Authors: Marissa Farrar
|Number IV of|
|Warwick House Press (2012)|
Book Four in the 'Serenity Series':
Since meeting Serenity eight years ago, vampire Sebastian Bandores’ whole existence has been about protecting his family. But when an unexpected question causes a rift between the unlikely couple, Sebastian finds himself with a dead body and no recollection of killing him.
Serenity sees something dark in Sebastian’s face and feels as though she’s being haunted, both by her inability to let go of her past and by things happening in the house. When Sebastian’s strengths start to fail him, the couple seek help from a friend they’re unsure they can trust.
As Sebastian loses his grip on the real world, Serenity fears they may be too late.
And after everything they’d been through during the past eight years, Sebastian never imagined he’d be the one who’d need saving.
Book Four in the ‘Serenity’ Series
Copyright © 2012 Marissa Farrar
Warwick House Press
Edited by Wade-Staten Services
Cover art by
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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For my family
First of all I need to thank
you, the reader, for continuing to follow Serenity and Sebastian’s story.
Without you, there would be no series and I’m grateful to every single person who has looked forward to being able to read this next installment. I hope you love this book as much as the others.
Thanks, as always
to my editor,
Wade from Wade-Staten Services
With each book, I feel like your eye for detail h
as only grown better and better, and I appreciate each time you push me further in my writing. I think we make a great team!
Thanks to my proofreader, Lori
, for not only polishing off the novel, but for also providing some uplifting words of support and encouragement when they were needed.
Special thanks to my ha
ho I know will always
tell me the truth, whether I like it or not!
Over the restaurant table, their
champagne flutes clinked together,
within the delicate glass.
Around them sat other couples or
small groups of well-
dressed men and women, all talking and laughing with the sort of self-conscious awareness that cam
e with sitting in an expensive establishment
Serenity lifted her glass to her lips and took a sip, enjoying the dry, tart taste of the wine and the way the bubbles tickled her nose. She maintained eye
contact with her date, his green-eyed gaze never leaving hers. He wore his dark
wavy hair swept back from his face, though the slightly too-long length still curled around his broad
. The style highlighted his strong bone structure, his square jaw and high cheekbones. His beauty never lost any of its impact for
“Eight years. Can you believe it?” she said.
Sebastian smiled. “Eight years since I first chased you down on the street.”
“Eight years since you saved me,” she corrected.
He gave her his lopsided smile. “Hmm... I thought you saved yourself?”
“Maybe I did, but I had a little help.”
Serenity grinned and leaned across the table, her fork held in one hand. She speared a piece of his uneaten steak—cooked
, naturally—and popped it in her mouth.
Though Sebastian had mastered the art of appearing as though he were eating by
cutting up his steak
and occasionally chewing, he couldn’t make food vanish.
The waiter appeared beside them and cast an anxious glance at
“Is everything all right with your meals?” the young man asked.
Sebastian flashed him a smile.
“Perfect, thank you.”
The waiter’s eyes flicked to Sebastian’s plate again. He obviously decided not to push his luck, not wanting a complaint, and instead gave them a small nod and hurried away.
Serenity put down her fork and reached back across the table to loop her fingers through Sebastian’s. His skin was cool to touch, but
the sensation now felt normal. She thought it would
be strange to have a warm body lie against hers.
“Do you think she’s okay?” she asked, referring to their daughter,
Elizabeth, who was away on a Girl Scout
trip for the
. It was Elizabeth’s first real time away from home
the occasional sleepover,
and Serenity couldn’t help but worry.
She’d not wanted Elizabeth to go at first, but her daughter had pleaded, stating that all her friends were going and, apparently, Serenity was about to ruin her life by not letting her go. She’d made a call to
the mom of one of Elizabeth’s best friends
was going as chaperone
, which put her mind at rest
But, in the end, it had been Sebastian who had talked her around, reminding her about the significance and convenience of the date Elizabeth would be away for—something Serenity felt sure had bought him plenty of brownie points in their daughter’s eyes.
Sebastian gave her hand a squeeze. “Are you kidding? She’ll be having the time of her life. She’s hardly a nervous, withdrawn type.”
Serenity’s shoulders relaxed. He was right. Elizabeth had shown no nerves at the prospect of bei
ng away from her family. She acted
older than her seven years and
where most girls may have gone through the sorts of things she had and come out more nervous on the other side, Elizabeth had emerged seemingly unaffected. But then Elizabeth wasn’t like other girls. She was a Dhampyre—half vampire, half human—so she was never going to experience things in the way a normal child did. Even so, Serenity was a fully human mother
despite the drops of vampire blood she took once a month
and she worried as much as any other parent. Almost losing
a little over a year ago had made her crazily paranoid at first, but then
something surprising had happened. Any of the small accidents
had—falling off her bike, cutting herself on a piece of glass left in the park, getting carpet burns while sliding down stairs—revealed something new about her. These injuries healed with some of a vampire’s speed, knitting before Serenity’s eyes. Also,
all of the usual illnesses that
, such as
colds and tummy bugs
seemed to bypass
ty knew the new ability was
the result of Elizabeth taking her father’s blood to heal her after the fall in Demitri’s club. Her old nanny, Bridget, had been wrong. The blood hadn’t made Elizabeth a vampire, but it had certainly enhanced
This made Serenity a little less nervous, slightly quelling her twenty-four-seven overprotective instincts where her daughter was concerned.
She offered Sebastian a smile. “I must admit, though I miss her like hell, I have enjoyed having the house to ourselves.”
Even though they’d first met a long time ago, they’d not spent much of that time together. Their relationship had been the ultimate extreme of long
distance, with Sebastian enforcing their separation when they first met, and then Serenity’s dead husband, Jackson, ensuring the second. But now
they’d managed over a year together, happy and undisturbed, and they were still very much in the
She glanced down at the table and pressed her lips together in a coy smile. With Elizabeth away, they’d been making the most of having the house to themselves, making use of all the spaces in their big home—the stairs
... the kitchen counter
... the living room floor...
was suddenly no longer interested in her meal. And as for the dessert, well
she thought she could do better at home.
She looked up and tilted her head, her long, dark hair falling to one side. Why don’t we get out—
gasp of shock
escaped her lips
, her fingers digging hard into the edge of the table.
A dark shadow flitted across Sebastian’s features.
A cloud across the sun.
Black melted into his green eyes, flooding across his pale cheekbones. His chiseled, straight nose seemed to blend with the rest of his face as the darkness took over. It rippled to his right eye, a flood of black tar, and then
His face was back to normal.
The moment had happened so
she wondered if she’d
imagined the whole thing. B
t beat so hard she thought the organ
might burst from her ch
est and her whole body trembled,
she knew she hadn’t.
Sebastian pushed his plate to one side and leaned forward, a crease appearing between his dark brows. “What’s wrong?”
She opened her mouth
but only managed a stammer. “I
“What?” he asked again, his eyes widening in alarm. “What’s happened?”
... I saw something.”
He threw a glance over his shoulder as if expecting
to find someone standing behind him and
turned back to her. “Like what?”
“Something happened to your f
ace. Like a shadow moved under your skin
.” Serenity raised her hand to her own face, running her fingers across her eyes and nose, mimicking the direction she’d seen the shadow pass in.
He lifted his hand and touched
. “I don’t feel anything. Is it still there?”
She shook her head.
“Are you sure you didn’t imagine it?” He smiled and nodded at her now half-empty glass of champagne. “Th
e wine hasn’t gone to your head
“Sebastian! Don’t tease me. I’m not hallucinating things.”
“I’m sorry, but you must have seen
a trick of the light or something. It’s nothing to worry about.”
“Okay,” she said, not convinced. She looked down at her chicken breast wrapped in Parma ham and the little bundles of
vegetables. She su
ddenly didn’t want her meal any
more, but for an entirely different reason than before.
She pushed her food around with her fork and snuck glances at Sebastian who sat across the table watching her with an amused expression on his face.
op looking at me like that!” He
She gave her head a slight shake. “Sorry
. I can’t help myself
. It was just so
sought for the right word and failed. “Weird.”
The smiled melted from his lips and he studied her
, his thoughts seeming to turn to something else
. He moved quickly, his hand no more than a blur, and
pushed a small, square, robin’s egg
blue box with the word
‘Tiffany & Co’
top across the table
I want to
For the second time in only minutes
she felt as though someone had snatched the air from her lungs. Her mouth dropped open and the world seemed to swim
away, as though the floor had vanished and she found herself
suspended above a vast drop.
“Please, Sebastian. Don’t
deft fingers flipped open the lid
and a platinum band set with
a row of
stared back at her
. The jewels cast a pattern of colored beams across the table—a rainbow of fractured light.
Serenity lowered her gaze and shook her head. “I don’t need a ring.”
Hurt flickered across his handsome features. “Okay,
” he said, slowly. “No ring, but
I still want to ask you to marry me.”
“I was married before, Sebastian. Look how well that turned out.”
the same. We live together, we have a child together. Surely
getting married is the next natural step?”
Her forehead creased in a frown and she leaned forward and lowered her voice. “It’s not like we’re a
setup, are we?”
“We love each ot
her. We have a child together,
he repeated as though trying to drum these facts into her head.
She pressed her lips together. “I meant because of what you are
...” She trailed off, wanting to choose her words, not wanting to hurt him, but still amazed he’d even thought to go down this route. Sebastian was a va
Committing to spend eternity together when you literally
eternity was one hell of a commitment.
sighed. “We can hardly stand in front of a priest and declare
“Maybe not a
priest, but a Justice of the P
“Isn’t marriage a religious union? Isn’t that the whole point?”
“Since when have you been religious, Serenity?”
She gave a slight shrug. “I’m not, not really. But I don’t need us to get married to know that we’re going to stay together. After all, I need your blood to keep my sanity. It’s not as though I’m going anywhere.”
glowered at her from beneath his thick, dark lashes. “Necessity isn’t exactly a romantic notion, Serenity.”