Authors: Jordan Summers
Jordan has eighteen published books to her credit. She is a member of Novelist Inc., International Thriller Writers, Horror Writer’s Association, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and Romance Writers of America.
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GOTHIC PASSIONS: LORDS OF THE NIGHT BOOK ONE-Excerpt
The journey from Oughterard, Ireland to London had been tedious going for Richard Sebastian Stuart, the sixth Earl of Lyon. With vast holdings in Scotland and England, he’d had no trouble having his trusty valet set up points along the way where Richard had been able to seek rest from the encroaching sunlight.
They’d reached London by midnight, a fortnight after leaving Oughterard. Instead of driving his master to Richard’s town home on Jermyn Street, Hurley delivered him to Caulfield’s in Covent Garden, a gambling den and brothel that Richard frequented while in residence in London.
The coach squeaked as Hurley stepped down from his perch and opened the door. “You must eat, my lord,” he murmured, bowing his head.
Lord Lyon looked out the carriage door at the stately Gothic Revival style house before him. Its spiraling columns rose high above the cobbles, displaying a discreet portico swathed in virgin white. Richard laughed to himself. There was nothing virginal about Caulfield’s or the people who frequented its dark delights. He glanced at the windows. Thick curtains hung in the windows preventing light from penetrating or escaping. Like Richard, Caulfield’s guarded its privacy.
Richard picked up the small box on the seat beside him and slipped it into his coat pocket. “What would I do without you, old friend?” he said to Hurley.
The valet smiled, yet said nothing more. He waited for Richard to exit the carriage and then shut the door behind him. “I’ll pull around back and wait.”
“Thank you.” Richard clasped Hurley on the shoulder and nodded. He proceeded up the stairs, welcoming the cool damp embrace of the London air.
A doorman waited at the top of the stairs, standing vigilantly outside to welcome customers and keep interlopers away. He wore a blue tailcoat outfitted with gold buttons, scuffed Hessian boots, and worn buckskin breeches. From a distance the outfit would allow the bruiser to pass for a true gentleman in the cover of night. Only gentlemen of Richard’s breeding knew the difference.
The doorman opened the whitewashed door leading into the foyer. “Welcome, my lord,” he said, then bowed.
“Thank you for inviting me in, Adams.”
The man’s eyes widened, his polished façade momentarily forgotten as if he were surprised Richard remembered his name. He quickly recovered. “You’re welcome, my lord.”
Richard smiled and stepped over the threshold. The familiar foyer enveloped him in warmth with its deep swathes of burgundy and plush velvet seats. Dark oak paneling covered the walls, lending depth and solidity to the masculine domain. The spicy scent of brandy and honeyed tobacco filled the air. In a nearby room, a fire crackled.
Richard took a deep breath, immediately locating every warm body in the house. The sound of blood pounding through their veins was like a Beethoven symphony to his ears. He licked his upper lip. His mouth watered and his fangs burst forth. He hadn’t eaten in three days and was famished.
Richard unerringly located Madam Josephine amongst the young Corinthians by following the cloying scent of her lavender-water perfume. He approached and stood at her side. Her perceptive brown eyes never left the card tables, while she spoke.
“It’s so nice to see you again, my lord.” Josephine offered her gloved hand to Richard. “We’ve missed your company.”
“You are too kind, madam.” Richard bowed and brought her hand to his lips, placing a chaste kiss upon her gloved knuckles.
“I trust your trip went well.” She arched a brow and glanced at him for a moment, before returning her attention to the cards on the table.
He shrugged nonchalantly. “Positively uncivilized and I shan’t do it again.”
Her mouth pursed. “I’d hate to lose my best customer. What can I do to make you forget your horrendous journey?”
Richard’s lips quirked. “The usual.” He spoke low so that the revelers nearby did not overhear them.
Josephine turned to face him. “Of course, darling, you can have Rose for as long as you like. But an exclusive right is going to cost you,” she purred, pressing her ample bosom closer to Richard’s arm.
“It always does.” Richard opened his papers without batting an eye and flashed a fortune in blunt, taking care to block his actions from the room at large. He knew beyond a doubt the money would get her full attention. Josephine paid heed to little else. The money would be added to his long-standing account.
Josephine’s eyes widened to the size of teacups and she giggled. “I do love the rich.”
Richard laughed at her unabashed admission.
“She’s upstairs waiting for a client, so you’d better hurry if you want to beat him to her.” She waved him toward the stairs.
Richard gave Josephine a quick bow. Just hearing her name made his ferocious hunger rise like a ravenous beast. He could hardly slow his steps as he walked to the staircase. Hurley had been right to bring him here first. Now to find his favorite, Rose.
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When he was sure no one was looking, Richard climbed the stairs two at a time. His heart hammered in his chest and his vision bled until only crimson remained. He curled his hands into fists to get himself under control. Richard wasn’t sure he’d be able to be as gentle as Rose deserved. He’d waited too long between feedings. Fortunately after a vampyre’s first bite the pain lessoned, soothed by the drug-like balm of his healing saliva and the mental connection that forged upon contact.
He scented Rose the second he reached the third floor landing. Guilt assailed him. He’d been gone longer than expected and had hoped to have her out of this place by now. Richard noted that she was in her favorite room. A room she considered hers and hers alone, even though it had been used on occasion by some of Josephine’s other chattel. Rose was nothing if not predictable—like most humans.
Although unlike most humans, Rose knew his secret. Had known it for years. And had never betrayed him. In her tiny domain Richard could truly be himself. He strode down the hall and then stopped upon reaching her door. He didn’t immediately enter. He listened instead to ascertain if he’d be disturbing her, then softly rapped on the panel.
“Come in,” her light airy voice called out.
Richard entered. The small room was a pale pink, drenched in rosy light due to a few well-placed shawls. A fire filled the hearth lending warmth to the chill in the air. Rose lay stretched out on the bed like an Egyptian princess waiting to be fed, dressed in a sheer chemise that did little to conceal her full breasts. Her milky legs poked out, giving him a good view of her unblemished skin.
Her face lit up as soon as she recognized Richard, her delicate hands flying to cover her mouth. “I fear my eyes are playing tricks on me. Is it really you, my lord?”
Richard removed his coat followed by his cream-colored cravat. “My dear Rose, forgive me, it has been too long.”
She leapt from the bed, crossing the short distance to Richard’s waiting arms. “I didn’t think you were coming back.”
“Now would I do that to you?” He smiled.
Rose shook her head, stepping back. “I suppose not.”
“I never break my promises.” Richard pulled the small box wrapped in lace from the inside pocket of his jacket. “This is for you.” He handed it to her. Rose’s eyes widened. “’It is but a small trinket to express my apologies for being away so long from such a dear friend. Go ahead, open it.” He smiled again in encouragement, carefully keeping his fangs hidden out of habit. Rose had not only been a bed companion throughout the years, she’d become a friend of sorts.
She tore at the lace and then opened the box. An emerald necklace winked out, its green facets sparkling in the firelight. Rose sucked in a surprised breath. “’It is perfect, my lord.” Her hands trembled as she ran her fingertips over the jewels. “You should be giving this to your betrothed.”
Pain knifed him. He’d lost all chance at happiness the night he’d become a vampyre. Women of quality did not want to marry a monster. “You know very well I have no betrothed.” And never will...The tension in the room grew. Richard didn’t want it to ruin the moment, so he flippantly added, “I’ve yet to find anyone who could tolerate my…appetites.” He waggled his brows.
Rose ignored his attempt at levity. “Perhaps this year will be different.” Her tone was hopeful, yet resolved.
Richard released a heavy breath. “Why do you not let me release you from our agreement?” He knew the answer, but hoped with the passing of time she’d changed her mind.
Her voice dropped to barely above a whisper. “You know very well I never go back on my word.”
“I know the reason,” he paused. “I’d hoped that by now you’d realize that I’m a lost cause and be willing to move on once your contract with Josephine expires at the end of the month.” Richard latched onto Rose’s mind, although he needn’t have bothered. He didn’t have to read her thoughts to know where they’d wandered.
She stared unfocused, remembering that day many years ago when a broken engagement resulted in a taint of scandal, leading to her subsequent fall from good society. Her fiancé, Lord William Longfellow, had taken her virtue and then cast her aside, leaving her reputation in ruin. Shamed, Rose’s family immediately disowned her. She’d landed here at Josephine’s, a naïve young woman desperate to get off the streets. The madam had offered her a deal she’d been unable to refuse, housing, food, and clothes in exchange for ten years of her life.
Richard swallowed the bitterness welling inside him. If only he’d reached Rose before Josephine, things would have been different. She’d have been settled by now with a nice man, living a quiet life. He’d done what he could for her; including making sure her fiancé met a similar financial fate. The man was ruined, turned away from good society just as Rose had been cast aside. He was lucky Richard had allowed him to continue breathing. Killing him had been tempting, oh so tempting, but the thought of him scraping by was far more satisfying. Richard smiled.
Rose’s contract with Josephine was coming to an end, he didn’t want his inability to find a bride to be the sole reason Rose remained in this establishment. If she’d only allow him to tear up the agreement, but she wouldn’t…her fiancé’s betrayal all those years ago solidified her resolve. He looked up in time to see her eyes focus on him.
“I created the agreement and I’ll stay here as long as you need me. I will not go back on my word, my lord.” Her voice quivered with each uttered word, then as if realizing her true emotions were showing, Rose composed herself. “Besides, you promised me a house in the country and that alone is worth keeping my end of the bargain.”
Richard groaned. “You know very well I’d still purchase you a house.”
Rose reached up and squeezed the bridge of her nose. “I will keep my end of the bargain. So let’s conclude this discussion before we both say things we will regret.” She released the worried skin and once again met his gaze. “I believe this will be the year your luck changes.”
He shook his head, but said no more. Every year that Richard had attended the Season, Rose made sure to tell him this would be his year to find a bride. He’d been coming to experience the ton’s hospitality for the last ten years off and on, but had yet to find anyone suitable. Richard held out little hope this year would be any different, but he wasn’t about to contradict Rose. This was their normal repartee.
“Mark my words, you will find her this year, my lord.” Her voice held genuine concern, but it did not erase the note of hope. “You’ve waited so long. It’s time you were settled.”
Richard waved her comment away. “Perhaps.” He mused. “For your sake, I hope you’re right. Until then, I can spoil you to assuage my guilt. So indulge me.”
“Very well.” She grinned.
He reached out and captured her hand. “I have an idea.”
Her full lips parted. “Really?”
“I know a way to solve both our problems.”
“Do tell.” She arched a brow, mischief replacing any lingering sorrow.
“I could always wed you, my dear Rose.” He winked.
Rose giggled. “I’m afraid I am a bit past my prime and I’m not exactly socially acceptable.” She pulled her hand free. “Besides you don’t love me and I don’t love you. Although I am quite fond of you and your gifts, my lord.” She walked over to a small stand in the corner of the room and reached up to her neckline, pulling a chain from around her neck. A tiny gold key dangled from the chain. Rose used it to unlock the curio and slip the treasure inside before locking it once more. She retrieved a packet of French letters from her vanity, then turned to face him.
A seductive glint lit her eyes, telling Richard without words that the serious portion of their conversation had concluded. “Same as always…” She purred. It wasn’t a question.
He smiled, flashing his fangs. “You are a woman after my own heart. Perhaps it’s time you found someone who could capture yours.”
She grinned and shook her head as if to dismiss his words. “Love is for fools and the young. Fortunately I’m neither.” She licked her lips. “As for your heart, that’s not the part of you I’m interested in right now.”
Rose tugged at her chemise. With a swoosh, the material floated to the floor. She stood before Richard lushly naked, her pink nipples pebbling beneath his heated gaze. The soft lighting gave a gentle glow to her fair skin. She took a step closer adding extra swing to her ample hips. The russet thatch of curls between her thighs called to him. Richard couldn’t decide what he desired more, to drink from her or to fuck. Both were so intrinsically tied to being a vampyre.
He reached for his breeches and freed the buttons. Rose closed the distance, helping him out of his waistcoat and shirt. She dropped to her knees before him, taking his breeches and drawers with her. He stood calmly as she bared him. Richard lifted one foot and then the other allowing Rose to remove his Hessian boots. Once they were pulled free, she tossed all of the items into a nearby chair, without leaving her position. Rose sat back, resting on her ankles while her eyes locked onto Richard’s erect cock. She growled appreciatively.