Vampires and Mistletoe, page 2
Mid Morning, December 22nd
The throng of waiting sisters quickly crushed Tessa in a group hug as she entered the warm, lavishly decorated main hall of her father's home. Talia looked a bit forlorn; her son was with his father for the Christmas holiday this year. Tessa missed hearing his cheerful little voice. She had brought gifts for the servants and all of her sisters, and even one for her father. It was Christmas after all; and her mother had taught her about the importance of giving.
Mutely supervising her return from a dim corner, her father nodded to her levelly in a pathetic excuse for a welcome. She returned the nod with equal casual coldness. A tall zombie helped carry in all of her packages. He gave her the creeps, but she attempted to graciously thank him for the assistance. His throaty growl quickly caused her to back off. He was definitely on Santa's naughty list for next year!
The family settled down in the comfortable room. Almost the moment her backside hit the cushion her father made a drastic announcement.
"Your Aspen trip is canceled. Recently, several attempts have been made on Tessa's life recently."
His announcement was met with stunned silence. After several panicked heartbeats Tessa spoke earnestly, "That's a lie, Victor."
In her shock she forgot to call him Father. Victor's eyes glowed a deep angry red and Tessa could literally see little flames dancing in them. Her use of his first name always caused him anger.
"There's a fringe group of humans who know about the Other World. They call themselves demon hunters. Somehow they've discovered you are a demon. On three occasions they have tried to kill you."
Her mind fought to process what he was saying. Her brain turned off, but her mouth unfortunately, stayed operational. "Shut the fuck up!"
He raised his eyebrow. Looking at her sister's terrified and surprised faces made her feel even more nervous. The last time she'd seen him things had gotten scary. You could only push a demon so far before it got dangerous. She hated the thought of ruining her sister's holiday —again— with a fight with Victor. His eyes glowed red, not a good sign. Her words were a mistake, and she knew the moment she said them that Victor would make her regret them. Cringing, she waited a second, and then another second passed. Nothing happened, and she glanced up at her father. He hadn't lost his glamour yet; that was a good sign. He didn't look happy; but he wasn't calling his wrath down on her like he would if anyone else talked to him like that. His eyebrow stayed raised, and she wondered if it was stuck.
"No, I will not."
He could be so literal sometimes, she thought with a sigh. "
Listen to me, Tessa. Your life is in danger. If you take your sisters to the human realm they too will be in danger. I know how much you love them. Stay here; be safe. This is your home, child."
"This has never been my home, and you know it! I'm not an idiot. You can't fool me into staying here. I give you kudos. This was a creative idea, but I would know if someone was trying to kill me. What would stop them?"
"Your bodyguards would stop them."
"My— my— my what? Have you had me followed?" Tessa felt confused. Why hadn't she known? "How long has it been going on?"
He looked menacing, as if he could slay all these would-be enemies himself. "Do you think I would let my heir, my eldest, wander around foolishly playing human unprotected? I've always had a security detail charged with your safety."
It was the greatest outrage she could imagine. Horrified, she didn't even know if she could scream her rage at him. No wonder some crazies knew she was part demon. Demons were stalking her. Feeling uncomfortable and almost dirty she slammed her hand against the table in frustration. Tessa's whole body shook with the rage she felt building inside herself. What had the strangers seen? What details of her life did her father know? It just seemed grotesque.
Violated beyond words, Tessa tried to pull herself together. Regally she stood, and with all the demon fury she daily suppressed, she used her magic for the first time in years. Snapping her fingers she teleported herself back to her apartment.
Rushing to her closet, she began to pack. It would be hard to escape his long reach, but determined, Tessa made a mad dash for the door. She would not be house-bound at her father's like she had during childhood.
Because she had left her coat back in Other World she grabbed a thick sweater and left her apartment, knowing she would never see her small, tidy home again. The life she'd built —home, job, and friends— was lost to her.
Taking only the single suitcase and her purse she rushed away; hoping to lose her father's goons. Tessa wasn't his pet. She would make sure her father and the demon haters never found her again.
Early Evening, December 22rd
As much as Victor hated vampires, this time he made an exception and hired one. Gideon, a badass vampire, stood waiting for admittance to his Grand Master's office. When he'd risen to power the vampires had been his greatest source of opposition. His older brother and father had been killed by vampires, so his hatred for them ran deeply.
Contacting the vampire proved just how terrified he was for his most beloved daughter. Tessa, the strongest and most stubborn of the girls, was also the most talented demon. She fought it, but she certainly took after Victor the most; she shared his stubbornness, his power, and yes, even his ability to ignore facts he didn't want to see. His inability to connect with the traumatized little girl had caused a lifetime of distance between them and he accepted his responsibility for it. However, he would not accept her foolishness. In the human world she was mortal and could easily die.
He should have lied about the reason for cancelling the trip. When she walked into the room the other girls, and even the servants, had lit up brighter than the Christmas tree in the center of the great hall, and his long worry had turned to anger. Tessa honestly couldn't see how precious she was to all of them. When she wasn't brooding or angry with him, the girl had a delightful sense of humor. She'd insisted that her sisters be happy and she'd filled the castle with her love for them. It was a different place when she'd been home. She'd taught her sisters to dance and sing. She'd been fearful, but she was always good to his servants and truly tried to see past the stereotypes she had been taught as a child. She'd earned their love without ever realizing it.
Tessa put her life at risk every day that she lived away from the Other World, her family, and her birthright. Someday —in centuries, he hoped— she would take his place when he died. Tessa rejected the notion entirely, but Victor knew the truth. The moment of her birth he'd felt it; she was the one to carry on his legacy. If only she could get past her anger and resentment.
He could never tell her the truth about her mother. It would devastate her. He accepted her hate to spare her the misery of the truth. Pulling his mind away from the crippling pain of the memories he cleared his throat and spoke into the intercom at his desk.
"Send in the vampire."
Casually, as if the man were Grand Master himself, the vampire entered and, without permission, sat down. Victor raised his eyebrow, but said nothing. He needed the man's skills too desperately to alienate the vampire right now; Gideon was the best tracker in all the Other World. Victor hated having a vamp in his home, but for Tessa he would tolerate the man. Vampires knew his aversion to their species and resented his rule, probably with some justification. He'd had more trouble with them than any other race in his domain.
The vampire put his feet up on Victor's desk. Insolence! If he didn't need the arrogant creature he would order an immediate execution. Gideon smiled, and Victor knew that the vampire knew he was safe for just that reason. Clearing his throat, Victor spoke with barely restrained anger.
"Vampire… Gideon of Burning Side, I called for your assistance and will tolerate your insolence only so far. You are to return my daughter, Tessa, home, and will receive a handsome payment when you have completed the task. She is using her magic to cloak herself. Human demon hunters have their
"Why should I drag some spoiled demon Royal home? It's not my concern if hunters get the foolish girl." The vampire's eyebrow rose mockingly.
Victor could feel his horns growing long and curled and his fingers became claws at the disrespect to his daughter. His current worries left him absolutely no tolerance for arrogant vampires.
"My child is not a spoiled girl. However, she is stubborn and independent, and needs to be here at home. I expect you to take this task seriously. If she dies I will kill every female vampire in the realm in retaliation. Your choice; save my child or watch your species become extinct."
* * * *
Gideon felt shocked. Had the bigot actually stated he was going to kill his people's women? Could he actually do that? For a moment, he just stared at the Grand Master in silent disbelief. It was obvious that he meant what he said. Frowning, Gideon realized there was no choice. His reply held every ounce of his disgust for a man who would threaten a species to get his own way.
"I will bring your daughter home."
Levelly they stared at one another. Both men held their pride before them. With a slight jerk of his head, the Grand Master nodded in dismissal. Gideon wondered how the man could casually return to paperwork after threatening genocide. His scowl never left his face as he got up and left.
* * * *
Late Afternoon, December 23rd
After an entire day of staying on the move and looking over her shoulder, Tessa felt exhausted. Reasonably certain she wasn't being followed; she decided to go to the last place her father would ever look for her in the human realm. He knew how she thought, his goons didn't. She felt sure he would give them a list of potential locations where they could find her.
It was irrational, but Tessa had a terrible fear of lakes; an instinctual side-effect of her demon nature. Of the six of them, only she had inherited that particular fear. One year her father had booked a beautiful resort near Mary's Lake in Estes Park, Colorado, as a change for them. Tessa had remained in the comfortable and quaint room with the curtains drawn, hiding from the lake, until the trip ended.
In anger she'd reminded her father that if he loved her he would certainly know her greatest fear. Just one more argument in a lifetime of anger and misunderstandings. Tessa's reaction certainly ensured he MapQuested any area's geography to avoid lakes after that disastrous Christmas vacation. The same experience ensured he would never think to look for her at the lodge and resort on Mary's Lake. Taking a deep breath, she held in her fear and snapped her fingers, hoping she had enough energy for one more jump.
Several ATMs across the country had given her access to the modest nest egg she had in the bank, and bouncing around kept her paper trail confusing. She'd made a point of using several in Florida to confuse her father's goons. She had enough money to stay at the resort for a week. The day after Christmas she'd be broke and homeless, but she'd have one last Colorado Christmas before she left to escape her father.
Without her sisters it wouldn't be the same but she felt safe, and that mattered most at the moment. After a short registration process she took her room card and single suitcase to her room. Smiling, she noticed the strange look she received for wearing only a sweater on such a cold winter night. It was solstice; the longest, coldest night of the year, and Christmas was four days away.
Her continual expenditure of magic had exhausted her, and after a quick cloak of magical protection and invisibility over her room she stripped off her clothing. Lying down under the covers in just her adorable yellow and pink bra and panties, she immediately fell asleep.
* * * *
A rustling noise, as if something had brushed the drapes, startled her out of her deep sleep. Sitting up and gasping, it took Tessa a moment to remember where she was. A strange bed always left her feeling frightened for a moment upon waking. Rapidly rewinding the memories of why she was there reminded her that she needed to get used to the sensation.
Blinking, she rubbed her eyes and tried to see in the darkness. Her demon blood gave her keen night vision, but it was so unnaturally dark she couldn't tell what had made the noise. For a moment, she felt tempted to call out into the darkness to whoever had woken her. A dark blur suddenly grabbed her and pulled her to the floor. Since Tessa had rejected her demon nature, she'd never properly learned to morph to her stronger demon form without having to concentrate. Fear trapped her in her human form. Now someone choked her, and she was helpless. Gasping and coughing for air, Tessa slapped out futilely at her attacker. Unconsciousness threatened; if she allowed herself to pass out she knew her attacker would easily and quickly kill her.
Suddenly the bliss of unexpected freedom left her fighting for breath like a fish out of water. Confused, she realized her assailant was under attack. Vaguely, she realized how quiet the scuffle was. She listened in terror, unsure what she should do. Someone must be using magic in her room, to make it so disorienting. A cracking noise put an end to the battle. Having heard the sound before, in the Other World, Tessa knew it was the sound of someone's neck being broken. But whose?
Even as the darkness lightened slightly, the adrenaline-fueled fear remained, and as a tall form approached her and Tessa cringed, terrified. Was her attacker coming to finish the job, could she trust her rescuer?
* * * *
Gideon's vision was perfect in the darkness he'd created; even the demon couldn't see him. He looked down at her; she was exquisite. When the hunter had silently broken the lock to her room Gideon had followed him in and called the darkness to them. It slowed the attacker down enough for Gideon to gauge his best options for attack as he glanced around the room for his charge.
His first view of the sleeping woman had made him catch his breath. Her long black hair had spread across the pillow, highlighted by the ivory perfection of her skin. Long lashes lay peacefully on her checks. Her perfect bone structure and small cute nose made him wonder if she was really the biological daughter of the Grand Master, because this woman was beautiful. One small hand curled innocently under her face, and she sighed restfully in her sleep.
When the hunter had grabbed her, Gideon felt an unusual wave of protectiveness toward the woman the Grand Master commanded him to rescue.
Having dispatched the human hunter easily enough, Gideon hovered over the girl. So this was the one who never appeared in public; the heir no one ever saw. The demon who wanted to be human. It was certainly a conundrum, but he just wanted to get her home and be done with her.
Terror shimmered in her bright blue eyes. He'd never seen a demon with blue eyes and it took him aback for a moment. She looked delicate and fair, except for the thick lush mop of black hair. For an irrational moment he wanted to bury his face in it. Coming closer he smelled her blood, it smelled very human. A piecing moment of hunger surprised him. Her blood should most certainly be demon, but something very human ran through her veins. Vampires could not drink from a pure-blood demon because it was poisonous to them. But this girl was most assuredly appetizing! The scent of her blood confirmed it would be safe for consumption. Involuntarily, his fangs lengthened. Stepping back, he almost tripped over the body of the hunter.
His quiet movements seemed to frighten her even more as she sat almost naked in the chilly darkness; looking up at him like a lost little lamb. Her innocence belied her demon nature. Strangely, he felt the purity of her soul and was moved. Rumors of her rejection of her heritage and place as heir had abounded, but until that moment he'd put no belief in them.
Needing to comfort a being he wanted to hate left him feeling uncomfortable. Clearing his throat and banishing his darkness he spoke with quiet, firm confidence. "There is no need to fear. You're safe now. I'm here to take you home."
A tear leaked from her eye and she opened her mouth. "Please, don't do that to me. I can't go back to that place. I just want to be free. I just want go back to my life and the h
The rumors were true; she didn't plan to be the future Grand Mistress of Other World. A moment of pity almost made him agree to let her go. Then he remembered that the future of his species hinged on her return. Reaching out, he was ready to take her home. He'd take her by force if necessary. When he touched the woman a red flash lit the soft blue eyes and he felt electricity pulse inside his body. As he snatched his arm back, she looked sadly up at him.
"I can't let you take me back; I have to hide. I don't want to live in an eternal prison. Humans need to live and die a mortal lifespan. Without death, life has no meaning. I'm not a demon, I'm human. I won't let you take me back to that place." Her soft words angered him.
Crackling all around them the electricity filled the room as it filled his body. This is not good, not good at all, he decided, as the glow in her eyes increased in proportion to her desperation. A soft wind filled the room. Long strands of her silky hair rose up and floated about her as if she sat immersed in water. His gooseflesh had little to do with the coolness of the supernatural air. She looked glorious filled with frightening intensity. Suddenly, his cock was very hard, even as he knew he was not going to like the end result of her actions.
Her small delicate hand rose up and she snapped her fingers. He felt a pressing weight against his supernatural senses. Tessa was using her power to keep him from removing her from room. Cringing, he saw it was obvious that no matter how harmless she looked, her reservoir of power was vast. He knew many demons, but none could do what she had done with a snap of their fingers. No wonder she was the heir and future Grand Mistress. How she rejected that much power was beyond his imagination.
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