Authors: Delilah S. Dawson
Praise for the first novel in Delilah S. Dawson’s scrumptious Blud series
WICKED AS THEY COME
“As good as it gets!”
New York Times
bestselling author Nancy Holder
“In Criminy Stain, Dawson has created a delightful rogue with a dangerously sexy edge.”
RT Book Reviews
“Mesmerizing . . . holds the reader spellbound from its opening line until its last. . . . This reviewer recommends you make a trip to the fascinating Sang immediately.”
Bitten by Books
“I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s like every genre I love so perfectly blended together. If you want to fall in love with two great characters plus an entire new world, this is your book.”
Badass Book Reviews
“One of the most refreshing reads I have read in a while. . . . A wonderful start to a new series, that had me dying to find out more. It is a dark macabre tale that Tim Burton would only wish to dream of. . . . Many a midnight hour was burnt with me not wanting to put it down.”
Book Chick City
“A complex and interesting book. . . . If you are looking for something new, different, and fresh I would encourage you to try this book.”
“Dawson has a wonderful voice that hooks you with humorous sharp dialogue, smooth pacing, and descriptive details. An enchanting mixture of steampunk, fantasy, and paranormal romance.”
“I was completely engrossed from beginning to end and could not walk away from this book for a moment. It is utterly enchanting.”
A Bookworm’s Haven
“The novel flips from the familiar to the fantastical effortlessly. . . . It could have followed down the rabbit hole of previous vampire or steampunk tales, but it takes the high road, with humor and insights into life.”
Heroes and Heartbreakers
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For Jan Gibbons
In addition to being the first kick-butt heroine I ever met, you were a great mentor and a greater friend. I miss you every day, especially when I see pictures of Gerard Butler.
Oh, I owe a lot of cupcakes this time around. Big thanks, hugs, and baked goods to so many.
To my parents, grandparents, children, and especially my husband, Craig, who once likened me to a classic Jaguar. Nice lines, plenty of power, but persnickety as hell—and yet he lovingly keeps me running. Rebels!
To my agent, Kate McKean, who keeps kicking butt on my behalf—and kicking my butt into shape. I might cry when she sends an edit letter, but it’s worth it.
To my editor, Abby Zidle, who makes me happier than a fox with a marshmallow. To Parisa, Stephanie, and everyone at Pocket Books for taking such good care of me. And to the incredible copy editors who make me look smart by keeping track of this “blood/blud” business.
To artist Tony Mauro for another fantastic cover.
To the seriously dedicated and generous readers who helped spread signed bookplates to their local bookstores: Jamie Degyansky, “Goddess” Shel Franz, Phyllis Marshall, Lise Donnelly, Melanie Finnegan, Danielle Duffield, Heather Jackson, and Lee, Tammy, and Drea Hines.
For my very first fan e-mail, ever, to Michele Rotert. I will never forget the rush I got when I opened it.
To Ellen, Jackie, and Karen at FoxTale Book Shoppe in Woodstock, GA, for the best first-book launch I could possibly imagine. And thank you to everyone who joined me there! Best. Party. Ever.
And big thanks, hugs, and cupcakes go to: Nancy Holder, Stephanie Constantin, Ericka Axelsson, Debbie Pascoe, Jeremy Jordan, James R. Tuck, Janice Hardy, Kalayna Price, Alex Hughes, Chuck Wendig, Janet Reid, Beth Ho, Kathy Epling, Lindze Merritt, Charis Collins, Brent Taylor, Jon Plsek, Vania Stoyanova of VLC Photo, Croft Photography, Brooke of Villainess Soaps, Meghan Schuler, Kristen and Liz and the Cool Mom Picks team, Cakes by Darcy, Books-a-Million #232 in Canton, GA, Barnes & Noble at The Forum, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, and the girls at PLAY Activity Center in Roswell, GA. And because they threatened me, thanks to John Scalzi and Deanna Raybourn—for laughs and inspiration.
For inviting me to super-fun cons: Stephen Zimmer at FandomFest, Chris and Heather at Crossroads Writers Conference, Carol and Regina at the Dahlonega Literary Festival, and the three fantastic track directors of Dragon*Con who invited me to speak on panels: Doc Q of the Artifice Club, Derek Tatum, and Nancy Knight.
Thank you so very much to the book bloggers and reviewers who reviewed the book and invited me to do interviews or guest posts. Thank you to everyone who added, rated, or reviewed
Wicked As They Come.
Your support is invaluable to authors, and you rock!
I know I’m forgetting people, so please consider this a blanket thank-you to everyone. Everyone who’s reading this, who read my last book, who follows me on Twitter or Facebook or reads my blog or just occasionally thinks of me when “Hey There Delilah” comes on the radio.
I love all your faces.
I don’t know which called to me more, his music or his blood. Trapped in darkness, weak to the point of death, I woke only to suck his soul dry until the notes and droplets merged in my veins. Whoever he was, he was my inferior, my prey, and his life was my due. What’s the point of being a princess if you can’t kill your subjects?
His blood was spiced with wine; I could tell that much. As I listened, stilling my breathing and willing my heart to pump again, I realized that I didn’t know the song he was playing. It wasn’t any of the Freesian lullabies from my childhood, nor was it anything that had been popular at court. I could even pick out the sound of his fingertips stroking the keys without the telltale muting of suede gloves. Peculiar. No wonder I could smell him, whoever he was—he wasn’t protecting his delicious skin from the world. From me.
He stopped playing and sighed, and my instincts took over. I lunged toward that intoxicating scent. But the attempt to pounce was painfully foiled by . . . something. Leather. I was trapped, tucked into a ball, boxed and balanced on my bustled bum. When he started playing again, my hand stole sideways toward the musty leather. With one wicked claw, I began to carve a way out.
The tiniest sliver of light stole in, orange and murky. Fresh air hit my face, and with it, his scent. It took every ounce of well-bred patience for me to remain silent and still and not fumble and flounder out of whatever held me bound like a Kraken from the deep. My mother’s voice rang in my mind, her queenly tone unmistakable.
Silence. Cunning. Quickness. That is how the enemy falls, princess. You are the predator’s predator. The queen of the beasts. Now kill him. Slowly.
My fingernails had grown overlong and sharper than was fashionable in court, and the rest of the leather fell away in one long curve. I lifted the flap with one hand and dared to peek out.
The room was dim and mostly empty, with a high ceiling and wooden floors. Spindly chairs perched on round tables. Across the room, lit by one orange gas spotlight, was a stage, and on that stage was a harpsichord, and playing that harpsichord was my lunch.
Seeing him there, the princess receded, and the beast took over. Body crouched and fingers curled, I sidled out through the hole, my eyes glued to my prey. He hadn’t noticed the creature hunting him from the shadows. His eyes were closed, and he was singing something plaintive, something about someone named Jude. I wasn’t Jude, so it didn’t matter.