Dark heirloom an ema mar.., p.13
Dark Heirloom (An Ema Marx Novel Book 1), page 13
“Except for you, right?”
“Yes.” Jesu’s gaze shifted to the ground. “But even so, I am just a vampire, not a vampyre.”
I remembered what I read about vampyre reproduction. Only vampyres could reproduce. Vampires were sterile, quite the dilemma. “I’m so sorry, Jesu. I can’t even fathom what it must be like to be the only vampire of your kind. But, can’t you just create more Draugrian vampires through bite?”
“Technically, I could. Unfortunately, we have laws against creating clans of vampires. It would not be the same, anyway. Vampire powers are weak compared to vampyres, and each generation is weaker.” Jesu paused and then chuckled. “We could probably bite our way back to human in less than ten generations.”
I frowned. I didn’t want to think about vampires becoming people again. “Does that mean you’re not psychic?”
He hesitated, as if searching for the correct words. “My psychic abilities are… different from what they should be.”
“Well,” he shifted his weight and looked to the side. “The Draugrian vampyres could see the future any time they wished. Anyone’s future. However, what they predicted was not set in stone. Freewill changes the future constantly. What they really saw was the definite outcome of any single decision. Change your mind about something, and the outcome changed as well. My psychic abilities, on the other hand, work the complete opposite way. I get premonitions that I have no control over. They come unannounced, like bad dreams.”
“At least they can be changed.” I shrugged.
“No.” Jesu put out his cigarette and lit another one. “My premonitions are set in stone. Every single one has come true, no matter how hard anyone tries to avoid it.”
I waved a hand at the clouds rising from his lips. “I wish you wouldn’t smoke. The smell is unbearable.”
Jesu put out the cigarette, blowing his last puff into the air.
“Why do you smoke anyway? It’s not like a vampire needs anything to make him look like a badass.”
He snickered. “Yes, I suppose I am enough of a badass without them. I started smoking because it is a sneaky way to keep fire handy. I guess over the years it became a habit.”
I laughed. “Well, knowing what I know now, I guess that is a justifiable reason. But, I’d rather you didn’t smoke around me. It’s not like we need to burn any more walls in this cave anyway.”
“All right,” Jesu grinned. “No more smoking.”
“Thank you.” Smiling, I rested my head against my knees and closed my eyes. I still had a headache from the light, even though the embers in the back of the cave had cooled. “What are we supposed to do for food out here?”
“Nothing. I did not bring any blood, and the animals have an advantage right now.”
“Then you better keep talking to me,” I warned.
“Is it really that hard for you?”
“Yes. Is it really that surprising?”
“It is. You seem rather susceptible to it. Even more so than most new vampyres.”
“Aren’t all vampyres susceptible to blood?”
“Not any more than humans are to food. Forgive me if this offends you, but you seem to take to it like a drug.”
I thought it over even though I knew he was right. “It does feel like a drug. It gives me a high. I feel so alive and full of energy.”
Jesu sighed. “I think you might be part Upioran. Blood has strange effects on them as well.”
“Is that bad?”
“No. It just means you will have to work harder to control your urges. Much harder.”
I groaned. “Let’s not talk about me right now.”
“Okay, what would you like to talk about then?”
“You. Tell me something personal about yourself.”
“Anything, Jesu. You’ve been alive for over two-thousand years, it can’t all be boring.”
“Yes, but you asked for something personal.”
I said the first thing I could think of. “Why is your skin blue?”
Jesu frowned and looked at his hands. “It isn’t.”
“Well, not literally, but you have pale-blue undertones, like you’re cold. Everyone else is just pale.”
“I suppose it is also a Draugrian trait. My mother’s skin was the same color.”
Again with his mom, I thought, but I didn’t want to touch that subject yet, at least not while we were stuck in a cave. I was curious though. “Tell me about your parents. What were they like? What’s it like being a kid born into a royal vampyre clan?”
“It was… painful.” Jesu sighed and ran his fingers through his hair.
Suddenly, I remembered something I wanted to ask him before. My eyes popped open and I sat up straight. “Did your mother bite you?”
“What?” he snapped.
I shrugged. “You were born human, and now you’re a vampire. You said your mother’s Draugrian, so I figured maybe she did it. I would understand, you know, to make things easier.”
He nodded, but avoided my gaze. “You are right, she did turn me.”
“When you were born?”
“No. She did it when I was fifteen years old. You cannot tell what the baby of a vampyre is until puberty. The human children are not allowed to live after that, a law my own father created.”
“He feared them. He worried they would one day turn on us and tell the other humans how to defeat us. So he ordered all human-born children to be decapitated.” Jesu paused and glanced around as though deciding if he should continue. “My mother, being psychic, knew what I was before I was born. She spent her pregnancy plotting ways to save me, checking the outcome of each idea until she found one that worked.
“Luckily, my father was usually away, and was not there the day I was born. My mother told him I had died in birth, but in truth, my uncle took me to an old Sami woman who agreed to raise me for a small fortune. She kept me for the first three years. I do not even remember her face. She died in her sleep one night.
“My uncle kept an eye on me from afar. When the woman died, he took me back to the clan and raised me. They told my father he was raising me as a slave. He did not like this. He wanted me either dead or turned so I would not be a threat, but my mother was not ready to see me become a vampire. She wanted to wait until I was old enough to make the decision for myself.
“My uncle managed to buy some time by bargaining with my father. He promised he would turn me when I got a little older. A small boy would not be a very good slave, after all.
“The older I got, the less my father could stand it. The fact that a human lived in his household sickened him. He planned to kill me himself. My mother foresaw this and spoke to my uncle. They decided to give me a choice. On the night of my birthday, they came to my bedside. She confessed to me for the first time that I was her son.
“They told me they loved me very much, but I could not stay with them as a human. It was too dangerous for me. My choices were to run away and live as a human, or be turned and live with my family as one of them.” He looked at his blue hands. “Guess which one I chose.”
“Oh, Jesu, I’m so sorry.” I placed my hand over his, wanting to comfort him. I hadn’t meant to stir up such horrible memories.
He smiled. “Don’t be. I was overjoyed to finally have a family. I thought I was an orphan. My mother was always so kind to me, I had grown to love her long before I found out we were related. I asked her to do the honor of transforming me. It tied us together, you know. A vampire is always bound to his sire.”
I inched closer to him. “Did your father ever come to accept you?”
Jesu shook his head. “He was very angry with my mother when she told him, but it does not matter anymore. He passed away long ago.”
“What about Jalmari, did you two get along?”
Jesu chuckled until his left cheek dimpled. “We had good times and bad. When I was human, Jalmari and I were b
Jesu’s emerald eyes sparkled into space. I was shocked to hear anyone speak about Jalmari as if he were capable of human emotion. He was still a monster to me. Jalmari was born a vampyre. He never knew what it was like to be human, to be vulnerable to something as trivial as falling down, and that made him cold.
Jesu was real. He was human once, even if it was very long ago. It wasn’t his fault he was born in a vampyre family. It wasn’t his fault his human heart fell in love with them and wanted to belong. Those were human emotions.
“Thank you for telling me, Jesu. I normally don’t converse much with people.”
Jesu cocked an eyebrow. “Really? You are always so full of questions. I would have thought you had a lot of friends back home.”
I laughed. “God, no. I’ve been a loner all my life.”
Jesu scooted closer and curled his fingers around my hand. “How come?”
I bit my lip, but didn’t move my hand away. “I don’t really know, but I guess it’s in part because of my parents. No dad, and a bipolar, manic-depressed mother. I guess I just got used to fending for myself.”
“Do you have any siblings?”
“Nope. I’m an only child.”
We spent the rest of the daylight hours talking the time away. I told him about my childhood, and life in Chicago, making sure to leave out any details about Anthony. Doing so made me realize how little else I had to talk about for those four years that we were together, but I wasn’t ready to share that last part of my life.
“I am sorry about your mother,” Jesu said after I finished my story.
“I’d just like to see her again, you know? I feel more like a ghost than a vampyre, like I’m floating around in limbo. I wish I could tell her I’m not dead and not to worry. She may be dysfunctional, but she’s still my mom.”
Jesu gently squeezed my hand. “Ema, do you feel homesick here?”
I nodded. “It’s hard not to. Northern Finland is a dramatic change from the city, and so is being a vampyre.”
He bit his lip. “You know you cannot go back to Chicago for several decades, right? It is too obvious that you are not one of them anymore.”
I pulled my hand away. “What do you mean?”
“Ema, they will take one look at you and know you are not human. We cannot risk—”
“Bullshit. No one thinks vampires are real. Sure, they’ll see that I’m a little different, but they’d never guess I’m not human. I’m still me.”
“How would you explain your new diet to them? How would you go back to work, practically blind in the day? How could you guarantee that you would not hurt anyone you love when they all smell like food to you?”
I slapped him. He stood, and then glared at me. I scrambled to my feet.
“Oh God, Jesu, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to hit you.” Knowing the strength I had now, I could have broken his jaw. I hoped not. I really didn’t mean to hurt him.
Jesu turned his back to me and rubbed his chin. I walked around to face him. “I’m really, very sorry. Is it broken?”
He opened and closed his mouth a few times. “No.”
“Oh, thank goodness. I’m sorry, but you can’t say things like that to me. Besides, you promised you would help me get out of here.”
“Ema, you must have realized… didn’t you?”
“No, you promised you’d help me get home, you promised!” I shook my head, but I knew he was right. I had no control over the animal inside me. Last night I had gone after a reindeer, but what would have happened if I had found a person first? What would have happened if that man hadn’t had a gun, and Jesu hadn’t been there to stop me?
“Maybe not now…” my voice quivered. “But, I can learn. You said I could. I just need practice, right?”
Jesu shook his head. “Ema, I do not know how long—”
“Shut up. You promised you would help me. You have to. I didn’t ask for this like you did.” I faced the entrance of the cave. I wanted to run. If not for the threatening sunlight, I would be halfway across the island. Who cares if I go blind? I stepped in the direction of the forest.
Jesu grabbed my shoulder and forced me to face him. His thick arms wrapped tight around my back as he firmly pressed me against his chest. His embrace startled me. I stood speechless in his arms. He hugged me so tight, I thought I could feel his heart beating. It was all in my head, of course. I could only hear it.
I wanted to yell. I wanted to punch him. I grabbed a hold of his shirt and balled the fabric in my fists, thinking I might go ahead and really hurt him. But this wasn’t his fault. Jesu was not the one I was mad at. Giving up, I pressed my face against his chest and cried, tearlessly, while he held me.
Jesu and I stretched across my bed after a long day of sulking in the cramped cave. We lay with our feet against the pillows and our heads hanging off the end. Jesu sipped a glass of blood, angling it well out of my reach. I wasn’t allowed to have any. He was intent on teaching me to control my urges.
I licked my lips and tried to focus on something else. “So what did that man say to you, back in Nellim? Wasn’t he afraid of you?”
Jesu cocked his eyebrow. “The human?”
“The veterinarian, yes. By the way, I’m offended you took me to an animal doctor.” I nudged him teasingly.
“You were an animal at the time.” He grinned. “Had you shifted back, he would have really panicked.”
“How could he not know? I mean, not to be rude, but with your complexion…”
Jesu’s grin widened. “I told him I was ice-fishing when my dog ran off.”
I rolled my eyes. “Ha ha.”
“What else could I have said? You had a bullet in your shoulder and needed medical attention.”
“My hero.” I smiled, but then my gaze returned to the glass of blood. The thirst rumbled in my gut, and my smile fell. I wet my lips and whispered. “So how did you find me?”
Jesu shook his head. “I almost didn’t. I was looking for a vampyre, not a wolf. I did not think you would shift. I caught your scent in the forest just in time.”
“I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean to cause so much trouble. I didn’t think one reindeer would be a big deal.”
“One reindeer probably would not have caused any harm, but you went after an entire farm.” He chuckled.
I looked at my hands. “I was only going to eat one of them, though.”
He laughed again. “Ema, the reindeer do not know that. Next time, shift into a bat. They will barely notice if you land on their backs and take a little bite.”
“Thanks, but that’s the last time I go after reindeer, or anything else.”
“Nonsense, every vampyre needs to know how to hunt properly.” He sat the glass on the floor. My breath quickened as I calculated how long it would take to snatch the glass and devour its contents. Two seconds. Maybe four, if I had to go through Jesu first.
I shrugged at his suggestion. I had the feeling I could easily take down an entire herd of reindeer if I was thirsty enough. It was the damn farmer and his gun that spoiled everything. Deciding to change the subject, I asked him something that had been on my mind for a while. “What happened to the Nephilim?”
Jesu shifted his weight. “I told you, they became extinct.”
I shook my head. “No they didn’t. Vampyres can have Nephilim babies, just like they can have human babies. So where are they?”
He sighed. “Nephilim offspring are considered abominations and are destroyed upon birth.”
“But there must have been
Jesu shook his head. “It’s unlikely. There is a huge physical difference between a Nephilim baby and a human or vampyre baby. It is easier for parents to kill a baby that looks like a monster. Keeping one is taboo, and most likely impossible. The child would eventually turn on its parents. The murder of human offspring, on the other hand, is widely debated and disagreed on. Most vampyres see no reason to kill their human children, as they could easily be changed like I was.”
“Do they still kill human babies?”
“It is still the law to kill them. However, we keep records of how many are born, and the numbers are decreasing. Some think the vampyre gene may have evolved into an actual species, not just a hybrid. Of course, it could also mean more vampyres are lying about their human young. Jalmari believes the latter since more clans are trying to be human-friendly.”
I scoffed. “I find that hard to believe.”
Jesu chuckled. “Well, I never said it was mainstream, but it is a growing trend among our kind, especially in industrially developed countries. The Neo-Draugrian clan is human-friendly.”
I raised my brows. “Really?”
“Of course. We do not kill humans. We get our blood from blood banks. We do not terrorize the Sami tribes or any of the locals.”
“What about Jalmari? He terrorized me. He hunts Romani people, you said so yourself.”
Jesu winced. “I suppose I have not been entirely honest with you. The Romani—”
A raspy knock on the door interrupted him. I scented the air and recognized Maria’s skin in my nostrils. I stood and opened the door for her.
“Goodness, darling, you’re looking a little ill. When was the last time you had something to drink?” Maria lifted a hand to my cheek.
“At least twenty-four hours ago.” I sighed, remembering how thirsty I was.
Jesu sat upright. “I assume, since you are back, my brother is as well?”
“Yes.” Maria nodded.
“And how is your husband?”
“Oh, he’s fine, dear, just fine. Busy as always.”
Jesu nodded. “Jalmari ought to give you two a break.”
by J. D. Brown have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes