Authors: Nadja Notariani
The Third Fate
by Nadja Notariani
The Third Fate © Nadja Notariani 2012
Froderick ~ Your willingness to listen is a gift for which I cannot thank you enough.
Claus ~ As always, you offer the laughter that keeps me on track, balances me in the face of any adversity. Your sister, Schultz
Anthony ~ For your fascination with the undead.
Closing out the program on her laptop, Paige Kinnell ordered her desk in preparation for her busy schedule in the morning. The pink memo jarred her memory, and she made a mental note to gather two adjunct librarians to pull a book collection for Martyr’s Public School. Fifth grade students were to delve into the tangled relationship between the Island countries, a relationship which eventually led to their unification into Great Britain. It was her job as a Junior Librarian at The Mitchell, the main library in Glasgow, to see that the materials these children explored transported them into the dramatic and fascinating history that foreshadowed their joining into the nation they were today.
Surrounding silence exacerbated the echo of her heels as she traversed the lengthy trek toward the exit. Traveling the hallways, she conjured the image of the little girl she’d found in the library earlier, a smile playing on her lips. The tiny blond of about five or six years old looked forlorn, and Paige suspected she had gotten separated from her mother. Not wanting to frighten the child by suggesting she was lost, Paige introduced herself and asked if she wanted to play a game. The child brightened, gifting Paige the sweetest smile and readily agreeing. Paige threw together a simple game, guessing at who may belong to the little girl by asking questions about the people in the library. The child had beamed when Paige asked all sorts of silly questions along with serious ones until an older girl of about nine arrived to collect her sister. Paige had learned the tiny girl’s name when the young lass ran back and hugged her tightly, thanking her for a lovely game.
I hope I see you again someday, Miss Kinnell. You can call me Jael.
Senior Librarian Barbara Ross rounded the corner at the far end of the hall saving Paige the trouble of tracking the older woman down before leaving.
Ms. Ross!” Paige called to her, but the woman entered one of the offices without hearing.
The idea of waiting outside for her boss to re-emerge prompted Paige’s stomach to protest loudly. Delaying dinner was an unpopular prospect, especially where her appetite was concerned. Thankfully a second later Barbara Ross appeared once again and headed straight toward her.
She called out, “Ms. Ross!”
The woman made no reply, continuing in her unhurried, staunch manner until they were quite within distance that she could speak in her low, even, librarian voice.
Miss Kinnell,” she greeted with a nod of her graying head. “What may I do for you?”
I was just readying to leave, Ma’am,” Paige responded, eager to depart for her favorite restaurant. “Is there anything you need from me before I go?”
The new shipment of reference books arrived this afternoon and has been checked in by the aides. Each title will need cataloged and entered into the system tonight. Can you handle that, Miss Kinnell?”
Paige would never show her disappointment outwardly. She loved her job. For once, though, she’d hoped to steal out on time. Cataloging the countless volumes would take hours. So much for dinner plans. Brooke and Lara would understand. They always did.
I’ll get right on that, Ms. Ross,” Paige offered cheerily despite her disappointment.
The older woman continued walking, pausing a few steps from Paige and smiling back at her in her doting headmistress way.
Allan is bringing you a steak dinner, Miss Kinnell, my treat. That is your favorite?”
Paige returned the smile, half wanting to scream over her foiled plans, half wanting to hug Ms. Ross for knowing her favorite dinner and bothering to get it.
What would I do without you, Ms. Ross?”
Probably starve away to nothing,” Barbara Ross teased dryly, resuming her duties.
Retracing her steps to the ample office she shared with fellow Junior Librarians, Allan Murphy and Bethany Fraser, Paige dialed her phone, dreading the conversation to come.
Lara? Hi. It’s me.”
I know, I know. But I have to work late. Sorry.”
She held the phone away from her ear, laughing at her cousin’s indignation, comforted that it was on her behalf.
Okay, then. See you tomorrow.”
At least I’m still having steak for dinner.
Perched on the building’s concrete ledge, chilled night air whirled around his head; not that the cold bothered him. Fall had arrived. Dusky shades of twilight lingered in the west, but that, too, was of little consequence. Breathing deeply, Cael savored the smell of blood, of humanity in the air. He needed to feed.
Arriving in Glasgow earlier in the week to attend to business matters, Cael now had the city spread below him, a pagan offering on the altar of his hunger. Feeding from humans offered sustenance. With little strength to be gained from their blood and the absence of the sensuality found in feeding from another vampire, Cael approached the necessity with resigned indifference – unless hunger grew too strong as he had allowed this time. Among mortals certain blood was potent, and Cael searched the populace below for the scent of Highland blood. He would enjoy drinking tonight, perhaps more than he had allowed himself in far too long.
The West End bustled, its many businesses overflowing patrons onto the sidewalks as they waited for tables, browsed the shops after work, or headed for the popular clubs abounding in this bohemian section of the city. Cael preferred to hunt here, finding a rich variety of blood – and greater ease of feeding. He wanted so much more this night than to merely feed. But that was impossible.
His kind shunned mating with mortals. It was dangerous. The possibility, however rare, of producing a half-breed brought swift punishment from the Council and death to the discovered child and human woman who carried it. The act of feeding from a human did not produce sexual urges, nor was it intended to. It was just that – feeding, leading Cael to question why the rule had been necessary in the first place. The desire to drink and fuck was a joy to be shared solely between vampires, the pleasure of engaging in the erotic act by a vampire male and his mate incomparable. Vampire clubs, wildly popular among younger vampires, offered numerous partners for the choosing, but Cael didn’t embrace hedonism. Perhaps he’d purged it from his system over the millennia.
One out of the handful of remaining ancients, Cael Maccinnis of the Clan Maccinnis, natural born of the Highlands, had traveled the globe over the aeons. He’d done his share of feeding and fucking. The strings to the past were strong within him this night, the nearing of Samhain the likely culprit. On that night the curtain between the worlds of the living and the dead was thinnest, and for sensitive beings like the vampire those souls seeking release were a powerful force, ushering in a few weeks of turbulence.
Refocusing on the task at hand, Cael scanned the crowd.
It was time to choose prey.
Soundlessly he descended to the city street, blending amongst the throngs strolling Byres Road in their quest for night-life entertainment. Strong scents assailed his nostrils, now burning with the overabundance of cologne and perfume. He never would understand the humans’ desire to cover their heady, natural smell. Quickly he marked off the strongest blood near him, honing on the savory hint to maneuver near. It was male – not surprising. By looks, his victim likely carried traces of Saxon blood, Cael mused, his thirst increasing with the knowledge. Turning onto Ashton Lane the group he trailed proceeded on toward The Chip, a popular restaurant. Cael settled in. Barring the arrival of a more attractive meal, he would feast soon enough.
Just before his mark reached the eatery a foreign and nigh intoxicating scent intruded, breaking Cael’s fixation on the Saxon-blooded male and luring him in another direction. Its pull was strong; the undertones of ancient tastes swam in his memories as he sought the source of his distraction. Like a lover, the scent beckoned him across countless city blocks, drawing him near only to elude him at every intersection. He knew he grew nearer.
A heartbeat sounded in his ear, the pumping of blood through his victim’s body the sound he locked onto. He strained his senses to identify more fully what drew him. For the first time in ages, he could not. Although the scent pervaded the area, its source remained a mystery beyond the cursory. Female. Vampire. He wanted it.
By the time he noticed the delicate creature walking toward the townhouse tenement Cael was savage with blood lust. Hunting, stalking, locked onto the female’s heartbeat, his senses warned.
Human - vampire – no…human.
Fighting the urge to drink was beyond him, the scent of the female vampire so near, so strong –
so made for him
- that his cock strained against his jeans and his fangs elongated in the erotic hunger denied him for so long. His eyes burned, reddening with the impending promise of fulfillment.
Drinking and fucking.
He wanted. Desired. Needed.
The human female froze, wide eyed in the shadow of his large form. Any trace of fear was erased the instant he soothed her with the thrall of hypnosis. Her pounding heart hammered in his ears, sounding in time with the nearby female vampires, mingling with his hunger, his thirst, his desire. Cael could not discern her scent, her heartbeat, from the vampire’s. Pleasure flooded his mind, his body, as he bent to suckle the tender flesh of her exposed neck, her scent so powerful that he lost himself in its ritualistic lure. Unable to deny his thirst for a taste of her, he willed it, and the serene woman granted him access to the apartment she had been about to enter. Backing her against the hallway plaster, awash with the ancient promise of her blood Cael deepened his thrall, sinking his fangs deep to draw her essence into himself. Unlike any mortal he had ever fed from, she writhed against him in the sensuality meant for vampires.
It should not be so; yet it was.
He battled, desperate to gain mastery over his compulsion to claim her body, realizing he drank far more deeply than he should allow himself. He took as if she were vampire – but a female vampire would be drinking from him as well, replenishing, sharing. This delicate creature needed her blood to survive.
Begrudgingly he relinquished her neck, swirling his tongue over the wounds to heal them. Her cry of frustration startled him. Even under the power of his enthrallment she retained awareness, adding to the tumult in his mind and body. What he desired was unnatural.
By Arawn! She’s a mortal! What is wrong with me?
More troubling, however, was her reaction to his bite. He took her face in his hands, studying her intense bereavement at his denying their shared desire. The striking green eyes, slightly upturned at their corners, and fair complexion held him in countless minutes of admiration, her simple beauty arresting. He could not trust himself any longer and lowered his lips to hers in a brief, brushing kiss. It was an unacknowledged promise to return. The softness of her silken lips remained in Cael’s thoughts, torturing, taunting, beckoning.
He spoke the ancient words, masking his presence in her mind and the memory of what had passed before disappearing into the October night.
Charity, what are you doing?” Harry inquired, seeking her for a game he and Jael had dreamed up.
Playing, silly,” she giggled, setting the glowing orb on the side table and skipping off to join her playmates.
Playing what?” curiosity prompted him to ask.
What else but a game?” Charity laughed, taking Harry’s hand. “Shall we play something new today?”
Oh, yes!” Harry exclaimed, distracted from his questioning for the moment. “But Jael wants to play hurricane! We haven’t played hurricane in a very long time. Say you’ll play, Charity!”
Well…,” Charity considered. “It has been a very long time since we played hurricane. We’ll have to convince Old Zephyr to join us. It’s no fun at all unless he blows his hardest.”