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Authors: Elizabeth Hunter

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Imitation and Alchemy: An Elemental Legacy Novella

BOOK: Imitation and Alchemy: An Elemental Legacy Novella
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Contents

Imitation & Alchemy

Title Page

Dedication

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Epilogue

Connect with Elizabeth Hunter

Acknowledgments

About the Author

Also by Elizabeth Hunter

Copyright

The second novella in the Elemental Legacy series

Imitation & Alchemy

All Ben Vecchio wanted was a quiet summer before his last semester of university. Was that too much to ask?

All Tenzin wanted was a cache of priceless medieval coins that had been missing for several hundred years.

And some company.

Phrases like “never again” don’t mean much when you’ve been a vampire for several thousand years. And promises made in the heat of anger don’t always outweigh the lure of gold. Ben Vecchio thought he knew everything there was to know about the immortals of Italy. But when Tenzin tempts him into another adventure, finding a cache of rare gold coins missing since the nineteenth century, he’ll discover that familiar places can hold the most delicious secrets. And possibly the key to his future.

Ben and Tenzin are back in an all-new novella in the Elemental Legacy series.

Imitation

& Alchemy

An Elemental Legacy Novella

Elizabeth Hunter

This book is dedicated to

my ongoing love affair with Italy.

And to all my readers who love it too.

Prologue

BENJAMIN VECCHIO SAT IN THE library of his home in Pasadena, studying for his art history final. To say the class was an easy A would be a gross understatement, but the habits instilled by his scholar of an uncle wouldn’t allow him to rest for the night until he’d at least looked over his notes.

A small air vampire floated into the room and over the library table, blocking his notebook. She settled on his textbook and waited silently for Ben to acknowledge her.

He glanced up at Tenzin a second before he shook his head. “Nope.”

She said nothing, watching Ben with storm-grey eyes that always seemed just a little out of place. Her features were unquestionably born on the steppes of Central Asia. Her full lips remained closed over the lethal, clawlike fangs in her mouth. And her expression? It revealed nothing.

“Whatever it is,” he continued, “the answer is no. I can’t spar tonight. I have a final tomorrow. And I don’t have time to get online and research an obscure manuscript in Sanskrit or whatever it is you want. I need to sleep.”

The air vampire continued to watch him silently. Ben continued to ignore her. Ignoring Tenzin when she wanted something from him was a talent he’d been honing for years.

She had a face that could have been fifteen or thirty, depending on her expression. She’d let her hair grow out to below her shoulders the past few years, so she looked younger than Ben now. If you didn’t know who or what she was, she could pass herself off as an innocent schoolgirl.

Well, until she smiled and you saw the fangs.

She used her looks to her advantage, but no matter what expression Tenzin wore, Ben saw the millennia when he looked into her eyes.

She ignored his indifference and leaned over his notes. “Why are you studying this? You knew about neoclassicism before I met you.”

He grimaced. Modern universities were inexplicable to Tenzin. “I need the credits if I’m going to graduate next winter. I only have one more semester, and I’ve ignored most of my lower-level requirements.”

“Because they are stupid.”

“Art history is not stupid.”

She flicked the edge of his notebook. “Taking a class where you probably know more than the instructor is stupid.”

“Well, they wouldn’t let me take the upper-level class.”

“Why not?”

“Because I hadn’t taken the lower level… Listen”—he sat back in his chair—“do you have a purpose here? What do you want?”

“It doesn’t matter.” She shrugged. “You’ve already said no.”

“Tenzin—”

“Why are you taking art history?” She stretched out on the table, lazing like a cat. “What does art history have to do with political science?”

“Nothing. It’s just part of my— Will you get off that?” He pulled his textbook from under her hair. “I need to study—”

“No, you don’t! You’ve known art since you were old enough to steal it. Do you want some food? I feel like cooking. What would you like? I’ll cook food and you can eat it.”

“What do you want, Tenzin?”

She rolled over and propped her chin on her hands; her eyes laughed at him. “You already said no.”

“Just tell me.”

She kicked her legs. “I want to go to Italy this summer.”

His eye twitched and he looked back to his book. “No.”

“You go to Italy all the time.”

“I learned my lesson last summer, Tiny.”

“We’re not going to China. I want to go to Italy. It’s practically a second home to you. You have a house in Rome.”


Gio
has a house in Rome. If you want to borrow it, ask him.”

“You speak Italian like a native. You have friends there. You could visit Fabia.”

“Fabia has a boyfriend lately.”

“So?”

“Just… no.”

She didn’t move from her position stretched on the table. Not even when he picked up his notes and stood them up, blocking her face.

“What if—”

“No!” He slammed his notebook down. “No. No. No. I’m not getting involved in one of your schemes. I’m not stealing anything. I’m not pretending to be your butler again—”

“I only told one person that, and I think Jonathan knew it was a joke.”

“I do not want to lie to dangerous people. I don’t want to run for my life. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I don’t want to get beat up or threatened or—”

“Fine!” She scowled and lay on her back, huffing at the ceiling. “What happened to you? You used to be fun.”

“I grew up, Tenzin. And I realized that I can’t live in my aunt and uncle’s house forever. I’m twenty-two. I’m going to have to get a job one of these days. And a house. And pay bills.” Ben grimaced. “I’m going to have to figure out something useful to do with my life, and I have no idea what the hell that means for someone like me.”

He slammed his notes back on the table and tried to concentrate, all the while feeling her eyes on him like a brand.
 

After a few minutes, she crawled across the table and leaned down to his ear. Tenzin whispered, “Medieval gold coins from Sicily.”

He groaned and let his head fall back. “I hate you a little right now.”


GIOVANNI was in the den, curled up with a book, Beatrice lying across his legs while she caught a movie.

Ben stopped in the doorway and watched them.

It was a hell of a lot to aspire to. Some days his heart ached watching them. As much as they loved him—and he knew his aunt and uncle loved him a lot—the love they had for each other was so tangible it almost hurt. He couldn’t imagine having love like that. If he ever did, he’d grab on to it with everything he had.

Ben would never forget the months they spent in Rome when he was sixteen. When Giovanni had been taken, leaving Beatrice alone. It was the first time he ever remembered feeling stronger than his aunt.

Giovanni looked up with a smile. “Hello.”

“Hey.”

Beatrice stretched her legs and kicked a pillow off the end of the couch. “What are you doing tonight? Come sit with us.”

Ben walked over and sat down. “I was just studying. Two more finals before summer break.”

Beatrice smiled. “I’m so proud of you. Have I told you that lately? We’re both so proud of you. I can’t believe you’ve almost earned your degree.”

He glanced at their loving smiles before he turned away in embarrassment. “Thanks.”

Beatrice was thirty-eight now but looked barely older than Ben.

It was odd to realize that in a few years he would be the one who looked older than his aunt. Their relationship was already changing, becoming more friendly than parental. Just another reminder that time was passing.

Too fast,
a childish voice whispered inside.
Too fast!

“What do you think you want to do this summer?” Giovanni asked. “You should do something fun. Beatrice and I are stuck here, working on that damned library theft.” He added a string of Latin curses that had Beatrice smoothing her thumb over his lips.

“Shhhh,” she said. “You’ll shock the boy.”

“I don’t think that’s possible anymore,” Giovanni said.

Ben had forgotten all about the library heist when he was thinking about how to sneak off to Italy without his uncle becoming suspicious.

It had been a massive scandal in the rare-book world and had become the bane of his uncle’s existence since much of the “uncatalogued special collections” that had been stolen from the Girolamini Library in Naples wasn’t actually part of the library but was instead the private collections of numerous Italian immortals. Some of the vampires had stored their private miscellany in the library since the sixteenth century and did not take kindly to humans stealing and selling their treasured manuscripts or personal papers.

Giovanni and Beatrice had been hired by multiple clients to track down particularly elusive items that had made their way onto the black market. The Naples library heist had been keeping them—along with their resident librarians in Perugia, Zeno and Serafina—busy on and off for almost two years.

Ben cleared his throat. “It’s funny you mentioned Naples. I was actually thinking of going to Italy for part of my break.”

Beatrice frowned. “In the summer? But it’s so hot! You sure you don’t want to go down to Chile?”

“I haven’t seen my friends there since Christmas. And Fabi’s seeing a guy she wanted me to meet. So—”

“The house in Rome is yours anytime you want,” Giovanni said. “You know that. In fact…” He frowned. “If you don’t mind doing some work while you’re there, I think Zeno will be in Rome the middle of June working at the Vatican Library. I might have you take some notes to him.”

“And that journal we tracked down in New York last month,” Beatrice said. “Ben can take that to Zeno too. Collect on that commission.”

“Good idea, Tesoro,” he murmured, brushing her dark hair from her cheek. “Ben, let me know if you want to borrow the plane. But right now—”

“Got it.” He stood when he saw Beatrice turning to her mate. “I know when I’m not wanted.”

“Close the door on the way out.”

Glancing over his shoulder, Ben saw Giovanni had already pulled Beatrice to straddle him. He tried not to laugh.

Like rabbits, the two of them.

“Ben—” Giovanni pulled his lips from his mate’s and cleared his throat. “I’ll let Emil know you’ll be in Rome this summer. You know the game. Just make sure you stay out of Naples.”

Ben’s Tenzin-radar went off. Naples. Southern Italy. Sicily. Very southern Italy…

Medieval
Sicilian
coins, huh?

“What’s up with Naples?” he asked, trying to sound casual. “Problems with the VIC?”

“The ‘vampire in charge’ as you say, is named Alfonso. He’s Spanish. Or Hungarian. I’m not sure. And he’s…” Giovanni frowned.

“He’s nuts,” Beatrice threw out. “Completely bonkers. And mean. He hates Emil.”

“Ah.” Ben nodded. “Big Livia supporter?”

Beatrice said, “No, he hated Livia too.”

Giovanni was watching his mate with the focused stare that told Ben he’d forgotten anyone but Beatrice was in the room. It was the vampire hunting stare, and Ben knew if he didn’t get out of the den quickly, he was going to see way more of his aunt and uncle than he wanted.

“Just…” Beatrice held Giovanni back. “Stay out of Naples. It’s not a good idea right now. The rest of the country? No problem.”

BOOK: Imitation and Alchemy: An Elemental Legacy Novella
6.29Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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