Table of Contents
“M. J. Scott’s
is a steam-punky romantic fantasy with vampires that doesn’t miss its mark.”
New York Times
bestselling author Patricia Briggs
is an entertaining novel. Lily and Simon are sympathetic characters who feel the weight of past actions and secrets as they respond to their attraction for each other.”
New York Times
bestselling author Anne Bishop
“M. J. Scott weaves a fantastic tale of love, betrayal, hope, and sacrifice against a world broken by darkness and light, where the only chance for survival rests within the strength of a woman made of shadow and the faith of a man made of light.”
—national bestselling author Devon Monk
GIVE AND TAKE
The pulse in his wrist drew my eye. The tiny shivers of skin vibrating a little with every slow heartbeat. Vampire hearts do beat. Not with the same rhythm of the human life they have left behind. But blood still pumps through their veins, and the muscles beat to drive it so.
Don’t think about the blood.
I swallowed softly. “Did you have need of me, my Lord?”
One side of his mouth curled slowly. My stomach clenched, willing him not to do what I thought he was about to. To punish me in such a way that only I would know it was a punishment, a sharp yank of the leash he held around my neck to remind me of where I was, who I was, and that my master was displeased.
“Oh no, my shadow,” he said, beckoning me closer with one long finger. “Tonight I think you have need of me.”
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First published by Roc, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
First Printing, September 2011
Copyright © M. J. Scott, 2011
All rights reserved
ISBN : 978-1-101-54397-9
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This one’s for Mum and Dad, who taught me to read, fed me books, and gave me the world of words.
There are a lot of people who’ve helped me on the path to getting this book in print.
Miriam Kriss, my fabulous agent, who stuck with me and believed in me for quite some time before we got here. And the equally fabulous Jessica Wade for wanting this story and helping me make it stronger.
The brilliant Lulus, Carolyn, Chris, Freya, Keri, and Robyn for critiquing, commiserating, celebrating, guaranteed laughter, and general awesomeness.
Three women who are wonderful people, wonderful writers, and wonderful teachers who have provided unfailing enlightenment and encouragement along the way: Anne Gracie, Barbara Samuel, and Valerie Parv.
And lastly, Jessie and Tabasco, who purred beside me through many, many years of writing but who never got to sniff this book.
They never hear me coming. Revenge is silent.
Shadows make no sound.
Nor do those whom I am tasked to visit. They only look
surprised, at the last.
No wonder. My kind is legend. A tale told in darkness to
chill the heart.
But all legends have a basis in truth and so it is with us.
Shadow Kin, they call me, those who know.
Wraith, they whisper as they look over their shoulders
and tighten their defenses.
Slave might be closer to the truth.
The wards sparked in front of me, faint violet against the dark wooden door with its heavy brass locks, proclaiming the house’s protection. They wouldn’t stop me. No one has yet made the lock or ward to keep me out. Magic cannot detect me, and brick and stone and metal are no barrier.
It’s why I’m good at what I do.
A grandfather clock in the hall chimed two as I stepped into the shadow, entering the place only my kind can walk and passing through the door as though it wasn’t there. Outside came the echoing toll of the cathedral bell, much louder here in Greenglass than in the Night World boroughs I usually frequent.
I’d been told that the one I was to visit lived alone. But I prefer not to believe everything I’m told. After all, I grew up among the Blood and the powers of the Night World, where taking things on faith is a quick way to die.
Besides, bystanders only make things complicated.