Nella sat in a ball in the center of her empty bedroom, rocking back and forth. Thoughts assaulted her mind like bullets. She was a vampire. She was about to meet her father for the first time. Her mother was in Hell. This was all too much for her to handle, and, honestly, didn’t want to. She wanted to go back to bed and start this day all over again, but that wasn’t possible.
Finally, after what seemed like days, she rose. Annoyed, she wondered what to do. Her mother had said her father was coming to collect her, so where was he? Refusing to cry, she wandered the empty hall of her home. Finding herself in the living room, she sunk into her mother’s favorite armchair.
“Oh, God,” she cried out.
Again, pain gripped her muscles when she said the words. She’d have to reprogram her mind because she was a vampire now. The horror of the realization that she couldn’t say the sacred names she’d learned in church made her ill. Jumping up, she rushed into the bathroom and vomited. She’d have to spend the rest of her life drinking blood? Eww! But then, she already had, and it wasn’t all that horrible.
She stumbled to the sink to splash cold water on her face. When she lifted her head, she didn’t see a reflection. Great. Now how was she going to check her hair out? Or make sure her outfit didn’t make her look fat? Lazarus popped into her head. Had he known? Why hadn’t he warned her?
Nella found her way back into her bedroom and to her window, where she flung back the curtains. Sure enough, the Jag was parked across the street. She didn’t see him; however she did feel him. His presence wrapped around her body like mist. It made her want to strip and be bad. She could now, being she was a vampire and all. After raising the window, she waved at the car’s dark, tinted windows and motioned for him to come over.
Running her hands through her hair, she turned to unlock the front door so he could come in but stopped. Someone was calling her… in her head. Clearly hearing someone call her name, she turned back toward the window, thinking it was Lazarus. It wasn’t. This call was erotic and caused her nipples to strain against her shirt. She closed her eyes, letting the call wash over her like a breeze as a third call, then a fourth call, entered her mind. Each one competed to be heard over the others.
Nella grasped the buttons of her shirt between her fingers and slowly unbuttoned each one. Hissing in response to the calls, she let the material fall to the floor. Her fangs ripped through her gums, and she moaned as the calls intensified. She hooked her fingers in the clasp of her pink bra, ready to pull it off. Suddenly, something covered her chest. When she opened her eyes, Lazarus held his jacket against her.
“That’s one way to get kidnapped,” he said.
“If you’re the one doing it, I’d go willingly.”
She didn’t recognize the husky voice that escaped from her mouth but made no attempt to cover up as she hung out of the window to touch one of his soft dreads. Slowly, she ran her fingers up the shaft to the root and down to the tip. When he quivered, she chuckled, but realized he made no effort to move away.
“You don’t understand what you’re doing, ma.”
“I think I do.”
She suddenly kissed him hard on his lips while she twirled the silky rope around her fingers. He leaned away before she could deepen the kiss and carefully removed his hair from her grasp. Pouting, she clutched his jacket to her chest as though it was his body as she slowly regained her composure.
“They were trying to draw you out with a mating call. That wasn’t fair. Especially for a new turn who’s also a master’s daughter.” He paused, turning to address something, or someone, in the invisible night. “Rest assured that I will handle it.”
She blinked as the calls stopped and the fog began to lift. Master’s daughter? Mating call? He nodded, and she stepped back from the window. That meant that he knew. He nodded again.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“It wasn’t my place. It was family business.”
She should’ve been angrier, but she wasn’t. He was right. Turning her back, she picked up her shirt and paused. She didn’t know how she was going to put it on without lowering the jacket. That simple dilemma shouldn’t have set her off, but it did, and tears streamed down her cheeks.
“Nella,” he said.
She turned back to the window. “You know my father?”
“Is he here?”
She wiped her nose with the back of her hand. “All this time…you weren’t interested in me. You were watching me for my father.”
“Yes and no. Your pop asked me to watch you, but that wasn’t why I kissed you. Look, ma. You’d better meet him and talk to him before we have this convo.”
“Okay,” she said, although she didn’t feel much better.
“Put on your shirt. I’ll get your pop and meet you at the front door.”
When he left the window, she laid the jacket on her bed and put on her shirt. His scent hit her nose as she picked up his leather jacket. She inhaled deeply. The metallic sandalwood scent caused her fangs to lengthen. In a daze she walked toward the front door, still holding his jacket to her nose. She knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she wanted him. Tonight. His tall frame filled the glass in the oak door. She flung it open and stared up into his blue eyes, and he flinched as if she had hit him. When he licked his full lips, it took everything within her not to kiss him again. He’d changed from his suit into a red polo shirt and black cargo shorts with black boots.
“Hey,” she said, suddenly nervous, though he’d already seen her almost naked.
“What’s up, ma?”
Her lips began to quiver. His simple question reduced her to rubble. Suddenly his arms were around her. He pulled her to his chest and stroked her back while she cried. She was such a dork. Here she was, bawling like a baby in front of this big, strong vampire.
“Don’t worry about it. A lot’s happened in a short time. This would’ve reduced anyone to tears.”
“You’ve got to stop reading my mind.”
“Naw. It might come in handy one day.” He chuckled.
She giggled. Leaning away but not leaving his arms, she looked up at him. He wiped away the remaining tears from her eyes with the pad of his thumb.
“You ready to meet your pop?”
“No. I look a mess.”
“You look beautiful. He’s cool. You’ll like him.”
When he dropped his arms, she took a deep breath, trying to calm the swirl of emotions that raged inside of her. She nodded, and Lazarus stepped aside. A tall, thin man wearing an expertly tailored dark suit stood behind him. Nella gasped. Her father’s face was too soft to be that of a vampire. He had her amber eyes, and her high cheekbones. “Dad,” she whispered, afraid to say the word out loud.
When he nodded, she burrowed into his arms, knocking him off the top step and onto the second. She buried her face in his chest and covered it with tears. For so long, she’d dreamt of this moment, and now it was here. She had a dad—a real live father. He kissed her on the top of her head. She had questions, a lot of questions, but for now, she was content to be in his arms.