Today’s tease comes from the book Heart of Darkness, which is one of my stand alone vampire romance novels, and another of my favourite books. Read on for this Tuesday’s tease… where Aleksandr, the vampire hero, returns to the heroine, Elise, after a dangerous battle against a vampire hunter…
When she moved back a step, Aleksandr was looking up at her, his grey eyes brighter now and full of awareness. She smiled at him, wanting to alleviate the strain in his eyes, and resisted her desire to stroke his cheek.
â€œYou will be well with rest.â€ She looked towards the dark blue pillows. â€œCome.â€
She took hold of his left arm and helped him lie down. His gaze remained on her as she removed his boots and placed them at the foot of his bed. The medical supplies would come soon and she didnâ€™t want Aleksandr conscious when she tended to him. It was better that he slept through it.
Elise swallowed her trembling heart and looked at her wrist.
She had to give Aleksandr the deep healing sleep he needed, and there was only one way of doing it.
It would cross a line though, and would establish something between them that she feared. No one had ever bitten her, so she had never practiced how to block her feelings and memories from those who were taking her blood. She was afraid of what Aleksandr might see. She knew the technique to use to block him and to send him to sleep rather than rousing his lust as sharing her blood with him usually would, but she wasnâ€™t sure whether it would work, and if it did, whether she could hold it long enough.
Elise removed her black coat and uniform jacket, and placed them down on the foot of the bed. She sat beside him, conscious of his gaze on her, and rolled up her white shirtsleeves. She offered her right wrist to him. His eyes widened at it and then he frowned at her.
â€œTake it,â€ she whispered, silently begging him to do it soon before she lost her nerve. Allowing him to bite her was dangerous, especially when he needed blood to heal. Even a small amount would weaken her. If she couldnâ€™t stop him from feeding, he could kill her. It was that thrill of dancing with death that had many addicted to sharing blood, and to the drinker it was the dizzying rush of lust. It had never fascinated her as it did so many others, but with Aleksandr, she could see the strange sort of appeal it had. She wanted to feel his fangs in her, even when this was only about healing him and nothing to do with finding pleasure. â€œYou must feed to heal and I will send you into a deep sleep. I will give you the rest you need.â€
Elise tensed when Aleksandrâ€™s left hand closed over hers and he drew her arm towards him. It was difficult to focus. She took deep breaths, trying to find some calm amongst the storm raging inside her. If she couldnâ€™t focus her mind, she was liable to let him into it and therefore be unable to send him to sleep. His thumb grazed her wrist and she shivered, her eyelids falling to half-mast. Her breath stuttered on her lips and then she opened her eyes again and forced herself to look at Aleksandr, to see the reason she was doing this. It wasnâ€™t about the thrill or the desire his bite would stir in her. It was about healing him and giving him the rest he needed.
He brought her right wrist to his lips, shut his eyes and licked her skin. Another shiver chased through her and her temperature rose, her heart beating quicker with anticipation. His lips closed over her wrist. She gasped when he eased his fangs deep into her and then removed them.
Eyes wide, Elise stared at him, her lips parted and breathing fast. Heat spread up her arm, suffusing every inch of her body in a sharp tingling pleasure that made her want to moan. She reminded herself to focus and keep her mind on the thought of sleep, and to send that message to him through her blood and block all others. It was difficult, nigh on impossible, when he started to drink from her, a soft suckling that sent wave after wave of warmth rippling through her. Warmth that all settled in her abdomen, heating her through and making her ache for Aleksandr.
She wanted more.
She wanted to feel his fangs in her.
She hadnâ€™t wanted his fleeting bite and this soft reverential drinking. She had wanted him to sink his teeth deep into her body and to drink hard, to bring her close to the edge as she knew only he could, to bring her into his arms and into his body, until they were one.
Elise cleared her throat.
If only she could clear the growing haze of lust from her mind as easily. It clouded her thoughts and the tiny part of her that was still cognitive whispered that Aleksandr would feel it and he would see her innermost thoughts about him. Her secret would be out.
She sharpened her focus again and watched Aleksandr drink from her. He looked peaceful and handsome as he lay with his eyes closed, the dark lengths of his hair criss-crossing his forehead. He cradled her wrist softly in his left hand, barely holding it against his mouth. His tongue was gentle against her, slow sweeps that teased the blood from the marks he had made on her flesh. A shiver tripped through her when he sucked. He did it so carefully, so differently to how she had expected. The way he was being so exceptionally gentle with her warmed her heart and drove the lust from her body, replacing it with another feeling, one she feared more.
She felt something for him as he drank from her. A deep desire to make him strong again. A desire to save her prince from whatever darkness lived within his heart. A need to bring him back to her.
Elise let him feel that compulsion in her bloodâ€”the desire for him to sleep and heal, and grow as strong as he had been when they had last seen each other.
He released her wrist and rested his head on the midnight blue pillows. He breathed slow and deep, his lips bloodied and the tips of his canines showing between them. She fixed her senses on him, monitoring his slowing heartbeat and the surface feelings that she could detect. He sighed, brought her wrist to his lips and kissed it, and then lowered it to his chest.
Elise waited, unable to take her hand away not because he held it but because she didnâ€™t want to. She was enjoying the feel of him holding it close to his heart, resting against his bare chest. She could feel his heart beating, steady now, barely a beat per minute, and sensed his feelings slip beyond her grasp. He was sleeping.
She kept still for a heartbeat longer and then carefully removed her hand from his. The wounds on her wrist were barely noticeable, a neat set of puncture marks that had skilfully avoided damaging anything internal. She licked them, tasting him on her skin. He had bitten her. She still couldnâ€™t quite believe what she had done. As the haze lifted from her mind, the sense of fear returned. He could have seen things in her blood. She hadnâ€™t guarded her thoughts well and hadnâ€™t been strong enough to resist the feelings he had stirred in her.
Elise licked her wrist again, clearing his scent away, fearing that the medical team would smell him on her when they came with the blood and bandages.
When her wrist was clean, she reached over to him and swept her thumb across his lower lip, wiping the blood away. He didnâ€™t stir at her touch. He breathed slowly, lost in a deep sleep.
She hesitated a moment, fearing that she might be wrong and he might wake, and then ran her fingers over his brow and down the right side of his face. She pushed them through his hair, combing the dark strands back for him, neatening his appearance and committing the silky feel of it to memory. He was so handsome even in sleep and much less frightening. She didnâ€™t fear him now, knowing that she could look and touch all she wanted without making him believe that he had won their game.
Her heart fluttered in her throat the whole time she explored his face with her fingers and then moved down to his body, her gaze shifting over his beautifully honed torso. There were pinkish scars on the left side of his chest and down his side, long strokes that cut across his pectoral to his shoulder. She traced her fingers over the dark lines. Had the hunter he sought done this to him? It had frightened her when heâ€™d told Ladislav that the hunter had almost killed him several times. How could a human become strong enough to almost kill Aleksandr? Whenever she was near him, she could sense his strength and power. She had never known a vampire like him. None in her bloodline could compare with him.
Her eyebrows furrowed and she ran her fingers lightly across his chest to the new wounds on his right shoulder and arm. Had it been a silver blade? The wounds were red around the edges and not with blood. They were angry and swollen, one of the signs of silver poisoning. She skimmed her fingers down to his ribs. They would heal themselves without her assistance. Their bodies were incredible at repairing wounds, their cells constantly regenerating at a rate almost ten times that of a humanâ€™s. Aleksandrâ€™s arm was testament to that. The bone had been broken but it had already set itself, knitting back together. He must have killed the hunter and taken his blood to give him the strength to begin the healing process. Had it been the hunter he had come here to kill or another one?
Eliseâ€™s gaze skipped down to the mark above Aleksandrâ€™s right hip. She traced the fine dark lines of the crescent moon and shield, adorned with flourishes and tiny beautiful roses. All of them wore a mark of their bloodline in a specific place. Aleksandrâ€™s was that of royalty. A mark fit for one so noble and courageous. He would have received it on maturing, just as she had. It had been a proud moment in her life. Had it been that way for him too? Had he ever thought that his life would turn out this way? Probably not. He had probably expected to live the peaceful life of a prince and to take the throne one day, not spend his waking hours risking his humanity to protect his people from the threat of the vampire hunters.
A knock at the door stole her attention away from him.
Elise stood, rolled her white shirtsleeves down and buttoned them to hide the bite mark. She moved quickly through the bedroom and red reception room to the doors and opened them. An older dark-haired woman in a black medical uniform eyed her and then tried to see past her into the room.
â€œHe is sleeping,â€ Elise said, not wanting the woman to come in and fearing that she would smell her blood on Aleksandr if she did. She held her left hand out to the woman. â€œI can take care of his wounds. I have been trained in such things.â€
The woman looked sceptical and then handed her a black cooler box.
Elise closed the door, hurried back into the large blue bedroom, and placed the box down on the low side table beside Aleksandrâ€™s bed. She opened the lid and her stomach growled at the sight of the steel canister of blood nestled amongst the bandages and other medical supplies. She took it out and put it to one side, behind the box, so she didnâ€™t have to see it. She would have blood later to restore what she had lost, and not from Aleksandrâ€™s supply.
She grabbed the bandages, a wad of cotton wool, and a bottle of clear liquid. The liquid would rid the wound of silver. She hoped it was silver which had caused the irritation around the cuts and not another poison. She didnâ€™t know how to remove or spot toxins. Aleksandr had seemed conscious enough and wasnâ€™t exhibiting any of the signs she knew. His body temperature felt right under her fingers, only a little chilled from being outside.
Before she could tend to him, she had to get the room warmer. She went to the cream marble fireplace opposite the foot of the wooden four-poster bed and threw some kindling onto the empty blackened grate, followed by some of the wood that was stacked beside the stand of brass tools. It took her a few minutes to get the fire going. She had never liked fire. It made her think of the sun and that made her skin crawl.
When the flames were burning brightly in the grate, throwing welcome heat out into the room, she returned to Aleksandr. He hadnâ€™t moved at all. Only the slow rise and fall of his chest told her that he was alive. She took the cotton wool and the liquid and sat beside him on the bed.
Staring at him, Elise realised with dismay that it was too late to save herself. She had fallen in love and there was no going back now. What future was there for her with Aleksandr though?
She sighed and placed her hand against his bruised right cheek.
She was only a game to him.
A trophy to be won.
A victory to be had.
And it broke her heart to know it.
Did you enjoy today’s tease?
Heart of Darkness
A vampire prince on a four hundred year old mission to avenge his murdered sister…
Aleksandr Nemov wonâ€™t stop until the last of the vampire hunterâ€™s progeny is wiped from the Earth. Each kill has stolen a piece of his humanity, pushing him towards the black abyss all vampires hold within their hearts. Now he is teetering on the edge, close to devolving into a beast, and time is running out as he tracks the last hunter to Prague. There he finds a beautiful woman who could be his one chance for salvation, but is it already too late for him?
A vampire guard who will do whatever it takes to protect those she loves…
Elise is dedicated to her duty. Itâ€™s the only thing she has left. All that changes when she meets Aleksandr in Prague and her master grants him permission to stay at her bloodlineâ€™s mansion. She knows all about Aleksandr but none of it prepares her for how she feels when the legendary princeâ€™s hunt becomes one for her heart. Elise battles him with all of her strength but can she stop herself from falling for the handsome hunter? When he reveals the depth of the corruption in his soul, will she have the strength to face the pain in her past and do whatever it takes to save him?