SCARLET: Taming the Thirst (Shades of Red)
Indiana Jones meets True Blood!
Strap in and hold on, I’m on a mission with nothing to lose. I will travel to the edges of the earth to bring down the despicable scientist who unleashed a pandemic on the vampire world.
Besides, this mission is all I have left after becoming one myself…
My insatiable thirst has ruined my marriage, taken my children, and plagued me at every turn.
But I don’t think about that…I have a job to do, and I won’t be alone. Hunky soldier Karsten Ingvar has been assigned to me by my boss. This Viking of a man claims he can cure my blood lust…can he?
Along this journey of twists and turns, I’ll have to make some unthinkable choices and do some despicable things….but that’s okay if it’s all in the name of good. Right?
***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof***
Copyright © 2018 T.L. Christianson
Turning the brass locket over and over in my hand, I frowned and opened the clasp to look at the pictures inside. My daughter Rebecca stared up at me, her cheeks red and blond hair bleached out by the sun. She’d turned eight, and I’d missed it. My son’s face filled the other oval; today was his sixth birthday, and here I sat over two-thousand miles away. Neither looked like me, with their white-blond hair-except for their eyes.
This was a familiar ache in my chest. That thudding guilt mixed with anger, frustration and wretchedness.
Taking a shaky breath, I snapped the locket closed.
The kids were growing up, and I would miss it.
My fingers traced the familiar filigree pattern before I slipped it back under the blue of my scrubs top.
Grabbing my keys I hesitated, glancing over to where my cell phone vibrated, rattling the change in the shallow dish where it rested.
I picked up the phone, Forest, the P.I. I’d hired was calling.
Smiling, I answered the phone, “Hey, are you just checking in or what’s up? You in town?”
His whisper came over the line, “Yo, I found him. Meet me in Time’s Square tomorrow at three p.m.”
“That’s great, but why are you whispering.”
“Tomorrow, 3 p.m. I’ll be the one in pink!”
“Forest?” He’d hung up.
Pursing my lips, I set my keys down.
Looking in the mirror, I spoke to myself. “Tonight, I’m going to drink live.” I straightened my part and finger combed my hair.
“I’m going to stop in time. Everything will be fine, I’ll have a breakthrough. Tonight will be my breakthrough.”
My reflection narrowed her eyes.
Damnit! Could I do it?
I’d been drinking bottled blood from my work, Chronos Corp, because of my problem.
My gaze lingered on my eyes, they were steady.
“I can do this,” I told my reflection again. “I’m not going to hurt anyone. I can drink live, like every other regular Moroi.”
Disgusted with my lying image in the mirror, I smoothed my dark hair into a low ponytail and headed out into the night.
My clogs tapped the rain-soaked sidewalk as I strode the dark streets of my neighborhood.
The taps seemed to accelerate along with my thirst, and I reached out with my senses to find my prey.
Ahead, I could smell someone. Metallic blood and tangy sweat filled my nose. I licked my lips in anticipation.
I liked runners and I jogged to close the distance. From a few meters, I knew he heard me.
The runner’s speed increased as I neared.
His instincts were right, he should run.
The street lamp up ahead flickered and then died. My breath hitched in excitement, yearning to find my fix.
When the runner entered the unlit section, I called out, “Hey! Hi.”
Turning, he hesitated.
I knew what he saw.
My runner slowed and came to a stop, absentmindedly stretching. He took in a breath of relief, a smile beginning to curve the corners of his mouth.
I approached, amused and biting my lip hesitantly.
He took one step, then two. His heartbeat slowing from his lack of movement.
I neared, his hoodie within my grasp. The smell of his blood mingling with the woodsy cologne of his flesh lured me in another step. Then, I flew at him, my arms locking tightly around his torso making it impossible for him to escape.
The blood beneath his skin sang to me, and my fangs slid out, slipping noiselessly into the surface of his skin.
I sighed as his scarlet magic filled my mouth.
When my saliva hit his bloodstream like a shot of morphine, the runner embraced me like a lover. His fingers tangled in my hair adding to the excitement.
There would be no need to use compulsion on him; his memory would be hazy.
Would he think he had some crazy hook up?
I didn’t know, and I didn’t care.
Warmth flooded my senses as I devoured my fill.
My mind calmed and soothed with the euphoric high from his blood.
My pulse slowed, and relief began to inundate my body.
As a real vampire, a Moroi, I wasn’t undead like the myths. I was alive, unaged and in perfect physical condition. I have a pulse and body heat too, which makes it incredibly difficult for a human to identify us.
Absentmindedly, I stroked his dark hair as I drank, vaguely aware of time passing, knowing I should stop, but unable to obey that little voice in the back of my mind.
The runner’s body slumped against me. Too much of his blood had passed my lips, gulp after lovely gulp, but I didn’t stop. I couldn’t care. Drinking live was the best high I’d ever had. More and more, and more, unable to let this feeling of ecstasy stop…
Suddenly, I was yanked off my feet.
I gasped, and the warm liquid ran out of the corner of my mouth and down my chin.
Blinking, I tried to free myself from my stupor.
When my eyes focused, I yelled out, “What the hell?”
In front of me stood a Viking god with his hands on his hips and an exasperated expression. Losing myself in his eyes, I couldn’t stop staring. He had striking heterochromia; one eye was pale blue and the other a dark reddish-brown.
The black Chronos uniform suggested that he must’ve been assigned to “guard” me… I laughed in my inebriation. Yeah, guard me, my ass, this was more of a babysitting gig for the poor schmuck.
My previous guard quit last week. It was a surprise to have been assigned someone so quickly.
“You are Dr. Shepard? I can see we have a lot of work to do. You almost killed him.” When he spoke, an accent lilted his words and sent chills up my spine.
He motioned to his mouth. “You have some on your…”
"I know," I told him, irritation in my voice.
I didn’t want his interference, but he had prevented me from killing again. I wasn’t sure whether to be angry or relieved.
"I’m working on controlling it,” I told him, wiping the dribble from my chin with the sleeve of my shirt.
Sitting on the sidewalk, I rested my head on my knees, the warm sensation draining away.
I'd been struggling with this problem for precisely six years today.
The Viking folded his arms and stood there watching me, feet apart, planted on the concrete.
He reached down and pulled me up. "Get up. You'll live."
I favored his stoic, no-nonsense approach to my problem. Any sympathy would have made me feel weak and awkward.
As we wandered the streets back to my house, I thought about the runner I'd attacked tonight. If it hadn't been for the Viking, that man would've died. His life would’ve been over, and it would have been my fault.
My voice broke the still silence of the night, "What’s your name, Viking?”
He laughed at my nickname and looked over at me, his mouth quirked up at the corners. “Karsten Ingvar, but you can call me Sten.”
Our pace slowed to a stop, and I put my hand out for his. “Nice to meet you, Sten. Sten?”
“Yeah, Sten. Nice to meet you as well.” His warm hand enclosed my own for this second time, the sizzling, warming sensation of his proximity making me a little dizzy.
All humor fled his countenance as he dropped my hand, apparently recalling his duty.
Without his skin touching mine, a strange empty sensation pricked at me.
Looking out into the night, Sten motioned that we should keep walking.
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