Come the Night

Come the Night

by Angelique Armae


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Angels, Vampyres, Heaven and Hell . . . In medieval Ireland two worlds collide, and the Dark Ages takes on a whole new meaning.

An evil entity stalks Lazarus Conlon, Vampyre patriarch, threatening the safety of his wife and his family tribe. But to conquer this enemy, Lazarus must first fight his own demons, including a sacred heritage inherited from fallen angels. Amid this strife, Lazarus learns his only true hope rests within the heart and soul of a mortal tracker—his wife, a woman born to hunt and destroy his breed. Can she help him defeat this evil threatening his very soul, or will her tracker heritage demand she kill him?

Neomina Delacroix is no stranger to the world of the Vampyre. As appointed heiress of the Tracker Council and the keeper of the Amulet of Christ and the St. John Stake, Neomina's allegiance to her people is sealed in blood. Little does she guess that her own father is not what he seems. And because of him, her true nature is grounded in the very evil threatening her husband. When terror strikes the Conlon Tribe, Neomina is their only hope. But will the dark heritage in her genes save Lazarus and his tribe, or will evil corrupt her soul and destroy them all?

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781933417172
Publisher: BelleBooks
Publication date: 11/01/2006
Series: Grigori Vampyre Series
Pages: 176
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.41(d)

Read an Excerpt


Palazzo Vecchio, outside Rome 476 A.D.

Romulus scowled. "The empire will never regain its strength. Rome as I once knew it is gone for good."

Octavia heard the pain in her father's voice, the mental anguish of being torn between the Vampyre and the man. She knew he spoke of himself in those words. She sensed it in her soul.

"Perhaps this is not a good time." She had the sudden need to run, the sudden need to flee her father's palace. Octavia knew the danger of pressing the Vampyre, of pushing such madness to the edge. "I can come back." She hadn't thought summoning his dark side would be so frightening. "I--I can come back when it's more ... convenient."

He didn't answer her.

She stared at him and mused at the façade. On the outside, Romulus looked every bit the dignified Roman. He wore a gold seal ring on his right hand and the prized toga draped well about his body. What would Caesar have thought had he ever learned the truth about her father, about the beast that dwelled within him? Now she saw Romulus in an entirely different light. His eyes seemed so dark. So tired. She couldn't remember ever seeing him in such a greatly disheartened state.

He sat in a gilded chair, looking much like an aging king seated on an ancient throne. His handsome, ageless face seemed suddenly marred by the winds of time and his restless soul haunted by the wickedness of his tormented existence.

Octavia shook the dark thoughts from her head. Perhaps it was just the atmosphere of the chamber with its cold, gray marble lit by far too few candles. She sensed no peace here, no warmth. This must be how he always felt. How the man inside theVampyre felt. The feeling disturbed her more than ever. Wishing away her father's pain, she closed her eyes. But it didn't work. She felt him stronger than before. The Vampyre that ruled Romulus's soul now dwelled nearer to her own.

Octavia felt her father's inner turmoil by merely being in his presence. She sensed in her heart that he wanted her to come closer, to embrace him. The power of the Vampyre reached out to her, calling from beyond the ethereal plane and stirring her to the core. But she knew better. Fate had been cruel to him. It kept Romulus away from his children. The most any of them could hope for were a few brief moments like these--moments stolen in a darkened chamber of his marble palace.

She summoned up the courage to speak. "I'm not here to talk about Rome, Father. I came because I bring you your grandson. His name is Lazarus."

Octavia held the infant in her outstretched arms. The clanging of gold bracelets sliding down her arm echoed about the room as she propped the baby up for her father's viewing. She prayed to God he would accept the child.

Romulus leaned forward and stared at his grandson. He looked uncomfortable being presented with such a situation and took no care to hide such feelings. A stern frown darkened his face even further. He raised an eyebrow and then quickly turned away.

"So, you have finally given me an heir. Hmm." He grunted and dismissed the child with a wave of his hand. "Why did you bring him here?"

"Because he needs you," Octavia said. "Lazarus is not a full-blooded mortal. His father was an angel named Lexliel, a Grigori who fell from grace while living in Eden, as did most of the Grigori, the angels of the tenth choir. But my husband repented, sparing our son's soul."

She fidgeted with the folds of the violet palla draping her stola. Her father had been upset when she ran off with a man he had never met. But none of that mattered now. Her husband was dead and Lazarus was all that remained important to her.

"If Lexliel were still alive I would not be here." She sighed. The two men she loved most had both left her in times of need--her husband bound by Hell, her father cursed by Hell. "I have nowhere else to turn."

Romulus rose from his throne. With slow, cautious steps, he approached her and Lazarus, came as close to them as the Vampyre inside allowed him.

"They say only demons, the damned souls of the Nephilim, come from the union of a mortal and an angel."

"I don't believe that," said Octavia. "Look at him." She gently unwrapped the folds of silk that cradled her son. The tiny infant was full of life and far from being anything like that which legend had prophesied.

Romulus took the child from Octavia's arms and held him close to his heart. "He is a strong being. I can see it in his eyes. What do you wish me to do with him?"

"Bring him over."

"But why?"

"If legend is true, he will die. If it is false, the Nephilim who know the true nature of his heritage will kill him. Besides..." Octavia paused. She knew her father wouldn't resist the blood of a newborn child. "You already hold him too close to your heart. You've crossed the line of fate and, having done so, you will not release my son until your hunger is fed."

Romulus froze. "I hadn't realized I'd taken Lazarus from you," he said. "Forgive me." He stared at the child and became lost in his smile. "He reminds me of you as an infant. You had the same eyes, the same mouth. You made me forget about the troubles of Rome. After long hours of debating with Caesar, I'd return home to wake you and your siblings, and hold you. Do you remember my embrace, Octavia?"

"Of course," she said. "In your arms I was secure, safe from the demons a little child imagines exist in the world. Little did I know..."

He sighed. "The Vampyre inside rules me. It's the beast that forced me to leave. I had no choice. I couldn't allow you to become what I had been for centuries."

"Centuries? But you were my father. How could you have been like this for hundreds of years and still given life to me?"

"My demons were exorcized by the Nazarene. He rehabilitated my soul." Romulus carried his grandson to a table in the corner of his chamber. He lit a group of candles, illuminating a large gold cross previously hidden by the darkness. "His Spirit has been my constant companion. He graced me with the gift of communing with angels and nourished my body with the fruits and berry wines from the gardens of Paradise. Because of the Nazarene, I was once again able to welcome the morning sun and wrap my soul in its warmth. But nothing lasts forever." Romulus paused. He turned away from the cross.

"No one could condemn the soul who saved me from my hell, yet they crucified Him just the same. In the days that followed, I slowly returned to my old ways. And in that chaos I have remained for centuries. Everyday is a battle against the Vampyre, against its gnawing hunger."

Octavia reached for her father. She placed her hand on his shoulder and cared nothing for her own safety, nothing for the threat that now lingered in the near shadows. Being physically close to Romulus put her life in danger. The Vampyre inside her father would judge her the same as it would any other vulnerable soul--as a source of warm blood to feed its cravings.

"How did you escape such torment?"

He turned away, a sigh echoing in the darkness. "I fell in love with your mother. She was a Tracker, a mortal who hunted the Vampyre. There are many families of Trackers, almost as many as there are Vampyric Tribes. Your mother came from a small yet powerful clan. She became my link to the outside world and offered me help. Had I had no conscience, she would've hunted me. I suppose I was fortunate she didn't have a large family, less Trackers to convince to accept me."

The news surprised Octavia; she hadn't known her mother's people hunted night creatures. They were Celts, not Romans, and rarely visited.

Romulus continued. "Years before I met your mother, I was given an amulet that held the blood of the Nazarene, the one they called Christ. This man had a great following and after his death, one of his apostles gave me the amulet in hopes of curing my Vampyric affliction. I befriended the Nazarene, and in turn, I was given a chance at redemption. The powers contained within gave me back my mortality long enough to father a family. But it was not easy. I never stopped wrestling with my hunger for blood. Eventually, it conquered me and almost sent me back to my old ways. I came very close to breaking my vow made with the Nazarene. That was the day I left you and confined myself to this room. Had I feasted again, my mortal family and my entire Vampyric Tribe would have been put in danger. My near weakness cost me the right to keep the Amulet of Christ. Angels descended to Earth and removed the relic from my care, giving it to the Trackers. The powers granted me to live in the sun and to retain my immortality remained. But I no longer could keep the amulet safe from the Dark Breed, a vile species of vampyres. If ever they were to possess it, the world would be doomed." Romulus looked away from Octavia. He focused his gaze on his grandson lying on the table in front of the cross. "Is this the life you want for your son? A life of constant torment?"

"Like you, he has no choice."

"Then so be it." He removed the remaining silk from the child's body. "But I will bring him across only if you agree to certain conditions."

"I'll do whatever is asked of me," said Octavia. "Anything to save my son."

"You must allow me to bring you across as well for I will teach you how to rehabilitate the child's soul so his torment will not be as severe as my own. And when the deed is done, you must promise to take me outside so I may breathe my last breath."

Octavia gasped. She hadn't come here to kill her father. "But why?"

"I've lived long enough," said Romulus. "It's time for Lazarus to rule my empire. From this day forward, he will be known as the patriarch of my Tribe." Romulus removed his seal ring and placed it on a silk cord. He draped the dangling ring over Lazarus's neck.

"Your son shall age until he is thirty-and-five as would any other soul. After that, youth will be his eternal companion.

"It is your duty to make certain he couples with a Tracker so that from him a savior will be born to destroy the Dark Breed. The woman destined to be his wife is the same woman fate has deemed to one day care for the Amulet of Christ. She will return the relic to my Tribe. This is what the Nazarene prophesied to me years after his mortal death, when he came to me in spirit. The amulet containing Christ's blood will allow Lazarus to retain the ability to procreate. The Dark Breed are demon vampyres born to a line of Grigori who did not repent their sins in Eden. These offspring are beings that are half-mortal, half-fallen angel, similar to your son but with a far darker nature. Instead of facing death, they were brought across by a beast that rules the Nephilim. They are my Tribe's greatest enemy."

She gasped, disbelief washing through her mind. "No, you lie. Please, tell me no more. I came here looking for a way to protect my son, not to destroy my father and enter a world of darkness. I've no desire to know these evil beings."

"But the legend is true, my sweet Octavia. The tale of a union between the Nephilim and the Dark Breed Vampyres is not a lie. I wish I could tell you otherwise, but I cannot. The Grigori have fathered countless children in man's world. And many of them are living demons. Lazarus is different. He is one of a small minority of half-mortals who still have a chance at eternal peace." Romulus peered down at his grandson. "I can see it in his eyes, the windows to his soul. Lexliel's repentance spared him."

At least her son would have hope, thought Octavia. She thanked the heavens for her father's strong Vampyric abilities to read her son's soul, but the realization of such powers contained in her father's beastly nature frightened her. She sensed, if this essence were to be misused, great harm could come to mankind. Fear for the future, for what might be one day, sent a chill down her spine.

"You were right to bring him here," said Romulus.

Octavia crossed the room in silence. She wanted this task to be over with and done.

"Do not struggle with your conscience, my sweet child. Even God will not condemn you for your actions today."

"But how can you be so sure? I am allowing you to make my son into a creature of the night, to bring him into darkness. Surely we will all be damned."

Romulus turned to his daughter. "No, that is not true." He pleaded with her. "It can't be. I did not voluntarily become what I am today. My forefathers were suckled by the she-wolf. And as a youth I was mesmerized by this famous tale."

He rubbed his neck as if to ease a pain or stiffness. "One day I encountered a she-wolf whom I thought to be the very creature that saved Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome. My ancestors were mortal twins suckled by a wolf--a powerful, wild creature who raised them as her own. However, the creature I encountered was anything but caring.

"The first time I laid eyes on her she was in wolf form, a beautiful animal unlike any I had ever seen. In time, she changed her shape and appeared to me as a mortal woman. She teased me and tempted me in ways I'd never imagined possible. She filled my head with nonsense. I became her slave, sick with an unnatural love for her. I was just a mortal pawn in the wolf's game." He shook his head in disgust. "I wanted nothing more than to be a king of Rome like my forefathers before me. I wanted to be taken up to the Heavens by Mars and made a god.

"The lives of those legends were in my blood." Romulus fisted his hands. "And the she-wolf preyed on my naiveté. She drugged me with poisoned milk and took me to a being that lived only in darkness. I was her gift to this beast, a fool with a swollen head and warm blood running through my veins." He paused. A cold, icy chill filtered through the room. "The beast soon brought me across, and from that day forward I have lived in misery. From my own family hailed a tribe of Vampyres, kin whom I cursed with my dark affliction. We were lucky to eventually have found the Nazarene. Yet despite his grace and forgiveness, at times I can still feel the pain of razor-sharp teeth sinking into my neck. The odd sensation never really leaves you."

"Why have you never told me of your Tribe?"

"Until now, it was best you didn't know."

Shock coursed through her veins. She had an entire family of night creature kin and never knew any of them. "How many like you are there?"

"Over the years our number has grown. Today my kin are scattered through out the Empire and the rest of the world. My tribe is vast and powerful."

She couldn't believe her ears. Vampyres coexisted with man, perhaps even out numbering mortals. And now she was asking for her son to join them. May the gods save her.

Romulus reached for Octavia's face. The touch of his cold, dead hands felt like ice against her skin and made her shiver. "Turn your eyes away, sweet daughter. I do not want you to see the evil that violates my soul."

Octavia did her father's bidding. She faced the darkness of the marble chamber and wept silently. Hell had shown her no mercy in the past. And today would prove no different. She held her breath as Lazarus screamed in the background. His strained cry filled every inch of the room as life was first drained from him and then replenished. She hated herself. She hated everything right now.

"A pitcher of wine sits on the stand in the other corner," her father said. "Bring it to me along with some fruit from the bowl. But do not set your eyes upon me."

Octavia fumbled through the dimly lit chamber. She didn't know what to take first but then filled one hand with a peach and a small plum. In her other hand she carried the pitcher of wine. Small droplets of the burgundy-colored liquid fell to the floor and soaked through her soft leather shoes as she hurried back to her father.

With Lazarus in his arms, Romulus reached out from the shadows and grabbed first for the pitcher.

"Come," he said. "The deed is now done. You must see to it that he drinks this daily." He placed a finger in the wine and then gently brushed it against Lazarus's lips. "As for the fruit, give him small pieces at first. In time his hunger will grow."

"Is this wine and fruit of Paradise plentiful in the markets?"

"No. You must never speak of these things in such a place. The nourishing substance that keeps my body alive comes from the heavens, a gift from the Nazarene. Only an angel can supply you with the fruits and wines of Paradise. The archangel Raphael is known as Heaven's healer. He will see to it both you and Lazarus are supplied with all the nourishments necessary to sustain your souls. Simply call his name when you have need of him."

She took a deep breath. Angels, demons--it seemed so much to learn in such a short time. Octavia knew of the Trackers from myth, of the Grigori from her husband, but only a little of the Vampyre. Now that would change. "But what about the blood? What if--?"

Romulus cut her off. "Never allow your son to drink mortal blood; only that of the wolf. I shall provide him with a pack of wolves raised for the sake of feeding the Vampyre. And even this blood should be taken in moderation. An exchange of small amounts of blood is permitted between man and wife, but only in the slightest amounts. Lazarus must remain in a rehabilitated state. If the need ever arises for him to bring a family member across, then and only then, should he drink fully from a mortal's veins. When the task is completed he must undergo a severe healing treatment. If not, he will die a slow and painful death, poisoned by the sin of drinking human blood. When the Nazarene redeemed my soul, I was forbidden to drink from a mortal's veins. If I did, I would pay a heavy price for transgressing. Christ demanded it be this way. I left you for fear the Vampyre inside me would feast again. I refused to take that chance with my own family. Sealing myself in this room was the only way I could make certain no other being would be involved in my battle with darkness. I've been taunted by torment and temptation, but I never once broke my vow to the Nazarene. At all cost, you must prevent Lazarus from drinking mortal blood with the exceptions I've told you. Do I make myself clear?"


"Very well then. I must finish my work here. Turn your head away, Octavia."

Her father's cold hands brushed her neck as he pushed the soft silk palla from her skin. He removed the ornately carved fibula that held it in place.

"Forgive me, my sweet," he said. "But destiny cannot be denied, neither mine nor yours."

Octavia nodded. Tears flowed from her eyes like a river flooding its banks. She thought of Lexliel, of Lazarus, of her childhood. She filled her head with pleasant scenes, anything to take her mind off the present, anything to escape the fear.

But such thoughts had little effect on the moment at hand. In an instant the agonizing pain of her flesh being torn apart by the razor-sharp daggers of the Vampyre's piercing fangs ripped through her skin. The drumming of her blood pumping fiercely through fragile veins sent her head spinning. She felt as if she were on the verge of exploding inside and imagined all her veins bursting one by one from the immense pressure contained within them.

Her knees grew weak. Life faded from her at an alarming pace. A bright light engulfed her body, tugging her into an endless tunnel. No. She tried to fight it. She saw herself running from the light. I don't want this. It's not supposed to be like this. Please ... God ... Father ... Lexliel ... someone, anyone...

Darkness rose up like a beast from the depths of Hell. It took her soul, her life. Drained of everything but a single breath, she fell to the floor.

* * * *

Hours passed. Octavia was certain of that. A sweet taste filled her mouth--something she had never savored before.

"The wine of Paradise." She heard her father's voice. "Nothing on Earth can compare to it."

"I can taste. I-I am still alive."

"Of course, you're still alive. I would never have allowed you to die, my sweet Octavia. But life will be different for you now."

She rose from the soft bed her father had obviously placed her on and glanced around the room, reacquainting her senses with the darkened chamber. "Where is Lazarus?"

"He is safe in the cradle next to your bed. I had a slave girl bring a cradle, wash him and wrap him in new swaddling. I had a clean stola brought for you as well. There is blood on the one you wear. When I am gone, burn your old clothes--and journey into your new life without any traces of the past." He paused and a shadow of concern crossed his face. "The act of bringing you and Lazarus across has been a bloody one. It troubles me to leave you like this. I know destiny cannot be denied, but still I must ask your forgiveness for what I have done."

Her soul ached with grief as she stared at Romulus. She now sensed her father's time coming to an end and wished it wasn't so. "I will never hold you responsible for what must be, Father. Our fate is in the hands of the gods. It always has been. First with Mars, then the she-wolf, even with the Nazarene. We might make small changes in our lives, but destiny has never been ours to fully dictate."

The veil of concern lifted from Romulus's face. "Are you up to taking me outside? I thought a view of Rome from the hillside would be a nice memory. I feel it is appropriate for my life to end exactly where it began."

"But, must you?"

"Octavia, I can no longer live. Even should I desire to, I cannot. When I brought Lazarus across I gave him all my knowledge, all my power, all my secrets. There is no longer a need for my soul in this world. I exchanged Lazarus's blood with my own so I could give him everything I had to offer this Earth, this lifetime. I knew taking me outside would be difficult for you. If you wish to remain inside, I will understand.

"But nothing, not even my own will, can keep me here now. The sun will call me home and I will not be able to resist. It is the way of the Vampyre. We exist in this world only as long as our life serves a purpose. Be it good or be it evil, it matters not. And now my time must come to an end. I am no longer patriarch of my Tribe because Lazarus is the new leader of my Vampyre kin. Since he is yet a child, you will rule my Tribe until Lazarus comes of age, until he understands the Vampyre that dwells inside."

Romulus headed for the heavy gilded doors that guarded his chamber. He struggled to pry them open and his face flushed from exertion. In an instant, sunlight filtered into the room and entered like an army laying siege to a defeated city. His skin began to smoke.

Romulus reached for the folds of fabric draped over his shoulder and wrapped them about his body, covering his flesh from the sun's rays. "Have no fear, daughter. The preternatural powers I had are now shared between you and Lazarus, increasing your sensitivity to the world around you. But despite this new gift of heightened awareness, the sun will not harm you. The ability to continue to walk in daylight was a gift from my ancestor, the god Mars, and later strengthened by the Nazarene."

Squinting in the bright light, Octavia followed her father. She raised a hand in front of her face to shield her eyes from the sun. She had never imagined it could be like this, like a fiery illumination almost blinding her vision.

In the outer corridor, slaves stood in horror as they watched their master emerge from his darkened chamber. Some froze; others fell to the floor, even fearful of laying eyes upon him. Octavia knew the slaves were well aware of her father's Vampyric essence but until now she never knew how much they feared him. Their mumbled prayers echoed through the palace's central hall.

Octavia paid them no heed. She clutched Lazarus to her breast to keep him from any harm that might be lingering nearby. Through the open doors at the end of the hall, she eyed the sight of Rome in the distance. Holding her son and remaining near her father, she cautiously stepped onto the balcony.

"The Paradisian fruits and wines will rehabilitate your soul while allowing you to remain in an immortal Vampyric state. You will have all the powers of the Vampyre but will not need to feed on blood," her father said. "Remember this."

She nodded. "You said Lazarus would rule your Tribe and bring forth an heir."

Romulus reached out for his grandson. For the last time, he took the child from Octavia and placed a tender kiss upon the infant's forehead.

"In time he shall encounter the one person capable of bringing him out of the darkness, a Tracker who will realize Lazarus's true destiny. This, too, was part of the Nazarene's prophecy. Tracker blood runs in your veins, my sweet Octavia. If you ever have need of them, go to your mother's people. They will help protect Lazarus." He held the infant near to him and whispered to the child. "My spirit will be with you always." He sighed and returned Lazarus back to Octavia. "Go inside now. My life's purpose has been fulfilled."

Octavia wept as she turned away from her father.

Romulus placed his hand gently on her shoulder. "Know that I always loved you and always will, despite my leaving you."

She turned around. "And I--"

"Go. Please." Romulus unwrapped the cloth shielding his body and exposed his skin to the sun's full effects.

Octavia left the balcony in tears. As she stepped onto the marble floor of the inside corridor she heard her father cry out in pain. He moaned and gasped for air and then called out to the Heavens.

"Lazarus, rise from my death. Rise, Lazarus, let the Vampyre wake your soul and take you beyond a mere mortal existence. Rise, for my death brings you renewed life."

His voice filled her ears like an unending echo. Octavia froze. She wanted to turn around, to reach out and bring her father back into the palace, into the safety of his former tomb. But the Vampyre that now ruled her soul kept her from acting on the impulse. She was bound to the way of the Vampyre, to Lazarus, and to the Tribe. To keep her father from dying would be to interfere with destiny and Octavia knew better than to turn her back on fortune's plan. She could not interfere with Romulus's fate.

Lazarus let out a scream like that of a man's. Octavia sensed the child felt Romulus's pain now that he had his grandfather's old powers. She prayed to the gods to ease her son's agony.

Heat radiated from the balcony. Behind Octavia, Romulus must have burst into flames. His burning body would soon turn to dust. The sound of blowing wind coming down from the hills of Rome filled her ears and made her turn around. A pile of dust remained on the balcony. The desire to gather her father's ashes and scatter them over Rome consumed her thoughts. To Octavia, Romulus was Rome. Her father had lived for the empire and now it seemed appropriate that his remains be returned to the city. A chill coursed through her body and caused the hair at the nape of her neck to stand on end. She sensed the gods nearby, Mars and others of her bloodline, coming nearer the Earth. The sensation overcame her as if the gods who ruled the old empire's beliefs had heard her silent plea.

Upon her back, Octavia felt the breeze of a warm wind kiss the balcony. She twisted around. Her father's ashes gently gathered in a twirling breeze and then blew away, scattered across the city below.

She wondered if Rome's gods would always hear her.

"No. And yes."

The voice startled her. She scanned the balcony, but to her surprise, it remained empty.

"Forgive me for my abruptness. I am Montigrael. Lexliel's brother."

From out of nowhere an angel wearing a suit of leather armor fitted over a red tunic appeared on the balcony. He looked much like a soldier of old Rome.

"I owe my brother Lexliel a debt and I have come to repay him," he said.

Octavia clutched her son even more tightly than before. "What do you mean the gods will not always hear me?"

"You are the gods, Octavia. We all are. I could never figure out why mortals fail to see how great their souls are, how much of the gods are within them. In truth, there is only one God, the Soul of Paradise. But man lives in a world with many cultures and many belief systems. Greek gods, Roman gods, names matter not. God as the all-consuming force dwells within us, around us." He stretched and his massive wings expanded over the entire width of the balcony. "But enough of that. Such talk bores me and I do bore easily. Have you no other questions for me? Do you not wish to know the reason why I have come?"

She wasn't sure she wanted to know. "You said you came to repay a debt owed to Lexliel."

"Yes. But aren't you curious as to what that debt is?"

Octavia shook her head. "My former life is over. I have only my son to think about now. Go away. Leave us be." A sudden fear filled her soul. She had lost the man she loved because of God and his war with Hell. The thought of Lazarus ending up trapped in the same world his father had been bound to frightened her. She wanted nothing to do with her husband's brother.

"Unfortunately, fate doesn't work that way. You see, my brother died because of me. My body should have fallen on the Devil's sword and not Lexliel's. But there is nothing I can do about that now," he said, staring at her.

The depth of Montigrael's blue eyes made her feel uneasy and a bit frightened. She'd never seen eyes as vibrant or as glaring. Octavia was certain the angel had the ability to see through to her soul. What would he do to a creature like herself, like Lazarus, a creature now neither dead nor alive?

A look of annoyance crossed his brow. "I'm here for one reason and one reason only."

"Very well. What is that reason?"

"I'm searching for the soul who was born to destroy your son."

"Well, search for him elsewhere, for I have neither want nor need of your help. Your presence will only lure my son's destroyer to him"

He shook his head. "I can't leave you. In a twist of irony, I've been appointed as Lazarus's guardian. So get used to me, for the road ahead shall be a long one." He closed his wings. "As for your thoughts on what I would do to a creature such as yourself, I can say only this..." A slice of sarcasm cut through his voice. "I loathe vampyres. If I had my way, you wouldn't exist."

The fear of having made a mistake pricked at Octavia's nerves. Maybe bringing Lazarus to the Vampyre angered Fate and made matters worse. Maybe it angered other gods as well. Had she interfered with Destiny's desires? How could a guardian be sent to protect a beast it detested? And what of this debt to her dead husband? An unending stream of questions swarmed her mind. She wondered what role her son would now play in the war between Heaven and Hell. The Dark Breed and the Nephilim were ruled by darkness. Needing a guardian to protect oneself from these creatures was not a good thing. Not a good thing in the least.

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