WICKED GAME by Jeri Smith-Ready
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Recovering con artist Ciara Griffin takes a marketing internship at a local radio station, where the DJs turn out to be vampires, stuck forever in the eras in which they were turned. To boost ratings and save the station from corporate takeover, Ciara re-brands the stations.
“WVMP, the Lifeblood of Rock ’n’ Roll”--hiding the DJs’ vampire nature in plain sight and disguising the bloody truth as a marketing gimmick. WVMP becomes the hottest thing around--next to Ciara’s complicated affair with grunge vamp Shane McAllister. But the “gimmick” enrages a posse of ancient and powerful vampires who aren’t so eager to be brought into the light.
"WICKED GAME was consistently surprising and original...I highly recommend it."--Book of the Week pick, NY Times-bestselling author Charlaine Harris
Please read the following excerpt and answer the question at the end for a chance to win a free copy of WICKED GAME! Or, pop in and chat!!
Excerpt from WICKED GAME:
David touches my elbow to urge me forward a few steps. “I’m hoping Ciara will be our new intern.”
The hostility fades from the faces of the four awake DJs, replaced with a patronizing politeness. I attempt a smile, encouraged by the slight thaw.
“Spencer does our fifties show,” David says. “Birth of rock ‘n’ roll and all that.”
A man in a white dress shirt and black pants stands to greet me, unfurling endless legs from under the table. His dark red hair is slicked back into a ducktail. He squeezes the hand I offer.
“Hey, baby, what’s shakin’?” Spencer’s southern drawl and impeccable clothes give him a gentlemanly façade, which doesn’t quite gel with the feral look in his eyes.
“Not much, Daddy-o.” It just comes out. Rather than take offense, Spencer smiles and nods approvingly.
The next guy springs out of his chair, and I force myself not to retreat from his approach.
“This is Jim,” David says.
“Man, I really dug your portfolio.” Jim hugs me. His long brown curls and tie-dyed shirt reek of marijuana and patchouli. “I used to go to art school, too.”
“Thanks, but I’m not an artist.” Is he sniffing me?
Jim pulls back and regards me at arm’s length. “Then how’d you get all those layouts to look so groovy?”
“For my class projects? I used the computer, of course.”
His eyes crinkle with confusion. “The...?”
David clears his throat loudly enough for my bullshit alert system to creep into Code Yellow. What the hell’s going on?
Comprehension crosses Jim’s face, and he snaps his fingers. “Right. Back in my day, we had to do it all by hand.”
I squint at him. He looks just a few years older than I am. They all do.
“Back in your day?”
The third man scrapes his chair against the floor as he rises. I turn to him, relieved to slide out of Jim’s personal space, which seems to lack boundaries.
“I am Noah.” The man’s voice rolls over me like a warm Jamaican breeze. “It is a pleasure to meet you, sweet lady.” He reaches across the table, takes my hand, and draws it to his full lips. My eyes go all moony and unprofessional under his gaze, which is softened by a pair of dark-rimmed glasses lying low on the bridge of his nose. Noah’s green, gold, and red knit cap perches atop a fetching set of chest-length dreadlocks. I’m relieved the seventies are represented by reggae instead of disco.
“Oh, please. Get the fuck off her, you wanker.” Despite the Briticism, the punk/Goth woman—Regina, I presume—has a flat Midwestern accent. Beneath a shower of spiky black hair, her face is a study in monochrome, with black eyeliner and lipstick setting off her skin’s porcelain perfection.
Regina gives me a chin tilt and a “yo,” before turning to Shane. “You can pretend to wake up now.”
He slides his flannel-shirted arm from his face, then turns his head. I take my first full breath of the evening. His warm eyes and crooked smile make me feel like I’m really here and not just a stain someone left on the rug.
“Hey.” Shane drags his battered Doc Martens off the couch and stands up slowly. Even with the grunge-cool slouch, he’s taller than the others. As he approaches, he flicks his head to sweep a tangle of nape-length, pale brown hair out of his eyes.
When our hands touch, he starts as if I’ve shocked him. He pronounces my name perfectly, and so softly I wonder if someone else in the room is still sleeping. Then his gaze cools, and he half-turns away, hands in his pockets.
Aw, he’s shy. How lovable, huggable, stuff-in-a-bag-and-take-home-able.
Question: Jeri needs another Bullshit Alert System for her next novel. What kinds of codes would you suggest? (As many or as few as you like!)