Table of Contents
“Sultry, sexy, spooky Savannah—the perfect setting for hot vampires.... Beware of reading
New York Times
bestselling author Kerrelyn Sparks
is a book every paranormal lover is going to fall in love with.... Ms. Jasper penned a winner.... This is a must-read paranormal book, and it comes highly recommended.”
—Night Owl Romance (5 stars)
“There’s a certain thrill that goes with realizing you might have discovered the best book you’ve read in a long, long time....
is beautifully written with mind-numbing possession over the reader. It’s edgy and modern, with just the right amount of good versus evil.”
—Romance Junkies (5 blue ribbons)
“Elle Jasper’s rendition of the vampire Everdark underworld of Savannah provides a welcome addition to the subgenre blood bank.”
“Dark, Gothic, seeping with atmosphere.”
“Elle Jasper’s debut into light urban fantasy romance is a quick and fun romp into the underground of Savannah’s warm nights . . . in this seductive, witty drama where the story flows like magic and the characters are very exciting. Mixing pop culture and occult references, Ms. Jasper brings to the table a sizzling new adventure that will leave you panting for more.”
“Bravo to Ms. Jasper for giving readers a vampire/urban fantasy series they can sink their teeth into.”
—The Romance Dish
“The first book in the Dark Ink Chronicles starts out with a bang. The protagonist, Riley Poe, grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go. Instead of slowly building, the characters and steamy setting of Savannah pull the reader right into their world and have their way with you. It’s a superb beginning to an unusual and addictive series and Jasper is destined to become a fan favorite.”
Published by New American Library, a division of
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,
New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto,
Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2,
Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)
Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124,
Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)
Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park,
New Delhi - 110 017, India
Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632,
New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue,
Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices:
80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
First published by Signet Eclipse, an imprint of New American Library,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
First Printing, June 2011
Copyright © Elle Jasper, 2011
eISBN : 978-1-101-51543-3
All rights reserved
SIGNET ECLIPSE and logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.
The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
For the girls at Coffee Buy the Book in Pulaski, Virginia: Tracey, Jill, Steph, Pennie, Ally, Holly, Jill (there’re two!), Janie, Tawana, and the only nongirl, Dan the Man—this one’s yours, guys. Thanks so much for your support, hospitality, and the big freaking production you make for the fan-freaking-tastic book signings you invite me to! It’s the most fun I’ve had as an author yet! For the super readers and fans who show up to support and buy my books, for the food and wine, and for an always-memorable stay at the gorgeous Rockwood Manor—and for the friendship. I thank you. Totally. You make me feel like a rock star!
The following people
at motivating, supporting, and encouraging me throughout the sometimes-grueling (selfinflicted!) and rewarding process of writing a novel. They give that certain special and influential kick in the ass I am so deserving of at times, and for that, I’m eternally grateful. They are my sisters, my best pals—my she-wolf pack! Kim Lenox, Leah Marie Brown, Betsy Kane, Eveline Chapman, Karol Miles, Molly Hammond, Allison Bunton, Valerie Morton, Bhing Dequito, Tyler Homberger, S
Dotson, Tracy Pierce, the Denmark Sisterhood, and, as always, my best friend of all—my mom, Dale Nease. You guys freakin’ rock-a-dilly! Thanks for being in my life.
“Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world.”
“There’s a part of me that knows Eli wants me forever—as in it’s unacceptable for him to even consider my death, no matter how far into the future it may be. Okay—I like that. Who wouldn’t? Never have I wanted someone so badly, and never has anyone wanted me the way Eli does. But I think he wants to turn me, and that sort of freaks me out. I don’t want to live forever. It’s not . . . natural. I’m not scared of him or anything, but let’s just say I sleep with one eye open.”
Da Island, Gullah
Off the coast of Savannah, Georgia
old her down!”
Fire ripped through my insides, through my veins, under my skin, deep into my muscles, and I thrashed against the three pairs of strong arms trying to hold me still—I didn’t know why or who they were. I didn’t know where I was. I saw nothing but blood behind my eyes, streaks of crimson blurring my vision, and my head pounded with each sluggish thump of my exaggerated heartbeat. I knew only pain, and I wanted to get the freaking hell away from it, out of the tangled arms trying to restrain me. “Get the fuck off me!” I gritted through my teeth. Their grips tightened. The air was smoldering hot all around me as if it poured from a five-hundred-degree oven. It made the burning inside my body even more intense, and the heavy scent of salt and rotted sea life wafted to me. I wanted to puke.
“I liked it better when she couldn’t move,” a voice I knew but couldn’t place said sarcastically. It had a slight French accent.
I kicked out hard and caught someone on the jaw with my heel. A muffled curse and laughter reached my ears. I didn’t care. I was in friggin’ agony, and getting out of it was all that mattered. I fought harder, growling and spitting. An all-consuming hate filled me. I felt it through my skin, all the way to my bones. Finally, I broke free. I scrambled on all fours but didn’t make it far. Someone’s full body slammed me into the scorching sand, and I lay there, trapped, under the crushing weight—in anguish. I swore, but the sound came out muffled as coarse grains pushed into my open mouth. Whatever was on top of me was squeezing the breath out of me. I coughed. Air had a hard time getting back into my lungs. I wheezed.
“Ease up, Zetty,” another familiar voice said. “You’re pushing her face into the sand. She can’t breathe.”
What the hell? An unfamiliar, guttural sound came from the weight trapping me. I bucked, or tried to, anyway.