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?
Scene Between Andre and Jacques at end of book - Evil Nature - Book 4 in the Dark Legacy Series (wish I'd left it in)
Jacque’s dark gaze rested on his brother… his twin… his doppelganger. “I release you.”
Andre frowned into his brother’s eyes and folded his arms. “You release me? You’ve always had the ability to do that?”
A smirk tugged at the left corner of Jacques’ mouth but he stopped himself. This was not the time. For once in his long, immortal life he was attempting to do the right thing where his brother was concerned. “Yes, I have.” The look of disgust on Andre’s face did not sit well with him.
“You know, all I ever wanted was for us to regain what we once had. To be brothers. But you wouldn’t allow that to happen.”
Jacques’ left eyebrow arched. “That’s all I ever wanted, too, Andre. That is the reason why I came to Los Angeles in the first place.”
“Do you remember how we used to be?”
“Yes, I remember. But it was a long time ago. We were human then. We are two different immortals now.”
“I loved you.”
“And I you, little brother. I still do in my own… demented way.” The smirk he’d prevented moments ago slid across his handsome, pale face, but it was not one of mockery but one of sincerity. Something new for him. “That is why I’m letting you go. And why I’m leaving.”
Something inside Andre ached for the brother he once loved. The brother he wished he could have back. “You’re leaving?”
“I am. You need to get on with your life without interference from me.”
“What if I asked you to stay?” Andre wasn’t sure how he felt about his brother leaving for good. He had lost Jacques once when he’d burned in the sun and, at the time, he had hidden his feelings of grief from his friends. He realized that old saying; ‘Blood is thicker than water’ was true.
“You know I can’t even if I wanted to, which I do not. It is time for me to take my leave. I have plans to implement.”
“Will I see you again?”
“It is better that you don’t. We are nothing alike, you and I, you are good, kind, caring, and I am the exact opposite. You will be better off without me.”
Andre stepped closer to his brother, his emotions conflicted. He wanted to embrace him but knew it was only because of the feeling of impending loss of his only living relative. He was taken aback when Jacques pulled him into his arms and held him tight.
“Be safe, little brother. Take care of yourself and the people who love you.”
Tears stung the backs of Andre’s eyes and a single, bloody trail slipped down his right cheek.
“Goodbye, Andre.” Jacques released him, turned on his heel and stalked away. Before climbing into the black, tinted glass, elegant sedan, he turned and took one last look at his brother, then stepped into the car and it drove away.
Andre turned and headed along the sidewalk to the van. Reece was standing beside the passenger door, arms folded. “What did he want?”
“To say goodbye.”
Andre nodded, the painful lump in his throat preventing him from answering.
“Are you ok?”
His friend took a moment to compose himself before replying. “I don’t know.”
Reece could see the pain on Andre’s face and in his eyes and as much as he didn’t want to ask it he did anyway. “Did you ask him to stay?”
Andre nodded again. “He said he couldn’t. He told me I needed to get on with my life without his interference. And as much as I know he’s right about that it still doesn’t make it any easier that he won’t be in my life anymore.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because he made it very clear that we wouldn’t see each other again.”
Reece placed a comforting hand on his friend’s shoulder. “I’m sorry, Andre. I know he’s your only remaining relative.”
“Thanks, I appreciate you saying that. I know it’s been difficult having him back in our lives and with all the crap he put us through.”
“Yeah, well, I do understand how you feel. When I lost you it almost killed me. You are my brother whether blood related or not. I love you.”
“I love you, too.” The pair wrapped arms around each other in a tight man hug.
“Hey, I hate to break up a touching moment, really, but we have a job to do,” Ed said from the driver’s seat.
“We need to get Dracula on ice,” Lozano said from the back seat.”
“Yeah, you’re right.” Reece opened the passenger door and motioned for Andre to step up into the van and climbed in after him. “We need to make sure nothing happens to Dracula. If he dies Charlotte does too, along with who knows how many others out there. We’ll take him out to the compound and keep his coffin in the freezer. That way he’ll remain frozen until we can find a way to release Charlotte from his genetic hold on her.”
Ed eased the van into the flow of traffic. It had been a while since they’d been out to the abandoned state prison but it was the perfect place to keep the monster. With the new, implemented security system and reinforced repairs the place was a fortress. No one could get in or out without authorized fingerprint and retina activation.
Copyright © 2022 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.