Prologue - Dark Legacy
1612 – Bordeaux, France
I stood facing the monster. The monster who had butchered my family. The monster with my face.
The full moon shone down like a spotlight upon us in that dusty forest clearing, cagily circling each other at a distance, swords drawn. I was compelled to end his life, or unlife, as was the case. I could not allow his bloodthirsty carnage to continue. Could not allow him to continue doing to anyone else what he had done to my family … our family.
He was once my brother, my dearly beloved brother, my twin. Our hearts had been joined from the moment of conception. I loved him, trusted him, would have given up my life for him. But all I could see before me now was a creature of darkness, a creature that wanted nothing more than to pollute humanity, to destroy it. His bloodlust had been insatiable, his rampage throughout England and Europe relentless. He had to be stopped! And I had to stop him.
1595 - Cambridge, England
Jacques caught a glimpse of me and our friend, Jonathan, wandering along the corridor to our next class. My brother had been intrigued by a classmate telling a group of eager listeners about a band of gypsies, believed to be vampires, hiding out in the forest not far from the college. A gypsy caravan had been observed in the forest the day before by a woodcutter, and as Jacques’ classmate continued his captivating tale, my brother had the sudden impulse to go out there and see it for himself.
“Andre, wait,” Jacques called, striding along the corridor toward us.
Hearing his voice, I stopped mid-motion and turned around. “What is it, Jacques?”
As Jacques got closer he reached out and rested a brotherly hand on my shoulder. “Little brother.” He smiled. “I have remarkable news!”
I frowned at him. “What news?”
Jacques glanced furtively around us, not wishing to be overheard. He leaned toward me. “I have news of a gypsy caravan hidden in the forest. It is believed…” He gazed up and down the corridor, and then whispered, “Vampires are hereabouts.”
“Vampires?” Both Jonathan and I questioned.
“Shhh. Ay, let us go and discover what there is to find,” Jacques suggested.
“Jacques … our study?”
He gripped both my shoulders and shook me firmly. “We are scholars of life, little brother. This shall be but a brief adventure.”
I could see the excitement in Jacques’ eyes and did not want to dissuade him. I glanced at my friend beside me. “How say you, Jonathan? Will you come?”
Jonathan studied Jacques’ eager face and then looked at me. “Ay, indeed. I am up for an adventure.”
Jacques patted Jonathan’s shoulder firmly and smiled. “Then, let us take our leave.”
We made our escape undetected and quickly headed to the road leading away from the city. Jacques’ pace was a few steps ahead, and I could sense his eagerness to arrive at the place where the caravan was believed to be hidden. After a fair distance, we stepped off the road into the brush and entered the forest. As we trudged further into the dense legion of trees, Jonathan’s sense of unyielding dread overwhelmed him. He turned on his heel and disappeared into the mist back toward the city, without a word of apology, leaving us to continue our uncertain journey alone.
As Jacques threaded his way through the trees and low-lying branches, me trying to keep pace, it was not long before we glimpsed bright shafts of sunlight filtering through the branches up ahead, and within moments we stumbled upon the shaded fringe of the sundrenched clearing.
Sure enough, on the opposite side of the circle, obscured by trees, stood the gypsy caravan, just as Jacques had known it would be.
My sudden sense of foreboding gripped my gut like a fist and tugged it into the pit of my stomach. I voiced my concern for our safety, but Jacques would not heed my warning. He wanted to see if the rumors were true … to see if the gypsies were indeed vampires.
We remained secluded in the shadows of the lofty trees, making our way cautiously around the perimeter of the clearing toward the caravan, staying at a distance. From what we observed no one was outside. Either the caravan was empty, or the stories were true, and the occupants were lying dormant in their coffins awaiting nightfall.
Once the sun slid behind the trees, and night’s silhouette crept over us, Jacques was compelled to take a closer look. He instructed me to remain quietly in the shadows, while he inched his way toward the caravan. As there was still no sign of any movement, Jacques climbed the three, small wooden steps onto the landing and reached for the door.
Before he had a chance to escape, it swung out of his grasp and a pair of white hands reached out, grabbed him and wrenched him inside. “Run, Andre, run!” I heard Jacques scream, as the door slammed shut. And then silence.
I stood, eyes wide, unable to believe what I had witnessed. My mind in a state of confusion. But then sense prevailed and I ran, as Jacques had told me to run. Leaving my brother to his fate was the vilest moment of my life.
Chapter Sixty One - Once Bitten - Book 2 in the Dark Legacy Series
He pushed the key into the ignition and was about to turn the key when a gloved hand came around the driver’s seat and held a knife to his throat.
Ned froze. One wrong move and his life would expire. His Adam’s apple bobbed above the cold steel blade. The DA’s eyes darted to the rear view mirror. His assailant was concealed behind the seat. “What … do you want?”
“Answers.” He pushed the blade tighter against the DA’s throat.
“To what?” Ned remained perfectly still. The blade had nicked his skin and he could feel the warm trickle of blood seeping into the white collar of his business shirt.
“I think you know.”
“I – I can assure you I don’t.”
“Where are they?”
“Don’t play your bullshit games with me.” His voice was low, threatening. The DA didn’t recognize it. “I’ll ask again. Where. Are. They?”
“I don’t know! Ask MacKinnon.”
“The chief of detectives? What’s he got to do with this?”
“More than you could possibly imagine.”
The knife was gone and so was his assailant.
Ned closed his eyes and released the breath he’d been holding. That had been a close call. Too close. He turned the key, hit the door control and drove out of his garage. Before turning onto the street, he glanced up and down the sidewalk. No one. Why was he not surprised?
Copyright © 2019 M. A. Anderson
Bella Luna Books, Australia
All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or otherwise, without written permission of the Author.