Here’s some scene setting. Sophis and Vivek, two guards of the Venia bloodline of vampires, have been at war for the past decade, ever since a run in with two hunters almost cost Sophis her life. Sophis has grown tired of Vivek’s behaviour towards her and is determined to prove that she isn’t a weak female and the two of them have just come to blows once again, and were caught by their superior and ordered to patrol St Petersburg together… and in the dead of night, they come across one of the hunters.
He trailed behind Sophis as she continued down the incline to the river, his gaze scanning the parked cars that lined the residential street. The lights hanging above the middle of the road were brighter here, punctuating the darkness at intervals and even reaching the pavement. A breeze swept up from the river, pungent with the scent of the water, but carrying a familiar undertone.
A vampire hunter he knew well.
When had he returned to Saint Petersburg?
Vivek focused all his senses on Sophis, using the intensity of them to silently signal her. She slowed to a halt and looked back over her shoulder at him. He motioned for her to remain there and swept his senses out again. The man was on the move and not far from them. Vivek studied his surroundings, looking for possible avenues of escape or hiding places. Few and far between. The river was barely two hundred metres away and the edge of the road that lined it was even closer still. If Aleksis had his wits about him, he would be aware of them the moment he crossed the road to continue along the river. Even with their preternatural speed, they wouldn’t reach the crossroads behind them before Aleksis came into view.
Vivek caught Sophis’s arm and ran down the sloping street with her, heading towards the hunter. His senses screamed a warning at him but he kept running, silent and fast, aiming for the rear of a white van less than one hundred metres from the intersection.
Sophis gasped behind him as the dark haired man appeared in view at the bottom of the road, his hands tucked into the front pockets of his thick black wool coat and the upturned collar obscuring the lower half of his face. Vivek tugged her to one side, behind the large parked van, and pressed her against the doors. He held her there, his senses locked on the vampire hunter, monitoring him in case he had spotted them. The feel of Sophis against him, her chest rising and falling with her rapid breathing, threatened to bring back their fight and how intoxicating it had felt to have her pinned beneath him. He shoved the feelings away, locking them out of his mind along with his earlier epiphany about why he wanted Sophis off the guard, and forced himself to remain focused on the vampire hunter.
He drew a slow deep breath through his nose, catching the man’s scent. It held an underlying note of vampire. Not a weakling vampire either. It was Venia this man smelt like. Had he been fighting one of the city patrols this evening? Aleksis was foolish enough to go after Vivek’s kind, the pureblood vampires.
Back when Vivek had first encountered the man, the pure bloodlines hadn’t known of the existence of enhanced hunters. The fact that he had survived their first battle had only added to the suspicion the bloodlines had about the hunters after the sudden increase in the numbers of those capable of fighting purebloods around thirty years ago. It was only recently that they had discovered why vampire hunters had become so strong.
Someone had been playing God, tampering with their DNA to include genetic code taken from vampires. The result of the mutation didn’t give him the strength of a pureblood, but it did elevate the human to a level similar to a weakling vampire and made him more of a threat to Vivek’s kind.
When the Law Keepers had discovered this, they had created a database and given all seven pure bloodlines access so they could add information as they gathered it. It detailed known abilities and skills, marked the hunter as an enhanced or normal human, and provided locations they had been spotted. Aleksis’s name was on that register. It was proving useful even in its infancy. They had even granted the werewolves permission to use it and the dogs had provided some extremely useful information about hunters they had encountered. Allied in this war against the new threat of the vampire hunters, his kind were armed with the knowledge and the power to eradicate them before they became a danger.
Aleksis Romanov would die but not until his traits had been documented and his allies exposed.
Vivek wanted that mission.
He wanted vengeance.
Sophis stared beyond his shoulder with wide ice-blue eyes, her body trembling against his, betraying the fact that she had sensed the vampire hunter now disappearing from view behind the set of buildings to Vivek’s right and she feared him.
Aleksis Romanov would die by Vivek’s hand with the dagger he kept locked in a box in his quarters.
The same dagger the vampire hunter had used on Sophis over a decade ago.
Her shaking hand brushed Vivek’s hip as she brought it to rest over the left side of her stomach. Her skin drained of colour.
Without considering the consequences, Vivek placed his hand against her cheek and brought her head around so she faced him. Her pale eyes met his and the look in them compelled him to fulfil her silent request. It was strange to see her so afraid, so weak, and even stranger to have her relying on his strength.
“I will not let him near you,” Vivek whispered, so low it was barely audible even to their heightened hearing. “He will lead us to his fellow hunters. We must follow him. Are you able to proceed?”
She was still for a few seconds, the look in her eyes and her feelings on his senses flitting between panic and resolve to face her past, and then nodded.
He looked at his hand where it cupped her soft cool cheek and the dark thread of blood just above his thumb. Temptation to sweep the pad of his thumb over it, to tell her that he hadn’t meant to draw blood and that it hadn’t just been because he knew the scent of it would distract him during their fight, overwhelmed him but he battled it. Sophis would never believe him capable of the feeling behind his desire to protect her. Not tonight anyway. With their fight and the sight of him with Ella so fresh in her mind, she would deny him if he foolishly tried to give her even the most miniscule clue as to his newly discovered feelings for her.
It was a risk he wasn’t willing to take, not when he wasn’t sure of his feelings himself. The fight had worked him up and the scent of her blood had driven him wild with need, and neither feeling had faded completely. He was still on edge, still hungry for blood and a battle to the death. There was a chance that anything he thought and anything he felt were just a result of that.
He didn’t believe himself capable of that sort of feeling either, at least not for Sophis.
He didn’t want to believe.
Vivek let his hand drop from her face, turned away from her and crossed the road to the other side. She remained leaning against the back of the white van for long seconds before pushing away from it. When she joined him, she wouldn’t look at him. Her now dark eyes darted around the street, touching everywhere but on him, and eventually settled on the river.
Sophis motioned for him to follow and he did, remaining close to her this time, no longer willing to risk even a few metres between them. It wasn’t only because Aleksis was a threat to Sophis, and himself. It was because he could still feel the lingering beat of fear in Sophis’s blood. She was putting on a brave face by resuming the lead but she wasn’t fooling him. Her recent ordeal with another vampire hunter hadn’t been enough to have her thinking twice about being out in the city, but the presence of Aleksis certainly was. It was only duty that kept her feet moving forwards rather than retreating to the mansion. If his presence at her side would boost her confidence and give her the strength to continue their mission, then he would stay there, close to her, and he would keep his promise to protect her.
Aleksis would never lay a finger on her again.
He would go against his bloodline’s orders to only track the hunter and gather information on him and would kill him, would watch him bleed out from a dagger in his gut, before he allowed Aleksis to even step within thirty metres of Sophis.
She must have felt his anger again because she glanced back over her slender shoulder at him, rogue strands of her long dark hair obscuring part of her face, and her near-black eyes meeting his for the barest of seconds before she dropped them to rest on the pavement and then turned away again.
His fingers burned with the memory of how soft her skin had felt beneath them.
Did her cheek burn too? Did it ache with the need to have him touch it again, just as he ached with a need to touch her?
Did you enjoy today’s tease?
Caris Roane is also posting a Teaseday snippet, so be sure to check out her blog and read it!
F E Heaton
Ten years have passed since Sophis and Vivek, two vampires of the Venia bloodline, came close to death at the hands of twin hunters Aleksis and Izabella Romanov. The events of that night turned Sophis and Vivek against each other, shattering their close friendship and driving them apart.
Now, on the eve of a centenary Creator Day masquerade and at a time when things between them are dangerously close to separating them forever, they uncover a small army of vampire hunters in Saint Petersburg, led by their nemeses, Aleksis and Izabella.
With the safety of the rulers of the seven pure vampire bloodlines in their hands and their chance for vengeance hanging in the balance, can Sophis and Vivek face their past and overcome their differences? Will they realise their true feelings for each other before it’s too late or will the hunters finally claim their lives as their deadly plot to destroy the bloodlines unfolds?
Available in e-book from:
If you haven’t had a chance to read any of the books in the Vampires Realm romance series yet, they’re all available at major ebook retailers and some are available in paperback, and you can find the links and samples of the books at my website:
Prophecy: Child of Light (Vampires Realm Romance Series #1)
Prophecy: Caelestis & Aurorea (Vampires Realm Romance Series #2)
Prophecy: Dark Moon Rising (Vampires Realm Romance Series #3)
Eternity: The Beginning (Vampires Realm Romance Series #4)
Spellbound (Vampires Realm Romance Series #5)
Reunion (Vampires Realm Romance Series #6)
Seventh Circle (Vampires Realm Romance Series #7)
Winter’s Kiss (Vampires Realm Romance Series #8)
Hunter’s Moon (Vampires Realm Romance Series #9)
Masquerade (Vampires Realm Romance Series #10)