Table of Contents
ONE TWO THREE FOUR FIVE SIX SEVEN EIGHT NINE TEN
? Skin & Bone ONE TWO THREE FOUR FIVE SIX SEVEN EIGHT NINE TEN ELEVEN TWELVE THIRTEEN FOURTEEN FIFTEEN
? Angel-Claimed ONE TWO THREE FOUR FIVE SIX SEVEN
? Primal Kiss PROLOGUE ONE
TWO THREE FOUR FIVE SIX SEVEN EIGHT NINE TEN
PRAISE FOR AUTHORS OF PRIMAL MICHELLE ROWEN “Rowen never disappoints!” —Gena Showalter, New York Times bestselling author “Rowen’s characteristic wit, infused with a dark edge. A great read!” —Kelley Armstrong, New York Times bestselling author “A high-octane thrill ride to a fresh, new, dark and sexy world.” —Eve Silver, national bestselling author
? AVA GRAY “Ava Gray is a must read!” —Larissa Ione, New York Times bestselling author “Sexy, clever, and tightly plotted.” —Lauren Dane, national bestselling author “Riveting romantic suspense . . . [The] chemistry sizzles.” — Publishers Weekly
? JORY STRONG “Never a dull moment within this blazing read.” — Fallen Angel Reviews “The passion is going to blow your darn mind.” — Dark Angel Reviews “Jory Strong will leave you hooked.” — Romance Junkies
? LORA LEIGH “Lora Leigh delivers on all counts.” — Romance Reviews Today “Erotic, fast-paced, funny, and hard-hitting.” — Fresh Fiction “The incredible Leigh pushes the traditional envelope.” — Romantic Times
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Copyright ? 2011 by Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
“Bleeding Heart” by Michelle Rowen copyright ? by Michelle Rouillard.
“Skin & Bone” by Ava Gray copyright ? by Ann Aguirre.
“Angel-Claimed” by Jory Strong copyright ? by Valerie Christenson. “Primal Kiss” by LoraLeigh copyright ? by Christina Simmons.
Excerpt from Nightshade by Michelle Rowen copyright ? by Michelle Rouillard.
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Berkley Sensation trade paperback edition / February 2011
? Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
? Primal / Lora Leigh . . . [et al.].—Berkley Sensation trade paperback ed. p. cm. eISBN : 978-1-101-48632-0 1. Occult fiction, American. 2. Love stories, American. 3. Paranormal romance stories,
American. I. Leigh, Lora. PS648.O33P75 2011 813.087660806—dc22 2010046257
AUTHOR’S NOTE The events in Bleeding Heart take place a few days after those in Nightshade .
“She’s the chick with the vamp-killing blood?”
The loud voice pulled me out of a thick cloud of nightmares about pale-skinned monsters withsharp teeth and claws. I opened my eyes wide and stared up at the peeling white paint on themotel room’s ceiling.
“Yeah, her name’s Jill,” was the reply. Both voices—one familiar and one not—came fromoutside, and I could hear them clearly through the thin door.
“So, what are you? Like, her protector or something?”
“Something like that.”
“Shit, man. You’re not forgetting you’re half vampire, right? What if you get a taste ofher? Will it kill you, too?”
“I don’t drink blood, so I’m not planning on finding out.”
I slipped out of the lumpy bed and moved toward the window to the left of the door so I couldpeek outside. The view was the same as it had been for three days—a very unglamorous graycement parking lot with a dying twenty-foot-tall palm tree blocking my view of the main street.
Declan Reyes stood with his back to the green door, his profile clearly visible to me. He’dlost his left eye a long time ago, and the damage was covered by a black eye patch. His facewas scarred around that patch from old injuries, just like the rest of his body. Dhampyrs likeDeclan—half human and half vampire—healed fast, but scarred from every flesh wound theyreceived. They also didn’t have the benefits of immortality like a vampire did. Thanks to hishuman side, Declan was every bit as mortal as I was.
He had his arms crossed over his chest, and he faced a darkhaired man only a couple inchesshort of his six-four. The man looked tough, like a bouncer or a bodyguard.
Or, more likely, a vampire hunter.
Declan had said he was going to contact one of his old pals here in Los Angeles to see if hecould help us out. This must have been the pal in question. Nice of him to make house calls.
The idea of anyone else getting involved with my problems didn’t set my mind at ease, but Iwas trying not to complain. I’d recently become extremely guarded about my privacy. It wassafer that way.
The man’s lips parted to show straight white teeth as he grinned. “Wait. I think I get it.You’re doing her, aren’t you?”
“Doing her?” Declan replied dryly.
His smile widened. “Got to say, I’m surprised. Rumor had it that you were . . . uh, how do Iput it?”
“Neutered. Don’t take it the wrong way, but that’s what I heard. That serum you were onbefore—the shit that kept your vamp side at bay—I heard it fucked with your libido. Alwayswondered why you were never that interested in hitting the titty bars with me. I guess now Iknow, right?”
Declan glared at him without speaking, and I gripped the window ledge, worried that there wouldbe a fight between them. This was one of Declan’s friends? He sounded like a Grade-A asshole,enough to make my skin crawl.
I actually jumped when Declan laughed a second later. It was a humorless sound.
“My sex life is none of your fucking business, Jackson.”
“I’ll take that as an affirmative.” Jackson was laughing, too. “What about the permanentdrug you’re on now? Does that—”
“It works the same as before. Actually, it feels even stronger than the other one. I’m withJill to keep her safe until we find a way to get the Nightshade formula out of her blood.”Declan’s jaw tensed. “That’s all.”
“So you’re not fucking her.”
“It’s none of your damn business either way. But no.”
Jackson’s shit-eating grin didn’t waver. “But you have. No wonder you’re so into thischick. Memories of a great lay can fuel a guy for a long damn time. I bet she’s hot. When canI meet her?”
I pushed open the door, leveling my gaze with the nosy hunter I’d already decided to dislike.“I’m awake now. Hard to have an afternoon nap when there’s so much testosterone flyingaround.”
“You heard all that?” Jackson scanned the length of me. I’d slept in jeans and a black tanktop so I was already fully dressed.
“I heard enough.”
He glanced into the room, his gaze stopping at a plastic baby bottle and pile of disposablediapers. “Did I wake the baby?”
“There’s no baby,” I said, with a sharp look at Declan.
Jackson frowned. “Just collecting kid paraphernalia in case one suddenly appears out ofnowhere?”
“I was looking after a baby for someone, but Declan took her elsewhere yesterday and won’ttell me where.” I sounded as pissed as I felt. I had a hard time hiding my feelings,especially when it came to the things that were totally out of my control.
A vampire—a vampire king , actually—named Matthias had asked me to protect his newborndaughter. It was his last request he’d made just before he’d died from drinking my blood.
He was gone. But the promise I’d made remained.
The promise that Declan had taken out of my hands.
“Jill . . .” Declan looked at me out of the corner of his good eye.
“Am I lying?”
“It’s better this way.”
“We’ll have to agree to disagree on that.”
I did agree that my current life was nowhere a baby should be, and I’d be the first toacknowledge I wasn’t born with strong maternal instincts, but it bothered me that he’d madethis choice alone and refused to tell me where she was—only that she was safe and being caredfor. Declan believed the baby was in danger and that any vampire who wanted to find her couldmentally influence my weak human mind to learn where she was. She was a dhampyr like Declan.Because of that, her infant blood was worth its weight in diamonds to vampires who believed therumors that it imbued true immortality when consumed.
Maybe Declan was right to take her somewhere she’d be better looked after than with us, but itdidn’t mean I had to like it.
He was just damn lucky I’d come to trust his judgment about shit like this.
The vampire hunter extended his hand. “Jackson Gale. Great to meet you, Jill.”
I glanced at Declan, but his expression was unreadable. Another one of his drug’s sideeffects, apart from impotence, was keeping my dhampyr traveling companion virtuallyemotionless. It was a difficult thing to get used to.
Finally, I grasped Jackson’s hand and shook it. “Charmed, I’m sure. So what’s going on? Orwould you like to continue talking about what a great lay I am?”