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Night's Promise

By:Amanda Ashley

Chapter One

Derek Blackwood had grown up knowing he was a vampire. And not just any old vampire. His mother, Mara, was a legend among their kind, the only vampire who had ever regained mortality, and then given it up. He had never known his father. Kyle Bowden had died shortly after Derek’s birth. Logan Blackwood, his mother’s second husband, was the only father Derek had ever known.

Seeking a few minutes of solitude, Derek went out on the balcony of his mother’s home in the Hollywood Hills. Taking a deep breath, he gazed out over the moon-shadowed valley below. He enjoyed being alone from time to time. Enjoyed the peace and quiet, something that was sorely lacking just now.

Derek glanced over his shoulder. His relatives were gathered inside, here to help his parents celebrate their twenty-fifth anniversary. He grinned faintly. He had a family like no other. Of course, they weren’t kin in the usual sense of the word. Roshan and his witch-wife, Brenna, slow danced cheek to cheek in the middle of the kitchen. Their adopted daughter, Cara, sat in the living room, chatting with her husband, Vince, who had been turned by Mara. Cara and Vince’s twin sons, Rafe and Rane, were watching a baseball game in the den, while the twins’ wives, Kathy and Savannah, sat in the kitchen with his mother. Vampires all, born or made.

Watching them, hearing their easy laughter filled him with an aching loneliness, made him wonder, not for the first time, if he would ever find a woman to share his life.

Suddenly restless, he headed for the garage. Sliding behind the wheel of his brand-new convertible, he backed out of the driveway and headed for his favorite hangout.

Driving down the twisting narrow road to the highway, he contemplated his past. Although he had known early on that he was a vampire, he was still coming to terms with who and what he was. As a child, he had been like any other kid, able to run and play outdoors, eat mortal food. Unlike other children, he never got sick; when he was injured, he healed immediately. His only restriction was that he needed to wear sunglasses during the day.

When he reached puberty, his life changed drastically. One day he was a relatively normal teenager; the next he was overpowered by a desperate need for blood. A need that could not be ignored, or satisfied by anything else. He discovered the sun was no longer his friend, though he could endure it for short periods of time if necessary. He could drink anything he pleased, but solid food made him violently ill.

Turning onto the freeway, he put the pedal to the metal.

The night was growing short and he was thirsty.

Chapter Two

Sheree Westerbrooke stood in the front of the full-length mirror in her bedroom, admiring her new Goth look. It had taken her days to find just the “right” ensemble, but it had been worth it. If one wanted to fit in, one had to look the part. After all, she couldn’t just waltz into a vampire club looking like a tourist. She needed fake fangs, some black Goth-style clothing, shoes, and jewelry. She had debated dying her shoulder-length dark blond hair black, but decided to buy a long black wig instead. Her own mother wouldn’t recognize her. Neither would her best friend, Shirley, she thought with a grin. Perhaps she’d send her a photo.

Sheree smiled at her reflection, pleased. She had always loved vampires—the ugly ones with pointy ears and hairy hands, like Nosferatu; the suave, handsome ones, like George Hamilton, Gerard Butler, and Frank Langella; the comic ones who spoke with funny accents, like Leslie Nielsen; the scary ones, like Gary Oldham and Christopher Lee. She loved them in comic books and movies, in novels and fantasy magazines.

She had vampire posters on her walls, a collection of vampire figurines, a Lady Dracula costume she wore on Halloween. She had seen every movie and play about the undead she could find, read every book of fiction and nonfiction about them in the local library. She had even tried her hand at writing vampire poetry, which, you should pardon the pun, sucked.

It didn’t matter that Sheree’s parents and friends told her there was no such thing. They insisted that vampires by any other name—Nosferatu, undead, Dracula, vampyr, bloodsucking creatures of the night, whatever—simply didn’t exist except in low-budget horror movies and gothic novels.

But Sheree refused to accept that. People had believed in vampires for thousands of years. Since the beginning of recorded history, every culture and civilization had its own vampire legend. Surely, if vampires were only a myth, any interest in them would have faded away long ago.

Ergo, vampires must exist. There were vampire chat rooms online, vampire nightclubs and hangouts. Out of all those hundreds and thousands of people who were pretending to be vampires, there had to be at least one who was the real deal.