Gemstone Vampires: Book 2
Author: Khloe Wren
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 4
Buy at: Rogue Phoenix Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble
Vampires are real... as is the fact they will only ever take one woman, their Eternal Bride. When Barret sees Sharon, he’s excited to have finally found his Bride, until they meet and he learns Sharon knows nothing of Vampires and is scared of him. Once he seduces her into accepting his claim on her, Barret falls asleep…only to wake to find her gone. Sharon had snuck out while he slept and ends up in the hands of the enemy. His rescue attempt ends badly and they are both caught by the evil Nobles. Twenty-seven years later they find themselves finally free. As they both struggle to adjust to the outside world, Sharon is on a mission to rescue the sons she birthed in captivity. Barret wakes to find Sharon has, once again, slipped away while he slept. Will history repeat itself?
"Shh, baby girl. Mummy needs to think."
Sharon held her three-month-old daughter to her, rocking gently in the hope she'd go to sleep. Sharon knew she was in trouble. A creature of the night—a Vampire—was hunting her and her baby. She could feel him watching her.
"This isn't fair."
She'd been cornered earlier in the day by two men while she'd been in Richmond shopping. Thankfully a shop owner saw and came to her rescue before they said or did anything to her. Sharon could clearly recall the concern on the older man's face as she relived their earlier conversation.
"Those men after you are Nobles; they are enemies to the Vampires. You cannot let them catch you. If they do, you'll never been seen again. Do you understand?"
"Then I'll go to the Police-"
"No dear, they won't help you. Long ago the Police made it clear they would not get involved in matters between the Nobles and Vampires."
"But I'm neither Noble nor Vampire, I've never even heard of Nobles before!"
"It doesn't matter, I'm afraid. For whatever reason, the Nobles believe you are important to capture. Although, I've never heard of them going for a mother and child before, so I'm not sure why they want you. But I can assure you, they do want you caught."
"And how do you know about all this? Are you a Noble?"
"No, I'm not a Noble. I just keep my ears open as I run my shop. I know all sorts of things I probably shouldn't. Now you'd best run along, hopefully they didn't see you slip back here. Head out the rear door there and go straight for the tram. You might be able to lose them in the city where there are more people."
She'd wanted to ask why she would be important to a Vampire. She knew so little about them but didn't exactly have time now to try and find information. Even if she did, she somehow doubted the library had an "Everything you need to know…" book about Vampires. But she'd known she didn't have time to spare so without another word, she'd quickly followed the man's instructions. He'd told her to be careful, that the men would keep following her. She'd spent the rest of the day rushing from trams to busy streets trying to stay ahead of her stalkers. Not an easy feat with a stroller and a three-month-old baby.
Just before nightfall, Sharon had finally found herself free of them and in the center of Melbourne. The soles of her feet had burned from all the walking she'd done, but she'd had to keep going. Her mouth had felt so dry, but she didn't dare stop anywhere to buy a drink. She'd intended to make the most of losing her stalkers by getting herself and little Darcy back home.
As she'd made her way to the Flinders Street Train Station, she'd again felt someone watching her, and knew it wasn't the same men. This felt different, more intense, and she couldn't spot her follower no matter how hard she looked. The Nobles hadn't bothered trying to hide. She'd actually thought they liked her knowing they were after her. No, this was someone, no, something else. The little she did know about Vampires was that they could move silently through the night. That you wouldn't see them unless they wanted you to.
She'd quickly made her way back to the brightly lit and crowded Melbourne streets. Which was fine for the early evening. Now it was edging toward midnight as she stood rocking little Darcy to sleep. Finding other people was getting harder. The hairs on her neck prickled, letting her know he was still there.
She was so tired. Being on her feet all day had her body worn out and she had to force herself to keep going. Her soul was equally worn out, but that had been building for a while. Loneliness had been clawing at her. Her parents were both gone and her baby's daddy had left her long ago, so now it was just her and Darcy, her tiny angel. She looked into her beautiful little face, her eyes now closed, but she knew the deep blue irises beneath those lids weren't normal for a human. Did that make her daughter something more than merely human? Was Darcy somehow calling out to the paranormal in the world to come find her?
Sharon laid her now sleeping baby down in her stroller before standing up to stretch out her spine. She didn't have the energy or brain power to work it out right now. Something she didn't have any trouble working out was that the Vampire was going to catch them before the safety of dawn came. Sharon doubted it would give up before the approaching dawn forced it to return to its home. She knew she'd been lucky during the day to lose the Nobles chasing her. She seriously doubted a Vampire would be as easy to evade as the Nobles. Especially since she'd now been awake for about twenty hours and was fading fast. As she walked, the sound of her shoes on the pavement was loud in her ears and her eyes felt dry and gritty.
Sharon hadn't ever, knowingly, met a Vampire. Growing up in the outer suburbs they weren't spoken of often. All her parents had told her was that they couldn't go out in daylight and they hung around the busy cities so she should avoid going there at night. With no time to figure out which of them the Vampire wanted, Sharon had to make sure Darcy was safe. But how?
Sharon caught yet another tram and headed away from the city. With one hand resting gently on her daughter's tummy as she slept in her stroller, she looked out the window until the vehicle began to slow down. The Royal Melbourne Hospital came into view. A crazy idea entered her mind and before she had time to talk herself out of it, she pressed the next stop alert and made her way to the back door of the tram. Allowing a middle-aged man to help carry the stroller down the steps, she found herself on the wide-open street facing the emergency entrance.
"I don't have a choice. I have to do this."
With her heart in her throat, she went inside and hurried to the emergency waiting room. Grateful it was fairly crowded, she settled in a back corner. She watched her precious daughter sleep. The gentle rise and fall of her body bringing tears to her eyes. She dived into her bag and pulled out a pen and note pad. She sat there staring at the blank page for a long time. How do you write in a note all she was feeling? In the end, she concluded the right words didn't exist so she simply wrote 'Darcy born 29th November 1984.' She placed the note above Darcy's head under the hood of the stroller. Then she leaned back in the chair and waited. She'd spend these last hours with her daughter watching her sleep. So peaceful. She moved forward to press a light kiss to the soft skin of her cheek.
"I love you, Darcy. Please, don't hate me for what I have to do. I promise, if I survive this night, we will be together again soon."
As the staff changed shift and the people remaining in the waiting room were either sleeping or too sick or injured to notice her, she got up and walked from the building. She tried to look calm but her hands shook and she struggled to breathe past the anguish clogging her throat. Her heart shattered a little more with each step she took away from her daughter. She felt as though she were leaving part of her soul behind. Dashing tears from her eyes with trembling fingers, she caught the next tram to return into the city. She needed to elude the Vampire and take a train to her home out in the suburbs. The Vampire hadn't followed her inside the hospital. She hoped that meant they couldn't enter one. That would mean Darcy was truly safe for the moment. Unlike her.
As she sat in the nearly empty tram, she absently rubbed her arms. Without her daughter, she felt cold down to her bones. Suddenly the cost of her day out shopping at the outlet stores in Richmond had grown to include her little angel, and she suspected her very life. She hoped the Vampire would be content taking her and would leave Darcy alone.
Sharon continued to wipe at the tears that fell from her eyes as she left the tram and rushed to the Flinders Street Train Station. Grieving and worn out, Sharon didn't look around as she validated her ticket and headed toward the stairs. Dawn was only an hour or so away now, and her heart lightened a little at the thought she'd eluded her stalker. If she had, she'd go home and ring the hospital. Sure, there would be questions, but she would get her baby back. Once she explained to the hospital, and no doubt the police, it was out of fear for Darcy's safety that she'd left her at the hospital, they'd return Darcy to her. Surely. And she would never go shopping in the city again.
She hurried downstairs to the tunnel that connected the platforms. The morning rush of workers heading into town hadn't started for the day so it was empty of people and her heart rate sped up. The hairs on her neck prickled so she began to run. Damn, she should have paid more attention to who was around the upstairs section of the station. With only a few feet till the entrance to her train's platform, an arm snaked around her waist. She sucked in a breath, ready to scream when she was lifted off the ground. A cool hand was pressed over her mouth before she could utter a sound.
"Shh, my love. I will not harm you."
She closed her eyes as she was quickly turned around, her feet returned to the pavement as he released his grip on her.
"Open your eyes and see the truth."
Not understanding the man's strange words, she opened her lids without further thought. The moment her gaze caught his, her breath froze. His irises matched her own. Round pools of light green-blue stared at her. Trembling with fear, Sharon attempted to back away. His strong arm banded around her waist once more and pulled her tight against his hard-muscled frame. The hand that had earlier covered her mouth now rose to caress her cheek. Sparks of awareness flew through her body and confused her poor worn out mind further.
"I-I don't understand... Why do our eyes match?"
His forehead creased into a frown. "You don't know about Vampires? Eternal Brides?"
She gasped as she shoved hard against his chest. Panic gave her strength but still not enough to free herself from his embrace. She knew nothing of what an 'eternal bride' was, other than 'eternal' generally meant forever, and 'bride' meant being tied down to a man. Sharon didn't want anything to do with either of those concepts. No matter how much her body cried out for his touch.