For the next couple of weeks I’ll be posting the first three chapters of Legacy of Ghosts in tiny, blog sized nuggets, hopefully a bit a day.
If you’ve missed previous chapters, you can read them here.
This contains spoilers. If you haven’t read Shades of Gray, proceed at your own risk
Katelina brushed out her long, blonde hair and put on her clothes. The red dress, borrowed from another vampiress, clung to her. She tugged uselessly at it as she walked back into the bedroom. There, she found the sunlight gone and Jorick awake. He’d partially disassembled the stack of furniture and sat in a wicker chair, wearing nothing but a pair of faded blue jeans.
“Good morning.” He gave her a warm smile that flashed his shining fangs. “Did you sleep well?”
She answered with a half hearted shrug and noticed that he had the gauze and ointment laid out on the small table. “You’re playing doctor again?”
“At every opportunity,” he murmured meaningfully. He smirked as she blushed, and indicated the empty chair opposite him. “Sit down and we’ll get started.”
With her cheeks still pink, she did as he asked. Gently, he treated and bandaged her hurts. His lingering fingers did little to calm her pounding heart, but something in the way he watched her made her cautious. He peered at her from underneath his eyelids expectantly, but she didn’t know what he was waiting for.
He finished in silence and leaned back in his chair. She cleared her throat noisily, just for the sound, and he finally relented. “I just wondered if you hadn’t changed your mind about going home.”
She shook her head no and held up her bandaged arms. “I can’t go home like this. What would my mom say? Can you imagine the hysterics?”
Jorick nodded and commented casually, “Yes, but someone’s listed you as a missing person. Perhaps…” he broke off and gestured with his hand to dismiss the conversation. “If you’re sure, then it’s fine with me.” He flashed a tight smile. “How long do you plan to stay away from home?”
“Until I’m healed up, I expect.” She frowned as she tried to figure up the date. “It’s almost Halloween now, isn’t it?”
Jorick shrugged his shoulders. “The last time I noticed the date was August.”
“August?” she demanded incredulously, then rolled her eyes. “Never mind. There should be something.” She stared uselessly around the motel room, then noticed the room receipt crumpled on floor. She quickly stood, scooped it up, and smoothed the yellow paper. “It’s-” a pause. “November first?”
She added dates up in her head, but came to no conclusion before a knock sounded on the door, followed by the call, “It’s Oren.”
Jorick shrugged his shoulders and stood. “November sounds right,” he acknowledged as he moved to the door and flipped the row of locks. “Come in.”
Jorick’s fledgling, a tall vampire with tawny hair and amber eyes, strolled into the room. It wasn’t just his coloring, but his mannerisms that made Katelina think of a lion. Though his long hair was tamed back in a ponytail and he wore a button down shirt tucked into jeans, there always seemed to be something just barely contained about the man. She wasn’t sure she liked that.
Oren strolled to the middle of the room and glanced from Katelina to Jorick, his face serious. “I think we soon come to a parting.” He held Jorick’s gaze. “Unless you wish to join my sister and me?”
Jorick shook his head. “No, Oren.” His eyes flicked to Katelina and then back. “My fight was with Claudius, and it’s over now. I have no reason to war against The Guild.”
Oren’s jaw tightened at the mention of the vampire government. “Yes, I know. It wasn’t your wife and children that they burned.” He quickly composed himself. “I apologize. The fault isn’t yours, and I don’t seek to change your mind. I cannot deny, however, that you’d be an asset. A former Executioner; one whose blood is older than any who currently hold that title.”
Jorick held up a hand to stop him. “Perhaps,” he acknowledged. “But this isn’t my fight – at least, not yet.” He motioned to Katelina. “She’s injured and needs time to heal both her body and mind and digest all that’s happened. I’m sorry, but that must be my priority right now.” He added, wryly, “After all, I’m the one who brought her into this, as you’ve so eloquently reminded me many times.”
Oren didn’t look defeated or disappointed, only unhappily satisfied. “I feared you’d say that.” He met Jorick’s gaze, his spine straight. “I will not try to dissuade you from the path you’ve chosen. You’ve rarely done so to me, and I’ll return the favor.” He turned and started towards the door, but stopped just before it. “If ever you wish to join us, there will be a place of honor for you.” The invitation hung in that air like a tangible object that Katelina wanted to reach up and brush away.
“I know, Oren,” Jorick replied, looking past the offer with another tight smile.
Oren nodded crisply. “I’ll take you as far as your den, but then I have other things I need to see to.”
“I appreciate it.” Jorick moved to stand next to Katelina and placed a hand on her shoulder. “And I wish you luck.”
Oren nodded to himself. “We will need more than luck.” Then, he added, “We can feed your human on the way.”
Before either of them could reply, he was gone and the door closed behind him. Katelina let out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. She’d been afraid that Jorick would change his mind and agree to go with them into another battle. She was sick of fighting and killing and blood. If he’d said he’d go then – then what? Would she turn and run home, leaving him alone? She didn’t know, but luckily she didn’t have to find out.