Authors: P.A. Warren
Waking up at what feels like the ass crack of dawn in a car after driving for hours has never been on the top of my list, yet here I am. Yawning, I stretch my neck and crack it as I watch college students pouring out of their dorms and leaving for class. I scan the students for the one I’m looking for and haven’t spotted her yet. Tapping my fingers on the wheel impatiently, I tear open a bag of blood and drink it while my eyes never leave the front door of the building.
My phone rings, bringing me out of my blood buzz. I fumble with it and pick it up to see it’s Griffin. I flip the phone the bird and ignore the call. Here’s the deal; I’m a vampire witch, and I’m working for so many people it’s like an intricate spider’s web. The amount of people who want to inflict harm on Claire seems to be growing by the minute. It’s my duty to keep her safe. We’ve only met once, years ago, but I know she’s something special and is meant for me one day. I’ve watched her in secret since I first met her all those years ago. I actually saved her life one day during some senior prank where the boys locked her in a shed. They had no idea I was hiding in the shadows, or that I felt the raw fear coming from Claire. I followed those boys once they left, and let’s just say some required a stay at the hospital.
When Augustine brought me to America, I had no way of knowing just how my life would turn out. I was about ten years old then. Letting my mind wander back to that night, I lean back in the seat and study the people who walk by. I think back to what brought me to this point.
She came to my house late one night. The only way I knew about it was that I was supposed to be asleep, but after hearing the door, curiosity got the better of me. I snuck out of my room and hid on the stairs, listening to them. My eyes widen, as I watch my dad kneel before Augustine with his head bowed and her hand on his head. Who is this regal lady who came here and is acting like she owns the place? My eyes widen as she walks closer to me sniffing the air turning sharply as she spots me sitting there quivering in fear.
“Young man, I am Augustine, and it’s time that you came with me so you can prepare for your great future. Your father knew his time with you was short the day you were born.”
I stare at her in shock; I hadn’t said anything out loud. I back up against the wall and watch in fear as she walks closer to me, leaving my father to fall carelessly onto the floor. She stops in front of me, looking down at me with her mouth pursed.
“Stand up, boy; I’m too old to get on the floor. If I get down I may never get back up.”
“What do you want?” I ask her, my voice quivering in fear.
“You… I want you, Mikail. You will be the future of the Vampire Kingdom once the time is ready. The Maji has already predicted that you will bond one day with my granddaughter, and until that day comes I am taking you and having you trained to protect her. You will be trained on how to rule a kingdom the proper way. Your father knew this day would come; he should have prepared you for it instead of leaving you in the dark. Now let’s go.”
The sound of a car door slamming brings me back into focus. I’ve never gone back to Johannesburg since that day. My life is here, and I’m just waiting until the opportunity arises so I can claim my bond mate.
Augustine has me playing the field with everyone. Everyone thinks she’s dead, but trust me, she’s far from it. She knows exactly what’s going on with Antony and Griffin. Why she lets it continue is beyond me, something about starting a huge war if she interferes, or so she says. Thinking back a few weeks ago when she called me into her office, I slip on my watch, thinking back to the day when she informed me of all this.
I had just gotten back to the palace from practicing at the shooting range. I grab more blood and supplies so I could get back to the college to watch Claire. Something’s been bothering me lately, and I feel another presence surrounds her, one I don’t trust, so I told her I wanted more bodyguards on Claire. She knows I watch Claire twenty-four/ seven for my sanity, and she didn’t exactly appreciate my rage when she said I had to buddy up with Griffin and Antony to find out what they’re planning. Grabbing a shot of vodka, I toss it back, licking a small drop from my lip with my tongue. Protecting Claire is my life, I can’t fail her now.
“I’ll do it, but if anything happens to Claire you’re not going to like the consequences. If you think I’m crazy now watch what happens if something happens to Claire.”
A car door slamming in the parking spot next to me brings me again back to the present. I shake my head and take another swallow of the blood, finishing it off and tossing it on the floor. I‘m loyal to the Vampire Royalty for reasons that have been known to me since I first met Claire, one day she’ll be my bond mate. However, that doesn’t mean I won’t join the evil bastards that are trying to kill her so I can stop them, because I did that, just as Augustine suggested.
It’s really been an eye opener finding out who’s hired me to kill her. Griffin was too expected, but her own father that was surprising. And the fact that Antony has Jason, Griffin’s estranged son working for him almost blew my top. There isn’t much in life that I haven’t seen or done, but when it affects someone close to me, they are going to wish they’d never met me. When I filled Augustine in on that little tidbit, she was infuriated. I’m one of the very few people she trusts. So far everything’s going well and nothing out of the ordinary except seeing Jason Dumont here, of all people. That bastard is getting on my fucking nerves. He’s compelled the people here to think he’s the shit, and all the girls want him. Not going to lie, had a good laugh when I found out about that.
Leaning down, I grab the file Augustine thrust at me before leaving with all the information I’m going to need. I shake my head as I flip through it. He’s been working for Antony for awhile, which is a whole different set of issues. So immersed in reading, I almost miss Claire leaving her dorm and walking quickly with her head down, carrying her books. It’s a usual look for her, and it’s nice to see that hasn’t changed. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve seen her and nothing has changed, except for the fact that pesky Jason is following her at a discreet distance.
Did I forget to mention Augustine refused to let me leave the palace for two long weeks while she had me train with a specially brought in instructor? The entire time I was training with the best of the best, I couldn’t help but wonder just what the hell Augustine was preparing me for. Running my hands over my tattooed arms, I glance in the mirror and lift my finger, pressing it on top of the number twenty-one next to my eye. That number has great significance. It’s when I’m finally able to reveal my true self to Claire; I turn twenty-one in a few weeks.
Sitting up straighter, I check the mirror and run my hand over my shaved head. I open the car door and hop out, heading to the trunk. I grab my bag and slip my shirt off. I am greeted with giggling from behind me. Turning around, I slip my clean shirt over my head and wink at them. “Long night last night.” They look at my chest as I pull the shirt down and snigger. The blonde looks back at me as they walk away, licking her lips. Shaking my head, I laugh. I’ve still got it. Rummaging through my bag, I grab some mouthwash and open the bottle and take a swig, swishing the minty liquid in my mouth before spitting. I lock the doors with the push of a button, drop the keys into my shorts pocket, and grab my backpack. It’s imperative that I fit in at all times. Claire has no idea that I’ve been following her for her entire life, or just how very important she is to me.
Walking into the cafeteria, my nose is assaulted with hundreds of different smells. I take a deep breath and settle into the part I have to play. I walk towards the food line, grabbing one of everything and piling it on my tray. I hand the cafeteria lady some money and nonchalantly look to the corner where I don’t even have to guess. I know I will find Claire, and lo and behold, there she is wishing she was anywhere else but here. Sauntering over and putting on the cool guy act, I set my tray on the table across from her and sit, drawing her attention from the doorway. Peering across the room, I see Jason following some blonde out the door.
Oh sweetie, I think you are so much better than her, and will be so powerful once you awaken that you could decimate the girl with the flick of your wrist. I sit there for a minute just staring at her loveliness and have to remember I’m incognito.
Glancing at the food, I grab the can of soda, trying to look like a bumbling fool. She sits there staring at me with her brow pursed in consternation. I decide to break the silence by acting like I’ve never seen her before, and as I open my mouth, words pop right out.
“No one told me how beautiful you were.” I grimace at my mistake.
Her face flushes a light pink color as she looks away. She is so cute when she gets embarrassed and bashful. I clench my hands against the table. It’s all I can do not to jump over and bring her mouth to mine and really show her how beautiful I think she is. I stay seated with the knowledge that all will be well once the Queen fixes everything.
“Do I know you?” she blurts out. “You seem very familiar to me.”
Alert, I put the can of soda down.
“What do you mean familiar?”
She shrugs. “Never mind, I was just thinking of someone else.”
I let that comment go for now and go back to eating while she continues to ponder whatever’s going on inside her head.
Walking into the quad, I let the noise surround me and zero in on Claire, making sure she’s here, yet keeping my distance. Only this time she’s not sitting at the table alone like she normally is. I stare at her. It’s all I can do to stop myself from going to her, grabbing her, and asking where that Maji is. Did she put it somewhere safe? Does she have it on her? Running my hands through my hair, I see that she notices me and the thought crosses my mind that I messed up big time. I’m supposed to be watching her from afar, but something keeps pulling me towards her, and I can’t seem to stay away. I’m so frustrated that I’ve let my hormones override caution. I have to fix this, make her think I’m a player, someone not worthy of her or her attention.
Glancing around, I pinch the bridge of my nose as my brain tunes into all the heartbeats. Right now I’m regretting not feeding this morning. I turn my head and feel my fangs start to lower, and I snap my mouth shut and take a few deep breaths. Heading straight for the table full of cheerleaders, I put on my best player façade and approach them with confidence and put my arm around a blonde cheerleader with a small waist and a very well developed chest. Pulling her to me, I try not to breathe in so I don’t inhale the overwhelmingly strong perfume she uses. While doing this, I discreetly look across the quad and see Claire staring at me with an unrecognizable look.
“Hey, baby what’s your name?” I ask staring directly into her eyes willing her to cooperate.
“Rebecca,” she answers.
I lean towards her, keeping direct eye contact and tell her, “I’m going to kiss you and then you’re going to walk out and wait for me in the janitor’s closet down the hall.”
“Okay,” she whispers softly, still staring at my eyes.
Breaking eye contact, the sounds of the quad come back to me double time. I look back and checks to make sure Claire is still watching, and see she has a devastated look on her face. Feeling like an asshole, I pull the girl named Rebecca towards me and touch my mouth to hers, letting my tongue invade her mouth. I almost forget myself and gently pull away and wait for the girl to go to the janitor’s room so I can have lunch.
She whispers in my ear, “Meet me in the janitor’s room in five minutes.”
Nodding, I watch her walk away and admire the fit of her pants, waggling my eyebrows at the other guys and getting knowing winks. I’m just about to go meet the girl for lunch when I stop dead in my tracks at who I see walk through the door. Mikail Tsarev, what the hell is he doing here?
His eyes lock onto mine as he gives me a deadly look that he quickly masks. Smirking at me as he walks past me,
slipping me a note. He looks like a tattooed convict in this college crowd as he makes his way towards…wait… he’s going straight for Claire! Son of a bitch! Unfortunately, since we’re in a crowded place, I can’t just run up to him. My jaw ticks in anger over seeing Mikail, but remembering I need to feed, I push the door open and slam it against the wall as I walk towards the meeting place for my next meal.
Reaching the janitor’s closet, I don’t give the poor girl a chance to talk. I instantly drop the player, feeling relieved to be myself, and salivate at the thought of taking her...I shut the door behind me and smile, letting my fangs elongate. I rush towards her, tipping her neck to the side and sinking my fangs into her soft pale skin... I let the sweet blood fill my mouth, putting my hand over hers to cover her cries. Unfortunately, vampires only get pleasure from feedings when we feed off our mate, or another vampire, but human blood makes us stronger. Closing her wounds, I grab her face and force her to look into my eyes. When her eyes go blank I know the compulsion is working.
“Go to your dorm. You’re going to need vitamins. Get some if you don’t have any. You’re going to feel sick for the next few days, so stay in your dorm room until Monday.” Once she leaves, I feel euphoric from the fresh blood and pull out the note. My smile falters when I read what’s written on it: Stay away from Claire
Grinning, I tilt my head and laugh, balling the note and tossing it aside. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen Mikail, and I like nothing better than a challenge.