In the darkness of the vampire realm, the Drake family has hidden for ages. Now, a new generation of young, noble nightwalkers must find their way in the world of immortals, mortals, and vampire hunters as they fight for both survival and the chance of eternal love . . .
Hearts at Stake: Solange Drake is coming into her own as the only daughter ever born to an ancient vampire dynasty. And that means a lot of people both dead and undead are going to be watching her. Especially Kieran Black—a vampire hunter out for revenge. But when Solange is abducted by a power-hungry vampire queen, it will take all her friends as well as the daring and dangerous Keiran to save her eternal life . . .
Blood Feud: The day Isabeau St. Croix was turned into a vampire, she was buried alive and left for dead by a vicious British lord. Now, over two hundred years later, she has emerged to seek revenge. But she never expected the vampire world to be on the edge of chaos. Nor did she expect to meet the handsome Logan Drake. And when a sinister threat rises to challenge the Drake dynasty, Isabeau and Logan must stand with each other if they are going to survive . . .
Out for Blood: Hunter Wild is descended from a long line of elite vampire hunters. But when the hunter academy she attends comes under attack, she must turn to an unlikely ally: the drop-dead gorgeous vampire Quinn Drake. Can she trust her born enemy to help her without using his wiles to ensnare her?
Hailed as “a refreshing take on the familiar teenage vampire drama,” the Drake Chronicles is an irresistible saga of love, humor, and adventure that will keep you turning pages deep into the dark of night (Publishers Weekly).
About the Author
She is the author of the Drake Chronicles, Haunting Violet, the Witches of London Trilogy, and Red.
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"I can't believe you were actually going to just leave her there," I grumbled as Logan pulled into our lane, which was overgrown with hedges. The unnatural glint of unnatural eyes had faded, and there was nothing but ripe blackberries and crickets in the bushes. Not only was our farm well protected, but it was also surrounded by other family farms, with forest surrounding all of them. Drakes have lived in this area since it was considered wild and dangerous, best left to gunslingers and outlaws. Now it was just home.
But dangerous all the same.
"She was fine," Nicholas said testily. "She was safe as soon as we got you away from her." It was the same thing I'd told her. Still.
He only ever called her "she," except to her face, when he called her Lucky because it annoyed her so much. They'd been getting on each other's nerves since we were kids. There was a family joke that Lucy's first words were, "Nicholas is bugging me."
I couldn't remember ever not knowing her. She'd drawn me out of my shell, even when we were little, though it wasn't until my fifth birthday that I'd started calling her my best friend, after she threw a mud ball at Nicholas's head for stealing my chocolate cupcake. We'd learned to ride bikes together and liked the same movies and talked all night whenever we had slumber parties.
"She was fine," Nicholas insisted, catching my glare. "Despite being reckless."
"She was just trying to help me."
"She's human," he said, as if it were a debilitating disease, as if he wasn't human as well, despite the blood change. We aren't undead, like the horror novels say, though we definitely look it during our transformation. That particular stereotype clings so deeply that sometimes it's easier to embrace it. Lucy's mom calls us "differently abled."
"And you're a jerk." I touched his sleeve. "But thanks for coming to get me."
"You're welcome," he muttered. "You know you shouldn't let her talk you into stuff. It never turns out well."
"I know. But you know how Lucy is. And she meant well."
He grunted. Logan grinned. "She's getting cuter. Especially from behind."
"She is not," Nicholas said. "And quit looking at her butt."
I was so totally going to tell Lucy they'd been talking about her butt.
"You're such an old man," Logan said scornfully, turning off the ignition. "We have all this power. We should use it."
"Flirting is not a power," I told him drily.
"It is if you're good at it. And I'm very good at it."
"So you keep telling us."
"Being charming's my gift," he said modestly. No one else could have pulled off such an old-fashioned shirt with lace cuff s and such a pretty face. The pheromones that vampires emit like a dangerous perfume keep humans enticed and befuddled with longing, and Logan's are especially well tuned. They don't have an actual smell that can be described, except lately in my case. It's more subliminal than that, with the power to hypnotize. Kind of like the way wild animals can smell each other out in the forest, especially during mating season. If a vampire is particularly strong, humans don't even remember being a meal; they just have a craving for rare steak or spinach. If we drink too much, they become anemic.
The pheromones don't work on other vampires, except, of course, for mine, which are rapidly becoming a beacon for all of vampire kind. I'm special, and not in a good way, if you ask me. Vampires are rarely born, except in certain ancient families. Exhibit A, me and my seven obnoxious older brothers.
But I'm the only girl.
In about nine hundred years.
And the closer I get to my sixteenth birthday, the more I attract the others to me.
It's all very Snow White, except I don't call bluebirds and deer out of the woods — only bloodthirsty vampires who want to kidnap me or kill me. Vampire politics are messy at best, and all Drakes have been exiled from the royal court since the very hour I was born. I'm considered a threat to the current ruler, Lady Natasha, because my genealogy is so impressive and because there's some stupid prophecy from centuries ago that says the vampire tribes will be properly united under the rule of a daughter born to an ancient family.
And Lady Natasha, unlike me, wasn't born into an ancient family — even if she considers herself to be the reigning vampire queen.
As if that's my fault.
Luckily, my family much prefers living in quiet exile in the woods. I'd heard enough rumors about our ruler to be glad we'd never actually met. She feeds off humans and is barely circumspect about it; in fact, she loves the attention and the vampire groupies. She apparently doesn't like pretty young girls; they never seem to survive her mood swings.
Technically, she shouldn't be feeding off humans, and certainly not so nonchalantly. It was becoming an issue, even among her own people. There are royals lists who follow her just because she's so powerful, not because they particularly respect her. Fear, as always, is a great motivator.
And lately she's been turning more and more humans into vampires, in order to gather more followers. The council makes her nervous, and I make her nervous, even thought we live peacefully with other humans. Our family is one of the few ancient clans of the Raktapa Council. The council was formed ages ago when the families realized that we weren't like other vampires: our change is genetic. We transform without being bitten, but we need vampire blood to survive that transformation. Afterward, we're nearly immortal, like the others, vulnerable only to a stake through the heart, too much sunlight, or decapitation.
"Do Mom and Dad know about what happened after the party?" I asked, finally getting out of the car and facing the house. The original building had burned down during the Salem witch trials, even though we were nowhere near Salem. The locals had been superstitious and scared of every little thing. The house was rebuilt farther into the sheltering forest. It was simple and a little shabby from the outside, but the pioneer- style log cabin hid a luxurious heart full of velvet couches and stone fireplaces. The rosebushes under the leaded-glass windows were a little scraggly, the oak trees old and stately. I loved every single inch of it. Even my mother's pinched and disapproving face behind the glass.
"Busted," Logan murmured.
Moths flung themselves at the lamps. The screen door creaked when I pushed it open. "Solange Rosamund Drake."
I winced. Behind me, both my brothers did the same. My mother, Helena, was intimidating at the best of times with her long black hair and her pale eyes, and the fact that she can take down someone twice her size with a sword, a stake, or her petite bare hands.
"Ouch — middle name." Logan shot me a sympathetic smile before easing into the living room and out of the crossfire.
"Snitch." I pinched Nicholas. He only raised an eyebrow.
"Nicholas didn't tell us anything." My mom pinned him with a pointed glare. He squirmed a little. I'd known grown men to back away physically from that look. "One of your aunts was patrolling the perimeter and saw your escape."
"Escape." I rolled my eyes. "It was barely anything. They didn't even come out of the cornfields. They were just sniffing me."
"You have to be more careful," my father, Liam, said calmly from his favorite chair. It kind of looked like a medieval throne. No surprise there. He'd only been born in 1901 but he carried himself like a king.
"I feel fine," I said, exasperated. He was drinking brandy. I could smell it across the room, just like I could smell Uncle Geoffrey's cologne, Aunt Hyacinth's pug, and the thick perfume of roses. Just another one of our little gifts. I rubbed my nose so I wouldn't sneeze.
"What's with all the flowers?" I asked, noticing the roses. There were dozens and dozens of them everywhere, in every shade of red, stuffed in crystal vases, teacups, and jam jars.
"From your ... admirers," my father told me grimly.
"What?" Admirers, ha! They were only coming around because of my pheromones. It's not my fault I smell funny. I shower every day, but apparently I still stink of lilies and warm chocolate and something else no one can accurately describe. Even Lucy commented on it once, and she's nearly immune to us, having practically grown up here. No one else was smelly in such an obvious way; pheromones are usually subtle and mysterious. I really hope it fades once I fully turn. The prophecy and my family's legacy in the vampire world won't, though.
Sometimes it sucks having a family that's so old and powerful.
"Darling, it's a great compliment, I'm sure," my aunt Hyacinth said. She was technically my great-great-great-aunt. She didn't look much over forty, even though she clung to the fashions of her youth in the privacy of the tribe, like most vampires. Her dress was Victorian in style, with a lace corset and jet beads. "When I was your age I had the best time. There's nothing like the rush of being a debutante. All those men hungering after you." She gave a delicate shiver.
"Hyacinth." Dad grimaced. "You hadn't even been turned then, and this is hardly a debutante's ball. They don't want to waltz, damn it." My great-great-great-uncle Edward had married Aunt Hyacinth in 1853 and turned her in 1877, at her insistence. She was inspired by Queen Victoria's undying love for her own husband and wanted to live for centuries by Edward's side. I'd never met him, though, because he'd died in World War I, shot one night on a spy mission for the Allies. She'd been alone ever since.
I glanced at a thick cream-colored paper card pinned to an enormous bouquet of white roses in a red box and froze. "Montmartre?" I squeaked.
He's been turning humans for nearly three hundred years now, and he's violent and careless about it. He leaves them half-turned and usually buried under the ground, to conquer the blood change on their own without any help at all. The thirst is so strong that it twists them and gives them a double set of fangs instead of just our one retractable pair. The ones that stay loyal to Montmartre are called the Host. The ones who defect call themselves the Cwn Mamau, the Hounds of the Mothers. They were either strong enough to survive alone, or were rescued and trained by other Hounds. Everyone knew they wanted to kill Montmartre, but they were so reclusive they wouldn't accept outside help.
They are fiercely independent, live in caves, serve a shamanka, and wear bone beads in their hair. They're kind of scary, but nowhere near as scary as the most dangerous of Montmartre's creations called the Hel- Blar, who have blue-tinted skin, and teeth that are all fangs, sharpened like needles and unretractable. Hel-Blar means "blue death" in some ancient Viking language. Their bite, known as a "kiss," can infect without any blood exchange, and they can turn both vampires and humans into Hel-Blar. The Host and the Hounds managed to stay sane, unlike the Hel-Blar. No one can control them, not even Montmartre.
"Montmartre actually sent me flowers?"
Dad flicked the box a baleful glare. "Yes."
"I'm putting them down the incinerator," I said darkly. The last thing I wanted was Montmartre or his Host to know who I was. I was also hoping to slip out while everyone else was distracted. I should have known better.
"You can do that later." Mom pointed to a chair. "Sit."
I dropped onto a velvet settee. Nicholas sat as well, joining my other brothers, who were all watching me grimly. "Don't you lot have anything better to do?" I asked.
"More important than protecting our annoying baby sister?" Quinn drawled. "No."
Being the only girl in a family of boys would have been tough enough to navigate, never mind a family with the rare ability to give birth to mostly male vampires. Even among the Drakes, that ability is rare. Most vampires are "made," not born. My mom, for example, had been human until my dad turned her shortly after I was born and they'd decided they didn't want any more children. He'd been born human too, like my brothers, until his sixteenth birthday — when he'd sickened, the way we all did — and would have died if my aunt hadn't given him her blood to drink.
Family legend has it that the first of our clan was William Drake. No one knows how he was turned. We did know he married Veronique DuBois, a lady-in-waiting to Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. A year after their wedding, she went into labor with their firstborn. After twenty- seven hours of childbirth, the midwife told William that Veronique was not going to survive the birth. In desperation, William turned her, and their twins were born healthy. By their sixteenth birthday, though, the twins weakened and grew unnaturally sensitive to the sunlight. They were hungry but couldn't eat, thirsty but couldn't drink. Nothing tempted them.
And so the Drake vampire family began.
"Solange, are you listening to me?"
I jerked my head up. "Yes." I'd heard this particular lecture enough times over the last few months to know it intimately. "Nothing happened. You're all overreacting." I did feel guilty; I just knew better than to show it.
"There were at least three of them in that field tonight, maybe more." Nicholas scowled. "You know they don't all send flowers. Most of them just want to grab you and run."
I scowled back. "I could have handled it. It wasn't even full dark yet. Besides, if they were so dangerous, why'd you nearly leave Lucy behind?"
"You were going to leave Lucy there?" my mom sputtered, and Nicholas narrowed his eyes at me. I crossed my eyes smugly. Growing up with so many brothers taught me the fine art of misdirection, self- preservation, and revenge, if nothing else.
"She was fine." I knew Nicholas was trying not to slump in his chair. "They weren't after her. And she's not fragile, for God's sake."
"She's under the protection of this family," my father said.
"I know, but she can look after herself. Broke my nose last summer, didn't she?"
"Be that as it may." Dad turned to me. "And you, young lady." Every single one of my traitor brothers smirked. They look enough alike that people usually assume they're all sets of twins. Only Quinn and Connor are actually twins. Quinn keeps his hair long and Connor, like Sebastian, prefers to fade quietly into the background. Logan is the flamboyant one, and Nicholas spends most of his free time worrying about me. Marcus and Duncan just came home from a road trip. They're all gorgeous; it's like living with a bunch of male models. And it makes girls stupid around them.
"You have to take this seriously."
"I do, Dad," I said quietly. "You know I do."
"What I know is that they're coming for you and soon you'll be weaker than a blind kitten."
"I know." This totally sucked. I was getting in trouble over a party I hadn't wanted to go to in the first place. I like being alone and staying on the farm. But I hate being trapped and hovered over.
"Let the girl be," Hyacinth said, drinking delicately from a goblet. It looked like cherry cordial.
"Thank you." I swallowed thickly. Did I mention?
I was squeamish about blood.CHAPTER 2
"Lucy, is that you?"
I kicked the door shut with my heel, still muttering under my breath. Nicholas was so infuriating. What was wrong with him anyway?
"Yeah, it's me," I called out.
"Where have you been? We nearly started without you, kiddo." Dad came out of the kitchen with a bowl of popcorn, made from the corn he'd grown in the backyard. It was as close to junk food as my parents came. His long hair was in its usual ponytail, his sleeves rolled up to display his wolf and turtle tattoos. The wolf was his personal totem, and the turtle was our family totem.
"Pick out a movie, honey." Mom looked up from the beads spread out on the coffee table. She was sitting cross-legged in old jeans and a peasant blouse, stringing a hundred and eight rose quartz beads together to make prayer malas. She makes them to give away as gifts at the ashram. My parents went every year, and they were leaving tomorrow morning before dawn. "What's wrong? Is Solange all right?"
"She's fine." Mostly.
"Tell her we've asked the swami to pray for her. Why do you look so grumpy?"
"It's Nicholas. He just makes me so mad sometimes."
"Honey, you know anger poisons your body. You've always been too quick to get mad. Why do you think you have allergies? Your body's always on hyper defense."
"Okay, okay," she said. Dad winked at me and passed the popcorn. "Are you going to be all right here on your own while we're away? I stocked the fridge."
"With tofu?" I grimaced.
"I don't want you gorging on junk food while we're away, young lady."
I rolled my eyes. "Well, I'm not eating weird tofu casseroles for two weeks."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Drake Chronicles"
Copyright © 2018 Alexandra Harvey.
Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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