Snow The Vampire Slayer
3rd Place Winner of the Golden Palm Contest
Lady Snow Gwyn is tired of playing “mother” to her seven Vampire Slaying brothers. For the past two years, she’s yearned to be out there fighting at their side as they hunt for bloodsuckers in the black of night. Snow is as good a fighter as any man, but she wasn’t called to be a Slayer. A mere formality in her book.
Prince Sageren, Son of Lothar has spent the last fifty years in exile, awaiting the day when he can finally avenge his family and take back his throne. Barely existing, he’s forced to face his inner demons and the monster he once was, compelling him to vow to never drink from humans again. A simple enough task–until he crosses paths with a human who makes his fangs ache to drain her.
When Snow runs into Prince Sage on a late night trip to the woods, she’s torn between the urge to kill him and the desire to succumb to the feeling he stirs within her. And when Snow’s life is threatened by the same evil that murdered his family, Prince Sage must enlist the aid of Snow’s brothers to not only help him save her life, but to also regain his rightful place as King of the Vampires.
If Sage can keep the Slayers from killing him first.
Sage reached the cabin just as Snow did and they walked to the grove together. The moon was shadowed by clouds, which played to his advantage. He’d moved too quickly with her before. He’d teased her and it was obvious that wasn’t the way to win her trust. He needed to slow down.
In his years being away from the vampire courts, he’d forgotten what the highborn females were like. Living in a cave, even a Fae-made cave underground, with only decaying vampires to talk to, had caused his conduct to become lax. In exile, he’d forgotten the manners his mother had taught him. The thought of his mother made his chest tighten.
“Is something wrong?” Snow asked.
Her voice pulled him from his thoughts. “I was just thinking.”
“Regretting that you came? I’ll go easy on you, if it helps you feel better.”
A sly smile crept across her face and it made him smile in return. “Thank you. I appreciate your concern for my ego, but I’ll manage.”
“I didn’t think you’d come,” she said.
“Why wouldn’t I?”
“I figured you wouldn’t want to be beaten by a mere girl again, Rake.”
Spirit. Such great spirit.
They reached the grove and she stretched her arms, warming up. He followed suit, though he didn’t need it.
“I’m surprised you came.”
“Why? It’s my land, my cottage, and I’ve been coming here for years.”
There it was, that backbone of hers that he liked so much. It was going to get her in trouble someday.
“Because you’re a female, alone, in the dark with an unknown man. I could be anyone or anything.”
“Like what? A Werewolf? A vampire?” She paused. “A dragon?” She laughed, hefted her sword and squared off. Then she nodded.
He circled her. “Suppose I am?”
“Then you would’ve killed me yesterday.”
She advanced and he parried.
“Maybe I’m just a patient monster.” He spun and jabbed, but she jumped out of the way.
“Then you’d have to be a really controlled monster, and that’s something in Fairelle I haven’t heard of. Besides, you’re not menacing, or evil, or dripping in blood. You’re just…”
He stopped moving. “Just what?”
She shrugged. “Plain.”
“Plain? How positively insulting.”
They sparred for several minutes. He taught her a new move and soon they were nose-to-nose with only swords between them.
“Yup, even close up, I can see you’re not a monster. You’re just a rake.” She pushed him away.
“A rake, love. Really? First I’m merely plain and now I’m a rake?” He clutched his heart. “You wound me to the core.”
She chuckled. “Liar.”
“A plain, lying, rake? I’m getting worse by the second.”
“All right then. Tell me a truth.”
He stared at her. He’d not played this game before with a female. He’d always just gotten what he wanted from them because of who he was without all the hassle of opening up and getting close. With her though, he wanted to be honest. To let her in. The mystery of why he wanted to gave him an uneasy sensation.
“What do you want to know?” he asked.
They continued their dance. Circling each other thrusting and parrying. He took a wild swing at her and she batted it away. Her sword play was improving.
“Tell me what you were thinking about when you arrived tonight,” she said.
The questions stabbed him to the core. He didn’t speak of his family to anyone.
“I was thinking…” He wanted to lie. “About my mother.” He swallowed again at the thought.
She stopped circling and her expression grew serious. “My mother died a few years ago.”
“Mine died—” he paused. “ Quite a few years ago.”
“You were young then?”
They took a step away from each other and nodded for a break. She rubbed her sword arm and breathed heavily. He pretended to be winded.
“Let me get that for you.” He took a step toward her, but she backed away.
“I’m capable of rubbing my own arm, thank you.”
Too fast. He held back the disappointment at not being able to touch her and nodded. Why did she affect him so?
“So your mother? She was a good woman?” he asked.
Her smile was so genuine that her eyes sparkled with delight. “The best. She was kind and gentle. She had a wonderful sense of humor and loved everyone. She was quite generous.”
“So she was like you then?”
Snow laughed and shook her head. “Oh no. I, unfortunately, am nothing like my mother.”
“You could have surprised me.”
“Oh, really? Because you know me so well?” She shook out her wrists. “What about your mother? What was she like?”
“Kind, but firm. She was gracious and lovely. I only ever heard her raise her voice a few times in my life. When she lived, everyone was welcome at our table.”
Snow lifted her sword and nodded to begin. “And after she died?”
His gut clenched. “Let’s just say things changed. I changed. As did my father. Not my brother, though. He stayed eager and fun as ever.” Until they were murdered by my uncle.
“So you have other family?” She advanced and he backed up.
He didn’t want to talk about it. “What about you? Do you have family?”
She attacked suddenly. The swiftness of her movement told him that the subject was closed to discussion.
“Let’s get down to it, shall we?” he asked.
For an hour they sparred, until her moves became erratic. It had been a long time since he’d had a real practice session. With Sonya and Greeg, he ever only fought with his body. The vampiric art of fighting with hands and teeth was their chosen way. But fighting with a sword was his favorite.
After, Snow sprawled on the ground, catching her breath, and he sat near her, watching. Her chest rose and fell with rhythmical ease. The clouds parted and the moon shone down on her. In the dim light, her cheeks had taken on a beautiful pink hue. His gaze slid down her cheek to her neck. The vein pulsed with life at her throat. Beat after beat, he watched the vein throb. His fangs descended into his mouth, and he hopped to his feet and turned away.
“I should go.” Yes, you should. Things had gone well tonight. He had been able to control his hunger until that very moment. Hadn’t even thought once of taking her blood. It was an improvement. Maybe it was possible to be near her after all. But not right now. He grabbed his sword, sheathed it on his back, and walked to the edge of the glade.
“Will you come back tomorrow?” she called.
He paused. No! “Yes.”
Over the next two weeks, Snow spent her daylight hours in the house taking care of her brothers, and her nights in the glade with Sage. She found herself looking forward to the sessions more and more as the days passed.
For the first hour or so, they would spar, with him teaching her new moves and her questioning him about his life. His predatory stance, the way he tracked her when she moved, all told her that he was a formidable warrior, and if he really wanted to, he could be deadly. Yet he never did anything to make her feel in danger. Uncomfortable was a different story.
The smooth way he called her ‘love’ and the intimate way he looked at her should have sent her running home with blushing shame. Instead, she enjoyed the attention.
She’d determined that he had to be of noble blood. His extensive training was something only a nobleman could afford. And both his demeanor and manners were fine, though he tried to hide it. She’d asked him if he hailed from the south, but it had become obvious, that like hers, his answers were veiled. Never saying anything that would divulge who he really was.
She’d heard about his wonderful mother and his strong father. He told her about his travels around Fairelle. His fondness for wine and his abhorrence for scratchy clothing and bedding. They both talked about how they’d come to learn swordplay and where he’d gotten his favorite leather coat that he never seemed to be without. Through it all, though she knew there was something he hid, she’d begun to trust him.
It’d been a long time since she’d had someone to talk to besides her brothers. She hadn’t seen Belle in almost a year, and with the servants gone… It was nice to have a conversation with someone without having to pretend to be something she wasn’t.
Some nights after they sparred, they would sit for hours and just talk. Sometimes they talked about what they wanted from life, sometimes he would tell her stories and sometimes he would listen to her ramble about chores and housework or her birds in her aviary. He never pried, never scoffed, just listened.
Tonight as she rounded the bend and headed for her cabin, her heart fluttered at the thought of seeing him. She stopped abruptly. The feelings left her conflicted. She’d only meant to find a friend. How had she come to… care for Sage?
A shiver ran through her. She’d gotten close to a man once before and it had ended badly. Yes, she wanted to find a man, a husband, someone of her own, but faced with the possibility of having feelings for someone frightened her.
It had started out as a friend to spar with, someone to talk to. Yes, he was handsome, but he was also infuriating, and arrogant, kind and gentle. No, no, no! She covered her face with her hands. What had she been thinking sparring with him?
Her chest crushed inward and she turned for home. She couldn’t let this happen. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. She couldn’t get close, couldn’t let him in. She couldn’t let anyone in. It was too dangerous for her brothers. If she left now and went home, would he look for her? Would he know where to find her? Panic caused her skin to itch.
She spun around and there he stood, leaning on the outside of her cabin, in his familiar long leather coat, his hair tied behind him. His handsome face hidden in shadow.
“Leaving so soon?”
“I…” She cleared her throat. Her stomach tightened. “Yes. I was thinking that maybe tonight isn’t such a good night.”
“Not feeling well?”
What could she say? Whatever she said would be a lie and he’d see right through it. “Something like that.”
“Why don’t we forgo the training tonight?” He pulled a satchel from his shoulder that she hadn’t noticed. “How about a picnic instead?”
It was a bad idea. Her mind and her heart battled. Just the day before, everything had been fine. Why was today any different? Because she was suddenly seeing him and wondering how it would feel to be in his arms? She swallowed hard.
“Come on. I promise not to bite.” He smiled and offered his hand.
Rebekah R. Ganiere – Books With A Bite
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