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 An Embrace Of Darkness

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Avenging Angel

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Posts : 22
Join date : 2009-10-15
Age : 29
Location : Alabama

PostSubject: An Embrace Of Darkness   Sun 18 Oct 2009, 8:58 pm

Author: Avenging Angel

Rating: R for language and sexual situations

Disclaimer: Kellie, Ace and whoever else may appear in this fanfic are not owned by me. The people and places are real, the events are fictional, created by me.

Summary: Kellie Pickler thought she had found the perfect lover. Brett "Ace" Young was both angel and devil, as tender and sensitive as he was powerfully erotic. Then she learned the secret that tormented his soul...Ace was cursed with the dark gift of immortality. His passion for a mortal woman was forbidden, a reckless temptation that fired the hunger within...and threatened to destroy them both.


We had originally posted this on IFF, we not so great results. We got discouraged, and quit writing for awhile. Now that we're over here, we feel a new surge of hope and creativity. On behalf of my sister Melanie, I hope that everyone will enjoy what we have completed so far.


Chapter 1:


That year, on the afternoon of Halloween, great glistening snowflakes began tumbling from a glowering sky, catching the maples and oaks by surprise in their gold and crimson housecoats, trimming fences and lampposts, roofs and windowsills, in shimmering, exquisite lace.

Brett “Ace” Young awakened at sunset, as he’d done every day for more than two centuries, and felt a strange quickening in his spirit as he left the secret place in the woods. He allowed himself a wistful smile as he surveyed the snowy landscape, for he sensed the excitement of the town’s children; it was like silent laughter, riding the wind.

All Hallow’s Eve he thought. How fitting.

He shook off the bittersweet sadness that had possessed him from the moment he’d opened his eyes and walked on toward the great stone house hidden in the stillness of its surroundings. There were birch trees among the others, gray-white sketches against the pristine snow, and a young deer watched him warily from the far side of a small mill pond.

Ace paused, his eyes adjusting to the dusk, and all his senses fluttering to life within him, and still the little doe returned his gaze, as though caught in the glow of headlights on some dark and forgotten road. He had only to summon the creature, and she would come to him.

He was hungry, having gone three days without feeding, but he had no taste for the blood of innocents, be they animal or human. Besides, the life force of lesser creatures provided substandard nourishment. Go, he told the deer, in the silent language he had become so proficient at over the years. This is no place for you, no time to be abroad in the night.

The deer listened with that intentness so typical of wild creatures, white ears perked as fat flakes of snow continued to fall, as if to hide all traces of evil beneath a mantle of perfect white. Then the creature turned and scampered into the woods.

Ace allowed himself another smile—it was Halloween, after all, and he supposed the occasion ought to have some celebratory meaning to a vampire—and walked on toward the house. Beyond, at the end of a long gravel driveway, lay Route 7, the first hint of civilization. The small Connecticut town of Bright River nestled four and a half miles to the north.

It was the kind of place where church bells rang on Sunday mornings. Local political issues were hotly debated, and freight trains came through late at night, the mournful cry of the engineer’s whistle filling the valley. The children at the elementary school made decorations colored in crayon, pumpkins or Pilgrims or Santa Clauses, depending on the season, and taped them to the windows of their classrooms.

Ace still smiled as he mounted the slippery steps at the back of the house and entered the mudroom. He stomped the snow from his booted feet just as a mortal man might have done, but he did not reach for the light switch as he entered the kitchen. His vision was keenest in the dark, and his ears were so sharp that neither cacophony nor silence could veil the essence of reality from him.

Usually.

He paused just over the threshold, focusing his awareness, and he knew in the space of a moment that he was indeed alone in the gracious, shadowy house. This realization was both a relief—for he had powerful and very treacherous enemies—and a painful reminder that he was condemned to an eternity of seclusion. That was the worst part of being the monster he was, the wild, howling loneliness, the rootless wandering over the face of the earth, like a modern-day Cain.

Except for the brief, horrified comprehension of his victims, flaring in the moment before their final heartbeat, Ace knew no human contact, for he consorted only with other vampires. He took little comfort from the company of his fellows—except for Katharine, his cousin, whom he loved without reservation—for they were abominations, like himself. As a rule, vampires were amoral beings, untroubled by conscience or a need for the fellowship of others.

Ace sighed as he passed silently through the house, shoving splayed fingers into brown, unruly hair. The yearning to live and love as an ordinary man had never left him, even though older and wiser vampires had promised it would. Some remnant of humanity lingered to give unrelenting torment.

He had not known peace of mind or spirit since the night she —Elizabet—had changed him forever. Indeed, he supposed his unrest had begun even before that, when his gullible and superstitious mother had taken him and Katharine to a gypsy camp, as very small children, to have their fortunes told.

The old woman—even after more than two hundred years, Ace still remembered the horror of looking into her wrinkled and shrewd face—had taken his hand and Katharine’s into her own. She’d held them close together, palms upward, peering deep, as if she could see through the tender flesh and muscle to some great mystery beneath. Then, just as suddenly, she’d drawn back, as though seared.

“Cursed,” she’d whispered. “Cursed for all eternity, and beyond.”

The crone had turned ageless eyes—how strange they’d seemed, in that wizened visage—on him, though her words had been addressed to his now-tearful mother. “A woman will come to him—do not seek her out, for she is not yet born—and she will be his salvation or his damnation, according to the choices they make.”

The ancient one had given each of them a golden pendant on a chain, supposedly to ward off evil, but it had been plain, even to a child, that she had little faith in talismans.
The chiming of the doorbell wrenched him forward from that vanished time, and he found himself in mid-pace.

He became a shadow among shadows, there in the yawning parlor. Cold sickness clasped at his insides, even though they had long since turned to stone. Someone had ventured within his range, and he had not sensed the person’s approach. The bell sounded again. Ace dragged one sleeve across his forehead. His skin was dry, but the sweat he’d imagined had seemed as real as that of a mortal man.

“Maybe nobody lives here,” a woman’s voice said.

Ace had regained his composure somewhat, and he moved to the front window with no more effort than a thought. He might have come as easily from his hiding place to the house, except that he liked to pretend he had human limitations sometimes, and remember how it felt to have breath and a heartbeat.

He made no effort to hide himself behind the lace curtain, for the woman and child standing on the porch would not see him—not consciously, that is. Their deeper minds would register his presence and probably produce a few spooky dreams in an effort to assimilate him.

The child, a boy no older than six or seven, was wearing a flowing black cape and was fangs, and he gripped a plastic pumpkin in one hand. His companion, clad in blue jeans, a sweater, and a worn-out cloth coat, was gamine-like, with short blond hair and large, blue eyes. Their conversation went on, ordinary and sweet as music, and he took the words inside himself, to be played over and over again later, like a phonograph record.

Perhaps the other side of him, the beast, willed solidity and substance to his body and made him open the door.

“Trick or treat,” the small vampire said, holding up the grinning pumpkin. In his other hand he held a flashlight.

The woman and child glowed like angels in the wintry darkness, beautiful in their bright innocence, but Ace was aware of the heat and warmth pulsing through them, too. The need for blood made him sway slightly and lean against the doorjamb.

That was when the woman touched him, and parts of her past flashed through his mind like a movie. He saw that she liked to wear woolen socks to bed, that she was hiding from someone she both cared for and feared, that despite her close relationship with the child, she was as lonely as himself.

All in all, she was delightfully mortal, a tangle of good and not-so-good traits, someone who had known the full range of sadness and joy in her relatively brief existence.

He felt a wicked wrench, in the darkest reaches of his accursed soul, a sensation he had not known before, in life or in death. It was both pain and pleasure, that feeling, and the possible significance of it dizzied him.

Why had he recalled the words of the gypsy, spoken so long ago, words tucked away in a child’s mind and forgotten five minutes after they were offered, now, on this night?

A woman will come to him…she will be his salvation or his damnation…

No, he decided firmly. Even given all he knew of the world, and of creation, it was too fanciful a theory to accept. This was not the one who would save or damn him; such a creature probably did not even exist.

Still, the gypsy’s prediction had been otherwise correct. He and Katharine had both been cursed, as surely as the rebellious angels had been, those banished from heaven so may eons before, following the legendary battle between Lucifer and the archangel, Michael.

“Are you all right?” the woman asked, pulling him sharply back from his musings. “You look a little pale.”

Ace might have laughed, so ludicrously accurate was her remark, but he didn’t dare risk losing control. He was ravenous, and the woman and child standing before could have no way of knowing what sort of monster they were facing all alone, there in those whispering woods.

Their blood would be the sweetest of nectars, made vital by its very purity, and to take it from them would be a bliss so profound as to sustain him for many, many nights…

The soft concern in the visitor’s manner was nearly his undoing, for he could not even recall the last time a woman had spoken to him with tenderness. Drew in a deep breath, even though he had no need for air, and let it out slowly, holding the inward demons at bay with his last straining shreds of strength. “Yes,” he said, somewhat tersely. “I’ve been—ill.”

“If you don’t have any candy, it’s okay,” the child put in with quick charity. “Aunt Kellie won’t let me eat anything I get from strangers anyhow.”

Ace was almost deafened by a rushing sound stemming from some wounded and heretofore abandoned place in his spirit. Kellie. He made note of the woman’s name—it was a detail that had seemed unimportant, in the face of the devastating affect she’d had upon him—and it played in his soul like music. His control was weakening with every passing moment; he had to flee the pair before he broke his own all-but-inevitable rule and ravaged them both.

Still, he was so shaken, so captivated by this unexpected mortal woman; that movement was temporarily beyond his power.

“I have something better than candy,” he heard himself say, after a desperate inner struggle. He made himself move, took a coin from the ancient cherry-wood box on the hallway table and dropped it into the plastic pumpkin the little boy held out to him. “Happy Halloween.”

Kellie’s blue eyes linked with his, and she smiled.

He watched the pulse throb at the base of her right ear, imagined the vitality he could draw from her, the sheer, glorious life. The mere thought of it made him want to weep.

He did not risk speaking again.

“Thank you,” she said, turning to start down the porch steps.

The small vampire lingered on the doormat. “My name’s Danny. We’re practically your neighbors,” he said. “We live at the Lakeview Trailer Court and Motel, on Route Seven. My dad is caretaker there, and Aunt Kellie cleans rooms and waits tables in the truck stop.”

The blush that rose in the woman’s cheeks on made his deadly hunger more intense. Just when he would have lunged at her, he thrust the door closed and willed himself away quickly—far away, to another time and another place, where he could stalk without compunction.



Ace chose one of his favorite hunting grounds, a miserable section of nineteenth-century London known as Whitechapel. There, in the dark, narrow, stinking streets, he might select his prey not from prostitutes, or the pickpockets and burglars, but from the procurers, white slavers, and men who made their living in the opium trade. Occasionally, he indulged a taste for a mean drunk, a wife-beater, or a rapist; circumstances determined whether his victims saw his face and read their fate there or simply perished between one breath and the next. He did not actually kill the majority of his victims, however, and he never made vampires of his prey, even though he knew the trick of it only too well. It was all a matter of degree.

He kept a room over a back-alley tavern, and that was where he materialized on that particular night. Quickly he exchanged his plain clothes for an elegant evening suit and a beaver top hat. To this ensemble he added a black silk cape lined with red, as a private joke.

A cloying, yellow-white fog enveloped the city, swirling about the lampposts and softening the sounds of cartwheels jostling over cobblestones, of revelry in the taverns and whoring in the alleys. Somewhere a woman screamed, a high-pitched, keening sound, but Ace paid no attention, and neither did any of the other shadowy creatures who haunted the night.

He’d walked only a short way when he came upon a fancy carriage stopped at the curb. A small man, clad in a bundle of rags and filthy beyond all bearing, was pressuring a half-starved child toward the vehicle’s open door.

Inside, Ace glimpsed a younger man, outfitted in clothes even more finely tailored than his own, counting out coins into a white, uncalloused palm.

“I won’t do it, do you ‘ear me!” the little one cried, with unusual spirit for such a time and place. Although he sensed that the small entity was female, there was nothing about her scrawny frame to indicate the fact. She couldn’t have been older than eight or ten. “I won’t let some bastard from Knightsbridge bugger me for a shilling!”

Ace closed his eyes for a moment, filled with disgust, vividly recalling the human sensation of bile bubbling into the back of his throat in a scalding rush. After all the time that had passed since his making, it still came as a shock to him to realize that vampires and werewolves and warlocks weren’t the only fiends abroad in the world.

“Get’n the carriage and tend to your business!” shouted the rag-man, cuffing the child hard between her thin shoulders. “I’ll not stand ‘ere and argue with the likes of you all night, Callie Biffle!”

He stepped forward, deliberately opening himself to their awareness. Closing one hand over the back of the rag-man’s neck, instantly paralyzing the wretched little rodent, he spoke politely to the urchin still standing on the sidewalk.

“This man”—he nodded toward his bug-eyed, apoplectic captive—“is he your father?”

“ ‘ell, no,” spat Callie. “ ‘e’s just a dirty flesh-peddler, that’s all. I ain’t got not father or mother—if I did, would I be ‘ere?”

Ace produced a five-pound note, using that special vampire sleight of hand too rapid for the human eye to catch. “There is a woman in the West End who’ll look after you,” he said. “Go to her now.”

He put the street name and number into the child’s mind without speaking again, and she scrambled off into the shifting murk, clutching the note she’d snatched from his fingers a second after its appearance.

The horses pulling the carriage grew restless, but the dandy and his driver sat obediently, bemused, as helpless in their own way as the rag-man.

Ace lifted the scrap of filth by the scruff of his neck and allowed him to see his fierce vampire teeth. It would have been the purest pleasure to tear open that particular jugular vein, to drain the blood and toss away the husk like a handful of nutshells, but he had settled on even viler prey—the wealthy pervert who had ventured into Whitechapel to buy the virtue of a child.

He flung the procurer aside, heard the flesh-muffled sound of a skeleton splintering against the soot-stained wall of a brick building. Fancy that, he thought to himself with a regretful smile.

He climbed easily into the leather-upholstered interior of the carriage, and there he settled himself across from his intended victim. With a thought, he broke the wicked enchantment that he had held both the driver and his master in stricken silence.

“Tell the man to take you home,” Ace said companionably enough, examining his gloves to make sure he hadn’t smudged them while handling the rag-man’s dirty person.

The carriage was dark, but his vision was noonday perfect, and he saw the young nobleman swallow convulsively before he reached up with a shaking hand and knocked three times on the vehicle’s roof. The lad loosened his ascot as he stared at Ace in confounded fear, his pulse plainly visible between the folds of silk.

Yes, the vampire thought with quiet lust, eyeing the man’s throat. Soon, very soon, the terrible hunger would be satisfied, at least for the time being.

“Wh-Who are you?” the nobleman finally managed to stammer out.

Ace smiled cordially and took off his hat, setting it carefully on the leather seat beside him. “No one, really. You might say that you’re having a remarkably authentic nightmare—Bucky.”

The young man paled at Ace’s easy use of his nickname, which of course, he hadn’t given. Bucky swallowed again, gulped really, and a fine sheen of perspiration broke out on his upper lip. “If it’s about the child—well, I was only looking for a little harmless diversion, that’s all—“

“You are a man of peculiar tastes,” he said without expression. “Does your family know how you amuse yourself of an evening?”

Bucky squirmed in the seat. On some level, Ace supposed, the specimen’s mind was developed enough to discern that the curtain was about to come down on the last act. “If this is about blackmail—“

The vampire interrupted with a tsk tsk sound. “For shame. Not all of us are willing to stoop to such depths as you do, my friend. Blackmail is far beneath me.”

A flush flowed into Bucky’s face, sharpening Ace’s desire to feed something very like frenzy. He would wait, however, allowing the prospect to grow sweeter, in much the same way he had let fine wine breathe before indulging in it, back in those glorious days when the only blood he’d needed was that which coursed through his own veins.

“What do you want then, if not money?” Bucky sputtered.

Ace smiled, revealing his fangs, and watched in quiet, merciless resolution as a silent scream moved up and down Bucky’s neck but failed to escape his constricted throat. He looked frantically, helplessly, toward the carriage door.

“There is no escape,” the vampire told him pleasantly.

Bucky’s eyes were huge. “No more—no more children—I swear it—“

Ace shrugged eloquently. “I quite believe you,” he conceded. “You will never again have the chance, you see.”

The carriage rattled on through the foggy London night, and the trip must have seemed endless to Bucky. Indeed, for him it was surely an eternity. Finally, when Ace knew time was growing short, that dawn would come soon, he decided he’d savored the salty, vital wine long enough.

Slowly he put his hands on Bucky’s velvet-clad shoulders, drew him close, even snarled a little, as a media vampire might, to give the moment a touch more drama. Then he sank his teeth into the tender flesh of Bucky’s neck, and the blood flowed, liquid energy, not over Ace’s tongue but through his fangs.

As much as he hated everything he was, feeding brought the usual ecstasy. He drank until his ferocious thirst had been quelled, then snapped Bucky’s neck between his fingers and flung him to the floor of the carriage.

The vampire rarely fed in such rarified circles, and he frowned as he imagined the furor the finding of a dandy’s blood-drained hulk would arouse in the newspapers. He felt some regret, too, for the confusion that would reign among the diligent, well-meaning souls at Scotland Yard when they tried to make sense of the incident.

They would, of course, blame the Ripper.

Ace stopped the carriage by freezing the driver’s already addled mind, bent to straighten Bucky’s stained ascot, then climbed out onto a virtually empty sidewalk.

His cousin Katharine’s grand house loomed before him, beyond an imposing wrought-iron fence, its chimneys and gables rimmed with the first gray-pink tatters of dawn.

He met the carriage driver’s blank stare, dismissed him with no memory of visiting Whitechapel or even encountering a stranger. The vehicle lumbered away through the slow, silent waltz of the fog.

Ace let himself into the house via a special entrance next to the wine cellar and took refuge in a dark, tomblike room where inhabitants had once hidden from Oliver Cromwell’s men. He bolted the door, then removed his hat and the cloak and settled in a half-crouch against a cold stone wall.

He yawned as the fathomless sleep began to overtake him. He’d been careless, coming here, but after his dawdling with poor, misguided Bucky, there hadn’t been time to return to his lair in twenty first century Connecticut. Besides, satiation always dulled his wits for a while.

He would have to hope—it was futile for a vampire to offer a prayer—that none of his enemies had been watching when he came to this only-too-obvious place to rest.

Ace yawned again and closed his eyes. He didn’t fear most vampires, for all but a few had to hide from the sun just as he did, but there were other arch-demons, other abominations of creation, who preyed upon his kind, terrible, beautiful things that flourished in the daylight.

Usually Ace did not dream. All consciousness faded to dense blackness when he slumbered, leaving him vulnerable while his being assimilated the food that made him immortal.

Tonight, however, he saw the woman, Kellie, on the stage of his mind, and the little boy with wax vampire teeth, and even in his stupor he was wildly troubled. In two centuries, no mortal female had captured his imagination. This one, this Kellie, was different.

It wasn’t just her looks—she was pretty enough, though by no means stunningly beautiful—but something far deeper, an ancient and cataclysmic affection of the soul, a bittersweet paradox. It was as if he’d been captured by a cunning and much-feared foe and at the same time found a vital part of himself that he hadn’t known was lost.

Again, the long-dead gypsy witch’s ominous words echoed; fragmented and sharp as splintered glass, in his mind. Cursed—damnation or salvation…



When he awakened, many hours later, he knew immediately that he was not alone in the dark chamber.

A match was struck; the light flared, searing his eyes. Before him stood Constantine, majestic in his vampirism, a beautiful fiend with chestnut-brown hair, patrician features, and a dark brown gaze that could paralyze any lesser creature in a twinkling.

“You are a fool, Ace!” Constantine spat, and the motion of his lips made the candlelight flicker. Like himself, the other vampire had no breath. “What possessed you to come here?” He waved one elegant arm in barely bridled fury. “Have you forgotten that she searches for you? That she needs neither darkness nor sleep?”

Ace yawned and raised himself to his feet, using the wall behind him for support. “ ‘She,’ “ he quoted mockingly. “Tell me, Constantine, are you so terrified of Elizabet that you will not even say her name?”

The older vampire’s eyes narrowed to slits; Ace could feel his fury singing in the room like the discordant music of a thousand warped violins. “I have no reason to fear Elizabet,” he said after a moment woven of eternity. “It is you, Ace, who have incurred her everlasting hatred!”

Ace scratched the back of his neck, another habit held over from mortal days. The only itch that ever troubled him now came from far beneath his skin, driving him to take blood or die in the cruelest agony of thirst. He arched one eyebrow as he regarded his long-time acquaintance.

“No doubt, if Elizabet is near, it’s because she followed you,” he said reasonably.

Again Constantine’s lethal anger stirred. “I am nearly as powerful as she is—I can shroud my presence from her when I wish. You, on the other hand, might as well have laid down to sleep in the full light of the sun as to take refuge here! How long will you walk about with your thoughts naked to whatever demon might be listening? Do you want to perish, Ace? Is that it?”

Against his will, Ace thought of the woman, Kellie, who lived and breathed back in the cold, fresh air of twenty first century Connecticut. He felt the most torturous and inexplicable grief, coupled with a joy the likes no fiend could expect to entertain. “Perhaps I do,” he confessed raggedly. Then he lifted his eyes to Constantine’s magnificent, terrible face and asked, “Do you never yearn for peace? Don’t you ever grow weary of what you are that you’d risk the wrath of heaven and the fires of hell to escape it?”

“Fool,” the older vampire spat again, plainly exasperated. “Why do I bother myself with such an idiot? For us, the pure light of heaven would be as great a torment as the blazes of Hades! We would escape nothing by fleeing this life!”

“This is not life,” Ace replied with unexpected fury. “This is living death. Hell itself could not possibly be worse!”

Constantine gentled, for he was an unpredictable creature, and laid his gracious hands on the younger vampire’s shoulders. “Poor Ace,” he mocked. “When will you accept what you are and stop playing at being a man?”

Ace turned away and snatched his cloak and top hat from the top of the wine crate where he’d left them that morning before giving himself up to a tempestuous sleep. Constantine’s words had struck a chord of terror in his spirit.

Did the other vampire know about Kellie and the little boy? Was that what he’d meant by “playing at being a man”? If the older vampire had taken notice of their existence while Ace’s mind was unguarded in slumber, he might see it as his duty to destroy them.

In the next moment his worst fears were confirmed. “You are an even greater fool than I thought,” Constantine said with rueful affection. “Imagine it, you’re being besotted with a fragile mortal!” He paused, sighed. “You do me injury,” he murmured, before going on to say, in his usual imperious way, “Come with me, Ace. I will show you worlds and dimensions you have never dreamed of. I will teach you to cherish what you are, to relish it!”

Ace retreated a step, covered his ears with his hands, as though that could keep out the brutal truth of Constantine’s words. “Never!” he gasped out. “And if you go near the woman or the child, I swear by all the unholy vows, whatever the cost may be, I will destroy you!”

The other vampire looked stung, which was another of his many affectations, of course. Ace knew that Constantine was not capable of anything so prosaic as getting his feelings hurt, and he certainly didn’t fear a being of lesser powers.

The creature sighed theatrically. “Perhaps Katharine can reason with you,” he said. “I am weary of the effort.”

“Leave me,” Ace replied.

Miraculously Constantine conceded the point and disappeared.

Ace tilted his head back as if to see through the thick ceiling. His senses told him that Katharine was not in residence but off hunting in some other place and century.

A small, aching coil of loneliness twisted inside his breast. Whatever their differences, he cherished his cousin. Her companionship would have been comforting, a warm hearth in the dark bewilderment that tormented him now.

He closed his eyes and thought of Connecticut, and when he looked again, he was there, standing in the darkness of a bedroom he never used.

Ace tossed the top hat and cloak onto a wing chair upholstered in rich leather and wrenched at the high collar that suddenly seemed to constrict his throat. Somehow, in those few treacherous minutes when Kellie had stood on his doorstep, escorting the little beggar in a vampire suit, he had made a truly terrible error. He had brought the woman into his mind, just to admire her effervescence for a few moments, and she had taken up stubborn residence there.

What in the blazes was this fascination he’d acquired?

He looked toward the bed, remembering what it was like to lie with a daughter of Eve, to give and take physical pleasure, and was possessed of a yearning so fierce that it horrified him. He had merely glimpsed this troublesome woman, and yet he found himself wanting her, not as sustenance, but bucking beneath him in wild spasms of passion, clutching his bare shoulders in frantic fingers, crying out in the sweet fever of ecstasy…

He had to see her again, if only to convince himself that he had built her up into something more than she was, to end this reckless obsession that could so easily end in obliteration for them both.

When he had regained his composure somewhat, Ace exchanged his gentleman’s garb for well-worn jeans and a wheat-colored Irish cable-knit sweater. He brushed his dark, longish hair—a style suited to the current century and decade—and formed a clear picture of Kellie in his mind.

In the space of a second he was standing in the parking lot of the truck stop on Route 7, a soft Connecticut snow falling around him, and she was just coming out through the front door, scrambling into her cheap coat as she walked.

She stopped when she sensed his presence, met his gaze, and sealed his doom forever simply by smiling.

“Hello,” she said. Her gamine eyes were bright with some hidden mischief, and the snowflakes made a mantilla for her short hair.

Long-forgotten and deeply mourned emotions wrung Ace as he stood there, powerless before her innocent enchantment. “Hello,” he replied, while sweet despair settled over him like snow blanketing a new and raw grave.

Somewhere deep inside him a spark kindled into flame.

It was true then, what the gypsy sorceress had said so long before. Here, before him, stood the reason for his creation, the personification of his fate.
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Wiccan Muse

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Join date : 2009-10-14
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PostSubject: Re: An Embrace Of Darkness   Mon 19 Oct 2009, 6:45 pm

Love this! It's so dark, brooding and mysterious. Ace plays a good vampire, and Kellie is Kellie. You threw in Constantine! He was one of my favorites from S4. I don't remember alot of this from IFF, but I'm sure that it will be awesome. Very Happy I love you cheers
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Wolf's Lonely Cry

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Location : Mississippi

PostSubject: Re: An Embrace Of Darkness   Tue 20 Oct 2009, 7:52 pm

Avenging Angel, so glad to see that you have decided to continue this amazing story. Ace is perfect as the brooding, world weary vampire. Kellie is sweet, as she usually is. I love Constantine as a sort of wise cracking elder to Ace. Eagerly waiting on your next update. cheers cheers cheers
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Avenging Angel

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Location : Alabama

PostSubject: Re: An Embrace Of Darkness   Tue 17 Nov 2009, 9:43 am

Wolf's Lonely Cry and Wiccan Muse: Thank you both so much for your kind and encouraging comments. Alexandra and I are very happy that all the fine people here are liking out story. We do hope that everyone will continue to do so. wootwave smilie greet

OMG! Traci! Where in the world did you find all of these smilies? They're awesome!


Chapter 2:


It seemed that he’d been waiting for her. Kellie Pickler felt both an intense attraction and a rush of adrenaline as she stood in the parking lot of the Lakeview Café, gazing into that enigmatic pair of eyes. A spontaneous “hello” had tumbled over her lips before she’d given full consideration to the fact that this man was a virtual stranger.

Remembering that there were people in the world who wanted to silence Kellie, or even kill her, she was surprised at her own reaction. Briefly, futilely, she wished she had never worked for Senator Wendell Hartley, never found the evidence of his criminal acts, thus making her a target.

He smiled, the snow drifting and floating softly between them, cosseting the land in a magical silence. Something about his gaze captivated her, made her want to stand there looking at him forever.

It was as though he had looked inside her, with those remarkable eyes of his, and awakened some vital part of her being, heretofore unknown and undreamed of.

Kellie cleared her throat nervously but kept her smile in place. She should have taken the time to call her brother, Ben, when her shift was over, as he was always telling to do, so he could come and walk her back to the trailer court. If she hadn’t seen the man the night before, when she and Danny had gone out trick-or-treating, she might have thought he was a mugger or a rapist, or that her former boss had finally sent someone to make sure she never talked about his close association with drug dealers. “The café’s closed,” she said. “We’ll open again at five.”

He came no nearer, this man woven of shadows, and yet his presence was all around Kellie, in and through her, like the very essences of time and space. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “I’m not here to hurt you.”

Kellie figured a serial killer might say the same thing, but the idea didn’t click with her instincts. She realized she wasn’t truly afraid, but her stomach was fluttery, and she felt capable of pole-vaulting over the big neon sign out by the highway. “I don’t think I caught your name,” she said, finally breaking the odd paralysis that had held her until that moment.

“Ace Young,” he said, keeping his distance. “And yours?”

“Kellie Pickler,” she answered, at last finding the impetus to start across the lot, the soles of her boots making tracks in the perfect snow. Idly, she wondered if she would end up as a segment on one of those crime shows that were so popular on TV. She could just hear the opening blurb. Ms. Kellie Dawn Pickler, motel maid and waitress, erstwhile personal assistant to Senator Wendell Hartley, disappeared mysteriously one snowy night from the parking lot of the Lakeview Truck Stop, just outside Bright River, Connecticut…

A high, dense hedge separated the parking area from the motel and trailer court beyond, and Kellie paused under an arch of snow-laced shrubbery to look back.

Ace Young, clearly visible before in the glimmer of the big floodlights standing at all four corners of the parking lot, was gone. No trace of him lingered, and the new layer of snow was untouched except for her own footprints.

She stood perfectly still for a moment, listening, but she heard nothing. She drew a deep breath and walked on at a brisk pace, making her way past the two-story motel and into the trailer court. Reaching the door of her tiny mobile home, which was parked next to Ben’s larger one, she looked back over her shoulder again, almost expecting to see Young standing behind her.

“Weird,” Kellie said to herself as she turned the key in the lock.

The trailer wobbled, as usual, when the blond stepped inside. She flipped on the light switch and peeled off her coat in an almost simultaneous motion. Then, as an afterthought, she turned the lock on her door and put the chain-bolt in place.

Her utilitarian telephone, a plain black model with an old-fashioned dial, startled her with an immediate jangle. She grabbed up the receiver, oddly exasperated.

“Damn it, Kellie,” her brother said. “I told you to call me when you were through closing up the café so I could come over and walk you home. Don’t you read the newspapers? It isn’t safe for a woman to be out alone at night.”

Kellie calmed down by reminding herself that Ben truly cared about her; except for Danny and her best friend Wendy Browning, he was probably the only person in the world who did. She put away her coat, sat down on her hide-a-bed sofa with a sigh, and quickly kicked off her snow boots.

“I’m sorry, Ben,” she responded, rubbing one sore foot. She frowned, spotting a run in her pantyhose. Even hairspray or nail polish wouldn’t stop this one. “Yes, it’s late, and that’s exactly why I didn’t call. I knew Danny would be in bed, and I didn’t want you to have to leave him alone.” She paused, drew a deep breath, and plunged. “Ben, what do you know about Ace Young, that guy who lives in the mansion down the road?”

Ben sounded tired. “Just that. His name is Ace Young, and he lives in the mansion down the road. Why?”

Kellie was unaccountably disappointed; she’d wanted some tidbit of information to mull over while she was brushing her teeth and getting ready for bed. “I was just wondering, that’s all. Danny and I went there for Halloween night. He struck me as sort of—different.”

“I guess you could say he’s a recluse,” Ben said, barely disguising his indifference. “Listen sweetheart, I’m beat. I’ll see you in the morning.”

Emotion swelled in her throat. She and Ben had more in common than their late parents. He’d lost his wife, Shelly, to cancer a few years before, along with his job in a Pittsburgh steel mill, and he’d been struggling to rebuild his life and Danny’s ever since. Kellie had been forced to give up an entire way of life—her work, her apartment, her friends—because she knew too much about certain very powerful people.

“Good night,” she said.

Her trailer consisted of one room, essentially, with the fold-out bed at one end and a kitchenette at the other. The bathroom was quite literally the size of the hall closet in her old apartment.

Resolving to dwell on what she had—her life, her health, Danny and Ben—instead on what she’d lost, Kellie took of her pink uniform and hung it carefully from a curtain rod. After showering, she put on an old flannel nightshirt and dried her hair. Then she heated a serving of vegetable soup on a doll-sized stove and sat in the middle of her lumpy fold-out bed, eating and watching a late-night talk show on the small TV that had once occupied a corner of the kitchen counter of her spacious apartment in Washington.

Kellie didn’t laugh at the host’s monologue that night, though she usually enjoyed it. She kept thinking of Ace Young, wondering who he was and why he’d stirred her the way he had. He was one of the most attractive men she’d ever met, and inwardly she was still reeling from the impact of encountering him unexpectedly as she’d left the café.

Not to mention the way he’d vanished in the time it took to blink.

She walked to the edge of her bed on her knees, balancing her empty soup bowl with all the skill of a good waitress, then got up and crossed to the sink. After rinsing out her dish, she returned to the bathroom and brushed her teeth. The thing to do was sleep; she would think about Mr. Young another time, when fatigue did not make her overly fanciful.



Ace was especially ravenous that night, but he did not feed. The hunger lent a crystalline sharpness to his thought processes, and as he sat alone in his sumptuous study, with no light but that of the fire on the hearth, he allowed himself to remember a time, a glorious time, when he’d been a man instead of a monster.

He closed his eyes and tilted his head back against the high leather chair in which he sat, recalling. Like most mortals, Ace had not realized what it really meant to have a strong, steady heartbeat, supple lungs that craved air, skin that sweated and muscles that took orders from a living brain. He had thought with his manhood in those simple days, not his mind.

Now he was a husk, an aberration of nature. Thanks to his own impetuous nature and unceasing pursuit of a good time, thanks to Elizabet, he was a fiend, able to exist only by the ingestion of human blood. He longed for the peace of death but feared the possibilities of an afterlife too much to perish willingly.

He could travel freely in time and its dimensions, but the Power that pulsed at the heart of the universe was veiled to him. He knew only that it existed, and that its agents were among his most dangerous enemies.

He could not bear to consider the fate that might await him should he succumb to the mystery of true death; he’d had enough religious training in his early years at school to sustain a pure and unremitting terror. Nor did he choose to think of Kellie Pickler, for to do that in his present mood would be to transport himself instantly into her presence.

He engaged in a sad smile, letting decades unfold in his mind, and then centuries. He’d been twenty-two when the unthinkable had happened. The year had been 1752, the place an upstairs room in a seedy English tavern, not far from Oxford…



Elizabet’s waist-length auburn hair was spread across Ace’s torso like a silken veil, and her ice-blue eyes were limpid as she gazed at him. “Lovely boy,” she crooned, stroking his chest, his belly, and then his cock. “I can’t bear to give you up.”

Ace groaned. They’d been together all night and, as always, as the dawn approached, she grew sentimental and greedy. He was amazed to feel himself grow hard, for he’d thought she’d drained him of all ability to respond.

She was older than him by several years, and her experience in sensual matters was vast, but other than those things, he knew little about her. One night a few weeks before, when Ace had been out walking alone, a splendid carriage drawn by six matched horses had stopped beside him on the road. Elizabet, a pale and gloriously beautiful creature, had summoned him inside with a smile and a crook of her finger. They’d been meeting regularly ever since.

Now she laughed at his reluctance to surrender even as his young body betrayed him.

She set the pace as the aggressor and the seducer. She took him to even newer heights of passion, extracting yet another exquisite response from him and left him half-conscious in the tangled bedclothes immediately afterward.

Ace watched his lover through a haze as she paced the crude plank-board floor, once again clad in her gauzy, flowing gown, her hair trailing down her back in a profusion of coppery curls. He was glad it was nearly sunrise; that she would leave him then as always, because he knew that one more turn in her arms would kill him.

“See that you don’t go dallying with a wench while I’m away,” she flared. “I won’t have it!”

He hauled himself up onto his elbows, but that was all he could manage. “You don’t own me, Elizabet,” he said. “Don’t be telling me what you’ll have and what you won’t.”

She whirled on him then, and he saw something terrible in her face, even though there was no light but that of a thin winter moon fading into an approaching dawn. “Do not speak to me in that disrespectful way again!” she raged.

Ace was a bold sort—indeed his father’s solicitor swore the trait would be his undoing—but even he did not dare challenge her further. She was no ordinary woman, he’d guessed that long since, and she was capable of far more than ordinary mischief. He guessed that had been her appeal, along with her insatiable appetites and the envy her attentions generated among his friends.

Elizabet cast a sullen glance toward the window, then glared at Ace again, her eyes seeming to glitter in the gloom. They looked hard, like jewels, and they flashed with an icy fire. She made a strangled sound, a mingling of desire and grief, and then she was upon him again.

He tried to throw her off, for the sudden ferocity of her attack had unnerved him, but to his annoyance he discovered that she was far stronger than he was.

“Soon,” she kept murmuring, over and over, like a mother comforting a fitful child, “soon, darling, all the earth will belong to us—“

Ace felt her teeth puncture his neck, and his heart raced with fresh horror. He fought to free himself, but she was like a marble statue, crushing him, breaking his bones. At that point he began to recede into unconsciousness; he was going to die, never see Katharine again, never laugh or paint or drink wine and ale with his friends.

He renewed his efforts, struggling to return to full awareness, even though there was pain and fear, mortal fear so intense that his very soul throbbed with it.

“Now, now,” the unholy seductress whispered, lifting her head to look into his eyes. “Your friends will think you’re dead, poor fools, but you will only be sleeping. I will return for you, my darling, before they bury you.”

Ace was appalled and wildly confused. He felt strange; his body was weak to the point of death, and he could barely keep his eyes open, yet his soul seemed to soar on the wings of some dark euphoria. “Oh God,” he whispered, “what’s happening to me?”

Elizabet rose from the bed, but it made no difference that she’d finally freed him, for Ace could not move so much as a muscle.

“You’ll see, my darling,” she said, “but don’t trouble yourself by calling out to God. He turns a deaf ear to our sort.”

Ace fought desperately to raise himself, but he still had no strength. He could only watch in terrified disbelief as Elizabet’s form disintegrated into a swirling, sparkling mist. She was gone, and even though Ace was conscious, he knew full well that she had murdered him.

He could not speak, could not move. His heart had stopped beating; he wasn’t breathing, and as the room filled with sunlight, his sight faded. His flesh burned as surely as if he’d been laid out on a funeral pyre, and yet Ace knew the pain wasn’t physical. He was dead, as Elizabet had said, yet only too aware of all that happened around him.

A wench, probably come to fill the water jug and tidy the bed, found him later that morning. Her shrieks stabbed his mind; he tried to move, to speak, to show her he was conscious, but it was all for naught. Ace was a living soul trapped inside a corpse.

He was aware of the others, when they came, for it was as though the conscious part of him had risen to a corner of the ceiling to look down on the lot of them. There were two men, the tavern owner and his burly, stupid son, but a priest soon arrived as well.

The boy took the door from its hinges, and they laid his helpless body out on that wooden panel. He could do nothing to resist them.

“Poor soul,” said the priest, grasping the large crucifix he wore around his neck on a plain cord and making the sign of the cross over Ace’s mortal remains. “What do you suppose happened to him?”

“He died a happy man,” the idiot-boy replied, leering. It didn’t seem to bother him that he was addressing a man of God. “That’s if the lady I saw him with and the sounds I heard comin’ from this here room meant anything!”

Ace returned to his wasted body from his vantage point near the ceiling, struggled to move something, anything—an ear, an eyelash, on of the tiny muscles at the corners of his mouth. Nothing. Blackness covered him, swallowed him up, mind and soul, and he was no one, nowhere.

When Ace awakened, he still could not move. He knew, with that perculiar extra sense he’d acquired soon after Elizabet’s attack, that he was in the back of the undertaker’s shop, laid out on a slab, with coins on his eyes. At first light he’d be closed up in a coffin and probably sent home to Ireland in the back of a wagon, no longer a troublesome responsibility to his prosperous English father. His mother, a dark-haired tavern maid, a woman of light laughter and even lighter skirts, would mourn him for a while, but Katharine would suffer the sorest grief. Katharine, his beloved cousin, his childhood companion, the counterpart of his personality.

Hope stirred in his being when he felt a cool hand come to rest on his forehead; his hope died when he heard his murderess’s voice. “There now, I told you I’d come back for you,” she said, placing a frigid kiss where her fingers had been. “Sweet darling, have you been afraid? Perhaps you’ll remember, after this, what it means to defy me.”

Ace knew a pure anguish of emotion, but he could say nothing. He cried out inwardly when she bent over him again, when he felt her teeth puncture the skin of his throat like pointed quills thrust through dry parchment. In the next instant, liquid ecstasy seemed to flow into every part of him; he could see clearly again and hear with crystal clarity, even though he still had no breath or heartbeat. An unearthly and wholly incredible power was spawning inside him, growing, grumbling, surging upward like lava thrusting at the inside of a mountain.

His muscles were flexible again; he sat bolt upright on the slab and thrust Elizabet aside with a motion of his arm.

“What have you done?” he rasped, for the joy that seemed to crush him from the inside was the sort denied to mere men. It was dark and rich and evil: and he yearned to throw it off even as he embraced it. “In the name of God, Elizabet, what manner of creature are you and what have you done to me?”

Elizabet thrust her arms up, as if he’d attempted to strike her again. “Do not speak of the Holy One again—it is forbidden!”

“Tell me!” he bellowed.

There was a clamor beyond the door of the morgue, the sounds of rushing feet and muffled voices.

Elizabet came to his side. Her mind filled the room, swirled around his like an invisible storm, swallowed it whole. When his awareness returned, when he knew that he was a separate entity, they were hiding together in a damp place with cold stone walls.

He was lying down once again, this time on an altar of sorts. In the flickering light of a half dozen candles, he saw her, looming at his feet like some horrible angel of darkness.

“Please,” he said, his voice a raw whisper. “Tell me what I am.”

She smiled and came to stand beside him, smoothing his hair back from his forehead. He wasn’t bound, as far as he could tell, and yet she must have been restraining him somehow, for he was utterly powerless once more.

“Don’t be so anxious, my darling,” the female vampire scolded. “You are a most wonderful creature now, with powers others only dream of. You are like me, a vampire.”

“No,” he protested. “No! It’s impossible—such things do not happen!”

“Shhh,” said Elizabet, laying an index finger to her lovely, lethal mouth. “Soon you will adjust to the change, my darling. Once you’ve felt the true scope of your talents, you’ll thank me for what I’ve done.”

“Thank you?” Ace trembled, so great was his effort to rise and confront her, and so fruitless. “If what you say is true—and I cannot credit that it is—then I shall curse you. But I will never, never thank you!”

Her beautiful face became a mask of controlled rage. “Ingrate! You don’t know what you’re saying. If I thought you did, I would toss you out into the sunlight to burn in the sort of agony only a vampire can know! Count yourself fortunate, Ace Young, that I am mercifully inclined toward you!” She stopped, seemed to gather herself in from all directions, then favored him with a smile made brutal by its sweet sacrilege. “Sleep now, darling. Rest. When darkness comes again, I will show you places and things you’ve never imagined…”

In the nights to come, Elizabet had kept her promise.

She had taught him to hunt, and despise it though he did, he had learned his lessons well. She had shown him how to move as easily between eras and continents as a mortal travels from room to room. From her, he learned to find a safe lair and to veil his presence from the awareness of human beings.

From her, he also learned pure, enduring, singular hatred, and all of it was directed at her.

He pitied his victims and often starved himself to the point of collapse to avoid taking blood. Then, one foggy winter night not so long after Elizabet had changed him from a man into a beast, while sitting alone in a country tavern, pretending to drink ale, he’d been approached by another vampire…Constantine.



“Reminiscing about me? How touching.”

Ace started in his chair by the fire in his Connecticut house and muttered a curse. His unannounced and quite unquestionably arrogant caller leaned against the mantel, indolently regal in pressed trousers and tails. He was even wearing the signature gold medallion, which meant he was in a mischievous mood.

Like Ace, Constantine held the stereotypical media vampire in unwavering contempt.

“This is the second time in as many nights that I’ve taken you unawares,” Constantine scolded, tugging at his immaculate white gloves. “You’ve become careless, my friend. Tell me, have you fed so well that your senses are dulled?”

Ace raised himself from the chair and faced his visitor squarely. Constantine was ancient, by vampire standards, having been changed sometime in the fourteenth century. He was a magnificent monster, given to sweeping displays of power, but only the stupid showed fear in his presence.

When Constantine sensed cowardice, he turned dangerously playful, like a cat with a mouse between its paws.

“I am allowed some introspection,” Ace said, pouring a sniffer of brandy and raising it to Constantine in an imprudent toast even though he could not drink. “I was remembering how I came to join the ranks of demons, if you must know.”

Constantine chuckled, took the glass from Ace’s hand, and flung the contents into the fire. A furious roar preceded his reply. “The ranks of demons’, is it? Do you hate us so much as that, Ace?”

“Yes,” Ace spat. “Yes! I despise you, I despise Elizabet, and most of all, I despise myself.”

Constantine yawned. “You have become something of a bore, my friend, always whining about what you are. When are you going to accept the fact that you will be exactly this until the crack of doom and get on with it?”

Ace turned his back on his companion to stand facing one of the bookshelves, running one hand lightly over the spines of the leather-bound volumes he cherished. “There is a way to end the curse,” he said with despairing certainty. “There has to be.”

“Oh, indeed, there is,” Constantine said cheerfully. “You have only to tell some crusading human where your lair is and let him drive a stake through your heart while you sleep. Or you could find a silver bullet somewhere and shoot yourself.” He shuddered, and his tone took on a note of condescension as he finished. “Neither fate is at all pleasant, I’m afraid. Both are truly terrible deaths, and what lies beyond is even worse, for us if not mortals.”

Ace did not turn from his inspection of the journals he had written himself, by hand, over the course of two centuries. His musings had kept him from losing his mind and, he hoped, given some perspective on history. He had written a full account of his vampirism as well.

“I don’t need your lectures, Constantine. If you have no other business with me, then kindly leave.”

Constantine sighed philosophically, a sure sign that he was about to pontificate. He surprised Ace this time, however, by speaking simply. “Elizabet stirs again, my friend. Have a care.”

Ace turned slowly to study his companion. When he’d grown beyond the needs of a fledgling vampire, and spurned her affections, Elizabet had first raged, then sulked, and then gone into seclusion in some hidden den. She had emerged on occasion and busied herself with her usual dalliances, but she had not troubled him in years. In fact, he seldom worried about her, although Constantine and Katharine constantly chided him for his carelessness.

“She has long since forgotten me,” he said. “I am but one of many conquests, after all.”

“You delude yourself,” Constantine replied tersely. “Elizabet has indeed taken many lovers, and made many vampires. But you were the only one who dared resist her advances. It’s a miracle you haven’t perished long before this, and I honestly can’t say why I keep trying to save you when you seem determined to die.”

Ace clutched the older vampire’s silk lapels in both hands. He was not afraid for himself, but he did fear for Katharine, and the human woman, Kellie. “Have you seen Elizabet?” he demanded. “Damn you, stop your prattling and tell me!”

Constantine shrugged free of Ace’s grasp and seemed to settle his garments closer to his skin, the way a raven might do with its feathers. “I have not been so unfortunate as to encounter her,” he said with ominous dignity, “but certain of the others have. She is weak and feeds only sporadically, according to my sources. Nevertheless, she has roused herself, and sooner or later, as mortals so colorfully put it, there will be hell to pay.”

Ace shoved splayed fingers through his hair, his mind racing. “Where? Where was she seen?”

“Spain, I think,” Constantine answered. He’d shifted his attention to a mechanical music box on Ace’s desk; the older vampire loved gadgets. He turned the key, and the tinkling notes of a long-forgotten tune echoed in the room. “If you say you’re going there to look for her,” he said distractedly, “I swear I’ll wash my hands of you.”

“You’ve made that vow often enough,” the younger vampire said tersely. “What a pity you never keep it.”

Constantine chuckled, but the snap with which he closed the music box lid was a more accurate measure of his mood. “What an insolent whelp you are. Who but Elizabet would change such a difficult human into an immortal, thereby subjecting us all to an eternity of pathos?”

“Who, indeed?” Ace replied. He sighed, and his shoulders slumped slightly. He was faint with the need for sustenance, but the dawn was too close now. There was no time for a proper hunt. “I’m sorry,” he said, even though he wasn’t, not entirely, and they both knew it. “If you see Elizabet, will you let me know?”

The older vampire regarded him coldly for a long time, then said, “You may encounter the creature before I do, Ace.” He frowned, adjusted his gloves, and set his top hat at a dashing angle. “And now, adieu. Dawn is nearing. Sleep soundly, my friend, and in safety.”

With that, Constantine vanished. He often indulged in dramatic exits.

He banked the fire on the hearth, put the screen in place, and left the house, moving through the silent, snowy woods as noisily as a man, instead of with a vampire’s stealth. Maybe Constantine was right; maybe he was courting destruction, in an unconscious hope that there was no heaven or hell beyond death, but only oblivion.

In oblivion would lie peace.

Ace’s hunger tore at him as he moved closer and closer to the long-forgotten mine shaft that was his lair. He glanced toward the sky, reasoned that he had about fifteen minutes before the sun would top the horizon. There was time to go to Kellie, time for one look to sustain him in the deathlike sleep that awaited him.

He shook his head. No. He dared not approach her now, when he needed to feed.

He wended his way toward his hiding place, lowered himself inside, crouched against one dank wall, and folded his arms atop his knees. Then he yawned, lowered his head, and slept.



The mansion had looked spooky to Kellie on Halloween night, but now that she stood before it in the dazzling sunshine of that November afternoon, it seemed very ordinary and innocuous, except for its size.

She wasn’t sure why she’d come; Mr. Young certainly hadn’t invited her to drop by. All Kellie really knew was that she was drawn to that house and even more to its owner. It was as if she’d always known Ace Young, as if they’d been close once, very close, and then cruelly separated. Encountering him had been a reunion of sorts, a restoration of something stolen long before.

Wedging her hands into the pockets of her coat, the blond proceeded up the walk and climbed the steps onto the gracious old porch. Then, after drawing a deep breath, she rang the bell.

There was no answer, so she tried a second time. Again, no one came.

She walked around the large house once, thinking she might encounter the owner in the yard, but she didn’t catch so much as a glimpse of him.

Finally, feeling both relieved and disappointed, Kellie turned and walked back along the driveway toward the highway. She had already cleaned the motel rooms that had been rented the night before, and she wasn’t due back at the café until the supper shift. Danny would be in school until three o’clock, and Ben was busy repairing a water pipe under one of the trailers.

The blond was a free woman, and she was at loose ends.

She decided to borrow Ben’s battered old Toyota and head into Bright River. Her emotions were churning; she tried to put Young out of her mind and failed.

She would stop by the local library, Kellie decided. There she would surely find back copies of the Bright River Clarion ; she intended to scan the microfilm records for interesting references to Ace Young or his family. After all, she rationalized as she bumped along Route 7 in her brother’s car, she needed to keep up her professional skills—especially in research. God knew, she couldn’t work as a waitress and maid all her life; her feet would never withstand the strain.

Besides, the project gave her a legitimate reason to think about the gorgeous hunk on a more practical level, and it would distract her from the riot of emotions and needs that had been bedeviling her ever since their first encounter.

Kellie adjusted the car’s temperamental heater and shivered in spite of the blast of hot air that buffeted her. Ace was going to change her life, and she was going to change his; she knew it as well as if an angel had whispered the fact in her ear. There was a magical mystery afoot here, and she yearned to learn its secrets.

The trick would be to stay alive long enough to investigate.

She sighed and silently reminded herself that she knew too much about her ex-boss’s source of campaign funds, among other things. Five years working in the nation’s capital had cured Kellie of starry-eyes illusion—even though Hartley was an easygoing sort who would not relish the prospect of ordering her death or anyone else’s, he loved the power of his office, and the status it gave him. The senator would never sacrifice money, position, and his marriage much less his personal freedom, for her sake.

She must be more careful now and stop pretending to herself that all was right in the world.
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Night's Sweet Caress

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PostSubject: Re: An Embrace Of Darkness   Mon 23 Nov 2009, 11:12 am

Alexandra and Melanie, this was a very impressive chapter. I could feel Kellie's trepidation and fear over her precarious situation, please explain this further. Also, Ace's anger towards Elizabet was readily apparent, in his words and actions. As well as his horror at what he's become. Constantine I found to be impetuous and arrogant. It will be very interesting to see how all of this plays out in the coming chapters. Very well done. wow woohoo hugs hug wootwave
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PostSubject: Re: An Embrace Of Darkness   Mon 28 Dec 2009, 12:57 pm

Great character development. I love the pace and your attention to detail is exquisite. The dialogue is easy to picture and flows nicely with the story. You both have surpassed yourself with your insight into the life of a vampire, and should be very proud of yourself and your flawless story. Keep up the great writing!
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PostSubject: Re: An Embrace Of Darkness   Mon 11 Jan 2010, 7:19 pm

I cannot believe that I have not replied to this cool story. I love how the characters are so real and believable. Awesome job, more please! yourock study reading
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