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Adagio (Book One of the Muse series)

By Zaide Williams All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Romance

Blurb

" . . . Hendry looked up from her papers, removed her reading glasses, and--I can't lie and say I didn't think she did it--looked directly at me. With centuries-old poetry flowing in a haunting wave from her lips, she stared once again into my eyes, her own deepening until they were the darkest blue, almost violet, and so bright it was as if they were on fire from within. I couldn't look away. Sure, OK, perhaps I was hallucinating the whole thing, but even so, I COULD NOT rip my focus from hers. She had me."

Prologue

London, 1861

The vampire tapped his foot against the wooden base of the chair and absent-mindedly slid the corner of an index card between his left incisor and canine teeth, as if picking out a bit of food. The firm closing of the door behind him caught his attention, snapping him back to the here and now.


“My apologies. Spicy soup for lunch. Didn’t quite agree with me, I must say.” The doctor, still a bit red-faced and breathless, bustled with a hint of embarrassment across the small room and resumed his seat opposite his patient. “We’ll tack on another few moments to the end of our consultation, of course, if you have time,” he offered with an apologetic smile.

A smirk sneaked across one side of the vampire’s full lips, drawing his mouth into an uneven bow. “Time?” he repeated, immensely entertained by the comment. “Time, I think, I can spare.”

“So, getting back to the anxiousness, is it constant or do you notice that it comes and goes? Sorry, does something strike you as humorous?”

“Yes,” replied the undead man to the living one. “Yes indeed. Though each of these conversations is a favor to you, a contribution to your research, every occasion seems to develop into a discussion of my emotional and psychological status. Tell me, why might that be?” He regarded his companion with eyes full of merriment.

The young doctor grinned back good-naturedly. “Simple indeed, my friend. The psyche of a vampire is a critical piece in the understanding of the drives, the urges—the hungers—that propel you and in many ways define your existence. If I am to fully appreciate your order as a whole, I must understand the workings of your mind as well as your body. In truth, even more so.” He cleared his throat and shifted in his seat to mark a change in the topic at hand. “Now then, this anxiousness, is it precipitated by a particular situation, place, thought, et cetera?”

“Like a catalyst, you mean?”

“Yes, quite. Is there a particular worry you have, perhaps a new activity in your life—an employment, a relationship—that’s been revolving in your mind a great deal? I realize health concerns are irrelevant in this case, but perhaps work?”

The patient uncrossed his legs slowly, and crossed them again in the opposite fashion, his grin unfurling Cheshire cat-style as he relaxed. “I am a professor of European history at Kings College, where I have been for thirteen years. I am a recognized expert in my field, widely published, and have been teaching the subject since the French owned Canada. So no, I do not believe I am experiencing ‘work-related stressors.’”

The doctor leaned back in his chair, rubbed his abdomen and looked with empathy at the centuries-old vampire and thirty-year-old man sitting downcast before him. “You know what it is already.”

The statement, for it wasn’t a question, caught the vampire off-guard, requiring him to clear his throat and take a slow breath before responding. He looked down for a long moment, and in that time the sound of the air changed, as when the sun goes down in the late afternoon. His next words came in a low, more measured tone.

“She smells of spring water and sun. She is intoxicating. I cannot go near her because I want her. Not only to drink from her, but to have her. I cannot remember this feeling . . . I have no recollection of ever being disturbed in this way by any woman, human or otherwise.”

“Curious that you mention such bloodlust only in the context of this woman. Are you feeding regularly? Because there might be—”

Irate eyes snapped to the doctor’s face. “Yes of course I feed! Were I not, I would likely be slicing apart your carotid right now. Please do not patronize me, Doctor.”

“Mr. Randall—”

“Roan, please, as I’ve said repeatedly.”

“Sorry—Roan—I assure you, in no way do I intend to be disrespectful. We’re trying to find a trigger for what you’re feeling. So, let’s get back to this line of thought, shall we? Your desire for her is both sanguinal and sexual, then? And this is an emotion you’ve not encountered before?”

Roan sat fully forward in his chair, elbows on his knees, fingers interlaced, lavender eyes locked on his companion’s face. A full five seconds passed before he spoke, in a round, deep, and deadly direct tone.

“Doctor, shall I presume that you have never sucked the warm marrow out of a woman’s body as she screamed with pleasure? I have done so, many times over many centuries. It is an exquisite sensual experience unlike any physical gratification I could ever have imagined as a human, but it pales in comparison to the mere scent of her.”

He traced his finger slowly along the small scissor-like slit he’d created at the corner of the index card, watching as the doctor attempted to hide his discomfiture and restore control of his breathing. “She is undoing me, and . . . I am . . . frightened.”

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