Authors: Tessa Dawn
Published by Ghost Pines Publishing, LLC
Volume VI of the Blood Curse Series by Tessa Dawn
First Edition eBook Published June 12, 2014
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Copyright © Tessa Dawn, 2014
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This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed in this novel are either fictitious or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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To Make You Feel My Love
,” written by Bob Dylan.
To all those who have struggled with inner demons or fought to achieve personal freedom. (Tara, you are my hero!)
And for Carrie C ~ you know why!
In 800 BC, Prince Jadon and Prince Jaegar Demir were banished from their Romanian homeland after being cursed by a ghostly apparition:
the reincarnated Blood of their numerous female victims
. The princes belonged to an ancient society that sacrificed its females to the point of extinction, and the punishment was severe.
They were forced to roam the earth in darkness as creatures of the night. They were condemned to feed on the blood of the innocent and stripped of their ability to produce female offspring. They were damned to father twin sons by human hosts who would die wretchedly upon giving birth; and the firstborn of the first set would forever be required as a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of their forefathers.
Staggered by the enormity of
, Prince Jadon, whose own hands had never shed blood, begged his accuser for leniency and received
four small mercies—
exceptions to the Curse that would apply to his house and his descendants, alone.
Ψ Though still creatures of the night, they would be allowed to walk in the sun.
Ψ Though still required to live on blood, they would not be forced to take the lives of the innocent.
Ψ While still incapable of producing female offspring, they would be given
one opportunity and thirty days
to obtain a mate, a human
chosen by the gods, following a sign that appeared in the heavens.
Ψ While they were still required to sacrifice a firstborn son, their twins would be born as one child of darkness and one child of light, allowing them to sacrifice the former while keeping the latter to carry on their race.
And so…forever banished from their homeland in the Transylvanian mountains of Eastern Europe, the descendants of Jaegar and the descendants of Jadon became the Vampyr of legend: roaming the earth, ruling the elements, living on the blood of others…forever bound by an ancient curse. They were brothers of the same species, separated only by degrees of light and shadow.
Kagen Silivasi reclined in an elegant, rust-colored armchair, staring up at the ceiling in his twin’s vaulted Great Room. He was waiting, along with the other members of his family, to welcome Nathaniel’s guests. Well, in truth, Vanya Demir and Saber Alexiares were hardly what one could call
and they weren’t so much coming to see Nathaniel as all of the Silivasi brothers at once: It was more than just a little bit cryptic, this urgent, impromptu meeting.
Unsettling to say the least.
He glanced out the floor-to-ceiling windows, taking in the magnificent mountain view, before regarding his eldest brother Marquis inquisitively. “And you have no idea what this is about?”
“None,” Marquis responded. He shuffled restlessly in his own armchair. “To tell you the truth, I’m still a bit shocked that the male had the brass to ask for this meeting, to step foot in this house”—he regarded Nachari’s mate Deanna as well as their newly acquired little sister Kristina with deference—“to show his face around either of these females, willingly, after what he did to them.”
“Agreed,” Nachari Silivasi said, leaning back against the wall beside the fireplace. “It does seem like a bold move.” He crossed his arms over his chest. “On the other hand, I also have to concede that the male is trying.”
“Hmm,” Marquis grumbled, refusing to say any more.
“It seems like only yesterday when we went through Vanya’s conversion at the clinic,” Kagen commented.
“Hell, it seems like only yesterday when the bastard didn’t burn in the sun,” Marquis retorted.
“Marquis,” Kagen chastised. “At some point, we may have to let bygones be bygones.”
Nachari shrugged. “The way I see it: If Vanya wants to be with him—and it’s pretty evident she does—then that’s her call; and we all have to get used to it.”
“The way you see it,” Marquis growled. “Who asked you how you saw it?”
Nachari winked at the burly Ancient Master Warrior. “Love you, too, bro.”
“Whatever,” Marquis grumbled.
Kagen sat forward then. “I just don’t understand what this is about—what could Saber possibly have to say to all of us that is this important?”
Nathaniel, who was sitting next to his mate on the sofa, shrugged with indifference. “Perhaps, there’s an apology coming.”
Jocelyn rubbed her temples. “Maybe.”
Deanna shifted uneasily in her seat next, sharing a knowing glance with Kristina, who was nestled on the soft beige sofa beside Jocelyn. “I hope not,” she said wearily. “I’m not sure I’m quite as
as my mate.”
Nachari strolled languidly to her side and sat on the arm of her chair. He took her hand in his and softly kissed her knuckles. “Not forgiving, love. Just…evolving.”
Deanna nodded and squeezed his hand.
As far as Kagen could tell, something important had passed between his little brother and the newly redeemed vampire not so long ago in the Red Canyons. Saber’s dark brother Diablo, along with two soldiers from the Dark Ones’ colony, had tried to kill Saber; and Nachari and Ramsey had shown up to defend the recalcitrant male, to try and save Saber despite the bad blood that existed between them. Whatever had taken place in that valley had quenched some of Nachari’s anger and begun to forge at least a tentative truce between the two males. As far as Kagen was concerned, Nachari was a wise and intuitive wizard. If he was beginning to see things in a different light, then perhaps a different light existed. He was just about to make a comment to that effect when Alejandra, Nathaniel’s live-in housekeeper, stepped into the living room.
“Mr. Silivasi,” she said in her thick Latin accent. “Your guests have arrived. Should I show them in?”
Nathaniel stretched fluidly in his seat to relieve some tension, and then he placed a protective arm around Jocelyn’s shoulders. Jocelyn had her own history with Saber Alexiares, and none of the males seemed too keen on allowing their women to face the dangerous vampire alone. “Of course, Alejandra,” Nathaniel drawled in his typical, laid-back fashion. “Show them in.”
The maid retreated, and everyone in the room waited with bated breath.
Vanya appeared first, the regal beauty commanding instant attention as always. Saber was not far behind, his hand resting conspicuously, if not possessively, on the small of Vanya’s back. Now that was one visually jarring sight if Kagen had ever seen one: the devil in blue jeans staking claim to an angel of light.
Kagen watched the ensuing interaction unfold with interest: The moment Nathaniel and Saber’s eyes met, an undeniable spark of tension flashed between them, and the temperature in the room rose a couple of degrees.
“Dark One,” Nathaniel spoke in greeting.
was a bit confusing as Saber was no longer a Dark One, at least, not technically. In truth, he never really had been. He was a son of Jadon who had been stolen by the Dark Ones at birth, raised as a member of the house of Jaegar, and only recently returned to his true lineage. Still, he had been one obstinate nut to crack; and with all his defiance, rebellion, and just plain meanness, the term
had stuck to him like glue. It might be years before the sons of Jadon stopped referring to him that way.
Saber seemed to take it in stride, maybe even wear it like a badge of honor. With a gait as weighted in stealth as it was in swagger, he sauntered toward Nathaniel and inclined his head. “Nathaniel.”
Nathaniel rose like vapor from a steaming cauldron, all at once ascending to his feet; and Jocelyn immediately took a place at his side. “Sweetheart,” she murmured, placing a gentle hand on his arm. She turned to face their guest. “Hello, Saber.”
Nathaniel couldn’t help it. He sidestepped between them and growled in warning, his watchful eyes darting back and forth between the pair. In truth, it wasn’t meant as a challenge: It was simply an unconscious signal—a way of saying,
from one male predator to another. In other words:
Back up. You’re too close
Kagen held his breath, waiting to see what would happen next. Both Jocelyn and Saber stepped back, their collective response so perfectly timed it almost appeared to be choreographed, a primordial waltz.
Nathaniel visibly relaxed, his powerful chest rising and falling with deeper breaths.
Peeking from behind the barrier of Nathaniel’s shoulder, Jocelyn forced an uneasy smile and tried again. “Hello, Saber.”
Saber looked her over with more than a small measure of scrutiny. He obviously remembered her. “You,” he whispered. “How have you been?”
Seemingly surprised, Jocelyn’s eyebrows shot up. “I’ve been…good.”
Saber nodded. “Still jumping into your mate’s battles?”
Jocelyn smiled then. “Not so much.” She smirked at him. “Avoiding guillotines?”
Saber laughed without restraint, and the sound seemed almost alien coming from such a ruthless male, bizarre in its unexpected nature.
Deanna Silivasi rose softly from her seat, placed her hand on her lower stomach, and quietly announced, “I can’t do this.” Her stately five-foot-ten frame seemed to fold inward, constricting in Saber’s presence. “I thought I could, but I can’t.” She was just about to leave the room when Nachari slid effortlessly behind her and placed both arms firmly around her waist.
do this,” he whispered in her ear. When she started to shake her head, Saber stepped forward, and she visibly flinched, drawing back in surprise. When he descended to one knee in front of her, Deanna looked at him like he had grown a second head. She glanced over her shoulder at Nachari and frowned. “What is he doing?”
“He is trying to appear as nonthreatening as he can,” Saber answered for the Master Wizard. He bowed his head and shook it slowly back and forth. “Deanna, you have nothing to fear from me. Not now. Not ever again.”
Deanna tried to take a cautious step back but ran into the brick wall of Nachari’s chest. “I have much to…
with you,” she said bitterly.
Saber stood slowly then. He reached as gingerly as he could, as slowly as he was able, and retrieved a burnished dagger with serrated edges from the waistband of his jeans. He flipped it deftly in his hand and extended the grip to Deanna.
Marquis stirred restlessly. His eyes flashed red, but he didn’t rise or interfere.
“In the house of Jaegar,” Saber said, “when someone has a wrong to redress, it’s done in blood, and then the matter is closed…forever.”
Deanna blanched. She shook her beautiful head, her exotic bluish-gray eyes clouding with distaste. “I…I can’t cut you, Saber.”
Kristina Silivasi rose from the sofa, took four long strides across the room, her hips swaying in an effort to balance her petite frame above her three-inch stilettos, and snatched the blade from Saber’s hand. She swung it neatly across his face, slicing from his left ear to the corner of his mouth, then, once again, from his right cheek to his temple, cutting deep into the bone. “I can,” she snapped.
Saber didn’t flinch, although Vanya did. “Should I leave it as it is, unhealed?” he asked.
Vanya sighed in exasperation. “Please, Kristina. I have to look at him for the rest of my life.”
Kristina stared at Vanya and frowned. “Fine. He can heal it
Saber nodded. “Very well. Later then.”
Kristina looked startled by his compliance, more than a little off balance. Searching for a way to regain control, she smirked. “How are your flat tires, Dark One?”
Vanya dropped her head in shame.
“No longer flat,” Saber said. The corners of his mouth turned up in a smile, or a predatory scowl, depending on how one looked at it, and he winked at her.
Kristina drew back in surprise, and a tiny glint of respect registered in her eyes. “Cool.” She turned to face Deanna. “Are we good now, Dee? The second one was for you.”
Deanna nodded tentatively at Kristina. She forced herself to meet the vampire’s eyes once more, and something unspoken passed between them. “I don’t want your blood, Saber. I just want to know
Again, Saber stood strong against the scrutiny. “I was a soldier in the Dark Ones’ colony. I was ordered to hurt the enemy, and I obeyed. I didn’t think; I didn’t feel; I didn’t reason. It may not be what you want to hear, but it’s the truth.”
Deanna frowned. “And now?”
Saber glanced at Vanya. “And now I am learning how to think and feel…and reason. Or at least I’m trying.” He shrugged then. “It’s all I’ve got.”
Nachari tightened his arms around his mate and waited. When she still didn’t speak, he whispered, “Deanna?”
“For what it’s worth,” Saber offered, “I am sorry.”
Deanna nodded and Marquis snorted. “Enough!” He waved his hand through the air, as if to dismiss the whole silly scene, and scowled. “You were a soulless bastard who deserved to die. We tried to kill you, but you wouldn’t burn. And now you’re in love with the princess. So you’ve come here to talk to us about something: Get on with it.”
Kagen rolled his eyes. Leave it to Marquis to put things in perspective. Of course, the Ancient Master Warrior did conveniently leave out the part where he almost removed Saber’s heart for getting his mate’s sister pregnant; but all in all, it was a fairly good summary.
Saber regarded Marquis thoughtfully and inclined his head. “Very well.” He eyed an empty chair next to the fireplace and sat down. “May I?”
“Looks like you already did,” Marquis snorted. He gestured at the chair. “Sit, stand, hang upside down if you like. Just talk.”
Saber leaned forward and braced his arms on his elbows, looking as if he were bracing himself for the conversation. When Vanya made her way to his side, placed a supportive hand on his shoulder, and squeezed it reassuringly, Kagen tensed with anticipation.
What in the world was this all about?
Saber cleared his throat. “I don’t want to take up any more of your time than is necessary, and I really don’t know how to start, how to say this, so I’ll just put it out there as succinctly as I can.”
Nathaniel leaned forward, looking both leery and intense. “Go on.”
Saber drew a deep breath. “In the colony, I did a lot of things other than fight, for the house of Jaegar. Mostly woodwork, iron work, shit with my hands.” He eyed the females apologetically. “
with my hands.” When Marquis gave him an impatient stare, he hurried on. “And on a few occasions, I put data into our computers for the council—I fed the historic annals.” He glanced upward as if searching for a better way to put it. “The historic annals are kind of like the colony’s version of an electronic library, where we keep our important records, demographic information, our history.” He sighed, frustrated by the recurring slip. “Where
Vanya stroked his shoulder with her hand as if to say,
, and the whole thing made Kagen restless, uneasy deep down in the pit of his stomach.
Where in Hades was this going
He shifted anxiously in his seat. “So?”
“So, about 480 years ago, when the lycans attacked the valley, there were about thirty Dark Ones killed.”
Marquis’s jaw stiffened and he clenched his fists, cracking all ten of his knuckles at once, before relaxing once again and staring blankly at Saber.
Kagen inhaled deeply: The Silivasis had intimate knowledge of the lycan attack—how could they not? They had lost their own mother at the hands of the werewolves, and their father had been lost soon after.
Nathaniel cleared his throat, and Nachari pursed his brows. “Continue,” the Master Wizard said, his voice lacking its usual charisma.
Saber made eye contact with Vanya, and the princess nodded.
“At the time,” Saber said, “Salvatore and the other sorcerers spent an enormous amount of time and energy trying to locate our common enemy. Needless to say, we wanted revenge pretty badly. But more so, we wanted to find out where they lived so we could eliminate them once and for all.”
“They live all over the planet,” Nachari said thoughtfully. “Embedded in their Council of Nations; disguised as national headhunters; meeting on occasion with human militia leaders.”