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  • Текст добавлен: 4 мая 2015, 18:07


Автор книги: Morgan Rice


Жанр: Любовное фэнтези, Фэнтези


Возрастные ограничения: +12

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Morgan Rice
Fated
(Book #11 in the Vampire Journals)

 
“Our wills and fates do so contrary run
That our devices still are overthrown;
Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own.”
 
– William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Copyright © 2014 by Morgan Rice

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior permission of the author.

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return it and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Jacket image Copyright Subbotina Anna, used under license from Shutterstock.com.

About Morgan Rice

Morgan Rice is the #1 bestselling author of THE VAMPIRE JOURNALS, a young adult series comprising eleven books (and counting); the #1 bestselling series THE SURVIVAL TRILOGY, a post-apocalyptic thriller comprising two books (and counting); and the #1 bestselling epic fantasy series THE SORCERER’S RING, comprising thirteen books (and counting).

Morgan’s books are available in audio and print editions, and translations of the books are available in German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portugese, Japanese, Chinese, Swedish, Dutch, Turkish, Hungarian, Czech and Slovak (with more languages forthcoming).

TURNED (Book #1 in the Vampire Journals) and A QUEST OF HEROES (Book #1 in the Sorcerer’s Ring) are each available as a free download!

Morgan loves to hear from you, so please feel free to visit www.morganricebooks.com to join the email list, receive a free book, receive free giveaways, download the free app, get the latest exclusive news, connect on Facebook and Twitter, and stay in touch!

Select Acclaim for Morgan Rice

“A book to rival TWILIGHT and VAMPIRE DIARIES, and one that will have you wanting to keep reading until the very last page! If you are into adventure, love and vampires this book is the one for you!”

– Vampirebooksite.com (regarding Turned)

“Rice does a great job of pulling you into the story from the beginning, utilizing a great descriptive quality that transcends the mere painting of the setting… Nicely written and an extremely fast read.”

– Black Lagoon Reviews (regarding Turned)

“An ideal story for young readers. Morgan Rice did a good job spinning an interesting twist… Refreshing and unique. The series focuses around one girl… one extraordinary girl!…Easy to read but extremely fast-paced… Rated PG.”

– The Romance Reviews (regarding Turned)

“Grabbed my attention from the beginning and did not let go… This story is an amazing adventure that is fast paced and action packed from the very beginning. There is not a dull moment to be found.”

– Paranormal Romance Guild (regarding Turned)

“Jam packed with action, romance, adventure, and suspense. Get your hands on this one and fall in love all over again.”

– vampirebooksite.com (regarding Turned)

“A great plot, and this especially was the kind of book you will have trouble putting down at night. The ending was a cliffhanger that was so spectacular that you will immediately want to buy the next book, just to see what happens.”

– The Dallas Examiner (regarding Loved)

“Morgan Rice proves herself again to be an extremely talented storyteller… This would appeal to a wide range of audiences, including younger fans of the vampire/fantasy genre. It ended with an unexpected cliffhanger that leaves you shocked.”

– The Romance Reviews (regarding Loved)
Books by Morgan Rice

THE SORCERER’S RING

A QUEST OF HEROES (Book #1)

A MARCH OF KINGS (Book #2)

A FATE OF DRAGONS (Book #3)

A CRY OF HONOR (Book #4)

A VOW OF GLORY (Book #5)

A CHARGE OF VALOR (Book #6)

A RITE OF SWORDS (Book #7)

A GRANT OF ARMS (Book #8)

A SKY OF SPELLS (Book #9)

A SEA OF SHIELDS (Book #10)

A REIGN OF STEEL (Book #11)

A LAND OF FIRE (Book #12)

A RULE OF QUEENS (Book #13)


THE SURVIVAL TRILOGY

ARENA ONE: SLAVERSUNNERS (Book #1)

ARENA TWO (Book #2)


THE VAMPIRE JOURNALS

TURNED (Book #1)

LOVED (Book #2)

BETRAYED (Book #3)

DESTINED (Book #4)

DESIRED (Book #5)

BETROTHED (Book #6)

VOWED (Book #7)

FOUND (Book #8)

RESURRECTED (Book #9)

CRAVED (Book #10)

FATED (Book #11)




Listen to THE VAMPIRE JOURNALS series in audio book format!

Now available on:

Amazon

Audible

iTunes

Chapter One

Caitlin Paine stood in the back room of Pete’s Bar, joined by Caleb, Sam, Polly, and a dozen police officers, and stared out through the smashed open window, into a night filled with flashing police lights. She wondered what on earth could have happened to her daughter. Scarlet, the love of her life, was out there somewhere, running into the night, alone, likely afraid, and the thought of it was tearing her apart. What pained Caitlin even more than the thought of Scarlet missing was the thought of what Scarlet had become, her memory of her, her last look at her before she’d leapt out through that window. That wasn’t her daughter.

That was something else.

Caitlin shuddered to think of it, and yet, try as she did to shake it, she knew it was true. She had been fighting with the idea all this time, fighting not to believe that Scarlet was no longer human, that Scarlet was really a vampire. Caitlin had been fighting with Aiden, with the priest, with Caleb, and most of all, with herself, hoping, wishing, it were anything else. But she had no fight left in her. She had no more explanations.

Caitlin’s heart pounded as she looked out into the night. She had seen it for herself this time, had witnessed it with her own eyes. Her girl had transformed, had fed on that man, had gained a super-human strength. She had smashed that huge man into a wall as if he had been a toothpick – and she had bounded off into the night so fast, within the blink of an eye, that there was no way she could be human. There was also no way, Caitlin knew, that they could catch her. She knew the police were wasting their time.

It was different this time, too, because she had not been the only one who had witnessed it. Caitlin had seen the expression on Caleb’s face, on Sam’s and Polly’s, and she could see it in their eyes: a look of shock, a fear of the supernatural. Scarlet, the person they had all loved most in the world, was no longer Scarlet.

It was the stuff of nightmares and fairy tales and legends, something Caitlin had never ever imagined to see in her lifetime. It shook not only her view of Scarlet, but her entire view of the world. How could such a thing actually exist? How could this planet have more than just humans on it?

“Mrs. Paine?”

Caitlin turned to see a police officer standing beside her, pen and paper in hand, staring back at her patiently.

“Did you hear my question?”

Caitlin, trembling, in a daze, shook her head slowly.

“I’m sorry,” she answered, her voice hoarse. “I did not.”

“I said: where do you think your daughter might have gone?”

Caitlin sighed as she thought of it. If it were the old Scarlet, she could tell them easily. A friend’s house; the gym; on a date; the soccer field…

But with the new Scarlet, she had no idea.

“I wish I knew,” she finally replied.

Another officer stepped forward.

“Are there any friends she might have gone to?” he prodded. “A boyfriend?”

At the word boyfriend, Caitlin turned and searched the room, examining it for any sign of that mysterious boy who had appeared in this bar. Sage, he had said. So simple, just one word, as if she should know who he was. Caitlin had to admit that she’d never met anyone like him. He exuded a power more compelling than anyone she had ever met, and he was more a grown man than a teenager. He had been dressed in all black, and his shining eyes and chiseled cheekbones made him look as if he had dropped down from another century.

Strangest of all, Caitlin recalled what he had done to those locals in this bar. She had known Caleb and Sam to be more than capable of taking care of themselves – yet this boy had achieved a quick victory where they could not, beating up all those men in a whirlwind. Who was he? Why had he been here?

And why had he been looking for Scarlet?

Yet as she looked all around, Caitlin saw no sign of him. Sage, too, had somehow disappeared. What was his connection to Scarlet? she wondered. Her mother’s instinct told her that somehow those two were together. But who was he? The mystery only deepened.

Caitlin didn’t feel ready to mention it to the police; it was all too weird.

“No,” Caitlin lied, her voice shaky. “Not that I know of.”

“You had said there was a boy, a boy who was here with you, involved in the altercation?” another police officer asked. “Do you know his name?”

Caitlin shook her head.

“Sage,” Polly chimed in, stepping forward. “He’d said his name was Sage.”

For some reason, Caitlin had not wanted to tell them; she felt protective of him. And she also felt, she could not explain how, that Sage was not human, ether – and she was not ready to say that to the police, to have everyone once again thinking she was crazy.

The police stood there, scribbling his name, and she wondered what they would do.

“What about all these creeps in here?” Polly pressed, looking around in dismay. “All these jerks who started the fight? Aren’t you going to arrest them?”

The police looked at each other uncomfortably.

One of them cleared his throat.

“We have already arrested Kyle, the man who attacked your daughter,” the officer said. “As for the others, well, to be frank, it is their word against yours – and they say you started the altercation.”

“We did not!” Caleb said, stepping forward angrily, nursing a lump on his head. “We came in here looking for my daughter – and they tried to stop us.”

“Like I said,” the officer said, “it’s your word against theirs. They said you threw the first punch – and frankly they’re in worse shape than you. If we arrest them, we’d have to arrest you, too.”

Caitlin stared at them, smoldering with anger.

“What about my daughter?” she asked. “How do you plan on finding her?”

“Ma’am, I can assure you, we have our entire force out there right now looking for her,” the officer said. “But it’s awfully hard to search for someone when we don’t know where she went – or why. We need a motive.”

“You said she ran,” said another officer, stepping forward. “We don’t understand. Why would she run? You had arrived. She was with you. She was safe. So why would she run?”

Caitlin looked at Caleb and the others, and they all looked back uncertainly.

“I don’t know,” she said honestly.

“Then why didn’t you try to stop her?” another officer asked. “Or run after her?”

“You don’t understand,” Caitlin said, trying to make sense of it. “She didn’t just run; she bounded. It was like… watching a deer. We couldn’t have caught her if we tried.”

The officer looked skeptically to the others.

“Are you telling me that with all these grown people here, not one of you could even try to catch her? What is she, some kind of Olympic athlete?” he scoffed, skeptical.

“Were you drinking tonight, ma’am?” another officer asked.

“Listen,” Caleb snapped, stepping forward, “my wife is not making it up. I saw it, too. We all did: her brother, too, and his wife. The four of us. You think we were all seeing things?”

The officer held up a hand.

“No need to get defensive. We’re all on the same team. But look at our side here: you tell me your kid runs faster than a deer. Obviously that doesn’t make any sense. Maybe you’re all scuffed up from the fight. Sometimes things don’t always look as they appear. All I’m saying is that it’s not all adding up.”

The officer traded a skeptical look with his partner, who stepped forward.

“Like I said, our force is out looking for your daughter. Nine times out of ten, runaway kids show up back at the house. Or at a friend’s house. So my best advice to you is to just go back home and stay put. I bet that all that happened here was that she wanted to bend the rules a bit and go out for a night at a grown-up bar and have a drink, and things got a little out of hand. Maybe she met a guy at the bar. When you guys came, she probably took off, because she felt embarrassed. Go back home, I bet she’ll be waiting for you,” the officer concluded, as if wrapping everything up neatly.

Caitlin shook her head, overwhelmed with frustration.

“You don’t understand,” she said. “You don’t know my daughter. Scarlet does not go to bars. And she does not pick up strange men. She came here because she was suffering. She came here because she had nowhere else to go. Because she needed something. She came here because she’s transforming. Don’t you understand? Transforming.”

The officers looked at her as if she were crazy; Caitlin hated that look.

“Transforming?” they repeated, as if she had lost her mind.

Caitlin sighed, desperate.

“If you don’t find her, people out there are going to get hurt.”

The officer frowned.

“Hurt? What are you saying? Has your daughter been hurting people? Is she armed?”

Caitlin shook her head, beyond frustrated. These local cops would never get it; she was just wasting her breath.

“She is unarmed. She has never hurt a soul. But if your men do find her, they will never be able to contain her.”

The police officers gave each other a look, as if concluding that Caitlin was crazy, and then they turned their backs and continued into the next room.

As Caitlin watched them go, she turned and looked back out, through the broken glass into the night.

Scarlet, she thought. Where are you? Come home to me, baby. I love you. I’m sorry. Whatever I did to upset you, I’m sorry. Please come home.

The strangest thing of all of this, Caitlin realized, was that, as she thought of Scarlet out there, alone in the night, she did not feel any fear for Scarlet.

Instead, she felt fear for everybody else.

Chapter Two

Kyle sat in the back of the police car, hands cuffed behind his back, staring at the cage in the cramped cruiser, and feeling unlike he ever had before. Something was changing inside him, he did not know what, but he could feel it bubbling up inside. It reminded him of the time he used heroin, that first rush when the needle touched his skin. This new feeling was like a searing heat, coursing through his veins – and accompanied by a feeling of invincible power. He felt overwhelmed with power, felt like his veins were going to pop from his skin, like his blood was swelling inside him. He felt more powerful than he ever had in his life, the skin prickling on his face and forehead and the back of his neck. The surge of power within him was something he did not understand.

But Kyle did not care; as long as the power was there, he welcomed it. He looked through blurry eyes as the world tinted red, slowly coming back into focus. Behind the cage, he could see two officers.

As the ringing in his ears began to subside, he started to hear their conversation, muted at first.

“This perp’s going away for a long time,” one said to the other.

“Heard he just got out, too. Sucks for him.”

The police started laughing, and the grating sound cut right through Kyle’s head. The cruiser sped down the highway, its lights on, and Kyle became more aware of his surroundings, started to realize where he was. He was on the same Route Nine, heading back toward prison, the place he’d spent the last fifteen years of his life. He was piecing together the night: that bar… that girl… he was about to have his way with her when… something had happened. The little bitch had bit him.

Realization rushed through him like a wave. She had bit him.

Kyle tried to reach up and feel his neck – the two marks there were throbbing – but he was stopped; he realized his hands were cuffed behind his back.

Kyle moved his arms, and to his amazement, he broke the cuffs with no effort. He held up his wrists in wonder, looking at them, shocked by his own strength. Had the cuffs malfunctioned? He looked at them dangling before him, and wondered: How could he have done that?

Kyle reached up and felt the two lumps on his neck, and they burned, as if the bite had entered his veins. He sat there, looking at the dangling cuffs, and he wondered: Did vampires exist? Was it possible?

Kyle grinned wide. It was time to find out.

Kyle took the dangling cuffs and tapped them against the cage before him.

The two cops turned and looked back, and this time they weren’t laughing; now, their faces bore looks of shock. Kyle’s hands were free, his cuffs broken, and he dangled them there, grinning, as he continued to tap on the cage.

“Holy shit,” one officer said to the other. “Didn’t you cuff him, Bill?”

“I did. I’m sure of it. I cuffed him tighter than hell.”

“Not tight enough,” Kyle growled.

One cop reached for his gun, and the other went to slam on the brakes.

But not fast enough. With incredible speed, Kyle reached out, tore the metal grate off as if it were a toothpick, and dove into the front seat.

Kyle lunged onto the cop in the passenger seat, smacked the gun from his hands, and reached back and elbowed him so hard, he snapped the cop’s neck.

The other cop swerved, and the car reeled across the highway as Kyle reached over, grabbed him by the back of the head, and head-butted him. A crack filled the air as the cop’s blood gushed all over Kyle. With the car careening, Kyle reached out to grab the wheel – but it was too late.

The police cruiser swerved onto the other side of the highway, and horns filled the air as it smashed into an oncoming car.

Kyle went flying through the windshield, head-first, and he landed on the highway, rolling and rolling, as the car flipped and rolled onto its side, too. A car coming toward Kyle screeched its brakes, but not in time – and Kyle felt his chest being crushed as the car ran him over.

The car screeched to a halt as Kyle lay there, breathing hard, and a woman in her thirties got out, screaming, crying, as she ran to Kyle, who lay on his back.

“Oh my God, are you okay?” she said in a rush. “I tried to stop in time. Oh my God. I’ve killed a man! Oh my God!”

The woman was hysterical, kneeling over him, weeping.

Suddenly, Kyle opened his eyes, sat up, and looked at the woman.

Her crying stopped as she stared back at him in shock, eyes wide in the headlights.

Kyle grinned, leaned in, and sank his beautiful ecstatic fangs, growing and growing, into her throat.

It was the greatest feeling of his life.

The woman screamed as he drank her blood, gorging himself until she fell limp in his arms.

Kyle rose to his feet, satisfied, and turned and surveyed the empty highway.

He straightened his collar, smoothed his shirt, and took the first step. There was a lot of payback coming this town’s way – and it would all start with Scarlet.

Chapter Three

Sage flew through the air, into the breaking dawn, the first rays of sun lighting up a tear on his cheek that he quickly brushed away. He was exhausted, bleary-eyed from flying all night, searching for Scarlet. He was sure he’d spotted her many times during the night, only to swoop down on some strange girl, shocked to see him land, and take off again. He was beginning to wonder if he would ever find her.

Scarlet was nowhere to be found, and Sage could not understand it. Their connection was so strong, he was sure that he would be able to sense her, that she would lead him to her. He couldn’t understand what had happened. Had she died?

Sage’s only guess was that perhaps she was in such an emotional state, all her senses were blocked, and he was unable to pick up on her location; or maybe she had fallen into a deep sleep, as vampires were known to do after the first time they fed on a human. That could be deadly for some, he knew, and his heart pained at the thought of her out there, who knew where, all alone. Would she ever wake up?

Sage flew low, flying so fast he was undetected, passing by all the familiar places he had gone with her – their school, her house, everywhere he could think of – using his laser-like vision to comb the trees and the streets for her.

As the sun rose higher and hour after hour passed, Sage finally knew there was no use searching anymore. He would have to wait until she surfaced, or until he could detect her again.

Sage was exhausted in a way he had never been before. He could feel his life force beginning to ebb away. He knew he only had days to go now until he himself died, and as he felt another pain in his chest and arms and shoulders, he felt that he was dying inside. He knew he would soon leave this earth – and he had made peace with that. He only wanted to spend his final days with Scarlet.

With nowhere left to search, Sage circled and flew over to his family’s sweeping estate on the Hudson, looking at it down below. He circled again and again, like an eagle, wondering: should he see them one last time? He didn’t know what would be the point. They all hated him now for not bringing Scarlet to them; and he had to admit, he hated them, too. The last time he left, his sister had been dying in his arms, and Lore had been on his way to try to kill Scarlet. He did not want to face them again.

And yet he had nowhere else to go.

As he flew, Sage heard a banging, and he looked down and saw several of his cousins holding up boards to the windows and hammering. One by one, they were boarding up their ancestral mansion, and Sage spotted several dozen of his cousins taking off in flight. He was intrigued. Clearly, something was happening.

Sage had to find out. A part of him wanted to know where they were going, what would become of his family – and a bigger part of him wanted to know if they had any idea where Scarlet was. Maybe one of them had seen or heard something. Maybe Lore had captured her. He had to know; it was the only lead he had.

Sage dove down for his family’s estate, landing in the back marble courtyard, before the grand steps leading up to the rear entranceway comprised of tall, antique French doors.

As he approached them, they suddenly opened, and he saw his mother and father step forward, facing him with a stern, disapproving look.

“What are you doing back here?” his mother asked, as if he were an unwelcome intruder.

“You’ve killed us once,” his father said. “Our people could have survived if it weren’t for you. Have you come to kill us again?”

Sage frowned; he was so sick of his parents’ disapproval.

“Where are you all going?” Sage demanded.

“Where do you think?” his father retorted. “They’ve convened the Grand Council for the first time in one thousand years.”

Sage looked back, shocked.

“Boldt Castle?” he asked. “You are going to the Thousand Islands?”

His parents scowled back.

“What do you care?” his mother said.

Sage couldn’t believe what he was hearing. The Grand Council hadn’t convened since what felt like the beginning of time, and for all of their kind to gather together in one place, it could not be good.

“But why?” he asked. “Why convene, if we’re all going to die anyway?”

His father stepped forward and smiled as he raised a finger and jabbed it in Sage’s chest.

“We’re not like you,” he growled. “We’re not going down without a fight. Ours will be the greatest army ever known, the first time we’ve all assembled in one place. Mankind will pay. We will take our vengeance.”

“Vengeance for what?” Sage asked. “Mankind has done nothing to you. Why would you hurt innocent people?”

His father smiled back.

“Stupid to the end,” he said. “Why wouldn’t we? What have we left to lose? What are they going to do, kill us?”

His father laughed, and his mother joined him, as the two of them linked arms and walked past him, bumping his shoulders roughly, preparing to take off in flight.

Sage yelled after them: “I remember a time when you were noble,” he said. “But now, you are nothing. You are less than nothing. Is this what desperation does to you?”

They turned and grimaced.

“Your problem, Sage, is that while you are one of us, you have never understood our kind. Destruction is all we’ve ever wanted. It is only you, only you who has been different.”

“You are the child we never understood,” his mother said. “And you’ve never failed to disappoint us.”

Sage felt a pain course through him, felt too weak to respond.

As they turned to leave, Sage, gasping, mustered the strength to yell: “Scarlet! Where is she? Tell me!”

His mother turned and smiled wide.

“Oh, don’t you worry about her,” his mother said. “Lore will find her, and rescue us all. Or he will die trying. And when we live on, don’t you dare think there will be a place for you.”

Sage reddened.

“I hate you!” he yelled. “I hate you both!”

His parents merely turned, smiling, stepped up onto the marble railing, and took off into the sky.

Sage stood there and watched them go, disappearing into the sky, as the remainder of his cousins joined them. He stood there, all alone, before his boarded-up ancestral home, with nothing here left for him. His family hated him – and he hated them back.

Lore. Sage felt a fresh burst of determination as he thought of him. He could not let him find Scarlet. Despite all the pain inside him, he knew he had to muster the strength one last time. He had to find Scarlet.

Or die trying.

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