Prologue

Three groups of predators have rested atop this world’s food chain for several thousand years. One reigns supreme, another exists as prey. The third hovers somewhere between: neither one nor the other, yet containing DNA from both.

DemiVamps are completely unaware of their own existence and that of the most ferocious of predators, the vampire.

By their sheer numbers, Homo Sapiens should dominate. By dint of age, wisdom, and abilities, Specius Vampirus prevails. DemiVamps lose out on all counts as their numbers range from several thousand to several hundred, depending on the time period. They have neither the abilities nor the life spans of their vampire forefathers.

If they have an advantage over humanity, it exists in one malformed gene of which they’re totally unaware. For each such gene, a match exists. The mathematical probability of such an encounter, however, is astronomical.

Should such a rare encounter occur, one simple yet crucial step remains for both DemiVamps involved to attain their ultimate destiny, that of becoming the most rare and deadly of all predators, the vampire.

DemiVamp

This step is simply a kiss.

Once again, the Law of Averages is against them. Many indefinable characteristics dictate the existence (or lack thereof) of that most basic interaction, attraction. The variables are endless, but age, race, and gender top the list.

In 754 BC Egypt, an infant came into contact with an octogenarian.

Fail.

During the American Civil War, a slave was bought by a wealthy plantation owner.

Fail.

During the Roaring Twenties, somewhere in the world two similar individuals crossed paths: ages, intelligence, goals – all matched. For the

first time in ages, the Clan had hope, but  they reckoned without a certain entirely-human inclination.

Both individuals were heterosexual women.

Fail…

Chapter 1:            Chella: The Maybes

Maybe, maybe, maybe… as Chella Isaacs raced to prepare for the debutante ball in less than two hours, her mind wasn’t on the lovely blue off-the-shoulder gown she’d be wearing, nor on the seemingly-endless list of steps to complete before walking out the door. Her thoughts were far away, on a different time, a different place.

She’d been seventeen and preparing for a ball then as well, but any similarities ended there. Instead of her current curly black mop, she’d had long, golden hair that fell nearly to her waist as well as her vivid violet eyes circled by black that were the only unchanging elements throughout the ages. In that age, her hair had been her crowning glory as her skin had been marred by childhood pox. Her beauty in this current age was both a bonus and a bane: with great beauty comes great responsibility.

This she had learned in high school when leadership roles, grades, men, women, even tips when she

waitressed one summer – all had fallen at her feet. Lesser souls simply benefit. Chella used it to benefit others. As class president, her first official act was to abolish three words: ‘fat,’ ‘geek,’ and ‘jock.’ Did it change the world? No. But years later, some would pull out their high school year books and wonder at all the marriages that had resulted from that senior class.

Not only had she not married, she had yet to – no, she’d not think of that embarrassing fact on a night like this!

Now she leaped into the shower and began lathering her hair mechanically, thoughts of those dang maybes threatening to drag her into a familiar depression. This was her fourth life, her fourth journey on earth. Her recollection of the previous three was as vivid as if they’d happened yesterday. So much so that as a child she’d been dragged from one psychiatrist to the next, until she’d learned to keep her mouth shut.

“I got doll just like this for Christmas, but she was wood, Mama!”

“My other parents got me a pony! They had horses too. There weren’t any cars…”

Voicing such thoughts had led to nothing but misery. At four or five years old, it wasn’t a simple thing for her to keep her mouth shut. She’d had to learn the hard way: first an array of tests including many needles and large machines, then those irritating psychiatrists. One after the next.

Now she rinsed her hair and rubbed in moisturizer as she recalled the birth of the ‘maybes.’ Very young, she’d felt that something was missing, had even asked her parents if she’d been adopted, thinking maybe she had a brother or sister she didn’t know about. They’d laughed at her.

Lesson number two: keep the maybes to herself as well. As she’d grown, those feelings had intensified as memories of the same sentiments in previous lives returned to her.

The sadness, the longing for something that she didn’t then understand. She shivered under the damp towel, remembering one such time. Possibly the worst.

It was late summer in 1832, and her name had been Sarah Adcock. Samuel Adcock was her husband, but at 16 she’d had no choice in the matter.

Under their strict Mormon religion, one married whom one’s parents chose: no other way. Would she have willingly tied herself to an overweight man three times her age, who believed women were no better than the rib they’d come from? There to support a man, take beatings, and if they broke from time to time, too bad.

There was no cure.

At 24, she’d been married six years; six grinding, agonizing years of non-stop work, harsh treatment, and that visceral longing which made no sense at all.

Night after night, she lay beside her snoring husband, as far away as she could get. One leg nearly slid off the side of the bed. Better than his loathsome touch, awake or asleep. She’d stare at the dark ceiling, hearing horses rustle in the barn below, an owl hoot, the sound nearly as sad and lonely as she felt for if today had been dreadful, tomorrow would be worse.

And every tomorrow after that.

She’d soundlessly slipped out of bed, moved to the hall. To the square in the ceiling, where the head of a rope extruded. It took several leaps, for Sarah was a small woman. But success at last when the old square squeaked down and the folded ladder hung within reach.

Then she was in the dusty attic, her bare feet leaving a trail directly to a window through which the town’s narrow, cobblestoned street wound past the apothecary across the street. It was a dispiriting view, but she’d not come for that.

She’d come to ensure that tomorrow never would.

Unlatching the window, for the first time in ages she felt light, as if good things were just around the corner. As if she were young again, and Father had held her hand as they walked to her very first day in church.

She closed her eyes, leaning against the cool panes for just a moment. What would it be like, to be dead? Would she end up in an everlasting, flaming Hell as the preacher claimed?

Would she still return for an unknowable life sometime in the future, when at last those maybes would become a certainty and she’d meet The One?

In all her lives, the maybes had existed, the feeling that something was lacking, missing. Something precious that maybe could be found. Her past two lives had narrowed it down somewhat: she now felt that “something” had to be a person, a man the same as she.

Finally she’d know what real love was, what it felt like to simply walk next to a stream hand in hand, feeling perfect happiness, needing nothing more.

Sle lifted her face from the cold pane, returned to that abhorrent bed.

Maybe someday such a bed would be a joy beyond knowing.

Maybe.

…What would it be like, to be dead? Would she end up in an everlasting, flaming Hell as the preacher claimed?