Hello there! Jess Haines here. I’m the author of the urban fantasy H&W Investigations series (HUNTED BY THE OTHERS , TAKEN BY THE OTHERS, DECEIVED BY THE OTHERS, and the recently released STALKING THE OTHERS ).
Today, I’m going to talk about what makes Alec Royce, the master vampire of New York in my series, so deliciously sexy.
Some say vampires are overdone, or think they have lost their edge due to the proliferation of teddy bears with fangs found in today’s media. Whether they sparkle or brood, vampires you don’t fear are vampires that simply don’t have the same mystique as those of yesteryear.
When I think of vampires, I think classic Stoker’s Dracula or Lestat (Interview With the Vampire) or David (The Lost Boys) or Spike (Buffy the Vampire Slayer). I think of sexy, dangerous predators.
I think of Royce.
He is my answer to the vampires who do not dare show their darker nature. The vampires that don’t ooze carnal danger like a fine perfume. He is the type of vampire where you can’t quite tell if he wants to eat you or have sex with you. The main character in my H&W series, Shiarra Waynest, has to learn the hard way just what kind of danger he poses to her.
“Thank you for showing me up here. I hope this isn’t much trouble for you. Will Royce be long?”
He chuckled, pulling the door shut and walking over to take a seat on the couch next to the one I’d chosen. He surprised me yet again when he leaned back and propped his combat-booted feet on the table.
Oh God. Oh God, oh God, oh God.
Alone in his office. Alone with a vampire. Oh God, I’d checked out his butt!
Seeing my mouth drop open and my sudden speechlessness, he grinned, giving me an unnecessarily good view of sharp, pearly canines. They weren’t much longer than a normal human’s, since they weren’t extended to feed just now, but the razor tips were obvious, if only to me.
“Surprised, I see. Not to worry, I know you’re here for business rather than pleasure. I take it you weren’t expecting to see me under quite these circumstances, hmm?”
“Uh, no, not exactly.”
Not in leather pants and a see-through mesh shirt. Not looking quite that good, or so… alive, I suppose. Which for some reason made me sort of suspicious. He had approached me first and now called me by name. I knew I’d never met him before. Why would he come to me?
“How did you know who I was?”
He shrugged, sitting back comfortably and lacing his hands behind his head. His eyes never left mine, though, and it was getting more unnerving by the second.
“I make it a point to familiarize myself with others using my places of business to further their own ends. Forgive me for saying so, but you are much more lovely in person. Your picture in the paper last month did not do you justice.”
Argh. I could feel the heat and color rising in my cheeks. I would not let his flattery sidetrack me. Turning my head so my red curls hid the obvious blush on my pale skin, I started fumbling in my pockets to find the photo I’d brought with me. How could a vamp’s skin tone be darker than mine?
“I — listen, I actually wanted to just ask for your help. H&W Investigations has taken on a client whose son is missing. He was last seen fleeing his home in the company of a vampire.”
The flat words weren’t encouraging. He didn’t move, or say anything else. It was almost eerie. That was when I noticed out of the corner of my eye that his chest did not rise and fall to take a breath. He wasn’t bothering to “play human” for me now. Great.
Finally finding the picture, I dragged it out of my back pocket, only slightly creased from the abuse I’d put it through by carrying it back there. “This is the boy, David Borowsky, and his girlfriend Tara. Do either of them look familiar to you?”
I couldn’t help but shudder when his fingers brushed against mine as he leaned forward to take the picture. His gaze flicked from the picture to me, then returned to focus fully on the photograph. A low “hmph” escaped him, his coal-black brows slowly furrowing and a frown curving his lips. “She’s not one of my number. Nor one of any of my current guests’ flock. She’s poaching.”
Poaching. Just hearing him use that word so casually to mean taking the life of another human being made me feel ill.
At my silence, he glanced back to me again, still frowning. “I will assist you in finding her. You should get a warrant for her extermination. Do you have the connections?”
I shook my head, unable to believe my luck. This would tie him to me for a few days at least, possibly leading to the opening I needed to find that little figurine. I wondered why he recognized me but didn’t already know that I don’t do exterminations. H&W specializes in lost persons, tracking, surveillance, and photographing and videoing our marks. Sara and I left the rest up to our clients or the police if we discovered wrong-doing in the line of duty. My contacts at the local police stations were all pretty casual, not enough to get a warrant on short notice.
“Sure,” I croaked, feeling way in over my head. What the hell was I doing, partnering up with a vampire on a run?
“Very well. I’m sure we have the information on file somewhere, but would you mind giving me your card in case I need to contact you on the matter? I’ll give you my direct number as well.”
He rose with glacial slowness to head over to his desk, pick up the pen, and open a drawer to pull out a business card. Probably moving that way on purpose to keep from scaring me further. He scrawled something on the back of it and came back over to the couch. We exchanged cards, and this time I managed to keep from having a physical reaction when our fingers brushed again. Outwardly, anyway. I’m pretty sure my stomach is still somewhere in the region of my knees.
Once that was done, he held out his hand. It took a long moment for me to realize he meant to help me up. I hesitated at the idea of putting my hand in his and, worse yet, it was noticeable. He actually smiled, amused rather than annoyed.
“I don’t bite without permission, Ms. Waynest. Or did you want to stay and chat?”
(excerpt from HUNTED BY THE OTHERS)
And be sure to vote for Royce!
Vampires, werewolves, mages–the Others are very real, and wreaking havoc in Shiarra Waynest’s life. But now, she’s returning the favor…
Once, she was one of the good guys–or as close as a New York P.I. can get. Then Shiarra Waynest was drawn into the world of the Others. Every faction has its own loyalties and agenda. And Shia’s recent betrayal by her ex-boyfriend means that she may be on the verge of becoming a rogue werewolf at the next full moon.
Of course, with all the threats against her, Shia’s not sure she’ll live long enough to find out. The enigmatic vampire Royce wants her back in his clutches, as do two powerful werewolf packs, along with the police. Instead of going into hiding, Shia is enlisting the aid of her enchanted hunter’s belt and every dirty P.I. trick she knows. If she’s going down, she’ll take out as many of her enemies as she can–and hope that in the process, she keeps whatever humanity she has left…