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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Read another excerpt

Angel Wars 1 [Words Inside My Head]

The call to battle finally stole the last of his humanity. Her wings torn asunder around her bloody and lifeless body as he held her in his arms, unable to let her go. He stared at the sky as her body grew colder and colder, becoming stiff with the claim of the underlord. Her soul seemed to have already departed.

“You don’t need to lose her forever.”

He whipped around in the direction of the voice even as he cradled her body tighter to his chest.

“You can follow her and share eternity. If you agree to serve in my court and follow my will. Or let her go and live on as a shell, half a man, in a world that does not treasure your kind. As I would in my world.”

He was the Kind of NedDrinke. To agree to his terms could only lead to pain and fear. And yet still there was that flicker of hope.

“Traitor to my kind. There would be nothing left for either of us. No place safe.”

“Not if you follow my orders. Not if you give me your loyalty. We are not so terrible as your overlord tells you. Different perhaps, but not the vile people he wants you to believe. We care well for our own. How much is her life worth to you?”

The king held out a hand. “Come, give your soul into my keeping, and you will see.”

He stared down at her. She was his life. He would not live without her. He did not want to.

“Her soul is safe?”

“For as long as you remain loyal to me. She will be safe in my realm. As will you. You have but a short time to make your choice.”

“Terms?”

“On my terms. There is no negotiation. You will serve me and she will live. Would you really expect terms to be offered for a life so precious to you?”

He nodded. He could already feel his strength ebbing. No one knew of a pair – where one survived if the other died.He could already feel his life fading like a shriveled flower that has lost the sun.

The king reached down to cup his jaw, tilting his head back, to look into his startlingly obsidian eyes.

“Look at me,” the king said. “Focus only on me and you shall have your wish, for her to live once again.” And then he felt the roaring pain inside his chest as the king took possession of his soul.

He screamed in agony.Then felt himself being yanked from the life he’d always known. Spinning in darkness, reeling and reeling until he lost consciousness, falling into the darkness.

* * *

“Hey. Wake up.”

His eyes shot open and he started into her beloved gaze. She was alive and his joy couldn’t be contained. The king had kept his promise. The second thing he realized was that neither of them possessed wings and a moment of panic churned his stomach.

“I think you need a drink,” she said, then turned away. Tattooed into her bare back was a set of wings. And then he recalled the bargain he’d made. Now he knew exactly where he was and the price he had paid for her life.

But when she spun back to him, he realized exactly how high that price had been. The lack of recognition, a polite curiosity in her eyes. She had no idea who he was.

“You asked for her life, not her memory,” a voice from behind him said. “I’ve granted you exactly what you sought.”

He should have known.  His soul was gone, and the heart he had left was shattered. He looked at her again, but she was staring beyond him, a look of total adoration in her eyes. An adoration that had once belong to him. His bargain with darkness had cost him dearly.