birthrightISBN: 1419958852 



BirthrightEllora’s Cave

An Excerpt From: BIRTHRIGHT
Copyright © MARI FREEMAN, 2008
All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.

Bevin was right again. No sooner had I opened my mind than my body started talking to me in ways it never had.I was lusting for this man—this Vampire! I felt his gaze right down to my slipper-encased toes.

I tried to steady myself enough to speak. “Lord Tynan,” I squeaked. He smiled at me, making my pulse race. “Thank you for your protection. I’ve been very comfortable here. Someday, maybe I’ll be able to return the favor.” Thankfully, the last part came out sounding somewhat normal. His gaze stayed on my face, making me a little nervous. I adjusted the long skirt of the gown to have something to do with my hands.

“I see little Hogan has not lost his touch in dressing beautiful women. That gown is a piece of art. The way it brings out your eyes is breathtaking.” I swallowed hard. My body was aching for him and I couldn’t manage to find any real control over the sensation or any ability to hide it. Damn this new discovery! He turned away from me to look over the stone walls into the night. “This is my favorite spot to come in the evenings when I’m here.”

“Where exactly is here?” I relaxed a little. Having something casual to talk about made the feelings inside me less frightening.

“You were not told?” He let out the tiniest of snorts, humor playing at the corners of his lips. “You have been living in the Castle Dracula.” He watched to catch my expression.

“No freaking way!” I blurted it out before I could restrain myself. He chuckled slightly and I blushed again. “I’m sorry. That wasn’t very ladylike. I just meant…I would have thought that Dracula’s castle would be some kind of tourist trap these days.”

“Hmm. One would think, but it’s too remote, very few venture past the village below. Those who do attempt the trek are easily frightened away by the staff.”

I studied him again. Vampire. He didn’t seem scary at all. Delicious, yes—scary, no. “I bet,” I said. “Hiding in plain sight.”

“I’m glad you appreciate the irony. It’s lost on many of my kind.” He looked over the countryside. “It’s actually a sanctuary. I spend far too much time among the humans and their hurried world. I come back here for the quiet.”

I had a million questions for the sexy Vamp—most of which had to do with the instant attraction I felt for him. Was he looking at me that way for the same reason I was drooling over him? Or was it just bloodlust? Would he hurt me?

He obviously saw the uncertainty on my face and lifted one finely sculpted brow. “You do know that most Vampire lore in modern fiction is untrue?”

I looked down, embarrassed. Most everything I thought I’d known about Witches had turned out to be wrong. The only Vampire I’d seen was Feldema’s consort. I should have known not to use that campy Vamp as a guide.

“I’ve had so much to learn in the last few weeks, Lord Tynan. I’m sorry I don’t know the true nature of the Vampire. I hope I haven’t offended you.” I kept my eyes down in respect. Bevin had taught me much of the politics within the Kith. He held a title, was a member of the council—and I had insulted him. Not a good thing. Time to play submissive and apologize.

He took my face in his warm hands, lifted it to his and took a step closer, so close I could smell his skin. It was the same scent that filled my bed, a rich, fresh forest…

I’ve been sleeping in his bed. I knew at once the thought was true. My knees felt suddenly wobbly as he looked into my eyes.

“You haven’t offended me, priestess. Your concern for my feelings is a great compliment. I thank you for it.” He didn’t move away and I didn’t have the will to pull back. I wondered if he could feel my attraction. It was all could feel at the moment. I wanted to be in his presence, in his arms, his life.

“Would it be rude to ask the true nature of your kind, my lord?” Still staring into those dark eyes, I could see now that they weren’t truly black but a deep, luxurious blue. A shade darker than the gown I was wearing. The gown that suddenly felt far too confining.

He let go of my face and smiled. “Of course not. We—”

“Keena, are you all right?” It was Manus. He darted around the stone wall behind us. “Oh!” He stopped short and bowed deeply. “LordTynan. I didn’t realize you had returned.”

“It’s a good thing I’m not a threat, Manus…I have been with the lady for some time.” The tone in his voice held a great deal of authority, marking his displeasure over being able to be in my presence undetected.

“Yes, my lord, but the emotions I was sensing from Keena were not of a dangerous nature.” Manus kept his eyes cast down.

“True.” Tynan smiled at me. He did feel my infatuation with him! I blushed again and could see the smile on Manus’ bowed face.

Lord Tynan turned fully to me once more. “Until later, priestess.” He lifted my hand to his lips and pressed a very gentle kiss on my knuckles, his thumb gently rubbing across them. He winked and walked away.

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