Vampires and mistletoe, p.1
Vampires and Mistletoe, page 1
Table of Contents
About the Author
Also by Ashlynn Monroe
Vampires and Mistletoe
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Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Editor: Devin Govaere
Vampires and Mistletoe © 2010 Ashlynn Monroe
ISBN # 978-1-920468-14-9
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To my friend, Amy H., thanks for reading my work and encouraging me to pursue my dream. Your encouragement has been such a blessing. A true friend is a rare gift; thank you for being mine.
Cold and still, a soft dusting of sparkling snow mocked her in the lamplight. Her New York state apartment was a world away from the life she'd known as a child. Snow always made her think of a happier time before her mother died. Tessa tried not to be depressed; Christmas was a week away after all.
Once again she would be going to her father's domain without a boyfriend. Granted, she had a family that would make most regular guys flee in terror; but she still hated to go home alone, again. Once she'd brought a human man home, a man she thought she would marry. He'd told her that he could handle it. She'd been very clear and frank about her families… differences. However, her heritage freaked him out, and as soon as they were in the human realm again he broke up with her. In fact, he'd been so afraid of her he'd moved out of the city, without leaving a forwarding address. She'd received his break up email telling her that he just couldn't deal with what she was. Tessa knew she deserved more from him after living with the jerk for two years. The coward even changed his phone number. She wouldn't be surprised if he'd left the country. He was the last man she'd allowed into her life, or her heart.
Her heritage would scare away the most determined of men. Blaming her father for her lonely existence was easy. Every paranormal creature great or small called her father Master; he was a dark dangerous force of nature. He could be frightening when he chose to be cruel. Victor Dark was a very powerful demon, and he'd fought his way to the top of the Other World hierarchy to be the current Grand Master of Other World. As an adult she understood his need to rule his realm with an iron fist, but as a child she'd been confused and afraid of him. This fact had caused a very strange childhood for Tessa and her five sisters. They'd been born in the human world never knowing what their absent father was until the death of the mother who loved them. Tessa's mother would leave her with a friend or her grandmother for a few weeks each year. At the time she'd wondered why. After meeting her father she felt certain her mother was trying to shelter her. She'd never worked up the courage to ask him why he'd shown her no interest. At time she'd wondered if she'd even have met him if her mother hadn't died. Tessa loved her sisters, but she hated what they were — half demon. Her heart belonged in the "normal" world of her mother's kind; humans.
Her sixteenth birthday present had been tail removal. What kind of a thing was that to have as a memory? Tail removal, blech. Her family didn't understand her anger about what she was. They didn't understand that all Tessa wanted was to be human! And having a tail grow in at puberty (even if you could hide it) was not normal for a human. Most of her sisters reveled in the fact that they were Victor's children. They didn't remember what it was like to be sure you were human. Finding out that she wasn't had been shocking, especially as the knowledge followed her mother's death so closely.
Tessa was the oldest of the six girls and she'd the most memories of their mother and of living in the human world. She'd been the only one to attend regular school and the only one to remember their mother dying. The triplets; Tara, Tonia, and Tabitha, had been infants and Talia and Trista, two and three. Tessa's mother's best friend kept the children for weeks after her death, and there had been no mention of a father in all of that time.
Tessa never met the man until the dark night he arrived with an entourage of weird, scary people. Her mother's friend acted strangely when the dark man arrived, as if she couldn't see him. She sat down in her favorite chair and immediately fell asleep. Doing her best to wake the woman she considered a second mother proved futile. Tessa had realized something made her sleep unnaturally. Even to a child, that was clear.
The tall, dark man who came for them hadn't smiled or said a kind word to the frightened, grieving seven-year-old Tessa, only said that he was her father. She remembered gazing up at his dark scowling eyes and bursting into tears. The stranger offered no comfort or condolence to her, a terrified little girl just needing a kind look or word in that horrible moment.
When the large hand came down to take her smaller one, she shied away, afraid, and he looked displeased. That was the last time he attempted to touch her. What she was seeing was not for just any eyes. It was obvious that somehow not all humans could see the group that followed her dark mysterious father. Having been born with magical abilities, Tessa knew she was different to the other kids at school, but her mother had never made her feel badly, only careful, about those differences. His menagerie rushed them out of the house. Tessa managed to grab her stuffed cat, but every other memento or piece of her human life had been lost to her in that painful moment.
A small blue woman took her and her sisters to a waiting car. Blue was not a normal color. Heartbroken, she watched her neighborhood melt away into the darkness.
The car lurched strangely and she remembered clinging to her stuffed animal. When she saw a shimmering wall of sparkling light she thought they'd be hurt. Shaking and crying she felt the change, the difference when the car left the world she'd always known. In that moment she entered the Othe
Pulling herself out of her sad memories, she felt a keen sense of loss. She had a small Christmas tree, decorated with red and gold balls, just as her childhood Christmas trees had looked. She knew a large lavish tree waited at the castle, but her little tree was far more special in her eyes because of how similar it was to the ones her mother had decorated. She'd avoided going to her father's world for several years, but she just couldn't do that her sisters again. Regretfully she'd taken an extra week's vacation to "travel" for the holidays. As she never took time off her accrued bank of vacation hours sat bursting at the seams. Her boss seemed genuinely relieved that she was finally taking a little time off.
Out of the entire year Christmas was the time she missed her mother most. Hannah, her mother, loved Christmas, and she had instilled her sense of wonder and joy over the magic of the season in her eldest child. After her mother died, Tessa felt a sense of responsibility to her little sisters. Her mother would bake and sing while dancing in the kitchen. They'd been close, she and her mother. After she was gone all the giggling and laughing had ended. No one sang in the kitchen at the castle. Victor had hired and assortment of creatures to nanny and tutor his daughters. Having nannies who gave you nightmares didn't exactly help in developing a close bond. She'd decided that she was all that her sisters could rely on. She owed it to her mother to keep them human.
She seldom saw her father, and when she did it was because she was to be reprimanded. At such a young age, the weight of it changed her and made her quiet and serious. Tessa, intense to a fault, was nothing like her wild sisters, and she had only accepted training in her powers so that they wouldn't overwhelm her. Her mother had ignored the burgeoning abilities, but Victor pushed her tutors manically to make her powerful. When she wanted to play imaginary games with her sisters or the few children he allowed her to know she'd be pulled away and locked away indoors to train.
She wasn't allowed to watch cartoons, or to play with the normal toys she'd been used to. All she'd wanted for that first Christmas, only three months after her mother's death, was a Barbie doll, simply one doll. Her father was the most powerful man in his world and he couldn't manage to scrounge up one silly plastic fashion doll. That was the year she realized there was no Santa Claus.
Their father was cold, the polar opposite of the mother they'd lost. He made Tessa nervous. Her sisters all seemed to be Daddy's girls, but Tessa stood apart. She didn't see Victor as a hero, he was the villain. Maybe it was how broken his relationship with her was that saved her sisters from the constant training. Or, he might just have decided they didn't have lost time to make up for, but the other girls had an easier childhood. If she had to pick one thing about Victor Dark that redeemed him, it was that. Tessa would always be grateful that her sisters hadn't suffered as she'd suffered trying to fit into Other World. She remembered her humanity, whereas all her sisters but Talia embraced their demon sides. It didn't make the evil or bad, just more suited to their father's realm.
Every Christmas the girls made a trip to the human world to go skiing at a beautiful resort. Because it was tradition she never missed it; even if she spent the entire holiday reining in the mischievous imps. Tessa suspected she had been the main reason for the trips. When she was seventeen and desperate to leave Other World, her sisters had begged for the trip. Seeing how important it was to the girls, Victor had begrudgingly allowed it. For the others it was the first time they could remember experiencing their mother's world, for Tessa it felt like coming home. It was her best Christmas memory since she'd come to Other World. She'd visited the resort with them for the last three years, but her sisters complained about her not going to the castle for Christmas with Victor. This year she'd finally given in because Talia had personally come to her and begged her to join them. Talia was her favorite; Talia was the only one to have lived with her during her college years.
When Talia became pregnant Victor blamed Tessa for allowing it. As if she'd have been able to stop her sister, the girl was of age. That was the main reason she'd not gone to see her father for three years. Talia had announced her pregnancy just before they'd left the castle for the ski trip. Victor lost his human glamour in his anger and he'd morphed into his very scary true self. Screaming at his oldest daughter Tessa had screamed right back. Everyone else in the castle had fled in terror, even Talia. For over an hour they'd screamed at each other. Tessa let all her resentment out and told her father just how much she hated his world and him. Before she'd left he demanded she give up playing at being human. He informed her that she was going to be the mistress of Other World after his death. Why he wanted to doom her like that was beyond her comprehension. She hated his world, why would he decide she should rule it?
Dragging her mind away from how much she didn't want to see Victor she looked out into the darkness of the street again. Streetlight hit the glittering falling snowflakes as they fell. She tried to focus only on the pretty and delicate sight, but soon her rebellious brain brought up the other subject she tried not to dwell on. At twenty-nine, Tessa despaired of finding Mr. Right. What kind of man would want a half demon wife? Only the kind she didn't want — Other World men; or, more accurately, monsters! What her mother ever saw in her father, Tessa would never know or understand.
Tessa worked as a secretary for a chiropractic office. Located in a small town in New York she loved how very average it made her feel. She treasured the city for its picture perfectness and all American flavor; she loved the job and the people who came in to see Dr. Everest. Everyone asked her about her unique accent. She lied and said her father was a military man stationed all over the world, and her accent was a result of that experience early in life. She had told it so many times she almost believed it herself. At least if father was in the military he'd be human.
Tessa Dark. People made a big deal about her last name and were always curious and questioning. When she had gotten her driver's license in the human realm, she had considered changing her name, but it felt strange just randomly picking out a new name. She'd kept the name. She felt almost positive that her mother's last name had been something common, yet she wasn't sure and she had no one to ask. She'd even tried to find records on her mother, without luck. She wasn't even sure if she had a birth certificate. Other World had strong connections in the human world, so it would be easy for false records to be forged. With his abilities, she sometimes wondered if Victor hadn't tampered with her memory, stealing her mother's last name. Tessa kept her father's last name out of necessity, not pride or love.
Victor didn't like that his daughter lived in the human realm, held down a menial job, and refused to use her powers unless pressed. He considered his progeny above such a life. In the Other World, half-humans stopped aging on their twenty-fifth birthday; unlike in the human world. It irritated her father that she would let her life escape day by day. Equally human and demon, she chose her mother's heritage. Movie monsters were fun on Halloween, but every other day of the year it was a pain in the ass to deal with them.
Tessa missed her sisters, but the thought of staying forever in the nightmare her father called home terrified her. Every visit, rare as they were, her father would threaten to forbid her return to the human realm. When he made the threat it frightened her, because she knew he could do it. This anxiety was one of the reasons that she didn't return more often.
Christmas brought her back each year, only because her sisters begged her to join them. She spoke to each of them daily on the phone, texting and emailing too; but seeing them was much better. They would spend one terrible —for Tessa— night in Victor's castle, and as soon as brunch finished, they would leave.
Having magic and a long life ensured that Victor was very wealthy in the human realm as well as Other World. He had wise financial managers in both worlds. As much as he hated coming into contact with humans, having a foothold in each of the two worlds was unavoidable. Her mother had been a young bank teller who'd caught his eye. The ye
He constantly offered Tessa cars and money and she always refused. If the man had taken a personal interest in her as a child, even for a moment, it would be different. He'd been trying to buy his way into her heart since she'd come into her full abilities on her eighteenth birthday. She could do some scarily powerful stuff. Knowing that her father only cared about her because of her talent bothered her. She hated the sight of the man. Taking his gifts would be hypocritical, most assuredly. She accepted one gift from him each year —buying out all the rooms at a chic ski resort in Aspen for a week— and that was a gift to all six of them.
She refused every wrapped box from him under the tree. It infuriated the triplets, because they adored Victor; in their eyes he could do no wrong. If they didn't love her they would most likely disown her. It surprised her a little that she always saw so many gifts under the tree from her father. After years of refusing them, she wondered if he'd gotten wise to her feelings and just had empty boxes wrapped for show. The idea made her a bit curious, but not curious enough to let down her guard and accept anything from the man.
She tried to be a good person, but forgiving the person who'd crippled you emotionally was hard. Her sisters had never dealt with the same kind of pain and abandonment she'd experienced. She was almost thirty and she still slept with a nightlight to keep the terrible nightmares at bay. The first two years she'd lived in the castle had been filled with fear and confusion. No one understood that she wasn't used to monsters popping up everywhere. No human father would've assigned his daughter a werewolf as a bodyguard or a zombie nanny. Victor forgot she'd been raised by humans. The blue woman was the closest thing she'd had to a normal caregiver. She'd been afraid of monsters under the bed before she'd meet her father. After going to live with him she was afraid of the monsters who put her to bed. She'd slept in her closet until she was thirteen. It would take more than a few shiny babbles to make the wall of bad memories go away.
by Ashlynn Monroe / Romance / Ebooks / Paranormal have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes