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A Tale of Two Vampires

Katie MacAlister

  Dark Ones Novels

  Much Ado About Vampires

  “A humorous take on the dark and demonic…. Her world building is excellent…. A plot full of surprises…. If you enjoy a fast-paced paranormal romance laced with witty prose and dialogue, you might like to give Much Ado About Vampires a try.”

  —USA Today

  “Once again this author has done a wonderful job. I was sucked into the world of [the] Dark Ones right from the start and was taken on a fantastic ride. This book is full of witty dialogue and great romance, making it one that should not be missed.”

  —Fresh Fiction

  In the Company of Vampires

  “Katie MacAlister is an excellent writer and never ceases to amaze us with her quick aka wicked wit and amazing romantic tales…a funny but masterfully written romantic tale with all the paranormal types you could want and more.”

  —Night Owl Romance

  “Zany [and] clever.”

  —Midwest Book Review

  “An excellent read…. Hysterical and surprisingly realistic, considering it includes witches, deities, vampires, and Viking ghosts, In the Company of Vampires delivers a great story and excellent characterization.”

  —Fresh Fiction

  Crouching Vampire, Hidden Fang

  “The fantastic follow-up to Zen and the Art of Vampires!… Not a book to be missed by lovers of paranormal romance. One of the best I have read so far.”

  —Enchanting Reviews

  “Ms. MacAlister entertains readers with a captivating romance, supernatural politics, and her always present touch of humor.”

  —Darque Reviews

  “Fantastic…. She continues to write strong and superspunky characters that women will love to read about. If you are a fan of MaryJanice Davidson’s Betsy series, then I think you will definitely enjoy…Crouching Vampire, Hidden Fang.”

  —Joyfully Reviewed

  Zen and the Art of Vampires

  “A jocular action-packed tale…[a] wonderful zany series.”

  —Midwest Book Review

  “Has all of the paranormal action, romance, and humor that fans of the author look for in her books. This is a fast-moving read with sizzling chemistry and a touch of suspense.”

  —Darque Reviews

  The Last of the Red-Hot Vampires

  “MacAlister’s fast-paced romp is a delight with all its quirky twists and turns, which even include a murder mystery.”


  “A wild, zany romantic fantasy…. Paranormal romance readers will enjoy this madcap tale of the logical physicist who finds love.”

  —The Best Reviews


  Praise for Katie MacAlister’s

  Novels of the Light Dragons

  The Unbearable Lightness of Dragons

  “Had me laughing out loud…. This book is full of humor and romance, keeping the reader entertained all the way through…a wondrous story full of magic and romance…. I cannot wait to see what happens next in the lives of the dragons.”

  —Fresh Fiction

  “Katie MacAlister has always been a favorite of mine and her latest series again shows me why…. If you are a lover of dragons, MacAlister’s new series will definitely keep you entertained!”

  —The Romance Readers Connection

  “Magic, mystery, and humor abound in this novel, making it a must read…another stellar book.”

  —Night Owl Romance


  —Midwest Book Review

  Love in the Time of Dragons

  “Ms. MacAlister has once again taken a crazy plot and fascinating characters and tossed them with a lot of fun and a dash of mystery to create a darned good reading adventure. Who would have thought dragons could be so sexy?! Katie MacAlister, that’s who. Hail to the powers of the creative author.”

  —Fresh Fiction

  “An extraordinary paranormal romance. Ms. MacAlister has created a wonderful world of dragons, demons, and other assorted characters.”

  —The Romance Readers Connection

  “Katie MacAlister’s books are funny to the core and this book doesn’t disappoint in that regard. The world she’s created is rich and interesting, and her plots never fail to suck the reader in…clever.”


  “MacAlister has long held sway over my paranormal romance leanings because of her humorous they-don’t-take-themselves-seriously novels.”

  —Romance Reader at Heart

  Also by Katie MacAlister

  Paranormal Romances

  SPARKS FLY, A Novel of the Light Dragons



  A Novel of the Light Dragons



  A Dark Ones Novel


  A Novel of the Light Dragons

  STEAMED, A Steampunk Romance


  A Dark Ones Novel


  A Dark Ones Novel

  ME AND MY SHADOW, A Novel of the Silver Dragons

  UP IN SMOKE, A Novel of the Silver Dragons

  PLAYING WITH FIRE, A Novel of the Silver Dragons

  HOLY SMOKES, An Aisling Grey, Guardian, Novel

  LIGHT MY FIRE, An Aisling Grey, Guardian, Novel

  FIRE ME UP, An Aisling Grey, Guardian, Novel

  YOU SLAY ME, An Aisling Grey, Guardian, Novel



  Contemporary Romances








  A Dark Ones Novel

  Katie MacAlister



  Published by New American Library, a division of

  Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,

  New York, New York 10014, USA

  Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto,

  Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

  Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2,

  Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)

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  Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

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  New Delhi - 110 017, India

  Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632,

  New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

  Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue,

  Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

  Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices:

  80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  First published by Signet, an imprint of New American Library,

  a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  First Printing, September 2012

  10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

  Copyright © Katie MacAlister, 2012

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’
s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

  ISBN: 978-1-101-60263-8


  Printed in the United States of America


  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

  If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”



  Sometimes in life, you are blessed to find people who make you laugh until you cry (or wheeze until you need your asthma inhaler, whichever comes first). I’m lucky to have Sara Thome and Danny Bates to keep me wheezing and crying with hilarity. And since they will be married a few weeks after this book is published, I’m dedicating it to them in hopes they have long, happy, and dog-hair-riddled lives full of joy.

  Table of Contents

  The Incredible Adventures of Iolanthe Tennyson: July 10

  The Incredible Adventures of Iolanthe Tennyson: July 11

  12 July 1703

  The Incredible Adventures of Iolanthe Tennyson: July 12

  12 July 1703

  The Incredible Adventures of Iolanthe Tennyson: July 13

  14 July 1703

  The Incredible Adventures of Iolanthe Tennyson: July 15

  The Incredible Adventures of Iolanthe Tennyson: July 15

  The Incredible Adventures of Iolanthe Tennyson: July 15, Part 2 (there’s a lot to write about)

  16 July 2012

  The Incredible Adventures of Iolanthe Tennyson: July 16

  The Incredible Adventures of Iolanthe Tennyson: July 16 (still, yes)

  17 July

  The Incredible Adventures of Iolanthe Tennyson: July 23

  In the Company of Vampires

  The Incredible Adventures of Iolanthe Tennyson

  July 10

  “Nipple tattoo, madame?”

  That’s how it started, really. It didn’t start at the airport, or at Gretl’s house, or even the few days I spent sightseeing around St. Andras, the little town in Austria where my cousin Gretl lived. No, it started with an inquiry about nipples, and since I’m determined to set this all down for posterity, I will do my best to record exactly what happened.

  It’s certainly the oddest thing I’ve ever lived through, but I probably shouldn’t mention that, because according to the creative writing class I took seven years ago, that’s considered foreshadowing, and it’s a grave sin when trying to explain how events came about. I’ll stick to just what happened without the benefit of hindsight from here on out, I promise.

  Shoot, now I’ve forgotten where… Oh, the nipple tattoos.

  “Er…” I blinked in surprise at the polite inquiry made by a spiky-haired woman in a short Lolita skirt and a red and white striped vinyl PVC corset that I was willing to bet made her sweat like crazy. “I don’t think… On the nipple? That has to be impossible, not to mention beyond painful and into the land of downright insane.”

  The woman shrugged, dusting off a black leather barber’s chair with a small cloth. “It’s a personal statement that cannot be denied by all who see it. I thought perhaps since Madame was staring at the photos, Madame might be interested in one for herself.” The woman’s light gray eyes cast an assessing glance toward my chest. “Since perhaps Madame feels a need to emphasize what she has.”

  “Yes, well, Madame may not have big boobs, but she isn’t into pain at all, especially on her nipples. I wasn’t staring at the photos of your past customers,” I added, avoiding looking at the various shots of newly pierced and tattooed customers that bedecked one wall of the small stall. “I was intrigued by that bust you have in the back. It’s a phrenologist’s head, isn’t it? The kind used in the last century to illustrate the meaning of the bumps on people’s heads?”

  “Yes. It belongs to Justinia, my partner. She is in Salzburg tonight, but will return tomorrow if you wish to have her read your head.”

  “Actually, I’m a photographer.” I held up my small Nikon. “Amateur, but I hope to take enough photos while I’m spending the summer here in Austria to start a new career, and I just love the setting of that phrenologist’s head. Would you mind if I took a few pictures of it?”

  She shrugged again, gesturing with a lazy hand at the back of the booth. “As Madame desires.”

  “Are you guys going to be here for long? The…uh…sideshow, I mean?” I asked, taking a few preliminary shots before digging out one of my filters to add a more stark look to the image.

  “The GothFaire is not a sideshow. It is a traveling fair featuring feats of magic as well as vendors purveying many curiosities and fantastical services that you will not find anywhere else in the world,” the woman answered in a faintly singsong Scandinavian accent. “We are not freaks or desperate attention seekers. We are learned in lore that has long been hidden from common knowledge. We are artisans, dealers in magic, granters of the most unlikely fantasies.”

  “Wow, all that in one little traveling fair,” I murmured as I moved to the side to get another series of shots with a second filter.

  “We are unique. Madame will find nothing like us anywhere else in the world. Here are mystics and philosophers, magicians and conjurers of the ethereal.”

  I had doubts that a tattoo and piercing artist could be described as ethereal, especially when viewed in relation to one’s nipples, but kept that thought to myself, instead murmuring inconsequential comments as I satisfied my need to capture on film the fascinating old bust.

  “Io? You’re not thinking of getting something pierced, are you?”

  I turned to smile at the middle-aged woman who stood clutching a plastic carrier bag, her eyes wide and wary. “No, this kind lady was letting me photograph her phrenologist’s head.”

  The spiky-haired vendor eyed first Gretl, my second cousin, whom I’d known since I was a small child, then me. “I can offer a discounted price for more than one tattoo, if Madame’s friend would care to join her. I am happy to do a tattoo of a more intimate nature, if that is desired. I am told that my work on labias is unparalleled.”

  Gretl’s eyes widened even more. I took her by the arm and steered her away from the tattoo artist, saying as we left, “I appreciate the offer, but I never jump into something without thinking it through, and that includes tattoos on my naughty parts. Thanks again for letting me have pictures of your partner’s head.”

  “Did you know that woman?” Gretl asked as we moved down the center aisle of the fair. She cast a glance over her shoulder, as if she was worried the tattooist was going to chase us down and force us to get vagina tats.

  “Not at all. But she was interesting, don’t you think? Well, this whole place is interesting. How did you hear about it?”

  “An old friend of mine works here. I went to see if she was here, but her booth was closed. The Wiccan lady next to her told me that she was off shopping, though, and she should be back any time. What would you like to do while we wait for her?” Gretl stopped and looked around.

  I looked with her. The GothFaire itself consisted of two rows of booths set up in a U shape and a large main tent standing at the bottom. Flyers rippling in the breeze proclaimed that two bands would be playing later in the evening, but a couple of magic shows were scheduled earlier. I glanced at my watch. “I’d love to see the magic acts, but those don’t start for an hour. How about we check out the palm reader? Or they have some sort of aura-photography thing. That might be fun. I wonder what sort of camera tricks they use to give people auras? Maybe I could examine
their setup and figure it out.”

  Gretl laughed and nudged my hand, which was still holding my camera. “Trust you to want to see the photography booth.”

  “That’s why I’m here, after all,” I said lightly, gesturing down the length of the fair to where a booth with a giant eyeball was painted on a wooden sign.

  “You are here to recover from recent events in your life, nothing more,” Gretl said firmly, stopping me when I began to protest. “I would never be able to look myself in the face if I made you work while you were staying with me. You relax. You rest. You get your feet under you again, and then you will return to the States and find yourself a new job—a better one, one that will not have an employer who tries to grope you.”

  “I could have handled Barry’s octopus hands if it had just been that, but when he found out I filed a sexual harassment charge, he cooked a few accounts to make it look like I messed up. Lying, despicable, boob-grabbing bastard.” I took a deep breath, reminding myself that I had two and a half long months to get over losing my job and my apartment in the same week. A new home shouldn’t be too hard to find, although this time I’d make sure the owner of the building didn’t plan on selling it out from underneath all his tenants. “And photography is relaxing to me, Gretl. This is going to be the best summer I’ve had since…well, since the last time I spent the summer with you.”

  She laughed. “You were sixteen then. Much has changed in St. Andras in that time.”

  “It still seems to be the same cute little Austrian town to me.” I nodded over her head to where a ruined castle perched on a hill. “Picturesque as hell, and so charming I probably won’t want to go back home at the end of the summer, just like I didn’t when I was sixteen. Have I told you that you’re the best cousin ever for inviting me to stay with you?”

  “Yes, and I have an ulterior motive, you know,” she answered, pushing me along the line of booths. “Now that Anna is married, I have the empty tree.”

  “Empty nest? Yes, I suppose you do. But it’s not like you don’t have a lot going on in your life, what with your yoga classes and that program for encouraging new artists that you were telling me about on the way here.”