Thursday, January 28, 2016

Countdown to Netherworld IV: Animal Attraction, Excerpt 5

Wendy breezed in, her attitude all professional except for her slightly wider than usual eyes. She was followed in by another woman. “Um, Ms. Keith, this lady wishes to speak to you. I know she doesn’t have an appointment, but, well—” 

I knew my eyes were wide as well as I rose to my feet. I clung to my glamour like a life preserver as I looked the visitor over. For a moment I came close to diving behind the desk. The first thing my stunned mind jabbered was, not like this, she can’t see me like this, not as a vampire.

Except for eyes of blue, the face looking back at me might have appeared in my mirror while I lived. It was my twin sister Ashley. 

After a split second that felt like it lasted a lifetime, I remembered she’d never recognize me in a million years. I was in Patricia Keith’s body. As far as Ashley knew, I was eleven months  dead, long gone to wherever it was that most of the dearly departed end up. She had no idea I’d been earthbound as a ghost. She most certainly didn’t know that I occupied a vampire’s body.

Hoping my shock had disappeared fast enough that Ashley hadn’t noticed it, I made myself as cool and composed as Patricia had been. “Yes, well, come in. Please. Thank you, Wendy.”

Wendy knew darned well who Ashley was to me. Her gaze bounced back and forth between us, like we were involved in a tennis match. She managed to draw herself up and return the calm look I gave her. 

Needing an extra moment before I dealt with the sibling I hadn’t spoken to since our parents disowned me, I called the assistant back. “Oh Wendy? I know we’re a bit crazy with the election, but please get a computer tech in here as soon as possible. This new system is completely unworkable, especially for members of Tristan’s committee.”

Wendy’s lips quirked in a smirk. “I’ve been waiting for official authorization on that. I’ll get on it this very moment, Ms. Keith. Thank you.” She left.

Hey, I finally made someone happy. At least one of us was. I still had to deal with Ashley.

I made myself look at her. Wow, she looked great. Red hair expertly styled, slender health club figure, face showing a few careworn lines but still looking more twenty-something than the early thirties she’d attained – Ashley was every bit the society lady our parents had wanted. She even managed to make mom-friendly jeans and a t-shirt topped with a tuxedo-cut jacket look uptown. Her favorite scent, sweet but elegant, wafted to me. I barely managed to keep from leaning over the desk to see her shoes. I bet on sensible but expensive flats or kitten-heels.

I motioned to one of the leather chairs in front of my desk. Trying to sound unconcerned I invited, “Won’t you sit down, Ms. –?”

Darn if I didn’t almost say her name. Patricia and Ashley had never met that I was aware of, though my sister had been the sole member of my family to attend my funeral. Patricia would have known who Ashley was in any case. It wouldn’t have been a complete flub if I’d identified her. No way she’d know it was me ... but wanting to keep it that way meant I’d be as careful as possible.

Ashley held out a perfectly manicured hand for me to shake. “Ashley Payson-Warner. Thank you for seeing me, Ms. Keith.”

I shook her hand and tried not to feel how warm she was. Meeting with your twin sister who thinks you’re some other undead person? Awkward. Jonesing for her blood? Really awkward.

Releasing tomorrow!

You're running out of time to snag Netherworld I: Drop Dead Sexy for only 99 cents! It goes back to regular price February 1 at Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and All Romance

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