The Vampire Katya
Second in the Véradó series
Set against a modern Venetian backdrop, a beautiful vampire recounts details of her turbulent past to a mortal by the name of Alessandro.
Alessandro Knight is a Véradó–a mortal willing to part with his blood to sustain a coven of vampires. With his dreams haunted by her beauty, he has crossed the continent in search of the Hungarian vampire known simply as Katya.
With her rich history unfolding through a series of dreams and discussions, Alessandro finds himself impulsively drawn to her and longs to be the one to sustain her. But Katya is a hunter, cold and impassive, and Alessandro soon realises that to win her heart it will take more than just blood.
Chapter One – Colloquium
For months, Alessandro Knight had been waiting for this moment to arrive.
Even before she entered the room her presence was all around him. The atmosphere was ethereal, and to Alessandro, the air seemed to have thinned. Was it his imagination? He didn’t know, but he did know he was finding it hard to breathe. Fiddling with the top button of his shirt, he struggled to negotiate the tiny plastic disk as he forced it through the little hole.
“Get a grip,” he whispered.
As he glanced around the room, his eyes, along with everyone else’s, were drawn toward the glass doors as the tall, slender vampire entered. Her silvery skin enhanced her graceful features, and she headed toward the bar moving with a motion so smooth it appeared ghostly.
Ignoring all the other patrons within the establishment, she headed directly toward Alessandro. As she approached her crimson lips parted slightly, and there was nothing Alessandro could do to prevent his jaw falling open. Captivated by the depth of her eyes and her clear ability to delve into his soul with a single glance, he tried in vain to look away.
With a merciless confidence the vampire offered him her hand. As her lips curved, her eyes narrowed, catching dancing reflections from the lights of the bar.
“Good evening—you must be Alessandro. My name is Katya. I understand that you’ve been looking for me.” Her words were heavily accented with a lilt he instantly recognised as Hungarian—just as anticipated.
With his voice momentarily lost to him, Alessandro simply nodded and gestured toward the fireplace and the two empty wingback chairs situated within its calming glow. It was an opulent hotel lounge bar with plush burgundy leather adorning every soft furnishing. Oak panelling clung enduringly to the surrounding walls, culminating into a brass-trimmed oak bar.
Katya sank into the chair reserved for her adjacent to the exuberant inglenook. She glanced around the room, appearing to take in every detail with one fleeting glance.
Alessandro assumed Katya had chosen the Hotel Rialto for their meeting, as the clientele were of a high standard—a wealth that would make her feel comfortable. These people would be too proud to stare; too proud to make the obvious comparison between themselves and the unnatural beauty positioned by the crackling fireside.
Alessandro was tall and his build, slender. He was dressed in a mid-grey Versace suit, teamed with a crisp white cotton shirt—an outfit far more suited to a business meeting than an encounter of this nature. He had a nervous habit of running his fingers through his thick, brown hair—a habit he had unconsciously implemented several times since Katya had walked through the door and into his life.
Clutching a bottle of Château Lafite-Rothschild and two lead crystal glasses, Alessandro made his way toward her. The wine was Lurid Red; it had to be red, after all, he knew red was the only colour this being could ever, and would ever, be interested in.
Setting the glasses on the table between them, he glanced at her face, almost afraid to catch her eyes for fear of what lurked behind them.
Without speaking, he uncorked the bottle and the loud pop sent shockwaves through his nervous system. Determined not to reveal any weakness to this being, he poured the wine. A low drone emanated from the people around the bar as they spoke quietly among themselves, trying their hardest not to glance over at her. Trying—but all to often failing.
“You don’t know how much I have wanted to meet you.” Alessandro’s voice wavered as his eyes flitted up to meet hers. She was more beautiful in the flesh than he could possibly have imagined. Her skin, although pale, was flawless. Long, raven tresses spilled over her willowy shoulders and down to the arc of her back. With obvious ease, she wore a black satin evening dress, enhanced by a sumptuous silver-grey fur stole, intended to keep out the worst of the weather on such a bitter winter’s evening. Huge silver bracelets adorned each wrist and her lips were painted in the richest red—a shocking contrast to her pallid skin tone. Alessandro could just about make out the labyrinth of dark veins running beneath the skin of her jaw and neck. The fine black lines betrayed the darkness of the blood that filled them.
Catching his reflection in a large wall-mounted mirror, once again he raked his fingers through his hair. His skin was lucid—pale but with a hint of colour to his cheekbones and brow, displaying the classic appearance of a Véradó—a willing blood donor to a coven of vampires. Although he was used to keeping the company of immortals, his eyes were wide with apprehension because this vampire was not a part of his assigned coven, and he knew he was placing himself at her mercy.
“Oh, I think I do,” Katya replied smoothly, her mouth hinting toward a smile as she stared at him unblinking. “I am aware of the situation, Alessandro. I have been tracking your intentions for some time—only now have I allowed you to find me. I have decided there is a certain amount of information I am willing to divulge to you but only because of the experiences you’ve already had with my kind.”
“You know about those?” Although intrigued, he feared her surprising upper hand in the situation. A fear he knew he’d have to get used to if he was to remain in her company.
“Yes I do. There is little my brothers have done that I am not aware of.”
“But I thought they hadn’t seen you for almost a year? I was told you had abandoned them in Athens shortly after the break up of your coven in Crete.”
“That may be so, but my connection with them is unbroken—unyielding. I am a part of them and always will be. It seems to me you still have a lot to learn about our kind.” Holding her glass up to the firelight, she took in the depth of the colour, before taking a sip and fabricating a look of pleasure. “Tell me, Alessandro—why do you seek me?”
As his eyes flickered up to meet hers, her medusa stare ripped right through him. Try as he might, he couldn’t maintain eye contact. Why am I doing this? It was a question he’d asked himself many times. “I don’t know. It’s just something I’ve needed to do. Ever since meeting the twins—Joshua and Joel, I have been obsessed with finding you; with your life—your history and with the secrets you keep hidden—even from your family.”
“And why do you think I would divulge this information to you—a stranger to me, knowing full well I have not even spoken of it to my own family?” A degree of ferocity seeped through her quiet words.
“I believe you will—otherwise you wouldn’t have led me here and let me find you.”
She looked at him and glanced away, her smile revealing her amusement at his anxiety. She bit her lip and glanced into the fire, and the flames licked greedily at the reflection in her eyes.
“Your words hold an element of truth. I have known for a while that you sought me. Your exact reasons are as yet unknown, but I shall trust you. Your blood coursing through my veins will allow me that confidence.”
As he choked on his wine, Alessandro glanced around to make sure no one had noticed. Placing the glass back on the table, he forced himself to look deeply into her eyes. Katya’s irises were the palest of blues and encircled her huge black pupils. He could see his own reflection drowning in darkness and for a moment lost almost all awareness of his surroundings. The only thing he could discern was the incredible being in front of him, and at that moment, he would have done anything she’d asked.
As she continued, her tone became more austere. “If you want answers, Alessandro, I will be the one to give them to you. But there is just one thing I need to do before I can. Please…may I take your hand?”
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