Vampire King by Nikki Grey

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Your worst enemy is your best protector.

In a supernatural town that has always protected you, you don’t expect to stumble upon danger.
Yet, there are threats around every corner.
Lurking.
Waiting.

In a town where everyone is different, where everyone is a shifter, being a human feels like being an ugly duckling in a goose pond.

When those I trusted the most turn their back on me, when those you trust betray you, who becomes your protector?
The vampire king?
The… enemy himself?

He offers me a deal, and I know it is my only way out. I have to accept.
He wants to find the secret well.
I need someone to keep me safe.

But that means I have to be close to him.
Closeness means affection.
Affection turns to forbidden love, and eventually, enemies become lovers.

Even then… are they to be trusted?

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Excerpt from Vampire King © Copyright 2023 Nikki Grey

Bianca

“You think you are one of us, but you will never be a shifter,” I hear their voices echoing all around me, like daggers falling and aiming for the place where it hurts the most.

The woods aren’t my friend. Not tonight. Not after all the nights I spent here, listening to the hooting of owls or the soft murmuring of the stream, as the moonlight oozed from above, sprinkling us with its sparkly dust. All of that is forgotten now. All I see, all I hear is hate where there is supposed to be no hate, because I have done nothing wrong, other than be myself in a place that seemed to have accepted me as I am.

I was wrong. So dreadfully wrong.

“Why do you even stay here, huh?” I hear another voice, and someone from behind pushes me forward so forcefully, I almost fall down. But I manage to regain my balance quickly, and I remain standing. I plan on standing for as long as I can, because that is what they want. They want me on my knees, to admit that I am beneath them.

“I don’t want to fight you,” I say, much more softly than I wanted to.

“I don’t want to fight you,” Gala, the unofficial leader of this shifter torment pack mocks me with my own words, twisting them into a grimace.

I know these shifters. Every single one of them. I’ve known them all my life. We’ve never been friends, but I thought that we were at least tolerating the other’s presence. It seems I was wrong, once again.

This supernatural town inhabited solely by shifters has been the only home I’ve ever known. I don’t have a mother or a father. I don’t have family. I don’t have anyone. It’s a life I’ve grown accustomed to easily, because I never had anything else to compare it to. You can’t miss what you never had, is something I was once told, and the older I get, the more I realize what this truly means.

Sometimes, when I see other shifters with their parents, I feel a pang of jealousy. I wonder how come I can’t have that. How come I can’t have someone who loves me so much that they would do anything to protect me, to keep me safe from all harm?

Maybe I did something in my previous life, and now, I’m not deserving of someone like that in this one? No explanation makes sense.

My mind comes back to the present moment. I need to stay on my feet. I’m outnumbered. It’s five against one. I could maybe take on one, but that would leave four more. I’m not as strong as they are. I’m not as fast as they are. I’m not as skilled in fighting as they are. I guess they’re right. We can pretend as much as we want, but I’m not one of them and I will never be.

I know them all. I know the redheaded Gala, with her fiery hair and even more fiery tongue. I know Cassius, the dark curly haired boy who once lent me books from his dad’s library. I also know Willow, the soft-spoken Willow who is here because Gala is her sister, and she would follow her sister to the pits of Hell, if she had to. She won’t even look at me, but just by being here shows where she stands. On the opposite side to my own. I know the other two as well, but I don’t even bother thinking about them.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been accosted by them. I thought they would eventually leave me alone, if I didn’t antagonize them, if I just kept my mouth shut and didn’t tell anyone about their bullying, but the situation has been worsening. I never mentioned anything to the shifter leader. I don’t want him to think that I am turning my back on them in any way, the only family I’ve ever known. But this… I can feel it in my bones that tonight, they mean business.

I can see it in their eyes. Their bloodthirsty eyes. They don’t think I belong here. They don’t think I should be here at all and they will make sure I disappear. Maybe I never existed in the first place. That thought settles deep inside of me, frightening me even more than the look in my enemies’ eyes.

At that moment, something crackles in the bushes. They all turn their heads in that direction. A soft growl is heard. None of us knows where it’s coming from exactly or what animal made it.

“Gala?” Willow whispers softly. I can hear fear in her voice. I don’t want to say anything, because my voice might sound the same.

“Shhh,” Gala shooshes her, as always.

Once again, the same growl, only louder. They all take a step back, looking around, their eyes wide and cautious.

A wolf? A bear? There haven’t been any bears around here in years. But, whatever animal that is, it is my friend.

“This isn’t over,” Gala snarls at me, pushing past me and hitting me hard with her shoulder. It might leave a bruise, but I know that it’s far less than what she was planning on doing to me tonight.

They run away, leaving me alone. I swallow heavily, staring in the direction where the growl came from. The bushes rustle again. I dare not run. I am too close. The rest managed to escape a fate of being mangled to death. I might not.

Instead, I take a small step backwards. Then another one.

Suddenly, the bushes spread open, and a man appears. His dark complexion almost blends into the darkness around him, his charcoal curls falling over his head. The moonlight is illuminating only a part of his face. The part with a deep scar that looks like it healed a long time ago.

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