Harlequin Nocturne September 2014 Bundle: Beyond the Moon\Immortal Obsession

Harlequin Nocturne September 2014 Bundle
Beyond the Moon
Immortal Obsession
Michele Hauf
Linda Thomas-Sundstrom

Do you harbor passionate otherworldly desires where the normal and paranormal collide? Let Harlequin® Nocturne bring you into dark and dangerous territory where your senses will be awakened. Harlequin® Nocturne features two new full-length paranormal romances for one great price every month!

BEYOND THE MOON (
In the Company of Vampires
)

By Michele Hauf

When a vampire with a grudge roughs up immortal witch Verity Van Velde in a Paris alley and steals the precious talisman she's been guarding for over a century, Verity is swept up in a terrifying intrigue—and into the strong arms of a devastatingly sexy vampire hunter, Rook. Haunted by the woman he can never forget, Rook is forced to embrace another beguiling witch in order to win back his soul—at the cost of dredging up his terrible past. Can Rook and Verity trust one another long enough to defeat the vampire holding his soul hostage?

IMMORTAL OBSESSION

By Linda Thomas-Sundstrom

American anchorwoman Madison Chase is in London for one reason—to find her missing brother. What she does find is an ancient society of vampires known as The Hundred. It is Christopher St. John's job to ensure the existence of The Hundred is kept secret from the mortal world. When Madison's search for her brother starts to threaten that secret, St. John is sent in to “handle” her. What he doesn't plan on is falling for Madison…. Will his new feelings be strong enough to go against hundreds of years of loyalty?

Like most immortal witches, Verity Van Velde knows how to look after herself—and she knows better than to trust any man. But then, a vampire with a grudge roughs her up and steals her precious talisman. Before long, Verity is swept up in a terrifying intrigue—and into the strong arms of a devastatingly sexy vampire hunter.

For the past four centuries, Rook has devoted himself to avenging a terrible loss. But something about this pretty witch calls to him, and it's not just her long legs…or her pouty lips…or her fiery magic. Something deep inside Rook knows that Verity may be his only chance to find his soul mate—and his soul.

Rook crawled over to Verity. He wanted to embrace her, to kiss her, to whisper that it was all going to be fine. And it would be.

But not with vampires running amok.

He dug out a blade from his boot and sawed through the ropes around her wrists.

“Rook, look out!”

Rook spun around to see flame following the thin line of gasoline up to the second circle. It ignited the gasoline around Verity's feet.

Verity screamed. He cut through the thick rope and freed her hands. Rook pulled off his coat and wrapped it about her shoulders. He lifted her, rushed the outer circle and leaped over it, turning to hit the floor with his shoulder while he kept Verity safely to his chest to avoid the impact. He rolled over on top of her. A quick kiss was necessary. She tasted like fear and ash.

Also available from Michele
Hauf

Harlequin Nocturne

*
From the Dark
#3
Familiar Stranger
#21
*
Kiss Me Deadly
#24
*
His Forgotten Forever
#44
Winter Kissed
#52
“A Kiss of Frost”
*
The Devil
to Pay
#55
+
The Highwayman
#68
+
Moon Kissed
#72
**
Angel Slayer
#90
**Fallen
#109
The Werewolf's Wife
#133
Vacation
with a Vampire
#139
“Stay”
Forever Werewolf
#145
This Wicked Magic
#153
&
Beautiful Danger
#164
&
The Vampire Hunter
#175
&
Beyond the Moon
#191

*Bewitching the Dark
+Wicked
Games
**Of Angels and Demons
&In the Company of
Vampires

Harlequin HQN

Her Vampire Husband
Seducing
the Vampire
A Vampire for Christmas
“Monsters Don't Do Christmas”

MICHELE HAUF

has been writing romance, action-adventure and fantasy
stories for more than twenty years. Her first published novel was
Dark Rapture.
France, musketeers, vampires and faeries
populate her stories. And if she followed the adage “write what you know,” all
her stories would have snow in them. Fortunately, she steps beyond her comfort
zone and writes about countries she has never visited and of creatures she has
never seen.

Michele can be found on Facebook and Twitter and at
www.michelehauf.com
. You can also
write to Michele at P.O. Box 23, Anoka, MN 55303.

BEYOND THE MOON

Michele Hauf

Dear Reader,

There's something about a man who has lived four centuries. He's seen so much. Lived so many lifetimes. Has he always been the same man he once was? What questions would you ask a person who has lived since the seventeenth century?

I love writing paranormal romance, but I also love historicals. What better way to combine my two loves than by infusing the hero with centuries of knowledge and trials and tribulations? If you've been reading the In the Company of Vampires series I have with Harlequin Nocturne you may have noticed Rook appeared in
Beautiful Danger
and
The Vampire Hunter.
I've been wanting to tell his story since I created The Order of the Stake. Now here it is. Rook has not walked through this world alone. There's Asatru (pronounced
Oz-a-true
), the truth demon, trapped within Rook. Together, they make for a unique and utterly compelling hero.

I hope you'll enjoy Rook's story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Michele

This one is for me, because Rook is mine.

Prologue

V
erity Von Velde's mother, Amandine, had the ability to determine the origin of a person's soul. So when Verity was born in the 1860s, Amandine had known her child's soul had once belonged to a witch—who had died twice.

Knowing she possessed a reincarnated soul helped Verity to understand the strange compulsions she experienced on occasion. The first time, at fifteen, had been on that horrible night she'd been compelled to rush to the forested village of Clichy, just outside of Paris, and had spied the bonfire. Amandine Von Velde had been betrayed by the witch hunter to whom she had unknowingly promised her heart. “Witch!” the crowd had shouted, and they'd laughed and clapped as the flames had consumed her mother's screams.

That night, left alone in the small cottage she had shared with her mother, Verity had fallen into a deep sadness. Years later, the compulsion had once again led her to the aqueducts beneath Paris where her grandmother, Freesia, had apported out of a Faery portal to hug the granddaughter she hadn't visited for years. Freesia had been born with a faery soul. Of all the witches in the Von Velde family, she was the only one with sidhe ichor running through her veins.

Freesia had carried with her the quilt Great-Grandmother Bluebell had made for Verity's mother. Because Bluebell had decided not to prolong her immortality and had died a natural death (which was rare for witches, even in a time when the burnings had begun to fade), her compassion lived on in the quilt. As Freesia had wrapped the quilt about Verity's shoulders, she'd felt the hugs her mother and great-grandmother could never give her again.

“I know your mother begged you never to trust a man,” Freesia had said as they'd stood beneath the city beside the gently flowing aqueduct waters. For men had been Amandine's curse and death. “But I would bid you trust the right man.”

Verity had liked the sound of that and had nodded, promising her grandmother she would give it consideration. When she began to protest that she did not know what to do all alone, Freesia had added, “Stay in Paris. It will take care of all you need. Trust your soul's compulsive ways. It is your birthright.”

Freesia then fluttered through the portal, and Verity would not see her lavender-haired grandmother for a long time.

Years after Grandmother Freesia's visit
—Paris, 1908

Verity tripped through the field grass that the city attendant had not scythed, for this swath of land that edged the forest was kept wild. Tourists did not venture off the paths or cobblestone roads that cut through the Bois de Boulogne. She would not normally skip through the overgrowth in a long skirt and button-up chemise, scratching at the buzzing insects, had she not been compelled.

Sometimes Verity's soul insisted so profoundly, she had no choice but to listen. And follow.

Now, she raced toward a massive tree stump that pushed up from the earth, its serrated edges jutting like castle crenellations. Thick, verdant moss coated the south side. The rowan tree must have fallen naturally from age or perhaps a lightning strike. The stalk, branches and leaves had long been cleared away, most likely for firewood.

Arriving at the grand root base, Verity sighed in awe. She had great respect for nature and knew all living things were connected, be they human, paranormal, animal or botanical. Kneeling before the trunk, she laid her palms on the cool moss coating and smiled. It must have taken four men to clasp hands and surround this tree when it had once proudly held court here at the forest's edge.

The wood pulsed with life. And there, in the center of the stump, which had been dug out by animals and insects over the years, grew four new shoots of life. All things renewed and lived on.

Much like her soul.

Reaching down, she played her fingers over the wood where it was wet from yesterday's rain and smelled earthy and sweet. Insects had not chewed through this part for it was solid and strong. The heart of the rowan. Verity felt the pulse. She curled her fingers within the core of the tree, and it pulsed again.

And yet…

She tilted her head, her dark, unbound hair spilling across the stump. The pulse felt familiar. Human? Perhaps, and long lost.

“A soul?” she wondered.

And then she knew, indeed, that it was. This is why
her
soul had compelled her here.

Sliding her fingers inside her ankle-high leather lace-up boot, a gift from her mother for her fifteenth birthday, Verity drew out the silver-handled athame. Her mother had always chastised her for carrying it about. One must honor the sacred tools of magic and keep them wrapped and tucked away until required to conjure a spell. Silently mocking her mother's nagging words—may she rest in peace—Verity tapped the wood core with the blade tip. “If I had kept this tucked away, I wouldn't be able to free you now.”

She worked at the wood, carefully carving around the core, which was about as wide as her fist and shaped like a
pain de campagne
. An hour later she'd set the core free. Verity turned and sat against the mossy base of the stump between two thick, twisted roots, smoothing her hands over the rough, moist core of the rowan tree.

“I know you belong to someone. What did he do to lose you?”

She pressed the wood against her chest and felt the subtle resonance of the long-lost soul and knew, without doubt, a man had sacrificed this soul in great sadness. She also knew that the man yet walked this realm.

Did he seek what he had lost?

“I'll keep you safe,” she promised. “Someday he will come for you.”

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