town of Bridesmere, 1370
"Thou art a sexy
bastard," the woman purred, her finger trailing lightly down Ulric's
He dragged his cock from her body even though he was still hard, still
vibrating with the lust his kind could never completely slake. He had
spilled, but the lingering excitement kept him long and thick. With
hungry eyes, the woman watched him tuck himself into his codpiece. Her
cheeks bore spots of red within their English cream.
He had bitten her at the end. That, as much as anything else, accounted
for her enjoyment.
"Yes," he agreed
to her accolade, "I am the sexiest bastard you shall ever meet."
They stood in the alley behind a tavern, one of seven in this human
town. He had taken the woman against the wall without preliminaries:
To be fair, Ulric was no ordinary seducer. He was a member of the upyr,
a race of shapeshifting immortal beings who lived by drinking blood.
As strong as they were beautiful, they had few vulnerabilities. Most
who died did so by their own hand, out of sadness or ennui. The touch
of iron was a danger, but far worse was the sun. To his kind the sun
was death, a slow, honeyed poison that addled their minds as surely
as liquor addled a human's. If they stayed in it long enough, they would
burn. At night their powers of attraction were at their height. With
the superior force of their minds, they could thrall their victims into
their arms, then make them forget they had ever seen them. If they chose,
they could use an illusion called "glamour" to assume a human
They were shadows in the mortal world, among but not of the crowd.
The line of upyr Ulric belonged to, the children of Auriclus,
were forbidden to interact with mortals. His sire would have been shocked
to know Ulric was here, much less that he was drinking human blood.
Ulric did not require it, after all. He could take his wolf form and
feed as a beast. He had learned, however, in the nights during which
he had haunted these winding streets, that human blood was the sweetest
dram. For a while at least, it filled his heart with human passions
and human joys. It strengthened him as no other creature's could.
Even if it had not, Ulric would not have cared a whit for Auriclus's
rules. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not until he understood why the only
woman he ever loved, the queen to his king wolf, had chosen a human
lover over him. The man Gillian selected did not even have a title.
He was a mere second son. Ulric was handsomer. Ulric was better in bed.
Ulric could make his pack members quail with a single glare. Ulric had
everything Aimery lacked. And still Gillian had left.
She had loved Ulric, but not enough.
It passed beyond understanding. Ulric could not fathom it. In fact,
he positively refused to.
Sensing the loss of his attention, the woman was murmuring to him and
pawing his chest, obviously greedy for more of the pleasures she could
already but half recall. Her hands found the bulge between his thighs,
stroking it high and hard. Her touch went no deeper than his skin.
"Leave me," he ordered, pushing her away.
When she stumbled and caught her weight against the wall, he felt a
twinge of guilt. It was not her fault their coupling had left him empty.
No human could give him what he needed, and no upyr could except
for Gillian. He was broken, and cruel with it, but this female was not
"Go home," he said more gently, putting the force of his mind
behind the words. "Sleep well and wake easy of mind. You did not
meet me tonight. I was simply a sweet daydream."
She blinked at him with glazing eyes, far more susceptible to his thrall
than one of his own kind would have been. He was strong in this human
world, as powerful as a god. He might have thought that was the lure
for Gillian, but she had made her lover her equal. She had made him
Ulric himself could not transform a human. Only the oldest and most
powerful upyr could do that. When Gillian had discovered the
ability, young as she was, that had seemed a betrayal, too. Ulric was
supposed to be her protector . . . her superior, in point of fact.
"Go," he ordered the woman before his anger could rise to
lash out at her.
She went, halting and reluctant, her slippers dragging in the dirt.
Her head turned back over her shoulder, her veil and wimple fallen,
her hair like a bird's nest straggling down. Ulric watched her gaze
at him with longing, but he did not really seeno more than she
had seen him.
One more night, he thought. One more night survived without Gillian.
Though he knew his face remained impassive, his chest ached as if the
wound were fresh. He wondered if this heartbreak would be immortal,
if he would ever feel whole again. The prospect seemed intolerable,
but he decided to wait and see.
2003 by Emma
Holly. It is illegal to reproduce or distribute this work in any manner
or medium without written permission of the author.
centuries, Ulric's pack of shapeshifting immortals have hidden in the
Scottish forest, far from the dangers of the human world. Only when his
longtime lover betrays him does their leader venture out, recklessly roaming
the streets of Bridesmere, singing for his supper . . . and whatever else
never expects to meet Juliana Buxton, dutiful daughter of a rich merchant,
nor to be blackmailed into helping her escape her elderly betrothed. Juliana
is everything he has learned to distrust in a woman: bright, bold, and
endlessly curious. The smart course of action would be to ditch her, no
matter how deliciously passionate she is.
Ulric's heart has other ideas.
Erotica: LoveRomances.com 2003 Golden Rose Reader's Choice Awards