It’s time for Snippet Saturday! Each week has a theme or is author’s choice. This week the theme is Stop Dragging My Heart Around – Putting your foot down.
This week my snippet comes from one of my stand alone vampire romance novels, Love Immortal. It’s long again this week. I have no concept of what a snippet is! When it comes to Julian, I just have to let this gorgeous immortal warrior have his way… and his way is a long excerpt from his book that shows just what a charming, beautiful, man he is.
Julian flinched as the double doors slammed, one of them bouncing back open. It hadn’t gone as well as he’d hoped. He closed his eyes and cursed himself. He’d never been good with these kinds of words, with speaking of his past. Perhaps he should have given more thought to how he was going to tell her. He should have practiced. Now he’d only made things worse.
Lauren was convinced that she was Illia. Her confession about her feelings had left him in no doubt that he hadn’t imagined them, but it still didn’t stop a part of him from being convinced that she didn’t love him, couldn’t love him. None but Illia had. He’d wanted to tell her that. It would have made her realise that she was wrong about herself. She wasn’t Illia. None of them had been.
They were all different. The soul was the same but the heart changed.
His feelings for her weren’t because of Illia. When he felt he loved her, it wasn’t his love for Illia renewed but a new love completely.
Julian clenched his fists and cursed himself again. Now he’d hurt her. His pathetic confession had gone horribly wrong and he’d been silent when he should have explained to her that his love was for her, Lauren, not Illia. He needed to convince her of that.
He walked through the building, his senses fixed on Lauren’s scent even though he knew where he would find her. Her bedroom.
He had to tell her everything, even if it meant setting himself up for a fall that would be more painful than the one he’d taken for Illia.
Seeing her repeatedly reborn and then die had hurt him deeply, as deeply as not being loved. His existence had been lonely even when he wasn’t alone. Now Lauren was offering her heart to him, rekindling his lost emotions and his desire to do his duty and protect her so she would survive the fight against Lycaon. She deserved something in return.
As fragile as his heart was, he would offer it to her.
Reaching her door, Julian paused with his hand on the handle. The shower was running but it didn’t mask the sound of her sobs or the hurt that he could sense. He leaned against the door and waited, giving her the space that she needed even though he wanted to go to her and ease her pain. It hurt to stand and listen to her crying when those tears were because of him. He had to tell her this time. He had to make it clear to her and let her in, regardless of the danger to himself.
The room fell quiet. He waited, listening. When it had been quiet for a few minutes, he knocked.
“Come in.” Her voice was small and hoarse.
Julian opened the door and paused when he saw her sitting on the white wrought iron bed in front of him in a black satin slip, her damp hair twisted up and pinned. He’d never seen it so red or so short, or her so beautiful. Even Illia hadn’t been so stunning. Lauren’s warmth, her heart, added a new level to her beauty. She was beautiful inside and out.
He closed the door and tried to gather his thoughts so he said things right this time.
Lauren’s eyes met his. In the warm light from the lamp on the bedside table, he could see that they were red. He hated that he’d hurt her, but loved it too because it made it perfectly clear that she did have feelings for him, and that there was hope for him yet.
After all the lonely years, it felt like an elixir, a sweet drug that she gave him with each stolen glance and secret smile. It had breathed life back into his tired body and rebuilt his heart. She’d made him whole again, and he couldn’t thank her enough.
He could only offer himself and wait for her reaction.
He sat down on the edge of her bed, facing the door, leaned forward so his elbows rested on his knees, and let his hands dangle between his legs.
“I am sorry,” he whispered on a sigh and looked at her. “I did not say things well. Will you allow me to speak now and I will try to… I will get it right this time?”
She made a small noise that he took as a yes and pulled her knees up to her chest, holding them with one arm and picking at the mauve bed cover with her other hand. Her slender legs were pale in contrast to the slip and the dark covers. He ran his gaze up them and then to her face. She was staring at the bed, her brown eyes still showing signs of tears and her cheeks flushed from crying.
Julian looked away at the carpet, not wanting to see what he had done to her, and then forced himself to face her again. She deserved that too, deserved to see in his eyes just how she made him feel and that he was telling her the truth.
“I loved Illia,” he said and new tears threatened to spill over her lashes. He cursed them and himself, and quickly continued, hoping to ease her pain. “But that love has been fading since her original death, and since six centuries ago it has slowly died. I have been fooling myself since then, believing that I still loved her.”
“But you don’t.” Those three words were a test.
He shook his head.
“When did you realise?”
Torn between wanting her to see his feelings and wanting to protect his heart, he flitted between looking into her eyes and looking away to his right at the shuttered window.
“Only recently,” he whispered, not strong enough to fully voice those words or offer Lauren a better explanation.
Her eyebrows rose. She understood what he wasn’t saying. She’d made him realise.
“You are not Illia, Lauren. None of you have ever been Illia. It has taken me three millennia to realise that while her soul was reborn in each of you, her heart was not. Her feelings for me died when she did. Each of you is shaped by your experiences, by your heart, and not by your soul, and each of you have been less and less like Illia.” He took hold of her hand, wanting to reassure her and needing the reassurance that came from touching her too. His orders didn’t matter right now, not when Lauren needed him.
Lauren gave him a look that stabbed him in the chest, her eyes full of pain and unshed tears. He longed to know what she was thinking, whether it was too late for him and he’d ruined everything. Had his confession done anything to make her see that he loved her and that his feelings had nothing to do with Illia or the others? Had he made it clear that she wasn’t Illia?
“We are all different then?” she muttered into her knees, looking up at him now.
With a sigh, he reached over and stroked her cheek, looking deep into her eyes. “None as different as you.”
A faint smile touched her rosy lips but it only lasted a second.
“You loved them all.”
“I foolishly held on to a love that no longer existed, believing that they were Illia,” he countered and tried to think of a way to explain to her what his life had been like. If she knew then she would understand him. He would have let her in and she would have complete power over him. It hurt, but he pushed the words out. “None of you have ever loved me.”
He felt small and vulnerable as he sat beside her, waiting for her to say something.
Pain showed in her eyes. Her hand caught his, holding it tight, squeezing it so hard that it actually hurt.
In the blink of an eye, she was kneeling close to him, her arms around his neck and her forehead resting against his right cheek.
He didn’t know what to do. His heart warmed as she clung to him, her breath soft against his throat. Lauren was so different. She was his salvation, his light in the darkness. While all others had forsaken him, had turned their back on him, she had embraced him.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered against his skin.
He frowned and turned his head towards her, wondering if he’d heard her correctly.
“Why?” he said in a low voice, his hand coming up to rest on her arm. She was so warm and soft. Everything he’d ever wanted but never had.
“I don’t know.” There was a slight laugh to her tone, as though she really didn’t know why she was apologising. “I just feel responsible. They’re me and I’m them in a way.”
“Only a small way.” He took hold of her wrist and brought her hand away from his neck, causing her to sit back. Would she ever know exactly what she’d done for him, how she’d ended a painful existence and given him new hope and a new sense of duty? “You are so different to all of them.”
Her fingers closed around his hand and she held it, her eyes still fixed on his. “I won’t die. I won’t put you through that again.”
Placing his other hand over hers, he prayed that she could keep that promise because he didn’t want to lose her. She averted her gaze. The atmosphere in the room turned heavy, stifling. Reaching up, Julian placed his hand against her cheek, cupping it and absorbing her warmth as she blushed. He raised her head and her eyes briefly met his before darting towards the window behind him. She was embarrassed. That reaction drew a smile from him, one that broadened when she moved closer and rested her head on his shoulder.
A quiet calm filled him, easing the tension from his body inch by inch. Only Lauren could make him feel this way—at one with the world and peaceful. When she was close to him, touching him, she made him warm and allayed his fears. She made him forget the world outside existed.
“You smell like blood,” she whispered.
Fire swept through his veins when she tilted her head back, bringing her lips close to the right side of his neck.
“You need to feed.” He offered his wrist.
“There are no scars on your neck.” Her breath was warm against him but didn’t compare to the heat of her touch as she lightly ran a finger down his throat.
He shuddered, barely able to take the way it felt to have her hands on him, caressing him, and her hungry gaze on his neck.
“Have I ever bitten here?”
“But vampires bite necks.” She moved closer.
He tensed. It wasn’t a reaction to what she’d said but to the feel of her breasts brushing his arm.
“We are not vampires.” He might have sounded more convincing if he hadn’t whispered those words on an exhale of sheer pleasure.
“I think we are.” Her voice was sin and temptation, quietly spoken against his skin. “Why haven’t I?”
“Because in the thirty incarnations since your first death, you have not loved me.” He paused, steeled himself against the pain these words would cause him, and then said, “You forbade it.”
His abrupt confession made her stop and draw back. She frowned into his eyes.
“And the first time?” she said and it was his turn to frown. “You said since my first death… meaning the first time was different. Illia was different.”
“She died before she could bite me. She died in my arms that time and every time since then.” It hurt to say that, to acknowledge it aloud for her to hear. Illia had wanted to bite him. When he’d come back, it had been too late to save her and too late for them. They had never had the chance to act on their feelings, but he had a chance with Lauren.
“But that time it was different, because I loved you too.” Lauren knelt beside him, her hands in her lap and an aura of sorrow about her. She took hold of his hand and toyed with his fingers. “This time might be different too… if you want it to be, Julian.”
With that, she leaned in close to his neck and breathed in deeply. She’d adapted quickly to her new life, to her new need for blood, proving herself strong even when she didn’t believe that she was. He’d expected her to take longer to become comfortable with herself. She pulled the collar of his black shirt aside.
“I would like to, if that’s okay?” she whispered against his skin.
A wave of warm desire surged through him.
He couldn’t speak. All he could do was tilt his chin up in silent invitation.
Her lips brushed his neck, warm breath making him burn. She moved around in front of him, placing her knee between his legs so she was straddling his left thigh, her mouth against the left side of his neck. Her hands settled on his shoulders. His curled into fists in an effort to stop himself from reaching out and taking hold of her. He moved backwards on the bed, until his calves hit the mattress, giving her more room to kneel close to him.
The soft glide of her tongue over the side of his throat made him shiver and he leaned his head further to one side, desperately encouraging her to bite him, to give him everything he’d wanted for three millennia.
An answer to his prayers.
Julian tensed when her small sharp fangs slowly punctured his skin and eased into his flesh. Her first shallow pull on his blood made him groan inside, the pleasure unbearable and so intense that it bordered on taking control, overpowering his mind and any shred of sense that remained.
She was so gentle, her suckling as soft as a kitten, tender and slow, as though she wanted to savour every drop of blood on her tongue. When her fangs left him, he mourned their loss and was sure that she would stop. Instead, she brushed her lips over his throat, licking and teasing, torturing him with the divine feeling of her feeding. It had never been like this.
The connection between them was incredible, giving him a glimpse of her feelings and what this moment meant to her. Her actions were so careful and measured, each caress of her tongue driving him a little further out of his mind. His lips parted as his own fangs extended without warning. He half-closed his eyes when she sunk her fangs back into his throat, drawing harder on his blood this time.
His breathing turned shallow.
He’d never imagined it would feel so intense, so beautiful, to have her do this. In fact, he was sure it was only because it was Lauren. She alone stirred the incredible passion inside him and the desperate need for her to continue. She could bleed him dry and he wouldn’t care as long as she didn’t let go of him until his heart had beat its last.
She moved closer and her body pressed against his—soft and light, warm and supple. His hands hovered close to her. He wanted to draw her near, so she was flush against him, her barely covered breasts on his chest and his groin against the apex of her thighs. He wanted to roll her over and nestle between those thighs.
Wanted to bite her and hear her cry his name as she climaxed.
Her slow drinking from his vein aroused him but he still retained the tiniest fragment of sense and control. He wished he didn’t. Lost in the connection between them, her feelings and his own, it all seemed so possible. If he touched her, if he ran his hands over her bare thighs just as he needed to, she wouldn’t resist. She would be his.
Back in the training room, she might have stopped herself but he knew what she’d been on the brink of saying.
She’d gone through the awakening to be with him.
That thought alone made him giddy. When combined with the feel of her lapping at his neck and her hands on him, it made him feel drunk.
Lauren drew back, licking the wound on his throat, light sensual brushes of her tongue—silk against his flesh. He inhaled deeply. He loved the smell of her skin, the scent of her blood and her arousal. It made him painfully hard. His eyes opened and zeroed in on her bare neck. He hadn’t tasted her blood since the night she’d turned him. It was forbidden. She had forbade it. Now he wanted to taste her more than ever. He wanted to complete the connection and make her see just what she did to him.
Just how much he loved her.
Did you enjoy the snippet?
More about the book:
Rescued from werewolves by the most breathtaking man she’s ever seen, Lauren is dragged into the fight of her life and a dark world she never knew existed. There, she discovers that she’s the latest reincarnation of a goddess and must drink the blood of her immortal protector, Julian, in order to reawaken and continue her three thousand year old mission to defeat Lycaon, the original werewolf.
With the help of Julian and an organisation of people with supernatural abilities, Lauren fights for her life, their future and the fate of mankind against Lycaon and his deadly army, but can she succeed when Lycaon has killed all of her predecessors?
Can she crack the armour around Julian’s heart and seize her happily forever after with him? And can Julian bring himself to trust Lauren with the fragments of his heart after everything he’s been through?
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