An Excerpt from Deadeye

Deadeye

(#darkfantasy #erotica #MMF #MM #bisexual #romance #paranormal #erotichorror #western)

deadeye_smDark and deadly adventure awaits in Deadeye.

Vitus and Caecilia must embrace a world of lustful and devious demons in order to succeed in their mission. And Justus, an incubus, half-breed son of the demon lord of Infernia and a Dreamweaver Sorceress, must shed his dark shadow in order to accept his destiny as a Nacraecian Dreamweaver Sorcerer. Three who meet, three who must face their duty, three who risk everything to be free.

CAUTION: This dark fantasy, dark romance, story contains explicit sexual situations and strong language. Content may be objectionable and beyond comfort zones to some readers and includes dubious consent, multiple sex partners, bisexual activity, some elements of BDSM, involving hot demons, sexy cowboys, seductive soiled doves, as well as titillating satyrs, dominating gods and goddesses, and confronting flesh-craving zombies. Whew! You must be over the age of 18 years of age to read this story.

EXCERPT

Vitus entered the Dark Seducer Saloon, looked around and then walked to the curved mahogany bar. He lifted his saddlebags off his shoulder and dropped them onto the counter.

“Whiskey,” he said.

The bartender brought him a glass, set it down, and poured out a measure. Vitus’s arm shot out to stay the bartender as he was about to replace the bottle back on the shelf.

“Leave it,” Vitus said.

The bartender nodded, set the half-full bottle onto the bar, and stepped away.

Vitus downed the shot, poured another, then turned away from the bar to face the stage. His attention was caught by the performers there. He downed the whiskey. Intrigued by the stage act, he scooped up the bottle and the glass, grabbed his saddlebags, and sauntered toward an empty table.

The young man on stage was quite beautiful and quite obviously from the tone of his skin color, demon. With him were two pale human beauties—one man, one woman. And a tall, portly gentleman with a black waxed handlebar mustache and neatly trimmed beard, orange fire in his eyes.

The demon was naked, the young woman and the other young man were fully clothed, but looking nervous and scared.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” the older man began, “Lucy and James lost heavily at the tables and, as agreed, they will perform for us this evening as they have nothing else with which to wager.” He turned to the young couple. “Well? Prepare yourself for the fucking of your lives. And I expect good entertainment for our paying guests.” He waved to someone off stage and two scantily clad women stepped into the spotlight, each going to one of the pair.

As Vitus watched, Lucy and James were slowly undressed by the women, making a good show of stripping them for the crowd, until the quivering pair were equally as bare as the demon. James was escorted to the iron frame at the center rear of the stage. He was shackled arms and legs to the frame by the saloon girls.

“Which shall it be first, Justus, lad? Lucy or James?” asked the older man.

Justus stroked his demon’s cock. Lucy’s eyes widened at the sight. He swaggered across the stage to stand in front of her. Vitus watched her body visibly loosen, the trembling lessened, as she stared into Justus’s vivid blue eyes. Vitus knew exactly what was happening. Justus was using his demon’s glamour to quiet her before the actual seduction commenced.

“I’ll have the girl first,” he said. Reaching out, he clasped the woman’s arm and yanked her forward. A fiddle player sitting near the stage began playing as Justus took Lucy into his arms, plastering her naked body to his. For a moment they rocked back and forth in place. Justus rubbed himself against her; he reached around to cup her heart-shaped ass. He turned until her back faced the audience. As they undulated, he slipped a long finger between her cheeks, slowly sliding it into her anus.

Her gasp was audible. The digit sank deeper and deeper into her tight channel as the couple undulated and danced on the stage. For the next act, Justus brought her to a halt at the center of the stage. He whispered something in her ear and she shifted her legs slightly wider. Justus slid his cock between her thighs, working his way slowly between them. Finally, the audience could see the twin heads peek from beneath her firm young buttocks.

Justus turned sideways, so the audience could watch as he began to work both his finger and cock inside and against the woman in a seductive manner. She closed her eyes, her head tilted back as she gave herself up to his masterful control.

“Fuck her!” came the catcalls from the audience.

But Justus was a performer who had learned from the best. He stretched out the anticipation until his audience was just as completely seduced as the woman on stage.

In the audience soiled doves, gunslingers, and gamblers found their partners, even as they watched the performance on stage. Pants lowered, skirts raised, men with women, men with men, women with women, and every combination in between copulated with abandon.

Justus’s complete focus was on the woman—on preparing her for when he finally did choose to penetrate her with his cock. His actions mirrored the rhythm of the music.

“Don’t do this to her,” James pleaded, trying to break free of the chains that imprisoned him. “I was the one who cheated, not her. Please let her go.”

“Too late for that,” the old man with the black beard said. “You wagered, you lost. She agreed to pay the price along with you. I could have simply released you to find your way on the flats. At midnight. By the time you reached the forest you’d have a fine party of hell-zombies waiting on your company. Is that what you would have preferred?”

“No. But, please, Lucy only came with me because I said I’d come here without her. She’s not responsible for what I did.”

“Should have thought of that before coming to Deadeye. She’s agreed, same as you. She claimed her ticket, same as you. Now shut your mouth before I put it to better use. Your turn will come.”

Lucy was now twisting, writhing, rubbing against Justus, pleading for him to fuck her. She moved against Justus, back and forth, her enthusiasm and arousal quite telling in her actions. Justus moved faster, more deliberately. He began to shift her backward, toward a bench near the front edge of the stage. One that would allow the boisterous audience full view of what came next. Although, most of the audience was now engaged in their own interpretations of the lusty demonstration taking place on stage.

Vitus poured himself another drink, lifted it, and swallowed the contents of the glass. A pale female hand covered his larger, tanned one, then removed the glass. She drew his attention away from the stage.

“He puts on quite a show, doesn’t he? And he certainly has a way of firing up his audience.” Vitus studied the woman dressed in white who seated herself at the table. He noted the necklace. She still wore it and the sight of his ring pleased him. A surge of possessiveness erupted inside him, pooling in his groin, arousing him in a way the stage performance had failed. The burn of desire steadily grew brighter. Caecilia reached up to curl her fingers around the ring in almost a protective fashion. Her hand rested about the curve of her voluptuous breasts. She caught his eye, slowly unfurled her fingers and released the ring. It caught the gaslight of the room as the ring dangled against her skin, finally nestling happily in the valley between her breasts.

It took effort for Vitus to lift his gaze to meet hers. He’d not seen her in a hundred years and, as it always did, the sight of her aroused him to heights he found difficult to wrangle into submission. Emotions clashed and sparked inside him. He watched as she poured the whiskey, turned the glass to the spot from which he’d just drunk. She lifted it, licked the rim, watched him, dipped the tip of her pink tongue into the golden liquid, then licked her lips.

“Caecilia.” His tone was one of warning.

She dipped the end of her finger into the glass, then thrust the tip into her mouth. Her cheeks hollowed as she sucked on the digit. Vitus’s cock jerked, hardened, as he watched her. He damned Apollo, he damned Aphrodite, he damned Diana. But most of all he damned himself for wanting Caecilia as much as he had when he’d first seen her on the banks of the Tiber. She tipped the glass and swallowed the contents. It took every last bit of his self-control not to reach for her, to stroke her slender throat, to press his lips to the beautiful column, to claim what her lips promised.

She smiled, grabbed the bottle and poured another shot of the whiskey into Vitus’s glass. She lifted it and swallowed the fiery liquid. “It’s been a while, Vitus. It’s good to see you.”

“Is it? Why tempt me, Caecilia, when you know what the punishment would be?”

She shrugged. “After all these years maybe I’m just tired of fighting.” She leaned over the table, her plump breasts pale and enticing. “Don’t you want to forget them all, just for one night? Wouldn’t one night of just us be worth whatever punishment they meted out?”

He took her hand between both of his. He stroked his thumb across the silk of her flesh. “You don’t have a clue what it would mean to become a source for Infernia. I do. There will come a time when we’ll be together. I vow to you. One day this weight—this pain—will be gone.”

Something in her eyes shifted. He saw the need, the yearning. He released her hand. She drew away.

“Of course, Vitus. You’re a Roman warrior, after all. You’re used to deprivation. You think to save me from myself, but I think it’s slowly destroying us both. How much of your humanity is left, Vitus? After Apollo? After Zevodious? Can you even feel anything anymore?”

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An Excerpt from Cruel Memories

Cruel Memories

(#erotic romance #gothic #MF #contemporary)

cruelmemories_cover_smTwo men…one her attacker…the other her savior…

Gavin Killian was evil right to the core. His half brother, Devon Masters, was the complete opposite. Ten years ago, it was Gavin who practically destroyed Haley Lancaster when she was seventeen, and Devon who healed and protected her. But in saving Haley, he had sacrificed himself. The cruel memories are what keep them separated, while a marriage in name only binds them together.

Now, Gavin is gone, his violent life followed by a violent death. Haley returns to Falcon Hill one last time, hoping to finally put to rest the past that haunts her. And this time it will be Haley doing the saving because she’s determined to make her marriage real.

But will the dark secrets of Falcon Hill continue to keep Haley and Devon apart? What will Haley do when the truth is finally revealed?

EXCERPT

Haley walked to the fireplace. She knelt and laid a fire from the logs and kindling resting next to it. It was a common, routine occurrence in her own home in Ohio. She felt Dev’s gaze burn through her, yet she didn’t turn around to look at him.

Slowly, she picked up one of the long matches and touched it to the kindling. It took several attempts, but finally the fire roared to life, helping to dispel some of the chill and gloom from the library. Then she rose and turned around to face Dev.

“You have to get out of those wet clothes. You’ll catch pneumonia if you stay like that.”

He didn’t look at her, just stared into the fire and took a long swallow from the glass.

She shifted to stand in his direct line of vision. Slowly his gaze lifted to her face.

“Why did you come back?” he said in a rough, hoarse voice.

“I think you know why.”

“I’m not worth it, Haley. Is Nikki with you?”

Haley shook her head. “No, she’s staying with a friend back in Cincinnati. I thought it best.”

After a long moment he nodded. “Yes, you’re right. She shouldn’t be touched by this place. Anyone who comes to this damned house is cursed.”

“Does that include me, Dev? Do you think I’m cursed?”

He leaned forward, and then reached out to stroke a hand over the curve of her hip, trailed his fingers down her silk-clad thigh. It was only now she realized the dampness of the black sheath had the dress clinging to every curve. Even with the chill, she felt the heat of the man. Haley began to shiver, but she couldn’t be certain if it was the aftermath of the dank weather or the closeness of the man.

Like a sleek black panther he unfolded to his feet, their bodies touching as she refused to step back. Thigh against thigh, his hand still clamped to her hip, his fingers stroking over the damp cloth of her dress. He towered over her, his whiskey scented, hot breath feathered across her cheek. She met him stare for stare. Her nipples pebbled, and this time she knew it wasn’t because she was chilled.

He trailed the back of his fingers down the side of her face, across her shoulder and the trembling was not because she was cold. A fire started to build in her belly, crawling down into her vagina, dripping from between her labia lips to drench her panties.

Could Dev really ignore what was between them?

She tilted her head, her lips parted. He lowered his head. She could almost feel the brush of his lips. She inhaled his male scent. Her eyelids fluttered closed.

And she waited. Long moments passed. His hot breath feathered across her skin. Time stopped. It was almost as though she felt the heat of the summer sun on her flesh, like that day on the covered bridge so long ago. She was seventeen once again and she felt new and alive and in love. With this man.

“Leave, Haley. Leave now, before it’s too late.” And then he was gone. Leaving her standing there by herself.

She opened her eyes and turned her head. The only thing she saw was the library door closing. And she was alone.

But she wasn’t seventeen. And she wasn’t going to let him shut her out.

Not this time.

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Best Friends Forever…

Best Friends Forever…

EyeforthePrize_cover_smThere’s something about childhood friendships.  I don’t know if it’s that as children, we possess that sheen of innocence, that certain unquestioning acceptance about the people who are a part of the formative years of our lives.  But there’s also a fear of losing special friendships if we reveal too much of what is in our deepest heart.  The moment is lost and we live with the regret of things not said. Sometimes we move on as we mature to new friendship spheres, and then sometimes not.  And we’re left with that lingering question in the back of our mind, “what if”?

Perhaps we have to move on, experience other things, follow different adventures before, maturing into our true self, like Dorothy discovering where the home of her heart truly lay, we recognize that one person who undeniably touches us heart and soul, giving breadth to our lives in a way we would never know without them.

Eye For the Prize is a discovery not just of an odd, supernatural object, but the rediscovery of friendship, of love, and perhaps the one person that makes anywhere truly home.  What would you give up to be united with that one true soulmate?  How far would you go?  And what if it came down to a choice between the man you love, or the family who raised you, whose blood you shared?  And there was no middle ground.  And what if the incident you’ve been set to investigate will eventually be the thing that changes your whole life?

In every object is a story, in every story there is a pulse of truth.  Finding the truth is Detective Larke Ava’s job.  Finding the object is Zhalazti researcher Roan Dwellen’s purpose. Reuniting with the boyhood friend who completed you was never part of the plan for either man.

Mystery, danger, heritage, and love.  Was there ever a more explosive combination?

Read an excerpt from Eye for the Prize

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Currently a #kindleunlimited selection

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Morphing Into Pandemonia

 

Pandemonium: a place or scene of riotous uproar or utter chaos.  Bedlam.  Turmoil.  Babel.  The capital of Hell.

 I saw a cave, I saw two men, and I began to write, and I called this piece, “Dragon City.” I let it take me where it wanted to go.  Crispen had heard the rumors, but until this moment, he hadn’t believed they were real.

Combustible_smOne sentence leads to another, one thought follows, and barrels into the next.  The man glared at him steadily until Crispen was certain he could see flames in both his eyes.  He reared back, landing against the wall.

 And suddenly a premise materializes: It was the animals who ran the asylum and the humans who served.  But tied into that premise is the next: that humans are sometimes the savages, the predators.  And thus the crazy world of Pandemonia began to morph.

“You have no life anymore.  You belong to me now…”

 “Forfeit,” Crispen said.

 “For as long as I want it.  Isn’t that the law in Dragon City?”

 And so it began, the morphing of a world, the shaping, the creation, the defining of character.

Pandemonia is a dangerous future, where earth is now made up of prison colonies and societies are not what they once were.  Pandemonia is controlled by a conglomerate of scientists called the Nucleate.  And mutants, such as Drayce, one of the gen species they gleefully, maniacally create, have been incarcerated in Pandemonia when the end of the most recent intergalactic war ended their usefulness to the interglobal councils.

Societies and civilizations turned and twisted, no longer recognizable, laws of humanity mutilated by needs, instinct, and the powers of the Nucleate.  This is the world of Pandemonia, a future world gone reimagined darkly.

 

Read an excerpt of Pandemonia: Combustible

 

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Currently a #kindleunlimited selection

Scars and Baggage and Small Towns

Ternekill is a small sleepy town in the Catskill Mountains of New York, with a lot of secrets and I love writing about small towns. Having grown up in a small upstate New York kind of town I know what’s it like living there. I am intimately familiar with small towns and with a writer’s imagination, I take this fictional small town of Ternekill and expose just a few of the secrets riding my two favorite guys from “My Soul He Seeks,” Ravol Nova and Byron Shepley. “My Fate, My Destiny” takes you a little further into their relationship and the depth of their commitment, one to the other. They do face challenges. But then again, it would be a pretty boring story if they didn’t.

MyFateMyDestiny_smRavol is a werewolf, no secret there. He’s been very up front with Byron about that part of his background. But up to this point Ravol has refused to allow Byron to witness his change from human to werewolf. Nor will Ravol agree to change Byron into a werewolf. Just one bone of contention between the two lovers.

Ravol carries a lot of baggage, including the death of his first love, Francesco. He’s a secretive man who tries to keep his life compartmentalized, but Byron is making that harder and harder to maintain. Notwithstanding, Ravol has a lot of baggage because of who he is – a part of the ancient Zhalazti tribe nobility that carries with it a great deal of responsibility and tradition.

Byron may be human, but he has his own set of secrets and full load of baggage he carries around with him, not the least of which is that he can communicate with the Ternekill House ghostly ancestors. Ghosts that are a sure part of his heritage and tie him quite closely to the town of Ternekill. More so than either Byron or Ravol knows.

But soon, some of those dark secrets for both Byron and for Ravol are about to be revealed Some revelations are expected, others not quite so much. Ravol’s past is about to meet his present with a life-altering, perhaps murderous climax. Secrets, if left to fester can kill. Secrets if finally revealed and faced can ultimately heal.

I love genealogy and dabble in it regarding my own family. Digging into the families of Ravol and Bryon and doing the research, fictional and not-so fictional is always exciting. And Ternekill reminds me of some of those smaller town in New York that were lost in the aftermath of flooding from Hurricane Sandy that destroyed forever certain quint towns where I picnicked, and did some steamy parking too.

Oh, yes, there are secrets among those back roads and small towns. And in “My Fate, My Destiny,” a few more of Ravol’s and Byron’s dangerous secrets will be revealed as the past merges with the present.

 

Read an excerpt from “My Fate, My Destiny.”

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The Erotic Imagination of a Twisted Fantasy Writer

Silver3_smThat’s me. Yes, it is. Maybe it’s you, too. And we’re not alone.

I had an idea. Or maybe it’s that statement that started with what if? How many times do you hear that from an author?

That’s indeed how Silver and the whole world of Humanotica was created. I didn’t know the characters when I started writing the first scene that popped into my head. I was free writing and didn’t worry about genres, or correctness, or anything but the characters playing out the scene. I saw an intriguing figure – part man, part woman, but…there was more. Another day passed, and another scene popped into my head.  I saw the man who “owned” her. And at first I thought he was the villain.  I wrote another scene, and then another. And suddenly I saw the layers to my villain-hero. And I became intrigued, and challenged. And even more excited about the strange alliance/attraction that sprung up between these individuals in a world of fetishes and exotic modifications. A world of complex people with complex motives. And then another character popped onto the scene, further complicating relationships. And I couldn’t not write this story.

Would it sell?  I couldn’t worry about it. Would people like it or think I totally lost my mind? Couldn’t worry about that either. I love world building, I love reaching for the impossible,  I love wondering about what ifs. I like delving into emotions and attractions and complicated personalities. I want to take someone you should hate and reshape them. I want to take someone you might pity and fashion their strengths through those very flaws that look to defeat them. I want to take that alpha and drop him or her to their knees. I want to take a beta and give her or him strong depth and a keen intelligence and perspective you might not expect. I want to create a romance out of the unexpected.

I want to take a city and turn it on its ear, display sexual dominance and experimentation as an art form and negotiating tool ruled over by a class of nobility known as the Dominatae who polish and hone their lifestyle into a fine edge of flawless perfection and darkest power.  I want to blend male and female, human and machine, spiritual and earthly.

And then I want to create and play with the machines of that world.  In Quentopolis you will find the huge underground life source, the  Elite Logical Life Core, the heart and brain of the city. Or the intellometer that allows its creator to divine the workings of the mind through patterns punched onto gold Politico-issued punch cards, offering intimate insight. And don’t forget the musicadium that records music, mating it with emotion using divinely erotic stimulation.

Meet the Quentopians, the Orictian warriors, the Faunfolk, the Malefici Carnaliad sorcerers. Fight against the Politicos along side the Metallitionist Resistance Fighters who seek freedom for the humanotics. Have a drink at the Music Box Saloon that offers the best in festish humanotic entertainment. There’s more, so much more to be discovered in Quentopolis.

Enter this city at your own risk. And that’s about how I’d describe my mind as well.  Risky, twisted, and always conniving, never completely at rest. Worlds are fashioned and formed a piece at a time. I slide the pieces together, sometimes reshape a piece here or there. I wait for revelation and a-ha moments, and reshape some more. I listen, and I listen some more. It’s a big world – a living world – and there’s a lot more to come.

Now, back into your cave, writer. The whip cracks and I feel the sting of creativity flick keenly across my senses. Back, I say, into that complex world, to the twisted muse that ever calls Haevyn_smfor more. And I must obey.

 

Humanotica 1: Silver , and the sequel, Haevyn are now available.

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Nightingale – an excerpt

Nightingale

(#darkfantasy, #angels, #MM, #eroticromance)

An earthly balance is at stake. Nothing happens by chance. And fate, here on Earth, will demand its bloody tribute no matter how high the cost…

The thirst for deliverance and absolution are transformed into explosive flames of forbidden passion when a mysteriously charismatic masked man encounters a brilliant and handsome composer. Their lives are intertwined with those of two others, and only the ultimate sacrifice will satisfy the greedy appetite of fate…

Retribution is his only desire…Fabienne Brunetto, a 17th-Century castrato of amazing vocal talent, is brutally attacked by a twisted enemy. But agonizing death is not his destiny. He is saved by Annatoly Constantine, the immortal hand of a brotherhood of fallen angels devoted to protection, balance, and order on Earth. But Fabienne bears the scars of his terrible encounter, and his song has been extinguished forever—at least until a rite of redemption can come to culmination. He must wait two hundred years before his hunger for deliverance can fully be sated.

Wounded and shamed…Annatoly Constantine, whom centuries before was also a man, is the protector of the Gios of Nightingales, a choir of immortal voices created to soothe and heal the world. Annatoly has always been destined to lose what he loves, never able to fully offer himself to a lover. Until Carne Giraint, a gifted composer, appears in his life, making him yearn for something more, something exquisitely forbidden.

A composer marked by the cursed blood of his ancestors…Carne Giraint is a mortal of extraordinary talent, tapped by the brotherhood of angels to accept his destiny as composer to the gios. Carne’s greatest passion has never been ignited until he encounters a masked man known to him only as Maître. One night of fiery desire leaves him ravenous for the touch of Maître, a man he cannot forget.

A greedy man willing to give his soul for power and money…Dandrae, a slave to the dark beings who seek to alter the course of Fabienne’s and Carne’s destinies, is tasked with quashing Carne’s mystical gift for composition.

An earthly balance is at stake. Nothing happens by chance. And fate, here on Earth, will demand its bloody tribute no matter how high the cost…

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EXCERPT

Annatoly’s blood tasted rich and Fabienne sucked deeply, until Annatoly gently pulled his arm away. Fabienne licked his lips. His emotions evened out.

“Not too much,” Annatoly said.

Fabienne looked up at Annatoly. “Haven’t I paid enough penance for my thirst for vengeance?”

“First we need Geraint’s composition to complete the demands of the cycle. You must face and accept that which has been your vulnerability. You need his music.”

Fabienne rose from the table and cupped Annatoly’s cool cheek. “Summon him to us then. Perhaps it’s only here that he’ll be able to complete his composition. I want this over.”

“Soon enough,” Annatoly answered softly.

Fabienne walked to the window and stared out across the darkened raw volcanic landscape, a gray dawn hovered at the fringes of night. Fabienne recalled how the world had been ready to fall at his feet. At nineteen, his first legitimate appearance on stage using the name Fabienne Brunetto, he had performed at the request of a cardinal of Rome. The night had been perfect. Coin in his pocket, discussion of an engagement in Rome, and a powerful man ready to give Fabienne anything he wanted. Strutting back to the conservatorio after the dinner party, the world his, was when Carlo and his bravos had accosted Fabienne. And his destiny was brutally ripped from him. The last thing he recalled hearing was the echo of ducats spilling from the pockets of his fine blue velvet coat onto the empty streets. But long-awaited vindication would soon be his.

Fabienne removed the hood from the nightingale perched in the golden cage next to the window. “Sing for me, Lodo, sing. Remind me of my youth when I could mimic so well the nocturnal trills of your song. How I envy the perfect instrument of your voice.” The nightingale peered up at Fabienne and then the notes lifted into the silvery sky. So beautiful it brought tears to his eyes. Both the haunting memories and the music.

He felt Annatoly move closer and they watched as the sky grew lighter.

“It’s only through Geraint’s music and your voice combined that this curse binding you both will be broken.” Fate tied them together. Fabienne could have immortality, he could belong to the gios. But in order to heal completely he needed Geraint and that damned composition.

“Damn him and his whole accursed line,” Fabienne said, a guttural cry of deep bitterness.

“Geraint has taken a lover by the name of Dandrae Edmund,” Annatoly said at last.

“And?” Apparently another complication.

Annatoly pressed a kiss to the side of Fabienne’s neck. “It’s believed he’s attached to the Accademia degli Incogniti and that the Incogniti now align themselves with the Diadune. Zabrael thinks that since they can’t kill Geraint, they’ll somehow attempt to influence the music and in that way nullify the ceremony. They know that without the balance—his composition and your words, the exchange cannot be effected successfully.”

“I thought the Incogniti had all died out, especially after the inquisition, not much was heard of them.” The Accademia degli Incogniti, or Academy of the Unknowns, had consisted of prominent citizens of Venice, including historians, poets and librettists who follow Aristotalian teachings toward a disbelief in the immortal soul, grounded instead only in the pleasures of the moment.

“It seems some members have resurfaced. They aren’t as visible as they once were. Zabrael thinks Smopheus has instigated this resurgence. He’ll attempt to use them for his own purposes. Nevertheless, on my visit to Venice to complete the preparations, I’ll see what I can discover about Smopheus’s actions and any resurgence of the Incogniti.”

“You shouldn’t go. It’s too dangerous. Send someone else,” Fabienne said. “Let me accompany you.”

“I must go, and you are safer here surrounded by the Viadine sentries. We can’t trust anyone to deliver this package. The blood of Geraint’s ancestors could never be replaced and all would be lost. I must be certain matters are handled correctly in Venice.”

“I think there’s more that draws you to Venice than the preparations. Ever since Paris I’ve known you were attracted to the composer. Are you in love with him, Annatoly? Have you become infatuated with my enemy?”

 

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