Friday, 4 December 2015

Snippet - Innkeeper Chronicles by Ilona Andrews

A faint flutter brushed against the back of my neck.  The cat ward tattooed on my left shoulder blade stirred, prickling me with his claws.  I raised my head from my locker.  A boy was looking at me from across the hallway.  Tall, blond, with eyes that were the purest unnatural shade of aquamarine.
He saw me looking and smiled.   The smile lit up his face, warming his eyes, turning him impossibly beautiful.  A subtle aroma floated on the draft, a mix of sandalwood and something slightly sweet.  The cat on my shoulder stretched and rose, just in case.
The aroma tugged on me, enticing, spiced with magic.  A vampire.  Of course.
The boy headed in my direction, moving like a tiger on the prowl: graceful, elegant, and ready to pounce. He looked like he needed one of those tailored Tudor doublet things and a rapier.   That’s one of the things vampires were good at – they made it seem they were miles better than you so when they stooped to your level, you were supposed to feel special.
I stuffed my Trig textbook into my backpack and pushed the locker shut.
“Hi!  I’m Sebastian.”
Of course you are.  They never had normal names like James or Robert.   I had to say something.  “Hi.”
He stepped a a few inches too close.  “I haven’t seen you before.  Are you new?”
Vampires were like cats: new meant exciting.  “Maybe you just didn’t notice me.”
He cranked the smile up another notch.  Miranda’s cheesy books go on and on about how the vampire skin is like polished white marble.  They’re off by a mile.  Marble is cold and monotone.  Sebastian radiated warmth.   He was vivid, as if everyone in the room was in black and white and he was the only one in color.  He made you think of sex.  Of what it would be like.
His voice caressed my skin.  “I would’ve noticed you.”
I needed to giggle.  If I giggled, he’d write me off as an easy target and probably move on.  Problem was, I’ve never giggled in my entire life.
“You never told me your name…”
One giggle.  I could do it.  I had to do it or he wouldn’t leave me alone.
No.  Not happening.
To the left Jessica turned the corner and saw us.  She froze for a second, gulped, and headed toward us with a determined look on her face.  “Hey!”
A faint hint of a grimace passed over Sebastien’s face.
“I’ve been looking all over for you.  We’re going home together.  Now.”
“We were talking,” Sebastien said.
“That’s nice, but she doesn’t need to be talking to you.  Leave her alone, it’s her first day.  Come on, Maud, we’re leaving.”
A burst of magic shot from Sebastien.  Jessica stopped in mid-step.
“You don’t need to go home with Maud,” he said, his whisper saturated with force of suggestion.
“You’re right,” Jessica said.  Her eyes went vacant.
“Maud is walking home with me.  You’re leaving.”
“I’ve got to go,” Jessica said.  “Bye, Maud.”
Obi Wan did it much better.  “Bye.”
She walked away.  I swung my backpack onto my shoulder and followed her.  Sebastien matched my stride.
“Maud…”  Poof, burst of magic. Overkill.
“What a beautiful name…”  Poof, another burst.
The air was so thick with his magic, I wanted to wave my hand in front of my face.
“It’s such a nice day.”  Poof!  “Let me walk you home.”
I sneezed.
“You’re adorable,” he said.
You really shouldn’t have said that.  Really.  “No.”
“Yes,” he murmured, opening the door for me.  I stepped through into the sunshine. “You want to walk with me.”
“No, I really don’t.  You’re an idiot.  And a pervert.”
Sebastien blinked.
“Don’t charm Jessica again.  I like her.”
The smooth mask slid off his face.  For a second his eyes looked predatory, his lips trembled, baring his fangs, and then he hid it again.  “That sounded like a threat.”
“You know what’s the fastest way to kill you, Sebastien?  It isn’t by staking you or setting you on fire.  The fastest way is to reach inside a vampire and rip his soul from his body.”
He sneered.  “And you can do that?”
“No, I can’t.  But my brother can.  That’s his car over there.”  I nodded at the dark Land Rover.  “The sad thing for you is that if you piss me off enough, I won’t even need my brother to deal with you. ”
I walked away, heading to the Land Rover.   Now Klaus would spend the entire ride to the Inn interrogating me about talking to vampires.  Maybe I should rethink this whole highschool thing.