Authors: Susan Sizemore
Praise for the Laws of the Blood novels
“Susan Sizemore has created a believable vampire community…This gripping chiller with a touch of romance will really sink its teeth into the minds of the audience.”
Midwest Book Review
“Sizemore has managed to breathe new life into the vampire genre…[The] characters are also very well drawn; not only do they differ from your Dracula or Nosferatu style of vampire, they possess great life, character, and believability. Any lover of vampire fiction would be well-advised to sample Sizemore’s wares.”
“Fascinating…The characterizations are excellent, the plot strong, and the pace well implemented.”
“Calling this book a compulsive page-turner doesn’t begin to do it justice…strong characterizations and crisply described, plausible action.”
“The author knows how to write ‘realistic’ vampires. Her characters are three-dimensional and intriguing.”
All About Romance
“Pumps new life into a very old horror staple…highly recommended.”
“A rousing adventure.”
“If you like thrills as well as chills, this one’s for you.”
“The author gives us a cast of memorable characters that are realistic, entertaining, and interesting.”
“Sure to appeal to vampire buffs familiar with Buffy’s Sunnydale and Anita Blake’s St. Louis…The story is fast and sexy, with pathos and comic relief in the vampires’ conflicted relationships with humans.”
RT Book Reviews
Ace Books by Susan Sizemore
The Laws of the Blood Novels
ACE BOOKS, NEW YORK
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
An Ace Book / published by arrangement with the author
Ace mass-market edition / October 2012
Copyright © 2012 by Susan Sizemore.
Cover art by Don Sipley.
Cover design element © iStockphoto/Thinkstock.
Cover design by Judith Lagerman.
Interior text design by Kristin del Rosario.
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If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”
he closer Christopher Bell got to London, the more the place smelled, worse by the moment. Even the acrid coal smoke spewed by the train engine wasn’t enough to cover the stench. Probably because it wasn’t just his long nose that was being assailed by the concentration of human filth. He wasn’t from London, wouldn’t be heading there if he wasn’t supposed to report to the Admiralty.
Captain Christopher Bell was from Sheffield, with not a single nobleman in his background to ease his way in his naval career. His accent was good enough when he remembered what he’d learned from private tutors and his Oxford education, but after a year at sea, he needed practice at acting the gentleman. At least his industrialist family was wealthy, if not of proper breeding. His other three brothers were engaged in running railways, in banking, and in shipbuilding. Christopher had been chosen as the one to serve Queen and Country, to be a shining example of the family’s
patriotic fervor. He didn’t mind. He liked the life. He liked being at sea.
It kept the noise down, and the sights and sounds he perceived in apparently freakishly different ways than the rest of the world. It kept the—the aromas was the best way he could describe them—inside his head at a controllable minimum. Bell supposed he was crazy, but since he managed to hide it most of the time with Mr. Morse’s help, no one locked him up. In fact, much of the time he was able to use his peculiar abilities to his advantage. That was why he’d been promoted to the captaincy of his own ship at a relatively young age.
His ship had docked in Portsmouth two days ago. He’d been looking forward to a bit of discreet, upper-class carousing with a lady of light virtue he’d left with a hefty sum and the promise of return patronage the last time he’d been in England. After a few nights of unwinding from the rigors of the sea and celibacy, he’d planned for a relaxing shore leave at the family estate, maybe even a bit of courtship. His mother’s letters had increasingly pointed out the benefits of an advantageous marriage, and she had some rich prospects in mind. Besides, she wanted grandchildren from all her offspring. Christopher didn’t mind the thought of a wife. The more he thought about it, the more he relished the idea, actually. A man had to do it sometime; might as well get on with it. Tick this duty off as he had every other thing a man of his position in life should do.
He was a bit concerned that perhaps no pretty girl would be attracted to his not at all handsome features, all long nose and long face and skin rough from the wind. It was more likely some smart, strong-willed chit would think she could make something of him—just the sort of woman a man should run screaming from might be his lot in life. He’d smiled at the notion, glad that he spent most of his time at sea. He fancied he could remain
cloaked in a bachelor’s existence even with a formidable wife at home.
Then he’d received the summons to London, cutting short all his speculations and plans. He began to get nervous as soon as the train left the station. Mr. Morse had been taken ill the day they’d docked and was in hospital, leaving his employer on his own. Christopher almost wished he hadn’t taken a private coach for the trip. A few other passengers in the car to converse with would at least have diverted his thoughts. Not that it was really his thoughts that were the problem. He thought about many things as the train drew closer and closer to the heart of the city. He recited verse and sang to himself. He tried to read. He wanted to run screaming. To jump off the train and run and run and run. He had no idea what the matter was, but he felt…
He felt darkness.
Not just fear. He’d been in enough battles and storms and disasters to recognize all sort of different kinds of fear. The fear he—smelled was a type of hysteria. It stank of sweat and leering excitement, of titillation and greed. It smelled of anger, hate, absolute panic. It was in London. All over London. It covered the city heavier than one of the smoky industrial fogs the residents of London were almost proud of.
All Christopher knew was that the closer the train drew to his destination, the less he wanted to be there. He wanted to run away but stayed still, his big, long-fingered hands clasped tightly in his lap. He didn’t show his fear. It wasn’t his fear in any case, though it penetrated him like damp cold in the North Sea.
He reminded himself that the chill was natural. It was November. He pretended the chill in his mind was only imagination.