An abused woman has the power to unite werefolk, fey and vampire against an evil that would see them all dead--if she can learn to love again.
Christy lies near death after a brutal beating by her estranged husband. Her preternatural friends reach a desperate conclusion: The only way to save her is to turn her. Sebastian steps forward to take on the burden of being her Maker.
For him it's no burden at all. She draws him as no other woman has for centuries. With the help of a werecougar friend, Sebastian teaches Christy about her new life and abilities, making certain she is as strong as he can make her. Only then can she face her abusive ex-husband and put her old life behind her. But Christy's ex-husband is involved in something more dangerous than any of them had guessed.
Vampire, were, and even a fey knight must work together to put an end to the threatening evil. To overcome her past, help keep the darkness at bay, and fight for a new life with Sebastian, Christy must draw on all of her new-found strength.
Will it be enough?
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December 11, 2007
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Excerpt from Sweeter than Wine by Bianca D'Arc
"Uh, Christy, there's something you should know."
"Thank you, Doctor. She is my responsibility now." Sebastian's voice was filled with quiet authority, respectful but firm.
"But she should hear this from one of her friends."
"She will, in due time, but it's enough for her to know that you support her, regardless of her state. You have done that already and I thank you."
"What's going on?" Christy grew concerned over the obvious battle of wills between Sebastian and Jena. If she was any judge, even Jena couldn't win such a fight with this formidable man.
"It's all right, Christina. Jena was part of what we did to save your life, though she does not fully understand it." Sebastian's fingers stroked her hand with reassuring pressure.
"We? Who's we?"
"Christy, you need to know that Lissa and Kelly were present when the decision was made. They're like you are now."
"That's enough, Doctor. I'll take it from here."
"But she needs to know--"
"She will, soon enough." He motioned toward the door. It was a clear command. "Thank you for your assistance."
Jena left with a doubtful expression. Christy was still out of it, but she instinctively trusted Sebastian. There was no real reason why he could claim so much of her trust, but she knew on some intrinsic level that he was okay. More than okay, actually. He was nothing at all like Jeff. Where Jeff's size intimidated, Sebastian's even broader shoulders comforted. Where Jeff's hands brought pain, Sebastian's brought a gentleness that almost made her weep. And where Jeff's words cut to the bone, Sebastian's whispered across her delicate psyche in gentle waves that made her want to bask in their glow forever.
Sebastian turned his gorgeous eyes back to her after Jena closed the door. Christy felt his penetrating stare as he lifted her hand to his lips in an old-world gesture of respect that touched her heart.
"You will no doubt be surprised by much of what I have to tell you, but it must be said and you must believe." His gaze caught hers, and held. "You wouldn't have lived through the night had we not intervened. Your friends, Kelly and Lissa, petitioned for your conversion and their mates agreed. I claimed the right and responsibility of turning you and I want you to know I'll live up to the duty I assumed when I gave you my blood."
"You donated blood?"
His sexy lips quirked in a semblance of a smile. "You're probably thinking of transfusions and other medical intervention when what I did was much more primitive. No, dear Christina, you drank my blood and now you are as I am. Immortal."
After a moment, she laughed into the tense silence. "You've got to be kidding."
"I'm afraid not." Sebastian shook his head slowly. "Lissa and Kelly have also undergone conversion by their mates and now your friend Jena knows of our existence. She'll no doubt be watched from now on to preserve our secret. Our survival depends on the secrecy of our existence."
"What are you?" She remembered Jena's serious tone. It was obvious Jena believed this odd tale and Jena was the smartest of all her friends. If Jena believed it, it was probably true, incredible as it may seem.
"Some call our kind vampire, though I'm not particularly fond of that term myself."
"You prefer 'undead', perhaps?" She made a stab at a joke, though it wasn't much of one.
Sebastian grimaced. "I don't like that word either. Makes me sound like a reanimated corpse."
"Isn't that what I am? You said I would've died without your intervention." The horror of that was still sinking in.
"No, my dear. You did not die. And now, you will not. At least not by normal means. Certain things can kill us, but it's rare. In all my years, only one of my acquaintances lost his life through accident."
"And just how old are you?" Dread gathered in her gut.
"I was converted in the year 1702, on the road near Bristol." He shrugged.
He chuckled and shook his head. "England. I was on my way home, traveling from London, when my coach was attacked by highwaymen. We fought back but were outnumbered and I was left to die in the forest. A woman found me that night and turned me to save my life but she was also on the run. She left me to fend for myself and I learned through bitter trial and error what I could and couldn't do with my new abilities. My life as I'd known it was over and eventually I traveled to the Americas to make my way in a new land that was a bit more primitive. I met Marc LaTour in Boston and he took me under his wing, so to speak. That was well before the American Revolution. We've been friends ever since."
"Wow." She was simply stunned.
"I tell you all this to impress upon you how important it is that you learn from me. I took on the responsibility of being your maker. I know, more than any of the others, how important it is to have a maker that will devote time to teaching you the ropes when you are newly turned. Your friends have their mates to look after them, but you have no one. I'll watch over you, Christina. I'll teach you what you need to know to survive and thrive in your new life." His gaze was intent. "It would be my deepest honor."
Christy's mind raced. Jena wouldn't have left her alone with this man if he were an escaped lunatic, would she? No, but that meant the incredible tale he was spinning had to be true. It was shocking. Unbelievable. Scarily true.
"I feel different." She flexed her fingers, noting a strength in her grip that had never been there before.
Sebastian nodded. "You'll be stronger now than you were, able to see clearly in the dark. You won't be able to walk in the sun, though I've heard after a few centuries, some of our kind can take the early morning or late evening sunlight without too much pain. You'll be lethargic during the day, unable to fend for yourself until you get a few decades under your belt, so it's imperative you plan ahead and have a safe place to stay during the hours of daylight. I think your friends will want to help you there, but for now, I'll take you home with me." He stood from her bedside and began rummaging through the closet for what was left of her clothes. "You'll find I take my responsibility for your training very seriously. I'll see to your education and to your needs for the time being."
"But why? You barely know me."
He turned back to the bed and pressed her bedraggled robe into her hands. His gaze held her immobile, his expression unreadable, but very intense.
"I pride myself on being a man of honor, Christina, but even though you're married, you've been on my mind since the moment I first saw you. As far as I'm concerned, by abusing you so badly, your husband has lost all right to you. That means you're free. And I'm free to pursue the attraction I can no longer deny."
His eyes lowered to study her lips, gone dry all of a sudden, as if heated by his gaze. Her tongue peeked out to wet them and he groaned, leaning downward as if mesmerized. She knew he was going to kiss her and for the first time in a long time, she wanted a man's attentions. She wanted Sebastian's kiss. Not daring to move a muscle, she welcomed him as he lowered his head. Firm, masculine lips traced hers with a butterfly caress before grinding deep and hard.
His tongue demanded entrance and she complied, delighted by the taste of him and the ardor he couldn't hide. Her pulses leapt and her hunger grew. She encircled his neck with her hands, sinking them into his thick hair and dragging him closer. Oh, how she wanted him.
But Sebastian drew back, breathing hard. Flames of passion flickered in his eyes, but he appeared to be in perfect control. It both irritated her and made her feel secure. Of late, Jeff was never in control. He would scream at her as soon as kiss her and it was comforting to know for certain that Sebastian was the total opposite. Sebastian was a man in complete command of himself and those around him. A master. And she feared and hoped she could become his willing slave. At least sexually. She'd missed the active sex life she and Jeff had as newlyweds. They'd been sleeping in separate rooms for over a year, unable to get along in every way.
"We must go. There's little time before dawn."