Authors: Jez Strider
I’d like to dedicate this book to my parents and my boyfriend.
They’ve always had faith in me when I lacked it. Thank you to Amazon for giving aspiring authors the chance to self-publish so easily. To anyone who’s ever felt most at home in their local library or bookstore, this is for you.
Marcus Hart was ruggedly handsome with his jet black hair tucked behind pierced ears.
Whenever he wanted anything, it was hard to say no to his baby blues.
His grandfather had come to America from Cuba and he had inherited many of his ancestor’s traits.
with family of European descent mixed to give him handsome, unique features.
Often, there was grease under his fingernails.
It didn’t bother me.
I admired him for working hard. He was only twenty-two, which was a plus.
The younger they were, the longer they had to live.
My brown wavy hair and dark green eyes complimented his looks.
We were a sexy couple.
Not that I’m saying we were a couple.
The day I’d met him would have stopped me in my tracks even if he hadn’t been bloody and carrying his wounded golden retriever through the front door of my veterinary clinic.
That day I’d saved his best friend’s life and he’d repaid me many times over since.
I’d given a playful yelp and grin when he grabbed me, pretending to fight against his advances. Finally, I gave up and leaned up to kiss his lips. “Sorry. I have work early tomorrow.
have to get some rest.”
With both hands resting against his bare chest, I gave a shove.
He didn’t budge.
After seducing me to compliance with more cuddling and kisses, he eventually climbed out of my king size and into his faded jeans.
My cat, Lucia, immediately hopped into the bed reclaiming her dominion.
“Yeah, I know.
No sleeping over during the work week.
It’s just so hard to resist.”
He was right.
It was very hard to resist.
But I’d set my rules and was sticking by them as we walked together toward the door.
“Call me tomorrow.
Don’t forget to tell Lewis hello for me.”
Lewis was his dog and he’d healed up nicely in the past couple of months.
The dog’s namesake was Marc’s favorite football player.
He’d given me a kiss before heading out.
There were no “I love
” …they were against the rules too.
I closed the door with a sigh and headed over to my sofa.
It was true that I had work early the next day, although I’d actually just needed the alone time I’d become so accustomed to.
My mind was caught in the past.
It wasn’t uncommon.
Having so many years of memories will do that to you.
I found the playlist on my MP3 player labeled “Fire and Ice” and hit play.
The collection was an album filled with love songs from the 16
As the music filled my home, I picked up a bottle of nail polish, rolling it between my palms to mix the solution.
I was no longer in modern day, but in Venice during the 1500s.
The musicians were playing music in the streets as I was preparing for my night on the town.
My head reclined back as I reveled in the memories of humanity, memories of a world long gone.
I suppose we never really forget where we come from or who we were in our human life.
It’d been many lifetimes since I’d been home, but I found myself wanting to show Marc.
He didn’t even know what I was.
Becoming so immersed in my thoughts was dangerous, but it had been a long time since I’d seen another vampire or felt hunted.
Hiding what I am is relatively easy with all the false superstitions and myths planted in the media.
No one suspects a person is a vampire when they walk around in broad daylight and basically look like a normal human.
I usually just attribute my youth to good genes and lack of sun damage.
Medical research supports my claims on the effects of too much sun. Besides, I rarely stay in one area longer than about fifteen years.
My early life was hectic but I’d mostly avoided trouble in recent years.
I should have known better than to let my guard down.
I leaned up to start painting my toenails when my mind finally returned to the present.
Before I could begin, a gloved hand covered my mouth.
A normal intruder I could have easily bested.
There had been more than one time when I’d been cornered in an alleyway.
Oh no, but this was no normal deviant.
He was stronger… far stronger than I was.
My fangs extended and dug into his hand and blood began to trickle from the wounds. Unfortunately, the attacker didn’t seem fazed by the bite.
I knew it was another vampire.
My maker, I just knew, had finally found me and was meeting out punishment for my rebellion.
The attacker had me pinned on my back and straddled me as I fought with every ounce of strength I had.
The smell of expensive leather assaulted me.
I kept my eyes closed at first, beating my fists against the man.
My last thought before I opened my eyes and saw the other vampire face to face was of thanks.
I was so thankful that I had sent Marcus home when I did.
When our eyes met, we both froze.
The look was one frozen in time across vast centuries.
This vampire was not my maker.
I knew him immediately, as if I had kissed him only yesterday.
I knew every inch of this man.
I knew that perpetual tan and short brown hair that curled up slightly on the ends when he went too long without a haircut.
His expression contorted into one of confusion as his amber eyes took in the woman before him.
…” He whispered in a thick Italian accent, one which I’d learned to disguise long ago.
To a person that didn’t know him, Antonio would have seemed calm.
I could see his inner turmoil and emotion as he pulled me close, inhaling deeply the scent of my hair as he kissed my cheek lightly.
I had no idea you were my target.
That you were even alive!”
He stood suddenly, turning away and unable to face me.
I cleared my throat, not sure what to say as the silence between us grew.
Thoughts swirled like tornados in my mind.
sent you, didn’t he?”
My thoughts were swimming.
I’d already been dwelling on the past, but this…this
I ran a hand through my hair before glancing toward my former lover.
“Obviously Dante didn’t know about our affair or he wouldn’t have been fool enough to send you to do his dirty work.”
I was furious and scared, but my heart thundered in response to seeing Antonio again.
“For all his insight and wisdom, the Master doesn’t know everything. “ He turned to face me as I stood, walking over to him.
“Perhaps he always knew and this is just a test of my loyalty.”
The wound on his hand was already closing and the bleeding had stopped.
Gently, I rested my hand on his shoulder.
His attack hadn’t done any discernible damage to me.
I was lucky he realized who he was trying to kill when he did.
I laughed at my own foolishness.
“So he tells me you die of the plague before he could save you, his most beloved bodyguard and I believe it.
I suppose he told you I died with so many of the other prostitutes near the Rialto Bridge.”
Antonio gave a nod, reaching out his hand to me as he noticed the music of our time.
“I see you haven’t forgotten where you came from.
I took his hand, accepting the offer to dance.
He’d always shown me his romantic side.
The moment was surreal.
How could I ever explain in words what it’s like to reunite with someone you’ve thought dead for hundreds of years?
I knew he was struggling with the same emotions.
I’d been a great dancer, but this was more like we were holding onto each other in a long embrace.
There was too much I wanted to say, but I couldn’t.
It had been too long since we’d last seen each other.
I just hugged him more tightly.
As the song changed, I pulled back slightly.
“You can’t just barge in here, try to kill me, and then dance with me.”
The humor in my tone was evident and he laughed.
If I didn’t stop this now, I’d end up in bed with him for sure and I wasn’t ready for that when it was still warm from Marcus.
“You…you have not changed fair courtesan.
Does it still get you in trouble?” He shook his head in disbelief.
“And I’m very sorry.
My feelings after seeing you again are a bit overwhelming.”