Oh, boy, meeting a lost love again can be awkward. All those misunderstandings to clear up. Past history to revisit. Especially after 11,000 years . . .
EXCERPT FROM VAMPIRE IN ATLANTIS, in stores now:
Serai woke as Daniel put her down on a pallet in what looked like another room in the same cavern. Same dark stone walls. Same dank stone-and-dirt-cavern smell. A small fire glowed in a corner of the room, giving off a bit of heat and light, but not enough to really help. She was shivering bone deep and felt like she might never be warm again.
Daniel sat on the edge of the narrow bed as he pulled rough blankets around her, but his hands stilled as he realized she was awake and looking at him.
“How are you feeling?”
She lifted one shoulder. “I’ve been better, but I’m alive. I’m free. There’s much to be said for that.”
An awkward silence fell, and she watched him as he looked at the blankets, around the room, anywhere but at her. Maybe he didn’t want to be around her. Maybe he’d forgotten about her long ago, and she was an unwelcome reminder of a painful past. Maybe—
His hands shot up and grabbed her shoulders, and he finally stared directly at her—into her eyes, as if the secrets of the universe hid there for him to find.
“I thought you were dead,” he said, anguish in his rough tone. “How can you be alive, all these millennia later? You’re not a vampire, but you’re still exactly the same as the day Atlantis fell and not a day older. How is that even possible?”
“Have you ever heard the tale of Sleeping Beauty?” she asked wryly.
He just looked at her, silent, and for a moment a hint of the shy boy he’d been surfaced in his eyes. But only for a moment. The hard, deadly man he’d become had no patience for whimsy, she suspected.
“They put me in stasis,” she explained, arranging the blanket around her shoulders and pulling her knees to her chest. “Maidens intended as brides for future kings of Atlantis. Not just me. There were others, many of them woken long ago, but six of us remained. We’ve been asleep since Atlantis dove beneath the seas more than eleven thousand years ago.”
He released her shoulders and stood up, impatient or disbelieving, and she felt the ache of loss as he walked away from her toward the small fire. He tossed a few pieces of the wood stacked nearby onto the flames and considered his handiwork before turning toward her, still crouched beside the fire.
“That’s not possible. What magic could do such a thing? Even Alaric, and the gods know he’s more powerful than any sorcerer or witch I’ve ever met, couldn’t do such a thing.”
The name distracted her. “You know Alaric?”
“I’ve worked on the same side as High Prince Conlan and his warriors several times,” Daniel said. “Poseidon’s high priest often accompanies Conlan and his elite Warriors of Poseidon on missions.”
He crossed the room and motioned to the edge of the bed, as if for permission. She nodded, and he resumed his seat, not touching her this time.
“Your Atlanteans have to fight the big, bad vampires, don’t you know?” he said, mockery in his voice and raised eyebrow.
“I’ve heard about the warriors. The temple attendants gossiped enough,” she said bitterly. “And I’d prefer not to talk about Conlan. Not now, not ever.”
It was his turn to be surprised. “I’ve always found him to be a decent enough guy.”
“He didn’t leave you imprisoned in a crystal cage for hundreds of years after he learned about you. He didn’t plan to wed you, either, and then abandon you to remain in that prison after he found a human woman for whom he was willing to abdicate his throne.” She shook her head. “Trust me when I say I will never take the man’s hand in friendship.”
She finally looked up at Daniel and caught her breath. His eyes glowed a fiery red and his face had gone hard and feral. For the first time since she’d found him again, she thought about what becoming a nightwalker truly meant, and her breath caught in her throat.
“Plan. To. Wed. You?” he gritted out between clenched teeth. “You were betrothed to Conlan? After . . .”
“Jealousy? You dare show me jealousy when you abandoned me to be caged and imprisoned for eleven thousand years?”
“I didn’t know!” he shouted. “I thought you were dead. I woke up and you were gone, and they told me you had died. They took me to deal with the newness of the bloodlust, and by the time I could control it and came back for any scrap of news of you, you and your whole godsdamned continent were gone.”
A flare of something very like hope flamed in her chest, and she tried to speak but the words wouldn’t come. Not until he touched a finger to her cheek and it came back wet did she realize she was crying.
“You thought I was dead? You didn’t abandon me?”
The red flames had vanished from his eyes, and they shone a strange, almost silvery black as he stared at her. “I would never have abandoned you."
For chapter 1 and more, see my website HERE!