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Chapter 1

Draugr Mestre, took up the entire top three levels of an office building in Sydney city. The top floor was the owners home and office. I caught the lift to level ten where the public reception was located.

Luka Thetas normally waited for me in the reception foyer. Since I hadn’t pre-arranged to meet Luka today, she was either up in her office or running errands for her boss. Luka worked as an assistant for the grand Sebastian Maviper since we graduated university. She didn’t need to work. Her parents had left her a small fortune when they died. In the years before Luka could access her inheritance, it provided a substantial allowance. Working for Sebastian prevented Luka from getting bored. And working for Sebastian, as I hear, was anything but boring.

“Seraphina, how lovely to see you again,” the receptionist greeted.

“Hey, Jacinta, is Luka in? I am hoping to catch her for lunch.”

“I’ll call up and see if she’s back. I know Sebastian had her running errands all morning.” Jacinta pressed the speed dial for Luka’s office. I sat down and grabbed a copy of the latest Journal of Software Engineering to flick through.

“Seraphina, Luka isn’t back yet, but Sebastian said to head up. He’s in his office.”

I returned the magazine to the pile and headed to the elevator with Jacinta in tow. When the lift opened, Jacinta entered the code which provided access to the top floor.

I checked my reflection in the elevator mirrors and flinched at how drawn I appeared. I pulled out the band that was holding my cherry-black hair back in a braid, fingering it loose. I applied some lip-gloss for colour, and straightened my strapless wrap dress. When I finished I laughed at myself; only Sebastian could get me to act so self-consciously. He was funny, smart, and comfortable to be around, most of the time.

I always marvelled when I arrived at Sebastian’s office. The foyer and ceiling was made from black granite speckled with blue and clear quartz. It made you feel like you were standing under the night sky. Opposite the elevator door were the solid black timber doors to Sebastian’s apartment. I had never been in there, but if the foyer was anything to go on, it would be beautifully decorated. The black granite continued down the right corridor to the offices.

Luka’s office was the first you came to. Sebastian’s was at the end of the corridor, the door to which stood open awaiting my arrival. I’d only been in Sebastian’s office once, and it was a quick in and out. The room was large enough to be a conference room. So, even with the furniture, there was enough space on this side of the desk to do a waltz.

This time, I was able to savour the décor. The righthand wall contained floor to ceiling bookshelves, full of antique books and an array of marble and bronze statues. The lefthand wall had a drafts table for laying out and drawing on plans, before an oversized black leather sofa with chaise which ran the length of the floor-to-ceiling window directly ahead.

The windows on the right framed the centrepiece of the corner office, a majestic ebony desk. It was matched with two leather seats for clients on the door side, and a large black leather desk chair for Sebastian on the window side. And that is where he stood, standing tall on the working side of his desk, back to the room, looking out the window.

Sebastian stood just over six foot four. He had short hair the perfect mix between brown and black called Vandyke brown. He was always clean-cut, but still ruggedly handsome in the masculine way that could never be pretty or cute. I had kissed his cheek and touched his hand enough times to know his latte coloured skin was smooth. He had kissed my cheek enough times for me to know those perfect rose lips burnt hot against my skin.

Without turning to look at me, Sebastian’s accented, deep musical voice called to me. “Good day, Seraphina.” I walked in beaming; the way he said my name always affected me.

Sebastian’s broad shoulders lifted as he took a deep breath, as if breathing me in before he turned to look at me. He gave me one of his disarming smiles, revealing near-perfect, natural- white teeth. You could dismiss it as the exceptional work of an orthodontist, except for the slight prominence of his eye teeth. No orthodontist would allow that slight imperfection.

He walked with deliberate steps around the desk, which was clear of clutter. Only his closed laptop, a few files in a tray, a pen and note pad on top. The blue pinstripe of his suit and blue tie, enhanced the impact of his deep-set midnight blue eyes. The way they appraised me made me feel weak at the knees.

I was tall, just an inch shy of six foot, so with my heels on, I was only just shorter than Sebastian. He placed his hands on my bare pale shoulders and gave me a kiss on each cheek. He followed his normal greeting by running his fingers through my hair, caressing it to the base of my spine. The movement was so intimate I flushed. There had always been something about Sebastian which felt right.

“How lovely to see you again, Seraphina. Please come in and take a seat.” He moved behind me while he gestured to the sofa. “How have you been keeping?” Behind me, Sebastian shut the door then glided over and sat on the chaise part of the lounge at a right angle to me.

“I am good, Sebastian, and you? Luka tells me you travelled a lot the last few months.”

Sebastian had never been this close without Luka around. I liked the way he looked at me, it made me feel exquisite and valuable. I often fantasised how it would feel to have his mouth on mine, and his cool hands caressing my snow-white skin. However, I wasn’t the sort of girl who was ever going to make the first move.

“I had a few things to look into. Ended up in Ireland, only to find what it is that I need is here.”

“Well, that worked out well for you then,” I smiled, almost giddy with his proximity.

“I have not yet had my hands on it, but, I am close.” Sebastian leaned towards me. “I should take possession within the hour.” He smiled with anticipation. “I haven’t seen you since the incident. Luka tells me you were clinically dead for over five minutes. How are you feeling?”

Every so often, Sebastian forced the cautious nature in me to take effect. This was starting to become one of those moments. “Physically? I’m fine. I’m now a little hesitant about crossing the street, even at pedestrian crossings.”

Six months ago, while on my early morning run, a car speeding down the street made me a statistic. A hit and run with a stolen car and the person responsible never found. When I woke, I sensed things I never had before. Beside my heightened human senses, I could now identify members of the Alvöru, or, the supernatural world. I could also determine their ages down to a decade, despite their eternal appearance.

Sebastian stood raising an eye brow. “And your powers, have they changed at all?”

Alarm bells started ringing in my head. “Has Luka been weaving stories again?”

“Oh…I know everything there is to know about you, Seraphina. Most importantly, I know that when you died six months ago, Death himself took you as his.”

Panic became a stone in my throat. I tried to swallow it back down but it was painful. I hadn’t told anyone about the Angel of Death. Not his appearance or what he whispered before I came gasping, and crying into agonising life.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Sebastian. Maybe you picked up something overseas and it’s affecting your cognitive function. I’ll wait for Luka downstairs.” I stood up. He was so close that I felt his breath mingle with mine. I pushed passed him and made it halfway across the room before I found Sebastian in front of me blocking my way.

Sebastian appeared before me so quick, I didn’t see him move. No human could move that quick. It scared me. I’d always been able to sense Meira en Mönnum, or supernatural abilities. Cold crept along the edge of my skin and turned to ice. I became too apprehensive to move.

“What I picked up overseas was the genealogy of the Tuatha Dé Danann. A clan of magical warriors who from Norway, who settled in Ireland, before going underground to live in the Faery mounds.” He moved closer to me and I stepped back away from him.

“I’m impressed, Sebastian.” I gave him a teacher’s ‘job well done’ smile while I swallowed again, trying not to show my alarm. “Most Mythologists get the Tuatha Dé Danann confused with the Danaans of Homer’s Iliad and claim they originated in Greece.”

Sebastian reached up to caress my cheek. The feel of his cooler hand on my skin made me feel warm and I closed my eyes to the sensation. I smelt Sebastian’s water mint-scented breath. I opened my eyes to find his face in front of mine, as if he meant to kiss me.

I recoiled and took another two steps back. I didn’t mean to, it was just a reflex. I always wanted Sebastian to kiss me since we first met. I could have kicked myself for not standing still.

Sebastian’s face became stern and I swear his eyes darkened. “What I found is that Lugh made a deal with the Angel Azrael to grant him and his brothers long life. In return, Azrael would receive his first born daughter upon her death. Lugh didn’t produce any daughters himself. Lugh had a son, who remained mortal. The son married a witch, and had more sons, who also bore sons, who bore sons, and so on, until….” Sebastian stirred his hand in the air to gesture continuality as he stepped towards me.

He watched me closely. I swallowed hard, trying to hide the fear and disappointment roiling within me. This man, the only man I ever found myself wanting to get close to, was fear-provoking. More alarming was the awareness, that deep within the darkest reaches of my soul, was the thrill of excitement. That exhilaration and eagerness for him to close the distance between us scared me the most.

“…until, Seraphina, one of the sons bore a daughter,” Sebastian continued. “And would you believe it, I’m standing in front of the first female of Lugh’s bloodline. Not to mention, the last descendant of Circe.”

I shook my head as I retreated another few steps. I wasn’t denying he was right about my heritage, but denying that this was happening.

Sebastian matched my steps as though we danced the tango. He overpowered me with his stride, stature and sheer presence. He spoke and I stopped to hear what more he knew.

“You’ve grown up with all your mother’s bloodline powers. Now you have died and inherited your prophesised destiny to be Death’s.” Sebastian’s eyes turned bright blue with heat.

I went to take another step back and realised that during his lecture he’d backed me against the sofa. I looked down. I didn’t want to look into his eyes for fear I would give anything away. The chill was running up my spine again, a warning that couldn’t be ignored. He shouldn’t know any of that, or know who my family was.

Sebastian’s hand slid up from my hand to my shoulder. Somehow, that movement forced my head to rise so we were face to face.

“Of course, Circe was a great oracle. You must have missed that ability, or you would never have entered my office today.” Sebastian’s smile turned sinister.

Goose bumps broke out on my skin as he bent his head to my mouth.

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