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Authors: Cheri Schmidt

Tags: #romance, #vampire, #paranormal romance, #fantasy, #paranormal, #young adult, #fairy

Fateful

BOOK: Fateful
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Fateful

 

b
y

 

Cheri Schmidt

 

SMASHWORDS EDITION

 

* * * * *

 

PUBLISHED BY:

Cheri Schmidt on Smashwords

 

 

Copyright © 2011 by Cheri Schmidt

 

Smashwords Edition License Notes

 

This book is a work of
fiction. Names, places, characters and incidents are products of
the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance
to actual events, locales or persons living or dead is entirely
coincidental.

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment
only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people.
If you would like to share this book with another person, please
purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading
this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your
use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your
own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this
author.

 

* * * * *

 

Chapter 1

American Girly-Girl in London

 

A chill seeped into Danielle Darcey’s
hand from the glass of the airplane window. Tucking her cold
fingers beneath her leg, she contemplated how the huge city
sprawling below looked more like a frightening maze. An enormous
maze, she thought.
I hate
mazes
. Apprehension settled around her much like the
choking fog that once plagued this ancient metropolis.

Dragging her attention from the
distressing view, Danielle swallowed. The sight of London
resurrected her fears of getting lost and intensified them. She
knew her lack of direction was to blame, and also knew the
miserable trait would surely prove to be her downfall in a city
that looked like a never-ending labyrinth. It didn’t help that
she
had
gotten lost on her
last and only visit.

One minute she was walking down a busy street
with her parents, and the next, she was alone. She shivered as she
recalled how it felt to be swimming in a sea of long legs and hips
with swinging handbags and briefcases. Danielle called out for them
repeatedly, but it seemed they couldn’t hear her over the din of
busy Londoners. She had wandered for what seemed like hours with
her childlike perception of time. After her cries grew to sobs, and
she’d exhausted herself emotionally, she had curled up next to a
storefront to get out of the way. An elderly woman with a plump,
friendly face noticed her tear-streaked cheeks as she was leaving
the shop and helped her.

Being so young, this experience stuck with
Danielle. That, added to the fact that losing her way has been a
repeated occurrence, served to deeply ingrain her fear, making a
common worry irrationally desperate.

Deep down she knew London offered what
promised to be a thrilling experience: art school in a famous city,
a promising club scene, and she couldn’t possibly leave out—British
boys. A European love affair was an appealing thought, but this
foolish fear created a dark cloud over her natural enthusiasm.

She slid her attention back to the window,
and watched the landscape draw closer. Glenwood Springs, Colorado
was so much smaller in comparison. Feelings of excitement,
nervousness and panic about this trip mixed into a nauseating mess
inside her stomach. She was making herself sick with this kind of
thinking, and she knew better.

Get a grip, Danielle! What is wrong with
you?

 

* * * * *

 

“I know what’s wrong with you, Dannie,”
Brianna said in that delightful British accent of hers. They’d just
arrived at her uncle’s home in Chertsey after they’d picked her up
from the airport.

Danielle studied her cousin who was standing
on the opposite side of the bed from her, the open luggage between
them, her hand curved around the post of the canopy bed. Looking at
her cousin still felt almost like looking into a mirror. Almost.
While the color of their hair was the same, Danielle had natural
waves, and Brianna had somehow been blessed with straight shiny
tresses. Looking down at how one of those waves curled gently
around her finger, Danielle was glad, at least, that they weren’t
tight wiry curls. However, it seemed Brianna was trying to escape
their ancestral similarities by adding blond highlights to her
chocolate-colored locks. Yet there was no escaping the distinctly
“Darcey” physical traits of a fair complexion starkly contrasted
with dark brown eyes ... and that darn upper lip that was slightly
thinner than the bottom. While they’d both changed physically, it
seemed that personality wise, neither one of them had, and Brianna
was already teasing her….

“What’s that?” she asked, raking fingers
through her flight-tangled waves, and smiling. She knew her
cousin’s ribbing was only in jest.

“Well, for one, you sure have a lot of
skirts,” Brianna mentioned, taking one of the items in question to
the closet. “So, it seems, you’re still a total girly-girl.”
Brianna sniffed at the article of clothing, and then said, “Still
fond of smelling like a sweet confection, still hunting for Prince
Charming to whisk you away to a happy ending.”

“I suppose I never did outgrow the
pink-twirling-dress stage,” Danielle muttered while considering one
of her favorite skirts, and couldn’t bring herself to feel bad
about it. She ran her hand over the pale-blue silk Dupioni. “I like
jeans too,” she confessed. “But they always ride up in all the
wrong places—”

Brianna snickered. “Yeah, it’s been
twelve years, but I remember.... My American cousin: a
sweet-smelling, artistically-gifted,
princess
who now has a black belt in karate. I
love you despite the contradictions in your
personality.”

“Oh please, I’m not that bad.” Danielle
winced internally when she lifted a romantic floral skirt with
tiered ruffles from her suitcase, essentially proving herself a
liar. Attempting to change the subject, she said, “I should teach
you some moves, so you can fight off all the guys stalking
you.”

Brianna took one look at that frilly number
and snorted, basically ignoring her words. “Uh-huh.” She then
reached into the open luggage and produced a pink t-shirt. Danielle
turned pink to match. “So, Danielle, why karate? Why not ballet or
some other girly thing?” She held the pastel top up as evidence.
“You’d look lovely in a pink tutu.”

Danielle snatched the shirt, folded it
and set it firmly in a drawer. “My father wanted me to be able to
defend myself when I started dating. And, you know, it’s considered
streetwise, which is definitely
not
girly!”

Again, ignoring her argument, Brianna said,
“Hmm, it’s true, guys seem to only want one thing.”

Fine, she thought, deciding to go with it.
“And whether they’re American or British, it’s the same, isn’t it?”
Danielle shook the wrinkles out of a blouse wondering if she
wouldn’t have better luck with English guys like she’d
imagined.


Yeah, pretty much.” Brianna paused to
scrutinize her. “Although, I must admit, British chaps might really
go for the girly-girl.”

Not admitting the comment gave her a
bit of hope, Danielle stuffed her panties into a drawer as she
pondered it. “I hope I meet a
gentlemanish
type. You know, the type of guy who
knows how to treat a lady. Do men like that exist anymore?” she
said before thinking.

Her cousin snorted louder this time. “I fear,
Cousin, that you’ve still been reading too much Jane Austen and too
many fairytales.”

She really didn’t like how much truth there
was in that statement and felt her lips tighten. Danielle knew it
was silly to wish for what she did, naive even. But she’d met
enough males who lacked respect for women, a growing trend it
seemed. And at nineteen ... well.... “But isn’t Will a gentleman?”
There had to be some hope.

“He’s fairly ‘gentlemanish.’ For a rugby
player.” Brianna appeared to be contemplating that while she
slipped Danielle’s denim jacket around a hanger, then added, “But
I’m afraid you’ll have to kiss a lot of toads to find your prince,
even amongst us proper Brits.”

“If I were guaranteed to find a prince then
I’d happily kiss a hundred slimy, bumpy toads.”

Brianna giggled and shivered. “I don’t like
the image those words just put into my head.”

Somehow Danielle wasn’t as disturbed by it,
perhaps because The Frog Prince was one of her favorite tales.

 

* * * * *

 

After dinner, they invited her to sit
in the
parlor
for tea and
storytelling. With Uncle Nick’s lengthy career as a history and
mythology professor at King’s College, he’d long ago earned the
title of “storyteller” in the family. This post-dinner activity had
become a tradition in the family when they visited.

Danielle sipped at her tea, thinking she
quite liked the peach herbal drink Aunt Charlotte had prepared for
her, especially with the cream and honey Danielle rebelliously
added to it. She knew from the look of disapproval souring
Charlotte’s forced smile that the action was probably considered a
sin. Oh well, she thought. Tucking her feet beneath her, she also
enjoyed how the hot liquid warmed her fingers.

Uncle Nick considered Danielle as he nudged a
blazing log in the fireplace with a poker. The firelight caught his
clouds of salt and pepper hair with a tinge of bright orange.
“Danielle, are you too tired for this? Do you need to rest?”

“Honestly, my clock is all messed up. I did
take a nap on the plane, but for me it’s like eleven A.M. I’m wide
awake.” Nicolas evaluated her for a moment longer as he settled
into his favorite chair, looking slightly concerned. She offered
what she feared looked like a wearied smile. “I’m fine, please tell
us a story.”

He nodded, even if, as she suspected, he
didn’t believe her. “Well, young ladies, would you like historical
fact or myth tonight?”

They looked at each other in unspoken
agreement. “Myth, please.”

“Hmm. Let’s see...” He paused as amusement
twinkled in his eyes. “How about myth based on historical fact, but
with a scary twist?”

“Yeah!” Brianna and Danielle said
together.

He began, attempting to look ominous as he
spoke. Danielle didn’t think the look worked for him. “Did you know
there once was a real Dracula?”

Danielle frowned, barely resisting a roll of
“yeah right” with her eyes.

“Well, there
was
, but he wasn’t a count as many believed, he
was a prince. Prince Vlad Dracula was really from Transylvania.
However, he gained his title not through inheritance, but by
murdering Vladislav II. Being a horrible ruler, all who lived in
his kingdom feared for their lives.

“One day Prince Dracula invited a large group
of the poor to his castle for an elaborate banquet. Despite their
fear of him, they couldn’t resist the invitation to a feast. When
they were all well-fed, he asked, ‘Would you like to be without
cares, and lacking nothing in this world?’ They of course all said
yes. But the peasants didn’t realize that his question had a
menacing motive behind it, because he then murdered them all,
releasing them from the burdens of this life, therefore granting
their wishes, as he saw it. He was quite brutal in the manner he
took their lives, killing them b—”

“Nicholas!” shouted Aunt Charlotte, his eyes
flew to meet hers. “Don’t you dare tell the gory details of that
story to these innocent young women!”

He paused a moment, then continued, “Uh … yes
… well, needless to say, it wasn’t nice at all, but because of the
way he massacred the less fortunate in his kingdom, superstitions
arose that led people into believing he was a vampire.”

Danielle hadn’t bought it at first, but the
way he spoke with such conviction was kind of freaking her out.
Uncle Nick was telling this story like he did a historical one, not
the way she’d heard him recite a myth.

Nicolas continued, “But perhaps he was not,
because he was later killed by an assassin. However, the people did
not believe he was truly dead, and decided to exhume his coffin to
make certain he was in it. Yet they were never able to find it
where it should have been, so the mystery remained unsolved. Many
people believe he still roams the darkened streets of Europe.
Especially since stories of the existence of such creatures have
spread through the world and continue to this very day.”

Danielle decided she preferred his tales of
royalty even though this one did contain a prince. Chills tickled
their way around her spine, causing her to shiver. It was clear
Uncle Nick marked her reaction because he smirked.

BOOK: Fateful
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