Read Vampirates 4: Black Heart Online

Authors: Justin Somper

Tags: #Parenting, #Pirates, #Action & Adventure, #Vampires, #Juvenile Fiction, #Mothers, #Seafaring life, #Fantasy & Magic, #Fiction, #Family & Relationships, #Horror & Ghost Stories, #Twins, #General, #Motherhood, #Horror, #Brothers and sisters

Vampirates 4: Black Heart (6 page)

BOOK: Vampirates 4: Black Heart
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"No!" Grace cried. It couldn't end -- not here, not now. There was too much left unsaid, unknown, between mother and daughter. She had to bring her back to consciousness.

Grace reached out to cradle her mother in her arms. As she did so, her head once more flashed with images. Dexter. Sidorio. Lorcan. The Vampirate captain. And now Mosh Zu and Shanti, too. The vision flashed from one face to the next. It was like watching a pack of cards being shuffled really fast.

Not now! Grace pleaded. She had to save Sally ... but there was no letup from the vision. Faces flashed before her, finally settling on the image of Dexter, as though his card had been selected from the pack. He was on the deck of the ship, just like before. And in spite of Connor's nay-saying, there behind him was the main mast and the Nocturne's vast winglike sails, pulsing with light.

Dexter was laughing and reaching out his hand toward her. Grace realized that she was seeing things from her mother's point of view. In the vision, she was standing up, too, taking Dexter's hand in hers and walking across the deck. Her mother glanced behind her. There on the deck were Lorcan and Shanti, his donor. They were smiling and waving as Sally and Dexter took their leave. Then Sally and Dexter were walking inside. Grace could see the familiar corridor, with cabins on either side. Her mother's hand pushed open the door. Was she about to see her mother share blood with her father? This would be the confirmation that she had indeed been his donor, the irrefutable truth that Dexter Tempest was a Vampirate.

"Grace!" Connor's cry tore through her consciousness, but she clung to the vision, desperate for it not to fade at this point. Then she felt her brother's arms on her. He was pulling her away from Sally. "Let go of her!" he said. "You're holding her too tightly. Grace, you're hurting her."

Grace came to on the floor, a distance away from Connor, who now cradled his mother protectively. "What have you done to her, Grace?" he asked.

"Me? I haven't done anything! How could you even think --"

"You were clinging to her for dear life."

"She was like this when I came back into the room. I reached out for her, like you have, but as soon as I touched her, a vision began again."

Connor frowned. "I don't want to hear about it," he said darkly. "And Grace, you have to stop touching her. I don't understand what's going on, but evidently it's not good for her."

He felt for a pulse, then stared up at Grace, panic etched across his face. "We need help, Grace. Go and fetch Mosh Zu or someone ... anyone. Now!"

7FRIENDS AND SECRETS

Later that evening, several hours after her mother's collapse, Grace sat on the bench before the little fountain in the kitchen garden, trying to be patient as Mosh Zu and his assistants attended to Sally.

The fountain had become one of her favorite spots in the Sanctuary complex, the place she came to whenever she needed to calm her frazzled nerves. Something in the combination of the cool air, the fragrant scent of the wild herbs growing nearby, and the sound of water tumbling back upon itself usually worked its magic upon her.

Right now, Grace's head was feverish with thoughts; her stomach coiled in knots. She thought about what Sally had told her, and what Sally had been on the verge of telling her. That she was a donor. That perhaps she was Dexter Tempest's donor. That the twins' father was a Vampirate, and that, therefore, they too were vamp -- But no, she mustn't let her mind race ahead of her. All Sally had said definitively so far was that she had been a donor on board the Nocturne. The rest, though it all made sense, awaited her confirmation.

Grace thought of the visions that had arisen through her contact with Sally. It had been amazing to see life on the Nocturne through her mother's eyes -- to see her dad looking so young and handsome and carefree, and Lorcan, too -- though of course he was physically unchanged. Grace remembered the way Lorcan and Sally had looked at each other back in the healing chamber, when she had first reappeared. It was clear they had been good friends once, and this just confirmed it. Grace was pleased about that -- it felt like another connection to two people she cared for deeply.

Seeing Shanti had been interesting, too. Though Grace had mixed feelings about Lorcan's former donor, she still felt a deep sadness at her brutal murder at the hands of a renegade vampire.

Grace trembled. Her thoughts turned again to her mother. Were Connor's accusations fair? Was Grace actually hurting her by tapping into her distant memories? It was clear that Sally was in a deeply fragile state. The last thing Grace wanted was to make her weaker still. And yet, the way the visions rushed into her head the moment she and her mother made contact led Grace to feel that Sally must want her to know them, even subconsciously. She seemed to be trying to tell Grace the full story.

Grace stared at the tumbling waters of the fountain. She wished that she was not alone, that she had someone close to talk things through with. But who?

Connor, though he had calmed down considerably, had said that he needed time to himself and had gone off to his room to get some rest.

The captain would have been a calm sounding board for her, but there had been no sign of him since his healing.

She had sought out Lorcan but, according to one of the others, he had gone over the the donors' blocks and wasn't expected back anytime soon.

Grace remembered other nights at Sanctuary when, in the lonely hours, she had sought out the company of Johnny Desperado. He was gone now, lured away by the dark temptation of Sidorio. Though Johnny had turned out to be of questionable character, he'd been good company and a great listener. Now, sitting in front of the little fountain, Grace felt the absence of all the people she had grown accustomed to calling upon for support. She felt suddenly, achingly, alone.

"Grace!"

At first she thought she had somehow conjured the voice herself -- it wouldn't have been the first time.

"Grace!"

She glanced up to find Darcy Flotsam walking around the side of the fountain toward her. Darcy's warm smile was like the answer to a prayer.

Grace rose to her feet and hugged her friend. "Darcy! How wonderful to see you!"

Darcy hugged her back and laughed. "It's good to see you, too, Grace."

"What are you doing out here?" Grace asked, her joy overriding her slight guilt at having neglected to think of Darcy, dear Darcy, in the same breath as the others.

"Much the same as you, I'd imagine," Darcy said. "Taking a breath of air. After nights on the deck of the Nocturne, it gets awful stuffy inside the compound, don't you find?"

"Oh, Darcy!" Grace said, beaming, "it really is a treat to see you. I've been sitting out here worrying about my mother. And then I started thinking about stuff Connor said to me and about my dad and the captain, and I just got to feeling so alone." Tears welled in her eyes.

"Shh," Darcy said, her voice as soothing as the waters of the fountain. "I'm here, Grace. You're not alone." She rested her hand on Grace's shoulder. "Come on, let's take a walk together."

Grace rose to her feet and looped her own arm through Darcy's. As they walked along in silence, Grace thought how grown-up Darcy suddenly seemed.

The two girls walked out of the garden and across the courtyard. Ahead of them was the wall where Grace had sat with Johnny Desperado on other nights such as this. She thought once more of Johnny -- handsome, charming, wayward Johnny. His farewell words rang in her head. "It ain't that I can't be good. It's just that I'm so much better at being bad."

She shivered to remember what he'd said. Was he still with Sidorio? If so, then he'd have no shortage of opportunities to cultivate his bad side. Johnny had been something of a lost soul from the very beginning, an overripe fruit hanging from the vine, ready for Sidorio's rough hand to snatch.

"What are you thinking about?" Darcy asked as they reached the wall that enclosed the courtyard.

"Someone I knew here before," Grace said. "One of the rebel Vampirates who went off with Sidorio."

Darcy smiled wryly. "Funny," she said. "If you want to know the truth, I wasn't only walking around outside to get some air. I was thinking about someone who went off with Sidorio, too. Trying not to, of course, but the more you try not to, the more you can't help yourself."

"You're talking about Jez, aren't you?" Grace said, sitting down on the wall and gesturing for Darcy to join her. "He really hurt you, didn't he?"

"He really did," Darcy said as she sat down. "I thought he was the one, Grace. I thought he was my Mr. Jetsam." Grace noticed there was a single tear, wedged like a pearl, in the corner of Darcy's wide, beautiful eyes. "How can someone be like that? So full of goodness and then so bad? Was it all a lie?"

Grace shook her head. "No," she said, thinking again of Johnny as well as Jez. "No, I don't think Jez lied to you. I think he really did care for you. He wanted you to go away with him and the rebels, didn't he?"

"Yes," said Darcy, her eyes wide. "But I couldn't! I just couldn't!"

"No, of course not," Grace nodded. "Because to you that would have been a betrayal of the captain. And you're not someone who trades loyalties lightly, Darcy. Jez is different. He's weaker than you. He couldn't resist the lure of Sidorio. But even so, he still wanted you to go with him."

"Yes," Darcy said. "He did, didn't he?" Her face brightened. "In fact, I turned him down."

"Exactly," Grace said. "Because he wasn't good enough to be your Mr. Jetsam. Jez loved you, Darcy, but he wasn't good enough for you. One day someone else will come along, and he will be the real Mr. Jetsam. I'm sure of it."

Darcy smiled and squeezed Grace's hand. "Thank you," she said. "I feel a lot better hearing that. Next time, instead of tramping about outside in the cold and damp, I shall simply come and find you."

"Yes," said Grace. "You must! We're friends, aren't we?"

"Of course," Darcy said. "Surely you don't even have to ask that question? Now tell me what's on your mind!"

Grace's face fell. "Oh, I don't know, Darcy. Connor and I had a big talk earlier, well, an argument, to be honest. He doesn't think I should hang out with you or Lorcan or any of the Vampirates. He thinks it's wrong and -- well, I'm sorry to use this word, but -- weird."

Darcy didn't even flinch. "How can it be wrong and weird to have good friends?"

Grace thought perhaps she hadn't fully understood. "It's because you're a vampire," Grace said. "And I'm not." As she said the words, she heard her own voice inside her head. Or maybe I am? Should she share her thoughts -- her visions -- with Darcy? No, it was too soon. Her visions were too fragmented to be sure of. Better to wait. This was too big.

"I get it," Darcy said. "Stick to your own kind. Like for like." She frowned and made a sniffing noise. "That strikes me as a somewhat narrow definition of friendship, Grace, if you don't mind my saying so."

"I agree," Grace said, nodding vigorously.

"Tell me," said Darcy, "is our friendship so very different from the friendships you've had with other girls? I mean, normal girls --"

"Don't say normal!" Grace interrupted her.

"Well, all right, then, with mortal girls. Back where you came from, in the bay?"

"To be honest," said Grace, "I didn't have any really close friendships with anyone back home. Connor was always my best friend. I never had a real girlfriend until you." She smiled. "It's one of the reasons you're so special to me."

"Well," said Darcy, "it doesn't sound wrong when you put it like that. And it's not just me you're friends with. There's the captain. And Mosh Zu. And Lorcan."

Grace shook her head slowly. "You don't even want to know what Connor had to say on the subject of me and Lorcan."

Darcy raised an eyebrow.

Grace hesitated. "Can I tell you a secret?" she asked.

Darcy smiled. "Of course, Grace. Isn't that exactly what friends are for?"

"Well," Grace said, "you know how I said that I never had a girlfriend like you before? Well, I've never had a proper boyfriend, either." She glanced at Darcy, rather embarrassed. "You know what I mean?"

Darcy nodded. "I know what you mean, Grace. And now you're talking about Lorcan, aren't you?"

"Yes," Grace said, relieved to have gotten it out into the open. "I just wish I knew how he feels about me. Does he ever talk to you about this kind of stuff?"

Darcy paused before answering, considering her words. "Lorcan's a very private person, Grace. He isn't someone who shares his feelings easily."

BOOK: Vampirates 4: Black Heart
11.11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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