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The Vampire Jerome

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The Vampire Jerome

published by ImajinnBooks, 2010

San Francisco Airport
Sunday after Thanksgiving

One vampire could sense another a mile away. Tonight, Jerome Whitcombe was the only one of his kind in the airport terminal.

A few short months ago, he would have been able to sense his older brother Julian’s presence the instant he stepped off the plane. But not tonight. His brother was human now. As human as he himself would be in the not too distant future. He shook away the thought. This was not the time to dwell on that unsettling inevitability.

As he made his way to the arrival board to check the New Orleans to San Francisco schedule, the babble of a thousand human voices enhanced the scent of blood in the air. The sweet smell of it teased him. Under his breath he cursed the reason that had brought him here.

At the announcement that Julian’s flight had landed, Jerome breathed a sigh of relief. The last thing he needed was to spend more time than necessary in this throng of flesh and blood mortals. He hurried forward. The lightheadedness that had beleaguered him lately threatened to slow him down, but he ignored it and pressed forward.

Passengers were already entering the main terminal when Jerome reached the area where he and Julian planned to meet. Craning his neck to see over the crowd, he spotted Julian and two women heading his way.

Jerome’s hands clenched into fists. It was really going to happen! There would soon be a stranger in his home. A female thrust upon him because he’d asked a favor of Julian two weeks before. A favor he was now honor-bound to return.

As the second born of vampire triplets he didn’t always see eye to eye with Julian or his younger brother, Jonah. But one thing was certain. Within the Whitcombe family, honor and duty to family came above all else.

Julian waved and Jerome waved back. While he waited for the trio to reach him, Jerome recalled the telephone conversation with his brother the evening before.

"She’s grateful to you for agreeing to help her," Julian had told him, speaking of his fiancé’s stepsister.

Jerome didn’t answer. What could he say? That he wished Julian had never put him on the spot by involving him in the woman’s medical care?

"You’ve contacted your doctor?" Julian had asked.

He’d assured his brother that an appointment had been made for the afternoon following their arrival.

"And your housekeeper has agreed to watch over her during the day while you sleep?"

"Relax," he’d told Julian, biting back the temptation to scold his brother for doubting his competence. "Everything here is under control."

Everything except what was happening to his body. But that was a matter he had no intention of sharing with his brother. He would keep his problem to himself as long as the woman he had agreed to help was under his roof.

Regardless of how difficult the next few weeks might be for him, they couldn’t be as bad as what his soon-to-be houseguest had experienced. He couldn’t help feeling compassion for her.

She had been kidnapped in New Orleans by the vampire, Zurik. While held captive through Hurricane Katrina and beyond, she had suffered the vampire’s bite. As a result, she was left with a neurological condition that sent her into a deep sleep with little warning. A condition the ravaged medical community in New Orleans was ill-equipped to handle and which Jerome hoped the doctor he had chosen in the Bay area would be able to treat. And treat quickly so the woman could be on her way.

Julian and his two female companions finally reached Jerome. The brothers touched each other’s shoulder in their usual familial greeting, and Julian made the introductions.

"I’d like you to meet Simone LeClerc, my fiancé." Simone shook Jerome’s hand with a firm grip. Julian turned to the other woman. "And this is Dottie Crawford, Simone’s stepsister. Dottie, my brother, Jerome."

When he’d given any thought at all to the woman soon to be in his home, it was with the hope that she’d at least be unattractive. He was not to be so lucky. Her long, sun-streaked blond hair framed a perfect oval face. Her eyes were a clear, bright blue. She was a true beauty. His stomach knotted. Her visit was going to be more difficult for him to bear than he’d expected. His only consolation was that she knew what he was, and after her experience in New Orleans, would no doubt keep her distance from him.

The woman held out her hand to him and although her touch was light, a pulse of electricity shot through him. This was not a good sign. He was not prepared for a physical response to this woman.

He met her gaze and took the outstretched hand, but released it immediately. "Welcome to San Francisco," he said, making a conscious effort to sound as though he meant it.

Her gaze held his long enough to make him uncomfortable and he would have considered her whispered, "Thank you," sensual under different circumstances. He cursed silently again. Nothing was going his way.

"Follow me," he said, turning away from the group and moving forward, his mind glimpsing dangerous times ahead.

By all the Goddesses in the universe, why had he been put in this untenable position?

More importantly, how long would he be forced to endure it?

* * * *


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