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| || FF (May 2011) Ronnie Massey - [Darklife 1] Crimson Dawn
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When vampire Valeria Trumaine comes home one morning to find her father waiting for her, she knows she's about to get trouble in spades. But she never imagined it would come in the form of her ex-fiancÃ©. Now she must confront old demons and face new possibilities as she struggles to bring the rouge vampire to justice.
After she left him, Valeria avoided Tristan like the plague, but now that he's gone rogue, she's going to have to utilize every thing she's learned as a sentinel to find him. Finding Tristan proves to be more dangerous than anyone realized. He's changed in ways that go against nature, and has become more powerful than anyone ever imagined.
Refusing to let her face the abomination that Tristan has become alone, Val's best friend and powerful Sidhe princess, Irulan joins the hunt. Valeria will find that Irulan's motives for keeping her safe aren't what she thinks. And soon she's faced with an undeniable attraction that makes her question everything she knew about herself.
Can she accomplish her task and prevent more innocent lives from being destroyed? Can she do it and not loose herself to his madness? In the middle of all the madness, can she embrace the unexpected love that fate has thrown her way?
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Crunch! I looked down at the broken glass under my foot and took a quick glance back at the sleeping man sprawled across the bed. Good - still asleep. The last thing I needed was for Michael... Mitch... Matthew... whatever his name is, to wake up while I was trying to make a smooth getaway before the sun got too high in the sky.
While the night before had proved to be very entertaining for us both, I wasn't looking for anything beyond a one-night stand. As my luck would have it, I picked a guy that liked to cuddle after sex and actually talk about his feelings, most involving us getting to know each other better. Yeah - I'll pass. While the sex was good, I had my doubts that it was worth all this. Now I know that may sound rather whorish, but most Vampires don't see promiscuity as such a terrible thing. Pain and pleasure go hand in hand for us; they increase our chances of having successful feedings. Humans don't tend to take a few missing pints so bad if they've had an incredible night of sex the night before.
Maintaining anonymity does matter. To make sure I kept my own, I placed a few mental blocks in said cuddle bunny's mind, (i.e. Glamour). I hate messing with peopleâ€™s heads, but it was the only way to make sure he wouldn't show up at my favorite Extras club, The Den, looking for me later. The next time he saw me he would vaguely remember some chick he thought he went to high school with. The blocks wouldn't mean shit though if I couldn't get out of the house without accidentally waking him. I'd go from last night's thrill to trespassing burglar - Not high on my 'to do' list.
Fortunately, with a little burst of vamp speed I was out of the house and into my car in a matter of seconds, kicking myself the entire way for carelessly knocking over the glass in the first place. As soon as I slid into my leather seat and shut the door, my cell phone started to ring. I didnâ€™t even have to look down to know that it was my roommate Irulan. She was the only person that would have the gall to call me in the morning when any decent Vampire was safely in bed. "Yeah, this is Val, talk.â€
Irulan huffed on the other end. I could almost see her green eyes rolling with aggravation. "Valeria, you've really got to work on your phone etiquette. You have all the social graces of a sloth.â€
I shrugged my shoulders despite the fact that she couldnâ€™t see them, and pulled my burgundy Fusion into traffic. "I knew it was you Ire, so why bother with the pleasantries?"
Instead of the snappy comeback I expected, I heard nothing but silence. Irulan was taking entirely too long to answer. On top of that, she covered the phone with her hand and lowered her voice to a whisper. God, I hoped she didn't have some girl in the bed with her while she was fussing at me. The last thing I needed was for her to be berating me in front of her flavor of the week.
"Gee thanks,â€ she said when she finally decided to respond, â€œYou really know how to make a girl feel special. I was just calling to make sure you were awake, and on the way home. It's getting close to eight. I know you're Pureblood and all, but you're still young in vamp years. You need to be in before the sun gets too high in the sky."
"Nah, Ma, you think?â€ I rolled my eyes at the phone and silently cursed. No matter how many times I make it home before the sun completely rises, she never lets me forget the one time that I didn't. To be honest, I think it scared her more than it scared me. I got off relatively easy... just a three-month long tan after the initial burns healed. I've seen other Vampires my age take a few years to heal similar sun damage. Our bodies heal almost instantly, from almost everything except sun damage. Granted, their blood might not have been as pure as my own.
"I'm already in the car and headed home on Tyvola. I'll see you in ten minutes.â€ Irulan was obviously satisfied with my answer because she hung up without saying goodbye. Now who needed lessons in phone etiquette?
I live in the southern United States, Charlotte, North Carolina to be precise. Charlotte became one of the "it" destination for Extras after the Awakening. The city was large enough to support us and allow us to blend in, yet small enough and deep enough in the south that the Humans here hadn't lost their belief in all things otherworldly. They weren't quite as jaded as the rest of North America, thus, they were a little more welcoming.
So much so that there are at least four suburbs here aimed strictly at Extras. Irulan and I lived in one called Emerald City. Yeah, I know the name is cheesy, but I didn't name the place, I just live there. The last time I checked the census we were the fastest growing minority in Charlotte.
I made it home to our converted storefronts just as the sun was starting to peek out over the second floor, excellent timing in my book. Irulan didn't share the feeling. The moment I pulled in through the back of our building and slid my car into the parking bay she was pounding on the window.
"Damn it, Valeria, one of these days your car's gonna roll in here with a pile of ashes behind the wheel.â€ Irulan yanked open my door and shoved her hand into the pockets of the low-rider jeans that she wore. She stood there tapping one foot, as she waited none too patiently for me to get out of the car. By the gods, she fusses more than my mother ever did when I lived at home.
"Hi honey, I'm home,â€ I laughed as I eased out of the car and kissed my best friend on her nose. In return, she cracked the glass of my window slamming the door shut. OK. , no way did I deserve that, something was not right with this picture. "What's going on Ire, did I do something..."
Irulan crossed her arms over her chest and looked down at her feet. She was nervous. Aw hell, something was wrong. It took a lot to shake one of the Sidhe. Faint footsteps fell on the concrete behind us, and a familiar aura stole over me. I knew without looking that it was my brother Valerian.
A huge smile blossomed lighting up my face, but it fell the instant I turned around. Beside Valerian stood our father, Hadrian Kemet Trumaine. Could my morning get any better?
Before I go any further, let me tell you a few things about myself. My name is Valeria Dominique Trumaine, and I'm a ninety eight-year-old Pureblood Vampire. In Vampire years, I'm still relatively young, between twenty-five and twenty-seven by Human standards. Personally, I don't think I look a day over twenty-three.
I stand five feet, eight inches, have jet-black hair, with new burgundy streaks, that hangs just below my shoulders, and the most unusual eyes you'll ever find on a woman. They're ice blue with silver pupils. Unlike the more common dead-born Vampires, my skin isn't pasty and pale. My skin is a smooth, cafÃ© au lait tone. When I say that I am a Pureblood, I mean that I was born a Vampire: I never had to go through a "turning.â€
There are about twenty Vampire families in the world, six of which are in America. The top five in the world are the oldest and most powerful. Standing, in Vampire politics, is the common way to refer to a family. My family is The Fourth. The Trumaine family, as the world knows it today, started in Africa with my great-grandfather Kemet. No, contrary to popular belief, Vampires didn't originate in Transylvania, just the Tempest family. My brothers and I are actually members of The Fifth. Also, our mother Anya is a Gregory by birth.
I have two older brothers and one younger one, but only by ten minutes. Valerian Donatello Trumaine, Vedo, is my twin and, at the moment, he looked about as happy as Irulan did. That meant he was here in a working capacity. Valerian is a junior vice president and chief counselor in the legal division at Trumaine Enterprises. My father was also grooming him for a spot on the Vampire Council.
I wasnâ€™t on our companyâ€™s payroll, so that meant they were here for the latter, which wasnâ€™t any better. I was tired and didn't need any Council drama at this time of the morning. All I wanted was sleep, but my fatherâ€™s presence pretty much guaranteed I was about to get drama in spades.
I shook off my surprise and went to give my father a hug, but he caught my face in his hand and twisted it from side to side. "You've been away from your family too long, Valeria. You're not feeding enough, your face looks thinner every time I lay eyes on you, and what did you do to your hair?"
Here we go with this shit again. "I love you too, father, and you'll be pleased to know that I just got through eating. As for my hair, Ire put a few burgundy streaks in it for me. You like 'em?â€ I twirled a strand of dark tresses on my finger as I looked up at him with a sideways grin. He dropped my face, stepped closer to me and leaned into my neck drawing in a deep breath.
My eyes fluttered closed as my father's aura washed over me causing my fangs to drop. How I hated the power he had over me. Unless a Pureblood is close to starving, it's damn near impossible to draw out our feral side against our will. Father could do it to us all, and he made sure we never forgot it.
When he looked up, both our eyes had become entirely black. He straightened his black silk tie, smoothly running his hand down the tie so that it lay flat against the grey silk of his shirt. I knew that motion. He was trying to control his emotions. Once the tie was perfectly in place, he looked at me and frowned, his disappointment evident. "I only smell Human blood running through your veins. You've been on your own five years now, more than enough time to strengthen yourself by feeding from a lower class."
It was an old argument and, frankly, one that I was so far beyond tired of hearing, that I didnâ€™t even have the gumption to get mad. I simply sighed and shook my head. "Daddy, please, I've told you I want my blood to strengthen on its own. I don't want to take any more shortcuts. You should be proud of me for that."
My fatherâ€™s eyes narrowed as he looked from me to my brother, also another old tactic. One would think heâ€™d get tired of using it against me. He was constantly trying to get Valerian to side with him whenever we had a disagreement, but it was no use, my twin wouldnâ€™t turn against me. He wouldnâ€™t exactly side with me either. He didnâ€™t have the balls to stand up to daddy. As far Valerian was concerned, he was neutral territory.
Vedo shrugged his shoulders and quickly put his back to the both of us. My father growled and sucked his teeth. "I can't take pride in weakness,â€ he finally huffed. â€œYou're a Trumaine, my only daughter, and I expect you to live up to what that means. Trumaines aren't weak.â€
The last time I checked I could toss a Caddy about a hundred feet. I didn't think that classified me as weak, but anyway... I threw my hands up in defeat and pushed past my father making my way up the few metal stairs that separated the garage and gym area from the living space. "Whatever! Listen, if the only reason the two of you came was to browbeat me about my grooming and eating habits, while it's been real, I have to wind down, so I can get some sleep. I'm on duty tonight."
I shed my shoes and socks the minute my feet hit the carpet of the living room and plopped down on the couch hoping they wouldn't follow me.
I had no such luck. My brother flashed by me and snatched the remote from the nearby table with his free hand, before I could turn on the TV. "Valeria, you know the both of us wouldn't show up here together if it weren't important.â€ He tossed my remote across the room and onto the metal framed recliner that sat in the corner. He opened his saddlebag and began rifling through it, flipping papers out of the way, as he looked for something. â€œThere are a few matters that are going to be brought to your attention when you go in to work,â€ he said as he continued his quest. Work, in my case, was a position as a Sentinel within the Center for Multi-Species or CMS for short. In laymen's terms, I was a cop for the Extras community and an executioner when need be.
When heâ€™d found what he was searching for, Valerian frowned as he dropped a black folder into my lap. "We need you to go over this information before your shift. It's about a kill order you're going to be issued."
I cut my eyes towards my father as I sliced the file open with the tip of a nail. I flipped through five or six pictures and glanced at the collection of personal information. "I get kill orders all the time, and it's never interested you before, why now?â€ I looked up at my father. If it was so important, I wanted to hear the answer from him.
"Take a look at the last picture, Valeria. I'm sure you'll recognize the mark.â€ I flipped to the end of the pile of papers and drew out a picture. Shit, staring back at me was the black haired, brown-eyed face of a man I had known intimately. It was Tristan Meriwether, my former fiancÃ©, son of this region's Master Vampire, Thomas Meriwether, and grandson to Council Member, Eric Meriwether.
"This can't be right, Daddy. No way is Thomas going to allow this kill order to go through. He'll have it shut down before I even make it in tonight.â€ I dropped the pictures back into the file and tossed it at my father.
Valerian dropped an Atlanta, Georgia newspaper into my lap, followed by a copy of Newsweek, The New York Times and an issue of the Charlotte Observer. "I'm afraid it's out of the Masterâ€™s influence within the CMS already. The situation has gone national."
Across all four were pictures of Tristan with headlines ranging from, â€œVampire From Prominent Family Goes Rogue, Who's Next?" to "Are We Really Safe With Extras Among Us?"
â€œDouble shit! This is far from good publicity. As far as the Human view of Extras is concerned, a situation like this could set us back twenty years or more.â€
My father nodded, "Which is why I want you to carry out your duties to the best of your abilities. Tristan is marked. His actions have forgone any trial he may have been entitled to within the CMS's legal system. I want his death to be fast but non-brutal. Thereâ€™s got to be a body to turn in so the public can be assured that we Vampires will not tolerate rogue behavior no matter who the perpetrator may be."
My father was happy about this kill order which meant this was gonna go bad for me, "Uh-uh, No! Thereâ€™s more to it. You wouldn't show up here to discuss a kill order, no matter who the mark was. Tell me what's going on and how far up shit creek this is gonna land me."
I looked into my fatherâ€™s pale blue eyes so like Valerianâ€™s and felt a shiver run down my spine. "That's my girl, look past the obvious, and learn to read your adversaries. It was always harder to get things past you."
"Don't flatter me, Father