Craved (Book #2 of the Vampire Legacy) (8 page)

BOOK: Craved (Book #2 of the Vampire Legacy)
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Scarlet stood there, fuming, wondering how to respond. She was too furious to even know what to say. A part of her wanted to punch Vivian and all of her disgusting friends. But of course, she wouldn’t do that. She was classier than that. She had to fight fire with fire, to use her words.

“Well, if you’re going to post again, why don’t you try the truth: that Blake’s not into you, that you made up all those things about me—and that you’re a miserable person.”

“You little witch,” she hissed, taking a step forward.

Scarlet prepared to defend herself. She could feel a sudden power surging through her veins, and sensed that she could really hurt Vivian if she wanted to. But she didn’t want to. She just wanted her to disappear.

Suddenly the sliding glass door opened, and out strutted Maria.

“Well oh well, look who it is,” Maria said to Vivian. “If it isn’t the wicked witch herself!”

Vivian and her friends turned and looked as Maria walked out.

“Well, if it isn’t the second loser of the pair,” Vivian snapped back.

Maria didn’t hesitate. She hoisted her plastic cup, filled with beer, and to Scarlet’s surprise, threw it right in Vivian’s face.

Vivian screamed, her face and hair and clothes soaked.

Everyone on the deck, a good dozen people, turned and watched, stunned into silence.

Then they burst out into laughter, laughing in Vivian’s face.

Vivian suddenly shrieked and leapt for Maria, raising her claws high and aiming them right for her face. Vivian was a big girl, nearly six feet tall, and Maria was short and petite, and Scarlet sensed that it would be a disaster.

Scarlet burst into action. Without even realizing what she was doing, she reacted lightning fast. As Vivian brought her hand down for Maria’s face, Scarlet caught it at the last second.

Scarlet held Vivian’s wrist with her super-strength, preventing her hand from reaching Maria.

And then, she pushed Vivian back.

It wasn’t a hard push, but it nonetheless sent her flying back, into her two friends. The three of them fell, like dominoes, falling on top of each other on the deck.

Scarlet stood over them, seething with rage, wanting to finish them off.

But she didn’t. As the three of them sat up, looking at her, wide-eyed, everyone else on the deck stared at Scarlet, too, as if she were some kind of freak.

“OMG, Scarlet, how did you do that?” Maria asked, with a trembling voice.

But Scarlet had enough. This party was going from bad to worse, and she felt out of control. She stormed into the house, weaved her way through all the pulsating bodies, out the front door, and across the front lawn. She had to get away. Not to mention her phone wouldn’t stop vibrating in her pocket, and her parents wouldn’t leave her alone. She realized it was time to go, and face the fire.

Suddenly, a voice stopped her from behind.

“Hey,” said the voice.

Scarlet stopped in her tracks.

No. It can’t be. Not him. Not now.

She turned slowly, hoping it would be anybody but him.

Her heart was pounding in her throat as she saw him standing there.

Sage.

Dressed in his leather jacket, jeans and leather boots, Sage’s longish hair framed his gray eyes, which sparkled down at her.

“Where were you going?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” she replied, caught off guard, not thinking clearly.

“Surely you must have been going somewhere,” he said, and broke into a smile. It was the most beautiful smile she had ever seen.

It was contagious; she found herself smiling back.

“I guess, anywhere but here. I’ve had my drama for the day.”

“I know what you mean. I’m not really one for parties myself.”

“So why are you here?” she asked, surprised.

“I was hoping to find someone,” he said.

She stared back, mesmerized, wondering.

“Who?” she asked.

He paused, then, in his soft voice, he said, “You, actually.”

Me?
Scarlet thought.
Why?

Her throat went dry.

So. He felt the same way.

Scarlet started to worry what would happen if Maria came out and saw the two of them talking. It would be a disaster. She felt she had to get out of here. But she couldn’t pull herself away.

“I wanted to talk today,” he said. “After class. But you never gave me a chance.”

Scarlet didn’t know how to respond. She could hardly believe this was happening.

“I’m sorry,” she said, knowing how he felt. “I really didn’t mean to be rude. It’s just that…well…my friend, Maria. She really likes you.”

There. She said it. Now he had his chance to go after Maria, if he wanted to.

“But you’re the one that I like,” he said, staring into her eyes.

As he said it, he took a step closer, reached up with his palm and caressed her cheek. Scarlet’s heart was pounding in her throat. She felt frozen in time.

“Scarlet?” came an outraged voice.

She turned, and her heart dropped to see Maria standing there, just a few feet away, staring with a mix of confusion and outrage. Maria looked utterly horrified, as if Scarlet had just stabbed her in the back. Scarlet could see in her eyes how deeply betrayed she felt.

Scarlet immediately felt guilty, even though she knew she hadn’t done anything wrong.

“Maria, you don’t understand—” Scarlet began.

But it was too late. Maria burst into tears and stormed off. She disappeared back into the crowd.

Scarlet felt a pit in her stomach. She knew Maria, and knew she would never forgive something like this. She would perceive it as a betrayal, and would never get over it. Scarlet felt wracked by guilt and sadness, as she had a sinking feeling that Maria would never talk to her again—and would also turn all her friends against her. She felt more alone than ever.

“You okay?” Sage asked.

Scarlet wiped a tear, and turned and looked back at Sage, who was still staring at her with his haunting, gray eyes. She nodded, trying to snap out of it and back into the moment. But it wasn’t working.

“I have to get home,” she said. “I’m sorry.”

“Home can wait,” he said. “Come with me.”

He held out a hand.

Scarlet was stunned. She looked down at his open hand. Her relationship with Maria was already ruined, and clearly, nothing would fix that. At the same time, her feelings for Blake were almost nonexistent. Sage was the one who mesmerized her. He was the one who cared. He was the one she wanted to be with.

Her cell buzzed again and again in her pocket. She knew she should go back home, forget about this night, patch things up with her parents, try to patch things up with Maria. Try to force life back to normal.

But she was tired of normal. She was so tired of trying to control everyone and everything, trying to make life run so perfectly. She’d had enough. She felt like letting go now. Letting the universe take her wherever it wanted to.

So, to her own surprise, she reached out her cold hand and placed it gently in his palm.

She had no idea where he would take her, but she had a feeling it would be different than any place she had ever been. As she looked down at his open palm, she knew, she just knew, that this would be the night that changed everything.

 
 
 

CHAPTER NINE

 
 

Caitlin sat there in her living room, in a daze, feeling the world spinning out of control beneath her. More and more, she felt as if she were living in a dream, far removed from reality, trying to grasp hold of the events happening around her. Some days, she felt as if she were losing her mind.

That episode in the church was real. It was very, very real. Those blown-out candles, those shattered windows, were the first tangible thing she could point to to prove to herself that she was not crazy. That her daughter was a vampire. Even the priest had fled. For once, her fears had been confirmed by someone else.

That was all she needed. Now, finally, she felt confident in herself, felt certain about what was happening to Scarlet. Regardless of what Caleb, or anyone else thought, she was more determined than ever to save her daughter before it was too late.

Caleb paced their living room in a manic state, talking to one person after the next on his cell. She had never seen him so worried. When Scarlet hadn’t answered her door, he’d actually put his shoulder into it, breaking it open, terrified that she was sick, or needed help. But when he’d found her room empty, her window open, and realized she’d lied and snuck out—he’d lost it. He went from worried to furious. Now he was on a mission to find her.

Caitlin was worried, too—but this time she wasn’t perplexed. Now, she understood. She knew what was happening to Scarlet. She was changing. Turning. This behavior, in some ways, was to be expected. She wasn’t worried for Scarlet’s safety out there—she was worried for the safety of others, of whomever might cross her path.

While Caleb paced the house, calling everyone he knew, Caitlin took a different approach. She knew that what mattered, in the big picture, wasn’t finding Scarlet right now. She knew Scarlet would eventually come back, on her own terms. She knew that what really mattered was finding out how to cure Scarlet—if there even was a cure. She thought again of the torn page from that rare book, and again debated whether the other half existed—and whether it would really even help.

Caitlin opened her folder and pulled out the page, dissecting it again. She ran her hand along the edges of the frail paper, feeling its thick, rough edges, yellowed with age. She felt along the tear mark, wracking her brain, willing herself to come up with any clues, any leads. But she kept drawing a blank.

As her mind spun, trying to think again of anyone who might be of help, inevitably she focused on one person: Aiden. He was the only one in the world who would know what the page meant, whether the other half existed, and where to look for it. Knowing him, he was probably already familiar with this book—and could probably tell her more about it than she could discover with months of research.

She trembled at the thought of calling him. They had left on such bad terms, she was embarrassed, afraid, to talk to him. A part of her was still mad at him; another part felt he was the only one left who could help her.

She checked her watch: 11 PM. He was probably asleep. She wondered if he would even take her call if he was awake.

But the more she pondered it, the more she felt an urgency to talk to him. She had to swallow her pride. She had to know where this page was. She only hoped that he wouldn’t corner her in with more talk of stopping Scarlet. If he did, she would hang up on him, and never speak to him again. But she had to give him one more chance.

Her heart pounded in her throat as she took out her cell and tapped on his name.

She held the phone to her ear as it rang. She waited, her heart pounding, a part of her hoping he wouldn’t answer.

Finally, there came a sound of the other end, a fumbling of the phone. After a long pause, a groggy voice said: “Caitlin. I was wondering when you would call.”

“I’m sorry,” she said. “For storming out like that. You were just trying to help me. I realize that. But when you talked about stopping Scarlet…well… I couldn’t hear it. I still can’t. I won’t entertain the idea of stopping her. Never. I’d rather kill myself first.”

There was a long silence on the other end.

“I think I’ve found another way,” she added.

“Tell me.”

“Have you heard of Vairo’s
De Fascino Libri Tres
?” she asked, hoping, praying, that he had.

“Of course,” came his immediate, confident reply, to her great relief. “It was published in the late sixteenth century. Vairo was a bishop. But what most people don’t know is that he had also studied mathematics and philosophy and science from the time he was a child. He, in turn, was influenced by Plato and Socrates and, to some extent, Hippocrates—and there is some evidence his theories influence Isaac Newton a century later.
De Fascino
was considered the seminal work of its time. You very rarely get a hold of it these days. Why do you ask?”

Caitlin felt so relieved; she had made the right move to call him.

“I have a copy here, in our school library,” she said.

He paused, and she could sense he was impressed.

“I stumbled across something in it. It’s like a ritual, a ceremony. He claims it will heal the afflicted from vampirism. But the thing is, the page with the ceremony is torn in half. And the other half is missing. It’s an original edition—our library has it on loan—and our database shows no other existing copy. I need to see the other half of that page.”

She paused, and a long silence followed. She hoped he’d have a solution. She knew that if anyone would, it would be him. He was her best and last hope.

The silence went on so long, for a moment, she wondered if he’d hung up. Just as she was about to ask, his voice rang out:

“There are two issues here. The first is whether this so-called ritual has any merit. Despite his insistence on impartiality, in truth, Vairo’s was a highly biased, very controversial work. We have no proof that anything in it was accurate. Keep in mind, too, that some of it was borrowed, some passed down, and some may have even been plagiarized. The chances of such a ritual working are remote. Of course, there’s always hope. I would not say it’s impossible. But I think the likelihood is negligible.”

“But there’s hope?” she asked. “You admit that there’s at least a slim possibility?”

“Yes,” he answered. “Certainly, there are some rituals and formulas in that book which scholars have been unable to discount, despite centuries of trying. So, yes. While remote, there is hope.

“But you still have the second issue, which is finding the other edition. You are overlooking one very important fact, of course: what most people don’t realize is that Vairo’s work was, in fact, published in two editions. I assume your edition is Venice, 1589?”

Caitlin paused, taken aback.

“Yes, it is.”

“What most people don’t realize is that that was, in fact, the second edition. The first edition is much more rare. It was published in Paris, in 1583. Thus, a second edition does indeed exist.”

Caitlin was speechless, blown away by his scholarship, as she always was. She had no idea there was an earlier version.

“But why is there no mention of that anywhere?” she asked.

“It’s an unofficial copy,” he said.

Caitlin tried to understand. “Unofficial?”

“There are a few volumes in the world so important that their existence is not public knowledge. These are passed down through generations, held by a network of rare occult bookkeepers. These are volumes they don’t want the public to get a hold of, volumes they would never admit they had. I doubt any library or university would have one. And I doubt any rare bookshop would have any edition officially on record. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have it. You would just need to come to them with the right credentials.”

“So are you saying that the other copy definitely exists?” she asked, her heart beating.

“I’m not saying there is—I’m saying there is a chance. And if anyone has it, it would be Rose. She runs the rare bookshop in Marais, on 6 Rue Charlemagne.”

Caitlin’s eyes opened wide surprise.

“Paris?” she asked

“Yes. It’s their oldest rare bookshop, with the most esoteric occult volumes in the world. She would never admit this to a stranger, but she has a back room. For volumes she doesn’t make public. If you ask her, she’ll deny it. But if you use my name, and express the urgency of your mission, she just might let you in. It’s your best bet.”

“But Paris?” she asked, overwhelmed at the thought. “Before I go all the way there, maybe I can just call her and she’d tell me if she even hasn’t it. And then maybe fax it to me? Or scan it?”

Aiden sighed.

“She must be nearly a hundred years old by now, and she doesn’t use technology. In fact, you’re lucky if she even answers the door. Most of the time, her storefront is gated. But that doesn’t mean she’s not there. She only opens for certain people. She won’t fax or scan anything. She won’t even answer her phone. I’m sorry, but there’s no other way. You’d have to go.”

“Thank you, Aiden,” she said, meaningfully. “Really.”

“I hope it works,” he said. “I truly do.”

He hung up, and she sat there, her mind racing. Clearly, there was no other choice: she had to go to Paris.

Caleb entered, putting his phone down.

“What are you doing?” he snapped at her. She didn’t like the tone of his voice. “I’m calling frantically for Scarlet, and you’re just sitting here. Don’t you care about our daughter?”

Caitlin stood, ready to pack her things. “I care more than you’ll ever know.”

“I’m calling and calling her, and she’s not picking up,” Caleb said, pacing again. “I’ve called all her friends and their parents and nobody knows a thing. I just got off the phone with Samantha, who checked her Facebook for me. Apparently, there’s a lot of chatter about a house party tonight. At the Wilsons. I think she’s there. I think she’s with that boy, Blake—I think he’s the source of all this trouble.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Caitlin said. “Blake has nothing to do with this.”

She crossed the room, gathering books and papers into her briefcase.

“Well I’m going over there,” Caleb said. “I’m going to find her and bring her back.”

He stopped and looked up at her.

“Where are you going?” he asked, looking at her briefcase, incredulous. “To work?”

“To Paris,” she replied.


Paris
?” he asked, dumbfounded. “Are you joking?”

“No,” she answered, busy packing, not having time for his questions and not caring what he thought. She knew he’d just try to stop her. “There’s a book I need there. I think it can help Scarlet.”

“A book? In Paris? Have you lost your mind?”

He stared at her as if she had three heads.

“Listen,” Caitlin said, trying to explain, “you don’t know what happened at church today. When Scarlet was there, the windows—they shattered. Our daughter did that. Don’t you realize? After all this time? That none of this is a coincidence? Scarlet is becoming a vampire. And I’m the only one who can save her.”

“You’re sick,” Caleb stammered. “You need help. You really do. You’re falling apart. I can’t believe it, at a time like this, when we need you the most. You’re just going to abandon ship, with our daughter lost out there, and fly to Paris?” he asked, his voice rising.

“You still don’t understand,” she shot back, her own voice rising: “My going to Paris is the only thing that will save her.”

Caleb stood there, looking crushed.

“I don’t even know who you are anymore.”

His words stung Caitlin, and she felt like crying. She felt their relationship was breaking apart.

BOOK: Craved (Book #2 of the Vampire Legacy)
3.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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