Caught between two vampires, Connie is torn between Rurik, the one she loves and Tane, the one she’d love to stake.
Hunger burns in Connie Bences’ soul--she craves the blood of her vampire lover, Rurik, but it’s not satisfying her needs anymore. It’s driving her insane. Desperate to find help, Rurik brings her to Rio De Janeiro, where Tane rules the vampire nation. The back-stabbing vampire almost killed her and Rurik when they’d first met, then used them to obtain his crown. She would rather stake him, but the small drop of Nosferatu blood he’d forced her to drink in Budapest is blooming into a bond, one which ties her life to his. One he won’t hesitate to manipulate.
He admits to binding her so Rurik would have to remain at his side, but their timing couldn’t be any worse. The betrayer finds himself betrayed. Tane’s rule is in upheaval and he’s forced to place his trust in two people who owe him no allegiance—her and Rurik. In the middle of a power struggle, Connie fights to keep her lover, but didn’t plan on Tane slipping into her heart.
Vampire slayers mourned those of their ilk who got caught. While most died a true death, some of the very things they hunted lured them to cross over and they became creatures of the night. Or in my case, blood bound with one. Colby and Red, my former comrades-at-arms, treated me as if I was dead, but I never felt more alive.
was a botanical paradise famous for its peaceful landscapes. Minutes away from my hotel, it sat in the heart of the south side of Rio de Janeiro
. I’d spent the night sneaking along its gardens, ponds and well-manicured lanes, desperate to escape the predator who stalked my trail. Every time I got close enough to make a run for the streets, he’d pop out from hiding, almost as if daring me to try.
An envelope of silence surrounded me as I hid under the dark green leaves of a tropical plant. The scents of nutmeg and cinnamon lay thick in the air, I hoped they covered mine. My heart raced and sweat made my curls stick to the nape of my neck, not only from the heat, but from anticipation of the chase. I’d been smart this time, wearing a black sleeveless t-shirt, sport-shorts and water bottle clipped to my hip so the Brazilian weather wouldn’t sap my strength. My hair color, though, gave me away most of the time. So pale and yellow, sometimes it seemed like a neon sign saying ‘here I am’.
I’d gotten pretty good at running away from vampires. Connie Bence, live bait extraordinaire, was my last job, but I quit and tonight wasn’t a trap.
It was a game.
The night blanketed everything. I thought a city like Rio
would be up at all hours, people partying in the streets, especially on New Year’s Eve. I was right. They were. Just not around here. The Copacabana Beach
probably swarmed with people. One nervous human and one lusty vampire were the only creatures roaming the botanical gardens tonight.
A humongous, lighted Christmas tree floated on the central lagoon as a landmark. From the hotel window, I could see it to the northwest. This meant I needed to go southeast. Or did I? Ah shit, I suck at this stuff. Don’t throw me in the woods, no matter how manicured.
Laughter drew my attention and I peeked through the leaves. The street was ten yards in front of me through a small stone archway. The noise drifted closer.
I’d been waiting for a witness. It sounded like a group celebrating, probably heading to the beach where the fireworks would be going off in a few hours. If I could make it to them, my vampire wouldn’t be able to finish the hunt.
He had to keep his people’s existence a secret. If he broke that law, the big nasties would come and punish him.
Even vampires had nightmares—the Nosferatu.
I crouched under the foliage and did my best imitation of an Olympic sprinter waiting for the start pistol. My adversary strolled out from the shadows next to the archway.
Clenching my teeth, I swore under my breath. Dirty, freaking bastard knew what I was going to try.
With his hands clasped behind his back, he whistled a little Hungarian ditty. He wouldn’t kill me, this wasn’t about life and death. It was about winning.
The small group of people, my would-be rescuers, appeared.
My vampire blocked the exit with his body, waved at them and called out something in Portuguese. They laughed. It appeared they found him hilarious.
I didn’t find it funny.
The muscles in my legs trembled with the strain. They wanted to take off and run with all their might. It took some effort to make myself relax and slow my breathing. Rurik, the vampire, knew I was close, not my exact position or he would have taken me by now. How did he follow me? Maybe the blood bond we shared gave my location. If that were true, shouldn’t I sense something about him, too?
For once, I’d like to win this game, just once. Make it to our hotel before he captured me. It would mean he’d finally submit to my whims, instead of the other way around. The irony that I couldn’t dominate him without his consent wasn’t lost on me, but I’d make do.
He now stood in the center of the exit, his arms extended to touch the stone walls of the archway. The dim light from the streetlamp outlined his lean muscled frame. “Run, Rabbit, run.” The softly spoken words sent shivers down my spine. “Try to get away.” He’d named me Rabbit when we’d first met in Budapest
a little over a year ago. Only he could call me by that nickname, he had earned the privilege. No one else had my permission.
My options for escape narrowed. The garden contained more gates, but I didn’t know where. We’d been playing since sunset and he already prevented my leaving three other times. If I gave up he would be disappointed. I understood his need to hunt, yet I grew tired of losing, too.
I eyed a wide Banyan tree by the fence. Long vines hung from the branches, waiting to root themselves one day. Before Rurik bound me to him, I wouldn’t have considered the crazy plan formulating in my head. The blood we shared made me faster and stronger. I healed quicker and didn’t get sick. Best of all, I stayed young. Worst of all, if he died, so did I.
Marriage vows seemed weak compared to that. So if he needed a little hide-and-seek in the dark, I played with him.