As promised, here is a sneak peek at my latest creation. The Blood Courtesan. Here's a little bit about the story itself. I have always loved films and stories from far away places. One of my all time favorites is one of the romance capitals of the world; Venice,Italy. I love the city whose streets are literally water and anyone who has ever visited has taken countless romantic gondola rides. Venice is so much more than it's water filled streets, it echoes of a bygone era of Venetian balls,decadence, and the infamous Courtesans of Venice. Women who had no pedigree or were born of lowly birth with no dowry were given few options. They could either find work as a maid or within some house or at a nunnery. Women were not educated beyond their social status. Many women were illiterate. Courtesans, however were afforded the luxury of education and many like Victoria De Franco, Venice's most famed Courtesan, were not only had high social standing but were also favored by royalty.They lived in a gold gilded cage however. They were only treasured as long as they were young and beautiful and up until the dreaded Spanish Inquisition and plague years. So while I was intrigued by their history, I was inspired to write a story blending history with one of my favorite genres, paranormal romance. So I hope you enjoy your snippet and I hope to read your feedback!
I was born in 1550 in Venice, Italy. Like my mother before me, I became a courtesan since that was the only way I could provide for my family as there was no male son or dowry for a suitable marriage. It was not a choice I would have made for myself. I was mentored by the famous of all courtesans, Veronica De Franco. Venice was all about the beauty and splendor. We were revered by all that saw us in our finery, envied by women, and sought out by men of all means of wealth and power. One night, one dance, and one man would change my stars yet again for a life I would not have chosen. He walked into the ball of the Doge one night, dressed in finery unlike any I had ever seen before. His dark hair was wild, like the mane of a lion around his face but it was his eyes-those pale blue eyes that seemed as wild as a sea during a storm. Other courtesans and ladies of the court desired him, but he had eyes for no one but me. The room-the world seemed to stop as he turned from the Doge towards me, and motioned me. I went without care-without pause as if I was under some spell. He possessed me and it was then I knew that I would never be able to be touched by another man, except for him.
I woke up a week later, although it only seemed only hours, in his bed and it was then I learned I would never see the sun again nor would my life be the same as it was before. At first I rebelled against him, my dark prince who touched my soul like he touched my body. I came to love him though and accept my life as a fledgling. For many weeks we were happy and for many nights we were like two people possessed. If I could have slipped underneath his skin, I would not have been close enough to him. Then came the sad, sad day when he had to take me to a friend, a trusted ally to keep me safe and to further train me while he was away; summoned by some force not even I knew of. I begged him and pleaded with him to not leave me-to let me come with him. He wouldn’t. However, my prince did not deliver me to a friend but to evil herself. He was gone and could not hear my cries nor could he hear my call. My prince, my heart, and my reason for living-gone and all that remained was pain and torture. In the moments that I thought I would finally lie down and seek death’s dark embrace, I was saved but not by my dark prince-but someone else.
That is the story of Evangelia Antoinetta DiSilvo. What remains is Lia, Venus to the men who see me and to the men who are unworthy-I am retribution!
The club was packed. Smoke was like a haze that filled it and the sounds of voices filled the air. The men sat at tables keeping their attention upon the stage. None of the six dancers had really held any interest. They were all there to see the club’s premier attraction; Venus.
“ Now for the one you’ve been waiting for, get your wallets out gents, because the queen of the Paradise Lost Gentleman’s Club, Venus is making her way to the stage.” The DJ announced before putting on a haunting but seductive selection.
Through the dark curtains stepped out a statuesque woman dressed in a scarlet silken robe that was open down the front revealing the creamy expanse of skin, the promise of perfect breasts, and a barely there red silk patch adorned with sparkling rhinestones that moved as she walked. No one had ever seen the face of Venus, because true to form she was wearing her customary half mask that was adorned with bright red and jet black feathers surrounding a gold mask that only revealed her ruby red lips and her hypnotic dark eyes. She walked slowly, allowing the robe to fall off her body effortlessly. She took in the crowd and began to move her hips to the beat of the music. Her breasts were free except for the jeweled pasties that covered her nipples. Her dance was one of seduction; of dangerous seduction with every bump and grind. Unlike the other dancers, she didn’t have to flaunt her pussy or jiggle her ass. She was a work of fine art with each movement. She captivated her audience and ignored the money that they held out and thrown at her feet. Venus was too interested in her movements as she weaved a fantasy for every man in the room and as she sought out one whose thoughts fueled her hunger. When she found him, she slinked over towards him and turned her hypnotic dark eyes upon him. To those around them, he was the luckiest bastard on the planet-to her he was another meal. She leaned close to his ear and whispered before standing up and grabbed the pole in the middle of the stage. She twirled around it and then the lights went out. No one saw her gather the money and slide through the dark curtains once again. The other girls in the back never saw her go through a side door into a private room that was hers and no one else’s.
Tommy Turner walked through the club as if he had just won the lottery. Maybe to him, he had. He finished his beer before he got to the velvet roped off area where a man the size of a brick wall stood.
“Um, I’m here to see Venus.” He said jerking up his pants before shoving his hands in them.
The bouncer curled up his lip as if Tommy was nothing more than a gnat that was getting on his nerves.
“Venus doesn’t see patrons.” He said gruffly.
Tommy began to look annoyed but then it didn’t take much to flip his switch.
“Listen man, the lady told me to be here after the dance and I’m here. So move aside.” He said more insistently.
The bouncer crossed his arms over his chest, “Is that so? Well perhaps your hearing is off.”
Okay Tommy was about to blow a gasket but before he could give the bouncer a what for, Venus opened the door and whispered to the bouncer who without a thought un- clicked the velvet rope and waved Tommy through. Tommy smiled-tonight was his night! Venus still wearing her mask led the way inside the room that looked like an old fashioned saloon parlor. Red velvet couches matched the red interior. She walked over to a mini bar and poured a drink and brought it to Tommy. Tommy at first was apprehensive because he only had twenty bucks in his pocket and the last thing he wanted to do was buy some stripper a high priced drink, but it was Venus-and not just your ordinary stripper. To be able to lay claim to fucking her would be like winning the Gold Medal in the Olympics or a Super Bowl ring.
Venus watched as he drank the shot and pasted a good boy smile on his face. She smiled as she listened to his thoughts. She knew she had chosen well. Venus began to light some candles.
“So Tommy, how are you enjoying your evening so far?” she asked in a husky voice.
Tommy scratched his head, he hated small talk. He was already to get to the fucking. If he wanted small talk he would have stayed home with his wife and their brat.
Venus smiled seductively as she moved. Her robe was unbelted as it had been when she had taken to the stage. She could hear every thought in Tommy’s head. He didn’t work but his wife who he beat on a weekly basis, worked two jobs and they barely made ends meet because all their money went towards the drugs he took and sold. Right now he had spent most of their rent money that his wife had tried to hide and when she had fought him for it, he had beaten her. His little son was probably still huddled in the closet scared out of his mind that his father would return and beat his mother more. Already that seed of needless violence had been planted. What Tommy didn’t know, was that he’d have a change of heart if she didn’t first rip it out of first.
Venus straddled a wide eyed Tommy and framed his face with her hands, her long fingernails gently caressing his face. She could feel his erection and the adrenaline pumping through his veins. She lowered her face just a breath from his; a cat playing with a mouse.
“Tommy, you like to hit women, don’t you? You are cruel to your wife and child who sits huddled at the shack that you dwell in. I can smell the drugs you’ve taken and the ones in your left jacket pocket.”
Tommy’s face turned red as he tried to push her off of him, but Venus was stronger and stayed right where she was. He tried to curse, but found his voice wouldn’t work. She laughed softly,
“Ah, yes but tonight you will go home to your wife. You will empty your pockets of what money you have and you will apologize to them before you pack what few belongings you have and leave and never return. You will then go to the police station and admit to all your crimes including the elderly man you nearly beat to death for fifty dollars. When and if you get out of jail you will get out of this town and find suitable work and become a decent mortal.”
As if under a spell he nodded with a blank look on his face. It was then that Venus turned his head and struck. She hated the ones who took drugs. It left an unpleasant taste to the blood, but she needed to feed. When she had taken all she could stand to take from him, she licked the wounds and sent him on his way out the back door of the club. Venus retreated to the shower that was in the room and cleansed the foul stench of Tommy Turner off her body, dressed in a pair of plain jeans with a black sweater, and grabbed her jacket and money as she left the club.
As usual she found herself walking towards Harris Street, towards a two story Tudor style house with blue shutters. She opened the wrought iron gate and sighed at the lone candle that sat in one of the windows as she pulled an envelope containing the money she’d earned and slipped it through the slot in the door before turning to leave. Debra Cason had turned her home into a half way house for women and children who were in need of a safe place to stay, and Lia always dropped by with money.
She had met Debra about six years ago, when Debra was trying to help a young woman from one of the worst neighborhoods in town. A pimp had grabbed Debra and was just about to strike the middle-aged woman when Lia had intervened. Debra knew there was something different about Lia, but she never said anything. Some nights, when Debra was up late, Lia would sit with her for awhile. Debra represented what she had wished her own mother had been; a woman who would have protected her from the dirty and violent side of life. Instead her mother had taught her to be a courtesan; a whore to any man who had enough gold to purchase her for the night.
It would be dawn in a few hours, and she needed to feed once more before retiring for the evening. She used her preternatural speed and ended up in the city park where a man sat at a bus stop. She reached out with her mind and found that he was healthy and was a decent man. He taught physics at the local community college. She would only take enough to sustain her and leave him no worse for wear.
By the time she returned to her modest home, which was a two story brownstone, she caught the scent of someone from long ago-someone who had betrayed her. She stalked through her house and there lying across her leather couch was Darius Dragotto. He was every bit as sinful as he had been all those years when he had been the Marquis Dragotto. His hair was still long and dark and his eyes that hypnotizing blue that looked like the sea during a storm. His long jean clad legs stretched across the couch and his white shirt was open just enough to see his chest. Those lips, the thousands of times he had kissed her with those perfectly full lips made her insides burn. Why was he here? How had he found her? She had been running from him for centuries and had finally managed to have some semblance of normal without him. Why hadn’t he been there when she needed him, when she still loved him? The old pain surged through her.
“What are you doing here?” she sneered.
Darius rose to his full height, “I’ve come for you Evangelia. You belong to me.”
Lia let out a sarcastic laugh, “Me? Belong to you? I think you’re a bit late on that one Darius. Leave now and go back to whatever hell you crawled out of. Evangelia no longer lives here, she died centuries ago waiting on a lover that never showed.”
Darius knew this wasn’t going to be easy, but he had lived far too long without her. His mind was set, and he was going to claim what was his. He took a step towards her and she moved backwards.
“GET.OUT.NOW!” she hissed.
He kept advancing towards her with the gait of a predator after its prey. “I cannot. I’ve looked for you for so very long and I can no longer exist without you.”
She snorted, “Well try, it’s easy to do. It starts with you leaving my house and leaving forever. Why don’t you just give it a try?”
Darius could feel the rage, the hatred, but he could also feel the pain that radiated from her.
“Evangelia,” she stopped him before he could utter another word.
“The name is Lia, are you deaf? Evangelia no longer exists. The woman you came for no longer exists. Get it through your thick skull.” She screamed.
Darius wasn’t about to be moved. “I will not give you up. I’ve spent centuries looking for you, needing you, and loving you.”
Lia wasn’t at all taken by his words. She wasn’t the same woman she had been all those years ago. Some nights she wondered if she had any semblance of a heart left.
“Poor, Poor, Darius. You’ve been in love with a ghost not me. I could care less now get out of my house!” she gritted out between her teeth.
Just before Darius could speak, another presence entered Lia’s house. Darius wanted to groan. He so did not need a visit from Raphael. Through the centuries, the Greek vampire had been Lia’s constant companion. He had met Raphael centuries before he’d laid eyes on Evangelia. Raphael was an odd character and standing before them now, he looked even odder.
Raphael was tall and lean and looked like the Goth version of the Mad Hatter with his tight legged black pants and black waist coat that had silver buttons. Upon his head was a black top hat with a pair of Steam Punk goggles. His face had something akin to kohl around the eyes as if he were some psychotic mime or something that made his facial features sharp. His hair was as white as the moon and a chunk of it hung over one eye.
“Greetings and salutations Lia and Darius, I hope everything is well?” his voice was polite but Darius didn’t miss the undercurrent of fierce protection.
Lia stood still looking annoyed with her fists clenched at her sides, “I was just telling Darius to leave. He’s not wanted her Raph.”
Raphael turned towards Darius, “What say you and I go out for a bit of a chat. It’s been centuries since we last spoke and Lia is in one of her moods.”
Lia hissed at Raphael who looked unaffected by her display. Darius was going to concede this one to Evangelia. What had he hoped for? Well for one, that she might be glad to see him but it was clear now that his suspicions and the rumors had been true; his mate did not want him. No matter the rumors or the amount of time it took, he wasn’t going to give her up! He looked at her and made a vow.
“Evan-,” he cleared his throat, “Lia, this isn’t over between us. If you run I will only follow.”
Raphael rolled his eyes but gave her a small smile as he and Darius went out into the night, or what was left of it.
“Well my friend, I believe you made a mess out of that. How have you been Darius of Menes?” Raphael asked as he took a pocket watch from his pocket.
“Oh don’t be surprised, we go way back. Well not perhaps that far back, but you get what I mean.” Raphael said while he wound the watch not paying attention to Darius’s shock.
Darius had met Raphael in Greece over ten thousand years ago. Up until he met the fair haired Greek, he’d only met a few like him. Even then, the Greek was peculiar-the air around him seemed strange, but Darius didn’t want to lose out on a chance to speak to another like him. Raphael had grown up in what was known as Greece but his aura was not of a God but he hadn’t totally been mortal either. Darius had been chosen by a priest of Anubis to be one of the sixteen guardians and up until he had met Raphael, he had always assumed that he and his brethren were the only vampires ever created. Raphael had shared his experiences. He’d grown up near a temple of Athena and while on a sea voyage he became shipwrecked on the shores of a foreign land where for a time he lived and learned many things. Then one night, he had encountered a Goddess. She was neither Greek nor Gaul. She was not Egyptian as Darius had suggested. The Goddess wielded great power and was offended by his allegiance to Athena. She was vain but she entranced Raphael. That was the entire story Raphael had given to Darius. It was well known that Raphael did not share his past in detail.
“Why are you here Raphael?” Darius asked in the effort to clear his mind.
Raphael gave him a smirk and a knowing look to let him know that he could not hide his thoughts from him. Raphael had strong psychic abilities.
“I am here because I choose to be and let’s face it, Lia needs someone to look after her.” He pulled on a pair of gray gloves as he stared to walk.
“She’s mine. I will fight for her, you must know that.” Darius growled.
Raphael laughing, “Oh don’t get so possessive. It is not like that with me and her.”, then he turned towards Darius his humor and cheery disposition gone, “What are your intentions? You’ve been out of the picture for a long time, and I will have you know that I will not stand idly by and allow her to be hurt again.”
Darius felt his anger turn up a notch, “I am not here to hurt her! I’ve been looking for her for centuries. Every time I would get close, she’d run from me.”
Raphael waved his hand, “Excuses. Now let me tell you a few things. First, she was your fledgling and your mate and you left her. I have been her teacher and confidant for many centuries and I’ve had to save her ass on more than one occasion. All this time and not once did you make your presence known? You have a blood bond with her, I can still sense it, so why the long wait to finally claim her?”
Darius raked a hand through his hair, “It wasn’t like that. When I was able to return for her, the place where I had left her had been burned to the ground and I was besieged with grief until I finally realized that I had not felt her death. Every time I tracked her down, she would disappear or flee. I didn’t know why. I thought perhaps she had been injured in the fire and maybe she did not remember me. I finally tracked her here and made my presence known.”
Raphael gave him a sarcastic look, “After all these years and that’s the excuse you’ve come up with? Let me tell you my friend your choice in a caretaker sucked! If you want your mate, you better learn to come up with something better than all that mess.” He sighed, “Dawn approaches, come with me to my lair. We have much to discuss.”
Darius couldn’t help but want to know why Raphael was being so helpful. Raphael rolled his eyes, “I’m helping her not you, you big idiot. She is like a sister to me and I care a great deal for her but if she cannot forgive the past and you-then she’s going to be doomed. I do not want to see her self-destruct in such a way. Now come along before we both end up with a tan.”
Darius looked back up at Lia’s house and sighed. He was going to make amends-he was not going to stop until he had her love once again.