Called by the vampire.., p.1
Called by the Vampire - Part 3, page 1
Called by the Vampire - Part 3
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.
Editing by Jodi Henley, Red Adept Publishing and Angie Ramey
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About the Author
I've been crying for hours and have to stop. For the first time since I recovered from my heart transplant, I'm contemplating death. Before an organ donor was found for me, I was very sick, and I'd gotten so tired of fighting I sank to a low place where I hoped to die to end the pain. Right now, I'm there again, because the love of my life has been yanked away from me.
About a month ago, I moved to Port Porpoise to start living a life of adventure as Sebastian Hart's personal assistant, but when I got here, I discovered I had been hired to be the face of Kitty Kane, the Hart brothers' romance pen name, and Sebastian’s true mate had been my heart donor.
I let out a sigh and reach for the bag of chips I bought earlier. Alexander won't even answer my pleas to call and explain why he let his brother do it, but I know he has to be feeling the pain of our separation since we're true mates. I scowl as I think about how Sebastian tried to hide his glee when he told me Alexander had decided to move to LA to oversee a movie project, and I wonder what Sebastian has on him to make him suffer like this. I think Sebastian sent Alexander away because he realized something was going on with Alexander and me.
Warmth for Sebastian floods my body. "Stop it, Elizabeth. Look. You had your chance at love. I'm sorry you died too young and I got to live because of it, but it's my turn now." My heart sends me a mix of sadness and what I think is pity, and I wish I could figure out a way to ignore her.
Sebastian may think he can keep Alexander and me apart, but distance is not going to make me want Sebastian instead. Now sadness fills me, and I think my heart is trying to play up to my soft side. I shove more chips into my mouth and crunch on them. I don't want to forgive Sebastian for what he's done.
My phone alarm rings, and after I turn it off, I stand up to brush chip crumbs off my lap. Since I have to look the part of Kitty Kane, romance author, swollen red eyes and chip crumbs on my clothes won't do. I have two hours to finish getting packed and ready to start the first leg of my book-signing tour. I make my way to my closet and glare at all the outfits that are perfectly tailored to fit my body and then glance at the brand-new luggage I have to fill.
The shimmer of an emerald silk gown catches my eye, and fresh tears come as I recall wearing it the night Alexander took me out to dinner. I swallow hard and grab a blouse. The hanger clangs as I yank, and I'm tempted to ball it up, but I know I'll regret having to iron it later if I do.
I pack my entire closet so I'll have everything I could possibly need for a month on the road, and I finish with plenty of time to spare. I know I should tell Sebastian I'm ready so he and Bertha can help me carry my luggage downstairs, but I'm so angry I don't think I can face him yet.
I roll my bags out to the landing and grab one to carry it down the two flights of stairs to the main floor. It's heavy, and I'm panting before I get to the next level. A sharp pain slices through my heart, and I flash back to when Sebastian caught me kissing Alexander. A fresh rush of anger rips into me as I recall the way Alexander tried to hide our love. I let out a gasp before I collapse, and my suitcase tumbles to the main floor with a series of thuds. I clutch at my burning chest and try to breathe.
Sebastian is by my side in a split second, and his hands are cold on my cheeks as he grabs my face to look at me. "Margaret! My god, you're as pale as a sheet."
I suck in air as my heart resumes beating. "I'm fine."
"You are most definitely not fine. Is it your heart?"
I pull away from his grasp. "I said I'm okay."
Sadness washes over his face before he says, "Go to the study and wait for me, Margaret."
I stand up and glare at him, but because he's my boss, I follow the order. I hear him call out to Bertha as I enter the dark room. I walk over to a sofa, and it whooshes under me as I plop down. My heart still hurts, and I know I shouldn't have overdone it. I also know I should probably take my medication for episodes like this, but that would require I go dig it out of one of the bags Sebastian and Bertha are loading into the car for me.
I glance over at Alexander's desk he never used. Well. There was the one time he bent me over it and we... I sigh at the memory before I push it away to keep from crying again.
"Margaret," says Sebastian in a soft voice that's full of concern. I glance at the doorway to see him walk toward me. I give him a stony stare as a reply, and it stops him in his tracks. "You have got to take better care of yourself."
I don't break my gaze as I remain silent, and Sebastian walks over to his desk. A wood drawer scrapes as he pulls it open and removes a knife. He opens another drawer, and something small clatters on his desktop when he sets it down. I suppress a sound of surprise when he takes the knife and slices his palm open. He lifts his hand and squeezes it into a fist. Deep-red blood drips into what I realize is a small bottle.
Ewww. "What are you doing?" I ask.
"Protecting the woman I love." Sebastian puts a stopper in the vial and then pulls a handkerchief out of his suit coat pocket to wipe his hand. He comes over to me and sits on the other end of the sofa. "Take this."
I stare at the tiny vessel shaped like a heart that he holds out to me and notice it's been etched with leaves and flowers. The garnet contents make a striking background, and I'd think it were pretty if I didn't know the vial contained vampire blood. "What am I supposed to do with it?"
Sebastian grabs my hand gently, and the bottle is cold when he places it in my palm and wraps my fingers around it. "You are going to put it on a chain and wear it at all times."
I grimace, and when he lets go of me, I drop the vial on the sofa cushion. “That's disgusting."
"It can save your life, Margaret."
"Really? I'd much rather wear a huge cross, or maybe a necklace of garlic."
He sighs as he picks the bottle up. "It's not to keep danger away. Vampire blood heals. If you have another episode that doesn't pass, I want you to drink this."
He holds out his palm, and where he cut himself moments ago is only a faint scar. I glance up to see sadness in his eyes. My heart clenches with the same emotion, and I wish fate hadn’t made this so hard. "I can't lose you again," he says softly. "I won't." He reaches and takes my hand to place the bottle in it again. This time, he's not gentle. "Please, Margaret. If you won't wear it for me, then do it for Alexander."
Hope fills me like helium in a balloon as I ask, "You mean I'm going to see him again?"
"Yes. One day, you will. But you must stay alive for that."
I glance down at the bottle and notice the wire around its neck with a loop to accommodate a chain. I tighten my grip on it. I don't want to die if I can be with Alexander again. Tears fill my eyes as I gaze at Sebastian. I whisper, "I miss him so much it hurts."
He nods at me, and I see he's in pain too. My heart fills me with sadness and the desire to hold Sebastian to offer comfort. I stand up instead. "I'm going to go find a chain in my luggage."
I begin to walk toward the door. It occurs to me that Sebastian is struggling with his true mate feelings for Elizabeth too and he's probably as distraught as I am. While I'm still angry he sent Alexander away, I can't help but feel sympathy. I turn back, and my breath is sucked away by the raw anguish I see on his face. “Th-Thank you," I stammer. And when I get to the stairs, I run to my suite as fast as I can.
"Holy shit," I mumble to myself as I watch Kitty load a grocery bag with chips sticking out of the top into a super-expensive-looking black sports car. The last time I saw her, she was driving a beat-up Subaru that looked as if it were held together by duct tape. My shopping-cart wheels rattle over the asphalt as I make my way to my car with groceries. I would call out to her, but something about that girl makes me wary.
She seemed nice enough when I met her at the coffee shop where I work. When she ordered and asked about Aiden, I realized she was the redheaded girl he'd been talking about. So I told her he was at the beach and that some of our friends were there if she wanted to hang out with us. I didn't spend much time with her that day because I was surfing, but Jenna and Becky liked her, and Kitty ended up coming to Matt's house that night. I let out a yawn I can't explain. I feel as if I've done nothing but sleep for two days. Ever since Matt's party.
I scowl as I lift a heavy bag. Not only am I exhausted, but I'm weak too, and I'm beginning to wonder if Kitty had something to do with my condition. The night she came to Matt's was strange. It wasn't that any of us got too crazy with alcohol or weed. Heck, I don't think Jenna and I even took a hit, but somehow six of us managed to lose a chunk of time. And when we woke up, Kitty was gone.
Now she's riding around in a fancy car, and I wonder if she's tired and weak too or if she's the reason the rest of us are. Aiden told me she hasn't been into the coffee shop since that night either, which is unusual considering she had been in the habit of going daily. My trunk slams as I make a decision, and I rush to get behind the wheel so I can follow Kitty Kane and find out more about the supposed romance author.
Luck is on my side, because when I pull out, one of those teeny smart cars gets between Kitty and me. It allows me to still see the black sports car but be hidden enough she won't notice I'm following her. As we drive through town, she pulls off onto Ocean Avenue, and the car between us doesn't. I follow Kitty from a distance far enough away she can't recognize me in her rearview mirror.
Ocean Avenue is aptly named, with very few houses on the seaside, giving pedestrians and drivers a killer view of the rocky coastline of this section of Maine. I gaze at the large cedar-shingled mansion ahead. It's set on a rocky cliff high up, as if it's towering over the entire village. A chill runs down my spine, as it usually does when I see the house, because even though it's beautiful and on prime real estate, it's creepy.
Growing up in Port Porpoise, I've known forever the place is supposed to be haunted. When we were kids, we used to dare each other to climb the tall wrought-iron fence and jump over, but nobody ever got that far. Perhaps we just spooked ourselves so badly that the icy temperature we felt when we got close was only a breeze cooled by the ocean, but since everyone swore it was coming from the mansion, nobody was ever brave enough to get on the property.
As Kitty gets closer to the mansion, her blinker begins to flash, and she slows down. "Holy. Fucking. Shit!" She pulls into the driveway of the mansion, and I just about wet my pants. A horn blaring behind me makes me jump, and I do pee a little before I realize I've slowed down to almost a stop. I wave my hand at the annoyed driver behind me and press down on my gas pedal hard. My car lurches forward, and I go with it. Just like when I was young, I feel as if a monster is chasing me, and I can't get away fast enough.
I do slow down when I pass the favorite speed trap of the local police, and by the time I get home, I'm calm again. After I unload my groceries, I get ready to go into work early, because I want to talk to Aiden.
The shop is almost full of patrons, and Aiden is working with a high school girl named Lisa. Mugs and plates clash as she clears a table, and she flashes me a smile when I greet her. I put my bag in the back, and my braids thud on my back when I pull them through the neck loop of my apron.
I step behind the counter to talk to Aiden.
"Hey," he says. "You're early."
"You're never going to believe what I saw this morning. Kitty Kane lives in the haunted mansion on Ocean."
He chuckles. "Funny. Now you're going to tell me that hot little redhead is a ghost or something?"
"I'm dead serious. I saw Kitty go down the driveway." My best guy friend gives me a double shot espresso I like to start my shift with, and I let the paper cup warm my hands. "I knew something wasn't right with that girl."
"You did not," says Aiden. "None of us did, and I'm still not convinced there is."
"Man." I shake my head. "You'll do anything to get laid."
A woman clears her throat, and I glance at the customer waiting for her drink. "Sorry," I say with a sheepish smile. I turn back to Aiden. "I bet she lives there."
He shrugs as the milk steamer hisses. "She told me she was staying someplace on Ocean Avenue, so maybe she does."
I take a sip of my coffee to get the caffeine in my system before I start my shift. "And you don't think it's odd that she's in the haunted house? C'mon, Aiden. Nobody else lives there!"
"Maybe she inherited it from a distant family relative and is giving it new life. It's a sweet location."
He flashes his surfer-boy smile at the woman waiting as he hands her a drink. "Thanks. Stop by and see us again."
"You are unbelievable," I say as Aiden lifts his arms up over his head to stretch and flashes his perfectly toned abs that make women drool. He lets out a yawn, and I say, "I bet Kitty doesn't feel like she was hit by a Mack truck like the rest of us. She drugged us, Aiden."
"Give it a rest, Lynds. She was probably smart enough to not drink too much, and when we all passed out, she left our poor drunk asses and went home to her mansion."
I glare at him. "I did not drink too much." I sigh as I give up on him. Aiden is a go-with-the-flow kind of guy, but I bet Jenna and Becky will be interested in what I found out. I pull my phone out of my back pocket to text them. Stop by the shop. You won't believe what I just found out about Kitty!
Jenna and Becky work at a restaurant around the corner from the coffee shop, and as soon as the lunch shift is over, they come to see me. They rush up to the counter, and Becky speaks in a low voice. "We're dying. What did you find out?"
"I saw Kitty driving a very expensive black sports car, and she pulled into the haunted house on Ocean."
"Whoa," says Jenna as Becky's jaw hangs open. "Did she go inside?"
"I don't know. I freaked and drove away as fast as I could." Two empty mugs thud on the counter when I set them down for their coffees.
"Does she live there?" asks Becky.
"I don't know. But I bet she does."
Jenna takes her cup from me, and hot liquid from the thermal canister trickles into it as she pours. "Me too." She scowls. "And that's super creepy."
Becky didn't grow up here, and she asks, "So I know you guys say the place is haunted, but other than the rumors, is there any proof?"
I shake my head. "No. And I'm not one hundred percent positive it is, but I've also never seen anyone there. So even if it's not, don't you think it's kind of weird for Kitty to be there all by herself?"
"And what about the car? Why was she driving a rusty old heap when she had access to something much better?" asks Jenna. She glances at me. "You're absolutely sure it was Kitty?"
"Yes. I'd know that red hair anywhere."
Becky squints for a split second. I think it's because she's convinced I have a thing for Aiden, and he w
"Yeah. Are you guys still really tired?" They shrug, and I wonder why they don’t seem to think it’s a big deal. "I'm tempted to go knock on the door to ask her what she drugged us with."
Becky gets a mischievous twinkle in her eye. "I’ll go with you."
"Oh no." Jenna shakes her head. "You're on your own with that. No way in hell am I setting foot inside those gates."
"Chicken," says Becky. She looks at me. "What about you? Want to go sleuthing?"
Becky chuckles as she lifts her coffee mug to her lips. "Not really. I don't believe Kitty drugged us or anything. It doesn't make sense. Plus I think I'd need a lot of alcohol to go to the haunted mansion, and I doubt that's a good idea when you might face a ghost."
"Ghost?" asks Jenna. "Naw. I bet, in a place like that, you'd find vampires."
"Vampires?" Now I laugh, but a faint memory of something dark comes to me; like when you wake up from a bad dream but can't remember what it was that scared you. I shake my head. Perhaps I am making more of this situation and Kitty’s involvement in it than I should. It’s possible she didn't do anything. "Maybe she'll come in again, and we can ask her about the house," I say.
My friends change the subject to other things, and I half listen as I think about Kitty. I don't believe we will see her again. It’s clear that if I want to know more about Kitty Kane, I'm going to have to find out on my own.
The black leather seat of the Hart limo is cool on my back when I settle into my spot across from Sebastian. I'm in a crisp blouse and straight skirt, with my hair piled up on my head. I pulled out curls to frame my face. Sebastian instructed me to put on the amount of makeup I wore for my Kitty Kane pictures that we took, and I feel as if I'm coated in sunscreen I can't wait to wash off.
by V. Vaughn have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes