Destined for a Vampire (Blood Like Poison #2)


by M. Leighton

PROLOGUE

The trees were blurring right in front of my eyes, looking similarly distorted to the ones on my left and right, the ones that were flying by in my peripheral vision.

I blinked to clear my sight, but it was no use. It wasn’t tears that clouded my vision; my eyes were just succumbing to the continued strain of looking into the darkness around me. Without Bo’s blood to augment my vision, I couldn’t see any better than any other human in the forest at night. I never thought I’d care that my senses were no longer so acute, but I was really missing it now.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to last much longer, but I was desperate—

absolutely desperate—to get away. They weren’t far behind me. The forest was a treacherous place, a lonely wooden trap for a solitary human girl. They were a trap for me.

I dashed over the uneven terrain, but I knew my progress was slowing. The scenery that had been flashing by so fast was quickly becoming clear and discernible. I could feel the numbness of fatigue invading my legs, and my lungs felt like they were about to explode.

I stumbled over a clump of dirt and then nearly fell when I stepped on a branch. My feet didn’t want to cooperate. They either weren’t getting the urgent message from my brain or they were ignoring it. Either way, I wasn’t going to be able to run much further. And then they’d catch me.

Up ahead, I could see an area where the trees were less dense, a clearing maybe. With eyes wide open, I said a quick and silent prayer that it was the clearing that I was familiar with, the one that lay just inside the forest, near where I parked. It was hard to tell, especially from a distance. At night, with only the pale moonlight as illumination, it looked just like any other clearing, the same as probably thousands of them looked in the dark.

But if it wasn’t just any clearing, if it was the clearing, I was almost home free. It was that thought that gave my legs the burst of adrenaline that they needed to carry me on. I picked up speed and raced for the opening, for what I hoped lay beyond it—safety and freedom.

I exploded through the trees, intending to dart across the clearing and back into the trees on the other side, when the ground suddenly disappeared from beneath my feet.

One minute I was looking at the dappled stand of pines in front of me and the next I was listening to my scream bounce of the dirt walls of an earthen tube as I fell.

I landed with a bone-crunching thud, pain shooting up my legs and into my back like dozens of sharp daggers. I tried to move, to shift my body in such a way as to relieve some of the agony, but when I did, excruciating waves radiated throughout my lower half.

Anguish first stole my breath then, little by little, I felt it stealing my awareness. I clawed at consciousness, hanging on to the dark world around me with frantic desperation. If I passed out, anyone who might be looking for me would never know where I was. If I passed out, I could die down here.

This can’t be how my life ends. Not in a hole in the ground, in the dark, in the woods, with vampires chasing me. Not without seeing Bo one last time. Not without Bo…

Reality was slipping from my mind like water through my fingers, leaving me in the firm grip of memories. They tangled in my brain incoherently, jumbling together in a knot of faces and scenery.

With a resolute shake of my head, I tried to focus. On anything, any one thing that would keep me awake and alert. I thought back to the night that I lost Bo.

Though weeks had passed, the wound was still so raw that it felt like only moments had elapsed since that horrific night, the night Bo, the love of my life and a vampire, drank blood so powerful and so toxic that it killed him. Only it didn’t.

Of course, I didn’t know that for three horrible, heartbreaking, soul-crushing days. I’d wished for death during that time, especially at night when I’d lie in my bed, in the dark, in the quiet, thinking of Bo. Smelling him.

Those memories were so intense, I felt that despair as if it was fresh. It crept into my mind, into my limbs.

In the interest of self-preservation, I skipped ahead to the day that I went to see Lucius, Bo’s vampire friend. He was a mentor of sorts to Bo. He was much older, wiser. He seemed to know things that no one else did. I’d gone to his cabin in the woods to get some answers.

I thought of that day and found that, if I concentrated hard enough, I could still smell the roses in his living room, still hear the crackling of the fire in his underground mansion.

Diving head first into the details of that day, I felt the pain fade into the background as I faded back in time.

CHAPTER ONE

“Come with me,” Lucius said, walking to the door that led to the cabin’s luxurious basement. “I’ll tell you everything I know.”

I looked at Lucius—a copper-haired, pale-skinned, very powerful vampire that I knew little about. At one time, I might’ve hesitated before going deep beneath the ground, deep beneath the cabin’s only exit with Lucius, especially by myself.

But today, there was not even a pause in my step as I followed him down. I believed he had answers that I needed—answers about Bo, information I needed more than I needed to live or breathe. I had to know if Bo was alive, no matter the risk.

When we reached the bottom of the long staircase, Lucius approached the heavy door and awakened the sophisticated lock that kept intruders out. He put his thumb to the biometric pad and then punched in some numbers. When the door popped open, he swept his arm in front of his body, signaling for me to precede him.

Once again, I was amazed by the perfectly recreated Victorian parlor that spread out before me. From the rich carpets and upholstery to the huge fireplace and ornate trim, it was like stepping back in time, back to a posh mansion in the heart of 19th-century London. It was strange to think that a man of either Irish or Scottish (I thought probably Irish) decent would favor surroundings such as these.

I crossed the hardwoods and rug to the couch where Bo had lain the last time I’d been in the room. I couldn’t contain the shiver of pleasure that coursed through me when I remembered his teeth sinking into my throat, his body pressed to mine. I knew I’d never survive if I couldn’t feel him again, couldn’t touch him, couldn’t smell him.

Perching on the edge of the cushion, I pushed those thoughts aside and asked without preamble, “So, what’s going on?”

“Bo’s alive, am I right?”

My heart sank. “That’s what I came here to find out. I thought you knew.”

Lucius wagged his head back and forth. “I suspected.”

“That Bo didn’t die?”

“Among other things.”

“Such as?”

Lucius sighed, walking to a wet bar that stood discreetly in one corner of the room. “Where to begin?” he asked absently, turning a tumbler upright and dropping three ice cubes into it with a delicate clink, clink, clink.

When his pause stretched on and it didn’t seem as if he was going to speak, my impatience got the better of me. It was either prompt him or let loose the frustrated scream that had been clogging my throat for several hours now.

I began with what I felt was the most important question.

“Why do you think Bo’s alive? How did he survive?”

Slowly, almost too slowly, Lucius poured amber liquid from a crystal decanter into the glass. I wanted to hit him in the head with it.

Finally, he spoke.

“I never believed the stories, lass. I always thought they were nothing more than myth. Conjecture. Fairy tales.”

“What stories?”

Lucius carried his glass to an armchair that faced the couch on which I sat.

Gracefully, he sank into its deep seat, crossing his legs and resting his elbows on the thickly padded arms.

“For hundreds of years, vampire legend has spoken of a man, a boy really, who cannot be killed, a boy that God Himself commissioned with the destruction of vampires, or at least one in particular. Of course, this boy’s existence was never confirmed. In over two thousand years of vampire history, no one has ever seen or met this fabled creature. You can imagine that, after a while, he’s become something akin to a ghost story.”

Lucius paused, swirling the golden liquid in his glass, staring into its shimmering depths. When he didn’t continue, I spoke.

“So, what? You think Bo is the boy who can’t be killed?”

Lucius looked up at me, an inscrutable gleam in his sparkling emerald eyes.

“It’s certainly a possibility.”

“But why would you think that? I mean, you’ve only known Bo for a few years. What would make you think he’s that boy, that he survived that fight with Lars?”

“For one thing, I went back for Bo’s body and it wasn’t there.”

“Should it have been?”

“Of course.”

I had wondered about that, what had happened to it. That night, when the first ambulance had arrived and the EMTs had set to work on Savannah, I’d walked back to the spot where Bo and Lars had fallen. I’d wanted to touch Bo’s invisible face one last time, but their bodies were no longer there. I had just assumed that they’d turned to dust and blown away, disintegrated or something, like in the movies.

Then an alarming thought occurred to me.

“What about Lars? Does that mean he’s—”

Lucius started shaking his head, interrupting me. “No. I moved his body so that the police wouldn’t discover it.”

“Oh,” I said, relieved. Then, when what he’d said really sank in, a kernel of nervous excitement began to grow in my belly. “So Bo’s body wasn’t there?”

“No, lass.”

“So he is alive?”

“I believe so, yes.”

I laughed, a sound that, even to my ears, bordered on the hysterical. I couldn’t help myself. My relief was that profound.

I closed my eyes, a shaky smile still on my lips. “Thank God,” I whispered.

Suddenly, I felt like crying. A lump formed in my throat, but it was a happy lump, as were the tears that I felt burning the backs of my lids. I’d never felt such overwhelming gratitude.

“But that’s not the only reason I think Bo might be the fabled boy.”

Lucius’s words brought me back to the present. I knew what he was saying was important, relevant, and that I should pay attention, but it was hard. Nothing seemed to outweigh the importance of the news I’d just been delivered. Nothing.

Bo was alive; that was the only thing I really cared about.

“What else?” I asked, clearing my throat.

“The first night I met Bo, the night he turned up on my front porch, he wasn’t human.”

“I know. He’d just been bitten.”

“No, lass, he wasn’t human, but he wasn’t newly turned either.”

“He was already a vampire? How is that even possible?” Lucius merely watched me, silently. “How could he not have known that? How could his family not have known?”

“I believe his real family, whoever and wherever they are, did know.”

“You think his parents, the Bowmans, aren’t his real family?”

“That’s exactly what I think.”

“But his nickname, Bo, it’s too—”

“A coincidence, plain and simple.”

“That doesn’t even make any sense. You can’t just fake an entire life, an entire history.”

“You can if you have very powerful blood,” Lucius said, looking at me meaningfully.

Pieces started sliding into place and I gasped. There was only one really powerful vampire that I knew of, and I had no doubts that he was both capable enough and evil enough to perpetrate such an atrocity.

“Lars.”

I remembered the way Lars was able to influence my mother and Trinity, the effect he had on people without even trying. I couldn’t imagine what he might be able to accomplish if he put forth more effort, put forth more thought and energy, more planning into his deception.