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Authors: Tina Folsom

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BOOK: Samson's Lovely Mortal
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***

Delilah Sheridan’s eyes hurt, but she continued scanning the rows of transactions for anything that looked out of place. Rubbing her stiff neck with her fingers, she longed for a massage, or at least a fifteen-minute soak in a hot tub, neither of which would happen tonight.

“Coffee?” John’s voice came from behind her.

She pushed a strand of her long dark hair behind her ear. “No, thanks; I want to be able to sleep tonight. I’ve had insomnia the last few nights. I’m probably still on New York time.” Her gaze remained fixed on her computer screen.

The night before, she’d barely slept despite the comfortable mattress. And the few hours she had been able to sleep, she’d been tormented by dreams which didn’t make a lick of sense.

The large, spacious office was practically deserted. The only people left were the two of them. John Reardon was the chief accountant for the San Francisco branch of the nationwide private company Delilah had come to audit.

“Yeah, I know what you mean. It’s not sleeping in your own bed, that’s what does it, right?” John sounded sympathetic.

“At least they put me up in a corporate apartment rather than at a hotel. I don’t get disturbed by the housekeeping staff.”

True, she was staying in a comfortable condo which belonged to the company, but what did it matter when she couldn’t sleep anyway? Before her trip to San Francisco she’d never had any problems with insomnia. On the contrary, she was known for being able to sleep wherever and whenever she put her head on a pillow. It didn’t even have to be a pillow.

Delilah rubbed her eyes then looked at her watch. It was past nine o’clock. She felt almost guilty having stayed so late. John had insisted being there as long as she was. He didn’t want to leave her alone at the offices. She guessed he didn’t trust auditors not to snoop around. He got that right. Not that she’d call it snooping since she had all the authorization she needed. In fact, she had very specific instructions.

She wasn’t just here to audit the branch office of the company, but to investigate some irregularities. Delilah was sure John had no idea about this. He’d been told that it was merely one of the usual audits Headquarters performed regularly.

“Sorry, John. I’m sure you’re ready to go home.”

She turned to him. Leaning against the edge of one of the desks, he lifted his coffee cup to his lips. His gray suit seemed ill-fitting, and the collar of his shirt looked frayed. He was quite tall and decent looking for an accountant. Boring, bland, but not ugly.

He probably didn’t appreciate having to stay at the office this late. Well, she was beat anyway, so maybe she should call it a day, even though she knew she would probably toss and turn all night no matter what.

“Ready?”

A flicker of relief appeared in John’s eyes when she nodded. It took him all of two seconds to slip into his jacket and grab his briefcase. He sure was in a hurry to get out of there. She couldn’t blame him. He had a family waiting for him. And what did she have to go home to? It wasn’t even home.

Not that home would have been any more welcoming than the corporate apartment. Nobody was waiting for her. No man, not many friends—not even a cat or a dog. After this assignment was over and she was back in New York, she’d go out more and date. That was the plan. It was an excellent plan, one she’d made during every one of her out-of-town assignments and then promptly dismissed when she’d returned home. This time she meant it, though. Really.

But for now, all she wanted was to get some takeout and go to sleep. John was kind enough to direct her toward Chinatown where she could pick up some food on her way back to the apartment. Even though she’d been to Chinatown before, her sense of direction was much less developed than her head for numbers. During the day she normally managed, but in the dark she turned into a lost cause when it came to finding her way.

It had started drizzling, and she didn’t want to hang around too long. She ducked into the first Chinese restaurant she encountered. The place was virtually empty.

The woman at the entrance attempted to show her to a table, but Delilah waved her off.

“Just takeout, please.”

The hostess handed her a menu. Delilah scanned it quickly, trying not to let her fingers linger too long on the sticky plastic cover. The menu presented too many choices. How many different ways could you cook beef? Beef with bamboo shoots, beef with mushrooms, spicy beef. Enough already. She would play it safe.

“I’ll have the Mongolian beef with brown rice, please.”

“Brown rice takes ten minutes.” The Chinese woman was as friendly as a viper and just as pretty. If she thought Delilah would change her mind to white rice with her look, she was out of luck.

“That’s ok. I’ll wait.”

Delilah sank onto one of the red plastic chairs near the door. This business trip was her first to San Francisco. As an independent contractor, she normally performed special audits up and down the East Coast and rarely travelled further afield.

When the head office’s regular statistical checks had revealed that certain ratios in the San Francisco branch were off, they’d decided to use somebody who hadn’t had any prior contact with the West Coast staff and hired an outsider. It was smart. Auditors could become too cozy with the staff they were auditing. A regular change of auditors was generally a good idea.

If anybody could find out where the problem was buried, it was Delilah. Her specialty was forensic accounting. It wasn’t quite as exciting as police work, but it was probably the most exciting field in the accounting world, if there was such a thing. An oxymoron to some, but not to her. And besides, she was making a very decent living as an independent consultant.

This investigation should not present itself with too many difficulties. Certain ratios between assets and depreciation were off the charts and suggested that either somebody was completely incompetent or was trying to cheat the company. How, she didn’t know yet, but she would find out soon.

Delilah was tired and knew she needed a good night’s sleep, but she also dreaded going to bed. Some of her old nightmares had come back again and mixed with new ones. She hadn’t had any in a few months, but upon her arrival in San Francisco a few days ago, her bad dreams had started to reappear.

They were normally always the same. The old French farmhouse they’d lived in over twenty years ago when her father had taken a two-year overseas assignment as a visiting professor. The lavender fields surrounding the property. The crib. The silence. And then the faces of her parents. The tears on her mother’s face. The pain.

But this time the dreams had blended into other, more incomprehensible ones.

The Victorian house looked foreboding in the heavy rain. Light came from one of the windows; other than that it was dark. She ran faster and faster. Toward the house, to safety. She didn’t dare look behind her. He was still there, still following her. Hands clamped over her shoulder. Then suddenly her fists pounded into a heavy wooden door. Something gave way. She stumbled forward and fell. Into warmth, softness, safety. Home.

“Mongolian beef, brown rice.” The woman’s voice pierced through the recollection of her dream. Delilah paid her tab and took the food. She stopped dead at the door.

Damn!

It had started raining in earnest. She had left her umbrella in the apartment, thinking she wouldn’t need it today. Instead of opting for her trench coat, she’d only put on a light jacket. Well, that turned out to be a bad choice.

Everybody had told her how unpredictable San Francisco weather could be, and now she would find out for herself. The weather report had indicated no rain until the weekend. Could she sue the weatherman? Probably not.

She had no choice but to brave it. Delilah knew she wasn’t far from the apartment, only about three blocks. Staying close to the buildings, she started running along the sidewalk then made a turn into the next street, and another one a block further. The apartment couldn’t be far now. She looked around, but in the heavy rain she couldn’t recognize anything. Was it another block more?

Her clothes were already soaked, and she would have to jump into the shower to get warm again. Where the hell was she? She turned another corner and found herself on a small side street. It didn’t look familiar at all, but that wasn’t her biggest problem, neither was the relentless rain. The problem was the guy coming toward her. Even though she couldn’t make him out well, she would bet her retirement fund that he wasn’t there to lend her an umbrella.

His imposing frame was silhouetted against the dim light of a streetlamp behind him. The chill of his look seeped into her body as a faint glimmer of light coming from a window appeared on the left side of his face. The scar puckering his skin didn’t inspire confidence.

Delilah turned back to where she came from. Before she was able to take two steps, a hand clamped over her shoulder, jerking her back. The sudden jolt made her lose her balance. She slipped on the wet sidewalk, her legs buckling beneath her. Her food dropped onto the ground as she tried to fight for balance and brace her fall.

The guy’s hand on her shoulder gripped harder as she screamed and tried to shake him off, crashing onto the sidewalk in the process. He bent down to pull her up. She yanked her head around. For the first time she could see his face clearly, clear enough to make an identification if need be. He was Caucasian and in his forties. Violence, and the intention to unleash it on her, was clearly written on his face.

Delilah couldn’t allow him to drag her into some dark hole. Number one in survival training was never to let the attacker move the victim to a secondary location. She had to fight him off here, where she had a chance of getting the attention of a passerby.

Fat chance!

With this rain, nobody would be outside. Not even a dog.

He jerked her up, seizing her by the collar of her jacket now, having released the painful grip on her shoulder. Quickly, she stretched her arms back and slipped out of the jacket, leaving him holding onto it. Now she had a fighting chance.

He was startled, and she had a couple of seconds’ head start. She’d been a sprinter in college, and it came in handy, even though the slippery ground didn’t help—neither did the high heels of her shoes. Vanity would kill her one of these days.

With long strides she ran into the next street, her lean but strong legs pushing off the ground with a vehemence that was startling for her small body. He was close behind her. And faster. She had to run for all she was worth. Her breath quickened as her lungs demanded more oxygen.

Scouting the area ahead of her, she made a split-second decision and sprinted into the street to her right. A desperate glance over her shoulder confirmed that the brute was still chasing her.

Scanning the street, she spotted several Victorian residences on the other side. All of them were dark, except for one. It seemed oddly familiar with light shining through the windows in the front room. This was her chance, probably her only one. Not slowing down for even a second, she crossed the narrow street, ran up the few steps of the old Victorian and hammered at the door.

“Help! Help me!”

Frantically, she looked behind her while her fists continued pounding into the door. Her pursuer was less than half a block away and closing in, his face angry. If he reached her, he’d unleash his anger on her, and there was nowhere else to run.

TWO

 

Who the hell was banging on his door? Samson would have to teach his friends some manners. He realized it was raining cats and dogs outside, but it didn’t give them the right to damage his door. They’d be sorry in a second. He was in a foul mood as it was, and announcing themselves like barbarians did not endear them to him.

He yanked the door open.

“Fuck off!”

A small figure with dripping wet hair and soaked clothes tumbled into his arms.

“Help me, please!” The female voice had an urgency to it he couldn’t ignore.

Instinctively he pulled her in and slammed the door shut again.

“Thank you.” The quiet mumble was almost inaudible, but laced with genuine relief.

She lifted her head and looked up at him. Big green eyes, long thick lashes, luscious red lips. Her white blouse was soaked, and she could have won any wet-t-shirt contest hands down. Not that he’d ever witnessed one. Her black-lace bra featured her breasts prominently: 34C, he guessed.

The stripper!

Of course, she was the stripper. So the guys had gotten him a stripper who would play the damsel in distress. It was different from the usual police woman or nurse, but still, it wouldn’t work.

The last time his friends had surprised him with a stripper, Officer Nasty had tried a strip search on him, leaving him entirely unaffected. Not even the tease of a little bondage had gotten his cock to wake from its deathlike sleep. What made Ricky think this damsel in distress could do any better?

She looked pretty enough, almost innocent. At least he could play along for a few minutes, see if anything moved. Without getting his hopes up, of course.

“What happened?”

She smelled like a wet dog and something else, but he couldn’t pinpoint it.

“Some guy attacked me.” She stopped to catch her breath. “I have to call the police.” She shivered and sounded believable. The woman had obviously taken some acting classes.

Nice touch.

“Well, why don’t we get you into the warmth first and get rid of your wet clothes.” That was surely the script she had in mind. What better reason to take off her clothes than because they were wet? He wouldn’t mind warming her. With his body.

A crease appeared between her eyebrows. “Just a phone call, please. I can get changed at home, thank you.” Her voice was clipped as if irritated.

Ah, so she wanted to play coy. Fine with him. He motioned her into the sitting room where a low fire crackled in the fireplace. She placed herself right in front of it and stretched her hands out toward the warmth. Her wet clothes clung to her body, emphasizing her tantalizing curves. Perfect proportions. Not too skinny, just enough flesh for him to have something to dig into. At least Ricky had picked somebody who physically appealed to him. It was a start.

“You’ll catch a cold in those wet clothes,” he whispered behind her. Her shoulders lifted, tension evident. She had obviously not felt him approach. What was wrong with her senses? As he cupped her shoulders with his hands, she shrieked and spun around. He recognized the glare in her eyes as a mixture of anger and fear.

“I have to go.”

Now it was getting interesting. She was playing hard to get. Ricky was right, she was good. Maybe she could stir something up for him, just maybe. He enjoyed a good hunt as much as the next vampire. And he hadn’t hunted in a while. Every woman had practically been handed to him on a platter, and as enticing as many of them had been, none had stirred him.

“Not so fast. I think you’re forgetting what you came here for. Let’s see what you’ve got to offer.” He let her know that he was willing to play along. Just for the hell of it.

The damsel threw him another scared look and made for the door. Samson was faster and cut her escape route off. He was enjoying himself now. In fact, he hadn’t had this much fun in a long time. Whatever Ricky was paying her, she was worth every dollar.

She breathed heavily, still pretending to be scared. He could almost smell her fear. It was exactly how he liked his prey. His hands dug into her shoulders to pull her close. He didn’t care that her wet clothes would ruin his dry-clean-only pants and sweater.

“No, let me go!” Her desperate plea echoed in his vast home.

“You don’t want to go.” He soaked in her smell. Yes, wet dog, but something else too, something different. Was this little vampire vixen using some exotic perfume? It smelled delicious, tempting. A faint smell of lavender drifted into his nostrils.

Her terrified eyes looked up at him as she struggled under his hold.

“I’m sure Ricky paid you enough, and if not, I’m going to tip you generously.” Money was no object. If she could do something for him, he’d be more than generous.

“Paid me?” Her voice was a high shriek, her panic underscored by the widening of her eyes. Beautiful eyes, their green shimmering in hundreds of different facets.

Had the cad not paid her yet? Well, he could take care of that later, but right now he wanted something else. A little taste of those luscious lips and that sharp tongue of hers.

There was something about her. She’d awakened his interest. Samson lowered his head and pressed his lips onto hers. She tried wiggling out of his embrace, but her attempt was weak at best. He’d known vampire females to be nearly as strong as vampire males, but the specimen in his arms had obviously decided not to use her strength against him.

Her lips were soft, deliciously soft. Samson slid his hand behind her neck to keep her in place while he used his tongue to tempt her mouth open. He wanted to taste her, feel that tongue of hers, but she kept her lips firmly pressed together, seemingly unwilling to surrender too soon.

The woman still struggled, trying to wrestle free of him. He didn’t mind. In fact, the more she resisted the more he was aware of her body rubbing against his, and the more he wanted her. He continued his assault on her lips, sweeping over them with his moist tongue. He pressed her harder against him, running his other hand down her back to squeeze her cute little ass. Instead of her wet clothes, he felt the body heat buried underneath.

Her breasts were crushed against his chest, and her rapid heartbeat reverberated through his body. He enjoyed her unusual softness. And then he noticed something else. He felt himself react to her. Blood suddenly pumped into his loins, surging to his cock. His pants tightened uncomfortably. But he wasn’t going to complain.

Samson released a moan of pleasure as he felt his hardening cock press against her stomach. She surely had to sense it too. He hadn’t felt an erection in so long, and the realization that his old body still worked was a birthday present he hadn’t expected. With his hand on her ass he hauled her closer into his body and ground his cock against her, letting her know that she’d achieved the impossible.

He would reward her plenty for it. Why hadn’t his shrink thought of this? All he needed was a woman who pretended
not
to want him, and his hunting instincts would kick in. Reverse psychology was all it was. He’d have to fire Drake. In all those months the quack hadn’t come up with anything helpful.

Suddenly her lips parted, and he didn’t hesitate slipping his tongue in greedily.

Oh God, yes!

Her mouth, her taste—it was all so different from anything he’d tasted before. His tongue swept in deeply, searching for hers. It wasn’t what he had expected. His body tensed as he explored her delicious mouth and played with her hesitant tongue, teasing her to give him more. He went deeper. Oh God, she was delicious.

With his hand on her neck he stroked her eagerly while his hand on her round ass couldn’t stop caressing her and pressing her harder against him. His cock was rock hard and ready to burst. Samson couldn’t remember ever having had an erection like this, not in the last hundred and fifty years anyway.

There was no way he’d let her go before he’d thoroughly fucked her. He wanted to bury himself in her for as long as he could and find the pleasure which had eluded him in the last nine months.

Samson swallowed more of her taste, gulped down more of her scent, and all of a sudden his nostrils flared.

Damn, what the hell was he doing?

Shit!

He wasn’t kissing a vampire. She tasted human! His friends were killing him. They’d gotten him a human stripper! They should have warned him at least. He would hurt her if he wasn’t careful. If he lost control, he could bite her and drink her blood. Those idiots!

And then he felt the pain, a sharp, stabbing und unexpected pain on his foot. He instantly let go of her and winced, hopping on one foot in an attempt to relieve the throbbing. She had driven her high heel into his Italian designer shoe with all her force.

What the fuck?

What had gotten into her? She’d kissed him back, she’d responded to him. There was no reason for her sudden outburst. And besides, Ricky had said she did extras. As he stared at her in disbelief, she glared at him furiously, and as if that wasn’t enough, she slapped him right across the cheek.

Bam!

Stifled laughter behind him made him spin around in record speed. There they were: all his friends, watching him get hit by a woman. This would go down in the history books, the night Samson got slapped by a human female. What else was planned for his utter humiliation?

“What the hell are you doing, Samson?” Ricky asked.

“What do you think I’m doing? I’m having fun with the stripper you got me for my birthday.” Since when was Ricky all prim and proper? After all, this was his idiotic idea.

“Stripper?” the woman yelled. “I’m not a
stripper
!”

Ricky shook his head, and the guys behind him couldn’t suppress their stupid grins like they were a bunch of college kids and not full-grown vampires.

“Are you blind, man? This is the stripper.” Ricky tilted his head to the woman in the short nurse’s uniform and garter belt who stood amongst his friends. Samson’s eyes ping-ponged between the nurse and the damsel in distress, then finally settled on Ricky. The truth was written on the redheaded vampire’s shocked face.

“That” —Ricky pointed at the furious woman next to Samson—“is a seriously pissed off lady, to whom you owe a huge apology. I’d start groveling right now.”

Good advice. Samson winced inwardly.

“Happy Birthday,” Amaury, his oldest friend, said. If he was trying to diffuse the situation, he’d have to work harder at it, because it sure wasn’t working.

“And congratulations,” Thomas added, grinning, but he wasn’t congratulating him on his birthday. His eyes were fixed on Samson’s crotch. Nothing could escape Thomas’ keen eyes, ever, especially when it came to a male body. Samson understood immediately, but it didn’t make the situation any more comfortable. Eventually he’d have to face the woman he’d kissed so passionately, and it wasn’t something he felt comfortable with. Especially not with the raging hard-on bulging under his slacks. A hard-on which did not want to go down, not as long as he had her taste on his tongue.

She brushed past him to get out of the room. He couldn’t just let her leave. He owed her more than an apology. She had healed what his shrink hadn’t been able to fix even after many months of weekly sessions. He had to do something, anything.

“Miss.”

She continued walking as if she hadn’t heard him. The guys parted to let her through.

“Please. I’m sorry. I didn’t know. I thought you were the … I’m sorry. You must think I’m a savage. Please, Miss, let me offer you some dry clothes, something to warm you up. I’ll have my chauffeur drive you home.”

She stopped and hesitated at the door.

“Please.” He didn’t care that his friends were watching him beg. He would deal with them later. Strangely, all he now wanted was for her not to be mad at him. He didn’t understand why he even cared; after all, she was only a human. Finally, her shoulders appeared to drop as if the tension in them released.

 

Delilah turned and looked at him. She knew it was still raining outside, and the thought of dry clothes and somebody driving her home was tempting, especially since she wasn’t quite sure if she would even find her way back to the apartment. Besides, the thug could still be lurking outside somewhere, and then she wouldn’t be any better off than before.

Now that he was looking at her with his puppy-dog eyes, he looked warm and kind. He hadn’t looked like that only minutes ago. She had felt as if she had been his prey. He’d looked like a hunter. His kiss had been experienced, hungry, hot. And unfortunately, exactly the way she liked it, which was why she hadn’t been able to resist him and finally kissed him back.

Delilah had felt his body pressed against hers, his hands touching her intimately. He had aroused her. She assumed it was merely a reflex her body produced, but deep down she knew that no reflex in the world could make her open up to a man who attacked her unless she wanted him.

During his kiss she’d felt flames of hot fire shoot through her as if her blood had started to boil. Nobody had ever kissed her like that. None of the guys she’d dated had come even close to making her body melt like it did under his touch.

But this wasn’t right. He’d just attacked her like a wild beast, because he thought she was some cheap stripper. There was no doubt in her mind as to his intentions. His erection was proof positive that had she not stopped him, he would have had her right there in the living room. It was not her idea of romance, no matter how long she hadn’t had sex.

She glanced at the woman in the nurse’s uniform. Disgusting! Her boobs looked fake, and so did just about everything else about her. She looked cheap, and Delilah was sure the woman wasn’t just a stripper, but probably also a hooker. She could just about imagine what the tramp was hired to do.

So he had some crazy friends who gave him an even crazier birthday present. Unfortunately he had tried to unwrap the wrong present. Could she really be mistaken for a stripper that easily, or did the guy need glasses? Delilah looked down at herself and realized only now that her white blouse was completely soaked through, making it transparent, and her latest
barely there
Victoria’s Secret acquisition shone through. She secretly cursed her love for black underwear. No wonder he thought she was a stripper. Maybe this was all much more innocent than she’d initially thought.

BOOK: Samson's Lovely Mortal
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