Can these star-crossed lovers bridge two worlds?
British aristocrat Vanessa Bentley has beauty, fame, and fortune, but she gets no respect for her decision to become a paranormal investigator. Determined to prove the naysayers wrong, Vanessa ventures to the misty moors of Caithness, Scotland. There stands the immense Castle Barrogill, where a vampire is rumored to be stalking the dungeons—a vampire Vanessa is determined to find. She’ll just have to get past the resident shape-shifter…
Callum Lyon is the gorgeous reclusive astrologer and faery knight who guards the castle. For free-spirited Vanessa, seducing him proves to be easy. After all, he was once a breeding drone to a Queen. But astrologically, their differences are harder to overcome. Will Vanessa’s mission—and Callum’s secrets—be more than their burgeoning love can take? Or will flesh—and blood—win over the ghosts that haunt them both? ….
As Callum navigated the winding, fog-shrouded road out to Easter Head, his knuckles white on the steering wheel, he entertained a strange and selfish thought. What if he should miss a turn and go over the cliff? The drop was steep and the landing rocky. If he didn’t turn her, she would die.
He’d never turned anyone before, never even been tempted. Belphoebe had told him how, in case he found someone someday he wanted to keep as his mate. Strangely, he never had. In the hundreds of years he’d been alive, he’d never once fallen in love. He wanted to love, loved the idea of being in love, but, for whatever reason, the seeds of affection never took root. And oh, how he’d tortured himself over what those reasons might be.
As a breeding drone, it was in his nature to seduce, to draw women to himself to satisfy his physical needs. He enjoyed those trysts, enjoyed the chase and the conquest, enjoyed the power he wielded and the erotic gratification their bodies afforded. What man wouldn’t? What he didn’t enjoy was their pursuit of him. Or the lengths he had to go to sometimes to get rid of them.
Thus, he preferred Madam Pennick’s faery whores to human women. He relished his privacy and his solitude. Having unwelcome company foisted on him upended his sense of wellbeing. It was that simple. He wanted a woman when he wanted her. When he didn’t, she could go hang herself.
Those feelings didn’t stem from a general disrespect for women. Oh, no. Quite the opposite, in fact. He adored women, adored their soft bodies and giving them mind-blowing orgasms. Sadly, that was all he’d ever been able to give them. Except Sorcha, of course, who wouldn’t even let him give her that much.
She’d bristled under his touch and laid stiffly beneath him while he “did his business,” as she called it, much to his consternation. Other things fell away, but not the memory of poor Sorcha sobbing under him as he exercised his rights as a husband. Taking and never giving back because she wouldn’t allow him to please her.
For two centuries, he’d suffered the ghost’s presence without the least inkling why she insisted on haunting him.
“Do try to find out what she wants,” he said, turning to Lady Vanessa.
“I’ll give it my best shot.”
The fog was getting thicker. He could barely make out the curve of the road. Beside him, Lady Vanessa was quiet, which was just as well. He needed to focus on his driving. The fog was now so thick he could barely see the bonnet of the car. Jerking the wheel toward the shoulder, he stopped, leaving the engine running and the headlamps on.
“What are you doing?” she asked, sounding anxious.
“I can see in the dark well enough,” he told her, “though not in this gloom. And I don’t fancy creeping along these cliffs like I’m playing Blind Man’s Bluff.”
“So we’re just going to sit here until it clears?”
“We are. Unless you’ve got a better idea.”
She waggled her eyebrows at him. “We could always fool around.”
The suggestion shot a flaming arrow straight to his groin. Against his better judgment, he unbuckled his seatbelt and pulled her into his arms. Their mouths locked in a passionate kiss. As their tongues entangled, his hands moved up and down her back.
Outside, it began to rain. He was dimly aware of the soft drumming on the roof of the car. Would it wash away the fog or make it worse? He didn’t know and, for the moment at least, couldn’t care less. Her breasts were smashed against his chest, her tongue was playing with his, and his cock was straining against the fly of his trousers.
It took every ounce of willpower he could muster to let her go. With a sigh, he dropped back into his seat.
“I don’t want to take you in the car. Not when my castle is just down the road.”
“How very gallant of you.”
“I do try,” he said, pursing his lips, “when I have the chance, which, admittedly, isn’t often.”
She turned away from him, toward the window. “We could always talk, I suppose. Tell me more about your ghost. Why did she hate the man she married enough to jump off the tower?”
He took a moment to work out how to tell her the story without giving himself away before starting. “As I understand it, the marriage was forced—a common practice back then when a man wanted a woman who didn’t want him.”
“Hang on. How do you force someone to marry you?”
“Back then, under Scots law, a man only had to have intercourse with an unmarried woman to make her his wife.”
“Oh, my God,” she exclaimed. “That’s appalling—and positively medieval. No wonder the poor girl threw herself off the tower.”
“That wasn’t the worst of it.”
“No? What could be worse than being forced to marry your rapist?”
“Marrying a man who raped you to get ahold of your dead husband’s castle.”
“She was married before?”
“Aye,” he said, treading carefully. “To a man killed at the Battle of Flodden Field.”
She went quiet for a few heartbeats before asking, “And all you feel when she’s around is a drop in temperature?”
“And a slight shift in the room’s energy when she’s there.”
“Does she ever do anything or move objects?”
“Nay,” he replied, being deliberately vague. “She just watches.”
Her darkly penciled eyebrows drew together. He dropped his gaze to her mouth, as inviting as a ripe strawberry, and fought the strong compulsion to take a bite.
“Does the energy feel negative at all?” she asked.
He shook his head to dispel his rising lust. “Negative?”
“Hostile or even malicious.”
“Nay. Just cold.”
Outside, it was still raining and, inside, the hunger was rising like a burn in a downpour. In the gaps in conversation, he could hear her heart chanting his name.
Ca-lum. Ca-lum. Ca-lum.
He had to get some fresh air, get away from her, before he lost control. Holding his breath, he turned the key to the ignition’s accessory position and cracked the window.
God help him—and her. His fangs were breaking through his gums. He clamped his teeth together hoping to thwart their emergence. If he remained in these close confines much longer, there was no telling what he might do.
“You don’t look so good,” she said, eyes brimming with concern. “Is anything wrong?”
Bloody hell. He couldn’t answer without revealing his pronounced canines. Lowering the window far enough to stick his head out, he sucked fresh air into his lungs. It was still raining, but not as hard. The fog, too, appeared to be clearing.
Fuck it. He’d try to make the drive. He’d been playing with fire and had burnt his fingers. If he didn’t watch it, everything he cared about could go up in flames.
He made up his mind. To hell with Sorcha’s ghost. He’d just have to put up with her. He’d indulge his Unseelie desires tonight and take Lady Vanessa back to John o’Groats in the morning. He’d make her forget him and, in time, he’d forget her, too. He’d only known her for a day, after all, and what was one day in the course of eternity? A mere blip he’d soon fail to recall like so much else.
Starting the engine, he eased off the shoulder and onto the road. He switched on the wipers at full speed, but still couldn’t see much through the rain and fog. He leaned forward, squinting to see through the downpour.
It was like driving through cellophane. He eased up on the gas, determined to take it slow. Inch by inch, if need be. The cliffs should be a wee ways up ahead. If he was careful, he ought to be able to make it around them all right.
It didn’t help that the smell of her was wreaking havoc with his concentration. His fangs were all the way down and his mouth was watering like a hungry dog’s. He swallowed, keeping his lips sealed tight. He hadn’t felt so close to the edge since, well, since he’d awakened in her room that morning. He should have taken her then and there instead of waiting so long. He was usually good at waiting, but something in her blood called to him like a siren bent on his destruction.
He’d reached the end of his tether. He couldn’t think, couldn’t breathe. He had to clear his head, to get away from her intoxicating scent, to get out of this bloody car. Fresh air in his lungs and rain on his face would soon set him to rights. He stomped on the brake. The Land Rover lurched to a stop. He grabbed the door handle and pulled.
As he started to jump out, she seized his arm. “Where are you going?”
Tearing his arm from her grasp, he vaulted from the car. He walked down the road, not caring that he was getting soaked. He just prayed the night air would restore his senses. He still felt lightheaded, his fangs were still out, and his balls throbbed like an abscessed tooth. He stopped when he could no longer smell her, grabbed his knees, and started sucking in breaths. He tensed when he heard her coming up behind him.
“Go back to the car.”
“Not until you tell me what’s going on.”
“Go back to car, Lady Vanessa,” he said more gently.
Heedless of his request, she stepped up behind him and ran her hands over his lower back. Christ Almighty, she was headstrong, to her own bloody peril.
“I want to help.”
She swept her hands across his shoulders, pushing him to the edge of reason. He opened his mouth to order her back to the car, but the words wouldn’t come. He spun around. As his gaze fixed on the pulsing vein in her neck, his teeth ached to penetrate her flesh. His cock ached, too, with the urge to penetrate elsewhere…
About the Author:
Nina Mason is a hopeful romantic with strong affinities for history, mythology, and the metaphysical. She strives to write the same kind of books she loves to read: those that entertain, edify, educate, and enlighten.
She has four books out at present and three more on the way. Her current releases are, in order of publication: The Queen of Swords, a darkly erotic Scottish paranormal romance/urban fantasy; The Tin Man, a political thriller; and Devil in Duke’s Clothing and The Duke’s Bedeviled Bride, the first two installments in an erotic historical series titled Royal Pains. Book three of Royal Pains will be released in October.
Starry Knight is the first book in a four-part paranormal romance series titled The Knights of Avalon. The series combines Arthurian legend, Celtic mythology, and Scottish history to tell the story of four mortals taken by the faeries after falling in battle. The Knights of Avalon are the breeding drones of the legendary sorceress Morgan Le Fay. Book Two, Dark and Stormy Knight, will be released in January 2016. The series is being published by Lyrical/Kensington.
You can find Nina @:
Author website: http://ninamasonauthor.com
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/ninamasonromance
Twitter handle: @ninamasonauthor
Goodreads page: http://goodreads.com/ninamasonauthor
YouTube Channel (where readers can view my book trailers): http://www.youtube.com/ninamasonauthor