Cover & Excerpt Reveal
Flirting With Fangs Book Three
There's Something He's Never Told Her...
When her workplace burned down, Claudia should've taken it as a sign to move on—and not just professionally. She's been secretly lusting after her mysterious boss, Anthony Cross, for years. There's no way she should agree to help him rebuild if she wants to keep her heart intact, and yet it's impossible to stay away...
The flames that destroyed Anthony Cross's beloved bar are nothing compared to the heat he feels every time he lays eyes on Claudia. But he can't have her—it's against paranormal law for a vampire to date a human. Besides, he has some dangerous enemies, and one in particular already has her sights on Claudia. He owes her the truth—both about his feelings and his vampire nature—which means their lives are about to get hotter than ever...
Genre: Paranormal RomancePurchase links: Sourcebooks Amazon ARe Kobo B&N
Content/Theme(s): Vampires, Shifters, Humor
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Anthony closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose in front of the burnt-out wreck that used to be his bar, Boston Uncommon. Even in the darkness he could see the destruction too well. His dear “aunt” Sadie rested her hand on his shoulder. Neither spoke for a few reverent moments.
At last, Sadie said, “I know it’s bad, but at least no one died…per se.”
Anthony slowly opened his eyes and stared at her. “Per se?”
His only living relative pursed her lips. “I don’t know if I should tell you this…”
Anthony sighed. “You have my attention now. Tell me whatever it is, whether you think I ought to know or not.”
“It’s Claudia. She’s in trouble.”
Now his psychic aunt really had Anthony’s attention.
Claudia had been on his mind too, but not because he thought anything was wrong with his beautiful, stylish bar manager. He assumed a smart woman like Claudia would find another job in a snap—and he would miss her terribly.
He’d trusted her completely with his business, and not just because she had an MBA. She was always there during the daylight hours when he couldn’t be. He missed her cheery smile and their private conversations in his office, and if he were honest, he’d admit to missing her more than his lost income.
She’d never know that, though. He had to hide every emotion he had toward Claudia from his psycho ex-girlfriend, Ruxandra, for Claudia’s safety.
“Come to think of it, she hasn’t called to ask for a reference. What’s wrong?” he asked.
“I’m not sure. I get the sense she’s in emotional turmoil. It’s more than an unhappy feeling I’m picking up. Possibly, she’s very depressed—or worse. Call her.”
Anthony dug his cell phone out of his suit jacket pocket. As he pushed the number 1 on his speed dial, he realized again how important she had been to him. If she was depressed, he needed to give her more than a phone call.
It rang a few times before she picked up. Her garbled hello alarmed him.
“Who wans to know?”
“It’s Anthony. Are you all right?”
After a long pause, he repeated the question.
“I’m jus’ fine an’ dandy.”
“You sound drunk.”
She snorted. “So? I’m over twenty-one. I’m in my own ’partment. Don’t I have the right to drown my sorrows?”
He gentled his voice. “What sorrows, Claudia? What’s happening?”
She laughed. “I los’ my job. I thought you knew that. You were my boss.”
It had to be more than that. “Claudia, I’m coming over.”
“No! I mean, please don’t. I’ll be fine.”
“I’m on my way.” He hung up and dropped his phone back into his jacket pocket.
He touched Sadie’s arm. “Thank you for telling me.”
“Call me later and let me know how fucked up she is.”
Anthony raised his eyebrows.
She raised hers right back at him. “You can’t be shocked at my language. You’ve heard it before. Listen, I wouldn’t have had a vision if all was well. Oh, and be sure to tell her I’m thinking of her.”
He nodded and jogged around the corner to a deserted side street before he took off at top speed. After all, he couldn’t let the constant crowds on Charles Street see him virtually disappear. They weren’t supposed to know vampires existed—along with dragons, werewolves, and any other number of supernaturals. Boston Uncommon had been a safe haven for all of them. Anthony couldn’t help wondering where they’d all go now.
He had Claudia’s address memorized. Even though he had never been to her high-rise apartment overlooking the river, the big sign bragged, “If you lived here, you’d be home by now.” It took him about two seconds to reach it.
A doorman. Shit. If the gentleman opened the door without asking him to come in, it didn’t count as an invitation into someone else’s home. Without it, he couldn’t get in. So, Anthony tried for a little small talk.
“Yes, sir.” As predicted, the man opened the door but didn’t invite him in.
Anthony spotted the concierge behind the desk inside. “Uh, I don’t live here, but I’d like to see someone who does. What should I do?”
“Speak to the concierge inside.”
That sounded like it might be an invitation. Better to be sure. “So, I should go in?”
The gentleman’s brow wrinkled. “Yes, sir.”
“Thank you.” That was a trifle awkward, but it did the trick.
The concierge offered him a welcoming smile but when asked to notify Claudia Fletcher that she had a visitor, he gave Anthony the unexpected news that she had moved out.
“Where is she now?”
The concierge looked uncomfortable and said, “I’m not at liberty to give anyone that information.”
Anthony leaned in until he held the other man’s gaze. “If you have the information I just asked for, you will give it to me, and you won’t remember divulging it.”
“Yes, sir.” In slow motion, the gentleman reached under the desk and drew out an old-fashioned index-card box. He thumbed through the alphabetical tabs until he located Fletcher, Claudia, and offered the card to Anthony.
A Cambridge address in Claudia’s handwriting occupied the space for forwarding mail. At the bottom she’d scrawled, “If I continued to live here, I’d be homeless by now.”
Hours later, Claudia’s intercom buzzed. Anthony considered waking her to answer it, but Claudia looked so angelic sleeping in his arms. He edged out of her delicate grasp and laid her down gently.
Who would come to see her at five in the morning?
He touched the intercom speaker button and whispered. “Who is it?”
After a brief delay, a woman’s voice said, “Is this Claudia’s apartment?”
“May I ask who you are first?”
An impatient male voice called out, “It’s her parents. Who the hell are you?”
Oops. Caught in a girl’s apartment at 5:00 a.m. by her parents. That hadn’t happened in a while. Anthony glanced over at Claudia, who was softly snoring. The apartment was still as disheveled as it had been when he first saw it. If he was concerned for her after seeing that, her parents certainly would be.
“Give me a few seconds to wake her,” he said.
An oath from her father was cut off halfway as Anthony let go of the buzzer. He used his vampiric speed to clean up the apartment. Finding the trash can under the sink, he grabbed the bucket and loaded it with empties until it wouldn’t hold any more. Then he simply hid the rest of them. He zoomed around the room once more, putting pillows back on chairs, mascara side down, and placing the empty pizza boxes on the kitchen counter.
He stopped to appraise the job he’d done, and everything seemed neat. Then he shook Claudia. “Wake up. Your parents are here.”
She protested with an agh.
He shook her harder and called out, “Claudia, wake up!”
At last, she opened her eyes and blinked. “Anthony? What are you…” Then she groaned. “Oh, yeah. I remember now.” She looked shaky as she pushed herself up to a sitting position.
The intercom buzzed again.
“Your parents are here.”
“What?” She shot to her feet and swayed.
Anthony grabbed her arm and clasped her around her waist to steady her. “You need to buzz them in.”
“No. They’re in Florida.”
“They’re here. If you don’t let them in, I’ll have to.”
“No! They can’t know you’re here. Quick. Hide in the bedroom.” She pushed at him, but he didn’t move.
“It’s too late. I answered the intercom the first time it buzzed.”
She hit him. “Why did you do that?”
He turned her toward the door and marched her over to it. “Let them in. They’re probably as worried about you as I was.”
She sighed. “Okay, but first I need to make sure it’s really them.” She leaned on the intercom button and said, “Mom? Dad?”
A soft click was followed by her mother pleading, “Open the door, honey,” and her father bellowing, “What kind of daughter lets her parents stand on the sidewalk while she—”
Claudia let go of the intercom and buzzed them in. “That’s them all right.”
“I’d better go,” Anthony said.
Claudia glanced around her apartment and her eyebrows rose. “You cleaned up after me?”
“Just a quick tidying up.”
She rested a hand on his arm. “Thank you.”
Anthony held her gaze for a moment. Something unspoken but deeply meaningful passed between them. He was fairly sure it was more than gratitude on her part. It certainly was on his.
A hard knock on her door broke the spell.
“Time to face the music—or the cacophony,” Claudia muttered.
Anthony buttoned his suit jacket a moment before she opened the door to reveal a bedraggled-looking couple.
“We drove thirty-six hours straight to get here, young lady,” her father blasted. “You’d better have a damn good excuse for not answering your phone or emails.”
Her father turned his anger on Anthony. “Are you the reason she was unreachable for a week?”
“No, Dad,” Claudia quickly said.
Someone upstairs opened their door and yelled down, “It’s five o’clock in the friggin’ morning. Shut the hell up and let people sleep!”
Claudia opened her door wider. “Come in and try to calm down.”
When her parents were inside the apartment, Anthony extended his hand. “I’m Anthony Cross. I was concerned about her as well.”
Her father stared at Anthony’s hand. At last he grasped it and shook twice. “Your hand is cold. You must have arrived just before we did.”
Her mother added, “Even if he’s been here all night, she’s a grown woman and allowed to have a boyfriend, dear.”
Anthony didn’t quite know how to respond to that. Should he let Claudia’s father think they were a couple? Fortunately, he didn’t have to confirm or deny. Claudia jumped in.
“He’s not my boyfriend. He’s my old boss.”
“Old boss?” her father said. “Did he fire you? Is that why you look like hell?”
She sighed. “No. He didn’t fire me. The fire fired me.” Claudia faced Anthony straight on and shot him a poignant look. “The building that housed the import-export business burned down.”
Import-export? Was that code for “my parents don’t know I worked in a bar”?
“Oh! Were you hurt? Is that why we couldn’t reach you?” her mother asked, wringing her hands.
Anthony glanced at his watch. He had to get going in order to make it to his lair in Chinatown before the sun came up. It would happen about 5:44 a.m. at this time of year.
“Excuse me for interrupting, but I have to go,” Anthony said.
Claudia smiled gratefully. “Yes, I suppose you must be tired. Thank you for listening to me, uh, talk your ear off.”
Anthony was glad his suit wasn’t rumpled and it looked as if talking was all he’d been doing, but how would Claudia explain her appearance?
“I’m glad we talked. I’m sorry I got you out of bed by arriving so late. I’ll call you soon so we can continue putting together a plan to get the business back up and running.”
She waved away his fake apology. “Oh, don’t worry about getting me up. I’m just glad you’re including me in your plans to rebuild.”
“I couldn’t do it without you.”
Her parents smiled and seemed to buy into their explanation. Whew. Not bad for a cockamamy story on the fly. He shook hands with both of them, waved to Claudia, and left.
He’d have to zoom back to his place. Public transportation wasn’t fast enough. Standing on the sidewalk, he checked for witnesses, and dammit, the garbage truck was rumbling down the street and people were scrambling to get their trash out in time.
Panic gripped him as he noticed the dawn approaching and pictured his bad self bursting into flames in the sun.
Purchase links: Sourcebooks Amazon ARe Kobo B&N
Other titles by Ashlyn Chase:
a Full Moon
Ashlyn Chase Facebook page
Ashlyn Chase Goodreads author page
Ashlyn Chase Amazon author page
Chat with Ashlyn Chase Yahoo email group
Ashlyn Chase on AuthorsDen
Be on the lookout for Ashlyn Chase's upcoming releases: The Cupcake Coven coming May 2014
Want to see other titles by this author on Cover Reveals? Check out more by this author The most recent will be displayed on top (which may be this post, scroll down to see if there are any more).
Interested in this book? Let your friends and family know about it. Use the buttons below to share this post with them.