Commandments: Purity teaser

Once she was clothed, with her hair piled in a sloppy ponytail, she opened the closet.

Fane was hunched over on an upturned clothes hamper, as far back as he could be. His face was drawn with exhaustion and he looked as though he was about to be physically ill, but otherwise seemed to be in decent shape.

He grimaced when she opened the door to his sanctuary, and looked up at her with the exact expression of a kicked puppy. “Please close it.”

Caitlyn sidled in next to him and shut the door. She was thankful for the thin gaps between the slats of the door, letting in just enough electric light from her room to keep her from panicking. She navigated through the dangling clothes and wondered why her parents felt the need to give her such a massive closet when they built the house. She had been a child at the time.

“I was thinking earlier,” she said, reaching blindly forward. A hand caught her wrist and he guided her the rest of the way to the back of the closet. “Since it’s daytime, presumably you can’t feed. And you haven’t fed since you left Romania—again, presumably.”

“You presume correctly.”

“And you’re probably weak without blood.”

“Rather. If you are offering me your blood or giving me permission to kill your cat, please do not torture me any longer.”

She patted around until she found his face. “My cat remains alive, thank you. But—I am. It’s one-thirty now. The first sponsor showed up not long ago. Be quick, and we can scout around downstairs before the meeting starts.”

In the dim light, she saw him nod once. “Sit,” he murmured, and pulled her onto his lap. She had a sudden absurd image of sitting on Santa Claus’ knee at Christmastime—then he brushed the hair away from her neck, making gooseflesh ripple all down her body, and her mind went blank.

His lips brushed the pulse fluttering just behind her jaw; his teeth lightly grazed the skin. Her breath jumped from her throat in a gasp, and her body tensed in preparation for the pain that was to come.

Then it came. In a sharp burst of pain that made her eyes shut and her mouth open in a soundless cry, his teeth cut into the flesh and she felt his tongue dance against her pulse as his mouth caught the hot blood. His hand moved to the small of her back, pressing lightly, and she arched against him, gasping.

The pain faded as quickly as it came, and she relaxed, boneless, against his chest. His mouth moved and his tongue took its place, sliding up her neck to catch a drop of blood that dripped down to her collar.

Her fingers found his shirt, and she pulled on his sleeve. Panting, he released her and licked her neck once more, and moved an arm behind her back, holding her upright on his lap.

“Thank you,” he all but growled into her ear, and when she looked up at the predatory glint in his eyes she was overwhelmed with a sudden urge to push him against the wall and break a few of the Commandments.

“Jesus,” she whispered, placing a shaky hand on her neck and sliding off his lap to sit on the floor instead. The floor was safe. She couldn’t get into trouble on the floor.

Unless he joined her on the floor—

“We—we should go,” she stammered, crawling one-handed toward the door. “Things to do. Save the world. All that.”

His chuckle was little more than a low rumble behind her.

Ghosts of the Past: Purity teaser

Muriel was not haunting her favourite spot on the balcony when he strode beneath it. Silence rang from the first room of the fifth corridor, where Harold’s poltergeist resided. Vlad had not been in the ballroom when he passed through to exit the double doors to the tunnel. No doubt Madalina would not be in Bran Castle far above. Mircea was far away and lost, save for a small memorial in the prince’s cold, still heart.

It seemed the ghosts of his past were quiet this evening.

Well, save for one.

“It has been far too long, mio vampiro,” a breathy voice said from behind him as he reached the top of the hill. The chilly evening was enhanced by a cloudy sky, and Bran Castle was filled with darkness. No lights flickered or glowed from inside; the tours had long since been closed for the evening.

He rested his palm on the cold, hard stone wall, pressing on the bumpy scar until it almost physically hurt. “Sixty-one days,” he said, shutting his eyes. Pat of him had hoped she wouldn’t come out of Purgatory this evening, hoped he could go about his business in peace.

“I have not been completely alone.”

He dropped his hand and turned to face her. “Have they been asking more questions?”

“They never stop.” She moved closer to him, and her big eyes were wide as she gazed at him. “The half-breed and her friends frequent this place more than anyone.”

Her voice, her presence—everything about her was disconcertingly cold. He could remember a time when he revelled in her human warmth. Even her innocent eyes, once comforting, were as pale and dead as the rest of her.

He hated ghosts. Congratulations were in order for Mircea—the only ghost of his past who did not insist on existing nearby, or at all. He was perfectly content in Hell. “I will speak with Madam Gwyther. She is a troublemaker.”

She nodded, but it was distant and slow. She was distracted. “I met a human girl recently. She asked questions as well.” She turned away and stared up at the sky, where the moon would be if there was no cloud cover. “She asked how long I was your prisoner.”

“Odd. Did you indulge her?”

“Yes. There were some… problems, as I did not know the proper English, but she understood. She seemed kind.” She lifted a hand as if she could cup the stars in her palm. “The heavens are truly beautiful. I hope to one day be with them.”

He watched her in silence. The longer time he spent in her presence, the heavier a painful block inside him became. This was why he hadn’t visited her in sixty-one days.

“Humans have visited the heavens,” he said after several long beats. Verity glanced back at him, confused, and he continued. “They built a device that could take them to a world beyond this Earth.”

A tiny smile perked her mouth, surprising him. Since when could a devout Catholic appreciate science? “Did they make it?”

Fane shut his eyes and turned his face away from her. His right hand was clenched around the scar, and his nails gouged his palm. “There are footprints on the moon.”