When a vampire falls for a Van Helsing all Hell breaks loose.
|Blood Feud ~ Chapter One
New York City
Same shit, different century, Lucian thought wryly. He had lived nearly 450 years and none of that mattered. He wondered if, all those years ago, he would have chosen differently knowing how things would really turn out. Probably not. He had been an insolent, arrogant young man. He’d refused to listen to anyone then.
Perhaps that one thing had changed, for him at least. He hoped age did at least bring some wisdom, if not relief from his endless nights. Being hunted over the years had been of some fleeting interest. In the end, the hunters unavoidably died, just as lovers did. Unless he could bring himself to do the unthinkable … which he hadn’t for more than a hundred years.
“You seem almost morose tonight.” Ivan Renfield spoke from behind him. Lucian had heard his friend well before he made his entrance and it hadn’t disturbed him in the slightest. Sighing, he propped an expensive, Italian loafer on the windowsill. With a slight push, he spun the chair and turned away from the city nightscape that lay before him.
“As your friend, I must tell you all this worry is going to make you sick.” Ivan chastised.
“I imagine that was your attempt at a joke.”
”Perhaps. You could give me the benefit of the doubt and laugh. We have known each other for over a hundred years.”
“I’m sorry if I offended you, Old Friend.”
“Maybe a trip would lighten your mood. Heaven knows you could afford to go anywhere you wish.”
“True.” Lucian answered, his voice flat and quite frankly, bored.
Where would he go that he hadn’t all ready visited? Besides, his New York City building held nearly every amenity possible. There were shops, a full gym, and even an Olympic sized pool. He did not, in fact, need the exercise but it amused him. His kind was always in perfect health.
He kept this penthouse for his own use. There was a high tech entertainment system, computer station, fully stocked bar, and a near endless library. It was enough to keep a mere mortal comfortable for years. It still wasn’t enough.
The rich cream and smoke colored tones were soothing and perhaps a bit mysterious. Though there was a lot of chrome and glass, it managed not to come across as too modern or cold when mixed with the right antique appointments and furniture. The sparkle of a sapphire colored vase or crimson statue added the right amount of color.
No, it wasn’t luxury, money, or anything else tangible that was missing from Lucian’s life. It was emotion. In a foolish attempt to curb this longing, about 120 years ago now, Lucian had given Ivan the curse of this never-ending torment. So much for being best friends.
There was no lack of female attention. The boundless piles of cash he earned would have made sure of that. Lucian didn’t have to look into the mirror to know that he was attractive to women. At over six feet and well muscled, he was much better looking that he had been in his youth. His dark hair was clipped neat and short, the same with this well kept goatee. His dark eyes made him look devilish, or so the women claimed.
Ivan was slightly smaller, but just as dark. Clean-shaven, he looked much younger than his 150 years. A pair of wire rimmed glasses, completely unnecessary, made him look boyishly handsome. No, neither of them needed the mirror.
There had to be some reason for this hellish affliction. Though Christian thoughts were quite ironic in his case, Lucian believed in a higher power. The All Mighty must have some reason for having soulless shells like him marching around. Perhaps they’d thrown all hope away with their mortal life, weather they’d understood it or not. Dead or not, forsaken or not, Lucian had to find some meaning. He wasn’t sure he liked the consequences if he didn’t.
It was perfect timing. Nearly eleven at night, not a cab in sight and of coarse it had to rain. Even if Gabrielle VanHelsing’s cell phone was working, what was she supposed to do? She certainly didn’t want her mother out at this hour. There were no good options right now.
Gabi’s best friend, Adrienne Murphy, was out on a much looked forward to date. She certainly wasn’t going to interrupt that happy circumstance, even if this was New York City and supposed home to the world’s rudest people.
She cursed again under her breath. Why was she so close-minded? She’d let herself get so wrapped up in cataloging items for the new exhibit that time had slipped quickly away. She hadn’t even stopped to eat. Of course, she blamed part of that on the Haliford Museum of History itself. From the cataloging room in the basement, Gabi hadn’t been able to see the last light fade away. She worked in a tomb for Christ’s sake.
The rain had resumed its previous drizzle. Gabi decided to venture forth from the covered entry port at the side of the bomb shelter like structure and trotted to the cross walk. Just across the street was the Hudson – Kramer Park. Through the park were Genessee Avenue and the town house she called home.
No park in New York City was safe after dark. Gabi had lived in the city all her life and knew what to expect. There was a mile between her and safety. It was still better than waiting for the mythical cab in a rainstorm. She figured all cabbies hit the local bar during bad weather and spent their time laughing at all the drenched, stupid New Yorkers.
She took a deep breath, pulled her bag higher on her shoulder, and did a city trot across the street. She would follow the main path through the park and out the other side. It was fairly well lit, but not well enough. She was thankful she’d dressed for her work today. Packing and cleaning didn’t require designer clothes.
She wore a light flannel shirt in blue, which accented her eyes, and her most comfortable Lucky jeans. Her Doc Martin boots would handle this city hike easy. Thankfully, the early spring night was fairly mild. The neon yellow windbreaker was more than warm enough.
Her sable, shoulder length waves clung damp to her neck and caused her to shiver in spite of her jacket. Thankfully she’d missed the worst of the storm. She chewed anxiously on her full bottom lip. She wasn’t some dumb, blonde, Barbie Doll. She was a well-built, well-educated, urban woman. Now she was taking action.
It was nice to stretch her legs. The air actually smelled fresh and clean after the rain. Once inside the walls, things turned quiet. It was almost peaceful. It seemed an entirely different world than the one she was familiar with during the day. It seemed pleasant; yet eerie at the same time.
A feeling of unease settled over her. She was being silly, certainly. Gabi had been in the park for several minutes, and other than the normal bums resting on the park benches she hadn’t seen anyone. Gabi didn’t think she could imagine any place more deserted. Even summer camp hadn’t prepared her for this kind of nature hike.
She hurried her step, in spite of her heavy boots. Her heart rate increased. Her chest began to rise and fall at an ever-increasing rate. Her arms pumped at her sides. If she hadn’t been in relatively good shape Gabi would have been panting.
At five feet six, she was neither short nor tall. She lengthened her stride, hoping to outrun the ominous feeling that overwhelmed her. She couldn’t name what was pushing her. She wasn’t afraid of anything. There was nothing here at night that wasn’t in the day. Was there?
Suddenly they were in front of her. Like magic, they materialized from the mist. It was as if they’d been transported there from the Star Trek Enterprise. Three people blocked her path. Each individual seemed ordinary enough. Together they seemed evil and threatening. It took only one heartbeat for Gabi to know she was in trouble.
There was only one female. She was all the more striking for that reason. She stood close to six feet tall, about the same as the others. Her ebony skin seemed to absorb any light that may have reached the path from the street lamps. Her afro was pulled from her face with a fabric band. Earrings from multiple piercings gleamed dully from her ears.
Gabi knew the man next to her was the leader. It wasn’t spoken. It didn’t have to be. He stood tall and straight. His blond hair was slicked back from a strong forehead. She’d bet money that his eyes were blue, though she couldn’t tell for sure here. He contrasted sharply against the woman, his pale skin glowing like milk. He was most likely Eastern European.
The other man stood slightly behind. The Flunky. The word lit up in Gabi’s mind like a neon sign. He was slightly shorter and built stockier. His hair was a flat brown. He had a simple look about him. He was most likely all the more dangerous for it.
“Well what do we have here?” the female asked quizzically. She smiled and licked her lips in a way that made Gabi shiver. Were those fangs? She’d seen lots of weird things in this city, so she didn’t suppose this was any better or worse.
“Look … I only have ten dollars on me. My jewelry is strictly dime store stuff. You can have it.” Gabi was amazed she could even speak. Her throat was nearly swollen shut with fear.
Though Gabi had been raised here she’d managed never to be mugged before. She didn’t want to die. She thought about her mother identifying her body in the morgue and the idea paralyzed her.
“You think this is about money? Ah, you poor soul.” The Leader chuckled. Illia Koresh was after more than money. Gabriel VanHelsing’s progeny would be prime revenge indeed. Of course, seeing how pretty the little piece was, the game was getting more and more enticing. This might just be worth his time.
“Leave her be Illia.” A voice commanded. It came from behind Gabi and she didn’t dare turn around. The hair was standing up on her nape. She was too scared to run. Her knees were quivering and she was afraid they’d give way any moment.
“I don’t take orders from you.” The Leader, so named Illia, snapped.
“You’ll regret it.” the other voice warned.
“You will too.” the smaller man she’d labeled Flunky warned.
“Boris … don’t overstep your bounds.”
It seemed to be over before it began. A rock was hurled and knocked the one named Illia back. The man who belonged to the hidden voice whizzed by her with freakish speed and positioned himself between the hoodlums and Gabi.
They made odd hissing sounds. There was an altercation that seemed too fast for Gabi’s eyes to take in. The odd shrieking was loud enough to hurt her ears. The blood rushed away, leaving her light headed. Buzzing in her ears grew louder, and then she slumped to the ground.
She slowly opened her eyes. Her vision was blurry and the new comer’s face slowly came into focus. He was wickedly handsome with dark hair and brooding ebony eyes. He kept his beard clipped in a close goatee that appeared most wicked.
He’d pulled her close to his chest and inside his jacket. He smelled of clean soap and leather. She felt amazingly comfortable there. Gabi caught herself rubbing her cheek against the silk of his designer t-shirt. What kind of hussy was she?
“I’m Lucian.” he introduced. He had a bright, killer smile that ranked up there with Jon BonJovi. Fate was certainly smiling down on her tonight.
“Gabrielle VanHelsing.” she answered automatically.
Fate, Luke decided, was terribly cruel. Here this gorgeous creature was; all shapely legs and wild dark curls. Her porcelain skin begged to be touched, the fine veins pulsing with life, keeping her body warm and oh so inviting. Too bad her ancestor was his mortal enemy.