Read on for this Tuesday’s tease… It’s a super long one today but I just couldn’t help including all of this scene as it’s one of my favourites in the novel. A little background info – Nika has been bitten by a werewolf and was saved by Winter, a vampire of the Validus bloodline who secretly longed to turn her when she was mortal, claiming her as his mate. Now, they’re on the run from the werewolf, Willem, trying to get Nika to safety… and have sneaked into the Validus mansion for a brief pit-stop…
She took his breath away. Her honey blonde hair hung in wet ringlets that stroked her cheeks and caressed her bare shoulders. A black towel hid her soft pale body, a dazzling contrast. His gaze skimmed over her, taking in the shape of her and stopping when he reached her legs. The one she had broken still bore a red mark where the bone was healing. It marred her otherwise perfect skin, a reminder of her ordeal.
Taking the shirt with him, he walked across the room to her. She smiled when he placed the oversized black shirt around her shoulders and covered her. His gaze fell to her throat and he noticed that she had removed her cross. He glanced down to see it in her hand, spinning as it dangled from the chain.
“I’m scared,” she said, her eyes reflecting all that fear, enormous and soulful, tempting him into holding her and whispering sweet words of reassurance.
He smiled, hoping it would be enough to calm her, and drew the shirt closed across her chest. “There is nothing to fear. We shall leave this place soon.”
“And go where?”
Winter wished he knew. The thought of taking her to the compound made a strange uneasiness settle in his chest. He pressed his hand against it and rubbed the spot over his heart, hoping to soothe the dull ache. There had to be a way of discovering where the werewolves hid their bastion.
“We cannot remain here.” He moved back across the room to the bed, sensing her following him, her footsteps almost silent on the extensive black and red Chinese rug that covered most of the floor, leaving only a thin border of dark wooden floorboards around the edges.
“Why not?” she said and sat down on the end of his double bed.
The black towel she wore melted into the black sheets. She removed the shirt from her shoulders and placed it down beside her. When she leaned back, her slender pale hands were a stark contrast to the bedclothes. His gaze traversed the length of her arms, following the line of them up to her shoulders. His stomach turned and growled when his gaze reached the smooth, sublime column of her throat. Her hair had fallen away, revealing the slope of it, covered with dewdrops of moisture that clung in the most enticing way to her skin. An urge to chase them with his tongue filled him, commanding him to go to her and slowly lick her throat until he had caught every drop. It led onto a desire to lean into her then, to ease his teeth into her neck and draw on her warm blood, to take her completely and in ways that he had only seen in fantasies of her.
“Why can’t we stay here?”
He stared at her, shocked out of his thoughts by hearing her say such a thing and seeing a desire to stay in his room in her eyes. It was fear talking. Bringing her here had scared her. Now that she was safely here, she didn’t want to leave. She feared someone catching her. It was a foolish way to feel. She was safer back out there in the woods. Safer from his family and from him.
Here in his room, he couldn’t help but feel safe, and it was leading to thoughts he shouldn’t be entertaining. There was no future for them. The Law Keepers were inescapable. The quicker he resigned himself to the fact that soon they would part ways and would never see each other again, the better. He couldn’t do this to her. He couldn’t do this to himself.
Grabbing the trousers that he had laid out on the bed, he tossed them at her. She frowned when they landed across her lap.
“Get dressed.” He paced around the bed to the two tall windows on the other side of the room.
The open curtains revealed the cloudy world outside. In the distance, he could see the glow of the village where it continued to burn. He drew the curtain slightly, not wanting Nika to see it and become upset again. It had been hard enough to see her so upset at the village with her father. It had been almost impossible to resist her request to turn the old man and save his life. He laughed internally at himself. Save his life? Instinct had told him that her father had been welcoming death in that moment. Turning him would have condemned him to live on, facing an eternity of regret. That wasn’t the life to give to someone, no matter how sweet and desperate the one requesting it was.
He glanced at Nika to see her carefully pulling on the trousers and slipping the cross into her pocket and then looked back out the window again to give her some privacy. The snowy grounds of the mansion stretched far in front of him. Footprints criss-crossed the open ground, always two sets side by side. The only ones that weren’t regular and following the boundary of the grounds were his. They cut across the other sets at an angle. He should have considered what an obvious mark he would leave. In a family bound by rules, and who prided themselves on regularity and loyalty, his footsteps across the snow would look highly suspicious. If luck were with him, any Watchman who saw them would merely think one of the younger vampires had caused them, excited at the prospect of hunting and eager to reach the woods.
“I’m tired,” Nika whispered on a sigh and he looked at her.
She buttoned the black shirt over her chest and stared down at the rug. He could sense the fatigue she spoke of, a tiredness that ebbed and flowed across the room from her, reminding him that he had snatched little sleep the day before and that her body was still healing. They would need to find her food and perhaps somewhere they could rest, but right now she could have neither. They had to leave. It wasn’t safe here.
He walked across the room and took hold of her arm. Her attempt to resist him by leaning backwards failed, as though she was strong enough to fight him, and he pulled her onto her feet. There was a definite pout about her expression.
“There is no time for rest,” he said and undid her belt. He could feel her eyes boring into his face and her heartbeat accelerated. The warm subtle scent of arousal clouded the air around him. He quirked an eyebrow at her reaction to his touch and steeled himself. No matter how much she wanted it, he couldn’t change his mind and surrender to her. He slid the dagger onto the belt and pushed it back through the loops before fastening it again. He wouldn’t give in. “We must leave now.”
Nika’s heartbeat slowed when he walked away. Silence filled the room and then he sensed an abrupt change in her emotions. A strange sense of intent replaced the fear and desire. Curiosity? It was impossible for him to pinpoint exact emotions when they were subtle ones like jealousy, curiosity and confusion. The ones that provoked a strong reaction like arousal, anger, happiness, were easiest to discern from her scent, her blood and her body.
“Where are we going?”
Winter felt her step up close behind her and sensed her intent to touch his back. He turned to face her and took a step backwards, out of her reach. Her gaze lingered on his waist, curiosity sparkling in her eyes. The knives had caught her attention.
“You’re dressed for war and you won’t tell me where we’re going. Why should I leave here?”
“Because it is not safe. Your fear is making you believe it is when in reality we are in the lion’s den. We must leave. I do not know where we shall go, but everything will be fine.”
Her expression softened, green eyes lighting up. His senses spoke of happiness and calm. Was it because he had told her that everything would be fine? He didn’t know if it would be, but it had felt like the right thing to say. He could protect her from any who came after her, within limits. He could not fight his kin. He could not fight his lord. If either of those came after him, they were doomed. He would have to give Nika up to them.
“Why are you doing this?”
Those sparkling green eyes met his and he stared into them, searching for the courage to voice the words that he wanted to say.
Closing his eyes so he didn’t have to see her reaction and torture himself with what might have been, he lowered his head and whispered, “You were not the only one who looked each time you passed by.”
He didn’t wait for her to speak. Turning on his heel, he went to the door and unlocked it. He took down a cloak from the hooks on the wall near the door and handed it to Nika when she came to stand beside him. It was freezing out and they had little time to find shelter before dawn. They needed to leave the mansion though. As much as his instinct was telling him to remain here for the day and his body ached for sleep in a comfortable bed, he couldn’t risk it. When the dawn came, the other commanders would return to their rooms and would smell Nika.
“Speak not a word, understand?” Winter said and she nodded.
A sweep with his senses revealed they were still alone on this floor. He opened the door, waited for Nika to pass through and then stepped out into the hall. Closing the door, he checked his surroundings again. Nothing. Nika made a small squeaking noise when he grabbed her around the waist and ran down the hall with her slung over his shoulder. He moved her into his arms when they reached the stairwell and she wrapped her legs around his waist, her arms looping around his neck. Emotions and sense warred in his head. His body ached to feel hers pressing into it, enjoyed the way her soft body felt against his side. Her breasts were touching his chest, only his armour stopping him from feeling them. His sense said to move her to his back again where he couldn’t feel her, but he couldn’t risk her cutting herself on the knives he carried. He had no choice but to hold her this way. If she cut herself, every Validus in the mansion would smell her within seconds.
Reaching the servants’ floor, he turned right down a dark corridor and headed for the stables. Voices echoed down the hall ahead of him and he ducked into a room, holding Nika close. He quietly closed the door and listened. Footsteps were heading towards them. Slipping into his vampire guise, he assessed the pitch-black room. It was storage. They were unlikely to come in here.
Nika’s breath against his face was warm and sweet. Her hands trembled against his neck and her heartbeat spoke of fear again. He cursed himself and held her closer, one hand against her backside while the other pressed into her upper back. Her eyes were wide and searching the darkness. How much could she see? Her vision was better than a human’s, but without changing into her wolf guise, she wouldn’t be able to see in the way he could.
The people passed and he tracked them with his senses, waiting until they were a good distance away before leaving the safety of the room. He ran along the corridor, Nika clinging to him, and skidded to a halt the moment his feet hit the icy dirt of the stable courtyard. It pained him to be here. He’d had several horses in his lifetime, but none like Midnight.
Nika moved against him, bringing him out of his thoughts. They needed a fast horse. One leaving the grounds would be less conspicuous than two.
Winter carried Nika into the main stable block and set her down on the hay-strewn floor between the two rows of stalls. A quick glance at her revealed that she was calm. He set about finding them a horse. His senses locked on Nika as he gathered a saddle and bridle. She remained close to him, her blood speaking of fear. Strange how she had felt so safe in his room. Strange how he had felt so safe. As though a room could protect them. It would keep them safe from the werewolves, but not from his family.
Winter turned on a pinhead to face the person standing a few metres behind her and then instantly moved to defend her from the shadowy figure standing in the entrance to the stable block. His arm came out to block the man’s path to her. She moved behind him.
“Ah, the woodman’s daughter,” a familiar warm deep voice echoed around the room.
Winter tensed too. He caught Nika’s arm where she stood behind him and guided her closer. The man moved closer too. Winter stood firm. Nika clung to his arm, trembling. Or was that him?
He stared into Hyperion’s eyes as his lord came to stand not two metres from him.
“You have grown into your beauty,” Hyperion said to Nika, eyes flashing hungrily as he smiled.
Winter growled and Hyperion turned a frown on him briefly before looking back at Nika.
“I have not seen you since you were small and promised to the wolves.”
Another growl escaped Winter’s lips and he stepped forwards, intent on protecting Nika, even if it was from his lord. Everything he had thought before disappeared when faced with this threat to Nika. He would protect her from his family. He wouldn’t surrender her to his lord. He wouldn’t surrender her to anyone.
“And what do you do in the stables, Winter?” Hyperion turned to him, purple eyes searching his, handsome face marred by darkness. His lord wasn’t amused.
“I came for a horse, nothing more, my lord.” Winter bowed his head and closed his eyes, hoping that if he acted as expected, his lord’s patience and understanding would return. In a fight, Winter didn’t stand a chance against Hyperion. Hyperion was three times his age and ten times stronger.
“A horse, the woodman’s daughter and the scent of old blood,” Hyperion said. Winter stiffened. He had made Nika clean herself and change, but had forgotten that her blood stained his gloves and clothes. “A blind man could see that something is happening here, Winter. Explain yourself. You already have a horse to call your own, but you are stealing another?”
The lack of anger in those words surprised Winter and he found the courage to look up into his lord’s eyes. They held no anger either. His lord was no fool. He would know that Nika was a werewolf now, but he hadn’t mentioned it. Why? It was too much to hope that Hyperion was going to let them go. No matter what indiscretions his past held, Hyperion didn’t tolerate his Watchmen breaking the law. At least, that was what he said. He had never needed to prove himself before now.
“My horse is dead,” Winter said and braved a step towards Hyperion. Nika remained close behind him, fiercely gripping his arm and peering around it. At least she had sense enough to know that Hyperion was a threat to her. “The werewolves attacked in Validus territory. Nika is not safe.”
“I am sorry, Winter. I know how you favoured the steed… but I cannot possibly let you leave here with this girl. Willem will destroy her family.”
Nika stepped out from behind him, her hand on the dagger at her waist. She glared at Hyperion. Perhaps she didn’t have sense after all.
“Willem. The beast that bit me and murdered my entire village?” Her words held an edge as sharp as the blade grasped in her hand.
“I thought there was an air of wet dog about the stables.” Hyperion smiled at her and then turned it on Winter. His look became thoughtful. “Should we send her to the compound?”
Winter pushed Nika back behind him and growled, his claws extending.
“You should know that you are breaking the law.” Hyperion’s eyes darkened and Winter sensed his anger rising.
He was a fool to anger his lord, but he couldn’t let them take Nika to the compound. She wasn’t strong enough. It would be the end of her.
“I know as well as you do. My lord is no stranger to the laws.” Winter took hold of Nika’s arm again and gripped it tightly, silently commanding her to remain behind him this time.
Pain surfaced in Hyperion’s eyes brief seconds before he lowered his gaze to the floor of the stables. He frowned and whispered, “Sakura.”
Winter hated himself for mentioning something that hurt his lord. He had done it on instinct, an immediate reaction to the thought that he was breaking the law. If he was, then he was following his lord’s well-trodden path.
“Take Demeter,” Hyperion said and Winter’s eyes shot wide.
“But my lord, Demeter is your horse.”
“She is, and there is no faster horse to be had in these stables. Return her to me. I have business to attend to, but I expect you back before the eastern party arrives.” Hyperion turned away and walked to the stable entrance. He paused, the strange half-light of the approaching dawn shadowing his features and adding to the solemn look in his eyes. “It is too late to travel this morning. Rest here the day. I will order this area out of bounds. Tomorrow night, leave as the sun sets and take your little wolf girl to the last stronghold of her kin, on the borders of St. Petersburg, north of the city.”
With that, he was gone.
Winter stared at the empty doorway, his claws easing away and his body relaxing inch by inch.
“Your lord?” Nika whispered, still clinging to his arm.
“Yes,” Winter said, staring after Hyperion.
Light began to chase away the darkness. With a sigh, Winter guided Nika into the empty stall beside Demeter’s. He waited for Nika to settle down on the straw and then stared at the large black mare. His lord was lending him his own horse to assist his escape from the mansion and speed him on his way to the bastion of Nika’s kin. It was more than he had expected, far more. It had shown Hyperion’s faith in him more clearly than the day he’d had the title of commander bestowed on him. His lord believed in him, trusted him, and liked him enough to cover for him even when he was breaking the law. Winter smiled and settled down in the opposite corner to Nika, closest to Demeter’s stall. The night faded and sleep beckoned him.
Nika moved across the stall and curled up close to him, her cloak covering her. He glanced at her neck.
“Your necklace is gone,” he murmured and she touched her throat.
“I thought perhaps you found it offensive.” She lowered her hand to her trouser pocket. “I still have it. It doesn’t seem to bother me so I thought I’d keep it. My parents gave it to me when I was a child. Come to think of it, it was after the wolves had attacked. Maybe my father and mother had wanted to protect me from them.”
“Perhaps,” Winter said and stifled a yawn. He was glad that she had found something to restore her love for her father. What he had done was unforgivable but he had paid the price for it and Winter was sure that he had suffered all these years knowing what he had done for the sake of the village. Maybe the dreams of a better life he had woven for Nika had been more than that. Maybe they had been her father’s hope shining through, his wish that she would escape the wolves and be free to live that dream.
Closing his eyes, Winter released his breath and let sleep come to claim him. A smile still touched his lips.
Hyperion had given him a reason to return, a purpose and a direction. Without him asking, his lord had given him everything that he needed. Now he knew where to take Nika.
Now he could help her.
Now he felt he could return once this was all over.
With his lord’s consent, he wasn’t breaking any law by taking Nika to her kin.
Now he just had to resist breaking the law that forbade a relationship between species.
Nika moved against him and wrapped her arms around one of his. The warmth of her and the smell of her blood were alluring, intoxicating. He breathed deep, taking the scent down into his lungs and holding it there. His fangs itched for her blood.
It was becoming harder with each passing second.
Did you enjoy today’s tease?
F E Heaton
Their lord drinks blood and they are dead men walking. The tales of the mansion don’t stop Nika from falling for one of the guards, but when wolves attack her and he rides to her rescue, she discovers that her knight is anything but saintly. He is a vampire and she is becoming a werewolf, and love between their species is forbidden—the penalty death.
Winter’s world is shaken beyond salvation and his allegiance to his bloodline tested as he watches the woman he’s fallen for turn into a werewolf. His heart demands vengeance and that he protects her, both from the werewolf now hunting for her and from himself, but she tempts him more than he can bear and it isn’t long into their journey before he’s torn between upholding the law and succumbing to desire.
Will Nika be able to convince Winter to leave his world and stay with her or will she spend eternity dreaming of Winter’s kiss?
You can get your hands on the first book in this series, PROPHECY: CHILD OF LIGHT, for FREE right now on selected Amazon Kindle, Kobo 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 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)