Saturday, January 24, 2015

Serafina and the Founder (Serafina's Book 5) by Marie Treanor Excerpt


Barnes and Noble

Will curiosity kill the witch?
Kind witch Melanie Merrow regards herself as an honourary aunt to the eccentric staff of Serafina’s Psychic Investigations. But Melanie has buried a terrible past that her friends bring unwittingly to the surface during a séance. Plus her insatiable quest for knowledge has fixated on the most elusive and dangerous being on the planet – the ancient, tragic Founder, from whom all vampires are descended.
The Founder, who hides himself in shadows and illusions, even from the scattered vampires over whom he watches from a distance, plans to leave the world of humans forever. He should not be engaging in banter and seduction with the beautiful and intriguing Melanie, let alone buying her chips or involving himself in the chaos that is Serafina’s. But, fighting the human police, the possessive spirit of a dead serial killer, a pack of vengeful wolves, and the anger of the Tuatha de Danann is easy compared to dealing with his own reawakening desires...


Her heart still beating hard, she stared into the shadows by the curtains. Although she couldn’t see him, the darkness there seemed blacker, almost shimmering.
Well, don’t just stand there,” she said loudly to the curtains. “Since you’re here, have a seat. Let’s chat.”
This was why she didn’t have flatmates anymore. They’d have had her sectioned.
The curtains didn’t move. Neither did the shadows. But after a moment or two, she realised the shimmering black shade had dulled to normal darkness. She sighed. Speaking to him clearly scared him off—which was good. Who wanted to be stalked? Especially by something even vampires were afraid of.
Still, as she sat up and reached for the lamp switch, she was conscious of a disappointment—which vanished into sudden, galloping terror as a figure seemed to loom out of the darkness in front of her. This was no vague, shimmering blackness. This was the definite shape of a man, only two or three feet away from her.
Oh shit. I’ve done it now…
The Founder does not chat.”
Deep, soft, icy, with just a trace of self-mockery, his voice bypassed her ears and spoke straight into her mind, almost like a daydream or a fantasy. She’d have considered insanity if it hadn’t been the same voice which had once told her, “Curiosity killed the witch.”
Old vampires didn’t speak aloud. They communicated telepathically. Only Sera could hear them because she was telepathic, or perhaps because she could talk to the dead. Melanie could do neither. At least not without some very powerful spells. And yet she heard him. Surely more humorous than supercilious: “The Founder does not chat.”
She thought she could make out the whites of his eyes, a gleam of amber directed at her like a torch.
I suppose he doesn’t stare either?” Melanie retorted.
There was a definite pause before he said, “That would be rude.”
And breaking into someone’s home isn’t?”
Not when I’m invited.”
Invited?” she repeated, aware now that she was doing the staring. Not that she could see much.
You have a short memory,” he remarked, “even for a human.”
Oh shit. Melanie grasped the quilt tighter as she remembered a certain spell cast a year ago, when she’d first learned about vampires and the legend of the Founder. “I tried to summon you. It didn’t work.”
Of course it didn’t work. I have free will. On the other hand, I’d have heard your magic in hell. I chose to be invited.”
And if I rescind my invitation?”
The air stirred, almost as if he was laughing at her naivety. She shivered.
He said, “You’ve been reading too many novels.”
Melanie swallowed, peering through the darkness at him. She could see two eyes now, but one seemed darker than the other. A trick of the nonexistent light. She said, “Are you speaking to me?”
Is there anyone else here?”
No, I mean are you speaking to me? Not, are you speaking to me?”
Questions, questions,” mocked the Founder. “Do you want to end up like me?”
You mean staring at people while they sleep?”
She knew that wasn’t what he meant. Legend said his own curiosity had caused him to face down ignorance and prejudice, had led him into torture and suffering and ultimately to defy death itself. But she couldn’t resist the barb.
For a moment, she imagined she’d actually thrown him. He didn’t move or speak for several seconds. Then he said, “You weren’t sleeping. You were waking. From a nightmare.”
Melanie twitched without meaning to. She never spoke of this. To anyone. She shrugged. “Everyone dreams.”
He stirred. She heard the faint rush of his clothes, whatever they were. What did the Founder wear? Her fingers itched for the light switch, but she was too afraid to move, in case he came any closer. A shiver thrilled down her spine.
What do you dream, little witch?” he asked softly. “What scares you more than I do?”
She stared at the brighter of his eyes. “Nothing. I admit that.”
Then you lie. Though I’m not often the one called upon to frighten away the demons.”
She caught her breath. Was that what she’d done?
She hadn’t called on him—of course she hadn’t. But if it hadn’t been for the dream, she’d probably have said nothing, just waited for him to go as she always had before. Everyone, including the vampire Blair, had told her never to speak to the Founder, never to try to engage.
Oh hell. I’ve engaged. Even more surprising, not to say terrifying, so had he.
Well, thank you,” she said politely. “The demons have gone. Apart from yourself.”
That’s the danger of inviting the biggest demon to dispel the lesser. Who’s going to scare me?”
Can you be scared?” she countered.
You could try with one of your little spells.”
Now you’re being insulting.” Should she really be bandying words with the Founder? Oh well, in for a penny… “Actually, since you’re here, I want to ask you something.”
How to keep the dreams away?”
Oh no. The dreams are mine.”
For some reason, the answer seemed to intrigue him. She caught a faint head movement, as if he’d leaned it to one side, considering her. Then the darkness blurred, and her heart lurched as the mattress depressed.
Oh God help me, the Founder’s sitting on my bed.
Surely she should have been able to make out more of him than this blur and odd glimpses of his eyes? She was used to the dark now, and there was moonlight gleaming through the curtains. And he was close enough to touch. She could move her knee and brush his hip through the quilt. If she was insane enough.
No, she couldn’t see him properly, but he could see her. His very stillness told her that. She wondered what he thought, and her body heated with embarrassment and something more, because she wanted him to like what he saw. She wasn’t just a curious witch, she was a woman, and she could sense the caress of his eyes on her naked arms and shoulders, on her breasts, which, while mostly covered by her nightdress, probably revealed the outline of her tense nipples…
In the dark? Get a grip, Melanie.
He’s the Founder. He’s vampire. He doesn’t need light.
And this is so not the point.
Do vampires get sick?” she blurted.
There was a pause. “Not often.”
I have a vampire client who is. I don’t know how to help him.”
The mattress shifted very slightly, and she tensed, terrified he was coming closer, longing to know how it would feel if he did.
The Founder said, “He isn’t your concern.”
Then you’ll help him?”
I’m not your concern.”
But you are.” Lunging for the lamp, she grabbed the switch and flicked it on.
A warm glow swam around the room. The empty room, containing only herself and her possessions. She didn’t even hear the window rattle, but she could have sworn that just for an instant, soft laughter echoed in her head.

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