Susan Krinard Prince of Dreams (Val Cache)

ISBN 13: 9780553567762

Prince of Dreams (Val Cache)

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9780553567762: Prince of Dreams (Val Cache)
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San Francisco psychologist Diana Ransom can’t take her eyes off the gorgeous, green-eyed stranger. But when she finally approaches him across the smoke-filled room, her reasons have little to do with the treacherous feelings he inspires. Diana suspects that this brooding, enigmatic man is responsible for the disappearance of her fragile young cousin. Desperate to find her and determined to plumb the mystery behind Nicholas Gale’s hypnotic charm, Diana will follow him into the velvety darkness—and awake to a haunting passion. For Nicholas is no mere human but a vampire with the power to steal into a woman’s dreams and fill her nights with untold rapture. And soon, blinded by an ecstasy sweeter than any she has ever known, Diana will find herself risking her eternal soul for a love that promises to be forever.

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About the Author:

New York Times bestselling author Susan Krinard trained as an artist and has a BFA in illustration from the California College of Arts and Crafts. She became a writer in 1992 when a friend read a short story she’d written and suggested she try writing a romance novel. A longtime fan of science fiction and fantasy, Krinard began reading romances—and realized that what she wanted to do was combine the two genres. Since then, she’s published more than a dozen paranormal and fantasy novels and written stories for a number of anthologies, both fantasy and romance.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

ONE
 
 
Two gates for ghostly dreams there are: one gateway
of honest horn, and one of ivory.
Issuing by the ivory gates are dreams
of glimmering illusion, fantasies,
but those that come through solid polished horn
may be borne out, if mortals only knew them.
—Homer, The Odyssey
 
San Francisco, present day
 
She couldn’t remember his face.
 
Diana Ransom blinked the sleep from her eyes and stared up at the ceiling of her bedroom, snatching at the last vivid images of the dream.
 
The rest of it was still clear. She closed her eyes again; the scarlet light behind her eyelids suffused her memories. It was always red in the nightmare, drenched in the color of passion or rage. The figure who turned away from her sister was tall, ominous, a dark shadow washed in bloody light.
 
The man’s breath was harsh and grating as he rose from Clare’s bedside, his dark cape swirling about him. In the morbid atmosphere his hair was the single point of radiance; it was gold, like an angel’s. But the creature who had killed Clare was no angel.
 
She could see his teeth, sharp incisors revealed by the lift of eloquent lips. Fangs, like a vampire’s, awash with blood. Nothing else. Only her sister’s lifeblood spilling from the mouth of a fiend out of hell itself ...
 
The rhythmic beep of her alarm clock jerked Diana free of the nightmare’s spell. She let her breath out carefully, running her hand through her tangled curls.
 
“Damn,” she whispered. “I almost had it that time—”
 
With clumsy fingers she found the alarm’s off switch. Everything in the dream was exactly the same as it had been when she was a child. Fifteen years ago, when Clare had died.
 
Swinging her legs over the side of the bed, Diana set her jaw and marched into the bathroom. She stared at her own face in the mirror: a pale, sleep-smudged, delicate oval framed with short, curly dark hair—and tilted blue eyes that didn’t see deeply enough when she tried to look into her own heart. Twenty-nine years old, serious and practical. Maybe—Diana’s lips thinned. Maybe a little too driven, as Keely had told her more than once. A face that didn’t resemble Clare’s at all.
 
But the face she wanted most to see was the one in the nightmare. The one that continued to elude her.
 
The face of Clare’s murderer.
 
She’d thought it was behind her. She’d come to terms with the sorrow long ago. Her private practice had finally begun to thrive this past year; her cousin Keely was doing well, and Diana had long since learned to live with the absence of those vivid dreams she’d had before Clare’s death. Reality could be just as satisfying as the old childhood fantasies, and helping others overcome the problems that had destroyed Clare had filled the emptiness left when the remarkable, soaring, sometimes prophetic dreams of her youth had stopped.
 
But now the nightmare was back. The first dream she could clearly remember in fifteen years. A dream she didn’t want and could not escape.
 
Diana Ransom, psychologist, one-time lucid dreamer, couldn’t manage what she asked her clients to do when they worked with dreams to heal the mind.
 
She pushed her mouth into a defiant smile. “Even the shrink needs shrinking.”
 
The words smacked a little too much of self-pity. Diana turned on the faucet and splashed her face. I’m a damned good psychologist, she told herself, knowing it for the truth. She had a knack for understanding others’ problems, and her treatment record spoke for itself. Her clients almost always left therapy far better off than they’d come into it. That was all she could ask, all she had a right to expect.
 
But her mind refused to let this little problem go, even as she set about getting ready for the day’s first therapy session. Selecting a neatly pressed pair of tailored slacks and a blouse from her closet, she went over the nightmare again for the hundredth time.
 
She knew all the theories. She’d kept up with all the latest dream research because dream therapy was part of her practice. That was what she always told herself.
 
Diana methodically worked her hair into its neat, simple style and frowned at her reflection, the brush still caught in her curls. It would have been simple if the nightmare was the ordinary sort, a construct of her subconscious, a tangle of symbols meant to alert her waking mind to issues she had to face. Unresolved issues left from that time when she’d been an adolescent trying to cope with tragedy and loneliness.
 
The problem with that theory was that she knew the man in the nightmare was real.
 
Something’s happening to you, Diana, a small voice mocked her.
 
Setting down the brush with a controlled, deliberate movement, Diana turned away from the mirror. Walking to the window, she tilted up the blinds. The early autumn sunlight filtering between the slats seemed to hold a reddish tinge, reminding her of the dream. And of the past.
 
She was honest enough with herself to know she couldn’t dismiss the nightmare because it was painful. There had to be a logical reason that she was remembering a dream—this dream in particular—after so many years.
 
Letting the blinds fall, Diana made the bed with a few neat, efficient motions, taking satisfaction in the simple act. Yes, it was only a matter of working with the nightmare until the meaning came clear. She knew the key to it all lay in the face of the man she could never quite remember.
 
And if you finally do remember?
 
Diana froze, listening to that small, distant voice that wouldn’t be silenced.
 
It was a little too late to track down the man responsible for Clare’s death, especially on the evidence of a dream. Is that the way to let it all go once and for all? she thought. Bring that hidden memory to the surface and act on it somehow?
 
Shaking her head, Diana left the bedroom and took in the comforting familiarity of her living room. The quiet, neutral colors, clean-lined modern furniture, pastel abstract paintings, and uncluttered simplicity of the place had a lot in common with the office on the ground floor of her small Victorian, and that suited her very well. There was no great transition from work to home and back again, no disruption to her orderly existence.
 
A haze of red glazed the pleasant view like an omen of destruction. Diana blinked and walked into the kitchen, plugging in the coffee maker with suddenly unsteady hands. What are you afraid of? It’s only a dream.
 
But there had been a time in her life when her dreams had been more than merely dreams. A time when she had ridden her dreams like wild horses into realms of wonder, and created her own worlds—when she had believed unicorns and elves and creatures of childhood fancy were real. A time, too, when her dreams had sometimes seen far more clearly than waking sight.
 
As when Clare had died ...
 
No. Clare was gone, and the vampire in the nightmare long gone as well.
 
Diana poured the hot coffee into a plain white mug and sucked in her breath sharply as a few drops of the liquid sloshed onto her hand. She plunged her hand under the tap and let the cold water soothe the burns.
 
Damn, she thought grimly. Get yourself under control.
 
Control. Once she’d been able to control her dreams, mold them into whatever she wanted them to be. Now she focused on the real world. And in the real world she had appointments, people to see and talk with. People with real problems.
 
She had plenty to think about between the new relaxation techniques she planned to try with Mrs. Zeleny and the exciting progress José Sanchez was making in overcoming his depression. Much more rewarding than dwelling on her own past.
 
And then there was Keely....
 
Diana smiled, her grim mood forgotten. She’d never seen her young cousin happier than she was now. Not since she and Diana and Clare had been kids together, secure in their belief that nothing could ever shatter their safe little world.
 
Clare had been lost, but Keely, so much like Clare in many ways, lived on to fulfill the promise of their childhood dreams.
 
The doorbell rang just as Diana finished her coffee. She glanced at her watch; too early for her first client, unless there’d been an unexpected crisis ... Setting down the mug, she left her second-floor flat and hurried down the stairs. Bypassing the ground-floor office, she opened the front door to the back of her next-door neighbor.
 
Tim Reynolds turned, a lopsided grin settling on his pleasant face. “Sorry. I hope I didn’t wake you up, Diana.”
 
She looked up the length of his tall, gangly frame and smiled, grasping at the distraction with relief. “Not at all. In fact, I was just having coffee. Care to come in?”
 
“No. It’s just that they delivered your paper to my door again this morning.” Tim shifted, flipping straight black hair out of his eyes. “I was just on my way to the school.” The paper in question was clutched so tightly under his arm that it appeared he had no intention of giving it up. Diana widened her smile, urging the young man to relax. Something else was obviously on his mind.
 

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