The following vampire story by Tiffany Anderson-Taylor won second place in our Jane Lovering Fangfiction competition 2014.
Congratulations Tiffany on winning a signed copy of Hubble Bubble.
The stillness of the night was abruptly shattered by the sound of rapid footfalls and the scent of rage and fear on the wind.
Cassie Callahan gasped for air, but didn’t dare stop as she ran down the deserted sidewalk. One minute, she was living her normal, predictable life as she headed to her car after a routine late night at work. The next, she was running down an abandoned street after hearing a growl and looking up to see a pair of red eyes glowing with murderous intent in the darkness.
Come on, come on, she urged her tiring legs. Turning a corner, she ran faster.
Suddenly, a huge black shape dropped down from the sky onto the sidewalk before her. Screaming in fright, she tried to dodge this new threat, catching a glimpse of wicked-sharp fangs, but was swept up into a pair of arms that felt like iron bars.
Settle, little one. I mean you no harm. A deep voice whispered the words into her mind as Cassie struggled to get away from her captor. She froze in shock as the large male wrapped his cloak securely around her, then rapidly took to the sky.
She heard the thing that had been chasing her scream its rage as it was denied its reward. Cassie clutched the male, shuddering, as the lights of the city fell away beneath them. She was not normally a coward, but this whole horrifying night was starting to take its toll.
Zylek breathed a sigh of relief as he carefully held the female in his arms. He pulled her closer, taking care that her fragile skin was protected against the cold chill of the night sky.
Zylek had first seen Cassie in a coffee shop late one night about two weeks prior. Something about her scent had called to him. As he got closer, he had stilled in disbelief to see the birthmark on her nape beneath her upswept golden hair, in the shape of wings holding a pentacle.
Only Lifemates, the human females fated for the Cognatio, the Vampire Nation, bore that mark. Vampires were born, not made, and only Lifemates could bear the seed of a vampire. And there had not been a Lifemate found for over 500 years.
For centuries, the Lifemates were hunted by the Lost, the monsters created when a hell-demon poisoned a vampire. The Lost wanted to destroy the Cognatio, the guardians of the mortal world, so they could rule instead and enslave all humans.
Destroying the Cognatio Lifemates also meant that no more vampires could be born. For over half a millennium, it was believed all of the Lifemates had been lost.
Zylek had brushed against her in the coffee shop, using the contact to scan her mind. Her name was Cassandra Callahan and she was an accountant. At age 16, she had left the foster care system where her abandonment as a baby had placed her, and worked while she finished high school. She then put herself through college and had been working at her present company for six years.
A strong and fitting mate for the King of the Vampire Nation.
Thank the Goddess Zylek had embedded a tendril of his life force within her that night and had been able to sense her fear. It hadn’t been his intention to capture his Lifemate like this, in a haze of fear and fury, but the Lost had forced his hand tonight. Now, she was safe in his arms where she belonged.
He brought Cassie to his lair, a beautiful Victorian at the edge of town. He landed on the top balcony and carried his Lifemate through the French doors into his dark bedroom. As he unwrapped her, he lit candles with his mind, watching as the illumination turned her hair to spun gold.
Cassie stilled when she looked up at the huge male holding her, recognizing him as the man to whom she had been uncharacteristically drawn in the coffee shop several weeks ago. He was well over six feet tall, with raven hair pulled back with a tie and amber eyes that looked at her with heat and purpose.
She hadn’t been able to stop thinking about him since. What were the chances he would be the one to save her from that … that thing? She looked at him with questions in her blue eyes.
“My name is Zylek, Cassie,” he said gently. “I am King of the Cognatio, the Vampire Nation. You were being pursued by one of the Lost.” He searched her face, relieved to see no fear of him.
“How did you know my name?”
“You have called to me since I first saw you, little one. You bear the mark of a Lifemate on your nape, a human female who is destined as mate for the Cognatio. You are the key to our existence and you are mine. Those things, the Lost, want to destroy us and our Lifemates so they can rule the human world, which is why one was pursuing you tonight.”
He touched her face softly. “You are the first Lifemate to be found in over 500 years, Cassie, which means there are more of you to be found. I know this is unbelievably fast, but I need you to search your soul for the truth and to trust me. Let me claim you now as my Lifemate and I will explain everything to you. Rule the Cognatio with me as my Queen as we search for your sisters to bring them home.”
Cassie knew the truth. She knew. She was fated to help save the mortal world. What else could explain the feeling of destiny that had steadily grown within her from the minute she first saw Zylek? She looked at him for a long moment, then tilted her head back and bared her neck to his fangs.
"Claim me, my dark King. We have work to do."
Tiffany Anderson-Taylor is a hairdresser and noted curly hair specialist who has written popular advice articles for numerous naturally curly hair sites, as well as published an acclaimed book on curly hair care. Her love of story writing for friends and family over the past two decades has led her to spread her wings to explore the world of fiction. Tiffany and her partner of almost 20 years live with their nine-year-old daughter, Katherine, in Gulfport, Florida.