SEDUCING SCOTS - Marie Treanor's three Psychic Seductions novellas Now in Paperback from Ellora's Cave - Contains Hunting Karoly, Guitar Man and Freeing Al.
You're not meant to fall for the bad guy, are you? Not the vampire, nor the possessed, nor the ex-con...
Reluctant Scottish psychic Jenny discovers her true talent is hunting vampires. Yet when that vampire is the evil, sexy gorgeous Karoly, in his quite inappropriate antique kilt, will she be able to fulfill her potential?
Ellie is a strong psychic with a messy personal life. When she decides to clean up the latter, the last person she needs to encounter is carefree Scottish busker Chris, the best ever one night stand from her naughty past. Especially when something evil within him threatens them both.
When the vampiress Draguta, Karoly's ex, comes to the Scottish Highlands with a social mission, she's distracted by local pub landlord, Al MacNab - a large, sexy man with a dubious past, a lot of secrets, and some alluring bondage gadgetry in his cellar.
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An Excerpt From: HUNTING KAROLY
Copyright © MARIE TREANOR, 2009
All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.
Unmistakable laughter flickered in his beautiful face, lightening his stunning green eyes, curving his smooth, sculpted lips. And at last the humiliation—not just at his rejection but at my pathetically easy surrender—jerked me into action.
Letting go of his arms, I balled my hands into fists and pushed violently against his chest. Nothing happened. He might have been a tank or a stone wall for all the impression I made. So I tried instead to push back the table behind me with my bum, using his chest as leverage. The table rocked and I heard the clank of glasses knocking together before he did the blur thing again and grabbed whatever I was knocking down. He did it, however, without letting me go, so when I could see him once more, I was icily sarcastic.
“For a vampire who drinks the guests’ blood, you’re very careful of the hotel’s property!”
“I don’t want to attract attention.”
“That’ll be the reason for the Bonnie Prince Charlie outfit and the ‘children of the night’ accent.”
“I’ve no idea what you’re talking about,” he said tranquilly. The hand not holding me was busy doing something behind me. I heard the sound of liquid splashing on to glass. “Besides,” he added, straightening and presenting me with a glass of red wine, “if we’re offering criticism, you are singularly inept for a vampire hunter.”
“Tell me about it,” I said, snatching the glass from his fingers with the vague idea of dashing the contents in his face. “They’ll love this down at the Centre!”
His hand released me. Casually, he reached behind me again, his nearness causing a fresh stab of desire to slice through my stomach. He came back into view with another glass half full of the same ruby liquid. Unless it was blood.
He said, “There is a Centre for vampire hunters now?”
I took a hefty swig from my glass. The remaining contents would still make a fine mess of his pristine white shirt. “For psychics of all kinds, people with ESP who can fight evil spirits.”
His eyes mocked me over the rim of the glass. “That’s what you do?”
“No. It’s what they do while I’m setting fire to my hair.”
His lips twitched. “So that’s what happened to it?” Unexpectedly, his free hand ruffled through my short spikes as if I were a Labrador. “I thought it was a little martial for bridesmaids’ fashions.”
“Yes, yes,” I snapped, “and it doesn’t go with this stupid dress either!”
“Oh I don’t know. I like it. It makes you look like a street urchin dressing up in someone else’s posh clothes.”
“And that’s good how?”
“I don’t know if it’s good at all,” he said, elegantly sipping his wine, “but it’s certainly sexy.”
I blinked in astonishment. “Sexy? What do vampires know about sex?”
His smile took my breath away. For an instant, his amazing eyes went dark again, drinking me in, swallowing me.
An Excerpt From: GUITAR MAN
Copyright © MARIE TREANOR, 2010
All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.
Now, a year later, on a damp street in Glasgow, I began to laugh, both at the memory of our outrageous behavior then and because it was just so unlikely to run into him now.
At once his eyes shifted to me. The smile in them froze for an instant of incredulity. If I had suffered any doubts that he would remember me—and, actually, I did, for Geoffrey had rather bruised my self-confidence—they were instantly dissipated, for he strode straight toward me, arms held out wide.
“Elleonora,” he said, wrapping those long, strong arms around me in a warm, rocking hug. “Elleonora, my shining light.”
Squashed as I was, I couldn’t hug him back. Instead, I contented myself with rubbing my cheek on his warm, hard chest. It was a gesture of affection and friendship, because he still felt good. And because he still appreciated the meaning of my name. Looking up at him, I realized he was smiling at me with strange wonder in his amazing blue eyes.
To my surprise, he seemed to be struggling for words. That was not the Chris I remembered. Then, with typical understatement, he said only, “How’s it going?”
“Great,” I said in the same spirit, as his arms fell away, leaving me cold. “You?”
“Couldn’t be better. Want to get some lunch?”
Chris swung back to his guitar case, slipping the shoulder strap of the instrument over his head. He spared a few more nods and smiles of thanks as he crouched down to put the guitar away, closing the case without waiting for the rest of the money still trickling his way. In a moment, the coins were bagged and pocketed and the case was strapped to his shoulder. He grabbed a worn black leather jacket from the ground at his feet and came back toward me. His eyes still danced in the way I remembered.
“I thought you’d have disappeared,” he said.
“With you about to buy me lunch in one of Glasgow’s top restaurants? Do you think I’m mad?”
Chris grinned. “What about the pub?”
I sighed theatrically. “I suppose it’ll do. Lay on, MacDuff.”
He took me to a traditional but quite pleasant pub close by and we ordered fish and chips and two pints of heavy.
“Aw right, Christopher?” one of the barmaids shouted on her way past. Chris toasted her with his pint and she spared me a grin, along with a suspicious glance and a sniff, before she went on her way.
Tasting the beer with enthusiasm, I couldn’t prevent my nose from wrinkling. I’d always wanted to try something with so intriguing a name but heavy just didn’t do it for me. Chris watched me and laughed, then rose to get me a glass of red wine instead. Which wasn’t actually much better but, hey, it was drinkable.
I sat back, looking around me at the mixed drinkers and lunchers, the man in the corner who looked as if he never left it, the gaggle of office girls giggling and eyeing up Chris. Well, he was a good-looking bloke, even in those tatty clothes. When I brought my gaze back to him, he was staring at my face. His eyes still held a trace of wonder.
“What?” I demanded, for some reason slightly uncomfortable.
“I was just thinking, what an unlikely place to run into you. Buchanan Street, Glasgow…”
“As opposed to St. Michele in Borgo, Pisa?”
His eyes crinkled disarmingly. “Well, I was thinking more of the Penguino toilette.”
He meant to make me blush and he succeeded, which is no mean feat. But the memory of what we had done in the toilet of the Penguino cafe was enough to flood my entire body with heat. And here was I trying to remember our friendly parting rather than the wild afternoon and night—and following morning—of hot sex. Chris, I remembered only too well, had the stamina of a bull, the finesse and sensitivity of an artist and the imagination of a porn movie director. And absolutely no inhibitions. Sex with him had been…uplifting. Because it came with no emotional baggage, no strings or expectations.
And he had this gorgeous, lean body, all hard muscles and sinews. His hands…yes well, I couldn’t think about his hands now. Not when he was already enjoying my blush of remembrance.
With what dignity I could muster, I said, “I didn’t come all the way up here to use the toilet. For any purpose.”
“You’ll be bursting by the time you get back home,” he observed, lifting his pint and I laughed without meaning to.
He smiled. “I know. So what does bring you here to my dear green place?”
“Glasgow. That’s what Glasgow means.”
“Oh. I came up to see a friend.”
His lips parted, as if he was about to ask more, but then he only let out a half laugh and took another drink.
I said, “I’m meeting her at the station at 5 o’clock.”
He laid down his glass. “So I can have a couple of hours?”
I looked at him a little uncertainly. Already his company was beguiling, tempting. But I had no intention of going down that road again. I would not spoil what we’d already had and I could not get into another affair, however casual. I had sworn off men and I meant it. I felt it.
“It’s all right, Ellie,” he mocked. “I wasn’t about to entice you into the pub cludgie.”
I sat back in my seat. “You think I don’t know what a cludgie is.”
A smile flickered across his face. “I thought you would work it out.”
Our fish and chips arrived then and we began to eat. It was surprisingly good.
“So what are you doing with yourself?” I asked. “Still busking, I see.”
“Well, got to scratch a living somehow.”
“Can’t be a very luxurious one,” I observed, eyeing his frayed t-shirt and battered leather jacket significantly.
“Hey, don’t insult the threads.”
“Threads are about all there is! Don’t you want something else from life, Chris?”
“What, like a nine-to-five job, a wife and two-point-four kids with matching mortgage, a car to wash on Sundays and a heart attack at forty?”
“Well, not quite that. But a house would be nice, wouldn’t it?”
“I’ve got a house,” said Chris, surprisingly.
“Wow,” I said, impressed. In Pisa, he’d said he wasn’t going home because he’d nowhere to live.
“My father died and left me it. Good house. You should come and see it.”
Quickly, I searched his face for signs of grief. There didn’t seem to be any, although his attention had wandered. He was exchanging nods of recognition with a couple just entering the pub. “Maybe I will,” I said lightly.
His eyes came back to me. “What about you, Ellie? Married to that nice, responsible man of your dreams yet?”
I blinked, because I couldn’t actually remember discussing that with anyone. But then, I realized with surprise that we had talked. At the beginning and in between fucking. Even during it sometimes. He had been easy to talk to because he expected nothing and took nothing seriously. I had even been able to laugh about my stepmother.
I shook my head. “I thought I met him but he turned out to be an arsehole.”
“He dumped me for his secretary. Nice girl, good with the vicar and dinner parties for the boss.”
“Bet she’s got sleekit eyes, though.”
“Do you know, I think she has? Though I don’t quite know what it means, I appreciate the support.” Finishing the last of my fish, I washed it down with wine and Chris went to the bar to get more. He had already drunk both pints of heavy.
It was just the afternoon I needed. Having established with Chris that I was not into a return match of Pisa, I just enjoyed his company and laughed. With Geoffrey, I realized, I would never have laughed. Not like this. I really had had a lucky escape. In a little I would even be grateful to him.
Stepping out of the pub slightly tipsy and discovering daylight, I halted on the doorstep, blinking to reorient myself. Chris threw a steadying arm about my shoulders and pulled me down the street and round a corner into a much narrower road that was little more than an alley.
Relaxing against him, feeling the movements of his warm body as he walked with his long, easy stride, I realized I really wouldn’t mind if he kissed me now. I wouldn’t object at all to being drawn into that doorway for a snog and a grope…only I didn’t want anything more than that, whatever my suddenly tingling body was trying to tell me. That was the drink. Three glasses of wine and wet knickers did not have to lead to sex. No way. We’d got the sex out of the way in Pisa. All that hot, delicious sex. But yes, we’d done that! Now we could be friends.
Friends who maybe had the odd snog in a dark alley. I glanced up at him a bit wistfully, with the vague intention of enjoying his handsome profile. Instead I met his hot, clouded gaze full-on and my stomach somersaulted. Still walking, he bent his head closer to mine. His arm tightened on my shoulder and I knew I should stop this before it started.
Why should I? I asked myself forcefully, gazing at those sexy, slightly parted lips, lips that could kiss like… Like this.
I don’t know which of us made the final move that closed the distance but as soon as his mouth brushed across mine, I was lost. My lips fell apart because they could do nothing else and his settled on my mouth and lightly fastened.
It wasn’t threatening. He didn’t even break his stride. But somehow it was incredibly sensual, the movement of our walking adding to the rhythm of the kiss. And after the first touch, there could be no pretense that this was the kiss of friends. I felt his tongue, lazily dipping between my lips and I met it with mine, welcoming. The tingling of my whole body caught fire. My pussy drenched my poor panties once more and my nipples pushed against my clothing. There was memory and promise and galloping arousal and yet the deepest pleasure seemed to come from doing no more about it than simply continuing the kiss. Walking with his arm around me and his tongue inside my mouth, caressing. I grazed it softly with my teeth, then slid my own tongue along his to taste him. Beer and chips and something much more exotic that was simply Chris.
And being Chris, his hand moved quite naturally downward from my shoulder until it found my breast inside my jacket and settled over it. With every step, his palm moved, caressing my delirious, tortured nipple.
I hoped this was a very long alley. The thought made me smile and his lips smiled with me.
Without warning, the hairs on the back of my neck prickled with something far less pleasant than the sensual haze into which I’d fallen so fast.
I froze. At the same time, Chris’ mouth left mine and his arm fell away. I opened my mouth to speak and then closed it, because I saw what Chris already had, two men emerging from either side of the alley, only a few feet in front of us. And one of them had a knife. He held it quite casually but very visibly in front of him.
Instantly sobered, I glanced back over my shoulder. Apart from us and them, the lane was deserted.
“Got any change?” asked the man without the knife. He was short, thin and malnourished but somehow vicious looking. He and his friend, idly stroking the blade of his knife, stood directly in our path, forcing us both to halt.
“A bit,” said Chris steadily. “How much do you need?”
“Whatever’s in your pocket, my friend,” was the contemptuous response. I wanted to tell Chris not to make a fuss, just to hand it over. You don’t mess with nutters brandishing knives. But to my surprise, Chris at once delved into his pocket and drew out the string bag that held his morning’s takings. Both men grinned and the bag swiftly disappeared inside the thug’s denim jacket.
“Good man! Now the guitar.”
Chris looked at the speaker consideringly, then transferred his gaze to the knife man. “Fuck off.”
At the same time as he spoke, he pushed me behind him. While our muggers blinked in some astonishment at this unexpected repartee, he added urgently, “Run, Ellie!”
By which time our men had recovered. “Get him!” said the first viciously, but knife man had already lunged toward Chris. Chris leapt aside, heaving the guitar in its hard case round in front of him, though whether to use as a battering ram or a shield I didn’t wait to find out.
I wasn’t meant to do this publicly but I figured it was now an emergency. With the ease of long practice, I seized the knife with my mind, tugged it free of the mugger’s grip, turned it and hurled it hard into the boarding over the first floor window above his head. The mugger’s mouth fell open. He stared stupidly at his hand, while his mate looked at him with total disbelief. As one, their heads moved to regard Chris.
“How the hell did you do that?”
But Chris didn’t even look at them. Dragging his eyes away from the knife, he stared at me. He was breathing fast. Then, turning abruptly away, he snarled at the muggers. “I told you to fuck off.”
Concern jolted through me. He was shaken, all right, and not by the thugs. He’d given them money because it meant nothing to him and he probably thought they were worse off than he was. He may have been right. But he hadn’t been afraid. He was more than prepared to defend his beloved guitar. It was I who’d made him afraid, by manipulating the knife. A lot of people feared what they couldn’t explain.
The muggers exchanged glances, backed off a couple of paces, then turned and fled up the alley. I moved quickly to Chris, taking his arm. “Chris…”
He shook me off as though I were a disease. Stunned, I dropped my hand to my side. He glanced up at the knife still sticking out of the boarded window, then back down to me. There was no laughter in his eyes now, no passion or lust or pleasure. They were cold and hard.
“You did that,” he said.
I swallowed. “Yes.”
His arm lifted, his hand tugged through his spiked hair, making it stand up even more. “Oh Ellie,” he said and let his breath out through his teeth. “Ellie.”
“What?” I demanded, stung by this attitude far more than by his lack of gratitude, which I would bring up at a later date.
He laughed a short, unamused sound. “Nothing. Come on, the station’s this way.”
He didn’t speak all the way back to Central Station. Bewildered, I opened my mouth several times to try but his set, disinterested profile always prevented me. It was a relief when we entered the station to see Jenny standing by the shell, the remains of a wartime bomb which was, according to Jenny a well-worn meeting place.
“There she is,” I said gratefully.
“Good,” said Chris. “Take care, Ellie.” And he swung away from me, striding back out of the station without a backward glance.
Oh yes. Men are total bastards.
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