Maybe that's why I love reading romance. That new spark, the powerful attraction. Then watching that heady infatuation deepen into more lasting bonds as the hero and heroine grow and change and earn that happily ever after.
And if anyone deserves a new beginning, it's Dr. Delano Bowen, in my book The Merzetti Effect. After a traumatic event, Delano has denied himself the touch of a woman for many decades. So when he draws Ainsley Crawford - the last remaining descendant of the fabled Merzetti's - into his life to exploit the genetic gift in her blood, he's more than a little vulnerable. But it's not only his heart on the line. Ainsley is a walking bio-hazard for any vampire, and she might just be the death of him.
In this excerpt, after a particularly terrifying event, Ainsley can't escape into sleep. Every time she closes her eyes, the event replays itself. So she has crawled into Delano's bed, setting her phone to vibrate so she can slip away long before he awakens. The sound of his slow day-sleep breathing lulls her to sleep at last. But she doesn't know is that vampire sleep is very different. Where humans cycle in and out of REM sleep - and dreams - all night long, vampires sleep dreamlessly ... until the last few hours before dusk. Those last sleep are filled with almost non-stop REM activity, known to vampires as twilight dreaming. When Delano finds her in his bed, he naturally thinks he's dreaming.
The dream had him again.
He loved this time, the interval between the deep, restoring sleep that claimed him each morning and the full wakefulness that came with sundown. He loved it, and he loathed it, too. For in that short space of time, he slept almost like he used to sleep. Like other men slept. That’s when the dreams came. Yes, and the nightmares, too, sometimes. And as often as not, the dreams tortured him worse than the nightmares ever could.
This was one of those dreams, the kind he would pay for with a deep, persistent ache that would be with him for days. But God help him, he didn’t care. He just wanted to hang onto it as long as he could.
This time, he lay on his back, with Ainsley’s body curved sweetly against him, one silky-smooth leg twined with his. And her skin! The parts that touched him blazed like a furnace against his own skin, and her scent, a potent mix of sandalwood and sleepy woman, filled his nostrils. Beneath the soft sound of her breathing, he heard the strong, steady lub-dub of her heart and the fainter but even more thrilling surge and whisper of her blood.
He lifted a hand to palm her unbound breast through the thin t-shirt she wore, and felt the tip harden.
Effortlessly, he rolled her beneath him.
Oh, Lord! She felt so solid, so real, so warm. And soft in all the right places.
“Del! Wait! You can’t … I mean, we can’t—”
“Oh, but we can.” Here in this twilight place, they most definitely could. They could do anything.