Steel City Vampires
Steel City Vampires: Welcome Home
By L. Shannon & Moira Reid
Genre: paranormal romance
Released: June 22, 2008
Cover Artist: L. Shannon
Also available at
Kalib Fontana had searched two hundred years for a peaceful
home far away from his cursed past. As his realtor, Shasta
Hemingway, welcomed him to the Fox Chapel estate resplendent
with the lingering scent of dinner and her perfume, he allowed
himself to imagine for one wonderful moment he'd found both.
The moment shattered when David found him--David, the one
curse that refused to be forgotten. As always, his dangerous
past wanted him, and worse, this time it wanted vengeance.
"L. Shannon and Moira Reid introduce readers to the STEEL CITY VAMPIRES with this fascinating story which couldn’t have been titled more appropriately – WELCOME HOME. Kalib may be a vampire but there’s an innate gentleness that makes him absolutely loveable. Shasta’s a spunky character and I loved that she refuses to accept anything at face value. There’s a definite attraction between Kalib and Shasta which is evident from the very first page but even before David’s appearance threatens to destroy everything before they’ve even truly explored their feelings. I got a huge kick out of Shasta’s feisty dressing down of her uncle and Kalib and couldn’t wait to find out how the rest of the story would play out."
--Christine, 5 Blue Ribbons, Romance Junkies
The house was beautiful and the view in all directions was exactly what he’d been looking for, including a cityscape to the one side of the hillside home and spacious land to the other. Fox Chapel was everything the lovely realtor had promised.
“Welcome home, Mr. Fontana.” The tall slender beauty stood in his newly bought doorway and for just a moment the illusion was complete.
A house is only a cage with an open door if there is no love within. His mother’s favorite saying. For just a heart beat, this house felt like home. After two hundred years of searching, could he finally find peace here?
“Mr. Fontana?” The girl glided down the steps toward him.
“Please, call me Kalib.” He closed the car door with a quiet click and met her halfway. “The house is lovely.” But it was nothing compared to her. With gorgeous dark green eyes and creamy mocha skin, her mixed heritage had created a jewel. Her long black hair was French braided to the base of her head and then it tumbled out in a wave of tight curls.
“Kalib, then. I hope you didn’t have any trouble finding the place.”
“Your directions were perfect.” He’d been to enough new cities that her specific instructions had proven more than adequate. “I apologize again for my late arrival. Truly, you couldn’t be expected to wait until,” he glanced at his watch, “until almost ten.”
“A welcome is what makes a house a home. I couldn’t very well let you arrive without one.” She reached his side and held out her hand to shake his.
Instead he captured the hand and lifted it to his lips, pleased when her heart raced in response to the old world gallantry. “Your extra effort is appreciated, Miss Hemingway.”
“Shasta, please. I won’t keep you, but will see you to the door.” She tucked one arm through his and led the way. Her smooth stride matched his, letting them brush together in the way of lovers.
When the door opened, he was in awe. Not only had she waited to welcome him, she’d also created a special welcome inside. The house was lit with a warm glow, brighter in the dinning room to the right of the foyer. Through there waited a meal laid out with candle light and the very picture of elegance.
Her fingers tightened over his forearm. “I hope this is all right, Mr. Fontana. I didn’t mean to overstep myself.”
“Thank you, Shasta. You did a beautiful thing.” He slid his palm over her hand. “There is only one problem.”
“What’s wrong? Say the word and I’ll make it right.”
“Will you stay and enjoy this wonderful meal with me?” When her gaze jumped away, he forged on. “I can’t bear the thought of sitting here alone on my first night.”
Shasta couldn't imagine the young man had spent too many nights alone. He couldn't be over thirty-five, although something in his eyes suggested someone much older. Had something terrible driven him out here to this mountaintop to hide those eyes from seeing more of a naked, horrible world?
As usual, she was letting her imagination run away with her. She should have listened to her professors in college instead of her mother and become a novelist instead of a real estate agent. They'd all had unfailing belief in her ability to become a celebrated writer. Instead, she'd taken the safe road, the steady income road--she'd taken the test and become a real estate agent.
The most successful real estate agent in Pittsburgh, she reminded herself. Eh, she never had time to write a book anyway. She had to steal time to read them, although her shelves were full of literature she'd accumulated over the years. After many attempts to do so, she found out that writing a novel wasn't only coming up with good ideas, but translating them to paper in a compelling way. Somehow, no idea she'd ever come up with had ever quite done that.
Just as well.
Part of her success in real estate lay in her ability to read people, even if sometimes her imagination did get the better of her. She could plainly see that this man wasn't just looking for a date on a Saturday night. Curiosity beckoned her to accept the invitation although caution also reared its ugly, killjoy head. He was a client, and although she knew plenty about his financial statements and credit score, she knew nothing about him personally.
Really, Shasta. Get a grip. It's dinner, and you had it prepared. What's he going to do, poison you?
"Earth calling Miss Shasta Hemingway? Are you still with me?"
"I'm sorry," she said. "Sometimes I go off in my own little world. Please forgive me. If you're sure about dinner, I'd love to join you. But, don't feel obligated. I really don't want to intrude, Mr. Fontana."
"Please intrude, and I thought we’d gone past mister and misses."
"Okay, then Kalib." She patted his hand.
"Would you like me to open the wine?"
"That's the housewarming gift from the realty company; you don't have to use your housewarming gift on me. Save that for a special occasion." She walked back into the house and he followed her, leaving the front door open. A cool breeze blew through the room fluttering the candlelight and scenting the air with the sweetness of fall leaves.
"Who better to celebrate a housewarming gift than with the real estate agent who made it possible? Have a seat in the den, and I'll bring some glasses."
Shasta walked through the living room into the room he'd called the "den." It was his house, and he could certainly do whatever he liked with it, but she could imagine this room only as a library. Floor to ceiling shelves lined two walls, shiny dark oak just begging to be populated by best sellers, classics, dictionaries... The possibilities were endless.
Kalib smiled to himself. It’d been a while since he’d met a woman who had so much happening beneath the surface. Each time Shasta’s gaze went all soft made him wonder what the girl was thinking. Of course, he could have read her mind, but that was just rude. Besides, he liked the idea of discovering the mystery behind those big, beautiful eyes.
“The pictures of the house don’t do it justice. There’s an older elegance to the place that I hadn’t expected.”
“I’m just glad you liked it. Pennington Estates has been looking for a new family for a while. I thought of it first but thought the price might scare you off like so many others.”
“I don’t scare easily.”
“Good to know.” She settled onto the leather chair across from him. “The purchase was rather sudden. What brought you to Pittsburgh…if you don’t mind me asking?”
“I don’t mind.” But then he wouldn’t be telling her the whole ugly truth either. “I recently ended a long relationship and needed a fresh start.” That was true enough. Only his relationship had been with his vampire fledgling, David. After nearly two hundred years together they’d finally parted and not on good terms. Sadness and happiness combined and would have ruined his first night home with the cruelty of their memories if she hadn't agreed to remain.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to pry.” Her eyes filled with sympathy.
“No, please. I'm beginning to go into my own little world, like you.” He sipped at his wine. Inviting her to stay might have been an unexplainable impulse, but not a regrettable one. His only regret so far was her choice to sit across from him instead of at his side.
What was it about the girl that drew him? It could be appearance. She was lovely and elegant. Not to mention sexy in her stylish pants suit. Perhaps she dressed in the ideal of professionalism, but every line and angle awoke a quiet ache within him.
“Here I offered to share your meal and all I’m doing is keeping you from it.” She stood suddenly. “I really should be going. I didn’t mean to bring up any painful memories.”
He wanted to argue, to convince her to stay longer, maybe even use more than just charm to keep her with him. He couldn’t. He wouldn’t, no matter how badly he wanted to. He caught her hand as she fled. “Please, Shasta. You didn’t say anything wrong. I appreciate your time and willingness to stay.”
Her lips parted and then closed. She gave a soft nod. “I was happy to be here.”
The doorbell rang.