Del Sol Valley PBP Studios Executive Floor
Heavy footsteps sounded, but it was already too late to run. Before he could react, he was grabbed hard by iron claws, holding him in place like clamps of death, he was pulled up and a face appeared next to his from behind, so close he could feel the icy cold aura the creature emitted, smell a scent reminding of decay and coagulated blood. The scent of death looming.
“Why?” cried the man, aware he was completely at the mercy of the vampire.
“Because you made my Vivien cry! And for all you and your friends have done to Sheridan. Judgement Day has come for you, I am here to make sure you never will hurt young women again. Nor will your friends. You will see them all again on the other side, in hell, where you all belong!” Caelan hissed before with a loud crack he broke the man’s neck, dropping him to the ground like yesterday’s clothes.
“Clean this up!” he demanded, then walked towards the door.
“Where are you going, father?” Connell inquired, stopping Caelan in his tracks.
“They have cameras. I will take care of those.”
“What shall I do with the bodies?” Connell wondered, Caelan thought for a moment, then told him
“Take them to Moonwood Mill, let the wolves deal with this shit, as a warning of what happens to those who dare mess with us and ours. They have been seen sneaking around Forgotten Hollow and Glimmerbrook, pissing all over with the audacity of marking territory that will never be theirs, like the feral beasts they are. They are getting cockier again, so another reminder putting them back in their place seems to be in order, since the witchfolk are too busy whittling new magic wands or whatever the hell they are doing INSTEAD of dealing with the increasing werewolf activity. Leaves us vampires to send a clear message, and this will be it. After all, those mutts love digging so much, I say, let them put it to good use and have them dig some graves for this human garbage and his cronies. Or they can call the police and try to explain why a bunch of big shot PBP Studio executives from Del Sol Valley ended up dead on their doorstep all the way in Moonwood Mill with broken necks, but devoid of any bitemarks, not even a scratch. Nothing to connect vampires to it.”
“Clever strategy, but also wasteful, really. We could have drunk from them. At least they would have served one good purpose before becoming compost.” Connell shugged.
“Drink from these pigs?! Disgusting! Too fat for my taste, their blood bittered by their fancy luxury lives, booze, drugs and the broken hearts and dreams of young, aspiring actresses. Rapists, the whole lot! I’d sooner drink that artificial blood father wants us all to consume. Nasty. But not as nasty as the thought of satisfying my thirst on … that!” with a disgusted face Caelan pointed at the corpse, then demonstratively spat on the floor.
“Will you tell Aunt Vivien what we did?”
“She will know once news hits that all the men Sheridan accused of having done heinous things to her for years have suddenly and mysteriously vanished without a trace. Right now, she is busy making her niece better after what they have done to the girl for years … If Sheridan can even recover from this. These men we put on the express elevator to hell tonight, Connell, these men made an innocent, beautiful young woman want to try to take her own life, which is why we took theirs instead. A debt owed; a debt paid. And as I said, they made Vivien cry because they damaged someone she loves. Unforgivable in my book. When she sobbed into my shoulder, they were already dead, just didn’t know it yet.” he spoke, then turned to walk off again.
“But father … isn’t this hypocritical of you? Vivien cried a lot because of Liam before, you never did anything but comfort her then. And isn’t what they did exactly what you used to do? Use women for pleasure, then discard them? And what have we to do with Sheridan? She is not blood of our blood.”
Caelan halted, shaking his head, then turned back to face Connell again with the patience of a father.
“Sheridan is not blood of ours, but Vivien is, and she cares deeply about her niece on her father’s side, what was done to her brought back bad memories for Viv of men in the entertainment business trying to hurt her like they hurt Sheridan, luckily unsuccessfully in Vivien’s case, because Scarlett and I raised her strong, and while mortal, Vivien has vampire blood in her veins making her stronger than regular mortals. She fought the system, she prevailed, but Sheridan broke. Vivien wanted to go the legal route but was afraid trying to sue them would put a strain on Liam, considering how those movie executives are larger than life and have friends in high places, so I fixed this quickly and permanently. And there is an enormous difference between marital problems and what these men did. I like Liam, he’s a very decent guy, I know Vivien can’t be easy to live with as a wife at times. As for your other point, please know that I never used any woman against her will. Never for profit. I was a rake, and I was despicable. One time I fell for an innocent girl, Ingrid, I made mistakes and it got her killed, because we are not innocent, we are not mortal, and it cured me. The other women before her knew what would happen when they went with me, they knew what I was and what I was not, and they knew they would wake up alone never to see me again. A night with the big, bad vampire was what they wanted, and exactly what they got. I never forced myself on any woman. Including your mother, my boy. Big difference. And she changed me, marriage changed me. As it has you. But also, your wife. You may not see it yet, but Emmy is not the same as before and never will be again.”
“Yes, she is, father. Emmy is innocent. Well, she was .. and in a way still is. I mean, in a non-sexual way she is pure and innocent like an angel. Good, sweet and wholesome and she makes me want to be a better person. A better man. A good husband. A good father.”
Caelan shook his head again, his eyes finding the young vampire’s.
“Emmy’s innocence ended the moment you put a child in her, my son. No more. Never again. Her blood mixed with your blood, with OUR blood, she is now innocent no more. You’ll see. The changes may be subtle, but they are there. Especially should anyone ever threaten your child. Think of your mother. My Irish rose, my Rhiannon, she was so pure, sweet as can be, but let anyone threaten your life, and I guarantee you she would not hesitate for a second to take theirs. That is what we are, Connell. Death and darkness. Whatever we touch, dies or turns dark, one way or another. And nobody who has ever been close to any vampire is innocent. This is why we live in the shadows, hiding in plain sight. Maeve made a mistake by making us public knowledge, that should have NEVER happened. We were better off as a scary secret, a myth, monsters living in their closets, only coming to life in books and movies. Mortals should have never known how real we really are. We are not mortals, and we never will be. Never forget that. Whatever your child may be, vampire or mortal, she bears the spark of darkness within her already, even now, in her mother’s womb. Vivien is mortal, but she has it. Her mortal children have it. All of Scarlett’s children have it and their children will bear it too. There is no innocence where there are vampires. Always remember that, my son.”
Windenburg Isle Emmy and Connell's home
Returning home, Connell stood in the doorframe for a while without Emmy ever noticing him.
The sight of her swollen stomach, carrying his growing child, his daughter, made him feel faint for a moment, utter awe of the creation combining Emmy’s angelic softness and his cold darkness.
The instant smile that appeared on her face the moment she realized he had returned made everything all right again, especially as she abandoned her food preparation to come to him.
Kissing and hugging his wife faded the somber thoughts and reminded him of what his father and grandfather had told him about Soulmates. Not the ones from romance novels, the kind affecting vampires. A Soulmate is much more than just a lover to a vampire. They were a lifeline, something that made and kept many of them human. Connell had seen it around him, before he experienced it himself.
A Soulmate was incredibly important to nearly all vampires, something once found, none ever gave up willingly. Some Soulmates were vampires, those who weren’t often ended up turned sooner or later for the simple reason that at the core, finding your Soulmate was a once in a lifetime event, once you lost yours, you would never find another, even though there had been a few unconfirmed reports of that happening after all. Riordan seemed to be such a case, after losing his mortal Soulmate to death, even though it took him nearly a hundred years to find another. Only Riordan himself would know if both women had, in fact been his Soulmates.
Emmy had let go of him, was talking away chipperly, as she resumed her meal preparation, while Connell was far away in his mind, analyzing the fact that she had never even shown the least bit of interest in being turned. What if she never wanted it? Would he be able to live with the eventual loss? The mere thought of it gave him jolts of anxiety. The average lifetime of a mortal just wasn’t a noteworthy span of time to any vampire. Then again, turning mortals was highly restricted and severely punished if done without prior authorization by the Grand Master Elder, which would only be given if the mortal clearly wanted it, for two very simple reasons; number one being that an overpopulation of vampires would not do anyone any good and number two would be the small chance of a lesser-known fact, the risk that not all turns were successful. In very rare cases the one being turned would die.
Trying to imagine an angel like Emmy turn into one like him, feral and ferocious at first until she would have learned to control her urges and powers, which seemed impossible by any stretch of his imagination, Connell was confused when suddenly something hit him. Literally, physically hit him.
With a shocked face he stared first at Emmy, who initially seemed annoyed, but then started laughing so hard, little snorts escaped her, as Connell inadvertently comically looked down on himself where a sliver of tomato was now sliding down his front like an orange-red snail, before hitting the ground with a nasty sounding splat.
“Why did you do that?” he exclaimed, while attempting to wipe the remnants off himself.
“Stop! Don’t make such a mess unless you plan on mopping the kitchen later! Here, let me.” Emmy came over to him and started patting around on him with a dishrag, before picking the tomato slice up off the floor. Or she tried to. Stuck and slightly breathless in a bend over position, she dropped the tomato slice and the rag, before Connell helped her straighten up, then raised her up in the air, as she giggled slightly breathlessly.
“Thanks. Your daughter is making me top heavy and a bit dizzy when I bend over now sometimes. And I am only at the tail end of my second trimester. I will be in serious trouble when this belly gets REALLY big. I may need to have my dark prince wait on my hand and foot.”
“And he will. But dizziness and being stuck bent over is what you get for throwing food at your unsuspecting husband. Tell our little lady she is grounded for another 3 or 4 months minimum.” Connell laughed.
“Oh, thanks, Connell, how kind. I’ll remember that for our next one, we’ll have that baby implanted into YOU and YOU can deal with the unsung ‘joys’ of pregnancy then!” Emmy giggled.
“Only child it is then.” he winked at her.
“Chicken! We agreed there would be at least two, close to each other! Only fair we share the work to get them into this world. Joking aside, so, where were you?!”
“Oh, Emmy, my love, you know I can’t talk about that.”
“Not for … work. I meant just now. I was talking to you, but you missed it all! You were miles away.”
“I did not miss anything!”
“What did I say?”
“You … ahem … okay, fine, you got me. Sorry. What did you say?”
“I said that my sister Esmée was going to come over later to pick up some of our baby books, since I know them all by heart and no longer need them. Her initiative makes me happy and hopeful that she is finally coming around to embracing her own pregnancy. When you didn’t react, I told you that I was leaving you for the cute Latino guy that Ezzy hired recently. I figured THAT would get your attention, apparently, I was wrong. That’s why you got the tomato-treatment, and that finally worked. Next time it will be the entire salad! I don’t like being ignored.”
Briefly chuckling about his young wife’s adorable threats, Connell pulled Emmy into a tight embrace again to hide his pained look, which appeared upon remembering and realizing the significance of his father’s words. Caelan wasn’t wrong and Connell knew it. By falling for Emmy and getting involved with her, Connell had irrevocably ruined her.
The most notable sign was the one easily overlooked.
His angelic wife who couldn’t hurt a fly just behaved as if nothing happened, even though she knew full well what his ‘work’ was. She knew whenever he went on an assignment, in 95% of the cases it ended deadly for his target. Now given, with the exception of tonight and a few rare other cases, his marks were usually always vampires, so debatable how cruel that would ultimately be from a mortal standpoint, which usually was that vampires weren’t alive to begin with. Regardless, Emmy knew full well that whenever he returned home to her afterwards there was proverbial blood on his hands.
His sweet angelic wife knew he was a killer, she had accepted it, and she just went about her day.
Innocence no more, and their unborn daughter would grow up the same way.
Because of him and the darkness within.