Please welcome author Kate Baxter! The Last True Vampire is the beginning of a new paranormal romance series, True Vampire. This novel will be released on June 2, 2015 from St. Martin’s Paperbacks! In the meantime check out her story below, if you want more, her novella Stripped Bear is available now! It is also set in the True Vampire world. Please enjoy her story below!
One lucky reader will win a paperback copy of The Last True Vampire! This giveaway is provided by Kate Baxter! Contest is US only.
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Down the Rabbit Hole
Thanks so much to Dark Faerie Tales for inviting me to participate in the Fantastic Fables event! In THE LAST TRUE VAMPIRE, Claire Thompson is a bit of a grifter who’s lived on the wrong side of the tracks most of her life. She’s had to do whatever it takes to stay afloat and what she doesn’t realize when she meets the mysterious Michael Aristov, that her world is about to be changed forever. Claire leaves the human world behind for a supernatural world she never knew existed. Sort of like falling down the rabbit hole…
“I’m late! I’m late!”
The rabbit darted in circles around Claire, tiny front paws waving frantically. He drew a shining gold pocket watch from his vest and her attention fixated on the piece. Huh. She could probably pawn it for a hundred bucks or more if she managed to lift it from him. The fact that a white rabbit wearing a suit was talking to her seemed secondary to the sweet bit of hardware he held in his paw. A clear indication she was dreaming. Thank god.
“Where are you going?” If Claire followed along, she might be able to slip if from his pocket before he caught on. She could walk with him for a bit, draw him into conversation and distract him from what she really planned to do—which was rob him blind.
“The king!” the rabbit replied. “He’s about to seize his crown and I’ve lost my way. If I don’t find the path I’ll be late.”
Claire had had some weird dreams before, but this one took the cake. “I’ll help you find the path,” she replied. It’s not like she had anything better to do. She looked around at the dense forest that surrounded them. “If you give me your pocket watch as payment.” There was no such thing as a free ride in this world. She knew that better than most.
The rabbit gave her a contemplative stare. It’s beady, blood red eyes unnerved her and Claire suppressed a shiver. “All right. If you help me find the king, I’ll give you my watch as payment.”
Score! A good bargain worked as well as a good grift any day of the week. A hell of a lot less work, too. She led the way through the woods and the white rabbit hopped beside her, his little head darting this way and that at every slight sound.
“What’s the matter?” It’s not like there were any imminent threats as far as Claire could tell. Maybe rabbits were generally suspicious and jumpy by nature?
“Danger everywhere,” the rabbit replied just above a whisper. “The king has enemies. They’ll hunt him down and kill him.”
In that case, a public reclaiming of his crown sort of seemed like a bad idea. “Doesn’t he have an army?” Shouldn’t a king should have someone to watch his back.
“No army and very few allies,” the rabbit replied. “Now that you’re here, though, everything will change.”
Claire wasn’t sure how she fit into this little scenario. “I doubt that. Kings aren’t really my thing.” Pool halls were her thing. Easy money was her thing. Food in the fridge, definitely her thing. Kings? Not so much. Unless she could find an angle to work, that is.
Light giggles to her right drew Claire’s attention. Her head whipped around and a grouping of tulips bent their flowery heads down as though directed by a breeze. She shook off the unease that spread through her like ice and continued to wind her way through the woods with the rabbit at her side. “I don’t know what sort of path you were on before you found me,” she remarked, “but I’m not seeing even a trail.”
“You don’t see the path.” The rabbit paused and brought his red eyes up to hers. “You have to feel it.”
Okay, that was weird. “If you can feel it, why can’t you find it?”
“I can’t feel it,” the rabbit said knowingly. “Only you can, Claire.”
A shiver danced over her skin. Claire hadn’t given the rabbit her name and yet he seemed to know her. “How do you suggest I do that?” The quicker she helped the rabbit to find his way, the better. She didn’t particularly like him and if she hadn’t wanted to get her hands on his watch, she would have told him to take a hike.
“If you concentrate, you’ll feel it. The path will lead you straight to him.”
That’s what Claire was afraid of. She wasn’t sure she wanted to meet this king who had no friends and a host of enemies. In Claire’s experience, the lone wolves were the most dangerous. She’d know—she’d been a loner since she was a kid.
Despite her skepticism, she did as the rabbit said. Claire closed her eyes and focused. A ripple of sensation generated in the pit of her stomach and flared outward. Claire’s eyes flew open and she looked down to find a smirk tugging at the rabbit’s furry face. She headed to her left and the sensation increased. Something wild and urgent built inside of Claire and she quickened her pace, running through the woods as she brushed bright pink bushes and the reaching arms of maroon colored trees aside. Equal parts fear and joy crested inside of her. Claire continued to run and the rabbit hopped along beside her.
“You’re almost there, Claire! Run! He’s waiting for you!”
Claire pushed herself harder. She felt the weight of eyes upon her but she continued on her track. Through the dense trees and bushes, Claire continued to race. The grass tugged at her feet as though urging her not to go but she ripped free and hurried on. The sensation in her gut spread throughout her body until Claire was suffused with delicious heat. She broke through the dense foliage with a gasp as she spilled out into a large clearing surrounded by more of the bright flowers and strange mushrooms that decorated the forest. A sense of homecoming overwhelmed her and brought tears to Claire’s eyes. She breathed through the intense emotions as she went to her knees.
In the distance, Claire spotted the king. He sat on a high throne, his posture arrogant and regal. Shadows shielded his face from her, but through the darkness, his eyes shone bright silver. Beside her, the rabbit’s chest puffed out with pride.
“Welcome home, your majesty,” he said with a low bow. “Your king awaits.”
“Not my king,” she said, bemused. “I found him for you, not for me. I only want your watch.”
The rabbit looked toward the king and Claire followed his gaze. In one large, strong hand, the king held the rabbit’s gold watch aloft. “Go claim your prize, Claire.”
From the throne, the king’s voice rang out deep and sure, “Mine.”
Claire came awake with a start. Her body hummed and her chest ached. Her breath came in sharp gasps and her muscles burned as though she’d run a couple of miles at full speed. A dream. It was only a dream. Her eyes darted to the clock on her ratty, secondhand bedside table. She’d only meant to lay down for a few minutes. Instead she’d slept the entire evening away. She had work to do tonight. Rent money to make. And it wasn’t going to happen if she stayed at home and laid in bed.
Claire pushed herself up and headed to her closet to find something acceptable to wear. She’d be hitting the club district tonight in hunt of big game. She vowed that tonight was going to be her last hustle and she wanted to make it count. She just hoped she’d find what she was looking for…
Thanks again to Dark Faerie Tales for having me! What’s your favorite fairytale?
Want to read more from Kate Baxter?
This contest is provided by Kate Baxter!
One lucky reader will win a paperback copy of The Last True Vampire
Available June 2, 2015 from St. Martin’s Paperbacks
About this Book:
As Michael’s eyes lit on a female not twenty feet away, he knew without a doubt that it was her blood that called to him and her scent that had awakened him.This female had tethered his soul and returned it to him.
He is the last of his race. The one true king of the vampires. Michael Aristov roams the nightclubs of L.A. after dark, haunted by his past and driven by his hunger. The last of the Ancient Ones, he alone has survived the destruction of his race at the hands of the slayers. Now he is forced to hunt and feed like a common vampire, a creature of lust. Nothing in this world can fulfill his needs…until he meets a woman who’s everything he’s ever wanted. And more.
Her name is Claire Thompson. Her blood is so sweet, so intoxicating—the smell alone draws Michael to her like a moth to the flame. Sly, sexy, and seductive, Claire seems to be the only mortal who can satisfy his craving and seal his fate…forever. Can she be trusted? From their very first kiss, the last true vampire sweeps Claire into a world in which darkness rules desire—and where falling in love is the greatest danger of all…