UPDATE: The winner of the Amazon gift certificate is…Gail Siuba!
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If you’ve been visiting here a while, you know I love mythology, and that sometimes I interweave some of the stories I love into the stories I write. One such story is the ancient tale of Inanna. At least that was her name to the Sumerians. She has also been known as Ishtar and is perhaps the source of the story of Lilith. Inanna was the goddess of sexual love and fertility. She was bold and selfish and had a sister who was the Queen of the Land of the Dead, a crown Inanna coveted for herself.
At the heart of the stories in my Dark Realm series is Inanna. She’s never a major character, but her influence is felt throughout. She’s mysterious and beautiful, and evil to the core. Until you see her in The Land of the Dead, enslaved to the husband she lured there and left to save herself. Then you almost feel a little sorry for her. I tried to stay true to her spirit. She wasn’t completely without a heart. And she was a woman before she was a goddess, or in the case of my Inanna, a vampire. Enjoy this little glimpse inside Darkness Captured, the last of my Dark Realm stories.
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“Delilah Devlin delivers an erotic tale of good and evil elevated to a higher level… The erotic scenes in this book are hotter than Hades and ten times more tempting. I dare you to resist!” ~ 5 Cups, Coffee Time Romance
“Another hot read of dark sensuality, riveting situations and jaw-dropping desire.” ~ Fresh Pick!, Fresh Fiction
“Devlin creates memorable characters with exceptional emotional depth. Her magical worldbuilding sets as atmospheric scene for a fast-paced story. The sexual tension runs high and the encounters are smokin’ hot.” 4 Stars, RT Book Reviews
Driven by insatiable desire, a werewolf will enter hell to rescue a princess captured by the Master of Demons…
Headstrong and proud—a royal creature of sinuous grace, all primal instinct and lethal beauty—the shapeshifter Gabriella has agreed to serve as emissary to the vampires who rule in the shadows of the New Orleans night. But she cannot resist the pull of the demon she glimpses on the other side of a mirror, and she is drawn to him hungrily, through a magical portal into the Land of the Dead. Now an eternal nightmare awaits Gabriella at the hands of a mesmerizing dark lord who satisfies her every erotic need…while slowly devouring her soul.
The powerful warrior wolf Guntram Brandt is responsible for the safety of the vanished princess he swore allegiance to years before. Yet it is more than a soldier’s loyalty that pulls Guntram down into the depths of nightmare—for Gabriella ignites within him a burning animal passion that must be satisfied.
But when offered an escape, will she follow her rescuer to safety—torn between her lustful obsession with the dark lord who has enslaved her and her fierce sensual attraction to the only wolf who could ever master her?
Gabriella landed on her knees in the middle of the Persian carpet. Once again facing the crudely carved stone walls of Alex Broussard’s magical bolt-hole. “Alex, you lousy bastard, you can’t do this to me—”
Her shout was cut short when the object of her bitter tirade grabbed the hand of the pregnant woman who’d been resting on a deep sofa inside the cavern when they’d flashed inside. He cast Gabriella an apologetic smile, palmed the crystal key to the room, and they both blinked out in a narrow flash of white light.
“Sonofabitch,” she muttered, reaching up to grab the silver-linked choker from her neck that he’d used to subdue her and ripping it off. How could he do this, leave her in his bolt-hole, after everything she’d done to help him in his quest to usurp command of the vampires?
While he’d disappeared for hours, clutching the phoenix-creature he appeared to love against his chest, she’d helped round up the sabat, nipping at the council-members’ heels to herd them toward their rooms where Nicolas posted guards to keep them in lock-down.
Malcolm, Nicolas’s next-in-command, had led away Inanna’s private security force to the barracks for “debriefing” and posted their own men around the compound to keep things quiet while Alex’s closest advisors sorted through the chaos that was the aftermath of Inanna’s expulsion into Hell.
When Alex had at last returned, looking like he’d just had the sweetest sex of his life, Gabriella shook her fur, pulling on her human skin, ready to remind Alex about their agreement when his gaze fled up the staircase, again.
The look on his face, one filled with a mixture of impatience and tenderness, had made her heart sink. When she’d cleared her throat to remind him she was still standing there, another look crossed his face—one that had her backing up a step and stammering.
The collar had been a real kick in the ass. He’d pulled it from his pocket and apologized, all the while grappling her to the ground to loop the damn thing around her neck. “I swear. It’s just for now,” he’d ground out as she wriggled beneath him. “Just until I get everything sorted out.”
If he thought she’d be in any mood to talk to him, to negotiate a transaction to ensure the peace between their nations remained in place—well, he’d have to do a whole lot of begging, preferably on his knees and naked, before she agreed.
The thought of Alex, nude and serving her up a dish of submission, soothed her dented pride for all of a second. Her shoulders slumped, and she released a dejected sigh.
Gabriella never lied. Not even to herself. Alex was lost to her, for good. Once long ago, she’d hired an assassin to kill him, and she’d grieved for centuries, believing she’d killed him in a fit of jealous rage and lost the only lover who’d ever completely fulfilled her dark, sensual fantasies. The past few days, fighting and loving with him had been a bitter reminder of what she’d missed most—but he’d only been playing her, using her to get what he needed from her. When his other lover had “died,” it took only one glance at the desperation tightening his face and the tears filling his eyes to know she’d never hold his heart.
She shook out her hair and glanced toward the bureau standing against the far wall of the cave. With time to kill, she could at least empty his liquor cabinet.
With a glide, she pushed off the floor and strode to the cabinet, lifting one bottle and another until she found a cognac to her taste. Pouring a beaker full of the warm amber liquor, she glanced at herself in the mirror and lifted her glass to toast her reflection.
Noting the red ring around her neck, she wrinkled her nose. Wasn’t the first time she’d accepted a noose. Maybe the Dom in Atlanta would be amenable to a little retraining. Her nipples prickled and extended, spiking at the thought of the nasty things she’d beg him to do. As soon as she settled her business with Alex, she’d give him a call.
Her features tightened and the corners of her lips curved downward. She shut her eyes and downed the contents of her glass. When she opened them again, she stared at the mirror and set down her drink.
How many times had Alex stared into the glass, looking into that dreadful room—the hall where the demons and the dead feasted on each other in Hell. Remembering Alex’s warning about the mirror, she reached up and gingerly touched only the frame.
The hall shimmered into sight. The same scene replayed—people in glittering, bejeweled costumes sitting at long benches in a Medieval-style hall. She shifted to the side to catch a glimpse of The Master’s entrance—the handsome creature whose black aura resembled a dragon’s. With Alex behind her, she’d watched The Master stride into the room, felt a tingle of awareness for his masculine beauty, and shuddered for the power he wielded over the orgiastic bloodletting that had followed. She wouldn’t deny the man fascinated her.
The hellhounds once again stood like sentries at either side of the plank door. She waited for a long while, watched the couple nearest the mirror savage each other on the floor, but still he didn’t appear.
Just when she’d decided to drop her hand, a figure stepped in front of the glass.
Her eyes widened as she found herself staring directly into The Master’s golden eyes. The narrow, slitted pupils slowly expanded, engulfing the irises entirely in black.
Gabriella told herself he couldn’t see her. Perhaps he looked at his own reflection in a matching mirror. Gathering calm around her, she stared back, noting the thick black hair that fell to the tops of his broad shoulders, the neatly trimmed beard and moustache that framed his chin and mouth, drawing her gaze to his lips—full for a man, sensual, and beginning to smile.
A chill gnawed at her spine, causing her to quake.
As though she stared into a cobra’s mesmerizing stare, she couldn’t break with his gaze as he slowly raised his hand and pressed it to the glass, his long fingers splayed.
Gabriella felt as though she stood outside herself, watching as she reached up, spreading her own fingers to match his, and pressed her hand against the glass.
The glass began to warm, and then dissolved between them. Their fingers met. Before she could jerk her hand away, his fingers slipped to her wrist and tightened there. Triumph glittered in his dark eyes, and he reached up with his free hand to grasp the edge of the mirror and pull. It stretched downward, the bureau in front of her melting away, and he jerked her forward—into the blood-soaked hall.
Gabriella stumbled, falling, her knees slamming into stone tiles. When she shook back her hair, she noted the faces of the demons and the dead swinging toward her and the silence that closed around her. Her heart hammering against her chest, she drew back her arm, trying to free herself from his grip. She scooted on the floor, her naked bottom sliding across the tiles, but her back met a hard wall. Stunned, she looked behind her and saw that the mirror on this side was small and high up the wall. The portal had closed and she was trapped. What have I done?
Low growls penetrated her terror. The hellhounds closed in on either side of her captor, and then the murmurs began, a slithering, raspy noise that grew into a roar as the creatures inside the room left their seats and surrounded them.
She curled her legs toward her torso, and tucked her arm over her breasts, trying to hide herself from dozens of ravenous gazes.
Her glance swung back to the demon that still held her in his grasp, rising slowly to meet his frightening eyes. His lips twisted. His arm swung out forcing her to unfold her legs and raising her onto her knees, exposing her body fully.
Her breaths shortened, rasping loudly as panic gripped her as tightly as he did. Would they fall on her, make a meal of her body? Or would they rape her? God, no, she’d sooner be eaten. The shame of her defeat, of her helplessness against greater strength and numbers, would live forever.
The beast holding her shot a glance over his shoulder, and the crowd backed up.
Would he take her first then give her over to the others? His lust was palpable, pounding, ticking at the side of one of his black eyes. His nostrils flared, and his head waved as though sucking in more of her scent. A bulge formed at the front of the black breeches he wore, thickening along the inside of one massive thigh.
She couldn’t help staring at it, knowing her eyes widened with fear. But his sex was long and thick, more than an average woman could take. But she wasn’t average. At six feet, her body was proportionately large and powerful, her hips wide, her woman’s channel deep and able to stretch to fit the circumference and length of a very large man.
Unbidden, her body reacted, spilling fluid to dampen her labia. She sucked in a deep breath, closed her eyes and tried to will away her attraction. How could she be growing aroused?
Was he causing it? Did he have that kind of power over a woman’s desire? Her nipples tightened, beading hard, and again she tried to shield them from his gaze, but he already knew.
She saw it in the fierce light glittering in his eyes.
Another tug of his hand and she was rising, teetering on weakened limbs. He ducked and pulled her over his shoulder.
As the world tilted, she flailed against him, clawing at his back through his clothing, but he turned on his heels and drove through the crowd. And because she was afraid, she didn’t lift her face to meet their gazes. She tucked her head against his back and closed her eyes. Wherever he was going—out of the room, or simply to one of the emptied tables to lower her and take her—she didn’t want to know.
Her only thoughts were of Alex and whether he’d care enough to search for her when he discovered she was gone—and of Guntram, her protector, whose loyalty she never questioned. Alex might mount a rescue due to the complications her disappearance might cause their nations’ uneasy alliance, but Guntram would follow her for reasons all his own.
Reasons she’d never had the courage to explore because she thought she might already know, and the last thing she’d ever wanted was the love of a wolf.