Vampire Princess of New York (Arnhem Knights of New York), page 1
Table of Contents
VAMPIRE PRINCESS OF NEW YORK
VAMPIRE PRINCESS OF NEW YORK
Arnhem Knights Of New York
SUSAN HANNIFORD CROWLEY
SOUL MATE PUBLISHING
VAMPIRE PRINCESS OF NEW YORK
SUSAN HANNIFORD CROWLEY
Cover Design by Fiona Jayde
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, business establishments, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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Published in the United States of America by
Soul Mate Publishing
P.O. Box 24
Macedon, New York, 14502
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
For Abigail and Penelope
In memory of Pete
I want to thank Deborah Gilbert, my publisher, and my editor, Cheryl Yeko for their invaluable persistence in making this book shine. Thank you to cover artist Fiona Jayde for the stunning cover.
Thank you to a.c. Mason, Gerri Brousseau, and Debi Chowdhury, Charlotte, Anne, and Deborah for your treasured advice and encouragement.
I am also grateful to my friends and family, especially my husband who understands when I need to write. Writing is air for an author.
To Harold, I express my gratitude for always believing in me. Thank you to Anne for helping me to focus on the important things in life.
Thank you to all my readers for your support and comments.
A Note to My Readers
about the French in the Book
It’s come to my attention that sometimes accents are lost in the formatting process. I undertook a huge effort to make sure the accents and words in Parisian French and Cajun French were correct. As for “Sha”, you’ll understand as you read. Thank you for coming on this journey with me.
Fall of 2014
Noblesse felt him before he arrived. In her mind’s eye, she could see him roaring down the streets of New York on his Harley. Resisting the urge to respond to his thoughts, she contented herself in watching him and feeling the many human emotions rushing through him. Besides, the last time she’d tried mindtalking with him while he was driving, he nearly crashed.
Donovan pulled his Harley neatly into a parking spot right in front of the posh SoHo antiques shop. He got off the bike and secured it, then raked his hair with his fingers. His nerves tingled through her body too, as if the two of them were connected. Sometimes it was just so much fun being in his head, feeling what he felt.
Donovan looked at the building looming over him. Each window framed imagined eyes that pierced with disapproving frowns. He shook it off. A long stretch across the desert to nowhere called to him, a place he’d been many times when life seemed empty.
At least he’d felt free flying on the Harley across the black strip of tar. The ideal of freedom embraced him when nothing mattered. The only time he came back this way was to see family. Now something else pulled at him. As he peered through the glass and saw the elegant brunette waiting for him, the desert faded from his mind’s eye. Noblesse was everything lovely and adorable. He loved the way she moved, and the way her pencil skirt hugged her hips. He appreciated hips on a woman. She loved how he thought of her.
His thoughts warmed her all over, and Noblesse blushed. She was certain he didn’t know she was in his mind at that moment. She waved to him through the window, and his heart skipped a beat. When he was in her presence, it didn’t matter how many times he reminded himself they were just friends, his heart danced. Joy made him laugh, and a slow burning fire engulfed him. Donovan liked to think he was too old for passion. At any rate, he was too old for Noblesse, and knew it. Combing his fingers through his gray hair again, he stepped through the door.
Noblesse walked briskly up to him, her green eyes had a sparkle that had nothing to do with contact lenses. She was a vampire, so her eyes were perfect. Why did she melt him like a schoolboy with his first crush?
“Donovan, thank you for coming.” She kissed him on both cheeks.”I really need your advice on this.”
He kissed her on each cheek. The second kiss caught him spellbound in the mass of midnight hair hanging in waves and falling just below her shoulders. Was it her honeysuckle perfume or the softness of the silky strands against his face that lingered? It was a hard question to answer.
Snapping out of his revelry, he laughed. “Yes, Sha. What do you need advice on?” Sha was a Cajun way of saying my love. He didn’t use it for everything cute or sweet like some people. Somehow it fit Noblesse perfectly.
She took his arm and guided him toward the middle of the shop. A thin man in a gray suit with brown hair and beady eyes stared at him through round silver glasses.
He stood by a large mirror with an elaborately carved wooden frame in shades of deep blood red etched with gargoyles, dragons, griffins, pythons, lions and every beast known and imagined, all entangled in a battle to the death with claws and teeth gnashing, biting, and slashing. On the top, two words were engraved in French—“Miroir de Sang.”
“Well, what do you think?”
“It’s says, Blood Mirror. That can’t be good.”
“It was created for the court of his majesty, Louis XVI,” the thin man added.
“Yes.” The man gave Donovan the once over.
Maybe he shouldn’t have thrown on his boots, jeans, T-shirt and beat up old bomber jacket. He did own designer clothes. His daughter had insisted he have an entirely new wardrobe before the wedding, but as soon as Evie had gone on her honeymoon he’d fallen into his old ways. Donovan was glad he couldn’t read minds like a vampire. He didn’t care what the man thought, but Noblesse’s opinion was another matter.
“From Marie Antoinette’s palace?” Donovan asked.
“Oui,” Noblesse replied.
Her smile almost made him forget his objections. “You don’t want this mirror, Sha.”
“It’s ugly. Besides, weren’t the mirrors of that time period gilded in gold, and smaller?”
“Very large mirrors were made for the palace. Not all were gilded in gold. This, however, is an unusual piece.”
“Ma chérie, it’s ugly. You don’t want that. Get something else.”
“Aww, mon cher,” she murmured.
Turning to the thin man she said, “Please, pardon us. We would like to discuss this in private.”
“Certainly.” He walked off in the direction of the Ming vases.
“Of course, Sha, if you want it, I will not be able to talk you out of it. You only want it because it’s French.”
“It’s more than that. Come and look.”
As she stood before it, Donovan finally saw what she was talking about. Vampires could not be seen in mirrors made of silver. When he should have seen nothing at all, he gazed upon her lovely reflection.
Donovan examined the surface more closely. “How old is Sydney Lucente? Could he have made this mirror?” He walked around the back to see if there was some mark made by its maker, and found none.
“Sydney is old, but only started making his vampire mirrors within the last ten years. When I first saw it, I called him. He said that it wasn’t his.”
He spoke to her mind. Sha, why do you want this? It’s from the palace of the king you hated.
She answered so quietly her words barely brushed his thoughts. I just want some control over my life. I feel empty, and I don’t know what to do, mon cher. Please, say that it’s okay for me to buy it. I need your help in this. I’m lost and looking for me.
Donovan knew all about needing control and being empty and lost. How much is it?
It’s only $26,900.
Only? Noble, that’s too much. Let me talk to the man.
You don’t like him, do you? She rubbed the surface of the mirror with her hand. “Ouch.”
Donovan took a step forward. “What happened?”
The thin man came running.
“It’s only a cut,” she assured him. “A sliver of silver. It won’t bother me.” There was a narrow line of red on her finger.
“Do you see this?” Donovan moved closer to the mirror. A drop of blood glistened on a small section of the raised uneven surface. “Your mirror is defective.”
“Oh my,” the man said.
Donovan, mon cher, I still want the mirror.
“Noblesse, we’re going.” He extended his hand to her.
“Oh, please,” the man said. “We will get it cleaned.”
“Can you get the mirror’s surface fixed?” she asked.
The man shook his head. “Not without ruining its value.”
She took Donovan’s warm hand and turned to leave with him.
“We could drop the price.”
Noblesse turned back. “It depends.”
Noble, are you sure you want this?
Yes, please, mon cher.
Donovan looked at Noblesse and then the man. “Noble, please look at the desks while I discuss matters with this gentleman.”
“You need a new desk?” she asked.
Donovan didn’t have a desk. This was all for the shop manager’s benefit. She walked off into the direction of the desks.
“Let’s talk business,” Donovan said to the shop manager.
“How much are you dropping the price?”
“We can let it go for twenty-four thousand.”
Donovan laughed and scrolled on his phone. “Yes, and we can walk two blocks and buy a comparably sized Louis XVI mirror with gilding for eight-thousand five hundred.”
“That’s what we’re willing to pay for it, and the other one is not butt ugly.” Donovan turned to search for Noblesse, spotting her near an aisle of vases. “Come, ma chérie, I have found you a better mirror.”
She took his arm, and they headed for the door.
“Wait. Please, wait.” The man rushed to the office.
What is that all about?
You wanted the mirror, right?
I negotiated the price down. I’m guessing he has to get an approval.
Noblesse smiled, and her smile was everything to him. That lonely ride on the desert road was getting further and further away. The more that ride faded in his thoughts, the longer he would stay in New York.
Leaning against his warm body, Noblesse gazed up into those dark blue eyes. Vampires always found humans warm, but for her it went beyond that. She ran her fingers through his salt and pepper hair, pushing a lock out of his eyes. Donovan had only allowed a trim around the edges for the wedding, but now it was getting bushy. You need a haircut, mon cher.
The little man hurried back with phone in hand. “I’m authorized to match that price of eight thousand five hundred for the mirror. As is, of course.”
Donovan turned to her. “It’s your choice.”
“I’ll take it,” Noblesse gave him her credit card.
The man looked at it. Then at her. “You’re Noblesse Vander Meer, the industrialist’s ward. I’ve read about you in the Journal.”
She smiled, making a concerted effort not to show her fangs. “Yes, that would be me.”
“I’ll be back in a minute.” He took the card and handed it to a woman behind a desk.
Noblesse wandered over to the desks again, and Donovan followed her. “Did you find something interesting?”
“Look at this?”
He laughed and shook his head. “Now that is an ugly, giant desk.”
“Not that one.” Grabbing him by the arm, she led him behind it to where a delicate small writing desk with a chair stood in the shadows.
“That is a lovely piece. Sit at the desk and try it out.”
Excited as a child, Noblesse scurried over and sat in the ornately carved white and gilded chair. It was sturdy enough. She leaned on the matching desk and imagined writing notes and reviewing reports. The chair was surprisingly comfortable for one so old. The desk’s surface was smooth and warm. Noblesse opened up each drawer. Some had additional compartments.
Ooh, I like this very much. But it is not necessary. She got up and left the desk.
The little man came back. “Oh, I just finished processing the transaction on your card. Did you want the desk too?”
“No.” Noblesse took back her card and signed the slip. “We’re fine with the mirror.”
Donovan grinned. “I’m not fine.” He handed the man his credit card. “I would like the desk and the matching chair. Who owned it and how much?”
“For an antique, it’s in near perfect condition. The ownership is unclear. It’s priced at $6,500 for the desk and chair.”
“I’ll take it.”
“Yes, sir.” The man was off again.
Are you buying that for me? You didn’t even bargain down the price.
Oui, ma chérie. It’s perfect fo
Noblesse hugged him.
“Sir, we need your signature,” the manager said.
“I’ll be right back.” Donovan followed the man to the desk where his assistant worked processing the transaction.
Noblesse turned to look at a Ming vase. With her vampire hearing, she could have been at the far end of the store and still hear them.
“You are a very lucky man to have such a beautiful young wife,” the manager said.
“Yes, I am lucky.”
Noblesse couldn’t help but smile. Her heart fluttered like an excited butterfly. It didn’t bother her that Donovan let the man have his impression. She actually liked the idea a lot. Since dancing with him at the wedding almost four weeks ago, they’d been nearly inseparable. Noblesse loved meeting him for lunch and after work. The thought of being his wife made her breath catch.
He walked up to her. “Well, it’s done.”
“Oh, sir, to what address should we deliver the items.”
“To VMeer Industries,” Noblesse replied. Nothing from a human business was ever delivered to the Arnhem Society. It would go in her office, and from there vampires would deliver it to her apartment in the Arnhem Society.
They walked out holding hands. Evening descended on the city, and all the lights blinked on like a million stars. Noblesse loved that about New York.
A winter chill blew down the street a bit early. Her limo pulled up behind Donovan’s Harley.
May I ride with you on your hog? She spoke to his mind.
Of course, Sha.
Even though he didn’t say it, she felt happiness radiating through his body. Smiling, Noblesse waved her limo away.
Donovan climbed on his Harley. The moment she climbed on behind him and put her arms around his waist, he blocked his thoughts. He imagined driving out of the city to some country inn, where he would make love to her until he died of pleasure. These erotic flights of fantasy were frequent now, and Donovan knew it wasn’t a matter of lust.