Paying The Vampire by Nikki Grey

1208

Paranormal Protector Romance

My Vampire Book 1

The vampire holds my fate.

Unable to shift into a wolf, I’m inferior.
My pack hates me.
My mate rejects me.

When I discover his horrific plans for me, I know I must run.
But the Alpha would never allow that.

That’s when Cassius shows up.
Draped in a billowing cloak,

His skin is the color of the moon.
His eyes are as dark and deep as the night.
His low voice pulls me toward him.

He pulls me into his world.
He’s a whirl of danger and temptation.

A vampire.
A king.
A protector.

His proposal could solve all my problems.

This dark stranger is my only chance.
So I say yes, unaware of the high cost of his help.
Unaware of what I have agreed to.

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Excerpt from Paying The Vampire © Copyright 2023 Damona Campbell

Chapter One

Cassius

I sighed. It drifted up helplessly in the cavernous silence. I looked at the empty chamber. Moonlight spilled in through the windows, illuminating the checkered floor, dancing upon the lifeless eyes of the statues that stood by the walls. I brought my goblet to my lips. The long sleeves of my cloak draped over the thick wooden arms of my throne. I sipped the wine. It was as dark as blood. I held it in my mouth and let it swim over my tongue, the rich taste lingering there. I tilted my head back, thinking of better days. After swallowing, I ran my tongue along my lips. They slid over my fangs, the sharp points eager to draw blood. I thought back to the days of old when my ancestors would have gone out hunting for fresh meat. This hall would have been alive with the crowing of valiant vampires, eager to display their trophies.

It had all dwindled until there was only me.

I was the last of my kind, the last vampire. I was but a ghost, a memory of the ones who came before, the ones who ruled the skies and who struck terror into the world around me. Yet that world is a dusty shell, filled with nothing but shadows and phantoms. My whispers are my only company, and I am only sustained by the morsels of life that flitter through the castle, rodents and other animals that never quite slake my thirst for blood.

Most of my days are spent in ennui, the sleepless hours dominated by melancholy thoughts. I addle my mind with wine, of which the stores were plentiful. It cannot dull the ache in my heart though.

The witching hour grew near. I dragged myself from my throne, staggering through the castle to a room at the top. I walked up the stone stairs, running my pale hand against the cold stone. My cloak draped against the floor behind me, flickering as it was caught by the chilled breeze that swept through this rocky land. The cold and the loneliness were my cocoon, yet I longed to break free, to find something that could save me… to find a mate.

I entered the scrying chamber. The room was darker than the others in the castle. Even I, Count Cassius von Aachen had to wait for my eyes to adjust. I licked my lips slowly. The taste of wine lingered. In front of me stood a pedestal which held an old tome. The pages were dried parchment. They creaked as I turned them. Upon each page was an incantation written in the old language, of runes and strange symbols that had been passed down from generation to generation. As I ran my slender fingers along the pages I felt connected with the old world, and for a moment I could picture myself there, but then I opened my eyes again and was returned to the present world.

Beyond the pedestal was a large pool of shimmering water. It was still, and cold to the touch. I read the spell and then walked to the other side of the room where I selected a number of different potions from a shelf. There were all kinds of things here, ingredients stored for a number of years, but the reserves were dwindling as I had used many of them up in my search. Perhaps if someone else had been beside me they might have said that I was being too particular, too selective, but there was nobody from whom I could receive such criticism. If I was to welcome someone into my lair then they were going to have to be perfect. I could not sully myself with anything less. A companion was going to have to be charming and witty, intelligent, curious about the world. They would have to be wise, yet innocent, and, of course, beautiful.

I had not found a creature who possessed all the qualities I searched for yet, however, and I was beginning to doubt if one existed at all. Perhaps the search was a futile one and I was just wasting my time. If that was the case then… well… I had nothing but time to waste. I suppose I could have left the castle for one of these other worlds, but I winced every time I thought about it. This was my ancestral home, and I was the last vampire. If I abandoned it then what did that say about me and my people? How could I bear the shame of letting them down in that manner?

I carried the ingredients back to the pool of water and looked down at the liquid. Its silent visage gazed back at me. I saw nothing in it. I opened the vials and poured the crushed beetles into the water. It looked like ash. I then added a few drops of Satan’s Tears, which was the sap from a particularly devilish plant. Just three drops were enough. The heavy liquid lingered there before it was engulfed by the water. Just these ingredients were enough to open a pathway to another world. Some worlds took more ingredients, while others took less. While I allowed the water to absorb these ingredients I returned to the pedestal and curled my fingers around the book. I spoke in a dry, redolent voice as I uttered the ancient phrases that had been sealed within these pages. I suspected that rather than ink, my ancestors had used blood to write these incantations down. It was from a time when such a thing was in abundant supply. Oh, how they must have feasted…

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