Dark Heirloom (An Ema Marx Novel Book 1), page 22
“You still think my brother is the better man?”
I shrugged. “Who cares?”
He sighed. “I would like to start over. There is no reason for us to hate each other.”
I bit my tongue to keep from screaming. There’re plenty of reasons. You destroyed my life.
“I would like for us to be friends.”
“That’s a lie,” I blurted out.
“No, it’s not. You asked me which clan you belonged to, remember? You belong with the Neo-Draugrian. This is as much your home as it is mine. I always welcome a new vampyre to the clan, no matter how they came to their new life, and it was wrong of me not to treat you with the same courtesy.”
“Just stop. I’ve had enough of your crap. This isn’t my home, and never will be. The only reason you suddenly want to be my friend is because I’ve become valuable to you, am I right?” I sat up and fixed him a hard stare.
Jalmari pressed his lips into a thin line.
I sighed. “Yeah, I’m right. And I think I know why, too. Jesu’s premonition.”
His eyes bulged.
I nodded. “That’s what I thought. Look, I’m not going to battle your father. I don’t even know the man, but from what Jesu said, I’m pretty sure I’d lose, so I’m not going to try, okay? I’m just going to go back to the United States and pretend I never even met you guys.”
“You can’t.” Jalmari grabbed my shoulder and squeezed it a little too hard.
I pulled away. “Relax, I’m not going back to the city. I’ll go someplace remote. I’ll hunt animals at night. No one will ever know I exist.”
“Ema, vampyres did not survive this long by living alone in the wilderness. Besides, I won’t allow you to leave.”
I furrowed my brows and stood. “I wasn’t asking permission.”
Jalmari stood too, and took my hands. “I won’t allow you to leave because I need you to stay and be queen.”
I laughed and pulled my hands away. “Yeah, right. Why don’t you tell me what this is really about?”
“That is what this is really about.”
“Why don’t you marry Leena? Why me?”
Jalmari bit his lip. “The Council doesn’t allow vampires to obtain titles of nobility because their will is bound to their sire. It’s too risky to have a vampire in the court when their maker could order them to spy, or break the law, or any number of things. And Leena… she is my vampire. The Council views her as an extension of myself—my servant, and nothing more. You, though, are a vampyre. You answer to no one, but yourself. You could be queen of the entire clan. Together, we can unite the Neo-Draugrian and the Romani, and stop the hunting of innocent people.”
I scoffed. “So now you care about what happens to the innocent people?”
He furrowed his brows. “I have always cared. I don’t enjoy killing people. I don’t enjoy living in secret either, but I do it because it’s the best way I can think of to have both species inhabit the same world in peace. You think places like Club Korento were possible when my father ruled the world? But there is only so much I can do alone. With you by my side—”
“Don’t hold your breath.” I rolled my eyes. “I don’t know anything about politics, or ruling a group of people. Heck, I’ve never even had a manager position in the work force before. Besides, to be queen, I’d have to marry you, and that is not going to happen.”
Jalmari moved his lips, but was silent and stared at the floor for a long time.
“You’re right,” he spoke softly. “It was silly of me to ask. I suppose I sent Leena away for nothing.”
I sighed. “I’m sorry. Anyone could see how much she meant to you. At least,” I couldn’t help adding, “you got to say goodbye.”
Jalmari studied me for a moment. “You lost a lot of people coming here, didn’t you?”
I looked away, and then nodded. “Yeah I did, in a way. In another way, I was pretty much alone to begin with.”
Jalmari cocked a brow. “You cannot be both. You were either alone, or you weren’t.”
“Well,” I shrugged. “I had my mom. But… my boyfriend and I… had a fight. I’m not sure if we officially broke up, but it seemed that way. Now, I can never see him again, regardless, and I just feel… robbed of time.”
Jalmari nodded. “I understand.”
I scoffed. “How can you understand? You and Leena were together for over two-thousand years. That amount of time makes things different.”
“Well, sure. There must be nothing the two of you don’t know about each other. If you could marry her, you’d know exactly what you’re getting into. No surprises, no turning out to be something different. Human life is so short and full of doubts. There isn’t enough time to really get to know someone, to be certain they’re the one you’re supposed to spend the rest of your life with. Maybe… maybe that’s why he did it.”
Jalmari shook his head. “There isn’t one person in the world you’re supposed to spend the rest of your life with. There are just people. Some of them you learn to love and never look back.”
“What about Leena?” I shaded my eyes with a hand as the sun basked the room in a fluorescent glow.
Jalmari looked at the ceiling, squinting. “If I was a braver man—”
“You would have married her,” I finished for him.
“No.” He shook his head.
“If I was a braver man, I never would have bitten her. I would have let her live out her life as a human. I would have let her have babies and grow old, even if our time together was short. But I was a coward. A selfish coward. I stole her freewill and her fertility so I could keep her with me.”
We sat in silence while the room, and everything in it, drowned in white light. I had to close my eyes again, I couldn’t stand it.
“I wish I could believe you,” I finally said.
“What do you mean?”
“I want to believe that the way you talk about Leena is real, because it would mean that you have a soul and a conscience. It would mean not every word out your mouth is a lie.”
Jalmari sighed. The bed bounced slightly as he stood. I listened to the sound of his footsteps, and the swoosh of fabric as the curtains closed. I opened my eyes, squinting in the still bright light, as Jalmari took the glass of blood from the nightstand and sloshed it around.
“I suppose it no longer matters if you believe me or not, all the damage is already done. I do not know how to keep you from phasing, so I cannot force you to stay here, even if I try.” He forced half a grin onto his lips. “I would prefer we keep in touch. I’m sure you can understand my need to keep tabs on fellow vampyres?”
I nodded while staring at the scarlet liquid as he spun it around like a miniature whirlpool of blood. I hesitated. “You’re not going to tell your father where I am, are you?”
Jalmari grinned. “Of course not. Besides, I don’t know if there is any truth to my brother’s vision.”
He held the glass to his mouth, but paused when he noticed me licking my lips. Cocking a brow, he moved the drink in my direction.
I snatched the glass and guzzled the liquid all at once. Every muscle in my body instantly relaxed. My insides basked in energy until my very core tingled. My body became uncomfortably warm. I breathed deep through pursed lips as my fists gripped the bedspread. Powerful urges washed over me, numbing my thoughts.
Jalmari sat on the bed and brushed his fingertips against my thigh. I gasped, realizing I could feel it. Really feel him, his glorious, baby soft skin.
I couldn’t tell if he’d done it on purpose. He wasn’t looking at me. But just the fact that I could feel the warm tips of his fingers filled me with shock and joy, suspicion and desire. Why could I feel him and not Jesu? What else would I feel with Jalmari?
I brushed my fingers across the top of his hand and bit my lip to keep from squealing.
I can feel that!
Jalmari faced me, his full lips slightly parted. A little voice i
Jalmari sat in silence, but his body language said everything. His hand lingered on my thigh, warming a spot very close to my crotch. His eyes gazed into mine, sparkling with desire. He licked his lips, and slowly leaned in, until his nose brushed against mine. He remained there, his breath against my cheek. I couldn’t stand it. Dropping the chalice, I crushed my lips and body against his.
My hands flew around his neck. He gripped my hips and pulled me onto his lap. His tongue glided over mine with perfect rhythm. A hand came around to my chest and messaged my breasts. His manhood swelled and pushed against his pants, poking my thigh. Knowing he enjoyed himself kicked the bloodlust up a notch. Making-out wasn’t enough. I wanted so much more. I wanted to bathe in blood with him while making love.
I managed to unlock my lips from his and kissed the base of his neck. My fingers tangled in his midnight-colored hair as I pressed the tips of my fangs against his skin.
Jalmari shoved me off him, anger flashing across his features as he stood. I fell against the bed, disappointed and taken off guard. Why’d he stop?
“No biting,” he breathed, but I was already on him again, kissing him and enjoying every tingle of feeling his body offered. Then, my ability to feel tapered off and dead-ended. I smacked into a brick wall of numbness. I pulled away from Jalmari, completely confused and flustered.
“What’s happening? I’m numb again.”
Jalmari held onto my waist and watched me, but he didn’t say anything. Suddenly, the room spun. Nausea knotted my stomach.
“I’m going to be sick.” I pushed away from him and took two steps toward the bathroom. I must have laid down then, because the room tilted from an odd angle, and the last thing I saw were Jalmari’s shoes.
Ema’s eyes rolled back and her body went limp on the floor as she fell into unconsciousness. I sighed in relief. I had worried she would refuse the blood, and even after she drank it, I worried the drugs wouldn’t work. I had packed enough sedatives in her drink to take out an elephant. Even so, on a vampyre, the drugs would only give me ten minutes.
Not knocking her out instantly worked in my favor, since she was able to arouse my libido. If I had known she would react to the bloodlust in such a way, I might have let her do the deed herself. It was too late now, she was out cold.
I lifted her body onto the bed and lay her on her back. Cautiously, I tugged the button of her jeans loose and unzipped the crotch. I pulled her pants off and then removed her undergarments, trying in vain not to think about what I was going to do. She was right, I was a monster.
“When I was alive, men knew how to be men,” Father stated.
I wrinkled my nose at the thought. When you were alive, women had no more rights than cattle.
“Is this not your castle? She has no rights here. She is yours for the taking.”
Will you shut up? I can’t do this with you in my head. You just worry about doing your part, and I’ll do mine.
I waited until the voice crawled back into some remote recess of my brain, leaving my mind quiet so I could get this over with.
I looked at the half-naked girl. I could hardly make out the outline of her body in the blinding light. The sun’s harsh rays shimmered off her pale skin, turning it a rosy-gold color. She was very pretty, with a petite, mature, body. Cute. Different from Leena. Yet, I could not bring myself to desire her, and I went limp within seconds.
I was losing time and courage. The voice grumbled impatiently. I gulped. It was now or never. I could do this. I had to do this. My father wasn’t giving me an option.
My hands trembled as I undid my belt buckle, then unbuttoned my pants and pulled down the zipper. Beads of sweat trickled down my temples as I stepped out of my clothing. I had never been this scared to have intercourse before, not even my first time.
I took a deep breath, opened the girl’s legs, and positioned myself between her.
I’d killed before, but never raped. I knew there would be no coming back from this. I’d never again be able to stand the sight of myself. I’d never be able to face Leena. Why the hell did I even consider doing this?
“Quit stalling, you are running out of time, and you have not even started yet. Has it been so long that you forgot how?”
“You want me out of your head, do you not? Here is your chance. Do not disappoint me, Jalmari, or you will see how much more of you I can destroy.”
I growled at him. No more. I’d dealt with him long enough. It was time for him to possess someone else. I deserved my freedom. I didn’t owe Ema anything.
And yet, a heavy weight pressed against my chest. I didn’t want to pass such a curse to anyone. I didn’t think I could wish my father’s wrath on even my worst enemies. Besides, what would he do with the girl once he controlled her? What would he do to me?
“You ungrateful child. I command you—”
No. I’m taking you to the grave with me, no matter how long it takes, no matter how much you threaten, or drive me insane.
Laughter filled my head. “You ignorant fool.”
A familiar warmth coursed through my body. Tension built in my crotch. My penis came to life until it ached and throbbed against my thigh. I moaned as ecstasy coursed through my veins, delighted and disgusted by the erotic feelings. You asshole.
“This will teach you to sass me, boy.”
I tried to fight him. I tried to push back the yearning to be with the woman lying beneath me, this frail, sleeping angel. Had she always smelled so good? No, surely it was the demon toying with my mind.
Yet, her skin felt so soft and smooth. Her body, so warm. I admired her breasts, the planes of her stomach, her legs, and especially the scent of her flesh. My body pulsed, enlarged, and bobbing with desire, so close to her maidenhood. I couldn’t hold on to reality. My conscious, my doubts, my self-worth, everything slipped away as though burned to nothingness by the sun.
I wanted the girl.
I needed her.
I leaned in and licked her from her collarbone, up her neck, to just below her earlobe. The sweet taste of her flesh sent chills of desire along my spine, and it was too much to bear. She would be mine.
My eyes blinked open, and then squeezed shut as I cursed the blinding sunlight. Inside my head, a tiny invisible hammer pounded against my brain. I pressed my fingers to my temples, hoping to soothe the headache.
A ferocious growl rattled the window, followed by the crashing of wood, and gruff voices shouting in Finnish. Without looking, I knew Jalmari and Jesu were in the room, fighting. I didn’t care what they were fighting about. I just wished they would shut up.
I groaned and rolled onto my side. Had I fallen asleep? Was that possible? I didn’t think vampyres could sleep. One of the guys smashed into the wall near the bed, jerking the frame. I sat up and shaded my eyes with a hand.
Jalmari and Jesu went at each other like two pit bulls over a bone. Jesu had been the one thrown against the wall, but he quickly doubled back and lurched after his brother. He didn’t stand a chance, though. Every time he got close, Jalmari phased and flew across the room, untouchable.
They had destroyed every piece of furniture in the room. All the pretty antiques sprawled across the floor in confetti-sized bits. The iron pole that had held the velvet drapes over the window lay askew. The curtains themselves were torn to shreds and charred. The massive wardrobe had collapsed into itself, a thin line of smoke rising from someplace inside.
How on earth did I sleep through all this? I didn’t bother to interrupt the boys. They both deserved a good beating, and it was kind of funny that they were administering it to each other right there in front of me.
The memories of earlier came back groggy and dream-like. But, the more I replayed the scenes in my mind, the clearer they became. Only,
I pushed back the covers, but then quickly pulled them over my body again. My pants and underwear were missing.
Why the heck am I half-naked?
I scanned the room and spotted my clothes on the floor near the edge of the bed. I leaned over and snatched them just before the two boys started kicking and rolling around on the ground.
Jalmari got the upper hand, but he saw me out of the corner of his eye and faltered. “Voi paska.”
Jesu took advantage of the distraction and shoved Jalmari off of him. Jalmari fell against what was left of the smoking wardrobe. Jesu pushed himself to his feet. “Ema—”
Jalmari threw a punch at his jaw. Jesu staggered back against the fireplace.
Meanwhile, my mind raced as I became more aware of myself. I was half-naked, and I could only come up with one conclusion—one that I hoped like hell wasn’t true, yet the signs screamed loud and clear. I had sex with Jalmari.
I finished redressing, hopped off the bed, and jogged out the door. Heat and dry tears stung my eyes as self-loathing burst from the pit of my stomach. Both Jalmari and Jesu called my name, but neither one came running as they continued to swing punches at each other. Fighting. Over me. How stupid!
I needed to get out. I needed to go. Now.
A white light flashed. I suddenly stood outside, at the edge of the island, someplace between the forest and the cliffs overlooking Lake Inari. Without any effort at all, I had somehow managed to phase from the hallway of the first wing, and fly all the way to the edge of the forest in a split second.
It terrified me.
The daylight blinded my eyes and warmed my skin a little more than was comfortable. I shifted into a wolf and stood under the shade of the nearest tree. As a wolf, I could see okay in the light, which beat being a blind vampyre.
I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t fly back to the States in the sunlight, but I would not go back inside the castle either. I couldn’t stand this place any longer. I couldn’t stand them. I felt so ashamed, throwing myself at Jalmari. How could I be so irresponsible and drink that much blood in front of him? He took advantage of me, but it was also my fault. I knew better.
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