Vanda Barkowski is in trouble.
As the owner of a hot nightclub, she's more unconventional than most of her fellow vampires, and if some think her a little out of control, then so be it. But after three former employees filed a complaint about her temper, Vanda is sentenced to an anger management class. Worse, Phil Jones agreed to be her sponsor. Phil, the mortal who is forbidden to her . . .
If Vanda knew who—or what—Phil really is, she'd reconsider her attraction to him, for his true nature is wilder than anything she'd ever imagined. He has tackled the beast within and now is the perfect person to help Vanda with her rage . . . if only he can keep his cool when she makes him so undeniably hot. But with rogue vamps on the loose, will they ever have their forbidden nights?
“Believe me you don’t want to miss this great vampire story! Kerrelyn Sparks is in a league of her own! Trust me if you love vampire romances you will LOVE her books! Hurry out and get this one today!” 5 hearts
JennJ, Night Owl Romance
“FORBIDDEN NIGHTS WITH A VAMPIRE is her best one yet.” 5 roses
Shannon Johnson, Romance Reader at Heart
“Laszlo,” Roman began quietly.
“Yes, sir?” The Coven Secretary fiddled with a button on his lab coat.
“Since Vanda Barkowski has finally arrived, let us proceed to the other suits against her.”
Other suits? As in plural? Vanda glanced around nervously. Roman’s wife gave her a sympathetic smile.
Anger sparked inside Vanda, and she clenched her fists. She didn’t need anyone’s sympathy. She was tough, dammit.
Laszlo fumbled through a stack of papers. He drew one page out. Then another. And another. Three pages? Her anger sizzled into a hot flame.
Laszlo gave her a nervous look, then proceeded. “Vanda Barkowski is being sued on three counts. Count one--unjustified termination of employment, resulting in loss of wages and mental trauma. Count two—-reckless endangerment at the workplace, resulting in minor injury and mental trauma. Count three—-assault with a deadly weapon, resulting in physical injury and mental trauma.”
Vanda jumped to her feet. “That’s a load of crap! Who’s suing me?” Her face burned with heat as she scanned the room. “Where are you, you assholes? I’ll show you some mental trauma!”
“Sit down, please,” Roman said quietly.
“I have the right to face my accusers.” She spotted three former employees hunched down in the back row. “There you are, you bastards!”
“Vanda, sit!” Roman ordered.
She whirled to face him. Dammit, he’d known her since 1950, and he was believing this crap from those whiny troublemakers? She pointed a finger at him. “You—-”
She gasped when Gregori grabbed her arm and yanked her down hard onto her seat. He gave her a warning glare.
She drew in a shaky breath. Okay. She needed to calm down.
“How do you plead, Ms. Barkowski?” Roman asked.
She gripped her hands together, knuckles white. “Not guilty.”
“You didn’t terminate the first plaintiff’s employment?” Roman glanced at Laszlo. “His name?”
Laszlo scanned the first page, then plucked nervously at one of his buttons. “He wishes to be called by his stage name--Jem Stones.”
Chuckles reverberated across the room, then halted abruptly when Roman cleared his throat. “Ms. Barkowski, did you fire Mister...Stones?”
“Yes, I did, but I had just cause.”
“No, you didn’t!” a petulant voice shouted from the back of the room. “I was the best dancer you ever had. You had no reason to fire me!”
Vanda glanced back at Jem. “You were trying to sell your services. I run a dance club, not a brothel.”
“The ladies were begging for me,” Jem argued.
“And you charged them money?” Roman asked.
Jem huffed. “Of course I did. And I’m worth it! I’m the best there is.”
Roman looked unimpressed. “The first suit is dismissed.”
“What?” Jem squealed. “But I need my job back. How will I make a living?”
Roman shrugged. “It appears you have already embarked upon your next career. You may leave.”
Jem muttered some cusswords as he stalked out the door.
Vanda felt a small measure of relief. One accuser down and two to go.
“The second suit?” Roman asked Laszlo.
“Yes, sir.” The secretary fumbled through his papers. “Reckless endangerment at the workplace. This plaintiff also wishes to go by his stage name.” Laszlo fiddled with a button on his lab coat. “Peter the Great, Prince of P—P—Peckers.” The button popped off and rolled across the table.
Roman’s wife covered her mouth. The sound of snickering drifted about the room. Even the priest was smiling.
Gregori leaned close to Vanda and whispered loudly, “How many pickled peppers did the Prince of Peckers pick?”
Vanda snorted and elbowed him in the ribs.
Roman lifted his gaze with an exasperated look as if he were asking God, Why me? He schooled his features and regarded the crowd seriously. “Is Mister...Prince here?”
“Yeth!” A slender man in the back row stood. He flipped his long blond hair over one shoulder. “I’m the Printh of Peckerth.”
“You were injured at work?” Roman asked.
“Yeth,” Peter continued with his lisping voice. “I wath danthing when I thlipped in a puddle of water.”
“He wanted the water,” Vanda interrupted. “Peter wanted to pull a chain and have ten gallons of water fall on top of him.”
“You asked for the water?” Roman asked.
“Yeth. All the little water dropleth were glithening on my bare thkin. I wath incredibly beautiful.”
“I’ll take your word for it,” Roman muttered. “And then you slipped?”
“Yeth! It wath awful. I fell on my nothe and broke it.”
“You broke...what?” Roman asked.
“His nose,” Vanda explained. “But we fixed it, and it’s perfectly normal now.”
“It ith not!” Peter planted his hands on his hip. “Now my voithe hath a terrible nathal quality to it, and everyone laughth at me.”
The room filled with snorts of laughter.
“You thee?” Peter wiped at his teary eyes. “They’re laughing at me. I’m thuffering from emotional trauma.”
Roman sighed. “Mr. Prince, your accident was indeed regrettable, but I fail to see how you can hold Ms. Barkowski accountable when you requested the water yourself.”
Peter crossed his arms and scowled. “She should have protected me.”
“I reset your nose and gave you the rest of the night off,” Vanda said. “You were the one who up and quit.”
Peter pouted. “I want my job back.”
“Is that all right with you?” Roman asked Vanda.
“Yes. I was always happy with Peter’s work.”
“Good.” Roman nodded. “You’ll hire him back, and we’ll dismiss the second suit. Laszlo, the last suit, please?”
“Yes, sir.” Laszlo shuffled through his papers. “Assault with a deadly weapon. The plaintiff goes by the stage name ‘Max the Mega Member.’” Laszlo plucked at another button on his lab coat.
Roman gazed about the room. “Mister...Mega Member? Will you describe the alleged incident?”
“Alleged, my ass.” Max jumped up from his seat. “She put a three-inch hole in my chest. If she’d hit my heart, I would have perished on the spot!”
“My mistake,” Vanda muttered. “My aim was off.”
“Then you admit to injuring this man?” Roman asked.
“He was calling me filthy names in front of my employees,” Vanda explained. “I couldn’t let him get away with that.”
Roman frowned. “I believe firing him would have been a more reasonable course of action than stabbing him.”
“She did fire me!” Max shouted. “The bitch claimed I was a lousy dancer, and that’s total bullshit.”
“You are a lousy dancer!” Vanda turned to Roman. “He did a dance with a fifteen-foot-long python, and it got loose and wrapped itself around one of my customers. She had to teleport away before it could crush her. I told Max to take his snake and hit the road.”
Roman nodded. “A logical decision.”
“But the bitch attacked me!” Max bellowed.
“Only after you verbally assaulted me!” Vanda shouted.
“What did you attack him with?” Roman asked.
“I wasn’t going anywhere near him as long as he had that damned snake, so I grabbed one of my shoes and threw it at him.” Vanda shrugged. “I guess I threw it kinda hard cause the stiletto heel sorta stuck in his chest.”
“She nearly killed me!” Max hollered.
“And you nearly killed a customer with your snake,” Roman reminded him. “Did your injury heal itself during your death-sleep?”
“Well, yeah, but that doesn’t make it okay for her to attack me.”
Roman drummed his fingers on the arm of his chair. “I am not going to find fault with a woman defending herself against a verbally abusive male.”
“Yes!” Vanda punched the air.
“I’m not finished.” Roman gave her a stern look. “Your method of defense was inappropriate. I’m sure you have some kind of security who could have removed Mr. Mega-Member from the premises.”
Vanda shrugged. She did have a huge bouncer.
“This is the third time since the opening of your club that you have been summoned here because of inappropriate and violent behavior,” Roman continued. “In short, Ms. Barkowski, you have a problem with anger.”
“Yeah!” Max yelled. “She’s a crazy bitch!”
“Enough,” Roman warned the ex-dancer. “I am dismissing the charges under the condition that Ms. Barkowski take a class in anger management.”
Vanda grimaced. Not again.
“This is bullshit,” Max declared. “That bitch owes me! I demand to be compensated for the trauma she caused me.”
“I’ll give you some compensation.” Vanda shook a fist at him. “Let’s meet in the parking lot—-”
“Vanda, enough!” Roman glowered at her.
She glared back.
“You are exhibiting a serious lack of control,” he stated quietly. “Obviously, one class of anger management wasn’t enough for you.”
“Yeah, she flunked anger management!” Max snickered. “You just wait, bitch. I’ll give you something to be angry about.”
“You are now officially under a restraining order,” Roman told the ex-dancer. “You will stay away from Ms. Barkowski, or you will be fined five thousand dollars.”
“What?” Max looked aghast. “What did I do?”
“Laszlo, call security to have Mr. Mega Member removed,” Roman ordered.
“Yes, sir.” Laszlo punched a button on his desk.
“All right, all right, I’m leaving.” Max strode from the room.
“The third suit is dismissed,” Roman announced, “and Ms. Barkowski has agreed to attend a second round of anger management classes.”
Vanda gritted her teeth as amused whispering sounded around the room. “I don’t recall agreeing to anything.”
“You will attend.” Roman regarded her sternly. “Father Andrew has graciously offered to counsel you again.”
She groaned inwardly. The mortal priest was a kindly old man, but he didn’t have a clue about all she’d been through in her long life. And she really didn’t want to tell him. Or anyone.
Father Andrew smiled at her. “I look forward to getting to know you better, my child.”
Vanda crossed her arms. “Whatever.”
“I will need a volunteer to be her sponsor,” Father Andrew continued.
The murmuring in the room came to an abrupt halt. Absolute silence.
Great. With her superior senses, Vanda could hear the crickets chirping outside Romatech. She felt heat rising up her neck. No one wanted anything to do with her. “I don’t need a sponsor.”
“I’m convinced that you do,” Father Andrew insisted.
Vanda turned to Gregori. “Come on,” she hissed.
“I sponsored you last time,” Gregori whispered. “Obviously, I wasn’t very good at it.”
“Laszlo?” Vanda asked.
The short secretary jumped in his seat, and another button popped off his lab coat.
Anger sizzled in Vanda as she faced Roman. “You won’t find anyone here to sponsor me. They’re a bunch of cowards.” She adjusted the whip around her waist. “And they’re right! They should fear me. If any of them dares to reprimand me, I’ll rip their heads off.”
A collective gasp echoed across the room.
Roman regarded her sadly. “I don’t believe you’re entering into this exercise with the correct attitude.”
She lifted her chin. “I’ve got plenty of attitude.”
Roman sighed. “Is there no one here—-”
“I’ll do it,” Shanna offered.
Vanda flinched. Roman’s wife? She couldn’t confess her horrid sins to sweet little do-gooder Shanna Draganesti.
Roman turned to talk quietly with his wife. Vanda’s superior hearing picked up most of it. Shanna had a two-year-old son and a nine-week-old daughter to take care of. Watching Vanda would be too much of an added burden.
Vanda’s anger spiked. She didn’t need a damned babysitter. And she sure didn’t want Shanna’s pity. “Forget it! You won’t find anyone here to sponsor me. None of the men here have the balls to take me on.”
“I’ll do it,” a deep voice rumbled in the back of the room.
Vanda gasped. She recognized that voice instantly, but still, she had to turn to make sure it was really him. Oh, damn, he looked better than ever. He’d always been tall, but his shoulders looked broader than she remembered. His thick brown hair gleamed with red and gold highlights. And his eyes...his eyes had always taken her breath away. A pale icy blue that somehow managed to glitter with heat.
“I’ll sponsor her.” Phil marched down the center aisle.
God, no. She couldn’t bare her soul to Phil. She’d confided a lot in Gregori when he’d sponsored her, but he was like a little brother. Phil could never be like a brother. “No! Ask Ian. Ian will do it.”
Roman frowned. “Ian and his wife are still on their honeymoon.”
Oh, right. Ian had told her they’d be gone for three whole months. So it would be the middle of August before he and Toni returned. “Then ask Pamela or Cora Lee.”
Roman gave her a dubious look. “I can’t imagine either of them being able to manage you.”
Dammit, she’d had enough of this humiliation. “No one can manage me! I don’t need a damned sponsor.”
Roman ignored her and turned to Phil. “Thank you for volunteering.”
“I’m not accepting him!” Vanda yelled.
Phil gave her a challenging look. “Do you prefer one of the other volunteers?”
She scowled at him. “I’ll make you miserable.”
He arched a brow. “What else is new?”
She blinked. She’d made him miserable? How? She’d always been nice to him. She noted the amused looks among the crowd. Dammit. They were enjoying this.
Roman cleared his throat. “Phil, do you understand the responsibilities that come with sponsorship?”
“Yes,” he replied. “I can do it.”
“Very well.” Roman gave him a grateful smile. “The job is yours. Thank you. Laszlo, make a note of it.”
“Yes, sir.” Laszlo scratched away on his parchment.
“Wait a minute!” Vanda marched toward Phil. “You can’t do this. I never agreed to it.”
“Come.” He jerked his head toward the door, then strode down the aisle and out of the room.
Vanda’s mouth fell open. What the hell was he doing, giving her orders? Though she had to admit his backside looked really good. She glanced around and noticed the other Vamps watching her curiously. Well, maybe Phil was right, and they shouldn’t discuss this fiasco in front of an audience.
She stalked out the door and spotted him across the hall, leaning against the wall with his arms folded. He’d always had rather big biceps for a mortal. “Look. This is a mistake. You’re a mortal. You can’t handle a Vamp.”
“I made you leave the room, didn’t I?”
Her anger flared. “Only because I didn’t want to embarrass you in front of everyone while I kick your ass!”
His mouth tilted up. “Try it.”
She stepped closer to him. “I’ve eaten mortals like you for breakfast.”
His smile grew. “Lucky bastards.”
She stepped back, huffing with exasperation. “Phil, this is crazy! You can’t just...force yourself on me.”
Something hot flared in his eyes. His gaze wandered down to her feet, then back to her face. “Sweetheart, no force will be necessary.”
She swallowed hard. Did he think he could seduce her? Sure, she’d flirted with him in the past, but that had been nothing more than a little harmless fun. She couldn’t actually get close to Phil. She couldn’t open her coffin of horrors to him. Hell, she didn’t open that door even for herself.
She took another step back. “No.”
A flicker of sympathy registered in his eyes before they hardened to an icy blue. “We all have an inner beast, Vanda. It’s time for you to face yours.”
“Never,” she whispered, and teleported away.