A Shade of Vampire 8: A Shade of Kiev

BOOK: A Shade of Vampire 8: A Shade of Kiev
3.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
A Shade of Kiev




Bella Forrest

Also By Bella Forrest:














Copyright © 2014 by Bella Forrest.


This is a work of fiction.


All characters appearing in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons living or dead, other than those in the public domain, is not intended and purely coincidental.


No part of this book may be reproduced, re-sold, or transmitted electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author.

Prologue: Kiev

The beautiful Italian vampire stood by the port, gazing out at the ocean. The sight of her took my breath away. Even after centuries, she still had the same effect on me.

I approached quietly and placed a hand on her shoulder. She jumped back, extending her claws and lashing out as soon as she recognized me. I retreated a few steps, stunned by the hatred burning in her eyes.

“Stay away from me, you monster,” she snarled.

Gone was the fear I had grown accustomed to seeing in her whenever I was in her presence. In its place was sheer malice.

Her words stinging my ears, I stared at her lips. Those soft red lips… Those lips that had once kissed me with passion. That had so often woken me from sleep. That had uttered words of undying love.

Those lips that had never used to require force or threats to press against mine.

But now, those lips cut me deep.

It was hard for me to reconcile how such venom could have emerged from such softness. Even though I knew I deserved every word.

Her insult penetrated my skin, seeped into my very bones and set my mind on fire. As I stared down at her, I caught the reflection of my own red eyes in hers. And I knew then that those lips would never kiss me willingly again, for what I had become could not evoke affection from anyone.

So I forced a kiss on her, as had become a habit of mine whenever I wanted to remind myself of her taste.

When she fought me, I gripped her neck and kissed her harder. I sank my fangs into her lower lip, drawing blood. Then I bit into her neck. Her gasping and struggling only added fuel to my frenzy. Aware of the crowd now gathering around us, I lifted my mouth from her skin and slammed her back against a tree. As I withdrew a dagger from my belt, she screamed. I clasped a hand over her mouth. Tears streamed down her cheeks as I ran the cold blade against her collarbone.

“Natalie Borgia,” I whispered into her ear. “The vampires’ ultimate diplomat. How will we manage without you?”

Her eyes widened as I cut a gash in her skin, her hands clawing against my shirt.

“Please! No… Kiev!”

“I think somehow we’ll survive.” The words escaped my mouth in a hiss, revealing what I had become: a snake.

“T-try to remember! Please. You don’t want to do this.”

I brought the dagger down and pierced her kneecap. My hand wasn’t enough to stifle her shriek. I withdrew my hand as she gasped for breath, her eyes drowning in agony.

“That hurts, doesn’t it? Good.”

I slid the dagger out of her knee and waited a few moments. Then I brought it slamming down again, relishing the sound of bone splintering. Her hands reached for my neck. Returning the dagger to my belt, I wrestled her to the ground and straddled her hips.

Her lips had ripped out my heart.

Now I’ll rip out hers.

Extending my claws, I dug deep into her chest. As my hand closed around her heart, I watched as she released her last breath. Then I placed my arms beneath her and lifted her onto my lap. I sat cradling her limp body against mine, as one would a child.

And I fell apart.

My body shook violently as tears streamed down my cheeks, mixing with the blood on my hands.

Chapter 1: Kiev

A searing pain brought me to consciousness. I reached for my stomach. Warm blood soaked my fingers. I looked up through the darkness of my cell to see a tall figure looming over me.

“We’ve come to a decision.” The coarse voice of my captor echoed off the walls. “The execution will take place in three days.”

“What?” I choked.

“We can’t afford to keep you alive longer than that.”

I gazed up at his face. Cold grey eyes stared down at me.

“You’re making a mistake,” I said, clenching my jaw against the pain.

“Mistake?” He let out a mirthful shriek. “Our only mistake has been not killing all of you vampires sooner.”

He backed out of the cell and slammed the iron gate shut.

“Wait.” I crawled to the bars before he disappeared. “Listen to me, Arron.”

Large black wings rooted behind his shoulders shuddered as I uttered his name.

“You lost the right to address me as anything other than Master the day you betrayed me,” he hissed. “Just be prepared. And don’t fight when we come for you. It will only make things worse.”

Before I could say another word, he left. His footsteps disappeared down the hallway. Retreating to the back of my cell, I leaned against the wall, gripping my abdomen. Blood still leaked from my wound. It was deep; the hawk had sliced me with his talons. Normally such a gash would have closed within seconds. But my body’s natural healing capabilities weren’t working as usual. The serum he had injected into me during my last lashing still flowed through my veins.

Seeking distraction, I cast my eyes around the prison. The cells closest to me were filled with vampires. Each of their pale faces shared the same terrified expression. Dark circles showed beneath their eyes: a sign that, like me, they had also been starved of blood. I knew that some of them were also traitors. But most were not. Clearly, our loyalty didn’t matter to Arron any more. Being vampires was enough to qualify us for death.

I shouldn’t have been surprised by Arron and his council’s decision. It should have been obvious that our days were numbered as soon as my father declared war on their territory. But I had expected them to turn me into one of their kind. I would have been a useful addition to their army.

For months I had fantasized about the day when one of their witches would perform the ancient ritual that would forever rid me of the disease that was vampirism. Barely a day had passed since I had escaped from my father when I hadn’t imagined myself as a hawk.

Sharp talons, heavy wings, a shining black beak… Unrecognizable.

The witch might even be able to change the color of my cursed red eyes.

So desperate was I to make this transformation a reality, I had traded myself in as an ally to the hawks. I had even stolen a newborn whom I knew was of particular value to them and handed him over. In exchange, they were to allow me to become one of them, and offer me protection in their realm.

But then I’d helped a girl escape. And in that moment of weakness, I’d willingly given it all up. I’d lost Arron’s trust by allowing the humanity I silently craved to show through me.

Now that the hawks saw no reason to keep their end of the deal, death was a welcome prospect—it was better than falling back into the clutches of my father. I drew comfort knowing that the hawks had as much to lose as I did and would do all within their power to keep him locked out. But even still, three days seemed like far too long to wait.

The sooner they kill me, the better.

More footsteps sounded in the corridor, breaking through my thoughts. I crawled back to the bars and craned my neck to catch a glimpse of who was approaching. It was a young woman, pushing a wooden cart filled with sacks of blood.

“A last meal for those of you who remained loyal to Aviary,” the servant called.

Snake blood, I was sure of it. Human blood was never wasted on us. I raised my nose in the air as she drew closer, taking in the scent of her own blood. Its subtle aroma mixed with the stench of the reptile blood.

She moved from cell to cell, handing out sacks through the bars. After unloading the final one, she pushed the empty cart back toward the exit. I pulled myself into standing position against the bars of my cell, waiting for the moment she would pass by.

If this was to be my last chance of human blood—my last chance of pleasure before my time ended—I wasn’t going to fight my darkness. All would be black soon anyway.

As soon as she was close enough, my arms shot out. Placing one hand around her throat and the other around her waist, I slammed her back against the gate. As I struggled to position myself to sink my teeth into her neck through the bars, pain stabbed me.

Swearing, I released her.

She staggered back, anger flickering in her deep blue eyes. She wiped my blood from a small dagger onto the hem of her short brown dress. Sliding it into a leather sheath, she tucked it into her bosom. She flicked a strand of long dark-blonde hair away from her face, and after glaring at me for several moments, she resumed her place behind the cart and continued toward the exit.

Feeling dizzy, I knelt on the ground. I wasn’t sure which wound to apply pressure against now.

Blasted slave.

“You don’t want to mess with that one,” a voice whispered. I raised my eyes to a female vampire in one of the cells opposite mine. “She belongs to Arron. You’re not going to make things any easier for yourself when the time comes.”

The vampire paused for a moment, eyeing me and wiping blood away from her mouth. Despite having shared the same prison as me for several days, this was the first time she had spoken to me.

“What’s your story?” she asked.

I shook my head and remained silent. I had no desire to dwell on the horrors of my past at this late hour of my life.

Chapter 2: Kiev

I tried to fall asleep again, but failed. My body ached too much. I couldn’t lie on my back due to the lashings I’d received at the hands of Arron, and now I couldn’t rest on my stomach either. There was barely a patch on the floor that wasn’t moist with my blood. The stifling humidity and smell of rotting wood that engulfed the whole prison didn’t help to ease my discomfort.

Instead, I found myself listening to a conversation that had broken out between some of the prisoners in the nearby cells.

“What do you think they’ll do to the humans?”

“Once the Elders arrive, having humans around will be too much of a risk.”

“Yes. It won’t take much for the Elders to procreate… turn the humans into vampires.”

“Maybe Arron will want some of the humans turned into hawks. As for the rest, it will probably just be easier to kill them off.”

“Damn, I wish they’d give that job to us. I’d murder a baby for some human blood right now.”

I tuned in and out of the conversation, attempting to discover that peaceful place between sleep and consciousness. I was disturbed by a loud crash coming from the direction of the prison entrance.

“He warned you!”

I opened my eyes to see another hawk standing in the hallway. Armor covered his chest. A guard. He was gripping Arron’s servant girl by the neck.

“Spend a night or two rotting down here and then see if you prefer it in his chambers.”

He grimaced as he swung open the door of an empty cell in the row opposite mine and shoved her inside. I noticed a thin cut beneath his left eye. He stormed away, allowing me a full view of the girl. Her right cheek was swollen and she had a bloody gash near her collarbone. The smell of her blood made my stomach groan. I cursed the hawk beneath my breath for placing her so close to me.

She had a stony expression on her tan heart-shaped face as she shuffled further into her cell until her back hit the wall. Perhaps sensing me watching her, she looked up and held my gaze for a few seconds before scowling and looking back down at her knees.

“Your little knife trick didn’t work on him then?” I said, unable to contain my irritation first at the wound she had inflicted on me, and now her torturing me with her presence.

She kept her focus determinedly on her knees.

A speck of her blood on the floor caught my attention. It had fallen to the ground just outside my cell in her scuffle with the hawk. I extended a hand through the bars and scooped it up with my finger. Tasting it was probably the most foolish thing I could have done; it should only have made my cravings ten times worse. But strangely, this blood didn’t have me craving more the way a human’s normally would. It certainly tasted better than reptile blood, but it didn’t have the same succulent quality that human blood had.

“What are you?” I peered at her.

BOOK: A Shade of Vampire 8: A Shade of Kiev
3.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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