Valeria wanted to hate Dante Weshlan. Unfortunately, feelings weren’t just that simple. She wished that she could just zap the emotions out of her with magic.
After leaving the Throne Room, Valeria’s escorts brought her to a more comfortable room, accessorized with a canopy bed decorated with red silky sheets.
There were two doors on the left wall of the room, one to a bathroom with a strange, modernized shower, toilet, and sink.
Valeria didn’t think too much on the new technology of this age. She knew that times had changed and new objects and life styles came with it.
The other door was a walk-in closet, with trousers and dresses, shoes, and many other drawers that she had yet to get into.
Once inside the room, Valeria was locked in, left alone to study her surroundings and mull through her thoughts.
That was until an hour later, when three women unlocked the door and stepped into the room. Valeria watched them from the corner of the room behind the bed, glaring and crossing her arms. Out of the three, two were vampires, and one was a different species all together. With dark hair, fair skin, and liquid-metal eyes, the woman glared at Valeria.
“Witch,” the woman said and sat herself on a loveseat that sat against the wall.
“Kori,” one of the vampires warned. “Just chillax and wait.”
This vampire looked less scary than the ones in the Throne Room. Her face was serene and if it weren’t for the red rings around the irises in her eyes or the fangs, Valeria wouldn’t have any idea of her actual identity—if Valeria was human, that was. Sorceress had a strong Sight through the Veil. She could see the vampire’s aura and smell the undead scent that wafted off of her soul.
It was the same for the other vampire, who did fit the stereotypical vampiress image. She wore the iconic black corset and leather skinny pants, with thick high heels. Her breasts were rather robust. Valeria thought that if the corset squeezed her torso any tighter, those round balloons would pop straight out of her top.
The more serene vampiress came up to Valeria and sat down on the edge of the bed, smiling. “Hi, I’m Lottie. This is Trisha.” She gestured to the gothic chick, then to the woman with metal eyes. “And this is Korinna. We’re here to watch you.”
“Okay.” Valeria pursed her lips.
“So are you guys finally going to tell me what’s going on?” Korinna asked. She lounged out like a cat with her feet propped up on the wall, cleaning and filing her nails. “Dante wouldn’t tell me.”
“Probably for a good reason,” Lottie said. She moved over to one of the night stands and grabbed a thin, black plastic object and pressed one of the rubbery buttons on the surface of it. A click sounded through the room and a large black rectangle on the wall above Korinna. Moving pictures filled the black screen.
Valeria moved towards the screen and watched with her mouth open, amazed at how life-like the images were. “What is this?”
“It’s a television,” Lottie answered. “TV for short.”
“Oh” was all Valeria said, as she was entranced by the television. She sat down on the edge of the bed facing the object.
“What are we supposed to do?” Trisha groaned. “I’m bored and I should be out there with them, fighting.”
“I don’t like it either,” Korinna said. “I’d much rather be out eating some food.”
“More like eating some men,” Trisha said, snorting. The two women shared a look and then burst into laughter. They quieted after a minute.
A moment of silence filled the room before Korinna spoke up again. She leaned on her knees, propping her head up on the palms of her head, and narrowed her eyes at Valeria.
“So, what’s your story?”
“I don’t have one.” Valeria could feel a vein twitch in her neck as she tensed. There was no way in hell that she would speak any sort of real conversation with these three caddy women.
“Like hell you don’t have one.” On the loveseat, Korinna rolled onto her back and watched Valeria upside down. “We all have one. Once upon a time, I was a little girl—and then I grew up. See? There was a story. Now tell me yours.”
“Kori.” Lottie frowned. “Leave the sorceress alone.”
“Valeria,” Korinna said. “Tell me your story.”
She sighed. “Once upon a time…I was a little girl. And then I grew up.”
Korinna groaned and covered her face with neatly manicured hands. “Not my story—your story!”
“Well, in all honesty, I was once a little girl, too.”
“And now you’re not. Tell me more.”
“Kori.” Now Trisha chirped in, annoyed by the metal-eyed woman. Korinna once again ignored the warning, motioning for Valeria to speak.
“Whatever,” Kori said. “I’m just bored.”
Oh, God, Valeria thought. How much longer would she have to suffer these three? Her teeth wore down on her lips as she moved away from them, sitting down on a chair facing a window.
The view of the window looked over a vast courtyard, filled with wickedly bent trees and a Victorian gothic fence fitting the perimeters of the estate. Several vampires were filing out of the entrance, which was just below her room’s window. They all gathered at the large gate, which swung open on its own. Then black vehicle pulled into the main driving lane, parting the lines of vampires, who all stopped walking.
Once the car stopped at the gate, two men stepped out. Valeria’s heart skipped a beat when she recognized Dante as one of them. He looked supreme as he motioned towards the crowd, obviously giving them orders. His commands only lasted a minute or so before the vampires dispersed, all a blur as they ran faster than humanly possible on foot.
“Looks like they started hunting,” Lottie said as she too watched what happened outside.
“Hunting party?” Valeria asked before it dawned on her.
“Yeah, for that psychotic rogue.” Trisha had chimed in just as Valeria stood up, knocking back her chair.
“Oh, no…no, no.” Valeria raked a hand through her long blonde hair. “This isn’t good.”
“Why?” Lottie asked, just as Korinna piped in with a snort, “Why does it matter to you?”
It felt like Valeria’s stomach tried to escape her body. She leaned against the window, letting it support her, as her stare followed Dante until he disappeared into the car and it drove off.
“That psycho is my brother, that’s why.”
● ● ●
“Find Isaac Castro, pin him down and do not kill him,” Dante had commanded his coven just inside the manor’s gates. “I want him alive.”
During the entire time he was talking to the hunting party, he felt Valeria staring at him through her room’s windows. Her gaze was just as strong as her touch, Dante thought.
He sat beside Conner in the passenger’s seat of his vehicle, driving down the long, windy road that led to their home. Out of his window, Dante saw several of his vampires running in the forest. He felt when someone picked up the scent of a vampire’s death, which would have emanated into the night’s air for the entirety of the evening.
That meant only one thing: one of his clan members found Isaac and did not win the battle.
“Damn,” Conner said as he too caught the scent.
“Yeah.” Dante could only hope that that was the only casualty. As a vampiric Duke, he had command over a whole area—and he also was in charge of the organized clan placed under him. This meant that he had to protect and rule over these creatures and a few dying under his command would only look bad to his Prince.
Dante rubbed his eyes. What a problem, he thought. He didn’t want to deal with Isaac. Killing him was the last thing he wanted to do. Instead, Dante would rather have been with Valeria, mending broken ties. Something he had wanted to do for a century.
“Why do you want him alive?” Conner asked.
What a fine question.
Plainly, Dante wanted to kill Isaac himself: the very thing he should’ve done in the first place, but was too weak to do so. At the time, all Dante worried about was Valeria—and ended up leaving Independence to the mercy of Isaac as a crazed, newborn vampire.
And so, to clean up his mess, the vampire clan at the time ordered him to take care of Isaac. In the process, he lost the love of his life and his integrity, but gained a small empire.
Dante still didn’t know if the sacrifice was worth it.
“I just do.” The last thing he wanted was for other people to know of his internal intentions. All his people needed to know was his actions, not the reason. Dante let Conner’s question slide only because of how close in relation they were. Any other vampire under his command would’ve been slapped across the face for questioning him.
The vampiric hierarchy was a strange one. The aristocrats needed to be fierce and unrelenting, or else someone else would build up the nerve to defy and inevitably overthrow them. In this factor, Dante had to be an asshole for his position and his people. Though he was cold in personality, he ruled as best as he could, taking care of his creatures and keeping them out of the general human population’s sight.
Conner pulled onto another road, which led to the cemetery that had held Isaac. Before they left the estate, they had told a group of vampires to meet them there to clean up the mess Isaac had left.
Dante wanted to see exactly how Isaac escaped and where the trail of his escape led.