paranormal vampire romance book
genre: paranormal vampire romance book
length: 362000 words / long novel
released: July 2012
Book 0.0 in the series
The best selling Prophecy Trilogy is now available in one gripping and epic vampire romance book!
A vampire unlike any other, Prophecy lives life in the dark until the night she encounters a sensual dark-haired vampire who is both her enemy and the man who will change her world forever.
A loyal hunter for the Aurorea bloodline, Valentine is bound by duty to report her as the vampire of the prophecy, but he cannot shake the vision of them he saw in her blood. Torn between duty and desire, and determined to uncover the truth at any cost, Valentine goes against his order to execute her and kidnaps the beautiful Caelestis female instead.
Thrust into a terrifying world where the seven vampire bloodlines and the Law Keepers are hunting her and her only hope for survival is Valentine, Prophecy battles her temptation to surrender to her forbidden attraction to him as she races to discover the true depth of her incredible powers.
As they fight to survive the mounting threat of a mysterious enemy bent on tearing them apart and unleashing Hell on earth, they succumb to the desires of their hearts and discover that love makes them stronger, but with danger surrounding them, death on their heels, and a dark evil on the rise, will they be strong enough to avert an apocalypse and fulfil Prophecy’s extraordinary destiny?
The Prophecy Trilogy is a thrilling story of forbidden love that will draw you into a dark, exhilarating world of vampires, werewolves, magic and the war to end all wars. Filled with twists, turns, unforgettable characters and undeniable passion, it will take hold of you, set your heart racing, and not let you go even after the last page.
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Some of the books on this site contain material of a sexual nature or graphic violence and are only suitable for adults. By reading the excerpt below you release me as the author of any responsibility.
That’s what she was, and what she had been for as long as she could remember.
The walls around her had closed in over the years, making the mansion increasingly unbearable, and drawing her ever more to the world outside her bedroom window.
Rain rattled against the windowpanes, creating an eerie melody when combined with the howl of the wind cutting through the power lines. Watching the streaks of water coursing down the windows, Prophecy ignored the ramblings of her blood-mother, Iona, and kept her focus on the dark garden outside.
She slowly ran the brush down her long auburn hair, smoothing away the knots and tangles.
Something stirred in the night and her gaze shifted there. The hunting group crossed the grounds towards the gates. There were eleven of them tonight, one less than last night because one had fallen. Talk of it had reached her even before her mother knew. The walls had ears in this house and Prophecy knew the owner of them.
A chance meeting with the other bloodline that lived in this city had led to a fight in which her family had lost a son.
Not that she cared.
What was it to her who died out on the hunt? She didn’t know them, or anyone outside a set sphere of people.
Her brown eyes followed the group as they reached the gates and she watched them slip into the darkness beyond. She knew where they were going. They were heading down into the city, down to a place she’d never been. Losing sight of them, she glanced at the high stone wall that surrounded the grounds.
It was the final barrier between her and the city. The outside wall of her prison.
A wall she longed to breach.
“Where do they go?” she said in a distant tone of voice, sounding as disinterested as possible.
She heard a swish of material and felt her mother close behind her.
“To hunt,” her mother replied, matter of fact. She took the brush from her.
Prophecy mused her mother’s answer while she stared at the rain-soaked scenery and felt the brush in her hair, her mother’s delicate fingers working through the knots.
It sounded so enthralling, so dangerous and dark. She wished she knew what it was to hunt. She had never been allowed out into the night with the others, not even with her so-called brother, Arkalus.
“Can I go too?” She knew what the answer would be, but hoped that tonight it might be different from the thousands of times that she’d asked in the past.
“I am afraid not.” Iona smoothed down her hair.
“Why not?” Prophecy turned to face her.
Iona didn’t look at all concerned by her outburst. Her face was a mask of calm and beauty. Luscious black curls framed her face and wicked red marked her lips. The layers of black and brown surrounding her eyes turned them sinfully dark and alluring against her creamy pale skin. In all the years that Prophecy could remember her, Iona had always looked this way—like a true child of the night. Her mother was a fitting master of their bloodline, never straying from the tradition of dress or habit. Never straying from the laws.
All her life, Prophecy had obeyed the rules of their society and of their house, but it was becoming increasingly difficult to obey her mother. She could feel the lure of the outside world keenly, as though it was in her blood, and she could no longer ignore it. She had tried. She had spent night after night resisting the call of the city and the promise of excitement it whispered in her ear. Now her blood was screaming at her to escape the confines of the mansion and taste the thrill of the hunt, to take hold of it and live the life she was born to.
“You’re too young.” A fond smile teased her mother’s lips and she raised a slim hand. She pushed Prophecy’s hair behind her ear, clearing it from her face. “Soon, maybe.”
Prophecy allowed herself a small smile. It was the first time her mother had said such a thing and it ignited a spark of hope inside her. She glanced at the window, still smiling serenely as her eyes followed the spatter of the raindrops against the glass.
“But first, you must complete your training.”
A sigh escaped Prophecy’s lips. Each night she woke and went through the rigmarole of training, and each night they held her back while the others went out to hunt. All she wished for was one night of freedom.
One thrilling night out hunting, even if it were with Arkalus.
Then she would be happy.
Then she would gladly spend eternity cooped up in the mansion.
She watched her mother leave and turned her attention back to the rain-soaked world outside her window. In the distance, she could see the pinpricks of light that were the buildings in the centre of the city.
She longed to go there.
During her studies in the library, she’d read every book about the city and its dark history, even when she was supposed to be reading about her family and their own black and bloodied past. She didn’t care much for them or the other family that presided over the city. She just wanted to be out there in amongst the people, and feeling the thrill of the chase.
She wanted her first taste of a kill.
Standing, she ran her fingers around her throat while thinking about her first kill and her large dark eyes scanned the horizon. She caught sight of two guards patrolling the grounds.
Why was everyone else allowed to hunt when she was forced to stay at home? She’d done her training, knew how to execute a clean kill, and could defend herself from the other family if she needed to.
She was ready.
Why didn’t anyone see that?
Why was she being held back?
Casting a glance around her dimly lit room, she stopped when her eyes came to rest on her wardrobe. A mischievous smile wove its way across her lips.
She would see this city. She would feel the excitement of the hunt and learn the taste of fresh human blood, and no one would even know about it.
Tomorrow, the night was hers.
The city was dark and clouds hung heavy in the air, weighing down upon it as they threatened rain. Prophecy slipped through the black shadows. Quieter than a cat, she moved from street to street, invisible to the people walking them as the nightclubs turned out.
She froze when she entered the cemetery, hurriedly crouching low and turning her face to the sky as a rumble of thunder echoed overhead. Her eyes narrowed and ran over the clouds, assessing how long she had before the downpour reached her.
Just enough time to hunt.
She listened to the chatter of people as they passed by on the other side of the wall, unaware of the creatures they shared their world with.
Creatures like her.
She couldn’t remember a time when she had been like them. She’d never been able to remember it. Her kin barely spoke about their lives as humans, but she knew they could remember them. On the rare instances they’d mentioned them, she’d always been listening from the shadows. Their conversations had left her wondering about her life before she was a vampire and why she couldn’t remember it.
The voices drifted into the distance and she stood up. She moved swiftly into the inviting darkness of the graveyard, allowing it to envelope her and hide her from the world.
She slipped from tomb to tomb, sharpening her senses more and more with each passing second and waiting with baited breath for someone to stray from the human world and into hers.
Her tongue darted out to wet her lips. She pressed her back flush against the wall of a crypt when her sensitive ears picked up the sound of footsteps heading towards her. Her eyes closed as the person neared and she listened to their erratic movements. Inhaling deeply, she tried to catch their scent in the damp air.
Lightning forked in the distance, the thunder rolling above her just a few seconds later.
She only had a short time before the rain came, but it was all she was going to need.
She grinned when the man she was tracking stumbled and fell.
This man had been drinking.
Smoothing her clothes, she checked her appearance and then slipped out of the shadows and into the path of her quarry.
He stopped, his eyes raking over her as she stood awaiting him.
“What do we have here?” he breathed in a thick Czech accent.
She braced herself when he took a step towards her, his smile widening. Her stomach tightened with nerves and she struggled to keep her focus while she repeatedly went over what she needed to do in her head.
She managed a smile, dipped her head slightly and looked up at him through hooded eyes, luring him in. She fluttered her eyelashes when he stumbled forwards. The stench of alcohol came off him in waves and intoxicated her senses as it mixed with the scent of his blood.
He wasn’t a large man, barely the same height as her and nearly as thin. His sandy hair hung in loose, wet curls, like a shaggy mop on top of his head. Had someone dunked him in one of the city fountains? The rain couldn’t have soaked him because it hadn’t reached them yet.
“All alone…pretty girl like you…city like this,” he slurred.
She kept her smile steady, holding her nerve and waiting for the right moment to strike.
When he came within arm’s reach, she lowered her head completely, turning it away from him so she was almost looking behind her.
So shadows hid her face.
“I don’t come out often,” she said, hesitating while she built up the courage to take her first life.
“Shame…not enough girls like you in this city. You shouldn’t hide away.” He stepped up to her.
His fingers brushed against her cheek. She closed her eyes and inhaled sharply. Anticipation curled like a snake in the pit of her stomach and she was ready to strike.
“Not enough girls like you in the world,” he murmured and she smiled.
“You’d be right there.” She raised her head as her fangs descended and in one swift move, she was on him.
Grasping his arms, she bit deep into his neck, hoping her aim was true and she would catch a vein strong enough to drink from.
Her hands wrestled with his. He struggled against her in a desperate attempt to break free. She sank her teeth deeper into his neck and her mouth filled with blood. It tasted sweeter than the rarest wine as it slipped down her throat and she couldn’t stop herself from drinking deeply. It was intoxicating. He started to cry out and she covered his mouth roughly with her hand, stopping him from drawing attention to them. She held him tighter and tried to contain him so she could feed properly. He was wriggling against her now and it only served to drive her on, heightening the thrill of her first kill. The taste of fresh, warm blood made her fingers curl and she didn’t even notice that her nails were digging into his flesh.
All she could think about, all she could feel, was the all-consuming pleasure of his blood.
His heart stopped and she released him, hearing him slump to the ground at her feet.
Her head fell backwards and she lost herself in the sensations running rampant through her, potent feelings she’d never experienced before. Her mind swam with desire while she savoured the divinity of what she’d tasted.
From the shadows, Valentine watched her, his eyes following her every move. She wiped her fingers across her mouth, licking and sucking every last drop of blood off them as though it would be her last. He’d never seen one take so much pleasure from the hunt and the kill. He’d never witnessed one lose themselves so much in the feed.
Slipping out of the darkness, he walked towards her, moving silently for fear of alerting her to his presence before he was willing to make himself known.
She was enthralling. Still wrapt in delight, she ran her fingers down her body, clearly buzzing from the fresh blood in her veins. He arched a brow at her when he stopped at a distance, close enough to see who she was, but far away enough that she still didn’t notice him. She ran her tongue along her soft full lips, clearing them of any remaining blood.
“And what have we here?” he said.
Prophecy started as the velvet-edged, strong voice roused her from her haze. For a moment, she thought about answering him by mentioning that he’d just said exactly what her last victim had, but then she caught his scent and froze.
He wasn’t human.
He was a vampire.
Her eyes shot open and she stared at him, her senses becoming painfully sharp when he stared straight back.
His eyes were sharp, narrowing as he studied her. “Who are you?”
She remained mute. She could sense a power in him that was nearly as strong as her mother’s was and she knew instinctively that he was from the other family. Her eyes remained fixed on him when thunder rumbled threateningly overhead and she blinked rapidly when fat raindrops began to fall. The sound of them filled the silence. They saturated her in a matter of seconds.
Those seconds seemed to stretch into minutes while she stared at him and he looked back at her. The dead body of the man she’d killed lay prostrate between them, marking a line that she chose as the boundary between her and the newcomer. If he stepped near it, she’d bolt in the opposite direction and head for the safety of home.
Until then, she would stand her ground.
Lightning illuminated the turbulent blanket of grey above them. She noticed that his hair was black against his skin; a tangled spiky mess that made his slim face look even thinner. He stood straight with his head tilted back a fraction and his focus wholly on her. His eyes were as green as hers were when she was in her vampire guise. They held her gaze as he stared at her with a critical coldness.
He took a step towards her and she moved back one, keeping the distance between them steady.
“Why are you alone?” His words were an obvious attempt to get her to speak. She kept silent. “Not hunting with the pack?”
She felt like turning that question against him, but his eyes mesmerised her and she answered without thinking.
“They won’t let me. I’m still learning.” It came out sounding sulky and she lifted her chin in defiance when he pulled an expression of mock sympathy.
“Learning what?” He took another step towards her. This time, she remained standing in the same spot, not letting him back her up any more.
“To hunt,” she said.
Her senses stretched out and assessed all avenues of escape around her. Now that he was closing the gap, she could feel just how powerful he was and her instincts were telling her to run before he got too close. She knew she would be able to outrun him. He was taller than her, his legs longer, but his heavier build would make him slower, even with his heightened abilities.
He laughed mockingly and then gave her a serious look when he took another step towards her, cutting the distance between them down to only a few feet.
“To hunt is in your blood.” His voice lowered, his intimate tone sending a shiver down her spine. He looked deep into her eyes and held her gaze while he moved towards her. “To kill, your nature.”
“Who is your sire, little one?” He purred the words at her, his sensuous voice lulling her. Her eyes closed for a split-second before she got the better of herself and they shot open.
She raised her head in an attempt to show him that she wasn’t scared of him. She wasn’t going to answer his questions and she could see he wasn’t pleased about that when a shadow of annoyance crossed his face.
Her eyes widened when his teeth extended, his eyes shifting into their blue state as he revealed his true self. She gasped when he closed the gap between them and caught hold of her before she could move. She should have run when she’d had the chance. She shouldn’t have come out alone.
Pressing her hands against his chest, she struggled against him, trying to escape his grasp as her victim had attempted to break free of hers. She flinched away from him when he held her firm and whispered words to her.
“Do not be frightened. You know what I am going to do,” he said and she closed her eyes, leaning away from him when he neared her neck.
She had to block him, had to stop him from seeing the visions of her past from her blood as he wanted to. She desperately tried to remember what she’d been taught, but forgot it the instant his lips brushed against her skin, sending shivers of desire racing through her, washing away all fear.
She swallowed hard and grimaced when his sharp incisors penetrated her, sinking deep into her. She stilled for a moment as pain swept through her, clearing the clouds of desire from her mind. He pulled on her blood and his fingers tightened around her upper arms. She struggled against him.
She needed to escape.
As the images that were swimming in his head came into order, Valentine stumbled backwards and stared at her. She was standing before him, clutching at her neck, her eyes wide and full of fear. He blinked once, twice, and then frowned when she bolted out of the cemetery gates, leaving him alone in the darkness.
He stared at the place where she’d been not two seconds before and then brought his fingers up to his mouth. He brushed the blood from his lips and thought about what had just happened. He thought about what he’d seen.
Could it be?
He glanced at the blood staining his fingers.
When he approached them, Valentine nodded at the two guards that were flanking the main entrance of his family’s house. The rain was falling fast now, the wind driving it hard against the façade of the old mansion and saturating the heavy black coats the guards wore. He mused that they wouldn’t provide much protection against the weather tonight.
Stepping out of the darkness and into the brightly lit hall of his home, he unbuttoned his long coat while he walked along the corridor and through the entrance reception room. Shaking the excess water off his jacket, he kept his eyes fixed straight ahead, ignoring the vixens of his household as they called to him. He didn’t have time for making sport tonight.
Tonight he had more serious business to attend to.
His thoughts drifted to the female vampire. She had been slim, her dark tunic top and trousers clinging to her figure as she’d defiantly stood before him in the rain. Her long hair had been soaked and had hung in loose tendrils. The darkness of it had made her face seem even paler than it probably was, drawing his attention to it. Her round dark eyes had spoken volumes to him, but all in a language that he couldn’t understand. There had been something about her that had drawn him in until he’d been powerless to resist seeing what she held in her blood. Little had he known that what he would see would only confuse him. If instinct had told him that, he would have let her go.
Let her go?
By the Devil, he wished he had.
He wished she’d answered his damn questions, wished he’d never laid eyes on her.
He stopped just short of the heavy wooden doors that led into the main reception room.
What was he doing?
He almost laughed aloud at himself while he tried to make sense of the thoughts that were running riot through his mind. He shut them down. To think such things was mutinous, disloyal. His hands curled into tight fists, his nails digging into the softer skin of his palms while he stared unseeingly at the dark doors. It was his duty to report this. It didn’t matter what he’d seen in her blood.
Taking a weary step forwards, he pushed the doors open. Everything felt heavy, his limbs, his heart, and his head. It all conspired to make him feel as though he couldn’t take another step towards his destination, and that he couldn’t tell his lord what he’d discovered tonight.
The sounds of merriment drifted into the background as he pushed on, walking into the room and closing the doors behind him. He could feel all eyes on him and he knew what they were thinking.
He didn’t belong here.
He was too young to be a part of this hallowed scene, this sanctum for the elder vampires of his family, this place where they hid themselves away from the idle play of the children. His place was here, whether they liked it or not. He’d worked hard to attain his position. He’d spent over two centuries as a loyal servant to his lord and a dutiful son of his bloodline.
He looked down at his hand, almost seeing the smear of blood that had stained his fingers not thirty minutes ago. Her blood. That’s all it was. Just blood. There was nothing more to it. It was responsible for the disquiet he felt inside. It was always a danger when drinking from another of the seven pure bloodlines. They had power, enough to intoxicate the drinker and make them believe the things that the blood whispered to them.
“Good hunting?” A voice cut through the noise and reached his ears.
Peeling his jacket off, he handed it to Cornelius who was approaching him from the side.
“No…interesting hunting,” he answered, stopping a few feet inside the room.
Cornelius arched a brow at the soaking wet coat and then neatly arranged it over his arm. Valentine gave him a look that warned him not to complain. The only reason that Cornelius could enter this area of the house was because the young vampire was his aide. That title meant bearing everything that he threw at him—even wet coats. He knew his friend would do almost anything he asked so long as it afforded him such standing amongst their family and so long as he treated him well.
“Did you run into him?” Cornelius asked.
Valentine touched a lone finger to his lower lip, remembering the sweet taste of her blood. He could smell it still, knew it continued to stain his lip for all to see.
His eyes scanned over the plush plum walls of the room, their height almost reaching forty foot. He ignored all the looks he was receiving while he searched the balcony and then the floor in front of him.
When he failed to find who he was searching for, his eyes fell to rest on an ornate mahogany door directly opposite him. His stomach squirmed for a moment and then settled when he reminded himself of his duty to his family. It was just her blood trying to work its will and contaminate him. That was the only reason he felt this way.
He nodded towards the door. “That would be telling. Is he in?”
Cornelius frowned. “He’s engaged with Indigo.”
“Not any more he isn’t. This is more important than pandering to that girl’s needs.” Valentine moved swiftly towards the closed door, continuing to block out the mutterings of his elders.
“What is it?” Cornelius hurried after him.
“You shall hear in time. I have to tell him first. I shall be a dead man if you know before him.”
“You already are a dead man,” Cornelius said as one of the men guarding the door stopped him and held him back as Valentine passed.
Valentine smiled and continued walking towards the door. His friend always had a habit of wanting to know everything first, but this time he couldn’t risk his lord’s anger by letting Cornelius know before Kalinor heard.
Taking a deep breath, he rolled his shoulders in an attempt to relieve some of the tension in his body and then pushed the mahogany door open, striding confidently into the room.
He ignored the alluring smile that Indigo gave him when she pulled away from her mate and slowly covered herself, drawing her black hair down over her bloodied neck. Blanking her attentions, he looked straight at Kalinor.
When his lord looked back at him, Valentine walked quickly towards him. He took Kalinor’s hand, pressed a kiss to the ring on his finger and then looked up into his eyes.
“Valentine,” Kalinor greeted him dryly with an empty smile that barely masked his annoyance over the disturbance. “Couldn’t this have waited?”
“I am afraid not, my lord.” Valentine bowed his head. He didn’t need to look up in order to see the displeased look that his lord would be giving him.
Kalinor rarely bestowed it upon him though. Usually it was one of the other vampires in the household who was on the receiving end. He’d seen it often enough to know exactly what Kalinor would look like. His lord would be leaning against the large ebony desk, his long arms folded across his chest and his blue eyes watching him intently for a sign of why he was being disturbed.
Risking a glance, Valentine saw that he looked exactly as predicted.
Kalinor preened his sandy brown hair back into place and then scratched under his thin jaw before moving around his desk. He carefully arranged the tails of his long, ornately embroidered black jacket into place and sat down. Valentine watched him wave a hand at Indigo, silently dismissing her, and then found Kalinor’s eyes meeting his again.
Valentine moved to the chair on the opposite side of the desk, sat and met Kalinor’s gaze.
The elder vampire stared at him and Valentine tried to quell the desires that were rising up inside him, rebelling against his better judgement as they whispered words of insubordination to him. He told himself it would be more than disloyal to do as they asked.
It would be a sin.
It would be illegal.
He struggled to maintain a cool façade as his lord sniffed the air and fixed him with a dark look. He knew immediately what the problem was.
He stank of blood.
Not the delicate perfume of human blood.
It was the stench of vampire blood, of Caelestis blood.
He had to tell him now. It was his duty. He swallowed hard as everything inside him told him not to.
Kalinor raised a brow.
“Is something wrong, Valentine?” Kalinor said the words with cold calculation as their eyes remained locked with each other’s. “Did something happen on the hunt? I’ve known you since you were barely turned and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen you like this.”
Valentine stood sharply, bowed his head a fraction and then walked to the other side of the room. He never could keep still. He had to pace in order to get his thoughts together and clear his head of the vision her blood had given him.
He had to clear his head of the vision of her.
There was something about her, something enthralling. The tiny trace of blood he’d taken from her had tasted so sweet, like honey on his tongue, and now a part of him was fighting against his better judgement and begging him not to tell his lord about her.
He could keep her to himself.
He shook his head to rid it of such a ridiculous notion. His allegiance was to his house, to the family of Aurorea, not to a female vampire of the house of Caelestis. Besides, if he didn’t tell him now, Kalinor would have him executed when he eventually found out about her and discovered that he’d known of her existence all along.
But what he’d seen in her blood. It couldn’t be a lie. No vampire on earth had the power to make their blood lie. It was truth, and he had seen it with his own eyes and felt it in his heart. To tell his lord of her existence was to sentence her to death and that would have terrible repercussions.
He stared at the window, watching the rain streaking down it while he pulled himself together and reminded himself that he’d served this house loyally for over two centuries. Now wasn’t the time to be disloyal, not when he’d worked so hard to get where he was. Not when he was so close.
“You seem troubled.”
He heard Kalinor stand and he looked at him out of the corner of his eye. His lord looked worried. He was drawing too much attention to himself. He had to tell him now before he grew angry.
“You did not succeed tonight in finding the hunter that plagues our city, but that does not mean you will not prevail. You will defeat him. I’m as certain of that as I am of you becoming the Law Keeper for Aurorea one day.”
Valentine closed his eyes as he felt those words plunge into his chest, twisting there like a knife. He would be a Law Keeper one day, if only he could find his voice and confess to his lord what he’d found tonight and why he smelt of their enemy.
He took a deep breath and felt tranquillity fill him.
“The prophecy,” he said the words slowly and looked directly at his lord.
Kalinor’s eyes widened, his jaw tensing while he waited to hear what he had to say.
Valentine began to pace, not wanting to see his lord’s eyes when he told him about her. He could feel Kalinor’s gaze following his every move, could sense the anticipation as it hung in the air between them. His lord would know that this was the reason he’d seemed so distracted and agitated tonight. He could no longer go back and keep her to himself. He had to go forwards and do his duty.
“Go on.” Kalinor encouraged him.
“I had no luck in hunting the man responsible for taking two of our best. I ran into something else…something…” He closed his eyes briefly and replayed the image of her lost in the taste of blood and the thrill of the hunt. Opening his eyes, he looked at the floor and frowned. “Enthralling.”
“Enthralling?” Kalinor moved towards him, but Valentine moved away, going to the window and staring out of it at the darkness.
He watched the rain sweeping across the garden and clasped his hands behind his back.
“She exists,” he said and waited.
It wouldn’t take his lord long to piece together what he was saying. He would know that the blood he could smell on him would have something to do with it. He didn’t resist when Kalinor caught hold of his shoulders and turned him to face him. His lord’s eyes came to rest on the small spot of red that was still marring his lips.
“She’s one of them?” Kalinor said.
Valentine nodded in confirmation.
“I found her hunting, alone. She appeared to be executing her first kill. They have kept her hidden well…only she did not wish to remain that way.” He looked deep into his lord’s eyes and searched them for an answer to his next question. “Is she dangerous?”
It was true then. Valentine remembered what he’d been told as a youngling, what all vampires were told. In the future, a dark day would dawn and with it would come the end of their existence, all at the hands of one of their own. The one he had met tonight was the child of the prophecy. She was going to destroy their kind.
Kalinor walked towards the door and stopped with his hand on the handle.
“For now, this goes no further than the elders. As an envoy, I will visit the house of Caelestis. You will be there at my side to recount what you witnessed tonight and we will see what they have been hiding from us.” Kalinor looked back at him and gave him a grim smile. “Then you will have the proud honour of destroying the abomination.”
Valentine’s stomach dropped when he heard those words. They had been spoken with a smile that said what a true honour it would be to be known as the vampire who had stopped the prophecy from coming true. He stared at the door his lord had walked out of and felt empty inside.
He would be responsible for destroying the abomination?
What honour was there in murdering her? He couldn’t see any, not as his lord could.
He shuddered inwardly at the thought of killing her.
He didn’t want to be the one responsible for her death, didn’t want to take eternity away from her. There was nothing honourable about what Kalinor had asked him to do.
He could hear Kalinor shouting commands to the house elders when he walked back into the main reception room and stared blankly at the floor.
He should have listened to her blood. He shouldn’t have tried to ignore the vision it had given him. Raising his head, he spotted the blond mess of hair that belonged to Cornelius through the heads of the elders and headed directly for him.
He caught him by the arm and started up the stairs with him. “Come with me. I need your assistance.”
Prophecy was soaked to the skin by the time she had made it over the high wall surrounding the grounds and back to the house. Scaling the drainpipe again, she pushed the sash window up and slipped back into her room. She clawed her wet hair out of her face, closed the window as quietly as possible and then let out a sigh of relief.
She was so stupid.
She should have listened to her mother when she’d told her that she wasn’t strong enough to hunt. The other vampire had been so much more powerful than her. She hadn’t been able to stop him from biting her and she didn’t know what to make of his reaction. At the time, she’d just seen it as an opportunity to escape, but as she’d made her way home, she’d begun to think about it. He’d been stunned by what he’d seen, and she couldn’t fathom why.
It wasn’t as if she’d led a long or interesting life. She had spent over twenty years trapped in the same house. What was interesting about that?
At least she was back safe now, and no one had to know that she had been gone. She would change her clothes, dry her hair and then go down to see her mother. No one had to know.
She froze when she heard a noise in the darkness and realised that she wasn’t alone.
“Brother,” she greeted him coldly when he stepped out of the shadows by the door and moved towards her.
Turning away from him, she carefully covered the marks on her neck and stared out of the window, waiting for him to speak.
“Prophecy,” Arkalus said softly and came to stand behind her. He moved to touch her shoulder but she stepped forwards and evaded his fingers. She saw his hand drop to his side out of the corner of her eye. How long had he been waiting for her to return? She’d been gone for hours. “Where have you been?”
She bit her tongue and continued to stare out of the window.
She could feel his eyes as they raked over her wet hair down to the smooth skin of her exposed shoulders.
“One day, you won’t be able to turn me away so easily.”
She frowned at his words, a thinly veiled threat that he emphasised by brushing his fingers lightly over her shoulder. Her jaw set tight and she turned her head away from him, disgusted by his attentions and wanting nothing more than to be alone.
Unable to hold her feelings inside, she found her mouth moving before she could stop it. “You’ll be waiting a long time.”
Her words had no impact. It was as though she’d never spoken them. His fingers moved to play with her hair, his tone becoming so intimate a whisper that it made her stomach squirm.
“What makes you think I won’t tell mother about your disappearance tonight?” He leaned in a little closer to her and her whole body tensed.
She tried to make light of it, hoping that he’d leave her alone and find someone else to bestow his attentions upon. “If you did that, mother would want to know why you didn’t tell her earlier… why wait so long? You’d be in as much trouble as me.”
He seemingly ignored her comment and stroked his fingers gently over her shoulder. She shuddered when he pressed a light kiss to it, the tendrils of his long brown hair grazing her skin. It brought the stranger back into her head. She remembered the way his lips had grazed her neck. An echo of the feelings he’d ignited then danced through her.
“You won’t be able to turn me away forever. I’m a patient man…” Arkalus whispered it into her ear. She leaned away from him, trying to escape his touch. “As soon as mother passes the house to me, I’ll take you as my mate and you won’t be able to stop me.”
She closed her eyes when the air shifted around her and then the door slammed. She let out the breath she’d been holding and slumped into her chair, thinking about what he’d said.
It was no secret that he wanted her as his own. The whole house knew. He’d been courting her for as long as she could remember, but she had never once shown any interest in him. Recently he’d taken to threatening her, and the more he did the more she wanted to lash out at him. She wished he would go back to how he used to be, acting like a brother to her rather than attempting to be a lover. She wished her continual rebuffs would show him that she didn’t want anything to do with him in that way, but they only seemed to drive him on.
So long as their mother, Iona, was walking the earth there was nothing he could do without her consent, but Prophecy knew that one day she would be gone and then it would be her duty to do as the head of the household commanded.
The idea of being Arkalus’ bride made her sick to her stomach, but she wouldn’t be able to stop him if Iona was out of the equation.
Something told Prophecy that regardless of what he’d said, Arkalus was growing ever more impatient. If she didn’t agree to his terms soon then there was a chance that he would take the death of Iona into his own hands in order to ensure that she was his.
Changing out of her wet clothes, she slipped into a long black satin dress and lay down on her bed. She closed her eyes and pushed away from the thought of being claimed by Arkalus, and returned to her previous ones.
Who was the vampire she’d met tonight? Was he one of the Aurorea responsible for the death of one of her house or was he something else? He’d been alone, just like she had, not hunting with the pack like most vampires did. The way he’d looked at her after tasting her blood seemed like an image frozen in her mind. It haunted her.
He’d looked stunned, shocked by the visions he’d received from her blood, and it made her shudder to think of what he’d seen to make him look like that.
She’d suspected for some time now that she wasn’t like the other vampires of her house. They all spoke about her behind her back. Serenity had told her that much. Prophecy had caught fearful looks in their eyes sometimes and now a vampire from the other house was looking at her in exactly the same way.
Curling up on the bed, she emptied her mind of all thoughts until there was only him.
His dark hair, his green eyes, and the way he looked at her as though he could see straight through her, down into her heart.
There was something about him that she couldn’t quite put her finger on, but one thing she knew she could be sure of.
This wouldn’t be the last time she saw him.
Valentine glanced across at Kalinor as they turned down the long cobbled avenue that led to the Caelestis mansion. His lord had insisted they walked from this point, leaving the cars behind in the street. It was a show of force. Driving right to the gates would have stolen any chance of scaring the Caelestis guards. By walking, they had given the guards time to see their approach and start to panic.
Valentine tried to ignore the feeling of apprehension that filled him, threatening to consume him when he looked at the high wall to his left. He could almost feel her on the other side, could almost picture her face when the time came to do the dreadful deed that he was here to commit. His lord wouldn’t need him by his side if he were only coming to discuss the matter of a Caelestis being the child of the prophecy. Kalinor could have easily laid the accusation at their master’s feet and got the answers that he wanted. There was only one reason for bringing himself along.
Kalinor wanted him to murder her tonight.
Valentine’s stomach turned when he looked up to see one of the wings of the dark grey mansion towering above him. The sight of it filled him with cold dread. He couldn’t believe what he was going to do.
His eyes scanned along the windows. Was one of them hers? Did she have any idea what was coming to visit her house tonight? Did she know what cruel fate awaited her?
He dropped back from the group, letting the six guardsmen pass him while he stared up at one window.
He could feel her.
His eyelids became heavy as her blood called to him, making his senses drowsy as the scent of it enveloped him.
His eyes shot open when he heard his lord’s voice and he found the whole group had stopped to look at him. He shook his head to clear it of her and focused on Kalinor.
“Is something wrong?” Kalinor gave Valentine a questioning look that made him feel as though his lord could see right through his calm façade to the turbulent emotions hidden underneath.
“I…” Valentine stumbled on the words. His eyes drifted back to the mansion and the window but he forced them to the opposite side of the street where dense trees and bushes covered a slope. “I thought I sensed something.”
He could see that Kalinor was waiting for more explanation.
“I wish…grant me leave to see what it was that I felt, to ensure your safety. It is possible the hunter may have tracked us.” He held his lord’s gaze and stood in silence, waiting. He was pushing his luck. In all his life as a hunter, he had never appeared so shaken to his lord as he had done tonight, and now he was bowing out of an important mission, one that his lord had placed great honour in him receiving.
Valentine’s eyes desired to roam back to the window. His senses begged him to reach out to her once more and feel her where she waited for him.
Waited for him?
He resisted the temptation to shake his head to clear it of such an idea.
It was just her blood calling him. He had been foolish to drink from her. She had strong blood, more powerful than he’d ever tasted, and it seemed to have a hold over him still. Even his sire’s blood hadn’t kept him under its thrall for so long. His sire’s blood had never shown him things like hers.
“Go, but return to the mansion before dawn. We will bring the child of the prophecy there and deal with her.” Kalinor’s voice roused him from his thoughts and he nodded in acceptance of the command.
Valentine watched his lord walking up the road to the mansion gates. When the group reached them, he looked up at the wall to his left.
“I must be insane. It’s the only answer.”
He crouched low, jumped with ease to the top of the fifteen-foot wall, and then slipped down into the darkness on the other side before any of the Caelestis guards could see him. He waited in the shadows as he pricked his head up, listening to the distant conversation between his family and hers. When an argument broke out, he ran silently across the damp grass to the wall of the mansion, using the inevitable scuffle as cover. He pressed his back flush against the wall and peered around it, watching his lord and the guardsmen as they walked the gravel path that led to the mansion.
He didn’t have much time.
Turning away, he slipped from shadow to shadow, moving towards the rear of the house. He scanned his surroundings as he approached the servant entrance of the old building and then peered inside to make sure he wasn’t going to alert anyone to his presence. When he didn’t pick up anything on his senses, he stepped inside. He closed his eyes and sniffed, trying to catch a sign of her in the scent-laden air.
His eyes moved to rest on a small stone spiral staircase that was heading upwards. The room he’d seen was on the second floor. Kalinor would draw the attention of the whole house when he asked for an audience with their master and if luck were with him tonight then the female vampire would remain safely in her room.
Sneaking up the stone steps, he sharpened his senses, attuning them to her blood so he could find her in amongst the other vampire signatures within the house. He paused briefly at the entrance to the first floor, reaching out with his senses to check if she was there and then moving on when he didn’t find a sign of her. Rounding the top step and walking out onto the second floor, he ducked inside a dark doorway as someone crossed the end of the hall in front of him. It was a wide corridor. The dull grey stone walls made it seem cold and the large wooden doors were grand in their style. They were evenly spaced with a wide enough distance between them to tell him that the rooms on this level were vast. It was clearly the level on which the elders and those of higher standing within the family slept.
Was she of high standing?
He closed his eyes and sniffed at the air, searching for a sign of her.
When he picked up her sweet scent, he began following it. The sound of rushing feet told him that Kalinor had made it into the mansion and that he had been correct. Everyone wanted to see why his family were here.
A voice at the back of his mind reminded him that he should be there also. He should be standing at his lord’s side, ready to execute any order given to him, rather than skulking through the shadows of his enemy’s home searching for one of them. It was wrong of him to be here. It was wrong of him to want to assist her.
Assist her of all things.
He stopped dead and turned around to face the stairwell he’d just exited. This was wrong. His loyalty was to his family. It was his duty to do as his lord wished and kill the female in order to end the prophecy.
But he couldn’t let her die. He couldn’t murder her as Kalinor commanded.
He’d seen in her eyes that she didn’t know, couldn’t know what she was a part of. Her blood had shown him things that he needed an explanation for, but he knew she wouldn’t be able to give him one. She didn’t know about any of it.
Turning back around, he forced himself to move forwards, continuing towards her door. He came to a halt outside one that was halfway along the corridor and looked at it. He could feel her on the other side.
Raising his hand, he closed his eyes and extended his senses past the barrier in front of him and into her room. He resisted the temptation to smile when he found her and instead lowered his hand until it came to rest on the handle. He took a deep breath.
He had to do this. He couldn’t let her die. As much as it pained him to go against his family and everything he’d known all his life, he had to go through with it and obey his instincts.
He turned the handle and eased the door open.
The room smelt like her. It was dark, lit only by a weak lamp that barely illuminated the bedside table it was sitting on and made no impact on the vast room. His eyes strayed to her. She was lying on the bed, curled up and sleeping.
It wasn’t too late to leave.
She stirred a little and her hair fell away from her face, revealing her neck. His eyes moved to the marks he’d placed on her not much more than two hours ago.
He had to go forwards. This was his fault and he had to be the one to rectify it. No, it was hers too. She should have remained in the mansion. He remembered her words. They didn’t let her hunt. They’d kept her hidden from the world and he was the one to expose her. Either he rescued her now, or the next time he’d see her face would be when he was executing her.
Shutting the door, he took a step towards her.
But the prophecy. He’d be damning his kin, his species. He’d be damning the world.
So why didn’t he feel as though he was doing that?
He looked down at her pale face as she slumbered on, unaware of his presence and what was happening downstairs.
She didn’t look dangerous but then looks could be deceiving. His eyes strayed to the marks on her neck again. Blood couldn’t lie. Blood was truthful. He’d seen it with his own two eyes. He had to help her.
Kneeling beside her, he removed a slim wooden box from his coat pocket and placed it carefully down on the bedside table. He slipped the latch free and lifted the lid to reveal its contents. He ran his fingers along the three phials of clear liquid, moved over the three phials of black liquid and finally stopped on the first of them. Removing it, he took up the syringe and punctured the lid of the phial with the needle. Drawing the liquid out, he held it up to the light and told himself one more time that he could still leave and do his duty.
He looked down at the female vampire where she was still sleeping.
He couldn’t let her die.
Edging closer to her, he slowly injected her in the neck. Her eyes opened briefly and then closed again as the drug began to take effect. Packing away the empty phial and syringe, he slipped the box back into his jacket and kept his senses locked on the world outside the door so no one could sneak up on him. He counted to ten in his head and then carefully lifted her left eyelid.
Nothing but black swirling liquid greeted him.
Pulling back the bed covers, he looked around the room in search of something for her to wear. There were clothes slung over the back of a chair. They were damp. They must have been the clothes she’d been wearing when he’d met her in the cemetery. He carried them to the window and touched the sill, smiling when he found it was damp too. Clearly she’d come back this way. Lifting the sash up, he took a deep breath of the cool night air as it filled the room. Now if anyone came in, they’d think she’d escaped again.
He threw the clothes over his arm and returned to the bed, looking down at the unconscious girl. He was going to have to do this quickly or someone was going to spot him. Gathering up the girl, he cradled her in his arms and walked to the door. He opened it a fraction and peered around it. The hallway was clear.
He slipped silently out and moved swiftly towards the staircase he’d arrived by, all the while listening for signs of anyone moving on this floor. He adjusted the girl in his arms as he began down the narrow stairwell and paused briefly at the entrance to the first floor. There was no sign of anyone in this section of the house. Kalinor must have drawn the attention of every member of the household except sleeping beauty.
He looked down at her. Her head was resting against his arm, her face soft and peaceful.
She was beautiful he supposed, and she was asleep, but it wasn’t like him to think such things, especially about a vampire from one of the other bloodlines. The last time he’d thought a vampire was beautiful was when he’d met the woman that had become his sire, but then he hadn’t known what she was, or that she was going to give him such a dark gift. She was gone now though, banished from their family for loving a Vehemens. It suited her somehow, to love one from the most violent bloodline. She had always been dark and deadly. A part of him wished that someone had caught her and brought her up in front of the Law Keepers for committing such a sin as dissolving the bloodlines.
He stared at the face of the girl he was holding. Did this girl match her bloodline’s namesake? She was beautiful, but was she heavenly? Surely, a creature with such a name could not destroy the world. She could destroy the darkness that was vampires though. A heavenly creature sent to kill those of Hell.
Rousing himself from his thoughts, he walked down the stairs to the ground floor. When he started towards the door, another one at the far end opened and he ducked back into the dark stairwell. He closed his eyes and listened. There were two of them. Females. They were talking about his family. Their abusive words didn’t bother him. He expected it from those of Caelestis, and it wasn’t as though the Aurorea spoke highly of them in return.
He could remember a time of peace between the houses, back when the truce had still been fresh, barely three centuries old. Now things were beginning to deteriorate again, and it would take a miracle to restore the harmony they had enjoyed for over four hundred years. It was the end of peace between Aurorea and Caelestis.
The girl in his arms was going to see to that.
As the voices trailed off and the footsteps drifted into the distance, he made for the door. He struggled to get it open without dropping the girl and then eased it shut behind him.
The darkness of the garden and the sweetness of the night air made him feel as though he’d gained freedom from an eternity of Hell rather than thrown himself into it. He was going to pay dearly if his family discovered what he’d done and he would have precious little time to complete his plan before they did. Kalinor had ordered him to be home by dawn, but he wouldn’t really expect him back tomorrow, or the next day. It was usual for him to be gone for more than a day, but if he were gone for more than three whole nights without leave to be absent that long, it would raise suspicion.
Running across the damp grass, he jumped the wall and landed with cat-like grace on the wet cobblestones on the other side. He looked down at the puddle in front of him that reflected nothing but cloud strewn sky and then ran towards the town.
He kept to the shadows as he made his way to a warehouse by the river. Pushing the heavy doors open, he stepped inside and carried the girl into a small room at the rear of the empty building. He placed her down gently along with her clothes and checked her eyes again. Still black.
It took a lot to knock out a vampire, and it had been a long time since he’d had to resort to such things, but he was glad that the toxin still worked. She would wake naturally if he left her for a day, her blood would quickly eradicate the poison, but he needed her awake now.
Removing the wooden box from his coat pocket, he took out one of the phials of clear liquid and the syringe. He filled it slowly and then bent over the girl and injected her.
He smoothed the hair from her face and then packed the syringe away and distanced himself from her. Watching her stir, he waited in silence for her to wake.