MY IMMORTAL BELOVED
Genre: Media-based Historical/Victorian erotic romance
Publisher: Alchemy Ink (www.cyphrevoudou.com)
Cover by: Barbara Fister-Liltz
Tentative release date: Autumn 2006
For fans of the movie The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. This is a short novel based on the character of Dorian Gray, as he was portrayed by Stuart Townsend.
Dorian Gray is immortal, powerful, bored, and lonely. When he receives an invitation to yet another of London’s fashionable balls, the last thing he expects to find is a woman who will change his existence and fill his endless days with passion and happiness. In young Venetia Tremaine, the ageless Gray finds a spirit as bright and uncompromising as time itself. She adores him, and is unafraid of the scandal that is stirred when he asks her to become his mistress. A role she revels in as wantonly as she does his sexuality.
But, as life often unfolds, happiness is a fleeting thing, and Dorian’s long past is a hard thing to outrun. It is only after his death that Dorian will come to know just how deeply loved and cherished his cynical soul truly is, when Venetia implores a practitioner of the Dark Arts to return her immortal lover to her….
Read an excerpt:
“Your parents don’t seem at all pleased, Miss Tremaine.”
Venetia felt the caress of his voice so acutely he might have actually touched her skin with his words.
“My parents are seldom pleased with much that I do, Mr. Gray,” she answered when he stopped at her side and looked out over the vast gardens of the estate house. Lamps had been lit and placed all over the property; from their vantage point on the second level balcony, it looked as though a hundred stars were hovering just above the ground. “I’m afraid that’s why I was shipped off to Paris for several years. They hoped the Holy Sisters could instill a greater sense of propriety into my wicked heart.”
Dorian’s smile was brighter than the sun, and warmed her in a much more intimate way, she was forced to admit.
“And were they successful, Miss Tremaine?”
“Venetia, please,” she requested as she turned to face him fully. She was captivated anew the instant their eyes met, and every part of her instinctively attuned itself to his presence. She had met Dorian Gray on several occasions when she was little more than a girl. He had never struck her as being anything more than a handsome rogue who was far too certain of his appeal. As a woman, she was growing more certain his arrogance was not misplaced in the slightest. Every unmarried woman in attendance tonight had sought his company at one time or another. Even some of the married ladies had been unable to resist his charm, despite the ire of their husbands.
“What are you thinking about, Miss… Venetia?” Dorian asked, his voice pitched to a smooth, sensual cadence.
“Honestly, or a polite answer, Mr… Dorian?” she amended softly when he smiled.
“Honestly, please,” he remarked, tone casual and inquisitive. “Polite society makes me feel rather ill after a time.”
Venetia laughed, her pleasure genuine. He straightened and their eyes were mere inches apart when she spoke again, her words a whisper of air between them. “I was simply wondering if there was a woman here who does not wish to be your lover tonight, Dorian Gray.”
“Bold words, indeed, darling,” he whispered.
“Are you surprised?”
“Delighted,” he corrected. “And what of you, my beautiful Venetia. Do you wish to join me in my bed tonight?”
She felt faint, and the restrictions of her corsets were suddenly stealing both reason and breath from her body. Deep within her, she felt a longing so profound it was almost pain. Dorian’s smiling mouth filled her vision, and she knew he was aware of the effect of his presence and his words. It didn’t matter, the outrage she’d have felt had he been any other man could not rise past the truth they both recognized. The curve of his lips fascinated her. The soft, fine dark hair of his goatee and moustache dared her to touch him as she wanted to. And the perfect fine angles of his face led her inexorably upward until she was trapped in the chasm of his eyes.
“Tell me what you’re thinking?”
There was a hint of wine and smoke in the flutter of air that touched her with his query.
“You fascinate me.”
“Innocence is seldom found coupled with utter honesty.”
“My tongue wants to taste your lips, Dorian Gray,” she confessed in a voice that was barely audible, wouldn’t have been had he been further away from her. “And my fingertips are tingling with the desire to know if beneath your fine suit and silk waistcoat is skin that is even finer to the touch.”
He took a step closer, so they were almost embracing.
“Tell me more.”
“I am baring my soul to a man who is laughing at me,” she stated. “I’ve never before said things like this. Yet even mocking me as you are so obviously doing, Mr. Gray, I find myself compelled to indulge these wanton thoughts of you.”
“I am not mocking you, darling,” Dorian assured her. His fingers came to rest on the side of her face, learning the curve of her cheekbone with a feather-like caress before moving to the back of her neck to draw her forward. “Quite the contrary.” His words dissolved into a soft murmur of pleasure as he bent his head toward her.
As she lost contact with his mesmerizing eyes, Venetia gasped and the sound was captured by his mouth as it covered hers in a kiss so tantalizingly slow and lingering she was certain they were now the only two people in existence. She tasted the wine he’d been sipping earlier, and the hint of cigar smoke, but more subtle and intoxicating was the man himself. His tongue slipped between her parted lips and coaxed her to imitate the erotic dance of exploration in which he was engaged. She sucked his tongue deeper into her mouth and moaned softly when his arms pulled her into full contact with his body as the pressure of his kiss intensified.
Sensation exploded through her like a wildfire, and the swirl of heat and excitement threatened to consume her. She wrapped her arms around his neck and leaned closer, pressing her hips into his, allowing her body to obey the desire to be as close to him as possible.
“And what do you want, Mr. Dorian Gray?” She posed the query as he finally left her lips and continued a wet, open-mouthed trek down the side of her neck. As his tongue stroked the frantic pulse there, his hands rested at her waist, brushing the smooth satin of her gown.
“I want you naked in my arms, Venetia Tremaine,” he breathed as he kissed her forehead. “I want to do things to you that have you crying my name like a prayer. Things that no other man will ever do to you, darling.” He smiled down at her, and she laughed quietly.
“You’re very certain of your prowess, Mr. Gray.”
Dorian’s laughter was genuine for the first time in a very long time.
The spell of seduction shattered with the strident outcry of Lady Tremaine as she arrived on the terrace and found them.
“I do apologize for my daughter’s shameless behaviour, Mr. Gray. Do forgive her lack of manners, please.”
Dorian’s eyes glittered with amusement when he let his gaze linger a moment longer on Venetia. “I would forgive your daughter any breach of manners, Lady,” he assured the distraught mother. “Her charm far surpasses any minor lapse in propriety. And,” he turned the full force of his disarming smile on the older woman, “any indiscretion was entirely my fault.”
“If you’ll excuse me, Mr. Gray,” Venetia interjected. “Mother, I’m not feeling at all well. I think I’ll retire for the night.”
“In the middle of a ball given in your honour!” The piercing quality had returned to her voice and Venetia frowned at the censure. “Have you no sense of proper behaviour, my dear?”
“I am hardly likely to charm a potential husband if I can hardly stand up due to fatigue, Mother.”
Dorian hid a smile behind his hand, and turned to look out over the gardens.
“Perhaps a walk in the garden would revive your spirits, Miss Tremaine?” He made the suggestion in a tone meant to appeal to her mother, who watched them with overt suspicion. “Lady Tremaine, with your permission…”
The challenge was there between them, though only Dorian and Venetia knew it was in fact a challenge to the woman’s position and authority. Genevieve Tremaine was not only outwitted, she was severely disadvantaged by Dorian’s outwardly innocuous appearance of decorum.
“Of course,” Genevieve nodded, still visibly unsure of the proposition. “I’ll expect to see you inside very shortly, Venetia.”
“Of course,” Venetia nodded, her entire mien demure and compliant.
Lady Tremaine hovered for a moment longer, then turned and went back inside to her guests.
“You are a very wicked man, Dorian Gray,” she noted with a small laugh.
“Thoroughly irredeemable, I’m afraid,” he agreed. “Now, would you really rejoin this rather tedious ball when I’m offering you an escape?”
“An escape,” Venetia repeated, tone thoughtful. “An interesting proposition.”
“I have a much more interesting proposition in mind,” he told her, walking half a step behind her so that he had to lean close to speak the words next to her ear…