We know that some of you have been waiting for Danann Frost Embraces the Darkness. The ebook and paperback versions will be released in June, but in the meantime here’s a little taster. Enjoy!
1. The Archangel Marael has Fallen from Grace
I looked around searching for Seth, Mia and the others. It was still dark and the moon was high…I could not have been gone for long, minutes or an hour at the most but there was no one in sight. “Seth” I called in shocked confusion. Where was my King?
It was icy cold and winter here…my gossamer gown was not enough to keep me warm, as I rubbed my arms vigorously trying to stave off the cold. My bare feet were like ice on the frozen, crunchy grass. “Frost” I murmured in a strangely amused mood of disorientation.
A sudden horrific thought raced through me as I thought of Ahern. Perhaps he had captured them here. I began to panic, wondering what the best thing to do might be. “Seth!” I began screaming. “Mia!” but all to no avail…there was no answer and no one came.
I remembered the small church nearby, it was only a few miles away and I would make that before dawn. The castle where Banning would be was too far away, more than ten miles; there was no way that I would make that in the dark of night on bare feet, before the first light of day.
It took some time on my painfully aching, brand-new feet but finally, I made it to the church. I went to the small presbytery around the back and banged urgently on the front door. Concern for Seth was uppermost on my mind and I sighed in relief as I finally heard mumbling on the other side of the door, before it was wrenched open by a startled man.
“My child” he murmured. “…you must be freezing…come in, come in” he urged. I did not have to be told twice, as he pushed me to a chair by an electric heater in the fire place. He put an afghan about my shoulders, before turning the heater onto the high setting and within about thirty seconds, I could feel my wiggling toes defrosting painfully but it felt so good.
A hot cup was pressed into my hands and I gripped it gratefully, enjoying the heat. “I’m Father Gilroy Moran” he said, sitting on the sofa, looking at me.
“Hello, Father Moran” I managed a small smile in between the hot warming sips of the tea he had made for me. “I’m Danann Frost and I need your help. I believe Seth…the King…”
I did not get to finish my thoughts as he cut me off. “It’s fine, my Lady…everyone around here knows of the King’s Lady, Danann Frost. It is a pleasure to meet you. I shall contact them and ask them to come for you.”
Before I could say another word, Father Moran had left the room and gone back to the kitchen and I could soon hear him speaking on the phone. “It’s Father Gilroy Moran at St Patrick’s. Please tell the King that the lady, Danann Frost is here.”
He was soon back and I wondered why Seth had not waited for me. Had something happened to draw him away? I knew that they compelled the humans hereabouts to not notice their lack of aging amongst other delicate things but still…this was all so strange. I knew enough however, to know that it would be best to wait for Seth to arrive, rather than to question Father Moran.
The Catholic priest made me some toast and marmalade and another cup of tea. I ate quietly, grateful for something in my empty stomach and drank the tea which was strangely comforting against the internal trembling I felt, as I tried to adjust to my newly-born body. Even breathing seemed like a strange phenomenon.
It did not take long before I heard an urgent banging at the door. I put my cup down on the little side table and stood up nervously, not knowing what Seth would think; he was expecting the return of an Angel…not another Fallen Abomination.
I heard voices, then a strange man was entering the room; a vampire I had never met before. “Danann Frost?” he enquired with a smile of delight.
I was somewhat taken aback, I could not believe that Seth had not come for me, himself. “Yes” I rasped softly. “Where is the King? Why did he not…come for me?”
“The King awaits you at the castle and he bid me to escort you. Are you ready?”
“Very well” I said softly. I was somewhat bothered that neither Asher nor even Banning had been sent for me but it would be inappropriate to discuss that with this man.
I thanked Father Moran for his hospitality but his eyes were glazed over and I knew that he had just been compelled. I did not question it, secrecy had to be maintained however uncomfortable it made me feel.
The vampire escorted me out of there and seated me in the back seat of a luxury car, before getting in the front and driving away. I knew that it would not take long to get there, he had arrived fairly quickly and dawn was still several hours away, so I knew that I was safe.
The fact that Seth had firstly disappeared but then had not come for me himself, worried me. Had I irreparably damaged his feelings for me with all that had passed between us? I lost myself deep in thought as the flowing Irish countryside passed by in blackened, unappreciated splendour. My mind was not well connected to the here and now and somehow, I knew it.
Eventually, I saw a castle on a small rise ahead in the darkness. It loomed and dominated the barren Irish countryside, surrounding it. The car drove across an actual drawbridge and under a portcullis that lowered behind us with a bang. I was trapped inside now, something that would be just fine if only Seth was waiting for me. The fact that his mother and sister were here was strangely frightening and only just occurring to me. I had thought that I would be angry but I could not well that emotion up within me, I did not seem to have the desire for it.
I thought about what I had been through in the last hour or two. I had died by that lake in Mia’s arms before battling Uriel and winning. I had evolved naturally into an Archangel and absorbed all the knowledge of my kind before Falling again. I was sick. I wanted to vomit.
I was sitting in a strange car with a strange vampire in a strange place. I was strangely vulnerable and I so wanted to be gone from here. I knew from experience that it would take me several weeks to feel some semblance of normality again. Unfortunately before then, I knew that it was going to be a horrible, roller-coaster of a ride. Asher had warned me about my mood swings, though in truth…I tended not to notice them myself, whilst I was actually experiencing them.
The car pulled up on the cobblestones by an arched entrance. I could not see well in the darkness but I didn’t care…I just wanted to see Seth and if not, certainly Mia. My silent driver was opening my door before I could even see him get out of the vehicle. He took my hand and helped me to alight and I shivered in the cold winter night.
He indicated that I should precede him, so I went through the archway in slow trepidation, making my way through an open doorway to be met by a young, blond woman waiting at the foot of the stairs. “Take the Lady Danann to her room” my escort ordered her. “The King orders that she rest before the feast tomorrow night. See to it that she is shown every courtesy.” He bowed slightly to me, before turning away.
“But…” I had no chance to say anything further because he was gone. I turned to the blond vampire waiting to escort me up the stairs. “I must see the King” I told her urgently, as tears began to well in my eyes.
“My Lady, you are exhausted. The King is not here at the moment; he is dealing with…a problem. Allow me to care for you and you will see him when you have rested.”
“What about Mia?” I asked quickly. “Mia Hamilton?”
“Mrs Hamilton is not here” I was told, then firmly led up the stairs and down a long hallway. I was shown into a large room that was surprisingly modern for a castle. “We have had shutters installed, my Lady. We have been told of your…difficulties” she said, somewhat delicately.
“Thank you” I said, biting my lip to keep from bursting into tears. It suddenly seemed as though my head was exploding with fear.
“The bathroom is through here and there are clothes in the closet.” She walked to the cupboard, opened it and took something out of it. “I have selected a gown for you. Would you like me to assist you, my Lady?” she enquired pleasantly.
“Thank you…no” I said quickly. “What is your name?”
“I am Pamela. If you have need of me, just press that button by the bed there.”
“Thank you, Pamela” I said softly and she finally left.
I sat on the bed trying to absorb everything that was happening to me. Where was Seth and why did they did they even know that he was here? Had Ahern attacked? I had no answers and knew that I would not get any until Seth returned. I looked around the room; it was well appointed and very comfortable and modern. A fire blazed in the stone-rimmed hearth casting a warm and cheery glow over the room. The furniture was all a dark and chunky timber and the bed was a massive four poster; larger even than the standard King size that Seth favoured. The coverlets were a heavy, navy and gold brocade that suited the look of the room.
I was tired and both physically and emotionally exhausted; so much so that I was craving sleep almost as much as I was craving Seth’s presence. I refused to believe all of the horrible thoughts running through my head, so I got up and went into the bathroom to shower. It was very modern and simple, all white tile but it had what I really wanted and that was lots of hot water.
After washing my hair, I got out and towel dried it, before dressing in the simple, pale blue nightgown. I went and sat on the rug in front of the fire, where I dried my hair by running my fingers through it vigorously, before getting up and climbing into the bed. I used the remote control on the bedside table to turn the wall-mounted television on. It hung above the fireplace and I just wanted it for company, I felt so alone. I turned it on to an early morning breakfast show, then snuggled under the covers. I wished more than anything that at any moment Seth would arrive and that he would slide his long, lean, muscular body against mine and take me in his arms. He would hold me and I would feel safe…and loved.
I waited in vain; for it did not happen and then finally, several hours after going to bed, I fell into an exhausted, dreamless sleep.
“My Lady” I heard a voice in the distance, at the very edges of my consciousness.
“Mia?” I mumbled.
“Lady Danann” the voice insisted once more and my eyes burst open, as I sat up.
“Where am I?” I asked quickly, totally disoriented.
“You are here at the castle, Lady Danann. It is time to get ready for the feast” she insisted.
I could recall meeting this young, blond vampire the night before, though calling her young could be totally wrong, for all I knew she could have been ancient. “Is the King here?” I asked, urgently.
“You will see him at the feast, my Lady. He has sent you this gift and asks that you wear it.” She pointed to a large box at the foot of the bed. “Allow me to help you” she insisted as I swung my feet out of the bed and rubbed the sleep from my eyes.
Within twenty minutes, I was wearing the most ridiculous outfit I had ever worn in my life. I was encased in a slinky, red satin, full-length gown that was backless and cut very low in the front. It had a buttoned halter neck and I was supremely uncomfortable in it; I never wore anything as revealing as this.
Pamela made me sit in front of a mirrored dressing tableas she turned her hands to my hair. She was very clever the way she piled it on top of my head, leaving a large section to trail forward over my shoulder, where it fell to my waist.
She took a small wooden box and opened it, laying it on the dresser. I gasped as I stared at what had to be rubies. “They’re not…” I whispered.
“They’re some of the Crown Jewels, Lady Danann…the King wishes to see you wearing them.” She secured the large collar of rubies around my neck but had to forgo the matching, long dangling earrings because they were not pierced in this, my new body. They should have been; being rebirthed was all about my own self image but I had been so desolate over my wings that I had been determined to keep the gold strands in my hair. I’d let my scars go too…I had no longer needed them as a reminder of not to trust.
This was all beginning to make a strange kind of sense to me. Seth had been so cold, ordering me about; was this an extension of that because if so, I did not like it, not one little bit.
I slipped my feet into red, satin stilettos; eager to be out of that room and giving Seth a piece of my mind. They kept talking about this feast tonight and that bothered me, somewhat. What on earth did they mean by a feast? The only thing that vampires feasted on was blood and I did not want to see them doing that!
Pamela escorted me from the room and led the way past the stairs I had climbed only last night. We made our way to the end of the hall, before going down a curving stone stairway and down another hall. She began mumbling something under her breath and I knew that she was speaking in too fast a tone for me to comprehend; it was something that all vampires did. “Wait here, my Lady” Pamela said quietly and I nodded my thanks to her before she left. I tried adjusting the low-cut front of the dress again, supremely conscious of just how much bosom was exposed…he was going to cop such a telling-off for this.
The wooden door swung open and I heard a babble of voices before a man spoke briefly. “One moment.” I watched as he turned back to the room and in a booming voice announced “The Lady Danann Frost…companion to the King.”
I froze in shock and discomfort as I heard a crash. I could not believe that Seth was treating me like this, like some sort of concubine. He might just as well have introduced me as the ‘Royal Slut!’ Before I could go back the way I’d come, the man in the doorway took my hand and literally dragged me forth. I looked around at the enormous room that was full of people sitting at wooden tables in a giant ‘U’ shape. I could not see Seth nor anyone that I knew.
I was quickly escorted to a large wooden chair next to what appeared to be a throne. All eyes were on me and I flushed in horrified embarrassment.
“AHERN!” I heard a voice roaring and I stared in the direction of the anger. It was Julian and beside him was Mia. I made to stand but I was pushed forcibly back into my seat by the vampire that had escorted me into the room. He held me in place with his hands clamped firmly on my bare shoulders.
Why had Julian called for Ahern? This made no sense. Mia looked both angry and miserable…I did not understand anything that was going on and I was beginning to think that perhaps, I did not want to.
Julian appeared to have his hand clamped on Mia and I suspected that he was holding her in place. I turned as I heard laughter behind me and I saw an attractive, young-looking man of about twenty-five or so, coming down the stone steps behind the throne. “Hamilton” he said loudly, in obvious good cheer. “Do you know my companion? Breathtakingly beautiful, is she not?”
I watched in dawning horror as he approached me, took my shocked hand in his and raised it to his lips. I tried to snatch it away but he was too strong for me and held my hand in his. His eyes held mine and I wished that I could wake from this nightmare.
When he finally let me go, I snatched my hand away and turned to stare at Mia in horror; my eyes begging her to save me.
“He will have your head for this!” Julian bellowed angrily. “You are making a deadly mistake, Ahern…do not confuse his indifference with indulgence. He will tear through your Kingdom and decimate every man, woman and child for the return of this woman.”
Julian’s warning was savage and horrific and I had to wonder if it was true but all Ahern did, was laugh. He sat on the throne beside me and rested one leg over the arm, as he reached for my hand once more. I tried to move out of his grasp but he was too fast for me.
I wanted to tear his jewels and gown from my body but clearly, I could not. “Tell your King that this is my woman now and tomorrow…we wed.” He laughed again and I knew that he was enjoying himself immensely. “Nothing he can do will stop it…this woman is to be mine. I look forward to the honeymoon” he said, suggestively in an Irish accent that was so appealing, it seemed to belie his savage intentions.
I jumped to my feet ready to run, though to where, I had no idea. Ahern moved vampire fast to stand behind me and he wrapped his arms around my body, pulling me back against him. I gasped in shock and tried to tear myself from his grasp but all I succeeded in doing was arousing his delight. “She is amazing, is she not?” he asked Julian, as he gently bit my ear.
I gasped in shock, spun in the circle of his arms slapping his face as hard as I could. I knew that it was ineffectual, he was an ancient vampire but I had to do it. “Don’t touch me!” I snapped.
“Our honeymoon is going to be…” he breathed deeply as though inhaling my scent in anticipation before finishing his thought. “…pure…pleasure” he smiled beguilingly as he gazed down at me. He was a very attractive guy with blond hair that fell over his forehead and his smile was to die for but I wanted to hate him…he had no right to do this to me and I had foolishly issued an invitation to him in the most basic of ways by slapping him. He was a predator and I knew better.
“Banriona!” I heard Mia’s stern disapproval and I realised that Ahern and I had been staring into each others’ eyes for long, long moments.
I flushed guiltily and lowered my face.
“Enough!” I heard Ahern announce but all trace of his humour was gone and suddenly he sounded nothing but serious. “Inform your King of my impending nuptials and my absolute and utter delight with my intended bride.” My head snapped up again and once more, I found myself staring into Ahern’s warm, brown eyes. “Escort them out” he said softly, his eyes never leaving mine.
I turned when I heard a scuffle. “He will come, Banriona!” Mia wailed. “He will come for you, my Lady…be strong.”
“Mia” I whispered, shaking my head in disconcertion. I was all wrong; I was still disoriented…was it only yesterday that I had been birthed into this body. Everything seemed so new and not quite right; I wasn’t used to it yet.
“Come, Danann” I heard a soft, masculine voice murmur and I looked up to find Ahern gazing down at me, once more. “We need to get to know each other.”
I allowed myself to be led out of there, more because I was sick of all of those people staring at me; there had to be at least fifty people in that hall.
Mia and Julian would tell Seth where I was…she had promised that he would come for me…would it be safe for him? Why had he not waited by the lake for me in the first place? Why had he left me alone?
Ahern led me down a hallway and into a large room. It appeared to be a library; it was lined with bookshelves and had a fire blazing in the hearth. There was a leather chesterfield sofa and two matching tub chairs set in front of the fireplace. “Have a seat” he said softly and escorted me to the sofa. “Can I get you something to drink?” he asked with a beguiling smile.
I thought for a brief moment, wanting something to both calm me down and fortify my nerves. “Cognac…if you have it” I whispered, nervously.
“Of course” he turned away and went to a drinks cabinet across the room and poured a generous measure into a crystal brandy balloon, before coming back and handing it to me.
“Thank you” I murmured, taking a small, fortifying sip.
He sat down in one of the tub chairs and leaned back lazily, gazing at me. “I should introduce myself properly to you Danann…I am Eamon Ahern, King of the Province Kingdom of Connacht, County Mayo, Ireland.”
“Why am I here?” I asked in trepidation.
“You are frightened of me” it was an observation, not a question. “There is no need…I find myself intrigued by you but for the life of me…I do not know why.”
“Why were you saying those things…about marrying me?” I asked curiously, as I sipped my Cognac. I was strangely comfortable around him which made no sense to me at all.
“After Father Moran rang yesterday to tell us you were there, I put my plan in action. I brought you here and I sent a message to my enemy, asking him to send an emissary and that I had some information that might interest him.”
“Why did Father Moran ring you? He seemed to know who I was.”
He smiled at me in obvious appreciation. “Very astute, Danann. I can see that I won’t be able to trick you with anything. Father Moran had been compelled to inform us of anything unusual and we had been told…some time ago admittedly, that you might show up.”
I nodded thoughtfully. “What exactly…is your plan?”
“It was to rile Riordan, of course but now that I have met you…talked to you a little…” He stared at me in such deep thought, I wasn’t sure that he was going to speak again. “I have never been in love” he said suddenly. “I presume you know the story about how our little conflict started?”
“Yes…I know that Seth’s grandfather married your intended. You did not love her?” I asked curiously and he shook his head in nonchalance. “Why did you begin the war, then?”
“It was a blow to my pride; it happened over twelve hundred years ago” he said, as if that explained it.
“Surely you did not make war for that long just because you were in a snit over someone you don’t even purport to care about?” I was incredulous and my tone was scathing.
“Danann…you are truly a delight. The war continues to rage because it must. We had peace for a time and I confess that my people and I enjoyed that but Riordan began attacking again and it as though nothing has changed.”
“What?” I asked in disbelief. I had been told the stories of their origins but for this to start up again…I could not believe that Seth would do that and besides, he had only been here a day. Ahern had to be lying, he must have attacked and Seth had had to defend himself. Seth had exiled himself for one hundred and eighty years; he would not have just thrown that away. “Why?”
“Perhaps that is the way of the vampire” he suggested, shrugging annoyingly. “Manannan told us in the beginning that when we defeated the enemy, we would all go to Tir Na nOg, where we will dwell in peace in the Land of the ever-young and who knows? Maybe it is true…I would like to see the Summerlands” he confessed.
I could tell that he believed that about as much as I did, which is to say, not at all. “What am I to call you?” I asked quickly.
“Eamon” he said firmly. “You must call me Eamon.”
“But Eamon…you are already forever young and you could dwell in peace if you so choose it.”
“I have thought of this before, Danann…you are named for the Goddess” he said thoughtfully, more to himself than me. He shook his head suddenly as if to clear it. “Forget all that, tell me about yourself…what do you do, where do you live…everything?”
I was a little taken aback by his seemingly genuine interest and so long as he was not going to hurt me, which he did not seem to want; I was happy enough to talk to him. “I live in Australia at the moment but I will soon have to move on; I don’t age, you see.”
“I know. You are an Angel; Eiluned and Mab told me though…I’m not sure that I ever quite believed it.”
“They did?” I asked incredulously. “When? Why?”
“Several hundred years ago, they conspired with me. They are treacherous women those two and not to be trusted. They sent an emissary requesting an audience with me and though I thought it was a trick, I agreed to go. When you have lived as long as I have, you become reckless, though we guard our existence jealously.” He stared at me for several moments before continuing. “They hated you” he said thoughtfully. “All because they did not want to lose the creature comforts that their son and brother provided. He has afforded them much pride over the years, I’ll allow him that. Anyway, they told me to send men to the lake near the church, where you were found yesterday but Riordan laid them to waste. What happened?”
“Eiluned and Mab sent humans to attack me. Men who were ordered to…despoil me; rape and kill me.”
“In consecrated ground?”
Clearly they had told him much. “Yes” I rasped. “What are you…what are you going to do to me?” I demanded in fear.
To my surprise, he laughed. “Marry you, of course. Danann…you are the first woman that I have wished to marry in over twelve hundred years and the last one was simply an arranged marriage; she was not of my choosing but you…you are very much of my choosing. You know, though I told Hamilton that we were to be wed, I did not mean it until I saw you. Before that, I simply wanted to issue an invitation to Riordan but now…now I want to keep you. As each minute passes…each second even…I grow more and more intrigued with you.” He grinned at me impishly and though he annoyed me with his words, it was difficult to be angry with him but it brought other, more scary thoughts to the forefront of my mind.
I stood up in a panic. I had heard of this before…when vampires fell in love, it happened almost instantly, over a very short span of time and once it had happened there was no going back, it was forever. “No, Eamon…please don’t allow this to happen. It can’t happen…you cannot mean…”
He stood up and walked slowly…purposefully toward me. “I chose the wrong dress for you, Danann…I wanted to rile Riordan with reports of how you looked but now…now I want to dress you for me. I want to swathe you in a blue velvet gown, soft and delicate. I want flowers in your hair and a crown on your head.” His arms snaked around me so fast, I did not see it. “Am I not an attractive man, Danann? I can make you happy. I can make you love me…I know it.” His voice was soft and seductive and totally beguiling.
“Why?” I had to ask in a confused whisper.
He sighed deeply and his eyes narrowed thoughtfully; I could almost see the thoughts ticking over in his head. “You…intrigue me. Every woman I have ever met has bowed and scraped before me. Has wanted me even before I even glanced in their direction but you…you are a challenge, I can see it in your eyes.” His tone lowered an octave or two to a deep resonant timbre. “When you slapped me…I could almost smell the indignation coming off you. There is something about you…a mystery that I want to touch…to taste and I don’t just mean your blood.”
“You just want the challenge of trying to make me want you?” I asked incredulously. “I am a living, breathing woman…I am more than just a damn challenge. Eamon…what happened to you, to make you so…so…unfeeling?” I spat.
His arms that were around me instantly tightened, pulling me in closer and his eyes had blackened; his fangs glistening in the firelight. “I am vampire” he growled and ran his hand down my bare back in the lightest of caresses. “I am experiencing…more than lust…more than…blood lust. I want…more” he growled.
“You” he said darkly. “You, Danann.”
His words shook me; mostly because I was having trouble reconciling his words and actions. I was disoriented anyway from being birthed so recently and everything seemed surreal; almost as though I was watching my life play out on television but Eamon Ahern…I was not frightened of him but I knew that I should be. What of Seth? Julian had said he would come but he had not waited for me…Why?
I jumped at the loud knock on the door and Eamon slowly dropped a kiss at my temple, before answering. “Yes?” he growled softly, his hands and eyes still focussed solely on me.
The door opened and I turned to see the man who had escorted me into the hall earlier. “Sire…the enemy is at the gate.”
I froze. Seth was here…I knew it. “Eamon” I appealed softly. “Please, Eamon.”
He turned once more to gaze at me and his expression softened. I felt a shiver run through him. “The way you say that” he whispered, “I want to hear it over and over, Danann. You will say it again…you will beg me” he said. “You will beg for my touch…for my love.” His voice had taken on a sexual intonation and I quivered involuntarily. “Soon…soon you will be mine…my Queen.” I watched as the expression on his face hardened. “Take the Lady Danann to her room and double the guard on her quarters” he ordered.
“No!” I shouted angrily. “Eamon, please…let me go.”
With one last look at me, I could see the hardened resolve in his blackened expression. “This will be over soon and you will forget your past. I promise” and with that he was gone.
I made to run after him, to try to get myself out of here but I was grabbed firmly, painfully and thrust roughly through the door. This vampire did not like me at all; it was not hard to tell. I stumbled back down the hall with him pushing me whole way. “Move it!” he snapped harshly. I fell several times, grazing my knees through the satin and stumbled against the wall, knocking the side of my face. “Human garbage” he spat disgustedly. I did not bother to enlighten him, it might only make things worse.
I was glad to finally make it back to the room I had been given; so much so that I quickly closed the door behind me. I stripped off the dress which was now torn at the knees and thrust the jewellery into the wooden box it had come in. I wrapped myself in a dressing gown that was hanging in the wardrobe, when I heard a knock at the door. “Lady Danann” Pamela said, smiling as she came in. “I’m here to help you change and keep you company until the King returns.
“Thank you, Pamela” I murmured as I went into the bathroom to take down my hair. I pulled all the pins out before brushing it through, then went back into the bedroom to get something to wear. The guards abuse had made me numb, as though I were just going through the motions of normal, everyday activities that I could trust.
“My Lady” Pamela exclaimed in instant concern, “what have you done to your face?” She touched my cheekbone and I winced; it must have been from where I had stumbled against the wall. Pamela was silent for long moments. “Who did this to you, my Lady?” she asked firmly but quietly.
I shook my head trying to throw her off; I did not know these people and I had no idea whether or not telling would simply reward me with more of the same.
I watched as Pamela sniffed the air delicately and instantly her fangs descended. “My Lady” she exclaimed. “You are bleeding!” In a swift, vampiric move, she opened the dressing gown I was wearing and pushed it off my shoulders before examining me thoroughly. She saw the bleeding scrapes on my knees before running her eyes down my arms, where even I could see the bruises forming. Pamela pursed her lips in seeming anger but she did not say anything else, she simply helped me to dress in a pair of plain black leggings and a long, woollen, Aran sweater that fell halfway down my thighs.
I sat on the bed, wincing as I pulled my socks on. Pamela was examining the damaged, red satin dress and now believing that she would not attack me, I dared to speak. “Pamela?” My voice was tentative.
“Yes, my Lady?” she asked softly, turning to me.
“Seth…what is happening down there? Please tell me” I begged in anguish. I felt tears forming in my eyes but still nothing felt real…all of this was almost dream-like and it was like it was happening to someone else…as though I was watching events unfold in a movie at the cinema.
“The King is talking to the enemy but do not worry…we are well protected.”
“Pamela…Seth comes to take me away. I have to go.”
“My Lady…the King carries an unusual regard for you. He is a good man and will make you a good husband.” I knew that there was no point in appealing to her, she was not going to help me, Pamela was far too devoted to Eamon. “I will order food and drink for you” she said with a smile and an expression, that said that that was all that was required to make a human calm and happy.
She walked to the phone by the bedside and spoke too fast for me to understand her, before putting the phone down once more. Just as she was hanging up, the door slammed open and my earlier, abusive escort stood in the doorway, glowering at me.
“I have orders to take you downstairs” he spat and as he stalked towards me, I cringed back.
Pamela moved to stand in between us. “The Lady Danann is not going anywhere. The King must come here” she told him firmly.
He looked shocked momentarily, before he tried to push her out of the way but she shoved him hard and he stumbled backwards. I had to wonder if Pamela was older than him because he did not come back for more; instead he turned on his heel and left the room.
“It was him, wasn’t it?” Pamela asked and I eyed her warily; it was one thing for her to guess it, quite another for me to confess it.
Barely a minute later, the door was slamming open once more and Eamon Ahern was standing there, glaring at Pamela in anger. I stumbled off the bed and stood behind the post by the bed head, peering over at them.
“Pamela” he said angrily.
“My Lord” she curtsied low before standing to boldly stare into his face once more. “Lady Danann has been abused, here in your castle.”
“What?” he spat in a combination of anger and disbelief, as he turned toward me and studied me in depth. I knew that he saw the bruises from the way his eyes narrowed and blackened. “Come here” he ordered softly but I could not move, I was almost plastered to the spot.
Pamela came and guided me forward firmly but gently. I stood in front of Eamon and he stared once more at the bruises on my face. “What else?” he demanded and it was Pamela who answered, as I kept my eyes averted in a strange sense of shame.
I had nothing to be ashamed of but what had been done to me made me feel weak and vulnerable and I hated that I felt that way. I hated that it had been all too easy for him to do this to me.
Pamela picked up the dress once more and showed him the damage, as she gave him a run down on my injuries. “Lady Danann has some nasty scrapes on her knees and bruises on both her upper arms. She has obviously been grabbed in aggression.”
Eamon closed his eyes and I could see that he was struggling to control himself. I stumbled backwards involuntarily but his hand reached out and pulled me to him quickly but with the utmost of care. He was very gentle as he touched the bruises on my cheek…he was so tender; his touch was like that of a butterfly’s wing. “Who?” he asked softly and I shivered as I looked up into his darkened eyes.
“I don’t know and she won’t say but I suspect that it was Gair. He was rough with her in the hall and shoved her back in the chair with unnecessary force. When he came to collect her earlier he was aggressive and she cringed from him.”
“Summon Gair” Eamon told her and Pamela left the room as he turned to me once more. “I am more sorry than you can know Danann, that this has happened to you here, under my care.”
Excerpt from Danann Frost Embraces the Darkness Copyright (c) 2009 – 2011 Joanne Valiukas