When Dottie awoke, she was disoriented. Something had attacked her, made her feel violently ill. So ill she thought the was dying. And she was pretty sure she did.
But if this was the afterlife, why was Aeden in it? And the good looking man in a very expensive suit Dotty met at Aeden’s store? Looking around herself, Dotty could see she was in a large, comfortable bed. She must have been cleaned up, too, because her face was no longer sticky with drying blood. Heavy curtains blocked any outside light, but somehow she knew it was night.
Dottie’s lips tingled some like the way they did when she used the expensive lip balm. Only, when she licked them, it tasted like nothing she’d ever experienced before. It was delicious, invigorating, thrilling — it was like sex, if raw, thrumming power could be as good as sex.
It also awakened a hunger for more deep inside her, prodding at her and urging her to find more. That felt like a soul-deep ache she knew would eventually grow into an imperative. But right now, there were two people nearby that she could instinctively sense were like her, whatever that meant.
One she could feel a bone-deep connection to. That was the man named Dorien Green. Oh god, something about him made her go weak in the knees and think about that tingling on her lips.
The other she recognized as Aeden. He was there, too, at the warehouse when… when that thing attacked. But now she recognized him better than she had before. Aeden wasn’t like Dorien, but he was in some way like her. Not like a sibling or immediate family but it felt like… a cousin perhaps?
Aeden had come with Dorien to the Green estate. The annoying, angry squawking of his ghostly “friend” over Aeden’s “escape” had finally ceased, allowing him to be capable of carrying on a meaningful conversation. As of yet, they hadn’t discussed anything of importance yet. Aeden had the impression Dorien was waiting for Dottie to awaken.
The fact that Dottie was very clearly dead didn’t seem to concern Mr. Green whatsoever. The care he’d taken with Dottie’s transport and when he’d carried her into the house was tender enough to almost make Aeden believe she was only asleep and not dead. Almost.
And then she stirred awake and suddenly Aeden was very certain Dottie wasn’t really Dottie anymore. She was like Dorien. And Kin to himself.
Aeden watched in silence, a silence that started as fear, faded into shock, and finally became curiosity. He had always had an unhealthy interest in the occult, one that death itself had not assuaged.
Now he found himself surrounded by silence and really wanting to talk but could not find the words.
“What the hell?!” Screamed through his mind while the other side said “nothing you haven’t seen before.”
He watched as Dottie rose from the bed, that coppery taste returning to his mouth. They were something else, something he might not want to be around, but then he thought about that thing and fear gripped him again as he shivered.
“Hey there Dottie” he paused momentarily, “how do you feel?”
Dottie sat up, and smoothed her hands through her hair out of habit. She looked around the room, intently, taking in every detail that she must not have noticed before. How did she not notice how the light plays off of silk, dancing like the lights on water? And what about how the fabric of her dress caressed her skin like the most experienced lover?
She unconsciously licked her lips, far more sensuously than was her intention. The taste that was still there was heaven to her tastebuds. It was a taste completely unfamiliar to her, like a fine wine paired with decadent chocolate.
After what seemed like an eternity of reveling in her awakened senses, she looked at the two gentlemen in the room. “Hello there,” she purred. “I feel marvelous! And how are you gentlemen doing?” She smiled, licking her lips again, without even realizing it.
A small smile flickered across Dorien’s face. “Very good. I was just about say how terribly sorry I am that my friends and I were unable to arrive in time to save you from your untimely demise at the hands of… whatever that thing was.” He watched her carefully and not unsympathetically as his words sank in. Dottie had a great deal to process, perhaps an overwhelming amount of information to process right now, and he’d known new Childer to snap under such strain.
“I took the liberty of arranging for fresh clothes.” He smiled and his eyes gleamed with merry mischief. “Of course Miss Tanner handled that. You’ll meet her later. For now, I’m sure you have questions.
It occurred to Dottie she was not wearing the same clothes she remembered wearing before. It was something green and sheer worn over a white slip that preserved her modesty yet was very comfortable.
Dottie looked down at the dress she was now wearing, and she saw the minute details of how finely the threads were woven. It started to sink in to her, that she could not discern such detail before. She wrinkled her eyebrows together, in a confused way, and looked up into her benefactor’s eyes.
“Demise? I died?” She was obviously confused. How could someone die and still be moving around, or…warm? “I think I’m going to need a stiff drink and an explanation.” Her self-coping kicked in, and a wry smile worked its way to her lips, “Do I get to keep the dress?”
Dorien’s smile widened a bit with humor. “It’s yours. Wear it as much as you like.” Then he grew more serious. “And yes, you died. I wish it were otherwise. It’s much better for you in terms of the shock of all the changes, if I could have spoken to you about it ahead of time. But in truth I hadn’t planned on what happened. I’d hoped to engage you as a contact. With you as an FBI agent and with my connections in town, we could have had a powerful alliance.
“My friends and I, as I mentioned, arrived too late to save you from the thing that killed you. I heard your heart beat its last as I brought you back to us. As I was discussing with Aeden, my friends and I decided to do this because given what we are up against, we are going to need your help, and that of all your friends. So instead of permitting you all to rest in peace, we brought you back. One day, you will avenge your murder.
“But first you must begin to understand what you are.” Dorien began slowly walking. Every statement brought closer to her. “You are no longer human. You are a Childe of the night, my Childe, and I your Sire. We together are Kindred. You will never grow older, your power will be unmatched by any mortal, and every year you live, your influence will grow. You need fear only fire and the sun.” Dorien stopped with his face inches from hers. His cool hands were on her shoulders. “And others of our kind.”
After an extended moment, Dorien smiled again and turned away. He walked back to his chair at the table with Aeden and gestured an invitation for Dottie to join them. “Aeden and I were just discussing his role in all this. His eyewitness account of what happened before I arrived has been fascinating.”
Aeden watched Dottie with calm composure. After hours of fear and uncertainty, he had finally calmed his nerves again.
As the “new” Dottie made her way to the table her hips swayed a bit more as she walked, her eyes held a gleam of lust, and her voice..Aeden blinked to clear his mind.
What am I doing here? This guy is obviously strong, I mean raw power is dripping off him as well as.. Aeden’s heart skipped a beat when he looked at Dorian. He took a drink of water to soothe his suddenly dry mouth. I have no idea how to get out of this, if I should get out of this? I need help but… I am not like them.. I feel like I—
His thoughts cut off as Dottie took a seat at the table. He smiled for them both and poured himself a stronger drink.