A Vampire’s Hunger
A Promise Broken ...
Rowan Harper sacrificed her blood and her soul to keep her friend, Aleksei, alive—and in the process, broke a bond of sacred trust with her lover, Gabriel. But her act of heroism wasn’t enough to stop the evil bent on tearing the world asunder. Newly turned vampires are slaughtering innocents, and those lurking in the darkness are threatening the people Rowan loves.
She may be Gabriel’s Promise, but it’s looking more and more like Rowan will belong to the demon of the Dark Realm instead. Time is of the essence and with her soul already tainted, will Rowan be forced to break the ties she’s forged with Gabriel? Which of the two rivals will stand beside her as she faces the end of the world?
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Ryiel found the entire village waiting for him. Dressed in their finest clothes, they were all eager for a chance to glimpse the silver-eyed vampire who had chosen to be a part of their community. He did not disappoint. Wearing dark pants tucked into boots boasting a mirror shine, he came bare-chested, as was his fashion. Long hair, black as a raven’s wing, shimmered in the moonlight. It hung in a single, thick braid between the livid scars marring each shoulder blade.
He presented himself to the elders, waiting as they noted the glyphs tattooed on his chest before he addressed them. They showed neither alarm nor surprise at hearing the vampire speak to them in their own tongue, and they invited him to sit and share a pipe with them. After receiving his personal assurance his needs required no human sacrifice, the villagers were more than happy to provide for him and his sentinel.
It was agreed the elders would choose the female for the vampire to feed from when so needed, and he in turn would keep their secret and protect them from the outside world. Stavros negotiated the terms of his own compact. The village would have the use of his broad back and strong legs for spring planting and the subsequent harvest.And after the first year, when the annual yield was considerably more than anticipated, the villagers realized the vampire who lived high above them on the mountain was not the only supernatural being in their midst.
The sentinel had gifts of his own. Gifts that were of the earth. Gifts he chose to share. Because of his generosity, Stavros was also offered a female, but his needs were satisfied a little more frequently, and in a much different way. And it definitely stopped him from going bat-shit crazy.
The elders knew nothing about those who had built the temple. For reasons of their own, the occupants had chosen to keep to themselves. Whether or not they were silent remained unknown. Ryiel had never understood the compulsion of such a restriction, but he had stopped looking for reasons to explain human behavior long ago. Still, the choice to remain mute was something that had always puzzled him. Tongues were designed to be used in many ways, and it was not the nature of human beings to remain silent. So why embrace such an unnatural constraint of one’s free will? He did not know, but then he was certain there were aspects of vampire life that would be just as bewildering to human comprehension.
It had taken only a few centuries for the vampire to conclude that any endeavor to bring the human race to its knees was a futile one. Although the petition to the Dark Realm by the lesser beasts for a superior predator had been granted with the most spectacular interpretation of their wish, it was not enough. Relying on physical supremacy, the lesser beasts had, through no fault of their own, dismissed certain traits possessed by those they wished to subjugate—the most unexpected being the human will to survive.
And there was another factor. Breeding for most animals occurred at a designated time within the arc of the seasons. Human beings were bound by no such constraints. Their ability to reproduce at any time, coupled with self-imposed restrictions from the vampires themselves, hampered any effort to use population control as a way to hold the species in check. No matter how many humans were dispatched, their ranks did not thin.
Frustrated, the leader of the Original Vampires had turned to Ryiel, the most learned of them all, seeking an answer. Ryiel had steeled himself before responding, anticipating Gabriel’s reaction to his proposal.
“We must completely eradicate an entire generation,” he said. “It is the only way to curb them. Take those not yet old enough to procreate, and severely limit the ability of those left behind.”
It was barbaric.
It was brutal.
It was brilliant.
And it was never going to happen.
Gabriel’s own edict that the young should not be harmed effectively tied the vampires’ hands, turning them into mice on a wheel that went around and around, arriving nowhere. The only difference was that the mice had no idea their journey was a pointless one.