Read Playing with Shadows Online

Authors: Kay Bond

Tags: #vampire, #demon, #paranormal, #magic, #ghost

Playing with Shadows

Chapter 1:

Nicola Burroughs swept her long auburn
waves back behind her shoulder as she climbed the steps before her.
She had a successful hunt and smacking her lips together, she sent
a smirk towards her sire and master. With dark eyes penetrating her
gaze, her sire inclined his head towards her in a show of respect.
Respect that he seemed to only show her most recently.


You’ve done well despite
being so young,” Vlad Tepes murmured though she couldn't help, but
hear the pride in his voice. “Are you positive that you aren’t a
descendent of Cain?”

Nicola giggled though she hadn’t done
that in years… not since she had been human and her parents had
still been alive. “It wouldn’t surprise me any more than it would
surprise me if you were Cain in disguise.”

To her master, this was the highest of
compliments. Cain was not only the son of Eve and Lucifer, cursed
for all eternity for murdering his brother, but he was also the
father of the vampire line. Cain was the very first to
exist.

Vlad shook his head though a slight
smile quirked the ends of his lips. “Oh you flatter me,
child.”


It’s only because you're
easily flattered.” She responded naturally, her British accent
floating on the air as she pushed the doors to their home wide
open.

The Romanian castle had been empty for
hundreds of years, but Vlad had acquired it about thirty years ago
when a stockbroker put it on the market in an attempt to get back
the thousands he had lost on purchasing it. The old castle had lain
desolate due to its bloody history until Vlad had approached as an
interested historian looking to preserve the residence. No one was
aware that Vlad was actually the original owner of the castle from
some hundreds of years before. He had come to regain his
birthright.

The sight of familiar vampires and
ghouls walking the floors of the castle made Nicola smile. She'd
never felt truly happy until Vlad had made her a vampire and
brought her to his home. Living with him and his line gave her
everything she'd craved as a human but never got. She had respect,
understanding and in some ways, love. She had a family
here.

Allowing her emerald eyes to sweep
across the faces surrounding her, Nicola noticed one of them didn’t
belong. He wasn’t even flesh. That fact alone shocked Nicola. Vlad
wasn’t partial to ghosts and would never have one as part of his
line let alone invite one into his home.

Vlad didn’t seem to notice the spectral
creature and when she glanced at him, he looked as happy as he'd
been after feeding. As the ghost crossed their path, Nicola studied
it in interest. It was male and appeared to have been twenty five
or so when he had died. His clothing was strange to Nicola. She
dated the attire back to the 1500s and judging by the way he wore
the clothing, he was a laborer during those times. His curly blond
hair, or at least she thought it was blond by the lightness of it,
was pulled back into a low ponytail with a dark ribbon. From what
Nicola could see the ghost had been handsome when he was
alive.


Insufferable vampires!” The
ghost mumbled to himself. “They are useless!”

Confused, Nicola spoke up to the
spectral being before she could stop herself. “Is everything
alright?”

The ghost’s eyes glinted her way for a
moment as if determining whom she was speaking to. It was then he
realized she was looking straight at him with an inquisitive look
on her face.

Gesturing towards himself, the ghost
asked, “Are you speaking to me?”


Who else would I be
speaking to?” Nicola asked seriously.

The ghost glanced over his shoulder as
if to verify that no one was standing there talking to the vampire
before responding to her question. “You can see me?”

Rolling her eyes, Nicola
glanced at Vlad for some confirmation that this was actually taking
place. He frowned at her expression. Her master looked as if the
situation was frustrating for him. For as short a time as Nicola
knew Vlad Tepes, this wouldn’t be a surprising revelation.
“Yes
we
can see
you. All vampires have the ability to see and speak with
ghosts.”

The ghost took one last glance at the
other vampires that surrounded him before returning his gaze to
Nicola’s. “Are you positive? No one else has even glanced my way.
It is like I don’t even exist.”

Vlad let out a soft sigh that Nicola
was sure only she could hear. It was obvious he didn’t want to
stand around and discuss vampire abilities with an apparition, but
there was something bothering the ghost and she felt obligated to
at least find out what was wrong. Vlad had once told her that she
was too kind for her own good.


I don’t see why they’d
ignore you.” Nicola answered kindly.

Vlad cleared his throat loudly which
was an obvious attempt to get her attention focused on him instead
of the ghost.


Yes?” Nicola asked her sire
in a clipped tone. His interruption was annoying.


There is a perfectly good
reason why vampires don’t associate with ghosts.”


And that would
be?”

Vlad hesitated. It was obvious he
wasn’t used to being challenged and Nicola’s attitude unhinged
him.


Maybe you could help me?”
The ghost said to Nicola, completely ignoring Vlad as the vampire
had done to him mere moments before. “I have a conflict and I
believe you might be able to aid me.”

Vlad motioned towards the
spectral man. “There is your reason, Nikki. They tend to
ask
for
things.”

Nicola glanced at her master with a
frown, but she couldn’t help it when she silently agreed with his
inference.

Chapter 2:

Vlad Tepes’ study, or as Nicola liked
to call it ‘the sitting room’ since that was all her sire seemed to
do in it, was located in the farthest section of the castle. Vlad
was already lying across the velvet covered settee with a wineglass
in his hand. He studied the crimson liquid it held with a perverse
expression on his face.

Nicola stood behind the sofa and
watched him with a scowl. “What are you doing?”

Vlad took a sip of the liquid then
swished it around in his mouth before swallowing. “Did you know how
good Cabernet Sauvignon is with blood? It gives it a hint of
sophistication.”

Nicola raised an eyebrow at her sire.
“Would you please concentrate?” Waving towards the ghost who
floated directly across the room from them, she continued, “I would
like to be asleep before sunrise.”


What’s the rush, my love?”
Vlad purred, taking her hand in his before kissing it gently. “We
have all the time in the world. We aren’t getting any
older.”


No, but I’m losing my
patience with you.” She snatched her hand back as if he had bitten
her. Knowing Vlad Tepes, he would have enjoyed that as
well.

Vlad winked at her before returning to
the study of his wine.

Nicola glanced up at the ghost with a
pained look. “He’ll only get worse. You might as well talk before
another thought pops into his head.”

The ghost nodded once in understanding.
“Very well. Before we begin, let me introduce myself. My name is
Christian Stockwell, madam.”

Nicola waved off the formality. “Please
don’t call me that. My name is Nicola. Nicola Burroughs, but I’d
prefer Nikki if you don’t mind.”

The ghost, Christian, looked at his
hands and Nicola could have sworn he would have blushed had he
still been flesh. “If you insist.”


Can we get on with it?”
Vlad complained with a sigh. “I may not physically age, but I get
bored easily.”

Nicola rolled her eyes before sending
Christian an apologetic smile. “Please continue,
Christian.”

Christian cleared his throat as if it
mattered. “Thank you… Nikki.” He took another shy look at his hands
before continuing. “I lived during the time of King Henry VIII’s
terrifying reign. I had been a young and foolish religious zealot.
I was the product of a Catholic upbringing and after my father
passed away, I took up the torch to keep Catholicism as England’s
faith. The King was trying his hardest to divorce Queen Catherine
and marry the harlot Anne Boleyn.”


Anne Boleyn wasn’t a
harlot! She was used as an instrument to get her Uncle in a place
of power.” Vlad spoke out viciously.

Both Christian and Nicola looked
surprised by the vampire’s sudden ebullition.

Vlad, realizing what he said, sunk into
the settee with his glass and refusing to meet either gaze,
muttered, “I have strong feelings about history.”

Nicola was still shocked, but Christian
continued on as if the outburst hadn't occurred.


Yes, um… well, I was a part
of an uprising against the King and his new Protestant regime and
of course, being caught in an act of vandalism, was immediately
executed as a traitor.” Christian took a breath as if to steady his
nerves though he didn’t need it. He was already dead. “I won’t go
into describing my death, but it was painful. I didn’t die right
away and well…” He shuddered as he remembered the day. “It’s not
why I’ve come to you. Despite my death, my wife and son survived.
My son grew, had his own family and so on. I’ve watched this over
the years and tried to protect my line the best a ghost can, but
something has been targeting my family in recent months. All of
them are wiped out except for one. She is young and scared. She
knows something is coming for her and I need to find her
protection.”


So you come for our help?”
Nicola asked, concerned. She didn’t know this man, but his story
touched her heart. She had lost her entire family in a fire and
almost losing her own life to a car accident, Nicola felt the need
to help him.


Yes, I have come to
you.”

Before Nicola could agree to help him
with his quest, Vlad sat up and set the wineglass on the table in
front of him. Then he spoke, “Do you know what it is that is
destroying your family?”

Christian nodded eagerly. “I followed
it one night… after it had murdered one of my distant cousins. I
believe it is a fiend from Hell.”

Vlad’s posture stiffened. “Are you
positive that it was a demon?”


I am.”

Christian’s words were so strong and
certain. It made Nicola uneasy. She didn’t know much about demons
and their habits, but this seemed a little strange. Why would a
demon target an entire family and wipe them out to the very last
member? What purpose would that serve?


I am not getting involved.”
Vlad spoke sternly, standing from his place on the sofa and walking
towards the door of the study.


Sire?” Nicola called after
him. Something Christian mentioned had spooked him.

Vlad paused and glanced over his
shoulder at her. “I refuse to put myself or my line at risk for
this. You are on your own, ghost.”


Vlad!” Nicola snapped out
before he could run from the room. “You can’t just leave this to
happen.”


Yes, I can.” Vlad hissed as
he turned from the door and made his way towards her. Once he
reached where she stood, the master vampire grabbed her by the
wrist and met her angry gaze. “And you won’t help him either. I
won’t allow it.”

Ripping away from his grip,
Nicola, furious, took a step forward and reduced the space between
them to almost nothing. “You won’t
allow
me to help him? Do you intend to
stop me if I refuse to listen?”


You dare to challenge
me?”

Nicola had never seen her master so
upset and she realized he was afraid. Afraid of the demon, afraid
of losing his line… afraid of losing her.


I want to do this, Master.”
Nicola said softly, dropping her eyes to the floor in front of her.
“I must help him. If a demon is involved, then it must know he is
asking for our aid. The line is already in danger by his presence
here.”

Vlad took a moment to mull over her
statements before speaking. Once he did, his voice was calm.
“Nicola- I cannot bear it if anything happens to you. I chose you
for a reason. We’ve only had three short years together. I can’t
lose you too.”

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