I wasn't going to show these off until after the boxset goes live, BUT I just can't keep it to myself. Besides some people might have trouble viewing the text on the images depending on their device. So I'm going to share them here.
And because I am so very awesome here is the full version of chapter one from Shadowed Intentions.
Western Hills of Tentusa Valley
Tentusa burned below the rolling hills of sweet lemon grass. Even from the slopes on the western edge of the valley I could smell the alluring scent of pure terror. Mortal emotions wafting up from violent flames—fear, desperation, death. Tempting, tempting death. The bouquet of chaos sending chills of arousal through my chest and down to my curling toes. This was just a prelude to what was to come, tomorrow night it wouldn't just be the city in ruined flames, all of the valley would be destroyed. By week’s end the Vrasum Province would be nothing more than ashed corpses completely under my control. There was nothing that could stop me from taking what I wanted. Tentusa had fallen despite all the defenses that had gathered in the city—the gods feeble storm, Rhea, the mortal sensitive I took care of, and even my own sabotage couldn't stop this moment.
They were all minor stumbles along the path that had only one conclusion. Why did I even bother to prevent this? How could I not want this moment with all its perverse accolades? Even if the city’s demise was premature it was still a moment of pride that swelled in my chest.
That was my sin that burned below, something that would have paralyzed me with grief this morning but now filled me with accomplishment. The creature within that I constantly struggled against now had desires that I could align myself with. We both wanted the same thing, and it felt so powerful. I couldn't care less about Ryder's men washing through Tentusa like a violent pledge, nor how many lives would be lost because of what I did in those tunnels beneath the city.
Sliding my fingers over each other I groaned at the feeling of satin that slipped between them. Fresh blood—Vamdari blood wet my flesh with its darkly sweet aroma. Ryder's fear laced scent still clung to my body, bringing me to a high that needed to last.
"Are you enjoying this?" Cret asked with a type of sorrow in his throat. I didn't envy him that emotion, if I never felt anything but this pleasure again, that was fine. It was all I required.
I felt right for the first time in decades, lost in the twisted delight and depravity that had awakened within. Now with the reminder of his presence it was shattered, the ecstasy gone from the moment as I felt the heat of his body next to mine. He brought anger out in me that took the edge away from my high, flooding the rage right to the forefront of my mind. My creature was distracted by him, churning under my flesh like a caged, wounded animal wanting to attack. Not yet. I tried to soothe it, but we had every right to lash out.
I saw it there in his blood as it trickled down my throat, a memory I had lost, a memory of him and not a pleasant one. That single recovered moment was the key to all my suffering but pulled more attention to the recollection of his delicious blood, that rich honey taste of his still fresh on my lips. Running my tongue along the crack of my mouth I made sure I hadn't missed a single drop of his intoxicating blood. He tasted that good. A sinful sweetness I had never partaken before, it made me crave his death all the more, and the powerful knowledge it gave.
Cret's blood had freed me from that damn serum Vondorian made me drink, and I was thankful for that. The way he so openly gave himself over to me, but I wanted more. Not just of his darkly enticing blood but the secrets that were locked away inside his head. I gleaned so much from him in those swift moments as I drank, what could I learn if I took my time. Sipping from him in long, slow gulps, drawing out every last drop from his veins. The images had me panting with anticipation. I wanted his knowledge, his strength.
"You are enjoying this," he growled.
My fantasies of his death shattered, again he destroyed the moment and caused anger to replace it. His blood unlocked more than just my previous desires for his life-force, the second I took my first taste of him, memories unfolded before me—Cret's memories. Ones that included me. Suddenly I could place that familiar scent of honeyed-clove and those haunting emerald eyes. My scarred heart heated with a warning reminder of the hell I had been living, and it was all Cret's fault.
My raven beauty… I had heard that name before. It passed his lips just before he left me for dead all those years ago. He was the one that took my life from me and replaced it with this new one I had never asked for. Cret murdered me.
"Is that a problem?" I asked only to anger him. I wanted him on the same edge—rage coursing through his body like it was mine. "You know what I am Cret. I won't make excuses."
I glanced at him from the corner of my eye, neither of us were hiding anymore. My glamoured mortal appearance had faded long ago. I now stood beside him in all my raw beauty. A dark thing contrasted against the harsh glow of rain soaked clouds and lightning that filtered through the sky instead of striking downward from the heavens in bolts. Where the temperature had been unseasonably cold when we arrived, it now was warmer, thick with humidity that intensified the electricity flowing through the lingering storm. I could see him clench his hands into tight fists as he stared down at the burning city, the intensity of his green stare reflecting the flames below. The thick attire that hid him so well before was ripped and shredded, dirt and shallow cuts covered his body from our daring escape in the tunnels. I was sure I couldn't look much better, but still I felt dark and beautiful. Like an elegant creature on the hunt, preparing for that final pounce.
"Do you have no compassion?" he questioned with a plea to my humanity. "Those people are suffering—dying because you killed a Vamdari."
"You're welcome." I mocked, my eyes never leaving the entertainment below. "If I hadn't killed that Vamdari you wouldn’t be here, and besides they won't all die. When the sun rises I'm sure there will be plenty of survivors left to feast on in the temple."
The thought of hundreds of scared pathetic mortals cowering in the marble palace of the gods brought a twisted grin to my face. Their gods couldn’t protect them any longer. A distant rumble sounded as a flash of lightning filled the sky with harsh light. A protest to my thoughts perhaps? The divine could cry all they wanted, nothing could stop what was coming.
Cret's body stiffened, his fists shook. That was what I wanted, that was the edge I wanted him to be on. His usual causal demeanor was cracking…Good.
"Damn you Serenity, what are you doing? What plan do you have forming in that demoralized mind of yours?"
"What's wrong. Can't read me anymore?" I laughed at him.
Though it was brief, in my taste of him I gained so much knowledge. Learning quickly how to refuse him access to my thoughts. It left me blind to his intentions as well, but at least it made us even. I chuckled at my victory, losing myself in this newfound power, a new rush that had me feeling undefeatable. My creature became stronger, its rage growing more dominant. I could feel myself slipping—I wanted to slip.
"I thought you were different. That you changed." His voice held a tone of disappointment, a hint of heartache and my creature purred in response. "Where is the sorrow and compassion you showed this morning in the temple?"
I clenched a fist to focus, to hold back my need to strike at the reminder of how pathetic my behavior was. This conversation was lasting too long. I wanted him. I wanted his blood, that power it would give me, and also the sweet taste of closure I had been longing for.
"It's gone. I don't want to feel those things anymore. I shouldn't feel those things. While others like me are consumed by their blood-lust, I'm left trapped by my lingering mortality," I growled in response, fighting back from the edge of hysteria. "I'm devoured by these cursed emotions I shouldn't feel. I didn't change. There was no choice involved. I was changed. Left to rot in agony."
My chest was heaving up and down from my rant, the anger inside had built to a level I didn't believe possible and my mortality was slipping away. Fading into the background of my creature that wanted death while my mind filled with pointless questions I wanted answered.
"You did this to me." I growled like a feral beast. There was betrayal there deep within my rage. Cret must have felt it too because his stiffened stance relaxed when I turned my gaze toward him. He softened and guilt replaced his anger, it only made the moment worse.
My mind flashed to the interest and the clear attraction between us, those confusing moments spent in his room and the sorrow he felt seeing Vondorian's brand on me. It had to be an act. Some false game he was playing to get close to me again, that was what sent me racing toward the edge of control. The burning scar over my heart grew deeper and clenched into a tragic reality—he was using me.
I couldn't think on it anymore, the reasons too maddening and I slipped away to the will of my creature. Letting it take me into the depths of revenge that we both so needed, and then it would all be over. My life would return to that time before Cret struck me down in battle. No more internal conflict, no more questioning Master, no more… hell.
The last horror-filled century of my life would be gone, lost in a sea of power driven cravings like it had before. I would take Cret's life and silence the remnants of my mortal soul.
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