Up next….Ann Jacobs!!! Thanks for stopping by!
Hi there. I’ve been searching in my books for vampires, trying to decide what title to feature at AAD’s Vampire Ball in August. It’s weird. I’ve always considered DARK SIDE OF THE MOON a historical fantasy but hadn’t thought about it much for years until recently. You see, Alain, the hero, is the son of a vampire mother. I enjoyed reading the story again after so many years. It’s a departure from my usual contemporaries–I hope you’ll like it too!
A dying man’s last wish: Protect Lea. Make her your bride.
Marrying the lovely, sensual Lea will be no hardship for Alain, Earl of St. Vincent. Keeping her safe may be another matter, for a curse lies upon the St. Vincent lands. Unless Alain can convince Lea to join with him in the fertility rites of the Winter Solstice, her life and his lands may be forfeit. Alain’s dark passions seduce Lea’s heart and body, but it will take more than passion to bring St. Vincent back from the Dark Side of the Moon.
Excerpt (optional)A child was born as another died this snowy Winter Solstice Day on Bodmin Moor. His mother looked upon the living twin and smiled, for he was the son she’d awaited for nearly a century, since her transformation from living countess to shadowy creature of the night.
This babe enthralled her: the dark-haired son of a living sire, the earl of St. Vincent. And Cirra, his countess. His countess, and countess of the long-dead earl who was the babe’s great grandsire three times over, though her present husband would ne’er know it.
Once she’d refined her ability to feed without killing or leaving her victims a memory of having been fed upon, and gained the rare power to conceive and birth a human child, Cirra had set about to cause the accident that had taken the earl’s first wife. She’d ensorcelled the earl with her otherworldly beauty. Now all that stood in the way of her son taking his rightful place in the succession was Brian, the frail nine-year-old who’d miraculously escaped the falling stone that had done in his mother a year ago this day.
She hugged the babe to her alabaster breast. “You will sustain me, love me, shield me against those who’d do me harm.” Very gently she brushed away the babe’s swaddling clothes and nipped his tiny neck. Until the time was right, none would know the child his sire had just named Alain held within him the power to live forever. To bend all of Cornwall to his will.
Cirra lay back, exhausted from the human ordeal of giving birth. Content now to bide her time, allowing her real nature to lie dormant until she required it to further her plans, she arranged her face into a vapid mortal mask and threw herself into the role of loving wife, proud new mother.
Mother of the son who’d grow up to rule St. Vincent. Whose rule she’d share not as dowager countess but as consort. ‘Twould take years of waiting, plotting, scheming. Years of careful concealment of her own true nature, even from her precious child. Much spilling of mortal blood.
Until the time was right for her to make Alain immortal, too. Ageless and evil, sustaining his immortality as Cirra did, on the blood of the unwary.
DECEMBER 15, 1305
Alain, Earl of St. Vincent, rode at the head of a column of faithful retainers. ‘Twas his brother Brian who’d been summoned, but Brian now lay six feet under Cornish ground, dead two cycles of the moon from a tumble over the cliffs that flanked their ancestral castle, high above the angry sea.
‘Twas time for Alain to take a wife, ensure the succession. He had no notion that he’d live for long, for the Curse of St. Vincent lay heavy on his shoulders. First his sire had succumbed to a wasting sickness—some whispered it had been slow poisoning but no proof had ever been found. Alain had barely returned from waging war for King Edward on the Scots border in time to hear last rites said over his father. Then not a month later, Brian had fallen to his death. Ironically, he’d fallen the day before Alain was to have led a troop of St. Vincent’s retainers back to the war-torn Marches.
Alain well knew the rumors—that he had hurled his brother into the sea to take his place as earl, that he might even have somehow caused his sire’s demise. He hadn’t given the gossip credence. Would not. Since his childhood, he’d suffered scorn for being the child of the mad countess, Cirra. He’d endured the knowing looks, the taunts that followed every mysterious death on St. Vincent
land—until, last month when in a violent rage, Cirra had slain a well-loved servant in the plain view of all the castle retainers.
Alain crossed himself, shaken anew at the memory of the incident. The look of fire in his mother’s eyes, the strength that had let her fight him off and slash his face with the same dagger that she’d then buried in Old Willy’s chest flashed through his mind. Never again did he wish to look on her, watch the madness overtake her and strip away the last vestiges of sanity from her pale, otherworldly face.
God, what he’d have given to possess the plain look of his sire rather than Cirra’s distinctive features. ‘Twas his own curse to remind his servants whose womb had nurtured him, each time they looked upon his face. His duty to rule St. Vincent when in truth he’d rather have lived the life of a warrior knight, far away from those who knew his mother and thought him an extension of her evil.
He’d had no choice but to lock his own mother away in a secure tower, with trusted guards assigned to ensure she harmed no one else. Or to slay her, which the resident priest had assured him would place his mortal soul at risk. He liked not the guilt that rode him, or the whispers he had to endure because he’d let her live when he’d have hanged—had hanged—servants for far less heinous crimes. Straining his eyes, he looked ahead into the dreary twilight and saw the single tower of Whitehurst Hall, where he came to honor a promise made long ago by his beloved sire.
They’d ridden here together once. He recalled the rare, pleasant time with his father, who’d withstood Cirra’s fury caused by his arranging for Alain’s fostering with a baron in the Midlands, far away from home. The short visit they’d made at Whitehurst Manor where Brian had been training for knighthood had broken the five-day journey to the Midlands. Alain held fond memories of the place, of Baron Whitehurst’s easy laughter. Of smiles and hugs and goodwill so different from the somber atmosphere he’d known at home.
As they approached the outer wall, Alain replayed the words of Beryl, the seer who had befriended him when others shunned him as the spawn of a godless demon. Cirra wants you not to wed, my lord. If you do not take a bride and mate with her at the Winter Solstice festivities, she will get her wish. Never underestimate the lady Cirra’s power. I fear it transcends restrictions placed by mortals, that she may find a way to work her evil even though she be locked away.”
Pray God Beryl had been wrong, that Cirra remained securely ensconced in her tower, unable to cause more harm. Still, he’d heed Beryl’s words, take part in the ancient Druid fertility rite he’d heard much about yet never seen. His cock twitched when he recalled Brian’s description of naked priestesses dancing on the moor, mating with the giants of Cornish legend.
Alain spurred his destrier, suddenly anxious to get to Whitehurst, claim a bride, take her home in time for the Solstice…and break a century-old curse.
Prove to his people he was more his father’s son than his mother’s.
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