Authors: Chloe Hart
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Blood and Absinthe, Book 4
DRAWN TO THE VAMPIRE
Blood and Absinthe, Book 4
Copyright 2013 by Chloe Hart
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Kit Bantry had been running on coffee and adrenaline for three days, but the end was finally in sight. She’d taken her last exam, met with her advisor to go over her spring course schedule, and submitted an application for a summer research grant. Her winter break had officially begun, and the only thing left on her agenda was to sleep for a week.
But as she walked across campus towards her dorm, she perceived a flaw in her plan.
She appeared to be the only student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who wanted to celebrate the end of finals by sleeping.
It was unseasonably warm for early December, and Ezra Lowenstein, a mechanical engineering major and compulsive designer of barbecue grills, had set up his latest prototype outside and was grilling hot dogs, hamburgers, and bratwurst for an appreciative crowd.
Music blared through open windows on the ground floor. Alcohol was flowing in defiance of campus regulations, and plastic leis were being distributed along with tin whistles and ukuleles.
Kit turned to see James Takashi, a sophomore physics student, hurrying over to her with a loaded plate.
“I got you a cheeseburger with barbecue sauce. That’s what you like, right?”
He’d remembered her favorite grill item? “That’s sweet of you, but I’m not really—”
“It’s no good, Jimbo.” That was her roommate, Haley, who’d come up beside them. She was wearing an electric blue scarf over plaid pajamas and ear muffs over her magenta hair. “Kit doesn’t date. She’s practically a nun. All the cheeseburgers in the world won’t get you in her pants.”
James blushed crimson. “I wasn’t—I didn’t—”
“Don’t mind Haley,” Kit said, taking the plate from him with a smile. “She’s just cranky because she can’t get approval for her particle accelerator proposal. Thanks for the burger, James. Really. I’m pretty tired, though, so I think I’ll eat this in my room. I’ll see you soon, okay?”
“You shouldn’t encourage him,” Haley reproved her as she followed Kit inside the dorm. “Sophomore boys are like puppy dogs. If you pat them on the head they’ll just keep coming around.”
Once inside their room, Kit set the burger down on her desk and sank gratefully onto her bed. “I wish you wouldn’t tell people I’m a nun.”
“You’d rather spend time with computers than guys.”
“I’ve always found computers more stimulating.”
Haley grinned at her. “Then you haven’t been with the right guys.”
“I was with one guy. The experiment was a complete failure, and I have no desire to try it again.”
“George had a personality like a wet noodle. You can’t draw a valid scientific conclusion from a sample size of one.”
“I never said I—”
Her cell phone buzzed, and Kit pulled it out of her pocket. The number on the display wasn’t one she recognized, and she thought about letting it go to voicemail. It was a Boston area code, though, and might be someone from her department. With a quick sigh she flipped open the phone.
“Kit, is that you?”
It had been a while since she’d heard her cousin’s voice, but she recognized it immediately.
“Celia,” she said in surprise. Why would she be calling? They hadn’t seen each other for a couple of years. Her brother Peter was the one who…
Her hand tightened on the phone.
“Kit, it’s about your brother.”
“I’m afraid he…”
She steeled herself to hear the rest, but Celia didn’t finish the sentence. After what felt like an eternity Kit managed to ask, “Is he dead?”
? What the hell does that mean?”
Another hesitation. “It’s complicated. I’m not sure how to—”
“Where are you?”
“I’m with the queen. We’re trying to—”
“The mansion in Newport. But—”
“I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
A minute before she’d been so tired she could barely keep her eyes open. Now fear and adrenaline fired every nerve as she jumped to her feet and faced her roommate.
Haley’s eyes were huge. “Is someone dead? You asked if someone was dead.”
“I don’t know.”
Tears stung her eyes, and she held them back by sheer force of will.
She took a deep breath and tried to pull herself together. “Haley—I need to borrow your car.”
“Of course. Anything you need. Just call me as soon as you can, so I know you’re okay.”
“I will. I’m sorry I can’t tell you what’s going on, but…I don’t really know myself yet.”
* * *
That wasn’t the only reason she couldn’t tell Haley what was going on, Kit thought as she navigated her roommate’s Prius through the crowded Cambridge streets. The main reason she couldn’t tell anyone was that if she did, people would think she was crazy.
My brother and I have Faery blood in our veins. A few years ago, Peter was called as a warrior—which means that he woke up one morning gifted with superhuman strength and the instinct and ability to fight monsters.
Vampires. Werewolves. Demons.
Of course no one would believe her unless she offered some kind of proof—and that was what the Fae had sworn never to do. They were under oath to protect humanity from supernatural threats, including the knowledge that such threats existed. That secrecy served a double purpose: to avoid the panic and terror that might arise if the humans found out, and also to protect themselves from the consequences of such panic—fear, prejudice, incarceration, experimentation.
Children who were more human than Fae—including eighth-bloods, like her and Peter—were traditionally told of their magical heritage when they were old enough to choose their own path forward. When her parents talked to Kit on her eighteenth birthday, they said they would support whatever choice she made, just as they’d supported her brother and cousin a few years before.
That was when she’d learned that Peter was a Green Fae warrior and Celia was a spellcaster.
Peter tried to convince her to follow his path, or Celia’s. But even as a child Kit had preferred computers and chemistry sets to fairy tales and magic, and when she got a scholarship to MIT her choice was easy. She wanted to study computer science and live a normal human life.
She hadn’t seen much of Peter lately, although she Skyped with him as often as she could. She’d learned to live with the fear that his destiny would get him killed, and had been relieved a year ago when she learned that the Fae had won a major victory she hoped would make her brother—and all the Green Fae warriors—a lot safer.
The North American Faery Queen had been exposed as a traitor, and expelled to another dimension. The Dark Fae realm was a parallel universe believed to fuel the strength and long lives of the Earth Fae, but also believed to be responsible for an influx of demons into the world. The Fae had chosen to close the portals between the dimensions, deciding that the chance to rid Earth of so much evil was worth the price they might have to pay—the lessening of their own power.
Peter told her the results were better than they’d dared hope. Demonic activity on Earth diminished, but not the strength and magical ability of the Fae—or the power of their vampire allies.
At the thought of the vampires, Kit’s hands tightened on the steering wheel. When Peter told her that Celia was marrying a vampire named Evan Grant, she’d been horrified. Peter had almost been killed by a vampire once, and even as a child, before she had any idea they were actually real, Kit had hated the very idea of vampires.
The sight of blood had always made her queasy, and the thought of a creature actually
blood made her positively sick.
Peter had had his doubts, too, but Celia wasn’t the only Fae who had fallen in love with a vampire. Liz Marlowe, a warrior like Peter, had married a vampire named Jack Morgan—and most surprising of all, the new North American Faery Queen had chosen as her consort a vampire named Hawk.
The vampires themselves acknowledged that most of their kind were still hostile to humanity. But these three had been pivotal in the conflict with the Dark Fae realm, and since that battle, Peter’s prejudice against vampires had faded somewhat.
But no matter how much Peter had come to respect his new allies, the thought of them still made Kit cringe.
She’d been to the Newport mansion once last year, when Peter had invited her to come and meet the new queen. Jessica Greenwood had been gracious and charming, and Kit had had a pleasant evening—mostly because the queen’s husband had been away at the time.
On this visit, she wasn’t so lucky. As she pulled into the long circular drive, Celia and Jessica came out the front door in the company of a vampire.
An involuntary shudder ran through her.
He was tall, with black hair and black eyes and rough-hewn features, and as the three of them came towards her he put his arm around Jessica’s waist. This was Hawk, then.
Kit set her teeth as she emerged from the car, determined not to let her distaste show. She was here for Peter’s sake. If she had to spend time with the devil himself to get news about her brother, then that’s what she would do.
* * *
The news wasn’t good.
It was Celia who broke it to her, once they were all inside and seated in a small parlor. Her bright red hair was pulled back in a messy ponytail, and she looked like she hadn’t slept in days.
“Peter was in the Andes, fighting a nest of demons. He was with a warrior named Hal, who—”
“Wait a minute.” Kit’s voice squeaked a little, and she took a deep breath before continuing. “I thought…Peter told me that closing the portal to the Dark Fae realm would prevent demons from entering our dimension. He said warriors were still needed to fight werewolves and shifters and vampires
vampires,” she clarified, with a quick glance at Hawk. “But I thought that other kinds of demons weren’t a problem anymore.”
Jessica leaned forward on the couch she shared with her mate. She looked tired, too, but with her cloud of silvery blonde hair and translucent skin, she was still one of the most beautiful women Kit had ever seen.
“That’s what we had hoped. Certainly the number of demon sightings world-wide has gone down dramatically. But they haven’t stopped, and Celia and my husband have been conducting research all over the world, looking at ancient, long-forgotten texts and sifting through legends that…” she hesitated.
“That might be more than legends,” Hawk finished for her.
Kit steeled herself to speak to the vampire. “What do you mean? What legends?”
Hawk frowned. “Well…Greek and Roman mythology, for one. Celia and I now believe that some of the beings we once called gods and goddesses might be real, and come from another dimension as the Dark Fae do. Olympus and Hades might be real places—as real as the Dark Fae realm. We also believe that those beings, whatever their nature, have much less contact with our world now than in ancient times. But we think that portals between the two dimensions still exist.”
He paused, glancing at Jessica. Jessica, in turn, looked at Celia. Then all three of them turned their eyes on Kit.
“What is it?” she asked sharply. “What do these portals have to do with Peter?”
It was Celia who answered. “During the fight in the Andes, Peter and Hal killed all the demons but one. Then a fissure opened up in the mountainside and the last demon seized Peter and cast him into it. Once he had fallen through, the fissure sealed itself up as if it had never existed. Just before Hal killed him, the demon told him that he had sent Peter to the underworld, where he would stay for all eternity.”
The horror of it took time to settle on her, like flake after flake of snow falling until it creates a blanket of cold and silence.
After what seemed like a long time, Kit managed to speak again. “But that can’t be the end of the story. I mean…there must be a way to rescue him. What are you doing to rescue him?”
Jessica leaned forward again. “Of course we’re trying to rescue him, and we’ll keep trying. But you have to remember that this is the first real evidence we’ve had of what was, until now, just a theory. No living Fae—or human—has ever been to the underworld the demon spoke of. But Peter obviously went somewhere, and it must have been another dimension. Hal led a team to the spot, and they excavated for days without finding anything. The fissure Hal saw was definitely not of this world.”