When pureblood vampire Rose Mcnoxnoctis adopts a human baby orphaned in a car crash, her family and friends are sure she’s lost her mind. Little Eleanor grows up surrounded by danger, her sweet-smelling blood a temptation to those who love her most and a lure to those intent on her death. But unknown to the powerful monsters who lust for her blood, Eleanor carries a secret destined to transform vampire society forever...
Age Rating: 18+
I was hungry. The avalanche had kept us inside for two whole nights.
My throat was dry and hot, and the pit of my stomach burned. I could feel the heat spreading through my body, my muscles aching to move. I swayed on the ball of my feet, my fingers brushing against the wood of the door.
My senses were already in overdrive. I focused on the splintered wood, on the slight breathing of my family below. I was acutely aware of the last rays of sunshine glinting through the stained-glass windows. Of the hard leather of my boots, the soft old cotton of my blouse.
My hunger churned.
I pushed a single lock of golden hair out of my eyes.
Finally, the sun dropped from the horizon. My fingers flicked against the doors, and they swung open. I heard voices of complaint from back inside.
I stepped out of the cathedral and onto the fresh snow. It cracked sweetly under my steps. I breathed deeply. The air was frigid. Humidity crystallized against my skin in delicate spirals.
It was as if the world was muffled.
The avalanche had destroyed everything in its path and buried everything under five feet of pure white snow. The slight moonlight shone through the thick clouds, making the fresh snow sparkle like a thousand diamonds encrusted onto the earth's surface.
There was no movement across the barren land, no sound.
My hunger raging, I plunged into the night, moving fast so I didn’t sink into the powdery snow.
Every so often, I came across a frozen rabbit or a moose cub, but they were frozen through, and their blood was crystallized and chunky. Barely satisfying for my hunger and decidedly unsatisfactory for my hunting urges.
I soon found myself by the highway, the warmth of human society, the scent of cold tar and petrol hovering on the wind. As I approached, I noticed the road was covered in a thinner layer of snow.
On the edge of the avalanche’s destruction, the high bluffs on each side of the road had blocked the last of it, and the trees had crashed down onto the road.
I peered into the distance. Several kilometers away, there was a large truck, on its side, in the middle of the road.
A tragedy for humans, possibly warm blood for me.
I was at the truck in seconds, ripping the yellow door off. I could smell fresh blood, not quite frozen through.
As I started digging through the snow filling the front seat, I heard a small thumping, a fluttering, and the distinct scent of young blood.
My throat burned, filling my body with heat, and I felt my muscles tighten. I let the pounding heart fill my mind. My movements cleared the front seat in seconds.
Two corpses, a couple, young, frozen.
The closest to me was a man. His brown eyes were wide, unseeing, and his expression showed worry more than fear.
The thudding wasn’t coming from him, but I could smell the blood in his body. His head was split open. The blood had dried and crystallized on his forehead. I picked up his wrist, there was no pulse, and his blood was cold.
I moved my lips over his vein and slowly opened my mouth, pressing my fangs against his skin. It popped open, I pushed my tongue into the wound, attempting to warm the blood and suck it up into my body. It tasted bitter and watery.
I drank my fill, then slipped onto his lap, facing the dead woman whose forehead was also cracked open with the impact.
Her face was cold and dark, her eyes squeezed shut. She was hunched over, wrapping her arms around a small shape.
Curiously, I pulled her arms away. They snapped off in my hands. Scowling, I tossed them behind me and picked up the bundle that she'd been holding.
My throat burned, aching throughout my body, and my ears echoed with the sound of a heartbeat.
I stared at the baby in my arms. It was still alive.
Despite the horrible crash, it looked unharmed. It wasn’t bleeding, only very cold, and its breath was wheezy. Its blankets were thick with snow, soaking the baby to the core.
I held it up to my mouth, staring at it intensely, letting its heartbeat fill my mind and body. Its blood smelled sweet and refreshing.
I closed my eyes, letting my hunter’s instincts take over completely. It was such easy prey—I opened my mouth, hovering my fangs over its neck where I could hear its blood rushing through its veins.
My lips pressed against the thudding vein on its neck. I was caught off guard by a very small giggle. I opened my eyes and stared at the baby in my arms.
It stared back at me, and I felt a small spark in my chest, a spark of warmth I hadn’t felt since Aric was cut out of me, and I first saw his face.
I kept my eyes on the baby, letting the pain in my throat dull down, and the small warmth the baby had put in my heart spread.
I was suddenly overcome with an urge to protect it.
The baby blinked at me, then slowly, its face scrunched up, and warm tears rushed down its cheeks. Its cry filled my head. It seemed to echo across the mountain range.
I hugged the baby to my bosom and smoothly slipped out of the car.
My mind spun, trying to understand why I was horrified at the idea of draining it, why I wanted to protect it, my own prey.
Was it because it was alone? Cold? Parentless? It would die in a few more hours out here.
Why did it remind me of Aric?
I stood in the middle of the road staring at the child in my arms, letting the freezing wind play around with my feelings.
The crying baby fidgeted and shivered, its eyes scrunched up, its face going red. I smelled the shock of blood under its crimson skin.
“I'm here, I've got you, baby,” I leaned down and pressed my lips to its forehead. When I drew back, it stopped crying. Suddenly.
The tears froze on its face, and its wide eyes stared up at me. Such a peculiar and unusual shade, forest green, flecked with blue and lined with black.
They were vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t remember where from. I didn’t see fear in them or sadness; I saw warmth.
The heat radiating from the baby seemed to glow like a bright flame, bright as the sun but much softer and less lethal.
The baby blinked at me again and shivered. I licked my lips, finally deciding that I’d have to wait yet for lunch.
I hugged the bundle of baby against my chest, shielding it from the fierce wind that had started to pick up.
Rapidly, I moved back from the highway, keeping my eyes on the baby, listening to its steady, rapid heartbeat.
With the wind behind me, I moved faster. I rushed across the white valley, scanning the horizon for any movement of prey.
I stopped for a frozen rabbit. It tasted dewy, so I chucked it back and moved on.
I was back at the cathedral soon after. I slowed my pace and stared down at the baby in my arms, who was looking around with its wide, beautiful eyes.
I pushed the doors open and entered the main hall, my heels snapping against the antique marble floor, the sound echoing loudly.
The ceiling, arched above us, was painted gold with carved gold flowers. Four large illuminated chandeliers embedded with gems dangled on ten-meter length chains, swaying slightly from the gust of wind that my entrance had created, casting shadows across the hall.
The thick beige stone walls were decorated with ancient tapestries and statues.
Ahead of me, on the second floor, the golden organ, blanketing the whole wall, loomed into the shadows.
I passed the fireplace, big enough to fit four adults standing up. We never lit it, fire being one of the few things that could possibly kill us.
The entire cathedral wasn’t much warmer than the glacial temperatures outside, and the baby was still trembling.
“Soon you’ll be warm,” I told the wide-eyed baby as I glided directly under the organ, where the floor sloped down into a large winding staircase illuminated by red candles.
I stepped down, following the staircase to the bottom. It led into a wide chamber, richly illuminated with candles and a large fireplace.
From the room were six winding tunnels that disappeared underground. I took the one furthest to my left, the tunnel wasn’t very long, and it led into a larger chamber than before.
There were three long, comfortable sofas, a thick fuzzy rug, and a glass coffee table.
On each side of the chamber were three large wooden doors. Inside, the chamber was warmer, and the baby finally stopped shivering. I unraveled the blankets and tossed the soaking heap to the ground.
“A girl,” I smiled, brushing my finger against her cold stomach. “A light in all this darkness.” I continued, then held her up and pressed my lips against her cold cheeks. “Let’s get you warm.” She smiled back at me, her rosy cheeks bright and enticing.
For a moment, I listened to her heart, her soft breathing, and the rich scent of her warm blood rushing through her veins.
I could feel my throat contracting, hunger burning, but there was a strong urge to ignore it all and protect her.
Protect her at any cost.
The second I opened my bedroom door, Demetrius pounced on me. He had been at the walk-in wardrobe choosing something to wear, I just saw him turn his face to me, and then suddenly he was towering over me, his arms winding around my waist.
His head lowered, and he pressed his lips against mine, running his fingers through my hair and pulling my face up to meet his, his hands grabbing my bottom. In the heat of the moment, I almost forgot the baby girl in my arms.
Demetrius pushed away from me suddenly, his eyes blazing a brilliant crimson. He stared at the girl in my arms. His mouth hovered open, and I could see his fangs protruding, resting against her full bottom lip.
“Is this breakfast in bed?” he asked me with a sly grin spreading over his striking features.