Today I’m introducing Nate, the main character of Thorns and Fangs, the first book in my paranormal romance series coming out in January.
Nate, host at an exclusive night club, prides himself on being ordinary. In New Camden, monster capital of the world, normal is an achievement. An unashamed hedonist, Nate likes feeling good, but he likes making others feel good even better.
His comfortable existence is threatened when Hunter seeks him out at Century, drawing Nate into the Night World inhabited by vampires and necromancers, neither of whom think twice about using their abilities to their advantage. Nate’s quickly over his head in a world he barely understands, but he can’t turn away. As Nate struggles to retain his comfortable world view he has to fight the realisation that he is not as normal as he wants to believe. Comfortable is no longer enough.
Nate’s greatest strength is his ability to empathise, even with emotionally challenged vampires. Unsurprisingly, this gets him into a world of trouble. I’ve chosen an excerpt that introduces Nate’s inability to make smart decisions.
A drink and a set on the dance floor later, Nate leaned back against the bar. Endorphins and alcohol mingled in his system in the best possible way. It was early enough that there were plenty of energetic partners on the floor and late enough that inhibitions were thoroughly lowered. This is the best idea I’ve had in days…
So why can’t I make myself believe it? Nate replaced his glass on the bar. Time he faced the facts. The problem wasn’t Denise. It wasn’t Aki. It wasn’t even vampires.
The problem is me.
The chill was just as surprising the second time, like someone placed an icy hand on his shoulder. Nate took a deep breath, squaring his shoulders before he turned. Last person I want to see right now is Hunter.
Ben’s blue-gray eyes were a shock. He stood at the edge of the dance floor. His eyes widened as Nate looked up, but his surprise was momentary. As Nate watched, Ben subtly adjusted his posture. Shoulders back, hands tucked in the pocket of his jacket, he could have been a club regular.
With a smirk, Nate sauntered across the floor to join him. He kept his eyes on Ben, noting with amusement the brief flicker of his tongue across his lips. Out of his element, but like hell is he gonna admit that. Nate slowed his pace. He could match Ben’s control any night.
“No one takes getting caught staring gracefully,” he said. “But I got to admit, that’s the closest attempt I’ve seen.”
Ben raised an eyebrow. “You’re that sure I was staring.”
“Gonna tell me you’re here to dance?” Nate let his gaze fall deliberately to Ben’s clothing. The casual T-shirt and jacket combination looked better on him than the stiff suit from the anniversary party but still overdressed for the dance floor. “I might call your bluff. And then where would you be?”
Ben’s mouth twitched. “Presumably on the dance floor.”
The mental image was immediate. Ben’s cool skin would contrast with the heat of the surrounding dancers, making every brush of their bodies in the pulsing light an electric shock. Unable to resist, Nate let his fingers rest on Ben’s arm, feeling the familiar thrill of contact. “Fun as that would be”—Nate tugged at Ben’s jacket sleeve—”you’ll suffocate in this. Far too hot.”
Ben blinked. Something indefinable flickered in his eyes, and his mouth twisted.
Fuck. Vampires don’t do temperatures! Nate squeezed his arm in apology. “Sorry,” he said as he withdrew his hand. “Wasn’t thinking. So, if you’re not here to dance, why are you here?” Like I don’t know. Nate had no desire to see Hunter, but given the way the two vampires felt about each other, he knew he couldn’t be far away. Better accept it. Only pleasure I’m getting tonight is vicarious.
In any other circumstance, that would be a fate worse than death. Knowing how deeply Ben felt his isolation from the world? You’d have to be a complete asshole to resent the guy getting a taste of happiness. The memory of Ben’s expression as he looked up at Hunter returned to Nate, and with it, the same tug at his insides. I want someone to look at me like that—but Ben needs it. If Nate had facilitated the two vampires getting together? Job well done. He scanned the club for Hunter.
“I’m not—” Ben hesitated. “Looking for company.”
Nate snorted. Anyone else, that level of straitlaced unease would be irritating. Ben made it endearing. “I know. This isn’t exactly your scene.” And then as Ben blinked, expression growing fixed, Nate frowned. “You’re here alone?”
Ben’s fingers tightened on Nate’s arm. “You’re making a lot of assumptions,” he said, “for people who’ve just met.”
Nate shrugged. “You forget. We had one hell of an introduction.”
Ben didn’t share Nate’s smile. “You remember?”
“Of course. I meet a lot of people on this job, but a client like you stands out, Ben.”
How had Nate imagined Ben soft? His grip hurt. “I told you to forget.”
“You can’t tell someone to for—” Nate swallowed. His throat felt uncomfortably tight. “You compelled me?”
“We need to talk.” Ben kept his grip on Nate’s arm tight as he glanced around the club. “Somewhere private.”