Here is the first of the (long-promised) tidbits from Blood Thief. Enjoy :)
Sometimes the brain can’t process what it sees. When something is so wrong, so horrible, the brain refuses to recognize it. That was the case when I walked into Catherine’s house, intent on getting a nice, steaming cup of tea to warm my cold hands and delivering an invitation to a party. As I entered, I had called out, “Hello, it’s Celeste, anybody home?” and then headed straight to the kitchen, as was my custom. I’ve seen enough human death that I should have recognized what I was seeing, but I stood there looking at Catherine, laying in a dark pool of blood with her head severed from her body for a good three minutes before my brain ever registered what I was viewing. Catherine had been the Keeper. It was her purpose to guard the reliquary that was vital to our bloodline. Only a few members of the bloodline knew where it was hidden, myself among that number, and I was on high alert as I went to the Grandfather clock and removed the reliquary from its hiding spot.
I flipped open my phone and made a quick call to my brother as I left Catherine’s house. He would make the necessary calls to get the scene cleaned up and avoid the involvement of the authorities. It wasn’t prudent for our kind to let our secrets become common knowledge. The crisp autumn air swirled the fallen leaves at my feet as I rushed down the walkway. As I snapped my phone shut, I realized I had made a huge mistake. Faint footsteps behind me informed me that I was being followed. I’d taken the reliquary from its hiding place and whoever had killed the Keeper was now somewhere behind me, waiting on the chance to take it. I had played right into their hands.
I picked up my pace, hurrying along the wide, oak-lined sidewalk. If I ran it would announce my awareness of my pursuer. I tried a quick illusion, but the footsteps kept coming. Whoever was chasing me was immune. I cursed inwardly. The reliquary must be protected. My Regent would want to take possession of it as soon as he learned that Catherine was gone. My plan was to keep moving and to get out of the historic district where, at this hour, it was nearly deserted and go somewhere I could hide in a crowd. That is, that was my plan until I heard the distinctive sound of a revolver being cocked. I started running. The echo of the pistol firing three times in succession bounced off the painstakingly restored homes and nearly deafened me. Only one attempt found its mark.
Getting shot hurts. Even when you’re a vampire. And if I didn’t move a little faster I was going to find out just how much it would hurt to be shot repeatedly. My second death was on its way and catching up quickly. My ribs felt as if they were being pried apart, but I kept running, my hand splayed over the wound. I knew if I slowed, I’d be caught and the reliquary, which was tucked into the pocket of my jacket, would be lost. I’m not entirely sure which would be worse, displeasing my Regent or losing my long-standing ability to breathe. It felt as if I’d been running for an hour, not the few minutes it had taken me to snatch the enamel and silver heart-shaped vessel after finding out that Catherine had met her second death. Her killer was now chasing me and doing a fine job of it. Luckily only one bullet had hit me and it was in the ribs, a spot that wouldn’t keep me from running. I would heal quickly, but the bullet would have to be removed or the process would be much slower. I hopped over a low stone fence and kept running. I moved so quickly that human eyes would have difficulty following my progress. My pursuer’s footfalls joined with mine in a strange syncopated beat, mimicking the sound of a racing heart about to burst. I neared the edge of the historic district of this small Southern town, the last place one would expect to find a vampire, but here I was, running as if my un-life depended on it.
A quick turn down another street, lined with old oaks whose skeletal branches grabbed for the cold silvery moon, gave me a brief advantage. My passing made dead leaves reanimate, dancing in the pale dappled moonlight. Distant traffic was all that kept these buildings with their wrought iron fences and wedding cake-like porticos in this century. One could just as easily be in 1850 as in the new millennium with out that discordant accompaniment. I slowed and slid quietly into one of those grand old beauties. The building had been damaged in a recent fire and I was hoping the strong burnt odor would mask my scent from the vampire chasing me. It could only be another vampire, no human could run that fast. Entering the foyer, I was startled as I saw someone with long, dark hair and pale skin staring back at me. I realized it was only my reflection in a huge, gilt-framed mirror after a moment. I laughed quietly at myself. A vampire scared by her reflection. While popular myth would have everyone believe otherwise, we are able to see ourselves in mirrors much to my momentary chagrin. I turned away from my smirking features in the glass and silently went up the main staircase, listening for pursuit all the while, and then paused in the first doorway I reached.
While focusing so intently on hearing noises behind me, I had failed to note what was ahead of me. My disbelieving eyes fell on what had to be the most beautiful human male I have ever encountered. Had I not heard the heartbeat I would have thought him to be another vampire. He was busy stuffing valuables into a black messenger bag and didn’t hear my ghost-like arrival. The fire that had damaged the antebellum home had done its worst on the opposite side of the house. Here, the walls were only blackened from smoke from the chair-rail up to the ceiling. When the owners had fled, they had taken very little, so there were still some very good pickings for thieves. I knew I had only a few moments before the vampire chasing me passed this way. I had to silence this human and do it quickly or he would give away my position. His beauty and youth caused me to hesitate. Make no mistake, I wanted to drink him down badly. Killing him suddenly wasn’t an option. I wanted to savor him, taste him a little at a time. I cleared my throat and he spun toward me, his eyes wide. As stupid as it was, I was going to save this one, for now at least, knowing it was probably going to cost me.
“You need to leave. Now.” I pointed toward the door. I would track him down later and enjoy him at my leisure. He was a delicacy to be savored over time.
He shook his head, making his soft auburn curls bounce against his shoulders, and his blue eyes met my green ones, while his lips pouted defiantly. “I was here first, find your own place.”
I laughed. This bold, gorgeous creature thought I was trying to steal his heist. “I was followed, you need to run or what is chasing me will do worse than take your loot or turn you in to the cops.”
He lifted an eyebrow as if to say, “Yeah, right,” but asked, “And just what is chasing you?”
I was getting pissed now. Here I was trying to save his ass and he wanted a conversation! I gave up the pretense of trying to appear human, “The same thing you are arguing with currently.” I stepped forward into the shaft of moonlight pouring in through the open window, and allowed him to see my true nature. As if the fangs and hunger-dilated eyes weren’t frightening enough, I added what should have been just enough illusion to terrify him.
His eyes widened and his breathing picked up its pace, but to his credit he didn’t back away from as most do when confronted with something they thought was only real in horror novels and nightmares. I let the illusion drop and I watched his gaze fall from my face to where the bloodstain had blossomed on my shirt-front. His eyes grew even larger; “You’re hurt.”