Find more from this author on:
About the author:
Charlene lives in Sacramento, California. She is married and has a son, a daughter and four grandchildren. She graduated cum laude from Waynesburg College with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts.
Books have always been her passion. She started reading at an early age and progressed to full-length books by age nine. The first supernatural book series she read was Dark Shadows, and it sparked her interest in all things paranormal, with a spicy touch of romance mixed in for good measure. She also started writing poetry in grade school and continues to do so today. Being an avid reader, the consummate daydreamer and an incurable romantic with a Cinderella complex, she started creating her own characters and storylines because she realized she had her own stories to tell. She’s traveled the world, crossed galaxies, traveled through time and explored history on the pages of books.
She is an author with Kingston Publishing Company and has published three books so far in her erotic paranormal romance series Circle of the Red Scorpion. She is working on book 4 in the series and is also writing book 1 in a romantic suspense series Sterling Woods.
Besides reading and writing, she also enjoys photography, travel, music, and great movies.
What inspired you to write your book?
I’ve been an avid reader since age 9. I love books, and I love all things paranormal, especially vampires. I watched the Dark Shadows soap opera every day with my grandma. Dark Shadow was the first book series I read during that time. Over the years, I’ve read countless gothic and paranormal romance books and book series and wanted to try my hand at writing my own.
Here is a short sample from the book:
Broderick Devereaux stared out at the Seattle skyline from the top floor of the swanky, state-of-the-art office building that was the headquarters to his private detective agency, Devereaux Investigations. He was the only one left in the building, except a security guard stationed in the building lobby and the cleaning crew. He owned the forty-five-story building, and his agency occupied the top two floors. He rented out the remaining forty-three floors to a variety of local businesses. During the daytime, his agency employees met with potential clients, conducted background investigations for local, state, and federal agencies, dispatched private detectives to conduct interviews, and set up surveillance operations. At night, after all his employees and the other building tenants departed, he led clandestine meetings with members of an elite team, unknown to the rest of his agency.
The team would be arriving soon. He was more on edge than usual. Solomon Blackwell was in Los Angeles again. It was the third time in a month. What was he planning? Broderick’s son, Drake, was also in town, doing interviews on local radio stations and appearing at local music outlets to meet his fans and sign autographs. He was going on tour in Europe early next year, and his business manager, Chase Sinclair, had him doing guest appearances across the country promoting the new CD he was set to start recording after the holidays.
He hated Blackwell being in the same city as his son, but it couldn’t be avoided. Chase and Solomon had mutual business acquaintances, and they both attended many of the same social functions. So, did his son on occasion. That put Solomon in close proximity to his son and could put him in danger. He didn’t want that bastard anywhere near him. Solomon Blackwell was more dangerous than most people knew. The select minority who did know his secret kept it to themselves or died violently. He was a Rogue vampire with power and influence. A preternatural sub-species considered inferior in the vampire hierarchy because they were turned, not born. The Rogues swore no allegiance to any vampire organization, especially not the largest and most influential—the Sacred Order of Simiel, an ancient sect of Pureblood vampires who were born not turned.
The Order was headquartered in Italy and their reach was far and wide.
Solomon and his gang of vampires committed violent and often deadly crimes for more than three decades that Broderick knew of. They were never prosecuted for those crimes, and it was likely they never would be. He had tried for years but could never break through the roadblocks expertly crafted by the rich and powerful vampire. His influence was far-reaching, his close-knit group impenetrable.
His hatred toward Blackwell was personal; Blackwell had single-handedly destroyed his life, and he was determined to prevent him from doing the same thing to his son. Drake was all he had left. Thus far, the vampire had done nothing to harm Drake, but he watched and waited, because he knew someday, Blackwell would invade his son’s world. He didn’t know how yet but when he did, he and his team would be ready.
He heard the elevator ping and knew his team was arriving. One by one they appeared and greeted him as they proceeded to the entrance hidden behind the wall of law books he had kept from his years in the King County District Attorney’s Office, and down the mezzanine stairs to the command center. Only he and his team knew of the large fully equipped space hidden between the forty-fifth and forty-fourth floors.
When the last team member arrived, Broderick followed him inside and pressed a button for the wall of law books to slide back in place.
He sat down at the large circular conference table made of dark cherry wood. In the center of the table was the insignia of a large red scorpion inside a circle inlaid with black onyx . He looked around the table at the four men, who were waiting quietly for him to begin.
“Gentlemen, did you find out anything new on Blackwell?”
“What’s wrong, Drake, darling?” Veronica Devlin pouted through scarlet lips. “Aren’t you enjoying yourself? It’s not like you to be so dull,” she said, stirring her margarita impatiently with a red-tipped fingernail.
Her companion, Drake Devereaux, regarded her with extreme boredom. He’d rather be chipping away at an iceberg at the North Pole with a dull ice pick, than be in this bar with her.
“Ronnie, it is bad enough I allow you to drag me to this bar every time I come to LA. There are far more entertaining nightspots in the city, but instead, you insist on frequenting this nouveau riche hellhole with music so loud I can hardly hear myself think. It’s not my idea of a good time.”
She glared at him irritably, on the verge of berating him. But one look into his cold, blue eyes told her he was not in the mood for one of her tirades.
“Look, Drake, Sally and Luke Cavanaugh just arrived,” she purred, changing the subject. “Why don’t we ask them to join us? We haven’t seen them in ages.”
“Not a chance. Why don’t you go visit with them?” Drake said indifferently. “I’ll just sit here and finish my scotch.”
“But, Drake, darling,” Veronica said in a husky voice, “you enjoyed hanging out with them at their party the last time you were in town.”
He chuckled sardonically. “I consented to go to their droll party because you wanted to go. I have no interest in ever seeing them again. Go by yourself, Ronnie. I’ll be right here when you get back.”
“Lately, it seems everything bores you,” Veronica snapped with frustration. Her words gained her nothing but silence. She decided to try another tactic. Her voice became soft and seductive. “Drake, baby, do this for me. I don’t want to be without you for a minute. As it is, I don’t see you as much as I would like. You spend too much time hidden away in that condo when you are in town or cooped up in that mansion of yours in the middle of nowhere. I’m a city girl. I like action.” She touched his hand seductively.
He shrugged her hand off. “Run along, goddammit,” he growled through clenched teeth. “Can’t you get it through that selfish head of yours that I prefer to be alone? Go! The quicker you go and talk with them, the sooner we can get the hell out of here.”
She knew better than to push him. Drake was in another one of his foul moods. “I shall only be a few minutes. Far be it from me to keep you from your mind-numbing solitude.”
He sighed as he wryly watched her saunter across the dance floor. Her tight red dress clung snugly over her voluptuous hips. Her blond hair was cut short in the latest style. Her eyes were pale blue. There was a time when the mere sight of her was enough to heat his blood. Not anymore. Granted, she was a very beautiful woman. Yeah, he thought, beautiful on the exterior but with the cold, calculating heart of a black widow spider.
Oh, she wanted every head to turn as she walked by. She was well aware of her attributes and got the reaction she wanted. How many times had she tried to make him jealous when she was angry with him? Drake laughed at her failed attempts, but that pissed her off even more. The only time he let her have her way was when he wanted to. She was too smug in her triumph to see the truth.
He remembered the first time he saw her at a lavish Beverly Hills party his business manager and best friend, Chase Sinclair, hosted at a local hotel. It was one of the few occasions when he let Chase persuade him to attend. He hated those Hollywood A-lister parties and kept his distance as much as possible. He liked to spend his time in his condo at the Ritz-Carlton Residences at LA Live, where the views from the fifty-second floor were breathtaking while one was safely tucked away from the out-of-control Hollywood nightlife. Chase had insisted Drake attend the party because it was good for publicity and they needed sponsors for Drake’s next concert tour. Members of the news media would be there, and it was free advertisement.
Drake noticed Veronica when he first arrived. He was late as usual, pissing Chase off to no end. He didn’t care. He’d shown up as requested even if he was fashionably late. Veronica had on a daringly short red dress that shimmered with her every movement. Her five-inch red stilettos were the finishing touch to her long, supple legs. Boy, could she move! She made the seductive walk into an art form. He thought Veronica was exciting in an exaggerated, purely sexual way. He watched her toy with one man after another, working her seductive charm. No one seemed to capture her attention for long. She was quicksilver.
The evening stretched on at an alarmingly slow pace, and he was extremely bored. He decided to spice things up a bit by doing what no other man at the party could do. Capture Veronica’s attention and keep it—at least for the rest of the night. After all, it was nothing but a game. Their eyes did a fierce battle during the evening, touching, engaging, and moving away. He prowled after her like a dangerous jungle cat, giving her just enough attention to convince her he was interested, then backing off before she could work her seductive magic on him.
By the end of the evening, they were on the dance floor, Veronica clinging to him like Saran Wrap, her hot little body touching every part of his. He had to admit he was aroused, and he made that perfectly clear as his hard erection pushed against her. She purred like a kitten. He had every intention of taking her back to his condo and fucking her, and at the end of the night, Chase praised his bold move. Looking back, he wasn’t sure who had caught whom. Maybe it had been her plan all along.
That was two years ago. Two very long years. Every time he was in LA to do a concert or to make a public appearance, he would hook up with Veronica, who had hastily moved from Las Vegas to Los Angeles a month after they met at Chase’s party to pursue her career as an actress. She had spent the last few years before that performing in a nightly burlesque show at the Flamingo Hotel. Six months into their on-again, off-again relationship, he began to see the real Veronica Devlin. He found her to be shallow and selfish. He should have broken it off then, but what reason did he have? He was not faithful to her, anyway, and he suspected she wasn’t either.
At the time, he wasn’t looking for love. He needed a distraction and that’s all she was. Sexually, Veronica was a tigress, wild and totally uninhibited. She possessed sexual appetites like no woman he had ever known. Each night they spent together was a battle, a sexual war. She exhausted him. She pleasured his body. She left him feeling empty.
Watching her now, her laughter heard above the music, he knew she belonged in this chaotic world of mindless fools who went there each evening to find a warm body to ease the pain of another lonely night. God knew he had done it many times himself. But he could no longer survive such soul-sucking monotony. He needed more. More from this life he was leading. More from the women that briefly shared his bed. His skin crawled with a burning need so hot and overpowering at times that he wanted to rip off his clothes and run until he was totally spent. Where were these pent-up emotions and primitive desires coming from? The unexplained feelings disturbed him.
Lately, he thought about what it would be like to fall in love. To truly love a woman. To share a life with her. Would he ever find someone to put that much faith into? Since the tragic death of his mother many years ago, the emotion of love was lost somewhere in the depths of his heart. He built a wall around himself to protect him from that kind of pain. He didn’t blame Veronica for his lack of feelings for her; his own fears played a major part in it. He felt traces of affection for the women he dated, but it was never love.
He needed to get off this merry-go-round of profound emptiness he’d ridden on for too many years. Breaking off this relationship with Veronica would be the first step. He would postpone his flight in the morning and tell her tomorrow over dinner. He would let her down as easily as possible. Afterward, he would fly up to San Francisco for two public appearances, and then he would go back to Santa Barbara to spend the holidays at Casa Mirage. He would have plenty of time to collect his thoughts. After Christmas, he would fly to the Big Island and lounge on the beach for a week or two before he had to start recording his new album.
He leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes, visualizing himself lying on the beach, the calming lull of the ocean in his ears. He could almost smell the warm, salty breeze as it rolled over the waves. Nothing could compare to the laid-back atmosphere of Hawaii. He sighed deeply. It amazed him that in a world of such complexities, something so basic, and so simple gave him so much pleasure.
“Drake, did you hear me?”
He grudgingly opened his eyes to find Veronica glaring down at him. “I didn’t know you returned.” His voice was mellow, his mind in a much calmer place.
Veronica’s face twisted into an angry scowl. “You didn’t hear a word I said, did you?”
“I guess not,” he said coolly. “It’s been a long day, and I’m feeling the effects.” He stared into her angry eyes, at the same time noticing that her body was poised for an attack. “Give it a rest, why don’t you? I’m tired of you nagging me. Is one night free of confrontation too much to ask?” He knew he shouldn’t be so flippant with her. After all, it was not her fault. She had no idea what he was feeling or why. It was wrong, but he couldn’t help himself. He was tired of the charade.
Her temper flared. “How dare you say that to me! Who do you think you are?” she spat out at him. “I can have any man in this bar with the snap of a finger. I guarantee you none of them would treat me the way you do.”
Drake was suddenly tired and at his wit’s end. His blue eyes darkened with anger. His cold, frigid stare pierced her, and he saw her shiver involuntarily. “Go on. Snap your fingers, Veronica. Find someone else. I don’t care.” He hesitated before continuing, “I wanted to wait until tomorrow to discuss this, but maybe it’s better to get it over with now. It’s over between us.”
Stunned, Veronica sat down in the chair opposite him and stared at him incredulously. She was expecting him to be angry at her outburst, but she never expected this. “Drake, you can’t be serious? I love you!”
“Love?” Drake scoffed. “You don’t know the meaning of the word. I’m quite serious, Ronnie. It’s over.” He picked up his glass of scotch and finished it. He stood up and looked down at her. “I must be going. I’m leaving for San Francisco in the morning.” He pulled a hundred-dollar bill out of his pocket and threw it on the table. “This should pay for your cab fare. Goodbye, Ronnie. Have a nice life.”
“Drake!” Veronica’s high-pitched cry was swallowed up in the loud music of the nightclub. “Don’t you walk away from me!”
Drake faintly heard her words, but did not turn around. His two bodyguards met him at the front door. He greeted some eager fans, signed an autograph, and walked out of the nightclub with his bodyguards following closely behind.
“You’ll pay for that, Drake Devereaux,” Veronica whispered vehemently. How dare he embarrass her in public and cast her off like unwanted trash!
Veronica stood up sharply, nearly knocking over her chair, snatched up the hundred-dollar bill, and began making her way across the crowded dance floor to the bar. She ordered a vodka tonic and found a secluded table where she could plan her next move. Although she wanted to kill Drake for what he just did to her, she knew she had to get him back. It wasn’t that she loved him; she knew there was more to life than love. Love never lasted. Her own mother was a prime example of that. She had been married five times and was looking for number 6. Veronica planned to marry Drake as soon as she could talk him into it. She thought she was making progress in that direction. When she brought up the possibility, he didn’t say no. He never responded to the suggestion, so she still had hope. Until tonight. Dammit, she cursed. He was supposed to be her meal ticket. His fame and his wealth would open doors she desperately wanted to pass through. It was her one big chance.
Veronica had to admit, she suspected for some time Drake was losing interest in her. She noticed it in their lovemaking. He seemed preoccupied. He was just going through the motions. He would get them both off, but that was all. No cuddling or post-coital sweet talk. No talk of the future. There had to be someone else, she thought. But when she confronted him, he denied it.
Her eyes flashed vehemently at the mere thought of Drake with another woman. Drake Devereaux was hers. She was determined no other woman would have him. She would find a way to get him back, and she would stop at nothing to achieve her goal. She smiled triumphantly.
“Hello, darlin’,” a low male voice said. “Such a pretty smile.”
Veronica glanced up to meet the bold gaze of a handsome stranger. Her cool, blue eyes swept over him appreciatively. “Oh, really?”
“Yes, darlin’, I couldn’t help but notice,” the stranger answered her with a slow Southern drawl. “I wouldn’t be a true Texan if I didn’t.”
“Yes, you sure are,” she said seductively. Her eyes roamed over his hard, muscled body. He was quite good-looking, with short blond hair and bold, blue eyes. He was all Texan, from his black Stetson hat to his black leather boots.
“When it comes to a beautiful woman, I’m always right,” he said with confidence. His eyes devoured her full breasts daringly displayed in her very low cut red dress. They reflected raw desire.
Veronica felt the familiar throb radiating between her legs. As she drew a deep breath, her breasts quivered. “Would you like to sit down?”
The handsome stranger took her hand and pulled her from the chair. “No, darlin’, I want to dance. I love a good, slow song. Don’t you?”
“I do,” she said breathlessly. “What is your name?”
“Brad McClain,” he drawled as he pulled her into his arms.
Brad whirled her around the dance floor. Veronica sighed with pleasure as he drew her tighter against him. His hands traveled down her back to squeeze her round ass. He pressed himself into her, the urgency of his desire evident.
Veronica cooed and snuggled closer. She would not be sleeping alone tonight.
The evening air was still warm even though the sun had gone down hours ago. It smelled of exhaust fumes and urine. Drake wrinkled his nose. He detested the smell of the city. Any city. His sense of smell was more amplified of late, and he found the scents around him overpowering. His boots crunched on the gravel as he reached the door of his limousine. One of his bodyguards opened it, and he got inside. He sank into the soft leather seat.
He couldn’t wait to get back to Casa Mirage. When he was there, he wasn’t Drake Devereaux the celebrity; he was just a man. Casa Mirage was the one place where he did not have to pretend.
While he loved the peace and quiet he had at Casa Mirage, it was also at Casa Mirage, far from the public eye, where his frustration and sense of loneliness struck him more intensely.
Looking back on the evening, he felt bad that he had not handled the breakup with Veronica smoother. She could be a selfish, unfeeling bitch, but he shouldn’t have spoken to her with such anger. It was not his style. He was used to dealing with all situations in a cool, easygoing manner. He lost his temper on occasion, but lately, he was more volatile; angrier. Each morning he woke up feeling extremely exhausted and out of sorts. At times he wanted to crawl out of his skin. It sounded strange, but that was how he felt, and he had no explanation for it.
When he arrived at the condo, he took a quick shower and went straight to bed. He was exhausted. Sleep overtook him, and he was swept into the nightmare again.