Dark Heirloom (An Ema Marx Novel Book 1), page 15
Watching her shift and fly as Jesu directed, my first thought was how bad my brother was at teaching. When I’d taught Leena, I had her zipping through the forest as nothing more than a wisp by now. The girl seemed to refuse to phase her entire body, and she was slow and clumsy no matter what form she took. She was no match for an experienced vampyre. No threat to me… yet.
Her powers did not make sense. No clan I knew of could do all those things. Sure, the Stragoian could shift into a bat, and the Vyrkolakans could shift into a wolf, but no one could do both. I understood the voice’s fascination with her now. A Romani vampire, the first ever of her kind. Who knew what else she could do? Yet her mix of powers… what did that mean? Where was her sire, and how could she break the bonds of servitude to her maker?
“Is it not obvious?” The voice croaked to life as it watched the girl. “She is not a vampire, she is a vampyre.”
How can that be? I wondered. The gypsies are human. Unless she has a vampyre parent… but if she did, surely she would have known before.
“The gypsies are my kin, boy, remember that. She’s had Ekimmuen blood deep within her veins all along. They all do.”
Was he implying the gypsies could have vampyre children?
“Why do you think I outlawed human offspring and denied even my own human kin? You ignorant boy, have I taught you nothing? This is why we hunt the gypsies, this right here, her. Can you imagine a world where both species rear each other? It is madness and it sickens me.”
I scoffed. That’s humorous, coming from you.
“Silence. I want to see what else she can do.”
If her existence frets you, why don’t we just kill her while she is still weak?
“Do you not see her potential? She could be quite useful to us.”
She’ll kill you. She’ll kill me. Do you want to die? For certain this time?
“We do not know if she is really the girl from your brother’s vision,” he argued.
Leena doesn’t lie to me.
“She is a woman, of course she lies. Do you not notice your precious companion feels threatened by the girl?”
If anything, Leena fears for my life, like you should. I clenched my fists. The phone continued to ring. Why wouldn’t the person hang up? Leave Leena out of this conversation, I warned him. What if the girl is the one destined to kill us?
“All the more reason to keep a close eye on her. It should be you teaching her how to be a vampyre, not that pathetic boy down there.”
Why would I teach her how to use her powers? So she can kill us faster? And for that matter, why was Jesu teaching her? Did my brother want me to die? Surely he didn’t… did he?
The voice tsked me. “You must earn her trust.”
I have no interest in caring for someone who will eventually turn against me.
“Suit yourself, but I am far from through with this diamond in the rough.”
I sighed aloud, unsurprised that he wanted to keep the girl around, yet still every bit as frustrated. As I peered down at the couple, laughing at some stupid stunt the girl did, one thing became evident. I would have to have a talk with my brother.
My training ended at four in the morning as we headed indoors before sunrise. After sharing another glass of blood, which wasn’t getting any easier, Jesu retired to his room. I lounged on my bed, waiting for the bloodlust to pass and boredom to set in.
By now, I realized vampyres didn’t sleep. Our bodies healed so quickly that the rest and regeneration normally done during sleep wasn’t necessary. That should have been a good thing. It should have meant I’d figure this mess out quicker.
I reflected on what I’d learned since coming here. Jesu said I couldn’t go back to Chicago, but I wasn’t entirely convinced that he was right, nor was I entirely sure that I could stay here.
I still had too many questions. Determined to find answers, I left my room for the library. As I neared the second wing, my nerves turned to butter and eventually melted. The closer I got, the more I could smell and hear Jalmari and Leena.
I paused just outside the hall and eyed the entrance to the library from behind the corner. Do I go in or should I leave? Do I continue to live in fear of Jalmari? Was he even still a threat? He seemed to avoid me lately, but was that good? I certainly didn’t want his attention. Sneaking into his library might change that.
Oh, to Hell with it. I need answers, and I’ll just be a minute.
I slipped in as silently as possible. If only I could quiet my drumming heart. I wasn’t sure what to look for as I crept around. So far, everything I’d read pertained to vampyre and Nephilim history. None of it gave me any clue as to why I was here.
Neither of my parents were vampyres. True, I had very few memories of my father, but I knew enough to be sure he wasn’t one. I remembered him going out during the day without suffering temporary blindness or sunburns. He didn’t have fangs. He ate normal food. He was a coward, but not a vampyre, and my mother certainly wasn’t one either.
So what happened to me? I needed something a little more personal than general histories.
Scanning the shelves, I realized the third floor was full of history books, though instead of typed texts, they were handwritten journals. Most were written in a foreign language and dated between 1200 and 1500 AD. Why did Jalmari have all these original works? He lived through it, why collect someone else’s words on what happened?
I quickly passed the next few shelves, which were allotted to journals written between 1600 and 1800 AD. It was like going down a timeline of European history. The last section housed journals written in the 20th century.
Whatever I was looking for had to be somewhere in there.
Tilting my head as I walked down the row, I looked for anything with a title in English. Instead, I found one with no title; a very long rectangular book bound in black leather. Kneeling and resting the book on the floor, I flipped the bindings open to find page after page of articles about Jack the Ripper. The faded, frail articles had been cut out of old newspaper prints and glued to the blank journal pages.
I knew the timeless tale of Jack the Ripper, the serial killer from England whose true identity had never been found. Yet these articles claimed to have a pretty good idea of who Jack the Ripper really was. One even had a photograph of him. A black and white profile shot of the supposed killer as he was vanishing around a corner. Looking closely at the picture, I recognized the young man and the hint of a dagger by his side. Horrid memories flashed before my eyes. I was back in the alley, thrust against the cold, brick wall, with Jalmari’s silver dagger pointed straight at my heart.
I slammed the book shut. Meaning shone through. This wasn’t just a library, it was a cave of secrets. A cave of stolen truths. Humans lived in ignorance of vampyres and Nephilim, and Jalmari wanted to keep it like that, so he hid the evidence. Nausea knotted my stomach. Everything I learned in college, everything I thought I knew about the world…was a lie.
The thump of another heart filled the room, accompanied by the faint panting of lungs. My breath caught as I scampered to my feet, imagining the worst, but the sounds were quickly followed by the musky scent of cat fur.
I sighed with relief as the cat slinked down the aisle and rubbed against my legs, already purring. “Man, am I glad to see you,” I whispered.
He continued to nuzzle my calves, but stopped short when he noticed the black book on the floor. His velvet head snapped in my direction, eyes wide.
I hesitated. “You already know, don’t you, that he’s a murderer?”
His eyes glistened. “Meow?”
I nodded. “Yeah, you know.”
Just then, the cat whipped his head in the opposite direction and hissed. His ears pinned back and his fur stood straight up. I heard, and then smelled, Leena for myself, quickly getting closer. She must have heard me talking to the cat. Seconds later, she glided into the room like a ghost, her waist-length black hair flowing gracefully behind her like s
“Greetings.” She forced a smile. Her politeness caught me off guard—I expected a battle, given our last couple of encounters.
She cocked her head and batted her eyelashes. “I believe we got off to a bad start, and for that I apologize.”
Is she for real?
A single glance told me otherwise. Her fists clenched at her sides and her friendly expression looked forced. She was lying.
Her red lips pursed as her gaze narrowed. “Come now. There is no reason we can’t be friends.”
My voice cracked. “Why would I want to be friends with you?”
“Well, you and I are the only girls here.” She eyed the cat who continued to hiss from behind my legs. “We should stick together.”
Her words sounded rehearsed as she rattled them off, all the while flipping her hair. I knew she was lying, but I didn’t understand why she was trying to fool me in the first place. What did she want from me?
She scowled, as if she’d heard my thoughts. A light bulb blazed on in my mind. She could hear my thoughts. Jalmari must have sent her to spy on me!
Leena’s perfectly painted lips stretched into a wicked grin, and she snickered.
Oh God, what else could she see in my head? Think of nothing, think of nothing, think of nothing…
Her snicker broke into a sinister laugh as she floated away. My heart pounded in my ears and I made a beeline to the door, half flying and half running back to the fourth wing. Though the Nephilim part of me filled me with bravado, I was truly terrified of Leena. After all, what kind of woman would date a serial killer?
Citrus filled the air as Leena appeared in our bedchamber. The mattress dipped as she lounged across the silk comforter. I sat opposite her with my face in my hands. Unable to concentrate after the last conversation with the voice, I escaped to my room to wallow pathetically. How was it that I could run an entire clan in secret, but couldn’t manage to control him?
Leena cleared her throat. “She’s smarter than I thought.”
“But of course she is,” spoke the voice.
I grumbled through my fingers.
Leena ignored my temper. “She saw right through your little plot. She knew you sent me to spy on her.”
A pleased chuckle filled my head, but it was not my laughter.
“I don’t care about all that.” I gritted my teeth and glanced at her.
Her eyes grew wide and I couldn’t help but notice my reflection in her pupils. Dark, puffy rings circled my eyes.
“Jalmari, are you… tired?”
“Of course not.” I didn’t have to tell Leena that we didn’t need sleep, yet my eyes certainly resembled that of an exhausted human. But it couldn’t be, could it?
“I just need a drink.” Looking over her sensual body, I felt the need for something else as well. “And you.”
“No.” She pushed me away as I reached to touch her.
“Please, my sweet. It’s been a long day.”
“All you use me for is sex these days.” She stood and crossed her arms over her chest. “Sex, and spying on that rat that lives with your brother.”
Her mouth hung open as she paused to ponder something, then a wicked grin grew on her face. “Well, fancy that. A cat and a rat.” She burst into laughter. “Oh, how perfect! A cat and a rat, ha!”
“What are you going on about?” I kneaded my palms into my forehead. Maybe I was tired, but how could I know? I couldn’t remember the last time my body required rest.
“Your brother, you ignorant fool.” She put her hands on her hips. “Your brother is sweet on her.”
“What are you talking about, Leena?”
She rolled her eyes. “Please, Jalmari, are you so self-absorbed that you did not notice? I don’t need to be a mind reader to see that Jesu wishes to court her.”
I cocked my brow. She had to be joking. “Why would Jesu wish to court a gypsy?”
Leena huffed. “Why not? Why anything? Why is she even alive, why is she here, why do you not allow me to read your thoughts?”
“Don’t start with that,” I snapped.
Leena hesitated and then whispered. “Something’s wrong with you, Jalmari.”
My muscles tensed and I looked away. Had she figured it out? Had she somehow found a way to read my mind, even though I’d commanded her not to?
Glancing at her from the corner of my vision, I saw her shake her head. “You’re changing.”
She was wrong, but what could I say? I couldn’t tell her the truth, so I said nothing, glancing away in shame.
Silently, she left.
I phased my body and went to my office, where Maria was picking up the papers that littered the floor. She bowed her head out of respect once I fully came back to myself. She tried to finish gathering the papers, but I held up my hand to signal for her to stop.
“It’s okay, Maria, I just need to speak with my brother.”
She left the stack of papers in center of the floor and nodded. “I’ll get him for you, My Lord.”
Sighing, I took a moment to glance over the pile of papers. The one on top was the report I was supposed to have sent to the R.E.D. days ago, filled out in Maria’s handwriting. Guilt tugged at my chest. I was extremely grateful and indebted to Maria, yet I couldn’t help feeling nervous as well. She must have figured out what was going on by now. Fortunately, if I could trust anyone with my secret, it was her. Still, that didn’t mean I wanted her to know. If she did, she could slip up, or more worrisome, Leena might read it in her thoughts.
The scents and sounds of my younger brother hit me and pulled me back to the present several minutes before he opened the door. It was a shame Jesu couldn’t phase or fly. It made his travel slow.
I motioned for him to sit in my chair. He eyed the broken desk and splintered bookshelf with silent question as he casually flipped the chair around and straddled it.
“How are you, Fagan?” Jesu asked, using my pet name. Our mother was the only other person to call me that. I disliked hearing it after her passing, and he knew it.
I ignored his question and cleared my throat. “Jesu, I have no problem with you taking the girl under your wing until I find some place more suitable for her, but it is not your place to teach her our ways.”
He hesitated, but stayed silent, so I continued.
“I know what she is.” I waited to gauge his reaction, but he was good at staying straight-faced. “She is the girl from your vision, is she not?”
He swallowed hard. “She is.”
“Then would you mind explaining to me why you’ve neglected mentioning this, and why you have assumed the role as her mentor?”
He wet his lips and spoke calmly. “She has to learn how to use her powers just like the rest of us. Suppose she runs into a grizzly bear or a human…”
“She’s a gypsy, Jesu, her safety is none of our concern.”
“Then why did you bring her here?” Venom dripped from his tone as he narrowed his gaze.
I crossed my arms and scowled. “My motives are none of your concern. The girl’s fate is not for you to decide, and you have no right to instruct her.”
“She has a name, it’s Ema,” he seethed. “Ema’s fate is not your decision either, and since she does not have a sire to guide her, why not allow me?”
“Because, you idiot, if you teach her, she’ll grow stronger, and if she gets stronger, she’ll kill me.”
Jesu stared at me with a confused expression. It took a moment for me to realize the error of my words. My brother still thought my mental roommate was dead.
He scoffed. “Oh, please. She does not like you, but I strongly doubt Ema could hurt anyone on purpose.”
A smile crept across his face. Could Leena be right? Could my brother be sweet on a Romani vampyre?
He shrugged. “Dad is already dead, what harm can she do? Attack his remains?”
“Foolish boy,” came the voice. I mentally silenced him.
“But, your vision?”
Jesu shrugged. “Maybe that one was false? You know my powers have not been as good since Mom passed.”
I nodded. It was unfortunate how heavily a vampire’s powers depended on the life of their sire, but it kept the vampire loyal even if they hated their creator. I bit my lip as thoughts of Leena trickled into my head. It wasn’t the first time I wondered if she held any resentment toward me, or if she ever wished to leave and be free.
I sighed. My dilemma with the gypsy, Ema, proved to be unsolvable. I couldn’t justify my paranoia without coming clean to my brother, to everyone. I had to fight this battle alone.
“You should be her instructor,” the voice screamed at me. “I order you…”
“…to be the girl’s instructor.”
Yes, My Lord.
“I’ll teach her,” I announced.
Jesu furrowed his brow. “Why?”
I shrugged, trying to appear nonchalant. “It must be hard, trying to relate to someone whose powers are so different from yours. I can help her fly and phase faster, as I understand the details.” Beads of sweat ran down my temples as I tried to fight my words, tried to take them back, but I couldn’t.
“All right,” Jesu said. “But in turn, I will monitor you.”
“You don’t trust me,” I mumbled.
“Of course not,” he chuckled. “I know you better than that.”
“Jesu, you do know she can’t stay here much longer.” Beside the fact that his vision was still a very real possibility, there was also the Council to deal with, and they would not take kindly to a Romani vampyre.
Jesu lit a cigarette. His expression grew serious as he exhaled plumes of smoke. “Now that I know she exists, I have to follow through with my orders. You know that. Wherever you send her, I will follow. Whatever harm may cross her path, I will try my best to save her from it.”
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