He’s a vampire prince. She’s a human blood slave. They should be enemies… but uniting might be their only hope to prevent a supernatural war.
Annika never thought of herself as weak—until the day vampires murdered her parents and kidnapped her from our world to the hidden vampire kingdom of the Vale.
As a brand new blood slave, Annika must learn to survive her dangerous new circumstances… or face imminent death from the monstrous wolves prowling outside the Vale’s enchanted walls. But not all in the kingdom is as it appears, and when a handsome vampire disguised as a human steps into her life, Annika discovers that falling for the enemy is sometimes too tempting to resist.
Especially when becoming a vampire might be her only chance to gain the strength she needs to escape the Vale.
“Race you to the bottom!” my older brother Grant yelled the moment we got off the chair lift.
Mom and Dad skied up ahead, but beyond the four of us, the rest of the mountain was empty. It was final run of the trip, on our last day of spring break, and we’d decided to challenge ourselves by skiing down the hardest trail on the mountain—one of the double black diamond chutes in the back bowl.
The chutes were the only way down from where we were—the chairlift that took us up here specified that these trails were for experts only. Which was perfect for us. After all, I’d been skiing since I was four years old. My parents grew up skiing, and they couldn’t wait to get Grant and I on the trails. We could tackle any trail at this ski resort.
“Did I hear something about a race?” Dad called from up ahead.
“Damn right you did!” Grant lifted one of his poles in the air and hooted, ready to go.
“You’re on.” I glided past all of them, the thrill of competition already racing through my veins.
Mom pleaded with us to be careful, and then my skis tipped over the top of the mountain, and I was flying down the trail.
I smiled as I took off. I’d always wanted to fly, but obviously that wasn’t possible, and skiing was the closest thing I’d found to that. If I lived near a mountain instead of in South Florida, I might have devoted my extracurricular activities to skiing instead of gymnastics.
I blazed down the mountain like I was performing a choreographed dance, taking each jump with grace and digging my poles into the snow with each turn. This trail was full of moguls and even some rocky patches, but I flew down easily, avoiding each obstacle as it approached. I loved the rush of the wind on my cheeks and the breeze through my hair. If I held my poles in the air, it really did feel like flying.
I was lost in the moment—so lost that I didn’t see the patch of rocks ahead until it was too late. I wasn’t prepared for the jump, and instead of landing gracefully, I ploofed to the ground, wiping out so hard that both of my skis popped off of my boots.
“Wipeout!” Grant laughed, holding his poles up in the air and flying past me.
“Are you okay?” Mom asked from nearby.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” I rolled over, locating my skis. One was next to me, the other a few feet above.
“Do you need help?” she asked.
“No.” I shook my head, brushing the snow off my legs. “I’ve got this. Go on. I’ll meet you all at the bottom.”
She nodded and continued down the mountain, knowing me well enough to understand that I didn’t need any help—I wanted to get back up on my own. “See you there!” she said, taking the turns slightly more cautiously than Grant and Dad.
I trudged up the mountain to grab the first ski, popped it back on, and glided on one foot to retrieve the other. I huffed as I prepared to put it back on. What an awful final run of the trip. My family was nearing the bottom of the trail—there was no way I would catch up with them now.
Looked like I would be placing last in our little race. Which annoyed me, because last place was so not my style.
But I still had to get down, so I took a deep breath, dug my poles into the snow, and set off.
As I was nearing the bottom, three men emerged from the forest near the end of the chute. None of them wore skis, and they were dressed in jeans, t-shirts, and leather jackets. They must have been freezing.
I stopped, about to call out and ask them if they needed help. But before I could speak, one of them moved in a blur, coming up behind my brother and sinking his teeth into his neck.
I screamed as Grant’s blood gushed from the wound, staining the snow red.
The other two men moved just as fast, one of them pouncing on my mom, the other on my dad. More blood gushed from both of their necks, their bodies’ limp like rag dolls in their attackers arms.
“No!” I flew down the mountain—faster than I’d ever skied before—holding my poles out in front of me. I reached my brother first and jammed the pole into the back of his attacker with as much force I could muster.
The pole bounced off the man, not even bothering him in the slightest, and the force of the attack pushed me to the ground. All I could do was look helplessly up as the man dropped my brother into the blood stained snow.
What was going on? Why were they doing this?
Then his gaze shifted to me, and he stared me down. His eyes were hard and cold—and he snarled at me, baring his teeth.
They were covered in my brother’s blood.
“Grant,” I whispered my brother’s name, barely able to speak. He was so pale—so still. And there was so much blood. The rivulets streamed from the puddles around him, the glistening redness so bright that it seemed fake against the frosty background.
One of the other men dropped my mom’s body on the ground next to my brother. Seconds later, my dad landed next to them.
My mother’s murderer grabbed first man’s shoulder—the man who had murdered my brother. “Hold it, Daniel,” he said, stopping him from moving toward me.
I just watched them, speechless. My whole family was gone. These creatures ran faster than I could blink, and they were strong enough to handle bodies like they were weightless.
I had no chance at escape.
They were going to do this to me too, weren’t they? These moments—right here, right now—would be my last.
I’d never given much thought to what happens after people die. Who does, at eighteen years old? I was supposed to have my whole life ahead of me.
My family was supposed to have their whole lives ahead of them, too.
Now their lifeless, bloody bodies at the bottom of this mountain would be the last things I would ever see.
I steadied myself, trying to prepare for what was coming. Would dying hurt? Would it be over quickly? Would I disappear completely once I was gone? Would my soul continue on, or would my existence be wiped from the universe forever?
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. I didn’t want to die. I wanted to live.
But I’d seen what those men—those creatures—had done to my family. And I knew, staring up at them, that it was over.
Terror filled my body, shaking me to the core. I couldn’t fight them. I couldn’t win. Against them, I was helpless.
And even if I stood a chance, did I really want to continue living while my family was gone?
“We can’t kill them all,” the man continued. “Laila sent us here to get humans to replace the ones the new prince killed in his bloodlust rampage. We need to keep her alive.”
“I suppose she’ll do.” The other man glared down at me, licking his lips and clenching his fists. “It’s hard to tell under all that ski gear, but she looks pretty. She’ll make a good addition to the Vale.”
He took a syringe out of his jacket, ran at me in a blur, and jabbed the needle into my neck.
The empty, dead eyes of my parents were the last things I saw before my head hit the snow and everything went dark.