Copyright © 2010, Michelle Marquis
Published by Whiskey Creek Press LLC
Excerpt for NEMESIS by Michelle Marquis
The devil was coming to take her and his name was General Nemesis.
Ginger Mont Blanc paced by the royal stables waiting for the message she knew would come. The end had been rumored for weeks and all that was left was the official word. The word would come in the form of a royal messenger, a young man barely able to shave who would tell her the thing she feared most. He would say that two months after her carefully arranged marriage, she was now a widow. And the kingdom she was to help the young impetuous king rule? Lost. Bled dry by the Vampire King, Mortis, and his hellion of a general, Nemesis.
Ginger looked over at her ladies-in-waiting wrapped in their light blue cloaks, huddled together like frightened mice cornered by a hungry cat. And her? What did she look like to their young eyes? She imagined they saw what she was; a queen barely thirty without a king or a kingdom. Did they feel pity for her? Did they feel contempt for a queen who, despite all her power and titles, couldn’t even save herself?
Her bodyguard drew closer. “A messenger comes, your Highness.”
As she predicted, the messenger was young, but younger than she expected. He was a child; a boy of ten who already wore the expression of an old man. That’s what witnessing death did to those unlucky enough to behold its carnage, it aged them. And Ginger should know because just like the boy, she felt aged beyond her years, like an old woman.
Before the messenger could open his mouth, Ginger held up her hand. “Please tell me my husband and king is returning.”
The messenger ran dirty fingers through his blond hair and Ginger caught the faint scent of old sweat. He shook his head. “I’m sorry. He is dead, my Queen.”
“ And the other officers and nobles who rode alongside him?” she asked as her throat tightened.
“ As far as I know, most dead,” the messenger confirmed with a short nod. “Those who live have scattered to the four winds, my Queen.”
Ginger wrung her hands. “How far is that devil general’s army?”
“ Less than a ten-minute ride behind me, my Queen. General Nemesis let me live so I could urge you to surrender peacefully.”
Her bodyguard stepped forward protectively. “You tell that beastly scum Queen Mont Blanc will never surrender to him or any of his other half-dead brethren!” he snarled. The bodyguard turned to Ginger and helped her on her jittery mount. “You make your choice, boy. You can either come with us or wait for your new undead master to arrive.”
“ I beg you, my lord, don’t run,” the messenger said. “The general’s men are as numerous as locusts in the field and without question, as ravenous! Please, surrender now and they might take pity on you.”
Ginger hesitated. It wasn’t that she feared for herself, but she certainly feared for her entourage. She would never forgive herself if they were killed trying to protect her, even if it was their job. “I want my ladies and the rest of you to stay,” she said.
Kate, one of her ladies, rushed forward, her long brown hair loose around her shoulders and her eyes glassy with tears. What a beauty she was. “But, my Queen, what will become of us if we stay? We belong with you!”
“ The general won’t hurt you if you stay,” Ginger said, stroking Kate’s wet cheek. “I’m sure he’ll let you all go. It’s not you he wants, it’s me.” She turned her horse toward the dirt road behind the castle and smiled at her bodyguard. “I want you to stay as well, my faithful friend.”
Her bodyguard shook his head. “No. I am with you until the end, no matter what may come.”
“ It’s impossible for you to defend me,” Ginger said softly. “You don’t stand a chance against the vampire hordes.”
“ Perhaps not, my Queen. But I took an oath to you and your husband. Please don’t ask me to go back on it now. I cannot.”
“ Okay then, let’s go,” Ginger said.
* * * *
Her scent came to him on a northward breeze, fueling the current of demonic lust that raged like a hungry lion in his heart. She was close, so very close, and unknowingly traveling right toward him. His passion was growing, boiling, threatening to drive him to the very cliff of insanity if he didn’t have her soon.
General Nemesis had been waiting for this moment for over two years, ever since he’d seen Princess Mont Blanc dancing with her betrothed at a costume ball one summer night. Nemesis wasn’t much for the royals and their showy parties but he had been ordered to attend by his dark lord and master, King Mortis. The king had told him to watch the nobles, learn them, so that when the time came to lead the Night Army against the rival human kingdoms, General Nemesis would be ready. And so he’d attended out of duty, making sure to stay in the shadows and observe.
All night long he’d watched the humans and their drunken, clumsy seductions in the back gardens. He couldn’t help it, they made him laugh. They reminded him of children, experimenting with sex without truly knowing its potent magic. And so it didn’t take long for him to grow bored. He was just about to leave when he set eyes on her. The queen was tucked safely in a group of senior officials, charming the most powerful men in her husband’s kingdom with her sharp wit. She was an unparalleled enchantress, laughing and talking politics, flirting here and there.
Ginger Mont Blanc wasn’t a princess in name only, she was a goddess. Where other women were beautiful but empty-headed, she carried on brilliant conversations about war, politics, and the best way to govern. And somehow, during the course of that night, as Nemesis listened in the darkness to her arguments, something extraordinary happened.
Nemesis fell in love.
No, a better term for it was became obsessed.
From that day onward, Ginger haunted his every waking moment. Nemesis couldn’t get her out of his thoughts, masturbating for hours on end like a love-sick teenager. Then, when he couldn’t take the hunger any longer, he decided to confront her alone and tell her how he felt.
Nemesis knew it was a mistake, but he couldn’t stop himself. So every night he would wait in the shadows outside her bedroom and watch for an opportunity to get her alone. His time came early one morning, before the sun had begun its relentless ascent. Ginger walked out her French doors into the garden as her husband continued to sleep unaware. In her hand, Ginger carried some bird seed which she sprinkled on the ground as she walked.
That was when Nemesis revealed himself to her.
Thinking back on it, he must have been an imposing sight. She must have been terrified to see a seven-foot black vampire with blazing amber eyes and shiny black armor in her private garden.
Ginger had started violently. She dropped the seeds and opened her mouth to cry out but he was on her in a second. He covered her beautiful pink lips with his large hand and dragged her into the woods.
And that’s where everything went wrong.
Ginger fought hard forcing him to hold her tighter. In that moment, as her hot young blood rushed through her veins, Nemesis lost himself. Staring down into her lovely brown eyes, he wrapped the length of her dark hair around his fist and pulled her head back. His tongue laved her throat, picking up the racing pulse of her artery, and before he could stop himself, he had nipped her.
Sweet, metallic blood filled his mouth as Ginger swooned in his arms.
As she squirmed against his chest, he plunged his fangs deeper and felt her stiffen. A drop of potent sedative secreted from his teeth seeped into her blood forcing her muscles to relax. Her lush full breasts pillowed his chest driving him to new heights of arousal. But Nemesis soldiered his emotions back under his control and withdrew, but it was already too late. He had violated her and Ginger now feared and hated him.
But he never forgot her or the intoxicating taste of her blood. Countless nights he lay awake dreaming of her. He’d tried to cool his lust with other women both human and vampire but it was no use. There would never be anyone for him but Ginger. And now he was minutes away from having her all to himself.
Two riders approached up ahead, one a man Nemesis didn’t recognize and the other his beloved Ginger. The man, he assumed, was Ginger’s bodyguard. Although Nemesis sat mounted on his black stallion right in the middle of the road, he wasn’t surprised they didn’t see him. The night was so dark that a human could barely see a hand in front of their face. Nemesis, however, could see everything.
Ginger and her bodyguard were almost on top of Nemesis by the time they spotted him. Alarmed, they reined their horses up so abruptly that Ginger’s mount reared up a few times. She quickly got it back under control glaring at Nemesis with all the hatred in her heart. Her rage was devastating.
The bodyguard pulled his sword and dismounted.
“ Don’t be an idiot,” Nemesis said. “You’re no match for my strength. What you’re doing is suicide.” He stared at Ginger and his raging hunger grew tenfold. “Talk your man into surrendering or I’ll be forced to kill him.”
Ginger tried to avoid looking Nemesis in the eye. He detected a slight tremor in her hand. “George, I command you to put up your weapon and surrender.”
The bodyguard turned to look at her aghast. “But, my Queen, you must be joking! Don’t you know what he has planned for you?”
“ He’s got me no matter what you do,” she said with a ribbon of sorrow to her tone.
Nemesis might have felt compassion for her had he not been in such a state. He could hear her heart racing and smell the meaty aroma of her blood as it rushed through her veins. No mortal was going to stop him from what he wanted. He dismounted and advanced on the bodyguard pulling his own sword in the process. “On your knees.”
The bodyguard was torn, but as Nemesis drew closer, he made up his mind. He tossed his sword on the ground and went down on one knee. Seconds later they were all surrounded by vampire soldiers.
* * * *
Ginger clenched her fists so hard her nails dug into the flesh of her palms. In a moment of weakness, she glanced into the vampire general’s glowing amber eyes and, not wanting to fall under his spell, quickly looked away. It took every ounce of will Ginger had not to fall under the influence of his stare. But Ginger knew she had to fight. For one more look into his magnetic eyes and she’d be lost. So she looked at everything, anything else, even the shiny ebony menace of his riding boots. She struggled not to panic at the ominous jingle of his spurs as he drew ever closer.
Ginger stumbled back right into the restraining hands of his men and gasped. Her bodyguard had been taken away by the soldiers so quickly she hadn’t even seen him go. It didn’t matter anyway. There was no one to protect her and nowhere to run.
Nemesis might have been many unsavory things: a vampire; a killer; and a rogue, but there was no denying he was the very image of masculine perfection. From his smoldering amber eyes to his dark chocolate skin, to his massive seven-foot frame, Nemesis was the very image of a victorious vampire general. His chest armor was hell’s-gate black and outlined every detail of the muscular chest beneath. His pants too were black and only a hint darker than his large, decorated codpiece. The long, dark cloak that flowed behind him billowed in the evening breeze like a conquering flag mocking the vanquished.
The strong hands that held her were pushing her forward now, offering her to their demon general and she was falling by inches under his enchanting hex. Ginger struggled, twisting her body back and forth trying to break free but she knew it was hopeless. Nemesis touched his lips to her temple and glided them down to her ear. “I’ve waited so long for this. Much too long,” he said in a deep, seductive voice.
“ Don’t you touch me,” she retorted. But her rebuke came out too weak, too breathy to be believed. A heavy scent of fresh black leather filled her nostrils chased by the faint aroma of orchids.
“ Yes,” he said in a low growl, “I will touch you. And if you don’t behave, I’ll make you love me for it.” His lips were close enough to tickle her as he spoke raising gooseflesh on her skin. Wanting him was becoming a shameful agony and Ginger hated herself. Between her legs, her sex was hot and slick with want and she prayed he wouldn’t touch her there to find out her guilty secret.
“ I’m begging you to let me go,” she said in a harsh whisper.
His large powerful hands cupped her face, lifting it up so he could rain delicate kisses onto her eyelids and nose. An ivory fang scraped against her cheek making her shudder.
“ I cannot, Ginger,” he replied. “I am bewitched by you and my desire is devouring me with every sweet word from your lips.” Nemesis wrapped Ginger’s long dark hair around his fist. “Kiss me and take the edge off my pain.”
Ginger tried to wriggle out of his grip but found it impossible. Miserable and afraid, she did the only thing she could to resist him: she turned her face to the side and refused him the kiss. Nemesis touched his full lips to her jaw and kissed her with a heartbreaking tenderness. The thin goatee and mustache around his lips tickled her flesh as his mouth traveled down the length of her throat. His mouth rested there for what seemed like an eternity, and then he took a step back.
“ Take her down,” he told his men. Ginger was dragged to the forest floor twisting and fighting like a wildcat. Nemesis stood over her as an evil smile spread across his lips. His smile was dark menace showcasing his long, thick fangs. Someone from behind the general helped him off with his cloak and armor revealing a dark muscular torso perfect in every detail. Then the soldiers were all over her, unfastening her riding pants and stripping them off her hips as she screamed and fought with every bit of energy she had. But then, to her great relief, they stopped, leaving her shirt and underwear intact. Strong hands grabbed her legs and forced them apart as Nemesis knelt between her knees. Ginger fought harder, biting her lip to stop the tears that threatened to flow and hoping beyond hope that someone might come and save her from this disgrace. But deep in her soul she knew no one could.
Nemesis placed his huge cool hands on her left thigh, pulling a portion of her underwear away from the leg and dipped his head down. A second later came the sharp pinch of his teeth piercing her femoral artery. The suffering locked up all her muscles but was quickly followed by a wave of mind-numbing euphoria from the sedative in his saliva. Ginger could hear someone moaning softly and suddenly realized the pleasure sounds were coming from her. In the back of her mind a tiny voice told her to resist but the will had left her body.
Another hard pinch made her wince and she knew it was over. His saliva healed the wound the moment he withdrew. He’d taken his pleasure and his fill. All his men seemed to disappear into the shadows. Nemesis moved up over her on his hands and knees. His mouth was smeared with her blood.
Ginger looked away in disgust even though her sexual hunger burned in her like a raging fever. “You’re a beast and a murderer.”
“ I’m a soldier,” he replied. “When I kill, I do it because I have to.”
“ You killed my husband and for that, I will hate you forever.”
Nemesis smiled showing long, white teeth. “Such devotion to a man you barely knew. How admirable. I think I’m jealous. But for the record I didn’t kill him.”
Frustrated, Ginger slammed her fists into his thick chest. “Get off me!”
Nemesis replied by lowering his body down onto hers and nestling his codpiece between her legs. A current of lust surged up from her pussy and right into her blood but she couldn’t give in. She couldn’t let this monster use his black magic to have his way.
“ Don’t you want me to please you?” he asked in a low, sugary tone.
Ginger let her sexual hunger fuel her rage. “No,” she replied icily.
That seemed to take the villain off-guard. His amber gaze swept her face as if deciding what to do next. Ginger fully expected him to rape and murder her. She waited for the killing blow. But instead he helped Ginger to her feet and handed her the riding pants that were stripped from her body earlier. She felt a little weak and lightheaded but was otherwise unharmed.
Afraid he would change his mind about raping her, Ginger dressed quickly. “What are you going to do with me?”
“ What would you like to be done with you?”
“ I want you to let me go!”
“ To go where and do what? You’d starve. Your kingdom is gone, my Queen. Your king is dead. You’ve lived in the royal court all your life and know nothing of hard labor. Are you planning to get a job as a cook or a seamstress perhaps?”
“ You’re a cold, hard-hearted monster to mock me at a time like this.”
He gave her an evil, toothy smile. “So they tell me.”
She glared at him with renewed venom. “I’d rather die begging in the street than go back with you to be your whore.”
Nemesis raised an eyebrow. “How very dramatic,” he said with a sneer. “But I guarantee you that one night with me and you’d be begging to be my whore. It wouldn’t be hard to turn your weak human heart.”
“ I could never love a villain like you.” Something moved across his face and Ginger thought she might have hurt him. But then she dismissed it. Vampires were monsters with no feelings. Everyone knew that.
Nemesis grabbed his mount and placed his cloak in one of the saddlebags. “You don’t realize it yet, but being with me is the best you could hope for.”
“ I have no doubt you possess many carnal talents, vampire, but I don’t care. I hate you, Nemesis. I hate you as my conqueror and nothing you do will ever change that.”
“ Enough of this bickering. You’re mine now and I want you to be silent.” Nemesis pulled his armor back on and squinted at the sun just peaking up over the horizon. He mounted up and, with one effortless motion, scooped Ginger up on the horse in front of him. Then he reined the animal around and galloped off in the opposite direction.