Friday, November 9, 2007

Under Her Skin

By Mathilde Madden

And finally, we get to me.

I knew Kristina and Portia were doing modernish takes on the vampire tale - so I decided to go more traditional. I didn't want to write a historical but I did want all the traditional vampire thrills. Castles. Dungeons. Victorian Gothic. Mystery. Influences like The Turn of Screw, The Mysteries of Udolpho, Northanger Abbey and Rebecca.

I wanted a virginal innocent but resolutely plucky girl in peril. A super-sinister super-sexy vampire. And I wanted a pure gothic flurry of bloody castle walls and the snick of razor blades.

Under Her Skin takes place in the same paranormal universe as my Silver Werewolf books. Merle Cobalt is the daughter of the self-styled greatest vampire hunters in the world - still notorious twenty five years after their greatest coup: capturing the dangerous renegade human-hating vampire Darius Cole. Cole was handed over to the vampires themselves to face justice after his preaching of the outlawed vampire creed of Righteous Power - overthrowing humans and taking the world back for vampire kind.

But the Black Emeralds did not kill Cole - they sentenced him to live. To live his immortal life forever with no hope of joy or comfort in the dank dungeons of their castle. But now - somehow - Cole has escaped.

Cole's revenge is simple. Merle. He demands that Merle come and spend twenty five days with him in The Black Emerald Clan's castle. The same castle he was imprisoned in for twenty five years. This is the only way Merle can get hold of the antidote to the slow acting poison Cole has administered to her father.

Of course she agrees, and soon finds herself locked in Cole's own cell in the Black Emerald Castle dungeon.

*

Merle looks around the little dark cell where she's sitting. 25 years. It's impossible to imagine. The solitary confinement, the starvation. The chains had started to hurt her wrists after less than a day. What would this have felt like after twenty five years?

'Now you see how hard they had to work to break me?'

'Darius?'

'Hello Merle.'

She looks up and he's standing right there. Looming. His hair and clothes and eyes so dark in the gloom of the cell that his white skin seems to glow. She has to force her eyes away from his mesmerising face. But when she lowers her eyeline, she finds the dark fabric of his crotch is right in front of her.

So it's a relief when Darius drops into a crouch and smiles earnestly. 'You see what they did to me? Do you understand? Forced me to turn traitor. Made me renounce a set of beliefs they'd invented for me. Public humiliation. Sentenced to live. They did everything they could think of to make me suffer. Everything vicious and cruel. They wanted me to suffer forever. Why do you think they were so scared of me?'

His face is so elegantly pretty and perfectly nasty. She hates him. She knows she needs to keep remembering that. She takes a sharp breath and narrows her eyes. 'Because you were a murdering bastard. Because you are a murdering bastard. You're killing my father right now.'

'I know. It's very hard for me that that was what I had to do. I am sorry. Even after everything Charles Cobalt helped to do to me I know that know he is just a weakened old man now. I wish there had been another way.'

'There is. Let me go. Give me the antidote and leave them alone.'

'Leave them alone? Maybe I could do that. But leave you alone? Never.'

Again, she has to force herself to look away from him. She looks down at her dirty jeans. 'Why? What do you want with me if it isn't about them?' She pauses as a nasty thought catches her by surprise. 'I'm not a, not a virgin or anything. If it's that. If that's what you want. Well, I'm not.' And that's it - thinking about Cole wanting to take her virginity, which means thinking about him having sex with her – she's blushing. Hard. She hates the way her skin always betrays her at the most crucial moments. She tries to slow her breathing – an anti-blushing technique she read in a magazine once - but it's no use. Her face is getting hotter and hotter. And that just embarrasses her even more.

Suddenly – moving quick and sharp - Cole reaches out and catches hold of her chin. He runs the pad of his thumb slowly over her heated cheek. When he speaks his voice is slightly thick. He's very clearly and very suddenly aroused. Not bothering to try and hide it. 'God, oh. I love that you do that.'

She tries to pull away, but his grip on her is incredibly strong. 'Do what? Don't. Stop it.' She puts one palm flat on his chest in an attempt to push him away.

But he doesn't seem to really notice her protests. He strokes her cheek again, mesmerised. His touch is deliciously cool where she feels most heated. His voice is dark, slow and heavy. 'I love that you blush. It means I can see your blood. Under your skin. Do you blush anywhere else? Let me see. I want to see you. So beautiful. I want to see your skin, your pink.' He shoves her and she's forced back hard against the wall. He traps her there with his body and starts pulling at her T shirt, yanking it up.

'No! No! Stop.' Somehow she wrenches herself out of his grip and pulls her shirt back down.

Cole meets her eyes and seems to suddenly hear what she's saying. He takes his hands off her and stands up, taking a couple of stumbling steps backwards. He's shaking his head. 'Oh god, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. Your blood, it made me…' he says, backing away from her. 'It's just so difficult to… Oh.'

He bites his plump bottom lip and turns away.

She wants to tell him to wait, but she forces herself not to by scratching at the sore patches the chains made on her wrists.

*

Drop a comment here to win a copy of Lust Bites featuring the three stories you've heard about this week, plus a copy of my werewolf novel The Silver Collar.

And don't forget to growl if you love werewolves. Or vampires.

26 comments:

blackroze37 said...

growelllllllll
(ive actaully have growled at my kids in stores when they acting up, kinda under my breath lol, they ,,,2 is teens, so they dont want mommy to get louderrr )
i love the story
please enter me to win

Olivia Knight said...

Ooooh aaarhhh... Call me a bluff old traditionalist, but I do love a castle, a dungeon, and a captive maiden! (And I do love your writing, but you know that already, don't you?) Hey, can I borrow your castle when you're done with it?

Soon I'll have enough bits and pieces from other Lustbiters to assemble a full paranormal feature-film backdrop...

Deanna Ashford said...

This looks great. Dungeons, chains and a sexy vampire! I really have to read this all the excerpts have been so great.

Stacy S said...

Great excerpt! Please enter me!!

Monique said...

Panting is more like it! Naughty stuff...definitely want to read more!

Mathilde Madden said...

Ha. Glad you like. And yes, that is a picture of my house.

Janine Ashbless said...

So she's in a Dungeon? With a vampire? He's using his Domination gaze attack as a standard action, range 30 ft, so she has to make a Will Save. What character class is she?

OK. Shut up Janine...

Alison Tyler said...

He bites his plump bottom lip and turns away.

Oh, do I love bottom lips. I will be biting my own bottom lip all day as I relive your lovely words in my head.

But you said growl if you love vampires. Not to be difficult, but shouldn't that be "suck if you love vampires"?

XXX,
AT

tam said...

Gggggrrrrooowwwll!!!
Great excerpt, can't wait to read it all!!!

Meljprincess said...

BITE THE ONE YOU LOVE!

CrystalGB said...

Great excerpt. :)

angell said...

grrrrowlllll....

Sounds wonderful - I WANNA BE MERLE.

I luvs me some blood suckers, that's for sure. Combined with a castle...instant fantasy fodder.

Kate Pearce said...

dungeons...check
chains...check
biting lower lip...check

yummy! And I still can't win...
grrrr...

Olivia Knight said...

I'm with AT on this.

Schlurp schlurp schlurp When a vampire sucks out the last of someone's blood, does it make a gurgling sound, like a straw at the end of a milkshake?

Laura J. said...

ooooooohhhhhh, very hot!!!! Can't wait to read the rest!

tetewa said...

I love werewolves but the vamps are my favorite. I'd like to be entered to win!

Madeline Moore said...

What a week! Three terrific excerpts from three novellas, written by three of our most illustrious members. All between one set of book covers. 'Lust Bites', indeed.

Ally said...

Grrrrrrrr!

Loved em all. Sigh...

LeeAnn said...

Man all of those stories sound so good.

Love the whole dungeon and chains theme! Can’t wait to get myself a copy!

ChristyJan said...

LUST BITES and THE SILVER COLLAR both sound delicious.

And, I can do more than growl ~ I can howl at the moon after reading all of these great excerpts.

Sacchi Green said...

I admit to having previously been less than enthralled with the vampire genre, but these chances for a closer look are winning me over to the biting-the-neck-that-feeds-you side.

Portia Da Costa said...

Ooh, I love Gothic! Awesome stuff, Mat...

kristina lloyd said...

I just finished reading Under Her Skin this morning and now I have JAR (Jealous Author Rage).

It's brilliant! There's so much I love about it. It's fabulously archly Gothic, very witty, incredibly sexy and the story doesn't let you go. There's a character called Merle and another called Oberon. Ha, that's genius. Oh, and a vampire called Kristina which is obviously an inspired choice.

Top class. This is such a strong collection. I hope we get good reviews.

Mathilde Madden said...

Ta everyone

This story was so much fun to write.

Amy S. said...

Great excerpt!

Karl Friedrich Gauss said...

Do we really have to be "entered" in order to win, or are the many commenters just making this up?

If there was a sport in which two vampires attacked each other and fought, would the referee be called an "umpire"?