Vampires turn to fanged and fabulous matchmaker extraordinaire Angelina Ricci to help them find that special someone to curl up with under the mistletoe in this charming (read: sexy) and delightful (read: funny) holiday collection by national bestselling author Heidi Betts. Because vampires need love, too. (Biting optional. Hot sex guaranteed.)
"All I Vant For Christmas"
Connor loves trimming the Christmas tree, baking gingerbread cookies, and hanging the mistletoe. But his vampire siblings won't help. His friend Angelina sends party planner Jillian to the rescue. But when Jillian, who's mortal, discovers she's decking the halls for a family of vampires, will she run - or will Connor have a beautiful woman to share the holidays with?
"A Vampire in Her Stocking"
When Vivian learns that her secret crush Nick is terminally ill, she's heartbroken. Confiding in Angelina, Vivian refuses to turn Nick into a vampire. Deciding to play Santa, Angelina changes Nick and leaves him wrapped in a red bow on Vivian's doorstep...
"It's A Wonderful Bite"
Although Angelina is happy with her boyfriend Sergio, she's ready for a commitment. After drinking eggnog and watching It's a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve, Angelina falls into a dream where she is mortal and Sergio isn't interested in her. Talk about the nightmare before Christmas! But Santa must have checked his list twice because this Christmas Angelina's wishes are coming true...
Vivian awoke in her own bed, under her own covers. The curtains were drawn to block out any sunlight, but even so, she knew it was nighttime; she could feel it.
A glance at digital clock glowing red on the bedside table told her it was a little after nine. Much later than she normally rose, but she’d had a rough couple of days. And it wasn’t like she had anywhere to go. Not anymore.
Head throbbing, stomach queasy from being empty for so long, she pushed to her feet and forced herself across the room to the bathroom, then down the hall to the kitchen. She started a pot of coffee, not even sure she would be able to drink it, before going to the refrigerator and pulling out an unopened bottle of B-positive.
The weakness in her limbs, dryness in her eyes and mouth, and throbbing in the gums around her elongated incisors all told her she needed to feed, but darned if she could work up the appetite for it.
Fate was too cruel, she thought, twisting the cap off the bottle of synthetic plasma and bringing it reluctantly to her lips.
Here she was, completely immortal, with no chance of dying in the near future unless she fell on a stake or opened her blinds at high noon. While across town, an all too mortal man was facing a certain death, and there was nothing anyone could do about it.
Well, she could, as Angelina had suggested before leaving her alone with her misery and heartbreak, but he wouldn’t thank her for it if she did.
Tipping back the bottle of blood, she made herself swallow. Gulp after gulp, the thick metallic liquid slid down her throat. And it did make her feel better, relieving a bit of the dizziness and lethargy pulling at her.
When the bottle was empty, she moved to the sink, gave it a quick rinse, and added it to the recycle bin. The coffee was almost ready now, and she would drink a cup of that, too. After all, in higher doses, caffeine had the same effect on vamps as it did on humans, and she could use a touch of artificial pick-me-up.
She had a mug in one hand, creamer in the other, when a sound from the other room caught her attention. Her mind, sluggish as it was, raced to identify the noise.
She lived alone, so it wasn’t a roommate. And she spent so much time at work that she didn’t even have a pet–though maybe she should consider getting one now that she was short on both a job and a romantic obsession.
Could it be Angelina? Had she come back? Or perhaps she was still here and only Vivian’s scattered state had made her think her friend had left at all.
The noise came again, lower and longer this time. It sounded like . . . was she imagining things? . . . a moan.
Setting the mug and creamer on the counter, she started slowly for the living room, tugging the edges of her robe tighter together and retying the sash.
The room was dark except for the glowing lights of the Christmas tree in the corner. She’d decorated it herself just after Thanksgiving, taking absurd pleasure in the placement of each ornament and every floss-like strand of tinsel.
But she didn’t need light to see. Thanks to the vamp in her, her vision was twenty-twenty, and even better in the dark.
The problem was, she didn’t see anything. Just her living room . . . thick mauve carpeting, rarely used fireplace, sofa and matching armchair, and the wall of windows lining the entire West side of her apartment.
Yes, she knew it was odd–a vampire living in a penthouse, surrounded by glass that increased her chances of sun exposure by about eighty percent. But even though she had to keep the shades tightly drawn throughout the day, the view at night was spectacular.
Living here also made her feel more normal, more a part of the human race instead of one that was thought to spend most of its time underground or sleeping in coffins.
That same low moan came again and she stepped farther into the room, rounding the end table at the foot of the sofa–and jerked to a halt. Her eyes widened, heart speeding up in her chest.
“Oh, my God,” she breathed. She felt frozen in place, unable to move.
Sean lay sprawled on the sofa, taking up every inch of the off-white space. His eyes were closed in what she hoped was simply deep sleep. His clothes–a pair of worn jeans and a dark green sweater–were rumpled and his sandy blond hair stuck out in every direction.
And draped across his chest like a beauty pageant sash was a wide red ribbon, complete with giant bow.
One corner of a large white envelope was tucked underneath, just over his heart. She slid it free, careful not to disturb him. Inside was a card with Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang standing around Charlie Brown’s legendary twig of a tree, singing a Christmas carol.
Vivian opened the card. Scrawled in large, flowing script were the words Merry Christmas. Enjoy your present. It was signed simply A.
“Oh, no,” she murmured, closing the card and dropping it to the coffee table in front of the couch. “What did you do?”
She wasn’t sure if she was asking an invisible Angelina or herself, but a sinking feeling was beginning to churn in her gut.
Sinking down beside the sofa, she ran her gaze over Sean’s still form. He looked all right. Unconscious and slightly the worse for wear, but his lips were rosy instead of blue, and his skin still retained a hint of color rather than being the porcelain white of someone no longer shuffling along the mortal coil.
Though shallow and slow, his chest was rising and falling as he drew air into his lungs. Which didn’t exactly allay her fears. On the one hand, breathing was good. On the other, it only meant he wasn’t dead, not that he wasn’t undead.
Vampires breathed in and out the same as everyone else. It wasn’t necessary; they could go a millennia without oxygen, if circumstances warranted it. But it was as easy to continue breathing as to stop, and it allowed them to blend in more easily without looking like mannequins or drawing sometimes unwanted attention to themselves.
Taking a deep breath herself–one she really did feel she needed to brace herself–she lifted a hand and carefully turned his face away from her. A low moan rolled past his lips, and she paused, waiting to see if he was about to wake up. When his jaw remained slack against her fingers, she reluctantly lowered her gaze to the side of his throat.
And there they were. Two perfectly round puncture marks just over his jugular. The holes were still tinged red, but well on their way to being healed.
With a long, heartfelt groan, she released his chin and dropped her head to the edge of the sofa.
“Dammit, Angelina,” she muttered into the thick cushion. “What the hell am I supposed to do now?”
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