Authors: Tara Fox Hall
Tags: #vampire, #fear, #sex, #happiness, #shifter, #virgin, #stripper, #catalyst, #tragic past, #promise me
Promise Me Origin Tales
Melange Books, LLC
White Bear Lake, MN 55110
Sundown & Serena, Copyright 2015
Tara Fox Hall
Names, characters, and incidents
depicted in this book are products of the author’s imagination or
are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales,
organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental
and beyond the intent of the author or the publisher. No part of
this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any
means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording,
or by any information storage and retrieval system, without
permission in writing from the publisher.
Published in the United States of
Cover Design by Caroline
by Tara Fox Hall
Neither human stripper Sundown nor virgin
were-halfbreed Serena knew how their futures would change when
catalyst vampire Devlin Dalcon walked into their lives. Sundown was
just looking to party and forget her tragic past; Serena was hoping
for excitement and love, to be swept away from the dull routine of
her short-order cook job and solitary life. Will these very
different women finally face their fears in time to seize their own
dreams of happiness?
To my father
In memory of Jess, who will live on
in the pages of this series
It felt like the day from hell. Everything
had gone wrong for me. I’d gotten hit on by an overzealous,
middle-aged buffoon who’d fondled me intimately on his second lap
dance. That had put me off so much, I’d been a beat behind when I
took my turn onstage. The men in the audience hadn’t cared, but I
had. I liked to think I was the most sought after girl in Hotcakes,
and how could I, feeling like some amateur her first night on the
“Shit.” I drank my seven-and-seven down in a
gulp, and decided to pay my tab. It was time to go home.
Leaving some money on the bar, I motioned to
Bill, the head bouncer at Hotcakes. He came over grinning snidely,
his tanned face sharp, yet still friendly. “Another, Sun?”
“No,” I said tiredly, getting to my feet. “I
should go home.”
He leaned in close. “Even though you’ve got a
fan still here?”
I gave him a look that said he’d better not
annoy me in the mood I was in. “What are you talking about?”
“That guy in the corner,” he said, with a
discreet hand gesture. “He came in when you were on stage. He
watched your set like he’d never seen a woman before.”
“Good for him,” I said dispassionately,
though inside I was pleased to hear of the special attention. “It’s
nice I can still give a man a lift, even as bad as I was.”
“You weren’t bad,” Bill replied seriously.
“Just off by a few seconds.”
“Not good enough,” I replied stiffly. “I
strive for perfection. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
As I went for my coat, a soft yet deep voice
called out, “Please wait.”
I turned back to see my admirer coming toward
me. As men went—especially compared to the type who came in here
usually—he was a solid nine. He was handsome, tall, and his body
was nicely muscular without being too bulky. He looked sort of
young for some reason, yet I reasoned that he had to be at least
twenty-one for Bill to have let him in the door. His straight dark
hair was pulled sharply back in a short ponytail, which made me
think he was older than the early twenties I pegged him for. That
hairstyle wasn’t popular with the twenty-something crowd, and the
clothes he was wearing also spoke to him being at least
“Can I take you for coffee?” he asked softly,
his dark eyes staring at my breasts before looking up to my
At least he’s close to my age.
nice to have a man come on to me who wasn’t old enough to be my
father...wait. The stranger’s eyes had seemed red for a moment. Now
they were dark again. It must have been a trick of the light. The
bartender had just shut off the flashing neon signs in the front
windows and announced last call. Maybe it had been the glare of the
strobe lights that were still going strong?
Maybe I’m drunker
than I thought...Nah.
“Or something to eat,” the stranger added,
when I didn’t reply. “You look like you could use a good meal.”
“Listen, buddy,” I replied sarcastically.
, got it? I’m not
looking for a savior.”
“What woman is these days?” he stated
bitterly. “I was just offering company, if you wanted some.”
I was surprised that someone so young could
sound so bitter. Maybe he only looked young. Or maybe he’d had a
childhood like mine. I reached out and ran my hands over his chest.
His muscles bunched reflexively under my hands, making a shiver of
desire snake its way through my body.
Maybe this is a good way to end the
“What are you offering?” I said suggestively, giving him
my best bedroom eyes.
His eyes closed, and his breathing quickened.
His skin seemed to be radiating heat. I was glad of it; I’d been
feeling cold in my skimpy jacket. That’s what I got for caring so
much about looking hot.
He didn’t reply. I continued to run my hands
over him while he acted as though he couldn’t get enough of feeling
my hands on his clothed chest. That was weird. Men usually came
here because they wanted to touch me or think about touching me,
even though they knew no touching was allowed. And if they wanted
me to touch them, I gambled that their fantasy was never my hands
on their chests, with all their clothes on.
“What do you want?” he said suddenly, his
Definitely weird. Too weird to take a
chance on tonight.
“Nothing, sweetheart,” I said, dropping my
hands. “Nothing but sleep.” He looked so crestfallen at my
brush-off that I took pity on him. “Come back tomorrow if you
want,” I added with a lopsided smile. “I work from eight to two.
You can buy me a drink.”
“I’ll be here,” he promised, then kissed my
hand gently with his hot lips.
While the romance bit didn’t impress me, it
came off as sincere rather than staged for effect. Whoever he was,
the man wasn’t just out for sex. But that didn’t mean he was my Mr.
Taking my hand back, I staggered out to the
street, and down to my little apartment. I walked up the back
stairs, and let myself in. I passed out from sheer exhaustion and
alcohol before I hit the bed.
* * * *
I woke up on the floor at noon.
. I always told myself to
go home after my set, and not hang out in bars. What had it ever
gotten me? A string of lovers that was too long to remember and a
lot of tears. I was tired of tears, promises that never were kept,
and calls that never came.
I sat up, got to my feet, and staggered to
the bathroom. I took an extended shower, washing my long blonde
hair. Well, dirty blonde, actually. I knew I’d get better tips if I
dyed it a lighter shade of blonde, like platinum. But I took pride
in my natural color; I was the only stripper at Hotcakes who didn’t
dye her hair. Everyone there was ash blonde, platinum blonde, a
jet-black, or a bright burgundy redhead. That fake color looked
cheap to me, the way it was so obvious and overly bright, just like
the deep red lipstick most of them wore. I didn’t wear much makeup,
except eyeliner and mascara, which was pretty much mandatory. The
sequin, spandex, and spangled costumes required were also fine by
me; I’d always loved to play dress up as a child. But when it came
to my hair, I could dye it when it started turning gray. That would
be soon enough.
My eyes were pretty, at least. They were a
soft blue, not washed out, yet not bright sky blue, either. The
blue of the sea, a blue that sometimes looked green in the right
light when I was wearing the right colors. My eyes were my best
feature, and I was proud of them.
Not that I was bad-looking or anything. While
a girl didn’t have to be beautiful to be a stripper, both a good
body was needed and the attitude to flaunt it. My body was good,
taut and firm in all the right places, even though I wasn’t very
tall. It was genes, not exercise. My daily workout was dancing and
gyrating, and the half block walk to and from work. Still, I’d
never been refused by a man I’d approached, and that counted for
something in my book.
I had a late lunch, and spent the rest of the
day sleeping. I didn’t have any pets, children, or a boyfriend to
take care of. Owning my small apartment, I didn’t have any snow to
shovel in winter, or grass to mow in summer. And that was the way I
liked it, free and footloose.
* * * *
Later that night, my admirer came back to
Hotcakes. He was sitting at his same table when I arrived, and he
stayed there the entire time I worked. Curious, I motioned one of
the bouncers to come backstage during my break.
He came over to me with a leer on his wide
mouth. “Feeling like a roll later?”
What a surprise. But Hunter was almost always
on the make, like most men. “Fuck off,” I said with a polite smile.
“I want to know about that guy in the corner.”
“Mr. Polite?” he said, losing his happy face.
“Because he’s been here all night. I want to
know if he’s been drinking or—”
“No,” Hunter said with a snort. “He’s eaten a
pizza, and had several sodas. He’s not bothering anyone, so we’re
letting him stay. But if he doesn’t spend some serious cash soon,
his ass is out the door.”
I felt bad suddenly for the stranger, though
I didn’t know why. “Go ask him if he wants a lap dance with
Hunter gaped at me, incredulous. “You sweet
My hackles went up. “I could use the money,”
I snapped harshly. “My rent’s due tomorrow. Just do it,
Hunter sidled up to me, and patted my ass
through my skimpy costume. “I’ll give you some cash if you want,”
he said huskily. “Just come home with me, Sun.”
“I’m not a whore,” I hissed. “I fuck for
pleasure, not money. Get your hands off me.”
“So come home with me and I won’t pay you,”
he amended with a grin.
I wanted to slug him, but knew there was no
point. Besides being the nephew of the boss, this bullshit—‘I’m
God’s gift to women’ routine— was just Hunter’s way. He treated all
the girls here like that, no matter what they looked like, which
had earned him his nickname. He was good-looking, and there wasn’t
much upstairs besides his sex drive. But while no one who’d spent a
night with him had any real complaints, word around Hotcakes was
that Hunter was rough, that he liked oral sex a lot, and that he
expected a girl to swallow whatever he told her to swallow. While I
might go for the first two, I absolutely, positively, did not ever
do the last.