In the Face of Darkness (Lily Culpepper Book 1)

BOOK: In the Face of Darkness (Lily Culpepper Book 1)
13.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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In the Face of Darkness

 

 

Sarah Dell

 

 

Copyright © 201
3 Sarah Dell

All rights reserved.

 

 

DEDICATION

 

 

To Kacy, without your support and encouragement this book would still just be a thought in my head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PROLOGUE

 

 

Trevor Caligari wiped the blood from his face.  He had never shot a man before and he hadn't anticipated the mess it would make.  He could already feel a headache forming in the back of his head from all the screaming.  The screaming was coming from his secretary who had barged into his office after hearing the gun shot.  Mrs. Malory had been the secretary for his predecessor for over twenty years.  Caligari imagined that she only stayed on because she didn't know what else to do.  He knew she wasn't loyal to him.

“Mrs. Malory” he said hoping that she would finally stop screaming.  He watched as Mrs. Malory did her best to compose herself as she walked out of his small office.  She gathered her things from her desk and let the office door slam behind her as she left.  Caligari smiled.  She would take the rest of the day off to tell everyone on the Island about what happened and be back at her desk in the morning.  Mrs. Malory lived for a good piece of gossip and he gave her plenty of that.  He was going to do this job his way, and he wanted everyone to know it.

At thirty, he was the youngest leader in the history of the Brotherhood.  There were those who disagreed with his appointment, but the council who put him in charge understood that he was the only one willing to do what needed to be done.  There were hard decisions that needed to be made, decisions none of the senior members were able to make.

Caligari knew that his predecessors believed themselves to be pious and the Brotherhood to be a pure organization.  The official mission of the Brotherhood was to rid the world of evil, but he knew that there was more to the Brotherhood.  He was far from pious and he knew that ridding the world of evil was impossible.  The best the Brotherhood could do was put up a good fight. 

Caligari had seen true evil, and he would make sure that evil didn’t get a foot hold in the world.  To do this, he would be forced to not only tolerate the existence of other evils, but become an ally of those evils.  This was not going to be a popular view, and soon he would have to weed out any brothers who would choose to stand in his way. 

  Caligari stared at the blood spatter on the walls of his office and sighed; he was going to have to find someone to clean up this mess.  It was an old tradition to kill a brother who failed a mission.   You either completed your mission or you died trying.  He couldn't recall it being done in his lifetime, but the circumstances justified the punishment.

One of the biggest problems with the Brotherhood is that they care too much about honor and traditions.  The families of the founding members are treated like royalty.  The body sitting in front of him was a descendant of a founding member, which was why he was given the mission of finding the girl. 

A picture... Caligari laughed.  He had brought back a picture.  He had gotten close enough to take a picture, but he still let her get away.  Caligari hadn't planned on killing the man, but he had come into his office and laid the picture down on his desk like it was some kind of prize.  Caligari didn't need a picture.  He needed the girl.

Caligari didn’t feel sorry for the dead man.  He had been given every opportunity to succeed, but he had still failed.  Caligari hadn’t been given any opportunities; he had taken them.

Caligari looked up when he heard the door to the antechamber open.  He was expecting his second meeting of the day.  He hoped that this meeting would go better than the last. Matthias
Sawyer was not a popular member of the Brotherhood.  Like every other brother but himself, Matthias was bound by blood to the Brotherhood.  Matthias had not grown up on the Island like most of the brothers, but the blood bond brought him back. 

Matthias was a descendant of one of the founding members, and the blood bond that was passed down to him had made the choice for him.  Due to his lack of popularity, Matthias was sent out on less important missions.  However, unlike the dead man before him, Mathias had completed all his missions.

Caligari knew Matthias would do anything to be released from his blood bond.  He saw Matthias for what he was; a valuable asset and he knew just the incentive Matthias needed to succeed at his last mission.  Caligari had no time to worry about what the others in the Brotherhood would think; the girl needed to be found.  He rose as Matthias strode into the office.  “Brother Matthias, I have been looking forward to meeting you.  I would ask you to sit down, but my only chair is occupied at the moment” Caligari motioned to the lifeless body.

“Is that Sturmer?” Matthias’s face remained expressionless as he looked at the dead body.

“Yes, I shot him because he failed a mission.  You know our law” Caligari said.

“Yes, but I wasn’t aware that law was being carried out” Matthias said.

“It is now.  I know you are wondering why I have asked you to meet me here” Caligari changed the topic from the dead Sturmer.

“Do you know this girl?” Caligari held the picture so Matthias could see it.

“No” Matthias said.  Caligari saw the small change in Matthias's face before he could hide it.  Caligari knew that he was lying.  His research indicated Matthias had lived in the same area as the girl before coming to the Brotherhood. 

“Lying to me is not in your best interest” Caligari said.

“She died” Matthias said softly.

“Sturmer took this picture last week” Caligari said.

“That's impossible” Matthias said.

"Is it?" Caligari waited for Matthias to understand his meaning.  The girl wouldn't be the first member of the undead Matthias had been asked to track down.  “Do you think you can find her?” Caligari asked.

“Yes” Matthias said.

“Good.  Because if you complete this mission for me I’ll give you the one thing in this world that you want; I'll give you your freedom” Caligari knew this was just the motivation he needed. 

“No one has ever been allowed to leave the Brotherhood” Matthias said.

“There are going to be a lot of firsts now that I’m in charge” Caligari said.

“I bring you the girl and you release me from the Brotherhood” Matthias repeated.

“That’s what I’m offering you, and I’d prefer not to have to make another mess in my office” Caligari said
as watched Matthias leave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

 

As I stood over my own grave I realized that I had wasted my time coming here.  When I had imagined this moment I thought I would remember what it was like to be human.  I thought I would realize that my humanity was worth fighting for.  But, seeing my name etched in stone only made me want to give up the fight even more.  I sighed; at least I had an answer to my question, even if it wasn’t the answer I wanted.

It was silly of me to think seeing my grave would change anything.  It really wasn't a grave since I wasn't in it; it was just a plot of ground.  I desperately wanted to feel human and remember the person that I used to be. 

I wouldn’t have come to my grave at all if it wasn’t for my father.  His grave was next to mine.  Technically, he wasn’t in his grave either, but it felt good to have a place to visit him.  He had died in a fire.  I wasn’t sure what was buried here and I didn’t need to know.  I thought visiting my father’s grave would make me feel human, but it didn’t.

Most of my human memories had faded, but I remember the night my father died.  It was the same night I became a vampire.  I woke up in the middle of the night to a wall of flames.  I tried to get to my father’s room, but the flames were blocking my path.  Soon, the smoke was so thick I couldn’t breathe.  I must have passed out because the next thing I remember is waking up as a vampire.  Endora told me she had seen the flames engulfing the house.  She rescued me from the fire by turning me into a vampire, but she couldn’t do the same for my father.

“It’s a bit morbid to visit your own grave” I heard a voice that stirred memories hidden so deep inside my mind that I had almost forgotten they existed.  I turned around and watched him step out from behind the trunk of a sweet gum tree.

Seeing Matthias Sawyer brought me back to a day that came rushing back to me in a flash.  I was sixteen and in love, a time before I knew about vampires.   It was a Tuesday and we had a test in History.  It had been a normal day until it wasn't.

I haven’t seen him since becoming a vampire.  I always wondered what had happened to him.  I assumed he thought that I was dead.  I wondered if he cried at my funeral; or if he ever thought of me.  It had been ten years and he had changed in ways that I could not have imagined.  He looked older than he was.  He was looking at me like he didn’t know me; and he didn't know me, I thought.  I wasn't the girl he used to know.

He was right; it was morbid of me to come here.  I wouldn't have taken the risk if I had thought anyone would be here.  But, I had taken the risk coming here, and now I was paying for it.  What was I going to say to him?  Sorry you thought I was dead, but I'm actually a vampire.  There was no way of explaining that he would understand.  I looked at him; he didn't seem the least bit surprised to find me here.

“You look exactly the same, except for your hair” he said.  I fingered the candy apple red hair that used to be the color of chocolate.  I didn’t know what to say to him.  I didn’t want him to see me like this.  I wanted him to remember me the way I was.

"Do you know how many times I visited your grave?" he asked.  "How many times I sat here and told you my darkest secrets?  If you had told me the day you died that there was something worse I wouldn't have believed you" he said.  "I thought you dying was the worst thing I would have to go thru in my life, but I guess I was wrong.  Now I have to see you as a vampire... that's worse" he said.

“You know what I am?” I asked.  I should have felt something from his words, but I didn't.  If those words couldn't make me feel anything then nothing would.

“Yes” he said.

“You know about vampires?” I asked.

“Yeah, I've killed several” he said.

“Are you here to kill me?” I asked.  I wondered if this is how it ends.  Endora saves me from a fire so that ten years later the love of my life can kill me.

“No, I'm here to save you” he said as if he were delivering the punch line of a joke.  I let out a small laugh.  If he thought he could save me then the joke was on him. 

“Save me from what?” I asked.  “I may be walking around with a new hair color, but that doesn’t change the fact that I died in that fire” I told him.  “You can't save me from being a vampire” I told him. 

“You're wrong.  I can take you somewhere where you can be free” he said.  "I'm giving you another option, and I suggest you take it".

“I can never be free” I said.  “I’m not the girl you used to know, and I can never be her again” I said.  “It would be better if you thought of me as dead” I said.

“I do think of you as being dead.  I loved a girl with soft brown hair and eyes that were always smiling.  You're just a vampire who looks like the girl I loved; but you can be that girl again.  If you come with me I can see her again” he said.

“That girl is gone” I said.  His words could have given me hope if I had let them, but if this life had taught me anything it was to never believe in false hope.  Hope only led to heartbreak, and I had already had too much heartbreak in my short life.

“Maybe you're right, but if there is a chance I can have that girl back then I have to try, and I don't care if you come willingly or not” he said.

“I can’t go with you” I said.

“I’m giving you a way out” he moved closer to me so he could look down into my eyes.  “You could be free; I know this is not the life you want” he said.  “Do you want to spend eternity cursed to walk the earth as a vampire?  Do you want to be a slave to the vampire who created you?” he asked.

“You talk about things you can’t understand.  You don’t understand how strong the blood bond between a vampire and their sire is.  There is no place I can be free.  There is no place that she won't find me.  I will only be free when I die, and for me that could be a long time” I said.

I was talking about the blood bond that was formed between Endora and me when she made me a vampire.  A blood bond between vampires was stronger than any human desire to be free.  The bond was sealed by a vampire's first kill.  Once I made my first kill I wouldn’t have the desire to be free anymore.  After the first kill what was left of my humanity would be gone.

“I didn’t say leaving would be easy” he said.

“I can’t leave with you, and you can’t seek me out again.  Just being near me is putting you in danger” I told him.  “You have to let me go.  You have to forget that I ever existed” I told him. 

“You will come with me” he said.  “If you remember I don’t give up easily” he said.  I smiled at the thoughts his words welled up inside me.  Then I left him in the graveyard.  Speed was a gift of being a vampire.  I moved faster than his eyes could see, so I knew he wouldn’t follow me.  I hoped he wouldn’t seek me out again, but I knew that he would.  He wouldn’t give up.  A part of me was happy to see him again, but I knew that any proximity to me would only put him in danger.  I couldn’t bare it if anything happened to him because of me.

 

***

 

I breathed in the scent of honeysuckle and pine that hung thick in the air.  I had always thought summers in Mississippi were hot and sticky, but now that I was a vampire I no longer noticed the heat or the cold.  It was like having a body temperature regulator on all the time.

The air seemed to be alive with the lazy chirp…chirp…chirp of crickets while lightning bugs flashed their yellowish, green lights giving the night an eerie feel.  Lightning bugs reminded me of a simpler time, when I was a child, catching them in my hand and watching their lights flash.  I would release them and watch their lights flash on and off into the night.

The graveyard was part of the estate that sat on what is known as Langley Hill.  The Langley family used to own all the land on and below the hill before they fell on hard times.  Endora now owns the large house on the top of the hill known as the Langley House.  The Langley House is a two story house with a large front porch and Greek style pillars.  The dark blue shutters framed the large front widows.  The lawns had gone into disarray in the ten years we had been gone.  Endora didn’t like to stay in one place too long. 

As I walked up the hill I looked down towards the bottom where my house used to be.  In its place was an eyesore of a house that was painted bright blue.

As a child I used to look up the hill at the Langley House.   I had been afraid of that house because I thought some sort of monster lived in it.  Little did I know I was right, and now I was one of the monsters.  My room was on the second floor, which meant I had to scale the wall to enter through the window to avoid being caught by Endora. 

“What happens if things don’t go well tonight?” I stopped climbing when I heard the voice of Santino Vallario.  Santino goes by the nickname Tino.  He has two narrow gray eyes that remind me of two pieces of steel.  His thick, straight, black hair is slicked back.  The black pin striped suits he likes to wear showed off his tall, broad-shouldered build.  His skin has a light tan that comes from his Italian background, not from the sun.  Tino had been an enforcer for the mob in Chicago until he had fallen for Endora.  He had adjusted to this new life a lot better than I had.  I guess that a vampire clan was not much different than the mob.

I decided to sneak a look thru Endora’s window.  I hadn’t been a rebellious teenager as a human and becoming a vampire hadn’t changed that.  I didn’t know what would happen if I got caught, but curiosity got the better of me.

“Lily knows how important tonight is” Endora said.  She was sitting at the small vanity absently gazing at her reflection.  Tino was pacing aimlessly behind her.

“You could just let Castor have her.  Then it could just be the two of us again, and you wouldn’t have to worry so much” Tino slid a hand down Endora’s back as if he had every right to.

“Stop” with that command Tino’s hand jerked back as if it had a mind of its own.  Tino’s face showed his frustration.  “You know how important Lily is to me.  I can’t just hand her over to Castor. 

“Tell me how I can help” Tino said.

“I just want tonight to be perfect” she said.

“Don’t worry, it will be” he said.

I crawled through the window I had left open and pushed my way thru the thick curtains.  My room was right next to Endora’s, and it was papered in a light dusty rose with thick, dark pink curtains that blocked out the sun.  The comforter on the full sized bed was cream with pink roses.  I hated pink, but Endora was convinced that any teenage girl would love such a girly room.

“Where were you?” I turned to find Tino waiting for me.  Tino’s steel gray eyes bore into me with a practiced glare.  I didn't expect Tino to leave Endora’s room so quickly.  At least he hadn’t caught me eavesdropping. 

“I went for a walk.  I’m allowed to go for walks” I reminded him.

“You should get dressed. I laid out clothes for you; it’s a big night.  Are you ready?” Tino motioned towards the bed and I saw clothes laid out there.

“If I said no would it matter” I asked.

“No” he said.  I saw the clothes on the bed and I rolled my eyes.  Tino had laid out black leather pants, a red sequin halter top, and black stilettos with red soles.  Tino was not subtle.  Giving Tino his way with little things like what I wear let him think he was in control of me.

“If you were a gentleman you would leave so I could change” I said.

“Don’t worry, I won’t look” he said. I fought the urge to roll my eyes again as he turned to face the window.  “You’re too boney for my liking” he said.  I knew I didn’t have to worry about Tino looking at me that way.  Tino had been obsessed with Endora since she turned him.  From what I could tell Endora didn’t return his affections.

I put on the leather pants and the red top.  Then I brushed my candy red hair until it shone.  I might wear what Tino wanted me to wear, but I was going to take my time getting ready.  I coated my eyelids with black eyeliner and used two coats of mascara. I coated my lips with red lip stain.  I looked at my reflection in the mirror, but didn’t recognize the image looking back at me.  When I was human I had dark brown hair and barely wore any makeup, but now that I was a vampire I put the makeup on in layers and I had dyed my hair bright red.  I didn’t want to look the same because I wasn’t the same.  I was a ten year old vampire, but if I striped all the makeup and the bright hair away I would look the same as I did the day I died.  I would never age or change. 

“Well, how do I look?” I asked Tino even though I didn’t care what he thought.

“I guess you’ll do” he said.

BOOK: In the Face of Darkness (Lily Culpepper Book 1)
13.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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