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A Novel of the Enclave
By Jessica Lee, Erin Molta
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2014 Jessica Lee
All rights reserved.
There are times in life when saving something or somebody you care about requires taking the risk that you'll lose it all and have nothing in the end.
Guerin's friendship with Kenric St. James, master of the Enclave, was a prime example of the possible nasty consequence. But it was a chance he had to take to keep his leader and best friend from once again getting screwed by his sire, Marguerite.
Even after her death.
Like a foreboding message, Guerin's last conversation with Arran, the only Enclave warrior who knew the real reason he'd left, rolled to the forefront of his mind.
"So what will you do when you cross the pond and find Eve isn't what Marguerite claimed she'd be, her vengeful, spiteful mother's daughter? Will you wrap her up like a present and bring her back to her father? Kenric will never forgive us for keeping Eve's existence a secret from him."
It had been a valid question, but it was a decision he didn't believe he'd truly need to make.
"She's Marguerite's spawn. How can the female be anything but evil?"
"Yet," Arran responded, "if Marguerite was telling the truth, she only possesses half of Marguerite's genes. There's a part of her that's Kenric as well."
"Kenric never had a chance to be a part of her life, to impart any kind of moral compass for the female to follow." Guerin had glanced over his shoulder and dread had settled like an anchor around his neck. "I wish like hell this wasn't my journey to take. But what kind of friend would I be if I didn't do this for him? No man should ever be asked to kill his own child."
The bell tower chimed once, then twice, announcing the late hour to the empty, wet streets of Nuremberg, Germany. Guerin swiped the rain from his face and off the shadow of a beard that had grown during his ten-hour trek across the Atlantic. He picked up his speed as he made his way through the aged passageway, his boots splashing through the puddles littering the street. The weatherworn buildings attested to decades spent enduring the unyielding elements. Guerin understood all too well the harsh effects of existing for too many years.
The edifices were old — but he was older.
Guerin inhaled a lungful of the icy breeze, attempting to shrug off the heavy blanket of isolation that was trying to suffocate him. It had been more than a century since he and Kenric had teamed up and formed the Enclave. At first, it had been only him and his best friend defending the humans on the coast of South Carolina. Through the years, Kenric had recruited a select few males who'd demonstrated a strong desire to keep their darker side in check and protect others from those of their kind who couldn't resist the urge to kill while feeding.
The Enclave had grown to five male warriors until earlier that year, when they'd lost Logan during the rescue of Arran's mate and her sister. And then there was Markus. Physically, the bastard was back inside the Enclave's walls, but the vampire's head was so screwed up from Marguerite's manipulations that Guerin doubted Kenric would ever be able to reach him.
With the high level of risk associated with his mission, crossing the Atlantic onto a master's territory without notice and hunting down a vampire on foreign soil — a vampire none of them knew anything about — Guerin really should have his team at his back. Or his head examined. But this was something that had to be handled alone. There was no other way.
Slowing his pace, Guerin sampled the air once more. His informant was already here. He'd sensed the other's presence a moment ago when he'd turned into the corridor. The vibrations and scent given off by another vampire were hard to miss, if they wanted to be found, that is.
"Guerino Lombardi?" A sultry female voice drifted from the shadows.
"Depends on who's asking." Guerin halted and fisted his hand around the hilt of his dagger. The steady pelt of the rain on the cobblestones drummed in his ears as a figure emerged from the darkness.
Long waves of cinnamon-brown hair draped the shoulders of a woman who appeared to be about a head shorter than his six-foot-two frame. A dark-crimson cape enveloped her, brushing her ankles and shielding her from the cold night of the early Bavarian winter. She reached up and pulled its hood over her head as she glided forward and slowed to a stop before him. Her eyelids shuttered, and her lips parted on a deep inhale. A sensual display, and one he was sure was for his benefit.
"Mmm ..." She opened her eyes, and a flash of red circled her pupils. "My, you are an old one," she said in a thick accent that hinted of a Russian heritage. The tips of her fangs glinted from beneath her upper lip. "I am Ana."
Arousal and blatant lust rolled off the female like a tsunami wave and slammed into Guerin's senses. He bit back a groan. One not formed from mutual desire, but of distaste.
"If you're Ana, then yes, I'm Guerino. The one sent by Markus to locate Eve for his Mistress," he said, omitting one small detail — Markus's Mistress, Marguerite, was dead. She also didn't need to know that Markus was in a silver-plated cage, wasting away like a fucking ice cream cone under a midday summer sun. Not that the Enclave's master wasn't trying to save him. Shit. For the past month, Kenric had attempted to feed him every other day, but for some reason, Markus had developed a damn martyr complex. Guerin swiped a hand through his hair, pushing back the rain-slicked layers dripping onto his face. Damn. He hated how cold the rain was in Europe. "Do you have the information?"
"Ah, yes ... Marguerite." Ana lifted one brow and painted a smile on her red lips. "And how is dear Marguerite? It's been too long since last we ... played."
"She's eager to find her daughter. Marguerite lost contact with Eve after leaving the country, and you're the only other person who knew of her existence. She's counting on your cooperation."
Ana tsked. "So impatient for one as old as you." She closed the distance between them, reached up, and trailed her fingertips in a slow exploration down his chest. "You and I could have fun getting to know each other." Her hand dipped below his belt. Guerin hissed, seized her wrist, and jerked her hard against him. The breath whooshed from her lungs in a cloud of vapor.
"You want to get to know me?" Guerin growled, dropped her wrist, and gripped Ana's chin. "Lesson number one: I don't fuck vampires."
"Fine." Ana pulled free of his hold and stepped back. "We don't fuck."
Guerin took a deep breath. Shit. Get a grip. He needed her. She was his only lead to finding Eve.
"Sorry," Guerin said through clenched teeth. "Nothing personal."
Ana huffed. "You're lucky I'm loyal to Marguerite, or I'd tell you to go screw yourself."
"Like I said. Nothing personal, Ana." Guerin shrugged. "Just a preference." He stepped closer. "Now, do you know where Eve is?"
"I do." She smiled. Ana brushed past him with a come-hither rock of her hips, then circled him like a cat parading its kill before its master.
Yes. Finally a lead. The blood surged in Guerin's veins, but he forced back the adrenaline rush. He didn't need Ana suspicious over his reaction.
"So where is Eve Devonshire, Ana?" It was all he could do not to grab her and demand an answer. He had to find her. Kenric, his best friend — his only family for the past century — didn't deserve to live through another one of Marguerite's choreographed nightmares. For a moment, his mind flashed back more than a hundred years ago to the night he and Kenric had met.
Guerin had only been in the low country of South Carolina for about six months when one evening, he stumbled upon a lone human going up against several crazed DEADs on the docks. Five against one. Those kinds of odds weren't much to his liking — then and now. So Guerin had decided to crash the party and help the poor male.
For the first few minutes, everything had been going fine. In fact, he'd been kicking some ass and rather enjoying himself, until one of them pulled a knife and sank the blade into his flank. That's when a stranger, with powers unlike any he'd witnessed in years, appeared out of nowhere. A wicked windstorm kicked up that knocked him back into a pillar and temporarily clouded his vision. Guerin had realized immediately that he was in the presence of a master vampire. Gurgling cries sliced through the air, and as quickly as it had all begun, the storm ended. The strong winds ceased, leaving only the sounds of the harbor surrounding them.
The powerful new vampire stood up from where he'd been checking the victim for signs of life, but the human's wounds had been too great. As he turned and approached, the male's dark coat billowed around his ankles in the sea's slight breeze, and hair the color of a raven brushed the sides of his face. He closed in on Guerin and stopped, his pale blue eyes meeting Guerin's. Energy, a strength only another creature of the night could detect, radiated off the male in palpable waves. Whoever he was, Guerin had known that the male was someone he didn't want as his enemy. What the master did next, though, had caught him by surprise. As if they'd just met at a social event and not after having battled several DEADs, the master vampire stuck out his palm in a gentleman's offering. "The name's Kenric St. James, and who might you be?"
Ana pressed her shoulder into his, jarring Guerin back into the present, and came around his left side, stopping in front of him. Her bloodred cape swayed around her ankles. Hundreds of raindrops beaded on her shoulders like diamond dust in the moonlight, giving her an almost angelic appearance. A deceptive illusion he knew the lethal beauty used to her advantage. "Actually ... She was here — last I saw her. Just outside of Nuremberg."
"Where exactly?" Guerin couldn't believe his luck.
"Der Roses Dorn."
"The Rose's Thorn? What is that? Some sort of club?"
"Yes," Ana replied. "One that caters to those with a taste for the more ... exotic in sexual pleasures. It's the last place I saw her." She turned to move away. Guerin reached out and gripped her forearm. Ana whirled. "What else do you want?" Her gaze flicked up to his. "I've given you what you came for. Now you can inform Marguerite that she owes me one." Ana tugged at his hold on her wrist and dismissed him with a turn of her head.
"Not so fast." Ana was loyal to Marguerite, but it didn't mean she wouldn't be compelled to run her mouth about this little rendezvous, especially if she walked away with nothing to show for her cooperation. When she'd come on to him earlier, he had shut her down colder than a bare ass in Siberia. He could kill her and make for damn sure no one learned of his arrival in Germany. But one woman to assassinate was enough. Guerin took a deep breath. Ana had come through for him.
"What?" The heated glare Ana tossed his way declared she still wasn't too happy with his earlier rejection. "You don't want to fuck me, but you do want to stand here in the cold and freeze your balls off. Pfft." She gave a slight jerk of her chin. "Americans."
Guerin seized Ana's other arm, and faster than she could utter another complaint, he shoved her under the cover of the building's overhang.
"What are you doing?" she cried out as he took her farther beneath the shadows of the building's roof.
"If you stop complaining, you might find out."
He wedged Ana against the solid steel door that the shadows and the narrow covered passage hid from anyone passing by the mouth of the alley. Guerin braced one hand beside her head and leaned in. Her ragged breaths gave evidence to how much he'd rattled her. Good. Knowing he'd unnerved the vampiress was a bit of a rush.
"I said I wouldn't fuck you," Guerin began. "But I do have something I'm sure you'll enjoy just as much." He lifted his free arm and brought his wrist to his lips. Ana's eyes widened and fire swirled in her pupils as he curled his upper lip back and exposed his fangs. Without hesitation, he sank them into his flesh, opening his vein. Warm, thick liquid coated his tongue. Guerin pulled his wrist from his mouth and held it up to Ana in offering.
Her upper lip curled back on a hiss, and she struck. Without mercy, Ana latched onto his open vein, drawing the essence from his body with hard pulls that nearly buckled his knees.
It'd been years since Guerin had fed another, and it was a trip down memory lane he'd rather not travel. With damn good reason. Those memories were an ugly road full of pain, betrayal, and foolishness on his part. His stomach roiled with Ana's repeated sips and licks at his vein. She rocked into him, pressing her hips into his, and a vibrating mewl emanated from the back of her throat.
This bad idea needed to die a quick death. Now.
Guerin reached out with his mind and slipped easily into the distracted vampiress's head. The quickest and most humane way to get a vampire female off your vein: take her down the shortest path to fulfillment. A journey she would no doubt appreciate to help satiate the growing arousal from her meal.
A mind fuck.
He stroked the bundle of neurons near her brain stem, signaling the pleasure center of Ana's mind. She shuddered against him, gasped, and sent a rush of cool air skating across his wrist.
"Oh God, yes ..." She moaned and pulled away, bumping her rear into the door. "I thought you didn't fuck vampires?"
Guerin brought his wrist to his mouth and sealed the wound. He watched as Ana's eyelids lowered and her head fell back. "I don't."
"What? But ..." As if she were in the throes of a wet dream, Ana lifted her hands and slowly unzipped her cape. The crimson cloth fell open; she reached in and cupped both breasts with her palms.
"You were so very helpful, Ana," he rasped. "Allow me to give you what you want."
Her fingers tightened, sinking into her ripe flesh, squeezing her breasts as though she could milk the pleasure straight from her pores. "Oh, God ... more!"
Ana's heart pounded like a bass drum inside his head, and the scent of her arousal flooded the space between him. But unlike with human women, the pheromones she released did nothing for his libido.
With a mental tug on her pleasure cortex, he gave her more. Guerin increased the pressure, massaging her neurons into a pulsing fury of sensation. Ana's hips bucked as if he'd thrust deep inside her core. She cried out and dropped a hand, reaching for the apex of her need.
"That's it, Ana," he whispered inside her head. "Let go."
Guerin followed the path of her hand with his gaze as she pulled up her dress and exposed her black lace panties and garters to the night. He had to admit, she was lovely. But she was a vampire, and no amount of satin and lace could cover up that bitter fact.
She trailed her fingers over the lace covering her sex, clamped her palm over her mons, and ground the heel of her hand over the hidden bundle of nerves. Her breath hitched, and her back arched. Ana's mouth fell open on a silent cry. Guerin held on to Ana's mind, increasing the pleasure until her every muscle contracted, buckling her legs. He snaked an arm around her waist, taking the weight of her body, and she slumped forward onto Guerin's chest. Warm, rapid pants of air heated his neck.
"No fair, vampire," she mumbled lazily at his throat before lifting her head. "You play dirty. I didn't get to finish my meal." She licked the residual traces of his blood from her lips.
"Maybe ... but you did enjoy your reward."
"True." Ana gave him a hint of a satisfied smile. She pushed away, tugged her dress down, and zipped her cape. "Pity you're so opposed to making the experience a reality."
Guerin flipped the collar up on his coat. "Not really." He turned and made his way out onto the cobblestone.
"Bastard," Ana shouted behind him.
In every sense of the word, yes, he was. And if Eve proved to be anything like her mother, she was about to meet the biggest bastard of her life.
Excerpted from Undying Desire by Jessica Lee, Erin Molta. Copyright © 2014 Jessica Lee. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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