Dark Heirloom (An Ema Marx Novel Book 1), page 31
“Prince Jesu.” She dipped in a quick curtsy. “Velcome back to Berlin. Miss Marx, it is a pleasure to meet you.”
“Guten tag.” He nodded. “I trust your manager spoke with the Neo-Draugrian Hand?”
“Ja, Your Highness. Everything has been arranged, down to dee last detail. I vill show you to your room.”
I didn’t know which was more appalling, hearing someone refer to Jesu by his title for the first time, or the fact that he’s been to Berlin before. With the elite vampire assassins? I wondered.
As she moved around the desk to join us, I noticed the name tag on the lapel of her red blazer said “Kirstin.” Next to the tag was a small gold plated pin in the shape of a scaly serpent with a dragon head and wings. The body bent around in the shape of an “O” with the tip of the tail ending in the serpent’s mouth. She led us down the left side of the corridor to a set of elevators.
“Ve’ve added many modern features in dee past decade. Dee guest rooms are now soundproof, and have been completely renovated to include all modern-day fixtures. Ve have an indoor swimming pool dat is heated, and a veight room on dee third floor. On dee fourth floor is a movie room, a game room, and a bar.”
As appreciative as I was that Kirstin spoke English, her accent was going to take some getting used to. I thought about getting a book of German translations and meeting her halfway. The doors slid open and we boarded the elevator. Kirstin pressed button number seven and the doors closed. Once released on the seventh floor, Kirstin led the way down another wide hall with walls just as white and sleek as the lobby. Black carpeting lined the floor, and a few plush red chairs stood in strategically placed areas near decorative plants. The air smelled of antiseptic and fresh vegetation, the plants doing their job.
All the doors were painted black with brass numbers at the top. Kirstin stopped in front of a door numbered 714, and produced a plastic card from her blazer pocket. She swiped the card through the electronic lock and turned the handle. “Here ve are, Your Highness.”
I rolled my eyes. Seriously, just call him Jesu.
The ridiculous title was easier to swallow with Jesu’s older brother, Jalmari. He at least dressed and carried himself like a pompous heir. But Jesu … I glanced at his Led Zeppelin T-shirt, faded black jeans, and steel toe shit-kicker boots …
‘Your Highness,’ my ass.
Jesu and I followed her inside. I was about to ask if the room had double beds when my jaw dropped. The space opened into an extensive suite lined entirely by dazzling honey and cream-colored marble. The floors, walls, ceiling, even the breakfast bar separating the kitchen from the living room, were made of it. Stainless steel appliances decked the kitchen. Four barstools with cream-colored cushions sat behind the bar. Several feet in, the floor sank three steps into the lowered living room. A wraparound couch made of the same fabric as the bar stools surrounded a sixty-inch flat screen TV.
On the far right and left of the suite were false walls made of Oriental sliding panels. Red cherry blossoms painted the thin canvas material.
Our bedrooms. My breath hitched as I wondered what they looked like. Probably like a million bucks, just like the rest of this suite.
“You vill find everything you need here.” Kirstin’s beaming smile was evident in her voice. “Toiletries and extra towels are under dee sink in dee bathing rooms, extra linens and garments are in your closets. Housekeeping comes every Friday at midnight. Dee refrigerator is restocked at dat time. Should you require anything else, please do not hesitate to use dee telephone. Dere is one in each bedroom.”
Jesu thanked her. She handed him two plastic key cards, and he gave her few colorful euros. As soon as the door closed behind her, I let my excitement out.
“Oh. My. God. This is amazing.” I turned in a slow circle, taking it all in. There were no windows, just a few tiny tea lights behind frosted glass embedded in the marble ceiling. It was perfect.
Jesu chuckled. “Wait until you see your bedroom.”
I froze and narrowed my gaze. “Which one’s mine?”
His sideways smile dimpled his left cheek, and he gestured by raising his eyebrows. “The one on the right.”
I bolted toward the cherry blossomed panel, slid the door to the left, and stepped inside. The space was very zen with red and black crêpe paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling, stained wood floors, and bamboo furniture. The bed sheets were a crisp white, and everything gleamed softly, including the adjoined matching bathroom. My chest heaved in a slight sigh. The theme was a bit much, but the room was just vacant enough that I could cling to the fact that living here was temporary.
It’s a hotel, not an apartment.
My fingertips traced the pale bamboo knobs of the wardrobe as I wondered what kind of garments hid inside. I pulled the drawers open. An array of dresses lined the rack, arranged by color, length, and material. Short cotton summer dresses on the left, to floor-length ball gowns on the right. I scrunched my nose.
Below them were six smaller drawers. I opened the top one and found several new packages of panties with the tags still on them, an oversized nightgown in lima-bean-green with tiny puke-green bows, and something made of red lace.
I pinched the red lace between my thumb and middle finger and pulled it out for further examination. It clearly was not an ‘I-want-to-feel-feminine-while-I-sleep’ teddy, but a ‘fuck-me-immediately’ teddy. The entire thing was see-through, the cups cinched into an empire waist, and the hem ended in a tiny ruffle that wouldn’t cover more than a third of my butt.
“You like it?”
I jumped, did a one-eighty, and then threw the teddy across the room like it was a hand grenade. It hit the wall and then floated behind the bed. My lungs released a painful breath.
“Of course not. I’m not a slut.”
Jesu leaned a shoulder leisurely against the door frame with his arms crossed, the duffle bag hanging from his forearm. He chuckled as his gaze fell to the floor, and then swept back up to face me, the dimple in his left cheek more prominent than ever.
“I meant the room. Not the—”
“The room’s great, thanks!” Heat rose to my cheeks as I slammed the drawers shut.
He snickered and I glared at him. He cleared his throat and stood straight, but his smile didn’t wane, and the laughing sparkle in his eyes still twinkled.
“Here,” he said. He reached into the duffle bag and then pulled out a rolled up scroll.
My breath caught. “You brought it with? I didn’t think we could.”
“Technically, it belongs to the Neo-Draugrian library, but we can always return it later. I think you should have it.” He extended his arm, pushing the frail paper into my hands.
I looked at the ancient document that detailed the knowledge of the Jumlin clan- my father’s clan. The foreign script might have been impossible for me to decipher, but the weight it carried in sentiment was something only I could understand. A knot twisted in my stomach, the same kind I used to get whenever Mom and I fought. I tried to swallow, but my throat had thickened. I managed to mumble a thank you.
His expression was suddenly serious. “I can read it to you… if you want.”
I shook my head. “Thanks, but it’s still a sore spot.”
He nodded his understanding. Then his eyes lit up and he snapped his fingers.
“I almost forgot.” He reached into his jeans pocket. “I found this in the trash in Naamah’s bathroom, along with your clothes. I thought maybe you forgot about it.”
He pulled out a small crinkled square of paper folded in half and splotched with red stains. I recognized it immediately as the Jack the Ripper newspaper clipping I took from Jalmari’s library. “You want me to keep that too?”
He shrugged. “I do not know what this is. I just thought it might be important, since it was in your pocket.” He turned the paper over in his hand, and slowly ran his thumb under the edge as if to open it.
I snatched it away. “Thanks.”
He shrugged. “I am sorry there was not time to get the rest of your things.”
“I’m pretty sure I won’t miss them too much,” I said, looking at the wardrobe again. I placed the article and scroll in one of the small drawers. “They’ve thought of everything here. You’d think we were moving in permanently.” I winced in hindsight. “We’re not staying here permanently, right?”
“Vampires tend not to have permanent homes, but the length of our stay does not make a difference to Naamah. He would have only the highest quality, no expense too great. It is part of his job.”
“It was part of his job.” I sighed. “Now, his job is… whatever Apollyon wants him to do.”
Just thinking about Naamah—and Maria—sent reality crashing down around me. “This isn’t fair. We’re expected to live like kings while Naamah and Maria suffer at the hands of that psychotic Apollyon? Who knows what horrible things he’s doing to them.”
After witnessing Leena’s murder, I really did not want to imagine what Apollyon might have in store for Maria or Naamah. I hugged myself.
“I should phone the Council, but… ”
My brow quirked. “But?”
“It may be too risky. They will figure out where we are.”
I sagged against the edge of the bed. “They’ll arrest me, and hand me over to Jalmari. We shouldn’t have come here. We ran, and they’ll think it’s because I’m guilty.”
Jesu shook his head. “No, they will not come here for you. Germany belongs to the Alpan clan; no Neo-Draugrian vampyre or vampire can arrest you here. You are safe as long as you do not set foot in Neo-Draugrian territory again.”
“Then why do you think contacting the Council will be dangerous?”
Jesu raked his fingers through his long tresses. “I know my father. He will take back the throne as soon as he is able. Once he declares himself the Neo-Draugrian king again, we will have no allies there, only enemies.”
“But… but, I thought Apollyon was an enemy of the clan, can’t they arrest him?”
Jesu shook his head. “My father will not let it be that easy. He will find a place to hide, build an army, and lay in wait until the right moment. Or, perhaps, he will pick the Council members off one by one. Besides, he married into the Neo-Draugrian clan. He is the rightful, legal king. Not even Jalmari can do anything about that.”
Nausea twisted my stomach in knots as a mortifying realization took hold. “He won’t care about the law. If the Council doesn’t arrest me, Apollyon will find other ways. I know he will.”
“That is why I cannot risk calling. You are safe here, Ema.” He closed the distance between us, and touched the tip of his forefinger under my chin, lifting my jaw until our gazes locked. His eyes were a deep stormy emerald. “I promise, you are safe.”
I swallowed the lump in my throat and nodded.
His hand fell away from my chin. “I believe there is a reason why Naamah specifically chose Berlin for us. The Alpan king and queen live nearby. King Nikolas despises my father.”
“Do you think he will help us?”
Jesu scrubbed the base of his palms against his forehead. “I am hoping we never have to ask, but I am positive Naamah placed us here just in case.”
“I don’t understand. Why don’t you want to tell Nikolas? Why risk waiting for Apollyon to come here?”
Jesu glanced at the floor. “Ema, you are a bit of a commodity; a vampyre born to two humans. My father already wants to use you… I do not know how the rest of our kind will react. If we tell Nikolas now, he will ask questions.”
I scoffed. “So, tell him about your premonition. I’m sure he won’t hurt me if he wants Apollyon out of his hair.”
“What if that makes things worse? If word gets out about you, people might try to force you to fight—”
“I want to fight Apollyon. I want to send him back to hell.”
His wide eyes gazed into mine, a plea sparkling across them. “You will get your chance. I know that better than anyone else, but you need time. If you go after my father now, you will lose. Please, wait and learn how to fight before you do this. Give yourself a fair shot at least.”
A sigh pushed past my lips. I wasn’t dumb, I knew I didn’t stand a chance against Apollyon. I had only been a vampyre for a few months, and I sucked at using my powers. “Of course, I’ll wait.”
His shoulders relaxed and he nodded his appreciation. I wet my lips, then moved my arm around so that my hand was hidden behind my back, where I crossed my fingers.
I will wait, but I might not wait as long as you want
Also by J.D. Brown
(An Ema Marx Novel 0.5)
(An Ema Marx Novel 1)
(An Ema Marx Novel 2)
(An Ema Marx Novel 3)
Well guys, here we are; the second edition. It’s been a long three years and let me tell you, writing a book is hard! And it never gets easier. But I love it. Every moment of doubt, every tear, every paper cut and printer jam and power outage, every one a.m. coffee break is worth it. I’ve met so many wonderful and talented people on this journey, I would need another book just to thank everyone, but I’ll try my best to fit it all on one page. First and foremost, to my family for supporting this crazy-ass dream even though they hardly get to see me. I love you guys so, so much! To Timothy for hauling around all those boxes of books to every signing and bringing me coffee, and just generally being patient and awesome. Love you! To Charlene Wilson for being my best friend and cheerleader through all this. Thanks for letting me rant and complain and cry, and thanks for still loving me anyway. Special thanks to Kaarina Williams and Vanessa Wright for helping with the Finnish phrases. To my street team and all of my readers and fans, for every email, every private message, every autograph request, every Facebook party, every review, all of it. Readers are the reason for books and writers and publishers. Thank you so much for being the coolest fans on the planet and I hope you enjoy the crap out of the bonus chapter. Cheers!
About the Author
J.D. Brown knows that vampires exist because she’s dating one, and no, he doesn’t sparkle. Unfortunately, he’s not immortal either. A magnet for subcultures and weirdness, J.D. was that socially awkward girl with more fictional friends than real ones. As a child battling a hearing loss and Muckle-Wells Syndrome, J.D. found comfort in books where strong women always saved the day and got the guy. An obsession with Charmed, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer led J.D. to believe that her mutated chromosome made her something more, not something less. Thus her stubborn flare to persevere was born. A lover of fine cuisine, coffee, and shoes, J.D. never understood why shoe stores don’t serve Starbucks and soufflé. She resides in Wisconsin were she writes urban fantasy—aka vampires for adults—and has political debates with her dogs.
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J.D. Brown, Dark Heirloom (An Ema Marx Novel Book 1)
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