Vampire, Shifter and Superhero romances, for 0,99 to 1,99 or FREE

I admit. I’m into romance, the hot kind, paranormal, supernatural and dark, if possible. I’ll have them with really steamy scenes, please, or I’ll file a complaint. If you’re like me, then you’ll be happy to learn that…

Having access to tons of reads through my job, I will be posting new hot romances, freebies and special offers (0,99 to 1,99)! I’ll be your romance reads contrabandist. Interested?  Stay tuned, loves!

SO

For starters:

If you’re into vampire, shifter and superhero romance, I have a number of books out there that will ignite your passion and make your evenings special. They are either on special offer, or free, and they’ll remind you of Twilight and Christine Feehan’s Carpathian series.

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Prince of Midnight is currently only 0,99 on Amazon, and free to read in KU!

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Let me tell you a secret–Dracula had a brother. This is true. They called him Radu the Handsome, but his beauty was deceiving, and it hid a deadly secret…

With high ambitions as a journalist, Juliet Jochs travels to the Carpathians to investigate a mysterious and unnaturally beautiful prince. She suspects that he’s a dangerous man, and that this mission may cost her life. But, as the prince’s masks begin to peel off, she fears she may lose her sanity.

Prince Radek’s dark powers suck Juliet into a whirl of hypnotic desire–no woman has ever resisted his lures. But something is different about her, special, and he’s growing dangerously addicted to her. She must keep her head above the water if she is to save herself, run away and not look back before he consumes her completely. But can she resist opening the last door to his most terrible secret?
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You can grab book two, Prince of Obsession for 1,99, or read for free in KU!
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Carpathian prince Radek the Handsome has one last, dirty secret.

When Prince Radek is forced to strike a deal with his older brother Dracula, his young lover Juliet must pay the price–and is forced to leave him.

They meet again later, when he comes to her city on secret business. The Prince tries to keep cool when Juliet probes his shady dealings, but his craving for her grows obsessive and even dangerous, striking with a vengeance after their time apart. Stalking her from behind mirrors at night, he can barely contain his lust. But can he afford to lose control now that he’s so close to attaining the very goal for which he sacrificed Juliet years ago?

This is book two of the series Dracula’s Bloodline.
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Prince of Blood is the latest book in the series! Get it for 1,99 or free in KU!
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Dracula exists.
For centuries he’s been lurking in the underworld, searching for the one woman whose blood can make him invincible–Dracula’s Grail
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A shadow stalks librarian Ruxandra Len, a demonic power from a past she can’t remember. Intrigued when she discovers that her bloodline leads back to the notorious Prince Dracula, she travels to the Carpathians to learn more. But what she finds is a truth darker than legend.

The Prince of Blood fascinates Rux. His dark energy weaves a web of enchantment around her, making her crave him. But just as the Dark Lord thinks she’s ready to surrender her blood, the deepest shadow of her past emerges. Can Vlad Dracula defeat an even older, darker legend, and protect the woman who means the world to him in more ways than he likes to admit?

This is book three of the Dracula’s Bloodline series. It has a HEA and a lot of steam.

Book four is in the works, and will hit the Zon on the 22nd of March, so in less than a month 🙂
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YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO LOVES VAMPIRE AND SHIFTER ROMANCE? Let them know 🙂 And there’s more! If you like superhero romance (genetically engineeered superhumans falling in love), I have two free stories out there!
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FREE
If you want something mysterious but sweet, Hyperion is the story for you 🙂
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Hyperion is an assassin with a fist of iron and a heart of ice. Not entirely human, he’s the only one who can fight a special kind of enemy. After being sent to the Dark Forest, he sets up camp and begins observing his target from the shadows. There’s little Hyperion doesn’t see coming, and even less he can’t deal with. That is, until his target’s young wife, Ligia, steps into the picture. A woman in need of protection seeks the assassin, and threatens to melt the heart that has been frozen for so long.
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Want something more dangerous, dark romance, with dark steamy scenes? Prepare for triggers and forbidden lust with The Revenge of Andrey Jones
RoAJ

There’s a fine line between love and hate

Lila Banks is driven and cool-headed—until she meets dream employer Andrey Jones, and finds herself drooling over him. The last thing she expects is that he’s hated her for years. His father, the villain known as Big Boss, had once left his family for Lila—or so Andrey thinks. Today, he wants revenge.

Cold, calculated and almost evil, Andrey uses Lila in vile ways, but the boomerang is bound to return. Will Andrey be able to resist Lila when she turns his own weapons against him? A story of dark seduction, walking the fine line between love and hate.

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EXTRA for 0,99 on Amazon, gothic supernatural romance, The Soul Trapper
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When beauty hides a curse.

Saphira is cursed with exceptional beauty. To her parents, she’s a goldmine. They want to find her a rich husband to save their own failing business. Enter the Marquis, a wealthy assassin with a secret grudge against Saphira’s parents and the rest of the town’s elite.

Forced into an arrangement she can’t escape, Saphira is pulled down a dark path of revenge. Certain she won’t survive the Marquis’s plot, she tries to keep her sanity by doing the one thing she knows how–she paints him. What she doesn’t expect is that her nemesis has another face only she can see. And that she has hidden powers of her own, powers that can either redeem or doom his soul.

For fans of Christine Feehan and Nora Roberts.

A dark paranormal romance with HEA guaranteed.

MORE TO COME, FOLKS! Stay tuned 🙂

Prince of Obsession – Chapter I FREE

Loves, the release date for Prince of Obsession is approaching fast! The 18th of January is just around the corner, and guess what? On the 3rd, just a few days from now, the manuscript will be ready to go to my ARC readers (readers who receive the e-book in advance, for free, and post a review on Amazon.com and/or Goodreads on the release date). If you’d like to hop on my ARC team leave me a comment or send me your e-mail details to anaatcalin@gmail.com, and I’ll send you the book as soon as it’s set to go out. Until then, here’s what this sequel to Prince of Midnight is about, and the first chapter:

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Carpathian prince Radek the Handsome no longer turns into a monster at nightfall. But does that make him any less wicked than his brother, Lord Dracula?

Three nights before their wedding, former journalist Juliet Jochs storms out of Prince Radek’s castle in the Carpathians, determined never to return. Five years later, she makes a terrible discovery—the true reason why Radek broke her heart, and its connection to Dracula.

The Prince and Juliet meet face to face again when he comes on business to her city. He tries to keep cool when she probes his shady dealings, but his craving for her grows possessive, obsessive and even dangerous, striking with a vengeance after their time apart. Stalking her from behind mirrors at night, he can barely contain his dark lust. But can he afford to lose control now that he’s so close to attaining the very goal for which he sacrificed Juliet years ago?

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CHAPTER I

Prince Radek

 

For the first time in years I’m facing my notorious older brother, Vlad Dracula. Yes, he’s as real as it gets, and just like the cliché describes him—shiny fangs, blood-red lips, cruel bony face.

The Old Priest brought me to his cave deep in a thorny mountain forest, the stalactites above us dripping water in some places, blood in others. Vlad still likes to impale creatures, and he doesn’t miss a chance to set an example among his vampires. I heard he likes to impale them upside down, making them resemble bleeding bats.

“I must say, little brother,” his voice bounces off the wet cave walls. “I was disappointed not to get an invite to your wedding. When is it again, in three days?”

I remain still as a statue, determined to wait the show out. Vlad grins, his predator canines glinting in the undulating light from the cave water. Large, with a black cape hanging on broad shoulders, he’s sure earned his title as Dark Lord.

“Tell me, Radek the Handsome,” he continues, placing special emphasis on my old title. The chains on his boots clamor as he steps down the stairs from his black throne towards me, his vampires hissing all around the cave and retreating fearfully into the cavernous tunnels that radiate from it. “How long has it been since you and I last saw each other face to face? A century? More?”

“Since the Nazis,” I say evenly.

“The last time we actually worked together.” He stops a few feet away. He’s taller and broader than me, and still not beyond trying to intimidate me. My jaw tightens as I try not to flash a silver blade at his throat.

“Before the truce,” he continues when all he gets from me is a cold stare. “The truce when I was generous enough to give you my castle and my scepter.”

“You didn’t have much of a choice but cede them to me. Be grateful I didn’t continue to hunt you down, you would have lost.”

He squares his shoulders, a big dark presence, only the face white and angular. “You know damn well you wouldn’t stand a chance if I was immune against silver and if I could walk into the sunlight.”

“But you’re not immune to silver, and you cannot walk into the sunlight,” I say, cocking an eyebrow and balling my fist to feel the silver blade strapped to my forearm under the black leather jacket.

Cruelty glints like blades in his dark irises, his jaw clenches for a moment, but then he relaxes and gives me a large, perfectly white grin.

“I didn’t ask the Old Priest to bring you here in order revive old conflicts, little brother.” Fuck, I hate it when he calls me that. “I’m here to claim what you promised me.”

I frown at him. “I never promised you anything.”

“No?” He looks at me with fake confusion, then starts pacing around me. “One night six months ago you met the Old Priest at church, and told him you’ll send me the girl when you’re done with her. Now, not only that you failed to deliver what you promised, but I find that you’re about to marry her, and I’m not even invited. That hurts.”

He stops in front of me after a full circle, now closer than last time, forcing me to look up at him. Anger boils inside of him, I can tell by the way his vampires hiss, restless, pulling deeper inside the tunnels. They sense him. The Old Priest, now one of these creatures as well but much uglier, presses himself against the cave wall to the side, shivering.

“What do you want, Vlad?” I say between my teeth.

He spreads his arms, the cape making him resemble a huge, regal vulture. “It’s easy. I want what you promised me. You told the Old Priest Juliet Jochs was a classy beauty in great genetic form.” He stresses the last words just like I have months ago. “You said she’d be very nutritious for me, and I could use nutritious right now, to be honest.”

My eyes become slits. “You know I’m marrying her in a few days. Besides, why now? You could have staked your claim right after the final battle, three months ago.”

“I’ll only say this, little brother, a mere reminder, really. Our truce only stands if both of us keep our promises.”

It’s my turn to start pacing. “To be honest, Vlad, I’m kind of losing interest in Juliet Jochs. I’ve been consuming her freely for months now, and well, you know me. I’m bored quickly.” I halt and look around, spreading my arms. “By the way, what kind of a welcome is this? Why doesn’t anybody offer me a cup of wine?”

Vlad grins, probably knowing what I’m doing. He nods and signals towards one of the tunnels with two claw-like fingers. To my surprise—however masked—the one hurrying over is Victoria, or rather a new version of her. She’s even thinner than before, her hair half dark half white, and messy as if she’s slept in hay. She also resembles a hologram because, due to the midnight monster’s curse, she materializes in more dimensions at the same time, and in none fully. Twelve equally-disturbing looking women follow her as she moves to an adjacent tunnel to pick up wine and cups—she manages to materialize completely when she grabs things—then walking over, keeping her eyes down.

I resent looking at Victoria because I resent what she’s done, but those other women do unsettle me, because I’m partly guilty of what happened to them. But it’s imperative that Vlad doesn’t pick up on the slightest trace of emotional weakness on me, which is hard. He’s literally known me for centuries, since the day I was born.

Victoria is now cursed to always be surrounded by the women she’d kept in the dungeon for so long, the living corpses who spit black, foul body liquid at people, infecting them with the Black Plague. She’s basically the one who turned them into what they are today, so she has to pay the price. She can’t move around without them, the Bloody Maries always floating around her like shadows.

“I’m surprised to hear that, Radek,” Vlad says as Victoria is pouring wine. “If you’ve lost interest in Juliet Jochs, then why marry her? Why tie your destiny to hers forever—because it is forever for us.”

“Merely a strategic alliance.” I pick the medieval cup of wine from Victoria without giving her another glance, as if she’s truly nothing more than a slave. “Juliet Jochs can make it big in the Western world, and she can serve my purposes there. I have money, but she has the connections, the influence, and the open doors.”

“Then, if all she is to you is a tool, you wouldn’t mind passing her on to me afterwards, would you?”

I look at him calmly, pondering, twirling the wine in my hand. “I would mind, because I hope to be using her for a long time. That’s why I’m marrying her. And she wouldn’t be much use out in the open if she couldn’t walk into the sunlight, or if the slightest touch of silver would make her writhe in pain, would she?”

Vlad looks me up and down. “Who are you trying to fool Radek? This woman healed you of the midnight monster, and gave you love that infiltrated your very flesh. You risked your life for her a few months ago.”

“It was the first time I felt something for a woman, Vlad, sure I was confused. I mistook gratitude for love, deep sexual attraction for emotional connection. I may be old, but these were new feelings to me.”

Vlad grins and, for a moment, it doesn’t look so vile.

“Little brother,” he says, almost a whisper. “I remember that sweet confusion.”

Memories come back to me and, for another moment, my animosity against Vlad drops. “Ruxandra—”

“Ruxandrs. Long ago.” He takes a deep breath, and snaps out of it. “Before we get melancholic, let’s get back to the true reason why I asked to see you today.”

“Let’s hear it.”

“I’ll be completely honest. I wanted to present you with a choice—you either give Juliet Jochs over to me, or you help my get the one thing that will reinstate my powers forever. The one thing that will make Dracula invincible again.”

The blood drains from my head. “Dracula’s Grail…”

“Refuse, and it will cost you Juliet Jochs. Even if you are telling the truth—which I doubt—and you’re no longer in love with her, you must care about her a great deal. In the end, she healed you of the midnight monster, and loved you even as a disgusting creature.” He holds up his big hands with the long, dangerous claws. “Which means you wouldn’t want these on her, would you?”

Vlad and I look hard into each other’s eyes. We both know—what I say now will determine whether the war between us starts again or not.

“If you refuse to help me,” Vlad slurs, “I will kill her, little brother. I’ll hunt her down and, no matter how hard you try, you cannot protect her every second, not from me. Sooner or later I will get her.” He bends just a little bit closer to me, glancing from the corner of his eye to Victoria. “And, if by some incredible chance I don’t succeed, someone else will. Your future wife has made some pretty nasty enemies. So. What say you?”

I ponder, my fists clenched and my muscles flexed under the leather jacket, the silver blades pressed against my sinews.

“The one thing that will reinstate your full power,” I grunt through my teeth, “Dracula’s Grail, isn’t easily found. And, if found, it’s not easily obtained. For centuries secret societies have tried to get their hands on it, and….” I stop before Victoria, the Old Priest, or the vampires get ideas.

Vlad grins dangerously. “Don’t pretend you didn’t try to get your hands on it yourself.” He bursts into wall-shaking laughter. “What, you didn’t think I’d see through your schemes, little brother? Only that you were planning on using the Grail against me, probably eliminate me for good. But I suggest you don’t even think about it. You see, if I die, things will become even worse for Juliet Jochs. The last thing I’ll do is order these guys to sink their fangs in her.” He motions around the cave at the tunnels full of vampires. “Or their claws and curses,” he mentions with a wave of his hand towards Victoria and her Bloody Maries. “And you know my subjects are forced to do my bidding even in my death.”

I look around from under my eyebrows, gaging the danger. Vlad sure has built a powerful army. Victoria’s type of monster is new, and she’s not the only oddity he’s added to his collection. I look at the Old Priest and the Bloody Maries.

“What can I say, Vlad,” I hiss. “You leave me no choice.”

***

 

 

Juliet

 

Radek is back! Thank God, I’ve been worried sick since he went to see his brother.

With an ecstatic smile on my face, I hurry down the castle stairs to the vestibule where I heard his voice. But he’s gone before I get to him.

As I follow his voice from one room to another—wonder whom he’s talking to—I’m led through the dimensions from one narrow passageway to eerie lonely room, to yet another passageway and another room. I stop, facing a wooden chair beside a crown glass window, like in some absurd theater play.

“No more dimensions games, Radek,” I call out, growing angry.

He’s been avoiding me for weeks, and it’s becoming increasingly hard for me to keep up my enthusiasm about our upcoming wedding. I’m glad to the moon and back that he returned safely from his meeting with Dracula, which had me biting my nails in terror, but now a more long-term, nagging worry returns—he’s been neglecting me. Why?

I notice a door in a corner, and stomp to it, my cheeks now burning. The door leads me to my own chambers, where I’m alone again. I curse in frustration.

He relocated me to these chambers two weeks ago, and went out with strange business every evening. Gone are the nights when he held me pressed to his naked body, and kissed me all over like his life depended on it. At least now he’s letting me see Lazarus—a newborn vampire—and Magda—a hundred-year-old witch—down in town. They’re my only friends. I didn’t tell them my worries about Radek losing interest though, because I didn’t want to admit them to myself, but I did turn to some tricks to reawaken his passion. Tricks I learned before I even knew Radek, before I knew anything about the Hidden World, before I knew the paranormal was as real as banks, cancer and David Bowie.

Tonight I’m wearing one of those white silk negligees that Radek likes so much. I even procured a set of cuffs to spice up what I hoped would be lovemaking.

“Juliet.”

Startled, I turn swiftly and find Radek leaning against the doorframe. He’s got a bottle of wine in one hand, and crystal wine glasses in the other.

“I’m sorry. Did I scare you?” He walks over smoothly like the prince he is, black suit jacket open, revealing a lean but muscular body under it. My heart aches at how beautiful he is.

He places the bottle on the medieval desk by the window, a bad-boy smile on those lips like red roses, his ivory face perfect and somehow detached. I think I catch the perfume of another woman on him. I gather the silk night robe tighter around me, watching him pour us both wine, struggling with my anger and burning cheeks.

“So, I gather the meeting with your brother went well?” I manage as I take the glass he gives me.

“Wonderfully. The truce stands solid. He was a bit hurt we didn’t invite him to the wedding.”

I snort. “Is that why he summoned you? To reprimand you on that?”

“And to make sure I wouldn’t attack him, now that I emerged even more powerful from the battle three months ago.”

I hold his stare. “Aren’t you taking this a little too lightly? The battle was terrible, we both almost got killed, and—”

The perfume of the other woman wafts over again as he shifts and leans on the desk.

“Who were you talking to earlier in the hall? I heard you,” I demand.

“Just our new housekeeper.”

“Our new housekeeper smells of pastry and Mr. Proper. Not Chanel No 5.”

He looks at me in that specific way men do when they’re thinking of a lie to tell. For a moment I hope the lie is good, because I really want to believe it. But, instead, Radek grins widely and opens his arms in a come-on-babe gesture. I’m sure the earth has just been pulled from under my feet. No, no, no, he isn’t doing this to me.

“Juliet, I actually didn’t even intend to keep this from you.” He looks to the door and calls a woman’s name, but I don’t register it. It’s like my brain is protecting itself.

My jaw drops when a blonde with a killer body dressed in a red negligee steps like a cat into the room.

“I thought maybe it was time we spiced up our relationship,” Radek says. “One on one, things kind of got stale.”

The image in front of my eyes is swimming, giving me a hard time believing this is actually happening. A part of me is screaming to scratch his eyes out, but another part just says,

“You feel our relationship has already grown stale? After only three months in which we’ve loved each other freely?” After you risked your life to save mine, after I healed you of the midnight monster, after I gave everything up for you, after, after, after.

I stand frozen with the glass of wine in my hand.

“Please, Juliet, be reasonable,” he says as the blonde stops by his side, a white hand with red polished fingernails snaking on his shoulder. He takes it and kisses it, forcing me to blink as if to wipe the image away. No, this can’t be really happening, he must be putting up some kind of show.

“I’ve been limited by the midnight monster for so long,” he continues. “Now that I’m free of it, I can do things I couldn’t even dream of before. It’s been six hundred years of prison inside my own body, hiding my deadly secret. Now I can finally enjoy life and sex to the fullest—thanks to you, of course.” He grins at me, and the playboy glint in his eyes spears me. “I can finally enjoy things I dreamt of for centuries, like a threesome with two beautiful women, fully naked.”

I just stand here like a statue as the blonde closes the short distance between us and caresses my face seductively. The part of me I recognize wants to spit her in the face and call her a whore, but….

I just snort, looking her up and down appreciatively. “Wow, what can I say, Radek. She is indeed beautiful. But I’m afraid I’m as straight as they come and, if you still intend to go ahead with the wedding in three days, I suggest that you send her back to where you found her.”

The woman opens her mouth to speak, and I cock an eyebrow, stunned that she dares believe she has a say in this.

“Why so bitter, milady,” she says in a thick Slavic accent. “I’ll gladly please you as well.” But I can see the delight behind her cat-like blue eyes hooded by heavy mascara—she already feels she’s better than me, her heart is swelling with self-esteem thinking the prince will even forgo his wedding with me for a night with her. But no, he won’t give her this satisfaction. Will he?

My heart sinks as I watch his hand touch the small of her back, grazing her spine. Her eyelids flutter at his touch, her hand moving away from my face, cupping her own breast.

“I want to marry you, Juliet,” Radek says as he strokes the blonde, “but not in the terms we had until now.” He looks me straight in the face. “I want an open relationship.”

A sharp pain goes through my heart, heat flushing to my cheeks. I hear my mother’s words in my head, words she told my sister and me a felt lifetime ago. ‘Life will kick us in the face. And our lovers. Our lovers will kick us in the face.’

I stare from Radek to the blonde, who now leans against him, massaging her own tits and looking provocatively into my eyes while Radek watches what she’s doing over her shoulder with an I’ll-do-your-every-hole grin. Her lascivious stare tells me, ‘He prefers me, boring long-time girlfriend’.

On the outside, I remain calm. On the inside, I’m on fire. I square my shoulders and push out my chin, placing the glass of wine gently on the medieval desk—ignoring the part of me that’s raging to throw it into Radek’s face.

“I’m not in the mood for wine today. Or a threesome. Radek, I would like to leave the castle now, and I’d like to find my way easily.” This means no games with the dimensions like before.

He looks me in the face, his stare growing deep and hard. It’s like he wants to carve my features into his memory. Is this what he wanted all along? Was he determining me to leave him so that he doesn’t have to be the one walking away?

“Are you sure about this, Juliet?”

I snort and smile. “Hypocrite.”

We just look each other in the eyes for moments. He doesn’t even blink, his feelings unreadable beyond the fact that they’re intense, while my heart is crumbling to pieces. My skin burns all over, but the rage of the moment enables me to keep my ground, which I’m mighty grateful for.

“I will ask Lazarus to come get my things later.” I look them up and down one last time. “Ask the housekeeper to have them ready. It’s the last thing I ask of you.”

Radek’s voice stops me as I head to the door.

“I have a final request from you as well.”

I glance over my shoulder. “Yes.”

“It’s about our other arrangements.” He leaves the blonde by the desk, walking towards me. “I’m still willing to honor all our other plans besides the wedding. I’m willing to buy Herald Gruff’s e-zine, which you will then run. Of course, in exchange for you building a credible and likeable public persona for me in Germany, securing me people’s approval.”

“And influential people’s trust,” I finish in his place.

I feel him close behind me, but he doesn’t answer. With a bleeding heart and a huge lump in my throat, I walk out the door. Soon after that I’m running out into the night, the white silk robe floating behind me as hot tears stream down my face. I run until I fall to my knees at Magda’s door, sobbing hard, bracing myself as if to keep my body from crumbling to pieces.

***

 

Radek

 

I stare out the window, leaning with my hands on the sidewalls. It pains me to have hurt the woman that I owe my life and my very humanity to, but it was for her own good.

“You think she’ll still help you in the Western World?” Irina asks from behind me. She’s laid down on Juliet’s bed.

“Get up,” I say evenly.

“I will,” she says seductively, “but only if you turn around to watch me do it.”

Anger grips me, but I manage to keep my tone calm. “You, in her bed. It’s a sacrilege that I don’t want to witness. Get up.”

“You really do love her,” she whispers.

“Lord Dracula was right,” she continues when I don’t answer. “You were truly marrying her for love.”

I ponder. How do I put this? “If you look into the life Juliet and I led together this last month, you’ll find out that we grew apart before my meeting with my brother tonight.”

“But she is important to you.”

“Of course she is important to me. She healed me of the midnight monster, and used intense love to do it. I’ll always be grateful to her for it, and in her debt.”

“But do you love her back, prince?” Her voice is pleading, making it clear she’s desperate for me to deny it. Given that she’s one of Vlad’s vampires, I better play along.

“Not enough to tie my life to hers forever,” I say, turning around to find her now sitting on the bed like an unhappy child. “She will be useful to me in the Western World because she wants to make sure I’ll honor my promise to her friends, the witch Magda, and Lazarus. I promised that I’d fight for the good guys, and use my power to back them up in the war against evil. Lazarus is also a vampire, by the way.”

“I know. I was one of those who bit him in the final battle three months ago.” She licks her lips, remembering the taste of him on the one hand, and trying to seduce me on the other. The strategy flops miserably.

“That’s not why I brought you here, Irina.”

She pouts playfully, but I can tell her disappointment is real.

“Too bad,” she says. “I have talents, you know. You would’ve liked them.”

“This isn’t about me.” The problem with living forever is that you come to see straight through people. “This is about you wanting to feel more valuable than Juliet. But, to me, no woman has ever been more valuable. She’s unique, and special. I may not desire her the same way I did in the beginning, but she’s still the only woman that’s worth something in my life.”

Only part of that is true, but I manage to mask it well. Another thing that comes with an unnaturally long life is a strong grip on the display of one’s emotions.

Irina keeps sitting on the bed, doing nothing to signal an intention of leaving. I exit the room without giving her another glance, making things as clear as they get. I may still need her later, but right now the least I can do for Juliet and my own aching heart is not giving this lustful vampiress satisfaction.

***

Prince of Midnight is live!

It’s the 20th of December and, as promised, Prince of Midnight just went live! It’s there for you to grab it, if you like, plus!–You won’t have to wait long for the sequel, Prince of Obsession. It will hit the Zon as soon as the 18th of January, and you know what? Get used to it. I have a new book planned for every month of 2019, so there will be a lot of fun! (And a lot of interesting stuff about vampires, shifters and other supernatural creatures)

The plot takes place in the Carpathians, is related to Dracula and Dracula’s castle, and the book is similar to the work of Christine Feehan. So, if you enjoy Christine Feehan books, you might love this one, too : )

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The Devil’s Elixir is OUT TODAY!

The Devil’s Elixir has just hit Amazon today, and the first reviews are already trickling in from all over the world. Deeply grateful right now!

October 17, 2018

Format: Kindle Edition

Prince of Midnight – Chapter II (Book 1 of the Dark and Dangerous Series)

As promised, here’s more of my new paranormal romance with sci-fi icing, folks.

So what’s the story about?

Reporter Juliet Jochs travels to the Carpathians. Her job—investigating a mysterious and unnaturally beautiful Carpathian prince. Pretending to work a public profile for him, she actually wants to uncover his shady dealings and later expose them in the international press. If the prince discovers Juliet’s hidden agenda, she knows it may cost her life. But as she finds herself trapped in his fortress and his masks begin to peel off, she fears she may lose her sanity.

Prince Radek Matthayus has dark powers that suck Juliet into a whirl of hypnotic desire. He attracts her from the shadow, but he never seems to put his body on hers. She comes to crave his touch more than air, falling under his spell like in a dark dungeon. She must keep her head above the water if she is to save herself, run away and not look back. But can she resist opening the last door to his most terrible secret?

 

Read chapter I here.

CHAPTER II

Juliet

 

Two days later, Herald invites me into his office. I’m nervous as I close the door behind me, ruffling the curls that make a yellow halo around my head. I cross my legs awkwardly on the chair, pulling at the rim of my skirt to cover my knees—I wouldn’t want him to think that I’m trying to seduce him in some cheap way, right?

“One moment, Juliet.” He holds up a finger without looking up from the paper he’s reviewing with a frown before signing. It takes a while until he acknowledges me again. This might seem condescending to others, but look at it this way: Herald Gruff is the boss at a highly reputable magazine, one could go deaf on the bustling in the cubicles room just outside his office alone. That’s a lot of responsibility, not to mention it requires a fuckload of authority, sure he seems an asshole.

“So,” he says, pulling out a drawer and pushing a file under my nose. “Because technology isn’t to be trusted nowadays, I’ll approach this sensitive subject in paper form.”

I glance from the file to him, trying to process “don’t trust technology” and “approach subject in paper form.”

“But our work is entirely technology-based. We’re an e-zine, we don’t even sell printed issues. Actually, we loathe all things ‘printed’, don’t we?”

“Just open it,” he prompts, his greying hair quivering at the sudden jerk of his hand towards the file. He’s a bit older than me—okay, a whole chunk older—but he’s got a good body, since he swims daily, and intelligent if not pretty eyes. There’s something of a skinny bulldog to his face, but he was once obviously attractive. Not that it matters. Nothing is more attractive than a man who exudes self-control, power and authority.

As I leaf through the file, he says, “Radek Matthayus, the prince you picked on a few days ago at the press conference.”

“This isn’t much more than what I’ve covered on him,” I note as I go through the file rapidly. “It doesn’t say a whole lot, either, the guy is very private about everything.”

Herald leans back, pushing his hands through his ashen hair. It’s good to see him a little relaxed.

“I believe this guy is blocking foreign investment in infrastructure in his country from the shadow. He’s influential enough to do that and more. I want you to discover his reasons and then help me expose them.”

I blink at him like an idiot. This opportunity isn’t only huge, it’s a career-making turning point. A you-almost-got-me smile stretches on my face, while I wave a finger at him.

“Come on, what’s the catch?”

He looks at me sternly. “Catch?”

“You’re not offering me this job just like this, are you? I mean, this is huge, and probably for someone with far more experience. Why me?”

There’s a pause and steady eye contact before Herald replies. “Because you’re the only person the dark prince has shown interest in in a very long time.”

There’s a zinging in my ears, and my stomach twists. Shown interest. This feels surreal.

“What did you just say?” I whisper.

“We don’t have time for stupid dialogue, Juliet, I’m sure you heard me the first time.” Herald points to the file like an unhappy teacher at sloppy homework. “Everything here is merely a tenth of what we need to discover about this dark prince.” He leans in, gaze pointed like a gun to the center of my forehead. “Read it, and you’ll understand why I say ‘dark.’”

“But, Herald.” My voice cracks on his name, and I clear my throat. “In wha, er, in what way did he show interest in me?”

He smirks, giving me a once over. “I was surprised at first, too.” He leans back in his chair, more relaxed this way, motioning with a hand towards me from head to toe. “I mean, it’s not like you’re not cute and all, but compared to the kind of women who must surround him….” He purses his lips and whistles, waving his hand like he just touched something hot—which he obviously doesn’t consider me to be. It’s as if he’d forgotten all about the night two weeks ago, the office party, when he crammed me in a corner of this very office and kissed me, confessing under his breath that he secretly wanted me.

I still vividly remember his eager tongue, tasting of vinegar from the wine he’d been drinking. Even though I wanted him, I wanted him sober, smelling and tasting nicely. I felt his desire rock hard pressing urgently against my mound, and pushed him away on an impulse, saying, “Not like this.”

“You have nice natural blond hair, curly and all, but face it—it’s too short, barely even reaching your shoulders, it’s a mess on top of your head. With your pale eyebrows and eyelashes and snow-white skin, you look like a pretty corpse,” Herald continues cruelly, analyzing me with sharp eyes. “You could use some contrast, like dye your hair and your eyebrows or something.”

Jesus, what comes next, pump up your lips, get a nose job—God knows I could use one? I push myself off the chair, swiping the file off his table.

“Why are you doing this, Herald?” I demand, pacing slowly around and pretending to leaf through the file. It’s easier for me to stand up for myself when I’m not looking at him, he’s too intimidating and easily angered. “Is it because I ran out of here two weeks ago? Because, if that’s the case, you could make a move on me now, sober, and I wouldn’t say no.” I glance at him. He’s smirking, dark eyes glinting at me from under ashen eyebrows, the corners of his mouth pushing his cheeks aside into a wrinkly smile that speaks of experience, resilience and authority.

“Get this job done properly, and you’ll have that and more, Juliet.”

My heart gives me a pang of outrage. Is he offering himself as a prize? No offense, I might not be the prettiest, or the smartest, but I am like a lifetime younger… Then I want to slap myself. How can I be so conceited? He’s far more valuable than me in so many ways. If I can prove myself to him, then I might assume some of all that value for myself. I raise my chin, closing the file and holding it against my chest. I’m looking at him from higher ground, since I’m standing up, feeling grand, even if for only a moment.

“You can rely on me for this job.”

“I hope you appreciate that I trust you with it, considering your lack of experience and your young age overall. You are only twenty-two, in the end.”

I squint at him. “There’s a reason why you trust me with it, which reminds me. In what way has the prince shown interest?”

Herald purses his lips, pondering before he answers. “His people called the e-zine to inquire about you. They wanted to hire you, and offered to purchase you from us if it must be. I figured his interest must be serious, since he can have anyone he wants, you know.”

My ears start buzzing.

“Purchase,” I repeat quietly. “But what could he possibly use me for?”

“You’ll find out.” He gets up from his chair, pacing to me. I barely register the time lapsing until he reaches me, placing a hand on my shoulder. I tilt a bit under it. Looking straight into my eyes, he says, “I agreed, Juliet. I agreed to trade you, but I have my own agenda.”

“You traded me like I’m a thing?”

“No. I traded you like you’re Ronaldo.”

I have this overwhelming urge of hurting him. As I begin to realize what’s happening here, rage heats up my face. “How can you be sure I won’t betray your agenda to the prince?”

He smiles, which makes his cheeks look like a wrinkly bulldog’s again. “I’m sure, because the prince can’t offer you what I can. You see, while he can pay a thousand times better, his headquarters is deep in some obscure, impossible to penetrate mountain forest. Money won’t be of much use there, not to mention that the social environment… Well, I imagine it’s not what your half German half American upbringing has taught you to strive for and adjust to. I, on the other hand, offer you money and position when you’re back here in Berlin.” He brings his face closer to mine to look even deeper into my eyes, and I realize I’m pushed against the wall, clutching the file as the only shield between me and the intimidating power house that’s Herald Gruff. “Because I will have you back. And when that happens, with what you gather on the prince, we’ll go huge. You’ll have fame in the entire national press, all doors will be open for you, and you’ll be made editor-in-chief immediately.” He shrugs, taking distance and letting his hand drop off my shoulder. “Many will offer you career choices, though. If you’ll want to go for a position at one of the 5 best journals in the country, you’ll be free to do so. We can set that in stone through contract right now, if you like.”

I must admit, career advancement baits me. It makes me salivate. When I’m alone I fantasize about power—me in a black Armani suit to starkly contrast with my blond hair, pale face and pale eyes, looking striking if not attractive to whoever walks into my sky rise office.

Soon I’ve signed two contracts—one that transfers me to the prince’s company, and one stating my liberty of choice when I’m back with Herald. The job description I have with the prince’s firm is still drawn in general lines, but it includes my writing reports on what he intends to do with the real estate he keeps acquiring all over Europe, and about the work he does back home. Pretty much creating a better defined public persona that he can then display for himself outside his country of origin.

***

The whole contract thing has kept me at the office for two straight days. Been going through papers all night and all of today with Herald and the company lawyer. The train now lulls me to sleep with its swaying as it takes me to the periphery of Berlin, where I’ve lived with my sister Runia since the pictures business—told myself all those reasonable things about the hacker and all, but I still can’t be alone at night.

Runia is a caregiver for the elderly and people with disabilities, so she has a keen eye for signs of sickness and the like, which means she’s on my case as soon as I kick off my shoes.

“Jesus, Juliet, you look like you just broke out from the morgue.”

“Just another day in Paradise.”

On my way to the only bedroom I pass by a blur of her lean shape that resembles mine—basically a stripe in the landscape, firm bumps at the level of the breasts and butt. Her hair is much longer though, so it flows down her body in bouncy waves that are as beautiful as a doll’s. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to secure her a guy’s long-term attention in cold Berlin.

I hit the bed face down and only open my eyes again twenty-four hours later, when I’m left with five more hours until I’m to embark on a plane that’ll take me from the Berlin airport down to what I’ve heard is no man’s land. Runia has swapped her usual night shift with a colleague in order to assist me with my luggage and ask me a ton of questions, making me face stuff I really don’t want to deal with right now. Stuff I’d rather stay blind to.

“Have you considered that Herald could have dark reasons to put all of this on your shoulders? I mean, come on, it’s a huge deal, top secret, and if you screw up it can mean serious trouble,” she says while she stuffs thick sweaters over my rather flimsy stuff. I told her as much as I could tell her because, indeed, if something happens to me Herald would probably try to bury the whole thing, so someone should know where to have the Interpol start looking.

“I hear the Balkans are warmer than Germany, Runia, you can go easy on the winter stuff.”

“It’s autumn, and I’ve heard their winters are even more vicious than ours. I mean, have you read Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’? They have serious blizzards. Anyways, what if Herald has—”

“Listen, Runia,” I interrupt, holding up my hand. “This is a huge opportunity for me, all right? I don’t know who else would have trusted me with it at my age, and especially after less than six months experience in the media.”

“But that’s exactly my point. I know you’re ambitious Juliet, I admire that about you and I wish I was made of the same stuff, but don’t let the rush of a fast career blind you to—”

“Honey.” I walk around the bed and take her pretty face between my hands. “If I get what Herald needs on the prince, I’ll have all doors open. This will be the hardest, most vicious, most dangerous fight of my life, but it will also be the last, Runia.” I square my shoulders, reassessing my situation and feeling good about it. “And I’m ready for it.”

She looks at me, pressing her lips together, unwillingly accepting that I’m doing this. “What about your feelings for Herald? Are you sure they aren’t playing a role in this decision? The main role?”

“Of course they play a role. He wants me, Runia, he’s shown me that more than once. The way he looks at me and the way he came on to me that night…” I’m sure that stuff will feel a lot better when he’s sober. “But I have to prove myself to him. He’s not some desperate sugar daddy who’ll take the first model who’ll call him ‘lover,’ he wants substance, he wants a woman with real power to her.”

Runia shakes her head slightly. “As I said, I always admired your ambition and your brains, big sister, but when you’re in love, you’re downright stupid.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

But Runia has already pushed my hands down from her face and gone on to pick more clothes from the wardrobe.

“Tell me more about the prince. What’s in the file you brought the other night? You fell asleep on it,” she explains, sorting clothes. “I would have looked inside if you hadn’t been sprawled all over it.”

“A good thing you didn’t.” I check my briefcase for the file. It’s there, tucked safely between other papers I’ll need. “This is literally the kind of business you don’t want to know too much about.”

“Uuuuuu, I’m scared.” She pretends to be bracing herself and tremble. “You sound like Corleone.”

“I’m not joking, Runia.”

“At least do this for me.” She walks over, holding out her hand with a small gadget that I have to frown at to identify. “I know Herald said no technology because it’s easily hacked, especially by people as powerful as the prince.” She glances down to the small gadget. “But I’m pretty sure no one will take this seriously. Keep in touch.”

I take it and turn it in my hand, amused. “How did you even get the idea?”

She shrugs with a clever smile on her face. “There’s this thing about people with disabilities, especially the mentally challenged ones, that no one considers—They think outside the box by default, and disregard all rules. They have the most innovative minds.”

I’m deliciously surprised. This is one of those moments when I wish I were a selfless, people-loving caregiver like Runia, and marvel at the human genius where the entire world least expects it.

***

Turbulence has shaken the plane often enough to make me pray for my life. I haven’t prayed since I was six. Just as I thought the worst part was over, dragging my luggage from luggage claim, I bumped into a boisterous family of gypsies that tried to steal my purse. Hadn’t the cab driver the prince had sent for me intervened, I’d be stranded in No Man’s Land Romania without papers or money.

“Better watch it, miss,” he says in a thick accent as he picks up my luggage and leads me to the car. He’s a middle-aged man with a big gut, dark eyes, and a very friendly attitude. “You have better chance of surviving here without papers than without cash.”

This is another world, that much is certain. Everything seems old, the buildings withered and erratic, the people tired and angry, and the roads—don’t get me started on the roads. My organs shake inside of me from all the holes and ditches in the ground. After driving in a busy, emissions-smothered ring around Bucharest, we emerge into the plains, the road a meager streak cutting through, industry buildings on each side.

“It looks like business is picking up in your country,” I say, watching the halls glide by through the window.

“Picks up, yes, but not in interest of the common man,” the driver says, and continues praising his country’s natural resources and beauties, which he’s been doing continuously since we left the airport. He keeps checking the expression on my face in the rear-view mirror, so I have a causal smile in place at all times, though he doesn’t persuade me. This place is exotic, yes, but in that way.

I feel my jaw drop as we first pass a rickety cart trailing in the cloud of dust left behind by a racing Porsche. It’s almost disintegrating under a load of hay and wood, pulled by two runt horses and a drunken peasant with a lopsided hat and a long mustache.

“What in the world is this?”

“Get used to it, miss. Plenty more picturesque items where this came from.” The driver laughs hard.

The next thing I know, we come to a stop, waiting for a shepherd as drunk as the man in the cart to steer his herd of sheep across the road. They’re slow and curious, some of them stopping and watching us leisurely with grass between their teeth, chewing slowly.

I’m shocked and thinking about Herald’s words—for all the money in the world that the prince would pay me, staying here isn’t an option. When I think that we’re still inside the European Union, I could burst into laughter, but I refrain, especially because I find the context to ask the driver about Prince Radek.

“You say the prince sent you for me. Do you know him personally?”

“Prince Radek is a very private person. Very few people in town know him personally, but we all saw him on occasion.”

I tilt my head to the side, meeting his eyes in the rear-view mirror. “You’re a local from the prince’s town?”

“I live in Bran, the resort at the foot of his castle.”

My brain swells as it wraps around the information. I grab his seat. “You mean to tell me we’re going to the Bran castle? Like the one from Bram Stoker’s novel? Like the one from the Dracula movies?”

“Yes, yes,” the driver confirms, his big gut jumping up and down as he laughs hard. “Excuse my amusement, miss, but you’re sweet.”

“But he can’t be living there, that’s one of your major tourist attractions?”

“That’s right, but there are deeper layers to that story, miss. The prince has secretly bought the castle from the government years ago, yet has agreed to keep it as a tourist attraction and let the government cash in the proceeds.”

“So hand in hand with the government indeed,” I whisper, eyes darting left and right as I make connections in my head. Sure he manipulates the right people in the right places, he probably also bribes them with money from all the prosperous business around Dracula’s castle. The driver doesn’t dispute the theory either.

“It’s not impossible, miss. The prince’s family has always been well connected.”

In my enthusiasm I grab even tighter to his seat, pressing myself to it. I’m greedy for information, and this opportunity is gold. “What else can you tell me about him? I mean, I’m sure there’s a lot to say, but—”

“You have a crush on him, miss?”

The blood rushes to my cheeks. “Where would you get that idea?” I squeak.

He shrugs. “Everyone who meets him in person falls for him. It’s almost like a curse. All the girls in town, maybe some of the men, too.”

I remember the prince’s exceedingly attractive face, then the moving pictures of him as a ghost that he’s had the hacker manipulate into my phone.

“To be honest, I think he’s a terrible person.” I lean back and cross my arms, looking outside. It’s almost evening and we’ve reached the hills, the higher mountains shrouded in fog in the distance.

“This is indeed breathtaking.” I gawk at the sight.

“Wait until we’re reach the Carpathian heart,” the driver says like an eager accomplice. “It’s out of this world.”

“Out of this world is pretty much everything I’ve seen so far,” I mutter, but when he throws a, “What?” over his shoulder, I’m grateful he didn’t catch it.

What I get to see of the forests until the night falls is dense and uniquely wild. So much unlike the woods with man-made feel from my travels. I let down the window and peer into what turns out to be a precipice so deep that I can’t see the bottom, all black and hollow, draught messing up my hair.

“Pull back,” the driver calls. Startled, I draw my head back into the car.

“Why? It’s not like—”

“Don’t put parts of your body out there, miss,” he admonishes. “You don’t expose yourself to the Carpathians like that at night. They’re ancient and dangerous.”

I can’t hold back a laugh. “Oh, come on. We’re not in some Dracula movie.”

His gaze stays fixed on me in the mirror, and I wonder if he shouldn’t be watching the darkening road instead. My heart shrinks in my chest, I feel uneasy. Some strange power seems to have taken over, the car seemingly driving itself and floating as if the holes in the ground have disappeared miraculously, replaced by the smoothest asphalt.

“You’re not here as a tourist, miss. If you were, you’d be seeing a backward region with nothing to hold your modern interests, and none of this would be happening. But you’re here as a guest of Prince Radek.”

None of this would be happening echoes in my head as the car slams into something front-on, the impact throwing me between the front seats. I manage to catch myself with hands against the dashboard and keep my head safe, so there’s no reason to doubt what I’m seeing through the slowly cracking windshield as I raise my eyes. I feel them widen in dread, my fingers gripping to the dashboard.

***

Stay tuned fro more next week, folks 🙂 Subscribe with your e-mail address and make sure you’re notified as soon as a new chapter is out. Looking forward to hearing from you.

 

Prince of Midnight – Chapter One

Loves, the muse is here, and I pray she’s here to stay 🙂 Here is the beginning of a new novel I intend to release for Halloween, Prince of Midnight. Let me know what you think.

Prince of Midnight

CHAPTER I

Juliet

My first press conference is a nightmare. We’re talking a monstrous gathering at the old Opera House that traps me between other reporters, more experienced than me, and more ferocious than my ribs can take. Their jabs to my sides are merciless as they battle for the best spots and best visibility to be picked for questions, but I’ll be damned if I give in.

“Move out of the way, blondie.” A guy around my age with ambition written all over his face tries to shove me. Gripping my overlarge smart phone to my chest with one hand, I hold on tightly to the rail before me with the other. Keeping a spot in the first row is always a struggle, my rather fragile frame suffers, my hair is electrified like a white-blond version of Jackson 5, but fuck it.

Hang in there, Juliet Jochs. For the prize.

My prize, my target, my beacon is Radek Matthayus, a prince from the Carpathians. Though I haven’t seen him in person yet, I know all there is to know about the scrap of public persona he maintains. In short, he’s young, eccentric, a Casanova, and so immensely rich that he can’t be clean. Where he comes from, clean businessmen don’t make it like he did. In only a few years he increased his family’s inheritance by no less than fifty percent.

“Ladies and Gents, I give you prince Radek Matthayus, our patron and benefactor,” the master of ceremonies finally announces, rubbing his wrinkled hands together. His lips draw in an ass-kissing smile, while his eyes turn to the spot where Prince Radek is expected to appear.

The commotion stills for a few blessed moments that allow me to fill my ribcage with air. Clapping of hands announces the prince is close. I crane my neck to get a glimpse of him as he walks up the side stairs onto the stage, his shadow licking the velvet curtain as he moves flowingly towards the master of ceremonies.

There are few pictures of him on the web, none of them clearly focused, but enough for me to recognize him. Tall, black suit, dark hair and blue eyes, his face too pretty for a guy, and too young for his notorious money-making skills. After the master of ceremonies thanks him with heavens and earth for buying the old Opera House and saving it from being torn down and transformed into yet another mall, Radek takes the mike.

“It’s an honor to become the owner of this magnificent symbol of your history.” His voice is musical, trapped somewhere in his boyhood years, hypnotically pleasant. It distracts me from what he says next, but I snap right back to myself the moment questions are announced.

My arm shoots up into the air at once with all the others but, no matter how hard I try, the master of ceremonies doesn’t pick me.

Of course he doesn’t. I’m a new reporter, and young ones are usually too ambitious for their own good. At least that’s what I heard him say once after a shadowy auction that Radek also won, but I didn’t get inside the auction itself to see it.

No doubt, the master of ceremonies knows I’m going to talk about the elephant in the room. Is Radek Matthayus supporting corrupt officials in his country? Has he helped boycott all attempts of building infrastructure in order to block foreign investment? Who is he bribing in order to get his hands on the most valuable pieces of real state in his country and beyond, and what is his ultimate purpose for amassing properties all over Europe? He usually keeps his business shrouded in mystery, but the old Opera House is too much of a national gem, so it proved impossible to keep the transaction behind closed doors. The entire national press is here, from shark to small fish.

Blocking real questions is the only shield against exposure of dark affairs. Only inquiries about renovation make it to the stage, about other properties the prince intends to acquire, even a question about his love life. The prince is very private about it, but he gives the brunette who asked a seductive smile.

“Sadly, I haven’t met the love of my life yet,” he says in his musical voice that makes the brunette flush. Boy, is she obnoxious with those needle-enhanced lips and fake fingernails. I crease my nose.

“But I sure hope Cupid takes his aim on me soon,” he concludes.

The brunette isn’t the only one who sighs like a hopeful idiot upon his answer. This beautiful bastard has women at his feet, and he sure as hell knows it. He plays on it, seducing them, depleting them of attention, admiration, adoration, sex, then throwing them away like broken shells.

“Maybe Cupid’s arrows just splinter against your steely heart,” I call out on an impulse. All heads around turn to me, including Prince Radek’s. Eat this, pretty bastard. “Considering your looks and wealth, you must be spoiled for choice. I’m surprised you haven’t found someone to your liking yet. Unless you think none of your admirers is good enough for you.” I shrug. “Just sayin’.”

Prince Radek’s eyes lock on me. His irises are turbid blue, like murky water, impossible to see through. But one thing is crystal clear—behind them lies a poisonous snake.

“You’re prejudiced, Miss Jochs,” he muses, tilting his head to the side and narrowing his eyes. Startled, I glance from him to my nametag, then back again. Wow, what an eyesight.

“I don’t get around that much. Part of my work requires solitude, part of it bleak attorney offices and long negotiations, rarely ballrooms and select social circles, as you might imagine. I don’t actually meet so many women.”

He’s lying. He must be. His porcelain face that’s really too pretty for a guy compels you to stare. His skin stretches young and flawless over a masculine bone structure, his lips blood red and carnal. The more I look at him, the less I’m able to look away, and his feline smile tells me he’s used to that. The guy’s a born seducer, a magnificent beast that breaks hearts for the fun of it.

His attention leaves me shortly after our exchange, but he glances at me every now and again. Before he leaves, followed by his bodyguards, I manage to snap a few pictures of him with my smartphone. I check their quality a few times, delete the bleary ones, and keep two that Herald, my boss and crush, should be happy with. Oh, he’ll be so proud of me when he sees my interaction with the shadow prince all over national press tomorrow morning.

***

 

I wake up in the middle of the night from headlights flashing between the slats of my blinds. I glance at the electronic clock on my side-table. It shows a glowing red two a.m. that hurts my eyes—pale blue is a color that makes eyes sensitive even to a blur of snow.

My tongue sticking to my palate, I step into my slippers and drag myself to the kitchenette for a few long gulps of water when I notice my smartphone blinking a weird white. I frown at it with the water still in my hand, struggling to understand. It usually blinks green when the battery is full, red when it’s almost empty, never white. Confused, I pick it up, punch in the code and swipe. Then I drop it and the water like they burn. The glass smashes on the floor, but the phone remains intact after it hits the counter.

I analyzed and overanalyzed the pictures I took of Radek Matthayus after the conference, and I’m pretty damn sure he wasn’t looking my way in either of them. I’m also sure the last thing I did before I put away my phone was NOT looking at his picture, so why does the screen light up to it? And why is he looking straight back at me, like he knows where I’m standing and what I’m doing, when I know for a fact I photographed the side of his face TWICE?

The blue in his eyes seems strange too. Frowning, I bend down to get a better look. No, the blue isn’t strange. His eyeballs seem rolled backwards, revealing the whites, his skin pale, a ghost staring back at me. His blood red lips go pale as death, and a grin begins to stretch along his face slowly, the skin cracking.

I jolt backwards, knocking down the stool behind me. On the kitchenette counter, the screen goes dark. I don’t feel safe enough to fall asleep again, yet by the time dawn begins rippling along the horizon I’ve formed a reasonable theory in my head—Radek Matthayus is a powerful man who can pay big for manipulating technology. He must have had some tech wizard hack into my phone from some basement, and scare me witless as punishment for making pretty boy look bad all over national press. The more I think about it, the more my ego swells. One way or the other, the prince has taken serious notice of me.

 

***

Stay tuned for more next week! It will get dark and dangerous 🙂