The Eternal Series

Book 1


An Eternal Family



Stein Willard





@ 2020






Iquitos, Peru – present day



The place reeked of violence and misery, which Syria thought was to be expected. San Esteban, also known as El Infierno or Hell, was rated as one of the most dangerous prisons in the world. The heavily armed guards were indicative of the kind of inmates housed here. Four pairs of footsteps rang loud in the empty hallway as the two visitors and the two guards made their way to the deepest, darkest place in the prison. At their request to meet with the most brutal of inmates, the prison governor had glanced at his guards first before he agreed. He, however, warned that this part of the prison was self-governed by the inmates and that his guards didn't venture further than the gate. Food was left at assigned points to feed the prisoners, for the authorities didn't want to put the lives of their staff in jeopardy. Syria paid little attention to the gawking inmates in the cells as they made their way down eerily quiet hallways towards Hell's Pit, as that part of the prison was dubbed.

"They are unusually quiet," one of the guards remarked as he looked at the inmates, who were staring at them curiously through the bars on their cells.

"Well, they probably sense where we are heading and are feeling sorry for us," Copernicus muttered in Spanish. The guard chuckled and held open a gate for them. The part they were entering now, housed no prisoners, but it had more guards hanging around. She also noted that they had bigger guns and wore more protection. It would seem that they'd arrived at Hell's Pit. The guard asked them to wait for a moment as he walked over to speak to one of his colleagues. Syria could overhear them clearly. The other guard was not happy about them being here.

"Do you seriously think that these gringos will survive in there? What the hell was Medina thinking?"

"Look, it's not our problem if they get themselves killed in there."

The guard shook his head. "What do they want to do in there anyway? Do they think we're not doing our job or what?"

"I don't know and I don't care, Vasquez. All you have to do, is open the door and let them in. They'll knock if they want to be let out."

"I tell you; this will not end well. Before the day is out, they'll have us all on the news for having led two gringos to their deaths."

Their guard sighed. "Stop bitching, Vasquez, and just do your job." The guard came back to them. "I can't go further, but I've spoken to Vasquez over there. He'll let you in and let you out once you're done."

The gate leading to Hell's Pit was painted red, which Syria found to be quite fitting. She waited patiently for the guard to disengage the numerous locks before she pushed Copernicus behind her. She hated him with every part of her being, but until she was ordered to do otherwise, she was going to keep him alive. She heard the guards snicker behind them when she stepped in front of Copernicus. The doors opened into a scene of surprising serenity. A large decrepit courtyard was filled with bare-chested men playing dominos. Some were sitting around smoking while others were playing a seven-a-side football match nearby. The area was well-lit by large spotlights which were installed on the ten-meter-high wall that surrounded Hell's Pit. Wicked-looking barbed wire ran along the edge of the wall.

Everyone stopped what they were doing.

They were obviously not used to the door opening, nor seeing Westerners entering. Syria could hear Copernicus' heart beating so loudly that not even the door slamming behind them could block it out. The coward! He was the one who wanted to come here, hiding behind her. The inmates were slowly moving towards them, some curious, but most of them seeing them as some kind of an opportunity towards a nefarious purpose. A large, bald guy pushed through the throng. His eyes had a predatory look in them as he approached. He towered over them, but Syria wasn't bothered at all. He was huge, but he was still only human.

"Well, look at you two," he drawled as he sized Syria up. "You must have a death wish coming in here, woman." He grabbed his crotch. "The men in here are starving for a puta."

Syria closed the distance between them until she stood toe to toe with the man. The other inmates whistled and cheered at her challenge. "Unfortunately for them, they won't be getting lucky today."

The man glared at her, disbelief, and a faint trace of admiration in his dark eyes. He smiled, showing off rotten teeth. "You're right, because once I'm done with you, there won't be anything left for them." He slapped her hard. "Now, take off your clothes."

Syria tasted her own blood in her mouth and sighed. At last! They'd been crisscrossing the continent for the past two months searching for someone who could give them information that would lead them to their final destination. Not once during all that time, had she had an opportunity to let out her frustration. Until now. And how she was going to enjoy this.

"You shouldn't have done that."

The man guffawed, followed by the others. "Why? What are you going to do? Cry?"

She smiled just as her hand shot out and slapped him hard, making him stagger back a few steps. The courtyard fell silent. Baldy touched his mouth where a trickle of blood was seeping out from the corner. Syria felt her hunger stir, but she suppressed it hard. She hoped they would wrap things up quickly enough so she could go and feed. The man, knowing that he couldn't back off after having issued the first challenge, stormed her and Syria nimbly sidestepped him, helping him on with a kick to the backside. That seemed to amuse the other inmates and they laughed.

"Come now, Horatio. The girl is literally kicking your butt," one of them shouted, inciting more laughter. Syria turned to the man and smiled. She had found recently that she thoroughly enjoyed a good sense of humour.

"You've heard it, Horatio. I'm kicking your butt. Aren't you going to do something about that?"

The man growled and stormed her again. Syria sneered at him as she grabbed him by the neck and flung him against the door they had just entered through. She despised bullies and Horatio was a textbook version of one. A man who used his size and mouth to intimidate, but lacked fighting skills. She wasn't going to kill him. She would leave it to the inmates to first make his life hell and then decide how he was going to die. Horatio made a move to climb to his feet and she shook her head.

"I would stay down if I were you. You're not doing yourself any favours by letting a woman beat the crap out of you." She saw the impotent rage in his eyes as he glared at her. She was giving him a chance to end the humiliation and prayed he was smart enough to realize that. When he stayed down, she nodded. Good boy! The courtyard was silent again. She turned to Copernicus and found him looking at her with disapproval.

"You shouldn't leave an enemy alive. They go and rebuild their armies and come gunning for you when you least expect it."

"I know," she said curtly. "Now, do you think we can get on with this?"

Copernicus stepped from behind her. "I'm looking for Cezar Pinche. He also goes by the name Chuey. I believe he is locked up here in Hell's Pit."



The shadows hid the figure as it moved closer to the gate. The two guards smoking and discussing the previous weekend's soccer matches were not aware of the predator in their midst as it moved past them; close enough to slit their throats; had they been the target. With cold eyes, the shadow waited in the dark, its gaze fixed on the gate leading into the prison.



"Let's try the other eye again."

Jemima nodded and closed one eye. A sharp light pierced her pupil and she reminded herself not to blink. After a few seconds, the doctor switched off the light and smiled at her.

"I don't see anything wrong. All the tests seem fine. What I'll do, is wait for the blood work to come back and call you as soon as I have the results. In the meantime, I want you to relax and not fret over this."

Easier said than done, Jemima thought as she slid off the cot. "I'll try, Melissa. Thank you for making time for me."

Melissa Fentry smiled. "I'll always make time for you." She pulled Jemima into a hug. "Give Aria a kiss from me."

"I will." She squeezed Melissa's shoulder and left. The lab was bustling with activity as she stepped out of Melissa's office. It was divided into a medical part and a research and development section. Under the leadership of the Royals many fledglings were pursuing traditional careers to fit into the suave, city dwelling vampire phenomenon. This had inspired the establishment of more vampire-run online universities, tech businesses and of course, the Human Consortium's lab was a big favorite. Where else would they go to catch a glimpse their idol and leader, Tahlia, but here? At the Human Consortium headquarters these young vampires also got the opportunity to engage with humans and to learn from them how best to infiltrate human society. She nodded at a few of the scientists she knew, ignoring the wide-eyes stares of the young interns. She stepped into the private lift and pressed the code for the bunker. She had left Aria with Tahlia and was eager to get back to her family. The lift came to a stop and the doors slid open. She had barely stepped out when Tahlia materialized in front of her. Jemima blinked a few times, before she smiled. Tahlia looked agitated. To anyone, other than her, Tahlia appeared composed and unflappable as always, but Jemima knew her wife too well.

"Anything wrong, honey?"

Tahlia cocked her head. "You went to see a doctor."

She tried to sidestep Tahlia. She had left Aria with Tahlia so she could slip away. The idea was to be back before Tahlia noticed her absence. She obviously hadn't fooled the woman. Tahlia's hand shot out and she pulled Jemima up against her body. "You can tell me yourself or I can find out myself."

"I don't think you'll get past the doctor-patient-confidentiality clause," she said calmly, even as her body hummed where it rested against Tahlia's. The black eyes studied her intently.

"You want to bet on that?" Tahlia's arm tightened around her middle. "Why did you go the doctor, Jemima? And I'll know if you're lying to me."

Footsteps sounded and Tahlia reluctantly stepped away from Jemima. "This conversation is not over." Jemima nodded. The newcomer came into view and Jemima's face split into a wide smile at the sight of her daughters. Not sure whom to kiss first, she embraced Inger and kissed Aria's rosy cheek.

"Hello, my darlings."

"Hi, Mom," Inger said as she handed an already stretching Aria to Jemima. She then approached her mother. "What happened?"

Tahlia sighed. "Ask your mother."

"No, I asked you," she said firmly. "She'll probably tell me it's nothing."

Jemima exhaled noisily and planted a small kiss on Aria's nose. "I went to see the doctor."

"What? Why? Are you not feeling well?" Inger looked worried as she touched Jemima's arm. "What's wrong with you, Mom?"

"Nothing." At Inger's disbelieving stare, she smiled. "Really. There's nothing wrong with me." She could sense Tahlia's unease and reached out her hand to her wife. "It's the truth, my love. For some reason, I've turned into a hypochondriac of late. Melissa did all the tests possible and told me that I was in perfect health."

"And do you feel like you're in perfect health?" Tahlia's black eyes pinned her with an unblinking stare.

"Yes, I do," she said around the small fist that had found its way to her mouth.

"And you promise not to keep anything from us, Mom."

Jemima kissed Inger's cheek. "Of course not, honey. I wouldn't dream of it."

"Good. Paloma's waiting for me. Aria woke from her nap and started fussing." She smiled at them and walked back the way she had come. The babies were six months old and growing increasingly closer to each other. After inexplicable crying episodes, Molan had determined that The Pillars wanted to be together. According to him, it could be a residual effect of their spirits having been locked together in a crystal for centuries. The bottom line was that they all had to move back into the bunker. Besides the installation of a new security system and two new hidden exits, known only to the Royals, the new parents were on constant alert.

Jemima became aware of a very close scrutiny and looked down at her baby daughter. She doubted she'd ever get used to that look in Aria's eyes. There was no doubt that a highly intelligent being was studying her through the eyes of her baby girl. She blinked her eyes rapidly and chuckled when the child broke into a wide grin. She blew a raspberry on the baby's cheek and felt her whole being grow warm with pleasure at her soft chuckle. That drew Tahlia closer and Jemima watched as her stoic wife's demeanor changed as she looked down at their daughter. The bright blue eyes of the baby lighted up at the sight of her powerful mother and she reached out to Tahlia. Jemima sighed deeply when Aria pressed her head against Tahlia's chest and hummed softly. She had witnessed over the past six months how Tahlia and Aria fell in love with each other. It was incredible to see the baby change in Tahlia's presence. There was a sense of reverence in the air the moment Tahlia was around Aria or any of the other babies.

"Hi, my love. How was your nap?"

Jemima laughed. "One day she might just answer you back. Let's go to our suite so I can feed her."

Both Aria and Tahlia's eyes lit up at hearing that. Of course, each for entirely different reasons. She winked at Tahlia and led the way to their suite.



The silence in the courtyard was deafening. Copernicus glanced at Herassa…Oops, Syria! The vampire had decided to change her name a few months ago, severing her only link with the Royals. He had been all too happy to accommodate her. It showed that she truly despised the Royals. Syria, the vampire bodyguard, was born after that.

 "What do you think?" He had traveled and slept in some really dodgy places over the past few months, so all he wanted was to get the man they came for and leave. There was still so much they needed to do before their trip back to the States.

"He's here. I saw someone at the back slip away as soon as you spoke the name."

"Should we follow him perhaps?"

"Yeah, why not. It'll be dawn soon and I don't want to be caught here with these guys, nor do you. Stay close." A path opened for them as Syria walked through the wall of muscled and bare-chested men with Copernicus following closely. The buildings were even more dilapidated than the rest of the prison and Copernicus prayed that it wouldn't collapse while they were there. It would be so unfortunate. Syria suddenly pushed him back against the wall, protecting him with her body as a shot rang out. He heard it make contact with the vampire's body. Syria hissed furiously. One moment she was still standing in front of him and the next, she was gone. He heard a deep growl followed by the man's high-pitched scream before it all went quiet. The men, who had followed behind them, all froze as they listened, wide-eyed, to the commotion in the cell where the noise was coming from. There was loud gasp when a man's head rolled out of the cell and Syria followed a few seconds later. Copernicus saw the men scatter at the sight of Syria. She looked calm and collected without a drop of blood on her person.

"You, in the Brazil soccer shirt, where is Chuey's cell." The man stopped, the white of his eyes showed as he looked at Syria. "Don't make me ask you again."

His Adam's apple bobbed nervously. "It's…it's the third one from where you stand."

She glanced at Copernicus. "Shall we?"

He nodded, hiding the smile that came over his face. Unlike with Beira, he liked his new bodyguard. He was still not happy with the fact that she wasn't completely eating out of his hand, yet. That had been one of her terms when she accepted the job. But that could easily be remedied. He only needed to find something or someone she held dear and hold that over her head. Even vampires were known to care about their partners. The Royals were a living example of that. Syria stopped suddenly and he almost walked into her. Glancing past her, he realized that they were standing in front of a cell. By the look of it, it could also be loosely termed an apartment. It was spacious with the two adjacent cells having been broken through to create a spacious area. A bedroom, lounge, and kitchen were visible from where they stood, but that was not really what drew Copernicus' attention. The figure seated on a large couch, watching TV was nowhere close to what he had expected.

Cezar 'Chuey' Pinche didn't look a day older than eighteen. 



Gabriella entered the kitchen and dumped her briefcase on an empty chair. She smiled at Jessica who was on the phone and opened the double door fridge. She felt a tap on her shoulder and turned to see Jessica pointing to the opposite wall where a scrumptious buffet was laid out. Gabriella almost swooned at the sight of the pitcher amongst the covered plates. The one thing she totally adored about living in the bunker, was the service. The chef was one of top three most decorated in the world and his food was absolutely heavenly. She especially appreciated his non-alcoholic cocktails when she got home from work. It was the best way to blow off steam. She approached the buffet and fixed herself a plate of the most delicious-looking dishes and a large cocktail. She had tasted a bit of everything when Jessica wrapped up her call and took a seat opposite from her.

"Good, hey?"

"Divine. Have you had dinner already?"

"Yep. When I saw Jemima make it over here, I followed. It still cracks me up to see her eat." They both chuckled. "She keeps on stabbing the food with her fork as if she is scared it will come alive and attack her."

Gabriella grinned. "She hasn't eaten food for over thirty plus years. Must be quite an adjustment for her." She took a bite of a succulent prawn and moaned softly. She found Jessica looking at her with an amused look on her face. "What?"

"Nothing. Seems all of Tahlia's girls are funny eaters."

Pulling a face, Gabriella took a sip of her drink. "Couldn't help but overhear. Are you planning a job?"

"Not really. It would seem that Howie is getting married and…"

"Get out of here! Howie found a girl?"

"He did. Thing is, they want to get married pretty soon and he asked if I could take pictures at his wedding."

Gabriella shook her head slowly. She and Jess were still dating when Howie started to work for Jess. Gabriella had immediately felt protective of the shy, country boy working in an industry renowned for its exploitation of the young and untrained. Jess had quickly made her promise that she would stay out of Howie's life and allow him to make mistakes so he could grow used to the city life and breakneck pace of the modelling industry. It had been difficult, but she had done as requested and it had actually worked. Howie had proved himself to Jess and had become an assistant par excellence. Now, he was getting married.

"And? Are you going to do it?"

"I don't know. It's all so sudden and with Raven still so young, I haven't spent as much time with Howie as I have wanted to." She grimaced. "He actually commented on it the other day. Can you believe, that he hasn't met Raven, yet?"

"Oh?" Gabriella frowned. "I thought as her godfather, he would have met her by now."

"Clarissa is still a bit spooked by all this. First-time mommy issues, and all. I'll speak to her again and see if we can meet Howie somewhere and officially introduce him to his goddaughter."

"You should do that. While you're at it, also ask him why he's in such a hurry to get married? Howie is …How old is Howie?"


"Okay, he's old enough to get married, but why so sudden. Maybe if you could talk him into waiting a few more months…" The sharp ring of Jess' phone interrupted her, she gave an apologetic Jess the thumbs up and the other woman left the kitchen to take the call. Gabriella quickly finished her dinner, suddenly in a hurry to see her family.






Paloma was watching her opponent closely. The sword may be made of wood, but wood was the one thing that could actually kill a vampire. There was a slight narrowing of the eyes and a subtle, very subtle, tightening of the grip on the hilt of the sword. She let out a soft breath as the attack came. Pierre was fast and strong; a formidable combination in a fighter. She sidestepped a lunge, knowing he would recover quickly. She feigned a step to her left, but he wasn't fooled and hammered away at her sword until she pushed away from him. Pierre's eyes were glittering with purposed as he, too, used the break to assess his options. Paloma loved sparring with Pierre and Jonas. It was almost like she was sparring with herself. They were tough, shrewd and relentless. The only time they'd managed to beat each other was when the other made a mistake or was distracted. That wasn't something that happened too often.

"This is a new record," Jonas said from the sidelines. "Two hours, forty-seven minutes."

Both Paloma and Pierre blinked. That long? She dropped her sword and just as expected, Pierre attacked. She sidestepped his onslaught and using the momentum of his preternatural speed, she grabbed his arm and tossed him over her head. Pierre landed on his feet and turned to face her. His blue eyes were twinkling with mirth.

"You tricked me."

"Of course, I did." She walked up to him and thumped his shoulder. "There was no other way for me to win."

"I'll be more careful in the future," Pierre said as they made their way to where Jonas and Trinity sat. They each had a baby on their lap. Paloma immediately reached for her daughter and grinned when the baby eagerly leapt out of Jonas' lap to be in her arms.

She kissed the soft silky cheek and inhaled the sweet, clean baby smell. Underneath the baby smell, she could make out Inger's perfume. She wondered where her wife had wandered off to. Last time she had seen her, Inger had mentioned taking Aria to Tahlia. As if she had conjured Inger up with her thoughts, the woman strode into the training room and Isis burst out in baby garble at the sight of her mother. Inger's pace picked up as she spotted her child. Their reunion was a cacophony of kissing sounds, squeals and baby language. Inger finally looked at Paloma and the playfulness in her eyes turned to something more suggestive as she took in Paloma's disheveled appearance.

"Who won?"

"I did."

Paloma received a kiss as an award. "My hero. I have a meeting with a client upstairs in the restaurant. Will you be fine for an hour and half without me?"

"Yes." Paloma raked over Inger's outfit. Her wife was wearing a black cocktail dress that hugged her tall figure perfectly, a dash of perfume, tiny diamond eardrops and her dark hair was pulled back into a chignon. "You look gorgeous."

The blue eyes warmed. "Thank you, babe. Now, I really need to run or I'll be late." She kissed Paloma and Isis before rushing out the door. Paloma looked to her daughter who was staring at the door intently, her lower lip quivering slightly.

"Come now, bunny, let's go get you in a bath and then you and your sisters can play together a little tonight." She nodded at the others and left the training room to prepare Isis for the evening. Inger would breastfeed the baby before they put her down for the night.



Copernicus took in the cell, his eyes growing wider by the second. The boy basically had everything any teenager his age would want. The little he could make out of the room, showed a large, plush-looking bed with satin sheets. The kitchen was fitted with state-of-the-art appliances, all in a gleaming chrome and black. He turned to Chuey and found his eerie dark eyes studying him too.

"You're both not of this physical plane." His tongue dragged a bit, giving the impression that it was too large for his mouth. He rose and Copernicus was grateful when Syria stepped closer. The boy was unnerving him. He appeared fearless and way too calm considering that they, two westerners, had managed to enter Hell's Pit and found him. All this, without them having a scratch on them. Syria towered over the boy, but Copernicus could tell from her stance, that the vampire wasn't necessarily seeing that as an advantage. She, too, must be aware that there was more to the boy than met the eye. Furthermore, it was incredibly unsettling that with one look he could tell that they were both not human.

"Are you Chuey?" The way the boy was looking at them, Copernicus wondered if perhaps his nickname was a derivation of the word 'chewy'. The beady, dark eyes seem hungry as they studied them.

"Why are you looking for me?"

"We need directions."

The boy chuckled, a deep ominous sound. "You've managed to find me. I would say that you are quite good at finding whatever it is you're looking for, all by yourself."

"We need you to accompany us somewhere."

Chuey looked confused for a moment, before he smiled slowly. "You want to take me out of here?"

Copernicus glanced at Syria. She had a tightness around her mouth as she watched Chuey. Another thing he liked about Syria that Beira lacked, was knowing not to question him—no matter where they were, in public or private. Syria wasn't happy at the prospect of letting this obviously unhinged young man out of the confines of this prison, but she wouldn't question him. She would follow instructions and collect her pay check at the end of their excursion.

"It depends."

"On what?" Chuey now looked quite motivated by the idea of leaving Hell's Pit. "Where do you want me to take you?"

"To meet Mopi'helma, your shaman."

Chuey's face froze and then he turned away to retake his seat on the couch. "I don't know who that is."

Copernicus wanted to sigh, but instead he hid his frustration behind a soft chuckle. "I think you do, Chuey. If you take us to him, I'll make sure that you never see the inside of this prison ever again." He was about to walk over to where Chuey sat, but Syria's hand on his shoulder stayed him. Giving her a frustrated look, he shook her hand off. They had come too far to give in now.

"You should leave." Chuey didn't move his gaze from the TV screen. "The guards will leave soon and there won't be anyone to let you out." He glanced at them and this time there was something almost sinister in his eyes. "You don't want to be locked in here when the clock strikes midnight."

"Midnight? What happens around midnight?"

Chuey smiled, an almost angelic smile. "That's when I usually eat."

That and the smile, send a chill down Copernicus' spine. He couldn't give up. It was still early. What more could the boy want?

"Tell me what you need and I'll get it for you. Anything."

Both Chuey and Syria looked at him. Syria's gaze held surprise and Chuey's shrewd interest.


"Anything. You can think it over tonight and give me a call tomorrow." He removed a business card from his pocket and placed it on the nearest surface. "I'll be expecting your call. Goodnight."

They left the room and Copernicus realized that the hair on his arms had been standing on end for the few minutes they had been in Chuey's cell. He rubbed his arms, hoping Syria had not noticed, as she was already scanning the area for any lurking dangers.



The waiter finished pouring their wine and placed the bottle on the table before he disappeared. Inger didn't need to consult the menu to know what she wanted. With the restaurant only a few floors up from where she lived, she had regular meetings here. Some evenings, she and Paloma came up here when they had date night and didn't want to stray too far from their baby daughter.

"I've heard the lobster is the best in the city."

Inger glanced at her dinner companion. Alexandra Mears. She had never met the woman before, but she had heard a lot about her. Alexandra ran a multi-billion-dollar hedge fund business and was quite the philanthropist. She supported a great number of foundations and could claim a lot of extraordinary successes behind her name, thanks to her funding. A renowned socialite, she was constantly in the limelight and had, on a number of occasions, attracted negative press. The latter was mostly due to her tendency to get caught with women, who were not her fiancé. The woman in question, was watching Inger from over the menu, her dark eyes direct and almost predatory. Inger smiled. If only Alexandra knew that Inger had the-real-deal a few floors down, bathing their six-month old.

"What will you have?"

"The lamb ragu."

Alexandra grinned. "And that without even consulting the menu. Do you dine here often?"

Inger took a sip of her wine, meeting the woman's gaze head-on. Clients always wanted to know more about her. "I do."

"Ah, let me guess. A billionaire husband who loves to show off his gorgeous wife?"

Inger cocked her head slightly. "Something like that." She placed her glass on the table. "I hope I'm not rude for jumping straight into it, but the office mentioned that you wanted to meet urgently."

Alexandra frowned a little, obviously not used to women brushing her off like that. "Yes, I wanted to discuss prenups with you."

Inger blinked. Prenups? And here she was flirting with Inger? The woman was outrageous. Also, this wasn't an emergency. This could've been dealt with at the office. But business was business. She nodded. "We can talk about prenuptial agreements. It largely depends on what it is you want to protect. Your assets, personal information, children…you name it and we can draft something for your review."

The woman brushed her dark hair behind her ear. "What if I want to protect everything?"

"In that case, I would suggest you talk with your fiancé first before you present her with the document."

Alexandra grimaced. "She's not going to like it."

Inger swept the room, buying time to be diplomatic about this and caught their waiter's eye. She nodded and he rushed over to take their orders. After he had left again, she leaned forward and noticed the other woman's eyes dipping to rest on her bosom. Inger waited until the dark eyes rose to meet hers. Alexandra didn't even look apologetic at having been caught.

"A bit of compromise could do the trick. Very, very few women are willing to give their children up during a divorce."

The other woman took a sip of her scotch. "Do you have children, Inger?"


"I don't want to pry, but did you and your husband sign a prenup when you got married?"

Vampires didn't believe in prenups. Maybe because they didn't believe in divorce— at all. What human would want to give up a gorgeous woman, who gave you toe-curling orgasms and loved you every day as if it was your last day on earth?

"No, we didn't."

The businesswoman looked surprised, almost aghast. "Do people actually still get married without prenups?"

"Some do," Inger said with a faint smile as Paloma's beautiful face flashed before her.

The woman shook her head and drained her glass. "I've worked too hard for everything I own, to just…just… I can't just give it up like that." She pursed her lips and after scanning the room to compose herself, returned her attention to Inger. "May I ask how long you've been married?"

Inger nodded. She rarely shared anything personal with her clients, but she suddenly felt like talking about Paloma. Even if it was in a vague, indirect sense. "We've been married for twenty years now."

"Wow!" Alexandra shook her head, her eyes wide. "It's so rare to hear stories like that, especially amongst my group of acquaintances."

Inger shrugged. "I guess I was just lucky." Very lucky.



The Amazonian Fork Lodge was deemed the best in the small town. This close to the jungle, not many people saw the need to invest in a luxurious hotel. Instead lodges, that combined modern features and nature, were quite popular. Syria stood under the hot shower, washing away the stench of the prison as well as the stench of Copernicus' fear, off her. The man almost soiled his pants several times tonight. She rinsed her hair, taking notice that it needed a trim. She walked into her room and dried herself off. After getting dressed, she opened a hidden compartment in her duffel bag and took out one of the three ampoules and a syringe. She injected herself and crushed the bottle in her hands. She didn't want this to fall into Copernicus' hands. Tahlia had been very clear about that.

 She had a few hours left to feed and to find a deserted place to dig a pit for the night. That was the one thing she had hated the most about this trip. She had to rough it each night and find a safe place to create a lair for the night.

Dressed, she left her room, passing Copernicus' room. The man was already otherwise occupied, if the soft sighs and giggles coming from his room were any indication.

The town was busy for this time of the night, but it was understandable, considering how hot it could get during the day. The cool breeze of the night was a welcoming reprieve from the oppressive heat. She turned towards a cantina nearby, since it drew a massive number of patrons it would be so easy to lure a drunken client down a dark alley and leave him there to recuperate.

Just as expected, she had barely set her foot in the cantina when a large man with a handlebar moustache approached her. She flirted with him a little and shared a drink. A few minutes later, she was in a dark nearby alley, drinking deeply from him. She had just closed the pricks, when she felt it. She held the man up with one hand and turned, just in time to see a dark shadow slip out of the alley. Syria gently sat the man down and with her senses on high alert, walked down the alley to investigate. She scented the air and almost gagged when she got a lungful of the meat being cooked nearby. But she also picked up a faint scent that made her eyebrows shoot up.

A vampire!

She had been so sure she was being stalked; a feeling she had gotten when they were in Argentina. Not wanting to alarm Copernicus, she had decided to keep the knowledge to herself. It was good to have confirmation. What was worrying though, was that it was vampire. She should've been able to pick up the presence of another vampire almost immediately. This one seemed to be cloaking his presence and scent. Only Royals could do that. She left the alley, following the scent trail. It led her down the main street and when she passed the last house and was greeted by a wall of jungle overgrowth, she stopped. This was too easy. She recalled one lesson with Tahlia, where the Queen had left her side open during an intense sparring match. Syria had immediately jumped at the chance and launched a strike for the unprotected area, only to find herself being flung through the air and landing hard on her back. The black eyes were hard when Tahlia came over to stare down at her.

"When it looks too easy; believe me, it's not."

Syria wasn't in the mood to walk into an ambush, so she turned and went back the way she had come.



Cold blue eyes watched as Syria stopped at the edge of the jungle and turned back. So close. She had been so close. The vampire felt her fangs lengthen and she bit down hard on her lower lip to stop herself from screaming her frustration to the universe. She wasn't going to give up. Syria Manas was going to pay.

Only then would she find the peace to walk into the sunlight.



Clarissa sat back, her eyes not once leaving the screen. She swallowed hard. The number of children kidnapped a year in the States alone was staggering. Of that total number, only a tiny fraction of those kids was rescued and returned to their families. She saw a link to a personal testimony and clicked on it. The haggard face of a woman, a mother, filled the screen. Before she could press play, the door opened and Jessica entered. She was dressed in jeans and t-shirt, her hair slightly mussed. The boyish look made Clarissa's knees weak. She lifted her face for a kiss and Jessica came over to comply.

"Hi, honey."

"Hi." She pulled the lanky woman onto her lap and began to nuzzle her neck. "Are you going somewhere?"

"Nope," Jessica murmured as she slanted her neck to offer Clarissa better access. "Just returned."

"Ok." She lifted her head from Jessica's neck. "Raven's down for the night."

Jessica lifted an eyebrow and slipped off Clarissa's lap to peer into the crib. Clarissa joined her; her eyes tender as she caressed the face of their sleeping daughter.

"Oh, Rissa, she's so beautiful."

"I know, my love." She kissed Jessica's cheek as she pulled her closer. "I can scarcely believe she's ours."

"You better believe it, hon. I remember giving birth to her." She turned into Clarissa's arms and looked up at her. The look in her eyes changed. "Since our little angel is out like a light, what was it you wanted from me?"

Clarissa brushed her thumb over Jessica's lower lip. "You. I always want you."

"The things you say to me, my love." Their lips met and held as they kissed deeply. Clarissa put everything she felt for her beloved into the kiss. To think not so long ago, she had been on the brink of ending her own existence— only for Jessica to stumble upon her and change her life forever. Yet, the memories of those empty years, without Jessica, still whispered her awake some nights. She tightened her hold on the woman in her arms and lifted her head.

"I love you, Jess."

Jessica's eyes were a dark grey as she searched Clarissa's. "Show me, vampire."

Clarissa growled as she lifted Jessica and carried her over to the bed.







Trinity stepped out of the shower and reached for the towel to find the towel rack empty. She sighed and looked down at her nakedness. Well, there was no other way to do this. She exited the bathroom and came to an abrupt stop at the sight that greeted her. Gabriella lay on the bed with the missing towels strewn around her. She, too, was completely naked, except for the huge smile she wore with sheer confidence.

"Oh, look at you, babe," Gabriella purred with a lusty leer on her face that made Trinity chuckle. She simply loved it when Gabriella was in a playful mood. That usually translated into a long, sweaty night of heavenly delights. She approached the bed and Gabriella sat up. He full breasts jutted out proudly and Trinity's eyes locked onto the hard nipples. She pressed her lover into the bed as she blanketed her with her damp body. The heat from Gabriella's body immediately seeped into hers and Trinity moaned softly at the exquisite sense of being home. She locked her lips over Gabriella's and kissed her with all the love and devotion she felt for the beautiful woman. The kiss, the closeness, the moment…it all carried them away and soon they were rolling around feverishly on the large bed. Their hips were thrusting wildly against each other as their teeth delivered tiny nips to soft sweet skin. Their hands were roaming with familiar abandon over naked skin. Trinity had wrestled Gabriella onto her stomach and was thrusting energetically against the rounded derriere as soft grunts escaped her lips. 

"I want you inside, my love. Really deep inside."

As close as she was to exploding, Trinity couldn't deny Gabriella's breathy request and she slid off her lover to lay next to her, positioning them both on their sides. She wanted to look into Gabriella's eyes when she made her come. She bit her lower lip when she found the brunette wet and swollen, ready to be possessed. Gabriella was watching her with hungry anticipation and when Trinity entered her, the amber eyes widened slightly. A long leg over Trinity's hip hooked her closer and nimble hips began to undulate against her hand.

"I love you," Gabriella hissed between her teeth as she clasped Trinity's head in her hands and pulled her close for a hard kiss that involved a lot of tongue and teeth. Trinity moaned when she tasted blood, her bloodlust sparking. She wrenched her mouth from Gabriella's. She could see her own reflection in Gabriella's eyes; her eyes glowing red as she asked for permission. A soft smile was all the approval she needed as she licked the pulsing vein before she bit down. She heard a soft gasp and felt Gabriella's channel tighten spasmodically as her orgasm hit. Trinity increased her pace, adding another finger and causing Gabriella to keen softly as waves of pleasure crashed through her body. She was about to move down Gabriella's quaking body to taste her, when a soft mewling sound reached her ears. Caught between finishing Gabriella off and seeing to her daughter, Trinity froze for a moment.

"I'll kill you if you leave me like this," Gabriella hissed as she, too, increased the pace of her hips. Thankfully Noa quieted down for a moment and Trinity slid down Gabriella's body to suck her clit into her mouth. She realized that it was a great move, for Gabriella was hit by another orgasm. It took a long while for the brunette to come down enough for her to be able to speak again.

"Give me a moment and I'll take care of you, my love." Her golden eyes were dazed from spent passion.

"Later." She rolled away from Gabriella and made her way over to the crib. Noa's eyes were wide open and she was staring at Trinity with her other mother's golden eyes. "Hi, darling. Are you hungry? You must be by now. Lucky for you I've refrained from stealing your supper." She lifted the tiny redhead out of the crib and carried her over to Gabriella, who still looked a little shaken after her orgasm. With a wide smile, Gabriella accepted their daughter and gathered her in for her feeding.  This was Trinity's favorite pastime, to watch her woman feed their child, and she settled in next to Gabriella to watch.

"Have they visited together yet?"

Trinity shook her head, not taking her eyes off the serene look on Noa's face. "Not yet." Every night the babies were brought together in the entertainment lounge and placed on the carpet. The strangest thing would happen then. They would reach for each other and lie together in a jumbled heap as an odd humming would fill the air. No one knew what it meant. Not even Molan. And he was the supposed expert on the Outlander race. After a few minutes the babies would fall asleep and they would tuck them in for the night while the parents visited for a while longer. "We'll take her after she's been fed and changed."

Gabriella smiled. "Yes, I've missed out on the last three nights."

Trinity didn't say anything, but that was one of the things that concerned her the most lately. Gabriella's working schedule. The woman was up early and would sometimes come home when Noa was already asleep. At least, she made sure to express some breast milk in the mornings before she left, otherwise their daughter would've starved to death, waiting for her mother to return from the office.

Gabriella loved her job and Trinity could see that it brought her immense pleasure. Until Gabriella realized all by herself that she was missing out on their daughter's development, Trinity wasn't going to make her choose.



Copernicus ambled over to the bathroom naked. He did his business and returned to the room to find the girl, Floriana, still fast asleep. He had noticed the leggy brunette in a hotel lobby in Rio and had asked her to accompany them on their trip. He smiled as he studied her sleeping face. She had been a more than adequate companion and he would be sad to see her go. However, now that they'd found Chuey, things could get a little hairy from here. He would rather have her home safe in Rio than caught in the middle of whatever they would be walking into. He still got chills when he recalled the look in Chuey's eyes. There was something dark and ominous at play here. That was what he needed, if he wanted to have an advantage over the Royals. He stiffened when a soft chirp broke the silence. Floriana frowned and turned, but luckily didn't wake. She had drained him and he doubted he was ready for another session. He made his way over to the dresser where his phone lay. Who would send him a message at two a.m.? He opened the message and gulped.

The single-worded message left no doubt as to whom it was from.




He wondered if he should respond. Maybe he should wait a while and see if… The message tone sounded again.




Crap! He should definitely respond.


Bueno. I'll speak to the Governor first thing tomorrow to facilitate your release.


He shrugged into his robe and stepped out of the room. They had asked be housed in the most isolated section of the lodge so that Syria could come and go as she pleased. She was probably still around since there was still a few hours before dawn. He entered her room and found it empty. Well, to a vampire the night was their day. He doubted she was far though.

"Were you looking for me?"

He spun around with a gasp. The tall figure of the vampire was silhouetted by the moonlight, where she stood on the bamboo balcony overlooking the jungle. It was pitch-black outside and he wondered what she was looking at.

"Chuey got back to me. He'll take us." When there was no response, he continued. "I'll meet with Medina tomorrow morning to negotiate his release. Frankly, if you ask me, I believe that teenage psycho belongs behind bars."

He couldn't make out her face, but he could sense the warning she was sending him. "We should be careful what we say from here onwards. The jungle has ears and eyes."

His eyes widened as he looked beyond her into the dark jungle. "Did you see something?"

"There is something unusual in the air."

Copernicus nodded. "Consider me warned." He left the room and made sure to lock his door as he entered the room. Floriana sat up, her eyes wild with fear.

"Where were you? Someone was in here just now." She pulled her knees to her chest as she looked around her, thoroughly spooked. "I pretended to sleep, but I could hear him moving around."

He walked over to her and pulled her into his arms. He was scared, but it wouldn't serve any purpose to show that now. "I'm here now. Tomorrow, I'll make sure to put you on a plane to Lima and from there to Rio." He saw relief on her face. "Now relax and try to sleep some more while I keep watch."



Inger was tired as she entered their suite to find Paloma in bed with Isis curled up against her chest, the baby enthralled by Paloma's singing. Inger blew a kiss at Paloma as she began to disrobe. She entered the bathroom to remove her makeup, all the while listening to Paloma's beautiful voice. After all these years, she was surprised to find that there was still so much she didn't know about her wife. It was only after Isis' birth that she found out that her vampire could sing, and beautifully. On numerous occasions over the past six months, she had been awakened by the soft haunting quality of Paloma's voice. The first time she had gaped at her wife; to Paloma's amusement. At her inquiry about Paloma's singing talent, the blonde had simply shrugged and said that she had forgotten that she could sing. Apparently, the last time she did so, was when she was still a teenager. Inger had vowed to find out everything there was to know about her wife. After finishing her nightly routine, she went to crawl in next to Paloma. Isis crooned at the sight of her mother and immediately pawed her chest. Grabbing a pillow, she rested the baby on it and unbuttoning her night shirt, pulled out her breast. Isis' mouth latched onto the nipple immediately and began to suck eagerly. She looked up to catch Paloma's gaze and cupped the vampire's cheek, her eyes assuring her that she would be taken care of later.

"How was your meeting?"

"I don't know. Longer than I expected?"

Paloma smiled. "I'd noticed."

"I'm sorry." She had tried to rush the dinner, but Alexandra had other plans. She not only ordered more wine, she also ordered dessert afterwards. By that time, the other woman had been a little more than tipsy and had flirted openly with Inger. Inger studied Paloma's face. How was she going to tell Paloma that Alexandra had set up the meeting only to get Inger in a more private setting? It hadn't taken long after Alexandra got drunk to determine that the woman had set her target on Inger as a potential mistress of some sort. If she told Paloma, she would definitely break Alexandra in half.

"No problem. I had everything under control over here."

Inger brushed her fingertips over Paloma's cheek. "I hate leaving you carrying the bulk of raising our child."

Paloma leaned into the caress. "I love it."

The sucking noises stopped abruptly and they both looked at Isis to find her fast asleep, the nipple having slipped out of her mouth. Inger smiled tenderly and rubbed the dark fuzz on her daughter's head. The baby sighed deeply and curled into Inger's body.

"Do you think we should we put her in the crib?"

"Not just yet," Paloma said quickly, her large hand resting on the baby. "She had quite an evening. They were at it again tonight. This time, the humming was a little deeper and they held onto each other longer than usual."

"What did Molan have to say about that?"

"Nothing, but he said he would give Syria a call."

Inger was still frowning as she caressed her baby's cheek. There was so much going on that neither of them understood and sometimes, it really scared her. She wanted to have control over the threats that her child was facing. This guessing game was nerve-racking.

"I want him to find out everything he can so we can be prepared for anything."

"It will be okay, darling," Paloma said gently and rubbed Inger's cheek. Inger was surprised to find that she was crying and blinked rapidly to stop the deluge that threatened. "Maybe you should place her in crib. I think she can sometimes sense my moods and I don't want to wake her."

Paloma cradled Isis to her chest as she carried the baby over to the crib and laid her down. When she returned to the bed, Inger eagerly slipped into her arms. They lay like that for a while, before Inger broke the silence.

"My meeting tonight was strange."

Paloma stiffened. "Strange, how?"

Inger lifted her head and met the silver eyes. "Promise me you won't get mad."

Inhaling deeply, Paloma stared long and hard at the ceiling. "Did you feel threatened?"


"Good, then I promise not to get mad." When she looked at Inger again, there was a dangerous glint in her eye. "Now, tell me."

Inger prayed that was the last of Alexandra she had seen. Paloma was not stupid and could easily sniff out the identity of her dinner date. The vampire was studying her with an unblinking stare.

"I'm only telling you this because I hate to keep secrets from you."

"Which is commendable, my love," Paloma said in her most haughty tone

Inger grimaced at that. When Paloma got all vampy, she was difficult to handle. But since she had started to tell her, she couldn't stop now.

"I think she tried to seduce me. That's why she setup the dinner meeting."

Paloma lay stiff as a board for moment. "Did you tell her you were married?"

"I did."

Paloma unexpectedly grinned, leaving Inger to gape at her. That was not the reaction she had expected.

"I feel sorry for her, because she's not the one who's getting to do this…" Paloma squeezed Inger's plump breast. "…to you tonight." She pulled Inger's hips against hers with possessive hands.

Inger's mouth suddenly went dry. "Paloma…?"

"Hush, my love. Let me show you what this delusional woman will never have." She pushed her hand into Inger's pajama pants, past her panties and through the course hair. Inger opened her legs wider as she allowed her wife easy access. She bit down on her lower lip when Paloma's fingers brushed over her awakening clit.

"Oh," she gasped as Paloma entered her with one finger and deliberately brought it to her mouth to suckle on. Inger swallowed hard at the blatantly sexual act.

"That is what I'll be tasting tonight." She yanked the pajama bottoms off and Inger found herself lying half-naked and trembling before her wife's hungry stare. She threw her head back when Paloma proceed to attack her sex with her hot mouth.



She'd have to find a place to sleep before dawn and then she'd make sure to wait for Syria to rise and stake her through the heart. The shadow trailed the vampire as she wove her way through the humans. If only Syria had followed her into the jungle earlier, she would've dealt with her and been done with it. She hated being amongst humans, because all she saw them for now, was food. Up ahead, she saw Syria slip into a dark alley. She hurried, faster than the eye could see into the alley, only to find it deserted. She cursed softly as she looked around. The nearby treetops and roofs were great places to hide. She walked deeper into the alley, scenting the air. Nothing. Syria had simply disappeared. At least she still knew where the partner was. Him, she could follow and he would lead her to Syria. Pulling the mantle tighter around her, she stalked from the alley.



Cloaked, Syria stood in the darkest corner of the alley, studying her stalker. The face was hidden by an oversized hood, but even then; it was easy to determine that the vampire was female. She had slipped out of her room after Copernicus had left, too restless now that she knew that there was indeed someone tailing her. She had returned to the edge of the jungle, 'feeling' out the night. She determined that the vampire was still out there, bidding her time. As she had moved away from the jungle's edge towards the center of the village, she had sensed the vampire following her. It was important that she knew what she was up against and drawing out the vampire had been her plan. One, which actually worked quite easily. That must mean that the vampire was either very young or was so overwhelmed by eagerness that she was committing some novice mistakes. Syria tended to go for the latter.  The vampire had managed to stay off her radar for three months. No fledgling would be able to do that or at the least keep it up for so long.

Dawn was still an a few hours away and she would've liked to see what Copernicus had been up to in her absence, but she didn't want the vampire on her tail again. She could use the time to familiarize herself with the small town and its layout.





Stone warrior series:




Book Cover of Stone warrior series: Book 3 SHATTERPROOF by Stein Willard


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