, clapping me on the back. “It’s too bad you won’t wear a smartwatch. I would have loved to look at those stats and compare them to mine and Josh’s.”
Which was exactly why I didn’t wear one. They didn’t know I wasn’t human—and I needed to keep it that way.
Straightening, I grabbed my phone, then sent a quick message to the Body Retrieval Team. An automatic response pinged back, giving me an ETA of ten minutes.
Oh, thank goodness. Usually, BRT took longer than that.
Relief had me plopping down on the ground next to the dead vampire. I grinned at the sight of his lifeless eyes. Maybe I shouldn’t take such pleasure in a kill, but this bastard had murdered his fair share of humans. It felt justified to celebrate.
“You shouldn’t sit,” Josh advised. “Come on, get up. Keep moving around. Trust me, you don’t want lactic acid building up. Stretch your muscles out. Otherwise you won’t be moving too well tomorrow or the day after that.”
Yeah, yeah, I knew all that. But couldn’t I have a few moments to collect my breath first?
Jaden hauled me to my feet and pushed me forward. “Get moving, girl.”
Ugh. I truly hated them right now. I was a werewolf. I wasn’t even sure we produced lactic acid. But I had a guise to maintain, and that meant stretching out my quads after a particularly harrowing run.
Jaden turned to the gawkers and waved her hand. “Okay, people. Come on. There’s nothing left to see here.”
And this was why we tried not to slay vampires in public. It attracted far too much attention. People pretended to be horrified, but inside, they were fascinated.
“Let’s go!” Josh shouted. “I’m sure you all have better places to be.”
About half dispersed, but the other half wouldn’t budge until BRT loaded the body into the van and drove off. Humans were an odd lot—and I should know. I used to be one. Always so captivated by the macabre.
Once I completed the required stretches, I turned back to my friends. “How much of a cut do you want?”
Jaden waved a dismissive hand without even looking at me. “Don’t worry about me.”
“I’m good too,” Josh said.
“No, seriously. I wouldn’t have caught this dickhead without your help.”
Jaden chuckled, then tucked her curls behind her ears. “I think you deserve it all. We can hardly get you to run a mile with us, but this guy led you on a merry chase. It’s all yours.”
“So funny,” I muttered.
My hunts didn’t normally pan out like this. They always ended in a chase, sure. But since I could easily keep up with vampires, I usually caught them within a few minutes. This guy, though, had the legs of an antelope on him.
The real problem had been me. I may have been a wee bit inattentive at the start of the hunt. So much so that he’d spotted me first, giving him the upper hand. Usually, I was more careful than this, but I’d been a bit distracted recently, unable to think of anything other than what’d happened two nights ago.
The night I’d met my mate.
I shook my head. I couldn’t keep going down this road. Couldn’t keep thinking about him.
Yes, I’d met Gabriel. And yes, he’d kissed the ever-loving-bejesus out of me. But I refused to turn into some sloppy, lovesick woman who couldn’t think of anything else.
So, I slapped on my game face and turned toward Jaden.
The concerned furrow of her brows startled me.
“You okay?” she asked.
“Me? Sure. Why?”
Her pale blue eyes narrowed on me. “Josh and I were talking to you, and you completely spaced out. Did you even hear what we said?”
I blinked, a flush warming my cheeks. I hadn’t heard a damn thing. Because once again, I’d been thinking of Gabriel. Jaden and Josh knew absolutely nothing about him. Which distressed me all the more, considering they’d actually met him. They simply didn’t remember, thanks to Gabriel compelling them to forget.
“Earth to Maddie.” Jaden snapped her fingers in front of my face.
I forced myself to focus on her. “What?”
“There you go again,” she said, shaking her head. “You’ve been acting really oddly lately. Ever since your last hunt. Are you sure you’re okay?”
“I’m fine. Just tired,” I said, lying through my teeth. I so wasn’t fine.
Because not only had I met my mate, and we’d shared this amazing kiss that haunted my dreams, but he was also a vampire. I didn’t hate vampires as a general rule, but I didn’t love them either. No one in this business did. How could I be a vampire slayer, and fall in love with one?
Whoa. Pump the brakes. No one had said anything about falling in love with Gabriel. Just because he was my mate didn’t mean we had to be together, right?
I really needed to call my sister about this. Lucy would know. She had her own mate. She knew how this blasted connection worked.
Maybe with time, the longing would dissipate?
“Maddie!” Jaden shouted.
I shook my thoughts clear and focused on her and Josh again. Now both stared at me, concern etched on their faces.
“I’m sorry,” I told them both. “That run really exhausted me.”
“What are you thinking about?” Jaden asked.
“My bed,” I said, laughing. “Ooo, or maybe a bath first. Soak these muscles. Or maybe we should eat. We could get some waffles! Isn’t there a Waffle House nearby?”
Jaden chuckled. “I always forget how hungry you get after running. Maybe you need some electrolytes or something.”
“Yes, those!” I glommed onto that like a duck on a June bug. Anything to keep her from asking what I was thinking about again. “Anyone carrying?”
Jaden chuckled and shook her head, her beautiful, dark, curly locks bouncing against her shoulder. “We weren’t out for a run, so no, sorry.”
No, they’d been at school together. Except Josh wasn’t a student. I eyed the two of them and noticed the faint color to their cheeks. Josh rubbed the back of his neck, as though afraid I’d question his presence here.
“Oh, uh, there’s a shop nearby,” Josh said, his words rushing together. “I’ll run and get you a Gatorade.”
“Aw, thank you.”
With a smile, he started down the street at a slow jog.
Before I could question Jaden, she hopped back into the conversation with, “You sure you’re okay?”
This time, I chuckled. Distraction and avoidance, much? “Yes, Mom.”
“Don’t give me any attitude, Missy,” she teased, imitating what I assumed was a mother’s voice. Seeing as how I’d never had one, I had no idea. But I’d seen movies.
She cleared her throat and wrung her hands together. Something I’d never seen her do before.
“So, I guess you’re wondering why Josh is here, and well, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about this.”
Well, that sounded serious.
“He and I have been spending a lot of time together. You know, without you and Chris.” She scratched her cheek, her umber color deepening. “We get along really well, and I think there may be something more to it. I’ve been wanting to ask him out for a while now, but I’m… Anyway, I wanted to get your opinion on that.” She shot me a shy glance. “On whether or not I should…you know, do that.”
Surprise lifted my brows.
Jaden liked Josh? In our five-year relationship, she’d never expressed liking anyone. Sure, men flocked in her direction—she was downright gorgeous, with her dark skin and striking blue eyes. But six years ago, a vampire had murdered her fiancé, and that had broken her. Afterward, she’d taken herself entirely off the market.
Until now, apparently.
My gaze flicked over her shoulder to the man jogging down the street to fetch me a Gatorade. Josh was a sweetheart, and my initial reaction was to squeal at the thought of them together. But then reality reared its ugly head.
We were all friends.
Me, Jaden, Josh, and Chris. A foursome that had been together since we all started at the Academy. What would happen if they didn’t work out? Would we all split up? Or would it force the two of them to see each other daily? Flashes of Ross and Rachel from the show Friends rose to mind.
“I know,” she said. “It could get messy.”
It could get hella messy. But who was I to talk? My mate was a vampire, for cripes’ sake. Hell, I didn’t even know where he was currently. His deeply British accent suggested he wasn’t from around here. Which had me wondering if he’d returned home. That thought unsettled me, which upset me even more. I shouldn’t care so much! Not after one kiss.
The memory of that kiss resurfaced. His arms around me, his lips firm against mine, the feelings he’d awakened within me. My body yearned for him, if only to explore the heat between us.
“Maddie?” Jaden asked.
I cursed inwardly and forced all thoughts of Gabriel aside. My friend needed me right now. I had to stop thinking about him.
“Well, there’s a risk,” I said. “But if you like him and don’t act on it, wouldn’t you regret it?” I almost laughed at my advice.
“Yeah,” Jaden said. “And I’ve felt like this for a while. I think he’s into me too, but I’m afraid to find out.”
“You won’t until you ask. We’re all adults here.”
She chuckled. “Adults do stupid shit.”
That we did.
I took her hands and gave them a reassuring squeeze. “The only thing you can do is ask. If it works out, at least you’ll be with someone who understands your lifestyle. Someone you mesh with. Could you imagine explaining all this to a normal person?”
That made her laugh harder. “Too true.”
Movement caught my eye, and I glanced up in time to spot Josh closing the distance between us, a Gatorade bottle sloshing in his hand.
I gave Jaden a smile, then released her hands. “Incoming.”
Jaden’s smile vanished, replaced by something that resembled fear.
“Hey. You got this.”
Because honestly, what man would be crazy enough to turn her down? Jaden was an amazing person through and through.
“Thanks,” she said.
I nodded, eager to see where this led.
Now, if only I was this excited about my own love connection.