To Curse the Darkness
Children of Night: Book 6
Available at Entangled Publishing.
Humans talk about love as though it were the only thing that mattered. Vampires know better. Love is a strong root. It runs deep. It resists frost and drought and is capable of surviving decades or sometimes even centuries of neglect or abuse. Even after all that, if given even the smallest bit of encouragement, love is always willing to send up another green shoot of hope.
Love is tough. It endures. That's part of its beauty, what makes it so important. Trust, on the other hand--that fragile flower with its sweet perfume--is a far less hardy specimen and much more difficult to cultivate.
Once damaged, in even the slightest degree, it can be very difficult to coax trust back to full health. It's susceptible to cold. It's easily stunted. It's prone to an early death. All of which would be bad enough on its own, of course, because without trust the world is a bleaker and more colorless place. But it's seldom the damage stops there.
A lack of trust is one of the few things capable of blighting even the deepest love. It can turn love bitter, can twist it into something evil, ugly, obsessive. It's an insidious change, one that often appears to strike without warning. In many cases, you may not even realize it's happening until you wake up one evening to discover you've somehow unintentionally destroyed everything you once held dear.
From downstairs, on the ground floor, came the not-unexpected sound of the front door slamming shut. Pounding footsteps crossed the foyer, climbed the stairs and then stormed down the hallway, heading unerringly toward the study where Conrad waited, a crystal goblet, still half-filled with blood, clutched in his hand. He looked up as the door to the study was thrust open so violently it crashed against the wall. A fine shower of dust rained down from the ceiling. Conrad assessed the damage wearily, noting the new cracks in the plaster. Wonderful. He was going to have to have that fixed now too. Then his eyes tracked back to the doorway. A faint, ironic grimace curled his lips. "Hello, Marc. Come in. I've been expecting you."
"Where is she? I want to see her. Now."
"She's not here."
"If you've hurt her... Damn it, if anyone's so much as touched her, I swear, I'll..."
Conrad shook his head. "Marc. Calm yourself."
"Calm?" A low growl broke from Marc's lips and he took several hasty steps forward before managing to rein himself in. He stopped, breathing hard. When he spoke, his voice still shook with rage. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't kill you right the fuck now."
"Marcus!" Damian appeared in the doorway behind Marc, his face ashen. "Such language! Stop it at once."
He was breathing quickly as he closed the door and advanced into the room. Marc paid him no attention. His gaze remained locked with Conrad's. "Well?"
Conrad had stilled. Even the beast was quiescent, as though caught off-guard by Marc's query. There were many reasons Conrad would prefer Marc not kill him. But might any of them be termed good? He was not entirely certain.
Nor was he in the habit of bargaining for his life. Indeed, he could recall having done so only once before. Given all the many, many times he'd repented that decision, he wondered if it was worth it to even try and come up with an answer this time around. Why not say nothing, instead? Why not order Damian to stand down, and let Marc kill him?