Transylvania… Doesn’t the very name send delicious shivers rippling up and down your spine? It conjures pictures of dark, threatening forests and ancient, ruined castles looming out of the mountain mist – the perfect setting for a good vampire story.
It’s all Bram Stoker’s fault, of course, but I’m happy to go with it. In fact, many years ago, when I was a student, a couple of other Dracula fans and I spent a summer holiday following the route of Dracula’s Jonathan Harker through Transylvania. It was fun, and the countryside more than rewardingly beautiful. We found friendly people, picturesque towns and, when we got farther into the hills, a rural life not so very unlike the one which existed in Stoker’s day: men and women in traditional peasant garb, driving horses and carts and scratching a living from the land.
Or it may have been a dog. We chose to believe it was a wolf J.
One day I’m going back. Until then, I’ll keep reading, and writing. You may have noticed that my new book, Blood on Silk, begins in Transylvania, and my vampire hero, Saloman, awakened after three centuries by a drop of my heroine’s blood, arises out of a ruined crypt in the dead of night and then….
By Marie Treanor
Out Now from NAL Signet Eclipse.
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Scottish academic Elizabeth Silk is spending the summer in Romania researching historical superstitions for her PhD. While she is tracing local folktales, one subject in particular sparks her imagination. His name is Saloman, legend's most powerful vampire, a seductive prince staked centuries ago. Now, in the ruins of a castle crypt, Elizabeth discovers the legends are real. Her blood has awakened him. Her innocence has aroused him. But Elizabeth unleashes more than Saloman's hunger.
An army of vampire hunters has amassed to send Saloman back to hell. Sworn to help - yet fearing Saloman's deadly blood lust - Elizabeth seeks to entrap him, offering her body as bait. But something stronger than dread, more powerful than revenge, is uniting Elizabeth to her prey. Caught between desire and rage, Elizabeth must decide where her loyalties lie...and what the limits are to a yearning she can no longer control.
There was nowhere to go but backward, until the wall ground into her shoulder blades and buttocks, and still he kept coming. Tall and broad-shouldered, his very size threatened her. Most of his handsome face was in shadow, hiding any expression. She could only make out his eyes, blacker than the surrounding darkness, yet glistening with some deep, wild hunger it hurt to look at.
He lifted his hand once more to the wound in her throat. His fingertip was cold, yet seemed to burn her skin. She gasped, quivering, and when he bent his head toward her again, gazing at her bleeding injury, she began to fight, crashing her fists into his chest, pushing uselessly against his shoulders.
He smelled of earth and cold stone, gave off no sense of human warmth. So why did her body begin to weaken its resistance? Her fists, her struggles, made no impression on him. He continued to lower his head to her wounded neck. At least she could no longer see those terrible eyes…
At the first touch of his lips, she gave up. Because she could do nothing against him. And because some dark, perverse part of her remembered the unique, agonizing thrill of his first bite.
But he didn’t bite. He surrounded the wound with his lips and licked it once. She shuddered, helpless in the grip of fear and something she couldn’t – or wouldn’t – name. Then he lifted his head and she stared at him, speechless, because the pain had gone.
The hunger hadn’t left his eyes, but in the glimmer of torchlight, she thought it was overlaid with mockery. The bastard was laughing at her.
“I’m saving the rest for later,” he explained.
Her eyes widened. He was letting her live after all? At least for another minute. “L-later?” she stammered.
His fingers trailed across her throat, butterfly light, making her gasp. “Later. Your blood is strong and heady. I’m taking time to absorb it.” He bent nearer her, inhaling, almost sniffing the air around her head and throat. The skin of his face looked so smooth she had an insane urge to reach up and touch it. His sculpted lips moved faintly, as if a smile almost danced across them, never quite forming before it faded.
“Interesting,” he observed, and his voice was different now, quiet, almost whispering, with just a hint of hoarseness. “I have to thank you for waking me…What is your name?”
She swallowed. “Elizabeth. Elizabeth Silk.”
The almost-smile tugged at his lips and vanished. His cheek brushed against hers, barely touching and yet her stomach seemed to plunge. “Silk. How apt,” he murmured. “Like your hair…And your skin, so soft and warm…”
His fingertips caressed her face, slid down over her chin to her throat and she gasped, jerking in panic. But the movement only brought her into contact with his body. Hard, solid, and surely that stiff ridge against her stomach was his erection… Vampires had erections? Unless that part of him was still made of stone?
Oh Jesus Christ and fuck!
She shrank, pressing her back into the wall once more. Shocked, she could feel wetness between her legs. It’s just fear, not lust, it can’t be…
“And you are English,” he said, changing to that language without warning.
“Scottish,” she returned mechanically. What the hell does that matter?
He inclined his head, clearly humoring her. His body touched hers at breast and hips, hardening her nipples into aching peaks. Perhaps he felt them, for he said, “Do you know how long it has been since I have had a meal or a woman?”
Her stomach seemed to melt into her womb. Sweat had broken out on her palms, was trickling down between her breasts. But somehow she managed to do the math. “Three hundred and twelve years?”
His gaze dropped to her lips. “Don’t ask me. After the first couple of centuries, those decades just fly by.” He lifted his hand from her neck, tracing one tapered fingertip along her lower lip. She was afraid to move.
“Do they really?” she managed.
“No. But they let me work up some heady appetites.”
“For what?” She sounded more suspicious than terrified. Was that good? Perhaps. The almost-smile reappeared and vanished as his face leaned nearer hers.
“For dinner,” he answered. “And dalliance.”
His finger slid to the corner of her lips, pushing gently until she gasped, and when her mouth opened he took it with his.
Heat consumed her, drowning her in some strange, welcome weakness. His cool lips moved across hers, sampling, parting them. He should have tasted of dust and death and corruption. At the very least he hadn’t brushed his teeth in three hundred and twelve years. Yet what she inhaled in panic was something overwhelmingly seductive, an earthy sweetness, powerful and masculine, and God help her, she wanted it. She wanted to give herself to his mouth, feel his kiss deepen and dominate while he pressed that large, hard body closer into her. She wanted to push herself against the hardness nudging her abdomen. She wanted it between her legs, pushing into her, because she’d never known a kiss as arousing as this, and the sex would be so…