Vampire's Eve (Vamp Life Book 1)(2)By: Jez Strider
The attacker pinned me on my back and straddled me as I fought with every ounce of strength I possessed. The smell of expensive leather assaulted my senses. I kept my eyes closed at first, beating my fists against the man. My last thought before I opened my eyes and saw the other vampire face to face was of thanks. I was so thankful I had sent Marcus home when I did.
When our eyes met, we both stopped. The look was one frozen in time across vast centuries. This vampire was not my maker. Yet, I knew him immediately, as if I had kissed him only yesterday. I knew every inch of this man. I knew that perpetual tan and short brown hair that curled up slightly on the ends when he went too long without a haircut. His expression contorted into one of confusion as his amber eyes took in the woman before him.
“Cortigiana…,” he whispered in a thick Italian accent, one which I’d learned to disguise long ago. To a person unfamiliar with him, Antonio would have seemed calm. I could see his inner turmoil and emotion as he pulled me close, inhaling deeply the scent of my hair as he kissed my cheek lightly. “I… I am sorry, Evelina. I had no idea you were my target. That you were even alive!” He stood suddenly, turning away and unable to face me.
I cleared my throat, not sure what to say as the silence between us stretched. Thoughts swirled like a tornado in my mind. “Dante Sanuto sent you, didn’t he?” I’d already been dwelling on the past, but this…this was the past. I ran a hand through my hair before glancing toward my former lover. “Obviously Dante didn’t know about our affair or he wouldn’t have been fool enough to send you to do his dirty work.” I was furious and scared, but my heart thundered in response to seeing Antonio again.
“For all his insight and wisdom, the Master does not know everything.” He turned to face me as I stood, walking over to him. “Perhaps he always knew and this is a test of my loyalty.” The wound on his hand was closing and the bleeding had stopped. Gently, I rested my hand on his shoulder. His attack hadn’t done any discernible damage to me. I was lucky he realized who he was trying to kill when he did.
I laughed at my own foolishness. “So he tells me you die of the plague before he could save you, his most beloved bodyguard, and I believe it. I suppose he told you I died with so many of the other prostitutes near the Rialto Bridge.”
Antonio nodded, reaching out his hand to me as he noticed the music of our time. “I see you have not forgotten where you came from. Vostu balar co mi?” I took his hand, accepting the offer to dance. He’d always shown me his romantic side.
The moment was surreal. How could I ever explain in words what it’s like to reunite with someone you’ve thought dead for hundreds of years? I knew he was struggling with the same emotions. I’d been a great dancer, but it was more like we were holding onto each other in a long embrace. There was much I wanted to say, but I couldn’t. It had been too long since we’d last seen each other. I hugged him tighter to make up for the lost words.
As the song changed, I pulled back slightly. “You can’t barge in here, try to kill me, and then dance with me.” The humor in my tone was evident and he laughed. If I didn’t stop before it was too late, I’d end up in bed with him for sure and I wasn’t ready for that when it was still warm from my evening with Marcus.
“You… you have not changed fair courtesan. Does it still get you in trouble?” He shook his head in disbelief. “And I’m very sorry. My feelings after seeing you again are a bit overwhelming.”
“Well, I hadn’t had any trouble in a while.” I smirked, feeling vulnerable to Antonio and guilty of my thoughts even though Marcus and I weren’t officially exclusive. Marcus! It suddenly crossed my mind that Antonio could have gotten to him when he left. “You didn’t hurt the man who was here earlier, did you?” It took all my effort to make the question come out without my voice quavering.
Antonio adjusted his coat, shrugging nonchalantly. “I did not harm your human. It would have caused too much unwanted attention.” The tone of his voice held a hint of irritation at the change of topic. Without warning, he headed for the window and without looking back said, “I have to figure out what to do. I’m not happy about crossing Dante.”
“You can use the…,” before I could finish my sentence he had disappeared. “Door,” I said into thin air as I walked over to the window and peered into darkness. Yeah, he had to be melodramatic in his exit. I rolled my eyes. After closing the window, I secured the lock and tested it to make sure. The music was still playing and I shut it off in frustration as I passed by on my way to the bedroom.