Publication date: October 5th 2021
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance
For centuries, my maker and I have indulged our appetites together, seeking out partners willing to satisfy our… unique needs.
But from the first time we strip sweet Nissa down to her bare flesh and feast, I know she will be different. I live for the taste of her blood on my lips, the feel of her body writhing beneath me.
For the first time since I was turned, I want a human for my own. Mine to taste, to tease, to take as often and as brutally as I wish.
Mine to keep… for eternity.
Nissa was not the kind of girl who put up with shit from anyone. Pushing her way through the crowded tube platform and toward the green-tiled tunnel leading to the stairs —and shoving aside a morphie begging for change—she wished the ancient escalators still worked. Not that much in London had worked since the Anti-Monarchy riots in 2040, the year of her birth—the riots where her parents had died doing nothing more than trying to make their way home to her and her grandmother.
Nana had been gone for twelve years now, leaving Nissa alone in the flat in Camden Town, next to what was left of Regent’s Park, but she was used to it. Being on her own since the age of seventeen had taught her to be independent, street-smart, and savvy about the rough world she lived in. She knew how to walk through a dark neighborhood without getting mugged, knew what to do about it if it did happen. She went where she liked, slept with whomever she liked, then kicked him out the next day without looking back. She was used to being entirely without connections, and that was exactly how she wanted things.
And being on her own meant there was no one to miss her if things went the way she hoped they would tonight.
Using her elbows and the occasional stomp of her stiletto-heeled boots, she finally got to the stairs, her legs pumping as she moved toward the small halo of dark sky above. Careful to keep a watchful eye on the others around her, she gripped her stunstick in her hand in case anyone tried anything. These dense crowds were even more dangerous than walking down a dark, empty street alone. Not that she would usually be so foolish, armed or not.
She was always armed.
Smacking away a groping hand just as she reached the top of the stairs, she turned her head and caught sight of a cocky grin on a handsome face—a pretty enough blond boy with a wicked gleam in his cool, grey eyes.
“Sorry, love.” He winked at her, giving her a quick nod as she moved away.
He really was pretty, and perhaps on a different night she would have encouraged him, but she’d had her fill of beautiful boys. Tonight she had much more in mind, and it had taken her too damn long to get this invitation for her to risk screwing it up over a common beautiful boy.
The damp air hit her as she pushed her way outside into the cold night, stepping over a pile of broken concrete.
“So much for the joys of the New Democracy,” she muttered under her breath.
There was never anyone around to clean up the streets after a bombing, and you had to watch your step everywhere you went, other than in the most exclusive neighborhoods. But Nissa never went to such places.
She moved down the block, into the heart of the old theatre district that now housed nightclubs, pubs and cafés, shops selling leather goods, personal protection devices, and sex toys. Jagged bolts of neon light reflected in puddles in the street, making glowing pools of eerie watercolor. Noise came from every direction—the low rumble of voices, the rattle of an engine as a car, heavy with armor, passed by, the scratchy cry of a street player’s guitar somewhere, and in the distance, the shrill of sirens that seemed to be ever-present in London. She could smell the damp as it worked its way through her worn wool pea coat and into her bones, along with the scents of wet cement, smoke, the acrid smell of unwashed humanity, and the press of too damn many people.
Walking faster, she passed a group of morphies huddled in a doorway, a woman passed out in their midst as they muttered over her, passing a pipe around with shaking hands and glazed eyes. One called out to her, asking for money. She turned her head, moving faster. As if she’d be fool enough to take out her purse in Soho at night.
Anyway, she had someplace important to be, and she didn’t want to be late.
Someplace crucial—the place she’d dreamed of for years.
She turned the corner onto Shaftesbury Avenue, and there it was.
The old Palace Theatre stood like an elegant fortress of red brick and arched windows, surrounded by high, intricate, iron gates to keep the rabble out. Nissa pulled in a breath, ignoring the London stench.
She was here, at the most exclusive vampire club in London. The most exclusive sex club. There was a Midnight Playground in nearly every major city in Europe: Berlin, Paris, Rome, Madrid, Amsterdam, Prague. These places were nearly impossible to get into—for humans, anyway—and they never accepted anyone over thirty into their membership. At twenty-nine, Nissa was close to being excluded forever, but she’d managed it, finally. Or her friend Ilana had managed it for her.
She moved in, tucking her stunstick into the pocket of her coat and clipping it into its harness, then flipping open the hidden pocket that held her identification and invitation as she approached the gates. The bouncers were a pair of hulking, bald figures in black leather trench coats, arms crossed over massive chests.
She nodded to them. “I have an invitation.”
Holding it out, she pinched the heavy velum between her fingers, running her fingertips over the raised lettering and the embossed Celtic dragon’s head logo that matched the design in the center of the towering iron gates of the club.
One of the bouncers held his beefy hand out. “Let’s have a look.”
Nissa narrowed her eyes, looking for the telltale tinge of pink in the skin. Human. She supposed a vampire wouldn’t have to work as a gate bouncer. Vampires were an elite society—revered, feared. Desired.
She shivered even thinking about it, thinking about them. About the inherent sense of power that radiated from the few she’d ever come upon.
“Identification,” one of the enormous men demanded, and she handed it over. He glanced at the other man, holding out the invitation for him to peruse, as well as her ID.
“Is there a problem?” she asked, her heart thundering.
Both men turned to her. One held her identification up to the lamp mounted on the gate, then gave a sharp jerk of his chin. “You’re in, girl.”
Her heart lurched as the gate opened, and she stepped through and into another world altogether.
Immediately, the air seemed to clear of the ever-present London gloom, even to smell better, which was impossible, of course. But she was there, through the gate and walking up to the heavy iron doors, her boot heels ringing in her ears.
She was asked for her ID once more at the doors by another leather-clad bouncer, then she was ushered through, into a dark foyer lit only by red neon lights. There, an exquisite young woman in a short, tight leather dress palmed her identification card and silently helped her out of her coat, turning to take it away.
“Wait.” Nissa reached out and grabbed the girl’s shoulder. “Where are you taking my things?”
“You won’t need them here—everything you could ever need is inside. Everything, and things you’ve never imagined. Don’t worry, you’ll have your belongings back when you leave. If you do.”
New York Times & USA Today Bestselling author Eden Bradley aka Eve Berlin has written erotica and erotic romance for Berkley, Bantam, Harlequin Spice/HQN, Samhain Publishing and Black Lace, as well as indie publishing. Her work has been called “elegant, intelligent and sensual”. Her debut novel THE DARK GARDEN was praised as “a masterpiece”, and was a Romantic Times Top Pick. More recently, her novella GIRL (Book One in The Training House Series) has repeatedly been called “phenomenal”, and BDSM author Jenna Jacob said “Nothing has touched me like this since ‘Story of O'”. Her novels and novellas have been translated into German, Romanian, French, Italian,Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Polish, Indonesian and Japanese.
As someone who has been involved in BDSM practice for much of her adult life, she relates in particular to her kink stories, infusing them with her own truth about kink practice from her life experiences. Eden speaks regularly on BDSM psychology and practice, as well as sex positive culture for women. She lives in Northern California, and loves art, shoes, tattoos, her Boston Terrier puppy, chocolate, and reading and writing smutty books, of course, not necessarily in that order.