Authors: Tianna Xander
Tags: #paranormal, romance
Table of Contents
Cherie Gardner had a wonderful life. She had a sister and niece she loved and a good job. That is, until a drunk driver ruined her life. The accident that changed her life, took her sister and niece from her in the blink of an eye, and left her all alone.
When she breaks the small, encased ornament her niece had insisted was magical, Cherie’s life changes yet again—only this time for the better—or is it? In a strange, alternate world with supernatural beings and magic, can Cherie make a life with the vampire who claims to love her, or will she deny them both their only shot at happiness?
The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.
Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
The Broken Ornament
Copyright © 2013 Tianna Xander
Cover art by Martine Jardin
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.
Published by Devine Destinies
An imprint of eXtasy Books
Look for us online at:
The Broken Ornament
Broken Ornament 2
To everyone who believes in magic.
Cherie stood in her living room staring at the glowing Christmas tree. It should have been cheerful with its multi-colored lights blinking at her, but it was depressing. Sniffling, she wiped her nose on her sleeve, not caring that her mother would have been appalled. Like everyone else in her family, her mother was gone.
Her nose was stuffed and she knew that her eyes were most likely still swollen. She had finally stopped crying only a few minutes before and headed out of her bedroom to try and get something done. It had been nearly two weeks since the last of her family died on Christmas. She should have been able to function at some level near normal by now.
Though she felt exhausted, she knew she couldn’t spend the rest of her life in bed. No matter how much she might want to do just that. Sooner or later her employer would fire her for taking too long on personal leave. She couldn’t afford that, either financially or emotionally. She needed something to do outside her home or her self-imposed confinement would drive her mad.
Staring at the Christmas tree only made her feel bad all over again. It sat there in the middle of her home, looking so cheerful when Cherie’s world had come crashing down around her shoulders.
She hated the damned thing sitting there, mocking her with its gaily-wrapped presents sitting beneath it as though her sister and niece would come over, tear the paper off them and make a mess, the way they had every Christmas for the last seven years.
Simply looking at the tree hurt her more than she could have imagined. She couldn’t help but stare at the strange ornament her niece, Nikki, insisted she buy.
“It’s magical, Aunt Cherie.”
She said as she pleaded with Cherie to buy it.
“Can’t you see the little soldier dancing? He twirls around inside it like those men at the ballet.”
Cherie smiled sadly at the memory. She could see where her niece had gotten that idea. For the last four years, she and her sister, Kaylee, had taken the little girl to see the community theater’s rendition of the Nutcracker. The tiny soldier inside looked just like one of the costumed dancers if she overlooked the fact that he was a little too short and squatty to be a well-toned male, ballet dancer.
Who knew what the impressionable seven-year-old Nikki saw when she peered into the glass protecting the little figure?
Rage filled her as she thought of her beautiful little niece and how she would never celebrate another Christmas or birthday. She would never live to see eight years old because some idiot, drunken driver ended her life before it had even began.
Grasping the ornament, she looked at it. The small soldier grinned back at her mockingly and, her rage getting the best of her, Cherie threw the glass-encased soldier against the wall.
The thick glass that surrounded the little man shattered. Hundreds of tiny shards flew everywhere as it exploded on contact with the wall. Cherie, overcome with grief once again, fell to her knees and sobbed. She cried for everything and everyone she had ever lost, but mostly she cried for the little girl who was so close to her she couldn’t have loved her more had she been her own.
After losing another couple of hours feeling sorry for herself, Cherie stood and made her way over to the wall. She ignored the crunch of glass beneath her feet as she searched for the small wooden soldier. It took a few minutes, but she found it lying behind an end table, and reached down to pick him up. He had been Nikki’s favorite ornament. She should never have thrown it like that. After all, it was all she had left of her niece’s joy of life and the child’s belief in the magic of the theater.
Static electricity arced between her fingers and the small soldier as she picked it up. “Ow!”
Crap! That hurt
. She looked down at the little guy, his painted face smiling up at her. “You did that on purpose, didn’t you? That was payback for throwing you against the wall, wasn’t it?”
Shaking her head at her foolishness, Cherie pocketed the wooden figurine and turned back to the tree and unplugged it. Feeling exhausted, she headed back to her room. The tree could wait another day. Right now, she wanted nothing more than to crawl back into bed and cry herself to sleep. Again.
Tomorrow she could take the ornament back to the antique shop where she’d purchased it and see if the old man could fix it. After all, he said he was the one who had encased the hand-carved piece inside the glass in the first place. If anyone could fix it, he could.
Hunter moved silently through the darkened city. He knew he must be careful. There were slayers about and he was weak. Not feeding for a long time could do that to his kind. Eating helped, but not much. It helped his body make more blood, but it could never make enough. He needed to supplement it.
After nearly a month of living like a human, he needed to feed. If he didn’t do so soon, he mightlose control and kill someone. After seven hundred years, that was unacceptable. Killing was for rogues and the untrained. His one and only kill had been an accident when he was a new change. He didn’t want to do that ever again.
Guilt assailed him at the memory. It was a life taken too soon. A son lost, a father gone forever. He stopped, leaning against the rail, looking out at the lighthouse. Nothing could change what he had done, and as much as he hated the memory, Hunter never wanted to forget it. The memory gave him strength. It also gave him the discipline he needed to prevent himself from succumbing to the blood lust ever again.
The look in the man’s eyes as he’d attacked, the screams of the man’s son as he drained his victim dry, were something he hoped he would never forget. They were memories he both welcomed and despised.
Melancholy stole over him as he walked the streets, looking for a likely
. Four, five women passed. At first their scent drew him, but he backed off each of them with a frown. Was every damned woman in the city pregnant? Had this been seven hundred years ago, he might have thought there was something in the water, but he knew better than that now.
How the times have changed you, old man.
As usual, the smell of the ocean drew him. He walked along the waterfront for several blocks before he stopped, leaned against the rail, and stared out at the gleaming waves. The boardwalk was full of holiday lights, but it was late and they were dark. The people of the city slept, like most were wont to do in the wee hours of the morning.
That was why he hunted during this time. With so few people out and about, there was little worry of getting caught, especially if he fed in the shadows. Perhaps one day he would feel comfortable enough to exit
and declare himself vampire. Then he could use bagged blood at the special blood banks set up especially for them. Until then, he would continue to feed off the hoof, as it were. He dismissed the one bag of blood Oberon gave him when he got here. He didn’t know why, but he’d left it in the mini fridge in his room. Was he hoping a maid would find it and take his choice to remain in the proverbial closet out of his hands?
The moon shone down on the water, lighting the waves. The sea foam appeared to glow in the moonlight as the waves crashed on the shore.The tide was coming in and it brought change with it. Hunter inhaled deeply. Yes, there was definitely change in the air.
A movement to his right caught his eye and he turned just in time to miss the head of an axe as it swung past his head, hitting the metal rail with a clang.
“Die, you vampire scum!”
Hunter grasped the man’s arms, looked down into his fanatical expression and sighed. “You intended to kill me, this night.” He stared into the muddy brown eyes of the man who would have killed him, had he been human.
The man was drunk. Hunter could smell the alcohol on him. Why did humans insist on attacking his kind alone and filled with the false courage of alcohol? Vampires were hard enough to kill. Why did they almost always come alone and drunk off their asses? Did the alcohol help to dull their morality issues? According to the new laws, murder was murder and a vampire had rights.
“Of course I did, you bloodsucking spawn of hell.” The man spat at him, but he was so drunk, the spittle merely dribbled down his chin, instead of leaving his person as the insult it had been meant to be. “I planned to kill you, before you killed me.”
“Did you really?”Hunter lifted his right brow. “Should I return the favor, then?”
“You know you’re going to. All of you vampires are the same. You live off our blood, but you can’t stand to share the Earth with us.”
“I do not understand your skewed logic, sir, for it is you who stand armed and prepared to kill.”Hunter yanked the axe from the man’s possession and hurled it out into the ocean, certain it flew at least nine hundred feet before it splashed into the water and fell beneath the waves.
“You know as well as I do that you don’t need any weapon, but those devil’s teeth in your mouth.”
Hunter cocked his head to the side. He knew his eyes were glowing. A vampire’s eyes always glowed when they were in full need. That was what, no doubt, alerted his attacker to his…persuasion.
He held the man easily as he struggled to get away. “I will tell you this once and you should consider yourself lucky that it was me you tried to kill, human. Others would not take your assault so lightly.” He leaned closer, letting his teeth slide from his gums. “The majority of my kind does not kill. It is against our laws. We do, however, have the right to defend ourselves. I would be well within my rights to rip your throat out. Even by your own laws, I have the right to defend myself against deadly force.”
He backed the man up against the rail, wrapped his fingers not-so-gently around the man’s throat and leaned closer.
“However, I shall endeavor to educate you on matters where you are grossly ignorant. Will you listen if the reward for good behavior is your life?” He delved into the man’s mind and pulled out his name. “Will you listen, Paul, or would you rather die?”
Paul tried to say something, but it came out little more than a gurgle as the undeniable odor of urine filled the air.
Great, the damned idiot just pissed himself.
Hunter felt Paul nod weakly as he held him up off the ground, the man’s feet kicking uselessly. Nothing a human could do with their person could ever harm him. Hell, he barely felt it.
Had he chosen to be so, Hunter could have been the scourge on mankind this idiot thought he was. However, he had chosen another path long ago. He had chosen to revere life, to allow his victims to live where others did not—even when they had no governing council and there were no real laws for his people.
Now they had laws. They couldn’t bring people over willy-nilly. They couldn’t gather armies beneath them by changing people at will. Their laws stated that they could only bring over one person in their lifetime. Most saved that one change for a person they could call their soul mate—if they even had souls anymore.