Crimson Desire

Blood Rose, Book 2

Elisabeth Morgan Popolow

 

Chapter 1

Hiding from the person trying to kill you is anything but exhilarating. I didn’t know who—or what—chased after me with a fervent murderous intent; but whatever it was, I could not let it find me. This was a lot less fun than when I played hide-and-seek as a child. I never really enjoyed that game, anyway. It was too thrilling for me; my heart would hammer a thousand beats per minute. I was also not the best at picking places to hide, since my mind would reel like an out-of-control carousel, and I’d end up having to take cover behind a tree or something like that.

In dreams, one can usually manipulate the events however they please. In my situation, however, I found that attempting to change the course of my dream was as difficult as winning the lottery. My pursuer would not turn into a kitten and cuddle with me on a cloud made of cotton candy. They were getting closer to their target—and I was too paralyzed with dread to make a run for it.

Everywhere I looked was blanketed in an obscure haze which stretched endlessly into the distance. The ground wasn’t visible, and the air was deathly cold. I crouched low and pressed myself against the back of a twisted black column. They jutted from the ground erratically; some climbed so high they vanished into the sky. My breaths were shallow, and I tried being silent as the other person searched and searched.

I rested my head on the column and exhaled slowly. Suddenly, my pursuer looked my way and rushed toward me. I tightly closed my eyes before something wrapped around me, and I was wrenched backward into a blinding, golden light.

My eyes flew open, and I coughed as I woke from a terrible nightmare. I glanced at the clock and it had just landed on the eleven. Shit! I was late for work! I hurriedly jumped out of bed and dressed in my outfit, consisting of a pink blouse, black leggings, and leather boots. I combed my hair roughly and dabbed on some red lipstick. My blonde hair was still kind of messy, but I had no time to fully straighten it, so I grabbed my purse, descended the stairs, and got into my new, blue Nissan Versa. It was so tiny and cute, and I absolutely adored it. The car started and rolled from the curve of the mansion and onto the main road.

Yes, I lived in a mansion. As weird as it was, a couple months ago I lived in an apartment by myself and still had my humanity. Now, I lived in an enormous house, which I called a mansion, with two other people and sometimes a third or fourth.

And how did this all happen? Well, one night some crazy vampire, named Darius, turned me so I wouldn’t die. Other paranormal beings were out to kill me, because I was connected to Darius in some strange way. Thousands of years ago, I was his wife, and everything was all good and cozy until I died. Of course, I didn’t remember any of it, but that’s what my blood-sire, Darius, told me. So I stuck to his explanation. For now.

I parked outside the clothing store and ran inside. Although spring had just begun, the blasting chill from winter still hung heavy in the air in rural Pennsylvania. I fished a blush-colored scarf from my purse and hung it loosely around my neck. The manager gave me a quizzical look as I set my purse in the back room and then took my place at the cash register.

I didn’t particularly love the job, but I received discounts in the store, and it gave me something to do. When I wasn’t working, I helped Darius maintain his power in the eastern US territory. You see, vampires have the world spilt into different territories, and the vampire I lived with was the Master of Eastern North America, from the top right of Canada to the bottom of Florida. So, he was a very busy man, and I was a very busy woman.

Finally at four, it was time for my break, and I skipped into the back room and unzipped my purse to take out my special club sandwich Sang made for me. It’s kinda complicated, but I currently have two lovers. Yes, I know it sounds kind of kinky and greedy, but it’s what I’ve decided to live with, so deal with it. Sang and Darius, both vampires.

Sang’s blood-mother offered a pact over one hundred-fifty years ago that Darius could take custody of Sang if he would become gravely ill and drained of power for three days out of every month, leaving him weak and vulnerable to any vampire’s whims if they decided to attack on one of those awful days. Annabelle was known as being mad and a true monster, having had tortured Sang and deprived him of emotion. I also had a hunch that Sang’s blood-mother had silently waited for the perfect time to strike and take down Darius. Darius had agreed and freed Sang from his tortuous life.

I loved Sang as much as Darius. He was so sweet and took humor in amusing and teasing me like a little kid, even though he was well over three-hundred years old. Me, well, I was only twenty-three, but I now had an eternity to spend with my men if everything went fine and dandy.

Which I suspected it wouldn’t.

As I sat at the plastic table and munched on my sandwich, a woman sat across from me and began eating her sub. “Hello.” She greeted me with a smile. I’d never seen her before. She had medium-length ebony hair and deep green eyes which gleamed as if polished emeralds. I glanced at her nametag and it read: In Training: Anna.

“Hey,” I began, “I’m Lily.”

Anna swallowed and replied, “Hey, Lily. I’m just starting today. I’m Anna.” She spoke in a rich English accent. What she was doing in Pennsylvania I had no idea, but you can’t judge a book by its cover, can you?

“Really? I’ve been here for three years, so I can show you what to do.”

“That’s what the manager told me.” Before I knew it, she was done eating her sub and got up to throw the remnants away. “Will you show me how to stock?”

“Sure,” I replied and made a note to self to tell Briana to take over cash register for me.

I tossed my baggie and soda can in the trash and gestured for Anna to follow me. “Come with me, Anna.” I began to show her how to stock clothes. She moved so fluidly and fast, I couldn’t keep up. Damn, she was perfect for the job I loathed the most!

“Thanks for showing me.” She grinned.

“Welcome to the family!” I exclaimed happily, and she gave me a hug.

A shiver rippled up my spine and a faint sense of dread flooded me. It couldn’t have been Anna, could it? She was just a newbie, and I was sure she wasn’t anything paranormal. Just a curious British woman here to make a living in the States, I reckoned.

But then why couldn’t I shake the feeling there was something off about her, and I didn’t mean her magazine-model good looks. Maybe I was paranoid from hanging around vampires and what-not too much. Who knows?