Excerpt: Children of the Night
Wishing and Hoping by Tinnean
Everyone always thought there were two kinds of vampyrs: those who were born and were considered royalty, and those who were turned and weren’t.
And surprised wasn’t the word for the reaction when Ioan Mic and his twin Aurel arrived on the scene They were half-bloods—only one parent was a vampyr, while the other was a sabor, one of the beings whose blood was good for whatever might ail a vampyr.
Ioan knew neither he nor Aurel would ever become vampyr king. For one thing, they weren’t pureblood vampyrs, so they’d have to be satisfied with simply being dukes, like their Uncle Adam, even though both Adam’s parents were vampyr.
For another, well, see the first thing.
It didn’t matter that their mother was the present vampyr king’s daughter. Grandfather wouldn’t choose them.
“Trust me, boys. This is not a position you want.” Grandfather had sighed and rested a hand on their shoulders.
Ioan didn’t argue with Grandfather. He knew his cousin Valeriu would one day step into Grandfather’s shoes and be king. He and Aurel had other futures—Aurel would replace Adam as the Rege’s equerry when Valeriu became Rege—and Ioan couldn’t help but feel sorry for his brother for having to work with such an unpleasant king—but Ioan was just happy to pass the time waiting until his eighteenth birthday. That was the day Daniel Small would finally have to admit he loved Ioan and would take him to bed.
Ioan had loved Daniel since he’d first arrived at Grandfather’s castle in Romania. Daniel was an American, and his limp body had been carried in by one of his countrywomen, a turned vampyr. He’d been hanging on to life by a thread, because he’d been almost drained by that damned Spanish vampyr.
Grandfather had had no choice but to turn Daniel, but it hadn’t been enough, and Daniel still wouldn’t have survived if not for Ioan’s other cousin, Tyrell, who happened to be a sabor.
Ty had agreed to let Daniel drink from him, but he’d also promised Daniel that if it didn’t help, Ty would put him out of his misery. Meaning he would stake him. Ioan had shuddered. He’d heard tales of vampyrs being staked, a brutal, bloody, and violent end, and he’d had nightmares for weeks afterward. As luck would have it, however, Ty’s blood had done the trick, and staking hadn’t been necessary.
Ioan didn’t like to think about that time. He’d come so close to losing the love of his life. He still got chills and felt sick to his stomach when he thought of what could have been the outcome.
But now… Today was Ioan’s eighteenth birthday. Of course, it was Aurel’s also, but since Aurel was the older, he liked to pretend things like birthday parties were beneath his notice. In spite of that, he liked cake as much as Ioan did—that was one of the perks of being a half-blood: chocolate cake! And after they’d had their cake and the purebloods had their goblets of blood, Ioan would get to open the best present of all: Daniel!
Lamb to the Slaughter by Joanna Chambers
I sensed Marcus Lamb the moment he walked into Lady Bertrand’s drawing room.
I didn’t look around immediately—I’d have had to turn in my chair, and had no intention of giving away how attuned I was to his mere presence.
Besides, my companions, the Honourable George Fenwick and Mr. Charles Bowers, would have laughed their heads off.
“Don’t look now, St. Villiers, but your pretty little admirer’s arrived,” Fenwick murmured.
I kept my eyes on my cards. “And who would that be, dear heart?”
“Why, young Mr. Lamb, of course,” Fenwick said silkily, sending me a flirtatious look from beneath his sandy lashes. “As if you didn’t know!”
If he’d had a fan he would surely have rapped my knuckles.
“Is this your new boy, St. Villiers?” Bowers asked. “Which one is he? No wait, don’t tell me, I can guess. It has to be the lovely fawn who’s been trapped by the dragon in the awful puce silk near the fireplace. Am I right?”
I did turn now, and yes, there was my poor lamb, looking quite hunted as a matronly woman in puce talked his ear off.
Every time I saw him, I was struck anew by how very beautiful he was.
His gaze wandered as the matron continued chattering. As soon as it landed on me, he smiled wide, a dazzling smile that made him look very young and pure and lovely.
Such a pristine boy, this one.
A creature like me had no business going after an innocent like Marcus Lamb. Generally, I stuck to men with more experience than this youth—a little more equality of arms was only fair—but he was too extraordinary to resist. I wanted him with a depth of desire beyond anything I’d known before.
Well, it was not as if I’d ever allowed wisdom to rule my actions before. Why start now?
“Your boy is not very subtle, is he?” Bowers said, laying down a knave of hearts. “You really must advise him to be more circumspect.”
I lifted the abandoned knave and tucked it into the fan of cards I held in my left hand, discarding a five of clubs. “There is nothing to be circumspect about,” I said mildly. “We are merely friends. Barely that. Little more than acquaintances really.”
Fenwick chuckled. “Oh, but not for long, I’ll wager. He is a peach, St. Villiers. So delicious-looking! I shall certainly have him if you decide you do not wish to further your acquaintance.”
I sent him a narrow-eyed look. “Hands off,” I said, and he chuckled again.
“Where on earth did you find him?” Bowers asked.
“At a dinner party hosted by Kitty and Ambrose Marlowe. He’s some distant cousin from Norfolk apparently.”
“Norfolk,” Fenwick repeated, as incredulously as if I’d said he was from Timbuktu. “Well, it’s not so very surprising, I suppose. He really is quite the bumpkin. That coat!”
I glanced over at Marcus. The puce dragon had been joined by a plump gentleman with a shining bald pate that gleamed in the candlelight. Marcus was being talked at by both of them. He met my look with a rueful one of his own before turning his attention back to his interrogators.
Fenwick was right about one thing. The coat really was execrable. Good enough tailoring, but unlike mine—which was so minutely made to my measurements it hugged every line of my body to perfection—his was of a somewhat loose fit and rather old-fashioned for that.
“His cravat’s even worse,” I murmured, eyeing the drooping folds of linen at his throat with mild dismay. “I really must find out who dresses him.”