Thursday, December 28, 2017

Holiday Stress Relief!

The holiday season is coming to an end. However, it's not quite over. The whirlwind of Christmas may be past, but we've still got the New Year to ring in. If you're like me, by this time, you're completely burned out and need to relax.

What better way to wind down after a busy day, that to color! Give yourself a gift of relaxation for the new year, and buy a copy of Doodle Your Stress Away. The hand drawn adult coloring book will help relieve your stress by taking your mind off your troubles. The blank pages at the back provide space for you to do your own doodling!

If you feel the need for something more, all my novels are listed inside. Pick up a copy of Doodle Your Stress Away today and have it before the New Year's ball drops.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Christmas and a Vampire - Conclusion

"I know. Thanks for staying long enough to tell me in person."
"I'll find you again, Rafe, I promise. I have go to home for awhile. I have to visit my babies."
She understood without him explaining. He'd been someone else, though so long ago, it was like another life. She'd always been who she was, the Hunter, primed and nurtured to be a killer. He'd been a gentle man, a farmer, father, husband.
"Don't be gone as long, okay?"
"I promise."
They made love once more, slowly and lingeringly, knowing it would be some time before they were together again. Dirk left before the others were up and around, not wanting the long goodbyes.
Emiline knew he was gone before the others. She came up to Rafaela, taking her hand. "He'll be back soon."
"How do you know that, little one?"
"Because he loves you so much. He can't be away long. You love him too," she said with a smile. "Is he going to see his little girl?"
Emiline hugged her and ran off to play with her cousins and siblings. Their joyful laughter filled the air. Rafaela watched them silently. Seth came over, putting his arm around her. She laid her head on his shoulder.
"Regrets?" he asked quietly.
"A truckload." Blinking hard, she turned away from the happy sight.
"You leaving?"
"Yes. I can't stay here. You?"
"Thought I might stay a while. It gets pretty lonely up there."
She nodded. "I'll keep an eye on things."
"Thanks. You gonna stay long?"
Rafaela shrugged. "I dunno. Long as it takes. I want to be where he can find me."
He nodded, kissing her cheek. "Te quiero, Tía."
"Te quiero."
Rafaela slipped away without saying goodbye. The road stretched ahead, but she didn't mind the solitude. Arriving at her cabin, she reset her wards and started looking into more practical forms of protection.
Weeks later, she lay in bed after a long day of shoveling snow from the perimeter of the house. She felt a presence in her home. Sitting up, she waited as the door to her bedroom opened. He stood there, smelling of ozone and sexy man. Holding out her arms to him, she smiled.
"Hey, baby," he said as he moved to the circle of her arms.
"Hello, my love. Welcome home."


© Dellani Oakes 2017

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas and a Vampire - Part 26

"Because deep down, beneath the sweet little boy exterior, there was a darkness that would eventually have revealed itself anyway. It's been my experience that people are innately good, or bad. When a good person gets turned, he stays good—with the occasional falls from grace," she added, knowing that he had his bad times. "But when a person with darkness in them gets turned, they become their true selves. You can't blame yourself for that, Dirk. Glaive made his choices."
The water turned chilly and they dried off, getting dressed warmly before venturing into the chilly night. The big house was filled to the brim with friends and family. They were celebrating the death of the Vampire Lord, but also heralding the new year.
Seth was surrounded by more women than he could count, all of them gorgeous and interested in bedding him. Dirk was embraced and welcomed as part of the family. The head Hunter, Emiline's mentor, kissed his cheek.
"I officially adopt you into our clan," she said. "I never thought I'd welcome a vampire into our fold, but we are here if you ever need us."
"Thank you," he said graciously. "You do me the greatest of honors. I promise that if I am ever able to help you, I shall do so to the best of my ability."
Emiline came up to him a few minutes later. "Do you still have it?"
Dirk knelt before her, showing her the blood in the vial. She kissed both cheeks, hugging him. With a happy sigh, he hugged her.
"My little Sadie was just your age when she died," he said softly. "You look a little bit like her."
"Do you have a picture?"
"No, baby, she died so long ago. I carry a picture of her in my heart."
"Do you have a phone?"
She wiggled her fingers at him until he put his phone in her hands. With the skill of a child of the tech age, she accessed the camera and pulled him close, taking their picture. She fiddled some more, making it his wallpaper.
"So you can't forget me," she said with a solemn salute.
"Baby girl, I won't ever forget you. Thank you." With tears in his eyes, he took the phone and put it in the pocket of his shirt, over his heart.
He wandered out the door. Everyone watched, but no one stopped him. Seth excused himself from the gaggle of girls, promising to come back in when the dancing started. He found Dirk by the water's edge, gazing across the moonlit bayou.
"You okay?"
The vampire nodded, his eyes focused on the moon. "Ever wish you weren't a Hunter?"
"Every damn day."
"I wish Louis had finished me on that battlefield. I wish I'd never fought him, just given in and let him kill me. I hate what I've become."
Seth clapped him on the shoulder, staring up at the moon. "I dunno, you might be a blood sucking fiend, but I have to say, I'm mighty damn proud to call you my friend."
Dirk stared at him in surprise. "Is it a new millennium? Did time pass that I missed?" He chuckled, giving Seth a hug.
This time, the young Hunter embraced the vampire. The music began inside. Three women poked their heads out the door, calling to Seth.
"Your bevy of babes awaits. Which one are you gonna hook up with?" Dirk gazed at the pretty women, smiling.
"Do I have to pick just one? I figure I can keep at least two happy, maybe three." He started back toward the house.
"Make it more fun, four," Dirk suggested as his young friend walked up the steps.
Laughing, Seth flipped him off and went back in the house. Rafaela joined Dirk a few minutes later.
"Want to dance?"
"I'm not one for crowds," he replied, putting his arm around her shoulders.
"I know. But that's okay. We can dance out here. I just want to be in your arms."
He held her close, her head on his shoulder. They danced slowly together. Soon, they were kissing. Before long, they went back to their cabin where they made love most of the night. Near dawn, Rafaela fell asleep.
Dirk lay awake a long time. He wanted to stay, but knew he couldn't. It was hard being around all the humans. His natural urge to feed was too strong when there were so many in one spot. As much as he liked this family, he knew he couldn't remain long. He didn't dare leave without saying goodbye, or Rafaela would make it her goal to track him down and kill him.
She woke a few hours later, hearing sounds in the kitchen. Dirk was fixing breakfast. Coffee brewed and eggs and bacon sizzled on the stove.
"Hey, baby," he said, giving her a kiss.
"You're leaving, aren't you." She didn't have to ask, she knew.
"I can't stay here."
© Dellani Oakes 2017

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas and a Vampire - Part 25

She blinked in response and he disappeared in a puff of acrid purple smoke. Glaive laughed, pulling her closer.
"You see?" he yelled to his people. "You see what a coward he is? He leaves his precious wench here for us to play with. What do you say, wench?"
Rafaela grabbed his groin with one strong hand, nearly bringing him to his knees. Howling with pain, he dropped the knife he'd had at her throat, losing his hold on her.
"Three, two, one," she counted. Releasing him suddenly, she dove under a stone fountain.
Light blazed. Vampires screamed. Skin burning, eyes ash, they staggered around the room, grappling and clawing at one another. Glaive's clothing burned, as did that of the vampires nearest him. Seth swooped down from the second story balcony, landing on Glaive. His dagger went into the vampire's throat, severing the head from the body. He kicked the head aside. In full battle fury, he faced the smoldering vampires. With a blood curdling war cry, he sliced into the nearest vampire. Another head went rolling across the room.
Picking herself up, Rafaela jumped into action. Grabbing her fallen blade, she joined Seth in the unending blood bath. They heard sounds of fighting outside and knew that the family had joined them. Once Glaive died, his wards were no longer viable. They could come in freely.
The battle was brutal, ugly and seemed to drag on forever. More than once, Rafaela spotted little Emiline swinging her pint sized sword, double teaming the vampires with her mentor. She saw much of herself in the tiny, dark haired girl.
Shrieking like a banshee, she severed two heads in one swing. They rolled and bounced on the floor, tumbling away with twin thuds. Silence followed. No more vampires lurked in the shadows. The sun was coming up, peeping cautiously over the horizon as they regrouped. Setting out to count their dead, surprised to find out that the humans and Hunters hadn't lost a soul.
The slaves and their human keepers had disappeared. The house stood empty, except for the dead vampires. The Hunters gathered the heads and piled up the lifeless bodies in the ballroom. Emiline helped Rafaela douse the bodies with her special blend and the little girl was given the honor of lighting the match. They watched the house catch fire and burn as the sun rose.
Some of the humans stuck around to keep an eye on the fire. The Hunters and other family members went back to the swamp, tired but triumphant. When they were offered a huge, claw footed tub to bathe in, Rafaela and Dirk exchanged a look.
"There's a yes," Emiline's mother said with a grin. "We'll let you be for now. Come up to the big house when you're done."
They hadn't noticed the day before, but there was a huge house on stilts sitting over the water. It seemed to be home to an extended family. Other members of the clan lived in the woods around the swamp. The cabin where Dirk and Rafaela were staying was a guest cabin. Seth followed the family to the big house, surrounded by the young women, all of them making a fuss over him. He was the hero of the day for killing Glaive.
Once the others were gone, Rafaela and Dirk stripped and examined one another for wounds. Finding none, they went to the bathroom. The tub was all they'd hoped and more. Big enough for four people, it stood on a pedestal in the middle of the bathroom. The rear wall was live rock, covered in moss and other plants. The floor was flagstone with a drain in the middle. A commode sat in one corner in its own little room. A shower graced the stone wall, the water came from an artificial waterfall. The tub was inviting. Rafaela had always loved baths, but the shower held appeal too.
"Let's get clean in the shower and have fun in the tub," Dirk suggested.
"Works for me."
After a short shower, they filled the tub. Dirk sniffed all the bubble bath at Rafaela's insistence, before they added it to the water. When it was full enough, she stepped gingerly in. Dirk stood behind her, steadying her as she lifted her second leg over the side. His hands caressed her shapely ass as he followed her. Before they'd even properly settled in the tub, he pulled her to him, entering her without ceremony. His need for her was primal, urgent. He couldn't control himself, taking her hard and fast. They came together mere minutes later.
"We lived," he gasped as he came. "We lived!"
Rafaela laughed, cradling his head between her breasts. "We lived," she whispered, holding him close as he kissed her breasts.
"I love you so much," he whispered. "Why couldn't we have been anyone else?"
"I ask myself that every day. I love you, too, Dirk. It's the irony of our existence."
"It's the twisted hand of fate," he murmured, resting his head against her. "I couldn't do it, Rafe. I thought I could, but I couldn't kill my own brother."
She kissed him deeply, knowing his pain. She'd had to kill half her family, the ones he'd turned. It was her job to hunt down rogue vampires, and her family had been some of the worst. That didn't make it any less emotional for her.
"Killing my mother was the worst thing I ever had to do," she replied, stroking his hair. "But it's my job. I am a Hunter. You're not."
"I kept seeing him as a child. Glaive was so bright and curious, the sweetest little boy in the world. How did he become—that?"
© Dellani Oakes 2017
Merry Christmas - and a Vampire!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas and a Vampire - Part 24

Glaive laughed, tossing back his head. Fangs descended as his followers gathered around them in a circle.
"You'll be dead before you cover the six feet between us."
Dirk eyed the circle of vampires, glaring at each in turn. Some flinched away, others met his glare with their own. Fangs dropped, eyes glazed black. He smiled.
"Always getting your toadies to kill for you. I'll drop you before they get anywhere near me. Whoever survives that will deal with Rafaela."
She drew her own blades, kicking her skirt aside. Armed with a short sword and the new dagger, she stood back to back with Dirk. There was no sign of Seth. He'd used the distraction to set the device. She sensed him nearby, moving through the crowd silently.
The knot of vampires eased back, distancing themselves from their Lord. Only a few stood their ground. Of these, Dirk recognized several from the first fight 127 years ago. He'd wounded them all and knew they had a special ax to grind with him. All the more fun taking them down. He sized up their opponents. Most of them weren't much of a threat, but a few were quite dangerous.
The servants scurried in, freeing the slaves from the fountains. If there was to be a free for all, they didn't need doped up humans in the middle of it all.
"Shall we dance?" Glaive asked, bowing to his brother.
Dirk didn't take his eyes off his brother, nor did he bow. Instead, he took his fighting stance, prepared for whatever came at him. He sensed Rafaela doing the same behind him.
Glaive didn't waste time circling his opponent. Instead, he went immediately on the offensive, attacking Dirk with his sword. His style had improved in the last century, but his over indulgent ways and heavy costume, slowed him slightly. It was enough to give Dirk an advantage. Their blades clanged and shushed against one another.
Over his shoulder, Dirk heard Rafaela chuckle as the first vampire attacked her. It was a big fellow named Orvis. He'd been another of the soldiers the day they were turned, Glaive's first offspring and eminently loyal. Dirk wondered, fleetingly, how loyal he'd be once he tasted Rafaela's silver edged steel. A yelp from Orvis told him she'd found a target.
Dirk blocked a series of vicious blows from Glaive. What he lacked in finesse, he made up for in pure, raw power. His blows made Dirk's arm tingle. Tired of the banging about, he whipped his blade in a furious arc, slashing his brother's sword arm just above the elbow. Glaive snarled, leaping at Dirk. His jump was ill timed and Dirk shoved him away, slashing at him once more.
"Stop playing," Rafaela said from his left. "I've killed two and gutted another and you're still playing who's the bigger jackass."
Dirk slashed at his brother once more, catching him across the chest. He realized the reason he hadn't dispatched Glaive yet was that he hoped his brother could be redeemed. He wanted to give him another chance. Hadn't he taught him to ride as a boy? He'd shown him how to aim a bow and tickle trout. He couldn't equate the face before him with an animal, he saw only the straw haired boy he'd been.
"Dirk, can you handle it?" Rafaela grunted. Another vampire slid off her blade, crumbling to the ground. She now had four kills to his none.
The circle grew thinner once more as a few more vampires abandoned their Lord. Roaring, Glaive sprung over Dirk's head, landing in Rafaela's blind spot behind her left shoulder. He grabbed her around the throat, fangs down, ready to rip out her carotid artery. Dirk swung around, a growl rumbling in his throat.
"You're fond of this one. I see it in every line of you." He inhaled deeply, smelling Rafaela's hair. "I smell you on her." He licked her from shoulder to earlobe.
Rafaela stiffened, waiting. Too many of the vampires had left. They had to come back or the bomb would be a waste. She sensed them closing in once more, thinking their Lord had the advantage. Dirk panted, glaring at his brother, fangs down, eyes black.
"You don't want to do that," he snarled.
"But I really do," Glaive laughed. "Because it would destroy you to see her die. Your pretty plaything is helpless."
"My pretty plaything killed five of your men. The only reason she hasn't killed you yet is because I asked to be the one to do it. But if you don't let go of her, I'll let her."
Glaive laughed, his arm tight against Rafaela's throat. He held her own dagger to her neck insead of his fangs.
"I tell you what," Dirk said. "I'm going to leave you to her tender mercy. I can't kill you. You're my brother."
"I could kill you easily. It's more fun to play with you and show you how pathetic you really are."
"You're right, Glaive. You're the strong one. Goodbye, Rafe. I love you." His nod was barely perceptible.
© Dellani Oakes 2017

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christmas and a Vampire - Part 23

"Thank you, Ma'am." He scored major points by kissing her arthritis riddled hand.
"We have your costumes for the ball," she said with a smile. "Things you can run and move in. We also fixed the masks so that they have anti-dazzle lenses built in. As long as you wear your mask, the flash can't blind you. This is a special material of our own design. It even helps against a nuclear blast."
"Thank you, Ma'am. I am honored to be among such fine people." His Southern accent which had been minimal until then, sweetened his words like honey.
The costumes were beautiful. Rafaela's was a ball gown, but the skirt could be easily removed and a pair of comfortable leggings were worn beneath it. Done in rich, deep reds and golds made it stand out in a crowd. The men were dressed rather like characters from Romeo and Juliet. They wore suede leggings instead of tights, boots and doublets over full sleeved shirts. Dirk's was black with silver trim. Seth's was slate blue with darker blue trim. They looked magnificent.
The Hunters carried them to the Vampire Lord's property. It was well guarded and warded, but the three of them were able to pass without difficulty, though their friends were not. They stayed outside the perimeter, waiting to back them up if necessary. Dirk wasn't certain how this would be accomplished, but he didn't ask. These people had been killing his kind since time began. He wouldn't insult them by doubting their abilities.
The door swung open when they arrived. A liveried servant ushered them in. He didn't call them by name, but it was obvious he knew who they were. No one accosted them, nor were they even noticed by the majority of the partiers. Everyone was drinking freely. Alcohol, which had little affect on vampires, flowed from fountains, surrounded by handsome young men and beautiful women. They were obviously drugged and complacent.
Rafaela bridled when she saw them. They were chained to the fountains and fettered around the ankles. Dirk took her hand, squeezing hard, when she walked toward the nearest girl. A dark haired vampire male had her by the hair, partaking more than was necessary. She mewled feebly, struggling against him, but that seemed to make him even more eager.
A liveried servant appeared at his side, taking him roughly by the arm. He jerked at the burly vampire, pulling him away from the girl. Two other attendants unchained her and carried her off.
"Some people can't set limitations," a smooth, cultured voice drawled behind them. "I thank you for not causing a scene, Brother. My little soiree has barely begun."
Dirk swirled around, bowing graciously to their host. "Glaive, so good to see you again, Brother."
The younger man smiled, but it was the coldest expression Rafaela had ever seen. He wasn't as tall as Dirk, but broader through the shoulders and chest. Although she knew he was several years younger, he looked considerably older than his brother. She supposed that overindulgence and debauchery took their toll no matter whether the man was immortal or not.
"Will you introduce me to this ravishing creature with whom you adorn yourself?" He held out his hand to Rafaela.
She took his hand gingerly, glad for the elbow length gloves.
"May I present Rafaela De Santos."
"The First Hunter of her clan," Glaive said with a snarling smile. "You must want something very much, to brave this nest," he said, bowing over her hand.
"Your head on a spike would please me," she replied with a sunny smile.
Glaive chuckled. It was a truly alarming sound. "Forgive me if I fail to accommodate you, my dear." He turned to Seth. "This remarkable specimen must be your nephew, Seth. Pity we can't turn your kind. You'd be a lovely addition to my stable."
Dirk frowned as Glaive awarded Seth more than a cursory glance. "Your tastes have changed some over the decades."
"Not really, I just may indulge myself as I choose, now. Don't let it worry you, Big Brother, I love the ladies more." He blew a kiss to Seth.
It was hard to tell which bothered the Hunter more, the sexual innuendo, or the fact it was a vampire.
"Are you here to kill me?" Glaive asked in a matter of fact tone. "Because that would be a hell of a way to ruin my party."
"I was thinking about it, yes," Dirk replied calmly. "Your pets grow too bold. You don't keep them under control as you should."
"I suppose you could do better?" This was the first time that Glaive had shown any real emotion. "You want all this for yourself, is that it? Your power play didn't work back then, it won't work now."
"I didn't want the power, or the house, or the nest, Glaive. I wanted my brother back, but you made it clear that you embraced this life, loved it, and wanted no part of me. You should have sought revenge for our family, but you chose not to."
"Oh, poor you. You always were the whiner when things didn't go your way."
Dirk laughed loudly, throwing back his head. The music had lulled, so all eyes rested on him and Glaive.
"I believe you've got the roles reversed. You were the whiner. I'm surprised Louis bothered with you, always wanting something more than you could have. But you always needed someone else to do it for you. I killed Louis so you wouldn't have to. Not because of this!" He waved his arms at the house and all it contained. "Because we're blood. Because I thought, I hoped, that meant something to you too. I came here tonight hoping like hell I wouldn't have to kill you." He drew a short sword from his scabbard. It glistened silver in the dim lights of the ballroom.
© Dellani Oakes 2017

Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas and a Vampire - Part 22

He chuckled. "Can't you see a little Hunter sprouting fangs and killing the neighbor's dog?" Tears formed in his eyes. "I've dreamed about my children the last two nights. I see their little faces still and pale in death. It's more horrific than seeing the faces of the people I've killed."
"Shh. Not allowed to dwell. Make love to me until we're too weak to stand."
Dirk did just that. He began by making love to her slowly, exploring every well known inch of her body as if it were the first time. He ignited fires in her that took hours to quench. Using skills learned over his extended lifetime, he loved her until they were too weak to stand.
Cuddled together in the tangled sheets, they slept until dawn. A quick shower revived them, as did a pot of coffee and some leftover biscuits. Seth arrived 30 minutes later with the Jeep full of their equipment. They hopped in with Seth at the wheel, stopping only long enough to use the restroom and eat. They made the trip to Thibodaux, Louisiana, where the Vampire Lord kept his winter home.
It was no coincidence that Dirk's sire had built his home in Thibodaux. He had originally been a sugar cane planter who sought out The Vampire King of New Orleans to turn him so he'd never have to relinquish his great wealth. Though it wasn't recorded in history books, he was behind the Thibodaux Massacre in1887, where black sugar workers were trapped and slaughtered. Of course, history recorded that the people were shot, but eye witnesses told another tale. Louis, The Vampire Lord, angered by the striking workers, descended upon them in full fury, ripping out the throats of men, women and children. It was also no surprise that Dirk killed him shortly after.
"I tracked the bastard for twenty-five years," he told Rafaela and Seth as he drove through the back roads of Louisiana. "I wanted to get my brother back, but Louis had made him his creature. Twenty years of being brothers couldn't compete with twenty-five as a vampire. He was pampered and indulged, his every whim encouraged. Glaive found he had an appetite for the black and twisted, something our sire encouraged.
"It was an ugly, slow death," Dirk continued. "I made him linger, bleeding him, feeding off him, until he was too weak to fight. Then I threw his mangled, living body, into an alligator nest. After they finished with him, he was still more or less alive. It was then I ripped this throat out and set fire to his corpse in his own yard."
Seth shuddered. Rafaela inhaled slowly, drawing herself erect.
"It was horrendous. I was a much more violent man then. I had the deaths of my father and brothers to repay, not to mention being turned into a monster against my will. When Glaive found out that Louis was dead, he gathered all the others to him and organized a hunt—of me. I was lucky I survived. They were weakened by my earlier attack on them and hadn't properly fed. They used up their blood supply during the first battle. They didn't survive the second. Those who were left licked their wounds and slunk off to the mansion to recuperate."
"Other than a few days ago, have you been back?" Seth asked.
Dirk shook his head. "I saw no need. Glaive was doing fine on his own. If his people got out of hand, Rafaela would receive an anonymous tip."
"Not so anonymous," she replied. "I knew it was you. Thank you."
"No need to thank me. Their antics put the rest of us in danger. There has to be a balance. If there are too many violent vampires around, we run out of food."
Dirk held up his hands defensively, steering with his knees, when Rafaela took a swing at him.
"I'm telling the truth. If we kill off all the humans, how do we eat?"
They couldn't deny he had a valid point, though it wasn't the way they might have said it themselves.
They arrived in Thibodaux at 4:00. The local Hunter met them in a nearby swamp. A well camouflaged cabin lurked on the banks. It looked like a shack on the outside, but inside it was almost luxurious. They took showers and naps, gathering just before dusk. A quick meal fortified them. The Hunters, though dubious of having a vampire in their midst, had a bottle of blood to give Dirk. He thanked them, packing it for an emergency refresh, along with the ones he already had. He was expecting to need the healing they afforded him.
A little girl walked up to Rafaela, handing her a beautifully crafted knife. It was well weighted for throwing, but could also be used for fighting. She handed another one to Seth. To Dirk, she gave a small vile of blood.
"I'm Emiline, the Hunter from my generation, born six summers ago," she said in a very mature sounding voice. "I'm sworn to kill your kind," she told Dirk boldly. "But Mama tells me that you're going to help us against the Vampire Lord. He killed my brother and my daddy last year. If you carry this, if I ever come after you, show me this and I'll spare you."
Dirk knelt before her, graciously accepting her gift. "Emiline, Hunter, I thank you for the gift of my life. I will do my best to rid you of the Vampire Lord. He killed my brother, too."
She flung her arms around him, hugging him tightly. He returned the hug, holding her gently. It was a credit to the local Hunters and their families, that they allowed it. One of the old women came forward, giving him a hug. She smiled up at him, patting his cheek. "If Emiline trusts you, I do. That child is the best judge of character of anyone I know, child or adult. You're welcome here, Dirk Young."
© Dellani Oakes 2017

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Christmas and a Vampire - Part 21

"Sucks, man," Seth said. "My siblings are gone, my parents. Only family I have are the Hunters and some distant great-nieces and nephews I barely know."
"In a way, it's a blessing that you can't have children," Dirk said sadly. "You'd either have to watch them fight along side you, or grow old and die. I think that it was as well that my wife and children died before the war. That way, they never had to see what I've become." He turned away, unable to meet their eyes. He felt shame for the first time in decades. "I've done horrible things in my time. Remorse isn't something that comes easily to my kind."
Rafaela took his hand. "It's the remorse that separates you from the others. It's what keeps me loving you." She kissed his fingers as she gazed into his eyes.
Seth cleared his throat uncomfortably. "I don't think that it's possible for any of us to live without regrets. We all have more than our share."
The other two nodded. They had killed enemies, seen friends and loved ones die and lived with the consequences and the memories.
Dirk shook himself. "This doesn't get us in there without being killed."
"He's bound to anticipate that we can't resist such a gathering," Seth said. "What I find mind boggling is that he'd sacrifice his coven just to get us."
"Our sire let his children die horribly when I went to kill him. I still don't know how I lived through that."
"Balls and tenacity," Seth replied.
"I was gonna say sheer stupidity," Dirk teased. "But okay."
"If he knows we're coming and he wants us there for his own purposes, it will be easy to get in," Rafaela said. "Getting out presents a problem. If we deliver our special with Dirk in the room, it could kill him. If we fight our way out, delivering our gift is anticlimactic."
"Then he doesn't go in," Seth said. "The Lord wants us as much...."
"Or more," Dirk interrupted.
"Or more, than Dirk. Won't he wonder if we go in without him?"
"I can Houdini out," Dirk suggested.
"He's bound to know you can do that. What if he's figured out a way to keep you in?"
"It's a risk I'm willing to take," Dirk said. "If it kills me too, one less vamp to worry about."
Seth looked away. "That was my attitude yesterday. Then you saved Rafaela's life, risking your own. I may not like you much, Dirk, but that counts for something."
"Warming up to me, huh?" He punched Seth's shoulder.
"Not in a million fucking years."
"In a million years, if we're all still alive, I guarantee we'll be friends," Dirk replied.

They spent the rest of the day planning and arming themselves from the weapon stores from the cabins. Dirk was impressed. He usually relied on his vampire abilities to see him through a fight, but this time, he wasn't averse to arming himself to his fangs. Having been a soldier more than once, he looked through the armories with a discerning eye.
"I'll carry the light bomb," Seth said. "I'm more familiar with it than you two. If they take me out, at least you both know what to do."
"You'll forgive my reluctance to have anything to do with it," Dirk said, shying away. "God forbid anything goes wrong with it, I am, quite literally, toast."
Though he was reluctant to touch it, Dirk learned how to arm and set the timer on the light bomb. He didn't like touching it, but made himself deal with it. Their lives could depend on his ability to set it and he wouldn't let them down.
They ate a light supper before retiring for the night. They planned to head out in the morning. It wasn't a long drive, but they wanted to stop nearby and get some rest before proceeding to the Vampire Lord's mansion. Rafaela was loading the dishwasher. Dirk took Seth aside.
"Man to man, I need to ask a favor."
"I'd already planned to head home for awhile. Gonna catch a nap," he replied, looking somewhat uncomfortable. "I don't begin to understand this relationship you two have, but I know the kind of love you share. If I could get Miri back, even for one night...." He sniffed sharply, shaking his head. "You know what time we're getting on the road. I'll be back. Don't keep her up too late."
"Scout's Honor," Dirk swore.
"You weren't a Boy Scout," Seth remarked with a frown.
"On the contrary, I was a founding member. You just won't find my name on any of the historical documents."
Seth chuckled. "That's just outrageous enough to be true." He called goodbye to Rafaela and left.
Dirk joined Rafaela in the kitchen, helping her clean up. When the dishwasher was going, he took her in his arms, kissing her deeply.
"If this is going to be our last night together, I want to make it count," he murmured. "I love you more than I can possibly tell you."
"I love you too, Dirk. You are the best thing that's ever happened to me."
"The worst, too, I bet," he teased.
"Never. What you said about having a child.... My deepest regret is that I've never been able to have your baby."
© Dellani Oakes 2017

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Christmas and a Vampire - Part 20

"You win," Rafaela said. "You're right and you have been all along. I was a fool for not listening."
Instead of chastising her further, Seth hugged her. "Te quiero, Tía."
"You are my heart, my darling boy."
Dirk stood by, wishing he could be a part of the familial embrace. He suddenly missed his human children with an ache of loneliness he hadn't had in 150 years. As if sensing his distress, Rafaela held out one arm to him, still clinging to Seth. The young Hunter didn't seem very happy to be that near the vampire, but he accepted the group hug stoically. Dirk put his arm around the younger man's shoulders, pulling him close. There was a moment of tenseness before Seth relaxed. He didn't embrace the vampire, but he didn't shove him away either.

By the afternoon, Rafaela felt more like herself. Seth still wasn't sure she was well enough to go on the offensive and, for once, Dirk found himself in perfect agreement with him. As much as she hated to admit it herself, Rafaela silently agreed. She never told them they were right, but she didn't put up more than a token argument when they suggested staying home.
A few hours after sunset, Seth got a text. He read it with a smile.
"It's as well we waited. The Vampire Lord is giving a New Year's Eve ball. All his coven is invited."
"My invitation must have been lost in the ether," Dirk said with a smirk.
"He's not your lord," Rafaela replied.
"No, but it's common courtesy to invite your siblings to a fete."
"Wait a second. He's your brother?" Seth was furious. "You could have said something before this."
"Would it have mattered?" Dirk shot back. "I think it would have made you less likely to trust me, don't you?"
Seth stalked away angrily, heading outside. The door slammed behind him, shaking the wall. Rafaela rose to follow him, but Dirk pressed her down in her seat.
"He's a big boy. He'll get over it."
"You might have told me," Rafaela snapped.
"It didn't seem relevant." He shrugged.
"There's more." She tugged his hand, urging him to sit beside her. "Tell me everything."
Dirk sat slowly, not meeting her penetrating gaze. "The brother who was turned, I lost track of him for many years. By that time, he'd built up quite a following. When I killed our sire, he took over the nest."
"He's your brother-brother? You're planning to kill family?"
Dirk's dark eyes met hers. "He's a horrible man, Rafe. Whatever vestige there was of my human brother has disappeared. The fact he tried to rip me apart with his bare hands, suggests that he's lost any brotherly feelings he might have had for me. I turned his daughter. She died in my nest. We killed his son. To say that he's unhappy with me, would be a gross understatement. His loathing for me is exceeded only by his hatred of you."
"You found this out when you visited him."
"Yes. He was already aware of you. You can't live as long as we have and not know the most infamous Hunter in the world. You've cut quite an impressive swath, my love."
"Seth isn't going to like this."
"He doesn't have to like it to do the job."
She couldn't refute that, but she felt that Seth's enthusiasm would wane once she found out. She was wrong. When he found out it was Dirk's brother, he was almost gleeful.
"Your younger brother is the Vampire Lord of the Southeast? Wow! Fucking awesome, dude, Why not you? After the sire's death, you could have taken over."
"It wasn't a life I wanted," he replied tersely. "I never wanted leadership and power, or all the problems presented by them. I live a quiet life, feed when I need to, go where I like. I invite a few friends to join me from time to time. Then, Rafaela tracks us down and fricassees them."
"I think of it more like barbecue," she replied with a toss of her head.
Seth chuckled. "Cooking is cooking, doesn't matter the technique. The question now, is how do we gate crash this carnival and fry the Vampire Lord?"
"It wouldn't surprise me to find out that Glaive set this up just for us. He'll be expecting an attack."
"Glaive? He's named after a pole arm weapon?" Seth asked, somewhat surprised.
"My brothers and I all bear names like that. Dirk," he pointed to himself, putting out his thumb and counted off his brothers on his fingers. "Glaive, Pike, Lance and Bailey. My father wanted strong names for his sons. Bailey lived to a ripe old age. Glaive and I were turned. Unlike me, he was taken in and fostered by our sire."
© Dellani Oakes 2017

Old Time Religion ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes – Part 5

"This is Ms. Whitley. Her mother's a parishioner at St. Blase. I'm filling in for Father Charlie today." "Yeah, I h...