After freeing five monsters from a video game prison, Emilia finds herself in the center of a conflict she can hardly begin to understand. She is still busy wrapping her head around the fact that magic is real, and that she is now bonded to a vampire prince, because apparently, fated mates are real as well.
The five monsters Emilia freed unapologetically lay claim to her, especially since she is bonded to one of them already. All five have been lovers since before Emilia came along, and now she has to decide if she wants to give her heart to them. All five are certainly eager to win hers.
While getting used to the new freedom Emilia gave them, Emilia’s five know they must put distance between themselves and the warlock Rook, who imprisoned them in the first place. They know Rook wants them back and will take vengeance on Emilia for freeing them.
New alliances shed light on Rook’s dark machinations and his twisted predilections. Emilia and her five can choose to run from the warlock or to put a chink in his magical armor, weaken the source of his strength. But Rook loves his illusions, and those illusions are real enough to cost our lovers everything.
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Copyright ©2022 Alexa Piper
The pitter-patter of rain against the window started sometime during the night, and it inevitably pulled Emilia from her uneasy sleep. She kept going back to the dream while she was warm in her soft, soft bed. House-sitting. A mysterious video game. The five men who’d been trapped in there, who had given her fantastic sexual encounters one after the other until…
Lightning struck, and Emilia’s eyes fluttered open once more, catching a room full of unfamiliar shapes and shadows that the lightning drew in sharpened detail. She jerked under the heavy bedding, the disorientation forcing her heart into a race. What the hell?
“Ssh, all is well,” he said. Before Emilia could recognize the voice, something in her very core reacted to the sound of it, relaxed. Home, safety. Porcelain flowers blooming under the midnight sky. That was what the voice was.
It was also the voice of Radovan, the vampire prince she’d freed from the tower inside a palace inside a video game, which apparently had not been a dream. “Oh, shit,” she said, pushing the bedding back and sitting up.
Lightning struck again, and she saw Radovan sit down on the bed next to her. The darkness that fell after the flash ebbed was less scary now that the vampire prince was there, which a rational part of Emilia’s mind knew to be odd.
“You should sleep more. It’s barely even been two days,” he said. He put a hand on her shoulder and gently pushed her back against the pillows. Her heart screamed for her to relax, do as he said, allow him to care for her.
But her head had a different idea. “Two days!” Emilia said, brushing his hand aside with her own. “I’ve been out for two days? What the fuck happened?”
He hissed something under his breath Emilia couldn’t make out. “You freed all of us from Rook’s prison. You remember that?”
“Yes,” Emilia said. Although all that was surreal and should have been a fever dream. “Uhm, any chance you can turn on a light? Where are we anyway?”
Radovan moved, and with a click, a reading lamp somewhere near the head of the bed came to life, blinding Emilia. She blinked, her eyes adjusted to the brightness, then she looked around. The light came from a Tiffany lamp, colorful and heavy-looking, and it cast tinted shadows across the large bed she was lying in, huddled under a duvet and a blanket. To her right, she spotted the handle of her own bag, and to her left, a large window let in the incandescent illumination of a city at night, doused in rain and the bright echoes of a thunderstorm.
“Sorry,” Radovan said. His hand brushed over Emilia’s shoulder again, and she could sense he wanted to take her into his arms, and she could also tell he resisted the urge. How Emilia knew this, she had no idea. “We are at a hotel. We… It seemed safest for now.”
Emilia blinked as she looked at Radovan as if that would help her get used to seeing him there. She remembered him, from the cut scene in the video game, from finding him in that tower. He’d been a Victorian prince then, but now he was anything but. He wore a black Henley that fit snugly and emphasized his shoulders and slim waist. She saw neatly fitted charcoal pants before she was drawn to his dark amethyst eyes and the velvet hair that flowed like a new moon black aura around his head and down to his waist. If he’d looked like a Renaissance romantic back in the tower, he looked like a sexy lit and philosophy student now.
Emilia cleared her throat, and Radovan sprang into action at that, poured her a glass of water from a carafe that stood on the bedside table. “Thank you,” she said and took the glass from him.
“You are most welcome.”
Emilia finished her water and stared at the vampire prince, who just stared right back at her. Instead of feeling awkward about it, this felt like… it felt nice.
But nice was not what this was supposed to feel like, and Emilia still had enough sense about her to know it. “Explain to me what is going on,” she said and put the glass back down. “Why am I in a hotel bed? And what were you doing in the room with me? Please don’t tell me you were being all sorts of creepy and watched me while I was out?” She swallowed, her throat dry again. “Are you really still a vampire?”
Radovan’s eyebrows flew up, and he gave her a critical look. “You should rest more,” he said.
Which was not what Emilia had needed to hear. “You are not telling me when I need to rest as if I’m some damsel,” she said and climbed out of the bed on the opposite side while Radovan just watched, looking like the dictionary definition of befuddled. “You were totally watching me sleep, weren’t you?” she asked as she got out from under the covers. Her feet stung slightly as she stood, and looking down, she found gauze bandages covered them. Emilia remembered her soles had been cut up in the video game, but for now, she ignored that the injury was just as real in the real world as it had been in the virtual one.
She was only wearing a T-shirt and some soft cotton shorts. The clothing was hers at least, and she dully remembered that one of the others — Pheus, she thought — had mentioned they’d dressed her. Dressed her after they’d torn her ruined clothes off, the ridiculous outfit she’d worn in the video game.
“I… had to watch over you,” Radovan said, his eyes wandering from her face to her legs now in a way that made warmth bubble up inside Emilia. Not that he was leering. He just looked as if he’d never seen anything like a girl sleeping in shorts and at the same time, he looked like he could never see enough of it. “I had to make sure you were safe, and I wanted to be here in case you woke. In case you needed anything.” He stood, the bed now between them. “I apologize if I overstepped, but as I told you before, you are quite safe with me. And with the others.”
“The others. Right.” She took a deep breath and crossed her arms in front of her. “So you are a vampire? Really?”
He smiled. It changed his face drastically, made him look less like a tragic hero and more like the sweet wizard who could win hearts with half a spell. Which just reminded Emilia that magic seemed to be a thing that existed now.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alexa Piper writes steamy romance that ranges from light to dark, from straight to queer. She’s also a coffee addict. Alexa loves writing stories that make her readers laugh and fall in love with the characters in them. Connect with Alexa on Facebook or Instagram, follow her on Twitter or TikTok, and subscribe to her newsletter!