Harlequin Nocturne May 2016 Box Set

BOOK: Harlequin Nocturne May 2016 Box Set
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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.

DARK JOURNEY

by Susan Krinard

Former serf Daniel had journeyed to Tanis in search of harmony between humans and vampires. Though the citadel's facade promised peace, it wasn't difficult to find the danger lurking in the shadows. Yet it was the Bloodlady known as Isis, an ancient, beautiful vampire, who proved the biggest threat to Daniel's heart.

No human had ever excited Isis the way Daniel did. Though she desired him like no other, she knew he had been damaged, body and soul, by her own kind. Would his past forever stand between them? Or, worse, would the malicious forces who made Tanis their home destroy them both before they could explore their deepest hungers?

OTHERWORLD RENEGADE

by Jane Godman

Desperate to flee a horrific arranged marriage, Princess Tanzi turned to the only man who could help. Lorcan Malone, infamous necromancer, had vowed to come to her aid whenever she needed him. And even as they traveled from the mortal world into the fantastical Otherworld, Tanzi knew her true need ran deeper than just a rescue.

She was his enemy's daughter. A renegade like Lorcan had no business craving a Fae princess, one intended for a greater calling. Yet he was powerless to resist the pull to do more than protect Tanzi...

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Harlequin Nocturne May 2016 Box Set

Dark Journey

Otherworld Renegade

Susan Krinard

Jane Godman

Table of Contents

Dark Journey
By Susan Krinard

Otherworld Renegade
By Jane Godman

TORN BETWEEN PEACE AND PASSION...

Former serf Daniel had journeyed to Tanis in search of harmony between humans and vampires. Though the citadel's facade promised peace, it wasn't difficult to find the danger lurking in the shadows. Yet it was the Bloodlady known as Isis, an ancient, beautiful vampire, who proved the biggest threat to Daniel's heart.

No human had ever excited Isis the way Daniel did. Though she desired him like no other, she knew he had been damaged, body and soul, by her own kind. Would his past forever stand between them? Or, worse, would the malicious forces who made Tanis their home destroy them both before they could explore their deepest hungers?

“I made no attempt to influence you,” Isis insisted.

“You are what you are.”

“That is truly what you think of me?”

“We're strangers,” he said. “What should I think?”

To Daniel's astonishment, she worked at the fastenings of her robes, and they fell like water to her feet. Beneath them she was naked. And breathtaking. Her body was sweetly curved, full-breasted and full-hipped, her legs shapely and strong, her waist supple.

“You cannot abide losing control, Daniel,” she said. “Now I give you a choice. You may prove to yourself that I cannot influence you...because I want you, and I will do nothing to make you want
me
.”

Susan Krinard
has been writing paranormal romance for nearly twenty years. With
Daysider
, she began a series of vampire romances, the Nightsiders series, for Harlequin Nocturne. Sue lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her husband, Serge; her dogs, Freya, Nahla and Cagney; and her cats, Agatha and Rocky. She loves her garden, nature, painting and chocolate...not necessarily in that order.

Also by Susan Krinard

Harlequin Nocturne

Nightsiders

Holiday with a Vampire 4
“Halfway to Dawn”
Daysider
Nightmaster
Shadowmaster
Night Quest
Dark Journey

HQN
Books

Come the Night
Dark of the Moon
Chasing Midnight
Lord of the Beasts
To Tame a Wolf

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Harlequin.com
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DARK JOURNEY

Susan Krinard

Dear Reader,

After years of war, vampires and humans came to an uneasy peace...a peace that required the tribute of hundreds of human serfs to the vampire citadels. Daniel was such a serf, beaten and abused, until he escaped from his cage and joined one of the small human/vampire colonies in the west. There he became a scout and deadly fighter for freedom.

Sent on a mission to the mixed vampire and human citadel of Tanis, Daniel is determined to learn if both peoples can live together in a city once devoted to slavery. He has no love for vampires. But when he meets the powerful Bloodlady Isis, he believes in her dream to make Tanis a true beacon of peace and cooperation for the world. Until they are confronted by dark forces within the city, forces that want to return to the old, bitter way of life. Can the growing trust and love between vampire lady and former serf prevent the city from giving way to chaos and hate?

I hope you enjoy Daniel and Isis's story.

Happy reading!

Foreword

F
or thirty-five years after the end of the war between Opiri
1
and humans, the greatest hope for lasting peace lay in the self-contained mixed colonies established along the western seaboard of the former United States of America. These colonies—unlike the slave-holding Opir Citadels, which kept captive humans as blood donors, and the human Enclaves, which rejected all Opiri as monsters—demanded full equality between Opiri and human members, and encouraged the willing donation of blood from human colonists.

For many years, such relatively small colonies provided the only working examples of truly peaceful coexistence between humans and Opiri. But rumors of a new kind of mixed colony began to spread: tales of a former Opir Citadel turned free city, populated by hundreds of citizens both human and Opiri.

Never before had the experiment of equality been attempted on such a grand scale. In the original colonies, every member knew every other member; humans were well acquainted with the Opiri who would live on their donated blood. In a city, such personal acquaintance would be far less likely, and the government would have to be correspondingly complex to ensure a steady supply of blood from cooperative humans, to distribute it fairly, to properly apportion work among the citizens, and to prevent less well-adapted Opiri from reverting to the old ways of asserting dominance and obtaining blood by force.

Doubting that such a system could be maintained for any length of time, the Western colonies sent ambassadors to the new city of Tanis. If such a city-state could survive, the hope for a permanent end to war might be realized. If it failed, many on both sides of the divide would regard Tanis as proof that coexistence on anything but the smallest scale might never be achieved.

—From
The Armistice Years: Conflict and Convergence

1 Colloquially known as “vampires” or Nightsiders.

CHAPTER 1

I
t was time.

Daniel moved through the woods to the edge of the field, making one last check to be certain that his clothes were appropriately dusty. Cattle grazed in the waning light, and in the distance Daniel could make out the small white forms of sheep. Farther on stood more fields, green with crops, and beyond that...

Tanis. The former Citadel of Tartaros, rising beside the river, its odd but impressive silhouette revealing its nature as a place where—if the stories were true—humans and Nightsiders, or Opiri as they called themselves, lived side by side in peace and equality.

They lived the same way in Avalon, the colony to which Daniel had escaped when he'd fled the Nightsider citadel Erebus, and in Delos, the compound he had governed in the far north of Oregon, where Opiri, humans and half-bloods worked together to fend off common enemies.

He'd given up his command of Delos and returned to the place where he had first been free. But his reunion with old friends and comrades had been incomplete.

His father had disappeared. Ares, former Bloodmaster of Erebus, had gone east in search of the mysterious half-domed Citadel at the foot of the mountains. He'd wanted to find out if it was truly possible for an entire city to maintain the equality that only smaller settlements and colonies had managed since the end of the War.

Daniel had serious doubts that such a thing was possible. Nevertheless, since Ares had not returned, he had volunteered to complete his mission. And if Ares's disappearance had something to do with his going to Tanis, Daniel would find that out, too. No matter what role he had to play.

For now, that role meant blending in among the human field workers as they ended their workday. The path between the fields widened to a dusty dirt road, bounded on both sides by pastures. By the time Daniel reached the crops, the last light of day was reflecting off the several towers of the former Citadel and glinting on the surface of the river behind it. Workers—humans—gathered along the road to return to the city, while other figures, white-haired Nightsiders, arrived to take their places.

It was just dark enough for Daniel to slip in among the retiring workers, just another man in a plain shirt and pants and work boots. He didn't let on that he could see everything as if it were full daylight; as far as the people of Tanis would know, he was fully human.

He lingered at the back of the group as the workers started toward the city gates, talking in low voices. One of the women shot a curious glance Daniel's way, but said nothing.

The human workers stopped as a flood of artificial light fell over them from the parapet walk above the gate made of immense logs bound together with steel, which would require the efforts of more than a few inhumanly strong Nightsiders to open. Opiri looked down on them from the walk, and they appeared to be armed.

Clearly the people of this city feared attack. But from whom?

Daniel braced himself for some kind of screening or check on the workers, but no one seemed to pay any particular notice as they passed through a smaller door just to the right of the gate. They entered a large, canopied courtyard, where other humans and a few Nightsiders spoke to the workers, tallied the day's harvest or engaged in activities Daniel couldn't identify. Daniel noted that there seemed to be little mixing between the Opiri and the humans.

Not a good sign, Daniel thought, in a place supposedly devoted to peaceful coexistence between humans and the beings they used to call vampires. But he didn't have much time to think about it; the humans were passing through one of the doorways at the other end of the courtyard, moving more quickly as if they were eager for food and rest. Again, nobody stopped them, and they entered an open area like an immense, railed balcony that was part of a raised causeway circling the inter wall of the city. Two wide ramps on either side of the landing descended to the lower part of the city. The humans hurried down the ramps, paying no attention when Daniel fell behind.

Waiting until all the humans had left the landing, Daniel moved to the railing. His gaze followed the causeway, exactly like the one in Erebus where Bloodlords, of lesser rank but far more common than Bloodmasters, displayed their Households in grand promenades, showing off their wealth and power, accompanied by a train of their favorite serfs.

Daniel forced himself to look away to the city below. A single main avenue ran through the center of the city, terminating at the base of the largest tower. Unlike Erebus, the former Tartaros's towers were clustered at the far end of the Citadel, piercing the half dome that protected the area from the sun. Once, such towers would have been occupied by the wealthiest and most powerful Bloodlords and Bloodladies, Bloodmasters and Bloodmistresses, shrouding blocks of lesser buildings in their shadows.

Closer in lay the low town, where Opiri of lesser rank would have made their homes, a maze of structures interspersed with plazas and small parks. The town glittered with lights like distant stars.

Tanis.

Daniel ground his teeth together, resisting the overwhelming emotions that took hold of him in that moment. He hadn't set foot in any Citadel since Ares and his allies had helped Daniel and dozens of human serfs get out of Erebus, but he had not forgotten one moment of pain or humiliation, not one day of being chained like a dog or forced to give blood to a ruthless master and other Opiri of his master's acquaintance.

This
Citadel had changed, yes. Half of it was now open to the sky. Human workers left and entered the city without being subjected to checks or examinations.

But that didn't mean Tanis was like Delos or Avalon or the other mixed colonies. It would be a miracle if it were.

“A lovely sight, is it not?”

Daniel stiffened and then forced himself to relax. The woman who had come to stand beside him at the railing spoke softly, without concern or threat. But the hairs at the back of his neck prickled with recognition even before he turned to look at her.

The first thing he noticed was her hair. Glossy and black as a raven's feathers, it fell past her shoulders and almost seemed to move of its own accord as she spoke, tempting any man within reach to run his fingers through it.

But the hair framed something even more remarkable: a face of astonishing beauty by the judgment of human
or
Nightsider. Her chin was firm, her brows finely shaped, her eyes nearly black with the slightest tinge of deepest purple, her lips full. The skin of her face and bare arms was golden bronze. Hints of her figure appeared beneath the layers of her flowing, semitransparent robes—a hip here, a breast or shoulder there. Daniel had no doubt that this woman's body was as sleek and perfect as her face, hair and voice.

And there was something more about her that Daniel felt all the way down to his bones: a profound charisma, a pull that Daniel had experienced before, and not only in Erebus.

Surely she couldn't be what his senses told him. Not with hair like that or eyes so dark or teeth as blunt as any human's.

But Ares's hair was just as black, an anomaly among pale-haired, pale-skinned Opiri. And he knew of other anomalies. Daniel, for instance, lacked the sharp Nightsider cuspids of
his
kind, the half-breed offspring of a Nightsider father and a human mother.
He
looked nothing like a normal dhampir, and had no need for blood.

She was not what she was pretending to be.

“It
is
beautiful,” he said, as if he believed she was only another human sharing the view.

“It isn't often that our fellow humans come here,” she said, every word as rich and smooth as sun-warmed honey. “I often wonder why that is so.”

Daniel gripped the railing, breathed deeply and unclenched his fingers. “Memories of a darker past?” he said.

She ran her fine-fingered hand along the railing and gazed at him until he had no choice but to look at her fully. Her eyes were not only striking; they were wise and perceptive and sharp with intelligence.

“Were you one of the original inhabitants?” she asked. “I do not recognize you as a former serf of Tartaros.”

“No,” he said. “I came here for refuge, after I escaped from another Citadel.”

“How long have you been here?”

Daniel leaned against the railing. “In Tanis? A few months,” he said.

“Not long enough to forget what your life was like before,” she said, sympathy in her voice. “This still must be very strange for you—a Citadel without masters and serfs.”

He smiled with one side of his mouth. “Can you read minds?”

“No. But I have had many years of experience in understanding people.”

Many years. Daniel looked at her out of the corner of his eye. How many? he wondered. A hundred? A thousand? Certainly far more than the twenty-odd years her body and face suggested.

“May I know your name?” she asked, moving closer to him.

It didn't matter what he called himself, he thought. It was highly unlikely that anyone here would know him from Erebus, Delos or Avalon.

“Daniel,” he said.

“I am Isis,” she said.

He held his breath for a moment and then let it out slowly. How appropriate that her name should be that of a goddess, as Ares's was that of a god.

If Ares
had
been here, she would certainly know.

“You have just come in from a shift in the fields,” Isis said, breaking the silence. “You must be tired, and hungry.”

He went on his guard. Her concern seemed a little too intimate. And she was standing too damned close, close enough that he could smell her fresh, citrusy scent and hear the beat of her heart.

“Where do you work, Isis?” he asked.

“In the administrative offices,” she said. “It is an easy job compared to the fields.”

“We all do what we're best suited for,” he said.

“That is how it is supposed to be, is it not?” she asked, her lovely lips sliding into a faint frown. “The more difficult the work, the higher the reward.”

“You don't agree?” he asked.

“‘Difficult' is a subjective concept. Should one person be given more credit for being able to do what another person cannot?”

“There is no perfect system,” he said.

She cocked her head. “And I think you were no ordinary serf, Daniel,” she said, sliding her hand closer to his.

The comment was too personal, and definitely unwelcome. “I had a decent education in my Enclave before I was sent to the Citadel,” he said coolly.

“Or perhaps you were never a serf at all?”

He stared at her, suppressing his anger. This was the interrogation he'd expected if he'd been caught entering the city, but it wasn't proceeding at all in the way he'd imagined.

But I
was
caught
, he thought. This was no chance meeting.

“Oh, yes,” he said, very softly. “I was a serf, for many years.”

“In what Citadel?”

He was prepared for the question. “Vikos,” he said, naming a Nightsider Citadel in the area once known as northern Arizona.

“And you escaped?” she asked.

“Bloodlords don't release their serfs.”

“Except here,” she said.

He pretended not to hear her. “Where did
you
come from, Isis?” he asked.

“I was never in bondage,” she said, looking down at her slender hands on the railing.

“Then why are you in an isolated Citadel instead of in a human Enclave?”

“Perhaps because I believe in what this city represents. There are many like me, or this place could not exist.” She met Daniel's eyes. “Of all the refuges you might have sought when you escaped, you chose Tanis rather than a human compound or even another Enclave. Yet surely you have good reason to hate Opiri?”

“I don't hate them,” he said. “My own fa—”

He broke off, appalled at what he had been about to say. It was she, this woman, who threw him so off balance with her allure and questions and keen observations. It was as if she'd known him before.

She came from outside
, he thought. From some other Citadel, where she must have been a Bloodlady of distinction, an owner of many human serfs.

“The majority of humans here are former serfs, aren't they?” he asked. “Do
they
hate all Opiri?”

“No. I must seem rather foolish.” She smiled again. “In which ward do you live?”

This wasn't a question he'd expected. He knew too little about Tanis to answer.

“I need to get home,” he said suddenly. “It's been pleasant talking to you, Isis. Maybe we'll meet again.”

“I am certain of it,” she said. Behind her, men in olive-drab uniforms—both of them Darketans, children of Opir mothers and human fathers, human in appearance save for their sapphire eyes and sharp teeth—advanced on Daniel with shock sticks in hand.

“What's going on?” he asked, backing away in seeming confusion.

“Please go with these men,” she said, her voice still as musical, her face every bit as flawlessly beautiful as before. He felt the push of her “influence,” that particular gift limited to the most ancient and powerful Bloodmasters and Bloodmistresses.

But he was fortunate enough to be virtually immune to the lady's subtle power. “Why?” he asked, his gaze fixed on the guards.

“I know you are not a citizen of Tanis, Daniel,” she said. “We do not allow strangers to enter our city without first being questioned and screened.”

“You turn away refugees?” Daniel asked.

“Only those incompatible with our way of life,” she said.

“Do you enjoy spying on your own kind?” he asked, still playing along with her masquerade.

She blinked several times. “You were recognized as an outsider when you entered the gates,” she said. “My purpose was only to determine if you were a threat to us.”

BOOK: Harlequin Nocturne May 2016 Box Set
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