For The Bite Of It
New version published in March 2014.
BOOK 1 OF THE ORBUS ARCANA SERIES – For The Bite Of It
A vampire, a cupcake, plus one sexy cop is a recipe for trouble!
VINCENT KAMATEROS is an exiled vampire making a routine living as the owner of a cupcake bakery in Arizona. Until a car with a dead driver crashes through the wall of his shop, bringing after it, All-American, closeted cop, JOHN REEDER. Smitten the instant he sees John, but bound to silence by the Vampire High Council, he can never reveal his true self to John.
John Reeder can’t control his attraction to the sexy Italian baker. But as addictive as the sex is, John can’t overcome his fear of rejection for being gay, and open his heart to a man with so many secrets.
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For The Bite Of It excerpt, copyright © Viki Lyn and Vina Grey, 2014
The front half of a silver sedan decorated his bakery, its nose nudging the counter, glass shards peppering the floor like confetti. Except Vincent Kamateros wasn’t celebrating. Didn’t have much to celebrate, really.
He stepped around the vehicle, and glass crunched under his clogs despite his walking-on-hot-coals strut. The car had nose-dived into his store about an hour ago. His landlord, Mr. Sala, slumped between his seat and air bag. Dead. If it wasn’t so serious, the situation could have been a scene from a cure-for-insomnia B grade movie you watched at three in the morning.
“Sir, the crime scene is off limits.”
He took out his irritation on the unfortunate crime scene tech, pinning the man with his gaze. “The entire bakery cannot be a crime scene, surely?” Fine for them to tape off the scene, but he wasn’t leaving his shop.
“I’m sorry, sir. I’ll get my supervisor.” The young fellow scampered away.
Ah good, so he could still intimidate with a look. All was perhaps not lost. Except his life as he had known it and his powers. Madre de dios. Enough with this maudlin mood.
Vince pressed his thumbs to his eyes. These humans made him jumpy. Eight weeks without warm, flowing blood had left him as nervous as a caged bird with a cat tapping on the bars.
“Sir, you need to step back.” One of Tempe’s best in a navy uniform held out his hand to stop Vince. The place crawled with them.
He intimidated the human with a forceful glare but a voice from behind distracted him.
“Excuse me, are you the owner?”
The deep tone made him think of fire lit nights and warm sheepskin rugs and bodies twined in lust. Surely, lack of blood would not lead to such a reaction to a male voice. He turned.
Ah, yes. Fire, rug, desire – emotions evoked by a voice and the physical appearance of the man before him. He took in the man from his broad shoulders to his polished loafers. He couldn’t help it. Dark sleek pants hugged muscled thighs. A blue polo shirt outlined shoulders embodying the clichéd mile. That cock-sure stance, feet apart, slightly on his toes. This man would tempt a saint buried twenty-feet under.
He pursed his lips to hold back a smirk as the man stepped away from Vince’s scrutiny. Though Vince had to give him credit for not backing off the stare-down.
“Yes, this is my bakery.” Vince scrutinized the man’s body again. A tingle behind his eyes warned him to curb his lust before his eyes changed color. It had been decades since he’d had such a gut reaction to a man. He blinked and mentally willed away his innate response to such a strong emotion.
“I’m Detective Reeder, this is Detective Norman.” The detective indicated a redheaded woman beside him with a flip of his hand. “We need to ask you some questions.”
He blinked at the ID thrust under his nose – J. Reeder. What did the J stand for? Something typifying the boy next door with his clean-cut looks – Jake, John, Joe?
“Sure. Er…where do you want me?” His brain couldn’t swing a more polished response.
Say here, right now, on your knees.
He really had to do something about his abstinence. Maybe, in a less blood-deprived state, this unexpected All-American male wouldn’t tempt him.
“Let’s get out of this mess.” Detective Reeder pivoted on one heel and walked away. Not for a bag of fresh blood could Vince have stopped his eyes from darting down again. The front view had set up the back one perfectly – a begging-to-be-held ass.
The detective glanced over his shoulder. “Unless you want to come back to the station.”
Vince shook his head. This man brought back memories of the thrill of the chase, the enticing two-step when attraction first hit.
“Outside is fine.” His more lustful thoughts came to a halt when he passed the shattered window. The damage to his shop caused a pang in his heart. Who knew when he’d been talked into buying a cupcake bakery he would become so proprietary? Life sure took the strangest twists and turns.
He followed the detectives out to the square patch of cement with its cast-iron café seating. The near scorching sun managed to hang exactly so the striped umbrella provided no shelter. Sweat beaded on his upper lip and his eyes stung, sensitive to the yellow orb in this world. He usually avoided full on sunlight when he hadn’t fed, but his sunglasses were in his office. Better make this a short conversation.
Vince sat on the hard metal chair. “I would offer you coffee and a cupcake, but…” He pointed to the large hole in the window.
Detective Norman’s smile transformed a rather plain face and gave her a gamine charm. “Please don’t. You’ll blow my diet.”
Ah, the eternal quest for the perfect body. Not that she had much body fat, more stocky and muscular than flabby. Neither cop hung out at the local donut shop.
Especially Detective J. Reeder.
Why hadn’t they sent a portly policeman with a beer-gut and bad hair? This cop gave Vince a serious itch in his groin.
“So, what happened here?” Detective Reeder was all brisk business, his notebook at the ready. Vince half-expected the detective to lick his pencil nib at any moment.
“I was in the kitchen when I heard the crash. I came out and saw that.” He jerked his thumb toward the shattered plate glass window.
“Then what did you do?”
“Do? Like any bloody civic-minded citizen, I went to help Mr. Sala. But he didn’t respond, so I called 911.”
“So you know the driver?”
Vince’s eyes began to water. “Dio, yes. He’s my landlord.”
Detective Reeder scratched furiously in his notebook at the mention of his landlord. Fascinated at the numerous yellow sticky notes and the pages in imminent danger of falling out, Vince watched his movements.
“Was he coming here to meet you?”
He forced his attention back to Reeder and that very handsome face. “No, although he did stop by occasionally for a cup of coffee and cupcake. He had quite the sweet tooth.”
“Could he have been meeting someone else here? Was the store open?” Detective Norman queried.
“Too early. I was the only one in the shop.” He dug a tissue from his jeans’ pocket and wiped at his eyes. “Sorry, allergies.”
J. Reeder looked up from his notebook and stabbed him with a piercing blue stare. “Are you usually here this early?”
Why did they have to be blue? Vince had a weakness for baby-blues. His thoughts had moved at teleport speed from nice eyes to fucking. If he took his friend Angelo’s advice, a sexual distraction was exactly what he needed at the moment. A good fuck.
Vince cleared his throat. “Yes, this is what I do. Every day.”
He gave them a brief version of his morning routine. Open the kitchen at four in the morning, bake cupcakes until eight, and then start baking special orders, which were picked up after twelve. The bakery was closed to walk-in business at six, but customers could collect their cupcakes until seven. Then prep for the next day. In between those tasks, he tried not to think about needing blood, his home and family, or all he had lost in the last couple of years.
Was this the sum total of his life? As boring as watching dough rise. No wonder his cock twitched at the first attractive man who came by.
“So this morning was no different?” J. Reeder’s record appeared to be on stuck.
“No different.” The tears welled in Vince’s eyes and he wiped them again. If he didn’t get his sunglasses soon, Tempe’s finest would notice more than watery eyes. Though he had control, his fangs tingled from his body’s physiological reaction to sunlight.
“Some bad allergies,” commented the female detective.
“It’s a combination of the sun and hay-fever,” Vince improvised. “I’m going to get my sunglasses. Back in half a tick.”
In his office, he put on the dark shades and took a moment to calm his sexual urge. Why now? Why would this clean-cut cop, with the muscular build of an athlete, excite him? Those wide-set eyes with its direct gaze. Such an honest, straightforward look. Vince would bet Reeder had no secrets. He probably went home to the white picket fence, the blonde high-school sweetheart, and the two point five kids. Still his full lower lip hinted at hidden sensuality. Those muscled thighs would be strong as they wrapped around a man’s hips.
Vince commanded himself to focus. Did he or did he not want these humans out of his shop? Besides, nothing about the detective said he would welcome another man’s attention.
Eager to finish with the interrogation, he went back outside.
“This morning was no different.” Vince sat and continued, picking up the thread of the conversation. Then prompted by the little devil on his shoulder, he asked J. Reeder, “What’s your name, by the way? Your first name?”
The detective stiffened, his body pressing back into the black rail of the café chair. His instinctive withdrawal may not be apparent to the casual onlooker, but to a gay man, the message came across loud and clear.
Back off, I’m straight and people like you make me sick. Yes, Vince, you know how to pick them.
Reeder’s brows rose. “Detective Reeder to you.”
“Okay, Detective Reeder.” Vince drawled out his title and caught the flash of irritation in those eyes, quick as a bee-sting. “As I said, I didn’t see the crash happen. Just the aftermath.”
Thank goodness there had been no blood or it would have been difficult to call the police. In his current state, a pool of blood would have been like waving raw meat at a tiger.
“Some aftermath,” Detective Norman remarked. “By the way, you can call me Free.” Her eyes crinkled at the corners in that I’m-amused-but-won’t-laugh way.
“Interesting name. What is it short for?”
“Oh no, we’re not going there. May I call you Vincent?”
“Vince, Vincent. Either is fine. ”
J. Reeder scowled. “Okay, Mr. Kamateros. Let’s get back to this morning.”
Vince tugged his attention back to the detective with the one-track mind. Fine. He had to convince them he had nothing to do with the accident. The sooner Mr. Detective took his sexy ass back to his police station, the better for Vince.
“Did you hear anything else?” Reeder demanded, irritation giving his tone a sharp edge.
Was he serious?
“A car going through a window isn’t exactly silent.”
Free’s chuckle transformed into a slight cough.
Detective Reeder’s eyes flashed with annoyance. “I meant before the crash.”
“Ah, I see. Squealing of brakes, perhaps? Tires screeching as they peeled out of the parking lot?” He chuckled. “No, the morning was remarkably quiet.”
But then again, he did have his head stuck in the oven as he took out a tray of cupcakes. In fact, he hadn’t even sensed anything. Faint as his powers were these days, he should have felt a premonition. Damn the rules of his exile. He tamped down the familiar anger at the loss. One day, he would take back his powers. He had to. This life? He couldn’t live it forever.
The detective scowled and flexed his shoulders back. His pecs rolled under the polo shirt, tempting Vince to grab and test their firmness. Preening? Not this man. This was aggression. Vince curled his hands into his icing-spattered, pink apron. What a picture he must present in his kitchen-wear.
“Look here, Kamateros—”
“Call me Vince.” He may as well enjoy baiting Reeder if he couldn’t get rid of him. Or fuck him.
“Either you cooperate or I’m taking you to the station. Got that?”
What happened to innocent until proven guilty? Suddenly, Vince wanted the humans gone. Living with them chafed most days, reminding him of all he had lost. Here he was, in the Jurisdictio’s equivalent of the vampire waste dump. Commit a crime? Get exiled to the human world. In his previous life, people bowed to him, not the other way around.
Vince scrubbed a hand over his chin, desiring a long cold shower to wash away his attraction to Detective Clean-Cut Reeder. Maybe some soap and a firm hand would alleviate some of the pressure. He wondered if the detective had a firm grip.