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Authors: Carol Lynne

Liquid crimson

BOOK: Liquid crimson
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Liquid crimson
Publicado:
2010

A Total-E-Bound Publication

www.total-e-bound.com

Liquid Crimson

ISBN #
978-0-85715-323-4

©Copyright Carol Lynne 2010

Cover Art by April Martinez ©Copyright November 2010

Edited by Claire Siemaszkiewicz

Total-E-Bound Publishing

This is a work of fiction. All characters, places and events are from the author’s imagination and should not be confused with fact. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, events or places is purely coincidental.

All rights reserved.
 
No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form, whether by printing, photocopying, scanning or otherwise without the written permission of the publisher, Total-E-Bound Publishing.

Applications should be addressed in the first instance, in writing, to Total-E-Bound Publishing.
 
Unauthorised or restricted acts in relation to this publication may result in civil proceedings and/or criminal prosecution.

The author and illustrator have asserted their respective rights under the Copyright Designs and Patents Acts 1988 (as amended) to be identified as the author of this book and illustrator of the artwork.

Published in 2010 by Total-E-Bound Publishing, Think Tank,
Ruston
Way
,
Lincoln
,
LN6 7FL
,
United Kingdom
.

Warning:
 
This book contains sexually explicit content which is only suitable for mature readers.
 
This story has been rated
Total-e-burning.

Neo’s
Realm

LIQUID CRIMSON

Carol Lynne

Dedication

The first vampire story I fell in love with was
My Vampire and I
by JP Bowie. It was the original print version, a copy JP sent me as a sort of thank you gift. I fell in love with vampires and, most especially, JP after reading it. I emailed him and gushed about the story, begged him to please consider submitting it to Total-E-Bound and gained one of the best friends a girl could ask for. This one’s for you, JP. Thanks for the inspiration.

Trademarks Acknowledgement

The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the following
wordmark
mentioned in this work of fiction:

The Six Million Dollar Man: Universal Studios

Chapter One

With Paganini playing in the background, Neo Manos sat in his study in front of the large window, looking out over the vines he loved. After nine hundred years, the grapes had become his lover, the wine his offspring.

“It’s almost
time
,” he whispered to the rows of fattening grapes. Harvest was a rebirth of
sorts,
the plump juicy fruit he and his workers had spent an entire year preparing for would be picked, washed and sorted before the pressing. Neo hummed to the music, taking its energy and using it to replenish his soul.

He took a sip of his special wine, and immersed himself in the music, his eyelids becoming heavy.

Images flashed before his eyes—chains, blood, so much blood, him on a table, iron stakes driven through his body to hold him down.

Neo woke himself with a scream, sweat pouring from his face and chest. The door flew open and his long-time butler, Joseph, stepped into the room.

“Are you okay, Your Highness?”

Wiping his brow with the sleeve of his shirt, Neo didn’t bother to turn around. “I’ve told you for over six-hundred years not to call me that,” he growled.

“You are what you are. You will have to kill me before I stop treating you with the respect of your position.”

Neo waved his hand. “Leave me.”

He heard the door shut as he reached for his glass of wine. How many centuries would have to pass before the nightmares stopped?

* * * *

Nights spent in the vineyard meant everything to Neo. Outside, walking amongst the rows of grapes he’d helped plant, was his religion, his church, his sanctuary. His vineyard, Le
Uve
del
Regno
, or Grapes of the Realm, was his everything.

The mourning howls of several of his employees filled the brisk night air. Neo looked up at the full moon and smiled. He knew his hand-selected men were hunting in the hills. There were times, like tonight, when Neo longed to join them. What would it be like to be part of a pack?
To feel the pull of companionship?

He glanced across the rows of vines to the
werecats
working with only the moonlight to aid their harvest. Cats truly made the best workers in his opinion. All they asked of Neo were days to lounge in the sun in their cat form, and they were more than happy to work the entire night in human form, harvesting and tending to his grapes.

The wolves were needed but not for production. Their bigger hands tended to crush more than they harvested. No, Neo needed the wolves for protection, and they were a fiercely loyal pack.

A movement at the end of the row caught his attention. Neo started to call out for his guards but stopped when a cloud moved, uncovering the full moon, casting the man in a glow of light.

Spiro
. How long had it been since he’d seen his brother?

Spiro stepped closer. Once again, Neo was reminded of how different they were. Where Neo was dark, Spiro was pure light, with shoulder-length white hair and pale-gray eyes.

“Brother,” Spiro greeted.

“What are you doing here?” Neo asked, wiping his hands on his pants. Even after all the years they’d been apart, Spiro’s presence still made Neo uncomfortable. It wasn’t a lack of love for his sibling. After all, they had shared the same mother, but Spiro made Neo want for things that simply weren’t possible since he’d been changed.

Spiro stopped. His expression took on a hurt quality. “I’ve missed you.”

“And I’ve missed you, but you know why it must be this way.” His emotions threatened to get the better of him. He and Spiro had once been inseparable, but things had changed, Neo had changed. He held his hand up to stop Spiro from coming closer.

Spiro did as commanded. “It’s time, Neo.”

Neo stilled. “It’s the same answer I gave you and the gods a hundred years ago. No.”

Spiro sighed. “The world needs you, brother. I have done all that I can for the past eight hundred years, but times are changing, and I can’t lead into this new century. I’m not strong enough.”

Neo snorted. His brother had been a fantastic leader to the entire non-human species they referred to as the Blessed Creatures. He looked to the fertile soil beneath his boots. He had to admit the world was indeed changing. Spiro was a kind ruler, probably too kind for the
weres
,
fae
and vampires. They had begun to take advantage of Spiro’s gentle soul. “What kind of leader would I be? I can’t even go outside during the daylight hours.
LaMont
made sure of that.”


LaMont’s
dead,” Spiro reminded him. “Killed by your own hands over six hundred years ago. You need to get past it.”

“Easy for you to say,
brother
. You’re not the one he tortured and turned into a monster.”

Spiro shook his head. “Maybe you were right. You’re not ready to lead. For how can you lead a race you’re ashamed to be part of?”

Neo returned his attention to the grapes at his side. “Are you finished?”

“No. I have a favour to ask of you.”

“If it has anything to do with me leaving my home, the answer is no.”

“I have a son,” Spiro said. “It’s becoming too dangerous for him in the Realm. I wondered if you would look after him for me.”

Surprised, Neo whirled around and chuckled. “A son? Since when have you gone for the fairer sex?”

“Michael is the son of my heart not of my body. I’ve raised him for the past twenty-five years. A blink of an eye in our lifespan, but he is no less dear to me.”

Suspicion wormed its way into
Neo’s
mind. “He’s human.”

“No, but he has no fight in him.” Spiro took a step closer. “He cannot protect himself. I’m begging you to do it for me.”

“Aren’t you afraid I’ll drain the boy like I’d drain you if you came any closer?” Although it was a flip remark, it was no less painful.

“Hmm, that was a concern of mine. Measures have been taken to ensure that will not happen.”

“How?”

“His blood will kill you if you try to take it against his will.”

Neo laughed. “And that’s supposed to be an incentive? Do you have any idea how many times I’ve tried to kill myself? The monster I’ve become will not let me. I walk into the sun and burn. The pain is so excruciating I scream for days, yet it will not kill me.” Neo continued to laugh. “I welcome death.”

“Not Michael’s. For if you were to die, so would he.”

This new bit of information surprised Neo. He knew of only one way his death would cause the death of another. He narrowed his eyes and stalked towards his sibling. Spiro had the wherewithal to step back.

“I do not need a mate!”

Spiro squared his shoulders and looked Neo in the eye. “Too bad. The gods have given you one anyway, and today, on his twenty-fifth birthday, Michael is being presented to you.”

Neo growled, swatting at a large bundle of his precious grapes. He knew it was pointless to go against the gods in this particular area. Rarely did his forefathers interfere in matters of the heart, but when they did, it could not be undone.
A mate.
Someone who expected him to open his heart, to share memories of a past he’d rather forget. “Where is he?”

“Joseph is getting him settled in.”

Neo began to pace up and down the aisle. “Does he know what I am?”

“Michael knows we share a common mother in
Triana
. He also knows you are the son of Zeus and a vampire, yes, but he doesn’t know the kind of man you can be when challenged.”

Neo detected sadness in his brother’s eyes. He didn’t blame his brother for feeling that way. He wouldn’t wish a life mated to someone like him on his worst enemy, but it was easy to see how much Spiro loved the boy he’d raised.

“He is a good boy. Far too much like myself in his temperament. I’m afraid I’m to blame for that. I’ve been unable to bring myself to be harsh with him.” Spiro looked pleadingly at Neo. “Please be kind to him.”

Neo couldn’t remember a time when he wanted to hug his brother more, but the blood in Spiro’s veins called to him like no other. “I’ll try,” he promised. Yes, he would try. If not for himself then for the brother he’d been forced to leave.

“I thought I’d send a few of Michael’s personal guards. One in particular, Daniel, is quite close to Michael. I believe him to be Michael’s only confidant besides myself.”

“Are they lovers?” Neo asked. Jealousy raged through his body though he had yet to meet his mate.

“No, though Michael had one in the past. I allowed it because I knew Michael could love no man other than you.”

“Never allow that man to get close to Michael or me again. Do I make myself clear?” Neo warned.

“Yes. I don’t think you need to worry about Marcel. The affair only lasted a few months before he was off to conquer another young lover.”

Neo nodded. “Go say your goodbyes. I won’t need your guards, including this Daniel fellow. I’ll be in as soon as I inform my guards we have a new guest.” He watched Spiro vanish before his eyes. It was a night of surprises, and Neo needed time to come to terms with his new houseguest.

* * * *

“Why do you have to leave?” Michael asked his father.

Spiro walked over to the bed and sat beside Michael. “We’ve talked about this day for several years. We both knew it would come.”

“But it’s my birthday,” Michael grumbled.

Spiro tapped the tip of Michael’s nose. “Which is why I gave you the big party earlier.”

Michael swatted away his father’s playful action. Although he still didn’t know who his real father was, he’d never questioned the gods’ choice of Spiro to raise him. Michael couldn’t imagine anyone else loving him as much as Spiro did. “I’m twenty-five. Why do you insist on treating me like a child?”

The corners of Spiro’s mouth tipped up. “I guess I miss the boy who used to sit on my lap and hide beneath my robes.”

Michael chuckled. “That was a long time ago.”

“The blink of an eye to me.” Spiro’s light-grey eyes grew misty.

Michael fell back onto the bed and stared at the ceiling. “What’s he like?”

“Neo?”

“Yes.” He’d heard so much about the man he’d be staying with, both good and bad. As excited as he was to finally meet the great Neo Manos, he was apprehensive. The only vampire he’d been around was Daniel. Being afraid of Daniel had never occurred to him, but the simple mention of
Neo’s
name in the Realm and grown men shuddered with fear. What was it about Neo that evoked such a reaction in others?

“He’s tall, almost a foot taller than you, with raven black hair that falls like a silk blanket down to his shoulders. Although his face is nearly a duplicate of mine, his body is much stronger—”

“No, Father, I mean, what’s he like?” He’d asked the question many times over the years and had never been given an answer. His father usually preferred to change the subject. Now however, it appeared his father might actually tell him.

“When we were younger, Neo was full of life,” Spiro said, falling back on the bed beside Michael.

Michael propped his head up on his hand to listen. He’d never seen such a peaceful expression on the older man’s face. “We were inseparable for the first two millennia or so until…” Spiro’s expression changed. “He was captured by an enemy of our father. Francois
LaMont
hated Zeus and took it out on Neo. For almost four hundred years,
LaMont
tortured my brother before we were able to find and rescue him.”

Spiro reached out and ran his fingers through Michael’s blond curls. “The best parts of Neo died in that dungeon. Francois turned Neo, something forbidden in
vampiric
society without the permission of King Kildare.
Neo’s
never come to terms with who he now is. He’s given up on happiness, preferring to spend his time in Italy among his grapes over the opulent life in the Realm.”

“Is that why he refuses to lead the Blessed Creatures?” Michael hadn’t even met Neo, but his heart broke for the man. Four hundred years of torture would change anyone, even if they were the son of a god.

“Yes. He doesn’t like to be reminded of what he is. He can’t lead without acknowledging the fact that even though he is the son of Zeus, he’s also a vampire.”

Michael felt a tear run down his cheek and quickly wiped it away. What a horrible life Neo had been handed. Michael vowed to do everything in his power to bring Neo even an ounce of happiness. “I’m ready to meet him,” he whispered.

Spiro cupped Michael’s cheek. “Yes, you are.” He leaned in and placed a kiss to Michael’s forehead. “He won’t talk about his past, so don’t ask. It’ll only put you on his bad side.”

Michael rolled his eyes. “I’m not a complete nitwit, Father. I had a wonderful teacher in the ways of compassion.”

Spiro stood and held out a hand. Michael gladly took it and gave his father a hug. “When will I see you again?” Michael asked.

“When you need me, I’ll be there.”

Michael nodded and watched his father disappear before his eyes.

BOOK: Liquid crimson
4.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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