A Vampire's Dream
For three hundred years Aleksei has lived within the laws that govern his life as a vampire. Rescuing Anasztaizia threatens to change all that. The beautiful runaway reminds him of home, the life he left behind, and the man he used to be. Being with her could mean risking everything ... even his life.
Anasztaizia has learned to do what is necessary to survive, but when offered the chance to change her life she gladly accepts. Unsure what Aleksei expects from her, the longer she is with him the more she is convinced of two things: she's in danger of losing her heart, and the whispered stories she heard as a child just might be true.
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Until this moment Aleksei had no idea Katja held him in such high esteem. The history between them had been the result of an explosion born of sexual need and gratification. And no matter how grateful Aleksei was, there had been moments when he wasn't certain he'd survive the female vampire's unique style of lovemaking. Yet in the decades that passed since that initial encounter, it seemed that neither was interested in rekindling such a volatile spark. At least there was no desire on his part. He couldn't always be sure Katja felt the same way. Sometimes, particularly when she was between lovers, she flirted shamelessly with him. But he was more than content to remain her friend, so long as she sought others to fill her bed.
And truth was he liked Katja, even if her somewhat tempestuous nature occasionally made him question the wisdom in maintaining their friendship. Despite her unkind tongue, she had the capacity to be charming, funny, and gracious when so inclined. And he long suspected her friends, vampire or human, were few. And now he'd unintentionally ruined her night. The beautiful gown, the elaborate hairstyle, the dazzling diamonds had all been to woo a potential new lover. Taking her hand in his, Aleksei leaned forward and kissed her on the cheek.
"I apologize if my boorish behavior upset your evening.” He would have to find a way to apologize. Perhaps the rising young star could be persuaded to give a private performance. “How can I make it up to you?”
"You can tell me what form of insanity has infected your brain with regard to that girl you have upstairs."
Aleksei's protective instinct kicked in and he nearly blurted out that it was none of her business, but good sense prevailed. Katja might be a vampire, but she was still first, and foremost, female, and he had a feeling her insight might prove useful. "Her name is Anasztaizia," he said.
Katja gave him a startled look. "You're joking with me, right? It's not -"
"No," he interrupted hastily. "That one has long since passed."
"Are you sure? I never did trust anything that bastard Rasputin had a hand in." The Russian’s nod was an acknowledgment her words had merit. "So it's a coincidence then,” Katja continued, “the girl having the same name as a doomed Grand Duchess?"
Aleksei shrugged. "She's Hungarian so it's spelled differently, but yes, only a coincidence ... and she was in trouble."
"Oh Aleksei, is that the best you can do?" Katja shook her head, making an irritated clucking sound as she did so. "I’m disappointed in you. Don't you know there’s always going to be a girl in trouble somewhere? You can't save them all."
He crossed his arms and leaned against the kitchen counter. "I don't want to save them all … just this one."
He felt the measure of her stare, bringing with it the weight of every year of her vampire life. There would be consequences. Consequences she was worried he didn't fully appreciate. But he did. Katja’s unspoken censure had made everything very clear to him.
"My God, you're serious," she said, her long nails tapping a fast-paced rhythm on the tiled counter top. "Very well then, take me to her."
The protective instinct amplified, making him wary. "What for?"
Katja sighed. "Aleksei my darling, in order to be sure you're not making a total ass of yourself and doing something you will come to regret, I'm going to have to meet this Anasztaizia of yours. And better sooner than later I'm thinking, yes?"