Dark Realm, related short story
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After stepping through a mage’s portal with her lover into a distant past, newly Born vampire Natalie Lambert is ready to give Rene Broussard the ultimate bite and make him hers forever. Only Rene’s dragging his feet. Remembering the passion that transformed her, Natalie lets her hungers lead her into unleashing the wanton creature lurking inside. It’s time for this a vampire to get her man…
Read an Excerpt
Natalie touched down lightly onto the moonlit clearing deep in the forest, using only a few running steps this time to stop her forward motion. As well, she didn’t have to concentrate hard to fold her wings, absorbing them into the pouches that magically melted away between her shoulder blades.
Just as Simon had said, her wings had become an integral part of her body—and flying, as instinctual as walking.
Regrettably, taking to the sky didn’t mean she escaped her worries. Her joy at discovering her newly emerging abilities had waned. The more she came into her Born self, the more withdrawn Rene, her lover, had become. Her bitterness over his abandonment wasn’t something she could deny anymore.
Perhaps if she tired herself enough, she could smooth the nasty edge that had crept into her voice whenever she spoke to the others living in the monastery. They didn’t deserve her anger. Another quick glance around, and she “popped” her wings again, fanning them wide, intending to take one more flight around the secluded valley.
“You do seem to have a flair for the dramatic,” Simon murmured from the edge of the woods.
Natalie’s hands went automatically to her breasts even though the mage had been training her for weeks and had often seen her semi-nude. Her wings had shredded several shirts and gowns before she’d resigned herself to the fact modesty couldn’t be a vampire’s trait.
She let her hands drop to her sides, narrowing her gaze as he stepped into the moonlight. She didn’t understand her particular annoyance with him. He was only trying to prepare her, only trying to ease her way into the dark realm since she didn’t have a vampire mentor.
She still remembered her shock at seeing him at the monastery upon her arrival. Simon had been the mage who’d cast Natalie and Rene into the past to protect them from her grandmother’s wrath, and he’d sent them to shelter with his younger self.
To his discredit now, his glance flickered downward, touching her nipples before coming back to meet her gaze, one sardonic brow rising high.
Her chin came up. A wash of heat filled her cheeks, irritating her more. “Don’t you have somewhere to be?” she bit out, “like stirring up trouble in some old cauldron?”
A grin brought a devilish glint to his eyes. “I think you’re ready.”
“If it’s swordplay or sticking something with a pike, you’re right.”
“Not the sort of bloodletting I had in mind,” he murmured.
Blood! Damn, did he have to mention it out loud? She’d taken blood from a milk cow before she’d fled to the skies, but that hadn’t satisfied. Nothing would, except the life source of the one man she couldn’t have. “Where’s Rene?”
“He’s already gone to bed.”
The heat of her irritation cooled. Her glance slid sideways. Rene had avoided her once again.
“You know,” Simon said slowly, “he’s going to have to make a decision sooner or later. Or you’re going to have to make it for him.”
Natalie turned away, more concerned with hiding her expression than her partial nudity. “He’s avoiding me. I have the feeling he’s already made his decision.”
“He’s stubborn,” Simon said, a palm smoothing along the edge of her wing as he stepped in front of her. “He doesn’t realize the anger he feels inside himself isn’t because of you.”
“I thought it was a forgone thing,” she said, fighting to keep the thickening emotion from her voice. “The first bite was supposed to link us. He’s supposed to want this—want me.”
Simon lifted her chin with a finger and brought her gaze back to his. The understanding in his expression nearly did her in. “That bite did bind you together, but Rene’s older than most mates Born women choose. His will is strong.”
“I didn’t ask him to come with me through that portal, Simon. He stepped through it all by himself.” She sighed, trying again to stem the tears underlying her blustering anger. “I’m confused.”
“Just because he couldn’t bear to part with you doesn’t mean he’s as accepting of his role as your consort.”
She frowned. “I’d never make him serve me. Not in the way the other Born expect their Revenants to behave. I love him.”
“You’re changing, growing confident and stronger every day. You’re not the young, frightened woman you were that he had to protect. He has to be wondering whether you need him for more than just to feed your hungers.”
“But what can I do?” she asked, finally letting her eyes fill.
Simon’s hand slid behind her neck and pulled her closer as he leaned his head down.
Her breath caught; she was sure he was going to kiss her. A sensual touch would be her undoing because her body was primed for sex.
Instead, he leaned his forehead against hers. “Natalie,” he whispered, “the same sexual frustration you feel right now is just as strong in Rene. He’s been slicing slivers off his trainers all week.”
Natalie felt a smile curve her lips and leaned closer, letting her nipples scrape across the soft linen of his shirt. The delicious rasp had her shivering. “Has he hurt anybody?” she replied just as softly.
“Rene may be a bit ham-fisted when it comes to his knight’s training—no skills, no grace whatsoever—but he’s as strong as a bull, and when he does connect with his sword, he knocks them on their arses.”
Natalie’s smile deepened. Rene was a brute. He’d proved that more than once when they’d made love—once he’d realized he didn’t need to be gentle with her.
But they hadn’t made love in days.
In fact, unrequited lust was causing her physical pain, tightening her rounding belly. If his desire was even a tenth as deep as hers, she didn’t know how he managed to stay away. Masturbating just didn’t provide a strong enough release to take the edge off her hungers.
If Rene didn’t make love to her soon, she might have to find another lover.
She drew away from Simon. He was a handsome man with his short, rough beard, brown eyes, and broad shoulders honed from years of knight’s training.
But Simon had Kestrel, and although she knew the rules of fidelity didn’t necessarily apply in this other world, she didn’t want to bring either of them pain.
No, she needed to nip the problem in the bud. She had to confront Rene tonight—make him decide once and for all. Either he would permit her to turn him, or they would part because waiting for him was driving her out of her mind.
She straightened her shoulders. “Where is he?” She knew he wasn’t sleeping in their bed.
Simon’s wicked brows rose. “In the barracks. Last cot. And you needn’t bother being quiet. The men won’t mind a bit. They’ll be relieved you’re finally doing something about him.”
She grinned at the wry humor in his voice. With a single downward flap of her wings, she lifted from the ground, leaving the forest behind and heading for the dark stone wall surrounding the monastery.