Raphael:Abel's Bloodline 2By: Fel Fern
Derrick Pace’s teeth clattered and he fisted the sheets. Logically, he knew he was back in his own bed, his apartment. Safe, but not from nightmares. Even in the land of dreams, he could still be hurt, feel the potent combination of fear and despair.
The sharp blade of a knife flashed in front of him, held by a madman with a pale face and sharp fangs. No, not a man, but a monster. A vampire. Derrick could even smell it, copper and cooking meat, blood and burning skin, scents he never wanted to remember again.
Fight it, Derrick. You’re strong. Overcome your fear.
Derrick woke up to reality, panting, his entire body covered in sweat. He pulled the comforter around him, as if mere cloth could ward away the dark. Derrick knew that voice, convincing and seductive at once. He envisioned white-gold hair framing a beautiful, masculine face set with icy blue eyes that seemed so cold, untouchable, even when he’d been restrained, burned with holy objects. Raphael.
A vampire with a name of an archangel. If it wasn’t for Raphael, Derrick wouldn’t be alive today, but was this truly living?
He rubbed at the goosebumps that appeared across his arms. In the dark, he could still see the cuts on his arms that the insane vampire Ivan had made. Derrick touched the smooth skin over his elbow and forearm. His brother Elliot had asked a healer to erase all the evidence of the torture he’d endured under the hands of Ivan and his group, enemies of Elliot’s vampire king, Abel. Raphael had been a kind of prince, Abel’s lieutenant, and had done his best to shield him.
Three months ago, Derrick lived an average, boring life. He worked at an advertising firm, worked too much as Elliot often said, to support himself and Elliot, who’d been having delusions ever since their parents passed away in a car accident. It turned out Elliot’s visions were real, and both of them had been thrust into a world Derrick wanted no part of.
Paranormals lived alongside humans. He knew that, but the vampires, the werewolves, and whatever else was out there kept to their own communities enough that they sometimes seemed made-up.
“They were real alright,” Derrick whispered, because it turned out Elliot had been dreaming of a vampire king’s prison. He’d accompanied Elliot to what turned out to be a real cemetery where Abel Savage had been imprisoned by Ivan, one of his former lieutenants. In the fight, Derrick and Raphael had been captured by Ivan.
After Abel and Elliot dealt with Ivan, Derrick insisted on returning home, thought he could start where he left off, but he’d never been the same after that incident. Derrick lost everything—his job, his sanity, and his brother. He hadn’t realized how co-dependent he’d been with Elliot until he started noticing how empty the apartment felt.
It might make him look like a dick, but despite all his complaints, he took his role of Elliot’s big brother seriously. After their parents died, he refused to let the foster system separate them. Elliot was in Carrick City now, learning to become a mate and consort to a vampire king—whatever that meant. Derrick placed his hands over his head and flung the bedsheets aside.
During his time as Ivan’s captive and his recovery afterwards, he’d blamed Elliot for everything, for pulling them into this mess, into a world he was content not knowing about. Elliot deserved no blame, though. Derrick had insisted on following his brother into that crypt. He made that choice. Derrick stepped out of the bedroom and stared at the door to Elliot’s bedroom.
He approached it, turning the knob. Elliot had taken all his belongings, his drawings, so it looked like an empty guest bedroom now. This was where his bother spent most of his time. Altered by his visions, Elliot had become socially challenged, couldn’t even bear to head outside to buy groceries. The last he’d seen of Elliot, his brother had changed, come so far. Elliot chatted and seemed to be full of energy, completely comfortable being around monsters.
Derrick shut the door and walked the corridor to the living room. He grabbed a glass of water from the kitchen and took a sip. His mind began to clear, but he knew the next night, the nightmares would start up again. Derrick debated getting some sleeping pills. Truth be told, he once entertained the notion of taking more pills than he should.
“I’m not suicidal,” he whispered to the empty kitchen.
Talking to oneself was a sign he was slowly going crazy, wasn’t it?
Derrick padded to the living room and opened one of the windows. He could head out, take a walk around the neighborhood, which was relatively safe compared to other areas of the city, but Ivan’s torture had made him paranoid. What if there was a vampire lurking in some dark corner and decided he’d make for a tasty snack or fun toy?
Ivan had looked like a beautiful monster, but inside? There was only rot. Ivan only saw humans and other paranormals he considered beneath vampires as no better than insects. Derrick shuddered, recalling the moment when he came to that realization. It was the way Ivan’s gaze seemed to crawl all over his body, as if the vampire saw nothing wrong with tearing him apart.
He looked out the window, which had a view of the street below and another apartment building across from his. Chills broke out over his entire body. Derrick had the feeling of being watched, but that was crazy. Elliot and Abel insisted a vampire watch over him for two weeks, but that vampire, Alphonse, had left the city after deciding that there were no threats to watch out for.
After all, Ivan was dead, so were all his vampires. Derrick was nobody, just a mere human of no importance.
Derrick let out a breath. What was he doing, scaring himself?
Going outside was a still huge no, though. He sat on the living room couch and tried calming himself up. Sleep would be elusive, he knew, like all the other nights. He rubbed his sweaty palms, turned on the TV. The sounds of yelling and gunfire from some action show provided him some relief. Derrick took a more comfortable position on the couch and eventually fell asleep.
Loud music woke Derrick up abruptly the next time, and it took him a second to realize it came from his cellphone. His ringtone. Right. He couldn’t even remember the last time he changed it. Derrick got off the couch.
Bright sunlight from the living room window made him squint. So, he managed to fall asleep here. He hadn’t dreamt of sharp knives and fangs, but the seductive press of a tempting mouth on his and an addictive touch of fingers spearing through his hair. Blue eyes like crystal in the dark and a soothing voice telling him to forget his nightmares.
The incessant ringing sounded shrill to his ears.
With a curse, he headed back to his bedroom, wondered who the hell was calling him this early. A quick glance at his phone screen told him it was seven in the morning. Usually, he’d be on the subway at this time, trying to avoid rush hour. Derrick didn’t recognize the number. Maybe Elliot called from somewhere else, because who else knew his number?
When his friends realized Derrick came back a changed man, and he subsequently lost his job, they steered clear of him. Derrick never told them what happened. He knew they’d think insanity ran in the family. First Elliot, then the older brother. Either way, he agreed with Elliot. They weren’t his real friends if they bolted at the first sign of trouble.
“Hello?” he answered.
“Mr. Pace? I’m calling from Merrick’s Advertising Agency. We received your resume a few days ago and wondered if you can come in for an interview at eleven.”
“An interview?” he asked, voice coming out hoarse. Derrick cringed at the thought of what he must look like, but if he wanted any sense of normalcy returned to his life, then he better get to it. “Yes, I’m available.”
“I’ll forward our address to you via email.”
The woman on the other line ended the call and he stared at the phone in his hand a couple of seconds before his screen lit up again. Elliot.
“Hey,” he said, picking up.
“Derrick, hi. I wasn’t sure you’d be awake.”
“Yeah, well. I’m up. Did something happen?” he asked.
“I—I’m just calling to see how you’re doing. The vampires are asleep at this time of the day so…” Elliot trailed off.
What had the world come to, that they had to reserve roles? Elliot called him at least three times a week, making small chit-chat, but he knew his brother was concerned about him. Derrick still regretted the way he treated Elliot after his rescue. He’d been hellish to deal with, depressed and miserable. Hell, he’d blamed everyone, the world, for his misfortunes.
“I’m doing good actually. I’ve got a job interview later,” he said in a casual tone. “Sorry, I need to prepare soon. The address is on the other side of the city.”
When had Derrick gotten so good at lying?
Elliot blew out a breath. “That’s great. Let me know how it turns out.”
“I wanted to ask if you’re seeing anyone right now, too, but maybe next time.”
They ended the call. Derrick expelled a breath. As if he had any time for romance, or rather, why would anyone take interest in a messed-up guy like him? Even before the whole vampire fiasco, Derrick never had time to date, although he tried a few dating apps and got asked out a few times. None of those men clicked.
Again, he envisioned icy blue eyes sharp enough to cut and a thick crown of white-gold hair brutally cut short. Why was he thinking about Raphael now? The vampire prince was probably doing whatever duties being Abel’s second-in-command required. The vampires in the lower hierarchy of the coven and the shifters called Raphael and Theron princes, because Abel was their king and they were the second most powerful vampires in Abel’s newly established coven.