Snippet Saturday

Part 1, Part 2

Sebastian followed Morgan’s human assistant, Anne, to Morgan’s study a mere ten minutes after he’d arrived. He’d honestly expected to be told to make an appointment and come back another time. One didn’t just drop in on the de-facto leader of the Faithful. Or, one wasn’t supposed to. Sebastian did when he needed to see her. She’d only turned him away a few times.

Sebastian was on uncertain terms with the Faithful. He’d been made by one over a hundred years ago and had followed their rules for many years. Honestly, he still did, for the most part. He didn’t kill humans when he fed, unless they were bad–murderers, rapists, pedophiles–or they really pissed him off.

But, the Faithful… They were just so sanctimonious. And boring. They were in a sort of perpetual mourning state for their creator who’d been killed a few years before Sebastian was made. Before she’d died, she’d proclaimed she’d return, and so the Faithful were just waiting for her to come back. If she ever did.

The Faithful were all about rules and rituals and worship and Sebastian had never believed in God as a human. And while he was grateful to Kali for miracuously rising from death as a vampire and starting a new race, he wasn’t going to start worshiping her memory.

Anne stopped in front of Morgan’s study and turned. “I don’t know how long she’ll be able to talk with you,” she said with an easy smile. “She’s not super busy tonight, but things always can come up.”

“I understand. Thanks for letting me see her at all.”

She laughed. “I run her schedule, but this was all her. I think she was intrigued that LA’s most famous neutral came her see her.” She pushed the door open and waved him in.

He rolled his eyes at the description as he walked by her. There were plenty of neutral vampires in LA. He was hardly famous.

Morgan was sitting at her desk, typing. When he came in, she looked up and smiled. “Sebastian.” She rose and walked around the desk. “So nice to see you,” she said, holding out a hand.

He took it and shook it gently. Despite himself, he always felt a little tongue-tied around Morgan at first. It wasn’t her looks, although she was beautiful with long dark hair, big brown eyes, and long lashes. If she hadn’t been the second vampire ever created, he might have tried to take her to bed. But she was the second vampire ever and that sort of intimidated him. Kali was an abstract concept; Morgan was reality.

“Morgan. Thanks for seeing me.”

She smiled and gestured at a couple chair set up in front of the desk. He took one and she sat across from him, tucking one ankle behind the other. “What can I do for you?”

“I have a couple things. First, do you know anything about Michael Clearwater? He’s a member of the Society.”

She wrinkled her nose. “Not much. For awhile, he was trying to gain power and made some traction. Then, it all fella part for him, and now he’s a fairly obscure member.”

“Any idea why?”

“Not really.” She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “I don’t generally worry about the Society. Why?”

“His son came to me and asked me to find something for him. It occured to me that it could be a trap.”

“His son?”

“Tristan Clearwater. He’s looking for a book called The Magic of Music. Which is the other thing I wanted to ask you about.”


She tapped her fingers against her chin, eyes distant. After a moment, she shook her head. “I don’t know that I’ve heard of it. I doubt it’s in our collection, but I’ll ask Anne. She’s got a better idea of what we have, at least in the house. Is it urgent?”

Sebastian shrugged. “I get the sense it is, but Tristan isn’t exactly being forthcoming on why. He says he only wants to understand the theory, but it’s obvious he’s lying about something. And, he’s powerful.”

“Really? How powerful?”

“I’m not sure exactly, but I could taste the power in his blood.” Sebastian swallowed, thinking of the tingling he’d experienced. “It’s nothing I’ve ever tasted before. It made my mouth tingle. That ever happen to you?”

She shook her head. “No. I could taste some power in Anne, but nothing that made my mouth tingle. Are you sure it wasn’t something else? Lust? Compatibility?”

“Now, it was power. He wants it to seem like his interest is purely academic, although he admitted he was interested in gaining some control. It’s more than that, though. I’m sure of it.”

Morgan frowned. “What control does he need? Does he want to become more powerful or less?”

Sebastian pursed his lips, thinking. That was something he hadn’t considered. What if Tristan was lying not because he didn’t want Sebastian to think he wanted more power, but because he had the power and wanted less? What if he was as powerful as Sebastian sensed and it was overwhelming him?

“If it’s the latter, it’d be better to get the book into his hands sooner than later,” Sebastian said. “The last thing we need is for him to accidentally blow up Los Angeles because he can’t control what he has.”

Morgan moved her head from side to side. “That kind of innate power is very rare. But, you’re right. Do you know where he works? I can send Anne to meet him. See how powerful he really is.”

Sebastian gave her the address of Tristan’s workplace. “And you’ll check around for the book?”

“Yes. If we really have a violate warlock…”

“He says he’s not a warlock. He’s got magic, but says he can only do a few things.”

Morgan leaned forward. “Yes, but musical magic isn’t based on spells. It taps into a deeper power and teaches the magic user to channel his energy. For it to work, the user must have a connection with that magic already. The magic is a tool to draw it out.” She tapped her fingers on her knee. “Actually, if he uses magic as a focus, he might not even be a warlock.”

“What might he be?”

“I’m not sure,” she said. “But warlocks usually need spells. Music is different.”

“Anne’s a witch, isn’t she?”

“Yes, but she’s still studying. Her magic is spell based. If his isn’t, if it’s something else, we can’t let him run around untrained. We need to know.”

Sebastian shifted. “You think his father sent him?”

“Perhaps,” she answered, sitting back. “It could be Michael Clearwater is hoping to climb the ranks once more by disrupting our society in America. But, it’s equally likely that Tristan left on his own and came here to distance himself from his father.”

“Why?

She shook her head. “I don’t know. Generally, while the Society is against the supernatural, they aren’t technically averse to using and training warlocks. If Tristan is powerful, he’d be coveted, not spurned. So, without knowing Tristan and his story, I couldn’t say.” She leaned forward. “Proceed with caution, Sebastian. You are dealing with the child of a vampire-hate group. Try to find the book, but be careful.”

“I’m not planning on becoming his best friend. He’s just a client.”

“One whose blood you’ve drunk. And whose blood is infused with power. That can be addictive.”

He rolled his eyes. “I’ll be careful.” Sebastian stood. “Thank you for your time, Morgan.”

“I’ll be in touch.”

Snippet Saturday – Vampires and Sorcerers

I still have no title for this novel, but it will come to me eventually.

Part 1

Sebastian spent the next few hours researching Tristan Clearwater. It wasn’t something he normally did, researching his clients, but Tristan intrigued him.

It wasn’t easy. A cursory search turned up almost nothing. Tristan had almost no social media presence. No Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, WordPress, LinkedIn. Not even a dating profile, at least not on any of the usual sites. He did have a Facebook page, but he hadn’t posted anything in years, and even that was only a picture of the ocean.

Still. Sebastian had been alive too long to be stumped by Google. He started digging deeper, getting more targeted with his search, and searching the Dark Web for what he could find. It took some digging, but Sebastian finally began to unearth information.

Tristan had been born in London, April 25, 1994. His parents were Michael and Aileen Clearwater, mother deceased. Tristan had done well in school and had gone to Cabridge. However, he’d left before he’d finished. His employment history was sparse. He’d worked in a few offices in London before moving to America. Now, he was temping at a small law firm in Santa Monica and attending night classes through a local community college. Mostly, it seemed, he was living off a sizable trust fund which, Sebastian assumed, was how he was planning on paying for the book.

Curious, he turned to Tristan’s family and was glad he did when he discovered that Tristan’s father was a member of the Society  for the Protection of Humans Against the Supernatural, or Society for short.

His lip curled in distaste. Although the Society had little presence in America, Sebastian had run-ins with them while living overseas. They were, as the name suggested, dedicated to the protection of the human race. Which sounded noble, of course, except it meant they were prejudiced against vampires, demons, the Fair Folk, and anyone else who wasn’t human. They didn’t even like the Faithful, the vampires who followed a code of ethics that had been in place since the death of Jesus. Code or not, they were undead and, therefore, evil. 

Sebastian wondered how the son of such a man had come to seek him out. If maybe this was all an elaborate ploy. He’d have to confront Tristan and see.

In the meantime, it wouldn’t hurt to look for the book like he’d been hired to do. If anything, he’d find it and have a valuable book for his collection if Tristan turned out not to be what he appeared.

Comments? Let me know what you think below!

Snippet Saturday

I’m changing it up for Snippet Saturday. This comes from my current WIP which is untitled (I just call it Vampires and Sorcerers right now). It’s set before the novel I was posting, Dark Goddess, which means I have to overhaul that one to include more characters from this one so they fit together better. Anyway, it’s a gay paranormal romance set in modern times. Enjoy!

Chapter One

Tristan Clearwater was a beautiful man. Dark brown hair set against pale skin, gray-blue eyes that almost looked silver when they caught the light, a lush mouth with a full bottom lip. Really, it was ridiculous how beautiful he was, and, sitting behind his desk, twirling a pen between his fingers, Sebastian was so distracted by Tristan’s beauty, he almost missed what Tristan said.

No. Not almost. He had missed what was said, a fact he only realized when the silence became pronounced and a look of uncertainty came into Tristan’s eyes.

Sebastian cleared his throat and dropped the pen on the desk with a muted clatter. He shifted in his seat and sat up straighter. “I’m sorry, what?”

“It’s a book,” Tristan said. He seemed to glow in the dim light of Sebastian’s shabby office, which was filled with old books and dusty statues and talismans that were waiting to be picked up by clients. Normally, Sebastian thought his office cozy; Tristan made the faded edges obvious.

“What’s it called?” Sebastian picked up the pen again and sat, poised to take notes.

The Magic of Music. It’s about…”

“The magical powers of music?” Sebastian said dryly.

Tristan nodded. “The convergence of the two, the theory behind it, and some rudimentary lessons. It’s very rare, you see. Only a few copies left in existence.”

“Do you know who wrote it?”

His face fell. “No.” He shook his head. “I only ever heard of it. Overheard, really. My father and teachers discussed it a few times, in hushed tones, in the other room.”

Sebastian lifted his eyebrow. “Your father?”

“Yes. I studied magical music theory as a child. My interest has been… piqued again recently.” He smiled, but it was forced and wan.

Sebastian scribbled a few lines on the paper, and then said, “Let me guess. You’re interested in increasing your fortune. Or seeking fame.”

Tristan shook his head.

“Trying to get a girl?” At Tristan’s wry look, he amended, “A guy?”

A smile curled the edges of Tristan’s lips, and he looked down at his hands, then up almost coyly. “Nothing like that.” Then, the coyness dropped away and he straightened his shoulders. “I can do magic. A little. Music helps me control it.”

“You’re a warlock?”

His eyes widened in almost a panic. “No, nothing like that. Nothing that formal. I don’t want to overstate my abilities. Merely… lighting a candle, conjuring an object. Nothing grand.”

Sebastian nodded and made another line on his notepad. “So, you’re looking to become stronger.”

“No!” He swallowed and took a breath. “No. I seek only to understand the theory and gain a modicum of control. That’s all.”

Bullshit. But Sebastian didn’t say it out loud. Even if he couldn’t smell the acrid tang of deceit, Tristan’s body language screamed it. However, Sebastian didn’t really care. A job was a job and magic was hard to master without a teacher. Besides, if the man ever did become a threat, Sebastian would just kill him.

He reached into his desk and pulled out a contract. “This is my flat fee, plus I charge for expenses. Depending on how hard it is to find, and what I have to do, I can invoke this clause, which increases my fee.”

Tristan paled, but nodded. “Very well.”

“I also seal in blood. You or I can  still back out at any time, but it means you can’t stiff me on what’s owed.”

He smiled faintly. “I understand.”

Sebastian slid his pen across the desk.

Tristan ran his eyes over the text swiftly before picking up the pen to sign. “What now.”

Sebastian rose and went around the desk. “Your wrist.”

He hesitated, then held out his arm.

Sebastian looked into Tristan’s eyes and let his fangs extend. Taking the offered arm, he bit Tristan’s write and retracted his fangs.

A rush of blood flooded his mouth. And a shock went through Sebastian.

Power. There was an electric current of power that made his mouth tingle. He’d never tasted anything like it. Sweet and tangy. Delicious.

A bit more roughly than he’d intended, he pulled Tristan’s wrist from his mouth. He brought it down and pressed it against the contract.

The paper flared gold. Sebastian felt a shudder go through him as the bond was sealed.

“It’s done.” He turned Tristan’s wrist over again. “Would you like me to heal you, or would you like to heal on your own.”

Tristan pursed his lips. “Heal me, thank you.”

Sebastian scraped his thumb over his fang to draw blood. Vampire blood acted as a coagulant, but it wasn’t considered polite to do it without permission. Vampires also tended not to heal any wounds that they hadn’t made, unless they were either very close to the person or the situation was extreme.

Carefully, he swiped the blood over the holes in Tristan’s wrist. He may have rubbed his thumb over Tristan’s write a few more times than strictly necessary, but who was to know?

Tristan swallowed hard and looked up at Sebastian.

Sebastian gave him a small smile. “I’ll keep you updated on my progress.”

“Thank you.”

Snippet Saturday – Dark Goddess

It’s Saturday, which means it’s time for me to post a section of my WIP, Dark Goddess. Dark Goddess is a vampire novel about a girl who discovers in her past life, she was the very first vampire. Now, everyone wants to kill her or worship her, and she’s not sure which is worse. I hope you enjoy this snippet!

Previously Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6 , Part 7 , Part 8, Part 9

He turned and sat on the edge of the bathtub.  “A stake works, but only if you get it right through the heart.  A cross doesn’t kill.  It’s used as defense.  And it depends on the vampire.  Gabriel is one of the Faithful, so crosses wouldn’t affect him.”  The very idea of a cross hurting the very devout Gabriel almost made him smile.

“What’s the Faithful?”

“The Faithful are Kali’s children and those created by her children.”

She sighed and lifted one hand to her forehead in a familiar gesture.  Vampires don’t get headaches, but some of Kali’s followers could try the patience of a saint.  Kali of old had adopted the gesture whenever she was profoundly irritated.  “And what is the difference between the Faithful and a regular vampire?”

“The Faithful follow life by the code of laws set forth by Kali in thirty-three A.D.  Other vampires don’t.  That is really the only difference.”

She looked at him as one would a madman.  With an expression that clearly said she was regretting even thinking the question, she asked, “Anything important about the year thirty-three A.D., or did you… did she pull it out of thin air?”

“There is a significance.  It’s very soon after Kali claims she met Jesus Christ.”  He took a deep breath, wondering if he should utter the next blasphemous part; the part that, at one time, he had almost believed.  “The man whom Kali also claims may or may not have gotten the idea for his divine birth from one of her more… earnest children.”

It only took her moment to make the connection, which heartened him.  Yes, she had the memories, even if she didn’t believe them.  “Gabriel.”

He nodded.  “Never mix Greek slaves and devout Jewish women, you said.  To which I replied…”

“Never doubt the visions of the pure, for through them the Lord often speaks.”  Her eyes went wide, hands flying to her mouth as if to take back the words.

“You remember.”  It wasn’t a question.

She shook her head.  “No.” Her head shook again, then she said, “Isn’t that, like, an affront to your religion?  Gabriel said you’re a priest.  How can you believe God may have spoken to a vampire?”

“It’s no more an affront than a vampire being Catholic.”

“Gabriel was Catholic?”

He smiled at her and tested the temperature of the water.  “It’s a long and complicated tale, but, yes, Gabriel considers himself Catholic.  It’s how we met.  His pursuit of religion brought us all together.”

“I think we have time for a long story.”

“I’ll tell you after you bathe.  Here’s a change of clothes and all else you may need.”  He indicated the bag he’d set on the floor.  “I’ll make you something to eat.

Kali tugged at one of her matted curls.  She looked so sad and lost, confused and hopeless.  So unlike the confident vampire he had once known.

He wanted to comfort her.  He hated that feeling.

“I’ve got first aid supplies in the other room.  When you’re clean, I’ll bandage the worst of your injuries.”

“Why are you being so nice to me?  You’re just going to kill me, right?”

“Yes, but not for four more days.  I see no reason for you to suffer.”  Then, before she could ask any more questions, Garrison left.

Snippet Saturday

Previously Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6 , Part 7 , Part 8

Kali limped slowly after him.  There was fear written across her face as they approached the door to the room.  “I thought you weren’t going to rape me.”

The one thing she had no need to fear was the one she was preoccupied with.  “I told you once, Kali, your virtue is safe with me.  I will not violate you in such a manner.  However, we need rest, and you need medical attention.”  He unlocked the door and pushed her ahead of him.

“So, take me to the hospital.”  She collapsed almost as soon as she crossed the threshold.

Garrison left her on the floor as he locked and bolted the door behind him.  “I think not.”  He hesitated a moment before he bent over and picked her up.

She made a small noise of protest as he adjusted her body against his but did not struggle. In fact, she relaxed against him as he carried her across the room.  Her eyes slid shut and she allowed her face to rest against his chest, and a small sigh, the puff of air caressing his neck.

It should have been strange. It should have been unexpected, this display of something so much like trust.  And yet, so little had changed.  This Kali was so much like the one he had known all those years ago. She even smelled the same underneath the vomit: that powdered musk combined with an earthy, clean scent that reminded him of the night.  Holding her, like this, was familiar, too.  Something he had done years ago.

Perhaps, in some distant way, explainable only by magic, she remembered his embrace as well.  Or, more likely, she was just exhausted.

“Where did your shoes go?” he asked as he set her on the closed toilet lid.

She rubbed her nose, dried flakes of blood falling off her skin.  “I took them off at the bar so I could get my pants off.  G-Gabriel took me out of there without giving me the chance to put them back on.  Because.  Because you started killing people.”

He winced and started the bathwater.  Thus far, he hadn’t actually killed anyone, although the guilt still ate him.  He was an excellent shot and had practiced for years so he could complete this mission with as few deaths as possible.

Not that this care would matter once the public saw what he would do to Kali.  If the police captured him, Garrison had no doubt he would be put to death.  The horrors he would have to visit upon her would ensure the death penalty no matter how careful he was with the lives of others.

Of course, he doubted he would ever be tried in a court of law.  The Faithful would get to him first.  They would show him no mercy.

Behind him, Kali sniffed.  He glanced over his shoulder to find her staring at the ceiling, her jaw clenched.  A tear slid from her eye, and she flicked it away with a sharp movement.

“You killed him,” she said.  Her voice was painful to hear, rough from her screaming and choked from tears she tried to hold back.  “That boy.  Gabriel.”

Gabriel had been seventeen when he’d been turned, hardly older than she.  That had happened over two thousand years ago.  Theoretically, a girl as young as she should see him as well older than herself, simply due to the wisdom and maturity he’d gained through the years.  However, Gabriel simply refused to lose any of the innocent purity that was characteristic of him and made him seem so young, no matter how many years went by.

“Gabriel is not dead,” he said after a moment. 

“Right,” she said with a snort.  “Because when you smash someone with your car, pump them full of bullets, and pummel them with a crowbar, all they need is a nap and some chicken soup.  He’ll be fine.” 

“Nothing about Gabriel is natural.  He might spend an hour or two recovering, but he’ll be fine.  That is what vampires do.”

She snorted again.  “Vampires.  Right.  I forgot.”  She chewed on her lower lip before she asked, “So, how do you kill a vampire?”

“Not with bullets, cars, or crowbars.”

“You need a cross and wooden stake, right?”

Any thoughts? Drop a comment below and let me know!

Snippet Saturday

Hey everyone, I’m back! My shoulder is still a little sore, but it’s out of the sling and doing much better. Even though I’ve got a million and a half things to do plus NaNoWriMo, I should be back to my usual posting schedule. Yay!

I’m here today to bring you another bit of my novel, Dark Goddess.

Previously Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4, Part 5

For hours or seconds, she ran.  Her feet led her away, away from the freeway.  Away from Garrison.  Away from death.

She didn’t know what she ran towards.  Home.  Safety.  The police, if she were lucky enough to stumble across a station.  She was lost in a city she didn’t know.  Away was all she had.

So, she ran.  Ran as her lungs burned.  Ran as her legs ached, then screamed, then turned to jelly.  Ran until sweat obscured her vision and she couldn’t catch her breath and her legs refused to move.

Then, she fell.

She pushed herself up to all fours.  Stayed there, panting for air.  A breeze wafted over her, making her shiver.  Sweat ran down her face, under her shirt, between her breasts.  It plastered her hair to her neck and face.  Irritated, she sat back on her feet and pulled her hair into a ponytail, trying to get some air against her skin.

“Hey.  You okay?”

She jumped to her feet, ready to run.

A man stood a few feet away from her.  He had a cigarette in hand and was leaning against the outside of a bar.  When she looked at him, his eyes went wide.

“What happened to you?” He dropped the cigarette and came to her, reaching out a hand

She flinched away.  “I was kidnapped.  He tied me up.  I… I jumped out of his car.  I’m hurt, I… I need the police.  Please.”  Tears spilled out of her eyes.

“Yeah, of course.”  He reached for her again but put his hands up at his chest when she flinched again.  “Sorry.  Come on in.  You’ll be safe here.  We’ll call the police.”  He moved backwards to the building and opened the door.  “I’m Adam.  I own the bar.  What’s your name?”

“Kali.”  Her teeth chattered as she began to shiver.  “Kali Johnson.”

“Come in, Kali.  I promise, you’ll be fine.”

She nodded and followed him inside.  She was too young and too young-looking to have any experience with bars, but this one seemed decent.  It was dimly lit, but clean.  There were two rooms she could see, the main one she was in and one in the back with a pool table, juke box, and a dart board.  The main room had what looked to be a dance floor off to one side, some scattered tables, and a long wooden bar with stools.

It wasn’t crowded.  There were maybe about twenty people inside milling about.  A man stood directly across from the front door, leaning against the partition that separated the two rooms.  He was blond and very pale.  His eyes were half closed, but even from across the room, Kali could see the glint of blue underneath long golden lashes.She stopped moving and looked at him.  She knew him.  Somehow, she’d seen him before.  Not just seen him.  She knew him.

He opened his eyes.  Shock washed over his face when he saw her.

“Hey, Joe, call the cops!” Adam said.  “This girl needs help.”  He touched Kali’s arm with the back of his hand.  “My office is upstairs.  This way.”

She tore her gaze from the blond man and followed Adam.  She could still feel his eyes on her.

“Oh, fuck,” she swore as she took the first two stairs.  In the short time since she’d stopped running, her muscles had turned to stone.  It hurt to even breathe.

“You okay?”  He took her by the elbow.

“Fine.  Just sore,” she gritted out, teeth clenched.  She took another step; it was somewhat easier than the last.

It took forever, but they finally made it to the top of the stairs.  Adam opened the door to the office and led her inside. 

“Is there a bathroom?” she asked.  Her stomach twisted, head pounded.

“Yeah.  Right through that door.”

Kali rushed to it.  She barely made it before she threw up.  Her head exploded into hot-white pain.  Tears flooded her eyes.

She heaved again.  One of her hands held her hair in a bunch from her face, the other gripped the side of the toilet.  She felt like she was going to die.

“You okay?”  She heard tentative steps on the tiled floor.  Then, the man’s thumbs brushed against her neck as he held her hair back for her, managing to get every curl in the bunch.

Kali sat back on her heels.  She squeezed her eyes shut until she’d flushed the toilet.  “Yeah,” she said after a moment.  She wiped her hand over her sweat-slicked face.  “Everything hurts.”

“It looks like everything hurts.”  He helped her stand.  “He really did a number on you.”

“Yeah well, I didn’t go with him easily.”  She rubbed her eyes.  “Can I be alone?”

“Sure.  I’ll wait for the cops downstairs.  And maybe see if there’s anything to help settle your stomach.”

“Thank you.  I really appreciate it.”

“It’s no problem.”  He turned and left, closing the door behind him.

Her hands trembled as she turned on the faucet and stuck her hands under the water.  She washed her hands and face, turning the water red with her blood.  Her arms were scraped from where she fell, pieces of dirt and asphalt ground in.  Her legs were the same, the right knee of her pants torn open exposing the skin beneath.       

She looked around for a medicine cabinet and finally found some bandages and alcohol under the sink.  She cleaned off the scrapes on her arms before bandaging the worst.  Then, she sat on the closed toilet, toed off her shoes and pulled off her pants.  Her legs were a mess.  Her ankle and knee had sickly, purple-green bruises around them.  Angry red scrapes hid behind ground-in dirt and pieces of glass.

She gritted her teeth and began working on cleaning them.

Someone knocked on the bathroom door.

She swallowed back a startled scream.  “Hang on!” She pulled her pants back on.  They felt stiff and dirty and rubbed against her injuries uncomfortably.

There was another knock.  Harder this time.

“I’m coming.  Give me a second.”  She limped to the sink and rinsed out her mouth.  When she opened the door, she expected to see the police or Adam on the other side.

It was the blond man from downstairs.

“Um, hi,” she said warily.

His eyes lit up.  He looked over her slowly, delight on his face.  “It is you,” he whispered.  “I thought… I knew it had to be.  I felt you when you walked in, all over.  I just… I came back to life, like it used to be.  And I saw you, and… I knew you looked exactly the same. I’ve seen you, pictures at least, but, my God.  It’s a miracle.

She stepped back and tightened her grip on the door.  “Who are you?”

“I am Gabriel, my lady.”  He bowed.  When he lifted his head again, the force of his gaze made her heart stutter.

Gabriel.  She’d gone to school with a kid named Gabriel when she was seven.  But he’d been from Mexico.  And there’d been a Gabe in one of the group homes, but he’d had bright red hair and a face full of freckles.

“You’re the senator’s slave,” whispered a memory.  “Gabriel.”

She shook her head.  “Do you work here?”

“No.  I don’t.”

“Then you should probably be downstairs.  This is a private office.”  She licked her lips nervously.  “Look, I don’t mean to be rude, but I want to be alone.  You need to leave.”

He looked over her, a crease wrinkling the skin between his eyes.  “I can’t leave you, Kali.  You’ll be safe with me.   But we need to go.”

Goosebumps broke out over her skin.  “I’m not going anywhere with you.  Go away.”  She stepped back and tried to slam the door.

He caught it.  Wood splintered under his grip.  “Humans can’t protect you, my lady,” he said urgently.  “Garrison won’t stop until you’re dead.”

“Garrison?  You know Garrison?  How?”

Gabriel seemed at a loss for words.  “He was… He was my teacher, my lady.  Father Pike.  Don’t you… Do you remember me?”

The senator’s slave.  Gabriel.  Gabriel.  My Gabriel.

“I just met you!” she cried.  When he wouldn’t let go of the door, she kicked him.

Her toes cracked against the hard bone of his shin.  Kali gasped and swore under her breath.

He dropped to his knees in front of her.  “I mean you no harm, Lady Kali, I swear.”  He looked up at her through his lashes and tentatively took her hands in his.  “I could never hurt you.  You are my creator.”  He rested his forehead against the back of her hands.

Her stomach dropped.  He had to be working with Garrison.  They had to be playing with her, screwing with her head.

She pulled her hands away.  “I’ve never created anyone in my life.  So just… just go downstairs and leave before the police come.  Got it?”

He stayed where he was but lifted his head.  With that simple movement, her perception suddenly changed.  For a brief instant, Gabriel’s image was replaced by another.  No.  No, it was still him, only… different.  Different clothes, different expressions, different… just different.

“I,” she found herself saying.  “Maybe I… You are familiar.”

“You knew me once.  Before Garrison killed you.  The first time, I mean.”  He stood, keeping one of her hands in his.  “If we stay, he’ll kill you again.”

“Because he thinks I’m a vampire.”

“Because he knows you used to be a vampire.”

She shook her head.  “How do you know this?”

“I know you, Kali.  I’ve known you since I was fifteen-years-old, a slave to a powerful Roman senator.  You rescued me from him and took me in.  When I grew ill, you cared for me.  When I was dying, you made me yours forever.”

She put her hand to her head.  “This is insane,” she said.  “I couldn’t have… You can’t mean…”

“I’m a vampire.”