Authors: N.J. Walters
An Ellora's Cave Romantica Publication
ISBN # 1-4199-0747-6
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Stefan's Salvation Copyright© 2006 N.J. Walters
Edited by Mary Altman.
Cover art by Syneca.
Electronic book Publication: October 2006
This book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written
permission from the publisher, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.® 1056 Home Avenue, Akron OH 44310-
This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales
is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the authors' imagination and used fictitiously.
The following material contains graphic sexual content meant for mature readers. This story has been
rated Erotic by a minimum of three independent reviewers.
Ellora's Cave Publishing offers three levels of RomanticaTM reading entertainment: S (S-ensuous), E (E-
rotic), and X (X-treme).
love scenes are explicit and leave nothing to the imagination.
love scenes are explicit, leave nothing to the imagination, and are high in volume per the overall
word count. In addition, some E-rated titles might contain fantasy material that some readers find
objectionable, such as bondage, submission, same sex encounters, forced seductions, and so forth. E-rated
titles are the most graphic titles we carry; it is common, for instance, for an author to use words such as
"fucking", "cock", "pussy", and such within their work of literature.
titles differ from E-rated titles only in plot premise and storyline execution. Unlike E-rated titles,
stories designated with the letter X tend to contain controversial subject matter not for the faint of heart.
To my husband who shares my love of vampire lore and all things gothic. Thank
you for your support and input and for caring as much about the Dalakis family as I do.
Special thanks to Sally Painter whose help with research was invaluable to me.
Thank you to Pamela Cohen for loving the Dalakis brothers. Your enthusiasm for
Stefan was inspiring.
Thank you to my editor, Mary Altman, for all the hard work and encouragement
and for caring as much about Stefan and Laurel Rose as I do.
And to the many readers who have fallen in love with the Dalakis brothers, thank
you for taking these remarkable men into your hearts.
A vampire walked into a bar.
Stefan Dalakis smiled inwardly as he pulled open the weathered wooden door and
walked into the dimly lit bar, leaving the dark of night behind him. It amused him to
wonder what the patrons would think if they only knew what walked among them.
But there was no joke to follow the opening line.
The door banged solidly shut behind him and every head in the place turned his
way. They all eyed him suspiciously. His gaze swept the room, cataloguing each patron
in turn. Even though the room was poorly lit and he was wearing mirrored sunglasses,
he saw everything. His vision was many times greater than any human's and there was
no place on earth where it was so dark that he could not see.
He knew very well what they saw as they stared at him. At six-foot-six, he was a
tall man, but he was heavily muscled as well, which gave the illusion that he was even
bigger. The long, black leather duster that he wore was open, revealing a black linen
shirt and a pair of black jeans. He pushed his waist-length, black hair back over his
shoulders and ignored the barely veiled looks of mistrust as he ambled toward the bar.
His boot heels scuffed across a scarred plank floor that had obviously seen better days.
The bartender eyed him uncertainly as Stefan came to a halt in front of him. "Did
you lose your way, mister?"
Could he be any more obvious? Here's your hat, what's your hurry? Clearly they
didn't get many strangers here. And why would they? This was a rundown roadside
bar nestled deep in the mountains of North Carolina. From the outside, the place was in
rough shape. The paint was peeling from the sides of the building and the gravel
parking lot was rutted with potholes. If it wasn't for all the trucks parked in front, one
might think it was nothing more than an abandoned building.
Slowly, Stefan reached up and removed his sunglasses. He wore them whenever he
drove at night to cut down on the glare of the oncoming headlights. Folding them
carefully, he tucked them safely inside his shirt pocket before raising his eyes to pin the
bartender with his glare. The other man gasped and gripped the side of the bar, his
fingers digging into the thick wood. It was perhaps an overreaction, but Stefan was
used to it. In fact, these days he encouraged it.
The corners of Stefan's mouth turned up slightly, but it by no means could be
misconstrued as a smile. He glanced into the mirror hanging behind the bar. His eyes
blazed a brilliant emerald green...Dalakis eyes. They were a family trait that marked
him, his brothers and all other Dalakis males who had come before them. "No, I'm not
lost." He turned his gaze back to the man standing behind the bar.
The bartender swallowed hard, his Adam's apple bobbing. He opened his mouth to
speak and croaked instead.
Stefan waited patiently, listening with half an ear to the strains of country music
blaring from the jukebox in the corner of the room. He preferred classic rock, but he did
enjoy some of the older country songs.
The other man finally cleared his throat. "What can I get you?" He picked up a rag
and began to wipe down the top of the bar. Stefan didn't know why he even bothered.
The rag was more gray than white.
"Beer. Whatever you've got in a bottle."
The bartender was starting to relax the longer Stefan just stood there. He reached
behind him and opened up a cooler, pulling a frosted bottle from its depths. Opening
the bottle with a flourish, he placed it in front of Stefan. "You visiting?"
Stefan had been expecting the not-so-subtle probe for information. It was the same
everywhere he went. Ignoring the question, he dug into his pocket, pulled out a few
bills and tossed them onto the counter. Grabbing the bottle, he turned his back on the
bartender and ambled over to a table in the corner.
Plunking the bottle down, he snagged a chair and placed it directly in the corner.
Satisfied, he settled himself on the chair, tipping it back so that it balanced on two legs.
Taking his time, he surveyed the room.
It was mostly men hunched over the tables, drinking and talking in small groups.
There were a few women--not many, but those who were there had obviously come
looking for a good time. With their skintight jeans, skimpy tops and high-heeled shoes,
they were walking, talking sex. Two were blonde and one was a brunette, but all three
of them wore their hair teased into high, poofy styles that seemed to defy gravity. Their
eyes were rimmed in dark mascara and their lips were painted the same crimson red as
their long fingernails. The two blondes sat by themselves at a table. The brunette was
laughing and chatting with three men who were hanging on her every word.
One of the blondes eyed him with interest and he returned her stare. She nudged
her friend and bent to whisper in her ear. They thought they might get lucky tonight.
Stefan heard every word they said as if they were sitting right next to him. His hearing
was as acute as his vision.
Sex. That was something that hadn't interested him much in decades. But that
wasn't totally true, he reminded himself. He'd been very interested a couple months
ago when he'd watched his brother, Lucian, have sex with Delight. He'd envied the
close bond between them. He'd shared the experience with them, yet been apart from it.
But tonight, he found himself noticing both women's bountiful breasts. He could
imagine them stripped naked and lying on a bed just waiting for him to do as he
pleased. They'd spread their long legs at his command. God, he could almost smell
their heat--the heady aroma of an aroused woman. There was nothing else quite like it.
And it had been a long time since he'd felt much of anything other than a deep,
unanswered yearning to find a woman of his own. A true mate.
Maybe he'd get them to pleasure themselves while he watched. He could imagine
their red-tipped fingers sliding in and out of their hot cunts. No. One of them could
pleasure herself while the other sucked his cock, her red, pouty lips sliding up and
down his length, taking him deep into her throat. The low moans would get more
frantic and when he was ready, he'd toss both of them onto the bed and fuck them.
And when they were sated, he'd lower his mouth to their necks and drink from
them, appeasing his own hunger. Just the thought of it had his cock rock hard and
straining against the zipper of his jeans.
The beast inside him rumbled to life. Every heartbeat in the room pounded in his
ears. He could hear the swoosh of their blood pumping through their veins. The
sensation was hypnotic. He licked his lips, almost tasting the tang in his mouth.
He was hungry and they were sustenance.
Closing his eyes, he willed the beast back into submission. It wasn't easy. He could
feel the sweat trickling down the back of his neck. As the nights seemed to grow longer,
it had gotten harder and harder to even have the will to fight his very nature. It would
be so easy to take what he wanted with no consequences.
Taking slow, steady breaths, he ignored his throbbing erection and centered himself
until he was back in total control. He opened his eyes and carefully scanned the room
again. Nothing had changed. No one here knew the battle that had just been fought and
won. No one knew that their lives had just been spared.
The beer was cool and the bottle sweaty in his hand as he took a long pull. He
welcomed the bitterness of the brew as it slid down his throat to his belly. It did nothing
to still the hunger within him.
He knew he had to feed. His brothers usually drank blood that they purchased
from various blood banks through dummy companies. He didn't mind living that way,
but on the road there was no other way for him to survive except to eat straight from
the source. Stefan was always very careful not to take too much and to implant a
pleasant memory in the mind of the donor. They were no worse off when he left them,
so it didn't trouble his conscience any.
He raised the bottle and took another swig. That was, if he even still had a
conscience. Some days he wasn't sure.
His brothers would be appalled at how close he was to the edge and it was that fact
that constantly pulled him back from the point of no return. He walked a fine line
between survival and insanity. His nights grew darker and bleaker as each one came
He knew he could return to New Orleans. His brother, Lucian, and his new wife,
Delight, would happily include him in their lives. Or, for that matter, he could fly to his
homeland of Transylvania and spend time with his eldest brother, Cristofor, and his
wife, Johanna. He was truly happy his brothers had found the women who completed
their lives and made them whole.
But it was for that very reason that he stayed away.
Watching the two couples and their obvious happiness had almost driven him out
into the killing sunlight. Almost. Stefan Dalakis was no coward and no quitter. But
more than that, he would not do anything to hurt his brothers, who he loved more than
his own life.
As the youngest of the three, Stefan had grown up being watched over by both Cris
and Lucian. Even now, they still tried. But those days were long over. He was more
than capable of taking care of himself.
His brothers, although both extremely dangerous and powerful men, had grown
lax. He, on the other hand, had survived by pushing himself to his limits both
physically and mentally, constantly testing his powers and learning more.
He'd wandered the world over the past few centuries and, for the most part, he'd
enjoyed himself. He didn't know what had made him stop at this particular roadside
bar. Maybe loneliness. He'd been on the road for several months now, traveling the
countryside in his specially customized truck. After Lucian and Delight had married,
he'd just had to get away.
He knew what had led him to North Carolina though. He felt a small, but genuine
smile cross his face. How could any vampire resist visiting a place called Transylvania
County? The tall mountains and trees of the state reminded him of home and he had
enjoyed several days there before moving on. But he hadn't gone far. Just down the
road really, a few counties north. For some unknown reason, he'd felt compelled to stop
So here he was, sitting in the corner of a dingy bar not really knowing how he'd
gotten there. Maybe some hot, raw sex with the two blondes would lighten his mood.
Maybe pounding his cock into their wet warmth would help him feel connected to
another human being, if only for a brief moment. A quick glance assured him that the
two women were still interested. One of them caught his attention when she opened her
mouth over the long neck of her beer bottle, letting her lips slide up and down over its
slender neck. His cock jerked. Oh yeah, he could use some of that tonight.
Taking another mouthful of beer, he casually listened in on the conversations going
on around him as he pondered if he should try and find a motel close by to rent a room
for the night. Most of the chatter he tuned out immediately, not really interested in
whose wife was cheating on whom or why someone thought their boss was a shithead.
"...gonna be a problem."
Stefan's head shot up as he focused intently on the speaker. His heart was
pounding in his chest and he had no idea why. With all his attention centered on the
two men talking in low whispers on the other side of the room, he listened.
"She just needs a little more encouragement, is all." The larger of the two men had
long, shaggy brown hair and a bushy beard. He punctuated his words with a nod and a
mouthful of beer.
"You think?" The smaller, skinnier one glanced around as he spoke. His leg bobbed
in a nervous rhythm.
"Sure," the big man nodded again. "Laurel Rose is a woman living on her own up
in the hills. How hard can it be to scare her into moving?"
"I don't know, Aaron." He pushed his thinning, dirty-blond hair back from his face
and swiped a hand across his chin as if thinking about what his friend had just said.
"She don't seem to be the type to scare easy."
White teeth flashed through the bush of facial hair as Aaron smiled. "Don't you
worry, Clem. She'll be ready to sign them papers and move by the end of the week."
Clem nodded, obviously more than willing to believe every word the other man
Stefan sat frozen in his chair. He had no idea who this woman was and,
furthermore, it was none of his business. But some primal instinct had kicked in at the
mere mention of her name. Laurel Rose. He rolled it over in his mind, examining it from
every angle. He whispered it under his breath. It was a good name, a solid name, and
just saying it brought him more peace than anything else had in years.
His eyes narrowed at the two men as the hunter in him surged to life. He needed
more information. But first he needed to appease his hunger in order to be at his peak
strength. Leaving the bottle still half full on the table, he rose and strode out of the bar
without looking back.
Once again, he felt all eyes on him as he blew back out into the night as swiftly and
silently as he'd entered. Only this time, he sent out a mental command as he left. He
walked around the side of the building and into the darkness. Leaning against the
outside wall, he crossed his arms and waited for his company to arrive.
Laurel Rose McCaffey sat curled up on the window seat and stared out into the
Something was coming.
Shivering, she pulled the faded old quilt a bit more tightly around her shoulders,
gripping the ends in her hands. Her knuckles were white. Her entire body was tense.
She didn't question her certainty or try to brush it aside. She'd been proven right
too many times before. From the time she was old enough to start talking, people had
known that there was something different about her.
Her grandpa had told her she was special. Some of the older folks whispered that
she was fey or had the Sight. They always said it in hushed tones as they glanced
worriedly at her as if she'd suddenly put some kind of hex on them.
Others weren't quite so kind. Crazy, witch, touched or just plain nuts--she'd heard
them all and then some. She'd long since learned not to let it bother her. Content to live