When Valentine’s sire is forced to take a mate by his Clan leader, Valentine is reduced to stoking the castle’s furnaces as nothing more than a cindered servant to the new matriarch. With his sire Libertine incarcerated and Valentine forced to wear a cursed collar, there seems no way to escape Belladonna’s hold on them.
When a stranger appears, Valentine is surprised by how quickly he trusts the other vampire. He accepts the request to go to the castle of his Clan Lord, the ancient and powerful Hades, to uncover who is working to overthrow him. His reward is freedom for both him and his sire.
No one is meant to know who he really is, and Valentine pretends he’s one of Hades’ favorites while in the castle, adopting the name Cinder and playing his Seductive nature to its full.
But his world is shaken to its core when Valentine finds himself falling for the enigmatic Cole. As a Seductive, Valentine never imagined he’d want an Alpha Predator as a mate. Worse yet, it may be that Cole could be the very one he’s been sent to uncover.
When the battle for dominance begins, where will Valentine’s loyalty lie?
Not wanting to remain in the room, Valentine decided to explore the palace. Not that he was sure he even knew what he was looking for. But it was better to get to know the layout. One never knows when such knowledge might be useful. But first, let me change these clothes.
With a soft laugh, Valentine made himself insubstantial, not expending his power to his clothing which slithered to the floor, then he became solid once more.
“Too easy.” Valentine murmured, then hunted through the wardrobe to find something he considered more suited to his Seductive nature. Might as well dress the part as well.
Finally, Valentine found what he sought. A black leather shrug which covered his arms and across the back his shoulders, and with a high collar, but left his chest bare. He teamed it with a black leather corset cinched tight at his waist, and crimson velvet pants that came to just below his knees. A pair of high-heeled, thigh length boots completed the outfit. If this doesn’t scream Seductive, I don’t know what does.
Valentine walked around the room a couple of times, wanting to perfect the hip-swaying walk he knew would fit the role he wanted to play. Perfect. Let’s see how I get on outside. With a soft laugh, Valentine left his room locked, the key in the door, and dematerialized instead.
Slipping under the door, he regained his substantial form once outside. Smiling at the stone dragons, which reminded him of his own gargoyles, Valentine patted each statue’s head in turn.
“You’re magnificent. So life-like. Hades does indeed have an eye for beauty for which he is well-famed.”
With no one to watch him, Valentine walked normally, peering with interest at the large paintings and tapestries on the walls, and examining suits of armor that belonged to an ancient past.
The various artworks and precious ornaments that Hades had collected over the years were a source of constant fascination for Valentine. As was Hades’ like of statues. He was so engrossed, he forgot to keep alert.
A man seemed to materialize from the shadows and Valentine stopped in his tracks.
“I don’t think I’ve seen you here before. Who are you?” The stranger’s voice was strong and compelling, but Valentine countered with a seductive smile and shrugged his left shoulder.
“Why should I tell you? What business is it of yours?”
“Ah. A Seductive. I haven’t met many of your kind.” The stranger didn’t come forward and Valentine’s curiosity was piqued despite his better judgement.
“We prefer to keep our distances from predators. At least, most of the time.” Valentine could have kicked himself. He could hardly pretend to be a favorite of the clan lord if he didn’t mix with predators.
“In that case, I’m honored you are willing to pass the time of day with me.” The stranger stepped forward and sketched an elaborate bow. However, when he straightened up, Valentine saw the amused glint in his midnight blue eyes.
“So you should be.” Valentine replied, his voice tart. “Now, if you’ll excuse me?”
“You didn’t answer my question.”
“What are you? One of Hades’ personal guards? Do you profess to know all his favorites by name?” Valentine tossed his head. “Not that I expect our paths to cross again, but you may call me Cinder. Because I smolder.” Valentine let his voice drop to the most seductive purr he could.
“Yes. You do indeed. I may not know all Hades’ favorites, but I would never forget you. A Seductive isn’t his normal choice. He prefers those with iron in their spine. Fighters, aggressors, those who can fight back, not flutter their eyelashes.”
“I assure you; I am well-capable of taking care of myself.” Valentine bristled at the suggestion and despite Seth’s warning to keep as anonymous and unnoticed as possible, he shifted and pounced on the vampire, pinning him to the floor, his teeth close to the other’s throat. “As you can see.”
“Yes, indeed. Very good. But you should never relax your guard.”
Before Valentine realized what was happening, the stranger had flipped him and now held him immobile, his mouth close to Valentine’s throat. “I won’t make that mistake again.”