Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Kensington Publishing/
Date of Publication: April 28,
Number of pages: 256
Word Count: 91,999
Cover Artist: Kensington
As a journalist, Cassidy DiRocco
thought she had seen every depraved thing New York City’s underbelly had to
offer. But while covering what appears to be a vicious animal attack, she finds
herself drawn into a world she never knew existed. Her exposé makes her the
target of the handsome yet brutal Dominic Lysander, the Master Vampire of New
York City, who has no problem silencing her to keep his coven’s secrets safe…
But Dominic offers Cassidy
another option: ally. He reveals she is a night blood, a being with powers of
her own, including the ability to become a vampire. As the body count
escalates, Cassidy is caught in the middle of a vampire rebellion. Dominic
insists she can help him stop the coming war, but wary of his intentions,
Cassidy enlists the help of the charming Ian Walker, a fellow night blood. As
the battle between vampires takes over the city, Cassidy will have to tap into
her newfound powers and decide where to place her trust…
Vampires Bite in
the Big Apple- notes from draft 1
I didn’t need to
believe in the paranormal to believe in monsters. I reported murders, rapes,
assaults, and robberies every day: men strangling wives, women stabbing lovers,
children shooting children. If someone had interviewed me last week—before I
was attacked and bitten and manipulated in the pursuit of everyone else’s
personal and conflicting agendas—I would have said that the world darkened a
little more with every sunset and turned a little more bloody and vengeful and
uncaring with each passing day. But I’d also have said that after almost ten
years in the business, I’m no longer surprised by anything I report.
If someone had
interviewed me last week, it wouldn’t have mattered how long I’d been in the
business; I’d have been dead wrong.
the only murderers and rapists and thieves in this city; the real
monsters—vampires and night bloods alike—have hopes and goals and desires just
like the humans. But without the limitations of a fragile human body, the
vampires achieve every goal and desire without consequence. Who can bring a
murderer to justice if the murderer can’t be arrested or detained? Who can
testify against a rapist when the victim can’t remember whether she’d been
raped or mugged? Who can stop a crime spree when no one realizes crimes are
even being committed?
No one, of
course, except for me.
everything this insane week taught me about the world, this city, and myself,
I’m still breathtakingly shocked by everything I reported—and, most especially,
by the one story I couldn’t.…
I nearly limped
right past him, clouded by my own physical pain and the churning unease in my
gut, but the rattling hiss that growled from the alley tripped my interest. I
The night was
cool and quiet in the aftermath of sirens and flashing lights. My scalp tingled
in response to the noise emanating from the alley, and I thought of all the
things I should do: I should return to the main crime scene, I should finish my
interviews, I should write my story and submit it to print like a good,
reliable, by-the-book reporter. The hiss rattled from the alley again, but as
I’d never been one to leave questions unanswered, I slipped a can of pepper
spray from my brown leather, cross-body satchel and side-stepped into the alley
to find the source of the noise.
What I’d found
was a man, and the rattling hiss was his struggling, gurgling, uneven breaths.
His entire body was ravaged by third-degree burns. Tucked into a shadowed alley
between two buildings on the corner of Farragut Road and East 40th, he was
crouched down as if warding off an attacker—perhaps in his case a flamethrower—and
not moving. I cringed, thinking about the injury that was blocking his throat
to produce such a horrible rattling. Maybe he was crying. Maybe he was just
trying to breathe. I couldn’t decipher his expression because his burns were so
devastating. His face wasn’t really a face anymore beyond the rough
distinctions of a lump for a nose and a hole for a mouth. The unease churning
in my gut all night bottomed out. I wouldn’t have imagined that someone so
injured could still breathe.
pepper spray for my cell phone, I dialed for Detective Greta Wahl.
“Wahl here.” She
answered on the fifth ring, just before I suspected my call would transfer to
voicemail. “I already gave you a statement, DiRocco. Let the other sharks have
a bite, will you?”
“I found another
victim, G.” I said without preamble.
Greta asked, snapping from friend to detective instantly.
“A block up
Farragut. He’s still breathing, but he’s different than the others. No bites.”
I swallowed the bile that clogged my throat like hot ash. “His entire body is
burned to charcoal.”
“Is he wearing a
necklace, like the ones from last week? They were gold with a wolf pendent.”
“I remember,” I
said. “And no, he’s not wearing a necklace. And he’s not shot execution-style
like those victims either. He’s burned. This is probably a different case all
“Stay with him. I’ll send a paramedic to you ASAP. It might be a few minutes,
though. We’ve still got our seven victims being stabilized here.”
“Got it. We’ll
be waiting.” I hesitated a fraction of a second before asking, “Any one of our
victims talking yet?”
“The few that
still have throats haven’t said a word. They’re all in shock. It’s not pretty
down here, DiRocco.”
“I know. Keep me
posted, and send Nathan to me if you can.”
“Will do,” Greta
I ended the call
and sat gingerly on the ground next to the man to offer what comfort I could
and to give my arthritic hip the rest it needed. Injuries were supposed to heal
with time, but the scar build-up on mine had only increased in the five years
since I’d taken a bullet. The first stakeout of my career had set a high
standard for my field performance, but it had also left a permanent reminder to
listen to my gut. My hip ached on a regular basis, and lately, it would click
and grind when put to excess use. After an entire day on my feet, interviewing
officers and tracking down witnesses, my activities had apparently escalated
way past excess.
Once I settled
on the pavement, I held the man’s left elbow—one of two visible patches of skin
not blackened or blistered—and felt an overwhelming, humbling gratitude, no
matter my past injuries or current residual pain, that none of these victims
had been me.
Name of series and book number in
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Kensington Publishing/
Date of Publication: April 26,
Number of pages: 322
Word Count: 131,084
Cover Artist: Kensington Publishing
Cassidy DiRocco knows the dark
side intimately—as a crime reporter in New York City, she sees it every day.
But since she discovered that she’s a night blood, her power and potential has
led the dark right to her doorway. With her brother missing and no one
remembering he exists, she makes a deal with Dominic Lysander, the fascinating
master vampire of New York, to find him.
Dominic needs the help of Bex,
another master vampire, to keep peace in the city, so he sends Cassidy to a
remote, woodsy town upstate to convince her—assuming she survives long enough.
A series of vicious “animal attacks” after dark tells Cassidy there’s
more to Bex and her coven than anyone’s saying. That goes double for fellow
night blood Ian Walker, the tall, blond animal tracker who’s supposed to be her
ally. Walker may be hot-blooded and hard-bodied, but he’s hiding something too.
If Cassidy wants the truth, she’ll have to squeeze it out herself… every last
Vampires Bite in
the Big Apple- notes from draft 4
supposed to stay in dreams, but for the past three weeks, absolutely nothing,
not even my dreams, are as they’re supposed to be. Reality is the nightmare.
When murderers, rapists, thieves, and gangs were my choice topics to report, I
was sickened and made unendurably angry by what people were capable of doing to
other people. Now, I’m just sickened by what I’m capable of, and I can’t sleep
After sunset I
see vampires lurking in every shadow, pressing against every doorway,
committing every murder. Reality is further from anything I could have
imagined, and I feel helpless against the enormity of Dominic’s reach. What’s
the point of breaking my lease when Dominic will just demand entrance into my
new apartment? Whom can I confide in about my life after dark without putting
them at risk?
The one question
that haunts me most is ironically one that I struggled to answer long before
stumbling upon Dominic’s existence. It haunted me after my parents died and I
struggled with Percocet addiction—how long will I search for the answers before
buckling under the unbearable truth that my efforts were futile from the start?
disappeared three weeks ago. In another three months, will the agony of
Nathan’s absence still drive my efforts or drive me insane? When do I draw the
line between hope and insanity—in another three years? Unfortunately for me and
everyone’s peace of mind, I don’t think there are lines for love. Love is
already insane, so the only answer is to drive toward the truth….
The bus ride
from The Big Apple to Erin, New York gradually descended from the metropolitan
area to suburbs, from suburbs to woodsy small towns, and then to nothing but
fields and sheds and, of course, cows. I’d never seen so many cows in my life.
Considering I’d never actually seen a cow in person, I suppose that wasn’t much
of a statement, but it certainly seemed like Erin had an over-abundance of
them. Their mooing reminded me of Dominic’s night blood-and-hamburger metaphor
when he’d described how my blood tasted. “You are a rare dish,” he’d said, and
I’d been terrified by his attraction.
As a night
blood, I was one of the rare humans who had the blood type necessary to
complete the transformation into a vampire, but just because I had the
potential to become a vampire didn’t mean I wanted to become one. That was only
one of many points of contention between Dominic and me, albeit one of our more
I was still
terrified of Dominic, attraction or not, but terror could only hold so much immediacy
for so long, especially when the object of my terror was being relatively
civil. Dominic, Master Vampire of New York City, and swiftly becoming a master
pain in my ass, had visited me on numerous occasions at the hospital while I
recovered from my encounter with Jillian. He visited me at home once I’d been
released from the hospital. He visited me in the office when I returned to work
and outside the office at every starlit opportunity.
I suppose guilt
may have played a role in his consistent and regular visits, considering
Jillian had been both his vampire and the second in command of his coven, and
somehow, I had been the one to take the biggest hit when she’d betrayed him.
But I doubt that guilt was his only motivation; when he came calling, he was
always fully fed, completely gorgeous, and the ultimate gentleman.
I knew better
than to believe the illusion.
In his infinite
patience, I think Dominic was biding his time, and I suspected it had
everything to do with this very road trip to Erin, New York, Ian Walker’s
hometown, and the resting place of Walker’s abundantly powerful coven Master,
however, wasn’t the only one biding his time, although Walker had been
decidedly less patient.
“I can’t wait to
see you, darlin’,” Walker had said at least once per conversation during the
multiple phone calls we’d enjoyed daily for three weeks. I would have found his
persistence coming from someone else nauseating, but between all the darlin’s
and ma’ams, we shared an indelible bond that went beyond incorrigible
Walker was the
only other night blood I knew, the only other person who knew that vampires
existed, and the only person who could relate to the danger and drama of my
life. Meredith, photographer at The Sun Accord and my very best friend, didn’t
know anything about vampires or night bloods because telling her anything about
my life these days—or more pointedly, these nights—would only put her at risk.
But she most certainly knew the look on my face when my phone rang, and Walker
greeted me on the opposite end.
me that I owed it to myself to discover how deep my bond with Walker could
grow, but I remained skeptical of both him and my feelings for him. We’d only physically
known each other for one week. How well could I legitimately come to know a
person in one week? But when I looked back at the week we’d shared and
survived, I swallowed my doubts.
“Pu-lease, you say that to all the girls,” I
said to him. My tone was deliberately sarcastic, but I was glad we were talking
on the phone; he’d know by my ridiculous smile that I was just as excited to
finally see him, too. “You forget that I’ve seen you in action.”
have.” Walker’s voice deepened salaciously and I was reminded of that one night
in my office. He’d lifted me onto my desk, and his strong hands had touched me
in places I’d never thought I could feel again.
I swallowed. “My
point is that this is a business trip. Carter finally approved my piece on city
versus rural New York crime fluctuations—”
encouraged you to write,” Walker interrupted.
I rolled my
eyes. “—and as one of my primary sources, you and I will—”
“Be spending hours
upon hours alone together.”
on your experiences and discussions on crime rates and—”
“I have an
experience I’d like to discuss: how delicious your body felt against mine.”
heavily. “You’re killing me.”
“I really am
writing this story, Walker, despite your ulterior motives for inviting me to
“You like my
ulterior motives. The most grievous crime at the moment is how long it took for
your boss to approve your damn story. I miss you, DiRocco.”
again and forced myself to say the words because they were true. “I miss you,
And now, after
three weeks of pitching this story to Carter, avoiding Greta—my personal
friend, and unfortunately, one of NYPD’s finest—and her stink-eyed interrogation,
bracing against Dominic’s creeping advances, and swallowing my festering doubts
about Nathan, I had finally arrived in Erin, New York earlier this afternoon
for what should have been a vacation from all those demons back in the city.
Less than twenty-four hours into our reunion, however, and Walker and I still
weren’t putting the moves on either my career or each other. He’d barely had
time to give me a proper tour of the town before we were once again staring at
Her name was
Lydia Bowser, and she was last seen by her grandmother, leaving the farm for a
walk before dinner. According to her grandmother and Walker’s detailed notes,
she left for a walk before dinner every night. She’d loved the last moments of
daylight, when the sun had already dipped below the horizon but its rays still
lit the sky with a dim, burning glow. I raised my eyebrows at the description,
both from its nostalgia and its telling timeframe. Foul play after dark meant
only one thing.
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Kensington Publishing/
Date of Publication: April 25,
Number of pages: 330
Word Count: 110,974
Cover Artist: Kensington
Last week, Cassidy DiRocco had
some influence over the vampires that stalk the streets of New York City. She
was never completely safe, but with her newfound abilities as a night blood and
her honed instincts as a crime reporter, at least she had the necessary skills
Now, thanks to the injuries she
sustained while saving her brother from a fate worse than death, she’s lost her
night blood status just as another crime spree hits Brooklyn. Dozens of people
are being slaughtered, and each victim bears the Damned’s signature mark; a
Cassidy will need the help of all
her allies to survive the coming war, including the mysterious and charismatic
Dominic Lysander, Master Vampire of New York City. But as his rival’s army
threatens his coven and his own powers weaken with the approaching Leveling,
even Dominic’s defenses might not be enough protection.
With nothing left to lose, can
Cassidy find the power inside herself to save Dominic, his coven, their city,
pretentious and posh, as usual, leaning against the wall in the hallway outside
my apartment. Even gazing at him through the fish-eye lens of my door’s
peephole—from the top of his immaculately cut and styled black hair to the
bottom of his shiny Cole Haan wing-tipped dress shoes—he was a hopeful-mother’s
dream, a shrewd-woman’s nightmare, and the reason I no longer bothered trying
to sleep at night. Knowing the truth beneath the pretty wrapping—that he was
the Master vampire of New York City—didn’t stop my heart from jumping and
dropping in confused anticipation and adrenaline. After I’d nearly lost him
last week, I’d come to the implausible, unwelcome conclusion that I actually
preferred my life with him in it, but since I’d completely lost the protection
and mental strength of my night blood, his unexpected presence also twisted my
gut with pure, unadulterated fear.
I hadn’t seen
Dominic in five nights, not since he’d entranced his name from my mind and
confirmed our worst suspicion: I no longer had night blood.
blood, I didn’t have the potential to transform into a vampire, I couldn’t
reflect Dominic’s commands if he attempted to entrance me, and I no longer had
any of the qualities that Dominic held in such high esteem, that he’d planned
to leverage during the Leveling; the one night every seven years that he lost
his strength and abilities as Master to his potential successor, allowing a new
Master to rise in his stead. Without those qualities, I couldn’t help him
survive the coming battle to keep control of his coven. I was nothing but
I was nothing
a second time, this series of staccato raps on the door more insistent than the
“Who’s at the
door?” Meredith asked. Her eyebrows rose and disappeared behind her bangs.
Of course, on
the one night Dominic finally decided to confront me, I had company. I should
be grateful; he was knocking on the door rather than inviting himself in
through one of the third-story, living room windows. That would have been
difficult to explain to Meredith. Longtime best friend and wing woman at the
Sun Accord she was, but night blood she wasn’t.
“I’m hoping if I
wait long enough, he’ll give up and go away.”
asked. A mischievous smiled curved her lips.
best to answer the door of your own will,” Nathan murmured.
I stared at my
brother, surprised that he’d uttered a full, intelligible sentence beyond
“We’re out of milk” or something equally inane. Inane seemed all he was capable
“He’ll make it
worse for you otherwise,” he added.
Meredith and narrowed my eyes on Nathan. “How do you know who’s at the door?”
his gaze to the cereal bowl in front of him and continued spooning scraps of
shredded wheat and milk into his mouth without further comment.
actually keep the food down this time. Then we could work on gradually
introducing warm meals and protein back into his diet.
I worried the
doorknob with my thumb. Nathan might have been monosyllabic and near bulimic
since returning to the city, but he was right. If I didn’t open the door of my
own will, Dominic would probably force me to grant him entrance into my new
apartment. A tenuous spring of hope coiled in my gut. Maybe, just maybe, my
efforts to create a fallout shelter here in the city had been a success; maybe
I didn’t need to worry about entry, forced or otherwise.
I might have put
my newly fortified apartment to the test, but with Meredith sitting at my
kitchen table, a slice of sushi roll halfway to her mouth, the risk of exposing
her to the danger standing on my doorstep wasn’t worth the pleasure of denying
I opened the
deliberately flashing his sharp, elongated fangs. “Good evening, Cassidy.”
His voice purred
in a deep timbre that plucked at the taut cords in my stomach. I squelched the
feelings, but after weeks of denial, I could finally admit that they existed.
“What are you
doing here?” I whispered.
He raised a
perfectly arched eyebrow. “No ‘Hello?’ No ‘What a pleasant surprise?’” Dominic
tsked his tongue against the back of his teeth. “Where are your manners?”
surprise,” I muttered, deliberately omitting “pleasant.” “You should have called
before coming, Dominic.”
sharply. The fragile hope that softened his expression shamed me.
warned, keeping my voice low in an effort to prevent Meredith from overhearing.
“I didn’t remember your name on my own. Nathan reminded me. It still feels like
a void, like Nathan telling me your name four days ago was the first I’d
His face fell.
I sighed. “Are
you only here to antagonize me, or was there an actual purpose to this visit?”
you would be purpose enough, but yes, I have a greater purpose than even that,”
Dominic said, magnanimously. “Must we converse in the hallway? I don’t believe
I’ve had the pleasure of seeing your new apartment. Won’t you invite me in?”
Melody Johnson is the author of
the gritty, paranormal romance Night Blood series set in New York City. The
first installment, The City Beneath, was a finalist in several Romance Writers
of America contests, including the “Cleveland Rocks” and “Fool For Love”
contests. Melody graduated magna cum laude from Lycoming College with her B.A.
in creative writing and psychology, and after moving from her northeast
Pennsylvania hometown for some much needed Southern sunshine, she now works as
a digital media coordinator for Southeast Georgia Health System. When she isn’t
working or writing, Melody can be found swimming at the beach, honing her
newfound volleyball skills, and exploring her new home in southeast Georgia.
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