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Authors: Pamela Palmer

Tags: #Horror, #Supernaturals, #UF, #Vampires

Of Blood and Passion

BOOK: Of Blood and Passion
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OF BLOOD AND PASSION

A Vamp City novel

Pamela Palmer

They call her the last sorceress: Quinn Lennox, the only hope of the vampires who are trapped in Vamp City watching their dark otherworld slowly die. But an ancient curse shackles the magic Quinn needs to save not only the vampires she’s come to call friends, come to care for, come to love, but her beloved brother as well.

Arturo Mazza, the ruthless vampire who once betrayed Quinn, and has since waged a steady and relentless war upon her heart, vows to help her break the curse. But when the mission requires them to face Cristoff Gonzaga—the brutal and vicious vampire to whom Arturo once pledged undying fealty—Quinn must find a trust in Arturo that will test the very foundations of her soul.

“An amazing, action-packed series.”

New York Times bestselling author KERRELYN SPARKS

(Author of the Love at Stake series)

To Bud Palmer, my brother and best friend, and one of the finest men I’ve ever known.

Chapter 1

T
he vampire rushed toward her with terrifying speed.

As he leaped at her, fangs bared, Quinn Lennox grabbed his arm and turned, using his own momentum to send him flying against the back wall. As plaster fell to the ground around him, Quinn felt a surge of satisfaction, but she had no time to revel in her newfound power. Another vampire was already flying at her. Though her strength was a match for theirs, thanks to the magic now roaring through her veins, her speed was not. But with the full awakening of her Blackstone magic, she’d acquired an ability to track and sense their movements almost before they made them. She might not be able to move as fast as they could, but she could see them coming.

Quinn grabbed the second vampire and threw him against the opposite wall, then lifted her hand as the third started toward her, slamming him into his companion with a blast of her magic alone.

With a quick grin, she bent her knees and raised her hands, preparing for another attack. “Bring it on, boys,” she called to the three vampires now picking themselves up off the floor. As one, they began to circle her again.

“Did she just call us boys?” Micah asked with a chuckle.

“I believe she did.” A smile lifted the corners of Kassius’s mouth.

No smile breached Arturo’s handsome face as he stalked her, leading this training session. His expression remained intent and focused, even as approval and worry did battle in his eyes. She was doing well against them and they both knew it. But she didn’t have to be able to read his mind to know that her growing confidence in fighting vampires worried him.

As usual, Arturo Mazza was dressed all in black. His close-cropped dark brown hair framed a strong-boned face with high, pronounced cheekbones and even, attractive features. Despite having been a vampire for centuries, his skin still possessed a hint of Mediterranean gold, a gift from his Italian ancestors. With his broad shoulders and long, lean body he was a fine-looking male.

“Now,” he said quietly.

The three vampires flew at her at once and while she managed to throw off Micah and Kassius, Arturo got through. Three against one turned out to be her undoing and the next thing she knew, she was on her back on the padded floor, Arturo’s hard body pinning hers to the ground.

His hips pressed against hers, a familiar pleasure.

Heat ignited between them, but he ignored it, his eyes hard, his voice frustrated. “You lose.”

Quinn pressed warm palms against his cool cheeks. “My death touch. I win.”

He opened his mouth to argue, then closed it with a snap. Her death touch was just one of a number of powers she possessed, most of which she’d only recently found access to. While she’d never actually use this one on him, she had the skill. Technically, she could drain his strength, and life, with a touch of her hands.

Dark eyes watched her as if probing deep for the truth. “Could you use it?” he asked quietly. “On anyone?”

That was a question she didn’t have the answer to. But now was not the time to admit it. “I’ll do whatever I must to win,” she said instead.

“You should not have let me drive you to the ground like this.” His voice remained sharp, but his eyes were beginning to heat around the edges as his body settled comfortably into the welcoming curves of her own. “You might be able to kill me, but on your back, you’re vulnerable to attack from others.”

He’d been riding her hard, training her relentlessly all day. It was time he lightened up. Her hands still on his cheeks, she began to trace his lips with her thumbs.

Wry amusement lit those dark eyes. “You’re not taking this seriously,
amore mio
.”

“I’m taking this very seriously.” But a smile tugged at her mouth as she ran her fingers into his hair and pushed her hips up against his. “I have you exactly where I want you.”

Dark eyes turned obsidian. He resisted her for all of three seconds before he surrendered, taking her lips in a hot, claiming kiss. Heat exploded between them, tongues stroking, twining, mouths devouring.

“I believe the training is over,” Kassius said dryly.

Arturo pulled back with a muttered, “Hell no,” then jumped to his feet, pulling her up with him.

Quinn groaned. “No more. I need a break, Turo.” She was hot, tired, and badly in need of food. “I haven’t eaten in hours.”

Arturo’s expression turned suddenly concerned. “I’m working you too hard.”

A quick smile broke through. “No, but we’ve been at this non-stop for nearly two hours. I’m human, remember? We need the occasional break every now and then.”

He watched her, his hard-assed training coach mien falling away, finally, as he smiled at her with pride, and pulled her against him. “You are a very quick learner,
tesoro
. Your skills grow by the minute.”

“Thanks.” She found herself grinning, although heaven knew, she had little enough to be happy about with her brother’s death racing at her like a red-eyed Ripper and this world—Vamp City—literally falling down around their ears. But newfound power was a head rush and she was still riding the high of besting three vampires, even if this particular trio would never actually hurt her.

“Great job, Quinn,” Micah said with a smile as he and Kassius joined them. “If you get much stronger, there won’t be a vampire in Vamp City you won’t be able to take.”

“An exaggeration,” Arturo murmured.

“I’m not so sure.” Micah winked at her.

When she’d first met Micah, she’d thought he was human, a new neighbor in her apartment building in D.C. He’d looked a bit disreputable with his untrimmed hair, unshaven jaw, and the three-inch scar running down one cheek, but the moment she’d looked into those laughing gray eyes, she’d known she’d found a friend.

“She cannot take Cristoff,” Arturo said quietly, releasing her, his vampire master’s name sending a chill down Quinn’s spine. A chill that was mirrored in Arturo’s eyes.

The sadistic Cristoff’s determination to find her and make her pay for having escaped him…twice…bordered on obsession. He would torture her, making her wish for death long before he actually killed her.

Cristoff believed that Arturo, Kassius, and Micah remained his ever-loyal lieutenants and were busy searching for the cunning sorceress, when it was actually Arturo and Kassius who’d helped her escape Cristoff the second time. If their master ever discovered the truth, all of their lives would be forfeit.

The mention of Cristoff effectively doused Quinn’s feelings of jubilation. Because, while everything inside of her screamed for her to stay as far from Cristoff as possible, the entire reason for her training was to prepare her to breach the monster’s castle and steal his prized possession, the enchanted sword Escalla.

Her pulse accelerated, her body chilling, at the thought of what would happen if that sadistic vampire caught her. After her first escape, he’s promised to cut off her feet if she ever tried it again. She had no doubt that losing her feet would only be the beginning.

But as terrified as she was of going, not going terrified her far more. Because unless she destroyed Escalla, her beloved brother Zack would die.

Kassius clasped her shoulder. “You did well, sorceress.”

Quinn met his warm, serious gaze and smiled. The male, another of Arturo’s best and oldest friends, was built like a tree—a huge, powerful oak. Born a werewolf, he’d been turned into a vampire, or more accurately, a werevamp since he still had access to his wolf form when he needed it. She’d come to know him as a quiet man with a big heart, especially when it came to humans.

“Thanks, Kass.” Quinn turned back to Arturo. “I need to grab a sandwich, but I can be ready to leave in an hour. It’s time we got that sword.”

“You’ll need glamour,” Micah said. “I should probably glamour all of us for the trip to Gonzaga, just to be on the safe side. Meet me in the sitting room when you’ve eaten, Quinn.”

“No,” Arturo said, the word dropping like a five-pound brick. “We’ll go tomorrow.”

Quinn blinked. “The plan was to go today, Turo. We agreed to work on my skills, then leave. Today.” She looked for support from the other two, but both Kassius and Micah took a step back as if wanting to distance themselves from the battle about to erupt. Her jaw tightened as her hard gaze swung back to Arturo. “I’m ready.”

“You need another day.”

“Like hell!”

Kassius and Micah made a full and hasty retreat, heading for the door, damn them both.

Quinn swung back to Arturo. “I’m never going to be ready in your eyes.”

He lifted his hands, but his expression remained obstinate. “One more day.”

“Zack may not have one more day,” she snapped.

It was the wrong thing to say. Arturo’s expression hardened, telling her without words that he still believed she cared more about her brother than anyone else, including herself. Especially herself. As much as she hated to admit it, that might have been true once, but it wasn’t anymore. Not entirely. But it didn’t alter the fact that the magic sickness playing havoc with Zack might kill him at any moment.

“I’m ready, Turo. You know that.” If she came under attack, she’d be fine. As long as Cristoff wasn’t the one attacking her. “Between Micah glamouring me to look like someone else, and my own magic, no one will even know I’m there.”

He watched her, his eyes alive with a myriad of emotions. “What about the sword?” he asked quietly. “You’ve yet to master the control you will need to lift the sword from its case without drawing the attention of Cristoff’s guards.”

And that was the real kicker.

Quinn looked away, her mouth twisting with frustration because she really was having trouble with that part. Her being able to lift Escalla from its deadly, booby-trapped case with magic alone was crucial to their success. And while she couldn’t practice with the real thing, she’d been working to develop the skill to lift heavy objects with precise control in hopes that she’d be able to pull the sword from a case that didn’t want to let it go. Preferably without making a racket that would draw down half the castle’s guards.

Unfortunately, this particular skill continued to elude her.

“I can do it,” she hedged. She hadn’t said she
had
done it. Sooner or later she’d manage it. The question was would it be today?

“Show me.”

Dammit. “We don’t have time. We both need something to eat before we meet Micah.”

“Show me,
cara
.” Arturo slid one hand gently into her hair as he stepped close, facing her. “You would rush into Gonzaga Castle unprepared. And I fear that in doing so, you will die.” Traces of anguish wove through the rich sable of his eyes as his other hand rose to her hair, as his thumbs traced her temples with gentle strokes. “But I have grave doubts that I will be able to protect you adequately, even though I will do everything in my power to do so,
amore mio
.” The breath that tore out of him sounded pained.

And she believed him. Mostly. Her gut told her he spoke the truth. Then again, she’d always believed in him, even when his soul had been compromised. And she’d paid for that. Badly.

He wasn’t that man anymore. She knew that. His soul had been fully restored. She was positive. Mostly.

“Cristoff has always been the strongest among us,” he continued. “And while that strength, until recently, was tempered by compassion and mercy, it is no more.” His fingers caressed her skull. “Stay here,
amore mio
.” His words were a plea. “Let us retrieve the sword.”

BOOK: Of Blood and Passion
13.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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