Noble born, Julian Marino turned his back on the only life he has ever known to search for a lost friend he has always cared about and never forgotten. Groomed to take his place as an Elder, his father's ambitions, not his own, Julian set out to reinvent himself. Learning to fight, to hunt, to track has been very successful for him, but not in his many year quests to find his best friend. Feeling defeated, Julian goes to the one and only home he still has left and discovers new problems within his race as well as a new war brewing.
Serina Ferrari was born a bloodmate. She is destined to be mated with a vampire and will suffer greatly if not. Her system isn’t designed for a human life. Her body functions only for a vampire, and without enough nutrition as well as feedings from a vampire, she will die. Her father refuses to accept this fate. He thinks he can cure her and is blind to the suffering she goes through. He takes vampires and even Elders with the hope of finding the cure needed for his daughter. Has no care with how many lives he takes either or how they die. He only wants to save his daughter and kill as many vampires as he can. But when he ends up taking Julian all bets are off and the war that had been brewing starts, not to mention there’s a Guardian tagging along right behind Julian—a legendary protector to the vampire race, and very deadly when crossed.
Now the battle is on, but who comes out a victor, or a victim?
The need to feed was upon him, strong and urgent, transforming Julian Marino from a man to a predator. Squatting and perched on the edge of a rooftop, his weight balanced on the balls of his feet, he watched the busy streets of San Francisco below, waiting. He scanned every corner within in his view, every face, searching for someone who might take the hunger away, but knowing none would completely quench his thirst.
Incisors lengthened, and his cock burned with a need left unfulfilled. While on the hunt, his eyes, usually brown, turned to the silver metallic, a distinct characteristic of only his race. They glistened brightly in the moonlight, shining a pathway from him as he scanned everything and everyone.
Wind whipped through his long, thick, dark hair and tore at his trench coat, yet he didn’t flinch.
Things had changed in the city since his last visit, things that didn’t sit well with him, no more than the letter in his pocket from Ambrose D'Abigne, an Elder to the race. He’d received the letter months ago and still wondered what the old man wanted. Julian wasn’t anything special anymore, not like he had been in his youth, not since he gave up his noble status. Now he’s just another vampire lost in his own grief, tracking for others, finding things and people that were lost. For him to be singled out was unusual. He hadn’t done Ambrose any favors in many years, and their parting had not been friendly. Were he still in his father’s house, he could almost understand. Nobles were contacted, not rogues like himself. Not a stray that has no home, no status, no nothing really but the training he’d picked up over the years that he used to hunt.
To have the title of Noble was something special, but also suffocating. They were the oldest families, raised with the belief that every other vampire was beneath them. Bondings to bloodmates were arranged, making many unhappy unions. His own father wanted him to bond with a girl of great breeding and to take up the seat at the Council, to be picked to train as an Elder—his father’s dream, not his. Nobles had a way of life they wanted to keep. Turning his back on that life hadn’t been hard, no more than making a life for himself, if he could call being alone a life. It seemed that when he’d walked away from the Nobles and his father, the whole world turned its back on him. A few times, he’d wished like hell his father could be different, and to support the choices he’d made. The support never came. Instead, for declaring his wishes, his desires, his father had cast him out, as were many other Noble children who chose their own way, breaking from tradition.
A disgrace, his father had called him, and pointed a finger at him, then screamed it was all her fault. Blaming Julian’s very dear friend for him wanting a different life, his father made a vow to punish her. Thinking about that night brought forth so much pain, and Julian would never forget how he went running back to warn her of his father’s anger, only to find her gone. Not only had his father turned his back on him, but Julian lost his good friend, and had never been able to find her again—Carissa.
She was a one of a kind, and not only as his friend. Born of a union so rare as to be thought by most impossible, a vampire and a human who was not a bloodmate, Carissa was a half-breed. Somehow, that human woman conceived a child that lived after the birth, something that should never have happened. Her mother couldn’t handle the truth of what she gave birth to and left Carissa when she was only five. Carissa had no place to go. Nothing. Ambrose took her in, raised, and treated her like his own daughter. What happened to her father, no one ever knew. The vampire that sired her had also disappeared.
Julian met her the summer his father sent him to Ambrose with the hope he would be picked as an apprentice. It happened to be a birthday party for Carissa, and she was so sad. She wanted her mother but instead got him, and they became close friends. Each summer for years, he went back to spend time with her while his father thought it was to be with Ambrose. The year it came to an end, he lost it all but only cared about her—Carissa.
“We’ll always be friends, Julian,” she’d whispered, her bright eyes holding so much sadness he didn’t understand. “Nothing can ever change that.”
She was so pretty, it seemed he was seeing her for the first time all over again. Gone was the little girl he grew up with, and in her place stood a stunning young woman at only thirteen. She stood five foot three with bright grey eyes and thick, long hair as black as night.
“You sound like we are never going to see each other again.” He chuckled. “I’m just going down to talk to my father. He needs to know I’m not going to be an Elder or follow the Nobles any longer. I’m going to make my own way in this world and bond with whomever I choose.”
She smiled, but it wasn’t the cheerful smile he was so used to. “She’ll be lucky, whoever she is.”
“And yet I’m still alone, and you’re still gone.” He sighed to the night and reached into his pocket for the one and only photo he had of her, a picture of a sad little girl. Instead, his hand closed on the letter he’d received months ago. He still couldn’t make sense of it.
I need your help. I can’t go into the details now, but let me just say to keep your eyes open. Things are not as they seem, and you need to watch your back. We are at war, Julian, and I’m letting you know because I need your arm.
Still confusing, the message baffled him every time he read it. Something was going on for sure. He couldn’t dismiss the notion that things were changing in their world. Stories of savage deaths, bloodlines destroyed, families disappearing, all forced Julian to go out and hunt for the answer as to why. The only thing he knew so far was a vampire of some sort was responsible, yet he knew it wasn’t any kind of vampire he’d ever met. The proof of it was in the facts that no blood was left in the bodies, and the throats had been ripped from the corpses. Vampires of his kind fed from their bloodmates. Until theirs were found, they drank from humans, but only enough to leave them strong. Never did they kill or tear one apart to expose and bring attention to their kind from the outside world.
Standing up slowly, Julian scanned the busy streets without finding what he searched for. He leaned forward, letting gravity pull him down to the ground. Landing with a light thud and a hop, he shook his shoulders to adjust his coat before striding off to mix in with the humans on the block.