I’m so excited to share my new vampire romance novella with you. It’s part of the multi-author series, Immortal Keeper. Each book in the series is a stand-alone. You don’t need to read them in order. But I encourage you to pick them all up because they are AMAZING!
Rune of Passing is Available at Amazon: https://amzn.to/3pUVoeK
Today, I have the prologue for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!
There were way too many vampires in one place.
I was ready to leave the moment I arrived, but since it was my father’s remembrance reception, that would’ve been rude. Right? Of course, it would be. Besides, it wasn’t like we could have an actual funeral or burial. There was no body to bury since vampires turned to dust when they died. So, the reception was a way for my father’s closest friends and associates to pay their respects.
My father, my vampire guardian since I was an infant, was murdered right in front of me. That was months ago. I hadn’t wanted this little gathering at all, but Caitlyn insisted.
The demon who killed him was still out there, and I’d rather be hunting him down than standing under the scrutiny of a roomful of vampires. I was sure they were there to see which one of them would step up as my new guardian. Not that I needed one. I was twenty and legally an adult. I didn’t need supervision—vampire or otherwise. I had Caitlyn. She was a vampire and my father’s best friend. She was like a mother to me.
However, I was a Chosen—someone the vampires of the Ouroboros Society thought exceptional—but I didn’t feel so special at that moment.
I only felt anger.
I damn sure didn’t need a new guardian, which I was sure why half the vampires were there. They were looking for a Chosen with gifts they could mold into whatever they wanted. Some vampires who agreed to take on a gifted ward only wanted her for her gifts. Hell would freeze before I allowed a vampire to use me for their own personal gain or a weapon.
Scanning the room, I saw Caitlyn mingling with the guests. Her red hair hung loosely around her shoulders, and a tightness about her violet eyes was the only hint of her grief. Outwardly, she projected a cool, calm demeanor that permeated the room. We were holding the reception in her house since mine was destroyed in the attack.
No father. No home. That damn demon took everything from me. He would pay with his life if it was the last thing I did. Maybe anger was an understatement.
Tingles of awareness skittered up my spine—I was being watched. I looked around for the source and saw him. Between all the black suits moving around, one caught my eye. My breath hitched, and my heartbeat increased. I hated my reaction to him, so I squashed the spike of heat flooding my body as fast as it appeared.
He leaned against the far wall, watching me openly as opposed to the more discrete peripheral stares I got from everyone else. His hair was as black as his suit, eyes nearly as dark, and I could see the muscle in his lean build through the jacket he wore. Gorgeous, but I didn’t recognize him. Did he even know my father? Caitlyn?
Or did he come to learn what gifts I had?
Glancing around the room again, I caught sight of Caitlyn’s red hair disappearing into the kitchen. Maybe she would know who the tall, dark, and stalkish was. The others, I was at least vaguely familiar with, but he was entirely unknown to me. That bugged me.
I weaved around a couple and caught Caitlyn’s arm just inside the kitchen, turning back to find the mystery man was now gone. Standing on my tiptoes didn’t give me enough height to see over the crowd. He’d disappeared.
Yeah, that wasn’t suspicious at all.
“Everything okay, Nat?” She searched my face.
“Yeah.” I shook my head roughly. “Yeah, I’m fine.”
Caitlyn’s eyes went from worried to sympathetic. “How are you really?”
I sighed and ran my hands over my hair, tugging the ends. “Would it be awful if I just wanted to leave?”
“You’re going after that demon.” It was a statement. She knew me too well. Before I could answer, she slipped me a vial of something dark—her blood. “Keep this close and only drink it if your injuries require it or you need a power boost.”
She was letting me go? At the very least, I’d expected her to offer to go with me. I wouldn’t complain; it just caught me off-guard. Caitlyn pulled me close and kissed my head as though I was a kid again. For a moment, I closed my eyes and allowed emotion to fill me, the grief I suppressed since watching my father die.
“Be careful,” she said. “Call if you need me. I’ll cover for you here, don’t worry.”
I smiled for her sake, but in my head, I was already on the hunt. With one last look around for the stranger—who had vanished as if I’d made him up—I ducked out through the back door. In the weeks leading up to the reception, I’d searched for the culprit—the demon.
The one who took everything from me.
I followed my latest lead to an old abandoned industrial park building, a well-known hideout for paranormal criminals. As soon as I reached the industrial park, I sensed the low hum of dark power. The familiar demon magic washed over me, fueling my anger. He was there. I was sure of it.
I didn’t bother sneaking around. I was there for answers. Besides, he probably already knew I was there. He thought I could give him what he was searching for when he killed my father—the Rune of Passing.
I didn’t know where the rune was, but Klaus didn’t know that. It was tricky letting the demon believe I could give him the information he sought because he could torture the information out of me. I wasn’t about to let him get that close. I had a few tricks up my sleeve.
“Come on out, Klaus!” I yelled, my voice echoing back to me in the stillness as I moved through the area, following the dark power like a beacon. “I know you’re here somewhere, hiding like a coward.”
I got a lot of subtle glances and outright stares as I marched toward the building, hopefully looking braver than I felt. Fighting was almost second nature to me by now, but there were a lot of vicious fuckers who hung around this area. One wrong move and I would wind up biting off more than I could chew. Guys like these didn’t believe in a fair fight. It was a good thing I was trained to fight from a young age by a vampire.
The door to the warehouse, where I felt Klaus’ energy the strongest, was unlocked, and thankfully, no one messed with me on the way in. Then again, Klaus could have made sure no one would touch me except him. That thought wasn’t as comforting as it was meant to be.
Okay, breathe, Nat. You have a job to do.
Inside was an open space lined with tables and catwalks along the second floor. Around one of the tables, a small group of guys sat chatting, most likely Klaus’ minions. They were huge, bulky security-types, probably my welcoming committee. Well, wasn’t that nice of the bastard demon?
“Hey, guys,” I called nonchalantly while palming my knife inside the hidden pocket of my jeans. “I was wondering if you could tell me where to find Klaus. You know, big guy, black eyes, very demony, weird sigils on his arms.”
The four guys got to their feet silently and stalked toward me, spreading out as if they recognized my tiny ass was a threat. There was something distinctly not-human about them, but whatever they were, I could handle them. Probably.
Oh, they’re going to kill me. Well, they could try.
Hopefully, not before I got something I could use. Then again, Klaus wanted information from me, so he would lure me into a death trap. I braced myself, rooting my stance, waiting for the first swing to come.
“You could just tell me, and I’ll be on my way,” I suggested, shrugging my shoulders. “I won’t even tell anyone you’re here. There’s no need for you to get hurt today.”
The first fist came from behind me, but I saw it coming. I dropped to the ground, rolling between another guy’s legs, then popped back up. Instantly, pain exploded in the center of my back, and I went flying into a table. Fuck. Fighting four guys at once wasn’t as easy as it sounded. Not that it sounded easy in the first place.
I needed to narrow the playing field—pick them off one at a time. My small size allowed me to be quick and limber. Living with a vampire my whole life taught me to be fast and silent, and whatever was inside me, which gave me my gifts, made me a little harder to kill than a normal human.
The welcoming party spread out again, so I picked one and ran, concentrating on what I wanted. My slight frame only pushed him back a step, but it was enough. I threw up a hand and created a portal right behind him. His eyes rounded as he fell through into another dimension. I didn’t care where because it didn’t matter. I just needed to get rid of them. With a wave of my hand, I closed the portal, then ducked and spun under another assault.
I pulled my knife from its hiding spot and slashed my arm out, slicing one guy in the stomach. He hissed out in pain and stumbled back. I conjured another portal and kicked him through it.
Then there were two.
I smiled at the glares they sent me, trying to hide their surprise I could create portals.
“What’s wrong? Don’t want to take a trip with your friends?”
They didn’t comment as they charged at me, but I was ready. I threw up the portal just as they reach me, then closed it fast.
As the charge in the air from my power settled, I saw Klaus near the back of the warehouse, opening his own portal. There was only one place he could go—the Underworld. Well, I could go there, too. In fact, there wasn’t a realm or dimension I couldn’t enter.
When I created the next portal, I focused on Klaus’ energy, so I could pop in near where he landed. Since the age of ten, when the power first showed up, I’d trained to perfect my sense of direction when it came to seeing and jumping to other realms. My father had made sure my power was at its strongest, so I wouldn’t accidentally get lost in another world.
As soon as I stepped into the Underworld, hot pain seared the back of my head, and I went down. Fucking demon. My vision blurred, and my skull ached. Breathing in and out slowly, I pushed the pain away and regained my bearing.
Lifting my head, I made eye contact with Klaus. He looked smug as he watched me, proud of himself for some reason. I was looking forward to punching that smug right off his face.
I still had my knife in my hand, so I threw it, hitting the asshole in the chest. He frowned and stumbled back. Laughing, I stood.
“Yeah, fucker, it’s silver-coated iron.”
Some demons’ weakness was silver, others was iron. Then there were the select few not affected by either. I was hoping Klaus wasn’t among the select few, but of course, he was. The demon glanced down at the knife and pulled it out of his chest, then tossed it to the ground. Damn.
I charged at him, slamming into his middle with my shoulder. The force sent us flying a few feet behind where he stood. He landed on his back with a grunt. Instantly, he punched me in the jaw hard enough I fell to the ground. My face throbbed, and I felt it start to swell, but I ignored the pain and pushed to my feet.
He stood at the same time, and I didn’t hesitate when I pulled a larger dagger from the knee-high boot and thrust it forward into his gut. Then I jerk it to the side, cutting through him.
Klaus doubled over and growled. “Bitch.”
He shot forward and had me by the throat faster than I could track, holding me off the ground.
“You will pay for that once you tell me where the rune is.”
“Never,” I choked out. I drew my foot back, then slammed it home, connecting the tip of my boot with his balls.
He roared and crumpled to the ground, releasing me. I coughed as I tried to suck in air. My throat was sore. No doubt I’d have bruises around my neck. Standing, I moved to him and kicked him in the side. As soon as my foot touched him, he grabbed my ankle and jerked. I fell to the ground, hitting my head on the gravel under us.
Pain exploded in my head. Klaus was on his feet instantly and standing over me. He kicked me in the ribs, making me cry out. A few ribs cracked. I picked up a handful of gravel and threw it at his face. He was too strong, and I was stupid for thinking I could defeat him.
There was only one thing I could do before he killed me, something I’d never done before, but in theory, I could do. I just never had the chance to test it out. Pushing away the sharp pain in my chest and the throbbing in my head, I shot forward, grabbing Klaus’ leg with one hand. Extending my other up with my palm facing him, I focused on creating his new home for eternity.
“Go to hell,” I gritted out and opened a portal underneath him.
He screamed at me as he fell into his own personal hell dimension—his prison for the rest of his life. One he could never escape from because only I held the key.
I coughed, spitting out a mouthful of blood, and fought to a sitting position. Digging Caitlyn’s vial out of my pocket, I downed it. It wasn’t much, but energy returned to my muscles, and the pain in my chest and head eased. The next portal I opened dumped me out into my apartment. Crawling to my bed, I passed out.