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Blood & Ravens by A.D. Brazeau Book

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Blood & Ravens by A.D. Brazeau Book Read Online And Epub File Download


Overview: Casket girl, Greer, will sacrifice everything to save her love and protect her friends.

22-year-old Greer is ripped from her small Paris life and thrust into the world of the casket girls of New Orleans. There she finds herself living in a convent, promised to a man who is a stranger to her. As Greer begins to experience dreams of a nightly visitor she calls the Dark Knight, she awakens to a frightening fact, the visions are real - Greer and her friends are being fed upon by whatever lurks in their casket-shaped cases.

Theron, a demon cursed by Hades to live his eternity as a blood-sucking vampire, finds his bitter, cold heart, warming to the woman who was to be nothing more than food. As he finds himself falling under her spell, he helps her and her friends, putting himself firmly in the path of Hades’ wrath. To free Theron, and save her friends, Greer must offer a sacrifice to the lord of the Underworld, but will it be enough, especially when Hades is the least of their problems?

Blood & Ravens, a dark, paranormal romance, takes place in 1728 New Orleans. This is book one of The Casket Girls Series. 


Blood & Ravens by A.D. Brazeau Book Read Online And Epub File Download More Ebooks Every Category For Go Ebooks Libaray Online Website.



Blood & Ravens by A.D. Brazeau Book Read Online Chapter One




Greer

The dark knight crouched beside her, her hand in his. His touch was icy. She smelled something metallic, and she was cold, frozen down to the marrow of her bones. His breath tickled the inside of her wrist where his lips brushed the delicate flesh, igniting a flame deep within her. As her insides heated, chills ran down her arm and the back of her neck, raising tiny hairs along its path. The feeling was one of confusion. Was she aroused or afraid?

Arousal was not a sensation she was familiar with, but fear, fear was all she’d ever known.

Greer reached out with her left hand. She needed to see his face, the face of the man who kissed her wrist so tenderly each night. The way he held her made her feel precious, as if she were a priceless jewel examined by someone who believed her to have value. Greer had never known tenderness, not once in all her twenty-two years of life, and this sweet affection was almost more than she could bear.

The dark knight’s thick, black hair hung down, covering him from her view. All she knew was this hair, hair so dark it reflected light with a blue sheen, like that of a raven’s wing. She’d never once seen his face.

Just as the tip of her fingers grazed a lock, she fell away, back into the oblivion of sleep.

Greer thought the pain in her head may split her skull in two. She turned to her side as nausea rolled through her, forcing her into deep, steady breaths. There was a gentle swaying underneath her which worsened the need to throw up. Everything hurt – her head, her stomach. Her joints felt stiff and tight, her muscles seemed weak, and even her bones were sore, if such a thing were possible.

She caught the scent of body odor, and something else, something fouler. Greer grabbed at her stomach as she wrenched herself upward.

Something scraped along the floor. “If you’re going to lose the contents of your stomach, put them in this.”

The voice was female, the accent French. She was still in Paris, then.

Against the pounding inside her head, Greer strained one eye open then the other. What she saw was a shock to her already off-kilter system.

The room was long with a slatted wood floor and walls. Tiny, round windows appeared to be painted black which made seeing what lay beyond impossible. There were rows of girls, most of them lying on mats or suspended in hammocks as she was. The room swayed because, as she was quick to figure out, she was in a boat. Greer tried to make sense of why she was there but couldn’t.

She looked down at her simple blue dress, one of only two dresses she owned, and the last one she remembered putting on in her frigid boarding room on her way out the door to begin her day of peddling flowers. As she ran her hand over her belly, she thought how hollow it seemed, concave almost, her hip bones jutting out on either side like the lip of a bowl. She’d never had enough to eat to make her plump, but she had at least been fleshier.

There were four girls in her immediate vicinity. One on a mat underneath her, one sitting in a hammock across from hers, and two prone on the mat below. They were all staring at her like she disgusted them.

The girl below her, with dull red hair, bags underneath her deep-set eyes, and skin so fair she appeared translucent, pushed the bucket until it was under Greer’s right foot.

“Do not expel the contents of your stomach on me please.” This was the girl who had spoken before. She sounded stronger than she looked, her body as emaciated as Greer’s.

“I’m feeling a little better now.” Greer let go of her stomach to grip the side of the hammock, her feet swinging about four feet from the floor.

“There’s water in a bucket over there. I’ll get you some.” One of the two girls on the mat opposite the redhead rolled over and pushed herself off the floor.

“Thank you,” Greer said with a thick tongue. She felt like she hadn’t had water in weeks. She slid a gaze over the girl in the opposite hammock. “Where are we?”

The girl had dark skin and darker eyes. She was also thin, so thin Greer wondered how she could hold herself up, but then Greer noticed they were all thin. The girl narrowed her eyes at Greer. “How much do you remember of the trip?”

“What trip?” Her breath came a little faster, her heart picking up steam in her chest. What was this girl talking about? The last thing Greer remembered was standing on the corner, near the café with the waiter who always gave her a free cup of coffee in the morning if she smiled at him just so. She had set up her position with her basket of flowers in one hand, a bouquet held out with the other. She knew nothing of boats crammed with starving females.

The girl exchanged a look with the redhead underneath Greer, then met her eyes with a frank stare. “We’re in New Orleans, just docked. That’s in the colonies. We’re to live with the sisters at some convent then, in time, be married off. You’ve been awake, on and off, but I guess because of that bump on your head, you don’t remember.”

Greer explored her head, her hair greasy and unwashed. Her fingers grazed a small, tender bump, and she winced.

“It was a lot bigger when you arrived. You were carried in with a few of the others. Edith and Sylvie, their mother was a midwife, have been tending to you, here and there.”

“I’m Edith,” said the girl who now held out a dented tin cup filled to the top with hazy liquid that must have been water. She was also French, they all were. All except Greer.

“That’s Sylvie.” Edith pointed to her sister who sat cross-legged on the shared mat. Their skin was probably once olive, but they now appeared sallow, the bones of their shoulders protruding through the thin fabric of their plain muslin gowns. Everyone looked terrible. Greer realized she was probably no different.

“I’m Desiree, and that’s Fosette.” Desiree, the redhead, pointed to Fosette in the opposite hammock.

“I’m Greer,” she said right before she gulped down the stale water. Greer sputtered, catching the spray of droplets in her hand.

“Go slow,” Edith said as she rubbed a small hand against Greer’s back. “You’re dehydrated. We all are.”

“What are we doing here?” Greer looked into Edith’s rounded green eyes. She and her sister were both so small, so delicate, they could have been sparrows in human form.

Edith shot a look over at Fosette, who glanced behind her. They seemed nervous to Greer, and why shouldn’t they be? She was.

“Some of us chose to be here, the three of us for example.” Edith motioned to herself, then Sylvie and Fosette. Her voice dropped to a whisper. “But you and Desiree, you were taken. We know not by whom. We only know that we are all here, and we’re all about to disembark this vessel.”

“Thank the gods,” Desiree said. “I can no longer stand my own stink, let alone the reek of everyone else.”

Greer blinked. She looked at the girls around her, then swept her gaze over the rest. There were at least forty or fifty girls held in that pit.

“But what do we do?” Greer asked no one in particular. “Those of us who didn’t choose to be here? This is a crime.”

“There’s nothing to do.” Desiree, in a filthy cream dress, stood opposite Edith, her shoulder touching Greer’s knee as she leaned in. “If you try to do anything, you’ll get a couple black eyes of your own.”

Greer leaned closer to Desiree. She realized the bags under her eyes were bruises.

“There aren’t many of us who didn’t choose this,” Desiree continued. “For whatever reason, a handful of taken women were added to the mix, maybe to round out the numbers. I doubt the church even knows about us.”

As the fog cleared from her mind, Greer understood her situation. Ice water flooded her veins. A cold fear moved down her spine. For the first time since she’d left England, the first time in two years, her fate was not her own. Her fate was in the hands of whoever had stolen her off the streets of Paris and thrust her in the bowels of that stinking ship. Maybe she could run, maybe she could fight. The first thing she had to do was get her bearings, then get off the ship and calculate her chances. Greer was good at calculating chances, good at avoiding anything truly dangerous. Up until then, that was.

Greer heard shouting then the sharp screech of metal on metal.

Fosette jumped off the hammock, smoothing down the front of her dark blue dress. “Here they come.”

Sylvie stood, reaching out a hand for Edith. They wore matching brown dresses that did nothing for their complexions but hid the dirt well.

The great, wooden door toward what Greer believed to be the bow opened to reveal another sight that shocked her. She wasn’t sure what she expected, but a hard-faced nun was not it.

The woman was old, her skin so paper-thin that Greer had a hard time discerning where the white of the nun’s coif ended and her face began. The veil and mantle of her habit were black, as faded and dull as her eyes.

Although not Catholic, Greer had some knowledge of the church. She attended mass occasionally in Paris for the free bite of food and swallow of wine. As a child, she had been placed in a Catholic orphanage. A cold, bitter place, where the nuns would swat her for every little thing. She didn’t relish the thought of being placed with them now. Especially when she had been free to live as she pleased.

The nun clapped her feeble hands. “Ladies, rejoice. You have arrived in your new home, and it is ready to receive you. Make sure the ticket for your cassette is in your hand as you leave. You shall be reunited with your trousseau on the dock.”

Cassette was French for suitcase, but Greer couldn’t understand how she could have a trousseau when she was taken against her will.

She looked at Desiree. “Do I have a ticket?”

“Yes, we all do. You probably don’t remember, but we were told not to open the cassette until our wedding nights. Check under your pillow. Edith put yours there during one of your episodes.”

Greer slid her hand under the lumpy mass that constituted a pillow. She felt a thick piece of paper and pulled it out. The number seven was written on it in pencil. She started to walk toward the door in a daze.

“You need to get your head in order,” Desiree huffed behind her.

Greer turned as Desiree shoved a cloth bag toward her. “This is yours.”

She took the bag, peering inside. There was a rolled-up piece of green fabric Greer assumed was a dress, along with a white shift, and a hairbrush.

Bewildered to the point of exasperation, Greer held out the bag toward Desiree. “These aren’t mine.”

Desiree, shouldering her own similar bag, ignored her and pushed her around. “Just walk and stop acting like such a goose.”

Greer did as she was told. She stayed close to these girls who’d tended her while she was ill, fearful that she may lose them, having to start all over with another group. With every step she took, her head cleared more and more.

By the time she stepped onto the gangway, she was able to process all that had taken place. She’d been kidnapped off the streets of Paris, thrown into the hull of a ship with dozens of other girls. It was expected that she would marry a man of this town they had called New Orleans, a place she’d never heard of. Until then, she would be housed at a nunnery. And she had been gifted a trousseau for her wedding night. Nothing about this made sense, but Greer was determined to play along until just the right moment. Then she would make her move. 



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