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Emma Lowe A very Turner Christmas First draft - written by Emma Lowe

The slosh from the snowball still remained on my icy face. Before me stood my progeny, Darien Valentine, with this large toothy grin that made me roll my eyes. He thought he was smart, hiding behind a small shrub in the lobby, and then initiating a surprise attack. But he underestimated me, as per usual. He presumed I didn‟t see him there earlier. With a shake of my head and a small, almost-evil chuckle, I turned away. This resulted in the cord attached to my hand being pulled and the blue bucket above my progeny‟s head being tipped over, dumping a pile of snow all over him. It made his snowball look like child‟s play. “Son of a bitch!” I heard him shout as I walked away. The elevator music made me hum. Not because I wanted to sing, but the tunes were always annoying catchy, and full of Christmas cheer. I thought that going on a holiday to a hotel in London was a terrible idea, but my sister was determined for us all to bond after recent events—i.e., my progeny and me getting banished from the vampiric realm. We still weren‟t on the best of terms, but we both promised to play nice during the next few days, or at least until this particular holiday was over with. My sister wanted to visit the UK and have a white Christmas, like when we were human. The mere thought of Christmas made me shiver. I wasn‟t the Grinch, exactly. I just wasn‟t overly religious, being undead and all. Still, I did my best to get into the Christmas spirit, for my sister‟s sake. Roxanne had gone to a lot of effort planning this trip and inviting a few close friends, she had even organised events like skiing, since Darien had never experienced that before. Also, tonight was particularly important considering Roxanne‟s and Oliver‟s engagement. She even planned to turn him soon. Staying in a human resort, however, was less of a bonus.

1


A Very Turner Christmas As I made my way toward my hotel room, I started humming that God forsaken merry tune. It was about Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer, but it beat that jingle about Santa coming to town. I recalled as a kid that I was always scared of that big, old, hairy guy. It made no sense to me, why he‟d break into people‟s houses and watch them all year to see if they were naughty or nice. Now, I knew that was nothing more than a tale parents told their kids to make them behave. Whether that tactic actually worked was a matter of perception. Roxanne had gone to extreme lengths to book out the entire top floor for our group. There were thirteen of us so some of us had to share a room. Roxy and Oliver got the premium love suite, Deacon and Vixen were in the room down the end of the long corridor (which was probably a strategic move on my sister‟s part, considering how often they bickered), Nathaniel and his newest companion Blane were staying down the hall—also in a romantic suite, even though Nate claimed that that was a coincidence. This left: Vashde—the glamorous member of The Seven vampiric guild, her friend‟s Catalina and Vianna (of whom I had yet to meet), Sophia, Tavien, Darien and myself. Originally, and I presumed this was also strategic on my sister‟s part; I had been left to share a room with my progeny. However, I had hastily traded rooms with Tavien, deeming me my own suite, and leaving my two progenies to bond. Neither of them was particularly happy about this new arrangement. In the room to my left was Sophia, who had also earned a room by herself, and in the suite next to her was Catalina and Vianna, followed by Vashde who demanded a luxury suite to herself. This was likely because she had a reputation for sleeping with a lot people, and so she didn‟t want to share in case company came over. And in the room to my right was Tavien and Darien. I struggled to tune out the blasting music, from both sides of me. To my right was loud rock songs, which I presumed was Darien‟s doing. And to my left was some God awful pop music, which I knew wasn‟t Sophie‟s, so I presumed it was one of the other girls. I sighed,


Emma Lowe finding it difficult to read the pages from my novel. Currently, I was engaging myself in the world of Shakespeare. I was already very familiar with his work, but I enjoyed reading Romeo and Juliet, especially over the holidays. Along with me, mostly to survive the next few days, I had also brought at least ten other novels. These ranged from poetry, to autobiographies, but the vast majority were classical novels that I knew back to front. I found them comforting, probably due to my age, but something in the repetition was most therapeutic. I could almost visualise myself sucked into the text of the novel before I heard loud shouting from the next room. It sounded as though my progenies were having a dispute. Part of me wanted to simply tune them out, but then I heard a thud, followed by a slight tug from the bond. It was Darien. Something was bothering him, as per usual. In a flash, I dropped my book, and practically flew into the room next door. The brown, wooden door was left ajar and both Tavien and Darien gazed up, stunned by my entry. Or maybe it was the slight alarm on my face. Either way, I took in that they were both unscathed and felt my muscles relax. “What happened?” I glanced between them. Darien stood by the mini bar, topping up his scotch as he pointed at Tavien, “This fucker,” he started, with a slight slur of his words. His dark clothes were still moist from the snow and I was surprised he hadn‟t bothered to change them. “He doesn‟t like the band KoRn.” Darien leered, shaking his head as his dark eyes streamed with pure disgust. “I respect them as an artist,” Tavien disputed. “But I don‟t listen to modern rock.” “KoRn has been playing since 92!” “Doesn‟t matter,” Tavien turned up his nose. “I‟m very particular with my music, and I only listen to 80s punk.”

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A Very Turner Christmas I stepped forward, taking in the ghastly sight of their room. We had only just landed a few hours ago, and within that time, their room already looked like a dumpsite. I figured this was mostly the workings of my more reckless progeny, Darien. Empty liquor bottles were strewn everywhere, along with clothes and even empty bags of blood. I knew then that I had made the right choice in trading rooms. “You two live like pigs,” I commented, noticing the smashed glass in their kitchen. “How did an argument over corn end up like this?” “Not corn!” Darien exclaimed. “We aren‟t talking about that shit you find on the cob!” I glanced at Tavien, who shrugged in response. “I pronounced it the same as you did.” “Look,” said Darien with a slight wobble. “I don‟t think I can live under these conditions.” Clearly he was very drunk. I had seen him ordering a lot of alcohol on the plane. “This guy,” he pointed at Tavien. “He came into my room like he owned the bloody place.” “Darien, you and Tavien are sharing a room.” “Shut up!” he spat, slurring his words. “I wasn‟t finished explaining my story.” I rolled my eyes. “Go on then.” “I can deal with the empty alcohol bottles,” Darien claimed. “Of course you can,” said Tavien. “They‟re yours.” “But what I can‟t deal with,” Darien stumbled over his own feet, “is this guy . . .” he pointed at a pot plant. “He‟s given me nothing but lip since I got here.” Both Tavien and I exchanged glances. “Is he high?” I asked him. “I think so,” he shrugged in response, and then Darien passed out. ***** Truthfully, I had noticed Darien‟s behaviour had been much worse since his nasty break up with his progeny, Helena Callahan. It was a long story, but long story short, she had cheated on him with a vetala from the royal court named, Aleksandr Lazarev. I don‟t think Darien had been cheated on a day in his life, so this act of betrayal certainly took a knock to


Emma Lowe his ego. In fact, I haven‟t seen him sober since their break up. Not that he was usually sober anyway. However, I thought that perhaps seeing all these people that reminded him of her was hard for him, like his best friend Deacon who was now very close with Helena. What was even harder, I guessed, was that she—the vampire he created—got to stay in our world, when all he did was try and save her sorry ass most of the time. Now, we were both stuck here, in this cruddy human realm, being punished over the murder of Diana Petrov, of whom my progeny killed to protect Helena. It was all extremely messed up, but we had broken the law and had to pay the ultimate price—eternal banishment. Some might argue the death penalty was worse. Nevertheless, we were still alive, and I tried to stay positive. I figured that I was immortal, so I had an eternity to redeem myself, but Darien wasn‟t nearly that strong minded. I could sense a lot through our bond, but mostly I noticed how uncomfortable he felt in this world. Back where we were from, he didn‟t have to hide, and he was worshipped like a king. But here, we needed to pretend to be human and blend. It was horrible. And we were both furious about losing all we worked for, such as our rank. Now, we were no one. Darien spent the next few minutes throwing up all over himself. It was a disgusting, brown vomit. I didn‟t even want to know what it was prior to meeting his stomach, but it smelled horrendous. Tavien and I managed to strip him off, throw his naked self into the shower, and clean him up. It was a dirty job, but I was used to taking care of him. He was more coherent by the time he was naked, but refused to get dressed, so we just threw a white towel over him, so we didn‟t need to see his junk as we all sat on the cream coloured couches in the lounge room. “Sophia is cute,” said Tavien. “Is she single?” Darien snickered, but it was likely the after effects from whatever he had taken.

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A Very Turner Christmas “Sophie,” I hesitated. For a moment, I saw her in my mind—her jet black silky hair, sky blue eyes, and tiny frame. I tried to ignore the fact that she wasn‟t often wearing clothes when I pictured her in my memories. “Uh,” I stalled. “She‟s off limits.” “Because Noah fucked her,” Darien kindly chimed in. I glared at him, hastily correcting his proclamation. “I didn‟t „fuck‟ her,” I said sternly. “We . . .” I struggled to find the right word. We didn‟t make love, for I hadn‟t done that a day in my life, but surely fuck wasn‟t the right word either. “We had sex.” “Oh,” Tavien glanced away, muttering, “. . . sorry man, I didn‟t know.” “All good, it‟s not like we‟re—I mean, it‟s . . . erm.” I ran a hand through my hair. “He tooted and booted her,” Darien laughed at his own joke. I swore in his mind he thought he was on par with Carl Barron, a famous Australian comedian. I rolled my eyes. “It wasn‟t like that.” Darien leaned forward then, a curved smirk on his pale face. “Come on, Turner, this isn‟t the royal court. You aren‟t making some fancy speech. We‟re all guys here.” “Yeah,” Tavien agreed, cracking open a beer. I glanced between them. “Okay,” I sagged in defeat. “It was kind of like that.” Darien threw his thumb over his muscular shoulder to point at me. “He doesn‟t like to cross swords,” he informed Tavien. “If he touches a woman, she‟s off limits forever.” I gritted my teeth, struggling not to say something I‟d later regret. “It‟s okay,” Darien added. “It only eliminates like four women.” That wasn‟t a correct estimation, but Darien knew that, he was merely poking fun because of my current morals toward sex. With a sneer on my face and a tight jaw, I snapped back, “At least I know how to keep my dick in my pants!” That‟s when I heard a woman clear her throat. With a grimace, I dared to glance behind me, only to meet the catlike eyes of a redheaded woman. Her eyes were hazel, but with the


Emma Lowe yellow eye-shadow she was wearing, they almost appeared to have a golden tint. Pushing her long, red curls behind her back, a smile crossed her red painted lips. “Gentlemen,” she smiled at me specifically, before looking around the room. First she looked Tavien up and down, but quickly dismissed him. His expression was goofy and I swore he was drooling. It may have been because she was dressed in a skimpy little Santa dress, along with knee-high stockings, black stilettos and a Santa hat. Then her gaze fell upon my other progeny, Darien, who swiftly gave her a wink. “I couldn‟t help overhearing your conversation,” said the woman, stepping closer to me and extending her palm. “Catalina Sparks. And you must be?” Her name matched her eyes, the same eyes which were now locked onto mine. Defrosting, I cleared my throat and stood up quickly, embarrassed by the profanity I had used among her entrance. I needed to redeem myself. With a large smile, of which I prayed was at least somewhat charming, I took her hand in mine and said, “Dick Turner,” then, hearing my words, I released her soft palm and panicked. “Uh, no! Not dick! I‟m Noah. Noah Dick. No! Turner. I‟m—” I laughed nervously, trailing a hand through my hair and messing it up. “Sorry, I said dick when you entered and—” “He‟s not used to speaking to attractive women,” Darien chimed in, standing up and allowing his towel to fall to the blue carpet as he approached her completely naked. I felt like the ground was swallowing me whole. Or at least, I wished it would. “Darien,” he said with his trademark devil-may-care smirk. “Darien Valentine.” With that smile turning a little crooked, he swiftly added, “. . . Perhaps you‟ve heard of me?” She held his dark eyes onto hers. A short moment passed before he hesitatingly extended his palm to greet her. I think Darien was expecting a little more than silence in response to his name. She eyed his palm, and then met his gaze again before giving a small nod. “Yes, for a matter of fact, I have heard of you,” she said, ignoring his palm. “I‟ve heard from the majority of my friends that you‟re very well hung, of which I can see, and also that you have

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A Very Turner Christmas an outstanding reputation for disrespecting women—of which I can also see. Now, if you‟ll excuse me, I have better things to do than to stare at your penis.” Darien actually looked flabbergasted and I couldn‟t help but chuckle. Catalina scowled at me, before unleashing her British-toned fury onto me. “Please, you‟re hardly any more superior, judging by how you speak.” Now Darien snickered as she turned away with a flip of her fire-like hair. It fluttered for a long, mesmerizing moment before she made her exit, leaving the strong scent of strawberries in her wake. I didn‟t even like strawberries, but on her I couldn‟t stop inhaling. “I—I don‟t usually speak like that!” I called after her. “I‟m Tavien!” my other progeny added, even though she was likely well down the cream coloured corridor by now. That sharp, sexy „click‟ of her heels meeting the titles was fading. “We are so completely screwed,” said Darien. “Hopefully, by her . . .” Silence engulfed us. We all just stared sadly at the door, obviously missing that zesty sound of her voice—that post, London accent, her creamy white skin, and plump red lips. I wasn‟t usually attracted to women this fast, but I could think of seven thousand things I wanted to do to that woman, starting by teaching her some discipline. “What am I talking about?” Darien laughed. “She wouldn‟t touch you guys. She obviously wanted me. Did you see how she commented on my cock?” I scoffed. “Yeah, about how she didn‟t want to see it!” “She checked me out!” said Tavien. “I felt like she was undressing me with her eyes.” “Please,” Darien made a face. “If anything, she was adding more layers of clothes on. She barely even took a second glance at you.” “You weren‟t even worthy of an introduction!” I quickly added. “The introduction wasn‟t necessary,” said Tavien. “She‟ll be screaming my name by tomorrow night.”


Emma Lowe Both Darien and I made sounds of disagreement to that comment, and then we all just eyed each other, almost sceptically. I recognised the look on both of their faces; it was a competitive expression that most guys gave off when they were playing a game and wanted to win the prize. “Oh no,” I shook my head, sensing what they were feeling through the bond. “We are not making a bet.” Darien snorted. “That‟s just because you know you won‟t win. Before you played the „I‟m your future leader‟ card. And now you have zero game.” Tavien laughed and had the audacity to hi-fi Darien. As I glanced between them, I felt ganged up on; as though they both thought they were better than me. Beyond that, was the deep sense to prove myself, to show them that I was still worthy even without that title. I was their maker. I was in charge. And I could beat them in anything they threw at me. “Fine,” I said with a firm expression. “Let the games begin.”

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A Very Turner Christmas

I spent the rest of the afternoon with my sister and Oliver. They were down in the restaurant of the hotel, flipping through bridal magazines as they drank coffee together. It was a classy joint, with dark wooden chairs that had comfortable white, fuzzy cushions, along with candles and a nice view. However, being surrounded by humans was painstakingly frustrating for me. I had learned to control my thirst, but still all I could hear was the sound of their rhythmical heartbeats. Like musical little drums, they thudded, almost in time with— “Noah?” Roxanne kicked me, leaning forward with a glare. “Fangs.” I made an apologetic expression as I pursed my lips together. Focus on something else, I thought to myself. Focus on her. I didn‟t think Tavien was much for competition—well, okay, he wasn‟t bad looking. He was fit, in his early twenties, with tan skin, chocolate coloured short hair, light coloured eyes that changed with his emotions, and that was certainly his strong point . . . his sensitivity. I didn‟t have that. Many described me as robotic. But overall, his strong point was also his weakness, because I couldn‟t imagine him being aggressive, unlike Darien. Once Darien had his mind set on something, he usually did everything in his power to achieve that. His determination was his strong point, and I knew he wasn‟t above playing dirty. He‟d likely read her thoughts and tell her everything she wanted to hear, which was a skill regular vampires such as myself couldn‟t acquire. It all depended on what she had a taste for. If she liked vegetarian vampires, then she‟d love Tavien. He was almost human. However, if she had a weakness for bad boys, then my other progeny had a fair lead on us. He was dark and mysterious, with looks to match. This left me with one thought—maybe they were right. Maybe my title was all I had.


Emma Lowe Well, aside from my keen lust for knowledge. Darien and Tavien were smart, likely planning several ways to get Catalina into their bedroom, but I was smarter. I didn‟t want to get into her pants; I wanted to get inside her mind. This, of course, meant using my only advantages: my brain—unlike them who would be thinking with their other head, my patience, and my ability to obtain knowledge and solve difficult problems. So I figured I would start by gaining information about her, which was why I was enduring this uncomfortable situation. “So,” I leaned back in my chair. “Catalina seems nice.” Theoretically, this strategy seemed like the perfect idea. This plan seemed bulletproof. “No,” my sister‟s expression became very serious. “Absolutely not.” “What?” My face fell. “Don‟t play dumb with me, Noah William Turner!” “I‟m not playing dumb.” I sat forward in my chair, meeting her serious, sea blue eyes. “So you‟re actually dumb then.” My sister smiled sweetly. Oliver glanced between us, watching the exchange. I was guessing her reading me like an open book was a sibling thing, because he still looked extremely lost. “Did I miss something?” he asked, his hazel green eyes still darting between us. With a soft smile, Roxy grabbed his hand and caressed it gently. Their lovey behaviour used to be sickening, but they acted this way so consistently I was forced to adapt. “Noah wants to screw Cat . . .” she informed him. My eyes went wide. “No I don‟t!” She waved me off. “He does, because he‟s a dumbass.” “I am not!” I made a face. “Oh no,” Oliver shook his head. “That‟s a terrible idea.”

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A Very Turner Christmas “I never said I wanted to screw her,” I spoke in a low tone, only just loud enough for them to hear. “Why does everyone presume that when I ask about a woman, I must be secretly enquiring for my groin? Do I give off some kind of horny vibe?” They both looked at me and hesitated a moment too long. “Seriously?!” I exclaimed. “It‟s just that you‟re always so uptight,” said Oliver. “As your future brother in law, I have to say that it seems like you could do with a good lay . . .” his eyes moved toward Roxy. “Sorry,” he whispered, noticing her disgust. “It‟s fine,” she gave his hand a light squeeze before nodding. “Oliver might be right, as disturbing as his words are, you are a little grumpy. Go lay someone. Just not Catalina.” “Yeah,” Oliver agreed her. “Not her, it‟s a bad idea.” “Very bad idea,” Roxy nodded. “Why‟s it a bad idea?” Before either one of them could answer, Vixen came tearing through the restaurant. She was covered from head to toe in tattoos, but they suited her, like she was born with the ink engraved into her pale skin. She had dark jagged hair and even darker eyes, which always seemed to be set with a deep leer. “Can I borrow this?” She asked, grabbing the steak knife from the table before any of us had time to answer. “Thanks,” she murmured, gripping it tight as she held Deacon by the scruff of his collar. “Look at that Barbie slut again and I‟ll jam this knife so far up your ass you‟ll choke on it.” The knife‟s sharp edge rested near De‟s adam‟s apple. He swallowed hard. “Baby, calm down,” he held her gaze, his voice oddly relaxed considering she was moments away from slitting his throat. “I wasn‟t even checking her out.” “I saw you looking at her!” she roared, earning herself the attention of a few bystanders, that—up until now—had been calmly eating their food.


Emma Lowe “I look at a lot of women!” he shouted back. Oliver fell into his seat, his face turning tomato red as people stared. Meanwhile, Roxanne simply hid her face in sheer embarrassment. I wondered if I should jump in. Truth be told, I was never overly fond of Deacon Callahan, and sort of wanted her to beat him up a bit. It would save me the trouble. His smartass mouth often earned him a fist to the face. “Oh? You look at a lot of women?!” She gripped the knife harder, slapping him hard across the face with it. People near our table cringed as the bar staffed called for security. Then, Vixen went to stab Deacon in the face, stopping right before his eye. “Then maybe I should blind you,” she spoke through gritted teeth as she breathed down his throat. “Not like that!” he screamed. “I only look at you like that!” Deacon shoved his girlfriend backward, certainly adding to the tension of this horrific scene. By standards let out a loud gasp as Vixen balled her tiny little fist, punching him in the jaw, deceiving hard for such a frail looking woman. This caused his lip to bleed and I guessed that she had managed to cut him with the edge of her skull ring. With a low growl, he spat his blood at her. Vixen kneed him in the balls after that, making people wince, and then they were both escorted from the premises. When I glanced away from the spectacle, I noticed that both Roxanne and Oliver were nowhere in sight. Clearly they had bailed and left me to clean up this mess on my own. With a deep sigh, I stood up, took a formal bow toward the people staring, and said, “And that will conclude your show this evening,” before walking off in long strides toward the nearest exit. I had planned to talk to Vixen. She was a female—sort of, I mean, if you could even call someone as vicious as her lady like. She reminded me more of a very attractive amazon, with her badass reputation and mean right hook. Nevertheless, women talked, and I presumed that if anyone would know anything and spill gossip on Catalina Sparks, it would be her.

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A Very Turner Christmas Unfortunately, by the time I made it outside, Vixen‟s mouth was already busy aggressively sucking face with Deacon. They were in their own personal bubble and didn‟t even notice me standing there. De shoved her furiously into the wall, his moulded body grinding up against hers as she tore his shirt and ripped her sharp nails through his dirty, long blonde hair. “I love your psychotic ass,” he said, breathlessly kissing down her neck. She moaned, clawing viciously at his back. “I‟ll kill anyone that touches you.” With a perplexed expression, I watched them for a few seconds before heading back toward my room. They were obviously insane, beating each other senseless one moment and kissing the next. I couldn‟t even imagine a love that raw and with that kind of passion, but it allured me, strangely enough—to love so deeply it destroyed you. I had the current elevator song stuck in my head, which was some Jesus-related Christmas song, when I passed Vashde‟s room. As I walked by, singing quietly to myself, the door opened and a man I noticed working reception earlier came out. His bronze hair was messy and red lipstick was smeared on the collar of his white work shirt. He smiled bashfully while he scurried past me, reminding me vividly of a scattering cockroach. I continued down the long, white corridor while still humming that ghastly tune under my icy breath. The hotel was nice, expensive paintings lined the walls, with the odd pot plant brightening up the hall with its plastic shade of green. The tiles were nice too, they were marble, with swirls of grey, and were so well polished I could see my own reflection. As I entered my room, I put down my wallet and started to undo the buttons on my blue dress shirt, knowing I would have to shower before dinner this evening. I paused in my footsteps, leaving my shirt dangling open as I noticed Sophia standing next to one of red, suede couches in my lounge room. “Hear me out,” she pled; her tiny hands up in the air, almost desperately. “Soph,” I sighed, “We‟ve been through this.”


Emma Lowe “I know,” said Sophia, trailing her slender fingers through her sleek, straight black hair. Slowly, as she continued, she took small, cautious steps toward me. “And I understand all of that. You can‟t feel. I can accept that. I‟m willing to wait. I‟m willing to accept all of your flaws—that you need human blood to get aroused, that you‟ll never look at me the way I do you, that you sometimes abuse drugs and have a bad temper. I know I‟m a vegetarian vampire, but I can even accept your darkness. I can accept that you‟ve killed.” Sophia stood before me now, so close that if I reached out, I could touch her. I remained perfectly still. I was flattered that she knew my deepest, darkest secrets and accepted me, but I still viewed her as a best friend. At last, I said, “I can‟t accept those things about myself.” “But,” she protested, her pixie-like features glued onto mine, both soft and adoring. Inside her bright blue eyes lied undying hope. “Noah, I love you. I‟m in love with you.” No one has ever said those words to me before. I felt as though my feet had sunk into the blue carpet and the ground was slowly swallowing me up. Only this wasn‟t happening fast enough for my liking, because I was still here, looking into that same loving expression with pain in my eyes. Then, as though it was heaven sent, the door flew open. “Darien‟s in serious trouble!” Tavien‟s eyes were wide and a dark shade of blue as she struggled to catch his breath. Sophia grimaced. She was never particularly fond of Darien. I glanced at her, remembering that she had just taken a huge leap of faith, proclaiming her love to me. Then, I looked back at Tavien. “I‟m sorry,” I muttered. “But I have to go.” Without taking a single glance back, I left Sophia heartbroken in my room. It had to be done. She needed to know that that would never happen. Some people were built to love, others were built for other things, and in my case I was built to lead. I wasn‟t sure what happened when one fell in love, whether it was instant or grew, but I did know that as much as I cared for her it was nothing beyond friendship. Besides, I figured love would be a

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A Very Turner Christmas distraction. I could hardly date when I needed to focus on earning my way back into vampiric society. I had too much on my mind already. I had far too many serious duties. Not to mention my broken progeny, Darien, who was a handful on a good day. And right now, he was face deep in a toilet bowel, throwing his guts up. I sighed, patting his back as Tavien explained. “He took something, started talking like a crazy person, then he tried to jump from the window and claimed he would learn to fly.” Being on the top floor, free falling wasn‟t ideal, even for immortals. “He‟s been throwing up for fifteen minutes solid.” “Do you know what he took?” I asked. “No idea,” he shrugged. “But it was in that black back on the dresser.” I rushed toward Darien‟s dresser next to his large, king size bed. There was a black bathroom sitting there, open, which was full of herbal remedies that were a fatal mix to our kind in cases of overdose. I didn‟t think he was suicidal, but he was a moron. It was completely possible he didn‟t read into these illegal drugs before taking them. “I‟m sorry,” said Tavien. “I thought he was just drunk.” “It‟s not your fault,” I replied as I entered the bathroom. “Get blood and lots of it.” “How much?” asked Tavien, grabbing his keys. “We‟re going to need at least five point six litres,” I told him firmly. “From the vein.” “But that would kill a human,” he said with a worried expression. Then, slowly, realization hit his face. “Oh.” Tavien looked at Darien for a moment, and as much as he hated him, I think in that moment he accepted that we were all connected by vampire blood and family in our own messed up way. “I‟ll find someone who‟s a real asshole,” he said with a quick nod, and then raced out of the room. “Be quick!” I yelled after him. The next few minutes were something close to torture. Through the bond, I could almost feel the white bile rising up Darien‟s throat, and then I watched, completely helpless, as he


Emma Lowe coughed and choked, and then finally flushed the toilet. With a dry snicker, he collapsed onto the floor, barely able to open his eyes as he gazed blankly at the ceiling. “This isn‟t funny,” I told him. “You took a very strong herbal remedy, which witches often use in their alchemy, if used incorrectly it can become toxic to our system.” “Annabelle came to me,” he murmured dreamily. “She wanted me to fly with her.” “Darien, listen to me,” I spoke firmly. “This drug is a powerful hallucinogenic. Whatever you see or hear or think you know right now isn‟t real.” “She called you a self-righteous snake, and then she started hissing,” he insisted, his words slurring as his eyes continued rolling back into his skull, “along with the walls.” “Just hang in there,” I told him, using a similar tone that one would use to a child. “Once you drink the final drops of human blood, you‟ll be almost sober.” I said almost because there was never truly a guarantee about Darien being sober. “And they were dancing,” he told me. “They all danced in this field of red daisies, which then grew tiny little daisy mouths, and resorted to cannibalism as they ate each other.” “Uhuh,” I sighed, shoving aside the mess from their room as I perched on the edge of the bathtub. It was important that I kept him coherent. He needed to keep talking. “And what else happened?” “This giant skunk appeared,” he laughed quietly, “and it ran up a hill, so I chased it, and then it stood on his hind legs and told me all its secrets. It said that Helena was Satan.” My lips tugged down at the side as Tavien entered the room again, dragging a compelled receptionist behind him. Actually, I recognised the guy, even with clothes on. It was the same man that I had witnessed leaving Vashde‟s room earlier today. His nametag read: Craig. He was about six foot, an obvious pretty boy judging by the way his bronze hair was gelled, the shape of his waxed eyebrows, and his skin which looked softer than a baby‟s bottom. “He‟s obviously a douche,” said Tavien. “Took one glance and I knew he was our guy.”

17


A Very Turner Christmas I gave a firm nod. “Good work,” I replied, even though I had mixed feelings about this. Vashde slept with a lot of men, so it was hard to tell whether this particular man would be of any more importance. However, if he was, then The Seven would likely have our head‟s for it. Well . . . I considered this for a moment. They did love Darien, they saw him as their—sort of—leader, so maybe they‟d see kindly upon this if they knew it was to save his life. I knew the right thing was to contact Vashde and ask, but we hardly had the time to find someone else. The bond I shared with Darien was growing weaker. It was possible he was moments from passing out, but on the odd chance he was dying, we couldn‟t take the risk. “We need him alive, his fresh human blood will filter the drugs from Darien‟s system. It will be similar to a human drinking water, but more powerful than that. And the last few drops will be so potent Darien‟s bloodstream will be more or less cleansed.” Without a second thought, I clenched my fist and hit the receptionist hard in the front temporal lobe. Within a heartbeat, he crashed onto the ground with a loud thud. This meant that we had to be fast, because if anyone heard the ruckus, surely they‟d come to investigate. So in one fast movement, I forced my elongated fangs through the flesh on Craig‟s wrist, and then jammed that wrist into Darien‟s open mouth. He was too weak to fight me and started sucking back the blood instantly. Thank God, I thought to myself. “Watch the door,” I told Tavien. “Where are we going to hide the body?” he asked, clearly in panic. I had presumed that being a more humane vampire, this was his first killing. “Don‟t worry about that,” I said. “Just watch the door.” Darien slurped and moaned as he drank from Craig. I could feel the bond growing stronger by the minute. And by the time the body was completely drained of blood, Darien was much more coherent. The first thing he did was sat up and fish through the pockets of his


Emma Lowe black slacks for a lighter. He took the broken cigarette from behind his ear and tossed it away with a bitter expression. “Party poopers,” he grumbled, struggling to find another smoke. “Do not do that again,” I told him. And that was an order. Darien‟s eyes turned to slits as he stared me down. “Or what?” “Or I‟ll bloody well kill you myself!” I growled. Disturbing our not so pleasant conversation, the song „Jingle Bells‟ started playing in a weird tune. Both Darien and I glanced around with lost expressions until we realised the grotesque remix of the song was a ringtone, and the vibration was coming from the dead guy‟s pocket. “Shit,” we said in unison. Tavien, obviously sensing a disturbance in the bond, came racing back into the room. As a team we all started ripping at Craig‟s clothes, desperate to stop that God forsaken ringtone before someone heard. I realised we were too late when someone else entered the room. I sensed another vampire‟s presence before I glanced up to meet the furious gaze of Vashde. With a pissed off look on her pretty face, she leaned against the doorway of the bathroom, holding her mobile phone in her hand. “You have two minutes to explain yourself,” she said. “Then I‟m going to kill you.”

19


A Very Turner Christmas

Now I realised that this looked pretty bad. Firstly, Craig was dead. Secondly, we were undressing him, which must have looked perverted. We all stopped what we were doing to turn toward Vashde. I was already thinking up several explanations in my mind, but as per usual my progeny jumped in, spitting out the first snarky words to come to his twisted mind. “Kill us?” he scoffed. “You could barely kill a fly.” This was true, in his defence, but he didn‟t need to be rude to her. Vashde wasn‟t the brunt or brains of The Seven. She was the beauty. Her objective was usually to stand there, looking pretty, or be the bait or distraction. Her only super-power was glamour. She appeared like a goddess, but I figured she would cry if she broke as much as a nail. However, her next words determined my concerns. “Well, one phone call to Xavier and you‟re all dead.” She placed her hands on her hips. Xavier was her guild leader, and he was almost as mental as Darien, only—unlike my disobedient progeny, who was riding solo nowadays—Xavier had an army at his beckoned call which made him a serious threat. Vashde‟s threat resulted in Darien bursting into a fit of laughter. “Xavier? As in, my best mate Xavier?” he fought to get his words through his snickering. In mock, he wiped away a tear. “Sweetheart, one phone call from me, and he‟ll turn on you quicker than I could say I told you so.” Her jaw tightened. “I‟ve known him longer.”


Emma Lowe “You‟re more useless than I am,” he responded with a crooked smirk. “Let‟s not forget that Xavier asked me to join your little guild. And it‟s called The Seven for a reason. Had I accepted his invitation, guess who would have been voted from the island?” Vashde‟s expression hardened. “Yeah, well, Xavier doesn‟t look kindly upon people murdering our partners. Human or not.” “Partner?” Darien snorted. “I think the word you‟re looking for is boy toy. You know what, call him. Please. Tell him we murdered your little toy, because I would love to hear his reaction about how this is all a huge waste of time. You‟ll have another root by next week.” “Whoa, whoa,” Tavien stepped between the bickering ex-lovers. It was a disturbing thought, mostly because I had once slept with Vashde, but so had he . . . apparently. Much to my surprise, there was a pull in my bond with Tavien, which almost reminded me vividly of jealousy. Unlike Darien and me, this bond was much weaker, so for me to feel a pull at all must have meant serious business. Tavien held up his hands as he faced Vashde with a bitter expression. “You had sex with that human?” There was actual disgust in his voice. Most vampires didn‟t see interracial relations as an acceptable thing within vampiric society. But this was something else. I knew that Tavien— unlike my other progeny—had no problem with humans. Vashde pushed a golden lock behind her ear. “Urm,” she pursed her lips. “Sort of.” “But you had sex with me!” Tavien exclaimed, clearly insulted. Correction, Vashde sleeps with everyone. Literally. I felt my stomach turn at the thought. Vampires didn‟t contract STD‟s but it didn‟t make sharing any less wrong. Darien, Tavien and I were connected by blood. We were family. It wasn‟t right to jump from one of us to the next, and it was even more politically incorrect to jump from one of us to a human. “Who‟d you have sex with first?” he asked, folding his arms over his chest. Darien and I exchanged glances as we watched the show play out.

21


A Very Turner Christmas “You,” she shrugged. “What‟s the big deal? It‟s not like it meant anything!” “I don‟t know if I should be glad that I didn‟t get his sloppy seconds, or insulted that you were clearly so unsatisfied by me that you needed to go to the desperate extreme of a human!” he leered, muttering under his breath as he stormed out of the room, “and to think we joined the mile high club together . . .” The three of us stood in silence for a long moment. “What are you two looking at?” she glared, tossing her blonde hair over her tiny shoulder before also leaving the room. This left Darien, me, and the dead body. “So . . .” my progeny tapped his thumbs together. “You get the head, I‟ll get the legs?” “We should hurl him out the window. Make it look like a suicide.” “Good idea,” said Darien. In unison, my progeny grabbed Craig‟s legs and I grabbed his head. We might not have been on the best of terms currently, but we were still bonded, and shared a very strong bond at that. We heaved him up onto the windowsill as Darien muttered, “Christmas has the highest rate of suicides anyway.” Then, we pushed him over the edge. “You don‟t think they‟ll notice that the body was completely drained of blood?” Darien made a face as he sparked up a smoke, considering my thoughts. “Well, perhaps,” he gave a small, careless shrug. “Or maybe we‟re up so high that he‟ll just go spat.” “We could always compel the cops,” I said simply. “Exactly,” Darien agreed. “Besides, it wouldn‟t be the holiday season without a little bloodshed.” ***** The next few hours commenced the most awkward dinner ever. It was the night before Christmas Eve and everyone ate in an eerie silence. Vampires didn‟t eat people food, usually, but this dinner had been specially made and laced in blood. I sat at the head of the table, picking at my plate, as Darien slurped on his red wine beside me. I didn‟t think him getting


Emma Lowe drunk was a good idea, especially considering earlier events. But I could sense through the bond that something was troubling him. Next to him sat Deacon, who was arguing with Vixen, as per usual. I didn‟t think it was the wisest of choices considering there were so many sharp objects in arm‟s reach, but hey, it was his funeral. Across from De was Vashde, who was leering at me and Darien as she ate. Her eyes were a little red-rimmed as though she had been crying. Or at least wanted to cry. On her left was Nathaniel, who was next to Blane. They ate quietly, and I got the feeling something was amiss with them also. It might have had to do with the fact that Blane was clearly a very straight man and Nate wasn‟t. On Vashde‟s right were Roxanne and Oliver, who both looked equally annoyed as Tavien beside them. Then there was Sophia, who had been placed on my other side, and her eyes were also red-rimmed. She barely looked up from her plate as she toyed with her food, not saying a single word. I felt horrible, like I should console her, but there was nothing I could say, especially here. Finally, down the end of the table was Vianna and next to her, directly opposite me, also seated at the head of the table, was Catalina. Unlike everyone else, she was full of life as she ate freely, and spoke with Vianna. The two laughed and seemed like they didn‟t match the rest of us. Up until now, I‟d forgotten all about our little bet. With all the commotion, and the dead body, it was difficult to find the time. I contemplated flirting, but all I could do was give her suggestive glances from the other side of the table, and even then I think they looked more perverse than anything else. Besides, she was clearly very busy. Over all, considering the manic depressive vibe of our table, everything seemed to be going well. Roxanne hadn‟t yelled at us for killing Craig, even though she clearly was aware and equally upset as Vashde, and Darien was on his best behaviour too, just drowning himself in alcohol. Things were relatively normal, at least until desert came.

23


A Very Turner Christmas For desert were mixtures of assorted ice cream. Roxanne had gone to a lot of trouble to book a vampire chef for us, meaning all of our food was specially made. Just as we were all about to dig in, Deacon‟s phone started ringing. He tried to ignore it, but Vixen snatched it from his grasp, making me what to smash my head against the table when she said, “Oh, it‟s just Helena,” and picked it up. I felt like the ground was swallowing me up again, it was a normal thing for me, given my usually socially inept skills. However, this wasn‟t me this time. It was Darien. The tug through the bond made my heart feel like it was pierced with a knife and I had to resist the urge to clasp my chest. I glanced over at Darien, who was frozen. He looked paler than usual, as though he had seen a ghost. “Put down the phone!” Deacon demanded, repeatedly. “Call her back later.” It took a while for Vixen to catch on to the tension at the table, but finally she did and told Helena to call back, swiftly hanging up the phone. Around us, tables were full of life, with humans that were laughing and eating happily. Our table looked as though someone had just died—granted, someone did—and even Catalina fell quiet. “I don‟t care,” Darien laughed, but it was an awkward laughter that I had never heard from him before, almost like he was embarrassed. That wasn‟t like him at all. “Let‟s just not mention it,” he said, digging into his ice-cream. The spoon he was holding connected with the ceramic bowl with a loud ding sound. Then I realised his hands were shaking. “I‟m not going to ask what she said, or what she‟s been up to, and I sure as bloody hell am not going to ask if she‟s still fucking that Lazarev douche!” That‟s when the bowel smashed into a thousand pieces. I hadn‟t seen him lift his spoon, so I figured he‟d just applied too much pressure. In time, the entire room stopped what they were doing to stare. And that‟s when all hell broke loose. It was hard to make out every word said, but Vixen started yelling at Vashde, who was yelling at Tavien, who was screaming back, and Deacon was yelling too. It was


Emma Lowe hard to tell who was telling off who at this stage, but Darien was raging about Helena, and how she cheated. He also claimed that Deacon chose her friendship over his. Even Blane and Nathaniel were having their own little debate about something or another. Then Roxanne stood up and whistled loudly, it was loud enough to hurt all of our ears, having super-vampire hearing. “I‟ve had just about enough of this!” she yelled, her voice shaking with anger. “I tried so hard to create a nice Christmas for all of you! But all you‟ve done is argue and make unnecessary drama! Is it too much to ask for one nice holiday?! Is it?! Christmas is cancelled and as far as I am concerned you can all go to hell!” With tears sprung in her eyes, she darted off toward the foyer, and we all just stared at each other, unsure of what to do or say. Slowly, even though he was human, Oliver stood. “You should all be ashamed of yourselves,” he threw down his white napkin. “That woman tries so hard, and you‟re all incredibly ungrateful!” To be honest, I saw his outburst as more of an act of bravery. He knew what we were just as he was aware about the things we were capable of, but he didn‟t care that we could tear out his throat in a heartbeat, he only cared about the fact that we had all insulted and hurt my sister. Oliver truly did love her. Without looking back toward the table, he ran off too, obviously chasing her. We all sat quietly again, and slowly, people stood and made a dramatic exit. First, Blane stood up, telling Nate that he was leaving because he had supposedly lied to him. I guessed that this had to do with his sexuality. Then, Nathaniel chased after him. I noticed Vashde‟s foot move under the table, rubbing up against Deacon‟s, who smiled at her in return. That smile earned him a fist to his cheek; and much to my surprise, Vixen actually ran off too. She looked like she wanted to cry. This amazed me because I didn‟t think she was capable of those kinds of emotions, she seemed like the violent type, but maybe under that hard exterior was a soft and cuddly interior. Another glance made me reconsider that, because her saddened eyes were set

25


A Very Turner Christmas to kill, so I imagined that she was going to her room to plot Deacon‟s unseemly death. Perhaps the sadness and urgency to leave were grief over his loss. Tavien then called Vashde a „whore,‟ and left along with Sophia, and that word upset Vashde enough to make her leave. It was like Darien had set off this chain reaction, but unlike everyone else who bickered and fought, he merely finished his liquor. And everyone else‟s. Finally, Deacon left, telling Darien, “Helena is a better friend than you anyway,” before his exit. That hurt my progeny more than he allowed people to see. At last, the table was almost clear and people around us stopped staring. “So,” Darien eyed Vianna and Catalina, “Want to go check out the pool?” Both ladies smiled, looking pleased about the invitation as they nodded, then—to my amazement—Catalina looked up at me from behind her long lashes. “Are you coming, Turner?” she asked, standing up. “Er,” I stood quickly, banging my knee against the table. “Sure.” The pool was much warmer than I expected it to be. It was located inside, along with a spa that bubbled against the far side of the pool. The room left me awestruck. It was dimly lit with blue lights, inside the pool and surrounding it, which made the water appear an amazing florescent blue. And aside from the strong scent of chlorine, the area was nice; it had white chairs set out with a table and a fake palm tree. It created a resort escape, which made me feel as though I was in Hawaii or some other exotic location. “Marco?!” Vianna called out. We were not aware that she was dhampire, which meant she was half human, half vampire. For a half-breed—considering our social view on this type of thing—she was extremely attractive, mostly because she was topless. Her skin was alive and bronze, and her heartbeat fluttered through the water like a soft melody. “Paulo,” said Darien, dunking under the water. “Marco?” she giggled, her brown, moist hair covering part of her plump breasts.


Emma Lowe “Paulo,” replied Darien. “Marco?” With that final call, my progeny appeared behind her with an almost unheard splash, his hands wrapped around her curvaceous body as he whispered, “Paulo,” against her ear. She basically melted into his hard build as he trailed soft kisses down her neck. I knew Darien wasn‟t into half-vamps, he likely wanted her fresh blood, but he was doing such a good job at acting interested in her that even I was a little fooled. Effortlessly, he whisked her away to the side of the pool, and her moan was more than a little distracting. “They seem to be enjoying themselves,” Catalina noted. She was perched on the side of the pool, holding a tall glass of champagne in her hand. I wasn‟t the best at reading emotion, but I swore there was jealousy in her tone. I couldn‟t tell if she was envious because of what they were doing and the fact she was alone, or if it was something deeper than that, like the fact that my progeny was all over another woman. I swam closer to her, running a hand through my wet hair, and pushing it away from my face. “We could have fun too,” I mumbled, a small smile crossing my lips. Her expression turned thoughtful and she placed her glass down on the white tiles. “Are you flirting with me, Noah Turner?” “I believe I am,” I replied smoothly. Truth be told, I wasn‟t good at picking up women, but with enough booze and blood in my system, I was almost as sly as Darien. Also, it helped that I had him to learn from. Back in the day, I was wonderful with women—in fact, I taught him a thing or two, but I had become quite rusty of late. I struggled to keep my eyes glued to hers as she slowly lowered herself into the pool. She was wearing a red bikini that was a few sizes too small, and then she slipped her fingers through her hair tie, freeing her fire-like hair from its bun. It fell in a curly mess that made me gulp. “And what do you suppose we do?” she asked me, batting her long lashes.

27


A Very Turner Christmas Just like that, all confidence melted from my body, and I was left a stuttering mess. “Wwe, erm. You . . if, I, um.” I wasn‟t sure she understood a single word that left my shaken lips. Catalina‟s mouth pulled up at the side as she swam circles around me. I watched her like I would my prey, my eyes never leaving her sight, but this was a more primal, predatory chase. “Tell me what you‟d like to do, Noah,” she whispered, closing in on me slowly. I felt . . . cornered and trapped, like the air around us got thinner and the water from the pool was shrinking. Suddenly, she was so close, her body merely inches from mine. I felt her cold fingers brush my abs, creeping lower, as I took a leap of faith and slowly leaned in to kiss her. My mouth was a heartbeat from hers. I could feel her cold breath welcoming my lips, and then I smelled it—blood. My lust for Catalina faded faster than my head jerked toward Darien, and it was replaced by something much, much greater . . . bloodlust.

Vianna moaned, gripping Darien‟s waist tightly as he grinded his body against hers. His teeth were buried deeply into her neck, her blood dripping out into the water.


Emma Lowe

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A very turner christmas