Today we celebrate the release of Shayla Black’s Entice Me at Twilight, the delicious fourth Doomsday Brethren novel. I think you’ll be as excited about Duke’s story as I was. It’s a wild ride.
In honor of her release, Shayla shared a fabulous little excerpt to tease you with the tale. Don’t miss out on Duke, Felicia and the Brethren — it’s a tale for the ages.
Felicia risked a glance at Hurstgrove’s profile, illuminated by the dashboard’s lights. She didn’t know what Mason had said, but she didn’t imagine it was friendly, given the way her captor clenched his jaw and gripped the wheel.
Restraining the urge to ask, Felicia winced and looked at the clock. Two-fourteen A.M.
A new day, a new problem. She’d been abducted from her wedding. By someone not quite human.
Happy New Year…
She rubbed her eyes, trying not to smear the professionally applied makeup she’d paid for hours earlier, then plucked at her veil until it came free. Draping it across the dashboard, Felicia sighed. She could feel every seam in the heavy, form-fitting wedding gown. Her hopes of a happy family and future lay in shambles. And damn it, she had to use the loo.
Exhaustion beat at her, and she felt every minute of last night’s sleeplessness as the warm car jetted through the dark night to “safety.” Wherever that was.
Shocking how gentle Hurstgrove’s tone could be. How warm. But then, she supposed it came in handy, seducing as many women as he did.
Aside from their one meeting prior to the wedding, Hurstgrove was a complete stranger. Still, he hadn’t lied about her safety. Though he had abducted her, she knew he would never harm her.
Seduce her? That, she suspected, he would try. But would he really abduct her merely to do so, as Mason had accused?
Felicia frowned. That didn’t add up. Hurstgrove couldn’t want her that badly. He didn’t know her. At most, he saw a pretty shell, but he bedded actresses and models, women clearly far more beautiful than she was. Was he so lacking in bed partners that he’d have to stoop to this length to get one? No.
Nor did she think he’d done it merely to annoy Mason. Their rivalry was obvious, but Hurstgrove would not gambled his familial connections for a fleeting affair.
It would be so easy to be angry, to wonder why Hurstgrove had done this to her. But he’d abducted her from her wedding for her, and at great expense to himself.
He might not be the most honorable man ever. He objectified women and didn’t care about resolving Mason’s animosity. But he had risked much to help her, attempted diplomacy, then took quick action when talking no longer worked. He wasn’t afraid to do what needed to be done. In a weird way, Felicia admired him for it. Beyond the fact he wasn’t human—what sort of “other” he was, she had no idea—there was more to Hurstgrove than she’d previously imagined.
What would he be like in bed?
The question came from nowhere, unbidden, unwanted. A thousand sensual images pelted her: his hand fisting in her hair, the other gripping her hip, his lips on hers, hard muscles sliding over her skin, covering every inch of her body, his shoulders bunching under her nails as he slid deep inside her…and she lifted her hips in welcome, arching her back and hissing with pleasure.
He was her fiancé’s half-brother, her abductor. He wasn’t even human, yet…she couldn’t not be aware of him. Every time he drew near, her body lit up like a Christmas tree. Of course she was be grateful that he’d saved her from Mathias tonight. But it wasn’t gratitude making her breasts ache or her knickers turn moist. She should hate everything about his rich, womanizing ways. She didn’t.
Did that non-human part of him draw her in? It seemed fantastical…but she knew, in this case, real life was stranger than fiction.
Felicia took a deep breath and turned to him. “What are you?”
He stilled. “What am I?”
“Yes. I know you’re not human. Your conversation with Bram in the garage… It’s clear your normal mode of transportation isn’t an auto. He tried to simply concentrate, as if that would transport him to another location. That’s not human.”
Duke gripped the wheel tighter. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Another lie, but accusing him would get her nowhere. “I’m not stupid. You claimed I’m in grave danger from a madman I’ve never heard of and that only you and your friends can protect me. Then a lot of robed villains arrived unexpectedly and in minutes demolished a building that had stood for hundreds of years. What am I to make of that?”
Hurstgrove winced. “The evening has been harrowing. I’m sorry.”
“You’re missing the point. There are holes in your story, and I want the truth. You’re too high-profile to be a government agent. You don’t need money, so you’d be barmy to deal in drugs or arms. Nor does—”
“I would never do either!” He cast her an outraged glance. “I obey the laws.”
“Except those pertaining to kidnapping,” she pointed out, brow raised. “Besides, even if you regularly broke laws, I’ve never seen drug dealers or third-world generals crash a wedding with an army in black robes. Not a very inconspicuous way to do business. But all that is very human, which you’re not.”
“This is ridiculous, Felicia.”
“Is it? Why else would you imagine that you could close your eyes and beam yourself to…Tahiti? So I ask myself, who—or what—would imagine they could? Are you an alien? Do you have eight arms or tentacles or—”
“What?” A frown of incredulity cut deep into his brow. “Of course not. Don’t be mad.”
So he wasn’t an alien. “A ghost?”
“Do I look dead?”
No, very much alive. Healthy, gorgeous, so masculine her pulse wouldn’t slow… Bad train of thought. “Answer the question.”
“This is absurd. Stop—”
“When I get the truth, I will. Should I protect my jugular around you? Invest in a garlic necklace?”
Hurstgrove downshifted, took a curve a bit too fast, and swore. “Vampires are nasty creatures, a small step up from cannibals. I’d destroy myself first.”
Right, then. “Do you turn furry during certain phases of the moon?”
He rolled his eyes. “This is preposterous. Lupines don’t eat meals with utensils. Do you think I could be a member of the peerage and photographed as often as I am if I couldn’t manage a fork?”
Did that mean he knew one? Or did he answer questions with questions simply to throw her off? “So, not a lupine?”
“Definitely not. I like to shower more than once a decade. I’m plain human.”
She wrinkled her nose at the stench of his lie. “You’re not. Zombie? Demon?”
“Christ! I haven’t risen from the grave or come from hell.” He glared at her, his patience clearly running thin. “Though I feel as if I’m there now.”
She harrumphed. “Elf? Fairy? Some other magical creature?”
“Stop. In three minutes, I’ve gone from a street thug wielding dime bags to a pale midget with pointed ears. I’m exhausted.”
Felicia sent him a mulish glare. True, Hurstgrove looked tired, but it was mostly an excuse not to answer her questions. But her nose told her she hadn’t hit on the truth…yet.
The next few minutes passed in tense silence until, finally, Duke pulled off the motorway at the only bit of civilization visible. A few scattered cottages, looking as old as the tiny village itself, squatted on a dark, narrow road. At the end, nestled in trees, a plain mid-century house appeared, only visible because his headlights reflected off the front windows.
As he steered the convertible closer, he noted a faint air of lonesomeness. He pulled up in the drive and turned to Felicia. “Wait here.”
He hopped out of the car and sprinted to the little cottage door. A few envelopes bulged out of the mail slot. A peek through the window revealed newspapers littering the floor. No one had been home for days.
Praying the inhabitants were away for the holiday, Duke returned to the car, then followed the drive around the back of the house. He cut the lights and the engine.
“Who lives here?” she asked, frowning.
No idea. “A friend. Let’s go.”
Felicia grabbed his arm as he began to climb out of the car. “You’re lying.”
How could she know that? “We’ll only be here a few hours. Come on.”
“We can’t just barge into someone’s home!”
“This is life or death. We haven’t time to be polite.”
She dug in her heels. “We’re staying in separate rooms, yes?”
It would be wiser for his self-control, but… Duke shook his head. “I’ll do my utmost to respect your privacy. But I can’t let this…man get his hands on you, Felicia. I won’t risk you. ‘Depraved’ is too kind a word to describe him.”
She hesitated, then sighed. “All right.”
Her acceptance of the situation relieved him and made him a bit proud. She was smart and practical…and driving him mad with lust.
At he walked around to help her out of the car, he murmured, “Stay close to me.”
Felicia exited, shivering as she scanned their surroundings. He slung an arm around her and drew her against his side.
Bristling, she backed away. “I’m perfectly fine. There’s no one about.”
“You’d be surprised by the things that go bump in the night.” He smiled grimly at her. “Besides, you’re freezing. Let’s go.”
The moment they stepped away from the car, the January wind whipped through them anew. She shivered in the delicate lace of her wedding dress and crossed her arms, huddling into herself to keep warm.
Stubborn woman. Duke shrugged out of his coat.
“Oh, no. You don’t—”
Felicia didn’t even finish her protest before he settled his dinner jacket over her shoulders. Almost instantly, she sank deep into the warmth of the coat.
Felicia buried her hands in the lapels and inhaled deeply. Duke was already hard, but his erection turned painful.
Cheeks red, she lifted her face from the garment and nodded. “T—thank you.”
At the door, Duke hesitated. If Felicia weren’t with him, he’d simply wave a hand and let his magic open the door. He couldn’t send her two hundred meters away now. Too dangerous. So in addition to kidnapping, less than four hours later, he’d be adding breaking and entering to his criminal repertoire. Wouldn’t Mum be proud?
He reared back to elbow out a little pane of glass above the handle when Felicia tapped his shoulder. She held the key in her hand.
“Where did you find that?”
She gestured to her feet. “Flower pot. I keep my spare there as well.”
Very smart. Duke grabbed the key and stepped forward to open the door for Felicia.
They stepped into the cozy little house with its neutral colors and masculine touches. Duke closed the door behind her and locked it. Just in case, he tried to magically secure the door…but nothing. Damn. He’d have to keep her close and take other precautions.
He passed her on the narrow stairwell, his body brushing hers at the chest, and thighs. He steadied her with his hands on her shoulders. All right, it was an excuse to touch her. The yearning to press her bare flesh against him and unleash his need for her pounded him again, growing dangerously with every moment they were together. Only thoughts of Mason and Mathias enabled him to release her and trek down the hall.
Duke opened the first door. A slightly musty scent drifted out, as if no one had slept here recently. He flipped on the nearby lamp. The room was stark, masculine, minimal, and very small. The owner had squeezed an armoire, a wooden bench, and one narrow tester bed into the room.
It was going to be a long night.
Biting back a curse, Duke ushered Felicia into the bedroom. He took another glance at the little bed. His gut tightened. “Would you like the shower first?”
“If you don’t mind…”
Duke gestured to the adjacent room, and she edged past him, flipped on the light to reveal glossy black tiles lining a stark white shower, then turned. His gaze locked with hers, squeezing the air from his lungs, until she closed the door between them.
Letting out a breath, Duke tore off his shoes, coat, tie, and shirt. He’d rather strip down and ease this aching erection, but Felicia was forbidden, and wanking off to thoughts of her would not be helpful, he knew from experience. Besides, he must stay focused on her safety.
Lifting the dark wooden blinds, he looked outside at the night around him, alert for any signs of menace. He couldn’t see a damn thing beyond the trees, but Mathias must be out there searching, waiting for him to fuck up and expose Felicia to danger.
Suddenly, Felicia opened the bathroom door and peeked out, her face hesitant. “Can you help me? I hate to ask…”
“Anything,” he vowed, crossing the room to her.
She bit her lip. “My dress…”
Then turned her back to him. A row of small satin buttons secured the lace gown from her neck to her waist—twenty of them, at least. And she wanted him to unfasten them? Unwrap her like a package?
A fresh wave of desire swamped him, nearly overwhelming. Dear God, how could he touch those buttons—her skin—and not take more?
Felicia cast a nervous glance over her shoulder again, moving the thick tumble of golden curls that had fallen from her twist out of his way.
Duke did his best to school his face and soothe her as he closed the distance between them. His heart revved, his palms turned damp. He wanted her so badly, he could hardly walk right.
She’s not yours.
With shaking hands, he reached for the first button at the creamy flesh of her neck, just below the wispy curls rioting near her hairline. Another button, then a second, a third…revealing the line of her spine and the softest skin. With each button, Duke exposed more and more of her, and his greedy gaze ate up every inch. The dress fell away, baring the delicate slopes of her shoulders, her upper back, the hint of her small waist.
His breathing turned ragged. As close as he was, Felicia couldn’t possibly fail to notice.
Two buttons left. He reached for the first, and couldn’t resist caressing one fingertip down her spine. She shuddered and looked back, wide-eyed, pupils dilated. She bit her plump bottom lip between her teeth, her breathing sounding harsh in the silence.
Dear God, she was aroused.
Grabbing the last button, he twisted it, sliding it free of its mooring. He had to get away from her before he did something they’d both regret.
The dress sagged forward, and she caught it—but not until it fell from her bare shoulders and slid toward her hips, revealing a bit of the white lacy knickers he yearned to rip from her body.
“Thank you,” she breathed.
“You’re welcome.” His voice sounded rusty, as if he hadn’t used it in years.
But he stood, rooted. Staring.
Felicia retreated—until her back hit the portal. With one hand, she grabbed the edge of the door. To steady herself? To shut it? With the other, she clutched her dress to her breasts. Duke still saw the shadow between them, pale, plump, tempting…
His gaze jerked up to her face. She stared back.
The lust thickening his blood nearly knocked him over, and Duke gripped the door jamb above her head for support. In forty-three years, he’d never felt anything like this.
This was totally unfamiliar and beyond his control.
Duke shuffled closer. Her body heat grabbed him across the mere ribbon of space between them. He leaned in, tilted his head, his gaze zeroed in on her lips, thoughts of tasting her storming through his head.
He was about to make the biggest mistake of his life.
“Stop me,” he murmured.
Felicia stared, breathless, silent.
Heart revving, Duke inched closer, enough to see the little line bisecting that lush lower lip and smell the peppermint of the holiday candy he’d given her in the car. “Felicia, stop me.”
But she swayed closer, her eyes fluttering shut. Her hand left the door and latched onto his bare shoulder. Her touch jolted his system, a lightning rod charging through him. Thought stopped, desire flared.
Yes, he was going to hell, but he’d go with her sweet taste on his tongue.