Mine Heart and Soul
by Luna Carrol
Change can be a frightening thing. To sacrifice what one believes in order to make that change can be terrifying. After finding herself lost in the freezing mountains of Romania, Amanda McLaurin finds herself faced with just such a situation.
The mysterious castle would be a welcomed refuge from the weather outside if not for the deaths of the other guests following blatant displays of sexual favors. And it all seems related to a painting of the Tarot card known as Death. Worst of all, it seems to be watching her!
Ryan Noceo, the sexy owner of the castle, tries to reassure her, but she finds that his explanation is just as frightening as the painting itself. He is the most seductive and dangerous man she has ever known. Unfortunately he's also the prince of an ancient race that feeds on the souls of mortals, and one that seems convinced that Death is a real person. In order to claim her as his mate, he needs to make her understand that emotions are not common for his race and that mating for life is unheard of.
Yet, knowing that she must sacrifice part of her own soul to become part of his race, Mandy insists upon Ryan loving her forever in exchange. Together they must both come to realize that sacrifice is necessary for both. She must sacrifice her soul, but Ryan must confront the emotions he thought were nonexistent. Frightening, but neither can live without a heart and soul.
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? Heat Level: 4
Cold, wet, clammy. Amanda McLaurin’s clothes were sticking to her now and the whistling wind stung her ears. Hugging her arms close, and her black jacket closer, she tried to stop her bottom lip from shivering. Her wet hair hung in darkened ringlets down the side of her face.
No warmth for miles. Looking around, she tried desperately to see a light, a fire, a flashlight, or even a blasted candle. Light meant people and people meant heat. She wanted to be comfortable again.
Trees and more trees. There was nothing but these infernal, wet trees, a constant white fog, and leaves that seemed to be attracted to her feet. She kicked her feet in an attempt to free the clinging mess.
“How? How did I manage this?” She scraped one foot on the ground to wipe off a leaf while talking to herself.
“I have no idea where I am. No way of telling anyone that I’m lost. Damn it, Greg, how did you talk me into coming here?” She ranted as loud as she wanted. No one could hear her way out here.
She knew why she did it. He asked. That was all it had taken. Greg had a way of making anything sound appealing. She was tired of listening to him now. She would never do it again.
“You just wait, Gregory McNeill, I’ll find myself out of this situation and then…well, I don’t know what, but you won’t like it. Mark my words, mister. You won’t like it.”
She paused to get her bearings. If she came from the east, the sun should be setting in front of her. Maybe the forest seemed lighter in that direction, she wasn’t sure. Looking behind her, the light seemed to appear just as bright in the distance.
Dammit! She turned back around and continued to head in her original direction. She had been walking too long for changing directions. She had to be heading toward something. If she changed directions now, she would be hopelessly lost. She snorted. It didn’t matter. She was lost. But she had to be heading toward something.
There! She could see the top of something. Maybe it’s a church. A tall rounded tower with squared battlements appeared just above the trees. It had to be a church. No, there was another rounded tower just above the tree line. Holy crap, it was a castle. A real, honest to goodness, castle.
“Ha Greg! I am going to survive this and then kill you.”
She began walking with a new purpose. No longer was she wandering aimlessly, she had a direction. And the possibility of warmth, provided the structure contained people. Please, God, don’t let it be weirdos.
The ground started rising. One more hill. This had to be the last one. Her thighs were tight now; she could feel the ache that was going to last for days. The same thighs that were numb on the surface, just beneath her wet jeans, were going to hurt the moment warmth touched them.
She kept a close eye on her feet. The leaves were slick and the hill steep. The low hanging branches became unwilling handrails and tug ropes. With one final heave she topped the hill. Being so close to the possibility of comfort created a new burst of energy. Half sliding, half falling, she hurried down the opposite side of the hill and up the embankment to reach level ground.
Her mouth hung open. The ancient structure loomed before her. She didn’t know the term for its construction, but she knew it was old. With its huge stones, tall windows with diamond panes, and battlements stretching along the roofline, it looked like a moaning face of despair. The massive double door formed the mouth, and windows on either side of the door appeared to be eyes watching her.
“Where did you…?” Speaking to herself, she looked behind her. The woods were just as impassable from this direction. “Where did you come from?”
She looked at the castle. There were lights inside! Who cares how the castle got to be in the middle of nowhere! She could freeze to death out here. As if to emphasize the point, a snowflake landed on her nose.