The Emerald Lily

The Emerald Lily

by Juliette Cross
The Emerald Lily

The Emerald Lily

by Juliette Cross

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Overview

When Princess Vilhelmina Dragomir is awakened from her hellish sleep with a blood kiss from a handsome stranger, she learns that much has changed while she's been away. The armies of the Black Lily and the vampire Crown have amassed and are on the brink of war.

No romantic entanglements, no family. Mikhail Romanov, Captain of the Bloodguard, took a vow when he joined the Bloodguard. But he never planned for the gut-punching attraction he would feel for the untouchable princess. He must keep his focus, though. In order to avenge his family, it's essential he help Mina claim her crown and keep his damn hands off of her.

But Mina sets her heart on the elusive captain, and keeping his focus on the great battle ahead becomes harder and harder. While they're making plans, the evil King Dominik has been making some of his own. This time, he will show no mercy to the Princess...


Each book in the Vampire Blood series is STANDALONE, but best enjoyed in order:
* The Black Lily
* The Red Lily
* The White Lily
* The Emerald Lily



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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781983635427
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 01/08/2018
Series: Vampire Blood , #4
Pages: 340
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.76(d)

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Briar Rose cut an eerie silhouette in the moonlit night. Sharp turrets and massive battlements would be formidable to scale and climb for most men. And vampires. But not for Mikhail and his four brethren in the Bloodguard. They'd watched from the woodlands since sunset. Watched and waited.

Mikhail flicked a hand, signaling his men. As one, the hooded vampires melded with the shadows and flashed to the eastern gate. Gregoravich cracked the neck of the first Legionnaire guard, then severed his head with a clean, deep slice. Dmitri, the second. They dropped the bodies along the inner wall.

There were two ways into the well-guarded eastern tower, which most assuredly held Princess Vilhelmina. Either through the palace itself and likely two dozen guards, or through the tower window. They'd opted for the path of least resistance.

The heavy concentration of Legionnaires clad in red-and-black dress — denoting King Dominik's men guarded her rather than her own — was like a beacon shining a spotlight on her location within the castle.

Dmitri had asked Mikhail at sunset, "Incapacitate or kill?"

There was only one answer Mikhail could give with icy conviction. "Kill."

They would show no mercy to these brutal bastards who'd imprisoned the princess. Especially since they were under orders of the nefarious butcher king himself. The evil Queen Morgrid's announcement that her eldest son would take the captive Princess Vilhelmina as his bride set the members of the Black Lily into action. Friedrich, the Duke of Winter Hill, had told Mikhail why it was imperative that he save her at all costs. "The fate of us all depends upon the success of your mission. She cannot come into the hands of King Dominik or Queen Morgrid."

And so here they were, embarking on said mission. Beyond Friedrich's warnings, Mikhail had another reason for saving the Princess of Arkadia. One that bore so deep his blood hummed with the possibility that she could be the key to avenge the wrong done to him and his family. A wrong that still pricked with sharp teeth upon that tender organ beneath his ribs.

Slipping through the shadows to the wall beneath the eastern parapet, Mikhail gave a swift nod. Together, they climbed, finding the notches and grooves of brick to hoist themselves up in swift silence. With claws extended, for they'd all summoned their inner beasts to the surface, they made quick work of the wall. Upon their leap over the top ledge, they fell upon the unsuspecting guards with deadly swiftness.

Mikhail unsheathed his serrated dagger as a Legionnaire attacked. With little effort, he gutted the vampire and opened his throat before he'd even drawn his longsword. By the time Mikhail turned to his men, there was a pile of seven eviscerated Legionnaires. His men faced opposite directions to await more who would come when they smelled the blood. The only sound was the whipping of the Arkadian flag atop the corner battlement — the white dragon sigil roaring upon the forest-green backdrop.

Without delay, he slipped a sleek black rope from within his coat and looped it around a jutting square along the parapet wall. He'd estimated this post would serve well for his purposes hours earlier when they'd watched from the woodlands. He'd been right. Looping the other end of the rope around his waist and tying it with a slipknot, he stood backward on the edge of the parapet and leaped over the edge into the night.

His feet made contact with the wall, then he repelled with ease down the tower to the window. Peering through the mottled pane, he noted there were no guards within the chamber. With both feet on the ledge, one hand holding the rope, he pulled his razor pick from the leather strap across his chest, securing his tools of the assassination trade. Scoring one square pane along the frame, he then slid the pick back where it belonged. With one, two, three taps of his finger, the pane cracked then fell free, shattering a second later on the stone floor. After sliding his hand through the opening and popping the lock free, the casement doors swung open.

Once inside, he untied the rope from around his waist and looped it over the window latch to keep it from slipping away. No candles burned in the room. No fire, either, leaving the chamber in a wintry chill. Heartless bastards.

The circular room bore few furnishings. A table with a bowl and ewer along the wall, a chair, and a bed.

He approached the bed, where gossamer curtains framed the woman within. His heartbeat reverberated in his ears, a quickening drum as he beheld the princess entombed in her bloodless sleep. The Princess of Arkadia was known for her grace and beauty. Still, his breath caught in his throat when he pushed aside the bed sheer.

Resting upon her back with her arms draped across her abdomen — an unnatural position for one in sleep — she still appeared at peace. Dressed in a white nightgown and a green velvet robe that was fastened with a row of black buttons down the bodice, her lithe body appeared too thin. As any vampire would be, having been starved with only one drop of blood per week to keep her in this torturous state.

And yet, her face.

Mikhail inched closer. The darkness could hide nothing from his vampire senses. Waves of the palest yellow hair, like sun-bleached wheat when it's tall and ripe, draped down to her waist. High cheekbones, delicate nose, full lips. Overly full. He dragged his gaze upward to her lashes, black against her pale complexion. What shade of blue would her eyes be? All born vampires had blue eyes. Royal born, the bluest of all. A marked trait.

Her chest rose and fell steadily, even after being in this cursed slumber for months. He'd heard of powerful warriors being induced into the bloodless sleep who died within a fortnight. Wandering the darkness of their minds, confronting and reliving the nightmares that await there, had been enough to stop the heart of bigger, stronger men. Yet, here lay this pale beauty, soft and serene as if in a natural sleep. He hoped she survived the transition to reality. He'd heard of those awakening with their minds unhinged, never regaining full control of their sanity.

He and his brethren had discussed when to awaken her, but Mikhail had rejected all votes that they should wait until they'd carried her to safety. Mikhail had heard tales from survivors of the bloodless sleep. The dark agony of sensing everything going on around oneself but never being able to speak or open one's eyes or make any move at all. And all the while, an aching pain stabbed the sleeper's gut, ricocheted out, and rattled bones.

Sitting on the edge of the bed, he lifted a lock of her silken hair, sliding his fingers till it fell away. The sensual caress striking a vulnerable cord in his chest. He clutched his fist together. Her beauty made him breathless. The fact that she lay imprisoned in her own body cut through the tough veneer of the captain to the man beneath. No way in hell would he leave her in such a state of agony a second longer.

Awakening a victim from a bloodless sleep was a precarious job. He must be gentle, careful not to overpower her system and jolt her body to full wakefulness. She could go into shock. Friedrich had suggested the best-known method — the blood kiss.

Leaning close to her ear, he whispered, "Princess. If you can hear me, listen well. I must awaken you from this deep slumber. Pardon the intimacy and have no fear. I mean you no harm."

His canines fully extended, he bit into the fleshy part of his palm and smeared his lips with his own blood. Wrapping his other hand behind her slender nape, he leaned close, inhaling the fragrant scent of white jasmine and sunshine. He paused, faltering at the sweetness of her, an unexpected punch to his senses.

With tight control, he swept his lips over hers, wetting them with his blood and coaxing them apart. The slightest relaxing of her mouth gave him entry. Raising his palm, he licked a swath of his own blood across his tongue then angled his mouth over hers with firm possession, delving in to awaken her starving body. Sliding his tongue over and against hers, he slicked her thoroughly.

His pulse pounded an erratic beat. He heard hers quicken in timing with his own. Her senses stirred.

Unexpected arousal crashed through him, hardening every inch of his body. His fangs extended to their most painful length, demanding succor.

Bloody hell!

He'd come to offer his own lifeblood, not take what little she had. And yet his body trembled with bone-shaking hunger.

Stifling his rebellious body's needs, he sucked a few drops of blood from his palm wound and pressed his mouth to hers once more, letting the blood seep inside and down her throat. He couldn't help delving back in, licking the delicious taste of her onto his tongue.

A low moan emanated from her throat. He jerked away, remembering himself. By God, his thoughts spiraled down a dark, wayward path when his mouth was on hers. Panting, he leaned farther away, giving himself some distance.

She lifted a slender hand, her brow furrowing as she moaned a second time, rousing from her deep, paralyzing sleep. Her eyes shot open, and she sucked in a deep lungful of air. Her wide-eyed gaze landed directly on his. Mikhail was sure he'd slipped and fallen off a cliff, flailing helplessly.

Fathomless pools of blue, burning brightly. His father used to take him to the ocean shore during the summers as a boy. They'd walk along the sandy beach collecting shells. Once, he'd found the most beautiful clear gem washed upon the sand. Sea glass, his father had told him. A broken piece of bottle or jar that the ocean had tumbled and smoothed into the clearest, purest blue he had ever seen. That was what he thought of when he looked into the eyes of this princess who smelled like sunshine and tasted like heaven.

"Welcome back, Princess Vilhelmina." Steel clashed against steel on the battlement above. Footsteps pounded on the staircase leading to the tower. "Time to go."

CHAPTER 2

Mina's pulse thundered in her ears, as she stared up at the most stunning vampire she'd ever seen. Midnight-black hair. One blue, one green eye flaring bright in the shadowy room. His face cut too sharply to mark him as beautiful. Mesmerizing, more like. A memory flitted over her mind, a repetitive dream from her deep slumber. One where a dark prince would one day save her.

But this was no dream. Her skin burned, her muscles ached, her heart raced with his blood coursing through her body. She slid her tongue over her bottom lip, tasting the sweet tang of a drop left behind. His otherworldly eyes followed the movement, sparking with new fire.

"Who are you?" she demanded, voice cracking.

"No time, Your Highness." He leaned close, and before she knew what he was doing, he lifted her against his broad chest and carried her to the open window. He set her on her feet. "You'll have to forgive me, but we have approximately twenty seconds."

"For what?" she asked, her legs trembling as he steadied her with a hand at her waist.

He lifted the end of a rope looped onto her window latch, tied it around her waist, and tightened it into a complex knot with deft fingers. He wrapped his hands around her waist, nearly spanning it completely. She hitched in a breath as he leveled his gaze on hers, lifted her, and slipped her out the open window. She should've been afraid, but some new powerful force inside her pushed all her fears away. Had it been him? This dark savior's blood kiss?

"Hold onto the window ledge for a brief second."

She gripped the ledge, knowing full well she couldn't hold her own weight. No matter. As soon as he let her go, he grabbed the rope with a tight grip. "I won't let you fall. Someone is at the bottom to carry you to safety."

She felt no dread even as she dangled from the tower while the sound of combat filled the night air. She gave a confident nod. Then she was gliding fast down the side of the outer brick wall. The chilly wind lifted her hair and billowed her skirts around her bare ankles. When she expected to hit the ground with a thud, her descent stopped just short of her feet hitting the ground. A vampire lifted her, a burly beast of a man, while another unfastened the rope around her waist. Then she was passed from the arms of the mountainous one to the other, who smiled at her. Something about the shape of his eyes was familiar. He looked like the one who'd just dropped her out the window.

"Pardon me, Your Highness." He tucked her tight against his chest. "I am Dmitri. You may want to close your eyes. My speed can be a shock to the system."

"I am an Arkadian princess." She heard the words come out husky but with confidence. "I can handle the speed of any vampire."

His mouth tilted into an infectious grin. "Let's get you the hell out of here then."

Three Legionnaires stormed from an archway and rounded toward them. The big vampire engaged all three at once with moves too graceful for a man his size. Mina had one second to recognize the Legionnaires wore the livery of King Dominik of Izeling, not her own colors or the queen's. Then Dmitri flashed into motion, moving in a head-spinning blur away from Briar Rose. Away from her home. And her prison.

Dmitri was right to warn her. Though all vampires had the ability of supernatural speed, even though she was too weak to do so on her own at the moment, he moved remarkably fast. She gripped around his neck and let her head fall to his shoulder rather than resist the force of the wind, too weak to do anything but allow herself to be taken away. While her body was weak, a vibrant pulse thrummed in her veins, shocking her senses with a potency she'd never felt in all her life.

She hoped these men weren't brigands, and that she hadn't exchanged one imprisonment for another. No. She reached out with her other sense, her vampire gift. The man who held her in his arms had no nefarious emotions swarming about him. Though the one who'd awakened her certainly kept company with darkness, he didn't resonate with ill-intent, either. Not for her, anyway. Of that, she was sure.

She held on tight as he flashed them deeper into the wooded Novak Mountains. The mountains kept some of their foliage, even steeped in winter. For now, the snow only reached the tip-top of the range that swept in a horseshoe around the seat of the Arkadian kingdom, Briar Rose.

The air was crisp, nipping at her ears and nose. When the queen had exacted her punishment, the trees of the Novak region had just begun to turn red and gold. How long had she been under? It seemed like an eternity.

Within an hour, she heard other vampires running parallel to them, but Dmitri didn't seem alarmed. It must be his brethren. She couldn't help but wonder who'd hired them. Her first order of business was to discover who'd sent them for her.

After a chilling trip higher into the foothills of the Novaks, Dmitri slowed to a human pace. Barely winded, he walked toward a mound of heavy brush then casually stepped behind it, where the entrance to a cave was hidden.

"Stop." Mina gripped the rough leather of his coat at the shoulder.

Dmitri stopped suddenly. "What is it, Your Highness?"

"I smell bear."

"Oh, that." He continued on, ducking his head at the entrance. The interior was much more spacious than it appeared. "Don't worry about him." He set her gently on her feet. "We moved the bear last night."

"You moved ... the bear."

Two more vampires entered. The hulking one who'd fought the Legionnaires so she and Dmitri could make a quick escape. And another she hadn't seen yet. Quiet with sharp, watchful eyes.

"Sure," added Dmitri. "Not much of a chore for us." He winked. "Eh, Gregoravich?"

"Just a wee cub," replied the big one, Gregoravich.

"That wee cub nearly snapped off your tree trunk of an arm," said a fourth vampire who entered the cave. His blond hair gleamed by the moonlight slipping in. He gave her a formal bow with a tilted smile that had most certainly charmed many a lady. "I am Aleksei, Your Highness. At your service."

"Bah." Gregoravich waved a beefy hand. "One punch to the jaw and he was out like a baby."

A fifth vampire moved into the cave on silent feet. The black-haired one who'd awoken her. Even while in the bloodless sleep, she'd heard his velvet voice whisper in her ear. She'd felt his fervent kiss. Her fingers went to her lips, then her legs wobbled. He was at her side, steadying her with a hand wrapped at her elbow.

"Enough," he ordered over his shoulder. "We'll rest for three hours. Gavril, you have first watch."

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "The Emerald Lily"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Juliette Cross.
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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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