After centuries of searching, Lawrence has found the perfect person to help him birth a new race of vampires: Jocelyn, the girl he’s groomed to be the most powerful courtesan at the court of King James. All goes according to plan until Michael Barwick arrives at court and threatens everything.
Michael abandoned his life at sea in order to take his place as Baron Barwick after his brother’s death. Overwhelmed by his duties, he’s eager to leave court until Jocelyn sits across from him in a tavern. The intriguing woman soon has him opening his heart to her, and he’s prepared to fight for a place in her life.
Jocelyn’s desire for Michael, the one man who has ever fought past her professional façade to truly love her, threatens her independence. When Lawrence offers her the gift of eternal life, she must choose between the man she loves and the freedom she’s struggled for.
Fates Entwined is a prequel and is intended to be read after Haunting Echoes.
Lawrence admired the amber and gold music box on the parlor mantle while he waited for Jocelyn to join him. A delicate golden elephant twirled as tinkling music floated through the air. The superb craftsmanship impressed even him, and he wondered which of her clients had gifted it to her.
Lawrence noticed Jocelyn’s energy brushing against him, reaching out to him, before he heard her steps on the stairs. Her aura enveloped him in its warmth, the strength of its touch bringing a smile to his lips. The approaching young woman was unaware of the magnificence of her energy. Her ignorance made her all the more attractive, as did the fact that she was his. He had taken her raw talents and molded her into his most successful courtesan.
“Lawrence, sorry to keep you waiting.”
“Not at all, my dear.” Lawrence kissed her on each cheek then held her at arm’s length. “You didn’t have to doll yourself up for me.” Jocelyn’s dark blue dress with black lace trim brought out the shine in her auburn hair. A simple blue ribbon with a golden, heart-shaped charm accentuated her slender neck.
A young maid entered with a tea service. Without having to be told, she served Lawrence a cup with two lumps of sugar and a little cream. After handing Jocelyn her cup, the girl left as quietly as she’d come.
“How is Anne faring?” Lawrence blew on his tea. The maid was new to Jocelyn’s service and hoped to someday be a courtesan.
“Well enough. I don’t know if she’ll make anything of herself, but she’s pretty.”
“You should know that it’s not the looks that make the girl.” Jocelyn was beautiful in her own way, but there were plenty of women more attractive than her at court. Her eyes were hazel instead of the more desired blue, she refused to cover her auburn hair with fashionable blonde dyes or wigs, and her bosom was smaller than most men preferred in their paid company. But appearance could only take a girl so far.
“She’s eager to learn, but she lacks patience.” Jocelyn took a sip of her tea.
“If she’s not suitable, we can find someone else. There’s no lack of girls wanting to learn from you.” Lawrence’s tea was sweet, but it didn’t sate his thirst. He would need a real drink once he left Jocelyn.
“Let’s give her some more time. I’ve grown used to her.”
Lawrence nodded. “How was your night with the Marquess of Buckingham?”
“George was wonderful, as always.”
She held something back. There was a way she held her mouth and eyes, as if trying to prevent her emotions from showing. It worked well on clients, but Lawrence wasn’t a client. A decade spent studying her as he’d raised and trained her had attuned him to her physical tics as well as her energy. “He offered to install you as his official mistress, didn’t he?”
Jocelyn sighed as she placed her teacup on the table and faced Lawrence. “Yes, he did.”
“And you weren’t going to tell me?”
“Why would I? I have no intention of accepting.”
Of course she didn’t. She would never give up her independence to anyone. Lawrence exclusively held her strings. “Still, I should think something that momentous would warrant at least a mention.”
“He knew what my answer would be. If I’d accepted, he would have lost interest. My refusal didn’t appear to dampen his affection. He’ll be here next Tuesday. I’m entertaining a few people to discuss The Pennylesse Pilgrimage by John Taylor.”
“Good. I’ll put it on the calendar. Now, why are you looking so desirable tonight?”
“I was thinking of going to King’s Head.”
“You don’t have to go looking for business at the inn, dear. You’re more than welcome to take the night off. You have a masquerade the day after tomorrow.” It was no surprise that she was eager to exert her independence after having it threatened. The Marquess was a good man who genuinely cared for Jocelyn. He might even love her. He would have seen his offer as security for Jocelyn, but she would only see it as another man trying to control her. She had Lawrence, and he had done a good job of convincing her he was all she would ever need.
“I know, but it’s fun. I promise I won’t overwork myself. You need to stop worrying, Lawrence. I’ll be fine. I enjoy the change of pace away from court.”
“Then have fun. You’ve earned it.”
Lawrence licked Jane’s neck, his mouth watering in anticipation. A gentle pressure in his mouth released his fangs. The razor sharp teeth sank into Jane’s skin, releasing the warm flow of blood. Thicker than water, sweeter than wine, it slaked his thirst. The warmth brought life. Stolen life.
Lawrence released her neck. Jane was one of his favorite whores. While Jocelyn’s success afforded her a private residence, his other girls lived in the brothel, servicing the crowds Hampton Court Palace drew. Lawrence had his own home, but he was rarely there. He preferred to make use of his suite in the brothel, where he could keep an eye on his girls and the comings and goings. He didn’t mind Jocelyn’s independence. He wouldn’t dream of using her services himself. She was too important to him.
Lawrence kissed along Jane’s breasts until he reached the other side. As always, his victim was unaware of his actions. The venom in his fangs masked the pain. Jane would only feel a light pressure and sucking sensation. Nothing out of the ordinary in her line of work. He descended once again on her neck, taking a little more.
Once Jane finished him off, sating more than just his thirst, she swayed drowsily to her room. Lawrence rose. For him, a bed’s only purpose was fucking. He had not slept in more than two centuries. He sauntered to the bookshelf, trying not to think of what he couldn’t have. Selecting the most recent medical treatise, he situated himself in his worn armchair to read.
It took effort to concentrate on the words in front of him. Jocelyn was almost ready. He longed to feel her blood on his lips, sliding down his throat, to taste its tangy sweetness. But it wasn’t feeding he craved. No, the feeding would only be a precursor. She would be shocked by the truth of his existence, but he didn’t doubt she would join him. He would pour her blood back into her. Mixed with his venom, it would transform her into a vampire. His first daughter.
Caethes Faron is a bisexual, genre-queer writer. Her books are equal opportunity, featuring gay, straight, and bisexual characters. Her bittersweet tales of love and loyalty are just as likely to leave readers in tears as smiles, and her love scenes don't fade to black. She enjoys empowering the powerless and exploring the nature of human relationships, especially in differing power dynamics. All of her books feature adults in adult situations. Foul language, diverse sexual situations, aspects of BDSM, and other things that are sure to offend some people make regular appearances in her novels.
Caethes's writing is influenced by her observations of this imperfect world and the flawed characters who inhabit it. She's lived in seven states and is always looking for the next place to call home with her husband and two dogs. She currently resides in Florida.