Hello all. As this year winds down, I'm preparing myself for a wonderful 2011. There are so many things that I want to accomplish this year. I have plans to buy my first home, release the first of many novels to the public, go to Comic-Con and so many more things.
Right now I am preparing some promotion material for Crimson Dawn; bookmarks, postcards, posters, and nick-nacks that suit Valeria and Irulan's flavor. (If I can stay away from Netflix and Torchwood)
If you didn't get a chance to check out Crimson Dawn before I took it down from wattpad or have never heard of the wonderful ebook community, then you are in for a treat. I am going to posting the first chapter here on my blog. When the novel comes out in April, I will post a short story about Val and Irulan that's set after the events of Crimson Dawn and before events of the sequel, Black Moon Rising.
So, if you would like to read the first chapter of Crimson Dawn then check it out after the break.
Crimson Dawn: Darklife Saga
By: Veronica Massey
Crunch! I looked down at the broken glass under my foot, and took a quick glance back at the sleeping man sprawled across the bed. Good, still asleep. The last thing I needed was for Michael...Mitch...Mathew...whatever his name is, to wake up while I was trying to make a smooth getaway before the sun got too high in the sky.
While the night before proved to be very entertaining for us both, I wasn't looking for anything beyond a one-night stand. As my luck would have it, I picked a guy that liked to cuddle after sex and actually talk about his feelings, most of which involved us getting to know each other better. Yeah--I'll pass. While the sex was good I had my doubts that it was worth all this. Now I know that may sound rather whorish, but most vampires don't see promiscuity as such a bad thing. Pain and pleasure go hand in hand for us: they increase our chances of having successful feedings. Humans don't tend to take a few missing pints so bad if they've had an incredible night of sex the day before.
So does maintaining our anonymity for that matter. To make sure I kept my own, I placed a few mental blocks in said cuddle bunny's mind, (ie-Glamour). I hate messing with peoples heads, but it was the only way to make sure he wouldn't show up at my favorite Extras club The Den looking for me later. The next time he saw me he would vaguely remember some chick he thought he went to high school with. The blocks wouldn't mean shit though if I couldn't get out of the house without accidentally waking him. I'd go from last night's thrill to trespassing burglar. Not high on my 'to do' list.
Fortunately with a little burst of vamp speed I was out of the house and into my car in a manner of seconds. Kicking myself the entire way for carelessly knocking over the glass in the first place. No sooner than I slid into my leather seat and shut the door, my cell phone started to ring. I didn’t even have to look down to know that is was my roommate Irulan. She was the only person that would have the gall to call me in the morning when any decent vampire was safely in their bed. "Yeah, this is Val, talk."
Irulan huffed on the other end. I could almost see her green eyes rolling with aggravation. "Valeria you've really got to work on your phone etiquette. You have all the social graces of a sloth."
I shrugged my shoulders despite the fact that she couldn’t see them, and pulled my burgundy Fusion into traffic. "I knew it was you Ire, so why bother with the pleasantries?"
Instead of the snappy comeback I expected, I heard nothing but silence. Irulan was taking entirely too long to answer. On top of that she covered the phone with her hand and lowered her voice to a whisper. God, I hoped she didn't have some girl in the bed with her while she was fussing at me. The last thing I needed was to be berated in front of her flavor of the week.
"Gee thanks,” she said when she finally decided to respond. “You really know how to make a girl feel special. I was just calling to make sure you were awake and on the way home, it's getting close to eight. I know you're pureblood and all, but you're still young in vamp years. You need to be in before the sun gets to high in the sky."
"Nah Ma, you think?" I rolled my eyes at the phone and silently cursed. No matter how many times I make it home before the sun completely rises, she never lets me forget the one time that I didn't. To be honest, I think it scared her more than it scared me. I got off relatively easy... just a three month long tan after the initial burns healed. I've seen other vampires my age take a few years to heal similar sun damage. It's one of the few injuries that our bodies don't heal almost instantly. Granted, their blood might not have been as pure as my own.
"I'm already in the car and headed home on Tyvola, I'll see you in ten minutes." Irulan was obviously satisfied with my answer because she hung up without saying goodbye. Now who needed lessons in phone etiquette?
I live in the southern United States, Charlotte, N.C. to be precise. Charlotte, became one of the "it" destination for Extras after the Awakening. The city was large enough to support us and allow us to blend in, yet small enough and deep enough in the south that the humans here hadn't lost their belief in all things otherworldly. They weren't quite as jaded as the rest of North America thus; they were a little more welcoming.
So much so that there are, at least four suburbs here aimed strictly at Extras. Irulan and I lived in one called Emerald City. Yeah I know the name is so very cheesy, but I didn't name the place I just live there. The last time I checked the census we were the fastest growing minority in Charlotte.
I made it home to our converted storefronts just as the sun was starting to peek out over the second floor, excellent timing in my book; Irulan didn't share the feeling. The moment I pulled in through the back of our building and slid my car into the parking bay she was pounding on the window.
"Damn it Valeria, one of these days your car's gonna roll in here with a pile of ashes behind the wheel." Irulan yanked open my door and shoved her hand into the pockets of the low rider jeans that she wore. She stood there tapping one foot as she waited none too patiently for me to get out of the car. By the gods, she fusses more than my mother ever did when I lived at home.
"Hi honey, I'm home," I laughed as I eased out of the car and kissed my best friend on her nose. In return, she slammed the door shut with enough force to crack the glass of my window. Ok, no way did I deserve that, something was not right with this picture. "What's going on Ire, did I do something..."
Irulan crossed her arms over her chest and looked down at her feet. She was nervous; aw hell, something was wrong. It took a lot to shake one of the Sidhe. Faint footsteps fell on the concrete behind us and a familiar aura stole over me. I knew without looking that it as my brother Valerian.
A huge smile blossomed lighting up my face, but it fell the instant I turned around. Beside Valerian stood our father, Hadrian Kemet Trumaine. Could my morning get any better?
Before I go any further, let me tell you a few things about myself. My name is Valeria Dominique Trumaine, and I'm a ninety eight-year-old pureblood vampire. In vampire years, I'm still relatively young, between twenty five and twenty seven by human standards. Personally, I don't think I look a day over twenty three.
I stand at five feet, eight inches, have jet-black hair, with new burgundy streaks, that hangs just below my shoulders, and the most unusual eyes you'll ever find on a woman. They're ice blue with silver pupils. Unlike the more common dead-born vampires, my skin isn't pasty and pale. My skin is a nice, café au lait tone. When I say that I am a pureblood, I mean that I was born a vampire: I never had to go through a "turning".
There are about twenty vampire families in the world, six of which are in America. The top five in the world are the oldest and most powerful. In vampire politics, the families are usually referred to by their standing. My family is known as The Fourth. The Trumaine family as the world knows it today started in Africa with my great grandfather Kemet. No, contrary to popular belief, vampires didn't originate in Transylvania, just the Tempest family. My brothers and I are actually members of The Fifth; also, our mother Anya is a Gregory by birth.
I have two older brothers and one younger one, but only by ten minutes. Valerian Donatello Trumaine is my twin and at the moment he looked about as happy as Irulan did. That meant he was here in a working capacity. Valerian is a junior vice president and chief counselor in the legal division at Trumaine Enterprises. My father was also grooming him for a spot on the Vampire Council.
I wasn’t on our company’s payroll, so that meant they were here for the latter, which wasn’t any better. I was tired and didn't need any council drama at this time of the morning. All I wanted was sleep. But my fathers presence pretty much assured I was about to get drama in spades.
I shook off my surprise and went to give my father a hug but he caught my face in his hand and twisted it from side to side. "You've been away from your family too long Valeria. You're not feeding enough, your face looks thinner every time I lay eyes on you. And what did you do to your hair?"
Here we go with this shit again. "I love you too father, and you'll be pleased to know that I just got through eating. As for my hair, Ire put a few burgundy streaks in it for me. You like 'em?" I twirled a strand of dark tresses on my finger as I looked up at him with a sideways grin. He dropped my face, stepped closer to me and leaned into my neck drawing in a deep breath.
My eyes fluttered closed as my father's aura washed over me causing my fangs to drop. How I hated that he had that power over me. Unless a pureblood is close to starving, it's damn near impossible to draw our feral side out against our will. Father could do it to us all, and he made sure we never forgot it.
When he looked up both our eyes had become completely black. He straightened his black silk tie, smoothly running his hand down the tie so that it lie flat against the grey silk of his shirt. I knew that motion. He was trying to control his emotions. Once the tie was perfectly in place, he looked at me and frowned, his disappointment evident. "I only smell human blood running through your veins. You've been on your own five years now, more than enough time to strengthen yourself by feeding from a lower class."
It was an old argument and frankly, one that I was so far beyond tired of hearing, that I didn’t even have the gumption to get mad. I simply sighed and shook my head. "Daddy please, I've told you I want my blood to strengthen on its own. I don't want to take any more shortcuts. You should be proud of me for that."
My father’s eyes narrowed as he looked from me to my brother, also another old tactic that one would think, he’d get tired of using against me. He was constantly trying to get Valerian to side with him whenever we had a disagreement, but it was no use. My twin wouldn‘t turn against me. He wouldn’t exactly side with me either. He didn’t have the balls to stand up to daddy. As far Valerian was concerned, he was neutral territory.
Vedo shrugged his shoulders and quickly put his back to the both of us. My father growled and sucked his teeth. "I can't take pride in weakness,” he finally huffed. “You're a Trumaine, my only daughter and I expect you to live up to what that means. Trumaine's aren't weak." The last time I checked I could toss a Caddy about a hundred feet. I didn't think that classified me as weak, but anyway.
I threw my hands up in defeat and pushed past my father to make my way up the few metal stairs that separated the garage and gym area from the living space. "Whatever, listen if the only reason the two of you came, was to browbeat me about my grooming and eating habits, while it's been real, I've got to wind down so I can get some sleep. I'm on duty tonight."
I shed my shoes and socks the minute my feet hit the carpet of the living room and plopped down on the couch hoping they wouldn't follow me.
Needless to say, I had no such luck. My brother flashed by me and snatched the remote from the nearby table with his free hand, before I could turn on the TV. "Valeria, you know the both of us wouldn't show up here together if it wasn't important.” He tossed my remote across the room and onto the metal framed recliner that sat in the corner. He opened his saddle bag and began rifling through it, flipping papers out of the way as he looked for something. “There are a few matters that are going to be brought to your attention when you go in to work," he said as he continued his hunt. Work in my case was a position as a Sentinel within the Center for Multi-Species or CMS for short. In laymen's terms, I was a cop for the Extras community and executioner when need be.
When he’d found what he was looking for, Valerian frowned as he dropped a black folder into my lap. "We need you to go over this information before your shift. It's about a kill order you're going to be issued."
I cut my eyes towards my father as I slipped the folder open with the tip of a nail. I flipped through five or six pictures and glanced at the collection of personal information. "I get kill orders all the time, and it's never interested you before, why now." I looked up at my father; if it was so important I wanted to hear the answer from him.
"Take a look at the last picture Valeria. I'm sure you'll recognize the mark." I flipped to the end of the pile of papers and drew out a picture. Shit, staring back at me was the black haired, brown eyed face of a man I had known intimately. It was Tristan Meriwether, my former fiancé, son of this regions master vampire, Thomas Meriwether and grandson to council member Eric.
"This can't be right daddy, no way is Thomas going to allow this kill order to go through. He'll have it shut down before I even make it in tonight." I dropped the pictures back into the file and tossed it at my father.
Valerian dropped an Atlanta, Georgia newspaper into my lap, followed by a copy of Newsweek, The New York Times, and an issue of the Charlotte Observer. "I'm afraid it's out of the masters influence within the CMS already. The situation has gone national."
Across all four were pictures of Tristan with headlines ranging from, ' Vampire From Prominent Family Goes Rouge, Who's Next" to "Are We Really Safe With Extras Among Us.'
Double shit! "This is far from good publicity. A situation like this could set us back twenty years or more as far as the human view of Extras are concerned."
My father nodded, "Which is why I want you to carry out your duties to the best of your abilities. Tristan is marked. His actions have forgone any trial he may have been privy to within the CMS's legal system. I want his death to be fast but non-brutal, there's got to be a body to turn in so the public can be assured that we vampires will not tolerate rouge behavior no matter who the perpetrator may be."
My father was happy about this kill order which meant this was gonna go bad for me, "Uh uh, No! There’s more to it, you wouldn't have shown up here to discuss a kill order, no matter who the mark was. Tell me what's going on and how far up shit creek in this gonna land me."
I looked into my fathers pale blue eyes so like Valerians and felt a shiver go down my spine. "That's my girl, look past the obvious, learn to read your adversaries. It was always harder to get things past you."
"Don't flatter me father, I know you, that's all." I turned to my brother, he could never deny me anything I wanted. "Now please, Valerian tell me what's going on." I was growing tired of the bullshit very quickly.
Valerian looked to our father and got his nod of approval before he continued. "You're right to assume Thomas and certain members of the council don't support this kill. They'll be contacting you later with instructions to spare Tristan's life. Eric expects you to follow his instructions to the letter."
Duh, of course he did. "Exactly how am I suppose to do that. The media's made the human population aware of the situation. They'll expect us to act swiftly and decisively or this is gonna end badly for all Extras."
My father smiled, "Which is why I don't want you to deviate from your superior's orders. No one is above the law. Young Meriwether must be eliminated for the safety of the masses."
Saints preserve me. "That's going to put me at direct odds with the high council, do you know what they'll do to me father. My lifeblood..."
My father's eyes blacked out and his facial features shifted for a brief moment, a sign of a loss of control. "No one on that council will lay so much as a finger on you. Eric is one member, he can't speak for them all. Don't forget my grandfather Kemet is responsible for many of the charters that are in place today."
He scowled and continued, "As for Thomas, he may be master but I am the elder and more powerful between the two of us. He sits in his seat because of his father, not because he earned it."
Valerian's thoughts crept into my head. "Father thinks it's time for new leadership. This is the perfect opportunity for him to prove Thomas' incapability. Just play the dutiful daughter role Val, one more time. No matter how ambitious he is, he's still our father. He loves you and would never put you into a situation he didn't think you could handle."
Valerian shrugged as my father leaned towards me and gave me a kiss on the forehead. "I trust you to make the right decision Valeria, now if you'll excuse us."
My father led Valerian towards the front door. "While your brother feeds properly and has a greater immunity from the sun than you do, I believe we've pushed it far enough." My father pushed open the heavy iron door with one finger and waited for Valerian to exit before he nodded his final goodbye.
So much for a quite morning at home. Irulan slid the heavy locks on our front door into place and flopped down on the couch beside me. "Thanks for the warning Ire, you could have let me know my father was here. I would have kept on driving."
Irulan laughed and propped her feet up on my lap. "Exactly what the hell did you expect me to do? He made it perfectly clear he wanted to surprise you. Besides, you weren't the one stuck here listening to your father tell Valerian about the short term advantages of consuming fey blood." Irulan nudged me with her foot, "Hell Val, I was scared."
"I don't think so, nervous maybe, but in all the years I've known you, five of which we've been living together, I haven't seen much of anything scare you."
Irulan laughed and lobbed a pillow at my head. "You now you're right, the day any Sidhe is scared of a vampire is the day I loose my magic."
Irulan wasn't just any Sidhe and she knew it. She’s one of the Tuatha De Danaan, The Bright Ones, and powerful as hell, but she didn't act like it.
I pushed her feet off of my lap and got up off the couch. As I walked out of the living room, I picked up the black folder from the chair where daddy head dropped it. "No need to insult the entire race, Ire. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to try and get some sleep. I'm going to need my rest to deal with the disaster I'll be walking into when I get to work."
To my utter amazement she let me get away without an argument. I padded my way down the wide hallway that leads to our kitchen and bedrooms. When we had the two empty stores converted into one large living area Irulan was thrilled to find out that one of them had been a restaurant. As a result we had a huge state of the art kitchen/dining area, which was good since Irulan was a chef.
At first, I thought it was an odd occupation for a three hundred plus year old faerie but she's an excellent cook. She runs a catering business for the Extras community right from our home. As a Extra herself she isn't squeamish about rounding up willing donors for a vampire cocktail party or gathering live animals for a werewolf’s pack meeting. She made a killing money wise.
For a moment I considered a shower but changed my mind and walked by a bathroom, passed through the kitchen and gave my heavy iron bedroom door a shove. The florescent lights that filled the rest of the house weren't in my bedroom. Vampires have excellent night vision, no matter what class we were, but purebloods had a slight edge.
Purebloods have night vision but we're also able to see the body temperatures of our prey. A small film drops over our eyes which allows the infrared vision to work. It's immensely handy when hunting but takes a lot of concentration to keep them in place for long periods of time.
In my case it's the opposite, I had permanent infrared/night vision. I can switch easily between the two. The films over my eyes allow me to see normally so I have to keep them dropped about seventy-five percent of the time. Sunlight, light bulbs, they'd all hurt my eyes without the films. Because of my unique eyes I keep my room lit with black lights so I can relax.
I sat down at my desk and pulled Tristan's picture from the file. He was gorgeous; there was no doubt about it. His soft, bronze skin and chocolate bedroom eyes were a few of the things that first caught my attention. His six foot frame, swimmers body, and movie star looks, made women throw themselves at his feet. Tristan was also the poster boy for the phrase, 'looks aint everything'.
Tristan and I were thrown together in our early seventies because of the social standings of both our families. I was the medias darling vampire princess and he was the rebellious youngest grandson of the regions master vampire. Our fathers thought it would be good PR for both families.
For twenty years I played the dutiful daughter and stayed with Tristan no matter what type of trouble he seemed to get himself into. After awhile I began joining him on his escapades. Blood orgies that went overboard and ended up in donor deaths, missing people wherever we went on holidays, the blood rape of lower vampires, were normal occurrences during the course of our relationship. I overlooked them all because I had grown to love him and some small part of me believed I could change him. I thought if I stayed by his side, some of my decency would rub off on him; instead it was the total opposite.
The final straw came on the night of our engagement party. After all our family and friends had gone home Tristan brought me a wine glass of blood and a gift box to celebrate. He didn't tell me the blood was from a human baby, a baby which he had gift wrapped and given to me so I could finish it later. It broke my heart and took me to a level of self loathing I never thought possible.
The next day all of my things were moved into one of the guest homes on my family's estate and I went out of my way to make sure we never crossed paths again. To my surprise my father backed me in my decision. Tristan never tried to win me back. That was six years ago. The time I spent with him remains the greatest mistake in my life.
I was so deep in thought I didn't hear Irulan come in my room. Her hands on my shoulders brought me out of my daze. "I thought you were going to sleep." Irulan looked over my shoulders, reached down and snatched the file away from me. "You've got plenty of time to deal with this when you get to work," she turned me around in my chair. The look on her face was totally serious, "You're too close to this mark Valeria, I want you to turn it down."
Irulan was the only person outside of Valerian that knew the things I'd done while I was with Tristan. I expected her to try and stop me. "Ire you know I can't do that. I took the job knowing sooner or later Tristan's antics were going to cause us to cross paths. I can't run away from this." I stood and walked over to my bed, no we don't sleep in coffins...anymore; maybe playing with the pillows would distract her and she'd drop the subject.
"You can't dismiss me that easily. I was there remember. I helped pick up the pieces that put Val back together again."
I nodded in agreance, "Yes you did; so you, of all people, should know how important this could be for me. It'll give me closure, Irulan."
She flipped through the folder, "There are things you don't know about Tristan, things your father doesn't have in this neat little file. There've been rumors among the fae.” She tossed the folder in the trash, "If even half of them are true then he's changed Val. He's even more twisted and sadistic, but now he's stronger. He's grown powerful in ways I can't even begin to explain."
Somehow that didn't surprise me. Tristan was always power hungry, most vamps were. Irulan cupped my face in her hands and looked into my eyes with her own full of emotions that I couldn't quite lay a finger on. "If he hurts you again I'll kill him Val, don't make me a murderer." Irulan's bright green eyes began to glow with power. "I don't want you near him, you're going to have to get closure some other way."
If I was going to be assigned Tristan as a mark, nothing was going to stop me from doing my job. "Innocent people are either dying or being turned against their will, you're asking me to ignore that. Come on Ire, you know me better than that."
Irulan dropped her hands, "That's what I thought". She turned, headed for the door then stopped. She spoke to me with her back turned, "I've been your best friend since you were a child Val, I've watched you make mistakes knowing that you were headed into them, but I let you make them because that was the only way you would learn. The only way you would become a woman."
Irulan turned to face me with tears in her eyes, "Tristan was different, I knew the moment your father announced his plans for the two of you that he had no place in your life, but I kept my reservations to myself. I kept quiet and he almost broke you." Irulan pulled the door opened, "I love you Val, more than you know. I won’t make the same mistake twice when it comes to you. If you're hell bent on taking him as a mark, I'll do what I have to do to keep you safe."
She was gone before my brain could process exactly what she was trying to say and my body was screaming for rest so I didn't put much thought into it. If this was my morning, I was scared to think about what my night was going to be like. Unfortunately for me, I found out sooner, rather than later.
Why is it the moment you fall into a good sleep, the telephone rings and pulls you out of your happy place? "Valeria speaking, this had better be good Marcus."
"You can be sure that anytime I call you it's for a damn good reason," Marcus Daniels deep voice resonated through the line. Aside from being my commanding officer in the Sentinel Division of the CMS, he also happens to be the Alpha of this regions werewolf pack and the uncle of one of my closest friends.
"Come on Marcus, give me a break, it's barely three o'clock in the afternoon, you know I don't get up until eight." I heard a low growl and smiled, as an Alpha, Marcus wasn't used to anyone challenging him. He growled a lot around me for some reason.
"Today you get up at three, Valley-girl, the department heads are gathering for an emergency meeting.”
"Shit on top of damn, here it comes."
I barely whispered the words but Marcus picked up on them, "Here what comes? do you know what this is…"
Crap, note to self, were's have excellent hearing. "No Marcus, I don't know anything. I'm aggravated because my sleep was interrupted and if whatever is going on involves the big wigs then I'm not going to be able to weasel in a few more hours. That's all."
"Are you sure that's all?" The doubt laced through Marcus' voice made me want to slap myself for that slip of the tongue.
"I'm positive. Now would you tell me what's so damn important that my sleep cycle has to cut short by a full five hours? I'm sure they have meetings all the time. What makes this one an emergency?"
Marcus' growl got even louder, and my smile got even wider. I loved pushing his buttons. "You're one of the top vampire Sentinels we've got. Considering the nature of the mark on this case, odds are it's going to you anyway, so you might as well be in on the briefing from jump."
'Nature of the mark' meant vamp. The CMS usually preferred for us to handle our own considering their relationship with the Vampire High Council was strained at best. I guess they figure, send a vamp to kill a vamp, and it wouldn't cause that much of a problem. "What about Priest or Waters, either of them..."
Marcus cut me short, "Neither of them are life born, much less pureblood, but you are. Listen Valeria, I give you a lot of slack because of Thade and the fact that you're good at what you do. Now isn't one of those times. Get showered and dressed then get your ass into headquarters."
He had to be joking. As far as he knew it was entirely too early for me to come out. "Come on Marcus, you're being unreasonable now. The sun..."
"Doesn't mean shit to you at this time of the day and you know it. Play that card with someone else. You've got two hours, that's it." Marcus hung up before I could argue any further. How in the hell did Marcus find out about my limits? No one, not even Irulan or Valerian knew the full extent of my sun tolerance.
As far as they knew I had to be in by nine at the latest and couldn't go out until after six. In truth I could tolerate the sunlight up until about eleven o'clock and could go out again after three. I just had to increase my blood intake a little.
I keep my limits to myself because if my father knew about them he'd find some way to use them to his advantage. I wanted to stay off his radar, but this case could threaten to put me right in the middle of it permanently.
I got up and pulled my work clothes out of the closet. Black leather pants, black cotton tee, and a black leather bolero. It might sound ostentatious and stereotypical but leather holds up in fights. Time to shower.
I made it in and out of the shower and was halfway dressed before Irulan poked her head into the bathroom. "Kinda early for you to be out of bed, don't you think, Valeria. It's barely three forty-five."
I shrugged my shoulders and slipped on my bra. "Really, I thought it was closer to five. Can you fasten this for me?"
She stepped closer and took the ends of the bra in her hands and just stood there. I looked back into the mirror and frowned. She had this far away look in her eyes as she stared at my back.
“Are you alright?“ I asked her, unsure if I was reading her face right. I’d seen the look before when she brought home her bimbo’s, but that couldn’t be right. She had no reason to look at me like that.
Irulan shook her head and reached forward, letting the back of her hand brush against my skin as hooked my bra. Tingles traveled down my spine but I ignored them. She let the elastic fabric pop my back as she pushed her way by me to take a seat on the edge of my tub. "I’m fine and don't be a smart ass youngster. I hope you're not planning to go out this early."
I pulled my shirt on, tucked it in and slipped into my jacket before I looked down at her. "If you must know Ire, I'm heading into the office just a wee bit ahead of schedule,” holding two fingers up to emphasize the word wee. "Marcus called and didn't leave me much of a choice."
I ran my finger through my damp hair and headed for my ordnance vault with Irulan hot on my heels. "You've finally lost it Valeria, you're going to let this case drive you to a bright shining grave. You can't go out now, it's too early and Marcus knows better than to even ask you to do such a thing."
I threw open the doors to my vault, "He knew exactly what he was doing Ire, how I don't know yet, but I'll find out when I get to the CMS." I began pulling out an assortment of daggers and strapped them to various body parts. I hate guns, they seem too impersonal to me. "The department heads are convening for an emergency meeting, no doubt to discuss the kill order. Marcus wants me there."
Irulan snatched my katana from my hands before I could secure its sheath to my back. "Enlighten me, exactly how are you planning to get there Val."
Someone once said 'actions speak louder than words', so I went to the nearest window and tore down the heavy black drapes that we kept covering it. Sunlight came beaming into the living room the exact second Irulan blasted me with a energy bolt that sent me flying across the room. "Valeria what the fuck do you think you're trying to prove?!" She was on me and had me covered in the drapes so fast she didn't even notice the sunlight had no effect on me at all.
I yelled for her to let me up, but the heavy material muffled my voice, so we ended up wrestling across the floor for five minutes before I could finally get free of her. "Damn it Irulan, if you'd stop fussing and trying to protect me you'd see I don't need protection." I leapt up with agility that far surpassed any cat and darted over to the window before she could hit me again.
The look on her face was priceless. "I don't get it...I mean how...how long have... Shit Val, you're standing in afternoon sunlight."
I straightened my cloths and headed for my car. "That's what I was trying to show you before you blasted my ass halfway to kingdom come. Now I've got less than an hour to find something to eat and make it into the office." Traffic was a bitch at this time of the day. I was going to have to drive like a mad-woman to make it in on time.
Irulan blew by me and slammed my car door shut, "I told you earlier, don't try to brush me off. Before you leave this house explain to me what just happened in there."
Looks like the only way I was getting past her was to tell her the truth. "To be honest I don't know how it happened Irulan, just when." The searching look in her eyes edged me on. "The morning I didn't make it home in time. After the burns started healing, I don't know, I just felt different."
Just like vampires, a faeries eyes gave their every emotion away if they weren't kept in check. Irulan's usually bright green eyes clouded over and swirled with hurt and anger. "You knew all this time and you didn't say a word to me? I thought we were closer than that Val."
Damn it I didn't have time for this now. "Listen Ire, I'm not making light of the situation and we'll talk about this later, but right now I've really got to go. I think I've pushed it as far as I can with Marcus. I don't want to piss him off by being late."
Irulan walked away without a look back in my direction. "Marcus doesn't have shit on me when I'm pissed. Remember that."
As I've said before Irulan is one of the fae, to be more specific she's a faerie. A three hundred and twenty year old Sidhe that just so happened to be a cousin of the ruling Seelie king, which makes her a member of the royal family and first in the line of succession.
This in turn means that she is teaming with untold levels of fey power. If I didn't know her any better, I might have considered that a threat.
Irulan's family has always held close ties with the vampire council and as far I could remember she's been a close friend of my mother's side of the family.
I'd never looked at her as anything other than that until I watched her walk away. Her rose colored skin was glowing with the heat of anger and it caught my eye as it never had before. Her waist length crimson hair fell in soft curls that swirled around her as she walked, causing my breath to catch in my throat and a familiar warmth to settle in the pit of my stomach.
Aw hell, now was not the time for soul searching and redefining my sexual identity. I had hunting to get ready for. I shook off the small thread of whatever and slid into the seat behind the wheel. I backed my car into traffic, popped in a CD, and sang with Muse the entire way to the station.
Even with a stop at McDonalds I made in with fifteen minutes to spare. Yes I consume more than blood, a life born vampire needs both to survive until we near our second century of life. I pulled into my spot in front of the CMS and wolfed down my burger before I entered the building.
The CMS existed for three main purposes: to police the Extra community and provide them with a legal system; to provide healthcare, the building was equipped with a state of the art hospital wing; and last, to provide the human population with a learning center so they can come to understand their Extra brethren better.
I thought the last was a crock of shit but hey, what did my opinion count for? I can't remember the last time I saw a human walk through the front doors that wasn't on the payroll or was making money off of us. We were tolerated but I don't think most humans are that eager to get any closer than they have to.
The humans that weren't afraid of us, saw dollar signs when we went public. The CMS also houses a lot of human businesses that cater to the Extras community. We have buying power baby.
No matter how many times I come through the front I’m always amazed. The majestic marble columns that lined the outside of the building, never failed to catch my attention. The inside was constructed in a similar manner. Two main marble columns separate the first floor into two halls that ran along the sides and come together in a huge food court. In the center of the main floor were three elevators with escalators on either side that led to the second floor where the public businesses were housed.
I waved to the receptionist and boarded an elevator. Sentinel offices were kept on lower level three away from the mainstream but the board rooms were on the fourth floor.
Just as the doors were about to slide closed a smoking, blackened, and blistered hand slid in and pried them back open.
"I see being pureblood means you lack manners Valeria," Jacob Priest stepped into the elevator fanning the singed collar on his hooded jacket.
Damn. That was the second time in one day that someone had accused me of being rude. "Fly my kite Priest ok. My head was somewhere else. Besides, my rudeness should be the least of your worries. Someone's out a tad early huh? How'd you shake the day sleep anyway? Oh yeah, your little 'roid cocktail."
I looked down at his hands and bit my bottom lip. "Pureblood has it's advantages." I tapped the back of his hand and blackened flakes of skin peeled away, crumbling to ash as they floated towards the floor. "That's gotta hurt and I'm pretty sure your jacket is ruined."
Priest pulled his long blonde hair back and gave me a smile that was all fangs as he shrugged out of the jacket and draped it across his arm. "Have I told you lately I think you're a spoiled little bitch who got her job only because of who her daddy is?"
I grinned and gave him the finger. "Not since we got off duty yesterday."
Priest nodded and leaned against the wall. "Just checking."
I watched him out of the corner of my eye as the elevator lurched upwards. He was a good Sentinel and a decent guy, just a total asshole to me. I know it's because of the difference in our blood status but he'd never admit it.
Priest was a deadborn vamp, meaning someone drained him to the point of death and he came back as a vampire. Dearborn's are ten times stronger than humans, but even still they're the weakest of our kind.
The trauma of a quick turning doesn't give their bodies time to properly adjust to the vampire genes. Deadborns adapt quickly and take only the traits that are most need for survival; heightened senses, enhanced strength, speed, and fangs of course. They lost out on the mental abilities.
I tried not to pay attention to the way his navy shirt stretched across his wide chest but it was no use. A bead of pink sweat made it's way down his neck and I followed it's path letting my imagination take me somewhere I had no business going.
Priest may be an asshole but he was a damn fine example of the opposite sex. The man is six ft four, has royal blue eyes that are so dark that they are almost black, just a hint of mustache, and looks that could put could put Michelangelo's David to shame. Regrettably for me, he caught me looking and gave me an all knowing leer that told me I was caught.
He closed the space between us and pressed up against my back, throwing his aura against my own. It was charged with sexual prowess and danced along my own in an attempt to excite me. He was impressive and it might have worked, if I didn't think he was a total tool.
I pushed back with my own aura and put a few inches between us. "Sorry Priest. I'm taken, therefore not interested."
He pulled back his energy only to reach out and turn my head to the side and run a thumb over two small almost unnoticeable spots on my neck, that had healed long ago. "You can't fool me Trumaine, you aren't marked. These bites are dead ends. I don't even smell a male on you."
I jerked out of Priests grip and shoved him into the elevator wall. "I never said I was with another vampire, or a man did I?" I could tell by the look on his face that he thought I was full of shit. Maybe I was, but my tussle with Irulan would help me make sure he didn't know that. I stood straighter and turned my head to the side, "Take another whiff, her scent is all over me."
Priest leaned into my body and ran his nose along the side of my neck, "No way." He backed up with a sly smiled on his face. "You're no dyke, not the way you were undressing me a few seconds ago."
Priest pushed me backwards until I was up against the wall of the elevator and slid down my body inspecting me with his nose. As his got closer to the zipper of my pants, he stopped, and looked up with a 'know it all' leer. "If your mate is a woman why cant I smell her scent down there? As a matter of fact I smell her everywhere but there, but I do smell your heat."
OK he'd gone too far. My knee acted of it's own accord and connected with his nose, before I could stop myself. I heard bones break as he fell back on his ass.
"You grimy little cunt, you broke my fucking nose!" Priest cupped his nose and jumped up in my face just as the elevator chimed and the doors opened.
I shrugged my shoulders and knocked him back on his ass; squelching the hunger that was growing at the smell of Priest blood. "So I broke your nose. You'll heal fast enough, and whatever doesn’t heal now, the day sleep will handle."
I was never happier to see Marcus than I was in that moment. He stood there with his hands planted on his hips as he took in the scene of Priest sitting on the floor on top of his charred and now bloody hoody. "What the hell?" Priest jumped up and shoved his disheveled jacket to his broken nose as he shot daggers at me. He could stare all he wanted, the both of us knew he wasn’t a match for me.
To add insult to injury, I turned and slowly slid my palm down the side of his face. As angry ass he may be with me, he wasn’t strong enough to ignore the ‘come hither look’ that I threw at him. Priest smirked and leaned closer to me. I let my lips graze his before running my tongue across them to taste his blood. He gasped and I fell away from him with a smirk of my own. "Who I'm with doesn't concern you Priest, just know it'll never be you. You're nice to look at and all but I couldn't take someone like you home to meet my parents. They expect better of me."
Priest’s face fell and Marcus snatched both of us out of the elevator and shoved us down the hallway ahead of him. "Now is not the time to try my patience with your vampire bloodline bullshit. The heads of the three major departments are here, the mayor of the city, police chief and a rep from the Vampire Council."
Marcus stopped long enough to shove Priest into a bathroom. "Get cleaned up and come to number two. Valeria fall back."
An alpha werewolf didn’t take second place to anyone. I paused and let Marcus take his place in front of me. "I thought the case was going to me. Why is Priest here?"
Marcus growled, "Priest has a good track record so they wanted him here, but I make the ultimate decision as to who gets the case. They don't need to know that my mind is already made up." Marcus squared his shoulders and we entered the board room.
I scanned the faces around the mahogany crescent shaped table but the only person I recognized was the mayor (who just so happens to be half Glaistig, long story, maybe I'll tell you later). If there was suppose to be a council rep here, he was late. The only vampire in the room was yours truly.
Marcus directed me to a chair on the opposite side of the table where we sat and waited in awkward silence for the briefing to begin. After what seemed like an eternity the mayor finally stood up as Priest entered the room. He was holding a bloody handkerchief in one hand and a smug expression plastered on his face.
What the hell he had to be so happy about I'll never know. He was the one sporting a broken nose to a center meeting, a meeting he was now over ten minutes late for.
Marcus pulled out a chair for him, but Priest walked right by us to the mayor who grabbed his hand. "Nice to finally make your acquaintance Jacob, Master Meriwether informed me that you'd be the Council's presence on this case."
My face dropped and for the first time in my life I believe Marcus was speechless. Oh shit. I'd just broken the nose of a VC rep, not good at all.