A Stone-Kissed Sea: Prologue
His face swam in and out of Makeda’s vision. Not him. He couldn’t be the last thing she saw.
Chipped granite eyes in a coldly handsome face. Hard eyes. Hard face. Planed and ancient like the earth he controlled. Ancient eyes. Young face. His shaggy, rain-soaked hair dripped water onto her lips. She closed them as another stab of pain hit her chest.
“Doctor Abel,” he said, “stay awake. Emergency services are on their way.”
Images swam to the surface of Makeda’s mind. Her mother laughing in the kitchen and her father behind his desk. The sun setting over the ocean near their home on the Puget Sound. She could hear the crashing water that reached the cliffs in this place she loved and hated.
Love and hate.
Like two beings struggling beneath her skin.
Always always always.
Torn in two. Something in her was so torn.
“Makeda!” She took a sharp breath when he slapped her. The quick breath hurt so badly she felt the tears come. They wet her cheeks like the mist that rolled off the ocean. She could hear it. Hear the tide going out.
No. No, she was too far. Too far from the sea.
Her heart. It pulsed in her ears, surging then falling off. Waves receding.
“Makeda, stay awake.”
“I know it hurts.” Another slap. Harder this time. “Stay awake, dammit!”
Not him. She didn’t want to see him. She was dying, and it was his fault. Makeda felt him bend over, put his mouth at her ear, his breath cold because he couldn’t be bothered to heat it. Couldn’t be bothered with even a semblance of humanity to comfort her. She wanted her mother. Her sisters. She wanted home.
“Yene konjo,” he whispered, “you may hate me, but I will not let you die.”
Unbidden, old images came to her, aching scenes from her childhood. Mountains rising above the mist, sweeping ranges covered by a blanket of green. Raw beauty covered by dense clouds and a sky pregnant with rain.
She felt it falling on her cheeks. Her forehead. Her lips.
Another slap to her cheek, but Makeda decided not to breathe. Not this time.
It hurt too much.
Baojia knelt next to Lucien, surprised to find the usually composed doctor in a silent panic. When he knelt down and examined the human, he understood why. The woman’s body was a crumbled heap. She’d been dragged away from the wreckage of the Jeep, which had spun out on the wet roads, the vehicle tumbled on its side and wrapped around a tree that lay on the drenched ground, as broken as the human lying in the mud.
Lucien began to administer CPR.
“The ambulance will not get here in time,” Baojia said quietly. “Lucien—”
“I’ve stabilized her as much as I can, but she’s lost too much blood.” Lucien didn’t take his eyes off the woman. Didn’t stop the chest compressions or the respiration. “She needs blood. I can’t do anything more without it and we don’t have enough at the clinic. We don’t…” A strangled laugh burst from his throat. “We don’t have enough blood! How can we be short of blood?”
The blood they kept at the clinic was preserved blood for vampire sustenance or samples for laboratory testing. None of it could be transfused into a human. No one had planned for donor blood. They hadn’t thought there was a need.
Lucien said, “The ambulance will get here in time.”
Baojia put a hand on Lucien’s shoulder. “My friend—”
“NO!” Lucien shoved Baojia’s hand away. The vampire’s face turned feral and his fangs dropped. He looked toward the muddy road that led to the isolated compound on the Northern California coast, his eyes searching.
Nothing but sheets of rain blanketing the isolated cliffs that jutted over the sea. The storm had rolled in suddenly and brought high winds and a deluge.
“This is my fault,” he said.
“It was an accident.”
“This is my…” Lucien’s eyes turned from wild to calculating in a second. “I call.”
“What?” Baojia’s eyes widened. “No.”
“That’s not the deal. No questions, remember? No obligations. I’m calling. Do it now.”
Everything honorable in Baojia rebelled at the thought. “She doesn’t want this. We both know that.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Lucien said. “She was coming here tonight because she said she’d had a breakthrough.”
“A breakthrough? This is about more than the Elixir. She did not want to be a vampire, Lucien.”
Lucien grabbed him by the throat and Baojia felt the earth rise up and grip his legs. He was reminded in a heartbeat that the immortal in front of him wasn’t just a healer with stunning intellect, but an ancient killer, one with thousands of years of survival behind him.
“You will change her,” Lucien said calmly. “We have a deal. Do it now because she is dying. Do it now, Baojia.”
Baojia hesitated a fraction of a second before he saw something in his friend’s eyes.
Something he recognized.
He shoved Lucien back and let his fangs fall. He felt the earth around his legs fall away as he picked up the body of the tall woman who had become a respected colleague—a friend—and put his teeth to her neck.
From that night on, she’d be far more than a colleague or a friend.
She would be his immortal child.
Baojia struck quickly. Makeda’s heartbeat was already faltering. He would have to be very, very fast. He could feel Lucien watching his every move, feel the ancient vampire’s focused attention.
“I give you my word, Baojia,” he said quietly, “I’ll kill her myself if she hates this life. I promise you. But right now, I need her mind.”
Oh, my friend. Baojia said nothing as he drained the blood from Doctor Makeda Abel’s body. You need far more than that.
Copyright 2016, Elizabeth Hunter
All Rights Reserved.