Maidens, we are thrilled to have the amazing, Laurie London here today. She's written an exclusive teaser especially for UTC for her latest book TEMPTED BY BLOOD. So without further ado, have at it, girl!
Thanks for having me on today to celebrate the launch of TEMPTED BY BLOOD, the third book in the Sweetblood series. I thought it’d be fun to head over to a bar with a few friends. Grab your drink of choice and come join us!
(In case you don’t know Jackson, he’s the playboy charmer hero of TEMPTED BY BLOOD. The events here occur before the book opens…just so you’re clear he’s not a total ass.)
Jackson enters Big Daddy’s Pub and looks around. Given that it’s early evening, the place is only half full.
Not normally his kind of hangout—he prefers the Pink Salon with all the beautiful people, not bars like this one that cater to the male, blue-collar crowd right after work—he’s surprised when a human waitress catches his eye. Her black mini and ankle boots make her legs go on forever and her sultry dark hair skims her shoulders. She’s curvy in all the right places and he finds himself wondering if she likes to party.
Maybe coming here tonight isn’t a bust after all.
He drags in a deep breath but can’t get a read on her blood type, instead smelling stale beer, burgers, and old cigarette residue from when the indoor smoking law changed. Not noticing a ring on her finger—he’s made that mistake before and it sure as hell wasn’t going to happen again—he heads in her direction to say hi, to see how late she’s working. He can almost see her nametag. Francesca?
“Hey, over here.” Mitch, his partner, is waiving from a table near the dartboards.
Jackson hesitates. He’s really been trying to appear “normal” to his peers. No one needs to know how hard he’s been working to keep his dark nature under control. He casts one last glance at the woman then heads over to where several of the Guardians from the Seattle field office are sitting.
Since it’s before 9pm, the bar is open to minors, so maybe it’s for the best that the waitress doesn’t have this section. His thoughts and potential actions would not be appropriate with children present.
He glances at Mackenzie holding her squirming son on her lap. Miguel looks like a mini version of his father, Dom, who is cutting the food on his plate into little bites. Alfonso, Dom’s brother, is sitting next to his daughter Zoe and they’re playing some kind of game on his phone.
Funny how these two vampire warriors who probably have a multitude of weapons strapped to their bodies at this very moment can be such devoted, loving fathers.
No, thank you. Settling down is the last thing Jackson wants or needs. In fact, whenever a woman gets too attached to him, he moves on. He grabs a chair next to Mitch, turns it around and sits with his arms folded over the seatback.
“Jacks, what’s up, eh?” Lily tosses a handful of straws on the table that she must’ve gotten from the bar, unwraps one and puts it into her beer.
“Not much. Mitch and I are on duty tonight later. Got a line on some Darkbloods who might be selling Sweet down at the Market around midnight.”
“Bast— I mean, jerks.” Lily says, correcting herself. She’s been trying to watch her language around their daughter, but it’s obviously not working. If it hadn’t been for Alfonso, the girl would probably be speaking like a truck driver by now.
After a dinner of burgers and fries, Mackenzie stands up, holding Miguel. “It’s been fun, but someone I know needs to get to bed.” Dom pushes away from the table, but she puts her hand on his shoulder. “You stay here with everyone. It’s important that you spend time like this with your Guardians that doesn’t involve killing Darkbloods.”
Jackson takes a long drink from his beer and notices Alfonso and Zoe whispering. All this family togetherness, while white-picket-fence nice, makes him feel…awkward. It’s something he knows he’ll never experience.
“Aunt Mackenzie,” Zoe says, “we’ll take Miguel back if you want to stay.”
Lily nods. “I’m not working tonight, so we planned to head back early anyway.”
Mackenzie looks at Dom who shrugs, then she turns her attention back to their son. “What do you think, mister? Want to hang out with your cousin tonight?”
A big grin cracks the little boy’s face, making his fat cheeks look even fatter.
“I guess that means yes,” Mackenzie says, laughing. “Thanks, it’s been a while since Dom and I have spent time with just adults. It’s not like I know a lot of people willing to babysit for—” she looks around to make sure no one is looking “—vampires,” she mouths.
Alfonso grabs his worn leather bomber jacket, but Lily stops him. “Why don’t you stay too? I can take Zoe and Miguel. It’d be good for you to hang out with the guys and have fun.”
“No offense to the them, but I don’t need them like I need you.” Alfonso kisses her.
“Gross,” Zoe says.
“You don’t like when I kiss your mom?” Alfonso dips Lily dramatically, her blond ponytail almost grazing the ground, and kisses her again.
An uncomfortable sensation knots Jackson’s stomach as he realizes just how out of place he is.
“Hey man,” Mitch says under his breath. “Want to head out of here soon?”
Jackson can always count on his partner to watch his back. “Yeah, all this love and tenderness is a little much.”
“Unless you’d rather stay,” Mitch counters. “Check out the two women over there.” Mitch nods his head toward the bar.
The dark-haired waitress is standing next to another waitress, one with silky long black hair and a mischievous dimple that promises more than a heaping plate of fries.
Jackson smiles back at them and the first one waves. “On second thought, maybe we should stay after all.”
You can find Laurie online at:
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