We meet two new characters and delve deeper into the story.
AND SO IT BEGINS
Karla collapsed on her knees. She didn’t register the pain. Flaming red hair fell in chaotic waves around her as she gasped for breath and shivered. Valentine was by her side in a second. He took her into his arms, both kneeling on the marble floor of the living room and he caressed her gently. The redhead grabbed with one hand his upper arm and dug her nails hard without even fully realizing it as she still gasped for precious breath.
“Shh, my little flame, you’re safe, I’m here. What are you seeing?” Val’s voice was soft, soothing, but it didn’t stop the shaking. “It’s… cold.. so… cold.” Karla barely whispered the words through gritted teeth. “I see.. him.” The shaking was getting worse.
“Who, Karla, who do you see? Where are you?” Val asked with urgency, yet not raising his voice. The visions about the past rarely affected her that much, but when she experienced visions of the present it was usually violent and it left her weakened for days. Yet those were the precious ones, the ones Val and his siblings cared most about. His body did provide some warmth for Karla since Val had recently fed, however the cold she was feeling wasn’t exactly physical, so it didn’t make much of a difference in the end.
“Val, help me.” Tears escaped her eyes onto her freckled cheeks. “I can’t stand the… the cold.” She stuttered, one tear after the other flowing from her eyes.
“I’m here, Karla. You can do it. The cold is not real, it’s just in your head.” His caresses became more rushed on her exposed skin. The cold might have been in her head, but her skin had indeed become dangerously cold for a human. Val still needed to know what she was seeing. “Tell me more, Karla. Focus on where you are and what you’re seeing. Listen to my voice and forget about the cold.” He gently turned her around so that she was now facing him, her open eyes looking at him, but not seeing her lover at all. Her cupped her face and brought his own close to her until their foreheads touched. “Karla, talk to me, my little flame.”
The shivering became slightly less pronounced. “A cave. I’m in a cave, on a mountain.” There was a pause. Val said nothing out of fear of her snapping out of the vision. “Anshar... he’s lying on a stone. It’s cold, damp and dark.” Her voice was barely even a whisper and Val was the only force keeping her from collapsing to the floor entirely. “What else, Karla? What more can you tell me?” Val’s voice was almost pleading. Karla’s tears were trickling down his own arms. She was very cold and her eyelids slowly started covering her blue eyes. Val shifted slightly to catch her in his arms as she finally lost consciousness. The vampire stood, holding the beautiful and unconscious redhead in his arms. He carried her upstairs to her bedroom, calling for Amantha, one of the women working in his house, on the way. Val placed the young woman gently on her bed. He drew the covers over her then turned to Amantha. “Her body temperature is very low. I leave her in your care.”
He turned and left the room. His cell phone was already dialing someone. “Aram, we need to meet. Karla saw something.” The conversation was short. She had not seen much, but any information was precious. A cave. Their maker was somewhere in a cave, on some mountain… somewhere. Oddly enough, it still narrowed down their search.
Val left his lover in the care of someone else. Amantha had taken care of Karla before, she knew what was to be done for she also had been trained as a nurse. It wasn’t that Val didn’t care about his lover. Oh, he did. He cared about her visions and her potential. He loved the human, but Val’s love was not selfless, exclusive or unconditional. It didn’t matter much, he had Karla wrapped around his little finger. Her life with hims was good, she was cared for, showered with presents and attention and everything she needed was one phone call away… except for Val’s heart. She didn’t truly have that. Then again, she didn’t know that.
Bach was Amelia’s choice for listening while alone with her thoughts. She leaned against the side of the car, looking at the darkened remains of the house. The fire had destroyed most of it, but the years passed since then had allowed some vegetation to invade its ruins. The house Amelia had been born in, the one in which her parents had met their end, that was the object of her visit. There were no other houses in the vicinity, only a grove that surrounded it on three sides. The moon was full, the sky clear and that meant that the night didn’t hide as many secrets from human eyes as the rest of the month.
The brunette liked going there to clear her mind. It was stupid for a young woman, a young human woman, to be by herself at night, in such a remote location, but never, in the years she had been going there, had she encountered another soul. Somehow it was still her territory. It didn’t make sense. It didn’t have to.
Amelia missed her parents. Not her real ones, for those she didn’t even remember - her adoptive ones. She had been to visit them a couple of weeks before, in Grand Haven, the place that had watched her grow. There was nothing quite like sleeping back in her old room, eating her mom’s cooking and swimming in Lake Michigan with her father. She still loved New York and she had Cats and Lexi here as well as Angela - Cats’ aunt who loved to act like an overprotective mother to the both even though she didn’t look to be much older than them. The perks of being a fairly strong and capable witch.
Looking at her wristwatch, a sigh escaped her lips. Time always passed by quickly when she came to visit her biological parents’ house, the one she would have grown up in had the fire not claimed it and their lives. Amelia had been at her grandmother’s when it happened, or, at least, that was the story she had been told. It didn’t matter, there was no changing the past. No matter how much she tried, regretting how things had turned out to be was not something within Amelia’s reach. She had been lucky to be adopted by the Reinharts when her grandmother fell ill shortly after her parents’ death. She had grown up loved, pampered and happy. She still came to visit, though. A subtle itch to know what her biological parents had looked like or what kind of people they had been was still present and it drew her to that place once in a while. Perhaps it was her way of showing respect by acknowledging their part in her existence. It felt wrong not to come.
Amelia stopped the music, her hands tugging on the headphones. They fell from her ears, dangling freely as her eyes scanned the darkness beyond the house. Faint noises that she was unable to decipher caught her attention. A woman’s scream and then there was silence. Amelia took out the headphones from the phone and stuffed them into the left jacket pocket. She typed nine one one on the phone, yet refrained from making the call.
She knew she should get into the car and drive away or, at least, lock herself in there and actually make the call. Whatever it was, there was probably nothing she would be able to do about it. Still, what if the woman was in danger? Or what if she had hurt herself and simply needed help? Somehow it still felt like her own backyard, familiar territory and,therefore, danger-free. It was an absurd sense of safety taking over her, like a voice whispering that it was all perfectly okay. Amelia walked forward. She reached the first tree then passed over the imaginary line that marked the entrance into the grove. There weren’t many trees and the light of the moon penetrated fairly well. Phone still out, she carefully advanced. A form lying on the ground became visible soon, then another one not far from it. The first one moved ever so slightly and a moan reached the girl’s ears. It was a man’s voice, but it was still someone who was obviously hurt.
Amelia took a few more steps. The blood was soaking the grass all around the stranger. It was dark, almost black, but obviously it was blood. The other figure a little further showed no signs of movement. Another moan. The man was trying to get up and rest against the nearby tree, but failed to do so. Amelia approached him more. With him being too hurt to even crawl into a sitting position, he was obviously no danger to her.
“Hey, do you need help?” She asked as her steps brought her closer and closer to him. “Don’t move, I’ll call for an ambulance.” His face was bloody as were his clothes, but he was obviously wearing a suit. Her brown eyes traveled to the other figure. There were still no signs of any kind of motion. A gust of wind blew from behind her, carrying her scent in the direction of the wounded stranger.
The vanilla scent was familiar. When had he experienced it? Recently - it was still fresh in his memory. The blood loss and the pain were making his thoughts blurred. Very blurred. The hunger was eating him from inside and he wanted to scream and release the pain. He had been too cocky and had let his guard down. One of the witches was dead, the other witch had escaped even while badly wounded and the other three attackers weren’t going to have it easy with their injuries either. Still, he had come close. Too close.
Now the current scent was not making things easier, however, behind the vanilla, another one hit him. This time it drove him over the edge as soon as his senses registered it. The rapid heartbeat, the noise of blood rushing through human veins. He wanted to swallow, but was unable to. He saw her. The darkness stole nothing from his eyes. The same girl, the same scent from earlier that evening. Of course, the vanilla scent had caught his attention then as well.
His body shifted and then moved. It was out of his control. The bloodlust had taken over, reminiscent of those days, too long ago, when he had just been turned. The same madness and blind desire. Soon he had her in his steel grip. Her warmth sent waves of pleasure over him. He had her head pushed to the side while her left side of the neck was left exposed for him. Her scream was bliss before it was muffled by her mouth being pressed against his shoulder. He came down on her, fangs so easily piercing her soft skin. Blood rushed from the wound into his mouth, eager to enter his body. Her rapid heartbeat was slamming against his chest, the softness of her breasts against him didn’t go unnoticed either.
Her blood was warm. Not sweet, for blood was only metaphorically sweet to a vampire, instead it was strong, irony, thick, warm, inebriating. Her hands were uselessly pushing against him. Egil swallowed and moaned in pleasure. Drinking blood was a euphoric experience every time, but there was something much more about it this time. It… tasted differently. Better - much better. More powerful. Intoxicatingly blissful. He drank more and moaned against her neck, unable and unwilling to help himself. How foreign it was, yet terrifyingly familiar somehow.
The vampire pressed the woman harder against him, reveling in her heat as well as her blood. Something screamed at the back of his mind. It was all different. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Yet he had tasted it before. He had to stop. Egil knew he had to stop, but getting his body to accept that was going to be difficult. He felt the woman losing strength, her grip and her push became weaker and weaker. He finally found the strength to stop. The desire to continue was torture, but he was used to the internal conflict. He won - barely.
The woman was hardly conscious anymore. There was no strength in her to speak or move. He gently placed her on the ground, holding her head up against his arm. The vampire knew what it meant - what she was - what he needed to do. Snapping a human’s neck was so easy that it almost seemed unfair. His free hand traveled to her blood stained neck, wrapping itself around it, feeling her shallow pulse against his palm.
Amelia felt so tired that she couldn’t even gather the strength to care about dying or staying alive. His hand was cold against her neck. She did feel a tear escape her left eye as she looked up at her killer. There was a frown on his face, that much was obvious even in the shadows. He was young too, not much older than her, perhaps. Her right hand twitched and she managed to move it as his grip was slowly tightening on her neck. It reached his hand, but then it fell limply by her side. Herm lips moved to form a plea, but no sound made it past them. His grip loosened. Either that or she was losing feeling in her neck. No, it did loosen as his hand also started moving down until it found the hem of her shirt. She felt it being lifted as the cold air invaded her exposed skin.
His eyes traveled to her stomach and then her world finally went dark.