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Immortal Confessions

Promise Me Series, #5

Author(s): Tara Fox Hall

At the turn of the 19th century, former aristocrat turned lowly vampire Devlin Dalcon gets by on his supernatural charms until he meets bride-to-be Annabelle. Smitten by Anna's forthrightness, intellect, and bravery, Devlin risks his life to spirit her away to Fontainebleau, France. There Devlin begins his ascent to power in a desperate bid for wealth and social standing for himself and Anna. 

Forging alliances with other supernatural leaders, he usurps the vampire Lord of Fontainebleau, amassing many enemies during his brief reign. Within a few years, he and Anna are again forced to flee for their lives to America. Living in hiding, Devlin is determined to amend his ways. But when tragedy strikes, Devlin's dark side, never fully extinguished, emerges rampant, securing him the bloody throne of America even as his malevolence and loneliness consumes him. 

Excerpt


Chapter One

My name is Devlin Dalcon, pronounced with the soft French “c,” thank you. If you’re a vampire, that name probably sends delicious tendrils of terror through your blood. Alas, if you’re human, you may not have heard of me. Unless, of course, I murdered or turned one of your relatives, which is a very good possibility. 

I’m going to pretend you’ve heard of me in any case, because I want to. Given that, you would’ve heard a lot of conflicting information; almost certainly of my cruelty and my ruthlessness in ruling The States—as I call them—for the past hundred and eighty years, and my handsomeness: my spun-gold hair, and my eyes, which have been likened to melting gold by more than one of my lovers. Maybe you’ve even heard of my voice, that it’s sweeter than an angel’s, and more seductive than sin, or perhaps my unequaled proficiency as a lover, which is almost as legendary now as my talent for torture. If you are a woman, you might well have experienced the former for yourself.

What you most likely have not heard was how I ascended my throne and first made my way to these shores from my native soil. The how was simple enough. It is the reasons why I must confess in these pages. Bear with me, if I slip and use older words, though I will do my best to adhere to a more modern style of speech for the sake of clarity. Much has changed in my long years; some welcomed, others mourned, not the least of them language. It’s important you grasp and comprehend fully all that happened, for after all, what good is a confession that is not understood?

My brother Danial was there for some of the worst times. I’m sure he will dispute the circumstances of his betrayal. He always has his own version of things. This is the real account, all of it, which until now has been kept locked deep inside my black heart. Even he will agree that it all began when I fell in love.

Love is a strange beast in how it possesses us. I surely did not ever expect it to possess me, especially two hundred years after I became vampire.


* * * *

The year was 1814 or so, if I’m remembering right. The Napoleonic Wars were still going strong, and much of France either was occupied or would be shortly. The French Revolution had started and things were falling apart. Bonaparte seemed hell-bent on redesigning the known world. From what I had seen so far of his efforts, he was sure of success.

I was not wealthy then, though I’d been vampire for many years. Some of that was my fault, and some of that was bad luck that followed me wherever I traveled. I had attempted a few things to make money over the years. Nothing I tried—be it gambling, speculation, land ventures, or even hard labor—helped me to regain the kind of lifestyle I’d had when I was mortal. 

Some of it was luck, as I said. Some of it was my repugnance at taking orders from those I still considered to be my inferiors. Most of it was that I didn’t want to succeed bad enough to strive for it. But it wasn’t laziness. It was depression. I was enveloped in the cold fog of knowing I was the only one of my kind still in existence.

My brother Danial had also become a vampire. He was dead, killed by his wife. The story I’d been told was that he’d returned a monster, she’d touched him with a cross, and he had instantly burst into flame. I’d known that to be bullshit as soon as I heard it, as crosses hadn’t done anything to me when I’d touched them. It was far more likely that he’d been driven into the light of day and burned to death from sunlight exposure. That was a real danger. It also fit with the rumors, if you cut off the edges of the tale.

Most of my mortal family was also departed, though not by violence. My father, my mother, my other younger sisters and legitimate brothers were dead some two centuries past. Any descendants of theirs had most certainly been wiped out in the upper class cleansing that took place after the peasants rose to power in the 1790’s.

I don’t count my older brother’s children who survived and fled the country years back, when the first wars broke out. My father had also sired other bastards, with all the lovers he had. I’d seen some descendants of my line with the key features of my father’s face and my own over the years. Yet I didn’t know them, and they didn’t know me. I’d see them happy with their children and wives, and be insanely jealous, even though I didn’t know them. I’d hunger to rip their throats out with my fangs, settling instead for glowering as I stalked away. Killing a descendant of my family seemed like infanticide to me somehow, and I couldn’t do it.

Some things were a bit easier then. No one noticed that I didn’t age, or drink, save water when I had to. I traveled a good deal, supporting myself by singing ballads for lords and ladies. When they were hard to find, I made do with whomever would give me shelter, and money for clothing. Blood I could find on my own. I’m not ashamed to say that I lived a good deal on animal blood back then, any kind of animal. The places I traveled were often rural and strangers were not welcomed as a rule, even entertainers. There was no draining the village barmaid as she walked home after closing back then; that’s all Hollywood bullshit. If a villager was attacked, God forbid there was any stranger around, as they would be hanged before an hour was out, or stoned to death by a vengeful mob. If the “death” meted out didn’t take, the villagers would notice, and usually burn the accused as a witch. Bearing that in mind, I’ll grant that some things were also harder back then.

I did have trouble adjusting to my new vampire life, and I don’t mean just the liquid diet. As I said, I had trouble taking orders. I’d been trained from birth to rule men, to study strategy and tactics, and to learn the finer arts, like reading and writing. Having boorish unlearned men order me to sing simple bawdy songs over and over, wasting my voice on ill-thought offal, grated on me. I did what I could not to dwell on that.

As should be apparent to anyone who knows anything about me, I very much desired the company of the opposite sex. Luckily, I was handsome, and rugged-looking, the ideal of a man. It follows I was not often lonely for female company, even on the nights I spent sleeping in the lofts of barns, and in fields beneath the shells of burned-out homes. My training in seduction from my father served me just as well as it always had, and it was almost always easy to seduce a young lady, a milkmaid, or whatever female was nearby. 

I didn’t think much of it, to tell the truth. I knew that once the night or the week was over, that was it, because I‘d need to move on. I was always honest with the women who came to me about that. Again, times were different then, when people were very conscious of class. The ladies I bedded were there to enjoy my caresses, nothing more. I had no fortune and no title, so I wasn’t even in the running for anything more than a dalliance. As for the milkmaids, they were much the same. They were not going to be linked with a man who had no means of supporting them save his song, even if I was handsome.

That didn’t bother me. All that mattered was that I felt momentary pleasure in the sex act, no matter which one it was, or what manner of female it was with. It was my one source of pleasure left, save blood, and I enjoyed it with abandon as often as possible. For the most part, I was not penalized for my amorous adventures. No issue ever came of them with me being sterile, and no woman was diseased, as I was unable to pass anything to anyone. Nor could I receive anything from my partners. This was good, as some of those women I bedded who proclaimed they were pure were anything but. But I’m getting sidetracked. 

The year was 1814, as I said. I appeared then just as I do now; about thirty-five, robustly fit, with golden-colored eyes, gleaming blond hair, and a stubbled face. It was some night in early spring. I was sitting near a campfire with a band of gypsies, telling the ballad of Robin Hood. A dark woman of theirs was giving me appreciative eyes. I was thinking of ending early to take full advantage of that, when one of the men said that he’d like to talk to me alone.

I gave him a look to let him know if he meant me harm or was seeking a bedmate, either would get him a knife in his heart. Due to my lifestyle of traveling mostly on foot—and laboring hard, when there were no singing jobs available—my body was lean and hard with muscle, much as it was when I faced other enemies centuries later. In short, I was easily stronger than a mortal man.

He took me aside, into some trees.

“Yes?” I asked.

“I have a proposition for you.”

I hoped this man wasn’t that girl’s kin. I had no money to pay for favors, and no inclination for having to, even if I’d had the money. “Yes?”

“There is a Lord’s castle a day’s journey away south, near Montereau, in Seine-et-Marne. They are planning a large days-long banquet to celebrate a wedding in a few days. They will surely hire you, if you should go there.”

Good plan. It wouldn’t be a free one. “What do you want?”

“Access to the castle, as soon as it gets dark. We have knowledge of a large treasure assembled there, as the lord’s daughter is being married off. It’s said she is not pretty, as her sisters are—”

I couldn’t care less. “Why should I help you? What is in this for me?”

“You may have a share of anything we are able to steal, and the favors of my daughter, for as long as you want them. I’ve noticed you watching her.”

I faced him. “I could have that without risking my life, and you know it.”

He stood his ground. “Winter is not over, Bard, not in these lands. If you are smart, you’d make plans to be in an encampment, a warm woman at your side, with enough food and wine to last until the weather turns warmer in another month or two.”

He had a point. I had been frozen more often than I cared to remember, and I disliked the feeling. It was as if I was trapped in my body, unable to talk or move, and yet I could hear everything around me. Worst, I was completely helpless until I thawed, another thing I detested.

“Say I agreed. I’d have to escape with you that night, or face hanging.”

“We will not enter into the city with you. We will camp on the outskirts, and wait for you to send word that the treasure is indeed there.”

“What if it’s not?”

“Then wait until it is. We have enough food to last—”

“And if it never arrives? This could all be a lie.”

“Then what are you out?”

True. “I agree, then.” I looked past him back to the fire. “Send your daughter to me.”

He nodded, and called for her. I think her name was Maris, but I can’t remember for sure. She came over, and he left us.

I led her into the forest, and pressed her against the nearest tree, lifting her skirts. She was already kissing me with abandon, which showed me more than anything else that she was likely already skilled in intercourse. Yet I did have something to show her that would likely feel new, given my size. She gasped when I drove into her, and then clutched me to her, moaning softly in pleasure. I grinned, kissing up her neck hungrily, as I stroked her. Soon, she was crying out her orgasm softly. My cry a moment later was not soft at all.

I withdrew from her with a last kiss, and adjusted my clothes, as she adjusted hers.

“Will you stay with us tonight?” she whispered quietly. “Please?”

I was gratified at her enthusiasm for me, but I had things to do. “No, my dear. I need to start for the castle tonight, because if another bard is hired, my part in the plan will be taken by someone else. And I would have your favors for more than a night.” That last wasn’t necessary, but I knew women well, and they were much more easily dissuaded from clinging if they thought that you didn’t want to leave them.

She embraced me, giving me a last kiss. “As you will. But don’t think my favors are free.”

Did she expect payment now? “I never implied they were, Maris.”

“I know that vile gypsy told you that if you did as he asked, you were welcome to me,” she hissed, eyes blazing angrily. “But he’s not my father. And even if he was, no one gives my favors away but me.”

This was already tiresome. “What are your terms?” I said coolly, removing her arms from around me.

“I want to go away with you. I’m not a gypsy; I’m just a stolen child, a slave. But I can be useful to you—”

A human becoming my traveling companion was impossible. However, I wasn’t often given the chance to indulge myself fully with a woman who wouldn’t be missed. Agreeing to take her with me now would ensure that when I parted from the gypsies I’d have not only a heavier purse but also a full belly. 

I kissed her hand. “Your eyes flash so beautifully in your passion, my dear. I must endeavor to stir your ardor often.” I trailed my lips up her throat. “I’m confident I can find other ways to stimulate your enthusiasm, my sweet.”

She drew a long trembling breath. “Will you take me?”

“Of course.” I’ll take all you have to give, sweet child. “But I must go, now.” I turned, and began walking away.

She called after me, “What is your name, Bard?”

“Devlin,” I said, without looking back. “But you can call me Bard, my dear. Everyone else does.”


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ISBN (Print):
ISBN (Electronic): 9781612356914
Genre: Paranormal
Date Published: 09/01/2013
Publisher: Melange Books

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