Title: Kindling Flames: Gathering Tinder
Series: The Ancient Fire Series Book One, Part 1
Author: Julie Wetzel
Published: September 19th, 2014
Publisher: Crimson Tree Publishing
Page Count: 260
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Content Warning: Minor Violence
Recommended Age: 13+
Synopsis: Fresh from college and with no real work experience, Victoria Westernly considers herself lucky to land the coveted position of personal assistant to Darien Ritter, the CEO and owner of a multibillion-dollar company. His busy schedule and eccentric ways are enough to keep her on her toes. But, all is not what it seems when she discovers the handsome man employing her just happens to be the most powerful vampire in the area.
Excerpt #1Leaning against the side of the car, Vicky waited for Darien to arrive. She watched as the ground crew guided the plane into the building and cracked the hull open. She smiled as her tall boss emerged and looked around. There was a bit of a bounce in his step as he climbed from the plane and moved towards her.“The café au lait is probably cold, but the beignets should be okay.” Darien held out a brown bag and a cup of coffee for Vicky to take.She gave him a confused look as she relieved him of the gift. Expecting him to get into the driver seat, he surprised her again by heading around and hopping into the passenger’s side. Vicky took a sip of the chicory coffee laced with milk as she stowed the bag of beignets in the back with her satchel. The coffee had cooled off, but it was still tasty.She slid into the driver’s seat and looked over at the man who had relaxed back into his seat as if he were going to take a nap. “Are we going straight over to your meeting, or do you need to stop someplace first?” Vicky was unsure if this was the same suit her boss had worn yesterday or not.Darien rolled his head a little and cracked an eye to look at her. “Straight over.”Vicky gave him a hearty “Yes, Mr. Ritter,” and started the car.Darien made a pained noise as soon as they pulled out of the hanger into the sunshine. “Could you please put the top up?”She looked over in concern. Figuring he must have a hangover, Vicky quickly located the button that worked the roof.He let out a relieved sigh as the top closed overhead, blocking out the sun. He hadn’t realized it had gotten that late in the morning. Once more protected from the strong rays of the noonday sun, Darien relaxed back into the seat to enjoy the ride.“Where’d you get the café au lait and beignets?” Vicky asked, sipping at her coffee.“Café Du Monde.” Darien smiled as if he was remembering something good.Her brow furrowed, and she turned the cup to read the green logo on it. “You mean the one in New Orleans?” Vicky had heard of the famous shop but had never had a chance to see it.“That’s the one.”“What were you doing in New Orleans?” Vicky was too shocked that he had flown down there to stop the question from slipping from her mouth.A mischievous grin curled the corners of her boss’s mouth, and the tip of his tongue darted out to wet his lips. “I had a late night meeting with a Cajun.”Vicky’s eyes widened at his answer, and she turned her mind to not wrecking the car. What her boss did on his own time was his own business, and she was not about to ask any more questions. She decided she should just do her job and shut the hell up.
Excerpt #2Vicky rocked on her heels as she waited for Darien to show up. The excitement from her three friends was tangible as they chattered about the possibilities.“So, what’s he like?” Vanessa prodded as they waited for the man to show up.“I told you, he’s just your average businessman.” Vicky sighed.“Ohh, I bet he’s rich.” Beth giggled. “He has to be well-off to have a personal secretary ready to do his every bidding.”Maggie agreed, making Vicky shoot them a frosty glare.She rolled her eyes at her friends. “Of course he’s rich. He runs the company.”Her friends giggled again. Vicky could tell they’d been drinking a little too much.“I bet he’s a hot, foreign guy,” Maggie piped in. “Does he have an accent?”“I would love a rich, hot guy with a foreign accent!” Beth moaned. “I so want him to be English, or even Scottish. I love listening to British guys talk!”Vicky shook her head as their ideas got wilder and wilder. “Sorry to burst your bubble, but he doesn’t have a cool accent.”“Oh, I know!” Vanessa added her idea to the pot. “Wouldn’t it be great if he came from some mega-rich family, like a lost prince or a lord or something?”“Yeah, a vampire lord out to drink your blood!” Beth added as her imagination worked overtime in her slightly drunken state. The others laughed at this outrageous idea.Vicky sighed. “No, Beth, he’s not a vampire. We work during the day. What kind of fiction do you read, anyway?”The others picked up this train of thought and ran with it. By the time Darien finally showed up, the girls had reinvented Vicky’s boss as a master vampire. Vicky had been given the role of the fair maiden who was seduced into being his courtesan and food.When Vicky spotted the familiar Aston Martin pulling up to the curb, she shushed them, but the women didn’t need any encouragement to be quiet. All three stood with their mouths open in awe at the little, black sports car. They were even more taken aback when Darien stepped from the car in a black dress shirt and slacks. He looked over at his assistant standing on the sidewalk in front of the club.“He can bite me any day of the week,” Vanessa whispered, just loud enough for the girls to hear. She was rewarded with a string of giggles from her friends and a stern look from Vicky.“He doesn’t have fangs. Now cut it out!” she hissed at her friends, trying to get them to be more serious. This was her boss they were talking about.Darien smiled as he ran his tongue over the tip of one of his canines. If she only knew how pointy those teeth could get when he wanted them to. He’d heard everything the girls had said from the moment he had stepped out of the car. His hearing was exceptionally good.
Excerpt #3“Please, don’t!” she sobbed, as she tried in vain to stop him.“This is going to be fantastic, baby.”Closing her eyes, Vicky prayed for the strange man to stop. She mewed softly as she tried to figure a way out of this situation. Her eyes flashed open as she felt something hard and sharp drag across the skin of her neck. She could feel both of his hands on her, so the only other option was… his teeth.Vicky panicked as she realized the man holding her down was going to bite her. Driven by this new terror, she redoubled her efforts to get away. The man only laughed, like he was enjoying her fear, and held her tighter. She felt the sharp points of his teeth against her neck again and let out another wordless cry as the fangs parted her skin to find their way into her pulse.
Excerpt #4She could hear voices coming from the open front door, and she walked over to see what the excitement was about. The entire menagerie was standing in the doorway, gaping at Darien as he tried to get Roger to look at the Torino.“It’ll take Charlie three hours to get here with the wrecker,” Darien explained to the astonished man. “Can you fix the damn car or not?”Vicky giggled at the awed look on Roger’s face as he tried to pull his attention away from the vampire standing in the sunlight to look at the car. Slipping past the shocked residents, she went to save her frustrated boss.Vicky danced across the hot concrete, only stopping when her bare feet found the cooler ground in the shade of the car. By the time she made it, Roger had actually gotten the hood open and was trying to look under it.“I think they’re just surprised to see you out here, Mr. Ritter. I’ll take care of this.” Vicky patted her boss on the arm. “I’m pretty sure I saw a fresh shirt in the closet in that bedroom. Why don’t you go get cleaned up?”Darien looked at her, then down at the wrinkled, bloodstained shirt he was wearing, and snickered. “All right, Miss Westernly, but let me know if we have to call Charlie. He’s going to kill me if I’ve torn up one of his babies.” He turned to go back inside.Vicky watched as the crowd at the door parted to let the vampire back into the house. She laughed as they followed him inside in amazement. Turning her attention back to Roger looking at the doorway where Darien had just disappeared, she prodding the mechanic back to work. “Close your mouth and check out the car.”Roger snapped his mouth shut and turned his attention to the machine in front of him. “I didn’t just see that, did I?” he asked the woman next to him.She pulled the paper off one side of her muffin and picked at a blueberry. “What, a twenty-three-year-old woman ordering a nine-hundred-year-old vampire around? Or said vampire walking around in the sun?” she asked, nonchalantly, before nibbling the berry she had pulled from her pastry.“Both,” Roger gaped at her.“Yes, you did. Now can you fix the car?”
Excerpt #5Looking back at the woman following him, he pushed the button to call the elevator. Once they were both inside, he watched the reflection of his assistant in the shiny surface of the door. Vicky had plucked one of the shoulders of her shirt up and was sniffing at the collar. A thoughtful look crossed her face, and she smoothed her shirt back into place. “What are you doing?’ Darien asked as he turned to look at the odd behavior.Embarrassed, Vicky took a slight step back as she realized she had been caught in her investigation. “Um…” She couldn’t think of a good explanation, so she went with the truth. “Sue said I was starting to smell like you.”Darien looked at her for a moment before closing the distance between them.Vicky tried to retreat from him but found she was already against the back wall of the small, enclosed space. He placed his hand on the wall next to her and bent his head to the crook of her neck. Her pulse raced as Darien swung his face across her shoulder and up the side of her head. She could hear the deep intake of air as he pulled in her scent. Her breath hitched as he pushed away from her, and she met his eyes. His pupils were significantly dilated from where they were when he had first trapped her.“So you do,” Darien confirmed.Vicky’s heart skipped again. Before she knew what happened or had the chance to act on the strange impulses being sent from that tight pull in her gut, he was back over by the door where he had started.“I hadn’t noticed.”
Excerpt #6Elliot dropped to his knees over Vicky’s crumpled form. She was a mess. Blood and soot stained the parts of her that weren’t burned. Pressing his hand to her chest, he prayed for a heartbeat. It was there, but not very strong. He rolled her up in his arms, considering his options. He could ensure that she survived by turning her, but he would have to do so and get out of there before the emergency crews got any closer. Then the question came to mind. Would Darien forgive him for turning her?Closing his eyes, Elliot released his hold on his gifts. He really didn’t like reading someone’s life, but he had a feeling that this woman would be worth it. As his power washed over her, he searched for an answer. His mind brushed up against something that made him shiver, and he opened his eyes to look at her slackened face. Her future was riddled with branches that made the path unclear—choices that could change her life forever. There was only one thing he was sure about.She would play a pivotal role in the life of one very old vampire.
About the Author:Originally from Ohio, Julie always dreamed of a job in science. Either shooting for the stars or delving into the mysteries of volcanoes. But, life never leads where you expect. In 2007, she moved to Mississippi to be with her significant other.Now a mother of a hyperactive red headed boy, what time she’s not chasing down dirty socks and unsticking toys from the ceiling is spent crafting worlds readers can get lost it. Julie is a self-proclaimed bibliophile and lover of big words. She likes hiking, frogs, interesting earrings, and a plethora of other fun things.Julie Wetzel is the author of Kindling Flames, Book 1 in The Ancient Fire Series. Kindling Flames is scheduled to release through Crimson Tree Publishing in the Fall of 2014.
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