DESCENT INTO DARKNESS
Genre: Historical/Vampire (erotic novel)
This story is darkly intriguing. It explores the mental status of an older vampire who finds he has lost something very important to him, but only after the fact. Denyse is amazing in her ability to bring across to her audience such intense feelings in such a short time. As always, I have thoroughly enjoyed her current offering and will definitely suggest it to others.
FULL review is here: http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=9983
Alexander DeLenoir is an ancient creature of the night, born in a betrayal that has left him without conscience or morality. He’s witnessed history that is now myth. Throughout his long life, Alexander has seldom sought companionship, and never has he looked for love. He has kept two of his immortal children with him, through whatever means necessary, and is not intending to expand his family.
Arriving at a small Massachusetts town after killing the sailors on their ship, the vampire trio meets the mysterious and lonely wife of the innkeeper, and Alexander is entranced by her beauty and her indomitable spirit. In Amberlaine Calvert, he senses a nature as dark and depraved as his own seeking freedom. Despite the protests of his companions, Alexander takes her and in adoration of him finds an obsessive kind of happiness.
When the town slowly awakens to the evil among them, a bloody slaughter ensues, and Amberlaine is forced to see the madness that will define her life with Alexander. Yet, in spite of her fear, she is obsessively devoted to the powerful vampire, and the darker things she feels lurking within her are about to be unleashed by a hunger even greater than her passion—the thirst for revenge against those who dare to threaten their existence…
The night air was chilly, but for the first time in a week, it was clear. Amberlaine gazed upward at the glitter of frost-white stars that dotted the vast blackness of the sky. There was a stillness to the night that felt vaguely disturbing, but she dismissed it as her own miserable state of mind. She often walked the paths behind the huge, sprawling inn, and had found a lovely, secluded cove less than a mile from her home. She escaped to the sanctuary every chance she could risk. It had been almost two weeks since she’d last ventured to the hidden place.
She threaded her way through the tangle of wooded growth, her eyes easily picking out the path even within the heavy darkness. The glow of a nearly full moon lit the way with tiny shafts of silver light that filtered through the boughs of the trees. She found the spot she sought a short while later, and smiled with genuine freedom for the first time that day.
Amberlaine went to the edge of the water and sat, the mossy bank soft and comfortingly warm beneath her. She trailed her hand through the still waters, smiled at the silken feel of the clear water flowing through her fingers. Moonlight shimmered white radiance off the surface of the lake, and she gave in to the impulse that had brought her here. Standing, she stripped off her clothes and waded into the pool. The water welcomed her, enfolding her as the arms of a lover would, and Amberlaine finally permitted herself to cry.
* * *
Diana continued to lead her unsuspecting victim toward the stand of trees near the back of the Inn. She could feel Alexander’s presence, his nearness an undeniable force. Less intense, but somehow brighter, was Julian. They couldn’t risk a string of bodies, so they had chosen this form of hunting for the short time they would be in the small village. Diana knew the men she traveled with hated the method, but it was safe--for the moment.
Charles Peabody was too busy congratulating himself on his good luck to notice that the beautiful woman at his side was more interested in her surroundings than him. Thomas be damned! Charles thought with a smug grin. Let him punish his slut of a wife in whatever way he chose, Charles had his own promise of pleasure to pursue. That thought made him bold, and he stopped their trek into the heavier growth of trees.
“Just a little further, chéri,” Diana purred sweetly. “You do not expect me to enjoy our tryst so close to possible discovery?”
“If your companions return, Thom will deal with them,” Charles boasted, and tried to catch her in a kiss that would silence the talk. He was more interested in engaging this little minx in other activities.
“My... brother will not like it if he finds us,” Diana teased, thoroughly enjoying that particular lie. The idea of Alexander defending her honor was vastly more amusing than this poor fool could ever imagine. Still, she didn’t object too strenuously when Charles pulled her tightly to him and claimed her mouth in a kiss that lacked any seductive lure at all.
Diana snuggled closer to her victim and laughed softly when he moaned his pleasure and his hips moved against hers. She nuzzled his neck and nipped lightly at the sun-weathered skin. Blood teased her senses and she shuddered with passion her partner couldn’t begin to comprehend. Sharp, gleaming fangs emerged and Charles cried out in sudden pain and surprise when Diana’s mouth closed on his neck. He tried to push her away, only to find his wrists were now firmly held by one of the men who had accompanied her to the Inn.
Terror seized him and he struggled more earnestly in the hideous embrace. He could hear the soft, sucking sounds of her feeding, and his horror rose as Julian stepped into a pale sliver of moonlight and smiled. As the world spun away from him, Charles felt the grasp on him change.
Julian’ fangs tore the hapless man’s throat with a savagery that made Diana grin. As he drank, Diana’s head tilted back and laughter bubbled from her blood stained lips. The body of Charles Peabody fell to the soft, mossy ground long minutes later, a barely audible sigh of air escaping him as he died.
A short distance away, Alexander fed a different need--one he had not felt for centuries. He remained hidden in the shadow of gently swaying trees, and his smile grew as he watched Amberlaine Calvert’s sylph-like body glide through the moonlight- tinted waters of her private bath. Auburn hair streamed out behind her and she closed her eyes as the warm water caressed her. Alexander heard the lingering roughness of tears that made her breaths uneven and erratic. Pain emanated from the beautiful woman, pain and deeply repressed desires.
The vampire felt his children feed, was aware of the twitch of hunger that rose from deep within him, but he was reluctant to rejoin them. She stood and Alexander watched her walk from the small lake. Droplets of crystalline water trickled off her pale curves and he was surprised to note the purely sexual craving that woke inside him. Firm breasts strained against the lightweight fabric of her shift as she tugged it on, and Alexander resisted a laugh when he acknowledged his desire to suckle and caress those soft, tempting swells. How long had it been since he’d lusted for a mortal? His beautiful witch had enchanted him--the thought was met by a small self-mocking smile; he already thought of her as his prize.
Her head came up sharply and he was momentarily disconcerted by the piercing gaze that was cast in his direction. Fear drifted to him and he turned away, mentally searching as she quickly gathered her things and dressed. Her panic became more tangible with each moment. Then she was gone from the haven he’d discovered was her refuge.
Annoyed, Alexander extinguished the throb of desire she’d created in him and reached further outward with his thoughts. He sensed the stalking wolf that had alarmed her, and quickly dispatched the unfortunate animal with a mental command that made it yelp in pain before bolting away. He went to find Diana and Julian.
Amberlaine shivered with the after-chill of her bath, and the inescapable sense of unnatural silence that permeated the forest. Something she couldn’t name had frightened her away from her sanctuary, and it had taken her some time to curb the sense of panic. Because of her distraction, she’d taken a wrong turn on the path and now ended up walking an extra half mile back to the inn. The added distance was not entirely unwelcome, she mused, it was simply more time to be spent in freedom. More time to miss the three people who had so unexpectedly reminded her of a different life, and all that she had been forced to give up. Three people? A voice inside her head repeated in self-mockery. She would miss him. The tall, dark-haired stranger with the piercing eyes and the voice that touched her like rich, flowing silk. She would long for Alexander for the rest of her life.
Amberlaine’s mental wanderings came to an abrupt halt moments later when she encountered an obstacle she hadn’t noticed on the trail. She stumbled and fell. The feel of a body was almost a relief, probably one of the drunkards from the inn looking for a shorter way back to his home. Still, she was relieved, until she looked closely and saw the lifeless eyes of one of her husband’s cohorts. Peabody, her mind noted in shock. She reached out a badly shaking hand and the scream of terror began to rise within her. She knew before she actually touched him, then she saw the gaping hole that had once been his throat. A tiny trickle of crimson dribbled into the cushioned ground beneath her.
Before Amberlaine could consciously stifle her horror, she started to scream. Unreasoning fear forced motion, and she crawled backward until she met the unyielding resistance of one of the huge trees that filled the forest. She groped blindly and hauled herself to her feet. Her eyes remained riveted to the dead stare of the corpse in front of her.
Alexander knew what he would find before the first shriek of terror shredded the peaceful night air. He’d felt her approach seconds before the actual sound had reached them. Suppressing his annoyance, he strode back to the spot they had just left.
When she didn’t respond to him, he repeated her name with a new inflection, one of commanding power to his tone.
The quiet, controlled voice cut through the wall of panic that surrounded her, and she was able to look away from the crimson gore that had once been Peabody’s throat. Alexander stood a few feet away, pale moonlight surrounded him in a silvery radiance and gave him the appearance of a benevolent angel. She ran to him before she knew what else to do. Her arms went around him and she buried her face against his chest, desperate tears finally spilling forth.
Alexander hesitated for a moment, pleasantly startled by the feel of Amberlaine in his arms. She was clinging to him, quiet sobs shuddering through her. He pulled her closer and began to whisper soft words of comfort as he led her away from the grisly scene she had found. He spotted Julian peering at him through the trees and the younger vampire’s anger brought a small glimmer of amusement to his smile.
“You are safe, my pet,” he murmured to the frightened woman. He stopped walking once they were well away from the body, and he turned her face up to meet his gaze. “You saw nothing, Amber,” he told her, weaving the hypnotic spell that would erase her memory of the horror she had witnessed. He felt her mind resisting his influence, and was oddly pleased by the realization. It reinforced his belief that she was much stronger than she knew. Still, it was not long before she succumbed to the pressure of his suggestion, and the fear that had lit her eyes began to fade. “There is nothing here to frighten you, pet,” he assured her in the same gentle, soothing tones he’d used to erase her remembrance of the death.
After several tense minutes, Amberlaine’s fear ebbed away completely and left only confusion in its wake. Confusion, and an awareness that made her body tremble with a new kind of fright. She knew she should not allow herself to remain in Alexander’s embrace. The desire to be this close to him, closer, over-rode her good sense.
“I am not frightened, my lord,” she whispered in a tiny voice. “I have never felt safer in my life,” she admitted with a sudden candor that made Alexander smile.
The irony was a pleasure in itself, he thought. She was in more danger than her young life had ever known, yet all she felt was trust. And desire. Yes, the light in her eyes spoke clearly of her desire to share his bed.
Alexander bent to brush her lips with his, and the sharp intake of her breath was followed immediately by the tentative pressure of her mouth meeting his caress. Her inexperience was frustrating but intriguing, and the vampire carefully tasted her mouth, keeping the stroke of his tongue delicate. Amberlaine stirred in his arms, and she moved closer to him to press her small frame to the long length of his body. She opened her mouth to him, invited his probe, and he felt the warmth of her tongue entwined with his as she answered his reawakened hunger.
Alexander eventually drew away from the sweetness of her shy, caressing responses to him and held her face between his hands. “You are making it very hard for me to let go of you, my pet,” he whispered, the words strangely sincere despite his flippancy.
“Take me with you, Alexander!” she cried, no longer caring if she had to beg for his attention. She had never felt so alive before, and her body shook uncontrollably in his arms. All she could think of was the mindless, intoxicating happiness he had just taught her with his kiss. No one had ever touched her this way, nor had any kiss made her feel as she now did. “Please, my lord?”
The words were breathless, pleading.
“Amberlaine,” he smiled warmly. “I am not leaving.”
“But you will,” she said sadly as tears filled her eyes once again. Stung by his apparent rejection, she pulled away from him and turned her back to hide the shame she felt at her actions. She was a married woman, behaving like a wanton tramp. Why would someone like this nobleman want her? He could have any lover he chose, he would certainly want better than the battered wife of an innkeeper.
Julian’s voice reached them a moment before the young noble stepped into view. Amberlaine turned glistening eyes to him then she ran, unable to face his kindness and decency.
“Why won’t you leave her alone?” he asked, his voice low with anger.
“She wants me to take her with me when we leave,” Alexander laughed. “She feels safe with me, Julian,” he informed the younger vampire.
“Why wouldn’t she?” Julian retorted instantly. “You are making a habit of saving her from her fears. She doesn’t know you are worse than anything she could imagine in this place.”
“Perhaps you should tell her,” Alexander suggested coldly. The nobleman’s words angered him more than he would have preferred. He laughed then, the sound dark and contemptuous. “But, that would mean admitting you are just like me, wouldn’t it, my Julian? And she would no longer look at you with such adoring respect. If you find this little wench so enchanting, dear boy, take her and be done with it!”
“It’s not me she wants, Alexander,” he pointed out.
“And that matters?” the ancient vampire enquired, his voice again tainted with mocking amusement.
“Doesn’t it?” Julian challenged, unexpected knowledge in his eyes as he faced his master. Alexander held the steady stare for a full minute, then he nodded. The humor had vanished from his mood, to be replaced by the dangerous introspection Julian knew so well.
“Very good, Julian,” Alexander whispered. “You are finally learning to see more clearly.”
The confirmation of Alexander’s desire for the woman did little to comfort the younger vampire. If anything, it made him feel that his reluctance to warn her was somewhat cowardly. Still, he could see no way to make her life better, short of taking her away before Alexander could suspect him. It would only be a temporary solution, at best. He’d tried to leave Alexander before, hadn’t he? He’d never been successful. Amberlaine herself would not want to leave the master vampire. She was a child, he thought. A trusting child.
“She’s an innocent--” Julian stopped the sentence before he could complete the thought, and understanding lit sudden wrath in his eyes. “I should have guessed,” he noted bitterly. “That’s what fascinates you.”
Alexander’s eyebrow rose as he considered the truth, then he laughed again and strolled back toward the inn.
“He will take her with us, Julian,” Diana remarked, as she appeared at his side seemingly out of thin air. “Perhaps she will be better off?”
“Are we?” he asked quietly. Blue eyes met blue in a moment of silent communion…