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Vail’s heart thudded against his ribs as he closed the manor door behind him, not because of the effort of whisking Victoria all the way from her home nor because of the rush of being chased by The Order. His pulse had quickened as the realization struck him of what he had just done. He had, quite openly, brought the Crest heiress into his home. If there had ever been a chance of keeping their secretive meetings in the dark, it was gone now. There would be no hiding the smell of her sweet perfume or the tantalizing aroma of the blood that had stained the cloth he’d tied around her fair neck. It was only a matter of time before one of his relatives discovered them, and then Peter’s wrath would be upon him.

The Hygrace heir moved silently through the dark room without pausing at any of the impressive décor. The entire mansion was the product of generations of immortal beings with too much time on their hands and a need to turn their reclusive nest into a comfortable safe haven. With their vast wealth, they had accumulated novelties from all over the globe, creating an eclectic world in which they could hide away from the real one beyond their walls. Every room was a grand display, but to Vail, it was all the same. Material things could never hold anyone’s interest for long. To dazzle him for two centuries was impossible.

As quietly as he could, the vampire made his way up the stairs and down the hall that led to his room. At best, he had a few hours until his father would wake and recognize an unfamiliar scent in his territory. He intended to use the time to check on the state of Victoria’s health and try to get his thoughts in some kind of order, so he could explain himself when the head of the clan demanded to know what was going on. Already, he was dreading the conversation he knew they would have to have. In just a few hours—if not sooner—he was going to have to come clean about everything he had been doing behind his family’s back. If they chose to disown him, he would have deserved it.

Gently, Vail set the trembling woman down on his bed and wrapped her in the sheets to bring some warmth back to her frail body. Leaving her there briefly, he took a clean rag from the adjoining bathroom and wetted it. When he returned to her side, he sat down on the edge of the mattress and removed the makeshift bandage from her neck to softly clean the punctures in her skin so she wouldn’t get an infection. His hazel eyes remained fixed on her face as he worked. He hadn’t bothered turning on any lights, since he could see perfectly fine in the pitch black room, but he studied her features just as intricately as if there had been a lamp directly over her head.

“You’re safe now,” the murmur escaped his lips though he wasn’t sure if it was true. They may have eluded the Order for now, but there was no telling what the Hygraces or even the Wynters would do when they found out where she was. Regardless, they were safe at the moment, and he wanted to comfort her after everything she had been through.
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Lady Victoria could even sense Vail’s pulse quicken as he closed the door behind him. He must have been fairly nervous bringing her to his family’s safe haven. The only humans they ever had around was their serving staff, never the daughter of a Saint. Yet Alexander Crest was one of the incorrupt Saints. He left the Hygrace’s alone because they left others alone, didn’t cause trouble and kept themselves to themselves. That was the deal. Why would they think his daughter would be any different than his mindset? If anything, she could be a valuable ally, they had nothing to fear about revealing their secret location to the Crest heiress. It was only dangerous to harbour a target of the Wynter clan.

She was still in awe that Vail had vowed to protect her from Spencer and the Saints in league with him. She only thought her blood was special to the vampire, not her personality or appearance. She did feel so much safer in his presence. She was overwhelmed with how protective he was over her, even possessive. She found it endearing of him. She’d never had anyone care for her welfare like this, apart from her father who would have done anything for his little princess.

She felt him lay her down on a comfortable bed, she even thought at one point that vampires did not sleep. But he had a bed in his room, so they must need to rest. There were so many myths surrounding the creatures like not having a reflection, being allergic to garlic, not being allowed into anywhere without being invited in. So many things she wanted clarity on. But if she knew anything from them by now, it was their family loyalty to one another. She just hoped they wouldn’t punish Vail for bringing her to his room. She flinched as he removed the temporary bandage from her wounded neck, it was still quite sore and the blood began to rush out of the puncture already. It wasn’t clotting at all. There was very little left to clot it with.

She whimpered when he touched it with the damp cloth. She tried not to make much noise to wake the house. She tried to focus on his hazel eyes glinting in the moonlight that cascaded into the room. She nodded as he said that she was safe for now. She attempted a pained smile, she was still weak and her eyelids felt heavy. She couldn’t fight them closing over her eyes. She reached up to find his hand, arm or even leg to grasp. She just wanted that physical closeness to him, to feel safe and loved by him.
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Vail pursed his lips together in a thin line as Victoria’s eyelids drooped shut. It was good that she was able to rest, but he was deeply concerned about her condition. Seeing the feisty, determined woman reduced to the limp ragdoll laying on his bed disturbed him. He worked carefully on tending the punctures in her neck, hopeful that cleaning and binding the wound in sterile bandages would protect it from infection until her body restored enough blood to begin healing itself. He was no doctor, so it was the best he could do for now.

Just as he was about to get up to look for something to wrap around her neck, he flinched as the door to his room flew open without warning. He had been so focused on taking care of Victoria that he hadn’t heard Peter’s approach. His father froze in the doorway, mouth agape as his dark brown eyes landed on Lady Crest, swaddled in blankets on the Hygrace heir’s bed. A number of emotions flitted across the clan leader’s face. Shock, confusion and fear were among the mix, but he eventually settled on unbridled anger.

“Vail, what the hell have you done?” Peter roared, spittle flying from his mouth with the intensity of his fury.

Contrary to his father’s incensed state, Vail stared back at him almost dumbly. He hadn’t thought Peter would discover him this quickly and thus hadn’t had time to compile his thoughts into an acceptable excuse. Heart racing with nervous energy, he rose to his feet but remained close to edge of the bed, unwilling to venture further from Victoria’s side while she was still so vulnerable. “I didn’t have a choice,” the words fell from his tongue while he was composing himself enough to speak. “They left her half dead! If I didn’t take her, they might have even killed her.”

Peter stared at him this time, unable to comprehend what the younger Hygrace was trying to say. He didn’t know what Vail was talking about, but it seemed like there was more going on outside the walls of their family manor than he’d thought. “Who are they?” he asked, still fuming at his son’s irresponsible actions. “Just what have you gotten involved with?”

“The Order,” Vail answered his first question with a wince. He felt guilty for admitting that he had been keeping secrets from the clan leader, but there was no way to hide it anymore. “They’ve formed some sort of agreement with the Wynters. I don’t know exactly what’s going on, but she’s in the middle of it.” He gestured at Victoria. “The one I met at the party, Lord Spencer, he drained her of her blood and—” He stilled his tongue before he added that the other vampire had tried to rape her too. His father wouldn’t care about that detail, and it would only serve to give away his attachment to her.

“Father, you know the Wynters,” he abruptly changed course. “Whatever they’ve been doing with the Saints can’t be good for us.”

Peter considered his words for a moment before he narrowed his eyes. “Perhaps… but what were you doing out tonight?”

Vail shifted his weight. It was the inquiry that would unravel everything. Taking a steeling breath, he met the leader’s gaze evenly, “I went to find her.”

His father pinched the bridge of his nose, “I warned you about this, Vail! You cannot get involved with a human. I understand if you’ve decided you want female companionship, but that’s why I arranged your marriage to Sylvia. She’s a perfect partner for you. Beautiful, congenial, and belonging to the same species.”

“I told you, I don’t want to marry her,” Vail argued hotly. “I care about Lady Victoria. You don’t have to understand it, father, but I don’t care that she’s a human. She’s the one I want to be with.” He could hear his heart pounding in his ears as he made the confession for the first time. He didn’t even know if she felt the same way toward him, but it was too late to take it back. A ruddy blush spread across his face, masked by the darkness to the Lady but plain as day to Peter.

The elder Hygrace clenched his jaw, “Just how far has this gone?”

Vail said nothing, but his silence was more than enough of an answer for Peter.

“I cannot allow this to continue,” the clan leader spat. “Get that wench out of my house at once.”

“The cold will kill her,” the heir stepped closer to the bed with a protective glower. “She’s practically hypothermic. You said this manor is a safe haven for anyone who needs help, and right now, she needs it more than anyone else. At least give her time to recover from everything she’s endured.”

Peter scowled back at him before his gaze drifted to Victoria. A tense minute passed, and he took a step toward her, causing his son to stiffen reflexively. “Stand aside,” he ordered. “I can smell the blood. You don’t know what you’re doing.”

Vail eyed him hesitantly, “You’ll let her stay?”

“It is our family’s duty to care for those who come to us,” Peter agreed in a low voice. “She may rest until she has the strength to carry herself home, but not a second longer. And as for you,” the look in his dark eyes sent a shiver up the Hygrace heir’s spine. “I’ll think of a fitting punishment later.”

Vail grimaced at the warning but didn’t argue as he stepped away from the bed to give his father room to work. Peter’s willingness to help Victoria was hanging by a thread, so he didn’t want to debate with him until her condition was stable. If keeping his mouth shut meant she would be alright, then that’s what he would do.

Peter leaned over Lady Crest to see the extent of the damage. Though the clan leader had even more self-control than his son, the pungent scent of her rich blood still made his pupils dilate hungrily. He could smell Vail’s pheromones mingled with hers as well, giving away who had been the source of the bite in her pale neck. “Fetch me some ice, bandages and a cup of tea,” he instructed, tearing his gaze away from the girl even though his predatory urges beckoned him to lap at the succulent liquid that seeped from her injury.

Vail didn’t move. He didn’t trust his father not to bleed her dry while he was gone. “You should do it,” he suggested instead. “And I’ll stay with her while you’re gone.”

The elder Hygrace snorted, “Like I said before, you don’t know what you’re doing. This,” he picked up the damp cloth by her head, “just agitated her skin. The bleeding has to stop before you try to clean the area. Just do as I say, Vail. You’ll be more useful that way.”

He bit the inside of his cheek, still reluctant to leave the two alone. However, he couldn’t deny that it was safer for his medically inclined father to watch over Victoria in case she took a turn for the worse. Peter seemed calm enough not to sink his fangs into her flesh in his absence too. He dipped his head. “Yes, father,” he submitted, turning away from them to gather the supplies the older vampire had requested.
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Victoria was happily drifting off when Peter barging into the room, caused her to startle awake again. She could practically feel the tension in the air between father and son. He appeared to be very angry with Vail. She was impressed with the level of Vail’s protest of her defence in being here. She knew they’d never accept her as Vail’s lover but she never thought they would be so opposed to actually force Vail into marrying another vampire when he evidently didn’t want to. A pang of sadness waved its way into her heart at this revelation but then a sigh of relief escaped her mouth as Vail declared he did not wish to marry Sylvia in the first place.

However, the moment Vail said that Victoria was the one he wanted to be with, tears formed in her eyes. She became overwhelmed by this revelation. She never thought he’d go that far to say such a thing. To him, her existence would be but a blip in his long life. He would rather be happy now and fear the loss in the future from an aged human or of her dying from a human disease, than not be with her at all? She gulped slightly as Peter asked his son how far it had gone, to which Vail remained silent. How could he explain that he bedded the very human they told him to keep away from? She grew visibly worried, her fear pheromones rising along with her pulse.

Although in her weakened state, when Peter called her a wench and told Vail to get her out of his house, she almost gasped. The feisty girl, if she had enough energy, would have rose up and declared she was not some floozy, or woman of the night to be disregarded. She cared about his son and would justify herself. Yet Vail fought her corner for her, luckily. She stared back at Peter with resolve, her mind was active even if her body was not.

As the tense moment passed and Peter eventually came around to the fact, she was someone in need of refuge like any other vampire in trouble that came knocking on their door. He was reluctant but he agreed to let her stay and she closed her eyes and breathed another sigh of relief. She didn’t like what she’d caused between father and son and probably the rest of his family. The fact Peter was going to punish Vail later, made her worry again and even feel slightly sick. How could his father not support his son in his choice of who he loved and cared for? Did his father truly regard his own agenda above his own son’s feelings? He was going to be a difficult father-in-law.

Hearing Peter scold Vail for aggravating her skin, she knew Vail wasn’t that medically informed. But his father was, luckily for her. He instructed Vail to do the right thing, although he was reluctant to leave Peter alone with his lover. She couldn’t blame him for feeling that way. She was unnervsed to be left alone with Peter, herself. For all she knew he would chuck her out at the first opportunity or give her an ear full to how she was nothing but trouble. If it came to it, Vail’s safety was priority above all else, even her own feelings of him, his welfare came first. She would stay away if that meant he was safer from The Order and Wynters and caused less friction between his family members.

As Peter tended to her wound properly, she looked up at him nervously. “Th-thank you…..” She whispered shakily. He didn’t have to let her stay. But it was only temporary. He would never accept a human as a daughter-in-law, Vail even risked disowner ship. It would be too much guilt to bear if it did come to that. “Please don’t…..blame Vail….it’s my...fault.” She sniffled sadly. She didn’t want his father thinking badly of the good and kind vampire she fell in love with. It broke her heart to see him pained like this.
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Even with the intoxicating aroma of Lady Crest’s blood muddling his thoughts, Peter was a determined and efficient healer. As he applied pressure to her injury to slow the bleeding, he remembered his encounter with the girl’s father years ago. Alexander had had an intriguing scent about him as well, and now he knew it must have been the unique blood that flowed through both of their veins. Swallowing the saliva that built up in his mouth, he leaned away from her slightly in a conscious effort to reign in his inner predator. In her current state, he knew her weakened heart would stop beating if he fed on her now. For the sake of maintaining some semblance of peace with the Order, he couldn’t kill her.

However, as his dark brown eyes traveled over her face, he supposed he could understand why his son had been so infatuated with this human. She was lithe and beautiful, at the peak of her youth. At her age, her physical features could rival most female vampires who maintained their spry appearances forever. But mortal beauty was fleeting. He was sure Vail would thank him later when the spell was broken, and he realized what a huge mistake he would have made if he had chosen Victoria over the far superior Sylvia.

Peter’s thoughts were broken when his sultry patient suddenly whispered to him. His unreadable eyes met hers, but he didn’t speak. It was bewildering that she would try to protect Vail when he was clearly the one who had left her in this pathetic state with his bite, and he marveled what his heir must have done to wrap her so tightly around his finger. Even if the two claimed they were in love, the clan leader knew better. The girl lying beside him was nothing more than a novelty, an amusing toy for one who had grown bored by the mundane repetition of immortal life. His son had been taken by her forbidden charms, but the thrill of having his way with a human would wear off. All he had to do was sever the attachment a bit prematurely.

“It is presumptuous of you to tell me that you can make my son do anything,” he said venomously, indignant at her assumption that Vail could be made docile by a member of the species his kind so easily controlled. “He acted of his own free will and shall face the consequences accordingly. Now, please, do not speak. I don’t have the patience to argue with you at the moment.”

--

Vail walked briskly through the dark halls of his family’s manor, anxious to return to his bedroom before his father could change his mind about helping Victoria. He made quick work of gathering all the supplies the clan leader had requested: a bowl of ice, a coil of sterile bandages and a cup of hot tea. The latter was the most tedious, as it forced him to slow his pace on the way back so he wouldn’t spill the scalding liquid on his hand while he trod up the stairs.

He had almost made it back when he bristled at the sound of his cousin’s voice.

“Vail, what’s going on?” Caleb, another one of his uncle’s children, queried from behind him. The other vampire had his head tilted back and his lips slightly parted as he took in the scents in air. “Is there a human in the house?”

“Yes,” Vail said dryly. “The servants are in their quarters.”

“No, no,” Caleb licked his lips hungrily. “I smell blood.” His eyes landed on the bandages in the younger Hygrace’s arms, and his eyebrows lifted bemusedly. “You know… if you brought a meal back with you, it’s only polite to share, cousin.”

“Mind your business, Caleb,” Vail narrowed his eyes at the other vampire warningly. He opened his mouth to tell him to go back to bed but faltered when he saw two more of his cousins ascend the stairs. It seemed the pervasive scent of Victoria’s blood had attracted more than just his father.

“Where is that delicious smell coming from?” Caleb’s younger brother, Euler, was practically drooling on himself in his lust to feed.

“I think there’s a woman in cousin Vail’s room,” the eldest, Hosiah, tilted his head.

“He brought back a delicacy that he doesn’t want to share with the rest of us,” Caleb curled his upper lip back, baring his fangs. Even though the four vampires were family, the instinct to hunt and prey clouded their better judgment. It wouldn’t take long for them to fall into a frenzy.

Vail edged away from the other three, his hazel eyes flitting between them warily. In other competitions over humans, he had the advantage of the status and strength that came with the Hygrace name, but against his cousins, they all stood on equal ground. He couldn’t take on all of them either. “Stand down,” he snarled, exposing his elongated canines in the same threatening manner as Caleb. “The human I brought back isn’t prey. She’s here for medical attention, and none of you can touch her.”

“All I’m hearing is that she’s an easy target,” Euler chuckled, blatantly ignoring the heir’s order by taking a step forward.

“You’re not our leader yet, Vail,” Caleb grinned cruelly. “Besides, all we want is a taste… Just one bite each, and we’ll be on our way.”

“Is that so much to ask?” Hosiah joined the others.

The next moment happened in a flash. The three cousins lunged at the one standing in their way, and Vail spun around and raced to his door. Using the ice bowl to cover the full teacup, he slipped into the room and slammed the door behind him, pressing his back against the wood to keep out the frenzied vampires pounding and scratching it from the other side.

“Father,” he casted Peter a pleading look. It would be long before his raging cousins broke through the flimsy barrier, and the clan leader was the only one with the power to control them.

“You shouldn’t have brought her here, Vail,” Peter sighed, rising from where he had been sitting on the edge of the bed. “Move. I’ll handle it.”

With a nod, the Hygrace heir stepped away from the door, and his father exited the room to deal with the frenzy outside, leaving Vail and Victoria alone in the bedroom.
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Peter was indeed very angry either with her or at her, as well as his son. He seemed set in his opinion that Vail was entirely to blame for his own actions. His reply to her plea not to put blame on Vail went unheard and even riled the lord even more. She now knew why he was a vampire clan leader, he simple commanded a room and his presence was oppressive. She merely closed her eyes at being practically told to shut up or risk an argument, of which he didn’t have any patience for. More tears fell from her eyes. She truly blamed herself. She was the one who initially taunted Vail with her blood, she let him bite her time and time again. As far as she was concerned, she was the bait, of which Vail was tempted and unable to resist.

She would rather have Vail render her like this than Spencer or any of the Wynters. At least she knew Vail would be happily satisfied and sustained by her blood. If he perhaps took as much as Spencer did, it would overpower him and maybe he would have the strength to fight three or four other vampires off her.

She couldn’t help but hear the racing steps toward the door and Vail burst through it and slammed it shut behind him. The pounding and scratching at the door, shocked her. It seemed his other family members caught the scent of her as well and it sent them into a frenzy as it first did with Vail. Peter was speaking sense – he shouldn’t have brought her back here, it was so dangerous. Not just for her but now also for him.

Peter’s mood obviously hadn’t improved as he spoke to Vail as if he were a clueless child. Once she and Vail were left alone in his room, she looked over at the door. Hearing the kerfuffle eventually die down. “I don’t belong here. They’ll never accept me as…your wife…” If that was how he wanted to see her in the future as he did express that she was the one he wanted to be with. But knowing how Peter was now and how he reacted, she’d never be good enough for the Hygraces. That’s why he arranged him to marry Sylvia.

“You said it yourself…I’m nothing but trouble.” She sniffled and made herself more upset, the guilt setting in deeply for all she had caused just to save her own skin from Spencer and yet she was still subjected to his tyranny in the end. Vail could not save her. She could only save herself from this nightmare. Thoughts of Vail marrying someone else hurt but he would be safe, whilst she pictured herself taking her own life as the only way out from the Wynters and The Order’s cruel plans for her. She just hoped they wouldn’t hurt her mother whilst she was here in their enemy’s territory.
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Vail grimaced as he heard Peter commanding his cousins to calm down on the other side of the door. He knew he hadn’t thought his actions through when he’d brought Victoria into his home, but he hadn’t expected the decision would cause this much trouble. With the scent of her blood driving his relatives mad, they were essentially trapped in his bedroom. He didn’t have the strength to fight off the full force of the Hygrace clan by himself. The only thing standing between them and the small army of frenzied vampires was his father, who didn’t even want to protect the Crest heiress in the first place. The whole situation was a mess.

He turned away from the door when Victoria’s tormented voice caught his attention. Everything she said was true. His family would not accept, now or ever, a human as his wife. She also did tend to leave a trail of destruction in her wake whenever they were together. However, none of that changed the fact that he had already made up his mind. Even if it was difficult and even if his family didn’t approve, he knew he wanted to be with her. Besides, he had been taking the safe path all his life. It might have allowed him to survive for the past two hundred years, but what was the point of living if he never had something to live for? The fragile human lying on his bed was his reason now.

Crossing to the other side of the room, he set the assortment of supplies in his arms down on the nightstand and returned to his seat on the edge of the mattress. For a moment, he remained quiet, merely studying the details of her face in the dark before he leaned down to press a kiss to her lips. He lingered for a few seconds, capturing her tenderly as he located her cold hand beneath the sheets to hold in his. “I don’t care about any of that,” he breathed when he pulled back again. “Even if it leads to my death, I’d rather spend my last days with you.”

Though the statement was morbid, he meant it with every fiber of his being. Lady Crest had tamed his heart with far more than just her blood. He found every aspect of her personality enchanting. Even when they had gotten under each other’s skin in the beginning, he’d thought her confident spirit was refreshing compared to the demure women he’d interacted with before. He had been slipping since the day they’d met. When they had shared that passionate night at the inn, he’d fallen. There was no going back anymore.

“Don’t blame yourself for any of this either,” he added, stroking her back of her hand with his thumb. “It was my decision to bring you here, not yours. I’ll deal with the repercussions.”
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Victoria tears slowed as Vail leaned down to press his lips to hers. Although everything was currently a mess, everything made sense when the two of them connected. Her fears, her doubts, all washed away. There was only him. She grasped at his hand weakly, his warmth appreciated. She stopped shivering so much. His attitude was indeed stubborn and it seemed the vampire knew exactly what he wanted. His mind was made up. Although she was heartwarmed to hear he would risk his life to be with her until his end of days, it could be the love fool in him talking. When one was so caught up with the chemistry of love, all rationality flew out the window.

“But I am causing so much trouble for you and now your family as well…” Victoria protested and took deep breaths to keep conscious. She never meant to wrought havoc and chaos in her wake, however that is what happened when she was around, she was beginning to think she was cursed. Her blood was driving his family members crazy. They couldn’t handle her being around. It was one of many barriers that would keep them separated, along with them thinking a human wasn’t good enough for a vampire Lord and heir of a vast estate. That was why Peter had arranged for Sylvia to marry his son in the first place. A vampress who was worthy of him.

“I know you said I was worth it, but…that is not what your father thinks…” She expressed with sorrow as she gazed up at him with melancholy eyes. It didn’t matter if Vail was stubborn, if his father was determined to keep them apart then he would do his best to do so. He was a powerful Lord. “I can’t let you choose between me...and family…I’d never expect you to.” She had nearly been the reason for his early demise twice before. If this carried on, he surely would be killed. “I will only live for a small amount of your lifetime…your family will be around far longer…without them you will suffer even more loneliness after I’m gone…” Then a thought occurred to her. What if she were to become a vampire? She wasn’t sure how she would cope with her blood phobia and having to drink it to survive. And she didn’t quite know how a human was turned. Would Vail even allow her to go through something like that? Was it risky to a human being turned?

She merely nodded as he told her not to blame herself. In truth, she didn’t. She didn’t willingly set out to make Vail bite her or seduce him. She didn’t make her blood irresistible to vampires - that was all down to nature. She was an innocent victim of the Wynter’s cruel plans.
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“Yes, but that’s my fault as well,” Vail asserted when Victoria protested that she was causing trouble for his family. The scent of her blood was driving his cousins mad, but he was the one who had decided to bring her into his home, regardless of the consequences. Perhaps it was selfish—he knew firsthand how intoxicating the aroma could be—but he didn’t care. If it meant she would be safe, his relatives would just have to put up with her presence in their manor until he could figure out what to do with her from here.

As she went on to speak about his family and the fact that she would only live for a fraction of his lifespan, he said nothing. It was true that his father would never accept her, nor would he approve if Vail wanted to marry her. The Hygraces didn’t view humans in the same oppressive light as the Wynters did, but they didn’t see them as equals either. It would have been disgraceful if word got out that the heir to the estate had developed feelings for his prey.

Additionally, if he managed to survive whatever dangers arose by staying with her, it was also true that they would only be together for a few decades at the most while his relationship with his family would be marred for far longer if not permanently severed. It was quite a risk to take, and just the thought of being estranged from all the people he was closest to made his heartbeat quicken with apprehension. Losing the support of his relatives would be both emotionally straining and potentially damning, since he would no longer have the protection that came with being part of the Hygrace clan. However, losing Victoria would be worse. He cared about his family, but she made him feel more alive than anything or anyone else in his two centuries on this earth. That was something worth fighting for.

“Just rest,” he murmured, pointedly avoiding the subject since he couldn’t refute any of the claims that made her feel so stressed. Now wasn’t the time to argue about it anyway. At the moment, his main concern was ensuring that she would be able to recover from the damage done by Spencer and the cold.

Almost as soon as the words left his lips, Vail looked up at the sound of his doorknob rattling. Peter had returned, looking slightly more disheveled after fending off his frenzied cousins. The clan leader paused by the door and narrowed his eyes at the sight of his son so close to the human in his bed. Now that he knew the nature of their relationship, he didn’t want the two anywhere near each other.

“I told you to leave her treatment to me, Vail,” he reiterated curtly, striding across the room to continue tending to his mortal patient.

The younger Hygrace wavered for a moment before he reluctantly disentangled his fingers from Victoria’s and removed himself from the bed. He disliked how easily his father could get between them, but as long as she was in need of medical attention, he had to comply.

Peter resumed his work right away. Carefully, he slipped one arm behind the Crest heiress’s shoulders to raise her upright on the mattress. With the other, he piled a few pillows behind her back to give her support, so she could sit high enough to drink the tea he’d asked Vail to bring for her without spilling it on herself. Picking the cup up from the table, he held it in front of her with a clinical frown, “This will regulate your internal temperature. Can you hold it by yourself, or do you need me to help you?”
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Victoria winced as Vail laid the blame on himself as well. It was his decision to bring her here, he had no choice otherwise she would have died. She was reminded just how fragile humans were compared to vampires. No wonder they looked down upon humans as inferior. No matter how hard she worked or trained, she would never outrun death.

She could see how Vail remained quiet in contemplation of her cruel reminder of the fate of a human, vampire relationship. He seemed deep in thought, maybe the fact saddened him more than he cared to admit? She left him to his thoughts and merely squeezed his hand gently as he told her to rest.

As Peter returned to the room, she could feel his eyes pierce her soul. Although it was dark, his eyes ere slightly aglow to show his age and power as a vampire. She could tell he was annoyed with Vail, or like having him near her. Vail hesitantly let go of her hand, she almost grabbed him so he wouldn’t leave her side, but she didn’t have the strength to stop him pulling away. She felt slightly uneasy as Vail’s father touched her back to lean her up. She was afraid at any moment he would lash out and bite her.

She wasn’t sure on how bad her grip was, but she was a lot warmer now. She was getting feeling back in her fingers and toes. She gingerly took the teacup from his hands, she was determined to show she was strong even when this weak. She didn’t want him thinking she was utterly useless. She didn’t thank him because his attitude would prevent him from accepting her gratitude. He was only forced to help her out of obligation to his own oath, not because he wanted to.

She held the tea shakily between both hands and rested it in her lap. “I think I can do it myself…” She breathed nervously in the vampire clan leader’s presence. He had this oppressive aura about him, far superior to what Vail could project when he was at his angriest. She gently sipped on the tea continuously and it was doing wonders for her blood flow, it was hydrating it and warmer her body from the inside. She still couldn’t believe that Spencer allowed so much to be drained of her so dangerously close to death. Next time he could end up killing her. The priority was getting away from Spencer and the Wynters. They would be back. And as soon as Peter threw her out of the mansion, there was nowhere she could go without being followed or hunted. The choice was to immediately make a run for anywhere outside the city she could get to or barricade herself inside her mansion somehow. As long as she was inside the Hygrace estate, she was untouchable. She had to win Peter over somehow…
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Vail kept a close eye on Peter as he continued to treat Victoria. It was hard to tell if his father was affected by her blood or not, since the older vampire kept up such an unexpressive demeanor, but he wanted to be prepared to intervene if the clan leader suddenly decided to finish off the rest of the liquid pumping through her veins. Not that there was any point. He was stronger than most others of his kind, but Peter Hygrace was on a completely different level. It was the reason why he could control the rest of their family so elegantly and why the Order saw him as such a dangerous enemy to make. If his father really did sink his fangs into the vulnerable girl’s neck, there wasn’t much either of them could do to stop him.

As Peter observed Victoria to make sure she wouldn’t drop the teacup on her lap, Vail relaxed slightly. The clan leader was still as unreadable as always, but he seemed to have enough control over himself not to kill his patient. The heir turned his head away as a weary yawn stretched his jaw. It was almost morning, when he would normally be settling down to sleep for the day. Idly, he wondered where he was going to lay his head while Victoria was recovering in his room. He would have been content sharing the bed with her, since he trusted that she wouldn’t take advantage of his unconscious state, but he was sure his father wouldn’t allow it. Not when he didn’t even want them within two meters of each other.

“Sit still,” Peter instructed Lady Crest while he reached for the ice on the nightstand. “This will sting, but the cold will encourage your blood to clot.” He may not have liked her nor what she had been doing with his son, but he was still a professional physician. Narrating the process was a habit he had developed over decades of doctoring other people and would continue to do for the human in front of him now. As he’d described, he pressed the ice to the trickling punctures in her neck and held it there, ignoring any response she might have had to the hostile bite of the frozen water.

While he did that, Vail slumped in a cushioned armchair to rest while he watched the others from a distance. As tired as he was, he refused to let himself nap until his father was no longer close enough to Victoria to feed on her. Even though he didn’t have the power to prevent it, he wanted to be awake to at least cause a disruption if the elder Hygrace lost control. So, he didn’t settle too comfortably into the seat in case he needed to jump up at the last second.

Fortunately, it seemed he wouldn’t have to. Once Peter managed to coax the Crest heiress’s body to start healing itself, he made quick work of cleaning the blood from her skin and binding her neck in a snug dressing. “That should do it,” he nodded, satisfied with his own work. “As long as you don’t toy with the bandage, it should heal nicely.” Not as nicely as a vampire, who would recover in less than two days, but still nicely enough. He righted his posture and stepped back from the bed. “When you’re well enough to walk on your own, I’ll have you sent right back to be with your family.”
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Lady Crest winced and inhaled sharply at the stinging pain in her neck wound. It had to be done though. She needed to recover, though not too quickly otherwise she would be turfed out as soon as she was able to stand on her own two legs fully. She didn’t want to go back home any time soon. She would have to confront Gerald about her father’s death. And that was not going to be a moment she looked forward to in the slightest. It was going to test her patience and ability to cope with stress.

Victoria frowned at Peter as soon as he mentioned sending her home. He was quick to get rid of her and reminded them both she wasn’t to stay longer than necessary. “If there is any family to go back to...” She murmured sadly. They knew her father died, she only had her mother and she wasn’t sure what The Order would do with her. Was he so heartless to send a young woman back into danger? His son would not approve of such an action. Yet it would be inevitable if she were not welcome here.

“So…you are content to send me straight back into the Wynter’s clutches, are you? You realise they are working with The Order and know about Vail and I…they will turn their sights to your family next.” She warned Peter to the possibility they would be dragged into the turmoil. She was obviously feeling better because her feisty personality came bubbling back to the surface and he would see why Vail was quite taken with her. She wasn’t a timid, overly polite and lightly spoken girl as most were in these times of human society where females were better off seen and not heard.

He ought to consider that if that were to happen, Victoria was his only link to insider information and any pre-warning of attacks on the Hygrace clan. He would do well to make an ally with the Lady Crest rather than dismiss her so easily. She may only be human, but she had her uses in other ways. Such as making his son happy in all his long life, he expressed that this human was worth risking everything for and people didn’t make such claims with ease. Alexander Crest was merely human, yet he managed to strike a bargain with this powerful clan leader into a truce. Humans weren’t as weak and inferior as he thought. At least not the Crest family. They had all been through a lot already in their mortal lives and survived much hardship surrounding vampires. Alex met his demise at the betrayal of The Order and the Wynter’s involvement, possibly just to get at his daughter’s blood to empower their entire clan.

She sipped her tea as she let Peter mull over what she had said. “Not to mention they are using my blood to empower their entire clan. Whose to say their lust for power will not grow. They are already set to descend upon London any day now…” She may have been weakened and bed ridden but she could still overhear conversations and plans being made by Spencer and The Order in her own house. They planned on making Crest Manor their new base of operations. Her human mother would serve as food, along with their servants. She worried for all their lives.
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Peter pretended not to hear Victoria’s sad murmur. He knew precious little about what the Wynters were doing with her family, but he did know the other clan well enough to expect that they wouldn’t be pleased with their food source’s absence. However, he couldn’t allow himself to sympathize with the girl. It wasn’t his business if the other vampires chose to devour Alexander’s widow in her absence. Until they started showing signs of hostility to the Hygraces, which he was already certain they would, he refused to get any more involved with the monsters who were responsible for his brother’s death.

Gathering the leftover bandages and the bowl that had contained the ice—it was full of melted water now—he considered returning both to their separate, rightful places and then glanced at Vail. Leaving the room meant he would be leaving his son alone with the wench in his bed again. He studied the younger Hygrace with a frown. As determined as Vail was to guard Victoria like a dog, he could tell the heir’s stamina was wearing down with the rise of the sun. His head lolled against the back of the chair, and he didn’t even make an effort to sit up straight. Peter couldn’t send him to put the supplies away for him in this state or his frenzied cousins would tear him apart. After all, it had been difficult enough for him to keep their relatives out, and he was the revered leader of the clan. His son, who didn’t have the same fear or respect from them, had no chance at getting past the bedroom door.

Victoria’s voice jarred him from his musings, and the Hygrace head turned back to her with an unamused expression. For a human who had narrowly escaped the jaws of death, she was certainly quick to test the patience of a demon who could end her life with just one bite. His eyes narrowed ever so slightly as he observed her. She seemed determined to convince him that she was worth keeping around, and he was sure there were benefits to striking a deal with her as he once had with her father, but it was impossible to overlook the effect she was having on his son. On every account, this woman had changed the cautious, intelligent, self-controlled heir to the estate into a lovesick fool. That wasn’t something he could simply brush aside. If her presence put Vail’s life at risk, he wouldn’t tolerate it.

He parted his lips to repeat that she would be going home regardless of what the Wynters were doing, but another voice spoke up faster.

“I wasn’t lying when I said she was useful to our family, father,” Vail sat up in his chair, already predicting the negative answer Peter was going to give. He knew the paranoid vampire would only focus on the downsides of working with Lady Crest rather than consider the good things she had to offer. It was just the way he was. “I know you’re upset with us but just think about it. Are you really going to send her back to the Wynters, who want to have her blood weaponized when they attack our family? There’s no telling how long they’ve been scheming against us. We need to start poking holes in their plan, or they may very well run us into the ground this time.”

Peter pursed his lips, thinking it over. For all his faults, of which there seemed to be increasingly many, Vail was good at making him second guess his decisions. “I’ll think about it,” he conceded after a pause. It wasn’t a prelude to a yes or a no. There were too many factors to take into account before he would make up his mind, so for now, he wouldn’t give them an answer either way. “Get some rest, My Lady,” he said to Victoria. “Whatever happens, I still want you ready to leave as soon as you’re physically able.” Turning next to his son, he scowled warningly. “I have other matters to tend to right now, but I will be back later. You would do well to keep your distance from her while I’m gone.”

The Hygrace heir shifted his weight.

“Vail,” Peter prompted.

“Yes, father,” he submitted reluctantly.

“Good,” the clan leader nodded. Satisfied that there would be nothing for him to worry about while he cleaned up the mess his son had made, he exited the room, leaving the couple alone once again.
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Victoria could see she was chipping away at Peter’s cool exterior. Now she knew where Vail got his initial cold and quite serious personality from. She was reminded that this amazing and powerful vampire had fallen for a human like her. She was still in disbelief. As lucky as she felt to have his affections, she knew it could be short lived if Peter forced the marriage to this Sylvia woman. Not that Victoria wouldn’t fight for Vail, now she had a taste of his love, she wanted nothing and nobody else. But what could she do to a vampire? She didn’t have any formal training from The Saints in how to handle such a creature.

The moment Vail jumped to her defence against his own father, her heart swelled with affection for him. She was sure Peter would have noticed the rise in her pheromones at the same time. But wasn’t he happy that his son had found someone he cared about and whom cared about him, rather than his status or wealth? She may not have been a vampire or ‘worthy’ of his son but she seemed to make him at peace with himself when he was around her. They had only spent the one night together and it wasn’t a full night but of that time she spent in his arms, she felt at ease with him, safe and warm like no-one had made her feel since her father died.

She wasn’t looking for a replacement for Alexander Crest but she did sorely want a husband that had similar qualities. Someone full of honour and a sense of duty to her as their wife. Vail was beginning to resemble those qualities now by defending her honour and having a sense of duty in protecting her from the Wynters. He spoke sense to his father, he was able to reason with him somewhat. Yet as powerful as Vail was, he was still under his thumb. Peter must have had some influence over him despite how rebellious a son he was. But one day, Vail would be the clan leader and would need to command the other members of his family just as Peter did.

As Peter started to think over Vail’s words, Victoria felt a slight twinge of hope. Although he didn’t like what Vail had said, the threat of the Wynters appeared very real to him. She didn’t know what the score was between the two families, but it had seemed they had dealt with each other before. They had already done one over on the Hygraces in the past. At least he said he would think about it, it was a glimmer of a chance for her. However, he still wasn’t happy with Vail as his scorn was still present in his voice. Peter had warned him to stay away from Lady Crest. Vail didn’t seem too content with this instruction as he reluctantly agreed.

She sighed as Peter left the room. He still wanted her to be ready to leave once she was able. She stared down into her tea cup. The warm liquid had been reduced to a mere drop left in the bottom of the cup. She wasn’t shivering as much now and the warm tea had hydrated her blood to re-energise her for the time being. She felt hungry and tired as usual. Her body craved nutrients. She looked slowly up at Vail to where he sat. “The Wynters…they attacked your family before?” She enquired sympathetically. “You said they might run you into the ground ‘this time’. What did they do last time?” She was curious. If she wanted any chance to succeed in fighting them, she needed to know everything they were capable of and what they had done.
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Vail sank down in his chair as his father left the room, letting out his breath in a long exhale. Although it wouldn’t change his determination to defend Victoria, he disliked how much tension his involvement with her was causing for his family. Until he had met her, he and Peter had gotten along quite well. The clan leader would set rules, and he would obey them just like the rest of the Hygraces. Sometimes he pressed his father for more personal freedoms, such as his fondness for attending human events to get out of the manor, but arguments like the ones they’d been having recently had been few and far between. He could tell that Peter despised the conflict between them too. In fact, the fights had probably been even worse on the elder Hygrace since his son was supposed to be the next clan head. Now that he was starting to stray from the long kept traditions of their family, he was sure his father was starting to question his ability to lead the others.

His hazel eyes found the window, which wasn’t quite as dark now that the night was slowly coming to an end, and he yawned again. Normally he would be settling down to sleep right now, but he had given his word to Peter that he’d keep his distance from Victoria, who still laid on his bed. A small part of him was tempted to disregard the order and rest next to her anyway, but his respect for his father hadn’t degraded that much. Even though they disagreed about his feelings for a human woman, he believed the clan leader had been given his authority for a reason. If he wasn’t worthy of it, Reginald would have passed the title to his oldest son. That Peter’s name was the one outlined in the will was proof enough that he was a capable head of the estate. The heir didn’t want to cause any more unnecessary friction between them than he already had.

He was just pondering if he could find a comfortable enough position in the armchair to sleep when Victoria asked about the Wynters. Her question caught him off guard, and he stiffened. The incident she was inquiring about had happened long ago, but it was still a bit of a sore spot for him and the rest of the Hygraces. They prided themselves on being the most powerful vampire clan in England, so it was shameful to admit that the Wynters had nearly managed to best them once before. However, there was no good reason to avoid giving the curious Lady an answer. He looked up at her, pausing thoughtfully before he decided on a reply.

“They’ve tried to attack us a number of times,” he admitted, idly toying with a frayed string in the fabric of his armrest. “Mostly myself and my father, since either of our deaths would carve the deepest wound in our family’s chain of succession. They think we’re ‘cowards’ because we don’t go out of our way to kill humans or use our strength to help our kind rise up as the new apex species.” He shrugged. “But we believe dominating humans would cause more harm than good. Your people are stubborn and innovative, so trying to force you under our rule wouldn’t last forever. I’m sure one of you would come up with a plan or a new weapon to turn the tide in your favor, and we’d be back to square one. It’s just not worth the wasted bloodshed.”

Languidly, Vail stretched his legs and folded his arms over his midriff before going on: “The Wynters don’t agree with our rationale. That’s why—about… one hundred and thirty years ago?—they attacked us with the intent to kill all of the most powerful members of our clan, so they could take our place as the strongest vampires in England.” He lifted a hand to his throat. “You already know about our weakness to silver, but there’s one other way to kill a vampire: We can’t recover severed body parts. The former leader of the Wynters was a man named Elias, and he murdered all of my father’s siblings by cutting off their heads.” He dragged his index finger across his neck for emphasis and dropped his hand back into his lap.

“My father stopped him before he killed anyone else, but my uncle, the former head of our family, was among the slain,” he grimaced. The memory of the slaughter was still vivid in his mind whenever it came up. “It was fortunate that my father survived. If he hadn’t, the rest of us might have been forced to flee the country—and that’s only if the Wynters didn’t pick us off first. That’s why we detest them. They’re willing to put their lust for power above their own kind if it means they can get what they want. It’s vile.”

He leaned his head tiredly against the backrest of his chair. The subject of his family’s massacre was painful to dwell on. Even though he tried to be clinical in his description of it, it was impossible to completely separate out the abject horror of witnessing the brutality that had happened within the walls of his own home. His eyes wandered back to Victoria. “Based on everything you’ve told me, I’m certain they’re planning to try again. If I can get my father to understand that, he might be more accommodating to you.”
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Victoria couldn’t see Vail’s reaction in the dark, but she could sense the tension as soon as she asked the question. There was a pause before he answered. This meant it wasn’t a positive answer. She somewhat regretted asking the vampire now, but her curiosity couldn’t help but wonder. She was a seeker of knowledge. Knowledge was power. She held the bed covers over her shoulders as she snuggled down into it for more warmth.

As expected, the Wynters had attacked the Hygrace clan before. She suspected as much. It was an obvious sore spot for him and his father. It was true she hated being the subject of the father and son’s arguments today, it was clear Vail was uncomfortable being at odds with his father. She was the same when she was at odds with her father when he was alive.

Learning of what the Wynters had done to the Hygrace clan, left a sour taste in her mouth. She knew they were capable of despicable things. She positively cringed as he said that another way to kill vampire was by decapitation. They thought themselves higher and mightier than all other clans and when a clan didn’t quite match up to their standards, it was ‘off with their heads!’ just as the Queen of Hearts would yell in her favourite book as a child, Alice in Wonderland.

The incident was only 130 years ago, to a vampire that was only the equivalent to a decade to a human. It would still be fresh in their minds. She felt bad for the family. She knew what they were going through, as her family were now the victims of their wrath. Her father was most likely caught up in it all and when he found out, he refused to let The Order team up with them. He paid the price for not matching up to their standards. She knew all too well the Wynters would put their thirst for power above everything else. She detested them also.

She looked over at Vail solemnly. “Thank you for telling me…I know it wasn’t easy to dredge up painful memories.” She nodded as he assumed the Wynters would try again. “They are almost certainly trying again. They are building their power on MY blood.” She hissed at the thought that her blood was making them stronger. “According to The Order, they are coming to London within the month. I need to get better…and stronger by then.” She had no idea how she could get stronger in a short period but she would try. She wasn’t going to just sit there and let the Wynters take her estate. She owed it to her father.

“As for your father…I doubt he’ll come around any time soon. If I can make it worth his while though, I might be able to get him to at least tolerate me. Which is better than pure contempt for me…” She sighed as she felt her eyes drawing heavier. It was evident Peter tried his hardest to keep Vail away from her by arranging the marriage to another lady vampire. To get on Peter’s good side, she could find out more from The Order when she leaves for home and tell him everything she knows to at least pre-warn them into any impending attack from the Wynters. She knew Vail was already on her side but getting his entire family on board was no easy feat, but she was wiling to at least put in the effort. All for Vail Hygrace, the man who had stolen her heart.
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Vail merely nodded when Victoria thanked him for opening up. He didn’t like dwelling on what the Wynters had done to his family in the past, but there was no reason to keep her in the dark. Especially now that the rival clan was tearing her family apart just like they had done to his over a century ago. She deserved to know just how brutal the Wynters could be and what lengths they were willing to go to in order to get what they wanted. Perhaps she might even think of a way to spare the Crests the grief that had befallen the Hygraces. Humans were clever that way. He wouldn’t put it past her to think of a solution his kind had overlooked.

As she went on about her blood being used as the vampires’ weapon, he got up from his seat and ambled over to the chaise lounge to rest more comfortably. It was the closest he could get to sprawling on a bed, since he could at least lay down and put his feet up. As powerful as his kind was, they still needed to sleep just like any other living creature. He could tell he was starting to push his limits after staying awake into the early morning. It wouldn’t be much longer before he succumbed to his exhaustion.

“I don’t think physical strength is the answer,” he mused with a frown, tilting his head slightly as he thought about the dilemma. If they had only been up against Lord Spencer, getting stronger might have helped her, but she was facing the entire Wynter clan and the Order. What she needed was her wit. If she could think of a way to outfox them or even stay a step ahead, her family would have a fighting chance. The only problem was the timing of it all. If the other vampires really were coming to London in a month, she didn’t have long to prepare. He was unsure how much help he could offer too. Now that his father knew about the true nature of their relationship, he would never give his approval nor let him continue to involve himself in the other families’ affairs. His assistance might have been coming to an end whether he liked it or not.

“As long as you don’t make it ‘worth his while’ with your blood,” Vail objected when the Crest heiress spoke of his father. He didn’t know if Peter was interested in feeding on her, but tasting her blood had been the start of everything that had happened between them. It was what had coaxed him to return to her side until he had realized he was fond of more than just the sustenance she offered. Victoria was an alluring woman. He shuddered at the thought of his father discovering how special she was and deciding to claim her for himself.

“You said you would only be mine, and I’m still holding you to that,” he reminded her with another yawn, settling down on his side with his head propped on a decorative pillow. Being tall, his body was a bit too long to stretch out on the piece of furniture, and he had to tuck in his knees to fit. However, he was too tired to care about the inconvenience. With his back to the steadily brightening window, he wasn’t disturbed by the light either. He slipped one arm underneath the pillow and closed his eyes, starting to give in to the impulse to let go of consciousness.

“You should be safe enough here to rest,” Vail assured Victoria in a lowered voice. Even though his cousins had gone berserk at the first scent of her blood, his father had forbidden them from touching her. If any of them tried to disregard the order, he was a light enough sleeper that he would wake up and intervene on her behalf. “Sleep well, My Lady,” he murmured, fading as slumber claimed him. “Wake me if you need anything.”
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Being forewarned about the ruthlessness of the Wynters was enough to know how they operated, so Lady Crest could counter their power games, even by using her blood as a way to lure them right into a trap just as the Order had done to Vail in order to capture him. Luckily that plan had failed on Gerald and Vail managed to escape. Perhaps physical strength wasn’t the answer after all. Gerald knew his strength was no match for Vail so hatched a plan like a clever wolf taking out a bear. In the battle for apex predator in this planet’s food web, would always be vampire at the top but humans would defy them and fight for their position as previously at the peak. Like homosapiens considered themselves higher than Neanderthals.

She couldn’t rely on Vail’s help anymore if his father was so insistent on keeping his son away from the human he claimed to have fallen for. Although she wondered if he would hold the same interest if her blood wasn’t so addictive? That’s what lured him to her in the first place. He told her that he didn’t want her to make it worth his father’s while with her blood. His possessiveness over her was evident, especially when he reminded her she vowed to only be his and would hold her to that. Even if she didn’t want to be with Vail, he would still expect to feed on her. But their bargain came to an end when she released him of his duty to help kill Spencer. And it was truly over now Peter knew. She understood Vail didn’t want his father to take her away from him in any shape or form. If he did care for her, he wanted to be with her regardless of her blood being special or not.

She wasn’t exactly going to ‘dangle the carrot’ in front of Peter. If she would allow them her blood, it would be by the bottle as her father used to give out to keep the peace between them. It aided their refugees to heal instantaneously. When Alex died, so did his supply of blood to the doorstep. She listened to Vail fidget in his seat to get comfortable. She merely hummed an agreed yes to him in response as her fatigue threatened to render her asleep any moment. He said she would be ‘safe enough’ here. Although she wasn’t sure with the earlier altercation with his relatives. She wondered just how many vampires lived in here. It was like setting a chicken loose in a cage full of foxes.

As he told her to sleep well, he called her his Lady. It brought a small smile to herself to know he called her his. Would she really be his for much longer though? Peter had a good chance of taking Vail away from her and forcing him to marry Sylvia. Especially if he threatened to kill Victoria. She murmoured a ‘thank you’ as he told her to wake him if she needed anything. Just hearing that made her feel reassured that he cared about her welfare. She drifted into slumber before long.

Victoria woke with a startle as she awoken from a nightmare. She had dreamed that Lord Spencer had gotten into this room and sank is fangs into her neck to drain her dry. She gasped and felt a cold sweat dripping from her forehead. She was slightly feverish. Her neck throbbed even worse. She touched it, it was more inflamed, and the wound area had grown. She shut her eyes tightly and knew it was infected. “Oh no...” She started to cough as her immune system didn’t have enough white blood cells to fight off the bacteria, she was already sick. She would need antibiotics. And quickly.
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Although the chaise lounge wasn’t as comfortable as his bed, Vail slept soundly in the hours between his conversation with Victoria and her awakening in the late afternoon. He had a few fleeting dreams throughout his slumber, but none were vivid enough to remember, so it felt like he hadn’t had any when he was roused by the sound of her cough. He sat up with a yawn, blinking blearily against the light that poured in through his bedroom windows. It was earlier than he normally woke, so he was slightly disoriented until he remembered what had happened the night before and who was in the room with him.

With the memory came the abrupt realization that the cough that had drawn him back to consciousness had come from Victoria. Suddenly feeling much more awake, he got up from the cushioned furniture to check on her, concerned about her condition. He didn’t even have to look at her face to know that she’d become ill. The malodor of sickness permeated the air around them. It was a smell that was both familiar and foreign to his kind, since they were immune to human ailments but sometimes used the scent to distinguish inadequate prey. Sick humans had a higher white blood cell count, which meant less iron and vital nutrients for the predators who fed on them. Even though they were easier targets because of their waning energy, vampires often ignored them in favor of healthier victims whose blood was more satisfying to drink.

Of course, none of that mattered now, since Vail had no intention of feeding on the woman in his bed. He reclined on the edge of the mattress, examining her pale face with a frown. As one who had never been unwell in all his long life, he couldn’t tell how serious her affliction was nor knew how he could help her feel better. He wasn’t sure if his father would know how to approach the situation either, since the Hygraces had always treated other vampires. As far as he knew, the subject of diseases was unknown to all of them.

Looking at her in this condition, with her feverish skin and inflamed wound, it struck Vail just how fragile humans really were. He had already understood their mortality to some degree, but this was the first time he had been invested enough in a human’s wellbeing to realize how easily their lives could be stolen away from them. Last night, he had been determined to get her medical attention because it was what he’d thought she needed to recover. Today, it looked like the work Peter had put in hadn’t done much to help her at all. He felt a flutter of worry in his stomach, unsure what the unexpected dip in her recuperation would mean. He was aware that he wouldn’t be able to hold onto her forever, since she would only live for a fraction of his natural lifetime, but he was afraid of having their time together cut even shorter.

A distressed expression painted his features as the Hygrace heir located her hand beneath the blankets. Her fingers felt clammy from the sickness. A mortal man might have kept his distance to avoid the contagion, but being what he was, he ran no risk of catching the disease that plagued her. “Victoria, is there anything I can do to help you?” he asked, brushing her hair away from her forehead with his free hand. He didn’t want to leave her alone while his cousins were stalking her like a pack of wolves, but if she was in danger, he was willing to get whatever she needed. “I can even fetch my father if you think he would be able to do more than I can.”
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Angel Vicky The Angel of Valhalla

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Victoria looked up weakly as Vail got off the chaise lounge to come to her bedside. Her eyelids appeared heavy. Her eyes were unfocused and slightly glazed over, they no longer had a twinkle behind them that suggested an intelligence that dwelled within. She was tired and weak, more than yesterday. The root cause was Spencer, however Vail’s feed on her last night only accelerated her condition.

She could see the pity in his eyes as he looked her over. Had he never seen a sick human before? It was the same look of how she would look at a sick pet dog. Something smaller, weaker and that relied on her. Vampires were obviously immune to all human disease and infection. A gift most humans would kill for. Who wouldn’t want their life extended, no sickness, always healthy? But for someone like Vail, it may be a curse having lived so long for so little quality and human interactions in society had to be brief. Now she saw a glimpse of fear behind those usually steeled eyes. Fear of losing her to illness. It was always a risk for vampires, probably why they were so discouraged to bond with them.

Peter may have slowed the infection by cleaning the outer wound, but the bacteria had already entered her blood stream and she could even be on the verge of sepsis. As his hand located her hand beneath the blanket, she smiled meekly. She didn’t like to show vulnerability to anyone but to Vail, she didn’t mind so much. She would let him see her in that state and only him. As he asked her the question if he could do anything, she focused hard on his words to understand, then shook her head. She took a breath and coughed into her free hand. Even his father wasn’t able to help unless he was a trained medical professional. Which she wasn’t really sure he was. Vampires had no need for doctors.

Se took a breath to speak. “I-..” She entered a coughing fit that eventually turned into gasping for air. “Need….doctor.” She panted with exhaustion as she felt hot and sweaty but her skin was cold to the touch. She attempted to push away the bed covers and she respirated quickly as if she appeared to be too warm. “Human…Doctor.” She took a few breaths. “I think I….need penicillin.” She pointed to her sore neck. “Might have…sepsis.” She gasped and coughed again. Although there was one thing he could do for her. She looked up at him with ‘puppy dog eyes’ as it were. “Could I….have water…please?” She needed to keep her intake of fluids up. Dehydration would only add to the myriad of medical problems she faced right now.
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