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Created darkly, p.19
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       Created Darkly, p.19

           Gena D. Lutz
 
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  “But lucky for you,” the ghost interrupted, “I know exactly where this door between our worlds is located and how to open it.”

  “Then, why are we standing here? Let’s go get that stubborn sister of mine,” Torra announced with an I dare you to say anything about it look at Rafe.

  The vampire smiled and held up his hands. “We’re on the same page, hellcat.”

  Torra stormed passed Rafe, looking at me impatiently. “Well?” she asked.

  At that, the ghost zipped forward, taking the lead. Rafe and I followed, keeping our mouths shut.

  Chapter Thirty

  “What do you think, necromancer? This place is more beautiful than anything you’d find in your world,” Wolf said. He looked around, hypnotized by the grand trappings and expensive flourishes that surrounded us.

  The room, if you could call the football-field-sized chamber that, was indeed a sight to behold. The floors sparkled and gleamed, clear and glossy, like the gems I coveted on my mother’s ‘special occasion’ jewelry when I was a child. My mouth dropped when I looked down.

  “Is that what I think it is?” I asked.

  “Diamonds. Pure and flawless,” he said with a nod.

  Unbelievable. One small chunk of that floor would be worth millions in my world. There, it was only foot tread. The walls were built of stone, nothing all that spectacular, until you noticed the gold cascading through it in massive, shimmering waves. The river veined and pumped through the rock as if it was alive. The golden lava flowed down, penetrating the diamond, spreading out to create a border of deadly heat around the entire perimeter of the room.

  The air was heavy with the scent of roses. Thick, green stalks grew from the diamond floor in a straight, even line down the middle of the room. How the plant was able to breach the hard stone to grow, I didn’t know. Every thorn-bearing stem coiled and wound together like a beanstalk. Humungous red and white roses grew from the coils. The flowers were in full bloom, with silken petals flaring out in pure majesty.

  I ached to pluck one, to feel its satiny surface across my fingertips. I imagined dragging one of those flowers over Rush’s naked flesh, erotic moans slipping between his lips as the petals caress and contour his sculpted muscles. I could hear his beckoning moans and see his hand outstretched to me as he lay wanting on my bed, his length hard against his thigh.

  “From your expression, I’d venture to say you’re about to cum.”

  What the…? I mentally shook myself. My body was trembling, my loins aching; tingles of desire thrummed over my overheated body. If Rush had been anywhere near me while I was having those thoughts, I would already be riding him like a cowgirl going for a buckle.

  “What just happened? What did you do to me?” My voice was heavily laced with accusation.

  “It’s the roses, my dear.” He hissed the word ‘dear.’ “They are called Lothario because of their lure. Lothario roses are fabled to entice even the most chastened of men or women. One drop of Lothario extract slipped into someone’s drink will make the unsuspecting recipient insatiable for days.” Wolf threw back his head and laughed. “There are stories about influenced humans being so ravenous with lust that they fuck their partners into an early grave. Ha, ha! I guess you could say that they were ‘ridden hard and put away cold.’ That’s something I would have really loved to have seen. I wonder if the poor humans stopped long enough to realize the flesh they were pounding was limp and cold.” The sicko stopped to ponder over that thought. “Hmm…probably not. Hyped up enough, humans will fuck anything…with or without a pulse.”

  “You’re disgusting,” I spat.

  “You flatter me.”

  I blinked, trying to focus. The smell of those roses had me dazed. I took a moment to center myself. If that was how Lothario affected me, and I wasn’t even human, then I could only imagine what it would do to a more susceptible victim. Thank God, those things didn’t grow in earthen soil, because if they did, there would be a lot of screwing going on and a huge population problem. Rape and mass orgies would become ‘the new black’ in that hellish scenario.

  A thought slid through my mind. How long have I been standing here? Instinctually, I knew I had to move. My body was feeling increasingly heavier in my boots. My nipples were growing sensitive and flush, hard. So hard. They were like the diamond I was standing on. Heat infused my panties, moist, hot, and slick with need.

  God forbid, I was overcome enough to act on the forced lust! Wolf and I were the only two beings around; that fact was enough incentive for me to get the heck out of Dodge…quickly. I couldn’t even imagine blacking out, blinded by lust, only to come to and find myself straddling that sickening brute. I threw up in my mouth a little just thinking about it.

  “It’s time to move. Now!” I barked, kicking my horny ass into gear.

  I didn’t give a shit in what direction I walked, which ended up being forward, deeper into the room. I wasn’t going to stand around there and wait for the unthinkable to happen. Ugh, more vomit.

  ***

  I heard water roaring in the distance, as well as the soft thud of bare feet falling against the hard floor. The power in the room hit me right off. Without a doubt, I knew we’d arrived at our final destination. Compared to that power, what I initially felt in the mausoleum was a slight irritant. Thankfully, the full force of the power knocked the Lothario’s lingering effects right out of me. It felt good to be rid of that crippling desire.

  Rounding a corner, I came to a staggering halt. I grabbed the wall to steady myself. Several creatures walked around. For what purpose, I hadn’t a clue, because all they did was walk from one spot to another with no apparent intention in mind. My eyes roamed over each one of them. The creatures looked dangerous, with corded muscles, the thickest band of which bulged to create a wide set of hunched shoulders.

  Their dull skin resembled leather, tautly stretched to cover their thin, almost emaciated, olive-colored bodies. Skinny or not, the muscles on their shoulders, arms, and legs made it clear that they could do some real damage if they wanted to. Limp knuckles dragged the ground cave man style, making the curved claws on their bony fingers screech eerily along the floor as they walked naked, back and forth, as if lost. If the sight of them didn’t make me want to piss myself, I might have felt sorry for the beasts. But I didn’t; I feared them.

  “Daddy’s home!” Wolf announced, gliding into the room, trudging through the cluster of creatures without worry.

  Beady, yellow eyes followed his progression. A couple of them lifted their bald, abnormally shaped heads long enough to growl in a lazy, low-based tone. My breath hitched as I caught a glimpse of their pointy, sharp fangs.

  The better to rip your throat out, my dear. I shivered. What were those monsters?

  I pressed my back to the wall, my palms against the surface. Sidestepping, I slid along, making my way into the room as if being careful was even a possibility.

  One of the monsters reached out, gently swiping at Wolf’s leg. It looked as if it was pleading for something. From the state of its body, caved in abdomen and cracked lips, I ventured a guess that what he was begging for was nourishment. The thing looked starved.

  Wolf stopped walking. His dark hair swept into a pair of eyes that projected indifference. Slowly, he turned to look at the beast groveling at his feet. In a show of expected cruelty, Wolf turned on the creature like a whip. Scowling, he growled and kicked, a well-polished shoe making brutal contact with the side of the beast’s skull. An ear-shredding screech tore from the creature’s throat, making all the other monsters in the room turn in our direction. Still, Wolf was not afraid…but I certainly was. Something was stopping those monsters from attacking him, even after he attacked one of them, and I wasn’t sure if I would be given the same clemency.

  I reached up and grabbed the back of my neck. I could feel what seemed like a million knots bunched up underneath the muscle and skin. It made sense. I was definitely stressed.

  “What are those thing
s?” I couldn’t hide the tremble in my voice.

  With a stern expression, he glowered at me. “Ghouls…good-for-nothing bags of bone. A waste of space, if you ask me.” Wolf’s face contorted like he tasted something foul. “If Camille wasn’t so fond of her pets, I’d be rid of them all.”

  That sounded harsh, but besides feeling a bit sorry for the ghouls’ state of being, as any creature’s suffering was bad, I couldn’t blame him for wanting to be rid of them. I’d been in the room with those creatures for less than five minutes, and I was uncomfortable as hell. I chalked it up to the fact that my intuition was nudging at me strongly, warning me that underestimating the ghouls and feeling compassion for them in any capacity would be a dangerous, if not fatal idea.

  Even knowing that, I had to ask, “What’s wrong with them? Why are they in such awful shape?”

  The next thing he said shocked me. “You’d look a little beat up, too, if you hadn’t eaten in a few decades.”

  My mouth fell open. “That’s insane. Terrible!”

  “It’s a good sign, is what it is. Besides my hellhounds, they’re our only protection from the vampires, ghosts, and necromancers from your world. The hounds keep vampires in check, and the ghouls handle any ghosts that dare venture here.”

  “Who ‘handles’ the necromancers?” I asked for self-preservation.

  “Protecting ourselves from your species has been quite an ordeal. Harkers and beholders are easy enough to deal with. Even humans could kill one of them if they knew how and tried hard enough. But Creators, as you know, are a different story, especially the women born into your ancestral line.”

  “I still don’t understand what’s so special about my family.” I said, trying to get as much information from him as I could without seeming too eager. He was my own evil nemesis, and as such, probably didn’t want to divulge any secrets that could aid me in harming him.

  “For starters, you and all the Creators in your line are the only practitioners of life magic to ever mark your vampires. Every vampire awakened by a Chase bears that individual necromancer’s mark. Your grandmother’s mark was the serpent, and yours seems to be winged predators. That’s how I found out that you inherited your grandmother’s gifts, and the same reason I forced you to raise your first vampire. I needed to be sure that you possessed your grandmother’s powerful magic.”

  “You knew my grandmother?” I asked breathless. That was a soft spot for me. Besides my mother and Torra, I’d never met anyone else in my family.

  “Indeed, I did. Your enhanced power predominantly skips one or sometimes two generations. So I kept tabs on your mother, once your grandmother deceived me, in hopes she would bare a female child. Then I waited for you to come into your powers, for the day you’d raise your first corpse, but instead of following your calling, you became a killer of vampires.” He peered deep into my eyes; I shivered from the coldness in their depths. The guy hated me for whatever my grandmother did to him before I was even born. “You are so much like her in that regard, a murderous chit.” He shook from his thoughts and finished, “So I had no other choice but to get creative. And now, here we are, and you’re about to fulfill your destiny, and right the wrongs committed by your grandmother, so to speak.”

  I was confused by his words, completely thrown. I had never met my grandmother and had no idea what kind of person she was or what she even looked like. My mother never spoke of her and kept no mementos or pictures of the woman who’d given her life, and then shortly after, disappeared off the face of the earth.

  Wolf stopped talking and led us over to a golden door. Jewels—emeralds, rubies, and sapphires of all shapes and sizes—sparkled, gilding the entryway with an unimaginable beauty and luster, screaming that someone important occupied the space behind it.

  Wolf reached for the knob. It was clear and round, a diamond of about one hundred carats, give or take a dozen. If I was a diva, my mouth would be watering, hypnotized by such a bedazzling chunk of ice. But instead of a promise of riches, the opulent door signified the last barrier between me and an unknown future—a destiny that I had been moving towards, manipulated like a chess piece over a dark and chilling game board.

  The room we entered was an oasis of carved rock, crystal and marble statues and benches. The scent of sulfur and smoke hung heavy in the air. As I took my first few steps over the threshold, my eyes widened as they took in the view of an enchanting waterfall. It was on the far side of the room, surrounded by statues of all kinds of mystical creatures. A blanket of blue and white churning froth cascaded into a bubbling man- or demon-made pool. A crystal dragon with its wings spread wide sat center stage in the front of it. Steam rose from the pool. The popping of tiny bubbles, along with a light after-spray of water, struck a soothing chord of calm serenity.

  I pulled my eyes from the falls and focused on a large, canopied bed. The bed was placed in the middle of the room, high on top of a massive pedestal. There were at least ten wide, black marble steps leading to the curtained-off bed. Wolf trudged up the large steps. When he reached the top, he pulled back long and flowing, black laced drapery. The action revealed a small, slender form, subtly hidden beneath a blanket of silken lavender. With my hands clenched in front of me, I tentatively made my way up the stairs.

  Chapter Thirty-One

  I knelt down on one knee at the foot of a grave. The earth in front of the deteriorating stone was hard and compact, evidence of the years passing by while its occupant lay six feet underneath it, rotting away in a pine box. The soul that belonged to that grave, however, never left that plain. She was restless, in need of our help, and wouldn’t rest until she knew her family was safe. Deidra, skimming the air, floated up beside me with a small frown twitching her lips.

  “Even after all these years, it bothers me to see my name carved into that blasted stone. Anyway, vampire…it’s time to put that strength of yours to good use.”

  Rafe arched a brow. “Pardon me?”

  Deidra floated towards him, pointing at the ground in front of her tombstone. “We need my dagger to get to where Kris is. And down there, my boy, is where it is.”

  Rafe wrinkled his nose and stepped back a few paces. Holding up his arms, he said, “Are you serious? You need me to dig up your body? That’s gross.”

  Torra sneered. She was looking a lot better than she had been a few minutes before. The color had returned to her face and she was moving on sturdier feet. “It’s not like we have a shovel to dig with, vamp boy. Besides, if you’d stop whining like a little bitch, we could get this over with.”

  “You’re a vulgar woman.” Rafe said, casting Torra a leering grin. “It’s kind of cute.”

  “Umm…no. Not even going there, especially not with a blood-sucker like you. Now, get to work,” Torra said.

  “Sure thing, hellcat.” Rafe winked.

  I may not have the strength of twenty men like Rafe, but being a necromancer did make me stronger than the average Joe Shmoe, so I ignored all the background chatter, which was only stalling me from my mission—to save my woman. I needed to get to Kristina.

  I leaned forward and dug my fingers into the hard dirt. The others must have seen what I was doing, because they stopped arguing, and in a blink, two sets of hands joined me in my single-minded pursuit. Dirt flew up with an explosion of clots as soon as Rafe put his might behind the task. After only a few minutes, the hole became too deep, so Torra and I had no other choice but to stand back and let the vampire finish the job.

  At the bottom of the hole, Rafe yanked open the coffin. Deidra’s spectral form shivered before she shot behind her own tombstone in a flurry of mist, refusing to gaze into the dark, gaping chasm of the open grave. I didn’t blame her one damn bit; everything about the situation was disturbingly screwed up, especially for her.

  “Do you mind telling me exactly where I can find the dagger? The less poking about I have to do in here, the better. You feel me?” Rafe asked from below.

  “Someone from the Chase family s
hould have placed it by my side. Chases always bury their kin with their tools. You never know if you’ll need them on the other side.”

  Rafe nodded once, then using only his eyes, searched the decomposed corpse. His brows lifted like he’d spotted something. Reaching over the body, he clutched Deidra’s right forearm. The pop and crack of bone breaking, as he accidently dislodged it from the rest of the body, made everyone cringe.

  “Ouch! I can feel that!” Deidra shrieked from behind her tombstone, making my jaw drop to the ground.

  “What the fu—?” Rafe yelled back.

  “Kidding.” She chuckled. “I was just trying to lighten the mood.”

  I fell deep into motherly love with Kristina’s grandmother after that stunt.

  Rafe, not appreciating Deidra’s humor as much as I had, mumbled a curse and tossed the arm bone back into the coffin. Soon after, the bag he filched from wherever he’d been searching flew out of the hole. It landed with a thud at my feet. I heard the door to the casket slam shut, and then two seconds later, Rafe jumped from the grave.

  “Kris owes me big time for this,” Rafe grumbled as he beat the grave dust from his clothes. The look on his face was priceless. “And you, Grandma Chase, are not funny.”

  I looked down at my own clothes. My hoodie was ripped and blood soaked with a hole in it the size of a quarter over my chest. My jeans were just as bedraggled, sans the blood and bullet hole. But for some reason, I didn’t give a shit about any of it; all I could think about was Kristina. Was she okay? Where was she? What was she doing? Would I ever get to kiss her sweet lips again?

  In front of me, on hands and knees, Torra pushed big piles of dirt back into the hole. Her shoulders shook from laughter as she winked at the ghost of her dead great-grandmother.

  “You’re not finished yet, vamp boy,” Torra said, ignoring Rafe’s complaints and obviously getting a kick out of Deidra’s needling him. “Get over here and help me fill in this hole. A wonderful woman like my grandmother deserves nothing less than for her remains to be respected. I won’t allow her grave to be desecrated.”

 
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