Excerpt from Better off Dead: Book II (The Vamp Saga)
Zahara walked with the authority that her Presidential position allotted her. She strolled past the two werewolf guards and directly to the crypt. It was the latest in technology, made from impenetrable metal and required an iris scan before the impossibly heavy doors would allow entry. She stared into the iris-scan machine, which worked quietly and efficiently. Moments later, she was inside the dark crypt which was only lit by several well placed low-wattage bulbs meant to mimic the intimacy of candles but without the fire hazard.
She was a beautiful woman, a representation of youth forever with her dusky complexion, long, black hair arranged in a tasteful chignon, yellow-brown eyes, Roman-shaped nose, cheekbones most women would murder their newborn children to possess and a full, kissable mouth.
If she had a beating heart, it would have pounded itself right out of her chest. She was so close, yet so far away from her maker. Her breath caught in her throat. Her body, however, continued onward toward her journey to the coffin.
It was exquisite, made from Baccarat crystal and gold. The casket itself weighed a ton but it had not been moved in centuries; not since Her Highness had been transferred from Mikkel’s château just inside the boundaries of Ile-de-France to one of the most exclusive banks in Geneva and one of the few which had a crypt.
She would be safe here, free from harm. Regardless how much it cost the IVC to protect her and to lease this space, it was worth it. The only priority was keeping Her Highness in one piece until the day came when she could rise to power and claim that which belonged to her.
Zahara looked forlornly at the mummy and felt herself grow angrier by the second. That bitch, Manon, and that Judas of a traitor, Mikkel, ought to be dragged down here and made to bleed out over Her Highnesses’ mouthpiece until they were drained of every last drop of their blood. That should allow their royal Queen the ability to become a Day Walker and when it was all said and done, she deserved the ability and power to sit at the top of the food chain, whereas those two murderous traitors did not.
Mikkel thought he was so intelligent and crafty; between his duplicitous behavior and the way he acted like that whore was the best thing since sliced bread. He should be thoroughly ashamed of himself; he’d married a blood relative, after all.
So have you, a voice inside her whispered but she bid it to be silent. It was true; as the maker and wife of Kristoff Damgaard, he was a relative, albeit a distant one and they had very little DNA in common.
Mikkel’s sin was that much greater because Manon was closer linked to him than what was legally sanctioned for Council members. If they only knew...but to tell would be the death of her and after two thousand years, she still wasn’t ready to go. She’d never been to ground because she feared death more than anything in the world. She needed to live and to be alive, even if she was technically dead. She needed to see life as it changed, shaped, morphed into something completely different from her childhood, which seemed life-years away. What was she on about? Her childhood was actually life years away and many, many lifetimes upon that.
Zahara knew part of her reasoning for wanting them dead was simple jealousy. Mikkel was a fabulous lover; true, he wasn’t Kristoff, but he was very good and quite skilled in the lovemaking department. Now that he’d taken a wife, she could no longer sleep with him on demand. She would first have to make sure it was copacetic with that cunt, which didn’t sit well with her. Why should she have to ask anyone’s permission to do anything at her age?
There was also the small technicality that Mikkel was repulsed by her. He hated to touch her; to make love to her. Something about her turned his very stomach. She could only deduce it was a sliver of his humanity which still resented her for turning his brother, who in turn made him. Had that not happened, he’d have been dead hundreds of years ago but he would always curse her and blame her for his fate in life as a vampire.
Correction: Day Walker.
He was no longer a mere vampire. He was superior to her in every way, as was his bitch wife, unfortunately. Although she hated to think about this harsh fact, it was true. She couldn’t overpower them and to be honest, she wouldn’t ever attempt to. She had more immediate worries to think about, like her impending suspension from the IVC, along with Geoff, Filipp and Anastasiya. They had only been doing what was just and correct, yet they were still punished by those Frog ass-kissers, Hervé and Irene. Well, one technical Frog…the other was just a wannabe who had spent so many years in France she might as well be French even if she wasn’t ethnically French.
“Madame President, your presence is required,” a male voice announced reverentially.
Zahara turned to see one of the werewolf guards—his name escaped her but his accent was Swiss German, so perhaps it was Hans or Jürgen or one of those hard-to-pronounce Teutonic names—and smiled condescendingly.
“One moment, please. Can you wait outside? I would like to spend a few more moments with my Highness.”
The guard nodded affirmatively and exited the room.
Good doggy, Zahara thought coldly.
She placed her hands on the coffin and although she had no wish to leave marks, she couldn’t help the feeling of overwhelming desire which had swelled into the heart of her body.
“Just a little while longer, my Queen. I will be back for you with their heads on a plate and soon, you will be able to feel the gentle kiss of sunlight on your skin. It is only a matter of time.”
She kissed the coffin, gathered her composure and walked out, followed by the werewolf guards as the double doors closed behind her with a resounding thud.
* * *
Hervé and Irene sat next to one another in a grand and opulent former palace in Geneva which had been transformed into the Global Six government offices.
Although physical opposites—Hervé with his light brown hair, alabaster skin, typical Northern French features and steel blue eyes while Irene possessed classically Scandinavian features despite her skin being the color of rich mocha and her eyes, a deep amber-brown—they were more alike than different in terms of the philosophical and political outlook on vampire life along with the powerful positions they held within the IVC.
Though Zahara was President, most of The Council looked toward Irene and Hervé for moral guidance. The President, currently held under the leadership of the volatile old vampire might as well have been a figurehead position as far as most of the twenty-member Council was concerned.
The G-6 Conference had yet to start but they had purposefully arrived early just to talk shop. Something needed to be done about the rogues in their midst. The IVC was a legitimate and civilized organization; since when did members decide to play vigilantes and try to murder one another over silly blood feuds and supremacy? The behavior had to be brought under control lest the whole organization be dragged down along with it.
“Seriously, what can we do?” Irene asked. “Zahara is President but her behavior...the attempted murder of Mikkel and Manon. We cannot allow her to get away with such madness. Imagine the implications if she goes unpunished.”
Hervé sipped from his Sang Pur. “Believe me, I have thought about this and at the moment, I truly don’t know what to do. She is so out of control. Perhaps we should give some thought to resurrecting Kristoff. I am against it under normal circumstances of course, but even though she is his maker he’s the only one who could truly control her.”
“I think that will lead to nothing but trouble. Kristoff knows too much about Manon’s true heritage. He’s always been a live wire. It is not our place to interfere with a matter that has nothing to do with the IVC.”
“You don’t think Manon’s paternity has anything to do with the IVC? My God...”
“It’s a bit too late to be asking for His help.” Irene stood and grabbed her second Sang Pur. She was particularly thirsty today. “Right or wrong, that truly is Mikkel and Manon’s issue to work out. He must have his reasons for not telling her and who are we to second guess his motives? It’s obvious he loves her very much and they are truly perfect for one another.”
“Good grief, Irene, they are prototypes and we can never forget that. Manon needs to be studied and that is going to be an outright mess. Mengele will begin his testing and Mikkel will blow a gasket. He will hate for her to be in pain. These kinds of emotions—we as vampires were never supposed to feel them. I don’t know which is worse...the fact that they are Day Walkers or their emotions. They are much closer to human beings in an emotional capacity than we are. Hasn’t that ever given you food for thought?”
“Of course it has, Hervé. Their range of emotions is a bit frightening as we are supposed to be so cold and detached. I sometimes miss that aspect of my humanity, but at the same time, it colors the situation and takes away from the big picture. We will be asked to do something very barbaric today and I don’t think either one of them truly has the capacity to stand it. That is not only a problem but an issue. This isn’t about how we feel about humanity...this is merely about shedding the herd and making room for vampire growth...cementing our hold on the mortals and letting them know who’s in charge of whom.”
“True. The big picture is all that matters. Humans and slaughter have been synonymous for decades, centuries. We cannot change this; we can only make it that much more humane. It isn’t like we’re sending anyone to the gas chamber. Regardless, we will hear them out and pretend to contemplate our answer. It is never a good idea to show our hand right away. We can never allow letting our guard down around the humans.”
“Agreed,” Irene mused softly, “but in the meantime, we will gauge their behavior. If Geoff, Anastasiya, Filipp and Zahara can control themselves and show an air of leadership, we shan’t punish them too harshly. After all, they were only doing what all of us were thinking but were too chickenshit to act upon due to our own fears.”
“’Tis true but I would have never pulled a stunt like that. I have known from the beginning they were both stronger than we could ever be. I treasure my life as much as you treasure yours. I have no wish to meet my maker at this point in my life.”
Irene turned toward Hervé and laughed out loud. “Neither do I, my love. Neither do I.”