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Called by the Vampire - Part 1


  Called by the Vampire - Part 1

  V. Vaughn

  Sugarloaf Press

  Copyright © 2017 by V. Vaughn

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

  Natasha Snow

  Editing by Jodi Henley, Red Adept Publishing and Angie Ramey

  Sign up for V. Vaughn’s newsletter to hear about more shifter romance books.

  Contents

  About This Book

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  About the Author

  About This Book

  Called by the Vampire - Part 1

  by V. Vaughn

  When Maggie Evans had a heart transplant, she received more than a new organ from her donor. She also got a piece of the woman’s soul and now, Maggie can feel emotions she can’t explain. Emotions that help her decide to take a job for Sebastian Hart in a dark mansion on the coast of Maine. When she gets there, she discovers her heart had a good reason to make her go.

  Sebastian isn’t the only Hart brother who makes Maggie’s pulse quicken. His younger brother, Alexander, captures the rest of her. While having her affections torn between two brothers who are her bosses is complicated enough, Maggie also learns the men are far more than they seem. Now she’s trapped in a world she never imagined existed, and it could be the adventure of a lifetime, or a lifetime in hell.

  Chapter 1

  “This is so cloak-and-dagger,” says my best friend, Kristi. I glance at her as she blows a strand of her straight blond hair out of her face. She’s talking about a nondisclosure agreement for my new job that arrived by registered mail. “I’m no lawyer, but I think this part says if you reveal anything, they’ll kill you.” She chuckles as my mother snatches the document from her hands.

  Mom frowns as she reads the part Kristi was referring to. “I still don’t like anything about this, Maggie. I don’t understand why staying here would be so awful.” Her blue eyes, which match mine, are filled with concern as she scowls.

  Mom is against me leaving our tiny Maine town near the Canadian border, and I get her hesitation to let me go off on my own. She spent my whole life keeping me alive. But I’m tired of playing things safe, and when I went to the career-counseling center at my community college looking for any adventure my English degree would allow, I jumped at the chance to move away. Even if my new job is still in the same state.

  “Well, I think it’s exciting, Mrs. Evans,” says Kristi, and silverware clatters as she opens the drawer so she can set the table. “Didn’t you ever want to get out of here?”

  Mom sighs, and guilt tugs at me for a moment. The aroma of garlic fills the air as my mother’s lasagna bakes in the oven. I hug her tight and inhale the faint lemon scent of her soap as her graying red curls tickle my cheek. This is more than me moving away—this means the one goal she had for the last twenty-one years is no longer hers. “Mom, be happy for me. You’ve just gotten a doctorate in raising a child who was supposed to die into a woman who plans to live.” And I plan to live large.

  While my new heart is working fine, I won’t remain healthy as long as most people, and I’m going to make the most of the time I’ve got. The pen I grab is slick in my hand, and it scratches across the paper as I sign the nondisclosure agreement. When I tuck it into the preaddressed envelope, my heart flips as if I have a crush.

  It’s a strange sensation to have about a new job, but things that happen with my heart aren’t normal. Her heart. Five years ago, I had a heart transplant, and since the day I got some girl’s vital organ, I haven’t been alone. I don’t talk about it to anyone, of course. While there have been stories about people suddenly liking food they hated, nobody’s ever spoken about the level of strangeness I experience now. I think I got a piece of my donor’s soul too, but I’m not about to become the latest guest on a talk show, so I keep quiet. I haven’t even told my mother, who is the only person I would trust with such a secret.

  My heart is the reason I’ve been able to get over the strange requirements of my new job too. Especially when one of the requests meant I had to go buy a pencil skirt and button-up blouse to wear for a full-body photograph of me. That wasn’t something I shared with my mother either, because if not for my heart, I might not have gone through with the application. But the donor who gave me my life force pushed any trepidation from my mind.

  I clutch the overnight mailer to my chest and let out a squeal before I ask, “Who wants to go to the post office with me and help seal my fate?”

  Two weeks later, my jaw drops when I drive past the center of the coastal town of Port Porpoise and see the view. A vast expanse of ocean stretches forever on the right-hand side of the road, and the way the sunlight bounces off the water makes it appear as if someone spilled glitter. “Wow,” I say, but then I immediately think that’s an understatement.

  “In one thousand feet, you will have reached your destination, on the right,” announces the map program on my phone. I squint as if that will help me see the only house visible on that side of the road better. It looks as if it’s built on large rocks and perches on top of them as if they were a throne. It makes me think the owner wants to command the high seas, and I hope I get a view of the ocean from my room. Though it’s unlikely since I’m just a lowly assistant. I chuckle to myself as I imagine a room set in a dark cellar complete with squeaking rats. Dramatic much?

  Sebastian Hart, my new employer, is a private man, and I got nothing more than his name for information about him. I’ve been hired as his personal secretary. Who calls it that these days? But considering the sizable salary for the job, he can call me anything he wants, and I suspect he’s some old rich dude who doesn’t care what anyone thinks.

  My duties will be to filter Sebastian’s correspondence and act on his behalf for the public side of his life. I had to take a typing test for accuracy and speed, proof an odd short story about vampires for grammar and punctuation, and then call a phone number and leave a message of me reading the short story aloud. He’d better not be a dirty old man who asks me to pick up pencils he drops, because I’ll be so out of there.

  Wind blasts in my car as I crack the windows, and I breathe in the salty air. My hand covers my heart as I’m filled with unexplained joy. As if I can speak to my heart donor, I say, “We’re almost there.”

  As I get closer to my new home, I notice unusually tall wrought-iron fencing surrounding the property. I’ve pondered many possibilities for why Sebastian Hart requires legally binding secrecy. They range from disfigurement to mafia boss, and when I Googled the man, I found absolutely nothing. Considering this is real life and not a movie, I guess he’s just overzealous about his privacy. He’s good at it too, because I thought everyone could be found on the Internet.

  When it’s time to turn in the drive, I encounter a security panel. I expected it, and I was told to hit the button to be buzzed in. My window hums as I lower it, and I push the intercom. A voice that makes me think of an old woman asks, “Margaret Evans?”

  I gaze up at the security camera and wonder if Sebastian is watching my arrival. “Yes.”

  “Enter.”

  The gate doors creak open automatically, and I drive through them. The house before me is enormous, and my quick count reveals four stories above ground. The siding is ag
ed cedar shingles, and the trim is navy blue, which would make one think it’s a typical oceanfront mansion in Maine. But something tells me this place is far from ordinary.

  I notice a rectangular section of asphalt off to the left, and I pull in to park. I was told to bring only one bag of personal items, because clothing would be provided for me. That is definitely a job perk to me, because this girl loves the idea of a new wardrobe I suspect won’t be coming from the discount places I usually shop. I send my mother a quick text telling her I arrived safely and I’ll call tomorrow after my first day of work to let her know how it goes.

  My drive was almost six hours, and except for one bathroom stop, I didn’t move much. I slip on my heels before I get out of my car and stretch my arms up over my head. My muscles tighten in objection until I work out the kinks. A blast of cool air that I guess came off the ocean swirls around me, and when I glance at the mansion, something in a window on the top floor moves. I stiffen as my mind quickly envisions a crazy woman locked up there. I roll my eyes at my active imagination as I tug on my fitted blouse. I wore the pencil skirt too, but right now the wrinkles from sitting for so long make me wish I’d opted for yoga pants and an oversized tee. My attempt at impressing my new boss is lame, and if I’m going to arrive looking like a frumpy mess, it would have been nice to be comfortable.

  I grab my bag from the back of my car, and the strap cuts into my shoulder with the weight when I hoist it up to carry it before I slam the hatch shut. I’m about to hit the button on my remote to lock my vehicle, when I stop myself and glance around. I drive a beat-up Subaru that’s on its last legs. If someone gets past the gate to get in here and wants it, they can have it.

  I make my way to the house. It’s definitely been here a while judging by the thick oak tree on the front lawn I imagine is close to one hundred years old. Once I climb the steps to the small porch, I notice there is an actual door knocker. It’s a huge brass ring that could likely fit over my head, and it’s held by an ornate dragon’s mouth. The red jewels for his eyes sparkle at me. I wonder if they’d move to follow me too. By all rights I should be freaked out by the creepy mansion before me, but I’m not. My heart is happy, as if I’ve come home from a long trip, and I can’t find it in me not to trust the feeling. I think my donor has memories here, and that makes me curious. The ring is heavy when I lift it to knock, and it clacks loudly.

  A woman who appears to be as old as the house answers the door. She’s thin, and her gray hair is pulled back so tightly I wonder if it hurts. I smile. “Hi. I’m Maggie.”

  She doesn’t return the warmth, but she steps aside to let me in without speaking a word. I think to myself I’m going to have to kill her with kindness, when my heart conveys to me, “Don’t bother.” The way the previous owner of my heart speaks to me isn’t conventional or even like one might imagine telepathic people communicate. She talks to me by giving me an emotion. As far as I can tell, they’re spot on.

  Once I get inside, I notice the entryway is formal, with the largest crystal chandelier I’ve ever seen barely lit to a pale yellow. After the bright sunshine outdoors, it takes me a moment to adjust to the dim lighting, and my bag thuds when I set it down. I look to the woman to find out what I’m supposed to do, and she walks away so fast that by the time I figure out she wants me to follow, I have to jog a few steps to catch up. Which totally sucks in heels, and I’m grateful when I don’t twist an ankle. She leads me to a pair of heavy wood doors, judging by the way she strains to tug them open. She says, “Margaret Evans is here,” in a tone that makes me think I’m being introduced to a king.

  I enter the room, which is also dark, and I gaze at the two men, who stare at me. My heart nearly bursts with a warm gush of emotions that makes me giddy, as if I’ve found a long-lost lover. Oh my god! Was my organ donor in love with one of these guys? They’re much younger than I expected, and I place the stockier one in his twenties. The other man is tall and lean, and I guess he could be early thirties. But he may just seem older to me because of his serious expression and stately posture.

  “Oh, Sebastian,” says the one who appears to be younger, “look at her hair.” He steps up to me, and the thud of the doors at my back makes me feel abandoned by the silent woman. The man’s hand hovers in the air as he asks, “May I?”

  I gaze into the greenest eyes I’ve ever seen, set into a face that has skin so pale it’s almost translucent. But he’s not delicate in stature. His broad shoulders and narrow hips make me think he’s hiding an athletic body. Just my type, and I resist the urge to purr with my attraction. “Ah.” I think he wants to touch my hair, so I say, “Sure.”

  He tugs on one of my curls, which are a natural shade of red thanks to my Irish heritage, and when he lets go, he grins. “They bounce,” he says. My god, that mouth. His lower lip has a pouty plumpness that makes me want to nibble it. Hey, heart, I approve.

  Sebastian watches us with a stony face, but while he appears to be disapproving, my heart responds when I look at him. My stomach sinks, because I think Sebastian is whom my heart wants. I inhale sharply at the effect he has on my body too. He’s definitely not the kind I go for. His stern look makes me think he’s not going to enjoy my sense of humor, and I’ll likely have to watch what I say around him. Even so, I gaze at Sebastian in a trance as the other man walks a circle around me and begins a rant about my cheap clothing being too tight around my hips but too big around my waist, as if I didn’t know. I’d be insulted, but the way this guy speaks, it’s as if my clothing choice is someone else’s fault. I’m too mesmerized by Sebastian to care. My legs propel me forward as if I’m a marionette being controlled by someone else, and I hold out my hand as I say, “Maggie Evans, and you must be Mr. Hart.”

  Chapter 2

  After I introduce myself to Sebastian, he doesn’t take my hand or look at it. Instead he stares at me as though I’m something the cat dragged in. My heart deflates as if I’ve disappointed him.

  The chatty man chuckles and says, “Hmm, seems you’ve left my brother speechless, Margaret. Interesting.”

  I continue to stare at Sebastian, and my heart begs me to go to him and hold him in my arms as if I need to apologize. I’m not sure what I’ve walked into here. But I’m not leaving until I find out.

  The talkative guy has finished his assessment of my clothing and says, “I’m Alexander Hart.” At least someone here is friendly, and I smile as I say, “Call me Maggie.”

  Sebastian says—no, he commands, “We’ll be calling you Margaret. For now.”

  I glare at him for a second before I hide my anger from my new boss. Hey, heart. This guy doesn’t seem so into us. What gives? Of course I don’t get an answer, and I wonder if maybe she was in love with Sebastian and he never returned her feelings. As if that’s not going to be awkward. I nod and smile when I remember I’m an employee and it’s a good idea not to piss off your boss the first time you meet him. I say, “Margaret.” God, I hate that name. It reminds me of doctors who never seemed to have good things to tell me, and I wonder if he knows it.

  His eyes are a deeper shade of green than his brother’s, but his skin is just as pale. It’s striking and matches the strong angles of his face. The Hart brothers are very attractive men, each in their own way. But when Sebastian steps close to tower over me, he becomes something more sinister. Pain flashes over his face, and if I hadn’t spent my life standing strong despite my weakness, I would crumble under his intimidating presence. That doesn’t stop me from shaking, and I tense up to stop it from showing.

  He says, “Dinner is in an hour. I suggest you unpack and change your clothes.” He turns to his brother. “Alexander, show Margaret to her room.”

  My shoulders drop as I leave happily, and I’d be tempted to keep right on walking out the door if it weren’t for Alexander. He grabs my bag and climbs up the stairs before me. He says, “You’re going to love it here. Wait until you see your view.” I grab the handrail, and it’s firm in my grip. This one’s working ju
st fine. I watch his butt flex as he moves ahead of me.

  He takes me up to the top floor, where the ceilings are low. My room is on the right, and he opens a darkly stained wooden door to reveal a space similar to a small living room. The colors are cranberry and faded pinks with lots of cream. There’s a love seat and large chair with an ottoman, along with a coffee table and small bookcase, which is empty. Another door leads to my bedroom. It’s even brighter, in mostly white with small splashes of purple in the floral comforter and throw pillows. The three floor-to-ceiling windows along the wall are what capture my attention and make me gasp. I walk over to one and gaze out at the glittering ocean. I place my hand on the glass, and it’s cool under my fingers as I say, “Wow.”

  “Oh good.” I turn to Alexander, and his eyes get big for dramatic effect. He’s at the far side of the room, where it’s barely illuminated by the windows. “This would have been horrid if you had a fear of the water.”

  “Yes.” I smile at him.

  Alexander walks over to a doorway, and it leads to a small room that appears to be a closet and dressing room, with racks for clothing and shoes, as well as a standing full-length mirror. I notice the bathroom is just beyond it. There are only a few items of clothing, and he says, “Roland is coming tomorrow to fit you.” A hanger clatters as he lifts an emerald-green silk dress and holds it up for me. It’s long, and the cut is slender. The silk shimmers as I notice a neckline high enough to cover my scar. “This is what you should wear to dinner,” he says.

 
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