Book Archive (Out of Print Titles)

Dark Music (A Quinn Matthews Haunting Mystery)

Quinn is the first heroine I intentionally based on myself, although a younger version. Like her, when I was I my 30s I lived in apartments in Elizabeth, N.J., and later I bought and rehabbed an old house in the suburbs, though mine dates only from 1922. She moves to “Crane’s Crossing,” loosely based on the town where I grew up, Cranford, N.J. In my career I’ve worked for two daily newspapers and freelanced for magazines, and for much of that time my subject matter has been architecture, interior design and home improvement. The people in Quinn’s social circle, though, are highly fictionalized and bear little resemblance to my friends or co-workers. Also, I have only the mildest, most common type of intuition—luckily, I have had none of Quinn’s frightening paranormal experiences!

Dark Music is another story I shaped and re-shaped over the decades. Growing up in suburban Cranford, I was fascinated by its many Victorian houses (we lived in a bland 1950s Cape Cod). In college, I grew interested in paranormal themes, and had a recurring fantasy in which I’d look out an upper window of my own Queen Anne Victorian and see the street as it appeared at the turn of the century. From there, I developed this ghost story spanning more than 100 years, and a heroine whose affinity for the 19th century makes her the perfect conduit for the spirits of those who died in her house during that era.

At the end of Dark Music, poor, exhausted Quinn resolves to avoid any more dealings with the Other Side. Unfortunately for her—but fortunately for the Quinn Matthews Haunting Mystery Series—I’ll be sending even more challenging “entities” her way in the future!

Dark Music by E. F. Watkins

Dark Music
(A Quinn Matthews Haunting Mystery)
by E. F. Watkins

Deadly Ink 2014- David G Sasher Award


ISBN-13: 978-1-61124-366-6
ISBN-13: 978-1-61124-894-4

No longer available through Amber Quill Press

What Reviewers Are Saying

“I could not put it down! Good suspense, writing and characterizations.”
—Roberta Rogow, The Book Breeze

“...A story of haunting suspense in the tradition of Phyllis Whitney and Mary Roberts Rinehart. E. F. Watkins puts a modern spin on classic gothic mystery. Ghosts, music, romance and a hundred-year-old unsolved murder add up to a great read!”
—Elena Santangelo, author of the Agatha-nominated Pat Montella Mystery Series

Extreme Makeover meets The Haunting -- and the result is a highly absorbing read. Intent on restoring her newly acquired Queen Anne to its former glory, Quinn Matthews juggles paint samples, wallpaper borders and Victorian bric-a-brac while contending with a mysterious presence - -or is there more than one? -- determined to make itself known. She is certainly braver than I would be! Watkins skillfully interweaves the past and the present to lead us, spines a-tingle, to a breathtaking finale.”
—Peggy Ehrhart, author of the Maxx Maxwell Mystery Series

“This wonderful blend of mystery and romance was a delight to read, and I will definitely be looking for other books by E. F. Watkins!”
—Mary, Bitten by Books (5 Gravestones), October 2013.

Novel Excerpt

I dug out the earth on all sides of the bush, then rocked it with my gloved hands until I pried it loose.

Just before dropping it into the trash can, I shook off the excess dirt. Something bright fell with a ping against the shovel blade.

I picked up and brushed the dirt off a round, tarnished object that trailed a short piece of chain.

A man’s pocket watch.


Pain blazed through me, right under my breastbone, like I’d been run through with a hot poker. I dropped to my knees and gasped for breath.

I tried to call for help, but couldn’t get enough air. I wrapped one arm around my midsection, used the other to brace against the ground. The yard whirled around me, and I started to pass out.

But I couldn’t fall, I wouldn’t! Something told me if I did, I might never get up again.

Strong hands grabbed me. Over the roaring in my ears, I heard my neighbor Dr. Zimmer ask, “Quinn, what’s wrong? Are you sick?”

I tried to find the wind to answer him. He held out his sinewy hand. To grab it, I dropped the pocket watch.

Instantly, my vision started to clear. The searing pain eased. After a second, I dared to draw a deep breath again. Much better!

I relaxed the arm I had clamped around my body, almost expecting to find a wound.

But there was nothing. Of course...

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Hex, Death & Rock’n’Roll (A Quinn Matthews Haunting Mystery)

Believe it or not, I did have the plot of Hex, Death & Rock’n’Roll before I thought of the title!

Toward the end of college, and for a few years afterward, I flirted with being a singer/songwriter. (I'm dating myself when I admit that was a hot thing to be, in those days!) After I finally realized I needed to focus, and decided to be just a writer, I experimented with a novel about a rising rock band. That MS went nowhere, but the two main characters and their issues stuck in my head.

Now, decades later, they have popped up again in my second Quinn Matthews mystery, as her "clients." In the first version of the story, they were hassled by mere humans, but for Hex, Death & Rock'n'Roll I've added some paranormal menace. This book not only gave me a chance to revive Goth-rock band Mad Love, with lead singer Alan Bardot and lead guitarist Jeff Randall, but to have them perform some of my old song lyrics. In a couple of cases I've used only short excerpts of songs, because the rest didn't fit the dark tone I wanted for the band. But when I unearthed one of my old compositions, “Vampire,” I had to laugh because it was so perfect--my only foray into horror-rock! So, early in the book, Alan sings the whole thing during a video shoot where, suddenly, a nasty accident occurs. Is it simple sabotage, a demonic curse...or perhaps a critique from The Beyond of my songwriting skills? Read the book and decide for yourself!

Hex, Death & Rock 'n' Roll by E. F. Watkins

Hex, Death & Rock 'n' Roll
(A Quinn Matthews Haunting Mystery)
by E. F. Watkins

Indie Book Awards - Next Generation - Finalist

ISBN-13: 978-1-61124-507-3 (Electronic)
ISBN-13: 978-1-61124-854-8 (Paperback)

No longer available through Amber Quill Press

What Reviewers Are Saying

"Watkins takes us backstage with an all-area pass into the world of rock-and-roll when protagonist Quinn Matthews is recruited by rock sensations Mad Love. Her psychic powers might be the only way to identify the sinister force that seems bent on destroying them. Part whodunit—you'll have fun pondering which of the likely suspects is the real deal—and part ghost story, Hex, Death & Rock'n'Roll straddles genres to great effect. And, as the witty title suggests, Watkins' characters are great fun to hang out with."
—Peggy Ehrhart, author of the Maxx Maxwell blues-singer mysteries (Five Star/Gale/Cengage) and president of Sisters in Crime New York/TriState

“In Hex, Death & Rock’n’Roll, E. F. Watkins delivers a page-turning read that will keep paranormal cozy lovers guessing ‘til the very end.”
—Lois Winston, author of the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series

Novel Excerpt

...During Randall's big solo, Bardot hovered nearer the guitarist to sway and nod along to the ominous, chiming rhythm. He stayed in that spot and faced the audience as he launched into the last verse.

Something—maybe the shifting light from the movie screen—drew my eye up to the stage's proscenium arch. It was dark by comparison, but I saw someone up there...just a hazy silhouette, dressed all in black, walking along the top. Could he be working a special effect?

The climax of the song pulled my attention back to the stage.

"Watch out when I start to draw you—"


At first, I thought a smoke bomb had gone off onstage. But the way the band members leaped back and the music stopped told me it wasn't planned. They were all miked, and as the dust settled, I heard their shouts and curses.

"Oh, my G—"

"What the—"

A woman in front screamed, and chaos broke out.

Stagehands and band members surged to the apron, so at first I couldn't see what was wrong. Bardot sprang back to the mic and yelled, with a catch in his voice, "A doctor! We need a doctor!"

All of us in the audience were on our feet, milling around in confusion. A couple of overwhelmed security guards rushed to the front of the theater and tried in vain to calm the crowd.

Lalita jogged back up the aisle, cell phone clamped to her ear, calling for an ambulance. I followed her out to the lobby, and when she hung up, I asked what had happened.

Her face had gone ashen. "Oh, Jesus, a big chunk of plaster fell and hit one of the cameramen. They think he's still alive, but he's out cold!" Her eyes were wide with horror. "I can't believe it... That proscenium is old, but it should have been secure!"

I knew what she must be thinking. If the cameraman was seriously hurt, the Friends of the Rialto would be liable. "It was probably the fault of the guy working up there. He must've jarred something loose."

"What guy?"

"Somebody was up there—a stagehand, I guess—just before that piece fell. Walking on top of the arch."

"Walking?" Lalita stared at me, then gave her head an emphatic shake. "Quinn, that arch is less than a foot wide. No one could stand up there. It's impossible!"

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Dance With The Dragon

Dance with the Dragon by E. F. Watkins

ISBN: 1-59279-052-6 (Electronic)
ISBN: 1-59279-933 -7 (Paperback)
Cover by Trace Edward Zaber
Copyright © 2002


No longer available through Amber Quill Press


Peggy Walsh, the teenaged daughter of Senator Dan Walsh, is kidnapped into a dangerous cult, the Church of Eternal Life. When the FBI tries to get her back and fails, the senator accepts help from super-psychic Dr. Armand Renascut. Renascut warns him that cult leader Stephen Farkas may possess real supernatural powers—that he and some of his followers may at least "believe" they are vampires—and that they can be defeated only by special weapons.

Although Walsh learns that Renascut was dismissed from a top-secret Pentagon program because of bogus credentials, he still hopes the mysterious psychic can help him mount another assault on the CEL compound and rescue Peggy. But can Renascut be trusted? Who is he, really, and just how much does he have in common with the cruel Farkas? Only one person knows—Kat Van Braam, Renascut's beautiful partner, who is risking her life daily to keep him "on the side of the angels." 

What Reviewers Are Saying

"4 Daggers!... I love this book. It introduces a whole new perspective on 'The Undead.' I want a prequel...and I want more books written about this couple, and I want a miracle with the last one, however many books that is down the line."
—Goldie Williams, All About Murder

"...A gripping, graphic modern-day vampire story. Fans of TV's Buffy and Angel will love this book, too. There is just the right amount of historical background woven into the story to make everything fit. This is not a book to read alone at night!"
—Roberta Austen, Murder and Mayhem Book Club Reviews

"Dance With The Dragon is at heart a mystery... with a good measure of horror. Lovers of classic vampire literature will appreciate the subtlety and finesse with which this tale unravels. (Bram) Stoker himself would be proud."
—Christine Filipak, Dark Realms Magazine

"Combines a little bit of all your worst nightmares and rolls them into an engrossing tale that's hard to put down."
—Ingrid Taylor, Writing for Independents

Novel Excerpt

"It won't hurt much, I promise. And then you'll be on your way to a whole new life. You'll feel things you never felt before... know secrets no one else knows. You'd like that, wouldn't you?"

Bogus as it sounded, Peggy found herself nodding.

He had told the truth in one way-she felt only a pinch, the way the doctor's needle pinches when he's already numbed the spot with alcohol. Then came a rush of wild, clashing sensations. Exhilaration and weakness; yearning and fear; a desperation to cling to life and sanity, and a languorous urge to let go of both.

Above everything, the drumming of her heart. At first fierce and rapid, then slower and more feeble.

Peggy supposed she blacked out. When she came around again, briefly, she still lay in darkness on what seemed like a bare mattress. At least it felt better than the carpet. She grew aware of the van moving fast, with an occasional jounce over what must have been a rough road.

She drifted back out of consciousness, the motion rocking her into a particularly deep and forgetful sleep...

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Ride a Dancing Horse

Ride a Dancing Horse by Eileen Watkins

ISBN: 1-59279-236-7 (Electronic)
ISBN: 1-59279-844-6 (Paperback)
Cover by Trace Edward Zaber
Copyright ©2004




Soon after Kelly Sheridan takes a job at Rancho Villaneuva, which breeds and trains Andalusian show horses, the ranch suffers a series of disasters. First, someone poisons the hay. Then the stallion barn catches fire. The owner, Diego, accuses Kelly of sabotage. To clear her name and save her job, Kelly must help him find the real culprit. Could it be a rival breeder? Kelly's jealous ex-boyfriend? A sexy female rancher who wants Diego? A resort owner who wants the property? A fired employee carrying a grudge?

Exploring these angles, Kelly and Diego begin to suspect the recent death of his wife may not have been accidental, either, but part of the same cruel plan.

Which means the next victim could be human...  

What Reviewers Are Saying

"Ride A Dancing Horse is like boarding a carousel…a wonderful spin through the world of Andalusian horses and their high-stepping ways. But this elegant background is deceiving, because it's rife with intrigue and very real peril. The hero, Diego, smolders through the pages, while the heroine, Kelly, tries to lead him through his sorrow and distrust. It's a ride you'll hope will never end!"
—Carolyn Banks, author of Murder Well Bred

"A story guaranteed to satisfy the mystery lover and the romantic in all of us."
—Anne K. Edwards, Murder And Mayhem Book Club

"Full of action, with a bit of romance…There are plenty of suspects, and it is difficult to determine which one is the saboteur."
—Kelly Ross, The Romance Reader's Connection

"This is mystery writing at its best, with poignant heroes and heroines, near-escapes, fiery exits and dastardly villains…A wonderful read!"
—Beverly Forehand, Round Table Reviews

Novel Excerpt

…Kelly crept as close as she dared to the barn door, the heavy smoke beginning to choke her even from there. "Diego!" she called, straining her throat. "Get out of there, before—"

More ragged hoofbeats warned her to stand clear, just before Hidalgo sprang through the opening. A fringe of flame trailed from his flowing mane, but Diego still held his lead rope.

"Alonzo, the hose—!" Diego yelled, his voice raw.

Felipe's father aimed the burst of water briefly at the stallion's neck. He doused the burning mane, but, unfortunately, startled the high-strung animal even more. Hidalgo reared sharply, flinging Diego to the ground, and bolted free.

Trying to get to Diego, Kelly found herself face-to-face with the charging stallion. Remembering how Diego had stopped Belleza, Kelly threw her arms wide. For a second, she thought Hidalgo might run right over her, anyway …


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Black Flowers

Indie Excellence Finalist, 2007 Book Awards

Black Flowers by E. F. Watkins

ISBN: 1-59279-322-3 (Electronic)
ISBN: 1-59279-810-1 (Paperback)
Cover by Trace Edward Zaber
Copyright © 2004


Eppie 2006 Finalist



When a former employee of her husband’s genetic engineering firm dies of a drug overdose on her front lawn, Allison Constantine is horrified. She can’t forget the young man’s final threats that "people like her" will soon "get what’s coming to them."

In the days to come, Allie suspects she’s being followed, and fears someone might try to kidnap her or her two small children. But who? A rival firm, hoping to extort technical secrets from her husband, David? A protest group that has accused Genesis of reckless experiments? Or a former Genesis president who supposedly killed himself two years earlier?

Probing the company’s activities, Allie discovers a pattern of mysterious deaths by electrocution. She begins to fear that the greatest threat to her family may be Genesis, itself, if she dares to interfere with its terrifying secret plans for its executives, for society… and even for Allie's own children.

What Reviewers Are Saying

"Black Flowers is a must-read, an outstanding example of all that is good about a tense suspense tale."
—Coffee Time Reviews

"An edge-of-the-seat thriller by a very talented author that will keep you awake late, even after you close the book."
—Murder and Mayhem Bookclub

"E.F. Watkins is a writer to watch!"
—F. Paul Wilson, Best-Selling Author of The Keep, The Select and Sims

Novel Excerpt

…Carmela darted toward her son until a guard caught her firmly. "Ma'am, better keep back."

"Why?" Allie demanded. "What's wrong?"

The uniformed men seemed ready to stop her, too. "Mrs. Constantine, you shouldn't…"

But Allie had already seen past them to the figure on the ground. If she hadn't recognized the clothes, and seen Manny fall at the spot, she'd never have believed it was the same person.

His solid build had wasted away to a near skeleton. The suddenness of the process had left the clothes hanging loosely around his body, and even the flesh had gone slack around the bones of his face and hands.

Behind her, she heard Carmela beg the guard, "Let me go to him!"

Allie choked back her own revulsion before she returned to the front stoop. She told Carmela, "The man's right. You don't want to see this. I'm so sorry."

"What did they do to him? What did they do to my Manny? They killed him? Oh, my God!"

Allie put her arms around the little Cuban woman. "No, I don't think so. I don't think it was anything they did. Please…just come back inside with me, until the ambulance gets here."

It would be better if Carmela heard the truth from a doctor, Allie decided. But from the look of him, she already had a pretty good idea what had killed Manny Rodriguez …


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Paragon by E. F. Watkins

ISBN: 1-59279-405-X (Electronic)
ISBN: 1-59279-779-2 (Paperback)
Cover by Trace Edward Zaber Copyright © 2005





Recommended Read - Fallen Angel ReviewsHomely Louise Bauer makes a deal with a mysterious "bag lady"—if Lu will perform a ceremony using a sculpture of her ideal man, he'll come into her life and love her as she is. Soon afterward, Lu meets Eric Troy, a handsome, charming and talented actor who lights up her days and heats up her nights.

Then Lu notices that anyone who crosses Eric suffers a violent punishment, yet Eric himself always has an airtight alibi. Could Desma, the ancient-looking "bag lady," be helping him through some kind of sorcery? Why did she warn Lu never to question Eric about his past? Are they conspiring to boost Eric's acting career, or do they have something even bigger and more diabolical in mind?

Lu digs for answers, knowing that this violates the original "deal." She also knows if she loses control of Eric, he could eliminate her, too—and perhaps the last hope of survival for the human race...

What Reviewers Are Saying

“Subtle horror effectively moves the plot to a chilling conclusion…Ms. Watkins is a true master of terror.”
—Amanda Killgore, Eternal Night, January 2006

“Paragon is the first e-book I couldn’t stop reading…I was surprised to find two hours had literally flown by me…I became spellbound by the story; I couldn’t figure out where it was taking me…An entertaining read that still lives in my mind."
—Christine I. Speakman, Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine, February 2006

“Not a book where you know instinctively what is going to happen--I loved that… Definitely a recommended read!”
—Janet, Fallen Angel Reviews, February 2006

“Paragon cleverly combines the elements of modern horror writing with the tenets of ancient mysticism…An amazing book that deserves to be read time and again!”
—Sylvia Cochran, Roundtable Reviews, March 2006

“An engrossing story…warns us that we need to be careful what we wish for and what we will do to get it.”
—Michelle Thomas, Gotta Write Network (4.5 Gold Hearts), November 2005

Novel Excerpt

...Desma lifted her heavy bag onto her lap. It looked like two squares of worn Turkish carpet, stitched together at the edges. With her yellow claws, she rummaged in its depths until she pulled out something small.

Lu saw it was a tiny gold heart, the size of a locket. Solid, though, and with no loop to hang it from a chain.

"When you go home today," said Desma, "you will find your sculpture. Cut an opening where the heart would be and place this in there. The sculpture is stone or marble?"

"Just plaster." Lu turned the gleaming token over in her palm. "Is this real gold? I can’t accept this."

"You can. You saved my life. I warn you, though, do not sell it for money. It has a special purpose. Use it only as I tell you!"

From the old woman’s tone, Lu felt she’d better take the warning seriously. "Okay. I put it into the sculpture...?"

Desma nodded. "Then wrap up the whole thing and hide it where no one else will see it or touch it. In a few days, the man you have dreamed of will come into your life."

Lu pondered this with much skepticism. Yeah...and immediately take off with someone better-looking.

Desma seemed to read her thoughts again. "Treat him well, and he will love you as you are. He will bring you much money, too. But there is one thing you must promise, Louise Bauer. You must never try to find out where he came from!"


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Danu's Children by E. F. WatkinsISBN-13: 978-1-60272-881-3 (paperback)
ISBN-13: 978-1-60272-496-9 (electronic)
Cover by Trace Edward Zaber
Copyright © 2009




In DANU’S CHILDREN, modern greed confronts an even darker power--as old as the Earth, itself.

Photojournalist Kevin O’Leary returns to his home town of Carbonville, Pa., for the funeral of his newspaper-reporter cousin, Tom. Tom was looking into charges of corruption behind a huge new mall construction project when he died in a car crash, and Kevin suspects murder. On the pretext of doing a photography book on the town, he stays around to investigate.

He soon meets Megan Carey, who heads up the Citizens Against Valley Exploitation (CAVE), a local ecology group battling the mall project. Megan hates the developer, Sal Ricciardi, and fans Kevin’s suspicions that Sal arranged Tom’s “accident.” But as the conflict between the two factions escalates, Kevin realizes both are capable of lethal violence. He also learns that Megan and her followers believe an ancient Celtic earth god protects the valley, and will help them prevent the mall’s way or another.

What Reviewers Are Saying

Bitten By Books Gives DANU'S CHILDREN 5 Tombstones!
5 Tombstones!

“In DANU’S CHILDREN, E. F. Watkins weaves a tale of ancient evil and modern thrills that spirals through devious plot twists to leave the reader breathless!”
—Jonathan Maberry, multiple Bram Stoker Award winner

Novel Excerpt

The two men had started running across the church’s front lawn--scuffed up now like a dirty brown shag rug--when the structure gave another quake.

Above the rumble Kevin heard, this time, an odd squeaking. Like bad brakes, only louder. A few people gasped and pointed up at the dawn-reddened sky. In black silhouette, the ornate cross on top of the steeple nodded heavily forward.

"Damn," Kevin said aloud, "that thing’s gonna fall!"

Neither the fireman nor the priest seemed to notice. Probably, they were still too close to the building to see the steeple. But the homeless man next to Kevin spied the danger. He broke through the police barrier, still limping as he went.

"Father Lou," he screamed, "hurry up! Run!"

The priest looked up, spotted the toppling cross and put on a burst of speed. In his panic, though, he tripped on a fallen piece of masonry. The homeless man hitched his way forward as if to grab Father Lou and drag him to safety.

The big, golden missile sailed through the air in what felt to Kevin like slow motion, upending on the way. The three figures in its path—the priest, Father Lou and the homeless man—all froze in terror.

The crowd swept forward around Kevin, blocked his view and almost knocked over his tripod. He snatched at his camera to save it. At the same moment, he felt the ground under his feet shudder, as the cross hit with the force of a giant hammer.

The onlookers, spattered with dark earth, sprang back again as a single creature. Men shouted and women and children shrieked.

Over the thinning crowd, Kevin finally saw where the cross had landed. His stomach seized up in horror…

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One Blood

One Blood by E. F. WatkinsISBN-13: 978-1-60272-741-0 (Electronic)
ISBN-13: 978-1-60272-768-7 (Paperback)





Disgusted with his long, bloodthirsty existence, Jon Sharpay discovers a fresh challenge—the last living descendent of the arch-enemy who nearly destroyed him a century ago. He travels from New York City to Princeton University to hunt down Kat Van Braam, a curator at the university’s art museum.

But Sharpay is also being hunted, by two men: one determined to avenge the death of his pregnant young wife, the other a foreign agent out to recruit Sharpay’s paranormal skills for an international crime organization.

When Sharpay meets the brilliant and beautiful Kat, his plans for her expand beyond mere revenge. Kat is also drawn to “Dr. Sharpay,” the mysterious Eastern European scholar, until she learns his true nature and identity. She fights his enslavement of her will and vows to succeed where her ancestor failed—to keep this creature from ever harming anyone else.

But will Kat be undone by her own “sympathy for the Devil”?

What Reviewers Are Saying

Review ButtonOne Blood is a spectacular read—4 Cups!”
—Coffee Time Romance

"With One Blood, E. F. Watkins brings a sensual elegance and a wicked sense of fun to the vampire genre. Highly recommended!" —Jonathan Maberry, New York Times best-selling author of Rot & Ruin and The Dragon Factory

Novel Excerpt

...Hands in his pockets, he faced the set table. Before Kat’s eyes, all of the silverware—two sets of knives, forks and spoons—rose straight into the air. They all came together about a foot below the pierced-brass chandelier to form a kind of horizontal wheel.

The formation started to rotate slowly in mid-air.

The sight riveted Kat, and for a minute she couldn’t breathe. Finally she gasped out, “Stop it!”

The bits of silverware separated and, with a playful clatter, all dropped back to their rightful places.

She spun around to stare at Sharpay. “Jesus Christ, what are you?”

“Not him, by a long shot.” Still wearing the faint smile, Sharpay approached her. Kat realized he blocked her route to the hall door, and with his abilities, she didn’t see much hope of dodging past him.

Meanwhile, he spoke soothingly. “I didn’t mean to frighten you. I thought you’d be amused! I take my gifts so much for granted, I forget how startling they can be to other people.” He had reached her now. With one large hand, he stroked the side of her face, then turned it up toward his.

She met his eyes. At the centers of those dark irises, the pupils glowed faintly red. Kat caught her breath again, but couldn’t look away. Those lights flickered like flames and lulled her. Soon, she wasn’t afraid any more, just curious…mesmerized.

Sharpay’s chill fingers brushed the side of her throat, and where they passed, the flesh went numb, as if swabbed with an anesthetic. He drew aside the V neckline of her sweater to bare her collarbone and the rise just above her left breast. His other arm slipped behind the small of her back to brace her firmly. She felt his cool lips glide over her exposed skin, spreading the same tingling numbness.

She hardly minded the razor-sharp pinch.

It didn’t compare to what came next.

A powerful force pulled the energy out of her. She knew she must be losing blood, but even that couldn’t be enough to explain this terrible sensation of life draining from her body. She could feel Sharpay’s hunger and intense pleasure as he fed upon her, drawing out something he needed, something that went beyond any physical substance.

At the back of her mind, Kat knew she should try to fight back, but both her body and her will seemed paralyzed. Her heart pounded faster, desperate to make up the loss of blood. She started to slip down into a dark vortex, the room swirling around her. She knew she would have collapsed to the floor, if not for the iron arm holding her.

At the same time, her belly stirred with another sensation—half sexual, half suicidal—to surrender and let him have as much of her as he needed.

It seemed an hour before she felt Sharpay, with difficulty, tear himself away. Released from his grip, Kat tottered and saw stars. He pulled up one of the straight-backed dining chairs and sat her in it.

He left her briefly. Slumped, head spinning, she heard him rummaging in her cabinets. He came back with a juice glass half-filled with a pale gold, acrid-smelling liquid. “Drink this.”

Kat obeyed. The brandy seared her throat until she coughed, but then she drank some more. In a minute, warmth began to seep back into her depleted veins.

Stooped over her, Sharpay pressed a finger against the spot he had bitten. At first Kat thought he was staunching the wound, but then realized he was taking her pulse.

“Much better,” he murmured, in a clinical tone.

She glanced up at him. No trace of blood showed on his lips, and as she watched, the sharpness of his canine teeth reverted to normal. The red light also left his eyes. His face had recovered a healthier color and his hair had darkened again, with silver only at the temples.

He spoke to her now in a cold, crisp tone. “After I leave, eat some of the dinner you’ve prepared and go to bed. You’ll have the weekend to recover. If you have to cancel any activities, make up a plausible excuse. You will come to my house again Monday night. Do you understand?”

Still dazed as a sleepwalker, Kat could only nod.

He gave her a last, tight smile. “You’ll be fine. You have an excellent constitution and a strong will to live. Just what I would expect from a Van Braam...”


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