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"Seems like you've already conjured something very much up." His eyes followed as she cupped her hand around his straining c.o.c.k, slowly stroking from root to tip in a rhythm that had him clenching his teeth when her other hand gently cradled the sac beneath.

"I ask that thee render me that which I deserve. Because I say so, d.a.m.n it!" She finished with her own version of "so mote it be" on a wave of throaty laughter right before she raised her body up over him and settled on him with perfect ease. She straddled his hips, bending her long legs alongside his.

"What? No foreplay?" He grasped her hips, although she needed no help in finding a rhythm. It had been written in their blood ages ago.

She leaned forward and brushed her mouth across his, tickling the seam of his lips and teasing the tips of his fangs, darting out before they could p.r.i.c.k the tender skin. "We had foreplay at the movies," she breathed against his mouth. "And during the drive home when I unzipped your jeans and ..." she deliberately paused for effect, "it's time for the main event, fang boy." She moved in a circular motion, tightening her core to massage him with her inner muscles.

Nick suddenly jackknifed his legs, flipping her onto her back with ease.

"You are so right, mi'lady. But I'll be the ringmaster for this show." He dipped his head, kissing her deeply. The scent of arousal grew thick in the room. He reared back until his c.o.c.k left her folds. As she whimpered the sorrow of her loss, he thrust forward, filling her once again. With each deepening stroke, she arched up, meeting him as his equal.

Jazz looked up, smiling at the dark intensity of his features.

Her smile faltered a bit when she saw the arousal turn to something else, as his expression sharpened and his eyes turned a burning red. The growl that traveled up his throat turned into a feral hiss. Before she could react, his fangs lengthened and he dipped his head. Pain shot through her as his fangs pierced the sensitive skin of her throat.

Why isn't my blood making him sick? Everyone knows a witch's blood will sicken, and can even kill, a vampire! She wanted to shriek, to fight back, but her heavy limbs refused to obey her commands. Lights danced before her eyes and she feared instead of her blood killing Nick, he would kill her.

Jazz's eyes popped open as she shot up in bed, her hand pressed against the side of her neck where pain still radiated. Nick lay slumbering beside her.

Fear, memory of searing pain, and just plain fury warred inside her. She looked down at the source and let her temper-and fist-loose.

"You son of a wh.o.r.e!" She threw a punch to his bare abs that could easily have broken her hand. Not that she would have noticed. "You bit me!"

"What? What?" Nick scrambled away from her flying fists and fell out of bed. He grasped the covers and stared at her as if he was positive she'd somehow lost her mind. "What in Hades is wrong with you?"

"You bit me!" She slid off the other side of the bed and hurried around the room, keeping her hand pressed against her neck. Pain and anger translated to red and purple sparks flying around her.

"Bit you?" Confusion mingled with being just plain p.issed off at being awakened with a punch to the stomach. "I was asleep, d.a.m.n it!" He hauled himself to his feet and stood there in all his naked glory. For once, Jazz's cold stare warned him that she wasn't admiring the view. He stared at her hand covering her throat but saw no signs of blood or trauma to the skin. He refused to believe he would take her blood without permission, asleep or not. In all their times as lovers he hadn't even given her a hickey. He also kept a close eye on her free hand. The last thing he wanted was witchflame thrown at his favorite part of the body. "d.a.m.n it, I didn't bite you!"

With one hand applying firm pressure to her neck, she struggled to pull her jeans on one-handed. "You practically tore out my b.l.o.o.d.y throat," she snarled, still feeling the ache of her flesh.

Nick crouched slightly, his hands thrust outward. "Will you stop using the word 'b.l.o.o.d.y'?"

She blinked back the tears that threatened to leak out. "Get out."

"What?" Even with his super hearing, he knew he couldn't have just heard what she said.

She breathed hard as if pushing back tears. Or absolute terror. "I said get out!" She stalked around the room, still keeping him out of reach, s.n.a.t.c.hed up his jeans and T-shirt, and threw them at him. The clothing bounced off his chest and fell back to the floor. "Get out and do not ever come near me again." She refused to look at him as she gathered up her own clothing. "Because if you do I will stake you. I cannot believe you bit me!" Tears and anger made a nasty combination.

Nick's jaw worked furiously. A witch with Celtic origins might have a legendary temper, but so did a vampire with the blood of a Cossack. "This is my room. My apartment."

Jazz froze in the act of pulling her cotton top over her head. She stared at the navy and cream swirled print comforter that had been tossed to the floor, navy sheets that were likewise thrown every which way, and furniture that suited a centuries-old vampire. None of the stark colors that dominated her own suite of rooms. She finished pulling on her top, then picked up her leather tote bag. "Fluff! Puff! Where are you two? You better not have left the apartment!" she shouted when she discovered it was empty of two items. The errant slippers popped into the room and scampered over to her feet.

Sensing the turmoil in the air, and guessing the cause, the fluffy predators snarled and gnashed their razor-sharp teeth at Nick, clearly showing they considered him the enemy in this battle. Jazz quickly stuffed her underwear, the top she'd worn the night before, and a hairbrush into her leather tote bag and slung it over her shoulder. "If Rex sees those man eaters, you'll be permanently banned from the boardwalk along with them," Nick warned, jumping into his jeans as he followed her to the door.

She sniffed at the mention of the boardwalk manager who ruled his kingdom with an iron fist. "He's not the boss of me." She glared at him. "And neither are you."

"Jazz, what in Hades' name is going on? How can you say I took your blood when there's no sign I did! d.a.m.n it, show me where I bit you!" Nick was fast on her heels as she raced up the stairs to the building's main floor. Ground-eating strides took her down the hallway to the double glass doors. Nick wasn't worried about the early morning light. His advanced age as a vampire along with heavily tinted glass of the doors helped protect him against the sun. He was confused, and more than a little ticked off, by her accusation. But it was clear Jazz wasn't going to stick around to talk about it.

He gingerly rubbed his palm over his bare abs. If he'd been a mortal man he would probably have had his share of cracked ribs. The heavy glass door almost hit him in the face as she slapped her palm against the surface and pushed it open, sailing through and not looking back. He kept the door open long enough to holler after her, "And why can't you hit like a girl?"

He stared at her retreating figure and realized that wasn't one of his finer moments.


Writing is a solitary business, so friends are important. Those friends that understand you best are real treasures to be cherished and I cherish my friends.

My agent, Laurie McLean of the La.r.s.en/Pomada Literary Agency, aka, Batgirl, who's there for me and doesn't bat an eye no matter how off the wall I get.

My editor, Deb Werksman, who loves Jazz and her witch buddies as much as I do. And I thank the Sourcebooks art department who comes up with these awesome covers.

My devoted niece, AshNay, who may not be my niece by blood but definitely from the heart and loves to talk paranormal with me. And my equally devoted nephew Jordan who shares Fluff and Puff with AshNay. Thanks for keeping them occupied guys.

The Witchy Chicks, Yasmine Galenorn, Terese Daly Ramin, Lisa Croll Di Dio, Madelyn Alt, Candace Havens, Kate Austin, Maura Anderson, and Annette Blair. Your support is much appreciated, and I love you all.

Wicked by Any Other Name.