From the New York Times bestselling author of the Gabriel trilogy comes the hotly anticipated follow-up to The Raven, a sensual novel set in Florence featuring the dangerously intoxicating coupling of Raven and William…
Raven Wood’s vampyre prince has returned, pledging his love and promising justice for every wrong done to her. In the wake of their reunion, Raven is faced with a terrible decision—allow the Prince to wreak vengeance against the demons of her past, or persuade him to stay his hand. But there is far more at stake than Raven’s heart…
A shadow has fallen over the city of Florence. Ispettor Batelli will not rest until he uncovers Raven’s connection to the theft of the priceless art from the Uffizi Gallery. And while the Prince hunts a traitor who sabotages him at every turn, he finds himself the target of the vampyres’ mortal enemy.
As he wages a war on two fronts, he will need to keep his love for Raven secret, or risk exposing his greatest weakness…
Enjoy an Excerpt:
July 1, 2013
The Prince of Florence stood outside a house in Umbria, conflicted.
He’d already paid his respects to the Princess of the region, managing to avoid her romantic overtures. He’d enjoyed her body on previous occasions—she was beautiful, intelligent, and vibrantly sexual, as were most of his kind. On this night, however, he’d found her charms wanting. Having politely declined her invitation to fornicate, he hunted on Umbrian lands with her begrudging permission.
Locating Professor Gabriel Emerson and his family was easy. He and his wife, Julianne, owned the house that stood majestically on a hill, the lights from its windows cheering the darkness. The Prince’s conflict was not in finding the Emersons or in escaping the embrace of the Princess. No, his conflict derived from a promise.
Raven Wood was human, beautiful in an unconventional way, and very brave. She was also protective of others, including strangers. In a tender moment, she’d exacted a promise from him that he would spare the lives of the Emersons. He’d made the promise in good faith, not just because he wished her to confide in him about her mysterious past, but because he cared for her and longed to make her happy.
Since she’d quit him, making it clear she could not accept the fact that he was incapable of love, he’d been tempted to go back on his promise and punish the professor for having the audacity to claim rightful ownership of stolen works of art. That he did so unknowingly was no excuse. The Prince desired revenge, and now that the only human in the world who could persuade him to indulge in mercy had rejected him, he had no reason to forgo it.
That was how he’d come to stand outside the house, listening as Katherine Picton, an older friend of the family, bade her hosts good night and Clare, the infant daughter of the Emersons, was put to bed in her parents’ room.
He waited impatiently while the Emersons pursued their pleasure in a hot tub that was placed on the balcony off their bedroom.
The Prince wrinkled his nose as their marital union dragged on and on. It seemed every time he encountered the couple, they were engaging in intercourse. He tapped his leather-clad foot on the garden floor, willing them to couple faster.
It was a starless night, dark and still. The sky was a velvet arc above him while the summer breeze whispered in his ear. As he heard Julianne cry out in pleasure, he remembered Raven doing the same, while he gently loved her.
His jaw clenched.
Love—a polite euphemism for the joining of bodies for physical pleasure.
And yet he could not be scornful of the term when applied to her.
It had been almost a month since he’d known the pleasure of a woman—almost a month since he’d had Raven in his bed. He could still feel the warmth of her skin beneath his hands, the soft curves of her figure as he caressed her, the scent of her blood as it filled his nostrils.
But it was the memory of her green eyes that kept him still as Julianne kissed her husband and returned to their room. Raven had large eyes that brimmed with feeling.
Don’t you ever tire of death?
Her voice interrupted his thoughts.
The truth was that he did tire of death. Even now he felt conflicted. But the Prince tamped down his misgivings and scaled the wall of the villa, eager to surprise the professor while he was alone.
And surprise him he did.
“We meet again.” The Prince’s conversational tone belied his menacing figure.
Startled, Gabriel stood in the hot tub, his wet, naked body shining in the dim light that shone from the bedroom.
“What do you want?” he barked, fingers curving into fists.
“I want you to cover yourself, to start with.” The Prince tossed a nearby towel toward the man, regarding him with distaste.
The professor wrapped the towel around his waist and stepped out of the water. He placed his body between the Prince and the door to the bedroom, which he quickly closed.
“I said, what do you want?” The professor’s posture was decidedly defensive.
The professor regarded the Prince with incredulity. “I have nothing of yours. Leave. Now.”
The Prince’s gaze flicked over the professor’s shoulder, watching through the windows as Julianne cradled her daughter in her arms.
“You have many riches. You’d do best to attend them and not grasp after what is not yours.”
The professor scowled. “Again, I’m asking you to leave.”
The supernatural being shook his head, regarding the man with cold gray eyes. “I’m told you have difficulty listening to instructions. I perceive this to be true.”
“I told you to leave. You don’t seem to be listening, either,” the professor rejoined.
“You stole my illustrations.”
At the first sound of the professor’s protest, the Prince lifted his hand, silencing him. “I know you didn’t steal them personally. But the illustrations belonged to me before they fell into the hands of the Swiss family who sold them to you. I have taken them back and they shall remain with me. Forever.”
“You lie. The family owned the illustrations for almost a century.”
“Yes.” The Prince gave Gabriel a challenging look. “Before that, they were mine.”
The professor blinked in confusion.
When he’d regained his composure, his sapphire eyes narrowed. “You were the one who came to our hotel room in Florence. I couldn’t see you but I could feel your presence.” Gabriel lowered his voice. “What are you?”
“What I am is inconsequential. Let’s simply say I’m not human. I am also not accustomed to arguing with human beings or offering second chances.”
Once again the Prince’s gaze was drawn to the figures of the mother and child inside the house. “Do you love your wife?”