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Lord of the vampires, p.1

  Lord of the Vampires, p.1

   part  #1 of  Royal House of Shadows Series

Lord of the Vampires
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Lord of the Vampires
Page 1

  PROLOGUE

  ONCE UPON A TIME, in a land of vampires, shape-shifters and witches, the Blood Sorcerer coveted the only power denied him: the right to rule. He and his monstrous army attacked the royal palace, slaughtered the beloved king and queen of Elden and sought to do the same to Nicolai, the crown prince, as well as his three siblings, Breena, Dayn and Micah.

  The sorcerer succeeded in all but the latter. He had not counted on a king’s hunger for retribution and a mother’s love for her children.

  Just before expelling his final breath, the king used his power to fill his offspring with an unbreakable need for vengeance, ensuring they would fight for eternity to claim their due. At the same time, the queen used her power to send them away, saving them. For the time being.

  Only, the king and queen were weak, their minds fogged from pain, and their magic conflicting.

  And so, the royals were now bound to destroy the man who had slain their parents, yet they were also cast out of the palace, each flung to different kingdoms within the realm with only one link to the Royal House of Elden: a timepiece, given to them by their parents.

  Nicolai, the Dark Seducer as his people called him, had been in bed, but not alone. He was never alone. He was a man known for the violence of his temper as well as the deliciousness of his touch; and after his youngest brother’s birthday celebration, he’d adjourned to his private chamber to sate himself on his newest conquest.

  That’s when the dual natures of the enchantments struck him.

  When he next opened his eyes, he’d found himself in another bed—and not with his chosen partner. He was naked still, only now he was chained, a slave to the very desires he’d evoked in his lover. Desires that had mingled with the magic and sent him straight to the Sex Market, where he was quickly sold to a princess of Delfina, his will no longer his own, his pleasure no longer his own, his timepiece stolen and his memories wiped from his mind.

  But two things could not be taken from him, no matter how fervently the princess tried. The cold rage in his chest and the blistering need for vengeance in his veins.

  The first, he would unleash. The second, he would savor. First with the princess, and then with a sorcerer he could not quite remember, but a sorcerer he knew he despised all the same.

  Soon.

  He had only to escape….

  CHAPTER ONE

  “I NEED YOU, JANE. ”

  Frowning, Jane Parker placed the note on her kitchen countertop. She studied the scarred, leather-bound book resting inside an unadorned box, surrounded by a sea of black velvet. A few minutes ago, she’d returned from her five-mile jog. This package had been waiting on her porch.

  There’d been no return address. No explanation as to why the thing had been left for her, and no hint as to who “I” was. Or why Jane was needed. Why would anyone need her? She was twenty-seven years old and had only recently regained the use of her legs. She had no family, no friends, no job. Not anymore. Her little cabin in Smallest Town Ever, Oklahoma, was secluded, barely a blip in the neighboring expanse of lush green trees and wide-open, blue sky.

  She should have tossed the thing. Of course, curiosity far outweighed caution. As always.

  She carefully lifted the book. At the moment of contact, she saw her hands covered in blood and gasped, dropping the heavy tome on the counter. But when she lifted her hands to the light, they were scrubbed clean, her nails neat and painted a pretty morning rose.

  You have an overactive imagination, and too much oxygen pumping through your veins from the run. That’s all.

  Cold hard logic—her best and only friend.

  The book’s binding creaked as she opened to the middle, where a tattered pink ribbon rested. The scent of dust and musk wafted up, layered with something else. Something…mouthwatering and slightly familiar. Her frowned deepened.

  She shifted in her seat, a twinge of pain shooting through her legs, and sniffed. Oh, yes. Her mouth definitely watered as she caught the slightest trace of sandalwood. Goose bumps broke out over her skin, her senses tingling, her blood heating. How embarrassing. And, okay, how interesting. Since the car accident that ruined her life eleven months ago, she had experienced arousal only at night, in her dreams. To react like this in daylight, because of a book…odd.

  She didn’t allow herself to ponder why. There wasn’t an answer that would satisfy her. Instead, she concentrated on the pages in front of her. They were yellowed and brittle, delicate. And beaded with blood? Small dots of dried crimson marred the edges.

  Gently she brushed her fingertips along the handwritten text, her gaze catching on several words. Chains. Vampire. Belonged. Soul. More goose bumps, more tingling.

  Some blushing.

  Her eyes narrowed. At last the sandalwood cologne made sense. For the past few months, she’d dreamed of a vampire male in chains and woken to the fragrance clinging to her skin. And yes, he’s the one who had aroused her. She’d told no one. So, how had anyone known to give her this…journal?

  She’d worked in quantum physics for years, as well as what was considered fringe science, sometimes studying creatures of “myth” and “legend. ” She’d conducted controlled interviews with actual blood drinkers and even dissected the corpses brought to her lab.

  She knew that vampires, shape-shifters and other creatures of the night existed, even though her coworkers on the quantum physics side of the equation had not been privy to the truth. So, maybe someone had found out and this was a simple joke. Maybe her dreams had no connection. Except, forever had seemed to pass since she’d had any contact with those coworkers. And besides, who would do such a thing? None of them had cared enough about her to do anything.

  Let this go, Parker. Before it’s too late.

  The command from her self-preservation instincts made no sense. Too late for what?

  Her instincts offered no reply. Well, the scientist in her needed to know what was going on.

  Jane cleared her throat. “I’m reading a few passages, and that’s that. ” She’d been alone since leaving the hospital several months ago, and sometimes the sound of her voice was better than silence. “‘Chains circled the vampire’s neck, wrists and ankles. Because his shirt and pants had been stripped away, and a loincloth was his only apparel, there was nothing to protect his already savaged skin. The links cut him deeply, to the bone, before healing—and slicing open again. He did not care. What was pain when your will, your very soul, no longer belonged to you?’”

  She pressed her lips together as a wave of dizziness crashed through her. A moment passed, then another, her heartbeat speeding up and hammering wildly against her ribs.

  Raw images tore through her. This man—this vampire—bound, helpless. Hungry. His lush lips were pulled taut, his teeth sharp, white. He was surprisingly tanned, temptingly muscled, with dark, mussed hair and a face so eerily beautiful he would haunt her nighttime fantasies for years to come.

  What she’d just read, she’d already seen. Many times. How? She didn’t know. What she did know was that in her dreams, she felt compassion for this man, even anger. And yet, there was always that low simmer of arousal in the background. Now, the arousal took center stage.

  The more she breathed, the more the sandalwood scent clung to her, and the more her reality altered, as if this, her home, was nothing more than a mirage. As if the vampire’s cage was real. As if she needed to stand up and walk—no, run—until she reached him. Anything to be with him, now and forever.

  Okay. Enough of that. She slapped the book closed, even though so many questions were left dangling, and strode away.

  Such a strong reaction coupled with her dreams utterly nixed th
e idea of a joke. Not that she’d placed much hope in that direction. However, the remaining possibilities upset her, and she refused to contemplate them.

  She showered, dressed in a T-shirt and jeans and ate a nutritious breakfast. Unbidden, she found her gaze returning to the leather binding, over and over again. She wondered if the enslaved vampire were real—and okay. If she could help him. A few times, she even opened to the middle of the book before she realized she’d moved. Always she darted off before the story could snare her. And perhaps that’s why the stupid thing had been given to her. To hook her, to send her racing back to work. Well, she didn’t need to work. Money was not a problem for her. More than that, she no longer loved the sciences. Why would she? There was never a solution, only more problems.

  Because when one puzzle piece slid into place, there were always twenty more needed. And in the end, nothing you did, nothing that had been solved or unraveled, would save the ones you loved. There would always be some dumb guy throwing back a few cold ones at the local bar, getting into his car and hitting yours. Or something equally tragic.

  Life was random.

  Jane craved monotony.

  But when midnight rolled around, her mind still hadn’t settled in regards to the vampire. Giving up, she returned to the kitchen, grabbed the book and stalked to bed. Just a few more passages, damn it, then she’d start craving monotony again.

  Jane’s oversize T-shirt bunched at her waist as she propped the book on her upraised legs, opened to the middle of the story, where the bookmark was still set, and returned her attention to the pages. For several seconds, the words appeared to be written in a language she did not understand. Then, a blink later, they were written in English again.

  O-kay. Very weird, and surely—hopefully—an I-just-need-sleep mistake on her part.

  She found her place. “‘They called him Nicolai. ’” Nicolai. A strong, luscious name. The syllables rolled through her mind, a caress. Her nipples beaded, aching for a hot, wet kiss, and every inch of her skin flushed. She thought back. She’d never interviewed a vampire named Nicolai, and the one in her dream had never spoken to her. He had never acknowledged her in any way. “‘He did not know his past or if he had a future. He knew only his present. His hated, torturous present. He was a slave, locked away like an animal. ’”

  Just like before, a wave of dizziness slammed through her. This time, Jane pressed on, even as her chest constricted. “‘He was kept clean and oiled. Always. Just in case Princess Laila had need of him in her bed. And the princess did have need of him. Often. Her cruel, twisted desires left him beaten and bruised. Not that he ever accepted defeat. The man was wild, nearly uncontrollable, and so filled with hate anyone who looked at him saw their death in his eyes. ’”

 
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