This month the RT editors choose Delilah S. Dawson's paranormal romance Wicked As She Wants as the best book released in May. A unique alternative world where vampire-like Bludmen feed off of humans, sets the scene for some truly amazing interactions between musician Casper and Crown Princess Ahna. Last week Dawson answered our questions about the series, and today we are bringing readers an exclusive excerpt from this SOE winning story and giving three readers the chance to win both books in the Blud series Wicked As They Come and Wicked As She Wants.
“Do we have more wine?” I asked, trying to cover my confusion.
“One more bottle.” He rolled over to rummage in his bag. “That’s all I have to hold me until Minks. But you can have another sip if you need it. Considering the current circumstances.”
He popped out the cork and handed me the full bottle. I took a moment to sniff it, drawing in the strange combination of aged fruit and blud. I took a deep whiff, trying to detect what might have gone into the brew, whether it held the blud of one Bludman or many. I wanted to know how he had found it, how much it cost, whether the blud had been obtained by fair trade or stolen. But I wanted the oblivion more. I wanted the lack of control, a liquor I’d never before tasted.
Knowing that it was precious to him, still I drank deeply, wanted to drink it forever. But he gently took it from me, recorked it, and stowed it back in his bag. I could feel his eyes on my face, his gaze sharper than usual but also warm. Was he actually looking at me as if I was the prey?
“What is it I see in your eyes?” I murmured.
“Long enough have I dreamed contemptible dreams,” he replied softly, as if reciting something. “You are a dazzle of light, darlin’.”
Faster than I could follow, his hand cupped my jaw as his thumb stroked under my lip. I shut my eyes and let the effects of the bludwine wash over me in a haze of red velvet and sweetness. When I opened them again, he was biting his lip, and I saw that his teeth were sharper than I had thought, almost fangs like mine.
“Was that a song?” I asked, but he shook his head.
“Ahna,” he said, his voice husky and rough.
“Yes?” Lips parted, I held my breath.
His face angled toward me, and I closed my eyes, waiting. The kiss never came.
“Ahna. I should probably go. I’ve never had this much bludwine, and I can’t ... I can’t control it. It’s like there’s some mad beast inside me, trying to take over. I should lock myself in the library and sleep it off.”
“No.” I leaned forward to put my hand on his sleeve. “I mean, you don’t have to go. I don’t mind.”
“I feel like I’m half panther, half drunk.” He looked down. His fingers idly stroked my own where they lay on his blood-spattered shirt, making me shiver. “I’m not fit for company.”
“How do you think I feel?” I said softly.
He looked up from our hands, gazing into my eyes as if searching for something there. “I don’t know how you feel,” he said. “You never speak of your feelings.”
“I feel the same as you. Muddled and drunk and not sure whether or not to let the beast out. It’s not a bad thing.”
“You have a beast?”
I snorted. “You’ve met my beast. She tried to kill you once. I think you laughed at her before you sliced her open. Tasted her.”
“Mm. I remember.” He reached out to touch my wrist. A thin pink scar crossed the white skin, and he lifted my arm to kiss it. “She tasted good. But I’ll make amends.”
When his lips touched my skin, I nearly melted. But not like ice. No, like mercury, like metal sizzling, as if my veins were filled with molten fire. I gasped and closed my eyes, and I felt him smile against my skin, kissing his way up my arm, every touch burned into memory with a hot iron.
“I can smell your blud now,” he said, his voice dark. “Right here, so close to the skin, beating like a tiny bird thrashing against a cage.”
His tongue shot out, and a little thrill rippled through me. It was a struggle to hold still, to keep the beast from attacking him in a thousand different ways that I myself didn’t understand. For just a split second, his teeth scraped against the tender skin there, and I felt a thrum of fear and indignation and furious demand, but then his kisses turned harmless again and moved down to my hand, and I relaxed.
He kissed my palm and each finger, then released me. For a moment, my hand hovered in midair, my eyes closed. Then I went boneless and let my hand drop to the bed, the little thrills still running up and down, echoes of his touch. I opened my eyes and licked my lips. My breath was coming fast, the same feeling I would get on a hunt, watching the prey, waiting for the right moment to pounce.
But I wasn’t the hunter this time. My eyes met his, and I saw his beast there, roiling beneath the surface, dark and hungry. I could see the tension in his broad shoulders, his hands curling and uncurling against the blanket as if testing claws.
“Come on, beast,” I whispered.
GIVEAWAY ALERT: Three lucky winners will receive the first two books in the Blud series, Wicked As They Come and Wicked As She Wants. To enter, leave a comment below letting us know why you love alternative world romances. You can also email your answer here with the subject line "Delilah S. Dawson Blud Series Giveaway" with your name and address. Three winners will be announced May 28. U.S. addresses only please.
BLOG UPDATE: The winners are tanissy, craftymom78 and calicolady.
Can't wait to meet Casper's beast? Then you will definitely want to pick up your own copy of Delilah S. Dawson's Wicked As She Wants available online and in stores now. And for more tales set in supernatural worlds, check out RT's Everything Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Page.