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Excerpt of Prologue
Location: The Genesis Territories of the Vampire on the eastern side of the States of America — the former United States
Philadelphia Territory — Military Headquarters
Date: Thursday February 22, 2056
Romeo marched into General Galen’s chambers gripping the bottom end of the transfer papers given to him moments before.
“What the hell, Galen. Do I do my job like I need a partner?”
Galen looked up from what he was doing. He ran both hands over his dark hair, pulled back and clubbed at the nape of his neck, making sure any stray pieces were caught behind his ears.
“I can’t stand it when you presume to know what I need.” Romeo waved the official documents at him.
“I hardly presume to know what you need.” Galen stood, picked a pile of workbooks off his desk, and moved to the presentation area of his room, arranged with black board and chairs neatly set for a seminar on domestic violence for new cadets coming into the academy. “She is who I want you to have.”
“She?” Romeo pulled at the crumpled forms in his hand. “What? No, he’s a he. His name is Andrew.”
“Her name is Andru.”
“That’s not right. I saw it. His name is …” Romeo ran his finger along the information boxes at the top of the page. “Anastasia Drucilla Weber? Her commanding officer says she goes by the name Andru.” He looked at Galen, his brows pulled together. “That’s dumb. What girl has a name like that? I already can’t stand her.”
“She will be good for you,” Galen smiled.
“What the fuck does that even mean?” Romeo put his hands on his hips and his weight on one leg, wondering why every so often Galen decided he needed to be saddled with a neophyte or an old-timer headed for retirement. “I do just fine on my own.”
Galen opened his mouth, only to be cut off by a hand gesture.
“I’m a first captain -- your first captain, correct?”
Galen nodded, looking a little exhausted by Romeo’s attitude.
“That makes me above all the other captains and their little lieutenant partners, correct?”
Galen nodded again.
“And you’re my sire, right?”
Romeo knew how it angered Galen when he spoke of their relationship in that way.
“Yes,” Galen agreed, “you are a part of me, and I would like you to —”
“We’ve been through this many times,” grumbled Romeo. “I don’t like partners. I don’t like someone answering to me, and I certainly don’t want to answer to someone. I don’t like having to deal with the needs of a human during my shift.”
“Vampires eat,” said Galen accusingly. “You break for dinner.”
“I stop at the bar, pay for a warm body, and leave. It takes me ten minutes -- fifteen if the place is busy. I never have to piss. I never have an upset stomach.” Romeo looked at the papers he was still holding. “And I never have to fix my makeup.”
“Well, you are in luck,” smiled Galen and he made his way to where Romeo stood. “She seems to be one of those ‘goth’ people. I think I have only ever seen her wear heavy black eyeliner. How long can it take to fix something that looks a mess already?”
“Are you kidding me?” Romeo slumped into the chair in front of Galen’s desk more agitated than he was the moment before. “A goth chick?”
Galen put a hand on the back of Romeo’s head and the other on the chair’s arm. He kissed the younger man’s forehead and then set a series of small kisses on his cheek.
“I think she will make a good captain one day. Will you teach her? For me?”
“She’s a rookie,” complained Romeo even as the feeling of Galen’s hand in his hair drained the tension from his shoulders. “I mean literally. She’s just stepped out of the academy. She’s only been an officer for six months and three weeks. She has years to go before she can take the captain’s test.”
“I know,” Galen whispered. He ran his hand down Romeo’s chest until it was between his legs. “Please.” He squeezed until Romeo squirmed in the seat. “For me.”
Romeo turned his face so his lips touched the man that converted him -- the man who could infuriate him and yet make him feel as no other person or vampire could. He kissed the vampire that would die for him, and he knew he couldn’t deny him no matter how much he wanted to.
The soft touch of Galen’s fingers on the back of his neck was so relaxing it sent chills down his spine.
“You owe me one,” said Romeo softly, and when Galen drew back Romeo pulled his shirt to bring him in for another kiss. “And just so you know, I let you seduce me into doing this.”
“Of course you did,” said Galen as he straightened. “That would be the only reason you acquiesced with such ease. Not at all because you are weak to the pleasures of the flesh.”
“Fuuuck you,” said Romeo, trying not to smile.
The bell chimed and the door to General Galen’s chambers opened. A woman -- no, a girl -- dressed in urban fatigues, a black long-sleeved button-down shirt, and tie closed the door and walked to the last row of empty chairs awaiting cadets. She looked around the room and then at the two men looking at her. She set her backpack on the floor and fell into military stance.
Romeo glanced at Galen and then back to the girl. He didn’t know her, but he thought she was attractive, even if a little odd looking. Her hair was a short, black mess, as if she hadn’t combed it that day, or ever. Her ears were small, maybe slightly pointed, although it was hard to tell with so many earrings trailing the edge. She didn’t have overly large eyes, but he could see them just fine. They were greenish and a bit wider set than average. Her jaw was strong, but not like a man’s, and she had a ring in her nose and bottom lip.
“New cadet?” he asked Galen. “Your twenty-three hundred appointment?”
“Hello, Andru,” said Galen. “I expected you half an hour ago. You knew to come here, yes?”
“Wait? Seriously?” Romeo scoffed and sat straighter in the chair. “This is her? She’s tiny. She’s not even five and half feet tall.”
“I apologize, my Lord,” said Andru, frowning at Romeo and then putting her eyes back to the floor, as is proper when in military stance. “I was told you wanted to see me the day before I went on vacation. That was two weeks ago. I just got back, and I forgot and went straight to roll call.”
“Vacation?” asked Romeo, glaring in her direction.
“Who takes a long vacation when they’ve only been at a job for six months?”
“It was planned a long time ago.” She looked up, allowing Romeo to think more of her for disregarding the archaic rule of not looking a superior vampire in the eye, and mentally punishing her for thinking the rules didn’t apply to her. “I told my group captain when I got out of the academy.”
“I see,” said Romeo, noting the slight tremor in her voice and enjoying it. “Where did …”
Suddenly he smelled something so wonderful, but so strangely out of place it made him pause. It wafted around the room the way good cooking tends to move slowly throughout the house. Only this smell punctured its way into his brain the way the metallic odor of blood pushes aside most other thoughts.
It was a smell he loved. The scent of deep woods, of swamp oak, cedar, and the honeyed pine of cottonwood buds. It was a damp smell, as when the rain saturates the earth, matting the leaves to the ground in clumps. It brought back memories of childhood and family and young love.
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