Home > Bewitched by a Vampire: (Eternal Mates #21)

Bewitched by a Vampire: (Eternal Mates #21)
Author: Felicity Heaton

 

 

Chapter 1

 

 

It was safest to live on bagged blood. But where was the fun in that?

After fourteen hundred years, a vampire craved a little excitement. A change to the normal pace of life. Something to distinguish one day from the next and stop them all from blurring into a monotonous existence.

When you had eternity ahead of you, you needed to find a reason to keep plodding forwards.

Night had found excitement in a multitude of ways over the centuries. Chasing females in his youth. Courting princesses and queens in his adulthood. Fighting against the odds on a battlefield. Slinking through the shadows as an assassin for the Preux Chevaliers, serving his older brother, Grave.

None of it could compare to the hunt, though.

The hunt was delicious. Something to be savoured.

Picking prey wasn’t like a human going to a supermarket and grabbing the first pack of meat from the chiller. Not if the vampire had any pride or finesse, anyway.

It required patience.

Placing himself in the most strategic position so he could survey all in the room and study them in turn. Seeking a suitable host that would have just the right flavour he desired or strength he needed. It could take hours for the perfect donor to appear. Tantalising hours in which his hunger would build to an excruciating level and he would know that first sip of blood from the vein would be like manna from heaven.

And once he had found his prey?

Night shivered.

Once he found his prey, centuries of experience kicked into action and the real hunt began.

He sighed. The hunt was all that made him feel alive these days. His fingers brushed his throat, feeling the ridge of scar tissue that ringed it, and his mood darkened. Maybe he had died that night. He felt as if he had. He had never really recovered from that vile witch’s attack, or from the emotional blow her comrade had delivered him.

And he had led a dark existence since then.

Night dropped his hand back to the steering wheel of his sleek all-black Jaguar F-Type and glared at the narrow road the headlights illuminated ahead of him.

He should have been in the city, hunting as planned. If he had walked out of the door a second sooner, he might have missed his phone buzzing and he might not have checked it, and might not have grimaced at the reminder that he was due at his eldest brother, Bastian’s, house tonight.

But he had, and there was no changing it.

There was only bearing it.

He growled, his top lip peeling back off his emerging fangs, and cursed Bastian for denying him the one thing that made him feel alive. He didn’t want to spend a week leading a pampered existence, subjected to Bastian’s dull parties where only other vampires attended and blood was handed to him on a silver platter. Bastian loved hosting elegant soirees designed to remind the other aristocrat vampires in the area that they lived in close proximity to a Van der Garde, as if others of their kind should feel blessed to be in their presence.

Night hit a hard left turn and gunned the engine, his mood darkening further at the prospect of Bastian showing him off as if he was some kind of prized possession rather than his own flesh and blood. Sometimes his brother irritated the hell out of him. But—he huffed—Bastian was right. They were Van der Gardes, and that meant they had a reputation to uphold, and he would end up doing his part to impress whatever guests Bastian threw at him and endure their gushing and compliments. His bloodline had clawed their way to the top and made a name for themselves as the most powerful and vicious pureblood family, one many in this world feared, and not only the vampires.

Grave had carved out a dark and bloody reputation for them during his tenure as the leader of the Preux Chevaliers, a mercenary corps for aristocrat vampires. Anyone who knew of his brother trembled in fear.

Night found it all rather dull. Maybe it had excited him once.

Before a witch had tried to remove his head.

He slowed and swung the sports car to the right, through the gap between two impressive sandstone columns that supported the black iron gate of Bastian’s mansion. He slowed further, drawing out the approach, prowling along the drive. Moonlight cut through the slender cypresses that lined the road, making it flash over the bonnet.

The temptation to turn the car around and make up an excuse was strong, but Bastian would only be angry with him if he did. Which would only make things worse. Bastian would guilt him into a longer visit, and possibly a damned ball in which Night would be expected to dance with every pureblood female vampire in the vicinity. It was better to put up with this short stay than risk subjecting himself to that torment.

Still, it was about time Grave subjected himself to the horror of spending a week with their brother. He blamed Grave for the torture he was about to suffer. If Grave didn’t ignore the yearly summons without fail, Night wouldn’t feel obligated to obey it in some pathetic attempt to keep their family together. It didn’t help that Night lived in the mortal realm, making it far easier for Bastian to reach him. He didn’t have the excuses Grave did. He didn’t live in Hell, where pen and paper or a physical messenger were the only real way to get in touch with someone, and he didn’t run a busy mercenary corps.

Yes, there had been a few years where Night had managed to skip the ritual torment, but thanks to the advent of modern technology, otherwise known as mobile phones and the internet, he could no longer easily escape it. Not only that, but if he missed a year, Bastian more than made up for it the next.

He wasn’t talking about balls now. He was talking about Bastian’s tendency to make every moment they weren’t in the presence of other vampires, putting on a show so they appeared perfect to their guests, a living nightmare for him. Night had grown tired of hearing his brother regale him with his failings as a Van der Garde.

It wasn’t exactly fun to have them pointed out to him.

For once, he would like his brother to notice the great things he did, not the mistakes he made. He chuckled at that. Hell would freeze over long before Bastian praised him for anything. His brother didn’t have it in him.

He stared at the elegant Georgian sandstone mansion as it came into view ahead of him.

A golden glow emanated from most of the sash windows on the two levels, especially those closest to the double-height portico in the centre of the long building. Lights set into the ground illuminated the façade, including the Grecian columns that supported a triangular pediment with a beautiful carved frieze set into it. He stared at the figures and blew out his breath.

It looked more like a prison than a home to him as dread pooled in his stomach.

A whole week of putting up with Bastian and whatever fawning vampires his brother invited over.

Sometimes he wished Grave had succumbed to bloodlust and gone as nuclear as their cousin had, finishing the job Snow had started that dark night by murdering the rest of his family. Except for him, of course. Snow had spared his brother, Antoine. Night was sure Grave would do the same for him, clawing his sanity back in time to save him.

Or maybe he should just let his brother finish the job the witch had started on him.

Grave would never do it, though. His brother was cold and ruthless, but Night wasn’t as blind to his feelings as others were. His brother loved him too much to let him die. Proof of that was the fact Grave had reassigned him to the mortal world soon after the incident, using some excuse about him commanding a new black-ops type team that would be responsible for carrying out covert missions. His brother had wanted him out of Hell and away from danger. He wanted to keep Night safe.

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