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In the next book in Molly Harper’s beloved Half Moon Hollow paranormal romance series, Gigi starts her first job (at Vampire Headquarters), gets over her first love, and may even fall for her first vampire!
Gigi is no longer an innocent teen. All grown up and looking for love, her family and friends worry she’ll go for the sexy, alluring vampire instead of a nice, safe human. But sexy and alluring, with a penchant for biting, could be just what Gigi wants...
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Molly Harper is the author of two popular series of paranormal romance, the Half-Moon Hollow series and the Naked Werewolf series. She also writes the Bluegrass ebook series of contemporary romance. A former humor columnist and newspaper reporter, she lives in Kentucky with her family, where she is currently working on the next Southern Eclectic novel. Visit her on the web at MollyHarper.com.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The Dangers of Dating a Rebound Vampire
You never get a second chance to make a first exsanguination.
—The Office After Dark: A Guide to Maintaining a Safe, Productive Vampire Workplace
The sensible beige pantsuit was mocking me.
It was hanging there, in my closet, all tailored and boring. And beige. Yes, wear me to work, and let all of your new coworkers know that you have no personality! it jeered at me. Look at you, all nervous and twitchy. Why don’t you just stay home and work for the Apple store, you big baby?
“That is one judgmental pantsuit.” I flopped back onto my bed and stared at the ceiling. I deserved this job. I was qualified for it. I’d gone through a particularly difficult test of my intelligence and ingenuity to get it. So why was I so nervous about my first day?
“Because you are Queen of All Neurotics,” I grumbled, scrubbing my hand over my face. “Long may you reign.”
Honestly, I was nervous because this job—programming an internal search engine of vampires’ living descendants for the World Council for the Equal Treatment of the Undead—meant something. Because if I played my cards right, this would be the only first day of work I would ever go through. The Council was known for offering increasingly attractive perks and salaries to hold on to competent human employees, resulting in lifelong appointments. Then again, if I played my cards wrong, this could be my last-ever first day of work, because I would be dead.
OK, if I continued this line of thinking, what would the final outcome be? Not taking the job with the Council. And then I tried to picture my sister Iris’s face if I told her that I’d decided not to take the job after all. First there would be elation, and then relief, and then would come the “I told you so’s.” I really hated the “I told you so’s,” which were sometimes accompanied by interpretive dance.
Even after having months to adjust, Iris was “displeased” about my employment, which was like saying PETA was displeased by the popularity of TripleMeat Whataburgers. Iris wanted me to work in some respectable office, where my coworkers wouldn’t pose an immediate threat to my person. It was nice to know she cared about my safety, but seriously, she was getting on my nerves.
“Right. Spiting your sister is an excellent personal motivator. Let’s go.” I launched myself out of bed, slipped into the suit, and pinned my hair into a
responsible-looking chignon. I was thankful, at least, that I didn’t have to deal with Iris’s hair. It wasn’t that her dark curly hair wasn’t beautiful, because it totally was, especially now that she had all that vampire-makeover mojo on her side and looked like a sexy undead Snow White—if Snow White was remotely sexy or tousled, which was tough to pull off in that Disney headband. The point was, I could barely handle my own heavy dark hair. I couldn’t imagine throwing crazy curlicues into the mix.
Iris and I also shared our mother’s cornflower-blue eyes and delicate features, though I’d inherited Dad’s height. It really irritated Iris when her “little sister” propped her elbow on top of Iris’s head. Which meant I did it every chance I got.
Yawning, I picked up my equally practical beige pumps and checked my purse for the third time that afternoon. I’d stayed up all night, then slept through the morning, in an attempt to adjust my schedule to my new hours, working from two p.m. until two a.m. This was considered the early-bird shift for vampires, and it was going to be an adjustment for my very human body clock. But at least I would see more of my recently vampirized sister and her equally undead husband.
The house, as expected, was pitch-black, thanks to the heavy-duty sunshades my brother-in-law had installed to protect him and Iris from sun exposure. Carefully, I clicked a button at the end of the hall and waited for the circular “tap lights” to illuminate the stairs.
I turned the corner into the kitchen and punched in my personal security code. Before I could use my “clearance” to open the downstairs windows, I felt a sudden strike at my neck, the sensation of hands closing around my shoulders. I gasped as my unseen assailant yanked me back against his chest, hissing in my ear. I curled my fingers around the offending hands and dropped into “base,” the stable fighting stance taught to me by the jiujitsu instructor Cal had insisted I train with for the past five months. Spreading my arms wide to loosen his grip, I thrust my hips back, knocking him off-balance. I stopped my face-to-floor descent with my palms, cupped both hands around his foot, and yanked—hard. The force of my pull was enough to send him toppling back on his ass.
I sprang up and flicked on the lights to see my beloved brother-in-law sprawled on the floor with a big, stupid grin on his face.
“Cletus Calix!” I yelled, giving him one last kick to the ribs before climbing onto one of the breakfast bar stools. “What is wrong with you?”
“I just wanted to get your blood going with a prework reflex test,” he said, pushing to his feet. “Well done, you. Your reaction times are much faster.”
I grunted and threw a banana at his dark head; of course, he caught it, because he has superhuman response times. Totally unfair. Cal had thrown these little tests at me nearly every day since I’d come home for the summer. Always at a different time, always with a different mode of attack. The fact that Cal had probably downed a half-dozen espressos just so he could get up at this hour was somehow very sweet and
super-irritating all at the same time. I understood that he wanted proof that I could defend myself if necessary and that the insane amount of time and money he’d spent on my martial-arts education wasn’t wasted. But seriously, I just wanted to make coffee without someone putting me in a choke hold.
“One of these days, Cal, you’re going to sneak up on me, and I’m going to stab you with something wooden and pointy. It’s not an idle threat. You’ve stocked my bag with a scary array of antivampire technology. If Ophelia ever decides to search me, I’ll probably be fired based on the threat my change purse poses to the secretarial pool.”
“Which means my evil plan will finally come to fruition.” Cal snorted. He had lots of reservations about my working for the Council, so he’d devoted the past semester to preparing me for working around vampires. Brazilian jiujitsu classes, crossbow lessons, small-blade combat training. The good news was that I was no longer afraid of walking through the campus parking garage at night. The bad news was that most of the people in my advanced programming classes were now afraid of me, because they spotted my knifework gear in my shoulder bag that one time.
“And if you manage to stab me, Gigi, I will deserve whatever pointy revenge you inflict.”
“You’re so weird.” I sighed, catching my reflection in the glass microwave panel. “Now I’m going to have to go fix my hair again.”
“It’s not that bad,” Cal protested. I dashed into the powder room off the kitchen and ran a comb through my mussed hair. Cal leaned his long, rangy form against the doorway, watching me fuss. “Iris would get up and wish you luck, but she hasn’t worked up to daylight waking hours quite yet. It’s more of an advanced vampire trick.”
“There’s also the small matter of Iris not wanting me to work at the Council office,” I said, leveling him with a frank smile. “It’s OK, Cal, you don’t have to sugarcoat it for me. I know I’m making Iris unhappy.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said breezily, following me back into the kitchen.
“Aren’t you kind of old for blithe denial? Like several thousand years too old?” I asked, ducking when he attempted to ruffle my hair.
“Keep it up, and I won’t give you this delicious lunch I packed for you,” Cal said, digging into the fridge and pulling a small blue canvas bag from the top shelf. I opened it to find that Cal had made me a California roll and nigiri with his own two little vampire hands. I’d developed a taste for sushi at school, and there were no quality Japanese restaurants in the Hollow. So Iris and Cal had watched YouTube videos to figure out how to make it for me, if only to save me from truck-stop sashimi. This might seem like a minor gesture until one considered that to vampires, human food smelled like the wrong end of a petting zoo. “You’re the only human I know whose comfort food involves raw fish and rice.”
“Vampires living in blood-bag-shaped houses shouldn’t throw stones,” I told him. “And this is very sweet. I sort of love you, Cal.” I kissed his cheek, something that had taken him years to accept without flinching or making faces.
“You completely love me. Now, have a good first day at work. Play nice with your coworkers, but don’t hesitate to use your silver spray. If you get into trouble, there’s an extra stake sewn into the bottom lining of your purse. Call us before you drive home so we can wait up for you.”
“Your employment advice is not like other people’s employment advice.”
· · ·
Ophelia didn’t deign to visit us on our first day. My fellow recruits and I talked exclusively to Amelia Gibson, the stern vampire head of HR, while sequestered—I mean seated—in the windowless conference room decorated in various shades of gray. In fact, almost everything in the newly renovated Council office was gray: gray walls, gray carpets, gray cement block, and gray laminate office furniture. Cold, impersonal, efficient, it wasn’t exactly home away from home.
While the grim-looking security guards processed our security-pass photos, we had to sit through the upsetting orientation videos. Most of them involved strategies for not provoking our vampire coworkers into biting us. Since I was pretty familiar with these tips—including “Lunch Break Hazards: Say Good-bye to Garlic and Tuna Salad” and “Empty Toner Cartridges: Replace Them or Die”—I spent my time studying my coworkers.
Jordan Lancaster was sweet-faced and might have looked like the girl next door, if not for the full ROY G BIV spectrum of streaks in her hair, the heavy navy-blue eyeliner, and the double nose ring. She’d chosen to wear a My Little Pony T-shirt declaring her allegiance to Rainbow Dash, dark-wash jeans, and high-top sneakers. I knew she looked unprofessional. I knew she was reinforcing the stereotype that computer geeks were poorly socialized kids with weird hair and unfortunate wardrobe choices. Ms. Gibson had looked directly at Jordan when she mentioned reviewing the dress code. But I couldn’t help but feel just a little bit envious of her while I sat there, tugging at my uncomfortable pantsuit.
Also, I was considering stealing those violet Converse high-tops.
Marty McCullough was a tall, slender guy with piercing dark eyes and a pale, pleasant face. He wore a plaid work shirt and chinos and seemed just a bit too relaxed around the vampires, as if he thought they were too civilized to hurt him. I hoped he would figure out how wrong he was without my having to use the first-aid kit too many times.
Aaron Chen slept through the orientation, but no one could tell for the first hour or so, because his outdated and overgrown Justin Bieber haircut covered his eyes. And when Ms. Gibson woke him up, he didn’t even say he was sorry. I think I was looking forward to working with him most of all.
It was sort of a mixed bag for me when it came to vampires and trust issues. I mean, Ophelia was a four-hundred-plus-year-old vampire who looked like a teenager and schemed like a Bond villain. So I was going to avoid any situation that would lead to sitting in her office near a hidden trapdoor. And sure, I’d been duped and supernaturally hypnotized by a vampire sent by a local supervillain to date me under false pretenses. But thanks to the hypnosis, I’d blanked out most of the unpleasant parts and only remembered dreamy scenes of teen vampire romance.
It was interesting to me that none of the programmers was older than mid-twenties. The oldest of us, Marty, looked to be about twenty-three or twenty-four. Then again, working at the Council office full-time, we would be exposed to many of the vampire world’s secrets and machinations. We would have access to their leaders. We would figure out how they managed to save enough money to survive for centuries. That was a considerable liability, as far as the vampires were concerned. Maybe responsible adults in their thirties didn’t work for vampires because they were too worried about the families they could leave behind.
And while there were a few vampires out there who could do the work, the Council didn’t hire them. The rumor was that the Council members didn’t trust their own kind enough to handle the genealogical information. Long-standing feuds between vampires could escalate swiftly if one knew where to find the living great-great-grandchildren of one’s archenemy. So the coding was farmed out to us nonsuperpowered humans who had been through a rigorous, highly intimidating vetting process. The theory was that properly intimidated humans wouldn’t use their access to secret vampire records to track down (or assist other vampires in tracking down) other humans to hurt them.
Also, by hiring human undergrads, they could employ us at a far lower pay grade than someone who could claim he had helped Charles Babbage perfect his idea of complex machines completing mathematical functions back in 1812. Two hundred years of work experience was a human resources nightmare.
When my coworkers and their wardrobes were no longer entertaining, my mind wandered to the mystery vampire I’d “met” over Christmas break. The “met” is in quotation marks because I hadn’t actually introduced myself. Because, well, he hardly stood still long enough for me to see him, much less speak to him. At first, I thought he was a ghost. I’d barely been able to make out his facial features the first few times I saw him. And when Mr. Barely Visible finally became Fully Visible (and ho boy, was the visual nice), he’d surprised the ever-loving hell out of me by swooping in, kissing me like something out of a Nicholas Sparks movie, and then disappearing, literally.
That was one of the few things pre–Coming Out TV and movies got right about vampires. The undead were stealthy and sneaky and could pop in and out of view in the blink of an eye, which they usually did when a human was in mid-sentence, which, in my opinion, was super-rude.
The tragedy was that the hot mystery vampire had completely and cruelly dropped off the face of the earth after giving me the most world-altering kiss I’d ever experienced. It had been months since the Kiss, the meeting of mouths that rocked my world, shifted my paradigm, viva’d my revolution. And despite excessive lip-glossing for months, just in case I ran into him, I hadn’t seen so much as a shadow. I was starting to think I’d imagined the whole thing, which would be completely plausible, considering my emotional turmoil over dumping my perfectly nice, all-too-human boyfriend, Ben.
I had too much bad vampire dating baggage to believe in magic and “meant to be” connections with the undead. There was no such thing as Love at First Bite. Passion, sure. Lust, sure. Strong feelings of impending nakedness, OK. But not love. Still, the kiss convinced me that I’d done the right thing in dumping that perfectly nice boyfriend. Because passion could be underrated. And if I was capable of feeling that much world-t...
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Book Description POCKET BOOKS, 2015. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In the next book in Molly Harper s beloved Half Moon Hollow paranormal romance series, Gigi starts her first job (at Vampire Headquarters), gets over her first love, and may even fall for her first vampire! Gigi is no longer an innocent teen. All grown up and looking for love, her family and friends worry she ll go for the sexy, alluring vampire instead of a nice, safe human. But sexy and alluring, with a penchant for biting, could be just what Gigi wants. Seller Inventory # BZV9781476706016
Book Description Simon and Schuster. Condition: New. Brand New. Seller Inventory # 1476706018
Book Description Pocket Books, 2015. PAP. Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Seller Inventory # VS-9781476706016
Book Description POCKET BOOKS, 2015. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In the next book in Molly Harper s beloved Half Moon Hollow paranormal romance series, Gigi starts her first job (at Vampire Headquarters), gets over her first love, and may even fall for her first vampire! Gigi is no longer an innocent teen. All grown up and looking for love, her family and friends worry she ll go for the sexy, alluring vampire instead of a nice, safe human. But sexy and alluring, with a penchant for biting, could be just what Gigi wants. Seller Inventory # AAS9781476706016
Book Description POCKET BOOKS, 2015. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. In the next book in Molly Harper s beloved Half Moon Hollow paranormal romance series, Gigi starts her first job (at Vampire Headquarters), gets over her first love, and may even fall for her first vampire! Gigi is no longer an innocent teen. All grown up and looking for love, her family and friends worry she ll go for the sexy, alluring vampire instead of a nice, safe human. But sexy and alluring, with a penchant for biting, could be just what Gigi wants. Seller Inventory # BZV9781476706016
Book Description Pocket Books, 2015. PAP. Condition: New. New Book.Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Seller Inventory # IB-9781476706016
Book Description Pocket Books 3/24/2015, 2015. Paperback or Softback. Condition: New. The Dangers of Dating a Rebound Vampire. Book. Seller Inventory # BBS-9781476706016
Book Description Pocket Books. MASS MARKET PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 1476706018 *BRAND NEW* Ships Same Day or Next!. Seller Inventory # NATARAJB1FI750960
Book Description Pocket Books, 2015. Mass Market Paperback. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # 1476706018
Book Description Pocket Books. MASS MARKET PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 1476706018. Seller Inventory # Z1476706018ZN