(NW #1) Blood Kisses Excerpt
Ashleigh was now trapped in a large, dark, drafty room, the setting medieval. The only light came from the flickering torches that were scattered throughout the space and the large chandelier above her.
Her lips were engorged, the trace of another’s passionate kiss still hot on their surface. There was a terrified expression in her large, blue eyes. Holding a hand to her neck, she covered a wound. Blood seeped through the cracks of her fingers.
Nicolas sat in an oversized chair in front of her. His mouth was painted with fresh blood, fangs protruding from his lips. Nicolas was glaring at her, heat in his shining, green eyes. He was partially dressed, his shirt unbuttoned and showing a tease of his toned chest. His pants were also untied, his belt hanging loosely.
Ashleigh glanced backward when she heard footsteps. Her eyes settled on her mother, who had been brought to Nicolas’ manor with Ashleigh. She thought she was dead, but to her surprise, the woman had suffered a worse fate.
Dragging Ashleigh’s mother by her hair, one of the alpha vampires brought her further into the room. Her mother was struggling, but was so weak, she could barely walk.
Ashleigh gasped when she saw her mother’s condition. The elder woman was naked, her body so bruised and covered in dried blood, that almost no trace of clean skin was visible.
Large tears snaked down Ashleigh’s eyes as she held the front of her dress up. Her bodice was undone, the strings slashed with a knife. She knew if she cried out, or begged Nicolas to release her mother, he would do the opposite, so instead, she stayed silent.
She glanced at Nicolas, who was beckoning her to him with a single finger. He smiled as he watched her body shake uncontrollably, the demon feeding on her fear. Swallowing hard, Ashleigh pushed her feet forward. His grin grew as she drew closer, revealing his large, bloodstained fangs.
Behind her, her mother weakly spoke, “Ashleigh, don’t go to him. Please—“ Yanking on her hair, the alpha quickly silenced her, the woman yelping.
Ashleigh glanced back, then turned her eyes to Nicolas. His eye color was alluring, the veins in his irises sparkling like tiny, neon, rivers of green. It was as if they would glow in the darkness if the light was snuffed out. She held his stare, a blank expression on her face.
She stopped when she was inches from him. Her words were wet and soft, “I’m sorry.”
“For?” Nicolas’ voice was teasing and upbeat. Licking his lips, he cleaned them of blood. He once again motioned her closer.
“Pushing you away.”
“And?” His voice rose a bit, his eyebrows lowering. She had answered wrongly. He then gave a signal to his alpha.
A grand scream rose from her mother, Ashleigh turning to her. The alpha had sliced off one of the older woman’s fingers. Her mother was holding her hand over the wound, fresh blood pooling on the floor. The alpha licked his lips at the sight, his eyes fixated on the forming puddle.
He then grabbed the woman’s hand, sucking the blood from the wound. Biting down, his nose furled as he released more blood. Her mother screamed out, the noise echoing throughout the large space.
“Ashleigh.” Nicolas’ stern voice made her turn. “I am always to be the center of your attention.” He sent her a wicked grin when she looked at him. “Always. You are no longer connected to this woman. You belong to me. If you do not want to end up as she, then you will do as I say. Now, come to me.” He once again beckoned her closer.
She slowly went to him and sat in his lap. Laying her head on his shoulder, her eyes stared distantly ahead. She could hear her mother’s screams as the alpha taunted her, the sound deafening. But she had to block it out. She had to listen to Nicolas. It was the only way to pardon herself from the same fate.
Ashleigh’s voice was soft as she slowly nudged a hand into his open shirt. “I’m sorry for disobeying you, Nicolas. I will never do it again. I will take your bite without protest.” There was desperation in her voice as she tried to sway him.
“And?” Rubbing her back, his head rested against hers.
“All I care about is your happiness.” She forced a smile, but tears were still falling from her eyes.
“Thank you.” He reached up and touched her cheek, a great love in his eyes.
“Kill her for me, my love.” Her words were soft and hard to push out. She knew death would be painful, but it would be a welcome relief from the torture her mother was enduring in this dark place.
“You wish death for her?”
“Yes. I care not for any others. Please, kill her. I do not want to be reminded of my past, only my glorious future with you.”
“Only with me?” He chuckled.
“Only with you. Until my last breath, all I wish to remember is you. Please, make me forget, my king.” She swallowed her tears, her voice shaky as she tried to block out her mother’s cries.
“Make me forget,” she repeated. Pushing her lips together, she held him tightly, burying her head into the crook of his neck. “I want to sleep.”
“Ask for my kiss, and I shall erase this bond. This heartache.” He kissed the top of her head. He then turned to the alpha. “Kill her. Harvest the blood.”
Hearing those words made her cringe, Ashleigh gritting her teeth, her grip on him tightening.
“Now, my beautiful slave….” He pushed away the hair near her neck. “I shall make you sleep until the moon rises once again. When you wake, all of your bad thoughts will be lost in the darkness, and only I shall remain.”
She looked him bravely in the eyes and nodded. “Thank you, my love.” Letting her head fall back, she stared at the chandelier above her. Tears pooled in her eyes, but she didn’t close them. Her vision quickly grew watery, just like she knew her memories would soon be.
She continued, her words seeming distant, “Take my blood as a sign of my love—of my undying loyalty to you.”
He smiled, then swooped down and bit her neck. The pain was intense at first, but was quickly replaced by a feeling of dizziness. She lost herself in the pleasure, giving into the devil, and feeling all her sadness melt away. The thoughts were blackened, buried so deep that she didn’t have to feel anything.
Ashleigh slowly felt everything slip away, the scene replaced with the sound of birds chirping and welcoming the dawn. Opening her eyes, she gazed at the ceiling. It was just another nightmare. She was once again back in her familiar little farmhouse, her lazy cat sleeping on her feet, and band posters and photographs covering the walls.
She glanced at the poster on the wall, then back at the window. Closing her eyes, she continued to breathe deeply. “It’s only a story. It’s only a story. He’s not real. Nightwalkers aren’t real.”
She pulled the covers tighter, the nip of the cool weather seeping through them. Slowly, she calmed, Ashleigh taking a few minutes to rest before opening her eyes again.
Ashleigh was now at her grandfather’s book store. She was reading something on her laptop, her eyes glued on the screen.
“Hey!” Natalie jumped in front of the screen, scaring Ashleigh. She laughed at Ashleigh’s reaction. “What ‘cha doin’?”
Ashleigh quickly minimized the word document so that Natalie couldn’t see what she was working on. “Writing.”
“Writing? Looks to me like you’re just drooling over Caleb again.” Natalie pointed at the screen, which showed the shirtless lead singer of Armageddon, Ashleigh’s favorite band. A giant smirk filled his lips as he struck a flirty pose for the camera.
“I wasn’t.” Making a sour face, Ashleigh saved the file and shut her laptop. The surface was covered in pink skull stickers that sparkled under the harsh lights.
Natalie’s eyes snapped up to a handsome man who passed them. It was rare to get any good eye candy in the old book store, so Natalie’s eyes couldn’t help but follow him.