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Lovers challenge destiny and risk their lives in the new Carpathian novel by the #1 New York Times bestselling “queen of paranormal romance.”*
Gabrielle has had enough of battles, of wars, of seeing the man she’s engaged to nearly lose his life when it isn’t even his fight. Once Gary was a gentle and very human researcher. Now he’s a fearless and lethal Carpathian warrior with the blood of an ancient lineage coursing through his veins—a man Gabrielle still needs and dreams of with every breath she takes. All she wants is a life far away from the Carpathian mountains, far from vampires and the shadows cast by the crumbling monastery that hides so many terrible secrets. But Gabrielle soon learns that promises made in the dark can pierce the heart like a dagger.
And she isn’t the only one in search of answers in the corners of the unknown....
Trixie Joanes has come to the Carpathian mountains in search of her wayward granddaughter, fearing that she has been lured there by something unspeakable. Instead, Trixie has stumbled onto the path of a desperate woman on the run. And they’re all fated for the lair of a mysterious ancient with revenge in his soul and the undying power to make bad dreams come true.
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Christine Feehan is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Carpathian novels, the GhostWalker novels, the Leopard novels, and the Sea Haven novels.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
“Joie, can you believe this night?” Gabrielle Sanders stared out the window at the stars scattered across the sky. The night was almost a navy blue, with so many stars overhead it would be impossible to count them. The moon was rising, a beautiful half-crescent of shining light. “It’s perfection. Everything I dreamed of.”
Her wedding night. She’d dreamt of it for so long. At last, this was the evening she’d waited for, and the weather was cooperating, just as if it knew she was marrying the man of her dreams.
“We’ve got to get you ready, Gabby,” Joie answered. “Come back here. I need to make certain you have everything you need and give you the ‘talk.’”
Gabrielle turned back with a short laugh. “I’m marrying Gary, Joie, the love of my life. I certainly don’t need the ‘talk.’ I love Gary Jansen with every breath in my body,” she whispered, as her sister smoothed a hand down the filmy ivory and lace gown and stepped back to survey her handiwork.
“Daratrazanoff,” Joie corrected, a hint of worry in her voice. “You still persist in acting as if you’re human, Gabrielle. You aren’t. Neither is Gary. Both of you are fully Carpathian. When Gary rose Carpathian, he rose as a true Daratrazanoff. He’s from one of the most powerful lineages the Carpathian people have. You can’t pretend he isn’t.”
“He’s still Gary,” Gabrielle protested gently. She took both of her sister’s hands in hers. “Be happy for me. Truly, I’ve never been happier than this night. We waited so long to be together.”
“I am happy for you,” Joie said immediately, smiling at her sister. “You look so beautiful. Like a princess.”
Gabrielle looked at herself in the mirror. Her dress was exactly right. The perfect fit, a lovely fall to her ankles, swirling around her so that she appeared to be ethereal. She loved the square lace neckline and the fitted bodice showing off her small waist. She was tall enough to pull off elegant, and the gown did just that.
Joie didn’t understand. None of them did. Only Gary. He knew. He saw inside of her. Way down deep where no one else had ever looked.
“Joie, I’m not like you or Jubal,” she admitted, referring to her brother. “I’m not a woman who craves adventure. I’m not a warrior who wants to go fight the injustices of the world. I’m just Gabrielle, no one special, and I like my life simple. Peaceful. I like to sing when I wake up and hum all day long. I like picnics. Horses. Galloping across the fields and jumping over tree trunks and streams. I love sitting on a porch swing and talking quietly with someone I love. That someone is Gary.”
“Oh, Gabby.” Joie put her arms around Gabrielle. “I didn’t realize you’ve been so unhappy. You have, haven’t you?”
Gabrielle hugged Joie back, feeling lucky to have a sister and brother who loved her so much. She felt their love at all times. Their support. More than anything, she wanted Joie’s support now in the biggest moment of her life.
“I don’t fit in this world, Joie,” she said gently, trying to find a way to carefully explain. Joie pulled back and looked at her with liquid eyes. Gabrielle’s heart beat louder. She didn’t want to hurt her sister, but she wanted to be honest. “I like to observe people from a distance, not be in the middle of some kind of crazy battle between vampires and shifters. I didn’t even know there were such things as shifters or vampires in the world. Carpathians. Lycans. Mages. Jaguars. It’s all crazy, like a mad nightmare, Joie. Violence and war aren’t big on my agenda. In fact, the entire Carpathian way of life is totally foreign to my nature.”
She had, thankfully, never heard of Carpathians when she was growing up. And she’d always thought vampires were a myth. She still wished she thought that. Carpathians never killed for blood, but they slept in the rejuvenating ground, couldn’t be in the sunlight, and existed on blood. They hunted the vampires who lived to kill their victims.
Gabrielle gave a little shiver. She’d had enough of battles. Of wars. Of seeing someone she loved—such as Gary—nearly lose his life when it wasn’t even his fight. She had nearly lost him. Gregori had converted him, bringing him fully into the Carpathian world—as if they hadn’t already brought him there.
Gary had somehow become an integral part of Carpathian life, so essential to them that even the prince sought his opinion on matters Carpathian. Gregori, second to the prince, was always with Gary now. It wasn’t as if Gary was born a Daratrazanoff. He was born Gary Jansen, a genius, off the charts intelligent, a tall, thin reed of a man with glasses and a thirst for knowledge. A geek. Like her.
Now he was a tall, completely filled out, walking warrior. He went into battles without flinching. Even before Gregori had converted him he had. She’d watched him slowly change from her nerdy geek to a completely different man as the Carpathians put more and more demands on him.
Joie moved to a chair as if Gabrielle was delivering a terrible blow, and she probably was. She hadn’t told anyone but Gary her true feelings. Her beloved Gary. He was quiet and solid. He could always, always, be counted on. Everyone counted on him, but especially Gabrielle.
She kept trying to make her sister understand. “Joie, you and Jubal belong in the Carpathian world. I don’t. I don’t even want to be here. Not anymore.”
Joie inhaled sharply. “Gabby . . .”
Gabrielle shook her head. This had to be said. She wanted Joie to understand just what Gary meant to her. What he’d been for her in the past and what he would be in her future. “I hope, after tonight, after I marry Gary, we’ll go away together and live in a beautiful little house. Nothing big. Nothing fancy. Just small and snug and filled with love. That’s it. That’s my dream. Gary and my little house tucked away someplace where there are no such things as vampires and women carry their children to full term and give birth to healthy, happy babies. No wars. Just peace and happiness.”
There, she’d said it. That was the strict truth, and Joie needed to know how she truly felt.
Joie’s eyebrows came together as she frowned. “You mean you want to move away from here? Where your laboratory is set up? You love working here. You want to move away from the Carpathian Mountains? From the prince? From Gregori?”
Gabrielle straightened her shoulders and lifted her chin. “Especially away from the prince and Gregori.”
Joie shook her head, looking shocked.
“I don’t belong in the Carpathian world, I just don’t. Only Gary seems to understand that about me. He doesn’t mind that I’m not a fierce warrior woman. The thing is, Joie, I don’t want to be different. I’m a book person. I like to live quietly.”
“Gabrielle, you are so far off track about yourself and Gary. Where is this coming from? You love adventures. You’ve gone ice climbing with Jubal and me a million times. You’ve gone caving. Hiking in remote, third world countries.”
Gabrielle nodded. “I went caving because you and Jubal did, and I enjoy spending time with you, but I don’t live for adventures the way you do. I’m really a homebody.”
“Are you crazy, Gabby? You’re a genius who thrives on studying hot viruses. Newsflash, sister. Playing with that kind of virus without a way to fight it can get you killed. If you didn’t like adventure you would never, under any circumstances, study them.”
“You fight the world’s injustices your way, and I fight them mine. Viruses make sense to me. I can solve the puzzle and try to help with things like finding a way to stop the Ebola virus from being let loose on the world. Vampires make no sense. None.” She gave a little shudder. Joie would never understand that she escaped into a lab, that once she focused on whatever she was studying, everything around her disappeared and she didn’t have to think about anything else at all.
“You have crazy, mad skills in a lab, Gabby,” Joie said. “You’re a genius, it isn’t just Gary. He isn’t smarter than you.”
“Actually he is. Most men bore me silly after two minutes alone in their company. I can talk to Gary for hours. More, I can just listen to him when he talks to others. He’s brilliant. He’s also the kindest, sweetest man I know.”
Joie shook her head. “He’s a Daratrazanoff. Every bit of power, of knowledge, their blood, their ancestors, all of it was given to him in the cave of warriors. You know that. You were there. He was powerful before, Gabby. He’s even more so now.”
Gary always took the back of the hunters and he’d never let any of them down during a battle, not once. Gabrielle knew it because when he’d nearly died, their best hunters came in to give blood and to pay their respects. She knew it because Gregori Daratrazanoff had made him his brother, his own flesh and blood. The power of the Daratrazanoff family ran in his veins. Was in his heart and soul. Was there, in his mind.
Okay, she had to admit to herself she shied a little away from the sheer power there at times, but still, he was always her Gary. Gentle and kind with her. Seeing her when others couldn’t—or wouldn’t. She’d tried to tell Joie and Jubal that she was different, not at all wild or willful, but they laughed and said she didn’t know herself very well.
Maybe she didn’t. But she knew what she wanted—what she’d always wanted—and that was Gary. “I don’t care what his last name is, or whose blood runs in his veins, he’s mine,” she declared firmly. “He’s always been mine, and I want him back. His life shouldn’t be fighting vampires. He’s such a genius and I miss him in the laboratory. I want him back there. Once we’re married and we find a home, we can set up a lab and he can research for solutions to all the Carpathians’ problems away from the Carpathian Mountains and vampires and anything else that is monstrous.”
Joie cleared her throat, and Gabrielle’s gaze jumped to her younger sister.
“Just tell me, Joie,” she said. “We’ve always talked straight with each other.”
“You can’t change him, Gabby. Gary is a man who will put himself in harm’s way over and over if it comes to his sense of right or wrong. He has a clear sense of honor, of duty, and that’s why Gregori accepted him from the start—from the very beginning when he first met Gary. Gregori didn’t associate with humans, but Gary already had the same values. He was willing to put himself on the line. Like Gregori, he’s a man of action, and he’s decisive about it.”
Gabrielle shook her head. “They’ve forced him to become like them. He belongs in a laboratory. He loves research and he’s got the mind for it, Joie. You know he does, but more and more they’re pulling him off that work to go hunt the vampire with them. He’s with the prince and Gregori all the time.”
“Because they value his advice, Gabby,” Joie said gently. “You should be proud of him.”
“I am, superproud,” Gabrielle assured her sister, and she was proud of Gary. “He’s a brain. Gregori changed him.”
Joie bit down on her lip, her eyes shadowed. “He didn’t, Gabby. Gregori wouldn’t have changed him—he couldn’t. Fundamentally, Gary is the same man he always was. Gregori looked into his mind and he saw a brother—a man who thinks as he thinks. Gregori accepted Gary because Gary is exactly like he is. Of course Gary didn’t have the skills or knowledge to fight the undead, but he does now. He is Carpathian through and through. You have to be very sure you know him and you accept who he is, not just a small part of him.”
“They almost got him killed. In a way they did get him killed.” She ducked her head and twisted her fingers together. “I was there when he was dying. I was right there. Do you know what he said when Gregori told him he was going to convert him? Gregori explained that Gary was dying. We all knew.”
She pressed a trembling hand to her mouth as the memories flooded in, the ones she tried so hard to keep at bay. She actually felt sick to her stomach. Her lungs refused air and her heart accelerated to the point where she was afraid she might have a heart attack. She would never forget the sight of Gary, torn and bloody in so many places. He’d saved the life of Zev Hunter, lifemate to Branislava of the Dragonseekers. Zev was Hän ku pesäk kaikak—guardian of all and a very needed member of their people. But in saving Zev’s life, Gary nearly died. So close. It had been a terrible few hours. The worst. She never wanted to go through that again.
She wasn’t a healer like some of the women. That wasn’t her gift. She didn’t even know what her gift was other than a party trick or two. So she could look at a map and locate things. What good was that? Her family—and the Carpathians—said she was psychic, but she wasn’t. Not like Joie, not like Jubal. She was just plain Gabrielle. No one special. But Gary was a gift, and he saw her that way as well. She’d nearly lost him to the madness of Carpathian life.
“He said he could better serve the people as human,” she whispered, her fingers covering her mouth as if she couldn’t say the words aloud. “He was ready to die for them. He didn’t make the decision to become Carpathian. Gregori made it for him.”
There was hurt in her voice. She knew Joie heard it. The Carpathian people had been put above her. Everything in her life had changed when she’d been nearly killed. A member of a human society of vampire killers had stabbed her repeatedly, a vicious, brutal attack. She still had nightmares, although she didn’t share that with anyone, not even Gary. She had been brought into the Carpathian world in order to save her life.
Had it not been for Gary, she would have wished they hadn’t saved her. She didn’t belong. It was that simple. Mikhail, the prince of the Carpathian people, had given her the choice. Live or die. Of course, it had been her own decision to be converted, but Gary was a huge part of that. She’d never had regrets because of him. At the time, terrified and in pain, she had been happy for the chance. Mostly, because she knew this day would come. Her day. The day she married Gary.
“Gabby,” Joie said. Her tone said it all. Compassionate. Sympathetic.
Gabrielle blinked back tears. “I know he has a sense of duty. I know that. I love that about him. When we’re bound together as lifemates, my soul to his, that sense of absolute duty and honor and love will be for me. I’ll be first. Traian puts you first. Even Gregori puts Savannah first. Lifemates are always first.”
“You’re absolutely certain that Gary is the one for you, Gabrielle?” Joie asked.
Gabrielle had always chosen to think before she spoke, especially to her sister and brother. She loved them both fiercely. She turned what Joie said over and over in her mind. Was she fooling herself? Was her love for Gary real? Did she see him the way he saw her? Because she knew, without a doubt, Gary saw her. Inside of her. He knew her better than anyone else had ever known her.
She moistened her lips. She had never really used her abilities as a Carpathian to look into Gary’s mind. That was true. She could. He would have allowed it, but she wanted that human aspect of finding out slowly about her partner. She even needed it. ...
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
Book Description Piatkus Books, 2016. Paperback. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110349405700
Book Description Piatkus Books, 2016. Paperback. Condition: New. Brand New!. Seller Inventory # VIB0349405700
Book Description Piatkus Books, 2016. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0349405700