(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Michael was written by Raven Blackburn.)
Michael snorted as he brushed past the guards standing on each side of the entrance to the “Jiang Shi”, a restaurant owned by two other vampires called Gwendolyn Niamh Hayes and her girlfriend Fiona Frost. Jiang Shi. The Chinese vampire. With that kind of name they might as well run an advert in the newspaper “vampire owned establishment, enter at own risk”. Of course no respectable vampire would ever openly admit to actually being a creature of the night, not with the penalty of death looming over anyone betraying the secrecy of their race to mortals.
Some chosen humans knew and willingly consorted with the undead, most in the hopes of proving to be worthy. And for those who proved unworthy or dishonorable, well, the undead normally had little qualm eradicating any threat posed to their race.
Not always did the human end up dead, however, sometimes a kind vampire would just erase all their knowledge and let them go back to the mortal world, with enough money to tide them over long enough that they could find a job and have a roof over their heads.
Michael himself had quite a few men and women working for him. Ruthless and loyal. He made sure to reward them every now and then, something that had gone extremely wrong when Ethan Ashford had killed five of them to save a mortal girl.
Ethan Ashford was the most powerful vampire in Gloucestershire, which meant that this part of England was his. Anyone who wanted to take it from him had to defeat him in a battle.
No one dared however, not after the last contestants had been shriveled in seconds.
Michael had quite the history with Ethan, but now was not the time and place to dwell on it.
The guards did not seem pleased to be letting him in, showing him their fangs openly, but tonight Michael had every right to be here.
To unsuspecting humans the guards looked as if they were merely bouncers to a very exclusive restaurant, like the ones you might expect to find in New York or Hollywood perhaps, perhaps having them wonder why there was such a fine establishment in Gloucester, England. But Michael knew they were lethal vampires, who would kill without hesitation. Violence was not allowed on the premises and the punishment was death.
It was also said that humans not accompanied by vampires were repelled by some sort of spell, not that Michael had spent a lot of time pondering this. While witches were not rare, few mingled with vampires. Their services could however be bought.
Heads turned as he entered and he caught faint whispers, but he ignored them and walked right up to the tiny blonde vampire dressed in a lovely dress made out of silk. It was long and clung to her petite frame, with a long slit almost all the way up her leg. The blood-red color of her dress matched the interior of the restaurant. The tables and chairs were made from expensive dark wood, but apart from that the dominating colors were red, purple and green, with tasteful gold accents everywhere.
Gwen had her back to him and he admired her ass for a moment, but as if she could sense him staring she turned around, a very annoyed look on her face. Though Gwen was quite short, she certainly knew how to show off her curves. The high-heels she was wearing did great things for her legs too.
Even if he hadn’t seen her scowl he could practically feel the distaste rolling off of her, souring her scent. His lips curled into a smile, knowing it provoke her even more.
“Michael,” she sighed. “It’s time, isn’t it? For that blasted interview? Now tell me, why it couldn’t be held in your bloody bar?”
At her annoyed tone he smirked and cross his arms over his chest. He caught a glimpse of himself in one of the many mirrors tastefully placed in the restaurant. Despite the legends claiming otherwise, vampires did have reflections. He quickly brushed off some lint at the sleeve of his custom tailored suit.
“Ah, as I was told by our Author, the Interviewer is a lovely lady and as you know, my bar is not very fitting for a such lady.” He spoke the word Author with distinct venom, causing Gwen to smile for the first time he had entered her establishment. Then she seemed to remember who she had to endure in her own home this evening, causing her eyes to darken to the pitch black every vampire’s eyes turned when angry and he could see the tips of her fangs flashing behind her beautiful lips. Pity she wasn’t interested in men, he could sure think of a better use for that lovely mouth. Such a waste.
“I’ve heard, and you are right, I am sure she would not feel very comfortable among strippers and arseholes.” Gwen’s voice grew very quiet and her cornflower blue gaze turned to steel. “You do know that Fiona will blast you to bits if you even lift a finger to harm the girl. She has told me what you have been up to the last few days.”
Michael’s smile shrank. Fiona knew? Of course she did. There were rumors that she was more than a mere vampire. It was said that she had been a witch, before forcibly turned by a powerful vampire. If she decided to ally with Ethan, he would be doomed. Bloody woman was stronger than any person, alive or undead, had the right to be. If she ever chose to take over Gloucestershire, she could do so with ease, yet she seemed to be content sitting here with her cat and girlfriend.
Shaking his head he turned his attention back to Gwen. “Now then, where should we sit?”
With clenched teeth Gwen led the way, past the grand indoor fountain with fake blood instead of water and Michael stifled a laugh. He had always found the fountain incredibly cheesy, but then again, it had been Fiona’s idea to put the bloody – no pun intended – thing up and everyone knew she certainly had a poor taste. You just had to take a look how she dressed to know that.
Not that anyone pointed fingers. The perks of being powerful and feared, even if you were known to be nuts.
Gwen led Michael to a booth in a quiet corner of the restaurant and motioned him to sit. “Please take a look at the menu, I am told everything would be on the house for you tonight,” she informed him through clenched teeth, before stalking off.
After a few moments he realized he was no longer alone and he looked up to see a beautiful brunette.
“Well hello to you, darling,” he said, standing up with his most charming smile.
Kelly raised her brows. “Charming. How nice.” She then offered him her hand. “I am Kelly Blanchard. Thank you for meeting me. Shall we sit?” She motioned to the table. He, being a gentleman, pulled out her seat for her, and she sat, and once he sat across from her, Kelly briefly glimpsed at the menu. A restaurant run by vampires, she had no idea if she even wanted to try anything. Besides, her primary focus wasn’t food but rather the interview, so she looked across the table at Michael and smiled. “So, tell me about yourself. You seem to be a man of great ambitions.”
“You can try the food, you know. TI’s made for humans.” He leaned closer after sitting down and whispered, his fangs flashing for the briefest second: “We eat something else.” A smile curled his lips. “I am sure the Author has already told you my name, Michael Andrews. I am the owner of a bar here in Gloucester, the “Rotten Alibi”. Very lovely to meet you. No one had told me I’d be interviewed by such a beautiful young lady.”
Perhaps the interview would not be such a drag. One could hope. After all he certainly had other things to attend to.
Kelly briefly considering interviewing the vampire owner of the restaurant because she was curious if the chefs were also vampire, and they worked with raw meat, then would the blood bother them? She shook her head from the rabbit trail of thoughts, and she flashed a smile at Michael as she set down her menu. “I’m afraid you misunderstood my question. You’re more than the owner of a bar—your posture and aura speak volumes in that regard, and I know you are at least several hundred years old. So…” She sat back,” Who are you? Where do you come from?”
“I was born 1642 here in Gloucester. I am a simple vampire. Of course some might regard me as a villain, a cruel man who does evil things, which is probably why Gwen is giving me the evil eye ever since I set foot in this establishment. You know Gwen’s brother Liam.” He pointed to a petite blonde glaring in their direction. “I have often clashed with Ethan Ashford, the Master of Gloucester. Let’s say he is not very happy with the methods I keep my men loyal to me. Just recently he killed five of them. Ripped them to pieces over a mortal girl. Can you believe that? And they say he is such a hero. I plan to prove them wrong.” He tried very hard to sound indifferent, yet the anger sounded in every word he spoke.
She heard the anger in his voice and kept that in mind while she focused on something he had said. “And why would you bother with a mere mortal girl?” She raised her brows.
He hedged with an answer. “She was immune against my powers. Vampires can use compulsion on humans, but she managed to break free. It’s very unusual for a mortal to be able to do so, unless the mortal is a vampire hunter. Witches who made it their quest to rid the world of us bloodsuckers. She was no such hunter, so I called my men to retrieve her after she ran off, so I could find out why she was able to resist me. They used more force than necessary. Of course I would have punished them later. One does not treat a lady like that. Ethan was nearby and heard her scream. Made a bloody mess.”
“I bet.” Kelly nodded. “So, I’m assuming you weren’t always vampire—unless your race of vampires are different than what I’m more familiar with—so that would mean you were human at one point, right?”
“I was born human, yes. Vampires are made.”
“So…” Kelly leaned forward, setting her elbows on the table to engage in the conversation, but she took the opportunity to watch his face. “How did that happen for you?”
“I asked for it. Of course it wasn’t easy. After my father was murdered when I was six years old—I witnessed it—and I was put in that miserable orphanage, I set out as a young man to look for a monster such as the one who killed him. I knew I could not kill him as a human, so I had to become the very same monster. It took me nearly ten years to find one.” Michael’s grey eyes bled into a demonic black as he spoke of his quest of vengeance.
Kelly furrowed her brows but asked another question before she wanted to voice her observation, “And did you succeed in killing the man who killed your father?”
A cruel smile twisted his lips and he leaned forward. “Not yet. I intend to break him, not merely kill him.”
Kelly met his gaze and didn’t flinch at the darkness she found therein. Instead, she spoke the truth, “By becoming the very monster he is, he already won—even if you break him or kill him. You will never have your vengeance.” With this, she paused to observe his reaction.
For a moment Michael was silent, his gaze appraising the woman seated across him. Perhaps he should consider changing her, it would be amusing to see what a crafty creature such as herself would do with superpowers. “I will have my vengeance. And I will enjoy every second of it, mark my words.”
Suddenly a tall dark haired woman stood next to the table, clad in gothic clothing and a black cat in her arms. “Michael, I can feel your anger right back to my room in the back. I believe Gwen has warned you that if you harm the woman, there will be consequences.” She raised a perfectly tweezed eyebrow then smiled at the human female. “Sorry about that. He might seem calm, but he is in a murderous mood. I am Fiona. Just wanted to drop in and warn him, before his head departs from his shoulders.” With those words she stalked away, the cat glimpsing over her shoulder to Michael.
“Don’t mind her. She is known to be a tad crazy.” Michael chortled.
Kelly just smirked at him. “Oh, I know you’re absolutely furious, and that amuses me to no end. All of you may think I’m merely human, but let me just say, if you attack me, none of the vampires in here will need to come to my aide, but you will end up on the floor regardless, and it would be absolutely entertaining to me.” Kelly grinned as she crossed her arms. Part of her wanted him to just try it, but she doubted he would now.
However, she decided to focus on the matter at hand once more as she sat back in her chair. “So, considering how enraged you are with your father’s death, which occurred when you were only six, were you close to your father? Or are you merely avenging the time you had to spend in an orphanage? And where was your mother during all this?”
Michael clenched his teeth, but found himself on the floor as a vase right next to him exploded in a cascade of shards. Some of them hit him, cutting his face, but thanks to the vampire blood in his veins his injuries healed in seconds. Furious he looked up, to see Fiona smirking at him. “She does not need your assistance. You heard her.”
“I know, but it was still amusing to see you jump.”
With the speed and grace only vampires possessed he got to his feet and dusted his suit off. “You will pay for that.”
Fiona just laughed and left the room, not wanting to disturb the interview further.
“Where were we, when this insolent child interrupted? Ah yes, the reason for my vengeance and where my mother was. She died when I was three. I have no memory of her and the only thing I know about her is that she was a terrible mother. My father had told me stories of her whoring around. But the reason for my vengeance would be what I endured in that orphanage. It was terrible and humiliating.”
Kelly was taken back when Fiona broke the vase but she credited herself that she remained seated even though Michael ended up on the floor. It took all her self-control not to laugh, and by the time Michael finally turned back to her, she had restrained any amusement though she couldn’t help the smile on her lips.
“So…” She drummed her fingers on the table. “You want revenge on somebody due to their actions putting you in a horrible orphanage. That’s understandable, but…like I said though, you’ve merely become him…and probably worse. So how do you justify your own actions when you’re no better than him?”
“I don’t have to justify my actions to a mere human,” he spat. He might have said the word human as one would say fool.
For a second he closed his eyes and when he opened them again they were back to their normal grey. “I apologize. My temper seems to be getting the better of me. I am most certainly worse than him, but I am happy to be what I am. Even if I had not endured that orphanage, I often wonder if I would have gone any other path. I suppose not.”
Folding his arms over his chest and leaning back in his seat he smiled. “I could change you, give you some of my power. How would you like that?” He winked at Kelly.
“Michael, darling,” she tsked and shook her head, “You have no idea what power I already have.” Kelly smirked at him but didn’t see it fit to explain further. “So, since you’ve endured so much and have gone so dark, you seemed to be a man—vampire—of a seared conscience, but tell me…” She scooted to the edge of her chair to place her elbows on the table and lean forward to speak softly, “What is your greatest fear?”
“Pity, you’d make a lovely vampire. I can sense that you are powerful, but you would be immortal.” He also leaned forward. “My greatest fear? Not one of the people in this restaurant is my ally. Gwen over there despises me. It is known that she regards Ethan as hero and would betray each and every of my secrets to him immediately.”
He thought for a second. “Fiona could blow me up anyway, she doesn’t need to know my fears. She loves to play though.” His eyes sparkled. “But so do I. Well then, my greatest fear is losing the one important person in my life. I won’t tell you who it is, as it was forbidden by the Author. But I have lost so much, I could never bear to lose her.”
Fair enough. Kelly wouldn’t press for a name, but she could find out other info. “And how did you meet her?”
“That I can tell you. She is my sire. No one knows who she is, so I am not giving anything away with telling you that.” Michael smirked at Gwen who was listening in. Scowling she turned away. “She found me when I was nearly dead. I knew what she was and she turned me that night after I begged her to save me.”
“Since she’s so important to you, obviously you know her very well. Describe her to me. What is she like?” Kelly raised her brows as she sat back in her chair to listen.
“She is beautiful, big blue eyes and a sweet smile. Has quite the temper though, but the best women do. I like my girls feisty. Though she is very old she looks very young and it is easy to underestimate her. I certainly have made that mistake quite often.” He laughed. For once his laugh was devoid of menace. It was the kind of laugh a man would laugh when describing his new bride. “And she would do anything for me.”
Kelly smiled at the softness she found in him. She doubted many ever saw that. Then she looked over her shoulder and saw Gwen still there. She knew if she really wanted Michael to open up, this wasn’t the place—not with all the sharp ears of vampires everywhere. “Can we take a walk? I’d love to hear more about this woman—with less prying ears listening in.”
Michael got up. “I’d love to.” Being the gentleman he was he offered her his arm.
Being a lady, Kelly accepted his arm but knew she could phase right through him if he posed a threat to her. They passed Gwen, but Kelly paused. “We’re just going for a walk, and no, none of you need to follow in order to protect me. I’m quite fine on my own. However, Gwen, before I forget, I wanted to give you a gift.” She conjured a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies and offered them to her. “Your author said you had everything you could want, but I knew you’ve never had my famous cookies before, so here you go. Though I can’t say your Author won’t get jealous.” She smirked at Gwen and then turned to Michael. “So, where shall we go?”
“Why thank you! Very gracious of you!” Gwen took the plate and smiled at Kelly. “I am sure they will be delicious.”
After a last strict look at Michael, she went into the kitchen.
Michael chuckled walking to the door in a leisurely pace. “How about we take a stroll through the lovely streets of Gloucester? Of course we can always fly to the Forest of Dean. You are not scared of flying, are you? I promise I won’t drop you.”
“Let’s just walk through the streets. We haven’t much time left as it is.” They stepped out of the establishment, and Kelly conjured her next question, “So, this woman, what’s your favorite memory of her so far?” She cast Michael a glance as they walked.
Another vampire walked past them and Michael flashed him his fangs. No doubt that he wanted to go eat at the Jiang Shi. After all they did not only serve human food. Gwen had wisely kept it from this woman. “When she found me and saved me.”
“Can you describe it for me?”
Michael led Kelly down a dark alley, an amused smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. Another woman would have screamed in terror. “There had been rumors of a vampire in town. Of course I had thought it was a man, fool that I was. When I saw her I was awestruck. She looked like an angel. I was nearly starving and I was sick when I practically fell into her arms. A few more days and I would have died. I told her I knew what she was and begged her to turn me. Instead of murdering me, she bit me. Vampire bites don’t hurt, not if the vampire chooses it not to. I thought I was in heaven. That was before I woke up with a bloody headache and a corpse in my arms. Back in the days we did not have blood banks, so she had to bring me humans to feed on. None survived of course.”
He smirked. “Now I can control myself however.”
Kelly noted their surroundings. So much for a nice stroll on the lovely streets. Of course she didn’t expect anything else from Michael, and she was ready to conjure a stake and ram it into his chest if necessary. She pulled away from him to meander the shadows of the alley on her own before she turned back to him. “Before you got your control, did you ever kill a human you never intended to kill, never wanted to kill? If so, what effect did that have on you?”
Michael regretted trying to scare her. But after tonight he would not see her again, so why fret about it? “By the time I found my sire I did not have anyone I cared about, so no, I did not kill anyone precious to me.”
“That explains a lot about who you are.” Kelly nodded but kept her thoughts to herself as she offered Michael a smile. “Well, I fear our time has come to an end. Thank you for your time and for your answers. I will leave you to resume your plotting of vengeance and attempting to carry it out. Have fun with that.” With a nodded, Kelly gestured and vanished in a swirl of wind, returning to her home realm.
Michael stared at the spot the woman had vanished and shook his head. Now that would have been a useful skill. Shaking his head he vaulted himself up into the sky. Well then, that had been entertaining.
Raven Blackburn’s story is titled ‘Blood Oath’, and it is Book 1 in her series ‘Blood and Light’. No release date set for it yet, but you can read some of her work on Wattpad and follow her on social media here:
You can also find her work as a cover designer on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/RavenbornCovers/