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Real Vampires: Glory and the Pirates
Dragon Lady Publishing
Copyright © 2020 by Gerry Bartlett
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Cover Design & Interior Format by Killion Publishing
About the Author
This book is dedicated to my critique partners: Nina Bangs and Donna Maloy—for their patience and understanding. You guys rock!
Ihad thought I’d be willing to live at the gates of Hell rather than at Castle Campbell with Jeremiah’s mother. Well, it seemed I was getting my wish. The wind howled, waves crashed and the keep where we were doomed to live lay in front of us. It was a stone nightmare.
“It looks sturdy enough.” Jeremiah kept his horse close to mine. Wise man. He must have sensed I was thinking of bolting back to Edinburgh.
“Sturdy.” I smiled at him, though a sudden wind shift made tears come to my eyes. The moat must have been used to empty every chamber pot in Scotland.
“I’m sure it can soon be set to rights.” Jeremiah reached for my hand. “I had hoped for better.” Of course, he had. The king had given him a fine title and he was now Guardian of the Coast. Lord Jeremiah Campbell gave me the kind of smile that melted my heart.
I squeezed his hand. “It looks forbidding in the moonlight. That is surely a good thing in a keep. Enemies beware!”
“I don’t like that it looks deserted. But I’m told the last Guardian died more than a year ago.” Jeremiah turned to my bodyguard. “Valdez, see Gloriana into the keep and stay by her side there. Who knows what lies inside? Take a dozen men with you. Look sharp.” He glanced over his shoulder at the ruins of several crofter’s huts. “I’ve business to see to here.”
“I’m sure we’ll be fine. Valdez will bring men we trust and who would dare defy a king’s order?” I ignored the dread tying my nerves in knots. We’d already heard gossip that the previous Guardian hadn’t died of disease. He’d been killed by the ruthless pirates harrying the Scottish coast. Jeremiah was a famed warrior, but his daring deeds had been on land. What did he know of the sea?
“Jeremiah, you look sharp as well, my love. I have no desire to be stuck in this desolate place without you to warm my bed.” That put a smile on his face as he leaned in for a kiss before riding away. Of course, I would make the best of it. The king had decreed we were to live here, and Jeremiah’s new title was an honor. Or so we had thought.
We were travelling at night, of course. My man is a vampire and now so am I. Yes, Gloriana St. Clair will do anything for love, even give up her humanity. I didn’t regret it. The Campbell clan had long been vampires and Jeremiah’s most trusted men, those he’d brought with him from home, understood why we avoided the sun. The company of soldiers the king had sent along with my lover were not as understanding. Captain Burnett, in charge of the king’s men, his scowl permanent it seemed, stopped Jeremiah before he could go far. As usual he was full of questions.
I smiled at the captain. I knew he had no patience for domestic matters and would have preferred Jeremiah had left me in Edinburgh. I felt his stare and knew he waited for me to ride away.
“Jeremiah, take care of your new duties. I will see what can be done to make the place habitable before we rest at dawn.” I hid a sigh. I was no housekeeper. Unfortunately, the woman who had made our place cozy in London had stayed behind in Dollar, the town below Castle Campbell. My maid, Mercy MacLean, was good with hair but she was young. I was afraid she would be useless when it came to setting up a household. She rode in a wagon with my clothes and bedding and I could hear her shrill complaints from where I sat my horse.
“Jeremiah is right. There’s no guarantee of a welcome here.” Diego Valdez, my personal bodyguard, was already motioning for men to join us.
“The king gives away property as rewards. I hope he didn’t leave some poor soul without a home.” But I knew it was possible. King James did what he chose. This large island facing Ireland had been held by the Duke of Argyll. After the duke died, it became part of a dowry for his widow.
Now it was divided between my Jeremiah and Robert MacDonald, who had married Argyll’s wealthy widow. The Campbells and the MacDonalds had been fighting for centuries. Since the king now demanded clan unity, the two men had been ordered to share the island and “Make peace.” None of the Scots were happy about it.
“There is only one way to find out if we are welcome here.” Valdez led the way, his troop of men surrounding me as we rode toward the forbidding castle. The open drawbridge creaked ominously when the first few men cautiously rode across it. But it held, so we followed.
Inside, the air made my nose twitch. Mortals must be watching us though I could not see any. I knew Jeremiah had sent word weeks ago that he was coming to take his new post. Surely there should have been some effort made by the people living here to prepare for their new master. If so, I couldn’t see it. There were abandoned carts, piles of hay dropped where they’d