Authors: J.E. Hopkins
Outskirts Press, Inc.
This is a work of fiction. The events and characters described herein are imaginary and are not intended to refer to specific places or living persons. The opinions expressed in this manuscript are solely the opinions of the author and do not represent the opinions or thoughts of the publisher. The author has represented and warranted full ownership and/or legal right to publish all the materials in this book.
Misfits of the Lore Series
All Rights Reserved.
Copyright © 2011 J.E. Hopkins
Cover Photo © 2011 JupiterImages Corporation. All rights reserved - used with permission.
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It had been nearly two hundred years and yet she still dreamed of him. Those exotic ocean-blue eyes that could see to her soul. His touch that could inflame the coldness of her skin. His smile that could erase the deepest of her pain. Lucian.
She still yearned for him. No matter how much time had passed and the distance between them, he remained her reason to breathe. As much as she fought to erase him, he was etched into her soul from the moment she took her first breath of life. There was no way to escape him. For the rest of her existence, she would crave him, need him, love him. He was her addiction -- the drug that would eventually lead to her demise. There could be no happiness without Lucian, but they could never be together.
Did he still think of her, she wondered? Did he still hate her? Did thoughts of her torment his soul the way he continually tortured hers? Probably not, she feared. Hate had replaced any love he once felt for her, and now she was left with the constant ache for what she could not have and for what she wished could have been.
As Olivia sat in her living room staring out into the night sky, she remembered the innocent child she was so long ago. Frightened of everyone, she would hide in corners and avoid the steady gaze of the wealthiest families that frequently visited the opulent manor of the Santoro estate. She was the poor daughter of a servant to the most influential of the vampire families in Sorrento, Italy. The Santoros were the authority, the family everyone wanted to know and be. She was a mere peasant who was allowed to exist in their world.
Anslaw and Valentina Santoro epitomized vampire aristocracy and Lucian was their sole heir. Anslaw served as the chief magistrate who sat in judgment of clan disputes and sentenced those who violated their sacred code. There was one main law which must be followed by all creatures of the night—secrecy. No human could know of their existence. Any creature, whether vampire, Lycan, or demon, must remain hidden from humans. They could mingle with humans, feed from humans, but their true identities must never be revealed. For if their secrets were to become known, it could result in the destruction of both humans and immortals.
The vampires were the strongest of the immortals and as such they reigned over all immortals. They did not reign alone. In order to preserve peace among the clans of immortals, the Council was formed and was composed of the strongest representatives of all types of immortals. The Council would pass laws, levy fines, and govern their respective breeds. Although vampires generally controlled the Council, others had enough influence so that no major actions could be taken without the consent of the majority. There were occasional disputes from lesser immortals trying to exert their influence, yet the Council was a force that no one defied, as punishment for any act of disloyalty would be death.
Lucian was next in line to be chief magistrate. As son of Anslaw Santoro, he would succeed his father once he stepped down. This was a position that Lucian coveted and was reared to assume from the day he was born – a role that Olivia knew he desired more than anything else, more than he desired her. As a mere daughter of a servant, she could never be a suitable mate for Lucian. His parents had already found the ideal mate for their son before his birth. Despite his protestations and declarations of love for Olivia, there would be no escaping his destiny, nor could she escape hers. They were a pair of star-crossed lovers: Lucian destined for greatness, Olivia destined to be alone. Although her mind had accepted this many years ago, she still ached for the man who had stolen her heart and torn it to shreds, leaving her broken and forever lost.
Her destiny complete, she was alone. Both her sons had moved several years ago. Neither was much interested in their weak mother who always disappointed them no matter how hard she tried. She loved her boys as much as she could love, but they could not fill the emptiness of her heart nor cure the numbness that resulted from her tumultuous marriage to their father, Daughton Gaspard. Daughton’s years of torment left her a shell of the woman she had once been with Lucian. Mercifully, she was liberated from his torture when Daughton was murdered five years ago. Although his killer was never found, she knew the one who rescued her and she would forever protect him with her life.
Olivia’s life felt like a never-ending cycle of pain. She was haunted of dreams of what could have been with Lucian and memories of her misery with Daughton. After living the last 175 years in constant despair, Olivia had grown weary of the emptiness that was her existence. She had nothing left to tie her to this life. He children no longer needed her, Lucian was forever lost to her, and her family had abandoned her to her hapless life years ago. The only person who truly cared for her was Corinne Perrot, who once served as her children’s nanny, but had always been more of a big sister to Olivia and certainly her dearest friend. As much as Olivia cared for Corinne, her desire to be free of this life was stronger. She needed the peace that only the end could bring. And for an immortal, death would not easy, but Olivia had a plan. First, she had to make things right between her warring sons. She hoped that if she could bring peace to them, she could leave this world feeling as if she left something good behind. Maybe her life was worth something after all.
“Corinne, we must hurry or we’ll miss our flight.” Olivia waited patiently for Corinne to finish packing and join her at the front door where her taxi was expected to arrive. It was already ten a.m. and although their flight from Los Angeles to New York was not until two o’clock in the afternoon, Olivia was anxious to get to the airport.
“I don’t understand why we must leave this early. I much prefer traveling at night. The daytime hours are cruel to my skin and age me much quicker than normal,” Corinne complained. Olivia just smiled at her vampire friend who, despite being closer to three hundred years old, still looked about twenty-five and dressed like she was fifteen. With her long blonde hair, pale skin, and hazel eyes, Corinne was an undeniable beauty who could charm any man she desired. Corinne never had trouble attracting men. A meaningful relationship was much harder to find.
“I like traveling in the day. Besides, it’s good for vampires to make appearances during the day just to destroy any possible suspicion about what we really are. Humans still believe the myth that vampires burn up in the sun, so it’s better for us to keep that myth alive.”
The sun was not the threat to vampires that human mythology believed. The sun could weaken them, diminishing their abilities. Their stunning eyes became even more vibrant in the brilliant sun, but the daytime was no real threat. “Well, I still say the sun is not good for my skin. But of course, I will follow you wherever you want to go, Livy,” Corinne smiled.
Olivia smiled for a moment before her face was stricken with that hauntingly solemn look that scared Corinne. “Thanks for being such a great friend to me, Cori. I don’t know what I would have done without you for all these years. You’ve been the one person who has always been there for me. I couldn’t have gotten through all of this without you. I don’t how to thank you for this.”
Olivia’s gratitude left an ache in Corinne’s heart and an ever-present fear that her best friend was saying goodbye. She knew Olivia was becoming more distant and withdrawn. Her tanned skin grew increasingly paler—a sign that Olivia was feeding less frequently and weakening more each day. This last minute trip to see her sons was another indication that Olivia’s pain was consuming her. Corinne just hoped that this trip would provide the peace that Olivia needed to continue with her life. Although Corinne would do anything to keep her best friend alive, she knew that if Olivia wanted to seek the darkness, there was no way she could stop her.
“If you really want to thank me, promise me that you will take me shopping in New York City.”
“Shopping? You shop all the time here. You have all the latest clothes, shoes, and bags. What more do you think New York can offer you?”
“Oh, naive Livy. I don’t mean that kind of shopping. I mean boy toy shopping. I heard New York City is filled with good-looking dudes and they even have a male revue show where there are hot demon men who get down and dirty. Let me tell you, demons can be really fun. Those horns come in handy. That’s the kind of shopping we both need.”
Olivia gasped. “Cori, you have completely lost it. There’s no way I would ever visit a place like that. Besides, we’re going to New York, not Vegas, so I doubt there’ll be anything that tawdry in New York.”
Corinne looked at Olivia in disbelief. For a nearly two hundred-year-old vampire, Olivia still had much to learn. Corinne was the best person to educate her.
“Olivia, have you ever been to New York? Times Square may be all Disney these days, but there’s plenty of fun to be had in the city, especially for immortals. New York is the Mecca for immortals and night time is when all the freaks come out to play. Livy, I really want to play.”