Friday, March 26, 2010

Shadow Play by Jeri Duvall

Shadow Play

by Jeri Duvall
cover art by Sahara Kelly
ISBN: 978-1-60521-386-6
Genre(s): Paranormal, Dark Fantasy
Theme(s): Vampires
Length: Novella


Demetrius Von Clare has fallen in love with Delilah. However, his happiness is thwarted when the same villagers he has always protected so fiercely, betray him.
Near death and with his castle in shambles an alluring stranger saves him. Queen Marcella, a vampire, offers him immortality in exchange for his eternal devotion and servitude.
Demetrius, believing Delilah to be dead, accepts her offer and becomes Dominick, Marcella's strong and virile prince.
But after a disastrous confrontation, Dominick is banished from the court with Marcella's promises to harm any person he falls in love with. Dominick doesn't care, as he believes he'll never find another to love after Delilah.
But in the bayous of New Orleans, Lillian is dropped on his doorstep, and he finds himself torn between his budding love for her, and keeping her safe from his vengeful former Queen.
This e-book file contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language which some may find offensive and which is not appropriate for a young audience. Changeling Press E-Books are for sale to adults, only, as defined by the laws of the country in which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be accessed by under-aged readers.

1832, The Bayou, New Orleans, Louisiana

Dominick Von Clare's lush lips turned down in distaste as he recognized the carriage coming up the long drive toward his plantation house. His eyeteeth lengthened in anticipation as he wondered what morsels Patrick had sent his way this time.

The only visitors Dominick was accustomed to were the ones Patrick sent and these visits never lasted very long. Dominick lit the oil lamps and candelabra in the parlor to give his richly furnished home a warm glow before his guests arrived.

Patrick had sent them at just the right moment. Dominick had been growing hungry and weary, and was just thinking about taking a trip over to the Wright plantation when he noticed the buggy. For a moment he had been completely devastated; he was hoping for a chance to kill Patrick Wright. But as long as Pat was holding up his end of their deal, Dominick had no reason to do so.

The knocker sounded harshly against the broad walnut door of Von Clare manor. Suppressing a devilish grin, Dominick swept his hand across his disheveled shoulder length brown hair before opening the door.

As the trader shuffled the young woman around near the windows, Dominick noticed her face for the first time. Beneath the stamp of defiance was a lovely girl, with soft features that overall made her very nice to behold. Her silky plaited hair fell down her back and her shabby dress exposed her creamy neck and shoulders.

Dominick found it hard to look away. He was caught off guard by the stirring in his loins as she glared at him.

"Master Von Clare, Master Wright says you'll be most interested in Lillian as a maid. She's a bit of a handful," the trader continued, as if Lillian wasn't in the room mere feet away from them. "But I hear she is well worth it."

The trader winked, which made Dominick want to laugh. The girl looked like she would take a bite out of anyone who tried to touch her.

"Mon Dieu! You lie! I haven't allowed any of you cochons to touch me!" Lillian snapped. She raised her head high and placed her hands on her waist. Dominick found himself looking at her with a light smile tugging at the corners of his lips.

"One more word out of you, girl, and I'll --" the trader shouted, rising to his feet.

"You will not speak to her in that manner again. Are we clear?" Dominick asked in the low, calm way that made the words even more chilling.

Seeing the ire in his glare, the trader nodded quickly while Lillian stared at him. Even Dominick couldn't figure out why he had reacted in such a way. But Lillian's face was pulling at his emotions, emotions that had lain dormant inside him for centuries. "How much do you want for her?" Dominick asked, ready to bleed this man dry. Before the trader could speak, Dominick turned to Lillian. "Wait for me upstairs," he ordered.

A leering smile crossed the trader's face. Dominick's dislike for this man was growing by the second.

"Oui, maƮtre, " Lillian said with a nod of her head, then quickly left the room.

"Quite a looker there." The trader grunted as he rose to sit closer to Dominick.

As his hunger grew, Dominick's vision dimmed and his only concern was the blood rushing through the trader's veins. The trader wouldn't be missed, and was such a lowly man that Dominick had no qualms about killing him.

Swiftly Dominick gathered the man in his arms and sank his fangs into his neck. He didn't hear the gasp coming from the hallway. The blood was too thick and too sweet to concentrate on anything else.

With her heart pounding in her chest, and too afraid to do anything else, Lillian quickly hurried up the stairs and hid in the nearest closet.

* * *

Dominick remained in the little rowboat in the middle of the swamp long after dumping the trader's body to the alligators. He would have to learn be more careful with his feedings, but he had been so hungry and that man had practically asked for it.

But what troubled Dominick more was Lillian, at least what he planned to do with her. He had no intention of harming her. In fact how she felt mattered a great deal to him and he had no idea why. Though very lovely, Lillian wasn't a great beauty and to complicate matters more -- other than the fact that he happened to be a vampire -- she was a slave. Well, his slave, now, and he had never known a servant to be content in captivity.

He could set her free, but where would she go? She would be unable to provide for herself as well as Dominick could. He had no choice but to keep her with him. With a fresh resolve, Dominick placed his oar back into the murky waters and headed back to his vast estate.

The candles in the house were dimming and though he didn't need the candles to see clearly in the dark, he was worried that Lillian would become even more afraid. And his concern for her was driving him mad.

He couldn't care for her; he hardly knew her. And he didn't want to know her. So why am I keeping her? He wrote it off to loneliness as he shut the French doors behind him.

Just as a light rain began to fall, Dominick slipped off his blue velvet waistcoat and raked his fingers through his hair while walking toward the parlor.

Hearing faint movements behind him, he turned around just in time to catch Lillian's wrist before she bashed him in the head with the huge iron skillet in her hand.

"What's all this?" Dominick said with a laugh while he effortlessly wrenched the pan out of her tiny hands.

"I saw what you did to that man!" Lillian shouted.

Dominick couldn't help but find her heavily accented English charming. It was what he liked best about this little town; all its cultural richness and diversity.

He found himself very surprised by her forwardness. He hadn't met very many slaves with the courage to shout back at a white person, let alone the one who owned them. "I hadn't expected you to mourn his passing," Dominick replied, walking past her and into the kitchen. The pots must have been left over from the previous owner; he didn't have any use for cooking utensils and never entertained guests formally.

"I did not care for that man at all," she spat, following him into the dimly lit room.

"So you care only for your own well being?" Dominick asked, turning to face her. His gaze must have startled her. She quickly looked away. "I do not mean you any harm. I will not bother you, if you will just stay."

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