I'd like to share an excerpt, which provides some background for Caressed by the Edge of Darkness (Rulers of Darkness #5) - release date TBA.
Get to know Gabriel Erhard, the newest Ruler of Darkness - preview published in Caressed by Shadows (Rulers of Darkness #4)
Caressed by the Edge of Darkness -Description:
Hardened by centuries of torture, former blood slave, Gabriel Erhard, is driven by an insatiable need to destroy his enemies. Violence darkens his battered soul, leaving no place for mercy in his world. Gabriel’s only desire is vengeance—until he finds her.
Seized by vampires, bound as a slave, and placed on the auction block, Jordan Culver is instantly entranced by the dangerous male who claims her. Jordan’s new captor vows to set her free, but his haunted gaze burns with savage desire and his wicked kiss makes her crave his touch and...complete surrender.
While Gabriel battles his enemies, he will break every sacred law to achieve his ultimate goal—uniting the Outcast Society and creating a new vampire Clan. But the distracting human with mesmerizing violet eyes jeopardizes his plans. With very soft whisper she evokes his tormented memories, testing his sanity and challenging his every boundary. Can Jordan help him overcome the miseries of his past and find a future with her?
~ Gabriel knelt before the line of Clan Chieftains. His fist firmly pressed over his heart, his head hung low. The chill of the cell’s stone floor seeped into his bones. Upon his arrival to the Validus strong hold high in the Carpathian Mountains, he and Gannon had been escorted to the underground dungeon. Gabriel had loudly, yet politely, demanded to speak with the Rulers. Apparently, he and Gannon weren’t the only unwanted, untrusted guests in residents. He had overheard some of the guards speaking of Red Order Counsel members who recently lost their leader and were now seeking peace with the vampires. Gabriel rolled his eyes. Keep dreaming.
Dimitri Arsov, the last remaining pure blood of the vampire line, broke ranks and came to stand before him. Gabriel kept his gaze directed at the floor, he didn’t even glance towards the shinning leather tips of Dimitri shoes.
“The Clans were established by my fellow original vampires. Their fledglings all united by blood,” Dimitri stated, his authoritative voice echoed through the dungeon.
Gabriel remained silent. He may be an Outcast, but he knew the laws. His Mistress had instructed him well. Unless he was granted permission to speak or asked a direct question, he would hold his tongue. Gannon followed his lead, like always.
“He displayed incredible bravery for coming here,” Sonya said. Her voice was distant. Gabriel assumed she stood by the dungeon’s stairs.
“Or incredible stupidity,” Hadrian drawled, his tone bland.
“A new Clan.” Gabriel could practically hear Dorian shake his head.
“Made up of Outcasts?” Sonya asked. “They are criminals.”
“Not all,” Dimitri corrected. Gabriel could feel the ancient vampire’s ice like gaze upon him. Burning him. “Some are blood bastards.”
“Explain your purpose for wanting to form a new Clan, Gabriel,” Dorian commanded.
Gabriel swallowed hard, his throat suddenly tight. He could barely breathe. Keeping his head down, he explained, “The Outcast Society has been lawless for too long. I seek to unite the Outcasts and put an end to the infighting and the victimization and mindless slaughter of mortals.”
“A noble cause,” Hadrian mused.
Dorian came to stand beside Dimitri. “If we are to grant your request, would you seek our military aid in uniting the Outcasts?”
“I pray that won’t be necessary,” Gabriel answered.
“You understand that by reciting your vows and becoming King that you will be subject to the Death Curse,” Sonya pointed out. “You will need to choose an heir.”
Gabriel nodded. He was fully aware of the consequences of his decision. He had lived long enough and he viewed the Death Curse as a get out of jail free card.
“What linage do you claim?” Hadrian asked.
He inwardly cringed. “Lady Ingrid Hjort.” Gabriel swallowed the bile that rose in his throat. It had been centuries since her name crossed his lips. It nearly choked him.
Ingrid Hjort was a direct descendant of Uro, the Father of the Voidukas Clan, and was a stain on the Voidukas name. She had used her beauty and irresistible smile to hide the evil that consumed her soul.
“The vampire curse is strong in his blood and his strength is impressive,” Dorian said before addressing Gabriel, “You will be tested.”
Pain and blood. An inseparable paring in the vampire world.
“This is madness. Think of how the Clans will react.” Sonya whispered.
“May I interject?”
All fell silent as the air shifted within the dungeon. The overpowering scent of magic caused Gabriel to gag. He glanced over to Gannon. The vampire’s jaw was set, his eyes squeezed shut, and his muscles shaking as he resisted the urge to look at the Shaw Priestess. Damn, Gannon had it bad for the little witch.
The soft click of Silvie’s short heeled boots ricocheted off the walls, creating a ringing in Gabriel’s ears. “It must be noted that the abhorrent practice of human slavery is running rampant. Therefore, I must agree with Mr. Erhard, the Outcasts have been lawless for too long.”
“Are you here on the shaman’s behalf?” Hadrian asked.
Gabriel couldn’t detect any emotion in Hadrian’s tone or words, though he could sense the King’s mistrust.
“I am. He has granted his approval and support to creating a new Clan,” Silvie replied.
Dorian cleared his throat. “Shall we put this to a vote?”
“All those in favor of inducting Gabriel Erhard into our ranks and granting him the authority to build and govern his own Clan under the laws of Vampire Society, say aye. Apposed say nay.”
“Aye,” Silvie cheered with a clap.
“Aye,” Dorian seconded.
Hadrian mumbled, “Aye.” His voice again bland.
“Aye,” Dimitri added.
Sonya remained silent for so long Gabriel became convinced his heart would pound right out of his chest.
“I agree, but only to save the humans. No one should ever have to live as a Bleeder,” the queen said.
“Done,” Silvie announced with another joyful clap.
Gabriel’s eyes slowly closed, steeling himself for the coming pain. Every King had to prove their worthiness.
“The decision has been made,” Dimitri proclaimed. “Gabriel Erhard will be named King this night.”
He stood, squaring his shoulders. He met Dimitri’s cold diamond gaze. This was going to be a long night. Gabriel would pledge his undying loyalty to his fellow Chieftains. His vows would be written and signed with his own blood. But he would endure anything to unite the Outcasts and to bring an end to Boras’s tyrannical reign. Even if it meant selling what remained of his soul to the four Rulers of Darkness.
He pulled his shirt over his head, baring his chest and revealing his slave brand. No longer would the mark define him as unworthy. He had been a Bleeder, kept in a dank dungeon as Lady Ingrid’s personal pet. Now, he would become a Chieftain and he would bring an end to human slavery among the vampires.
“There is nothing I can say to explain what is about to conspire here. Just know, that in the end, you will be Chieftain of a new Clan, stronger than ever,” Dimitri said. “Do you have a name for your Clan?”
“German for courageous,” Dorian mused. “I like it.”
Silvie snapped her fingers. A polished black box appeared at her side. The lid slid back revealing long, glistening daggers with gold and silver inlaid hilts. Dimitri was the first to claim a weapon, then Dorian, followed by Hadrian and lastly Sonya. They surrounded Gabriel and Gannon.
“Last chance,” Sonya warned, her grip tightening on the dagger.
Throwing his arms wide, Gabriel surrendered. “Do what you must.” Closing his eyes, he welcomed the sting of the first slice. He silently prayed for strength. Not for him. After centuries of torture, he could withstand any pain.
He prayed Jordan would have the strength to survive until he could find her.