It’s just about New Year’s Eve, the last day for the Blood and Rain Giveaway on Rafflecopter. Don’t forget to enter for a chance to win the amazing unisex Council of Hunters pendant by artist Martin Brodour! Here’s the link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/cf0ba9497/ You can snag the book at Dreamspinner Press, AllromanceEbooks, and Amazon. Buy the book at Dreamspinner Press right now, and you’ll get a 20% discount in the ebook format!
To celebrate the holiday, ancient vampire Nicolas Lambert was asked to speak about Christmas, so I thought I’d share his memories of Christmas in France. I hope you enjoy it. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone! -Shira
This year, Christmas came and went, and I barely noticed its passing. For nearly 200 years, I’ve spent Christmas with my brother, Jean, at my family’s home in Lyon, France. This year, I’m outside of Paris at the home of my future bride, Rosina Rousseau. And although our two families are no longer at war, the atmosphere is thick with intrigue and lacking the warmth of Christmases past. Rosina is a kind and generous woman, but my heart is already spoken for, and the joys of the season seem very far away.
Both my parents were killed in the war between our clans when I was just a baby. Still, I remember that as a child, I’d set my tiny shoes before the fireplace in the old library, hoping Père Noël (Father Christmas) would look kindly on me. The next morning, I’d awaken to discover them filled with treats—candies and small toys I now know my brother purchased in the small Christmas market in the city center.
As an adult, I recall Christmas dinner in the great hall, though there were few guests and the table always felt far too large. We were at war, and Jean would let no one but our most trusted friends and relations into our home. I know he feared for my safety, and I don’t begrudge him his concern. In spite of their modest size, those festive meals were marked by more food than we could eat. Venison, fowl, cook’s wonderful bread, and my favorite dessert: a bûche de Noël (Yule log), decorated with marzipan mushrooms and sugar trees.
While the ancient vampire clans have never practiced human religions, I remember watching families walking home from churches on Christmas Eve, laughing and singing happily in the streets. I often watched them through the windows of their homes as they feasted afterward. That feast, called le Réveillon (awakening) is a symbolic awakening to the meaning of Christ’s birth.
This year, my heart is heavy. The man I love, the vampire hunter Adrien Gilbert, is far away and I’m not sure I’ll see him again. Worse yet, I may see him on my wedding day. That will be the day I must give him up forever for the sake of peace. Some nights, I look out at the stars and think of him. I wonder what my life would be like if I wasn’t duty bound to marry. I also wonder if he, too, is looking up at the sky and thinking of me.
Adrien licked the skin of Cole’s neck, feeling the blood pulse there, hearing it call to him. Cole tilted his head in anticipation, opening himself to Adrien.
Adrien buried his teeth in Cole’s skin. Blood flooded his mouth and danced on his tongue, sweet and salty. Too long. His body was far more vampire-like in its craving for blood than when he’d first been given the gift of an ancient vampire’s soul. He wondered if it was the same for other immortals.
Adrien tried to ignore the images that flashed through his mind—the sound of silvery laughter, a mother’s loving caress. Cole’s memories. Adrien despised this forced intimacy, but he’d come to see it as the price of blood. Something to be tolerated.
It hadn’t always been that way. When he’d shared Nicolas’s blood, Adrien had experienced great joy. He’d seen himself through Nicolas’s eyes and felt the depth of Nicolas’s love. Each drop of that precious liquid had opened new doors. Each taste offered insight into Nicolas’s heart and soul. A beloved memory. A mystery—the mystery of Nicolas—unfolding with every swallow.
Adrien drank his fill, then claimed Cole’s mouth. This kind of contact he could stomach. He didn’t need sex to survive, but he enjoyed the release. Cole unbuttoned Adrien’s black silk shirt and his cock swelled against Adrien’s thigh. Adrien moaned as Cole skated his fingertips over his chest.
“I have never known a hunter to crave blood,” Cole whispered in his ear. “I thought only we experienced the bloodlust.”
“You were wrong,” Adrien said as he pulled Cole’s shirt over his head and mouthed a pretty pink nipple. Sex was always better after he fed, and Adrien’s cock was already hard at the thought of fucking such a lovely ass. He drew Cole’s body against his, walked backward into the living room, and pulled Cole with him onto the rug. Soon they were naked and he was no longer a hunter or an immortal, he was simply a man, seeking release, seeking pleasure.
For at least an hour after, Adrien lay on the floor and allowed the night air to caress his bare skin. He closed his eyes and dozed.
The voice awakened him. Nicolas’s voice again. Why sleep if it only served to reawaken the pain he sought to suppress?
He stood and pulled on his jeans. He walked onto the balcony in his bare feet, then climbed to the roof of the penthouse.
Having reached the edge, he spread his arms. He leaned forward and fell unimpeded, riding the wind like a sigh. The glass of the building sailed by him, the breeze buffeting his face. He hit the water and sank into the cold blackness. He wished he could die.
Shira Anthony was a professional opera singer in her last incarnation, performing roles in such operas as Tosca, Pagliacci, and La Traviata, among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle.
Shira is married with two children and two insane dogs, and when she’s not writing, she is usually in a courtroom trying to make the world safer for children. When she’s not working, she can be found aboard a 35’ catamaran at the Carolina coast with her favorite sexy captain at the wheel.