Dark heirloom an ema mar.., p.30

Dark Heirloom (An Ema Marx Novel Book 1), page 30


Dark Heirloom (An Ema Marx Novel Book 1)

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  “Is that bad?”

  “No. It just means you will have to work harder to control your urges. Much harder.”

  She groaned. “Let’s not talk about me right now.”

  I loved when she pouted. Most people looked like babies when they pout, but on her it was adorable. “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.”

  She was back to moody. I understood. The shift from human to vampyre wasn’t an easy one. I kept my voice light, hoping to make her smile again. “Yes, but you asked for something personal.”

  She was quiet for a moment then said, “Why is your skin blue?”

  I glanced at my hands. “It isn’t.”

  “Well, not literally, but you have pale-blue undertones, like you’re cold. Everyone else is just pale.”

  Huh, I never noticed.

  “I suppose it is also a Draugrian trait. My mother’s skin was the same color.”

  “Tell me about your parents. What were they like? What’s it like being a kid born into a royal vampyre clan?”

  Boy, that was a loaded question. I didn’t want to give her the wrong impression, but, to condense my upbringing in a nutshell? I ran my fingers through my hair and decided to answer honestly. “It was… pain.”

  She sat up straight and looked at me. “Did your mother bite you?”

  “What?” Her question caught me off guard, and I may have snapped.

  She coiled away from my harsh tone and 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.”

  I nodded, gazing to the side so she wouldn’t notice me chastening myself. “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.”

  “Why not?”

  “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.”

  Jalmari and I never spoke about Dad. Ever. The fact that he would come up in conversation again with the arrival of Ema made me worry. But she was only curious. She had no idea how deep this went—and that wasn’t a good thing. She needed to know all of it, for her own safety. I swallowed the nervous lump in my throat and then continued.

  “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 to be 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.” I looked at my hands, noticing the blue undertones for the first time, so much more like Mother’s hands than I’d realized. “Guess which one I chose?”

  “Oh, Jesu, I’m so sorry.” She placed her hand over mine, warming the tops of my knuckles.

  I smiled at her touch. “Don’t be. I was overjoyed to finally have a family. I had 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.”

  She inched closer and my heart did a backflip. “Did your father ever come to accept you?”

  I shook my 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?”

  “We had good times and bad.” I grinned, recalling old memories. “When I was human, Jalmari and I were best friends, so long as our father wasn’t around. When he was, Jalmari treated me like scum, but only because our father would beat him if he was ever caught being nice to a human. As soon as our father left again, Mom would punish him for being mean to me. Poor kid was so confused. Of course, when we found out we were brothers, Jalmari apologized profusely. He and I were quite the inseparable pair throughout our teenage years.”

  “Thank you for telling me, Jesu. I normally don’t converse much with people.”

  I cocked an eyebrow. “Really? You are always so full of questions. I would have thought you had a lot of friends back home.”

  She laughed, blessing me with the angelic sound. “God, no. I’ve been a loner all my life.”

  I dared to scoot closer to her, craving more of her touch, her heat. I wanted to know everything about her life before coming to Finland. What were her hobbies? What music did she enjoy? What made that beautiful mind of hers tick? Instead of asking all that, simply I said, “How come?”

  She bit her lip and glanced at our entwined hands. I held my breath, worried she would pull away. She didn’t. “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.”

  That was a shame. I knew how lonely childhood could be, but my woes ended in adolescence. Hers continued into adulthood.

  She continued to talk, telling me about her mother, how her father left when she was young, how she’d attended college in the city to get away from her broken past. I tried my best to listen, to absorb every word, but the details eluded me as my gaze became transfixed by her mouth and I thought about kissing her.

  You’ll scare her away. She needed time to adjust, and I needed time to figure out what all this meant—the premonition, Ema being here, everything.

  Her lips eventually stopped moving and the conversation came to an end.

  “I am sorry about your mother,” I said.

  “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.”

  The urge to hold her suddenly overwhelmed me, but Ema wasn’t used to such an intrusion of personal space. I settled for gently squeezing her hand. “Ema, do you feel homesick here?”

  She nodded. “It’s hard not to. Northern Finland is a dramatic change from the city, and so is being a vampyre.”

  Worry gnawed at me. “You know you cannot go back to Chicago for several decades, right? It is too obvious that you are not one of them anymore.”

  She pulled away. “What do you mean?”

  I rushed to explain
, already angry at myself for breaking her heart. “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?”

  Her palm cracked across my face. Son-of-a-bitch, that hurt! I stood and turned away, not wanting her to see my pain as I rubbed my jaw. She didn’t know her own strength.

  “Oh God, Jesu, I’m so sorry.” She scrambled to her feet. “I didn’t mean to hit you. I’m really, very sorry. Is it broken?”

  I opened and closed my 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.”

  I glanced over my shoulder at her. “Ema, you must have realized… didn’t you?”

  “No,” she shook her head, frantic.

  I could see the emotion welling in her eyes, and knew that she was being sincere. She honestly thought she would go home. I felt like a schmuck.

  “You promised you’d help me get home, you promised! Maybe not now…” her lip quivered, breaking my heart. “But I can learn. You said I could learn. I just need practice, right?”

  I faced her fully and attempted an apology. “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.” She turned toward the cave entrance and took a step, blinking rapidly against the sunlight. I panicked. She wasn’t dressed for the sun. If she ran and got lost without cover, her skin would burn.

  I grabbed her shoulder and forced her to turn and face me. Bewilderment flashed across her features as I gave in to the urge and pulled her close, wrapping my arms across her back. She tensed, and for a moment, I worried she would phase. Then her whole body went limp and she burrowed her face into my chest while sobbing.

  I held her tight and gently rocked side to side. My heart broke for her, but nothing could be done about it. All I could do was be there for her, protect her. Not just because I had to, but because I wanted to.

  Because I had fallen in love with her.

  Dark Liaison

  An Ema Marx Novel 2

  Chapter 1

  I crossed my right leg over the left. My bottom slid toward the edge of the glossy, black, leather seat, causing me to slouch. I straightened, and tugged on the cream button-down blouse. The shirttail drooped past my hips, and the coffee-colored cotton skirt reached my toes. The borrowed clothes belonged to Maria. I looked like a little girl playing dress-up in them.

  I uncrossed my legs and then swung the left over the right. My butt slid across the limousine seat, and hit the passenger door like butter gliding across a hot pan. With a single finger, I pushed the sunglasses further up the bridge of my nose. All of the tinted windows stayed shut, including the little panel separating the stretch-limo’s driver from the passengers. The string of tiny lights lining the roof remained unused. My brain registered the thick darkness inside the cabin. A normal person couldn’t see two inches past their nose. My vision was fine and dandy in the dark.

  That wasn’t why I was uncomfortable.

  I should have done the opposite. I should have taken the glasses off and asked the driver to turn on the lights, open all the windows, and let the daylight burn my retinas. Maybe then it would’ve be easier to resist the scene buzzing past us—Berlin. I couldn’t believe I was in Germany, and I couldn’t believe I was missing it. The historian in me—hell, the girl in me—wanted to explore Europe so badly. To actually experience it like a normal tourist on a normal vacation. Instead, I was transported like some sort of criminal through the city.

  Well, there was a warrant for my arrest floating around.

  Yet, it wasn’t the warrant that kept me from stealing a peek out the tinted window. I groaned as I forcefully uncrossed and re-crossed my legs. My left heel accidently slammed against the duffle bag on the floor, and I jumped.

  Jesu’s masculine, pale-blue hand slid over the center space and wrapped around mine. His brow furrowed, dipping behind black sunglasses that cloaked his emerald-green gaze. The thin line of his lips hinted at his concern.

  “Ema, you are fidgeting more than normal,” he said.

  I rolled my eyes and pulled my hand out from under his as I bent to untangle the bag’s strap from my ankle. He chewed his lip. Along with the glasses, his curtain of velvet hair hid most of his face. He was dressed head to toe in black. I knew what lay under his clothes—more icy-blue skin stretched over toned muscle, as cool and blue as the lip he held between his pointed teeth. It was a shame he was a distant relative, and it was embarrassing that I tried getting to first base with him before I knew we were related.

  “We will arrive soon,” he offered. “Once we are settled in, you can dri—”

  “Don’t say it.” As if my Nephilim genes had ears of their own, my throat suddenly parched. My stomach groaned as the thirst rammed its demanding horns into my gut. The craving was always present, but the four hour flight in a cramped, single engine Skyhawk, coupled with the two hour non-stop drive through the German countryside to Berlin, turned the thirst into a hornet’s nest. Every accidental glimpse at a pedestrian walking too close to my side of the limo felt like hitting the hornet’s nest with a big stick—and the metaphorical hornets were pissed and aching to sting something.

  My hands shook. I sucked in a deep breath, and smoothed my palms over my lap. “I’m two minutes away from phasing out the door and attacking the first thing I find with a pulse.”

  Jesu nodded and leaned against the backrest on his side of the leather bench seat, his legs stretched out in front of him. He looked relaxed, but still faced me, gaze lingering.

  Well, I had threatened to attack someone. He was just being wary.

  And silent.

  Maybe he thought the quiet helped. Unfortunately, ever since I became a vampyre, silence no longer existed. The hum of the vehicle’s engine hammered three-fold against my eardrums, pushing my frayed nerves closer to the edge. I wracked my brain for something to say, something to keep my focus off the scenery, my ears off the limousine’s mechanics, and my sanity from combusting.

  “So is the R.E.D… well, what is the R.E.D.?”

  “The Reclusive Eternal Dragons are…” He glanced at the roof of the limo for a moment. “They are a lot of things.”

  I arched my brow, waiting for him to elaborate. Mr. Vague.

  He inhaled, then sighed. “They are a secret society of humans that help us.”

  My eyes popped wide-open. “I thought humans didn’t know vampyres existed?”

  “The vast majority do not. There are a select, very wealthy, and specially trained few who do. They are the R.E.D.”

  “We’re going to meet them now?”

  Jesu scoffed. “Of course not.”

  “I thought Naamah said we were supposed to go to the R.E.D.?”

  He shook his head. “The R.E.D. is huge, Ema. We are just going to a hotel the R.E.D. owns. It is a hotel that is exclusive to our kind.”

  My gaze narrowed. How could the R.E.D. be huge, yet only made up of a small group of humans? I was about to ask when the limousine slowed to a crawl and pulled over. My stomach did a flip-flop.

  We’re here? Already?

  Jesu tensed as he looked past me, out the window. The vehicle rocked a bit as the driver got out and came around to my side to open the door. White light filled the limo’s interior. My eyes squinted behind the glasses, the only barrier keeping me from going temporarily blind. The driver offered his hand. I knew he was a vampyre—or maybe a vampire. It was impossible to discern the difference from physical appearance. He smelled like a predator. In the daylight, the m
an looked washed out. His skin was bleach-white, his clothes some sort of pale yellow. Even his eyes looked golden, and he was surrounded by a fuzzy neon halo.

  I held my breath, took his hand, and slid out of the limousine. Even without breathing, even without seeing them, I sensed people everywhere. I could hear them walking, chatting, driving, eating. A knot formed in my gut and my fists clenched.

  Jesu climbed out of the limo and wrapped an arm tightly around my waist. I bit back the urge to scoff. I can phase out of his grip. It would be as simple as blinking. But, his hold did help keep my mind in the present. I ground the heels of my shoes against the yellow sidewalk, and forced my gaze to focus on the building in front of us. It stood tall, and was surrounded by other buildings, like in any city. There was some sort of decoration on the side edges, but I couldn’t see much more than the hard outlines of an archway in the center. Not with a florescent sheen beating off every surface, thanks to the sun. Jesu led me closer to the arch.

  “There’s a step,” he whispered.

  I glanced down and noticed the hard edge of a stair. How did he know that was there? Once I stepped up, the archway cloaked us in blissful shade. Paired with the glasses, I was able to see an increment better. The archway was shallow, leading up just a few steps to a narrow iron door held open by our driver. His skin had stopped glowing, and I realized now that he wore a gray suit. His eyes were still golden.

  Jesu slipped him an orange euro bill, and then gently guided me past the threshold into the building. As soon as the door closed my mind registered the total darkness. I removed the sunglasses and sighed in relief. My vampyre vision returned to its full acuteness. Vivid color and minuscule detail rushed forth. Not that there was much to see as I followed Jesu down the sleek, white hallway. There were no windows, and the air smelled of antiseptic, which lowered my cravings by a notch.

  Plump red armchairs sat around a black coffee table, with a crystal chess set, and a Birds of Paradise bouquet in a blue vase. Beyond the seating arrangement, the hall ended in a T-intersection with a large reception desk in the center. The receptionist pushed a few loose strands of coal black hair behind her ear as she chatted into the microphone of her headset. Clean, pale fingers flew across the computer’s keyboard. Her gaze swept up at our approach. Golden irises and pearly-white fangs greeted us. I was getting used to the teeth, but I wasn’t expecting her eyes to be gold in color, like our driver’s. She quickly ended her telephone conversation and then stood, broadening her smile.

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