a Vampire's choice (paperback)
a Vampire's choice (paperback)
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(Deathless Night Series Book 6)
A vampire cursed to be untouchable.
Happy to be back in Seattle, Shea Bennet wants nothing more than to forget about the enigmatic warlock who saved her from a fate worse than death. But his topaz eyes haunt her, and his wicked scent makes her crave something she will never be able to have, something more than his blood — his touch. Though she feels his presence everywhere she goes, she is taken off guard when he suddenly appears to disrupt her hunt. Shea finds the tables have turned, and it is she who is the prey.
A warlock determined to break the curse.
Ever since he released her from his mountain home, Jesse Moss finds he's possessed with the memory of a vampire he feels compelled to protect for reasons he can't explain. Night after night, he lies wrapped in her scent, her whiskey voice invading his dreams, and for the first time in his solitary life, he feels alone in the dark. Restless and worried, he tracks her to her home and offers her a deal, if she will only agree to spend some time with him. A deal he has no intention of keeping.
Shea's cursed past won't let her have him.
His future insists she must.
- Enemies to Lovers
- She Can't Be touched
- He's a Warlock
- Fated Mates
- There will be tears
A vampire cursed to be untouchable.
Happy to be back in Seattle, Shea Bennet wants nothing more than to forget about the enigmatic warlock who saved her from a fate worse than death.
But his topaz eyes haunt her, and his wicked scent makes her crave something she will never be able to have, something more than his blood — his touch.
Though she feels his presence everywhere she goes, she is taken off guard when he suddenly appears to disrupt her hunt. Shea finds the tables have turned, and it is she who is the prey.
A warlock determined to break the curse.
Ever since he released her from his mountain home, Jesse Moss finds he's possessed with the memory of a vampire he feels compelled to protect for reasons he can't explain.
Night after night, he lies wrapped in her scent, her whiskey voice invading his dreams, and for the first time in his solitary life, he feels alone in the dark. Restless and worried, he tracks her to her home and offers her a deal, if she will only agree to spend some time with him. A deal he has no intention of keeping.
Chapter 1 - Sample
Chapter 1 - Sample
London, England - 1826
“What are you doing, sister?”
The woman froze, one hand stretched too close to the fire. After a slight pause, she pulled her arm in and straightened. Turning only her head, a string of golden ringlets fell over a bare shoulder to cascade down a thin back. Green eyes, much like Shea’s own, narrowed in on her face. “What do you want, Shea?”
Remembering her place, Shea dropped into a quick curtsy, her brow furrowed with confusion. “I am only concerned that you were about to hurt yourself.” Her older sister had been holding her hand directly over the open flames in the fireplace, with no concern for the pain or what she was doing to her skin. Even now, Shea could smell the nauseating stench of burning flesh and could see the burned edges of her sister’s sleeve. If she hadn’t spoken, her gown would have caught fire.
“Why would I do that, Shea? I am about to marry the man of my dreams and live in this beautiful home.” She swung her arm in a wide circle, taking in the entire sitting room and the rich furnishings that filled it. “You should be grateful that I took you out of that hovel of a home father raised us in and brought you with me, not sneaking around spying on me.”Shea let her arms fall to her sides and she straightened her back in indignation. She took a step forward before again remembering their agreement and retreating to a proper distance. “I am very grateful, Elise, you know that. However, that doesn’t mean that I’m going to allow you to set yourself on fire.” Anxiety and concern swiftly spun into annoyance. “And I wasn’t spying for the gods’ sake, I was only passing by the doorway on my way to fetch the tea and biscuits, and saw what you were doing.”
“Watch what you say!” Elise’s haughty demeanor was completely unlike her, even if she were about to become a great lady. “Do not speak of your gods here, or we will both be burned alive.”
A thread of unease wound its way around Shea’s heart. This wasn’t the first time in the last few days her sister had spoken as if they didn’t have the same upbringing, and the same history, despite their current positions in society. “My gods? Are they not your gods anymore?”
Elise turned away with a swish of her full skirts, stretching her hands back out to the fire, with no reaction of pain to the red, scalded skin on her left palm. “Of course they are. We just shouldn’t speak of them. There’s a reason our bloodline has been ‘lost’ in the family records.”
Her tone was dismissive, yet Shea hovered, afraid to leave her sister. The door opened, and she was relieved to see Matthew, Elise’s fiancé, enter the room. He gave Shea a polite smile when she curtsied to him, before moving past her to take his place at her sister’s side. “There you are.” Raising her hand to his lips, he placed a chaste kiss on the back. With a frown, he turned it over and gasped. “Elise! What have you done to your hand?”
Elise smiled politely up at him. “I was only trying to chase away the chill, and I got a little too close to the flame. I can’t seem to get warm enough today.”
“Mrs. Richards will know what to use to ease the pain for you.” He turned to Shea. “Please go fetch the cook.”
But Elise shook her head. “Do not interrupt her in her daily duties. She’s very busy getting everything ready for the wedding. And besides, I’m fine. Truly.”
He smiled down at her, an adoring expression on his face. “Yes. The wedding.” Matthew immediately turned back to Shea. “Would you please fetch us some tea?”
Shea dropped into a curtsy. “Right away, sir.” Still in the submissive pose, she asked, “Is there anything else you require, my lady?”
“No, Shea. That will be all. Thank you.”
Leaving her in the capable hands of her future husband, Shea murmured the correct response and left them to their wedding talk. Her fingers twisted together in her apron as she rushed to the kitchen to get the tea and cakes.
Elise was acting strangely. So strangely, in fact, that Shea was becoming convinced that woman was not her sister at all.
Then who is she, if not my sisterShea didn’t know, but that was not the person she had grown up with. Not the person whose friendship she valued more than anything else in the entire world. The thing in that room, though it resembled her sister in appearance, made Shea’s skin crawl and the blood freeze in her veins.
There. She’d finally admitted it. If only to herself.
The closeness she and her sister shared was the reason Shea was here with Elise, in her new home, with her future family.
Her sister had met Matthew by chance at the market, and sparks had flown at first glance. He’d asked to call on her, and though she’d tried to refuse him, telling Shea he was too much the dandy for her, he hadn’t given up until she’d agreed. The fact that she came from a lower social status, and was actually barely above living on the streets, made no difference to him. Matthew was the fourth son in a long line of sons up for the title of earl, and therefore, was given free reign to live his life as he wished for the most part, especially when he really wanted something. And he had really wanted Elise.
Within a month, he had proposed the union of marriage, and her sister had accepted, on the condition that Shea could come with her. Matthew had agreed, and had even been gracious enough to hire her into his household as her sister’s lady’s maid. She would make her own money, and would be included in everything they did.
Well, maybe not everything. Shea blushed at the thought. But when they traveled, Shea would go also. And when they had children, Shea would take over as nanny.
And if, by some chance, Shea met someone, Matthew had offered to give her a small dowry to take to her new husband. It was a perfect situation for both of them. Their father could barely support himself and her mother, never mind his two daughters. But he had done his best by them, and besides, material comforts were not important. What was important was that they stay warm and fed—and alive.
For Shea and her sister came from a very special bloodline. A secret bloodline. One that was only known by certain members of the holy community, and one that needed to survive for the good of the world.
Or so she’d been told since she was three.
Shea retrieved the tea tray and took it back to the sitting room. As she approached the closed door, she heard Matthew’s voice, raised to a high pitch.
“What do you mean, Elise? Are you changing your mind?”
“Matthew, please don’t shout.”
“Don’t shout? Don’t shout? My bride-to-be is telling me she has changed her mind the day before our wedding, and you’re telling me not to shout?”
Shea stopped outside the door and set the tray down quietly on the stand. Leaning in closer, she pressed her ear to the wooden door.
There was a rustle of clothing, and then her sister’s voice. “You’re being dramatic. I’m not cancelling our nuptials, I only want a little more time—”
“Time for what, Elise? What exactly do you need time for?”
“You wouldn’t understand.”
“You’re correct. I don’t understand. I don’t understand any of this. Not at all.” A pause. “I thought you loved me.”
“Matthew, please.” There was a grunt. More rustling of clothing. And then her sister’s voice again. Only it wasn’t her sister’s voice. Not at all.
“Get off me.” Followed by the sharp sound of skin striking skin, and then absolute silence.
Shea straightened up, her heart pounding as she heard footsteps coming toward the door. Leaving the tea tray on the stand where she had set it, she picked up her skirts and hurried away.
She rounded the corner to the dining area just as the door to the sitting room was flung open. Peeking around the doorjamb, she watched as her sister—or something that looked like her sister—marched in the opposite direction and headed upstairs to her rooms.
A few seconds later, Matthew stumbled out into the hallway. Their eyes met, the bewilderment in his matching her own feelings, and for a moment, Shea thought he was going to come talk to her. But he walked past, striding down the hall and out the front door.
Shea ran outside after him. “Matthew! Please wait!” She realized belatedly that she had called him by his first name, but it wasn’t important. Not right now.
He stopped and turned to her, waiting for her to catch up.
She dropped into a curtsy. “If I may speak to you a moment?”
“Of course you may, Shea. Please stand up, and tell me; what the bloody hell is going on with your sister?”
Clasping her hands in front of her, Shea glanced up at her future brother-in-law. “I apologize for listening. I brought the tea and heard raised voices—”
He waved a hand in dismissal. “It’s fine, Shea.”
She closed her eyes, praying he wouldn’t think she was crazy. She supposed there was no way to say it other than to just come right out with it. “I have reason to believe that woman is not my sister.”
Opening her eyes, she lifted her chin. “That isn’t my sister, Matthew. That isn’t the woman you proposed to.”
Thick dark eyebrows rose nearly to his hairline. “Then who, pray tell, is it?”
She could tell he was frustrated, but also that he wasn’t taking her seriously. “I don’t know. I don’t know who it is. I only know it’s not Elise. But please don’t kick us out just yet. I promise I will get to the bottom of this.”
His handsome features softened. “I’m not going to kick you out, Shea. I just want to know what’s wrong with my bride-to-be.”
He didn’t understand what she was trying to say. He thought her sister was having her woman’s flow or something. The fight drained out of her as she realized it was very likely that he would call the men with the white coats to take her away in their carriage if she kept on. With a polite smile, she promised him she would talk to her.Matthew gave her a grateful nod, and continued to the stables. A few minutes later, she saw him astride his new black stallion. He gave her a wave as he kicked the horse into a trot, and then a gallop, as they headed off toward the meadow on the other side of the fence.
Once he was gone, Shea hurried to the stables and requested a carriage. She needed to talk to her father. He would know what to do. If she didn’t tarry and got straight to the point, she would be back in time to help Elise get ready for dinner.
Funny how fate can wreck even the most meticulous of planning.