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Dindi is kidnapped to be the bride of a shark... To escape she must untangle a terrible curse caused by a love and magic gone wrong.
This stand-alone novella is set in Faearth, the world of The Unfinished Song. Available here ONLY.
The Unfinished Song - This Young Adult Epic Fantasy series has sold over 70,000 copies and has 1,072 Five Star Ratings on Goodreads.
Okay, time to tell you about one of my favorite books of all time. The Darkangel by Meredith Ann Peirce. This story is about a girl named Aeriel. She is the servant of a beautiful, rich maiden, Euduin, who is to be married. But just before the ceremony, Eoduin is kidnapped by the frightful darkangel, with fiercely beating black wings and pale dead skin. Aeriel’s masters blame her for their daughter’s loss, and everyone gives up all hope of ever saving poor Eoduin. Even Aeriel knows there is no chance her friend is still alive, for the icari, the vampyres can drink a maiden’s blood and soul before she has a chance to scream. So, instead, she vows to avenge her friend and kill the terrible vampyre so that no other maidens are taken and no other lives destroyed.
But when she meets the vampyre again, she is stunned by his beauty—his twelve midnight wings are resplendent and his face the fairest she has ever seen. She falls unconscious and is taken to the darkangel’s castle to be a servant to his wives. For thirteen years, the darkangel has kidnapped beautiful women and wed them, stealing their souls and drinking their blood on their wedding night. These hideous wraiths wail and scream so for the loss of their souls and beauty, that they must be attended so they stay quiet. Aeriel finds the newest wife is her own Eoduin.
Aeriel is forced to care for the wives of the darkangel, and feed his terrible gargoyles, and tell the darkangel stories whenever he grows bored. She learns to love the pitiful women who had so much stolen from them, and to pity the frightful gargoyels who she knows will rip her to pieces if she ever tries to escape, but who are so mistreated and frightened, she cannot help but see them as prisoners the same as herself. She even finds that she can pity the darkangel, for he is not yet a true vampyre, not ugly and twisted and thirsting for souls and blood. The wraiths tell her that he is collecting souls for his dreaded mother, the lorelei, who drank his blood years ago and made him what he is now. She will eat the souls he brings her, and then eat his own—turning him into a true vampyre, empty and forever hunting souls to fill that emptiness, just as his six older brother do across the world in far off lands. The wraiths tell Aeriel she must kill the darkangel before he collects his fourteenth bride and steals her soul, but Aeriel has begun to love him, for she finds him to be as pitiful as all the other tragic residents of the castle. Trapped and twisted by his mother, as surely as the wives were by him.
Can Aeriel bring herself to kill the darkangel before he ruins any more lives? Or will she find a way to save him?
The Darkangel is the first book in a trilogy of Aeriel’s adventures across the land of Avaric, where the plains are pale dust, the mountains low, and the blue-white moon Oceanus hangs always in the sky while the Solstar rises and sets a fortnight apart. I dearly love this book, I cannot do it much justice trying to explain how beautiful the settings are, how rich stories, nor how emotional I get when Aeriel speaks to the darkangel or weaves garments for the wraith wives. The following books, A Gathering of Gargoyels and The Pearl of the Soul of the World, are no less entrancing and together they are one of the best fantasy stories I have ever read. If you haven’t yet, I absolutely recommend you check them out—you won’t be disappointed!
One of my favorite fantasy creatures as a teenager was vampires—they were cool, had nice clothes, did whatever they wanted, and stayed up as late as they wanted. Okay, so they could only really stay up at night—I was young and silly, and easily pleased, staying up at night was one of the best super powers a character could have in my opinion. In any case, this love of vampires meant I collected a lot of books about vampires. Anne Rice, Bram Stoker, Laurell K. Hamilton, Hideyuki Kikuchi… there wasn’t actually a lot, was there? At least compared to now, where vampires are all over the place. Man, was I born in the wrong decade.
Anyway! One particular vampire book really caught me for a few years, because it was so different from all the other vampire books of the time. If you know any of the above authors, you’ll know their stories are all about adults and vampires. There just wasn’t a lot of teen fiction involving vampires back then—except for one. Silver Kiss by A. C. Klause. Now this book was intense! Not only was it about a teenager and vampire, it was also a romance! And a tragedy… Yeah. Back then, I’m pretty sure adults were trying to convince all the youngsters that vampires were too dangerous for anyone but an adult, because almost every teen-vampire book I found basically replayed the end of Romeo and Juliet. Silver Kiss wasn’t any different, but something about the heartfelt emotion of the characters made the bittersweet ending more bearable.
The book starts out with Zoe, our protagonist. She is a young teen whose mother is dying in the hospital, leaving her father with no time for her since he’s always by his wife’s side. Her best friend doesn’t have any time for her either, because she has no idea how to deal with death and is more concerned about her family moving to another state. Zoe can’t even visit her mother because the doctors say she “exhausts” her mother too much. She’s alone. So, she stops sleeping, forgets to eat most of the time, and wanders around the park at night when the house gets too quiet to bare. It is on these walks in the dark that she encounters Simon.
Simon, as you may have guessed, is a centuries old vampire. He spends his nights eating rats, and stalking another vampire, who both turned him and murdered his mother many years ago. By day, he rests in a large suitcase filled with the dirt of his birthplace, hidden in an abandoned building. Simon finds himself curious about the girl who walks around the park in the middle of the night, and soon discovers she is as alone as he is. The ever closer approach of her own mother’s death becomes another similarity he feels between them.
As they meet more often, Zoe and Simon find a kindred spirit in each other, as well as a willing listener to their pain. They give each other solace and understanding as they learn from each other how to face the loss of death in their lives. For Zoe, she learns how to mourn with Simon, when everyone else leaves her alone. For Simon, he learns to accept the demise of his family, and himself, comforted by the fact that Zoe will not leave him alone. They grow close because of their similar pain, but discover that staying by each others side, they can sooth that pain enough that life is still worth living.
I’m not ashamed to admit that this book made me cry the first time I read it, and maybe I teared up when I read it again to refresh my memory. It’s a dark love story, and the only happy ending is in the characters’ own belief that life is precious, death isn’t the end, and the knowledge that even when people leave you, you aren’t alone. It’s a pretty heavy message for a teen vampire book to give, but it does so beautifully and it certainly reached me. I know there’s tons of vampire books to check out now, but I definitely recommend The Silver Kiss as a must read for any vampire fan!
Start your weekend off with some paranormal romance and download Johnny Doesn’t Drink Champagne.
I’m seventeen and he’s twenty-one.
That’s okay… isn’t it?
He drives a Lamborghini.
He was born in 1462.
He seeks revenge, but there is one person standing in his way.
On a high school trip to London, Madison Lambourne meets seductive stranger Johnny De Vere, who believes he knows her already, and is torn between love and revenge.
Eager to learn more about this beautiful, lonely, young man, Madison agrees to go with him to a re-enactment at the Tower of London. Dressed as a highborn medieval lady in a black velvet gown, she accidentally slips through a doorway that leads to the past. Knowing she will not last long on the streets of medieval London, Johnny must follow her… with devastating consequences for them both.
A wild time-travel adventure full of love, lies, mystery and betrayal.
I run, with my heart thundering and a rushing sound in my ears. I’m hampered by my gown, which is bundled up over one arm. My bare legs are visible for all to see but I no longer care. I try to head back the way we came, but the maze of narrow streets confuses me and it is so gloomy and dark. There don’t seem to be any streetlights around here so I head for a dim light at the end of one of the alleyways, hoping to find my way back onto a main street.
About halfway down the alley I am whirled around, shoved roughly into a wall. I feel the texture of crumbling plaster – or is it dried mud – under my fingertips, and a lattice work of sticks underneath. I scrabble against it, but I can’t get free. Something thick and warm and hairy – a man’s arm, I guess – is around my neck, suffocating me. I scream, but he silences my scream with a huge hand over my mouth. Something glints in the darkness, and I feel a pinprick of pain on my neck.
A knife. He has a knife.
I tremble. The blade of the knife is against my neck. The point touches my flesh and if I make the slightest movement he will cut my throat. I’m weak with terror, and my knees threaten to give way and shorten my journey to my inevitable, violent death.
“Unhand her, ruffian, or you’ll swing for this!”
Johnny’s voice in the darkness. I dare not call out to him though. The pressure of the blade is still there at my throat. It does not waver. In fact, my attacker, who I cannot see but I can smell, is laughing.
“Find your own sweetmeat, lad!”
Johnny inches nearer to me. Even in the darkness I can feel it. “Leave her be, or your life ends tonight!”
The older man snorts in disgust. “You’re no match for me.”
This time it is Johnny who laughs. “Indeed I am not. I will vanquish you and tomorrow your body will be on that stinking midden with the horse dung, where it belongs.”
I sense a frisson of fear go through the hefty body of the evil man who holds me. His beard is touching my face and his foul breath nauseates me. Still he refuses to release me.
I see a flash of steel and a dagger is drawn. “I warned you.” Johnny’s voice is low and menacing. A whispered curse in the darkness.
In an instant the men engage in one swift lunge. The knife falls from my neck and clangs onto the cobblestones at my feet. I sense Johnny’s body close to mine, but I can’t see him. I can’t see what’s going on at all. The sound of metal rasping against metal chills me, and then there is a cry of pain.
“Please! Have mercy!”
Johnny’s voice answers him – stern and cold. “Would you have had mercy on the girl, you foul dog?”
The man who attacked me falls to his knees with a heavy thud. I stand, quaking with terror in the dark alleyway, unable to move or speak. Then, an even more chilling sound – my attacker, on his knees, begging for his miserable life.
“Please, sir, please. I didn’t mean her no harm!”
I tremble and try to touch Johnny’s arm. “Let him go!”
A tense moment passes. A black silence. I almost wonder if my plea for mercy came too late. Perhaps the deed is already done and the evil man lies dying at my feet.
But then, Johnny speaks. “Begone! The lady’s heart is warmer than my own. She spares thee.”
In the darkness the man struggles to his feet, panting with fear. He doesn’t stop to look for his knife. He starts running – running away from us down the dark alleyway. As fast as he can go. I listen, hardly daring to breathe, until I can’t hear his footsteps anymore. Johnny takes my hand, and though I want to recoil from his touch – I don’t. He has saved me. He has saved my life.
“Come on!” he says, angrily. “I find the stench of that ruffian’s blood detestable, and we must find a safer place than this. London is full of cut-throats, Maddie.”
Johnny pulls me along by the hand and we head towards the light again. My dress is trailing in the filth, but I no longer care. We come out onto a wider road – but there are still no street lamps. I’m shaking, but it is all becoming clear.
I look up at the face of the man who has just saved my life.
“The moat,” I whisper, my voice shaking with fear. “At the Tower of London. There was water in the moat.”
“I know.” His voice is terse. Cold.
“But the moat was filled in,” I say. “Ages ago.”
“I’m sorry. You were never meant to see… ”
I’m shaking uncontrollably now. “Where the hell are we, Johnny?”
For more from Cody, visit her blog.
Lexia thought she was normal, ordinary…
Lincoln thought he’d spend the rest of his life seeking revenge…
Find out what happens, when the one you love is your enemy…
When Lexia sneaks out one night to go to a party, she hardly expects to be attacked by vampires. Much less be able to kill them with her bare hands.
That night triggers events Lexia can’t escape and soon she struggles to keep up a facade around her friends and family.
And then there’s Lincoln; she finds herself irresistibly drawn to him. But Lexia senses he wants something more dangerous than a simple romance.
Lincoln has secrets and what she learns changes her life forever.
A story of love, loss, and, betrayal.
Lexia and Lincoln’s lives will never be the same again.
*This book contains some harsh language and sex scenes*
All Lexia ever wanted was to graduate from high school and leave Deadwood.
Now she would give anything to have her quiet life back.
Her Father was murdered and her best friend, Alice kidnapped. With the help of Lincoln, the Panther Shifter she has fallen in Love with; they rescue Alice. But rescuing her wasn’t as easy as first thought and Lexia and Lincoln barely make it out alive.
Lexia met her Mother, the Mother she thought had left her as a baby. But Secrets unravel and Lexia learns who she really is.
Her Mother created her and she was created for one purpose only…
Follow Lexia as she runs from her Mother and the fate she set for her.
Can Lexia fight the Darkness within her?
Can she have the ‘happily ever after'” she wants?
Only one thing is certain, sacrifices will be made and lives will be lost.
Today I’m featuring the fifth book in Dale Mayer’s Family Blood Ties series, Vampire in Defiance.
This was it. For Tessa. For Cody. For Jared. Her family. Her Friends.
Moltere’s Mountain is collapsing. With Tessa, her friends and family still inside. Tessa won’t go down without a fight…and she won’t leave the others behind. But as she races to save everyone, time runs out.
Cody glanced around to find Tessa standing behind him. Tessa. I’m fine. Or I will be. Are you okay?
She nodded. My leg is damaged, but I’m alive. That’s what counts.
Pride and joy surged through him as she stood, injured herself but worried about him. She was such a warrior. You are so right. I’m going to be fine. Although I won’t be taking you for a flight around town any time soon.
She laughed, the sound bouncing through his mind and making him smile. Using his hands to push himself up, he slowly straightened. Once back on his feet, he took a deep breath and gazed around at the devastation. Rocks, dirt, and clouds of dust everywhere. Hearing a sound on his left, he turned to watch David, Ian, and Jewel approach.
“About time you woke up. All you’re doing is sleeping on the job.” Ian reached out to hit him, realized his fist was aimed at his injured shoulder, and swerved away at the last moment.
Cody glared at him. “Yeah. Thanks for missing me.”
Jewel kissed him gently on the cheek. “I’m so happy to see you alive and well.”
“Almost well.” Cody straightened and shrugged gently, barely holding back the grimace of pain. “With any luck, I’ll be fine in a few hours.”
“And that brings us to the next item of business. We need food and rest. A place to stay in until you two heal and we can recharge. Doesn’t have to be too long, but we have to make sure it’s enough that we can fight our way out of here,” David said with a pointed look at Cody’s wing.
Cody nodded. “Damn good idea.”
“Tessa can’t move without help,” Serus pointed out. “Goran, can you carry her back to the tunnel opening? We’ll scout ahead and see what we can find.”
Goran nodded. “Give me a minute to move the two of them over.”
Cody snorted. “I can get over there on my own. Go get Tessa.”
With an assessing glance at his son, Goran lifted up and headed toward Tessa.
He grinned at Tessa’s voice in his head as he made his way slowly back to the tunnel. Maybe. But I can walk. You can’t.
True. Her disgruntled tone made him chuckle. He caught their friends looking at him strangely. He dropped his smile and shrugged at them sheepishly. “Sorry. Inside joke.”
“You really can talk to her, can’t you?” Jewel asked?
He nodded. “It’s weird. And fun.”
“Sounds like it,” Jewel said.
Serus stepped up and said, “Talk when we’re back at the tunnel.”
Cody straightened, hating the damage his body had sustained. It had been a tough week. As long as he wasn’t floating ash, he was good with it. But that tunnel appeared to be a long way away.
In a quiet voice, Jewel asked, “Are you okay? Do you want a hand?”
He hid his grin as he gazed down at the tiniest vampire he knew. “I’ll be fine. But thanks.”
David smirked at him. “I could toss you over there.”
“You and whose army?” Cody scoffed. “You can barely drag your sorry ass around without trying to lift mine.”
The gentle wrangling continued as they made their way to the tunnel entrance. The whole way, Cody had tried to talk to Tessa, but she’d closed a door between them. Up ahead he watched his father land and stand almost protectively in front of her.
Was she more badly injured than they’d thought?
His breath wooshed out. You disappeared. I wasn’t sure what happened.
You were worried? Her smile rippled through his mind. No need.
Then why did you leave. It’s like you shut me out.
Why? He asked cautiously. But inside, frustration built. Why would she do that? And how did she do that? He had no idea how to leave her mind at all.
Because the pain was so bad I didn’t want you to hear me screaming.
Oh shit. Are you that badly hurt?
My leg. It might be healing, but it sure doesn’t feel like it.
Yeah, it must suck to be human. He couldn’t imagine a leg taking six weeks to heal. A bad break could take a vampire six hours, but normally a couple of hours would put one back to good health. In Tessa’s case, he had no idea. And you didn’t need to hide your feelings from me. I wouldn’t have thought less of you if I heard you scream, you know.
She smiled again, so faint it was like a whisper, something he felt more than saw. How weird was that?
I hated hearing your pain.
Oh shit. Yeah, that changed things. He thought she’d been worried about what he’d hear, and instead she’d been protecting him from being upset at her suffering. Somehow, he felt like he’d failed a test.
No! No tests here.
Maybe, but I didn’t understand, and I feel like I should have.
She laughed. We haven’t had time enough to know how the other one thinks or reacts for that.
I know. But you’re right. I hadn’t considered what hearing you scream would do to me. And you thought of it before I did.
So? It’s not a contest. Quit your complaining and get over here.
But her words were warm and tinged with humor, making him once again aware of how mature she was.
Yeah, life is like that.
No, I mean it. You understand people like no one else. Except… He thought about it. Your mother, maybe?
Then that’s easy, I learned it from her.
No. I think you learned because of the challenges you’re faced. You might have gotten your big heart from her, but you use it differently. Look at Jewel and how you handled her. Look at Xana and how sorry you were that I’d been forced to kill her. She needed killing, but you were worried about the effect of doing so on me. See, that’s all you. It comes from your heart.
Silence. He was almost close enough to see her face now. Her face was lowered. He wasn’t sure, but it looked like she was hiding it.
Are you okay? He asked in alarm.
She lifted her face and he could see the shy smile and bright pink cheeks.
He’d embarrassed her. I tell you the truth and you get shy and hide away. He shook his head in bemusement. You’re going to have to get used to it. I’m not going to hold back when I see something fantastic. Honestly, you’re something very different for me, and I’m learning a lot about myself through you.
He could feel a hesitation in his mind. He rushed to add, Different in a good way. You’re warmer, more caring than other females I’ve known. You’re almost… and he held the words back.
But she said them herself. Almost human?
Twenty-year-old Julia Wade, a young woman tragically widowed, is in the middle of a bizarre bid between two mythical species who are vying for the unique properties she offers; her blood. The vampires need her to balance the food load of the human species and give them their coveted “Lightwalkers.” The Were wish to be moonless changers; a Rare One can make that a reality.
Julia wants to belong to herself.
Can she free herself and begin a new life?
The vampire moved as a unit, talons extended, fangs sprung free of their houses of flesh.
They came to where the delectable smell of fresh blood was released. A quality without compare. It was as if a thousand year old bottle of wine lay breathing.
On a cold stone floor mere paces away from consumption.
William leaped in front of the Julia just as the first vampire would have been upon her.
Julia looked up and saw a monster, fangs the size of her pinky fingers, dripping a clear fluid tinged with red, talons as long as her forearms standing at deadly attention.
And then like small swords they began to slice whoever drew near.
Their motion in a blur of darkness, too fast for her to follow, Julia became aware of moisture falling on her bare skin like rain.
She opened her eyes and a head fell beside her shoulder with a meaty thump. The dead eyes, once gray, turned into a collapsing wall of flesh and bone. As she looked on in horror, it began to disintegrate into a mass of ash.
It was the eyes she’d never forget.
Or the creature William had become, fighting the vampires that would have killed her.
They came, one after another, as blood drenched her gown and she lay helplessly at his feet.
William slashed and stabbed as injuries were rained down on him and then five overcame him. Julia whimpered, having never envisioned herself dying this way.
At that moment, Julia realized she wanted to live.
Had always wanted to live.
Her eyes met Williams, pleading.
She knew she didn’t deserve his help.
But she was sorry. In that moment she didn’t want this life, this existence.
Nevertheless, he was dying to defend her.
William was overcome. He had dispatched fifteen, losing all hope of the guards helping him through the crowd of rabid vampire overrun with blood lust.
The higher functioning of their cerebral cortex was gone.
When the five overcame him, he saw Julia torn from beneath his feet by two fanged brethren, one held her as the other prepared to strike, losing his grip twice, her body slick with the blood of the massacred.
She was weak as a kitten, any fool could see, her wound not closing up. The blood clotting properties of the vampire saliva was not working.
Of course, Edna would have not used hers willingly. Julia was bleeding out.
William struggled against the vampire, beyond reason and rationale when he heard her soft whimper like a plea.
Her eyes met his again, the blood bond reverberating in his body, pressing him to take action beyond his capabilities.
William did, smashing two of the vampires’ heads together hard enough for their brains to splatter against the inside of their skulls and leak out their ears. He threw himself on his feet and launched to Julia’s side in a fluid gymnastic movement, his fist punching out as he did.
The vampire who had fangs a millimeter away from her throat, lost them from the impact of William’s fist even as his talons swung to take the head of the one that restrained her.
Julia saw William come. A shaky exhale escaped as she lay in the arms of one vampire while the other prepared to chew her throat out.
The one that held her dumped her head on the floor so hard she saw lights twinkle above her.
And then William was there.
Their heads fell on either side of her body and heat suffused her. Julia knew she would pass out and had but moments to express herself.
William crouched above her protectively and she raised her arm, weakly. She clutched onto his clothing.
He glanced at her then away, prepared for the next onslaught.
She tugged again.
“Julia, lay still. You have lost much blood.”
“Thank you,” she whispered on her final breath. Her vision dimmed to a pinpoint.
The last coherent image was William.
A face she didn’t hate anymore.
His mouth moved but she couldn’t hear him, an enveloping softness encased her as she floated away.
Like dandelion seed on the wind.
Julia slept in a pool of her own blood.
And that of others.
Vampires? Check. Werewolves? Check. Death prophecy to hang over your head? Double check. Seventeen year old Emma Hutchinson struggles to find her place in the world she has been born to as she tries to decide whether she should be with Michael, the boy she has been dreaming about since she was three or if she belongs with Dominic, her betrothed.
Download Bella Notte from Amazon, Barnes and Noble or iTunes. Print editions are available on Amazon and CreateSpace. Bella Notte is available in the box set that has the first three books in the series with their accompanying short stories as an Amazon exclusive.
The sky was growing dark crimson over the clearing in the forest behind our house as I drifted across the glen toward the edge of the trees. I walked as if I knew exactly what it was I was looking for, and where I was going to find it as well.
A small crackling noise caused me to stop halfway across the field. I turned to look in the direction the sound came from- that’s when I saw him.
Those dark green eyes and his dark auburn spikes were so familiar after seeing them for the past fourteen years, that it was always a relief to see him.
He walked towards me, and stopped at my side. The dry winter grass beneath our feet was barely audible as we took a step forward, lacing our fingers together.
The sky was no longer crimson, but had transformed into a deep indigo and a slight breeze had picked up. The hairs on my arms rose as the chill in the air assaulted my body. I moved closer to him out of instinct. His body temperature seemed to be so much higher than mine that just being near him kept me warm, strangely from the inside out. The moon had risen. The color was a frightening shade of blood red and the wind strewn clouds blew across the face of the cratered orb. He held suddenly, very still, as the breeze brought scents from across the clearing. With his eyes closed, he breathed in deeply. Those dark emeralds popped back into view and carried the fear that the grimace on his face displayed.
That’s when we heard it- the howl. The sound was terrifying, like a large wolf. Somehow, inside, I knew it wasn’t a wolf, at least not in the conventional sense, and that scared me more than anything. My body froze and my mind blanked with fear. I watched his grimace change to a visible snarl and those beautiful green eyes flash a dangerous shade of ruby. The next thing I knew he was pushing me out of the field and into the cover of the trees.
I wanted to plead to him, but no words would form with my dry tongue sticking to every ridge in my mouth. He grabbed hold of me and whispered “run” very softly into my ear- then he was gone. It took me a minute to get over the shock, but then my feet moved as quickly as possible.
I could not escape the sound of his scream as the forest closed its arms around me.
I knew it was a dream, not any dream but the dream. The dream I’ve had since I was a little girl. Every scene was memorized from beginning to end, and I again knew the sting of the silent tears that cascaded down my hot, flushed cheeks.
Daniella Madison’s existence teeters on a wobbly tightrope, and at any moment the wire could snap. Each time she travels to The Basement, she knows she’s risking her life, but the reward is worth it, to be a slayer in the purest sense. With the help of her partner, Eli, she is on a mission to find her next target, but Daniella’s efforts come to a startling halt, when the darkness of underground finds its way into the sun.
When Alec, the only other day-walker she’s ever met, walks into her high school, Dani feels as though the rope was cut beneath her feet, and she’ll quickly plummet to her death. Alec claims he wants to protect her from the highest order of their kind, but Dani is not so sure and questions his intentions, trying to understand his sudden presence in her human life. Against all logic Dani finds herself inexplicably drawn into his alluring gaze, but she knows he can’t be trusted and struggles to keep her secrets safe. Dani leads a double life that was never meant to intertwine. The real question is, can she trust herself to stay strong as her two worlds collide, spinning her life out of control, and the lives of the people she cares for most, completely out of her hands.
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A few silent minutes later, we pulled into the school parking lot, and Alec hopped out, running around to open Kate’s door. I was so surprised, I sat there stupidly for a minute, and he managed to get my door too, before I could object. I stepped, out eyeing him suspiciously, and wondering what his game was today.
“Thank you, Alec. It’s so nice to finally have a gentleman at our school.” Kate praised him, swooning at his little gesture, and I clenched my jaw, not pleased by how easily he was accepted into our group. At least, Evan was still on my side. She waved goodbye and said she’d see me in AP History, as she ran off to her class on the other side of campus.
“What was that about? If you even think about working your so-called charms on my best friend as some sort of twisted play to get into my head, I swear I will snap your neck when you least expect it,” I threatened, stepping into him, and pushing an accusatory finger into his chest. He tilted his head down until his smoldering eyes locked onto mine, not at all intimidated by my words. He grabbed my hand from his chest and wrapped it behind his neck, picking me up until we were eye-to-eye, in one startling swoop.
“Who says Kate is the one I’m trying to so-call charm?” He asked with a hint of a smile as he spun us in a slow circle, with my feet dangling off the ground. As we turned, his eyes became even more torrid with something. I didn’t get it. I’d swear he was trying to Trance me with a Gifted form of hypnosis that somehow affected vampires, but all I could see were the students who stopped walking into school in order to stare at us before pulling out their phones. I shook my head in annoyance that this little show would soon be on record, and wiggled out of his embrace to land my feet on the ground.
“You work for the 7th Circle, so you should know the rules. And I thought we already talked about this flirty crap yesterday. Do you really think I’m that naïve?” This was getting offensive, as if his phony, flirtatious games could sway my opinion toward wanting him here. I began to walk away, but he caught my wrist, spinning me around to face him.
“Like you said, Dani. This isn’t The Basement; this is high school. So as far as I’m concerned, all the rules have changed. And if I recall, you seemed very inviting toward me yesterday at the dugout,” he mused, and I nodded in sarcastic agreement.
“Yeah, remind me again, was that before or after I kicked your ass?” I said with an inquisitive tilt of my head.
“That’s not exactly how I remember it. I think you’re just lashing out because I wasn’t stupid enough to fall for your anti-vamp blood,” he countered, and I stumbled back a few steps with my mouth hanging open in shock, and Alec kept his hold my wrist matching my steps to keep me from falling.
“Who are you?” I asked through a quiet breath.
“I told you, Dani, the sooner you trust me the better.” He leaned into my ear and his hand holding my wrist glided down until our fingers wove together.
“You don’t have to hide with me,” he whispered and strangely, our hands seemed to reluctantly untangle when he stepped past me and started moving through the parking lot. I stood there frozen, watching him walk into my school, right into my life, and my stomach clenched with uninvited butterflies. How could he know all my secrets?
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Loving Jean-Louis for eternity doesn’t mean that Maxie Gwenoch will let him turn her. Jean-Louis is a vampire, is gorgeous, is the second-in-command of the Kandesky Family of Hungarian vampires, and is her boss at SNAP, the multinational, multimedia celeb gossip empire where she is the VP for International Planning. She moves to Kiev to build a home with Jean-Louis and finds her future under a cloud from Leonid, a rival from the Huszar family, now living in a bolthole in the ruins of Chernobyl. Will Maxie find safety by giving up her days and joining Jean-Louis in the vampire nights?
Had I forgotten Leonid? Oh no, I’d never forget him.
He’d captured me, held me hostage for Jean-Louis, beat and raped me, let his toady Jules rape me. Much of the immediate horror of that time was pushed so far back in my mind that it took an effort of will to bring it out, but the fact that it happened never left me.
And I hadn’t forgotten that Leonid got away after the murder verdict and execution of Matthias, the head of the Huszar family.
“You said he couldn’t be found. You said there were only some tales of people and animals going missing in Romania and Belarus.”
His glimmer dimmed then flared back again, a sure sign he was going to try to convince me of something. “It’s true, we believed he was disappearing back in to the countryside. He had no contacts, no money and only a few followers. We didn’t think he’d try and head for Ukraine, but he did. He still had a small nucleus of followers here in Kiev.”
There was no oxygen in the room. I couldn’t breathe. My heart pounded. I knew Jean-Louis saw that. He may not have hunted and killed humans for food for more than 500 years, but his instincts were still there. I tried to keep myself calm around the Kandeskys, hoping they’d forget I was a regular. Fat chance.
On occasions like this, with blind panic and fear running along my nerves and affecting my circulatory system, the vampire’s internal hunting responses started to kick in.
He looked at me. “This is not something I wanted to tell you and I certainly didn’t want to tell you until we had a chance to decipher the information coming in. I had a very different ‘Welcome to Kiev’ planned.”
OK, I knew he’d explain things. But, wow, I didn’t even think that Leonid would be part of the explanation. He watched my eyes fill with remembered terror and reached over to hold me, but I pushed him away.
“And when were you planning to tell me this?”
He sighed. “Nik and I planned an evening with you. We’d tell you about Leonid then go over all that we knew and all that we’re planning to neutralize him. I, we, never want him coming within miles of you ever again.”
I flashed back to my first glimpse of him, standing on the steps of Nik’s mansion so coldly angry that the air around him looked crystalline. “I hope your anger wasn’t part of the plan.”
He threw his head back and laughed. “You ninny! Even teasing me, you do entertain. No, of course not. Now you’ll have to wait. Nik’s already gone up to his room.”
Rooms! Ah ha, an opening. “Speaking of rooms…”
He looked at me, gazed around the room and looked back. “What’s the matter, you don’t like the accommodations?”
I threw my reader at him and followed it up with a pillow. He was fast, batting the pillow back hard enough to knock a gasp out of me. I found a breath. “No, I wasn’t expecting to be put up in an economy hotel. And where’s the help?”
“We were going to hash all of this over with you until you forced a change of plans. You’re going to have to wait for this, too. I will say that we had other ideas about accommodations, but we’re having to use a fall-back position. And until yesterday, we didn’t have one.”
He was up, pacing, a movement I knew well. His mind worked more creatively and clearly when he was on the move. Then his pacing stopped as he threw himself down on the bed next to me, turned my face to his and kissed me, so hard, so long and so deep I melted from the heat that rose to engulf me.
“My love, my love.” He was murmuring into my hair. “I’m desolate without you. If you’re not around when I expect you to be, I panic. I know I react badly, in what looks like anger, but it’s fear…fear of losing you.”
His hands were stroking my hair and moving down my back, then he started pulling my shirt up.
“What do you have on? Where’s all your lingerie? Didn’t you pack it?”
I all but giggled. There were times when I even slept in one of his old shirts, so that I had his scent with me, but tonight I’d been too upset to want anything of him around. And sexy lingerie to sleep alone! No way.
“No thanks to you, but yes, Elise and I packed some things. Of course I don’t have anyone here to help me…”
I stopped. He was helping me. Sort of. He managed to pull the tee over my head, which trapped my arms, and began kissing and slowly licking my breasts, working his way down my body. The bed shifted and I heard sounds of clothing coming off, the soft snick of buttons and the hiss of a zipper. As tangled as I was in the tee, I hadn’t managed to get an arm free before I felt the length of his naked body against mine.
Now I truly melted and lived for the sensations he brought to me.
As I came back to consciousness, I was aware of movement in the room. I opened my eyes to the faintest glimmer of dawn and saw him silhouetted against the window as he pulled the heavy drapes shut.
He turned to me. “It’s six, true dawn is still half an hour away. I’m leaving now. We’re planning dinner and a long conversation tonight. No matter what, remember that I love you for eternity.”
I slept, my body remembering his touch and my mind drifting in an ocean of caring.
Without Elise to wake me, I jerked upright from a deep sleep, disoriented. Where was I? What time was it? The room was dark. I groped around on the bedside table, found a lamp and flipped it on. Memory came washing back. Last night, the wretched fight, Nik’s guest room, Jean-Louis…ah, Jean-Louis. I lay back on the pillows remembering the last look of him closing the curtains…oh, crap! What time was it? I was supposed to meet Jean-Louis and Nik for dinner and a discussion.
I rolled back over and checked. Four in the afternoon. Enough time to shower and get ready, even without help.
The tap on the door came as I was putting the final pins in a wrapped updo. He came in and I stood. I’d chosen a short, layered dress the colors of autumn leaves and strappy two-inch Via Spigas and felt confident enough to hear what the two had to say.
Jean-Louis looked me over and smiled. “I knew when we offered you the job that we’d chosen well. A woman who can overcome adversity, a few little bumps along the road, and still come up looking good enough to eat!”
This time I picked up a pot of blush to throw but decided I didn’t want to waste perfectly good Lazlo on him. He knew I hated those stupid vampire cracks, made them only to push my buttons. I gave him the evil eye as I sailed out the door.
Something was wrong. Something was missing. I looked around as Jean-Louis joined me and took my arm. Bam, that was it. No demons!
Even after the execution, I had demon guards outside the door to my suite in the Baron’s castle. Though the Huszars may have been scattered or co-opted, their centuries-old headquarters was only a few miles away and Stefan Kandesky and Jean-Louis didn’t believe in taking chances.
Here in Kiev it was pleasant being able to come and go without a trailing demon, as fond of them as I’d become.
Under the freedom of not having a guard, though, there was a twinge of nervousness.
Leonid was alive.
Seventeen year old Nikki and her twin brother, Nathan, move to the small town of Shore Lake to start over after their mother is brutally attacked. When a missing teenager washes up on shore during their first night at the cabin and there are whispers of vampires in Shore Lake, Nikki begins to realize that there are things roaming in the darkness that are far more sinister than what they left behind in the city.
A strange noise jolted me awake, and I looked towards the window, only to find myself alone.
Must have been dreaming…
Sighing with relief, I checked the time and noticed I’d been in the tub for a half hour. The water was too chilly to enjoy anymore so I decided to get out. I toweled myself dry, put my robe on, and unplugged the bathtub. I then padded into the bedroom where I stopped dead in my tracks. Ethan was on my balcony, leaning against the railing watching me. He reminded me of a predator studying its kill before striking.
Time seemed to stand still as the realization of what Ethan really was sunk in. Obviously, he’d made it up to my balcony all by himself, and yesterday, we’d soared through the night faster than what was humanly possible. There could only be one explanation now, and it chilled me to the bone.
We stared at each other for what seemed like forever and then he pointed to the door.
Swallowing hard, I stepped over and unlocked it.
“Aren’t you going to invite me in?” he asked softly.
My heart was hammering in my chest and I bit the side of my lip, trying to decide what to do.
“Well?” he asked, smiling devilishly. “I promise I won’t hurt you, Nikki. In fact, I imagine you’ll enjoy my company immensely.”
I let out a ragged sigh and nodded.
He stared at my mouth. “I’d like to hear you say it.”
“Come in, Ethan.”