Read Harker's Journey Online

Authors: N.J. Walters

Harker's Journey

HARKER’S JOURNEY

An Ellora’s Cave Publication, January 2005

Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.

1337 Commerce Drive, #13

Stow, OH 44224

ISBN MS Reader (LIT) ISBN # 1-4199-0138-9

Other available formats (no ISBNs are assigned):

Adobe (PDF), Rocketbook (RB), Mobipocket (PRC) & HTML

HARKER’S JOURNEY © 2005 N.J. WALTERS

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part without permission.

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. They are productions of the authors’ imagination and used fictitiously.

Edited by
Pamela Cohen.

Cover art by
Syneca
.

Warning:

The following material contains graphic sexual content meant for mature readers.
Harker’s Journey
has been rated S-ensuous by a minimum of three independent reviewers.

Ellora’s Cave Publishing offers three levels of Romantica™ reading entertainment: S (S-ensuous), E (Erotic), and X (X-treme).

S-
ensuous
love scenes are explicit and leave nothing to the imagination. E-
rotic
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. X-
treme
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.

HARKER’S JOURNEY

N.J. Walters

Dedication

Thank you to my loving husband whose support and encouragement has never wavered and without whom I would never have had the courage to begin, much less finish, any book. Thank you to my editor, Pamela Cohen, for her hard work far above the call of duty, especially on this novella; you've helped my small idea grow into itself.

Harker’s Journey

Chapter One

“This can’t be happening,” Johanna Harker muttered to herself as she limped off the gravel path to lean against a tree. Scowling at the road, she eyed the heel of her expensive Italian leather pump, a casualty of her forced trek. Her rental car from the airport had broken down just as she’d coasted into the sleepy, little village. With no time to get a replacement or have it repaired, she’d been forced to look for an alternative source of transportation. After asking around at both the gas station and the inn where she was staying, she found only one man who would hire out his vehicle for the arduous trip to Dalakis Castle later that same day. No amount of money could entice anyone else to drive her. The old man, with his stooped shoulders and snow-white handlebar mustache, had shown up late, and then when the castle was finally within sight, he had refused to take her past the point where the pavement ended and the dirt road began.

Nothing she had said changed his mind. After wasting twenty minutes she didn’t have, alternatively arguing and cajoling, she climbed out of the passenger seat and stared in dismay as the driver sped away, leaving her and her briefcase standing at the bottom of a long, dusty road.

With nothing left for her to do, she’d begun walking towards her destination. At least she hoped it was her destination. The old man hadn’t spoken much English, but he’d nodded emphatically when she’d pointed, on her roughly sketched map, to the name of the place she was going. So far, all she had accomplished was destroying her shoe.

Cursing the driver of the battered old truck, she gave into the inevitable, propped her back against the tree trunk, and balanced herself carefully as she pulled off her 5

N.J. Walters

unharmed shoe. Closing her eyes, she bent the heel ruthlessly backward until it popped off, then she shoved the shoe back onto her foot.

With her back still against the tree, she surveyed her surroundings. Thick woods that made her slightly uncomfortable, city girl that she was, surrounded the dirt road. Squinting, she could barely see more than a few yards into the dense undergrowth, but she could easily imagine all kinds of wild creatures. She could hear several different birds calling and singing to one another and the air was filled with the scents of the wildflowers that grew wild on either side of the road. Their vibrant colors of red, yellow, and purple looked even brighter against the dark green of the forest. It felt strange to be so alone.

She took a moment to loop the strap of her briefcase over one arm and around her neck before pushing away from the tree. Pocketing the damaged heel, she dusted off her beige linen jacket, and limped back onto the road. “Cow path is more like it.” Her voice startled a bird from the bushes, and it flew right in front of her. Johanna jumped back and stumbled on the uneven rocks, falling on her behind. She lay in the road for a moment and surveyed her condition. It occurred to her that she could just stay there until someone drove by and found her. But no, with her luck she’d be lying there until she turned to dust. Besides, she had business to attend to. After all, that was why she was limping down this godforsaken path. Rolling carefully to her knees, she slowly levered herself off the ground. Her nylons were shredded, her skirt was dirty, and her jacket had a rip. All in all, a day that had started out so well was quickly going downhill. Gathering her strength, Johanna continued trudging towards the castle in the distance, longing for her jeans and hiking boots that were back at the quaint little inn where she was staying. It was her own fault for wanting to look professional. As a representative of the Baxter Corporation in Chicago, who was financing this trip, she’d wanted to look cool and composed for her meeting with their largest client, Mr. Dalakis. 6

Harker’s Journey

It was an odd quirk of Mr. Dalakis that he insisted a company representative personally come to his home before he would sign anything. The company hierarchy humored the man simply because he was so bloody rich. How rich, they didn’t even know, as he dealt with many other companies besides theirs. As the newest member of the investment firm, she was the only one that could be spared from the office for an extended period of time. Therefore, she had been given explicit instructions by her bosses and saddled with the dreaded job of flying halfway around the world so their client could sign some papers. In truth, she’d prayed for weeks that she would be given the assignment. When it had been handed to her, she had nodded coolly and accepted the folder with the paperwork and her itinerary. The trip would last a week, at Mr. Dalakis’ request, and whoever was dispatched would cool their heels in the local hotel until he sent word that he would see them. Johanna had been thrilled when she’d found the note waiting upon her arrival, requesting her immediate presence. That meant she could get the business part of the trip finished and move on to the pleasure.

Stopping for a moment, she took in the sheer magnificence of the mountains rising in the distance. She was really here. Her aches and problems were momentarily forgotten as the reality of the situation set in. Turning slowly in a circle, she drank in the sights and sounds. The mountains, the flowers, the birds, and even the dark, scary forest enthralled her. After ten years of dreaming, she, Johanna Harker, was in Transylvania, land of the vampire.

Her briefcase bumped against her hip as she started walking again, more eager than ever to finish with business so that she could immerse herself in the experience. She’d already signed up for a walking tour around the town, and there was a university expert giving a tour of Dracula’s castle that she definitely wanted to be a part of. Given the expense of the trip, this would probably be the only opportunity she’d have to visit, so she wanted to see and do everything.

7

N.J. Walters

Her friends had thought her weird, but Johanna had always been fascinated with vampires. It had begun the day before her eighteenth birthday when a friend had given her the classic novel by Bram Stoker for a present, making fun of the fact she had the same last name as one of the characters.

“Maybe you’re a bloodsucking vampire,” her friend had teased. “I mean, didn’t one of the main characters have the last name Harker like you? Maybe you’re a relative?”

Johanna had devoured the book from start to finish, captivated by the powerful, alluring figure of Dracula.

Then the dreams had begun. Not the nightmares that her mother had predicted, but long, hot encounters with a man who, at the end of the dream, always turned out to be a vampire. She’d been having the dreams every night of the full moon for almost twelve years now. The night of her eighteenth birthday had been the beginning and she remembered that dream as vividly as the night it occurred…

Tucked upstairs in the far corner of her parent’s home in an older suburb of Chicago, her childhood bedroom was shrouded in darkness, lit only by the glow of the full moon that poured through the open window. The sheer white curtains fluttered in the breeze as she rolled over in bed and gazed out at the night. One moment she was alone, and the next, he was there, standing in the shadows at the end of the bed. She was not afraid of his presence, but rather, she had been waiting for him. He advanced towards her, his movements fluid and graceful. She gasped as a beam of moonlight illuminated his features. Striking and dangerous were the two words that popped into her head. Dressed entirely in black, his great height and massive shoulders almost immediately blocked out most of the light. As if sensing her need to see him better, he turned slightly so she could make out his features. Long dark hair was swept back from his face, falling in a curtain of silk around his shoulders. His forehead was prominent, and his cheekbones were high. Quirked in a half smile, his lips were thin, yet surprisingly sensual. For a moment, his eyes seemed to 8

Harker’s Journey

glow an eerie red before fading to dark once again. As much as she strained, she could not make out their color.

“Green.” His deep, slightly accented voice answered her unasked question. She felt his voice, for it seemed to vibrate deep inside her, causing her to yearn for something. What that craving was, she wasn’t sure, but she longed to hear him speak again.

“Sit, please.” Scooting over to the center of the bed, she patted the white duvet next to her.

A satisfied smile crossed his face as he sank to the mattress. He said nothing and sat as still as a stone.
Predator
. The word flashed in her head and a deep fear rose within her as her heart began to pound in her chest.

His dark laughter filled the air, and one of his large hands covered her fluttering heart. The heat from his palm seared her chest. She wanted to move, but she was paralyzed by fear. His green-eyed gaze captured hers and she could not tear away from their terrible beauty. For a moment she thought she was dead, and lamented the fact that there were so many things left in life that she wanted to do. As the thought flashed through her mind, his face took on such a look of pain and sorrow that she would have done anything he’d asked of her if it would alleviate his torment. She’d never seen such a look of anguish, and for a brief moment she experienced the deep suffering of his very soul.

“You are the one.” His voice was laced with surprise and what sounded like hope. He sat back and pulled his hand away, holding it fisted in his lap. Johanna felt the loss keenly. It was almost as if he had taken her heart with him.

“The one what?” she whispered.

“You are my heart and my soul. The beautiful spirit that I have sought through the dark days of my existence. I will protect you with my entire being for as long as you shall live and beyond, if you someday choose to join me.” Spoken like a vow, the words brought tears to her eyes. The deep emotion in his voice left her shaken and unsure. 9

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