I'm thrilled to announce the release of BLOOD GUILT, first of my new Blood Hunters series! (Following on from the Awakened by Blood trilogy: Blood on Silk, Blood Sin and Blood Eternal). Here's a celebratory excerpt to tempt you :)
BLOOD GUILT: Blood Hunters, Book 1
By MARIE TREANOR
And for Nook
Natural enemies, deadly attraction...
The first of a new vampire romance series, a sequel to the Awakened by Blood trilogy.
Mihaela, a fearless vampire hunter secretly haunted by loneliness and childhood tragedy, finds it difficult to adjust to the new world order where vampires are not always the bad guys. She's taking a much needed vacation in Scotland when she sees a little boy being chased through the streets of Edinburgh. Rescuing him brings bigger problems - two vampires from her past: Gavril, who killed her family; and the reclusive and troubled Maximilian, gifted Renaissance artist and one-time overlord of the most powerful undead community in the world. Maximilian once saved her life and now needs that favor returned.
The earth moves for Mihaela in more ways than one. From Scotland to Budapest and Malta, she races against time to prevent a disastrous, vampire-induced earthquake and save an innocent yet powerful child – all while fighting a dreadful attraction to Maximilian, her only ally, whom she can’t afford to trust. For Maximilian, the hunter becomes a symbol of renewed existence, as he struggles to accept his past and rediscovers his appetite for blood and sex - and maybe even happiness.
Mihaela sank to her knees, her stake raised for the kill. Unbidden, she remembered the vision of this vampire that haunted her dreams: his face cool and calm above hers as he efficiently staked the vampire who would undoubtedly have killed her. She remembered her own stupefaction as she’d gazed up at him amid the carnage, stunned by what he’d done and terrified as to what it meant. They’d fought on the same side in that battle to save the hunters’ library from the insane Luk’s marauding hordes of undead; but she’d never expected a vampire to trouble to save her life.
It was a debt.
You can’t afford debts to vampires. You can’t take the chance. He was here when the others were; Robbie was drawn to him, whether or not he spoke in words…
She stared down at the scored, bleeding face, still handsome with all its injuries. He wasn’t the disreputable twenty-year-old he appeared; he was a six-hundred-year-old vampire with a penchant for treachery, who’d once commanded the strongest community of undead in the world.
Of course, he’d betrayed his creator in order to do so, and when that power was finally wrested away from him by yet another vampire, he’d seemed to disappear off the face of the planet. Although no one had believed he was actually dead, neither had anyone laid eyes on him for two hundred years until he’d come out of hiding to fight, bizarrely enough, for the newly awakened Saloman. Nevertheless, he was probably still the most powerful being in the world after Saloman, his creator. If he chose to exercise that power.
But he didn’t. He’d left Saloman to come back here. Why? Escaping the world again as Elizabeth said? Or did he have other plans?
It didn’t matter. With a vampire of this caliber, this unpredictability, you didn’t take chances. For Robbie, if for no other reason, she had to kill him.
Her fingers twitched restlessly on the stake. “You saved my life, you bastard,” she muttered.
His eyes opened, almost blinding in their directness. They didn’t blink. He made a strange, choking sound in his throat, as though he were trying to laugh and was prevented by some unspeakable internal injury.
Shit. Slowly, she lowered the stake, although she kept tight hold of it. Maximilian, it seemed, had nothing to say, simply looked at her. Like Saloman’s, his deep, intense eyes were layered with centuries of violence, murder, and pain; yet Maximilian’s were reflective rather than opaque, which made them, curiously, less scary.
Mistake. Never forget that he is scary.
Beneath her, the world seemed to shake. Not simply in her mind, this time, but in sudden, heart-stopping reality. She reached out instinctively to hold on, as a flowerpot crashed off an upper window-sill, landing barely a foot away from them.
“What the…?” She found she’d grabbed on to the barrel with one hand and the vampire’s jacket with the other, listening to odd sounds of objects falling over in the darkness, cries of surprise from inside the building and from the street beyond.
As the world stilled, Maximilian’s hand grasped her wrist like a vise. An electric charge seemed to shoot from his fingers. She whipped back the stake, staring down at him, but he was frowning, almost…anxious.
“That shouldn’t happen,” he said with strange urgency. “Not…natural.”
They were the first words he’d ever spoken to her and seemed to fit what she knew of him: impersonal and to the point. Still, although Britain was not in an earthquake zone, even here the odd minor tremor did occur from time to time. She doubted this one had been strong enough to do any real harm. Before she could tell him so, he let go of her wrist and made an odd, lurching movement, hauling himself into a sitting position.
Mihaela scooted back, raising the stake higher with more threat than serious intention, for his head lolled back against the wall.
His right arm hung uselessly by his side; his leg was still bent wrongly at the knee.
“What’s the matter with you?” Mihaela said harshly. She didn’t want to see the vampire’s pain, to feel any sympathy; not for this vampire. “Why aren’t you healing?”
For answer, he glanced down at his bloody wrists. “Not enough blood.”
She stared at the wounds in both wrists, in his neck and face. They’d bitten him, draining him to weaken him for the kill. It was a tried-and-tested method by which weaker vampires could kill a stronger enemy. They couldn’t otherwise draw enough blood from him in a single bite to drain him—even if they could get close enough and stay attached to his vein.
She swallowed. “I thought you were just drunk.”
“Will you be able to move from there before sunrise?”
Defeated, because it seemed she couldn’t kill him after all, she stood up, turned her back on him, then stopped. “You’re lying, aren’t you?”
There was no sound, no movement behind her. It didn’t matter whether or not she killed him. Without blood, he wouldn’t heal, and she doubted he was strong enough to take any.
Only, the sun would come up eventually and turn him to dust.
Save her the trouble.
“Shit and shit and shit!” She spun back around.
“Tell him,” Maximilian said. “About the tremor.”
“Saloman?” she said, dropping to a crouch beside him. “You tell him. I don’t like to talk to the bastard. Are both your legs broken?”
“Only one leg.”
Though who knew in how many places. Or however many other bones. No wonder there were layers of pain in his eyes. And it would get worse.
Hope you enjoyed it! More excerpts on my website...
Natural enemies, deadly attraction:
BLOOD GUILT, 5th June 2012.