The hero of Dark Awakening, shapeshifting vampire Tynan MacGillivray, has spent centuries prowling the night as an outcast, valued only for his ferocious hunting skills. When a feud among the immortals escalates into all-out war, he is ordered by his ruthless queen to locate a Seer-a human woman with a special gift-who can secure victory for their clan. Ty's search leads him to a quiet New England town, but once he has the Seer in his grasp, her touch awakens within him a hunger like he's never known . It's soon clear that Lily Quinn is much more than a Seer. But will a vampire's vow of eternal protection stop the evil forces that hunt her...or unleash her dark destiny?
Snow White and the Vampire
By Kendra Leigh Castle
My name is Tynan MacGillivray, but in the tale of Snow White I am known only as The Huntsman. You think you know the story—how an innocent princess was betrayed by an evil queen, how a loyal huntsman took mercy on Snow White, allowing her to live and marry her handsome prince. But the truth, in this case, has been obscured by centuries of pixie-dust-addled dreamers. I am the Huntsman. And I have a far different tale to tell.
I was supposed to kill her. That much is true. The Queen chose me because I had always done my job well—too well. But my kind had few choices if we didn’t want to be hunted ourselves. The Cait Sith, vampires who prowl the night as both man and cat, were hated and feared. But the Queen, Snow White’s stepmother, saw beauty in our darkness. And so I became a useful tool, a loyal servant. My quarry knew me only as Death, and in return, I was allowed to live, and to feed. Most of my heart seemed as black as the fur I wore as a second skin. Still, when Her Highness called me in that night, handed me that beautiful little box and told me what she wanted inside when it was returned to her, I discovered my heart wasn’t quite dead after all. I wasn’t surprised by her wish. The madness in her had been deeply rooted for some time by then. But I saw, when she gave me her command, that she knew my most closely held secret after all. Though Snow White barely looked at me, and then only with fear, what heart I had left belonged to the raven-haired princess. The Queen knew. And monster that she was, she savored my pain.
I agreed, of course. The Queen would have crushed me like a bug if I’d tried to deny her. And so it happened, the very next night, that I found myself living a cruel mockery of my long held desire. Finally, I was alone with Snow White.
She was everything the fairy tales make her out to have been. More. Porcelain skin, lips as red as the blood I craved, eyes as deep and dark a blue as the ocean. And down her back to her waist fell that midnight hair I wanted so badly to wrap around my hands while I claimed her mouth, her body, as my own. Snow White had never seemed comfortable around me, not that I blamed her. Not only was I one of her stepmother’s lackeys, but she seemed to sense that I was every inch a predator, and that to me, she looked like prey. Still, she didn’t argue when I was assigned to be her escort for her evening walk. She loved the twilight, though I think she loved the temporary escape from the increasingly violent narcissism of the Queen even more. So we walked, she and I, into the woods surrounding the castle. She watched the stars come out. And I tried to prepare myself for what I had been ordered to do.
All the movies are wrong, you know. I never even raised my dagger. I don’t know that I could have, even if she hadn’t said anything. But Snow White was no fainting, helpless princess, and before we’d gotten far she turned and very quietly asked me whether I was going to kill her. There were no tears, no pleading. I hadn’t realized, until that moment, how much steel there was in Snow White. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to live—she did, desperately. But she’d seen the writing on the wall, even before I had, and could see no way out. That, as it turned out, was the one thing I could give her: her freedom. And in return, she gave me something I never in my wildest dreams expected: a kiss.
I don’t know how she ended up in my arms. One moment she was staring at me while I told her to run, that I would try to make the Queen believe she was dead. And the next, her mouth was on mine. I won’t give you the details. Those are private treasures, and I’m not inclined to share. But I will say that having Snow White in my arms, being as tangled up in her as I’d only dared to dream, made all of my many fantasies pale in comparison to the reality of tasting the woman herself. And I discovered, right then, that Snow White had her own secret. Somehow, I hadn’t been alone in my longing. She might fear me…in fact, I know she did. But she wanted me even more. I could hardly believe the words she gave me, the things she said to me, to a lowly Cait Sith. But as I said, some memories are mine, and mine alone.
Leaving her there was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, even now, centuries later. But we both knew that my returning to the Queen was her only chance at escape. So she vanished into the dark, and I delivered a pig’s heart to her stepmother. You all know the gist of what happened next. The Queen was satisfied, for a time. Her mirror slave successfully fought the compulsion to tell her the truth of Snow White’s continuing existence for an admirable length of time. I have no idea what it must have cost him, but I’m sure it was more than even most vampires could have withstood. Eventually, however, he broke under the strain of his binding spell. The Queen flew into a psychotic fury the likes of which I have never again seen. And I…well, I did the only thing I could. I ran.
I didn’t think of it as running away. I thought of it as running to. All I could think of was warning Snow White, of taking her as far away as I could so that we could be together. But the Queen was clever. She poisoned the princess while I slept, and by the time I rose, the damage was done. I found her, pale as a ghost, taking her final breaths, surrounded by the dwarves who’d done their best to conceal her. I give them a lot of credit. Dwarves are a bunch of rowdy, foul-mouthed drunkards, for the most part (and I mean that in the most complimentary of ways), but they’d loved Snow White. They’d done their best. It just hadn’t been enough in the face of the Queen’s darkness. I knew of only one way to save her, though I hesitated…vampires are all cursed, in our way. Eternal life is no gift. But I knew, when she bared her neck to me without my having said a word, that Snow White had made her decision already. She chose me. And because I loved her, I gave her what the stories have all deemed “True Love’s Kiss”.
It was, indeed. They just tend to skip over the part about the fangs.
The Queen fell not long after, her mind broken, poisoned in mind and body by what she had done to Snow White. And I found myself husband to a queen unlike any the kingdom had ever seen, bound to the one woman who could bring peace between the Cait Sith and the humans. It didn’t last, of course. No peace ever does, and the day came when it was time to slip into the darkness with our kind and find a new place in the changing world. What has lasted, however, is the love I have for my lady of the ebony hair and the skin as white as snow. The glass coffin she once slept in is long gone, its true import lost in a sea of pretty fairy tales. But we still have one another, the princess and her Huntsman. And now you know the truth…that Snow White still lives, eternally, happily ever after.
I have one (1) copy of Dark Awakening to offer to one of you!
Enter the world of the Dark Dynasties . . .
For centuries, shapeshifting vampire Tynan MacGillivray has prowled the night as an outcast, valued only for his ferocious hunting skills. When a feud among the immortals escalates into all-out war, he is ordered by his ruthless queen to locate a Seer-a human woman with a special gift-who can secure victory for their clan. Ty's search leads him to a quiet New England town, but once he has the Seer in his grasp, her touch awakens within him a hunger like he's never known . . .
Lily Quinn has always been different. Since childhood, she's had vivid nightmares and an eerie sixth sense. When a sexy, silver-eyed stranger demands her help, Lily plunges into a new world of danger and sensuality. With Ty, she discovers sizzling passions she cannot deny and powers she cannot control. Soon, it is clear that Lily is much more than a Seer-she holds the key to ancient secrets and unthinkable destruction. But will a vampire's vow of eternal protection stop these evil forces . . . or unleash her dark destiny?
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Ends September 7th, 2011.
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Kendra Leigh Castle writes dark paranormal romance and lives in Soutehrn Maryland with her husband, three kids, and menagerie of pets. You can find her on facebook, Twitter (@KendraLCastle), and at www.kendraleighcastle.com.
More books by Kendra Liegh Castle