Lords of the Night 1: Gothic Passions
Digital • Mar 27, 2003
Lords of the Night 1
Vampire Richard Sebastian Stuart, the sixth Earl of Lyon has supped from the finest necks in England, but when he encounters an innocent maiden named Lily, desire turns to lust, lust to passion, passion to obsession. He will do anything to possess her, even strike a deal with the devil himself. One taste will never quell his aching hunger for the one and only woman, strong enough to tame the insatiable beast within and become his bloodmate.
Lady Lily Devlin has no intention of being anyone’s possession. She saw how that kind of love destroyed her mother. Lily hasn’t met a man that she couldn’t thwart. She’s determined that Lord Lyon will be no exception, but she didn’t count on his single-mindedness or his…insatiable appetites. And she certainly didn’t count on falling in love.
ROSE’S RAPTURE (Lords of the Night 2)
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Note for Readers: This excerpt contains adult content intended for individuals 18 years of age or older.
Lord Lyon observed the crowded ballroom as the first strings were plucked, signaling a waltz was about to begin. The dancers had already twirled through a couple quadrilles, a cotillion, and a polka or two. A rush of energy filled the room as men and women bustled about, jockeying for position on the dance floor.
The excitement and heat from the crowd sent pulses racing, hearts pounding, and blood rocketing through the people’s veins. He’d been in town two days now and still needed time to adjust.
From his vantage point, lazily perched in the doorway of the salon, it appeared as if half the ton was here. Richard brought a fingertip to his temple and casually rubbed. It was always the same thing.
For several hours now, he’d been listening to boring dowagers and matrons with half an ear while they gossiped about the poor unsuspecting debutantes. Deciding the fate of the young women with a flick of a fan, as the music strummed on.
The press of the people, the warmth of their heated bodies triggered his hunger. Normally Richard would have found the combination of blood types and present company enticing, instead it left him cold. He missed his manor in Ireland . There he’d been able to inconspicuously sup from the finest necks around, while enjoying the honest friendliness of his neighbors. London seemed cold and dreary by comparison, unwelcoming. And frankly, he was bored. It didn’t look as if this season would bring him any closer to meeting his bloodmate than the last.
Lady Clayton’s words wafted in the air. Richard smiled, as if her comment about men and their sausages had been amusing, before excusing himself and turning away. There hadn’t been a single neck stand out that had been able to hold his interest for more than a sip or two of blood, not that he’d indulged. It wasn’t necessary to taste, when you’d been around long enough to obtain the ability to determine uniqueness with one whiff. That’s why he’d paid Rose so handsomely. She kept him satisfied so that he could remain in public without seeming depraved. Unfortunately since she wasn’t his bloodmate he was never fully sated. Only a bloodmate’s blood would allow him to achieve such a state.
Ignoring his hunger, Richard tugged at the ivory cuff sticking out of his navy jacket, a nervous habit he’d developed years before his human death that he’d been unable to dispel. With Parliament back in session, the ton’s season was in full swing. Young dandies pranced like peacocks at the balls, catching the eyes of wealthy matrons. Dalliances were arranged in the speed at which it took to bat a lash. At the same time the young Corinthians tried to avoid the parson’s mousetraps.
Richard arched a brow. He knew better than most that wasn’t possible without much experience. The randy bucks’ naiveté amused him, not that he hadn’t dallied with many ladies in the past. Richard’s reputation as a notorious rake was well established in the mind of the ton. Men feared him on the field of business, for he was known to ruin anyone foolish enough to cross swords with him, while women welcomed him with open legs into their beds, his lovemaking skills legendary.
The grand dams had all but given up on him making a suitable alliance, which was for the best considering his special needs. Of course that didn’t stop the matrons from holding out hope for their daughters—and themselves.
Beautifully dressed women stepping out in their first, second, and third seasons secretively kept their eyes on the available men, calculating how best to align themselves with a good match. Some had been mere chits, while others had gone so far as to dampen their petticoats to accentuate the day’s revealing styles.
Richard dismissed them unceremoniously. He wanted no chit or brazen woman for a wife. Many had tried unsuccessfully to catch his attention. Richard watched his step carefully, never feigning attention to maidens longer than good manners dictated. No one would be able to accuse him of social impropriety or undue interest.
Obviously, the dowagers hadn’t informed those same maidens about the thrill of a good chase. Richard’s lips quirked and he shook his head. He knew the temptation of bucking society’s rules well. It was a continual struggle to confine his true nature. Richard watched the men and women. In anticipation, he casually flexed his muscles. It had been a long time since he’d participated in a good game of cat and mouse. He’d find the challenge refreshing.
He supposed he was not so different from the horde. Richard had come to London in search of a very special kind of woman. He looked neither for titles nor for riches, for he had both; more than enough to last several lifetimes. What he sought was infinitely more precious and far more difficult to find, if not impossible.
Richard sought a strong mate who had an innate intelligence, one who could accept life in Ireland , who didn’t need the excitement of the ton, and someone with whom he could converse. He had no patience for birdwitted chits. Beauty would help, but was not essential. Loyalty was absolutely necessary and if love was present, then all the better.
Oh, and last but not least, probably most importantly, he needed a woman who didn’t mind living with a seven hundred year-old vampire. Not that he was hard to get along with, but he was a little set in his ways.
It was a tall order to fill and Richard held little hope this season would find the order filled. A true bloodmate didn’t come around often, in fact out of his many Dearg-due friends, only one of the vampires had succeeded. Years later, Katherine lost her mate to an attack. Richard arrived in time to save her—barely. She now devoted her time to helping others.
He grimaced. The past held far too many ghosts and the future seemed no more hopeful.
He located the hostess across the room. Richard decided to give his regards then retire for the evening. He was about to turn and join her, when a flash of yellow crepe caught his eye. Normally he’d just ignore something so minor, but not much captured his attention, so he decided to investigate.
Richard pushed from the archway, where he’d been casually watching the masses. His gleaming Hessians heralded his approach, the soft click indistinguishable to all but him in the throng. There was a flutter of yellow on the dance floor as the lady’s skirt bowed out. The young dandy twirling her took the waltz turn too quickly. Richard cursed inwardly at the man’s clumsy moves. He still hadn’t managed to see the woman’s face.
Lily’s dance partner, Lord Nathaniel Martins took the last turn of the waltz wide, bowing her skirts for all to see. She forced a smile as the music continued. Would this waltz never end? There was no way she would encourage this cretin one moment longer. He’d practically pawed her on every turn, all but slobbering on himself. For the past two hours she’d been by his side on and off, there’d been no attempt at conversation on his part only innuendo, that truth be told, she hadn’t understood.
He ran his thumb over her wrist. Lily shuddered, hoping he didn’t mistake revulsion for encouragement. Lord Martins reminded her of her father in his youth. Extremely overconfident, he relied on his charm to get him by in polite society, with no ambition to do more. She had no doubt it worked on some people, just not her. Lily wanted no part of it. She didn’t care what her father said this match was unacceptable. She’d have to have a word with her Aunt Margaret, the Duchess of Dreyer. Only she was powerful enough to sway her father when his mind was set.
Why her father had suggested Lord Martins was beyond her. As far as Lily could discern he held no attributes other than wealth and title. Yet when her father had escorted her into the ball and Nathaniel had immediately joined them, it had been clear the men had reached some sort of understanding, their acquaintance well beyond mere social politeness.
Lily glanced at the young lord once again, with his smarmy looks and ruddy face. She swallowed her dislike, slipping on her social mask. Her opinion of him had not changed. She would do nothing to encourage him.
The dance ended and the ladies were escorted off the floor. Richard found himself standing a few feet away from a vision, like Botticelli’s Venus. She wore a cadmium crepe over a pale sarcenet, trimmed with shimmering pearls. Short sleeves, boasting a shower of glowing gems, fit closely to her slender arms. The material gave only a glimpse of her alabaster skin, before it was once again covered by white kid gloves.
Her golden hair hung Roman style with tresses confined at the back of her head in sun-kissed ringlets. A demi-turban formed of pale tawny satin blended beautifully with her hair’s rich color giving her the appearance of a radiant angel sent from heaven. Richard’s lungs seized, if she was an angel then he most certainly represented the devil.
His gaze caressed the sprig of vibrant flowers, which had been placed on one side of her head. So fresh, so full of life, Richard’s gut clenched as he fought the urge to turn away from her beauty. Her only other adornment came from a single strand of luminescent pearls, framing her exquisitely long neck. She held an ivory circular fan, waving it swiftly, yet daintily in front of her flushed face. The subtle flick of her wrist indicated a good deal of independence.
Richard sucked in a breath. His senses came alive. Every muscle in his body went on high alert, including his cock. He had to get closer. Did she smell as good as she looked? How would she taste? Richard eased his way through the thickening crowd, greeting old friends along the way, taking great care to appear nonchalant.
As he approached, her rose water perfume assailed him, drawing him nearer, surrounding him, taunting like a mistress trying to lure her lover to bed. Her white skin glistened under the flickering candlelight. Richard’s mouth watered and his fangs exploded through his gums. He swallowed hard, willing his canines to retract. Now was not the time to show his true nature.
A young rakehell of questionable lineage by the name of Lord Nathaniel Martins stood to the lady’s right, along with several other couples. Richard knew him well from his extensive circle of friends. The lady must have considerable connections for Martins to press his suit. He caught the young dandy’s wandering eye and arched a brow, sending out a slight mental compulsion to introduce him to the lady. The man coughed and fidgeted for a second, his face flushing red, before he acquiesced. He leaned in and whispered in the woman’s ear. She nodded slightly.
The young man turned to face Richard. “Lady Lily Devlin, may I present Lord Richard Stuart, the sixth Earl of Lyon.” The man’s lips were tight as he forced out the words. Richard willed Martins to join the others in conversation, leaving Lily for himself.
Lily turned and inclined her head gracefully then offered her hand. Richard clasped her fingers and bowed. He felt the tremble his touch ignited as he rose to meet her face. Her eyes were of the clearest, palest blue Richard had ever seen, like the Oughterard sky on a fresh spring morning when everything was in bloom. They widened almost imperceptibly as they locked on his face.
Richard felt himself falling into those blue depths, drowning in the honesty and vulnerability he saw there. He glanced down and realized he still held her hand. Turning his head slightly, Richard coughed and released her fingers, before anyone could claim impropriety. “It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Lady Lily Devlin.” His lips quirked and Richard managed to flash Lily a smile without exposing his fangs.
The rose scent clung to her skin, but didn’t mask the sweet smell of the blood coursing through her veins. It was distinctive, rich and pungent, unlike any other he’d encountered. Richard blinked, a tremor of awareness raced through his senses, as his mind assimilated the information his nose sent him. He shifted casually in an attempt to hide his growing arousal from prying eyes. His cock ached almost as much as his fangs. He hadn’t had a reaction like this to a woman for almost seven hundred years. It was…invigorating.
There was something about Lady Lily Devlin that went far beyond her beauty. She struck a cord deep inside him as if her spirit alone could speak to his soul… if he had one.