During those weeks without Valeria, Dante slipped into a vicious state of mind: he wanted her, no matter what, and would do what he could to have her by his side, even if that meant breaking and entering or worse—changing himself entirely.
He was told by Isaac to never returned to him, to Valeria, nor to the cabin or their home, and tried his damnedest to listen.
That was until he realized that to have Valeria, he would have to learn and understand her world. So, a week after their last encounter, Dante returned to that cabin.
The door was unlocked, but by passing through the threshold something pulsed through his body. The room vibrated, as if it were alive and his presence disturbed it.
Dante ignored the feeling and glanced around the space. There were shelves of books on the east wall, all of which he assumed were sorcery books.
He approached it, skimming the titles, until his eyes settled on three books gathered together: An Introduction to the Supernatural, An Introduction to the Arts, and An Introduction to the Forbidden Arts.
Dante grabbed the three and figured that that would be enough.
As he left the cabin, he stepped through that strange aura once more, and the pulsing stopped. He figured it was some type of magical barrier or alarm. If that was the case, then he needed to flee the crime scene as soon as possible.
Dante went to his family home. As he trudged up to his room, he hid the bindings of the books into his chest away from any of his family or servants.
Then all day he locked himself into his room.
For the next week, he studied these books, trying to find answers to his problem.
The conclusion? There was no way to become a sorcerer.
But he could be something else…something just as powerful—or could surpass the abilities of a sorcerer with time.
After the week filled of studying the sorcerers’ stolen books, Dante found himself roaming Independence at night. The only lights were from the moon’s gleam and the flames within the street lamps.
Shadows danced around Dante as he entered the town square. His heart raced in his chest, pattering in sync with each step he took. He swallowed and took deep breathes to calm himself.
And then he damned himself by yelling: “Hello, vampires?”
A gust of wind slammed into him as the last syllable left his lips. Dante twisted around to the wind’s direction and winced through the force of air. A cold rush of dread fell over him as he saw a figure disengage itself from the shadows and amble toward him.
He swallowed and readjusted his coat.
The figure stopped yards away from him—a pale woman, whose details distorted in the lack of light.
Dante stepped toward her, his body shaking with fear and anticipation.
And then she spoke, her voice like silk, “You called?”
Dante nearly fell to his knees then, dumbfounded. So, they’re real, he thought as he collected himself.
The vampiress came closer, though hesitantly, and continued to speak. “What do you want from us, human?”
“Justice,” Dante breathed as he took a step toward her. “And what I need.”
“What do you need?”
“Castro?” The vampiress’ eyes flashed as she closed the distance between her and Dante. Her hand struck out and caught his throat. “The sorceress?”
Dante gulped and looked at her from over her hand. The vampiress was a sight to see: porcelain skin without blemish, vibrant blue eyes tinged with red, long, curly chocolate hair, and luscious pink lips. Once his gaze fell on her mouth, he paled, for fangs peeked from those lips.
“Y-yeah—” Dante whimpered as her grip tightened. “She—she’s the love of my life.”
“Ah…” The vampiress’ grip loosened. “They kept a pet.”
“Yes.” She grinned, giving him a show of fangs only inches away from his face. “Did you really think that those little magicians cared about you? They’re too busy inbreeding to care—”
“No—” Her tightening grip cut off his words.
Her face drew closer until their noses touched. “Listen to me, human. They do not care about anyone but themselves.”
“That’s not how Valeria is,” Dante grunted. “I—I love her—and she loves me—and…I’ll do anything to have her.”
“Anything?” The vampiress blinked.
The vampiress let go of him and stepped back. She crossed her arms, watching as Dante rubbed the marks on his throat and straightened his clothes.
“Then let us strike a deal,” she said. “There are things that I require of you before we can give you what you want.”
“What is that?”
“The vampire clan of Independence and the sorcerers here are at war,” the vampiress stated. “You have ties to the babes of the sorcerers.”
“Yes…” Dante didn’t like where this was going.
“We want to win.” She flashed him a smile. “And now that we have someone like you, we can do just that.”
“I…I—” Dante stepped backward, but not before the vampiress caught his arm in her vice grip.
“You will kill Isaac Castro,” the vampiress continued. “In return, I will give you Valeria—and a permanent spot in the higher ranks of my clan.”
To kill his best friend…in return, immortality and love. Nausea crashed around his stomach.
Her grip nearly broke his wrist as she said, “Either agree or die, Dante Weshlan. I cannot let a human go, knowing my face.”
A chill fell over his body. This vampiress…she was spying on him?
She smiled at the realization in his expression. “Yes, Dante. I know—everything. I know you snuck into their cabin, which had a magical alarm and barrier, and stole their books. I know you were searching for ways to overcome this obstacle—and you found it.”
“You want them dead,” Dante breathed. “I…I don’t want that.”
“I want my family to thrive and the sorcerers are in the way of that.” The vampiress shrugged. “If you want your sweetheart, then you will do as I command—or die.”
She jerked her grip backward, causing him to fall on his knees in front of her, his face mere inches from her skirt. He looked up, completely under the power of this vampiress as she knelt in front of him and gripped his face.
“So what is your choice?”
He dropped his gaze as the vampiress’ face came close to his.
The Castro’s…they forced him away from Valeria. They never took him or their relationship seriously, and they forced Valeria into something she didn’t want. They turned his best friend against him, imposing Dante to unwanted solitude.
Dante had put his future into the Castro’s.
“I…” Dante swallowed. “I want Valeria—”
“Then you have made your choice.” The vampiress’ fangs flashed in his eyes just a second before she bore down on his throat. Her arms wrapped around his chest, keeping his body locked as he twitched under her. Dante could feel every centimeter of those fangs as they tore into his flesh. He could feel her mouth pulling on his blood; her tongue licking at his wound.
He could feel his life being ripped away.
The vampiress pulled away seconds before he blacked out. His body landed to the grass with a thud. He groaned, tossing his head to the side, and blinked through the blurring dizziness that overcame him.
Her wrist, cut and bloodied, came into his view as she put the open cut against his lips.
“Drink now, Dante.”
“Will…this Turn me?”
“You will have to drink human blood to be Turned,” the vampiress said and beckoned him to drink. “Having my blood will keep you alive until you do so.”
The blood dribbled down his lips and into his mouth. The taste, strangely, was like ambrosia, sweet, delicate, and so mesmerizing that Dante latched onto her wrist and swallowed the blood. He licked and prodded at the wound until the vampiress pulled away, leaving him cold and raw inside.
“You will go home and rest,” the vampiress said. “And then tomorrow you will approach the Castro siblings and demand their attention. When alone with Isaac, you will kill him and drink his blood, finalizing your Turn. Do you understand?”
Dante nodded numbly and shoved himself to his feet. He stumbled and clutched his head, blinking through the dizziness.
The vampiress turned away from him, stepping toward the shadows, when he called for her.
“What is your name?” Dante asked.
She looked at him over her shoulder and whispered, “Carvalla,” before disappearing into the shadows, leaving Dante alone and bloodied in the middle of Independence’s town square.