Home > Tegan's Blood (The Ultimate Power #1)(13)

Tegan's Blood (The Ultimate Power #1)(13)
Author: L.H. Cosway

I press the buzzer on the big steel entrance door to Crimson, and it only takes a minute before we hear the locks turning over and then Delilah’s scarlet curls fill the doorway to greet us. This is the first time I’ve seen her dressed down, she’s wearing tight pale jeans and a black string top with a pair of bright pink Sketchers. In her current outfit, I can truly see how young Delilah appears. To the ordinary bystander she looks like an average sixteen or seventeen year old girl, however, she could be well over one hundred years old for all I know.

“Hello Tegan,” she says, with something of a knowing smile. Ethan has clearly filled her in on last night’s events.

“Hey Delilah, I – um, I’m supposed to be meeting with Ethan.” I say nervously, the dhamphir is like a lion in the guise of a lamb, it’s difficult not to feel wary of her, but enthralled all at the same time.

“Yes I know,” she replies, her sharp green eyes dart from me and land on Amanda. “Who’s this?” she asks, cocking an eyebrow.

“I’m Amanda, Tegan’s friend,” says Amanda, a little bit shyly. Despite her apparent youth to an unknowing human, Delilah is still as intimidating as a fifty year old correction school head mistress.

“I don’t care whose friend you are honey, you aren’t coming in,” says Delilah dismissively, then she turns to me. “Tegan, are you coming or what?”

“No, not if my friend can’t come with me.” I tell her, my statement final.

Delilah sighs. “Fine. But she’ll have to wait at the bar. We’ve got – guests in the office.”

“What do you mean by guests?” I ask, suspiciously.

“You’ll see,” is all she says before leading us into the windowless night club.

Crimson hasn’t opened for business yet, so Amanda has to sit and wait at the empty bar alone. Delilah doesn’t even offer her a drink. Rude. But then what should I expect from a half vampire? Seemingly hospitality wasn’t one of the human traits she carried along. When I enter the office I lay my eyes on the last two people I expected to find in the office of Ethan Cristescu. Marcel and Gabriel.

Chapter Eight

The Very Messy Details

Marcel and Gabriel are both sitting in the two chairs directly opposite Ethan’s sleek, black, imposing desk. Lucas and another man with dark brown hair are standing off to one side of the room beside the leather couch. The new guy has the kind of laid back beauty similar to that of Ethan and Lucas, so I’m guessing that he too is a vampire.

A sliver of guilt runs through me. Have I gotten Marcel and Gabriel into trouble through their association with me? At this moment I feel like a walking talking smashed mirror. Seven years bad luck.

Delilah closes the door behind us as we enter the room, and I ask cautiously, “What’s going on here?”

Ethan, who has been standing at the head of his desk flicking a silver coin back and forth between his fingers with expert precision, is the first to answer me.

“Hello beautiful, take a seat,” he gestures toward a chair against the wall, opposite to where Lucas and the other man are standing.

“Okay,” I say hesitantly. The tension in the room is palpable. “But that still doesn’t answer my question,” I sit down on the cold metal chair. “Why have you brought Marcel and Gabriel here?”

Marcel looks at me sympathetically, as though it’s his fault that this uncomfortable meeting is taking place. Gabriel is staring at Ethan and the phrase if looks could kill springs to mind. I wouldn’t want to be on the other end of those dirty looks, but Ethan seems one hundred per cent unaffected by the obvious hostility in Gabriel’s gaze.

Ethan clears his throat. “Well Tegan, as you have recently been so unfortunate to discover, we vampires are not merely the creation of myth and legend. We are very real, and our kind has populated the city of Tribane for many centuries now. I have told you some things about our existence, but not nearly all of it. That is why I have asked you to come here.” He pauses a moment, perhaps to make sure I understand. I give a little nod of my head for him to continue, I don’t know if my voice is up to functioning at the moment.

Ethan begins to speak again. “Through your discovery of our existence you have inadvertently become involved in our society, and so, you must know what this involvement entails. There are rules to this world and those rules need to be followed.” Ethan’s voice is direct and informative; there is none of the warmth he sometimes shows me. He continues, “For you this city is open, as a human you are not attached to our world, and therefore, neither are you obligated to obey our rules. You may come and go as you please. But for us, there is and always has been segregation.”

“What do you mean by segregation?” I ask. “You’re all vampires after all, is it some sort of gang affiliation thing?” and at this my attention is drawn to Marcel and Gabriel. Are they vampires too? They must be if they are here listening to all of this as if they’ve known it all their lives. I seem to be the only one this information is new to. Maybe my new employer is part of an enemy gang and that’s why Ethan was angered when I told him who I was working for.

There is the ghost of a smile on Ethan’s face. “No we are not members of any gang. If you would allow me to continue I will explain what I mean by segregation.”

“Go ahead,” I tell him, feeling like a scolded child.

“You are familiar with the Hawthorn I presume?” he asks. “The river that runs through Tribane, splitting it in half.”

“Yes.” I reply in a quiet voice.

“Well, the South side of the Hawthorn is vampire territory, while that which lies on the North side of the river belongs to the Slayers, the Dhamphirs, and,” he glances at Marcel with an amused expression, “the magic wielding humans.”

My mind is a labyrinth of shock, amazement and confusion, not to mention still being a tad slow from the alcohol I consumed last night. Plus, I think I’m still suffering from the after effects of Ethan’s revelation that vampires are actually real, so excuse me if it takes a while for all of this to sink in. There are magic wielding humans? Is that just a fancy definition for a witch?

My relatively easy acceptance of all this is actually scaring me a little. I should be locked in my bedroom right now in fear for my life. But here I am, facing the situation head on, maybe I’m not such a coward after all.

“Okay, so why exactly do I need to know all this?” I ask with worry.

“Because,” says Ethan, “in a very short space of time you have caught the interest of two opposing parties, and there has to be a reason for that. I do not believe in coincidence.”

“Yeah well, I didn’t believe in vampires two days ago, but look at me now, all entangled in some sort of supernatural politics.”

“Even so,” replies Ethan. “We must get to the bottom of this, and venture to come to an agreeable conclusion. Now, if I might explain,” he says, looking to Marcel seemingly for permission. Marcel gives a swift nod of his head.

“Very good,” says Ethan. “Tegan, your new employer here, Mr Marcel Girard, proprietor of Indigo and Head Warlock of district two is loyal to the Governor of North Tribane, Mr Siegfried Pamphrock. Pamphrock is a dhamphir and leader of the DOH.” Ethan addresses Marcel now, a vaguely satisfied expression on his face. “Tegan came into contact with your Defenders of Humanity last night Mr Girard, a terrible messy business that was.”

“Yes,” says Marcel, without a speck of emotion. “A team was sent to clean up that very mess early this morning.”

“Good, good,” says Ethan with frightening cheeriness, as though he could stab Marcel with one swift thrust of a dagger and be grinning manically all the while. “Now, where was I? Oh yes, I was telling Tegan the true identity of her new work mates. So, Mr Girard’s business partner here, Gabriel Forbes,” he pronounces the name slowly, with cruelty in his blue grey eyes, “is a dhamphir Wiccan, and therefore his loyalties too lie with Governor Pamphrock. You never could decide what you wanted to be could you Gabriel? A witch or a dhamphir, but then again, the minds of simplistic folk are generally indecisive, are they not?”

I’m not sure if I like how Ethan is acting toward Gabriel, who appears as though he might jump from his seat and attack Ethan at any moment, but then I see his tense shoulders relax with some effort and he replies calmly, “I never considered simplicity to be a negative attribute.”

“Of course not –” says Ethan, about to say something else when I interrupt.

“Wait a minute,” I say. “You said that all dhamphirs are enemies of vampires and live on the North side of the river, but isn’t Delilah a dhamphir? So how is it that she seems to be aligned with the vamps? And another thing, if dhamphirs are the offspring of vampires then why are they also your enemies?” I finish, proud of myself for having picked up on an inconsistency in this information.

“Delilah is an isolated case,” says Ethan, taking a minute to glance at his half-sister with genuine affection, as she stands by the door at the back of the office.

“Our father was a very powerful man when he was alive, and she was his only daughter. That meant she was special, you see, so she was raised with vampires on vampire territory. Normally dhamphirs are rejected by our race because their blood is not pure, so they’re raised by their human parent after they are born, and in most cases they are taught by their human mother or father to despise the vampire race because their vampire parent rejected them. A lover scorned and all that. Once fully grown, a young dhamphir is normally head hunted by the DOH and recruited into their organisation to kill vampires. It is highly important for them to recruit dhamphirs as it is believed, though disputable, that they possess all of the strengths of a vampire with none of the weaknesses.

“For example, our sensitivity to daylight is cancelled out in a dhamphir by their human genes. Also, they only require a minuscule amount of blood to survive. The DOH was created by a dhamphir, but it is largely made up of human slayers, since dhamphir births are few and far between, often the DNA refuses to mix.” Ethan stops speaking here, and the room is encased in silence.

I study Marcel and Gabriel, sitting tensely in their seats, and wonder why they didn’t speak up and defend the dhamphirs and the DOH while Ethan spoke so matter of factly about them. Surely they would have something to say about the glib way in which he spoke of an organisation they are supposed to be loyal to. Or maybe their silence is due to the fact that they’re outside of their territory, and it would be unwise to start a fight when they are in such a vulnerable position.

The gap in conversation gives me a moment to clarify everything in my head. So, Marcel is a warlock, the male version of a witch. And Gabriel is a dhamphir, a human/vampire hybrid. And I, foolish, bad luck having, danger courting, broken mirror that I am, have become messed up in all of these petty, antagonistic politics.

“So if this Pamphrock guy is the head of the DOH, then who is the leader of the vampires?” I ask, breaking the period of silence.

Ethan grins. “That would be my good friend Sir Howard Herrington, he would be akin to your City Mayor. He governs over vampire territory, everything that lies on the South side of the Hawthorn.”

“Sounds…important and terrifying,” I answer with sarcasm, not liking Ethan’s superior tone of voice. Gabriel lets out a heavy sigh, and for some reason Marcel looks uncomfortable, as though trying hard to stifle a laugh. I wonder why. Perhaps there’s something funny about this Sir Howard Herrington. Gabriel looks at me then, for the first time since I’d entered the office, and he smiles.

Ethan scowls vaguely in my direction as though humouring my comment. “If you say so,” he replies. “Anyway, if I might continue, the problem that arises here is quite the anomaly. In general, very few humans know of our existence, the exceptions lie mostly with those recruited into the DOH, or if they are a member of one of the twelve magic holding families. Aside from these there are a small amount of blood donors, but they are usually drained of blood so often that they are no more than empty shells. They do not have much in the way of conscious thought.”

“So you take people from their lives and turn them into your own personal blood donors,” I conclude. “Don’t you have any kind of a conscience about that?”

“They volunteer,” Ethan replies harshly. “It is of no concern to me what people do of their own free will. You Tegan, however, are not a blood donor nor a slayer nor a magic holder, and so, we must decide what to do about you. This gentleman here,” he gestures to the vampire beside Lucas, “is David Rollans, and he is one of our rare neutral vampires. He is loyal to neither Pamphrock nor Herrington. Of course, that kind of a station comes with its own dangers, however that is beside the point at the moment. Due to his position as neutral, David is to be our mediator here today. His presence is required for Marcel and Gabriel to be present in vampire territory. If he were not here, their crossing the river would be seen as an act of open aggression and would have to be dealt with accordingly. In the same way that the presence of the slayers who followed us last night was a hostile act. When an individual or group of individuals from either side crosses the river they are in essence declaring war.”

I let that sink in, realising that my apartment is in fact in vampire territory. Now there’s an unsettling thought. I’d much rather live amongst the slayers and the warlocks, at least they aren’t going to try to drink my blood. There is a tension filled silence for a minute that is gratefully broken by a gentle knock on the door.

   
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