I'm currently writing book 2.5 of the Paranormal Washington series, a novella that delves into Nick's experience as he's sent off to a hidden vampire collective in the Canadian wilderness to escape a death warrant in the states. Here are the first two chapters:
A PARANORMAL WASHINGTON NOVELLA
By Diana Graves
Copyright © 2014 Diana Graves
All rights reserved.
Book cover & format by Diana Graves, www.dianagraves.org
He could smell her moments before he heard Raina’s distinctive knock at his front door and he slowly rose from where he sat crouched in the dark, staring at a locket on a dainty silver chain. The locket was small, with a black stone encircled by a bronze snake, made green with age. He rubbed his thumb over it again and again, mesmerized by the feel of the sleek cold stone. Reluctantly he put the necklace in his pocket and moved through his condo, quicker than the human eye could follow, to answer the door.
He looked down at his sister, standing in the dark wearing a bright dress. Her pale skin shined with a light of its own, and her red hair and eyes were a striking blaze of color that made the rest of the world seem bland by comparison. To Nick, his sister embodied everything good and beautiful. He felt quite the opposite about himself.
“Nick—,” Raina said by way of greeting. There was a quivering in her voice that pained his heart to hear. He knew he looked god-awful. He wasn’t rotting from the inside out anymore, but he was sickeningly thin. His clothes hung on his bones. His skin was a disturbing grey and veiny as hell. Even his own red hair had lost some of its brightness.
He sniffed the air around her and smelled a man’s cologne hanging on her clothes and in her hair.
“Who came with you?” he asked her with a deep frown.
“A friend I could trust to help us get you someplace safe,” she said. She looked anxious. Perhaps she thought Nick would fight her. She was right to assume that, but he had no intention of running from the law. He’d killed three innocent people, and now there was a mark on his head. He thought, a well-deserved one.
But he didn’t fight her. Instead he said, “Okay, just let me get some things.”
He invited her in before making his way to his bedroom, leaving Raina alone. His condo had an open floor plan, all but the bedroom and bathroom occupied one large space. Before Nick was murdered and brought back to life via vampirism, he was a proud wizard. Magic was his livelihood. He used to run a successful online magic store, where he sold potions, pranks, and curses. Nothing illegal, but he pushed the boundaries enough to get him kicked out of his family’s coven.
Nick’s home reflected his love for wizardry, potion making to be more precise. He had a custom made wizard’s kitchen, with massive wall to wall book cases, two stove tops, plenty of counter space and exotic plants hanging and sitting everywhere. Normally the whole condo was alight with bright lamps to help the plants grow, but Nick hadn’t been home for months now, not since his murder and infection, and the plants had begun to wither and die in his absence.
The rest of his condo was decorated with cultural art from around the world and his furniture was sleek faux leather, wrought iron and stained woods. While, Raina walked around his place, staring at old pictures and knickknacks that held fond memories, Nick was in his room staring at the locket again. He didn’t understand it, but he felt hesitant to give it to her. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly before gently laying the locket back into the old wood box he’d originally found it in.
As Nick came out of his room Raina gave him a look of confusion. “That can’t be everything you want to take with you?”
“No, this is for you,” he said, and he opened the box to reveal the locket.
“What is that?”
“I stole it from Mom’s yesterday,” he said. “She had no clue I was even there.”
“I’ve been through Mom’s jewelry box a hundred times, and I’ve never seen this necklace,” Raina said with her eyes transfixed on the locket. She jumped with sudden realization when her fingers touched the cool stone. It was as though her hand had moved on its own accord. She took her hand back and held it to her chest as though the stone had bit her.
“She didn’t keep it in her jewelry box,” Nick said. “Take it.”
Raina picked up the locket from the box slowly. It was heavier than she thought it would be, being so small and all.
“When I turned into this—thing—vampire, at first everything was chaos. Hunger, death, hate, regret.” He averted his eyes. “But, then things started clearing up. I started remembering things, things that I forgot a long time ago.”
“What did you remember?” Raina asked without taking her eyes off the locket.
“Your death.” Raina’s head shot up, a mix of horror and confusion in her eyes. “I remembered your death, Raina. When you were a baby—I was there. I remembered Mom screaming.” Nick took a deep breath. “I remember the Goddess that came. Melpomene, the muse of tragedy. She brought you back from the dead.”
“Mom told me,” Raina whispered. “But, she didn’t say that you were there.”
Nick scoffed. “She has to keep her secrets, Raina. You know that,” he said. “But, yes, I was there.”
“And Dan and Tristan?”
“Dad and Tristan were gone on a fishing trip, or did Mom say different? You know, sometimes I don’t understand why she lies about some things and not others. But, I do understand why she lied about me being there.”
“Because Melpomene needed life to create life, and Mom volunteered mine.”
Raina’s eyes went impossibly wide with shock! “What happened?”
“She didn’t need all my life, just a little to get you going, not that Mom knew that when she offered me up. We’ve always wondered why you could read me so well, even now when I’m a vampire and should be locked away from your clever little mind. My life is mingled in yours. A little part of you came from me.”
Raina didn’t say anything, but looked deep in thought. Eventually she asked, “Where does the locket fit in all of this?”
“Melpomene left it for you, but Mom hid it in a box under a floorboard in her room. She liked to pretend that night never happened. I thought you should have it. Here, let me put it on you,” he said.
Raina turned and lifted her hair so he could fasten it around her neck. “Nick, why did you kill those people and take my blood samples?” she asked just as he clasped the necklace together. She turned around and he stepped away from her with a very serious, miserable expression on his face.
“You are a demigoddess, Raina, and a muse to boot. Fully trained your power will be terrible, and your hold on any living mind will be complete. Melpomene said it the night she saved you from death. If people know what you are, you’re as good as dead.”
It was hard for Nick to recall it. Killing those three people was the worst moment in his entire life. How could he be capable of such a thing? He was part elf after all. He was a vegan! All life was sacred to him, especially innocent life. Doctor Tasha had saved his life more than once. She was the doctor at the vampire care center, VCC, who treated him and his siblings when they were attacked by a rogue vampire in a blood rage, infecting him and Raina with vampirism. And again, when he starved himself until he was rotting to death. She was a good woman, and her nurses were good people, too, loved people. But he killed them viciously, and he would do it again.
“I could smell your blood samples in her office while I sat up in the Darkness VCC healing from my stupidity. I could hear them talking about you. The doctor knew what you are, and she was going to report it to the government. She told a nurse as much, and he told another nurse, and I knew it was going to spread. Being a rare living vampire is one of the things that made you famous. Being half God would make you infamous. I had to stop it before it got too far.”
Raina gasped. “For me, you killed them for me?” She looked down and closed her eyes. It took her a moment to regain her composure. She wiped away tears and looked up at her big brother. Somehow it hurt him to see the unconditional love in her eyes. Was there nothing he could do to make her stop loving him? Their mother stopped loving him. Their father, too. Their brother, Tristan would have nothing to do with him. Only Raina, only she loved him in this world.
“The sun is coming up, we need to go,” she said.
He sighed and walked to the window. “It’s later than you think.” He peeled back the curtain to reveal black bags over the window.
“We need to hurry,” Raina said as she moved to the door, but he didn’t budge from the window. “Nick, come on.”
“Maybe it’s because of your empathy, your muse, or maybe it’s because a part of me is in you, but you are the only person in the world who loves me, Raina. Did you know that? That’s why I wanted you here. I didn’t want to die alone,” he said the last part with a grunt as he pulled the black bags off the window and the bright morning sun shot through the room.
Flames erupted from his body. The pain was sharp and all encompassing. He could barely hear Raina’s screams over the roar of the fire. He felt the motion of being jolted around, but the flames ate at his flesh greedily. His skin, his nerves, his muscle, even his bones burned through and through.
The first thing Nick sensed was the erythematic beeping sound coming from his right. It was in time with his heartbeat. A heart monitor, he thought. He opened his eyes and saw only white fibers. He pulled at the gauze on his face with stiff hands until he could see the hospital room beyond. The lights were off, but being a vampire, he could see well enough. His body was almost completely covered in gauze, like a mummy. It made his moments stiff as he looked around the room. For a moment he thought he was alone, but what he believed was a white doctor’s coat laying over the back of a chair, was actually a man sitting on a stool, with his head resting on his desk. Nick thought he was sleeping, but then the man’s head abruptly shot up and turned to look at him as he smoothed back his short bleach blond hair.
Nick gasped. He recognized the man. Doctor Gabriel, a vampire, a fuck evil vampire! Nick struggled to move in his gauze. He fought and thrashed like a fish out of water to get off the bed and ended up falling hard on the cold floor. Gabriel stood slowly, elegantly and pushed a button on the wall before he moved to Nick’s side.
“Nil,” he said, as Nil was the name Nick had given himself when he first woke as the undead. It was a mark of self-hate naming himself after nothingness. “I’m here to help you, not hurt you.”
Sadly that needed to be said, because that was not always the case between Gabriel and Nick.
Nick tried to speak, but found he couldn’t and his panic became that much greater. He pushed and kicked at Gabriel with every ounce of strength he had in him, because he knew where he was. He swore to himself he’d never return to this hell hole, this cesspool of evil! Bastion Fatal.
“Calm down,” Gabriel demanded as he manhandled Nick, holding him in place against the wall. But Nick couldn’t calm down. Gabriel was touching him! The last time Gabriel touched him he was strapped down on a marble table in the middle of the throne room. Vampires stood around him, laughing at his pain, while Gabriel delicately cut chunks of flesh from his thighs in order to make his tendons accessible so the master vampire of Bastion Fatal could strum on them.
“Scream for ME!” Master Alistair had roared above the laughter of his legion of vampires. How he loved the sounds of screams; desperate shrilling shrieks of pain and thunderous bellows of agony.
Gabriel gave up on calming Nick down. He dashed to the far cupboards for a sedative. When he came back with a syringe in hand Nick suddenly found his voice and cried out.
“No! Stay back!”
“You just need to calm down so we can transport you. Screaming boxes draw too much attention, Nil.”
Box? Nick swung his arms out fitfully, knocking the syringe from Gabriel’s hands, and backed up into the far corner, hiding himself under a metal table.
“Gods be damned!” Gabriel spat, and he moved to fetch another syringe from the cupboard when the door swung open, splashing light from the hall over the empty bed and cutting the room in half before the door closed again.
Darkness returned to the small room, and Nick peeked out from under his table when he heard soft voices. Gabriel was talking to a tall man wearing jeans and a black t-shirt, his golden blond hair was up in a ponytail.
Gabriel gestured to Nick’s hiding spot and Alistair looked back at Nick with thoughtful eyes. Nick screamed and jumped, hitting his head on the table. His heart was beating madly with fear. Alistair was the man who haunted his nightmares. He was the reason Nick sought true death. Punishing himself was only part of Nick’s suicidal tendencies. In truth, he could not live with himself after what Alistair had done to him; the torture, the rape, the cruel things he made him watch and do. Better to die.
With that in mind, Nick began smacking his head against the wall, hoping to break his skull and end his life before the torture began again. How did he survive the fire? He should be nothing more than a pile of ash. Instead he woke at Bastion Fatal of all places. How?
Alistair bent down and pulled Nick out from under the table by his feet. Without much effort at all he held Nick up in the air. Blood was trickling down Nick’s face. His eyes were half open. He’d done some damage, but would it be enough to kill him? He hoped so, because he had no more strength in him to fight.
Alistair set him back on his bed, and looked down at Nick. His true blue eyes were soft with pity and worry.
“There are many things you don’t understand, Nil,” Alistair said quietly, but his voice grated on Nick’s very soul and he cringed with disgust. Alistair licked his lips in a nervous fashion and the sight of his tongue made Nick nauseous.
Alistair looked to Gabriel for help and Gabe gave him a reassuring nod, but his face looked grim.
“I’m not who I used to be,” Alistair said slowly as he searched for better words. “I was never the man you remember me to be. That wasn’t me…” he mumbled as he realized the uselessness of his efforts. Nick wouldn’t understand. He couldn’t. No one could. Tears escaped Alistair’s eyes as he worked to accept that.
“Master,” Gabriel interjected. He was holding a syringe. Alistair nodded and accepted the syringe Gabriel was holding out to him.
“Your sister loves you, Nil. She saved you.”
“I think I did more of the saving,” Gabe scoffed. “You brought me a burnt corpse!”
“And it would have been a bag of ashes if it weren’t for Raina,” Alistair said in an even tone without looked away from Nick.
At the mention of his sister Nick began to struggle to sit up, but his head injury kept him down. “Raina?” he mumbled.
“She’s fine,” Alistair assured him. “You’ve been unconscious for some time actually. Weeks. You’ve been healing slowly.”
“Why?” Nick asked, but without contents Alistair gave him only a questioning look. “Why help?”
“Why are you here, healing?” Alistair asked. Nick nodded. “I owe you more than I can ever repay, but I’ll never stop trying, Nil.”
“And you’re in love with Raina,” Gabriel muttered to himself from where he stood in the background with his arms crossed over his chest.
Alistair closed his eyes as Nick’s panic struck up, renewed by the idea of such a monster courting his sister. She was a kind hearted woman! A creature of light and goodness. How could such a villain even think to touch her?
“No!” Nick roared as he fought against Alistair, but the master vampire was ridiculously stronger than the half dead baby vamp batting at him from his gurney. Alistair held Nick down with one hand and injected the sedative into his arm with the other. “No…” Nick whimpered. “Don’t touch her.”
Alistair set the empty syringe down on the counter and smiled sadly down at Nick. “Fortunately, I don’t think she’d ever let me, Nil.”
Elijah will always be my Nicholas!