Thursday, May 15, 2014

Carnal Magic (The Wraith Accords) by Lila Dubois Excerpt

Carnal Magic (The Wraith Accords) by Lila Dubois

What if the one you wanted more than any other was the only one you couldn’t trust?

The Wraith Accords, Book 1

Two hundred years after the Tuatha de Danann and Vampires formed a fragile alliance, the Wraith Accords are unraveling. Isabel Santiago is a leader in one of the most powerful of the vampire cabals, and she agrees to join the Fae court as a gesture of goodwill—and damage control.

While Aed mac Goll’s loyalty to Fae is absolute, he’s never supported the accords which gave the Vampires sanctuary and restored the Tuatha de’s link to humanity. The very idea he could desire an undead human is unthinkable, yet he’s drawn to Isabel’s dark beauty and fierce intelligence.

Despite their mutual mistrust, they soon find themselves lost in a dangerous game of lust and power. When the treaty shatters amid calls for Isabel’s head, Aed realizes their connection is more than physical. And to save it, they’ll have to unravel a mystery that’s been a thousand years in the making.
Warning: Contains sex, violence, magic and bloodlust. You know, the good stuff.


Isabel opened her eyes, blinking to focus her vision.
“Lady Isabel?”
She turned to Aed, who was standing beside her. “There weren’t as many stairs as I thought.” She brushed at the hem of her cloak. It had taken them less than ten minutes of climbing—and two hundred and fourteen stairs by her count—to reach the top.
“Where are we?” she asked, looking around. They were in a square room. It was a grand space, with a polished marble floor, towering glass ceiling and curved columns that looked like flower stems supporting the glass above. Torches circled the columns at head height, but only one was lit.
Aed lifted it down and she saw that the stone handle was topped not by fire, but by another glowing orb like those they’d seen in the garden.
“This is one of the entry halls.”
“One of?”
“This castle is as old as Fae. I do not know all of it myself, and I would say there are few who do.”
They passed under the squares of moonlight, leaving the entry room for a large hallway. Their path twisted and turned, taking them along wide stone hallways, across sky bridges where the wind whipped Isabel’s hair and cloak, up and down stairways both straight and spiraled, and through courtyard gardens so lush and vibrant that Isabel couldn’t stop herself from slowing her pace to examine the flora. Once she looked back only to see that the opening they’d just come through was gone, a solid wall in its place.
With a rueful smile Isabel realized how naïve it was to think she could find her way out of here on her own. A seed of trepidation rooted in her belly, but she pushed it aside.
They entered a courtyard, the largest they’d passed through so far. Towering trees with trunks and protruding roots like banyans sat in the four corners, while a circular tiled mosaic floor took up the center of the square, its colors muted in the shadow of the trees.
Aed stiffened, then motioned for her to use a path along the edge rather than pass through the center. Something about his posture was different, and Isabel responded to his nonverbal signals—examining the courtyard for danger lurking in the shadows and root hollows. There was nothing there.
“Aed, my friend. Won’t you introduce me to our guest?”
Standing in the center of the mosaic, where there had been no one a moment before, was a tall, golden-haired man.
He waved his hand and lights flared to life in the canopy of the trees, bright as sunlight.
Isabel hissed, falling back a step before she could stop herself. The golden-haired male focused on her.
“Fear not, vampire. There is no sunlight here.” His words were musical to the point of being song, his accent making the French words sound even more lyrical than they already were.
Aed dropped to one knee, torch still held in one hand. “My Prince.”
Isabel looked from him to the figure. The golden-haired man seemed to be waiting, but Isabel knew her manners. Until introductions were made she would not curtsey.
The golden-haired man raised a brow. “Aed, introduce us.” He spoke in a language Isabel didn’t recognize, but she knew enough to pick out the words. It must be the language of the Tuatha de Danaan, which was the root of the human Celtic languages. Luckily Isabel had made a point of learning some of those, including Gaulish, which hadn’t survived to modern times, and Irish and Welsh, which humans still spoke.
She kept her face neutral, looking between the men as if she did not understand him.
Aed lifted his head, though he remained on one knee. “Prince Cairbe, this is Lady Isabel, Sage of the Bucharest Cabal and Counselor to Duke Drakul.” Her titles rolled smoothly off his tongue in French. Aed turned his head enough to look at her, and his eyes were hard and full of warning. “Lady Isabel, this is Prince Cairbe, Lord of Spring and oldest child of High King Cormac and High Queen Albha.”
Isabel sank into a deep curtsey, holding it for several beats before rising. Perhaps she should have waited for an invitation to rise, but she was no subject here, she was an ambassador. Among the Vampire she was of equivalent rank as this prince.
And she would not let any of them forget it.
“Prince Cairbe.” She pronouncing it carefully. Ka-bra.
He bowed, smiling at her all the while. “Lady Isabel. Welcome to Tara.”
“Thank you, Your Highness.”
His smile tightened and he took a step toward where she stood, safely in the shadows at the edge the courtyard.
Up close, he was perfect. His nose was narrow and straight, his eyes the green of spring. His hair sparkled in the light while dark lashes framed his incredible eyes. His lips could have been chiseled from stone they were so well formed. But they were not kissable the way Aed’s were.
The only flaw in his handsome, symmetrical face was a small beauty mark at the corner of his right eyebrow.
Desire rippled through her, and Isabel found herself looking him up and down, mentally stripping off the leather shirt and pants he wore. She had no doubt he would be well formed. Her nipples drew into tight peaks, her blood pooled in her sex, making her aware of her pussy in a way she had not been moments before. Each breath seemed to heighten her arousal, as if there were nothing more sensual than the way air slipped over her lips.
The more she looked the more she wanted him, but it was a strangely emotionless thing. Taking several steps forward, out of the safety of the shadows, she raised a hand toward his face. She needed him, wanted him. She would give anything to touch him, be touched by him. She would shed her dress, bare herself to him.
There the fantasy stopped. She didn’t crave him the way she’d once craved sweets, or the way she craved Aed. It was a mindless wanting. Almost as if…
As if her desire for him was born of magic, not lust.
Isabel pricked her tongue on her fang. The taste of blood, even her own, brought out the monster within her. Bloodlust was strong enough to override most magic. When she looked back at Prince Cairbe, the lust was still there, but it was muted. She dropped her hand.
Isabel caught the flash of surprise on his face and heard Aed’s armor clanking as if he too were reacting to her actions. Isabel curled her nails into her palm to control her anger. How dare he try to manipulate her?
“Tsk, tsk, Prince Cairbe.” She kept her tone light but could not stop herself from staring at his neck, imagining sinking her fangs into him. She’d make it hurt. “Are manners so different here in Tara that it’s acceptable for you to use your magic to lure an unwilling woman to your bed?”
He reacted as if she’d struck him—eyes round with shock, weight on his back leg.
“Isabel.” Aed’s voice held a hint of panic.
She braced herself for the prince’s anger, ready and willing to battle. He’d behaved badly and she’d called him on it. If he attacked now, the Vampire would be the wronged party…
…and free to attack Tara.
“You surprise me, Lady Isabel.” Cairbe’s voice was tight. “I assure you I meant no harm. There are some things we cannot control.”
She raised a brow. “I remember feeling like that, when I was very young.”
His lips twisted, and this time she was sure he’d lash out, but instead he started laughing. The sound was joyous and pure, like the toll of the finest bell. The lights in the trees brightened to a glaring whiteness and Isabel stepped back into the shadows, distrustful of that light.
“Well met, my lady.” Cairbe laughter faded to a smile. “I had not thought to find you so clever.” He raised his hands. “No games, I truly meant no harm.”
“Nor did I.” Isabel matched his smile. “Had I meant to harm anyone, I think I would not start the fight with you.”
“You flatter me. I enjoy it.” He turned to Aed. “Best of luck. I do not envy you this guard.”

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