Authors: Rebecca Trynes
Blood Merge: Book One
CURSED © 2015 by Rebecca Trynes
All rights reserved.
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To all the people in my life who ever told me
that my stories were worth reading.
The Netherlands, early 1600s.
The boy was sixteen years of age, but looked to be well over a hundred; his body withered and emaciated, his movements slow and strained. The effort of turning over on his mattress, for what felt the hundredth time, had him panting in recovery for the next few minutes.
He looked, and felt, like a corpse.
Lifting his heavy eyelids, he slowly took stock of his surroundings. Cold grey stone was everywhere, and multicoloured furs covered the floor in an attempt to hold back the chill of winter that nevertheless seeped up through the foundations. A fire burned in the hearth of the fireplace embedded in the far wall, its cheery light somehow threatening, taunting him with its vibrancy of life. Waves of heat could be seen rising from the flames, yet he failed to be warmed by them. Although there were no bars on the windows or locks on his door, the room was a prison; for he could no more get up and walk out than had he been closed in behind steel bars. He hadn’t been outside in years; could barely remember what the sky looked like, let alone the smell of fresh air.
He hadn’t always been this way. As a small child, he had chased his sister up and down the hills surrounding the manor, the wind flowing through his thick dark hair, laughter but a moment away from escaping his lips. Over the years, that boy had slowly turned into the frail, shrunken, shadow of a male that he was now.
The heavy door to his room scraped open, causing his eyelids to snap open with it. The room that had been brightly lit by the light of the fire only moments ago was now dim and sombre, the fireplace nothing but a bed of softly glowing coals.
Had he fallen asleep, or was the memory of the fire from another day? He could no longer properly organise his thoughts. Starvation had now completed its decimation of all that he was, and he would have wept for the man he could have been, had he the energy.
Movement by the door caught his attention. When had the door opened?
A tall, powerfully built male entered the room, his cruel face causing the boy to cringe beneath his covers. He whimpered softly as the warrior strode towards him and would have bolted had his legs not been useless sticks attached to his pelvis.
“Come,” the male said, his booming voice filling the small space like a clap of thunder.
The boy’s eyes darted towards the door as a well-dressed aristocrat entered the room, his blonde hair catching the light of the lantern held by one of the manor staff who followed behind. The male looked around at the stone walls curiously, and then, inevitably, flinched when his gaze fell upon the animated corpse that the boy had become.
“My God!” the stranger exclaimed, hand going to his throat in horror. “The rumours are true.”
The cruel warrior nodded sombrely and gestured for the male to come closer. After a lingering, wide-eyed stare, the stranger finally nodded, squared his shoulders with purpose, and strode forward.
Clutching the blanket to his chin, the boy shrunk from the male, staring in horror as the blonde lifted a thick wrist to his mouth and bit down. The boy opened his mouth to scream at the self-mutilation, but no sound emerged. As he looked into the dark eyes of the stranger, the aristocrat took his open mouth as an invitation to lower the now bleeding wrist towards his lips.
Time seemed to slow to a crawl as his eyes locked onto the slowly seeping crimson liquid. The smell of the blood hit him first. Sweet and metallic, it sent the pure agony of a ravenous thirst through his shrunken veins, causing his mouth to water. His body lit with a sudden fire, a burning need to taste what the unknown male was offering, and a beastly growl erupted from his chest. Within a heartbeat, his hands locked with startling speed around the stranger’s wrist, and with no effort at all, he raised his head and wrapped his lips around the smooth, warm flesh that was offered to him.
Hot liquid hit his parched tongue. Pure heaven. Seductively sweet, with the smooth consistency of melted chocolate, it slid down his throat, leaving a trail of welcome fire behind it. One swallow became two; on the third, he thought he would die from the pure ecstasy of the life-sustaining sustenance he so sorely needed.
But the effect was short-lived. As had happened every time before this, the ecstasy soon turned to disgust, and then to revulsion. What had seemed the perfect amount of sweetness turned sickening in an instant and his throat closed itself against the steady flow of poison. Gagging, he pushed the male’s wrist away and turned his head aside as a wave of nausea hit him with force, followed quickly by a slowly burning tide of lava that seemed to flow through his veins, emanating from his previously empty stomach.
Well-acquainted with the boys unnatural rejection to the essence of life, the warrior shook his head in frustration and placed his hand on Christian’s shoulder.
“I thank you for your gift, worthy friend,” he said, clenching his teeth against the wave of emotional agony that threatened to drop him to his knees, “but we will not require it any longer.”
The blonde took back his wrist and licked the wound closed, his eyes lingering sadly on the boy who was now writhing with the pain of rejection.
“I am sorry that I was not successful,” the male told the warrior and bowed slightly before backing out of the room.
The warrior looked at the boy who was now still as death, the ordeal having robbed him of consciousness. Despair settled its weight upon his shoulders. He could think of no other course of action to save his youngest son; the failure was like a dagger in his heart.
“Father,” his youngest daughter said tentatively, having come soundlessly into the room, “is there none other?”
His breath left him in a long sigh. “No. He was our last hope.”
His sins weighed heavily upon him, for it was surely that for which his family had been cursed. What other reason could there be for his youngest son’s bodily rejection of all that made them what they were?
“Are you certain, Father?” his daughter asked, her tone suggesting that he was ignoring a possibility.
He slashed his hand angrily at the implication and pinned her with a glare that invited no argument. “See to him.” With that, he brushed past her, unable to look at either of them further.
The daughter looked over at the still form of her brother, a lump in her throat and tears in her eyes. For the past ten years, she had watched him get ever weaker, ever more frail, his body and mind slowly fading into the depths of a starvation that was both horrifying and unnatural. She wished she could have done something.
Pale grey eyes looked up at her, and she could tell by the intensity of the stare that the small amount of blood her brother had ingested had at least revived his mind somewhat that he remembered who she was.
“Did I dream that male?” he asked, his voice a mere whisper.
She shook her head and darted to his bedside. “Father has run out of options.”
He nodded wearily, his acceptance heartbreaking. “It was inevitable.”
The daughter debated with herself for a long minute and then said the words that changed everything. “I believe there is another.”
Knox felt strangely energized; his walk down the street turning into more of a bouncing jaunt than a casual stroll. He was normally a pretty upbeat kind of guy, but today felt particularly stellar for some reason: like there was a charge to the air; a sense of waiting for something great to happen. It had him grinning from ear to ear. So much so, that his son, who was strolling along next to him, hands in his pockets in his usual way, felt the need to comment.
“What’s got you so chipper?” Lucas asked, eyeing him suspiciously.
“Can’t you feel it?” Knox asked in return, taking a deep breath and letting it out with a sigh, noting that the city air was surprisingly fresh on this fine October morning. “Something good is going to happen.”
Lucas lifted an eyebrow and smiled slightly. “Such as?”
Grinning at his son, he shrugged. “Fuck knows, but it’s going to be good—no, great—whatever it is.”
Lucas made a noncommittal sound, but the smile lingered on his face like he knew the truth as well as he.
Something was going to happen. Something life changing.
On sudden impulse, he shoved his hand into his pocket and pulled out his phone. “We should invite Greyvian to lunch,” he said, holding his finger on the button so the biometrics could do its thing and unlock his phone. “He really doesn’t get out enough.”
“Is there something you’re not telling me?”
Looking sideways at his son, he noted the suspicious tilt to the brunette’s eyes and couldn’t help but laugh. “I swear I’d tell you if I did. You know me.”
“Hmmm,” Lucas murmured. “All too well, actually. Better than any son should know his father.”
Winking at the male, he tapped through to contacts and started a search for Greyvian’s name; as soon as it came up, he tapped on it and held the phone to his ear. As per usual, the call was connected within three rings. Also as per usual, he was greeted with silence on the other end—a very Greyvian thing to do.
“You had lunch yet?” he asked into the phone, hoping that the connection was good and the male could hear him despite the silence. One time when he had called Greyvian, he’d talked for a few minutes before being told by the bastard that he hadn’t caught any of it because the signal was crap. Not in so many words, of course, but that was the gist of the comment. Now, Knox made it a point to always ask a short question that needed an answer before continuing. “You know—the kind that regular people eat.”
“I have,” came the laconic reply, spoken in a voice that could have been computer generated for all the enthusiasm and inflection that was put into it.
That was Greyvian for you. A man of many words. Just couldn’t
shut the guy up. There was a long moment of silence where Knox hoped, even though he knew it was futile, for a question in return, like, ‘Why do you ask?’, but silence reigned.
“You want to join us anyway? You could order someone to drink.”
Silence. Pulling the phone from his ear, he checked the signal. Still good. Putting the phone back, he waited a moment longer, and then faced the inevitable: Greyvian was just being Greyvian. If there was ever a question the male didn’t feel the need to answer, he just left it to silence—which were most questions put to him.
“Suit yourself,” he sighed, making a face at Lucas, who simply shook his head in response, amused, but unsurprised, by Greyvian’s rejection. “One day you’re going to say yes and I’ll probably die of shock.”
He had to laugh. Greyvian was a tough nut to crack. He should know—he’d been trying for about a hundred years.
“Well, catch ya later.”
Well, that was encouraging. Most of the time, he didn’t even get that.
Slipping his phone back into his pocket, he shrugged at the questioning look Lucas directed at him. “You never know if you don’t try.”
Lucas smiled in return. “You’ve got to be the most persistent male I have ever known. You should work on that.”
“Persistence is the key to success; didn’t anyone ever tell you that?”
“And am I not successful?”
Lucas made a face that could have been concession or ambivalence. He chose to see concession.
“Come on, let’s get some eats. I’m suddenly in the mood for something sweet.”
* * *
Joe’s cafe was crowded this afternoon. Inside was a kind of organised chaos, with too many people all trying to talk over the top of one another, and wait staff dodging through any open space they could find. Outside wasn’t much better.
Jacob managed to find an empty table on the outskirts of the madness, but the noisy clamour still made his teeth ache.
But maybe that was just the flu talking.
His muscles ached and his body felt cold, even though he had just walked the four and a half blocks from his apartment to the cafe and the air temperature was about twenty-six degrees Celsius. With the tips of his fingers, he removed a fine sheen of sweat from his forehead and stared down at the moisture with misgivings. A cold sweat.
Great. Just when I thought it was gone, it comes back again,
. I so don’t need this right now.
He hated being sick. Not just the symptoms of it, but the forced downtime and inconvenience that it imposed on his life, as well as the lives of the one hundred and twenty students he taught every week at his martial arts academy. He hated having to get someone to fill in for him. Not that Joel, an eighteen-year-old lean, mean (not really), fighting machine, minded at all. Hell, the kid was eager to take charge.
He snorted to himself. Kid. Like he was so old, himself? Twenty-four wasn’t that much older, but he felt ancient. He guessed you grew up pretty fast when you were bullied every day of your adolescent life by punks who thought they were better than you just because their family had money and you were the poor orphan boy. So cliché, but that was his life. He would have given anything for a different start.
Before he could crawl down the path of self-pity, his usual waitress, Katey, came smiling along and took his order, giving him an eyeful of her impressive cleavage as she bent over to vigorously wipe a few crumbs off the table, her breasts jiggling from side to side. She batted her long dark lashes at him and winked as she told him she wouldn’t be long.
As she sashayed away, fully aware that he was watching her ass, he wondered how many hours she spent at the gym to get a toned, taut rear like that. Normally he would have been having multiple fantasies involving that ass, but today he was just too tired.
He and Katey had played the flirting game every day for the last year and a half, ever since he’d started to frequent the place, though neither one of them had ever taken it any further than harmless flirting. Jacob, because it was hard to find a cafe that made his mochas just the way he liked them (extra sweet but still a little bitter at the same time) and he would hate to have to find a new place if he actually dated her—because his relationships never really ended well; and Katey, well he wasn’t sure what her reasoning was, but maybe she just liked to play the game without ever taking a base.
A sudden tightening in his skull had him cursing Mother Nature for ever having invented the flu. His frontal lobe felt uncomfortably full: like his head was a bucket and it was about to overflow. He made a mental note to pick up some decongestant on his way back home.
He couldn’t understand how he could be sick again. He’d just gone through this. The sneezing, the runny nose, the muscle aches, the migraines, the fever, sore throat—he’d had it all. His best friend and flatmate, Sienna, had tried to get him to go to a doctor, but he’d shrugged it off as a regular flu; especially since it only lasted a few days before it started to dry up. Now that it was coming back again, he wasn’t so sure it was such a benign illness.
Maybe he would have to go to a doctor after all. The thought was more a pain than a fear of any kind. Waiting in a doctor’s office wasn’t his idea of a good time; sitting in a room full of sick people, who had probably put their germ-ridden hands all over the doorknobs and seats, and filled the air with their cough-expelled microscopic bacteria and viruses? No thanks. He was sick enough already without having to inhale a cocktail of other people’s sicknesses. Plus, he wouldn’t want to add his current brand of illness to the mix. Nobody else should have to suffer through this crap.
As Katey returned with his mocha, he managed a small smile of thanks.
“You feeling okay, babe?” she asked, obviously noticing his lack of attention.
“I’ve felt better.”
She pouted her lips in sympathy. “You poor thing. Let me know if I can get you anything else.”
He nodded in thanks and tracked her as she twitched her hips over to the table next to him where two male model types had just taken up residence.
There was something about them that had him looking twice, and it wasn’t because they were both tall, good-looking, and dressed like GQ models: meaning dark dress pants and crisp shirts that had a few buttons undone to show off their smooth brown chests and the sleeves rolled up to expose their muscular forearms. Male model types like them weren’t that uncommon when you lived in a big city. It wasn’t even due to the fact that they could have been twins (apart from one of them sporting natural chocolate-brown hair, the other bleached blonde tips).
No, it was something deeper than appearance that had him studying them so closely that he could have told you how many moles they had (a total of two between them), but he couldn’t have said what. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that Katey didn’t even spare them a glance, let alone a second one, as she cleaned the plates left by the previous patrons and sashayed back into the belly of the building. She even threw a flirty smile back his way when she caught his eyes following her.
Maybe she didn’t like pretty boys?
Smiling at the thought, he pulled his phone out of his pocket and checked his messages, his smile widening when he saw one from Sienna, his flatmate.
How are you feeling today? You were still sleeping when I left for work.
He shook his head in amusement. That girl. Always writing out her texts in full. It was like she couldn’t stand to abbreviate.
he texted back.
Came out 4 coffee anyway.
U shld b here R now. 2 pretty boys at table next 2 me just got snubbed by KT.
A moment or two later she texted back with,
Told you she likes ‘em rugged. You stud. Do you need any drugs?
He guessed work wasn’t that busy at the moment.
No, still got plenty at home. Unless we’re talking illicit. U think they’ll make it go away?
For a little while maybe! I’m sure you’d feel worse when you came down though.
She was probably right. Plus, neither of them would have known where to buy them, even if they were interested. Although, maybe if he waited in a dark alley somewhere he’d come across someone. And then get mugged and possibly stabbed?
Katey came back, efficient as ever, to take the models’ order, and still, she barely even looked at them. He only distantly noted that, in fact, she sounded really bored as she asked them what they wanted, because a sudden release of nasal congestion eased most of the tension in his head as if he were a sink whose plug had just been pulled. It even seemed a little easier to breathe now.
“I’ll have the double layer chocolate cake, thank-you-very-much, Miss....” Returning his attention to the table beside him, Jacob couldn’t help but notice the blonde guy’s accent: American, with an unknown exotic twist; made more exotic by the fact that his voice was silky smooth and sexy as hell—even to a male as hetero as himself.
Katey’s head shot up from her notepad like blondie had smacked her stupid. She gaped at the guy for a long moment, like she couldn’t believe she hadn’t noticed him before now, and then shook herself, her flirty smile transforming her face into something more alluring.
Well, there went his pretty boy theory.
“Call me Katey,” she replied, a tad breathlessly. “I’ll cut you a big piece myself. And your friend?” She barely glanced at the brother, even though the two were almost identical.
Model 1 raised a brow at Model 2 and grinned in a suggestive way. Model 2 rolled his eyes at Model 1 and then looked up at Katey. In a voice that was slightly more gravelly than his twin’s, but no less panty-dropping, he drawled, “Mind if I tap your vein?”
Katey didn’t seem to hear him at all and politely asked, “Excuse me?”
“He’ll have the same,” Model 1 replied with a smooth smile.
She nodded, smiling in return, and, with a lingering gaze on Model 1, left to fill their order.
Once again, Jacob’s frontal lobe felt like someone was standing on it, or maybe like he was in an aircraft and changing altitude on a regular basis. Next thing you know, his ears would start popping.
Being sick really sucked.
Model 1 laughed at Model 2, the sound musical and enticing. “Thirsty, are we?”