Genre Dark Romantic Fantasy
Published June 1 2017
A Vision in Crimson is the first installment of a new epic fantasy blistering with romance and Gothicism.
His dream was broken by the feel of something soft against his mouth. He opened his eyes and blinked, thinking for a moment that he was still asleep. Flooding his vision was the red-haired siren of his dream, crouched above him. Her dark brown eyes were staring straight into his. He held her glance for a long while, then took a minute to glimpse at the rest of her. Her features were well defined and graceful. Her long luxurious hair, braided in a few places, spilled over her firm, ample curves onto the ground in front of her. Looking at it now in reality, he saw a unique, vibrant shade of red, darker and almost auburn in the shade of the trees, with strands of pure copper and gold highlighted by the sun through the forest canopy. Her large eyes sparkled. They were alight with intrigue and kind concern, but Luca saw a touch of the tired sadness that he was accustomed to seeing in his own dim reflection. Too much for someone her age. Luca puzzled over her age for more than a few seconds. Her beauty and slender frame suggested a girl nearing her thirties, yet her countenance told him she had been through more than her share of life’s troubles, even for a woman of the rough and unprotected countryside. She stared at his clear crystal blue eyes, framed by thick dark brows. A straight nose, tightly pursed lips and strong chin completed his face. Despite his pale complexion, he was dark and beautiful. She didn’t let it show on her face, but the woman had become immediately enamored of him. Her fingers rested lightly on his mouth. After a silence that lasted a bit too long, she was the first to speak.
“I’ll have you out of there in just a minute,” she whispered. “I won’t hurt you, but we have to be quiet.” She turned her head to the side to get a glimpse of the valley below. “I’m looking out for a friend, and just spotted you here a minute ago. Once I’m sure he’s okay, I’ll start digging.”
Luca said nothing. When she was sure that he wouldn’t make a sound, she removed her hand from his lips and moved closer to the hill’s edge, looking for her companion. Luca got a better look at what she was wearing. A plaid scarf in sapphire blue with hints of gold thread was wrapped around her neck and waist, covering a tunic dress of the same shade. Her legs were covered by high, soft leather brown boots and blue leggings, but Luca spied shapely thighs at the edge of her skirt. She wore a utility belt across her chest which hinted at her generous cleavage, despite her modest neckline. Above, his eyes traced the silhouette of her long, pale, comely neck with excitement, but he quickly quashed the flutter in his heart before it developed, and redirected his gaze. At her hips, she wore two short swords, and the hilt of a dagger peeked out from the top of her boot. She seemed sure of herself, and didn’t appear the least bit threatened by Luca. She didn’t react to seeing him for the first time in the manner customary to women, and even scores of young men; they usually succumbed quickly to his outward charms—his dark aura and hypnotic stare, two of his many vampiric qualities. But she didn’t gasp in fear or swoon in ecstasy. That puzzled him. A small part of him wondered why she hadn’t immediately responded to his visage, with a little disappointment. He chalked it up to her finding him covered in dirt from the neck down. But he knew that shouldn’t have stopped her from surrendering to his trance-inducing stare, even for a moment. He was intrigued by this girl, who had just happened to appear as his dream self was making love to her. Her garb made her even more of a mystery. He only noticed these things, which were inconsequential to him, because the fabrics, colors, and design of her wardrobe were infinitely superior, and foreign, to anything he had ever seen, including some of the priciest fashions available in the biggest cities. He much preferred the naked version of her, which had dissipated with her actual presence. But even in all her gear, chosen for its rugged functionality, she looked regal. He saw her gesture to her friend, then she turned to face him once more.
“Okay, it looks like whoever did this to you is gone. I’ll have you walking around again soon. Who did do this to you, anyway?” she asked, as she began to claw at the earth with her hands.
“I did.” His voice was as toneless and nonchalant as ever. Her hands paused for a moment, still holding clumps of dirt, and she looked at him quizzically.
“You buried yourself? Why on earth would you do a thing like that?”
Here came the part he always dreaded, but was compelled to divulge nevertheless. “I’m a dhampir.”
“A what?” Here, Luca thought, was the reaction he had been expecting, but had been unusually delayed. He waited for what he had said to sink in, but it didn’t. She was still honestly waiting for an answer. He repeated himself.
“I’m a dhampir.”
“What’s a dhampir?”
He just stared at her, his eyes going slightly wide.
“I’m not from around here,” she explained, “so you’re going to have to fill me in.”
Now it was Luca’s turn to pause. Never, in his entire life, had he been asked to explain this term. In a world whose entire existence revolved around the struggle between vampires and humans, to find someone who was not familiar with this word was truly unheard of. He experienced an emotion he had almost never had occasion to experience. He was, in a word, stunned.
“I’m part human, part vampire.”
She finally got it. He waited now for the standard response. Instead, a look of embarrassment swept over her face as she began hurriedly replacing the soil she had disturbed.
“I am so sorry, I didn’t realize. I didn’t mean to intrude on your resting. You looked like you were having a hell of a dream.”
If you only knew. But, was she actually apologizing for bothering his slumber? Luca’s revelation hadn’t fazed her in the slightest. His amazement at her response only piqued his interest in her more.
“It’s alright, I was just getting up.”
Though she had interrupted him, he felt rested.
“In that case, would you like me to help you?”
“Do what you like.”
She resumed her exhumation of Luca.
“My name is Kate, by the way.”
Luca stretched his muscles slightly to a sitting position, the remaining earth above him falling away. He took her outstretched palm with his freed right hand, and they both stood up.
“Call me Luca.”
On Sale June 3 to June 10
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About the Author
Kathryn Troy is an historian turned novelist and baker. Her nonfiction book, The Specter of the Indian: Race, Gender and Ghosts in American Séances, 1848-1890, is forthcoming from SUNY Press. Her historical expertise in the supernatural and the Gothic informs her fiction at every turn. Her genres of choice include dark fantasy, romance, horror, and historical fiction. She lives in New York with her husband and two darling children.