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The Arrival (Children of the Morning Star Book 1)
 


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The Arrival (Children of the Morning Star Book 1)


  THE

  ARRIVAL

  Children of the Morning Star: Book One

  Kastie Pavlik

  THE ARRIVAL: Children of the Morning Star Book 1

  Copyright © 2017 Kastie Pavlik

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this publication may be copied, scanned, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written consent of the author.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents in this book are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously.

  ISBN: 1976109795

  ISBN-13: 978-1976109799

  Library of Congress Control Number: 2017916656

  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform,

  North Charleston, SC

  United States of America

  Cover photograph by: Kastie Pavlik

  Illustrations by: Kastie Pavlik

  Email: [email protected]

  Tim

  &

  David

  Love. Heart. Soul

  .

  The boundaries which divide Life from Death

  are at best shadowy and vague.

  Who shall say where the one ends,

  and where the other begins?”

  – Edgar Allan Poe

  Contents

  Chapter One: Orison Crossing, Illinois, August 1996

  Chapter Two: Paresh of Sunset Grove

  Chapter Three: Reunion

  Chapter Four: Perspective

  Chapter Five: Temptation

  Chapter Six: The Truth

  Chapter Seven: Communion

  Chapter Eight: Revelation

  Chapter Nine: The Vampiric High Council of Elders

  Chapter Ten: Winds of Change

  Chapter Eleven: The Whole Truth

  Chapter Twelve: Of Vampires and Men

  Chapter Thirteen: The Hunters Emerge

  Chapter Fourteen: Checkmate

  Chapter Fifteen: Prophecy

  Chapter Sixteen: Serendipity

  Notations

  Author’s Note & Acknowledgments

  Historical Note

  Family Tree

  The story will continue in...

  Author (rough) Sketches

  About the Author

  Chapter One: Orison Crossing, Illinois, August 1996

  I

  H aloed in sunny blue, golden tassels crowned the green blur speeding by her window. Wrinkling her nose, she glanced from the cornfields to her mother’s honeyed curls, and cradled her stuffed bunny. “Can we go for ice cream after church?”

  “Of course, Pare.” Her father’s blue eyes smiled at her in the rearview mirror.

  Her mother stretched back to tap her nose lightly. “A sweet treat for our sweet treat?”

  “I’m your gift from God, right Mommy?”

  The wistful turn of rosy lips brightened her mother’s gaunt visage. “From His ‘parish’ to our home, God gave us our own little ‘Paresh’ to keep with us, always.”

  Soft fingers stroked beneath her chin. Paresh giggled and buried her face in her bunny. “Stop! That tick—”

  The car lurched with a loud screech. Her father yelled, her mother screamed, the bunny flew from Paresh’s hands, and a sickening, metallic crunch rocked the vehicle. The chaos stopped with a jerk, violently tossing Paresh sideways. Her head cracked against the window.

  An eerie silence followed, broken only by engine steam hissing into the car’s cab. Her tiny cries sounded hollow inside her throbbing head, and blackness fluttered with every blink.

  “Daddy? Daddy! It hurts!”

  Warmth streamed down her face. Fat drops splashed her dress and stained the cream lace there bright red. “Daddy!”

  Sobbing, she clawed at the seat belt, but she was pinned in place by the twisted mass of jutting, blood covered framework and broken glass that had become their car. A small pocket had formed around her, but the front seats...

  “Mommy?” she whispered, hot tears blurring her vision.

  Flickering pinpoints of light turned into a darkening tunnel. Muffled voices accompanied a click and rush of air as strong arms scooped her from the car. His face was fuzzy, but the friendly blue eyes of her father’s partner flashed in her mind like a safety beacon.

  “Er... ic?”

  The man scoffed. Cold eyes, colored like a tiger eye stone, drilled into her. His lips parted with words that plunged her into a world of black before she could think to scream.

  II

  He regarded the sleeping eight-year-old as a foreign creature. Flicking an irritated gaze at the shaggy haired human leering at the mother’s corpse, he snapped, “David! Let’s go. You got what you wanted.”

  The dazed man shuffled in line behind him.

  A low growl rumbled in the vampire’s throat. The moment he had revealed the child’s existence to the Vampiric High Council—the so-called “Iron Fist” of the Vampiric Nation—everything had changed, except Lucien, the only constant in a race tainted by the blood of angels and innocents.

  He tucked the child into the crook of his arm and swept a stray copper lock behind his ear. Lord Ceallach had argued to enforce the law banning child vampires, but Lady Rainne’s voice of reason had tempered his flame and Lord Endymion had put the decision to Lucien—

  “Jonathan,” David mumbled, stumbling over his feet as his red-rimmed eyes shot back at the intertwined cars. He bumped into Jonathan, but didn’t seem to notice. “Felicia’s dead isn’t she? So Eric—”

  Clenching his jaw, Jonathan drew a deep breath before whisking around and stepping away. His bored voice belied simmering disgust. “You’ve killed your brother, and his wife. Eric will hunt you as long as you live.”

  David’s brow bridged an angry scowl. He flung an arm into the cornstalks to open a path for Jonathan. “I will kill him first.”

  A tempting grin crawled across Jonathan’s face. He tapped the obsidian stone in his Hilja ring. “My dear brother has never developed his ability to sense me. Would you like to watch his reaction?”

  The breeze toyed with David’s dirt brown mop as his head drooped. He tucked his hands into his pockets and kinked his neck to look at Jonathan.

  “I want him to suffer,” he sneered. “So yeah, let’s see him find his precious Andrew.”

  “Give me the Aegis Cloak I put in your bag.”

  Once Jonathan wrapped the girl in the cloak’s crimson wool to contain her blood scent, he fortified his aura with his ring’s sound barrier and concealed their presences.

  Twenty minutes passed before a car appeared and the driver called emergency dispatch. A distant siren wailed.

  The elders’ fear forced Lucien’s hand, Jonathan thought. Eric, you can only blame yourself.

  The first police car delivered a somewhat overweight man in a black polo. Visibly shaken after seeing the mangled couple in the silver sedan, he circled to the large, 70s-era boat of a car that had plowed into the driver’s side.

  The officer wiped his face. His eyes watering, he keyed up his radio. “Dispatch, 571. Send the coroner and backup. Three confirmed deceased.” He unsuccessfully tried to clear the catch in his voice. “Call Eric Ravenscroft. I need to tell him... it’s the Hawthornes.”

  “Not all of them, daft fool!” David yelled.

  David’s pulse pumped loud and fast, and drew a momentarily hungry stare. Jonathan couldn’t kill him yet. Everything hinged on the girl’s development—if she resumed aging.

  Only High Elder Corben had brazenly questioned the a
rch elder’s command. Lucien had said nothing, of course, but the other high elders had immediately scolded their simmering counterpart, one with a small, sardonic laugh into the back of her hand as she said, “Lest you forget, Lord Lucien speaks only once,” while the other snapped, “You dare forget your place? Hold your tongue swiftly, or you may find it, and your head, separated from your body.”

  That cruel reminder rang through Jonathan’s head as a black BMW coupe slammed to a stop behind the police car and a man in a tailored black suit jumped out. A sinuous grin overtook Jonathan’s face.

  Fetching as ever, he thought as Eric rushed to the silver sedan.

  “Oh my God...” Eric wiped his face and then peered into the backseat. “Where’s Paresh?” When he turned and saw the officer paling, panic etched furrows into his porcelain countenance. “Walter! She’s not in the car! Where is she?”

  Oblivious to the ashen hued fingers shaking his shoulders, the officer, Walter, whispered, “Oh God, how did I miss—”

  He glanced around in a daze and noticed the break in the corn behind David and Jonathan. “Maybe she was scared or injured and hid?”

  “Shit,” David muttered, stepping alongside Jonathan as the two men ran past completely oblivious to them.

  “As long as you didn’t touch the car,” Jonathan said, “they’ll never know. Eric has no scent to follow.”

  Glaring at Eric, who had paused where Jonathan had wrapped the girl in the Aegis Cloak, David said, “Bastard. Look at him.”

  Oh yes, look at him. Jonathan licked his lips as Eric disappeared into the field. Beautifully angry.

  “I can’t hear her,” Eric yelled from a few rows in. “And I can’t smell her blood in here. This isn’t good.”

  He emerged with large, darkening eyes and a rough voice. “Get every officer you have. Get the whole damn town and find her!”

  “Find her!” David mimicked. He kicked at the air. “You deserve everything that’s coming to you, filthy demon! I’m—”

  That officer knows what Eric is, Jonathan realized grimly. “This situation has changed. We’re leaving.”

  “But you could kill them both right now! And her!” David gestured at the sleeping child.

  “I am not permitted to take from the flock. They are all protected from me.”

  As David grumbled and mocked him, Jonathan pressed a prong on the Vampiric Star pinned to his lapel. The portal to Animus Hollow opened behind him. The dimension dividing Heaven, Earth, and Hades was the only way to escape without a trace.

  He shoved David into the rolling white haze and lingered a moment to admire the angst in Eric’s ice blue eyes.

  “The game’s on a forced hiatus,” Jonathan whispered. “But it’s your move.” He laughed softly as he eyed the girl. “Although, you have no hope of winning, Brother. Not now.”

  Chapter Two: Paresh of Sunset Grove

  Orison Crossing, Illinois, Summer 2006

  I

  M oonlight sifted through the clouds. Delicate rays fell upon the cottage in the clearing, but dared not penetrate the surrounding canopy of Sunset Grove. It was silent. Too silent.

  Only when a silhouette appeared behind the ebony curtain did the wind blow and the gathered animals skitter with nervous energy.

  Draped in a pale lavender cloak, the girl stepped onto the flagstone path. A burst of wind threw her hood back. Moonlight caressed golden hair and pale skin, and reflected in the grey eyes observing the animals and cottage.

  Her mother had named her after the parish that had once stood there—the parish where she had been born. The animals had been present that night, too.

  It’s been so many years, she thought. Will they remember me?

  A loud crunch of leaves beyond the tree line gave her a start, but when she peered into the brush, she saw a doe standing beside a fawn.

  “Hey there,” she cooed. “Aren’t you just beautiful?”

  The doe approached and stopped in front of her, its big black eyes lifted to her face as the girl slowly knelt and reached out to stroke the fawn’s spotted fur.

  “Such a pretty baby, Mama,” she whispered, glancing at the other woodland creatures stirring anxiously in the clearing.

  It’s not a dream. I’m really home.

  Suddenly, the doe alerted and scattered the birds and animals into the canopy’s safety. Cocking its head at sky-darkening storm clouds, the doe gave a small cry and then bounded into the woods with her baby.

  Thunder grumbled and a dull rain splashed the stone path. With a sigh, the girl jogged to the front door and managed to get inside just as the skies split open.

  She did not see the man who emerged from the forest to stand firm against the storm. Nor did she see the thin smile that played across his lips as his intense, black eyes stabbed the closing door.

  The quiet inside the cottage was eerie compared to the wind’s howl and beating rain.

  “I have nothing to fear,” she whispered to dancing shadows. “It’s been a long time, but it’s still my home.”

  She closed her eyes and took in breaths of sweet, earthy air. The scent of freshly chopped firewood invoked nostalgia of snowy nights warmed by fires in the stone hearth. She smiled. The cottage had stood empty all these years, waiting for the buoyancy of life to return.

  “I missed you, too,” she whispered, firming her grip on the door to chase away the last of her doubts. It felt too good not to be real. It felt right. This was where she belonged.

  “Tomorrow,” she said. “Just get through tomorrow, Pare. No matter what happens, this is your home.”

  A bright flash of lightning tore through the room, illuminating the cottage and her memory. Simon hadn’t changed a thing. The dining table, the kitchen chairs, the Victorian sofa in the living room—all the same pieces in all the same places.

  “It’s the same.” She approached the table and touched its smooth surface. A woman’s delicate voice floated by on fine wisps of recollection, trailed by a man’s soft chuckle and a child’s innocent giggle. Another voice grew in prominence—a deep, masculine sound that ripped into her core. She jerked away, staring into the darkness for several long seconds.

  N-no! No! I never should have gotten onto that train! I can’t! I can’t face him! Her back hit the door. She slumped against it, running a hand through her hair. Minutes passed before she huffed and squared her shoulders. “Yes I can. It’s just paperwork. That’s all.”

  She flipped the light switch. Nothing happened.

  “Oh, right,” she muttered under her breath. The power was off until morning. Simon, the caretaker, had told her that. A quick search of the sideboard yielded the candles and matches he had left for her.

  The scent of sulfur nipped her nose as flames flickered on wicks and the match went out. She turned to hang her cloak behind the door, but paused when light reflecting off a thick book on the sideboard caught her eye. It was a phone book... from 1996.

  For half a second she told herself she wouldn’t open it. But that was a lie.

  The entry for “Hawthorne, A.” stung her eyes and brought a lump to her throat. “Daddy.”

  Biting her lower lip, she closed the book and slid her hand from it slowly as though breaking the link meant losing every memory of him. She reluctantly padded across the carpet to the fireplace, a heavy weight in her heart.

  Simon had promised to leave firewood and tinder ready. Despite the summer night, a chill clung to the air. She had forgotten the fickle nature of Illinois’ weather, not that it was any more predictable in Kansas.

  She knelt beside the hearth as the fire began to spark and crack. A golden light bathed the room, illuminating familiar feminine décor, swathed in roses and creams, with rich woods softened by velvet and lace. The sofa’s dark frame was freshly polished, and the cushion was plush and comfortable. The oak roll top desk, usually cluttered with paper stacks and bound depositions, stood closed near the window with its chair tucked into place. Beside it, nestled in the corner, sat a worn, but
well-loved, leather wingback chair and an ornate end table displaying a collection of pipes and tobacco jars.

  Simon had done well. Almost too well. The room was stuck in time. Even her mother’s eternally unfinished needlepoint sat on her rocking chair.

  Tears threatened again. She dabbed at them and sighed, half expecting to see her parents walk through the door. She absently smudged the moisture between her thumb and forefinger, knowing too well that neither would ever walk through that door again.

  A bright flash and jarring peal of thunder made her jump. She caught her breath. She thought she saw a man outside the window. Heart pounding, she hesitantly approached the glass and peered out. No one was there. She swept her fingers over her forehead. The train ride had been exhausting. “There’s nothing out there. Just go to bed.”

  After spreading a blanket along the sofa, she slid out of her dress and hung it next to her cloak. With her bags at the train station, she had nothing else to wear. She blew out the candles, slid beneath the cover, and drifted to sleep.

  She had just crossed the barrier between lucidity and the place where dreams were born when a man with hair as dark as the night turned out of the shadows. He stood before her with a ghostly pale face and the deep black of his surroundings blurring his outline. His eyes snapped open and pierced hers with emotionless, ice blue orbs.

  She froze for an instant and then sank to her knees, sobbing uncontrollably. “Why?” she screamed. “Why did you leave me?”

  Leaping up, she ran into him, pummeling his chest with her fists only to find them sucked into a tar-like substance. She collapsed at his feet, her hands stuck, crisscrossed overhead. Weeping into her arms, she realized he wasn’t really there. He had never been there.

  II

  If not for Simon, I wouldn’t be here. He tousled his black hair and sighed. Will she really come? Or am I just a fool to believe after a decade of not knowing?

 
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