Thursday, 25 February 2010

Excerpt Day – From Afar © Ava March

 

Excerpt

 

He turned from the washstand and scanned the room. The navy velvet coat and brocade waistcoat strewn near the foot of the bed had to belong to Raphael. Aleric didn’t even bother to pick them up. Given the man’s slighter frame, they wouldn’t fit anyway. His trousers alone would have to do for now.

More to give himself something to do than anything, he grabbed the candle and left the bedchamber to have a look around. There was only one other door at the end of the corridor, the room Raphael had planned to use last night.

Not last night. Day.

It would definitely take a bit of doing to rearrange his thinking.

That wasn’t the only thing he’d have to grow accustomed to. That sense of looking for something, that constant itch for something more that had pushed him to be a reckless lad, always searching for adventure in the staid countryside, was absent for the first time in as long as he could remember. But while a part of him embraced the open possibility of his new life, everything was still much too new, too startlingly strange for comfort. Nor did he have any notion of how he would go about this new phase of his life. Where would he spend his days, hiding from the sun? He hadn’t a shilling to his name. His apartments wouldn’t be a viable option for long.

And above all, there would be no going back to how he had been before Raphael had made Aleric like himself.

It will get easier to accept with time.

Raphael’s words drifted through his head, a calming balm that soothed the unease. He went down the stairs and opened the door at the end of the short corridor.

A stale scent hit his nose. The candle threw splashes of light and shadow onto the ghostly shapes scattered throughout the room. He made to take a quick step back then realized it was simply furniture draped with white sheets. Well, they had once been white. A light layer of dust covered the peaks and valleys outlining two settees, a few chairs and small round tea tables. As with Raphael’s bedchamber, mirrors and paintings in heavily gilded frames lined the white paneled walls. An intricate plasterwork pattern covered the ceiling edged with elaborate molding.

This had to be the main drawing room of the house. Did Raphael never have use for it? He investigated the other rooms, even going down to the first floor to check the dining room and the ground floor to check the kitchen before returning to the drawing room. Except for the small library with its bookcases spanning from floor to ceiling, every other space resembled the drawing room. As if it hadn’t been inhabited for years. And the ornate, Rocco-influenced décor marked it decades old. It left the house with the eerie impression it had been frozen in time some forty or fifty years ago.

If felt distinctly…lonely. How could Raphael live here? Or perhaps this wasn’t his home. Perhaps he merely borrowed it, its true owners long removed to the country. It certainly didn’t feel like a gentleman’s residence. He could almost sense the echo of an elegant older lady who still insisted on donning a powered white wig.

That brittle sense of loneliness vanished. Warmth filled his chest. The stale air now rich with the scent of—

“Aleric.”

Before he was aware of it, a smile had stolen across his lips. He turned to find Raphael striding into the room.

Perhaps this was his home after all.

A red silk ribbon held back the length of his hair. Pristine white lace cuffs spilled from the sleeves of his amethyst velvet frock coat. Silver satin knee breeches hugged the lean muscles of his thighs, with white stockings covering his calves. And those shoes. Low-heeled with diamond-encrusted buckles. On any other man, the ensemble would look ridiculous. But it somehow fit him.

“Evening, Raphael. You’re turned out quite smartly tonight.” Odd, to feel so comfortable around him. His presence so familiar, like Aleric had known him forever.

“Did you find my note?”

Aleric nodded.

“My apologies for my absence. A few errands required my attention and I thought it best to see to them before you awoke.” A hint of worry slipped into his features, drawing his brows together the slightest bit. “Last night you asked if there were others like us in London. I have made arrangements for us to pay a call. An introduction to the clan.” Before Aleric could open his mouth to voice his question, Raphael added, “I’ll explain on the ride there. The carriage will arrive shortly. Before we can leave you need to change into something more appropriate.”

“Despite the lure of purple velvet, I highly doubt any of your clothes will fit me.” He flicked his fingers to his trousers. “Everything else I had on last night is unfit to wear.”

“Not to worry. I stopped by your apartments.”

Did you now? The stiff bristle of irritation dug sharp and hard into his spine. “I don’t recall handing over the key.”

“Your bedchamber window wasn’t locked,” Raphael called over his shoulder as he strode from the room.

“My apartments are on the third floor,” Aleric pointed out, following Raphael up the stairs.

“And easily accessible from the rooftop.” Raphael opened the door to the other bedchamber. “This room is yours for as long as you wish to stay.”

“Thank you,” Aleric said, taken aback by the man’s generosity. At least he needn’t worry about finding himself without a roof over his head anymore. Though he would have preferred to remain in Raphael’s room than to have his own. “And thank you…for last night.” When I behaved like a complete and utter fool.

Raphael tipped his head, the edges of his lips lifting in an understanding smile.

Thankful Raphael did not elaborate on the subject, Aleric turned and set the candle on the dresser beside a full decanter of brandy on a silver tray complete with an empty glass. The fire in the grate looked warm, but it must have been newly built for the heat had yet to take the chill from the room. Under the cool air was a hint of the same stale scent that permeated the other rooms in the townhouse, except Raphael’s bedchamber and the small library. He had the impression someone had recently removed the white sheets from the furniture. The bed appeared freshly made. The gold-patterned coverlet straightened, the white pillows fluffed.

“It is your home, correct?” Aleric asked.

“Pardon?”

“The townhouse. It’s yours?”

“Yes.”

“Have you always lived here?”

“No. I grew up in the country.” Raphael prodded the fire with an iron poker, nudging the flames to full life. “The townhouse was my grandmother’s. She left it to me when I was a boy. The house lay dormant for years before I had a need for it.”

“Was that when you cut ties with your family?”

“I had no need to cut ties. My parents had passed away a couple years before. But I didn’t think it wise to continue to reside in their home—curious neighbors and all—so I relocated to London.” He rested the poker against the marble fireplace surround and indicated a narrow door along one wall. “You’ll find a change of clothes in there. If you have need of anything, you have only to ask.”

Aleric wanted to know so much more about Raphael—what was his life like before he’d been turned, did he miss it or had he embraced his new life?—but the way in which he changed the subject indicated he preferred not to discuss his past. So he made do with another “Thank you.”

“How do you feel?” The heavy regard in the man’s eyes begged an honest answer and not merely a polite, conversational response.

“Damned fantastic. But I’m thirsty.” Those last three words popped out of his mouth without conscious thought. But he had spoken the truth. He was parched. Not hunger, but thirst. Sharper and more acute than after a long summer’s day spent under the hot sun.

Raphael pushed up one lace-edged sleeve, held out his wrist to Aleric. “Here. Drink.”

“Ah…I-I don’t think I should…” Even though uncertainty waged within, his feet moved, taking him closer to Raphael, to that beautifully bared wrist.

“I had more than enough last night. Take what you need.”

“We can drink from each other?”

The hesitation before Raphael nodded did not inspire confidence. In one swift movement speaking of practiced ease, Raphael brought his wrist up to his mouth, slashed his fangs across his own skin.

An all too familiar sweet, slightly metallic scent wafted from the wound, surrounding Aleric. He flared his nostrils, drinking in the delicious scent. He vaguely registered the prick on his gums as his fangs descended. All his attention had focused on Raphael’s wrist, the blood pooling over the wound, the strong pulse in his vein.

One tantalizing crimson drop slid down to the back of his upturned hand, clung to his skin for the briefest of seconds, poised to drop…

Aleric grabbed Raphael’s arm. The instant blood touched Aleric’s tongue, something lurched inside him. A raw, primitive need coupled with a sense of absolute completion.

Liquid flowed into his mouth and down his throat. Heat pooled in his stomach, warming him from the inside out. So sweet. So satisfying. Each swallow demanded another and another.

A low moan filled his ears. Raphael. Suckling greedily, Aleric glanced up. Raphael’s head had tilted back, his long lashes resting on his cheekbones, his lips parted. Swaying on his feet, he grabbed Aleric’s shoulder, fingers digging into the muscle and tendons.

Even above the almost overpowering scent of blood, he could detect Raphael’s arousal. Male musk and the hint of pre-come carried on the heat pouring off the man. His own body reacted instantly.

 

From Afar

Ava March

Publisher:  Samhain Publisher

Buy Link

Some rules are destined to be broken.

Loneliness. A concept with which Raphael Laurent is very familiar. He’s lived a solitary life for thirty-six years, shunning the excesses of the local vampire clan—until he spots Lord Aleric Vane, the handsome and dissolute third son of a duke. For three years Raphael has watched from a distance, for only when he is near Aleric does the hollow, empty ache in his chest ease.

Cut off from his family for refusing to follow his father’s dictates, Aleric’s nights are filled with vice. But after three years in London, the city has lost all appeal. Desolate and penniless, his future appears bleak. Until a mysterious man drops from the shadows to drive off a trio of murderous thieves.

When Aleric awakens, he finds himself forever changed. The itch for more that drove him to London is gone. In its place is the feeling that he’s known the beautiful Raphael all his life.

But to save Aleric, Raphael had to break the rules, giving him a chance to love the one man he never thought he could have—a chance that could be ripped away by Aleric himself…

 

 

7 Speak To Me:

Chris on 25 February 2010 at 13:33 said...

Your excerpt days are so dangerous!

Barbara on 25 February 2010 at 14:25 said...

Hi, EH! I'm reading this one now. Ava rocks!

Smokinhotbooks on 25 February 2010 at 16:49 said...

Aw crap now I want this one too *pinches bridge of noise*

P.S. I finished Convincing Arthur I liked it but felt the issues were resolved so quickly wondering if From Afar is better...

Erotic Horizon on 28 February 2010 at 18:28 said...

@Chris..

Can you imagine how I feel looking for them - I want to buy them all...

E.H>

Erotic Horizon on 28 February 2010 at 18:33 said...

@Barbara...

I snagged that one as soon as it's released...

E.H>

Erotic Horizon on 28 February 2010 at 18:35 said...

@SHB...
The ending is a surprise - but Ava style is consistent in this one...

Try it -

E.H>

prashant on 4 March 2010 at 09:18 said...

I'm reading this one now. Ava rocks!

your healthy choice