Home > Allure of the Vampire King

Allure of the Vampire King
Author: Bella Klaus

 


Chapter One

 

 

There were two types of vampires in this world, preternaturals and supernaturals. Right now, I couldn’t work out which of the two followed me through the dark.

I pulled up the collar of my leather jacket and strode down the path, cringing at the smoky magic hovering behind me like a wraith. It didn’t matter which kind had tracked me down to Grosvenor Square in London—I had hoped to never see a vampire again.

Supernatural vampires were alive and only required the smallest amount of blood for sustenance, while the preternaturals were undead and needed blood to avoid reverting into unmoving corpses.

While a preternatural vampire could drain your blood and leave you an exsanguinated corpse, a supernatural vampire could break your heart.

My gaze darted across the lawn and into the trees that bordered the garden square. He could be anywhere, waiting for his opportunity to pounce. I could sense most magical beings, but I didn’t wield an ounce of power, which was unfortunate because immense speed and strength would be useful for getting me out of my current predicament.

Echoing footsteps synchronized with mine, and a ripple of anxiety ran down my back. It was an October morning, hours before sunrise. I’d been foolish—I realized that, now. Three years of never seeing or sensing a vampire, and I’d almost forgotten that the creatures ever ventured into the human world. But the hackles rising on my back could only mean one thing:

He was getting close.

I quickened my pace through the paths, my gaze darting side to side, both hands clutching the Dharma salt I kept in my pockets—a habit Aunt Arianna instilled in me at a young age.

My aunt was a witch, as was everyone else in my coven who lived in the supernatural city of Logris. Me? I was a Neutral—a powerless mortal who moved out to start a new life in London. I was also the magicless mortal about to become a vampire’s snack.

Shadows lengthened across the lawn that made up most of Grosvenor Square, intersecting the path ahead. Maybe it was a supernatural vampire, the harmless kind. Sunrise was less than an hour away—a preternatural wouldn’t risk getting caught out in the middle of daylight. But why would a supernatural stalk a human?

My breaths became shallow, and my pulse roared between my ears. Thirty more feet. Thirty more feet and I would leave this empty square and enter the relative safety of the streets.

At this time of the morning, postmen made deliveries, security staff in the surrounding embassies changed shifts, and people traveled into work around the streets. All I needed were a few more steps, and I’d be free of this stalker.

Pulling out fistfuls of salt from my pocket, I broke into a jog. The vampiric presence at my back kept at the same distance. If it was a preternatural vampire, it would snatch me out of the square and soar into the sky. At least that’s what I thought they did.

Nobody I knew had ever encountered an undead creature. According to what they taught us at the Academy, they were extinct.

If I reached the crystal shop without getting clawed or bitten or eaten, I promised myself never to venture outside in the dark. At least not without an appropriate magical repellent or an Uber.

A yellow DHL van slowed through the trees and parked outside the entrance. As the driver opened the door and walked around to the trunk, I broke into a sprint and bolted out into the street.

He staggered back and clutched his chest. “Blimey, you gave me a fright.”

“Sorry.” A nervous laugh bubbled up to the back of my throat.

As I walked around the van and crossed to the other side of the street, the presence behind me stopped moving, as though observing me from within the park. I didn’t dare to turn around and look.

Releasing the salt from my right hand, I rifled through the pocket of my leather jacket for my keys.

Salt crystals stuck to my damp palms. I ignored them and jogged the fifty feet along the square, passing the Crystal Shop’s side display, rounded the corner of Upper Brook Street, and reached the entrance.

At six-fifty-five, Upper Brook Street was a hive of activity with people streaming into the Starbucks at the end of the block and to the Pret a Manger sandwich bar across the road.

While none of the humans fetching their morning coffee could help me fend off any kind of vampire, they carried enough recording devices to deter any otherworldly attacker.

The Crystal Shop was a glass-fronted store with its insignia emblazoned in calligraphic script. Large amethyst and citrine geodes stood in the display among rose-quartz spheres and delicate-looking pieces fashioned into protective bracelets and amulets.

As I hurried into its doorway, the keys slipped from my trembling fingers and fell onto the doorstep with a clank.

The presence within the park shifted, making my skin tighten into goosebumps. Cold terror barreled through my insides, and a curtain of red hair fell across my face. I dropped down to my knees, snatched the keys off the ground, and jammed the key in the lock.

Somehow, I managed to unlock the door, nearly crying with relief at the warm, frankincense-and-myrrh-scented air wafting through the shop’s interior. After staggering inside, I locked the door and glanced through the glass display across the road into the empty park.

Even if whoever had stalked me was gone, it was too early to feel safe. Preternatural vampires needed invitations to enter people’s dwellings, but the rules about stores where the owner lived upstairs were shaky.

Just in case its preternatural magic deemed the crystal shop a public space, I rushed to the counter and picked up a two-foot-tall pillar of Dharma salt.

Most human crystal stores sold Himalayan salt, a rose-pink substance they used in cooking, to make lamps, and in spa treatments. Dharma salt came from a monastery in the same mountain region, but the monks who mined it were mages who blessed the crystals with the power to absorb evil.

If a preternatural vampire tried to cross the threshold, the salt would suck out its corrupted magic, leaving it an unmoving corpse.

At least that was the theory. Nobody in recent history was powerful or crazy enough to create a mindless blood-drinking monster with an insatiable thirst.

Supernatural vampires were bad enough. I squeezed my eyes shut and exhaled a long breath. How many times had I told myself not to think of vampires? Especially one in particular whose very name made my veins sear with anger.

I stormed across the shop floor, picking up a pamphlet that had drifted down from a stand. Even if supernatural vampires didn’t leave people bloodless husks, they certainly left them loveless.

“Mera?” Istabelle’s muffled voice drifted down from the upstairs apartment.

“It’s only me,” I shouted back. “Did you sense the presence in the square?”

“What?”

I walked around the counter and stood at the door separating the shop from the hallway that led to Istabelle’s home. “Something followed me across Grosvenor Square.”

“What?” she repeated.

“Never mind,” I shouted in a louder voice. “Where’s the delivery?”

“It’s coming at eleven.”

“Right,” I muttered. Last night as I was cleaning up, Istabelle had told me the delivery man was on his way.

Exhaling my exasperation in a long sigh, I leaned against the counter and glanced around the shop’s interior. The only reason I’d come early was to unpack the important shipment in time for opening hours.

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