Arson forces Gideon Keel and his human lovers, Jesse Madding and Emma Coolidge, to find a new home after all their possessions are destroyed. Jesse and Emma are drawn to a decaying mansion that once served as a boarding school, but has long since sat abandoned. With its winding halls and haphazard wings, its private chapel, and its two-story library, the house is too fascinating to refuse.
But something sinister lurks in those winding halls. Something violent and dark. Something that locks the house, steals Gideon’s memories, possesses Emma’s body, and threatens Jesse’s life on the evening of their housewarming party. As the night progresses and the body count increases, Jesse must find a way to stop Gideon from killing their friends. Even harder, Jesse must convince the vampire who doesn’t remember him, or the love the three of them share, to fight for their lives.
Could he afford not to take the open shot? He leveled the crossbow, his finger slippery on the trigger. Everything froze in a surreal mural, but he couldn’t force himself to release the bolt.
One of the men jumped back, but the other was trapped by Gideon’s body. Jesse thought if he could ever smell fear, it would be now. There was no mistaking the alarm in the man’s struggle to get free.
“Look who’s back.” Slowly, Gideon tilted his head in Jesse’s direction, though he didn’t move away from the wall. “Miss me already?”
“Quite a bit, actually. Let him go, and I’ll show you how much.”
“You interrupted my dinner. I’m not inclined to let you do it again.”
“I’m only giving you one more warning, Gideon. I’m more fun than he is, anyway.”
“Oh, a warning.” He looked back down at the man he held captive, his fangs descending. “You think I’ll get a demerit next? Why don’t we test him and see?”
He struck. The man’s scream gargled in his throat.
Jesse didn’t hesitate this time. He flexed his finger on the trigger and the bolt went flying, straight and true. Gideon wasn’t scared of him. But his Gideon knew he was a damned good shot. Especially because his Gideon made sure he trained for hours every week with distance weapons. The bolt buried itself in his back, just below his right shoulder. As soon as it found its mark, Jesse had the second one loaded.
Gideon whirled with a growl, the man slumping to the floor. He didn’t pay any attention as the second slithered past to help his friend, his golden gaze locked on Jesse.
“You’re trying awfully hard to get my attention, boy,” he warned.
Jesse couldn’t help but shiver at the familiar epithet. “Gideon, you have no idea. Do I have it now?”
Reaching over his shoulder, Gideon tore the bolt out of his flesh with a sickening squelch, curling his fingers around it. “Wrong question.”
Jesse could still hear murmuring from downstairs. If he could hear the guests in the library, Gideon could too. He needed to lure Gideon away from the library and away from the doors. Jesse didn’t think that would be a problem now. If he ran, Gideon would follow.
“What’s the right question?”
Gideon smiled. “It’s not whether or not you have my attention. It’s whether or not you want it.”
The smile was cold enough to make his blood freeze. “Oh, that’s easy. I’ll always want your attention. I thought you would have figured that out by now. Can’t you smell me, Gideon? Can’t you smell yourself on me?”
One foot rested on the lowest riser. His eyes narrowed. “I think I’d remember tasting a sweet morsel like you.”
“I thought so, too.” The layout of the house wasn’t as clear as it could have been in Jesse’s mind. But he knew it well enough to know which direction he would have to run once he reached the top of the stairs. “Another taste might refresh your memory.”
“When I get my fangs in you, it won’t be a taste, boy. You owe me dinner. And dessert.”
“When you get your fangs in me, I might beg you not to stop. But ...” Jesse blew out his candle with a puff of breath. “You’ve got to catch me first.”
He scrambled up the stairs and raced towards the east side of the house, towards the service stairs. The creak of a floorboard betrayed Gideon’s presence, assuring him that the vampire was in pursuit.
Jesse didn’t get nearly as far as he hoped he would. At the first turn, hands that were too familiar not to set his heart racing grabbed his shirt and slammed his face-first into the wall. His ears rang. The air vanished from his lungs.
Gideon pressed hard to his back.
“Somebody didn’t run very fast,” he hissed in Jesse’s ear.
“No.” Jesse gasped for breath. He didn’t even bother to struggle. Gideon was far too solid against him. “The darkness slowed me down.”
The bloody bolt Gideon had pulled out of his shoulder suddenly appeared at Jesse’s cheek, the tip drawing lightly over his skin. The path it left behind stung, but not enough to make him flinch.
“Lies don’t become you, boy. You wanted me to catch you. You’re even hungrier for it than the dinner you interrupted.”