From the Shadows
By Jae Knight
Lily Fontaine and Vallon Paige were meant for each other. Neither saw the destructive, jealous force of Angelo Milonne tearing them apart. Trapped in a nightmare of murders and untold secrets, Lily must find a way to protect her mortal lover from the angry vampire that made her. Soon the fear escalates as Lily's innocent descendants are believed to be Angelo's new target for vengeance and Jaidyn Pierce's only hope of keeping herself and her young son safe is to trust vampire Luca Silva, the vampire who is ultimately to blame for giving Angelo eternal life. In a race to stop history from repeating itself and to discover the truth behind the vampires' creation, will Lily and Luca be able to protect what they cannot live without, their love of a fragile human being?
New Orleans, December 31, 1799
"Hurry up, Lily! Mama had the carriage sent around already. We can't be late!" Elizabeth bounded into the room, a comical expression of distress on her beautiful face.
Lily looked again in the mirror and smoothed her black hair, ignoring her sister's outburst and smiling at the reflection of Elizabeth's impatient scowl behind her. Lily looked critically at her dress; it was the color of clotted cream with an underskirt of gold, to match her light eyes. She turned away from her reflection, satisfied.
"Richard will be waiting for me!" Elizabeth was referring to her betrothed, Richard de Villiers. Although their engagement was not yet official, Elizabeth knew tonight was the night they would finally announce their betrothal and she was overeager to get to the de Villiers ball right away. Many believed that Richard should go with a younger bride as Elizabeth was twenty-three. But Richard and Elizabeth were in love and that was why Elizabeth had waited to marry. The Fontaine's had wanted their daughters to marry for love and not for money.
Lily looked at her sister and told her, "He will still be there by the time we get there." It was New Year's Eve. Tonight the ladies Fontaine were going to the de Villiers' 'New Years Turn of the Century Ball'. Richard de Villiers was Elizabeth's intended. Elizabeth, who was Lily's older sister by two years, was sure that tonight was the night Richard would announce their betrothal.
"Lillian Marie Simone Fontaine! Stop your preening! We must hurry. It is already nine o'clock!" Lady Claire Fontaine made her way into the room with the two sisters. Even though her face showed signs of age, Lady Claire's beauty still radiated from her. Her face sweet and lovely, though lined. Her black hair was streaked liberally with gray, giving her a distinguished look instead of making her seem haggard.
"I told her that we mustn't be late, Mama," said Elizabeth with a pout. Elizabeth wore a bright gown of periwinkle with an underskirt of peacock blue. Her hair was arranged in artful, glossy black curls and peacock feathers.
Lily apologized, "I am sorry, Mama."
In the carriage, Lily did her best to cheer her sister's spirits but Elizabeth's pout remained intact. She filled the silence with her customary witty banter until they could see the grand chateau looming into view.
As they reached the Chateau de Villiers, a grand two-story Georgian style plantation house with expansive lawns trimmed in manicured hedges; they could see that the house was already full of people.
"It's going to be quite a crush, dears," Lady Claire predicted. The women were helped from their barouche by handsome liveried servants and they made their way gracefully into the crowded house.
"Elizabeth, there you are, my dear! I've been looking all over for you. Richard will be in the ballroom already." The hostess, Lady Jane de Villiers, greeted them in the foyer.
"Lady Claire, Lillian, you both look positively charming. I do hope you will enjoy this night." Lady Claire and Lily thanked her and left Elizabeth with Lady Jane.
"Oh, there is Cousin Margaret. Do go enjoy yourself," Lady Claire suggested as she headed toward her waving cousin.
With that, Lady Claire left her daughter. Lily supposed she should make her way into the ballroom. It was amazing to see this many people crowded into one house, even one of a size such as this. But then, everyone had wanted to attend the 'Turn of the Century Ball'. Half of the guests Lily did not recognize. She put on a smile as she entered the ballroom.
The ballroom could only be described as stunning. Mirrors reflected the dazzling light from the chandeliers off all the ladies' jewelry and guests' crystal champagne glasses, blinding her at first glimpse. Gold leafing covered all the furniture and mirrors in the room, further adding to the dreamlike glow. The lights made the gold wink among the dancing and chatting crowd. There were rich, red velvet curtains flanking all the windows and the French doors leading out onto a cobbled terrace.
Lily spotted her friend, Catherine, across the room. Lily smiled at her friend, looking uncomfortable in her red silk evening dress, her blond hair tumbling in large curls over her shoulders. She stood near a window as if trying to blend in with the curtains.
Lily stopped to chat with the other guests when necessary, so as not to appear rude, and finally made it to her friend's side.
"Lily, I am so glad that you are here," Catherine exclaimed, grasping onto Lily's arm as if she were a lifeline. Lily smiled and gave her hand a little squeeze of reassurance, as Catherine was quite shy.
"You knew I would be here, Catherine. Elizabeth thinks that tonight is the night Richard will announce their betrothal." Catherine nodded and smiled wistfully, her brown eyes dreamy, as if imaging she were Richard's fiancée.
Lily danced and conversed and enjoyed herself, getting caught up in the excitement of the pressing crowd. After a dance with a charming but rather boring gentleman, someone that she had never met before stopped her. He was quite stunning.
Tall, quite pale, the bluest eyes she had ever seen. He was dressed all in black except for a stark white shirt that had elegant lace at the cuffs. He had thick, dark auburn hair that was tied back with a black ribbon.
"Excuse me, mademoiselle, but I could not help noticing your beauty. You are the loveliest woman here, if I may be so bold."
Lily blushed prettily and thanked him for his kind words.
"Could I possibly have this dance?" he asked her, bowing over her hand and lightly kissing her knuckles.
"Well, I would love to but I do not yet know your name."
The mysterious stranger smiled and replied, "Forgive me my rudeness, mademoiselle. I am called Angelo Milonne." He then took her hand and placed it in the crook of his arm.
Angelo led her out into the next dance. It was a waltz, one of Lily's favorites. As they danced, Angelo stared into her golden-hued eyes and she could swear he was seeing more than his own reflection. Lily sucked in a breath as his body languidly moved with hers to the music. His hand on her back was scorching and her thoughts became confused.
The waltz ended and Angelo bowed to her.
"Thank you for the stimulating experience. You looked flushed. Shall we step outside to walk in the gardens?" he asked. Lily thought briefly of saying 'no'. It was deemed unseemly to wander off with a man alone but Lily's heart thundered excitedly. She smiled graciously at him and threw caution to the wind.
"Lead the way, sir." He once again took her hand.
"Please, call me Angelo."
They walked sedately through the rows of rosebushes, their heady aroma filling the night air. Angelo stopped at a beautiful fountain portraying the birth of the Greek goddess Aphrodite. All around them, yet distant, were the sounds of lovers' secret trysts. He once again looked deep into her eyes, as if peering into her very soul.
"I sense a desire in you for something more. Something different and exciting. Something dark." Then they continued walking and before she knew it, he had led her off into the trees where they would not be seen. They were too far from the house to be heard.
The shadows were thick here, cast by the hanging foliage of the willows that dripped with gray Spanish moss.
Lily swallowed nervously, wondering if she should have stayed in the safety of a crowd. But then his words had rung true and she was mesmerized by the hidden promise of fulfillment. Lily was bored by the life she led. Society was dull. She craved travel to foreign places, shimmering oceans and sandy islands. New Orleans would always be home, she knew, but adventures awaited her.
Angelo stepped closer to her, his arms outstretched. His eyes looked into hers and he nodded and said, "Yes, and I can give you adventure. I can give you a gift. A wondrous gift. Freedom. You could go anywhere, do anything and be anyone. I can show you power, hunger and so much more. Just say the word."
Angelo promises so much but could he actually give me these things? she wondered.
His eyes tugged at her, making promises she longed for him to keep and before she realized she had even made up her mind, she heard herself say, "Yes."
Angelo smiled and leaned in toward her. It was her first kiss and it was wonderful! His hands trailed over her body, making her shiver in pleasure. Angelo slowly traced her lips with his tongue; her breath was warm and sweet on his face.
Lily struggled to keep her wits about her but all she could think of was Angelo and the feeling he was giving her. All she wanted in that moment was Angelo and what he could give her. Angelo's fingers worked at the back of her dress, loosening the laces until it sagged at her shoulders. Angelo stopped kissing her and looked down at her nearly exposed breasts. With a gentle tug, the dress fell to her waist and it was short work ripping the thin material of her gauzy chemise.
Lily could have fainted when she felt his hands touching her breasts. They seemed to get heavier, swelling in his hands. Her nipples tightened to the point of being painful. Lily couldn't think of why she was letting him do these things and at the moment, she did not care. Lily let out a small scream when he traced her nipple with his tongue.
Angelo backed Lily against an old Weeping Willow; the hanging branches seeming to embrace them intimately, hiding them in its shadows. With one hand he lifted her skirts and with the other hand freed himself from his breeches.
Lily, realizing what he was about to do, knew a moment's panic. If she allowed him to take such liberties with her there could be dire consequences and she would be unfit for any decent man to wed. Angelo, sensing her escalating fear, kissed her again, trailing his hand up her inner thigh. Lily's eyes fluttered and she moaned when he gently slipped his finger into her.
* * * *
Angelo drank in her sounds of ecstasy and smiled against her lips. All resistance fled from Lily as he moved his finger slowly in and out of her moist heat. He withdrew from her and took one of her hands and wrapped it around his erection. She gently stroked him, adding fuel to his fire. Lily, feeling empowered by the reaction she was receiving, took charge. She kissed his neck and bit him hard as she moved her hand up and down his length.
Angelo growled as he felt her teeth on his neck, and then he smiled.
Wicked little minx! Yes, she would be ready for the blood.
Angelo lifted her legs and set them around his hips. Lily wrapped her arms around his neck and he spread her open and thrust his full length into her. He caught her scream in his mouth. Slowly, he pulled back until just the head of him was inside her and roughly impaled her again.