NOTICE

THE FOLLOWING EXCERPT DEALS WITH THE AFTERMATH OF RAPE. PLEASE DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU WILL BE OFFENDED BY SUCH CONTENT.

    ………PLEASE READ THE ABOVE WARNING BEFORE PROCEEDING!………
    YOU HAVE NOW BEEN WARNED!

THE FOLLOWING IS THE COPYRIGHTED, EXCLUSIVE AND SOLE PROPERTY OF THE AUTHOR. THE REPRINTING, FORWARDING OR COPYING IN ANY FORMAT, BY ANY MEANS OR IN ANY MANNER IS NOT PERMITTED, NOR IS SUCH PERMISSION GRANTED EITHER EXPLICITLY OR IMPLICITLY BY THIS POSTING.
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THESE SCENES WERE DELETED FROM THE FINAL MANUSCRIPT OF RAJMUND AND WERE NEVER PUBLISHED.
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AUTHOR’S NOTE: Those of you who have read the books will recognize this scene as Emelie’s POV of a flashback scene already visited with Raj in the book RAJMUND.

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EMELIE’S MEMORY

Albany, New York, 1918

It was the pain that woke her—an ache in her muscles, a stabbing in her chest that made every breath a slice of agony. Emelie groaned without thinking. Memory returned, the crowd of men, theirs taunts and jeers, and then . . . She surged to her feet, staring around wildly at the small barren room in which she found herself, her legs nearly giving way as her body screamed in protest and refused to support her. Black spots danced before her eyes and she fell back onto the narrow bed, her head hitting a thin pillow as she fought for consciousness. A soft sob escaped her lips and she covered her mouth, biting down on her hand to stop it.

She didn’t know where she was, didn’t know how she’d gotten here. She had a vague memory of someone screaming, of her attacker’s cries drowning out her own, of someone picking her up like a child and then . . . and then nothing. Until she woke up in this strange room.

She tried sitting up again, but cautiously this time, careful of her ribs, careful to breathe slowly and not too deep. There wasn’t an inch of her body that didn’t hurt, and yet she was surprised that she didn’t feel worse, that she was even still alive.

She looked down and a fresh shiver of panic tightened her skin. Someone had provided a good, thick blanket for her to cover herself with, but beneath that . . . she swallowed a hard knot of fear. Someone had bathed her. Someone had stripped her naked and washed away the dirt and grime and blood and given her a shirt to wear, a shirt that was clean and far too large for her slender frame. But who? And why? And what did they want with her? She closed her eyes, fighting against the tears that threatened to spill over her cheeks. Crying would change nothing at all.

She wrapped the blanket around her shoulders and swung her legs over the side of the simple, iron-framed bed, expecting the touch of a cold floor, surprised when she looked down to find a small rug there instead. For the first time, she took a good look at her surroundings. The room was as small as she’d first thought, and the walls were unadorned, but it was clean and neat for all of that. A single candle glowed beneath the curve of a glass shade on a nearby table and she sat within the circle of its warm glow. A small part of her wondered if this was all a dream, if she was still lying in that alley, cold stone beneath her back and reeking of old garbage as they . . . Her thoughts skittered away from the memory, her gaze searching desperately for something else to focus on.

A door. There was a closed door to her left and a room beyond it. Dim light crept over the uneven threshold, and she could make out the faint sounds of someone moving, the tinny scrape of metal against metal. The aroma hit her next, tomatoey and rich, like something her mother’s cook might have prepared.

But it wasn’t Cook beyond that door, and this definitely wasn’t her parent’s home.

The door opened suddenly and she steeled herself against the urge to scream, to cringe away from the man standing there. Her heart was pounding so hard her entire body shook with the force of it, but this person might very well be her benefactor. Might be the very same one who’d rescued her from that stinking alley and saved her life. But whoever he was, whatever he intended, he’d brought her to this place which was at least safer, if not altogether safe.

But he was still a man and she couldn’t help wonder what price he would extract for his act of mercy.

“I won’t hurt you,” he said, almost as if he knew her thoughts.

She looked up at him in surprise. He certainly could have hurt her. He could have done anything he wanted. He was a big man, bigger even than her father and uncles. But much younger, just a few years older than she was and she’d turned twenty on her last birthday.

“Thank you,” she said at last, finding her throat raw, her voice a rough croak. She closed her eyes, remembering the screams.

“There’s water,” he said quickly. “And I’ve heated some soup.”

Her eyes snapped open, focusing once again on his face.

“It’s not much,” he said. “I wasn’t sure how hungry you’d be. If you want something more, I can go—”

“No,” she interrupted, suddenly terrified at the idea of being left alone. She managed a smile, felt her lips crack with the effort. “Soup would be lovely.”

“Shall I bring it here? Or would you rather the kitchen? I can help you—”

“The kitchen,” Emelie said instantly. She didn’t want this man waiting on her like a servant. “You’re very kind.”

His eyes seemed to glow an icy blue for an instant, but then she blinked and it was gone.

“You’ll eat first,” he said. “And then we’ll talk.”

Emelie nodded grimly and pushed herself up from the bed. Or tried to. She fell back again with a renewed cry of pain and he was suddenly there, one hand held out to assist, but not touching her.

“Take my hand,” he offered. “I won’t hurt you.”

The tears she’d been fighting filled her eyes and overflowed, rolling down her cheeks. He was being so kind. Kinder than her own father would have been if he’d known the state she was in. Far kinder than her mother, who would have shunned her as an embarrassment and a shame.

He went to one knee next to her. “Don’t cry. Please don’t cry. I won’t let anything else happen to you. I promise.”

Emelie laughed, a strangled sound that fought its way through the tears. “How can you possibly say that? No one is safe anymore.”

His ice blue eyes burned into hers, his words a flow of warmth that soothed her pain and blurred her memories of that horrible place. “You’re safe, Emelie. Believe me.”

And she did. “Who are you? What are you?”

He met her gaze evenly, studying her. She knew that look. She’d seen in on the face of her physician father too many times when confronted with the desperate family of a dying patient. He was trying to decide whether to tell her the hard truth or a convenient lie.

“Please tell me the truth,” she whispered.

A change passed over his face and he smiled.

“My name is Raj. And I am Vampire.”

**********
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