Unleashing Desire

Brides of Prophecy, Book 4

Book Cover: Unleashing Desire

A setup so perfect… it might just be fate.

Radu Nicolae has spent centuries in a guilt-induced hibernation beneath the ruins of his family castle. The only time he awakens is to feast on the occasional vampire hunter. When Lillian Holmes invades his lair, trying to kill him for a crime he did not commit, he decides it is time to rejoin the world. As he feeds on the inept, but delectable hunter and sees her memories, he realizes that he is being used as a weapon to murder her. Radu does not like being used.

Agent Lillian Holmes, of the Abnormal Investigation Unit, is sent on a mission to kill the vampire who murdered her father. But when she tries to stake Radu, he awakens. When his fangs sink into her throat, she thinks she’s a goner. To her surprise, she wakes up a prisoner. Furthermore, Radu did not kill her father. The AIU killed Joe Holmes and sent Lillian to Radu to die.

Together, they strike a bargain: Lillian will help Radu travel to the United States to reunite with his long lost twin brother. In return, he will help her take down the men who killed her father. As their relationship deepens on their journey, so does the danger. Not only must they keep government agents from finding out that Lillian is alive, but she also has a secret that will rock the foundations of the vampire world.

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It was a lovely morning for vengeance.

The rising sun shed its light upon the Romanian countryside, gleaming on emerald grass and dew covered wildflowers. However, the picturesque view only merited a cursory glance.

Lillian cursed as she stumbled up the hill. She dug the heels of her boots into the damp earth in an effort to keep her footing. With a firm grip on a finely carved oak stake, she approached the ruins of Castle Nicolae.

Even amidst the pinkish glow of the early dawn and the cheery melody of birdsong, the pile of gray rubble looked ominous. Lillian gulped a deep breath of morning air and suppressed a shiver as she pulled the castle schematic out of the pocket of her light summer jacket. According to the diagram, the chasm leading inside was right in front of her.

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Her target lay below, in the bowels of the ancient fortress.

Shoving the schematic back in her pocket, she pulled out her phone and texted the AIU headquarters. I’m going in.

Her phone vibrated a reply: Invalid number.

Huh? Double checking to make certain she texted the correct number, she tried again and received the same error message.

Mouth dry, Lillian eyed the castle. Was he somehow doing it? She shook her head. That would be ridiculous. It was probably the rural location. He shouldn’t be able to mess with her if he was asleep.

By all reports, the vampire had been comatose for centuries, only waking once a year to feed. Last month, he’d killed the wrong person.

Thumb stroking the stake, Lillian hissed through clenched teeth, “Your murderer will not go unpunished, Dad. Radu Nicolae will die today.” Fierce gratitude flowed through her when the AIU director permitted her to take this assignment, despite her lack of experience. He must have understood that this was personal.

With grim determination, she groped along the cracked stone until she found the entrance, a narrow fissure in the rock.

Shadows closed over her as if encasing her body in ice. She pulled out her Mag Light, illuminating the treacherous tunnel with a bluish LED glow.

Though she tried to walk as quietly as possible, rocks and debris underfoot marked her progress with skitters and crunches. Darkness chased away the meager rays of sunlight as she descended further into the heart of the ruins.

After contorting her way down through the twisting passage, crumbled rock gave way to smooth stone steps coated in a fine layer of charcoal. There had been a fire here long ago.

Heart pounding in her throat, Lillian made her way down the stairs and found a clean chamber.

No ashy residue or cobwebs remained. A row of backpacks, ranging from new to old, lined one wall. An ancient prison cell dominated the other. She swallowed at the sight of the rusted iron bars. This must have been the castle dungeon. There was even a fireplace with a stack of wood beside it. A closer look revealed that most of the firewood was made up of sharp stakes.

Lillian shuddered, palm sweating around her own stake. How many people had tried to kill him, only to die in this place? Choking vines of doubt wrapped around her lungs. If all of them had failed, what chances did she have of surviving? Rage singed the edges of the vines. So many deaths. She had to stop him.

At last, Radu Nicolae’s slumbering form came into view. Lillian’s lip curled with scorn. This was the big scary monster? The creature seemed already dead. It lay still, pale, and emaciated. Its cheekbones gleamed in sharp relief above a dark scraggly beard.

Her fingers trembled as she shone the light on the vampire’s face. A gasp caught in her throat as she saw his hair. A shade of darkest chocolate, it lay like a silken waterfall in rich waves on the stone slab, incongruously beautiful compared to the rest of him. Without thinking, she reached out to touch those tresses, to see if they were soft as they appeared.

The sight of the stake in her fist made her snatch her hand back. Her stomach churned in revulsion at her insane impulse. What was she thinking? This monster killed her father. She was here to destroy it, not pet it.

Maybe it was another mind trick of his. Some sort of preternatural defense mechanism.

Gritting her teeth, Lillian set the flashlight on the slab so the beam pointed over the vampire’s supine form. She removed the mallet from her pack and positioned the stake above his heart.

Shoulders vibrating with tension, she raised the mallet and paused to savor her vengeance.

She brought the mallet down.

Instead of crunching bone, her scream rent the air as those lashes lifted to reveal glowing black eyes. The vampire bolted upright.

Fangs gleamed in the darkness and Lillian was yanked into the monster’s embrace. The stake and mallet fell from her numb fingers.

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