Authors: Elle Bright
© 2014 by Elle Bright
All rights reserved. This book
or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever
without the express written permission of the publisher.
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make it all worthwhile.
Ambrogio, do you understand the charges brought against you?” Gustavo
Cacciatori, the leader of the vampire race demanded, his words thundering
through the silence of the hall.
Ambrogio, Captain of the Royal Guard, bowed his head to inspect the shackles at
“And how do you plead?” Gustavo
his voice as
cold and emotionless as his dark eyes.
Alexander swallowed at the lump of shame and regret rising in his throat.
A horrified hush spread through the room of vampires. Yes, he was guilty.
They’d trusted him to protect the treasure of their race, their only hope for
salvation. And he’d failed them all. Katerina Cacciatori was gone.
“Very well,” Gustavo
his tone flat as he ignored
the impact Alexander’s plea had on the captive audience of onlookers. “Capitano
Ambrogio, for your failure to fulfill your duties as
of the Royal Guard, you are hereby stripped of said titles and all the
privileges they entail.”
With those words, Alexander felt his world crumble beneath him. With those
words, he lost everything he’d worked all his life for.
title, his position, and his bride, if they ever found her.
“As you well know, Ambrogio, your actions are punishable by death.”
Alexander continued to study the point where his chafed skin met the metal
cuffs at his wrists. “Yes, Maestro,” he answered, waiting without fear for
Gustavo to pronounce his death sentence.
Gustavo cleared his throat. “However, we have yet to confirm Katerina’s death.
For this reason, I offer you a chance for redemption. You may have your life
and your freedom. Use them wisely.
“Go, find my granddaughter. Bring her home alive and all will be forgiven.
Return with her or do not return at all.”
Alexander looked up at his mentor in shock. Gustavo had spared his life, but
banished him forever. There wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell he’d find
Katerina alive. She was as good as dead the moment she’d stepped off Cacciatori
Yet there was a glimmer of hope, the slightest of chances that Katerina lived…
if that son of a bitch, Dominic Ridolfi, found her before his family did.
Alexander shuddered. He’d rather believe her dead than imagine her with
Either way, he would hunt for her. He would kill every wolf that crossed his
path. They would surrender Katerina to him alive or pay for her life with their
“Yes, Maestro,” Alexander agreed, hope blossoming in his chest for the first
time since Katerina disappeared.
“Very good,” Gustavo said with a nod. “One thousand lashes with the whip of
light, then the prisoner may go free.”
The once silent crowd of vampires gave a collective gasp. The room exploded
with animated chatter. One thousand lashes would easily remove the skin and
muscle from his back. One thousand lashes with the whip of light, however,
would burn and scar his immortal body forever. Gustavo may have spared his
life, but clearly he still wanted his pound of flesh.
Gustavo roared over the noise. The room
fell silent. “Bring forth the whip of light,” he commanded.
With a crisp bow, Armand retreated from the room to retrieve the whip.
Alexander glanced up at the Grand Council who thronged Gustavo on either side.
His eyes locked with those of his friend, Massimo Cacciatori. Massimo wore his
typical smirk of haughty obstinacy, yet his eyes betrayed empathy for Alex’s
Armand returned with a large wooden chest with the scrolled, triangular crest
of the house of Cacciatori carved into the lid. Two of Alexander’s own men
seized his arms, forcing him to his knees.
Alexander met and held Gustavo’s piercing gaze as the guards stripped his shirt
from his body. The vampire overlord glared back, his eyes carving through
Alexander like knives. Dividing his shackles, the guards attached them to thick
metal rings in the floor.
Rising from his throne at the center of the raised dais, Gustavo himself
descended the stairs to the place Alexander knelt. With another bow, Armand
extended the chest to their master. Gustavo lifted the lid.
The contents within glowed with a bright, bluish light and the air hummed with
power. Frantic whispers spread like wildfire through the room. It had been
decades since anyone laid eyes on the whip of light.
Gustavo reached into the chest and drew out the legendary weapon of torture.
With a sharp snap, he cracked the whip at his side. The whispering died an
instant death. Alexander couldn’t help but gape at the menacing weapon in
Designed in a similar manner to a cat’o’nine tails, the thick, braided handle
of the black leather whip gave way to thirteen tails, one for each bastard son
of Remus, the original vampire. Razor sharp shards of diamonds were braided
throughout the tails, glowing with an ethereal light as they cast rainbows of
color about the room. These were not ordinary diamonds. These stones were mined
from the mountain of the god of light, formed with the power to wound a
The last time Alexander had seen the whip, he’d brandished it with his own
hand. As the new captain of the guard, he’d been tasked with the punishment of
his predecessor prior to the vampire’s execution for treason. How fitting an
end to his own captaincy.
Alexander closed his eyes as Gustavo moved to stand at his exposed back,
listening to the footfalls of his master’s steps. He sucked in his breath, set
his jaw, and waited for the sound of the whip whistling through the air. He
bolstered himself for the agony to come, for the first burning, biting lash
across his back.
Alexander jerked forward against his chains, thrown by the impact of the blow.
His skin felt flayed, set aflame as each shard tore at his skin and seared the
gaping flesh. Salt in wounds had nothing on light in vampire.
The agony stole his breath, forcing it out in a sharp gust. Alexander bit at
his lip and tasted blood, but refused to cry out. He would bear his punishment
Nine-hundred and ninety-nine more to go.
The next lash
found its mark, striking Alexander across the shoulder blades. His body lurched
in protest. If only pain were enough to send a vampire into shock. Oblivion
would’ve been a welcome reprieve.
But no, he would not lose consciousness until he’d lost most of his blood
supply. Instead, Alexander retreated within himself. With each bite of the
whip, he thought of Dominic Ridolfi. The wolf had stolen Katerina from him for
the last time. With each scarring lash, Alexander relished the thought of the
torture and pain he would inflict upon that son of bitch the first chance he
Yes, redemption would be his. So would revenge.
Katerina tossed her head back, arching in pleasure as she straddled
Dominic’s hips. He cradled her hips in his strong hands and matched her rhythm,
driving himself higher and deeper into her core with each powerful stroke. He
filled her, surrounded her,
lovemaking was fierce and animalistic, wild and passionate.
Katerina wouldn’t have it any other way.
Steadying herself with her palms flat on his chest, Katerina rode him
faster, harder, pleasuring herself with the hard maleness of his body. Her own
body shuddered involuntarily as she reached climax after shattering climax. Her
fingernails raked the skin of his chest, angry claw marks giving way to trails
The sweet sight and smell of his blood drove her wild. Continuing to thrust
against him, Katerina leaned forward to touch her mouth to the healing scores.
The succulent essence of Dominic tasted like paradise on her tongue, driving
her over the edge of control.
With a soft growl, she nuzzled the crook of his neck, inhaling the enticing
aroma of the blood pulsing through his carotid artery. She kissed his neck,
caressing the strong line of his throat. Burning with thirst and desire, she
sank her fangs deep into his flesh, tapping his artery as her mouth milked the
Dominic gasped, then released his own low growl, cradling her head to his neck
as she fed from him. It was forbidden and erotic, feeling him move deep within
her as she drank in his heated essence.
Visions that were not her own flashed through her mind.
Katerina could feel his desire and love as if they were her own. She could see
his memories as clearly as if she were there in his
Katerina knew she was stealing his soul, slowly sucking away his life force.
But she didn’t care. He tasted so good, felt so
inside her and beneath her. She couldn’t stop.
Never had she felt so alive, so complete. She drank him in, feeling fulfilled
as never before. Spasms of pleasure racked her body as she came again and
again, savoring the taste and feel of him.
When at last her thirst was sated, her desires met, she lifted her head.
Swiping at her blood-stained mouth, she glanced at the gorgeous man with the
power to drive her wild.
Dominic wasn’t moving. He wasn’t breathing. Katerina could not feel his heart
pulse beneath her fingers. She stared through his pale form in glassy-eyed
Dominic was dead.
screaming. Her throat ached with the strain of her cries, combined with the
dryness of her thirst. Her pulse thundered in her ears as she frantically
searched her surroundings. She
in bed in a lavish
bedroom, appointed with masculine, Old World elegance and darkened by black-out
shades. Dominic stood over her, watching her, his dark eyes full of concern.
“Are you alright,
?” he asked, reaching for her. Sinking into the
soft mattress beside Kate, Dominic drew her against his chest.
Kate shook her head, desperate to clear the sound of Katerina’s persistent
taunting from her mind. The evil bitch cackled over her distress, relishing the
ease with which she could throw Kate off kilter. Kate slammed the iron door shut
on her demon-self’s prison, tucked away within the shadows of her
Dominic was alive. It was all a bad dream. They were safe, holed up in his
apartment in Rome while he made arrangements for their escape from the
country. Three days had passed since the Winter Ball.
blissful days of sex and Dominic.
It was all too easy to forget that she was a vampire princess and he a werewolf
assassin on the run. While together, they were no longer forbidden lovers,
hunted by two warring races. He was a man and she was the woman who loved him
Yet the illusion didn’t change reality. The time would come to pay the piper.
Kate feared it might be sooner, rather than later.
Katerina was becoming more persistent, the longer she went without blood. Kate
needed to find a way to transfuse and soon. Even then, her fangs lengthened in
her mouth at the sight of Dominic and the dream-memory of the taste of his
blood on her tongue.
As far as she was concerned, food shouldn’t have faces. It sure as hell
shouldn’t have Dominic’s face. At this point, Kate would drain an entire herd
of sheep, cows or even horses, if it would keep her from hurting him. The
thought horrified and disgusted her. Yet she knew it was only a matter of time.
For the times
She offered Dominic a weak smile. “I’m fine, love. It was just a bad dream.”
Dominic’s brows furrowed into a dark line beneath his crinkled brow.
I guess the effect of
thirst on dreams is similar to indigestion.”
Dominic frowned in concern. “It’s been three days,
. Yet you still
refuse to hunt. Why? I would gladly take you out and protect you from the
“I know you would, my love.”
“Then why won’t you take care of yourself?”
“Because, I’ve never fed before.
Dominic gaped at her in amazement.
“I’ve been living off of blood transfusions for the past few months.”
He stared at her in disbelief. “And that works?”
“For the most part,” Kate said with a rueful smile. He didn’t need to know about
her inner struggles with her bloodthirsty shadow-self. They had enough to deal
with as it was.
Dominic chuckled. “Leave it to you,
find a way to be a vegetarian vampire. You’re amazing, you know that?”
He leaned down and pressed his lips softly to hers. Her body aching with thirst
and need, Kate responded to his kisses like a spark to an accelerant, devouring
him with the flames of her desire. He felt divine and tasted just as heavenly.
All she wanted was to sink her teeth into him, to taste his heated essence.
Just one bite…
Trembling with restraint, she dragged herself away. Ignoring the ravenous need
clawing through her gut, Kate tried to calm her breathing and slow the racing
of her predator’s pulse. Dominic studied her in silence. If he noticed her
inner struggle, he did an excellent job of hiding it.
Rolling from the bed, Dominic crossed the room. “I’m guessing that means you
don’t want this.” He lifted a box from the nearby table and returned to set it
next to Kate on the bed.
The box was flocked in red velvet with a huge black satin bow. Kate lifted the
lid of the box and laughed.
“Well, that’s a first,” she said, admiring the contents.
The box was meant to be a four-pound box of chocolates, but had been repurposed
with her in mind. Sure, chocolates lined the perimeter of the box, but stacks
of blood bags filled the majority of the space.
Dominic grinned. “I considered asking the girl at the chocolate shop if they
had any blood-filled chocolates, but then thought better of it. So, I
“Yeah, she probably would’ve had you carted away on the crazy train.”
Kate’s heart catapulted high in her chest at the sight. With his soulful eyes,
dazzling smile, big heart, handsome face, and sinful body, Dominic never ceased
to take her breath away. Kate was pretty sure he never would.
His dark brow furrowed and his face fell. “I’m so sorry, Kate. I didn’t know
you needed supplies to transfuse. I thought only of feeding you.”
Kate reached up to cup his jaw with her hand. The dark stubble pricked at her
palm, while his steady pulse thrummed beneath her fingers. Damn it. It made her
“I know,” she reassured him. “Don’t worry. This is great.”
“But will you drink it?”
Kate swallowed at the burning lump of thirst in her throat. Bagged blood was
the gateway drug to hunting humans. She knew this, in fact, feared it with
every anti-Katerina cell in her body. But if it was enough to keep her demon at
bay, enough to keep Dominic safe, then she would gladly risk it.
“I’m not sure I have much of a choice.”
“There’s always a choice,
,” Dominic countered with a small frown.
“Not this time, there’s not, not for me
With tremulous hands, Kate reached into the box and drew out a bag of blood.
The clear, flexible plastic container was cold to the touch. Fresh from the
blood bank, the chilled, dark purplish-red liquid would calm her thirst better
than an ice-cold glass of lemonade on a hot summer day.
refreshing, and one hundred percent satisfying.
. Kate plucked the plastic cap off the tail intended for infusion
tubing and gave Dominic a wan smile.
Kate lifted the bag to her mouth, closed her lips around the tube, and sucked
on it as though it was a regular straw. The fluid was cool and sweet on her
tongue. Better than she remembered the blooded wine to be. Her incisors
sharpened and her pulse raced as Katerina roared in satisfaction within her.
With long swallows, Kate sucked down the entire bag in a matter of seconds.
Dominic watched her with a guarded expression on his face. “Is it okay? I’m
sure fresh would be better.”
Kate shook her head at him. “It’s better than okay. I’ve never tasted anything
like it. I never thought I’d say it, but… it’s better than chocolate.”
Dominic quirked a teasing brow at her.
“That good, huh?
Should I be jealous of that little bag?”
Kate smiled and shook her head again. “There’s no competition. You win hands
down. Although, if you wanted to put the two hands together…”
“Kate, I love you, and I’d do anything for you, but I have to draw the line
somewhere. Letting you douse me in someone else’s blood and lick it from my
skin may be it.”
“Party pooper,” Kate teased.
“I could definitely get on board with anything that involves me, you, and
licking, sans blood though,” Dominic grinned, leaning in to press his lips to
“Is that so?” Kate murmured, kissing him back.
Their mouths melded beneath the heat of their passion. The clean taste of
Dominic mingled with the taste of blood on her tongue, driving her wild with
pleasure and need. Her fangs grazed his tongue, a hint of his fresh blood
teasing her before the scrapes healed.
was the most amazing thing she’d ever tasted. The taste of Dominic
made bagged blood taste like a cardboard protein shake with extra chalk. She
could feel Katerina rise within her, responding to the taste of fresh blood.
Breathless and thirstier than ever before, Kate dragged herself away from
Dominic. She’d kill him if they kept going.
Not that he
couldn’t stop her,
but knowing him, he wouldn’t.
She rattled the empty blood bag in front of his face. “I’m going to need to
take a few more hits before I’m ready for anything like that. I’m afraid you
taste good enough to eat and I’m starving.”
Dominic chuckled, “Alright, let’s feed you some more,
then we can revisit the plans I have for that mouth of yours.”
Several hours later, they laid in bed, snuggled up in companionable silence.
Kate had drained every last bag of blood from her chocolate box and they’d made
love until neither had the strength to move. Dominic lay on his back with Kate
cuddled up against his side. With her head on his chest, she listened to the
steady, comforting thrum of his heartbeat.
Dominic’s hand danced in lazy circles across her bare back, warm and
comforting, as Kate traced the ridges of his abs with the pad of her finger. He
was so beautifully male, strong and powerful. And he was hers.