Title: The Shadow
Series: The Florentine #2
Author: Sylvain Reynard
Release Date: February 2, 2016
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Gabriel trilogy comes the hotly anticipated follow-up to The Raven, a sensual novel set in Florence featuring the dangerously intoxicating coupling of Raven and William…
Raven Wood’s vampyre prince has returned, pledging his love and promising justice for every wrong done to her. In the wake of their reunion, Raven is faced with a terrible decision—allow the Prince to wreak vengeance against the demons of her past, or persuade him to stay his hand. But there is far more at stake than Raven’s heart…
A shadow has fallen over the city of Florence. Ispettor Batelli will not rest until he uncovers Raven’s connection to the theft of the priceless art from the Uffizi Gallery. And while the Prince hunts a traitor who sabotages him at every turn, he finds himself the target of the vampyres’ mortal enemy.
As he wages a war on two fronts, he will need to keep his love for Raven secret, or risk exposing his greatest weakness…
Raven watched as William efficiently disrobed, neatly folding every article of black clothing (with the exception of underwear, which he never wore), and placing it on the vanity.
She brushed imaginary lint from her dress as he stood in front of her, naked.
He was under six feet in height, his body lean and strong. Raven took a moment to appreciate the definition of his muscled chest and abdomen, and the strong cast to his thighs. Not even a statue carved by the most talented sculptor could create a being with so much perfection.
His face put her in mind of an angel with intense, gray eyes that now looked at her expectantly.
She hid her face. “You said you loved me.”
“I did. What’s more, I meant it.”
“Love is a peculiar thing. I’ve seen it. I’ve even cheered for it. But I never believed it was for me.”
“Why shouldn’t a beautiful, fierce young woman hope for love?”
“Because, as you put it, human beings are shallow.”
“Love is deep.” His rich voice echoed in the bathroom.
“Love is having the power to destroy another person.”
William stepped closer. “Are you afraid of being destroyed?”
“Destroyed, consumed, betrayed.” She fidgeted with the neckline of her gown.
William placed his hand over hers, stilling it. “Love creates; it doesn’t destroy.”
His lips found the place where her neck met her shoulder. He kissed her leisurely, tracing the path of her bared collarbone with his mouth.
His fingers brushed her zipper. “Let me.”
He undid her dress, dropping it to the marble tiles.
Her bra followed. She was as naked as he.
His eyes roved her body appraisingly. His pale fingers caressed her cheek, her mouth, and her neck. His strong hands cupped her breasts, her abdomen, and her hips.
His gray eyes met hers.
“The power you describe is the power you have here.” He touched her forehead before moving his hand to cover her heart. “And here. It’s the power you have over me. Power I haven’t yielded to another since I was human.”
He brought his lips to her ear. “Your fears are shared.”
With a slow kiss on her neck, he led her into the shower, standing behind her underneath a tropical rainfall showerhead.
Raven closed her eyes and lifted her face, like a flower following the sun. The warm water soaked her hair and streamed down the generous curves of her body.
“I’ve never showered with another person. What happens next?” William rested his hands on her shoulders.
She wiped the water from her face.
“Whatever you want. Just don’t let me fall.”
William’s gaze dropped to her right leg, which she was favoring.
“Is the pain terrible?”
“It’s worse after I’ve been lying down. Sometimes I topple over.”
William spread his arm around her waist, drawing her back to his chest. “Then I must be sure to catch you.”
She kissed him, reaching up to run her fingers through his wet hair as the water poured down their shoulders.
Her motions were fraught with an eagerness born of love and affection and the relief of remembering she hadn’t lost him.
He was hers.
Even now, naked, with a myriad of flaws few men overlooked, he embraced her. He embraced her imperfections.
He loved her.
His cool hands scorched her skin, splaying fingers wide over her abdomen and bringing her backside into contact with what rose between his hips.
She gave him her weight and he held firm, nipping and licking at her lips before enticing her to enter his mouth.
He entertained the intrusion for a moment or two then, with a growl, he spun her around, pressing their chests together.
Raven looked up into blazing gray eyes.
“Are you certain?”
“I need the words, Raven. I need to know you want this.”
“I want you.”
He took her mouth, his tongue alternately penetrating and retreating in a sensual rhythm.
She tilted her head, welcoming him, as the water continued to rain down.
Hands roamed over slick skin as their lower bodies came into alignment. She touched his neck, his shoulders, his biceps, holding them tightly in an effort to remain upright.
William was not a tame lover.
In his arms, she sensed his control, his desire, and the war that waged between the two. But he’d never harmed her and had always focused his attention on giving pleasure before taking it. Usually more than once.
“You’re a dream,” she sighed. “A dream of love I never thought I’d have.”
His eyes burned into hers.
Without warning, he lifted her, tugging her thighs around his hips.
He lowered his mouth to her breasts, tasting and teasing before sucking droplets of water from her eager flesh.
She wrapped her arms around his neck, feeling him eager between her legs.
He lifted her higher, hands beneath her backside, making sure he was correctly aligned.
“Breathe,” he commanded, his eyes boring in to hers.
Here was the vampyre, proud and powerful, teetering on the edge of control. He bared his teeth as if on instinct and his chest rumbled.
“Just don’t break me,” she whispered, pushing a lock of blond hair from his forehead.
William’s expression grew even more fierce.
“I won’t break you. Whatever harm I bring to you I vow to heal.”
He swallowed her reply with his kiss. Then with a single thrust, he entered her.
His kisses were as fierce as his movements as he pushed inside and withdrew, over and over. His grip on her backside tightened as he lifted and moved her in concert with his own motion.
Raven clung to him, her hand trailing to his lower back so she could urge him deeper.
Not that he needed the encouragement.
Her breasts brushed against his chest, the friction teasing and arousing.
She ignored the warm spray of the water, the scent of soap and William, and the nagging discomfort in her leg and ankle. Her focus was on feeling as he brought her swiftly to the brink of orgasm.
Before she could signal how close she was, she climaxed, her hand clutching his neck as she threw her head back.
William continued his pace until she’d finished, his mouth dropping to her breasts, drawing one of them into his mouth.
When she opened her eyes, she found him staring at her hungrily.
“I have only begun,” he rasped. “Breathe.”
OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES