Across three continents and three centuries, undying love is a bittersweet perfume enshrouding Victoria MacKay. Compelled to love the vampire, Johann Nikolai Valfrey, Victoria emerges from their evil union a being too glorious for mankind. The clash of her vampire nature and the unbridled gifts of her Celtic bloodline make Victoria more than human and more intimately bound to the living than the undead. She is alternately led and pursued by these forces halfway round the world through great changes in history and three hundred years of dark desire.
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Elaine Moore, a freelance public relations and advertising specialist, is a published poet, and former president of the North Texas Professional Writers Association. Her work appears regularly in print media and on the Internet.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The whistle and crack of the whip rang out across the moor as the driver punished the horses mercilessly. In the distance a stone fortress rose out of the mist, crumbling ramparts clearly visible in dawn's paler gray while night clung tenaciously round the base. But the close race between time and distance would mean nothing if fatigue should cut the legs from under one of the animals. Or the coach fail to withstand the punishment of the rutted track.
It had been a foolhardy decision to attempt the last leg of my journey without stopping. Even now, the sun rose over the mountain, rushing the world madly toward the hour I both loathed and grieved for.
An early spring had made our journey across the barren and desolate Highlands a nightmare. Traveling by night, and hiding the coach with its curious baggage by day had lowered me to such a degree of depravity I no longer felt the least bit human. A blackness bordering on oblivion threatened what little strength remained.
The coach skewed sharply to the left and slid to a halt. The door jerked and Rodrigo stood in the opening, black skin waxy in the near light. His hand on my wrist insisted I hurry.
Once outside the coach, the isolation was overwhelming. I staggered toward the lathered, heaving horses trembling in their traces and the stench of their pain washed over me, driving the splinter of need deeper into my heart.
Some strange compunction urged me to look back.
It was then I saw her.
A wayward gypsy, astride a dappled gray mare, heavy red hair curling wildly about her face. She had ridden the mare hard for some distance and I could hear both hearts pounding fiercely.
The sun charged the air at the top of the hill with brilliance, turning the last wisps of mist to rainbows but nothing nature created dared compare with her beauty. The bloom of youth on fragile cheeks beguiled me. I watched, mesmerized, as the sun began its relentless march across the sky. Neither of us moved for an eternity. Then abruptly she broke the spell, turning the horse and racing away. I, too, turned and limped up the short flight of steps to safety.
The days and nights that followed became one while I lay like a corpse in the grave. No single human traveled near enough to rouse me. On the third night I felt her presence again. Felt the sweet echo of her heartbeat calling me back from the brink of oblivion. Back to the only reality I knew. Blood calling to blood.
I knew I must have her--or cease to exist.
"I swear to you, Duncan, he is not like other men."
Victoria MacKay stood in front of the black stallion her brother was grooming. The horse snorted and danced to the side. Squinting into the late afternoon sun, she reached up to gentle the restless animal. Victoria's flashing blue eyes followed Duncan, daring him to go see for himself.
"If he wears breeches, little sister, he is like other men." Duncan smiled, glancing over to where she stood, feet firmly planted on rich Highland sod. The setting sun turned her hair to mahogany, streaking golden fire along a few loose strands. Fate might have brought her from their mother's womb first but she would always be his little sister. And if the outlander even glanced in her direction, his desire would indeed follow the same path all other mens had recently. She grabbed the rope halter and moved closer, looking up at him. He stood two inches above her but he knew she was capable of more than he could manage.
Duncan barely remembered their mother but the look on Victoria's face made him feel five-years-old again, seeing some secret fear on the sweet face that was as familiar as his own.
After their mother died, Angus MacKay had refused to let either of them out of his sight for years. They ate, drank, slept and went to war at his side.
For all her beauty, Victoria was tall for a woman and the training to weapons by Angus made her as fit as any man. She had taunted awkward, clumsy Duncan until his skills were as sharp as her own, but now her mother's gift of second sight warned this stranger should not be taken lightly.
"Just go with Moro and find out what he wants," she said.
"Perhaps he's come to ask your hand in marriage, little sister. If you're not more willing to make a choice yourself, father might just favor marrying you off to an outlander." A wicked grin widened into a leer as he leaned toward her.
She punched him hard in the stomach. He remained standing but the grin vanished as he sucked for air.
"One day that tongue is going to get you killed and if you're not careful it might just be by me." She turned and strode away, one long braid swinging in time with her hips.
Duncan watched for a moment then grabbed a handful of mane and swung up on the horse. A quick nudge with his heel and they caught her.
She continued across the hard packed courtyard, straight for the entrance to the keep, chin stuck out like a battering ram.
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that. I don't want you to get married. None of the men I know are good enough for you. They're like those rutting animals out there."
She stopped and looked up at him. "Oh, go on with you. All the men you know are boys like yourself. Love doesn't have to be like the barnyard for a man and a woman."
"You don't say? And which one of the kitchen girls might be telling you how it is?" He sat on the horse, legs dangling.
Victoria smiled and was rewarded with one in return. She crossed both arms under her breasts and shrugged. "I just haven't found anyone worth giving everything up for yet."
They moved across the bustling yard, horse and rider shadowing the red-haired girl.
"Will you go with us to speak to the outlander?" Duncan asked at last.
She stopped and searched his puzzled face a moment. "No, Duncan. I must not." Victoria's ancient lineage of witches and long dead kings made her wary. Twice she had answered the foreigners summons. But darkness brought a command to obey that grew stronger with each passing night. Stomping away across the open courtyard, she swore he would have to come to her. END
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Book Description Authorlink, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 1. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX1928704026