The vampire raged in his sleep.
His bare torso bowed off the mattress and his powerful muscles strained as he pulled at the heavy cuffs chaining him to the steel posts of the large bed.
When they didnâ€™t give, he thrashed his long muscular legs, pulling the black covers down and revealing more of him to her eyes, including the start of a colourful tattoo on his right hip. The lower half of it disappeared beneath his black underwear. She couldnâ€™t make out the design from this distance and refused to give in to the temptation to move closer.
She shouldnâ€™t be here.
Her master would be angry with her if he discovered she had left her post to be here, unable to keep away.
Snow snarled and twisted his arms in the thick steel and leather restraints, reopening the ragged marks around his wrists and spilling fresh blood. He had been lost to his bloodlust for many weeks now and a few days ago, things had taken a sharp downwards turn, plunging him into the darkest throes of his curse, far worse than any she had witnessed before.
What did he dream to make him turn so violent and wild?
She could see othersâ€™ dreams but never his.
Her master believed they would prove to be too much for her, and she felt he might have been right to take that ability from her where this vampire was concerned.
She moved a step closer but kept her distance, standing several feet from the end of the bed in his grim black-walled apartment. He had been doing so well recently, gaining ground against his addiction and learning to master it. Now he seemed worse than ever. Lost.
He growled again, the sound pained and feral, like an animal caught in a vicious snare with no hope for escape. His claws scratched at the heavy steel chains of his restraints, blunted by the sheer number of times he had attempted to grasp them.
He thrashed his head and bared his fangs, his face twisting into a dark visage that was so different to his normal appearance. It had startled her the first time he had changed and revealed his darker nature all those countless centuries ago. Part of her had known then that Snowâ€™s future would hold more pain than one man could bear, and she had wished she had spared him such a life when sheâ€™d had the chance.
Snow twisted and bucked, the ferocity of his thrashing causing the steel posts of his bed to groan against the large bolts that secured them to the floor and ceiling of his room.
She had the oddest urge to go to him and stroke his brow. Why?
Did she hope it would soothe him?
She wanted to soothe him somehow. She knew that. It was why she had come to this dangerous place, cloaked from the eyes of those who resided in the London theatre, Vampirerotique.
She had visited him often over the past few weeks, always remaining in the shadows, shrouded and invisible to those she observed. She had watched the way everyone interacted with Snow, even though he was unconscious most of the time or maddened by rage at the rest.
She knew what this place meant to him and these people, and what he meant to them.
Over the past century, she had witnessed how each event that had occurred at the theatre had changed him. He had been wary at first, watchful, keeping to himself and keeping his distance from all but his brother, but then he had begun to grow closer to the other males who ran Vampirerotique, and then he had taken the first step towards a brighter future without even knowing it.
He had started to consider those at the theatre as his family.
It had surprised her at first and she had been convinced that she was mistaken for many long months, but then she had begun to hope that the new family he had constructed for himself would become his salvation.
She only wished he were lucid enough to hear those who visited him and know their heartfelt wishes, because she was sure he would battle his bloodlust if he knew they all desired him to be well again.
There were new additions to the theatre she felt he would want to meet too.
Callum, the black-haired elite male with the striking green eyes, had come to Snowâ€™s room one day with a baby cradled in each arm. He had spoken to Snow, who had been unconscious at the time, peaceful, and had shown the babes to him. He had told Snow that he wanted him to get better because he had to meet the twins, and even his wife, the werewolf Kristina, desired it.
It had been difficult to keep her emotions in check that day, watching as Callum talked to Snow, sensing his hope that the male would wake. He had wanted to give Snow a reason to fight and had wanted him to come around in order to ease everyoneâ€™s minds and lift the burden from their hearts.
She had found a new level of respect for the green-eyed male.
She had also discovered a deep affection for the young female vampire, Lilah. The brunette regularly visited Snow to sit in the wooden chair near the four-poster bed and read to him, keeping vigil at his side whether he was unconscious or raging with bloodlust. Her mate, the sandy-haired elite vampire Javier, often came with her and she knew it was because he feared for his mate and wanted to protect her from Snow if something bad happened.
There were others at the theatre who visited too. A mixed blood male with fair hair and intriguing markings came from time to time, and always apologised. Payne felt responsible for Snowâ€™s current state. He wasnâ€™t alone in that feeling.
The succubus who was bonded to Javierâ€™s younger brother, Andreu, shared Payneâ€™s sense of guilt. She had been the one to kiss Snow, stealing his energy and rendering him unconscious.
â€œAurora.â€ Snow bucked and growled, his tone dark yet pleading.
She frowned at him. She knew not why he said that word so often but it had drawn her to him that night on the stage of the theatre all those weeks ago, and it drew her again each time he spoke it, as though he was calling out to her. He always spoke that word in a voice edged with pain and she ached to do something to ease his suffering.
She ached to bring him back to the world. He had never suffered like this and she didnâ€™t like it. She felt as though he was fading from this world and she could do nothing to stop it from happening. She felt as lost as those who loved him, who spent hours at his side, hoping for him to return to them.
Antoine burst through the mahogany panelled door to her left, his expression revealing his panic as his pale blue eyes sought his older brother. He shoved his long fingers through his wild brown hair and stalked across the room to the bed where it stood against one of the shorter sides of the apartment, opposite the bathroom at her back.
â€œSnow?â€ he whispered, fear mixed with hope in his voice.
Snow failed to respond. He lay still on the bed, but not unconscious.
Antoine neatened the black bedclothes, covering his brotherâ€™s legs and drawing them over his waist to hide his black boxer shorts and give him some shred of dignity. He heaved a sigh and went to the ebony nightstand beside the bed, retrieving the wad of cotton wool and tearing a piece from it.
He wetted it with something from a glass bottle and then rounded the bed to Snowâ€™s feet. She watched on as he cleaned the dried blood from Snowâ€™s ankles and feet, his actions careful and speaking of the deep affection that he held for his brother.
She felt sorry for him. Sympathy. An emotion well within her grasp. She had felt it for Snow too once and it had changed the course of her life, and she was no longer sure it had been for the better. Perhaps she had thought it a long time ago.
Antoine finished cleaning Snowâ€™s ankles and wearily tossed the soiled cotton wool into the overflowing waste bin near the black nightstand. She hated the colour of Snowâ€™s room. Everything in it was morbid, funerary, and left her feeling it was a tomb for the living dead.
A grave for a man who was waiting to die.
Antoine tunnelled his fingers through his hair again, shoving it out of his face, and sat on the edge of the mattress on Snowâ€™s right. Only he was brave enough to sit so close to him, and she admired him for it and the faith he had in his brother, especially after everything that had happened between them.
Snowâ€™s younger brother sighed again, the sound as weary as his appearance made him look. He was normally a neat and elegant man, dressing in fine tailored shirts, polished Italian leather shoes, and perfectly pressed slacks. Now he wore crumpled black trousers and had fastened only the middle three buttons of his charcoal shirt, the tails of it left to hang outside his trousers. His feet were bare.
â€œSnow?â€ Antoine leaned forwards, planted his right hand against the mattress and stroked his brotherâ€™s brow with his left hand, clearing the ribbons of white hair from it.
Again the urge came, the strange need to mimic that action he did so often when he visited his brother.
Another urge joined it as she sensed Antoineâ€™s pain and knew his secret fear. He feared that Snow wasnâ€™t strong enough to pull through this time. His brother had been seeking his death for centuries and Antoine was afraid that Snow would take this as his chance to escape the pain of his life and find eternal peace.
The sympathy she felt for Antoine grew stronger, consuming her, and she wanted to reveal herself to him and ease his suffering by reassuring him that his brother would not leave him and he would wake soon.
She would see to it.
The door opened again and Sera entered, blinking sleep from her forest green eyes and struggling to tie her long blonde hair into a knot at the back of her head. She rubbed her eyes and then fastened her dark red silk robe around her waist, covering her black slip.
â€œAntoine,â€ she said softly and her mate turned and looked over his shoulder at her, his pale blue eyes flooded with fatigue and pain. She opened her arms to him, crossed the room and wrapped them around his shoulders. He settled his head against her chest and she ran her fingers through his hair. â€œYou need to rest.â€
â€œI cannotâ€¦ not whileâ€¦â€ He turned and buried his face against her, and she tightened her grip on him, holding him close and dipping her head to press a kiss to his hair.
â€œHe will be well,â€ she whispered and continued to stroke the shorter hair at the back of his head. â€œGive him time. You need to rest tooâ€¦ this has all been too much for you and I donâ€™t wantâ€”â€
Sera cut herself off.
She knew what the female vampire wanted to say but couldnâ€™t. She feared that Antoine would follow his brother and lose himself to the bloodlust he fought to keep at bay if he didnâ€™t keep his strength up, both physically and spiritually.
Sera stepped back and took hold of Antoineâ€™s hands. He looked up at her and nodded, and she released him. He rose to his feet and then pressed one knee into the mattress and leaned over Snow. He pressed a kiss to his brotherâ€™s forehead.
â€œDonâ€™t you dare give up.â€ His voice cracked and tears filled his eyes.
Antoine straightened, turned, and walked swiftly out of the room. Sera stroked Snowâ€™s cheek and sighed.
â€œYouâ€™d better be listening to him, big guy. You know he canâ€™t live without you. None of us can.â€ She brushed her knuckles along his straight jaw and then turned and followed her mate from the room, closing the door behind her.
Another door closed and she was alone with Snow again. His breathing quickened and she knew what was coming. He had been still for long enough, had regained some of his strength, and was now going to use it in an attempt to break free of his bonds.
It was always the same.
He would go in circles, a pattern she had learned by heart over the past few weeks. He would fight, and then rest, and then fight again, and then take a shorter rest as his frustration mounted, and then he would fight harder than ever, and fail to free himself.
The end result was always the same too. Exhaustion, leading to unconsciousness. Sometimes he was out for days. Other times it was only minutes before he began the cycle again.
Snow turned savage, the change between placid and violent swift and startling. The chains rattled and then groaned under the pressure of his harsh movements on the bed. He tugged at them, powerful body bowing off the mattress and his muscles bunching and tightening as he fought the restraints that kept him flat on his back. Helpless.
The cuffs bit into his ankles and wrists, and his flesh seeped droplets of blood that the thick restraints then smeared across his skin, renewing the stains. He snarled and fought, lashing out with his fists and feet, shaking the whole bed. The metal sliced deeper into his wrists, until rivulets spilled down his bloodied arms and soaked into the black sheets. Crimson tainted the overlong strands of his white hair and stained his shoulders and neck too. His eyes rolled open and then back again, a flash of scarlet irises and thin black vertical slits for pupils.
They had been red since the night he had first stirred after the incident on the stage, a sign that his bloodlust still had a strong hold over him.
They were red even when he was unconscious.
His lips parted, revealing enormous fangs.
She pitied him even as she despised him.
Her feelings had never been as muddled as they were now.
He sniffed and suddenly stilled, and a prickle of awareness ran down her spine. He had sensed her. How?
He bellowed in fury and thrashed violently against his restraints, causing the metal post that secured his left ankle to bend slightly. Fresh blood ran over his ankles, coating the steel cuffs. He fought harder and it pained her because she knew that after this time he would fall unconscious.
She should leave.
Her place wasnâ€™t here.
She knew that in her heart, but that same heart had urged her to come to him when she had felt his pain and his distress. Now that she had seen how fiercely the bloodlust gripped him, she couldnâ€™t turn her back on him. She needed to do something to help him.
She could calm him, but if anyone discovered what she had done, she would have damned herself.
She edged closer to him, her heart thumping crazily in her breast, her gaze locked on him and watching for an attack even though she knew he couldnâ€™t break his bonds and reach her. He tried to lunge for her, his blunt claws scratching at the air. His red eyes shot to her, focused and sharp, locked on her like lasers.
Her stomach fluttered but her step didnâ€™t falter.
She swallowed her trembling heart and reached out to him, afraid that he would somehow manage to injure her but strengthened by the knowledge that she might be able to do something to crack the hold his bloodlust had on him and guide him back to his loved ones.
She stopped at his side and dared to lift her cloak so he could see her, hoping it would calm him and he would see she wasnâ€™t a threat to him. She gently lowered her hand, intending to touch his face as the female, Sera, and his brother had.
Snow snapped at her fingers and tried to bite her, his sharp fangs gleaming in the low light from the lamps around the black room.
She changed course and settled her hand on his bare chest instead. His powerful heart thundered hard against her palm. A heavy tribal beat.
It accelerated as she stood over him and then she shifted her eyes to meet his and it began to slow to a more gentle sedate rhythm.
He blinked slowly, long dark lashes shuttering his crimson eyes before lifting again to reveal them to her.
She whispered to him, soft words in a tongue that was probably foreign to him now.
A song to soothe him.
She sung of soaring in a midnight sky, dancing over mountains, and reaching towards the horizon, beyond the snowy valley and the frozen waterfall.
Snow stilled, his expression turning docile, and she bravely moved her hand to his face, stroking his stubbly cheek as she softly sung to him of a prince and his love, his kingdom on earth while hers was in heaven.
Two worlds too far apart.
Two hearts too close to part.
Snow blinked languidly again and then his eyelids drooped and he settled heavily into the bed, his arms lax and hands hanging limply from the cuffs. She focused on his wrists, on the red lines that slashed across them, and willed them to heal.
She brushed her fingertips across his cheek and whispered, â€œSleepâ€¦ dreamâ€¦ remember who you were.â€
Did you enjoy today’s snippet?
A powerful vampire lost deep in his bloodlust, Snow is a savage animal, mindless with rage and a thirst for violence, and trapped with no hope of awakening from an endless nightmareâ€¦ until a song draws him up from the abyss, restoring his sanity but leaving him haunted by the sweet feminine scent of lilies and snow, and fragmented familiar lyrics.
When the mysterious and beautiful songstress reappears in Snowâ€™s room at Vampirerotique, she awakens a fierce protective streak and stirs dark desires that drive him to claim her as his female, even when he knows his touch will destroy her innocence.
A single forbidden taste is all it takes to unleash emotions in Aurora that she shouldnâ€™t possess, tearing her between duty and desire, and luring her into surrendering to her wildfire passion and embracing hungers that burn so hotly they threaten to consume them both.
One act of kindness can lead to one thousand acts of sin though, each a black mark against the bearerâ€™s soul and another grain of sand that slips through an hourglass. The clock is ticking and time is almost up. Can beauty save the beast?
You can get your hands on the first book in this series, COVET, for FREE right now on selected Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Nook and Apple iBooks Stores. Find out more at my Paranormal Romance Ebook Offers page.
If you haven’t had a chance to read any of the books in the Vampire Erotic Theatre romance series yet, they’re all available at major ebook retailers and in paperback, and you can find the links and samples of the books at my website:
Covet (Vampire Erotic Theatre Romance Series #1)
Crave (Vampire Erotic Theatre Romance Series #2)
Seduce (Vampire Erotic Theatre Romance Series #3)
Enslave (Vampire Erotic Theatre Romance Series #4)
Bewitch (Vampire Erotic Theatre Romance Series #5)
Unleash (Vampire Erotic Theatre Romance Series #6)