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Authors: Crystal-Rain Love

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BOOK: Blood Curse
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"Oh, well, he had an interesting mind. Very imaginative. The journal has given me quite a few ideas. This could be my chance to make it into horror fiction!"

"So you think you might be the next Anne Rice?"

"Maybe."

"Yeah, sure. You can keep it for a while. I don't have any use for it anymore.” Curtis shrugged as he grabbed a stack of books from the table and carried them toward the counter. Aria pulled on her jacket, swung her backpack over her shoulder and grabbed the remaining books, following behind. “Oh, thanks. I could have gotten those books for you, though."

Curtis took the remaining books from her with an awkward smile and put them beneath the counter with the others. “I'll have these ready for you when you stop by tomorrow.” He straightened and shuffled his feet nervously. “It's, uh, pretty late. Can I give you a ride?"

"Oh, no thanks. I'd prefer to walk."

"This late at night? There are a lot of unsavory characters out there, Aria."

"I'll be fine. I have my Mace with me.” And a backpack filled with other goodies. Besides, she didn't need witnesses for what she was about to do. The journal listed several addresses of known vampire hangouts right there in Baltimore, and some of those places were still around. Now it was time to see if the vampires themselves were still around.

She let Curtis walk her out of the library, but waited until he got into his car and drove away before she turned opposite the direction of her home and started walking toward The Lair. She had never been a club person herself so The Lair was not familiar to her, but she knew the club sat in the same spot The Serpent's Tooth used to occupy. The Serpent's Tooth was one of the vampire hideouts listed in the journal.

Suddenly, Aria froze as she felt a set of eyes boring into her back, but the feeling that came over her was more than one of just being watched. She felt as though someone was listening to her, hearing the very thoughts which ran through her mind, searching those thoughts for information. She turned and looked back toward the library. Nothing was there but shadows. Yet, she still felt it—the alarming yet oddly comforting feeling that someone was there listening. Slowly, the feeling dissolved and she turned back in the direction of The Lair.

Immediately after her mother's death, she'd started gathering items for her vampire arsenal. The backpack she now carried contained matches, lighters, wooden stakes and squirt guns filled with holy water. She fingered one of the three crosses hanging from her neck for extra reassurance as she neared the vicinity of the club. If The Lair was still a vampire hot spot, she needed to be ready. Although her original idea was to kill her mother's murderer, she wouldn't hesitate to take out anyone who got in her way. If she'd learned anything from Dunn's diary, it was that vampires protected their own. If she had to go through several of them to get to the one who took her mother's life, so be it. They were all bloodsucking killers anyway. She repeated that to herself as she continued her trek.

A block away from the club, the feeling of being watched crept down her spine again. She turned in a circle, scanning the dark streets for the cause of it, but found nothing out of the ordinary. Empty buildings, mostly businesses which were closed for the night, lined both sides of the street. Nothing moved but the shadows. The only sound was that of the gentle wind.

"Get it together, girl,” she told herself, dismissing the strange feeling as a by-product of fear. She walked past vacant stores and narrow alleys, summoning the painful image of her mother's dead body for motivation. She would not hide in fear. She would not back down. She would spare no mercy. Any vampire who got in her way would die tonight. For her mother.

As The Lair loomed before her, her anger mounted. She paused momentarily to study the building. Sitting at the end of a dead-end street with no nearby street lights, the dark gray brick monstrosity seemed befitting a vampire hangout. The windows were dark, but she could see the flashing of red and purple strobe lights inside. Large red lightbulbs glared from around the black vinyl door, as the beat of eerie techno music wafted through the air. There was a steady stream of young Goth and punk partygoers entering the building, laughing and hanging upon one another in various stages of drunkenness. How nice it would be to feel young and carefree, but that life was not for Aria. That life had been stolen from her a long time ago.

She couldn't help wondering if the young partygoers were just people like her . . . or vampires. Realization finally slammed into Aria. How was she supposed to know until it was too late? She couldn't very well just approach an unusually pale person and stab him, could she?

"What the hell am I doing?” she muttered beneath her breath, swaying under a sudden dizzy spell. Doubt and trepidation battled with her need for revenge while she tried to decide on a plan of action. She had studied vampires for months. She couldn't let another parent's death go unavenged. “I have to do this."

Aria studied the club for a few minutes longer. If the place really was filled with vampires, it wouldn't be wise to walk right into the middle of them. She would rather take them down one at a time, if she had to, especially if they really did have superhuman strength. There had to be a back door. Maybe there was a back window she could peek into without being seen. Then, after having a better idea of the club's internal layout, she could devise a plan of attack. At the least, she would have knowledge of what actually happened in the club.

She turned right and walked down the alley which would take her to the rear of the building. Just as she'd suspected, there was a back door and two small, barred windows on either side. She headed toward them.

Two feet away from the door, a dark shadow emerged from behind a Dumpster in front of her.

"Well, well, well. Lookie what we gots here, June Bug,” the figure said as he swaggered in her direction. Not a drunken swagger, but the cocky walk of an average street punk who thought he was about to get his jollies.

"Looks yummy,” another male voice, which Aria assumed belonged to June Bug, responded from four feet behind her.

Aria quickly took in her surroundings. She was stuck between the back of The Lair and another large building. The Dumpster the first man had been hiding behind sat in front of a seven foot tall wire fence which prevented any escape from that direction, even if she were able to get past the man.

As the first man neared, she made out his features. He was Latino with a sharp nose, narrow dark eyes, and a scar which ran from the corner of his left eye down to his chin. His jeans were ripped and loose fitting, his white T-shirt smeared with grime. The red bandanna wrapped around his head hid his hair and brought attention to the gold hoop in his right ear. He couldn't have been any older than nineteen.

"What do you want with me?” she demanded.

The scar-faced man laughed. “Well, for starters,
chica
, we're going to take all your money and those crosses hanging around your neck.” He reached out and lifted the large gold nugget ring, which also hung from her neck on a gold chain, as June Bug closed in on her from behind, his erection pressing against her buttocks. “We're gonna pawn those, but I think I'll keep this for myself."

"Then we're going to screw you,” June Bug added, his hot breath crawling across her neck. “At the same time."

"Too bad for you guys that you just made one crucial mistake,” Aria growled as she repositioned her feet and subtly positioned her hands for attack.

"Yeah?” Scar Face laughed again. “What's that?"

"Nobody takes my daddy's ring.” Aria slammed the heel of her right hand into the scarred man's nose, breaking it instantly while she reached behind her with the left and grabbed hold of June Bug's testicles, yanking them hard enough to make the man scream. As Scar Face howled in pain and backed away with his hands covering his broken nose, Aria took the opportunity to spin and use her backpack to hit June Bug in the head, knocking him down. He landed face down on the ground, his hands covering his crotch while he wailed in pain.

Aria slung her backpack over her shoulder and started to run, but Scar Face grabbed her by her long hair and spun her around, hard enough to send her flying into the back wall of The Lair. Her head rammed into the brick and pain ricocheted through her skull. Before she could sink to the ground, Scar Face placed his forearm beneath her chin, pinning her to the wall and making it harder for her to breathe. He reached behind him with his other hand, pulling a gun from the back of his waistband.

"You wanna do this the hard way, bitch?” He cocked the gun and pointed it in her face. “We'll still do ya after you're dead. Don't make us no damn difference."

Aria stared down the barrel of the gun but refused to cry. Unbelievably, she almost laughed at the absurdity. She had come to the club prepared to kill and was now about to be killed herself. Her father had been killed by a racist, her mother by a vampire, and now she was about to be taken out by a teenaged, grammatically-challenged punk and his friend who had yet to quit crying over his nuts.

She lifted her gaze from the gun barrel and aimed it straight into the punk's eyes. “Screw yourself, you little uneducated twerp."

Scar Face's eyes flared in surprise and then fury, as he raised the gun up, as if to smack her with it. Before he could, Aria saw a blur of motion plow into him, and she was dropped to the ground. She gasped in fresh breaths of air and massaged her sore throat, barely aware of the sound of scuffling around her. Realizing her backpack was no longer on her shoulder, she searched the ground for it, a feat which wouldn't have been so hard if not for the way her head seemed to be spinning. Finally, she saw the bag a foot away and crawled to it, still not ready to stand. She closed her hand around it, only to have it jerked away.

Aria looked up and gasped. The man she had dreamed of for months stood before her, his profile illuminated by moonlight as he unzipped her backpack. He was real . . . and he had just come to her rescue.

The shock of seeing the man quickly transformed into anger as she realized he was going through her property.

"What do you think you're doing?” Aria grabbed for her backpack but the man quickly grabbed her by her throat and held her back. She looked into his dark eyes and gulped. She'd thought his eyes were stormy in her dreams. Now they were typhoons. Hostile typhoons.

Then reality slammed into her. If this was the man she had been dreaming about, the man whose name was in Alfred Dunn's diary, then he wasn't a man. He was a vampire, and he had her by the throat. He could kill her at any second.

She opened her mouth to scream, but his large hand left her throat and clamped over it before she could get out a sound. “Be quiet, woman. We're in a dark alley with two dead bodies. This is not the time to draw a crowd."

Aria looked around the alley for her attackers and found them lying on the ground, motionless. Scar Face's head lay at an awkward angle. The one called June Bug, a heftier version of Scarface, stared toward the sky, his eyes frozen in horror. “What did you do to them?” she asked as the man released his grip on her throat.

"I broke their necks,” the man, the
vampire,
said as calmly as if the fact he'd just taken two lives meant nothing. He continued rummaging through her backpack, chuckling as he pulled out the wooden stakes and tossed them aside. “What?” He stopped his perusal to look at her in annoyance, obviously feeling the glare of her accusing eyes and reading the thought behind them. “It was either kill them or watch them kill you. Personally, if I were you I'd be happy with the choice I made."

"They were just teenagers!"

"They were murderers and rapists. Besides, breaking a man's neck isn't half as cruel as dislocating his testicles.” He looked at her pointedly, then continued his search, his eyes gleaming as he pulled out the diary and let the backpack drop to the ground. He opened the book and perused the pages. “Where did you get this?"

"None of your damn business,” Aria growled. “What's it to you?"

"Do you know my name?"

Rialto. The name echoed through Aria's mind as she stared into the man's eyes. He watched her intently, curiously. She knew his name. She knew his body and the way he tasted. The wild, spicy smell that enveloped him now was even a remnant from her dreams. She knew him, and she didn't. The thought terrified her.

"Should I?"

"No."

"Then why did you ask if I did?"

"Because you do."

If he truly was a vampire, he wouldn't want anyone to know. But he knew that she knew who he was. Aria looked at her backpack. It was too far away and he stood between her and it. The crosses around her neck hadn't stopped him from grabbing her by the throat. She was defenseless against him, so she did the only thing she could think of. She turned and ran.

Running as if her life depended on it, and she was sure it did, Aria ignored the tight feeling in her chest and the throbbing pain ricocheting through her body as she reached the end of the alley . . . and ran right into a hard chest.

"Rialto!” She spoke the name in a confused daze as she looked up into his angry face. “How did you . . .” Her voice trailed off as fear silenced her. He had been right behind her. How could he have just stepped out from around the corner at the end of the alley? Nobody was that fast, and he wasn't even sweating.

"So you do know my name. How?"

"I don't know.” Aria started to inch her way backward, but was stopped as Rialto clamped one of his hands on her arm, squeezing just hard enough to make her flinch. “I swear I didn't know that was your name, not for sure."

His eyes narrowed. “Then why did you just say it as if you were sure it was my name?” He shook her when he didn't get a response. “Where did you hear it?"

"In my dreams,” Aria blurted as she fought back tears. Oh God, he was going to kill her. He was going to suck her blood until she was completely dry and leave her behind just like her mother.

Just like her mother.

"You killed my mother, didn't you?"

BOOK: Blood Curse
13.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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