by Lorelei Moone
Vampires of London, #3
Publication Date: February 13, 2017
Genres: Adult, Paranormal Romance, Vampires
The enemy of my enemy is my friend?
Lucille Amboise has been serving as Enforcer to the Vampire Council for centuries; a role she’s always taken extremely seriously. When an investigation causes her to cross paths with a human tracker who is hunting the same criminal, she decides to join forces, at least on the surface, to increase her chances of bringing the rogue vampire to justice. Two things she didn’t count on: the growing connection between the human and her, and the ever growing risk of losing either her life or her heart if he finds out about her true nature.
Valentino Conti’s family has lived on the fringes of human society for generations. He comes from a long line of hunters, not of animals, but of so-called Nightwalkers. His latest investigation takes him to London, where he’s surprised to find a mysterious woman on the trail of the same murderous monster he’s after. They begin to work together, but he can’t contain his curiosity: who is his new partner, and what secrets she does she hide?
All books, including this one, in the Vampires of London series are standalone and can be read out of order.
EXCERPT #1 Prologue
Ever since Lucille had hauled the criminal known as Marek before the Council, she could not wait for the trial to begin. She had so many questions and very few answers. Her curiosity was what made her such a driven investigator.
Marek was a Soul Eater; that much was clear. But how had he become so powerful? How old was he? How long had he been killing humans indiscriminately without appearing on her radar?
Obviously, he had only just started his reign of terror in London a few weeks ago, when a human had been found on the brink of death by one of their own. The vampire Michael had turned the unfortunate female, and Lucille had worked together with the unlikely pair to track down Marek and his henchmen.
It had been a triumphant victory for her, and earned her much praise from Julius, Lucille’s maker and leader of the Council.
Tonight was finally going to be the night. The trial of Marek and his associates would begin.
He stood accused of reckless conduct that risked the exposure of the vampire race to humanity as well as attempted murder of a fellow vampire. Julius had wanted to add on more charges, but decided against it on Lucille’s advice. They had caught him on the gravest crime possible. The Council took the safety of their kind extremely seriously. And randomly draining humans and leaving them for all the world to find was the most callous display of overt vampirism the city had seen in over a century. The only way the Council could have come down any harder on Marek would have been if he’d videotaped himself drinking his victim’s blood and posted it on the Internet.
So it wasn’t the outcome of the trial that Lucille was interested in; the case was clear and the punishment obvious; Marek would be sentenced to death, and depending on whether they were complicit or only following orders, so would his two associates. Lucille was more interested in any possible justifications Marek would give during the process. Any information at all that would shine a light on his motivations and history.
Lucille would be lying to herself if she didn’t admit that Marek’s immense power had intrigued and even impressed her a bit. He had been a formidable adversary.
Additionally, there was something about the vehemence with which Julius sought to punish Marek that had set off her investigative instincts. There was something more to their relationship than the Council leader had led on.
“Are you ready, my child?” Julius interrupted her thoughts.
“Yes, of course.” Lucille looked up and nodded at her maker.
The most powerful vampire in the world, as Julius liked to refer to himself at times. It was true in a political sense. His claim for the Council leadership had gone unchallenged for centuries. Though Marek had shown powers that outshone Julius manifold. Was that his reason for disliking the Soul Eater so much?
He returned her nod and beckoned her to come closer.
“It’ll all be over soon. Before long, Marek will no longer be able to threaten our way of life.”
Lucille scrutinized the smug grin on Julius’ face. He was definitely hiding something.
“Have you come across him before?” she asked.
Julius glanced at her, his face suddenly serious again. “We’ve known of the Soul Eaters that live outside the Council’s realm of influence for centuries. You know this. Never before have they ventured into London, though.”
None who were this evolved, no. Though Lucille had dealt with plenty of killers before.
That hadn’t answered her question, but Lucille decided not to pry. Due to their history, Julius had a soft spot for her, but it would be unwise to exploit their relationship just to get answers out of him. Perhaps she was just being nosy. What business was it of hers whether or not Julius knew the Soul Eater from another time?
“I will call in the elders,” Lucille said. “Once everyone is here we can begin.”
Julius shot her a quick smile and rubbed his hands together. “Very good, my child.”
Lucille left the main hall and rounded up the other six members of the Council. Although she was already four centuries old, the elders, as the term suggested, were all much more senior. At least a millennium old, each one of them. Together, they represented the far corners of the world, both ancient and modern. As the six venerable vampires entered the great hall, Lucille found herself captivated by their movements. Some seemed to levitate rather than walk, but each demonstrated a smoothness and elegance of movement that Lucille herself could not replicate if she wanted to.
Vampires, those that had the capacity to outlast the age they were born in, got better and more impressive with age.
They sat on the six chairs arranged in a semi-circle around Julius’ throne. Three to his left and three to his right. There were further chairs inside the main hall facing the throne for any other vampires who wished to observe the trial. The center of the hall had been kept free for the accused.
Lucille signaled at Dominic and Cameron, the two guards stationed beside the large entrance doors, to let the audience in.
Whispers and footsteps echoed against the tall ceiling of the cathedral as about three dozen vampires shuffled inside and found their seats. Then, Julius raised his right hand and the crowd became silent.
“We are gathered here for the trial of Marek the Soul Eater and his two progenies, who shall remain unnamed,” Julius spoke in a firm voice.
A whisper traveled across the audience once again.
“So it’s true.”
“A Soul Eater!”
“I can’t believe it!”
Lucille rolled her eyes. The sort of vampires who frequented Council trials were not her usual choice of company. Then again, not many people were.
Julius cleared his throat and silence prevailed once more. “Bring in the prisoners!”
Lucille watched as the double doors swung open and two more Council guards rolled in a cage on wheels that gleamed under the chandelier in the center of the hall. The Silver Vault, as it was known, was only used during trials of the most notorious, dangerous criminals. Obviously, Marek posed a flight risk; his powers were greater than those of anyone in this room. Perhaps he was even stronger than Julius himself.
Marek’s two associates were led in wearing cuffs right behind the cage.
The audience was deadly silent as the three accused were positioned in the empty space between the council members and the rest of the crowd.
Julius cleared his throat again and got up from his throne.
“Marek. You know why you are here. You are to stand trial—”
Marek shook his head. “Julius, please refer to me by my full title.”
Lucille frowned. Julius and Marek did seem awfully familiar, the way they spoke to one another.
Julius’ eyes narrowed. “Very well. Marek, son of Lilith. You are on trial for—”
Lilith. Only the most ancient of vampires held the title son or daughter of Lilith. Julius held this title himself. That meant Marek was an ancient? A contender for a seat on the Council?
“The rest also, if you don’t mind. I’ve worked too hard these past millennia for my achievements to go unnoticed.”
Lucille found that she was holding her breath. Marek had guts to interrupt Julius twice in front of an entire room full of his subjects. Then again, he probably knew as well as any of them that his life would soon be over, so he had nothing much to lose.
“Son of Lilith, Master of a Thousand Souls.” Julius folded his arms and stared darkly at Marek. How long would his patience last?
“Thank you.” Marek grinned, showing off a row of razor sharp white teeth.
During the brief contact Lucille had had with Marek, he had not struck her as one of those vampires who grew weary of immortality and longed for it all to end. Yet here he was, taunting Julius and grinning like a madman on what could very well be his last day walking this earth. It wasn’t just unusual, it was unnerving.
Julius ignored Marek’s remark and started listing his offenses, during which Marek seemed to grow even more cheerful. He was obviously proud of everything he’d done.
Lucille found herself tuning out Julius’ monotone voice. It was all stuff she’d heard before. Killing humans, leaving their bodies, risking their exposure, blah, blah.
Instead of listening to him rehashing the same old accusations, she took the time to really observe Marek. His strange appearance had fascinated her from the moment she’d first laid eyes on him.
Vampires didn’t age normally, but in the case of Marek, he seemed marked by every century he’d lived through. The casual observer might mistake his transparent skin, his slender body, and papery voice for signs of frailty. Lucille knew otherwise. It had taken a dozen guards to subdue Marek and restrain him for transport back to the Council prison.
The two younger Soul Eaters who stood toward his left now looked much more powerful, but actually did not even possess half of Marek’s strength. Lucille found it difficult to control her curiosity. She knew of vampires who’d killed humans; she had locked up many of them over the years. But these three were different. They didn’t just kill, they had figured out a way of absorbing a victim’s essence—their strength and life-force. Not just their blood.
Was it magic?
She could not make sense of it on her own, and seeing as Julius seemed in no mood to share whatever information or previous knowledge of Marek he had… She would talk to Alexander about it as soon as the trial was over. Perhaps her brother and his vast library of old books could shed some light.
Lucille rested her gaze on the younger Soul Eater who stood nearest to the Silver Vault. He seemed unafraid, like his maker, smiling subtly and staring at nothing in particular, until suddenly he looked up right into Lucille’s eyes.
A shiver travelled down her spine, but she did not let it show.
If you want to live, you’ll stand down.
So he was a telepath, and a rather talented one too, if he could communicate with her halfway across the large hall.
Lucille did not take kindly to threats. Her hand instinctively reached for the dagger she kept in a sheath attached to her belt. She snapped open the clasp that held the blade in place and tightened her fingers around the grip.
She looked back at Marek, who had started to laugh. A quick glance at Julius revealed that he was starting to lose his cool. He spoke faster now, lecturing the three accused on the codes of conduct the Council lived by and promoted. His eyes were wild, his expression even tenser than before.
Lucille looked back at Marek, who had now reached for the bars on his cage, tightening his long, bony fingers around them. The scent of burning flesh filled the air as his skin reacted to the metal. An ordinary vampire would not be able to bear it, but Marek showed no sign of being in pain. Instead of letting go, he held on tighter, tugging at it until the bars started to give way.
Lucille jumped forward, her dagger drawn, and was instantly joined by the guards who had been positioned at the doors. The crowd gasped in horror as Marek’s form became blurred, his body twisting and whirling around so fast that even Lucille’s perfect vision could no longer focus on him. His laughter echoed through the Council chamber, growing louder and louder until it became deafening.
She reached the cage, but Marek was no longer inside. Instead, he seemed to be levitating far above the ground, still turning at lightning speed, like a whirlwind. Now what? She didn’t have his talents or his powers; she could do nothing but watch.
Lucille turned and saw that Julius was frozen in place in front of his throne, his fist raised in the air in protest, lips opening and closing, without any sound coming out.
She had never seen him stumped like this.
At that moment, the stained glass of the large rosette shaped window above Julius’ throne shattered as Marek’s floating form surged against it and broke through. He was gone within the blink of an eye.
“Go after him,” Julius hissed, before repeating himself much louder and forcefully. “Go after him at once!”
Lucille turned and found that Julius had moved from his throne. He now stood just a few feet away from her near the Silver Vault, with Marek’s two followers slumped in pools of blood at his feet. After the initial shock of Marek’s grand display, Julius had recovered and taken swift action and punished them with death. Their still twitching hearts lay on the ground beside their lifeless bodies.
“Yes, master,” Lucille mumbled. It had been extremely difficult capturing Marek the first time around. This time, she would need a miracle.
DON’T MISS THE OTHER BOOKS IN THE VAMPIRES OF LONDON SERIES, ALL OF WHICH CAN BE READ AS STANDALONES!
Cat has never been a social butterfly. The only reason she even agreed to go to the stupid Halloween party was because her friend and room mate Shelly wanted to attend. When she gets spooked upon almost falling into bed with the host, she’s convinced it was all a big mistake. And what’s worse, now people are stalking her wherever she goes!
Alexander Broderick has been hosting his annual Halloween parties for over a century. While his contemporaries use them as an excuse to engage in all kinds of debauchery, his own motives are more benign. He wants to converse, to get a feel for the times they live in through its people. But when Cat walks into his house, he forgets himself and is compelled to seduce her. There’s only one problem: she’s a so-called Blood Bride – a mortal woman whose blood smells so delicious that every vampire in town wants to drain her.
He knows he’s the only one wanting to keep her safe, but can’t act as long as she wants nothing to do with him. And then there’s his own growing hunger to contend with. Can he protect her from the rest of the vampire community, as well as his own lethal cravings?
It’s the ultimate forbidden romance; the love between a mortal and a vampire. What is it that makes flirting with death so utterly tempting? One-click and find out.
Some vampires have trouble figuring out how they want to spend eternity, but playboy Michael Odell isn’t one of them. He knows exactly what he wants: fine wines and beautiful women fuel his passion and he’s made it his mission to sample as many of either as he can. Fate has other ideas. One night, on his way home, Michael discovers a woman lying face-down in an alley, who is losing the fight to live. There’s only one way of saving her: The Ritual. Little does Michael know that this little act of mercy is going to change his life forever and before long he finds himself falling for the curvy stranger.
Anna doesn’t remember how she ended up discarded at death’s door in a dark alley, only that she woke up there. She doesn’t even know her last name. After coming face-to-face with her gorgeous rescuer, she passes out again and finds herself in a lavish mansion with a new lease on eternal life.
Who – or more importantly, what – is she now? And the people who tried to kill her – why were they after her? Anna is determined to figure it all out for herself. But before her questions are answered, she has to learn that even in this new immortal existence, it’s good to have friends – and perhaps a lover – by your side.
ABOUT LORELEI MOONE
Lorelei Moone is an up-and-coming author of paranormal romance based in London. A lover of all things sweet, and caffeinated, when she’s not writing about sexy bear shifters and their strong-willed curvaceous love interests, Lorelei can be found baking cookies or cakes for her family.
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