Vampire's Eternity (Vampire's Valentine Book Four), page 1
Vampire’s Valentine Book Four
She had sworn she would never come back here. Not just to herself, but to her family – her friends. No one believed she should be here, in this moment. This was the past. This was dead. As was he.
Greg Prichard looked over hesitantly from the driver’s seat of the car. She didn’t return his gaze. They were waiting. Still waiting for the people to move.
Eight thirty-four became eight thirty-eight, and then eight forty. Eyes on the house now. Movement at the front door. A man stepping out. Followed by a woman. They kissed each other on the lips and got into separate cars and backed out of their driveway.
Millie and Greg watched as the couple disappeared down the road.
“Stay here,” she muttered.
She undid her seatbelt and pushed open the door, stepping out to the road. She walked past the front of the car as Greg forced his own way out.
“Do you know what you’re doing?” he hollered. “Hey!”
At the foot of the drive she turned to face him.
He walked over.
“Can you just keep a look out or something?” she asked. “I need … this time alone.”
Greg sighed. “Alright. Ring me if anything happens…”
He went to hug her but she avoided it. His eyes burned through her back as she walked up to the house.
Before reaching the veranda she turned right and moved down the side of the house. She climbed over a couple of ledges and made her way across the backyard’s lawn. She looked at the back of the house a moment, and then sat down on the grass. Cross-legged.
Against all odds, it was another beautiful day. Clear blue sky, hot blazing sun, the perfect morning for the day they celebrated love. Millie doubted she herself would ever celebrate it. Not today, not with Greg, not in ten years with someone else. It didn’t matter what everyone else was doing. The day your brother dies is something you’ll never forget.
That’s why it was important to be here. Not in some fancy graveyard twenty miles away surrounded by a hundred other corpses buried underground. This is where he lived. This is where he was alive.
This was his future.
“What’s it like? Where you are, Michael?” she wondered aloud. “What’s it like to be stuck in eternity?”
This is Prudence Blythe. On the day this picture was taken, she was twenty-four years old – a bright and adventurous young woman, with her whole life ahead of her. She was engaged to her long-time boyfriend Michael Hertz and the couple were going to wed on Valentine’s Day, if it weren’t for a tragic set of circumstances. In the course of a few hours, the wedding was mysteriously canceled, and an argument between Michael and another man resulted in his death. If this case wasn’t disturbing enough already, Prudence then preceded to vanish entirely off the face off the earth, as though she had never even existed. Her friends, her family – no one knows where she is. Joining us live in the studio today are three people who knew her – school acquaintances Elliot Prince and Christine Miles, along with Christine’s husband Raymond. Good afternoon, and welcome…
“He’s right there,” Christine said, trembling. “Jesus – he’s – he’s fucking there –”
“I know, I know,” Raymond said leading her away.
“You know?” Christine spluttered. “We gotta – we gotta do something –”
“We can’t. We just can’t.”
“Are you kidding me?”
“He’s right,” Elliot said. “Bastian’s too strong for us. We wouldn’t stand a –”
“But he’s going to get away!”
The group stopped, huddled around each other inside the maze. A few twists and turns around the path they’d left Bastian on his knees, proclaiming his innocence, swearing he didn’t know where Prudence was.
What a joke.
What a Goddamn joke.
“I’m serious,” Christine said with tears in her eyes. “This is the closest we’ve ever come to finding her. We’ve got to go back. Find out the truth –”
“Do you want to end up like Michael, is that what you want?” Raymond demanded.
“Maybe we should call Reese,” Elliot suggested. “He could bring a few guys down here. They’ll be able to handle him if he’s still around.”
“If he’s still around,” Christine hissed. “What are the chances of that?”
“Please, calm down,” Raymond said wrapping his arms around her.
Christine fell into him and cried on his shoulder.
“I’ll – I’ll call Reese,” Elliot mumbled.
Christine took a step back from Raymond. “Please tell me you understand.”
“Of course I understand,” he said. “Finding Pru is everything to me. Everything … except your safety.”
“I don’t know if I can handle this,” Christine whispered. “I’m so lost.”
A shadow emerged behind Raymond.
As Christine’s eyes bulged, he turned likewise.
“I’m not going to hurt any of you,” Bastian said standing a few feet away. “I regret what happened to Michael. I promise you nothing like that will ever happen again.”
“Where is she?” Christine blurted out. “Tell me now!”
“I was trying to. Before.”
He looked away.
“Well don’t stop now.”
“After the wedding I realized I made a mistake,” Bastian confessed. “Pru wasn’t ready. She didn’t … she didn’t love me. Not how I loved her. So I let her go. I made her free.”
“But she went back to you, didn’t she?” Elliot said. “At least, that’s what we’ve been told.”
Bastian nodded. “She came back, but it was brief. She was gone again in the middle of the night. My servant informed me she’d fled to be with this Reese character, I’m sure you’re acquainted with.”
“That’s a lie,” Elliot said defiantly.
“I would usually know,” Bastian said. “But in this case … I wasn’t sure. I could see things that made me believe it was true. But now I know it mustn’t be. Otherwise you would know where she was.”
“Why are you doing this to us?” Christine demanded. “Are you – is this some sick –”
“I repeat, I do not know where she is,” Bastian said. “But I’m going to find her. With or without your help.”
“If you truly don’t know where she is,” Raymond said, “then why are you here? Are you supposed to be looking for her?”
“Why are you here?” Bastian countered. “Is it perhaps you had the same idea?”
Christine pushed past Raymond and stepped in front of Bastian.
“I’m not afraid of you,” she seethed at him. “If I find out you hurt her I’m going to rip your heart out.”
Bastian stared at her, his face expressionless.
Raymond took her hand.
“Let’s go, Christine,” he said. “There’s nothing here for us now.”
She allowed him to lead her away again, this time all the way back to the car.
The whole way she didn’t take her eyes off him.
His stare was burned in her memory.
Slow the breathing. Slow the carpet. Slow the ground. Slow it all…
The crouched figure’s hands and face were shrouded by their robes. A pool of steam hang frozen over the cauldron in the centre of the chamber. Red orbs were mounted to the cavern’s walls.
The curtain at the back of the chamber parted and another figure in a black gown entered. He stopped in front of the cauldron and cup his hand around the steam, bringing it up to his nostrils.
The inhalation was sharp.
“Stand up, my child.”
Phillipa stood up slowly, and pulled back her hood revealing herself to him.
Their eyes met.
“I have decided you are ready,” the Sorcerer confirmed. “But there is one final test for you to pass. Do you know what it is?”
Phillipa hesitated. “It’s up to you.”
“I want you to read my mind, child. Do you think you can do that for me? Do you think you can try?”
“What should I … look for exactly?”
“I just had a premonition of what is to come,” the sorcerer said. “Perhaps you could tell it back to me.”
He closed his eyes.
The fire was burning now. Underneath the cauldron.
Before, she hadn’t noticed. Inside the bowl were the discarded remains of once beautiful creatures now dead. Their guts and bones melting together in pure filth. Although she’d never seen him do so, Phillipa suspected her father ate the gruel. It was perhaps the only thing keeping him alive.
She had to travel past it.
Behind the cloth, underneath the layer of slimy skin.
The skull was hard. It could break the wrong sword in two. His defenses were up. Beyond the physical, there was the astral. The spiritual. It was here Phillipa found herself in the middle of a darkened forest, searching for that invisible figure. Was he behind this tree? Or that one? To the left, or the right? Up ahead?
Or behind her?
How far did the forest even go?
She focused her mind. She felt the speed of it.
There was … no direction here.
She turned slightly, and there he was a few feet away, his back turned to her.
Face me, father.
Her hands were glowing. An aura of sparkling pink light brimmed up between them. She took a bit of it with her finger, and flicked it in his direction.
The light hit his back and spread out all around him.
The forest was lit. Her surroundings were clear.
He took his cloak off and dropped it on the ground. Then he started running ahead.
As her father ran through the pink forest, all light was swallowed by his darkness. She chased him, one foot after the other, her breath shrinking away. Her body getting tired.
She’d been here before.
She’d never been able to catch up.
He was always too quick.
Phillipa stopped in her tracks and watched how the entire forest became dark again as her father moved through it. The only light was that at her fingers.
Show yourself! She screamed firing off a ball of it randomly through the forest. It moved on by, getting smaller and smaller the further it moved away.
Until the darkness consumed it.
She bit her teeth together. Summoned more energy within her.
Dipped its feet into her pool of emotions.
She let loose a roar, and sent five balls spinning out of her hands in all sides and directions.
She stooped down on one knee, exhausted, and watched them hit an invisible barrier. Once again devoured.
I’ll find you.
I’m not giving up.
She walked slowly through the forest, light following her within a few paces. She strained her eyes to see if she could see anything – anything at all. A glimpse. A fleeting movement. Even a vibration would do. Something. Anything.
Just to know where he was.
Phillipa’s eyes shifted to the ground and she saw the white snake had been following her. He looked at her a moment and then turned in the opposite direction.
She followed him.
The snake led her towards the forest’s edge, eventually stopping near a hole in the ground. She got down on both knees and looked inside.
From what she could see, there was icy blue liquid.
RAAAARRGH!!! Her father shouted suddenly running at her from nearby.
Before he could reach her, Phillipa dropped a ball of pink light into the whole and the entire forest was immediately lit up again, this time frozen over.
She stood up and saw that her father had a dagger in his hands.
She pried it out.
So long, she whispered.
And then she used it to break inside his skull.
As Bastian stepped out of the fireplace, blue and pink flames at his feet, he knew something wasn’t right. Something had happened while he was gone. His eyes narrowed, his senses flaring, feeling his way through the air. It was something to do with the room’s temperature. Was it colder here? How was that possible?
He walked towards the nearby mantle and pulled the bell off it. He rang it loudly a few times, before replacing it. Then he waited.
“Phillipa?” he called, his voice echoing. “Come here at once, please.”
Nothing. Not a sound.
“Will SOMEONE please come to the DINNING ROOM, at ONCE?” Bastian thundered.
He waited for the echo to pass.
Then he walked to the door at the far end and opened it.
The dark passageway stood still and empty before him.
“Okay,” he whispered.
They were gone. Everyone.
The whole palace was deserted.
Bastian stepped away from the doorway and hurried back through the dining area and up the staircase. He rushed to the west tower and made his way up quickly through the spiraling staircase. At the top he burst through the hatch and climbed up to the roof. He hurried across the roof and made his way to the ledge.
From here he could see most of the island.
“Where is she?” he said softly. “Come on. Please tell me.”
She had to be here somewhere. She could not have escaped him.
She could not have solved his maze.
She was just a stupid servant girl.
Just wait a moment.
What was that noise?
Bastian jumped round, thinking someone was upon him. But there was no one there.
So how could he hear that so close by?
As though the sound had entered his mind…?
Another sound pulled him back to the ledge. This one he could see where it was coming from. One of his horses was approaching from the east forest.
It had to be her.
Bastian climbed onto the ledge and shot up into the air at blinding speed, before an even faster decline down. He hit the ground running, tearing his way towards the iron gates, springing thirty feet into the air to sail over them.
Back on the ground again the white horse was charging down the pathway towards him. The rider’s head was concealed, hidden within black robes.
Bastian bore his teeth at them, ferocity igniting within.
When they were near enough, the rider pulled the horse up and jumped off its saddle, landing on the ground with both feet facing forward.
“Have a nice ride?” Bastian fired at her.
Phillipa pulled back her hood. She looked at him somberly.
“Well?” Bastian challenged again. “Care to explain yourself?”
“Forgive me. I had to make preparations,” she answered.
“Such as clearing out the palace for today. I gave the others a leave of absence.”
Bastian looked at her sideways. Then he laughed. “Who the fuck do you think you are?”
She walked up to him slow
Her eyes were wide, unflinching.
“Today is Valentine’s Day, Bastian,” she said mysteriously. “And so, I am your Valentine.”
This was brutal. This, he had not seen coming.
Even though she had her back to him and the robes shielded her, Bastian could see the worms behind it. Thick, greenish-brown slugs. Crawling all over her skin.
He let her walk a moment, opening his mind to the psychic atmosphere surrounding them. The horse wasn’t a horse but an energy – an energy conjured via the practice of black magic. He could see now there was more to Phillipa, more than he’d ever known. A presence. Someone older. A guide or mentor or –
“Get out of my mind, Bastian.”
She turned her face towards him.
“Can you open the gate?” he asked.
Phillipa smiled. She extended her left hand and opened it in the direction of the iron gate behind her. The lock shifted. The gates parted on their own.
“Who are you?” Bastian demanded.
“You know who I am.”
“A wretched beggar from the paranormal lands, happy to sell herself so that she might not starve. So that she has a roof over her head.”
He walked towards her.
“Or so I thought. Why don’t you tell me who you really are?”
She nodded. “Very well. I am the Red Glove’s daughter.”
“He’s on the island. And has been for some time.”
Bastian looked down. “I should have sensed him.”
“He did not wish you be aware of his presence,” Phillipa explained. “He still hasn’t forgiven you for your betrayal.”
“I would have had to been on his side in the first place to betray him,” Bastian said. “My goal was to assassinate him.”
“Instead you became his slave.”
“I was just a man then.”
“You’re just a man now.”
Bastian clenched his fists. “What’s his plan then? What does he want with me?”
“His expectation is that you and I wed,” Phillipa said. “He hoped you would fall in love with me without the use of magic. As did I.”
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