With Leander put to rest and the Paranormal Investigative Division taken care of by the Coven Mistress, Danny and Angelica are finally ready to take some time for themselves while Angelica gets used to her new role as the Empress and they make their relationship official.
When people close to Angelica are murdered by what seems to be a rogue vampire, their sabbatical is cut short in order for her to find the perp and execute him or her.
But this is no ordinary vampire. When the truth is revealed and secrets come to light, it will prove to be Danny's biggest test of faith yet, and Angelica's reckoning of her past, present, and future. Most of all it will raise a single question: just what makes a monster?
Lily Luchesi is a young author/poet born in Chicago, Illinois, now residing in Los Angeles, California. Ever since she was a toddler her mother noticed her tendency for being interested in all things "dark". At two she became infatuated with vampires and ghosts, and that infatuation turned into a lifestyle.
She is the author of the award-winning Paranormal Detectives Series from Vamptasy Publishing and also has short stories featured in the anthologies Naughty Bedtime Stories: In Three Words, Naughty Bedtime Stories: Four You, Death Love Lust, Beautiful Nightmares, Lurking In The Mind, Lurking In The Shadows, and Weirdbook Magazine.
When she's not writing, she's going to rock concerts, watching the CW, or reading manga.
“I have watched you for two centuries, unable to approach until your destiny had been fulfilled.”
Angelica was dumbstruck. She had known much of this information, how Augustus’ line had gone back to mortality, but he had watched her? Since birth? Stalked her family until the prophecy was fulfilled?
“First of all, that was quite creepy of you. Second, why did you wait? It has been three years since I was fully turned. What stayed your hand?” she asked.
Drinking from his chalice, he paused. “At first, I lost you after the battle in Scotland. And when I found you again, I could not be seen by Hell’s Lieutenant. I betrayed Lucifer, by accepting his contract and then breaking it with my own immortality. Once you neutralized Leander, I knew I could come to you as I wished, without threat of attack.”
That did not sound right. “So again you hid, instead of helping me fight off Hell? Leander has been dead for months. The only sign I received from you was a trail of dead mortals!”
He smirked, dark eyes glinting. “You were touted as the best hunter on Earth. I just wanted to see how good you were. I had not expected you to bring me prey.”
Angelica shot up from her chair. “Don’t you dare even think about touching Danny!” Emperor or not, all-powerful or not, he could easily be decapitated, and she would not let herself forget that fact. His neck was no more protected than hers. “I have my Consort, and he is being held in your little room up there. If you want any sort of allegiance with me, you will leave him alone. If you even attempt to harm one hair on his head, I will finish the job Livia failed at!”
In a flash, faster than even she could perceive, she was pushed up against the wall, next to the painting of Livia. Augustus was holding his hands on either side of her head, leering down at her, eyes so deep she felt as though he could sense her every thought. He was not touching her, yet she had never felt more trapped.
Her heart rate increased and she felt her breathing speed up. She was unsure if it was from fear or something else she could not bear to name. Angelica was used to being in complete control, even when facing Hell’s Lieutenant or demonic witches. The only time she ever voluntarily gave up that control was to Danny, whom she trusted implicitly. Here, with Augustus, she felt as though all her control had been shattered. She despised this feeling, but knew she was, at the moment, powerless to stop it.
“The fact that you dare to threaten me shows that you are indeed my true Empress. Beautiful, strong, and stubborn.” His voice was a low growl in her ear, and she felt his breath tickling her neck, sending shivers down her spine. His thrall was incredible, and she could not believe that she could also do this with just a few words one day. His voice was silky and dark, undoing her mind there in that comfortable dungeon.
She dug her nails into her palms, briefly cutting the skin, grounding her to reality. She must not allow him to glamour her, or else it would be over.
“I am not yours,” she spat at him. “I never will be. I don’t give a damn who my ancestor was, that does not predispose me to be your property!”
He shook his head. “Oh, my dear, you are not my property. You are my equal. My only equal on this Earth.”
That dark part of her mind, the part that had always sought power, was intrigued by the thought that she was the equal of the first true vampire. The rest of her was appalled that he would consider himself equal to her. He lad left a trail of bodies in his wake for miles across Chicago, and Lord only knew how many more in all the long years he’d lived. Any vampire who had to kill for food any time after the nineteenth century was evil, plain and simple.
“Do you know why I have to feed so much, so often?” His voice was low, nought but a purr. “It is because none can satisfy me for long aside from my Empress. I have just consumed two large goblets of blood. And yet you can feel, I am much colder than you are, and you have not had blood since you wakened.”
He touched her gently, running icy cold fingers along her cheek, down her neck, stopping at her pulse, which quickened at his touch. He was cold, far colder than she had ever been.
“That is not true,” she said, barely able to get the words out. “I am fully satisfied by Danny’s blood: one pint, twice a day.”
“Liar,” his voice slithered into her ear. “You cannot take that much blood from a mortal daily. He would be dead after a week.” His fingers pressed harder into her throat, and she knew he felt the Undead blood rushing in her veins just as much as she could hear his. “You have no idea what it feels like to be truly sated. Indeed, it has been so long, I almost forgot myself.”
Angelica knew what was coming, and she felt him move back, just for a second, giving her enough time to move away from his proximity. If asked, she would say she did not remember why she stayed put, except for the fact that she was genuinely curious about what was going to happen next.
With one cold hand, Augustus held her head to the side and sank his fangs deep into her long neck. She felt it all in slow motion: the first initial pain of tearing flesh, the shock of her blood being drawn into another’s body, and the rush of pleasure she received from those two sensations mixed together.
She gasped at the sensations, the pleasure-pain. She had never been bitten fully, just a nip here and there from perps trying to take her blood and the powers it held for their own. This was an entirely new sensation rushing in her heart and mind, her body betraying her thoughts. All she wanted was to lose herself in this feeling, but her mind grounded her to the situation, barely.
She felt him chuckle against her skin before he pulled his mouth away from her neck, licking the blood that dripped down her creamy flesh. When he faced her, she saw through glazed eyes that her dark blood covered his lips, sending a jolt of heat to her stomach. Traitor, she thought viciously to her body.
His hand still held her face, but it was no longer as cold as marble. It was warm, as warm as Danny was when he held her. It was hard to believe that she had done this, that her Undead blood had given life.
“Nothing more invigorating than the lifeblood of your soul mate,” he said. “Do you want to know how it feels?”
He laughed again. “You are not very convincing, Angelica.” He held her at the waist, and his touch was feather light, but with the promise of brute strength there in his lean frame. She knew he could kill her with a look if he wanted to. The idea terrified and thrilled her. He held his other hand up, letting her go for a second to undo the cuffs of his jacket and shirt sleeve, exposing his wrist. Evidently, he did not trust her near his throat. Smart man.
“Taste and you will understand,” he said, holding his wrist close to her mouth.
Blood was power. His powers lay in what ran through his veins, and he was a fool to offer even a taste of that power to the Empress. Yes, she wanted a taste, but not to feel life. She wanted to feel his power in her veins.
Feeling her fangs elongate with little mental encouragement, she leaned forward and placed them over his veins, piercing the skin. She tasted his blood, warmed thanks to her, and it was like electricity and fire, and like the finest wine it sent a warmth throughout her body. However, this was not a new feeling for her. This was how Danny’s blood made her feel every day, every time she tasted him: satisfied and lively. Alive.
She moved her mouth from his veins and went to speak, but before she could get a word out, his lips covered hers, mingling their blood together in one incredibly hot kiss. The feeling of tasting her own blood was somewhat uncomfortable, but she could not deny the perverse pleasure she was feeling. It was not unlike how she felt when she kissed Danny after drinking from his veins.
Her mind struggled to get out of the deep thrall Augustus had her under, and she felt her vampire claws dig into his arm, tearing the fabric of his expensive clothes in the process.
Growling in pain, he moved back quickly, dark eyes burning red. Just red irises, not like the black and red of a normal vampire. Angelica made a note of that, right before she noted the fact that she was most likely about to be murdered in a second.
Surprising her, he simply massaged the wounds that were already healed. His blood dripped from her fingertips, deepening the red of the carpet.
“Cunning, using such a physical moment to attack me. You intrigue me, Angelica,” he said, his eyes returning to normal.
“You glamour me into being pliant, and yet you call me cunning? You tried to fool the Empress! I might intrigue you, but you impress me,” she replied, maintaining the outward calm and in control appearance she had always found to serve her well. To drive in her blase outer appearance, she licked his blood from her fingertips.
He did not respond, and was even so bold as to turn his back on her as he pressed a button in the wall. Not a moment later, the thralled maid came to the dungeon door.
“Please escort the Empress to the exit. And make sure you release her...Consort.” If it was possible, he managed to imbue that one word with dripping sarcasm.
Angelica arched an eyebrow. “You are releasing us?”
“A true Empress cannot also be a captive, and by releasing your little mortal plaything, I believe I can expect a bit more cooperation and camaraderie from you than if I simply drained him to a husk as I would very much like to.” He smirked. “We are not done here, Angelica.”
“No, we are not,” she agreed. She turned, but he called her back.
“Just one more thing, my dear: at no point since we met have I ever consciously or otherwise tried to glamour you. Indeed, if I tried, I would find myself unsuccessful. Neither of us can put the other in thrall. It is impossible. You cannot glamour your soul mate.”