To whet your appetites for the next installment of the Vampire Primes series here is an excerpt of 2008’s PRIMAL NEEDS. Yes, the original title was Primal Surrender, but it has been changed to NEEDS. Enjoy!
"Charles? What kind of name is Charles for a vampire?"
Sid knew that her brother was trying to distract her as they waited in Matri Juanita’s moonlit garden. A faint glow lit the sky to the east of San Diego, the result of another out of season wildfire in the mountains. At least the wind was blowing the far off ash and smoke away from the city.
To show she appreciated Laurent’s effort she went along with the distraction. "We’ve had this discussion for nearly two years. I like the name Charles. It’s a nice, normal name."
"Laurent’s a nice, normal name," Laurent said.
"No, it isn’t."
"It is for a vampire."
"What would you rather I named him?" she asked.
"Something with gravitas. Something suitable—"
"For melodrama?" she interrupted. "I’m sick of melodrama."
"Melodrama comes with the territory, kid. What about changing his name to Anthony?"
Sid laughed. "Oh, please! Our mother is named Antonia. My sire is named Anthony. Your own daughter is Antonia junior."
"We call her Toni. Your kid’s going to be called Chuck, you know. Chuck the vampire. I shudder to think of it."
"What about Charlie the vampire?" she asked.
"Almost as bad."
It had been a long time since Sid had been in this garden. The scent of night-blooming flowers brought back a lot of memories. She noticed that her fingers were twined tightly together in her lap and made a conscious effort to relax. She glanced at the house. "What’s taking so long? Shouldn’t they be ready by now? Why do we have to do this in the first place?"
They were taking her baby from her and she hated them.
Laurent put his hand over hers. She wasn’t surprised when he knew exactly what she was thinking. "You know that this is for the best. You can’t deal with Charles on your own once his fangs come out."
Mortals had no idea how terrible the terrible twos could really be, or so she’d always been told. She wished she’d had a daughter. Not only did their kind need more females if they were going to remain a viable species, but young vampire females didn’t turn into blood-lusting animals when their baby fangs first came in. Testosterone poisoning started early among vampire males.
The aggression needed to be controlled, channeled. Young males needed to be civilized if they were to mature into sane Primes. They needed drill sergeants more than they did doting mothers. Or so Sid had always believed, until her own son came along. Generation upon generation of vampire mothers had been through this. The ceremony this evening was supposed to reassure her that the finest care would be taken of her baby, but--
"You weren’t raised in a crčche," Sid reminded Laurent. "Mom dealt just fine with you. You turned out okay. Eventually."
"Eventually," he repeated. There was no humor in the sound when he laughed. "Antonia did the best she could when she had the chance to be near me. But remember that she was a prisoner and that I was mostly raised among a pack of Tribe young where the rule is kill or be killed. Sometimes I doubted I would make it out alive. The Clans have a safe, structured environment for our little monsters. This is best for Charles, and for you."
Sid sighed. "I’m not fighting the necessity of sending my baby away, but I hate it."
He patted her hand. "Every parent hates it."
This reminder that the years their sons spent in the Clan crčche was something all vampire parents had to face didn’t make the pain of loss any easier. But it did reinforce her acceptance of the necessity for this custom.
The sound of a door sliding open drew their attention and they both stood as Lady Juanita’s bondmate gestured.
"Please come with me, Laurent," he said. "Please wait a few moments longer, Lady Sidonie." He bowed very formally to her, then disappeared back into the house.
"If he knew you better he wouldn’t call you a lady," Laurent said.
It was the sort of lame joke brother’s were supposed to make. She was called Lady Sidonie because providing the Wolf Clan with a child made her head of her own House.
"Go on in," she told Laurent. "Maybe you can get them to hurry up with this stupid ceremony. Why does Lady Juanita have to be so damn conservative and formal anyway?"
He didn’t answer, but he did give her a reassuring look and a swift kiss on the cheek before he left her alone in the garden.
It was only after Sid was by herself that the memories of the last time she’d been by this bench, in front of this fountain, rushed back.
Three Years Ago
"I’ve been looking for you, Sidonie," Joe Bleythin said.
Sid stood. The moment she’d dreaded had finally arrived. "I thought you might be."
Joe said, "Lucy, you got some ‘splainin’ to do."
If he could joke maybe this wouldn’t be as bad as she thought. The meeting of vampires and werefolk earlier in the evening had brought out some startling revelations about the entwined history of their species. It had also left open questions about her and Joe’s relationship that Sid was reluctant to discuss.
"What can I say?" Sid asked. "I’m as surprised as you are to find out that vampires and werewolves can mate."
"Do you know that you blink when you lie?"
"I do not!"
Joe gave a harsh laugh. The air around them seemed to grow colder. "So you are lying."
Her werewolf knew her too well, except for the things she’d made him forget. Sid turned away. "I do not want to have this conversation with you, Joseph Bleythin, at least not here and now."
"What did you know?" he demanded. "When did you know it? And for how long? And just what haven’t you been telling me?"
"About the Hunyaras? I don’t know any more than you do about the bad guy’s claims about Cathy’s family coming from a werewolf having children with a vampire." That much, at least, was true, even if—
"Your species didn’t seem repulsed by the idea of mating with members of my species when the subject came up. Why was I the one who protested?"
Sid shrugged. "Well, you know Primes. Vampire males see it as their right to have sex with anything that takes their fancy. But…"
"What about vampire females? What about you?"
"What about me?"
"How much have you lied to me about you and I? Why?"
His anger was shredding her. "It’s complicated." She sighed. "Maybe the lesson should be to never do anything for anyone else’s own good because it’ll only come back and bite you on the ass."
"Explain that to me."
"Okay." She looked up at the moon rather than at Joe when she said it. "I love you."
He was silent for a long time, and she couldn’t bear to look at him. She heard him pace around the fountain then come back to her.
"I don’t love you," he said.
Sid made herself look him in the eye. "Yes, you do. You just don’t remember."
"What are you talking about?"
"We’ve been lovers, Joe. I made you forget."
After that the shouting started.
When it was over her life might as well have been as well.
Copyright © 2007 by Susan Sizemore