Gilded Destiny, A Vesper Novella by Nola Sarina
Release Date: April 23, 2013
My Rating: 4 Stars
A woman's memory returns when she falls in love with the monster who took it from her.
Calli tattoos her skin to fill the holes in her memory, thanks to an accident that left her mind damaged and empty. But a nasty encounter with a fired employee leaves her in the arms of her unlikely savior: Nycholas, a predatory, serpentine Vesper on the run from his brutal master.
Nycholas’ clandestine world holds the secrets to mankind’s origin and survival… but he only wants one thing before his time is up: a few colorful nights with Calli, the fragile, tattooed, human woman he pursued and saved. T
he more Calli learns about Nycholas, the more her own darkened memories return to her. Despite her haunted past, she loses herself to passion and desire with her immortal captor.
Now, Calli must overcome the demons of her past, or allow Nycholas to kiss her memories away and spare her the trauma of loving a doomed immortal. But each choice comes with dire consequences – some that endanger not only herself, but her family as well.
“Be quiet,” he whispered, the sound more of a hiss than anything else that pricked goosebumps up along the back of my neck. “Wait here. I will be back for you.”
“No!” I grabbed his bare forearm. “There are people in there. Don’t you hear the TV?”
Nycholas puzzled at me. “Yes. One is near your size and will have clothes.”
I shook my head furiously. “Nycholas, don’t!”
He silenced me with a kiss, and I shivered harder, afraid, mortified at what he was about to do, and lost in that soft caress of his closed lips along mine. I didn’t dare try to speak while he kissed me, afraid of those toxic fangs behind the silken doors to his beautiful speech. When he broke away from me, I wanted to cry again, for so many reasons, half of which I could not name.
He whispered again. “I am going inside. I will come back for you, and we will get you clean and warm and ready again. That is my only concern.”
I didn’t want to let go of his hand, but he slipped out of my grasp and moved swiftly up the back stairs of the house, taking them five at a time. Two massive steps and Nycholas disappeared into the house, and I cringed and bit my lip to keep quiet.
It was only seconds and Nycholas was back, completely unmarred, and the house was still silent save for the television glowing through the windows. He helped me up by both of my armpits, and I apologized softly when I realized how hard I was shaking. He took me up the back stairs and at the door, paused.
“Eyes down,” he ordered me. “Don’t look.”
Don’t look?! I wanted to shout at him and shove him and demand that he tell me what I might see if I looked. But my voice was nowhere to be found, and I knew, somehow, that all I’d see was death.
My stomach clenched and I was glad I hadn’t eaten. I squeezed my eyes shut and grabbed Nycholas’ hand with both of my fists as he pulled me into the house.
Inside, it didn’t smell like the digestive mist of a human body dissolved, as I remembered from Freddy’s ghastly death, so I dared to peek my eyes open. Relief washed through me when I saw no blood on the floor by my feet. Of course not! I’d allowed my imagination to run wild and conjure up horror stories from movies and books. I glanced to my left, and the sight beside the couch shook my reality down to the bones, and I shrieked.
On the floor lay a man and a woman, crumped together in a heap, gasping and dehydrated, crinkled up like rotted corpses. Their eyes gaped as widely as their slack mouths as they watched me, alert and coherent but helpless and doomed.
Nycholas’ massive arm crushed me by the waist as he scooped me up and swept me down the hallway. A shriek ripped through the walls of the house, and I grabbed fistfuls of the skin of his shoulders at the intensity of the sound.
Then, I realized the shriek was coming from me.
“Ssh!” Nycholas insisted, setting me on a bed. I ran out of air to scream and I sucked in a breath, the air scraping my throat like blades, and Nycholas climbed onto the bed and knelt before me, smothering me in his embrace. All I could do was sob.
“I said not to look! Do you forget how to listen, too?” His tone was angry, and I cried harder, disappointed in myself and overwhelmed at the horror of two lives ended so abruptly by the monster I cherished, the Vesper who cradled and scolded me like a child.
He sighed harshly into my hair. “How will she love me again if she hates what I am?”
I froze. Did he mean to say that? Love?
To a Vesper, love might mean something different than to a human, and he was probably only referring to sex rather than true love. Old-fashioned-style. But the words distracted me from my meltdown of fear, and I let him just rock me for a moment, apologizing softly.
When I was calm, he pushed me back to look into my eyes. “When I tell you not to look,” he said, “do not look. If I tell you to run, run. And when I tell you it’s time for you to let go of me, you do it, without question. Is that understood?”
I nodded. I had no will to argue with him. These things were bigger than me… Vespers and masters and murder and apples… I didn’t know what else to say.
Nycholas sighed. “Now, stay here. Find clothes, but don’t change into them. Do not open that door until I open it for you, do you understand?”
I swallowed, shivering. “I thought I was a friend, not a prisoner.”
Nycholas’ expression battled between frustration, adoration, and… pain? Shit. I regretted my words as he stared at me, offended once more by my careless tongue.
“Friends protect their friends,” he finally said, “inside and out, no matter how much they protest. Stay here.” He didn’t argue any more. He slipped out the door and closed it behind him.
I took a huge, shaky breath, and pressed on my eyelids with my fingertips. Nycholas was going to eat that poor couple in the living room, and there wasn’t anything I could do about it. Did I want to do anything about it? I understood he needed to eat. What I didn’t understand was why this strange, adorable man, this stunning Vesper, gave a shit about keeping me warm and healthy, and why he cradled me so close and spoke about love.
I shook my head and opened the closet door, still a bit unsteady on my feet. Sure enough, the clothing inside was my size and close to my style, though I chose sweatpants over jeans. I tried not to admit to myself how much I chose them because they would be easier for Nycholas to remove, as he’d requested I wear.
Nycholas opened the door as I grabbed a hoodie from the top shelf to layer over the sleeveless black top I chose. He stepped inside the room with humility in his solemn gaze, like he was haunted by his existence and frightened of my reaction, the mist of his digestion still clinging to his hair like sweat.
I faced him and felt my shoulders slump. “I’m sorry. I was shocked, that’s all. This is… a lot to take in.”
“I knew this was a mistake,” Nycholas said. “You’ve only just gotten healthy. And now I’m making you ill again.”
Healthy? “What do you know about my health?”
Nycholas’ eyes widened, and he looked startled. “You said you had an accident. I don’t… want to interfere with your mind.”
“Yet you drugged my memories away.”
His jaw quivered, and he boomed at me with such force that I flinched. “To protect you! To protect your mind, to make you forget me! To ensure you didn’t know anything dangerous…” He snarled and paced from side to side, raking his fingers through his hair, agitated.
I stepped back, my heart pounding with a remorseful ache that I didn’t want to feel for another moment if I could help it. “I’m sorry. I don’t want to argue with you. I didn’t mean to pick a fight.”
Nycholas held out his palms to me. “Can you set aside how bad I am for two more nights, to be with me? If you find it eats at you, I can blank it from you when we’re finished.”
When we’re finished… when he was dead. My stomach rolled again and dizziness swept through me, so I started to lower myself into a crouch on the floor, but Nycholas moved me to the bed before I touched down. I breathed slowly, heat washing over me, fear and conflict prying at my heart. I didn’t want him to die, but what say did I have? I was nothing more than a final request, to him.
I wanted to tell him to fight this fate, to run away again, to live, because he was so damn gorgeous and unique.
But that wasn’t what he wanted.
For reasons I didn’t understand, reasons I might never understand, I was what he wanted, and then he wanted to die.
I threw myself onto him where he crouched by the bed, climbed onto his lap and kissed him, feeling the smoothness of his skin against me, his hands sliding up beneath my shirt again. I couldn’t stop my frantic mouth, and he groaned against me, so I slipped my tongue out from between my lips and swept it across his lower lip. I did it again… and then I fucked it all up, because I pushed beyond the border of his lips, tasted the electric tang of his citrus poison, and blackness swirled in around the edges of my vision.
“Calli!” Nycholas gasped, and I slept.
Nola is a mother, wife, writer, and giggle-a-holic, living in Canada and raising a pack of kids. In her spare time she can be found geocaching, guzzling coffee, or tending to her garden. Her VESPER series is on submission by her agent to publishers, along with WILD HYACINTHE, a paranormal romance co-authored with Emily Faith.
I will admit, I don't typically go for these books, which I am finding myself saying that more than I thought I would. At first, I was unsure of the book, but, as always, I am willing to try. I definitely am glad I did. This is a story of love, and what lengths the characters are willing to go in the name of that love. Sacrifice is something we all know, well at least we say we know. This will have you questioning what you would do to save the one you love. Then, we have revenge. Oh sweet revenge. We all like revenge now and then... This is just the beginning of sweet revenge on those who have wronged the wrong person. I am not going to go through the characters and plot. You can read that in the book blurb. I will say this is a book worth taking a chance on. I was not disappointed. You won't be either.
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