Venice Vampyr #2
Venice, Italy – early 1800s
Viola has been given three months to live but she refuses to die a virgin. She travels to Venice where she wants to experience physical pleasure with a man without causing a scandal for her family. Afterward, she plans to take her own life to ensure she exits the world painlessly and with dignity. Unfortunately, the man she meets in a disreputable club couldn’t be a worse choice for her plans.
Dante, a hedonistic vampire, saves Viola from a violent rake. To stop her from seeking out even more dangerous men to find carnal pleasures, he offers her a night of passion in his arms, only to discover she’s a virgin.
Viola flees, disdainful of the sex act and determined to end her life. Horrified, Dante stops Viola from harming herself and proceeds to deliver the pleasure he promised – one kiss and one touch at a time until she’s ready to take all of him, over and over again.
Then events force Dante’s hand …
Venice, Italy – early 1800s
At first, she thought her physician had made a mistake.
Three months—the doctor had given her only three more months to live. During the last two, she’d likely be confined to her bed with blinding pain.
It wasn’t possible.
Just days earlier, her governess had warned her that, despite her pretty face and graceful figure, her outspoken manner and outlandish ideas were scaring away potential husbands. Viola hadn’t cared. She’d figured that if a suitor couldn’t stand up to her, then she’d rather not be married at all. Plus, she was barely one and twenty, and while she was still on the shelf when it came to marriage prospects—which was due to her impetuous nature—she had her whole life ahead of her. So she’d thought.
Three months wasn’t a life.
Yet, despite her brain tumor, she’d make the most of it.
At first, she’d thought to prove her physician wrong. She’d already traveled to Switzerland—leaving in the dead of night and without a chaperone—and consulted another expert. But the answer remained the same: she was dying.
That’s why she’d come to Venice. No longer to prove him wrong, but to live.
She hadn’t told her family where she was going; they would have stopped her. They would have called her foolish and scandalous. But she would not be stopped. Viola had accepted that she would die, but there was one thing she wanted to experience before she left this world.
She refused to die a virgin.
But she was also practical: a scandal wouldn’t serve her family. Already, her sudden disappearance would have to be covered up, something her over-eager mother was more than capable of handling. She would simply let everybody know that Viola was staying in the countryside to tend to an elderly relative. There were plenty from which to choose.
Viola had decided to go where nobody knew her or any of her relatives, where her scandalous behavior would not have any repercussions for her parents. She had sent them a letter from Switzerland, telling them that her condition had worsened and that she was confined to a hospital bed. She had also told them in no uncertain terms that she wanted to be left alone and be remembered for who she was before her illness had started.
She had threatened to create a scandal in Florence should her wishes not be respected. Her threat would ensure that her mother complied with her wishes and impressed upon Viola’s father not to make any attempts to fetch her. Besides, her mother was probably happy to be rid of her. After all, Viola had never been able to live up to her high expectations. By rejecting the first—and only—suitor who’d ever dared to court her, Viola had extinguished any goodwill her mother had ever felt toward her.
Viola had arranged for her parents to receive a letter in three months, indicating that their daughter had passed away peacefully. Of course, it would be a lie, because she would take her life much earlier. Once she had accomplished what she’d come to Venice for.
Once she was no longer a virgin, she would take the pistol she carried in her bag and end her life before the pain would debilitate her. She had no intention of suffering a long and painful death.
Viola smoothed a hand over her skirts and righted her cloak. Filling her lungs with a deep breath, she pushed the heavy oak door open.
The place she entered was a club of sorts. According to her information, gentlemen who were looking for female companionship frequented the surprisingly clean establishment. While it was not a brothel, many of the women who joined the men at the club to seek carnal pleasures did so for money. However, the man who’d guided her to this club had assured her that on occasion, women of the higher classes were seen there, seeking diversions in which their respectable husbands were unwilling to indulge their wives.
She hoped the man had been correct, and the story she had rehearsed would be believable. The last thing she wanted to do was to draw attention to herself. It was hard enough to overcome her embarrassment at having to approach a stranger and ask him to bed her. Being sent on her way without achieving her goal would be worse. Because there was one rule the men at the club insisted on despite their debauchery: nobody was to bed a virgin.
The place smelled of cigars, alcohol, and perfume. Viola took a shallow breath and let the door snap in behind her. A burgundy curtain of heavy velvet separated the foyer from the main rooms behind. Music and laughter drifted to her. She took a step forward when a hand on her arm held her back.
Her breath caught in her throat as she snapped her head to the side.
“There’s a fee, Signora,” the heavy set woman in the richly embroidered dress said. Her breasts spilled over her low-cut gown, and the large baubles around her neck sparkled in the candlelight.
“Of course,” Viola answered and reached into her purse, retrieving a coin. The man who’d told her about the club had prepared her for this. It would not do if she behaved like an innocent who’d never done this before. It would only create suspicion.
The hostess took the coin and made it disappear in the folds of her dress. “Very well then.”
A moment later, she parted the curtain and allowed Viola to step through.
The room was larger than she’d expected. In fact, it was as large as her parents’ ballroom. On the sides, booths had been built to provide a semblance of privacy for anybody who wished it, but in the middle the chaises and sofas as well as their occupants were in plain view. Large chandeliers with blazing candles provided light, and a small string quartet supplied the ambiance.
Servants circulated to supply the guests with beverages and, by the state some of the guests were in, it was clear that alcohol flowed freely. Men lounged on sofas, some fully dressed and perfectly respectable, others with their cravats loosened and their chests partially exposed. Women could be found draped over men’s bodies in more than indecent poses.
Hadn’t her informant said this wasn’t a brothel? Viola felt her heartbeat rise. She was nothing like the women she saw in this place. They seemed unconcerned with modesty or privacy. This was not what she’d expected. Maybe the man had misunderstood her. She’d sought a place to find a man who would bed her in the privacy of a bedchamber and let her experience what it was like to feel a man’s body joined with hers.
This was a mistake. Viola took a step back and bumped into something solid behind her. She swiveled.
“Ciao, bella,” the handsome stranger greeted her as he swept her with an appreciative glance.
Viola swallowed, unable to answer, the pulse at her neck beating so frantically she was sure her vein would burst and drench the man in her blood.
Her silence didn’t seem to bother him. “I see you’re new here.” His hand came up and traced along the seam of her décolleté. Viola gasped at his boldness and pulled back.
“I’m Salvatore. And I’m happy to spend the evening with you.”
She took a steadying breath and gave him an assessing look. He was slightly taller than the average man. Well groomed in his dark suit and fashionable necktie, not even her mother would have any objections to him were he to come courting. But he wasn’t here to court her. Nor did she want him to.
All she wanted was a tumble. Was he the right man for it? Would those elegant hands caress her and make her feel like a real woman, or would his touch leave her indifferent? Was her fluttering heartbeat indication of her interest in him or merely telling her she was scared of actually going through with her plan?
She couldn’t be sure. But if she simply stood here without making a decision, she’d never attain the goal she’d set herself.
Viola summoned her courage and forced a smile onto her lips, pushing back her rising doubts. “That would be charming.”