tagNovels and NovellasCassandra's Curse Ch. 01

Cassandra's Curse Ch. 01


*Author's Note: This story was co-written with a very close friend of mine. Without his creative mind and knowledge about this particular subject, I wouldn't be able to share it. Thanks Chris!! {muah}

Cassandra, better known as Cass to her friends, kept to herself as much as possible when spending time on her own ... she was much too busy as an editor for a popular women's magazine and the only time she really had to herself was in the evenings. Tonight was no different ... she just wanted to be alone in her uptown warehouse apartment. She had spent an extravagant amount of money turning the abandoned upper floor warehouse into a cozy apartment that reeked of both style and the Old West, something that she was fascinated with even in the middle of New York City. It was her getaway and she needed one desperately.

Taking her latest book written by one of her favorite authors, Nicholas Evans, she glanced down at the cover of her hardback edition of his latest release "The Divide". She moved across the great bearskin rug that adorned the hardwood floors of her open living area, glancing up at the calming "thump thump" of her wooden and metal ceiling fan that circulated the air. Curling up on a worn-out beaten leather chair and ottoman where her bare toes flexed some as her ankles crossed, she settled before the roar of the fire beneath the old log that had been transformed into a mantel and curled up to read. Intent on relaxing this chilly night in the city, she could hear the distant rumble of thunder in the background.

The vampire was alone; as usual. He licked a scratch on the back of his hand almost like a cat and reached up to straighten his hair. He was a mess, actually. He had run across the wrong crowd and they'd managed to beat the crap out of him then left when human police started to show up. Leragie had managed to hide away and sneak out of sight until he made it to the maze of alleyways to be alone. It seemed pretty much normal for him. His own kind didn't like him; he was "soft" and too "gentle" for their tastes and he couldn't be around humans for long. He hadn't fed off a human in ages and he didn't plan to start anytime soon. The thought made him recoil.

His sharp eyes caught the motion of a skittering rat across the dank alleyway and he watched it dart beneath a trash bin. He was hungry... but he was too tired to try and chase something so small. They'd taken a lot out of him and all he'd been doing was keeping to himself. He had pondered leaving this city... but why? He'd only be shunned in other places too. Something was wrong with him; something had been wrong for years and years. He had never been able to figure out quite what. He just couldn't be "evil" like his kind wanted or expected him to be and so, he regularly got the crap beaten out of him when he ran across a gang of them»

Reaching up to wipe blood away from a cut on his lip, he licked it off his hand and further continued to feel over his face. It hurt. He'd been hit several times and he was just a ragged mess. His coat was torn where they'd tried to take it from him and there was a slash across his chest and belly. It hadn't seemed they were intent on killing him, otherwise they would've staked him and been done with it. No ... he was a toy; they were playing with him as they always seemed to. He remembered one saying they should keep him. Raj had managed to get away, even if the fight had been six to one. Granted, he wasn't the strongest thing ever, but he wasn't weak either. Those kinds of odds just weren't fair.

Looking up at the sky, he heard thunder rumble overhead. Rain ... just what he needed. Raj rolled his eyes and tucked his hands into the pockets of his worn-out trench coat and continued on his walk down the alley.

Cass lost herself in the plot of the book ... what she wouldn't give for a little excitement in her life outside of the mundane everyday activities that kept her somewhat sane. Between the demands of work and the constant ringing of her phone and endless conference calls that went with her job, the only real thing she had lost herself in was the regimen of her work-out at a local gym. She had taken up kick-boxing as a stress reliever and between that and her daily runs, she had managed to keep in excellent shape.

Closing her book for a moment, the inside cover marking her place, Cass set the book upon the rustic scratched end table next to where she was sitting and fingered the authentic steer-hide lamp shape before rising upwards to toss another birch wood log onto the fire. She was rewarded by the crackling and popping of the wood before drifting over to one of the many high arched windows that looked out onto the street. She had a beautiful view of downtown that seemed like the perfect picture for a postcard but still far enough to feel like she wasn't right in the middle of the busy hub-bub of the city. She could even see her office building looming tall in the distance; one of the larger buildings now that the twin towers were gone but still no where in height the way the towers had been.

Raj's eyes naturally blinked as he came onto a main street, the fake light streaming over him and his vision adjusted. His home was on the other side of the city. Why he had wandered this far, he had no idea. The street was relatively dark ... quiet. It was a residential area; quite different from the hustle and bustle of the inner city. A light toward the top of one of the buildings caught his eye and he looked upward. Somebody was up late. Glancing at the watch on his left wrist he couldn't help but wonder why he even wore one of those things; perhaps to keep in touch with what little was left of his humanity. Or maybe just to annoy himself to see time go by but not a day passing for him. He probably would never know.

One twenty-seven a.m.; somebody was up definitely up late. He let his mind wander as to why. Maybe they couldn't sleep, or they were up for a midnight snack. Or maybe they had somebody over ... any number of scenarios were created in his mind, each successive one more and more in-depth than the last. He just stood there, flooded in the street light, sort of mesmerized by his own thoughts as he just watched the light in the windows. When a form appeared as a silhouette, all his thoughts came to a halt. Now he knew the answer ... or at least part of it.

As she stood there a moment, Cassandra's gaze shifted until she saw a lone figure standing in the flickering light of the street light. Her eyebrows furrowed momentarily as their gazes locked. There was something about him ... unnerving the way that he just stood there looking up at her but at the same time, it didn't bother her much. She was used to being "gawked" at. That was the best way to describe it. But even in the distance, she could see that he looked pretty rough ... like something had happened but there was an aura surrounding him; something she couldn't quite put her finger on. She felt something within her reach out to him even across the distance before she turned away from the window.

Stepping back towards the fire, she picked up the poker to push at the burning embers and logs that were aflame with bright dancing lights that licked along the dry fuel like a hungered predator along its prey. Leaving the fire to burn and heat the open room, she moved towards the metal staircase that moved up to her bedroom in the open loft. A moon roof was situated above her bed that allowed the night sky to filter in. Shrugging off her jeans and sweater, she pulled on a long fitted spaghetti strap nightgown that clung to her curves and tickled around her muscled calves. Running a brush through her long soft tresses, she considered sleeping in front of the fire on the bearskin rug as the rain started to patter against her moon roof and the windows

Raj's eyes dropped to the pavement when the woman stepped away from the window. He shouldn't be here he kept thinking to himself; especially with so many humans around. He could only imagine what he looked like, even if he was numb to most of the pain. He reached up to wipe blood from his lips again irritatingly and wiped it onto his trench coat. Curse the ability to bleed. It was too ... human. With his head relatively low, he turned to walk down the street toward home where he could just hide and brood awhile. He muttered beneath his breath as the rain started to come down and plop on his head. Glaring up at the sky as if to curse it, he growled when a raindrop caught him square in the eye and he reached up to rub it.

Just then he felt something ... just one. He immediately cursed himself for staying in the open and turned slowly toward the source. Just one; one he knew from long ago. A lone man stood leaning against the inner doorframe of an apartment complex, grinning evilly. "Poor Lerajie ... get caught out in the rain? And my, what happened to you?" He stood up and took a step toward Raj, taking the time to look him up and down slowly, appraising each scrape and cut and tsk'ed softly as if disappointed. "Lerajie, won't you ever learn? Those rats sure can give you hell. What'd he do? Drag you through a grinder?" he hissed in a wicked tease.

Raj backed away when the other advanced on him, glaring at him intently. The other just grinned almost maniacally and reached out to caress a cut across Raj's brow. Hissing, Raj drew back with a sneer. "Go away Nisus."

Nisus just threw back his head and laughed. It wasn't exactly a laugh; it was more of a cackle that would make most anyone's hairs on the back of their neck rise. "Oh, poor Lerajie ... poor, poor Lerajie. You can't just tell me to go away and I vanish. You should know better than that. Or ... maybe you don't remember ..." He leaned forward again to whisper and Raj drew back as Nisus just grinned, "Fine then; I'll let you alone. I just thought you might want to know I was back in town." Then Nisus stepped back and seemed to become one with the shadows as his essence just simply vanished.

Pulling the soft leather and suede blanket from the end of her bed, Cass moved back down the metal steps from her bedroom loft. Turning off the lights as she moved across the hardwood floors on bared feet, she heard as the rain began to steadily drum against the windows and roof. As the last lamp was distinguished, only the firelight danced in the large room, casting warm shadows against the wall.

Pulling lush pillows from the couch and over-large chair, she piled them up on the bearskin rug in front of the fire and settled down with a soft sigh. She pulled the suede blanket around her slender legs and gazed into the fire, letting the flames' warmth both mesmerize and soothe her. Curled up in front of the fire, Cassandra let the flickering flames of the fire take her away, closing jaded gaze to relax as the sound of the rain intermingled with the crackling of the fire. The last thing that entered her mind was the image of the man that had stood in the lamplight beneath her building's window...

Raj visibly shuddered when Nisus left. That vampire always gave him the creeps. He wasn't overly strong; he was just. ... evil and maniacal. Raj shivered again and pulled his coat closer. This was just another thing that he didn't need tonight; Nisus was back in town - just more mayhem to try to keep under control.

His thoughts wandered back to the woman in the light he had seen. He hadn't seen much detail but he had felt their eyes meet. He didn't know whether it was a comforting or eerie feeling. At least she would wake up in the morning satisfied that another day had gone by in her existence in this world. For him, nothing passed; things just changed. And boy had they changed in the ages he'd been around.

Shifting on the bearskin rug as dreams began to take control of her thoughts, Cass' innermost thoughts began to take form in the comforting blanket of sleep; a life that was different and changed from the hurried existence that she knew now. It wasn't necessarily slower or more rustic as her taste in decor showed but definitely something different. There was that part of her that longed for high adventure instead of the boring mundane life that she lived in the city. The pressures were not ones that she could even really wrap her mind around ... they were more just robotic responses to that which was already programmed in her. What she needed was someone to bring something else into her life. But who? And when?

Even as she slept, the dancing light of the fire shifted over her sleeping form. The suede blanket had been cast off some to reveal a well-toned thigh that was partially exposed as her gown had eased up her flesh as she moved about on the fur of the rug. Her raven hair was like an ebony halo around her head and shoulders as it spread out against the pillows as moist lips stained crimson were slightly parted as her breath slowly eased past. In her dreams she could feel him ... someone, that same dark presence that came to her night after night in her dreams even though in reality, in the bright light of her day, she would hardly give a man a second glance

But in her dreams, she felt his presence even though she had no clue who it was; all she knew is that she felt at peace and her dreams were the only place that she could recall him but never in her waking hours. She couldn't even see his face ... just felt the lingering aftermath of spending a night in his arms, even if it was only in her dreams

It wasn't long after when Raj found himself on the front steps of his house. Yes, it was a house; a rather large house. The humans around the area thought the house to be abandoned and broken down. It was a mansion compared to most of the places around it; it was huge. Many times it had been threatened and contractors would attempt to buy the plot to tear down the house and build something else over the top of it. But always there was something that ... "persuaded" them otherwise.

Raj was soaked to the bone. It was pouring cats and dogs and had been for an hour. The lower streets and gutters were slightly flooded and water was everywhere. He shook his head as he got under the eaves and tried to get the water log out of his system.

After draining himself off some, Raj pushed open the ancient oak door and stepped inside his rustic home. It was dark and musty; there were thick black curtains over all the windows and cobwebs and dust everywhere. Other than that, it was a pretty nice place. The walls were actually laced with gold in their marble design and large portraits of people decorated the walls. A large, crystal, candelabra hung in the entry hall that seemed more like a large dance hall. It jingled a bit as a gust of air blew in when Raj came inside and a cloud of dust poofed up only to settle again. There was a single trail; one that led from the door, across the main hall and up the left stair case. A matching staircase wound at the right to meet in the middle like a horseshoe, but he never used the right.

He trudged on up the stairs, following the rather beaten path to his bedroom. It was a large suite room that would have been fit to serve a king. He had a large four-poster bed with the same thick black curtains wrapped closely around it. The blankets were black and the sheets were black. This was the only room in the entire house that was clean. He kept it that way because he refused to sleep in filth. A grand wardrobe stood against the wall with a sheet over it and a door was slightly open that led to the rest room that connected to the suite. He never went in there but it was as grand as the room he was in.

There were huge picture windows that lined one whole wall of the entire bedroom. It was actually the front and top of the house. Through those windows lots could be seen but they were covered over with black curtains. Dust sheets lay over everything in the room aside from the bed. There was a desk, a table, several chairs, and a large sofa. A black blanket covered the hearth and heart of an extravagant fireplace that hadn't been used in forever.

Making his way to his bed, he pulled the curtains aside before pulling his jacket off. He was tired and worn. He wanted the night to be done and just to sleep the day away; maybe a few days. He wasn't that hungry yet. Why he had wandered tonight he had no idea. Something had called to him. What, he didn't yet know. He sure hadn't found out. Or maybe he had and hadn't noticed.

He looked down at his torn wife beater shirt and reached to remove it. The cut was already healing even if it did look nasty. After removing his belt, he simply crawled into bed and flopped onto his back to stare at the dull blackness above. He was careful to pull the curtains back into place, tucking the edge around so not a single slice of the beginning morning light could enter. It was finally time for creatures of the night to sleep.

Cassandra started to filter out of her dreams some, wanting to linger and experience what she was feeling but it was fading fast with the approaching light of dawn. She had never been one to be able to sleep once the sun crept up over the horizon. That was the time of day that she was usually out for her morning run so she could enjoy its beauty full on her face.

As she stretched cat like on the rug, slender fingers reached up to rub at her eyes and she shifted, glancing around. It was then that she remembered that she had opted to sleep on the floor in front of the now-dead fire instead of her room. Inhaling deeply, she could see the night sky beginning to lighten and knew it was time to get up. She had a busy day ahead of her.

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