The Vampire Dimitri Page 1




A small village in the hills of England

Dimitri stared down at the blood. Everywhere. It was every where. On the bedcoverings. On the floor. On the table. On his hands. His arms.

The taste…still in his mouth. Rich, hot, full.

He swallowed the last vestiges on his tongue. Ambrosia.

He blinked, trying to focus, but his head pounded. When he tried to lift himself up, his sore muscles protested. Yet, life shimmered through him. His skin prickled, alive. Dimitri tried to breathe, but every breath he took in was laden with the scent. Bloodscent.

And then he remembered.

He remembered how it had happened.

Horror seized him.

And only then did he look over at the bundle of blankets and clothing, the lifeless form in a triangle of sunlight on the floor. One pale, plump arm hung out, marked and torn. Blood seeped everywhere: through thick quilts and the heavy layers of her dress. The mass of graying hair, loose and streaked with blood.

No. No. He held his temples, closed his eyes.

But he couldn’t deny it.

And even as he sat there in a room half shadowed and half blazing with sun, Dimitri was filled with loathing and hatred.

No more.

I don’t want this. I want out.

“Do you hear me, Lucifer?” he said, his voice hoarse and broken. “I want out of this. Release me.”



For like all angels, fallen or no, Lucifer’s preferred method of communication was via dreams. In the deepest of night.

When one was the most vulnerable. The most suggestible.

The most easily lured and tricked.

“Release me, you damned bastard!”

But Dimitri already knew there was no way out. He’d already attempted it, tried to break the covenant in the last year since he’d left Vienna. He’d already denied himself what Lucifer had recreated him to need, twenty-five years ago: blood. Rich, warm, lifegiving.

The devil’s Mark, depicting the insidious crack in his soul, was imprinted on his back and would never leave him. Thus it had been, for two decades.

And his attempt at self-denial, his attempt to thwart the devil and to break free?

The result was on the floor, a horrifying mess of limbs and tendons and mutilated flesh, destroyed. Dead.


Dimitri pinched the bridge of his nose, hard, a black ball of anger swelling inside him. His eyes stung.

Damn it all…he’d tried.

He’d left Vienna after the fire, left a world of opulence and hedonism that he’d never truly enjoyed, and refused it all. A year ago.

For a year, he refused to feed, to drink from anyone. He’d die first, damned or no. Surely if a vampire didn’t drink of the lifeblood, he’d grow weak and die. He’d force Lucifer to release him.

But it hadn’t worked at all, and it was his very weakness that had caused this tragedy.

For when the old woman had found him, near death, weak after a year without sustenance, he’d been naught but a loose-limbed mass of bone and flesh. Ready to leave the life he’d been tricked into, back when he’d saved Meg twenty years ago. When he’d given up everything for her.

The old woman found him here, and tried to help him—for she couldn’t have known. She was an innocent. She induced him to drink ale and broth, neither of which could save him.

And Dimitri: all through the night and into the day, day after day, he watched those solid blue veins. He lusted for the curve of her plump neck. He had to close his eyes to keep from taking what every humor in his body demanded.

And he was in control, despite the burning pain from Lucifer’s Mark—the agony that bespoke of the devil’s displeasure with Dimitri. He resisted. He fought it.

Nothing was stronger than his resolve. Not even the devil.

Until she nicked her finger with a knife.

And he smelled the blood.



One hundred thirteen years later


Who in Lucifer’s bloody hell did Miss Maia Woodmore think she was, giving orders to an earl?

Dimitri, the Earl of Corvindale, glared down at the elegant script covering a piece of thick stationery. Feminine, perfectly formed, with only the occasional embellishment and not one ink splotch, the words marched across the page in ruler-straight lines. Even the descenders and ascenders were neat and properly aligned so that none of them over lapped. The stationery smelled like feminine spice and lily of the valley and some other intriguing note that he refused to expend the effort to define.

Naturally her demand was couched in the most proper of syntax, but Dimitri was obviously no innocent when it came to female machinations. Though he strictly avoided women—all of them, especially the mortal ones—he was well-schooled in the way they worked and in reading between the lines, so to speak.

And from what he read between the lines here, Miss Maia Woodmore was annoyed and filled with indignant self-righteousness, just as she had been during that incident in Haymarket three years ago. And she expected him to jump to her whim.

Lord Corvindale, it read, forgive me for contacting you in this untoward manner, but it is only upon the specific direction of my brother, Mr. Charles Woodmore, that I am doing so. (Here he could fairly feel her outrage at being ordered thus by her sibling.)

Mr. Woodmore (who I understand is a business associate of your lordship’s) left word that, should I not receive correspondence or communication from him within a fortnight after leaving on his most recent trip to the Continent (which would be by yesterday’s date, 18 July, 1804) that I must contact you in regards to the wardship of myself and my two sisters, Angelica and Sonia (the latter of whom is safely ensconced at St. Bridie’s Convent School in Scotland).

Dimitri paused in this, his third perusal of the letter, to blink and frown at the precise, if not overlong, sentence. And then he went on to roundly curse Chas Woodmore for somehow convincing him to agree to this madness. It had been more than six years ago that Woodmore had culled such a vow from Dimitri, who’d hardly given it another thought since.

Naturally he never expected Woodmore to do anything as imbecilic as he’d done, running off with Narcise Moldavi instead of killing her brother, which was what he’d gone to Paris to do. Narcise’s brother, Cezar, one must assume, would be livid.

But at least Woodmore had made arrangements for the safety of his own sisters, in the event Cezar Moldavi realized who was behind his sister’s abduction—or perhaps it was an elopement, not an abduction. He would have no compunction about taking out his ire on three innocent young women.

Cezar certainly hadn’t changed since Vienna. If anything, he’d become even more obsessed with power and control.

Dimitri returned to the letter, trying not to acknowledge the exotic perfume that permeated the paper. One of the many curses of being Dracule was his extraordinary sense of smell. Not terribly pleasant, when out and about on the streets of London, and even less so when trying to avoid scenting something he wished to ignore. Reluctantly he read on.

My brother impressed upon me the seriousness of this manner, and it is only because of his specific and unrelenting urgency that I dare send this letter.

I wish to assure you, Lord Corvindale, that the only reason I am contacting you is because of my brother’s express wishes. There is truly no need for you to concern yourself with the guardianship of myself and my sisters, for Chas has often been away on business trips and we have fared just as well during his previous absences with the chaperonage of our cousin and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. Fernfeather.

He recalled that, based upon his single previous interaction with her, Miss Maia Woodmore was also this long-winded in person.

In addition, my upcoming wedding to Mr. Alexander Bradington will shortly put me in the position to act as chaperone for my younger sisters.

Dimitri realized he was crinkling the paper and he reminded himself that the written word, regardless of from whom it came, what language it was in, and what message it bore, was precious. Yes, he’d seen the engagement announcement in the Times some months ago. The news had been welcome to those who followed that sort of on dit—which certainly didn’t include the reclusive Earl of Corvindale.

At that time (Miss Woodmore’s perfect hand continued in its no-nonsense manner) your services as guardian to my sisters and myself will no longer be necessary.

In fact, (here her penmanship became the slightest bit thicker and perhaps even more precise) I see no reason for you to bestir yourself in regards to my sisters and myself at all, Lord Corvindale. Despite my brother’s concern, which I can’t help but believe is overly cautious and more than a bit exaggerated, Angelica and I shall fare perfectly well in London on our own until Chas returns.

I look forward to receiving a response at your earliest convenience.

Which meant, Dimitri knew, immediately upon receipt of the letter. Miss Woodmore was thus doomed to disappointment, for the message had arrived early this morning, when he was still asleep at his desk. Not that he would have jumped to respond to her anyway.

She signed her name simply, Maia Woodmore.

And there, for the first time, was a bit of feminine embellishment, just on the lower curve of the M and on the upper swoop of the W.

Unfortunately for Miss Maia Woodmore, Dimitri had already been…what was the word? Bestirred.

Indeed, he’d been more than merely bestirred relative to their guardianship. And, he snarled to himself, it was only going to get worse. He was going to have to bring the chits into this very household if he meant to keep them safe from Moldavi and his private army of vampire goons. Damn Chas Woodmore’s mortal arse.

Dimitri happened to know that Moldavi was in Paris with his nose permanently inserted in the crack of Napoleon Bonaparte’s arse—or perhaps this fortnight he was licking the new emperor’s bollocks—and it would take him some time to send his men after Woodmore and his sisters. But not very much time, despite the war between their two countries.

Which meant that Dimitri must move quickly.

He looked around his study, swathed in heavy curtains to keep out the sun. Books and papers were piled everywhere and shelves lined the walls, crammed full with even more tomes and manuscripts. An utter mess, Mrs. Hunburgh claimed, but she wasn’t allowed into the chamber at all except for a weekly dust and sweep. No one else was allowed in but for the occasional visit by Dimitri’s butler or valet.

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