This will be the final installment of this novel that I will be posting here on XN for a while. I keep my personal website more up to date so if you are wanting to keep up with this novel, as well as any of the other novelettes that I have been working on, then please feel free to drop by my website. It's free to read all the stories that I have posted. I also keep a personal blog up on my site. NicolaMatthews.webs.com
I must give a warning that this portion of the story does not include any sex. If you are looking for a quick wank, you won't find it here.
PLEASE NOTE that this is a multi-part story and is NOT meant to be a story that will stand on its own. That means that if you want to know what is going on, you'll have to read ALL parts of this series for it to make any sense. Yes, some parts have sex in them, but not all of them.
If the formatting screws up on this and turns out to be word soup, my apologies. Just go to my website to read the story in its entirety.
Part II: Bad Touch
The sound of automatic gunfire could be heard before the group even reached the parking garage. Joshua swore under his breath as he stomped the gas pedal to the floor of the SUV that he was in. The vehicle lurched forward, ramping the small speed bump at the entrance of the garage, the front bumper taking down the orange and white striped gate. The other SUVs followed closely behind the first, soon skidding to a halt behind a concrete divider. The armed men and women of the werewolf pack spilled out of the automobiles, each one quickly finding cover from the bullets that were spraying like a waterfall around them.
Ethereal ducked down in the back of the truck, the sound of the guns echoing off the walls of the enclosed space. She noticed Nikkolas take the front line, his body vibrating as he shifted from human form to that of the polar bear. His specially crafted armor repelled the majority of the bullets as he barreled head long into the thicket of SHiELD soldiers. His large claws made quick work of any man that came within reach of his muscled arms. His thick teeth ripped through anybody that got close enough for him to sink his jaws in to. Soon he had made a wide path through the soldiers, allowing for Joshua and the others to infiltrate their midst and make their way towards Tatum and the others.
Several of the wolf pack shifted, their barks adding to the thunderous noise of the gunfire. Stealth and Requiem disappeared from beside her to reappear behind a set of SHiELD soldiers a few feet away. Their fangs ripped through the neck of their victims in seconds, the bodies of the dead not even hitting the ground before the two vampires had disappeared from view again. They did this over and over again, their movements so fast that the soldiers almost appeared to spontaneously rip apart before crumpling to the ground.
Stealth had learned his lesson the hard way about drinking the blood of the soldiers. Requiem, in the throes of bloodlust, had forgotten about the dangers of the blood. The smell of the freshly spilt life force proved too much for him. He snatched up the nearest soldier, opening his mouth wide to sink his fangs into the man's neck. It only took a few mouthfuls of the foul liquid before Requiem was vomiting it back onto the concrete.
His momentary lapse of judgment allowed the SHiELD agents around him to pump a few dozen bullets into his chest and abdomen. Ethereal gasped as she saw the gaping holes in her friend's body. She caught Requiem's eye as she moved towards the vampire, but one look from him stopped her in her tracks. The next moment he was gone, once again appearing behind the agents who had shot him. His sword sliced easily through their bodies before he disappeared into the flurry of action once again. She sighed her relief as she took refuge behind a large SUV.
The shifted wolves were darting in and out among the soldiers, yelping and biting at their legs. The soldiers in turn were panicking by having the lycans so close, turning their guns on each other in an attempt to shoot the wolves. It was a smart tactic, using the humans' own fears of catching lycanthropy to their advantage. Of course they couldn't 'catch' it; it wasn't a disease. But even if they actually knew this, it was hard to not want to try to kill the red and grey animals that were attempting to bite their ankles.
Ethereal looked around the garage carefully. The structure was built into the ground, most likely by a vampire contracting company. Instead of it rising up into the air, it was dug deep into the ground, blocking out any offending light that might kill one of the undead. She could at least stop worrying about Stealth and Requiem spontaneously combusting in the early morning sun. Unfortunately, the thick concrete walls would also make it harder to call forth the earth. The lack of fresh air would also make manipulating that element tougher, but she would just have to make do with what she had.
She ducked behind a concrete divider. She squatted down, blocking out the sound of the on-going fight as she struggled to clear her mind. Her breathing deepened as she forced all thought out of her mind, concentrating on the earth around her. "Elemento della terra, ascolta la mia chiamata, vieni da me adesso, a seppellirli tutti," she said softly, her brow wrinkled in concentration.
Around her the concrete began to crack and crumble as the soil beneath it burst forth, the grains spilling forth like a waterfall. Ethereal stood up, allowing all the grains of earth to accumulate around her like a living thing. Now that she had the earth called, she only had to envision what she wanted to happen for the earth to obey her.
She threw her hand out, the earth spewing forth like a liquid snake. The tube of dirt swirled around four SHiELD soldiers. Their bodies soon disappeared from view as the earth simultaneously choked off their oxygen and crushed their bodies. It took more force than normal to crush them, making Ethereal think that these men must be like the ones that Stealth had mistaken for vampires.
Her brow furrowed as she concentrated. Her mind kept telling the earth to apply more pressure, but it simply wasn't enough. She called forth more terrain to help in her task, her body gasping for air with the exertion.
Finally she heard the unmistakable crunch of bones being crushed beneath so much force. The men screamed a gurgling, wet sound from the blood bubbling up into their throats. Ethereal was having a hard time catching her breath, but she knew now that just the earth itself was not going to be enough to incapacitate these soldiers.
Stealth felt the wind shift around him as the grains of earth swirled past him like a living thing. Startled, he carelessly tossed a soldier to the side, the man's body making a sickening thud as he hit the cement wall a few feet away. It took the vampire a moment before he fully realized what it was that he was seeing.
His eyes followed the flowing earthen river back to its source. Ethereal stood several yards away from him, her arms outstretched as she commanded the earth to do her bidding. Stealth knew the fey could manipulate the elements, but in all his hundreds of years of living as one of the undead, he had never seen it done.
He watched in fascination as the earth swirled around the SHiELD soldiers, cutting their bodies off from view. His head turned back to Ethereal, his mind opening the link between them. Stealth wanted to see what she was seeing, feel what she was feeling at that moment. But as his mind forced open the mental link, he was immediately swept into a mental tirade. He felt like he was the one in the midst of that earthen storm taking place a few feet away. There was little thought in Ethereal's mind, only the raw power and fury of the elements.
Stealth gasped for air even though he did not really need to breath. He felt as if he were suffocating on all that power. He shut down the link between himself and Ethereal. The power infused fury of the elements was so overwhelming that he stumbled, losing his footing and crashing into the wall. Stealth's mind was reeling. A sudden movement beside him caused his head to slowly turn. And then, in the blink of an eye, a black headed man dressed in a SHiELD uniform appeared beside him.
The man gave Stealth an evil grin. But Stealth already knew what he was. There was no heartbeat, no movement of breath in his body. The smell of human flesh was already gone from his dead body. Only this one did not smell of human blood, he smelled of the blood of the undead. Vampire.
Ethereal looked around her at the concrete. It would be more difficult to call forth, would require more energy. But right now she didn't have much choice. Nikkolas was on the ground, his body so riddled with bullets that he could no longer stand. Joshua still hadn't made it to Tatum and the others. They were losing, and to lose here would mean lives lost.
Ethereal pushed her hand against the cement, once again repeating the incantation. She allowed the magik to flow down her arm and through the concrete, forcing the rock to separate into huge chunks. Her breath was becoming shorter, her lungs burning for oxygen. She could feel the warmth of her blood pouring out of her nose and down her face. Still she compelled the rock onward.
Slowly, bit by bit, the rock around her began to come to her command. She sent it whirling around the soldiers, calling forth more and more of the rubble until she was able to crush every last soldier in the garage. Once she was sure they were dead, she sent the earth and debris to the three vans parked at the furthest end of the garage, entombing the vehicles and everyone in them.
The gunfire slowly came to a halt. The fight had lasted for more than an hour since backup had arrived. But now the silence in the underground garage was nearly as deafening as the gunfire had been.
Members of the pack began shifting back into their human form. Stealth and Requiem went around to each soldier, nipping at them delicately to take a few drops of blood into their mouths. They called back and forth to each other with their findings until they had systematically checked every soldier there, including the ones that had been buried in the vans.
Joshua and Tatum gathered up their packmates, loading the injured into the van that Tatum had been driving when they were ambushed. The lycans were healing quickly. Some of them were coughing up the bullets that had hit them in their chests. The refugees were slowly coming out of hiding. The children were crying hysterically, their mothers not much help in soothing their fears. Everyone was ready to get out of the garage before more of the SHiELD soldiers arrived.
Requiem had moved back to Joshua, explaining quickly and quietly that not a single soldier had been unpolluted by either vampire or lycan blood. Stealth shook his head in disgust. The smell of the blood was making it hard for him to think clearly. He knew he had to get away from the smell and pretty quickly before he succumbed to the bloodlust that was threatening to rise up in him.
The thought of fresh, clean blood turned his mind towards Ethereal. He opened the mental link between them, searching out her mind with his. But there was nothing. Ethereal? his mind called out to her. With no answer, Stealth raised his voice to fill the entire garage with his echoing cry, "Ethereal!"
"I have her," a male voice answered him. Stealth and Requiem both turned to the werebear that had rounded the corner. Both vampires felt their heart drops at what Nikkolas held in his arms. Ethereal's body, her face and chest crusted with dried blood, lay crumbled and unmoving.
Part III: The Legend of La Ragazza Vivente Morta
"I'm telling you, this man was nothing like the other soldiers." Stealth absently rubbed the side of his neck. The bite marks had long since healed leaving no scars on the skin. The vivid recollection, however, was taking a longer time fading in the vampire's memory.
The vampire turned away from Joshua to glance over at Ethereal's quiet form. He and Requiem had refused to leave her side while she recovered from the use of her magiks. Try as he might, Joshua just couldn't be angry with the two vampires for their decision, even if it meant he had to take an audience with them in the middle of their bedroom.
"I thought you said he was a vampire," Joshua said quietly. He was trying very hard to wrap his mind around what Stealth had told him. But so far it was about as far-fetched as the tales of the lycan half-breeds that the vampire had told him about.
"At first, that's exactly what I thought he was." The vampire paused long enough to take a swallow of the synthetic blood that Requiem had had brought from his home.
Joshua took advantage of the vampire's momentary silence. "But now?"
Stealth shook his head. "Now....now I don't know what the hell he is."
"What made you think he was a vampire in the first place?" Tatum asked. He wasn't looking at Stealth. Instead he was watching Requiem idly stroke a lock of Ethereal's hair that was spread out on the pillow beneath her head. A vampire sat on either side of her as she lay in the bed. Her breathing was slow and deep, a sign that she was not just sleeping but still in a mild coma.
The young woman smelled peculiar to the beta male, a fact that was making it very difficult for him to concentrate on the conversation going on around him. His lack of focus was starting to irritate him. Tatum didn't understand how Joshua and Nikkolas could be sitting in the same room with her and not want to wallow all over the girl. It was all he could think about.
"He had fangs," Stealth said in exasperation. He had already repeated this story twice; once on the ride back to the compound and again while they all were storing their weapons.
A deep rumble of laughter caused everyone in the room to look at the foot of the bed where Nikkolas sat on the floor. "I have fangs, too, Sir. But I assure you, I am not a member of the undead." He then gave the vampire a toothy grin, showing that he did, in fact, have a small set of fangs in his mouth.
Stealth scowled at the lycan sitting at his feet. "His were bigger," he said flatly.
Nicholas' grin grew wider at the vampire's attempt at humor.
"Okay, okay," Stealth said. "I know that fangs does not a vampire make." He took another swig of fake blood before continuing.
"There was no heartbeat, no breath. He moved lightning quick, just like a vampire. His skin was cold, his body hard and resistant to harm just like a vampire."
"Let me get this straight," Tatum dragged his attention away from the slumbering half-fey long enough to look at Stealth. "It felt like a vampire, it moved like a vampire, it sounded like a vampire......so why, exactly, is it not a vampire?"
"Because he didn't smell like a vampire."
Requiem's hand stopped stroking Ethereal's hair. "Smell? Vampires don't really smell like anything, Stealth. You know that."
Stealth turned his head to look at the older vampire sitting across from him. "Our breath does."
Requiem sat up straighter against the headboard of the bed. He knew exactly what the other vampire was referring to. He leaned in closer to Stealth. "What did he smell like, Stealth?"
"Wait, wait," Joshua held his hand up to halt the conversation. "What are you two talking about?"
"Our breath," Requiem said. "Our breath smells like whatever blood we have been ingesting. Human, synthetic, animal...it all has its own unique aroma."
Joshua nodded his head in understanding. He had not spent enough time around vampires to know this first hand, but it made sense. "So what kind of blood had he been snacking on?"
Several gasps went up as that one word settled down around them like a heavy weight.
"That's impossible, Stealth," Requiem said quietly.
"What's impossible?" Tatum asked. "I don't understand. Why would vampires eat their own kind?"
"They don't," Requiem said simply. "Vampires cannot live off the blood of another vampire. We are the undead, so our blood is dead. There is no life force left in it. That's why they made it illegal to consume vampire blood. The junkies were getting hooked on the temporary high of the increased speed and strength that drinking our blood could give them. But what those public service announcements leave out is the fact that consuming vampire blood slowly kills the host body."
Everyone in the room began talking at once, their voices raising in pitch as each tried to be heard.
"What about the legends, Requiem?" Stealth asked quietly.
Requiem shook his head, his voice equally quiet in an effort to keep the wolves from overhearing, "Those were just legends, Stealth, nothing more. Idle stories made up to discourage vampires from trying to save their human companions."
"What legends?" Joshua's voice rose above the crowd. Despite their efforts, the alpha of the pack had overheard their conversation.
Everyone in the room grew still as all eyes turned back to the two vampires sitting on the bed.
"It's just a story, really," Requiem began. "It has been passed down from sire to childer for as long as any vampire can remember."
He paused, but realizing that Joshua wanted to know everything, the vampire sighed. "This knowledge has never been known outside of the vampire world. In the old days, leaking this information to anyone who was not a vampire was punishable by entombment for half a millennia. Seeing how our entire world has been turned on its head, I hardly doubt it much matters now," Requiem sighed yet again, his hand going back to stroke a lock of Ethereal's hair as he continued his story.
"It is common vampiric knowledge that a human who ingests enough human blood over a long enough period would eventually die. There is a legend among our kind. A vampire named Tao came across a young girl named Addalynne. When he found her, she was mortally wounded. The legend has changed as time has changed. She was attacked; she was raped and left for dead; she was discovered in a car wreck on the side of the road. But the names have remained unchanged over the centuries. Tao found the young girl named Addalynne, her life nearly snuffed out. She is too young to embrace, but he does not wish to see her die. He takes pity on her and makes a rash decision to feed her his own blood without draining her first."
"He hopes that his blood will help her body to heal. His experimentation works. So he takes her back to his home and raises her as his own child."
"But Addalynne was a high spirited girl with a large, adventurous streak. Over the years she is mortally injured again and again. Each time Tao feeds her just enough of his own blood to allow her body to heal itself. As time goes on, Tao realizes that she is slowly dying. In a last attempt to save her, he decides to embrace her. He succeeds in changing her, but she does not become a vampire. The legend calls her La Ragazza Vivente Morta."
Joshua sat for a few moments before asking the question that was on everyone's mind, "So what happened?"
"She killed her sire...Tao." Requiem let that piece of information sink in before he finishing the story. "The legend says that Addalynne did not become a vampire, but this La Ragazza Vivente Morta. She was not able to feed on human or animal blood like vampires."
"You see, vampires that feed on vampire blood will starve to death. It is one of the few things that will kill them. There simply is not any type of nutritional value to vampire blood that will keep them alive. Vampires feeding solely off of vampire blood is the equivalent of humans eating nothing but dirt. It has the same effect: eventual death."
"But Addalynne was acting just like a vampire who had been feeding on vampire blood. Only she hadn't been drinking vampire blood. After a few weeks her mind had deteriorated so bad that the bloodlust finally took over. She attacked Tao and drained him. Once her body realized what it needed to survive, she began attacking other vampires and feeding off of them. The vampires considered her a threat, so they killed her."
"She became a legend told from one vampire to the next as a warning. We get very emotionally attached to our companions, so it is only natural that we would do everything in our power to save their lives. But the legend of La Ragazza Vivente Morta was meant as a warning to vampires to not tempt fate by trying to save their human lives. You either embrace them or you let them die. You do not, under any circumstances, attempt to keep them alive as humans by giving them your blood."
Requiem ended his story, the room still in his wake. Joshua ended the silence by asking, "So you think this man you encountered could have been like this Addalynne of legend?"
Stealth nodded his head. "Yes, I do. He smelled like fresh vampire blood. And then let's not forget he had me for an early morning snack." The vampire once again rubbed the side of his neck where he had been bitten by the man in the underground parking garage. "A vampire ingesting that much vampire blood would be dying of starvation, not up running around and attacking other vampires."
"This changes everything," Joshua said, asking everyone to clear the room. "If there is any truth to this legend, then I'm sure that this SHiELD organization has discovered some way to recreate whatever type of creature that this Addalynne was. It would mean an incredible advantage for them, using your own kind against you. And if they can create something like this in addition to the oddities that we have already witnessed, it begs the question of what else their warped scientists can come up with."
Joshua stood up, moving towards the door. "I need to think, to decide on what our next course of action is going to be. We should all be safe here for the next few days at least." He looked at the motionless form of Ethereal lying on the bed. "Is she going to be okay?"
Stealth gave the alpha a smile. "Yes, she will be fine. The doctor said it would take a few days for her to recover from using her magik. The nosebleeds were a side effect of the mental energy exerted. Apparently the fey are designed to go into a type of hibernation mode when they have overstepped their limits in using the magik. She should be up and around by the end of the week."
Joshua nodded his head. "I'm glad." He then took his leave, shutting the door quietly behind him. Inside the room the two vampires lay down beside Ethereal, their voices now so quiet that not even the alpha's superior lycan hearing could pick out the conversation.
Part IV: The Name Game
"I have never heard of such a thing before in my life." Ethereal had finally regained consciousness a few days ago. She had listened to Stealth and Requiem recount everything that had happened during her days of slumber. At the time, however, she was having just as hard of a time wrapping her mind around the legend of La Ragazza Vivente Morta as Joshua had.
"Do you think that this man was what the legends spoke of?" Ethereal looked over at Requiem. The vampire was sitting on an overstuffed sofa, swirling the synthetic contents of his wine goblet around.
"I don't know, Ethy. Every vampire across the record of time has always assumed it was just a legend." Requiem stared out the window at the setting sun. Joshua had had the windows tinted with the same special tint that Requiem had on all his vehicles.
"Why would you just think it was a legend? I thought vampires were notorious at keeping perfect records of each other and your lives." Ethereal walked over to where the two vampires were sitting. She squeezed herself in between the two of them. They were both staring out the window now, holding glasses of synthetic blood that had long since grown cold and congealed.
"That's exactly why we all thought it was just legend. We keep meticulous records of our lives." Requiem put his glass of blood down on the table that sat beside the sofa. He turned to Ethereal. "It's like an unspoken vampiric law. There can only be so many of us on this earth at any one time. Hell, there can only be one of us with a specific name, ever. So it is very important that we keep track of ourselves and our childers, our companions, our lives. But there is absolutely no record of a vampire named Tao or of any companion named Addalynne." Requiem turned back to the window, picking up his glass and idly swirling its contents around once again.
"With no record, everyone just thought it was the work of an overactive vampiric imagination." Stealth turned his attention to the red head sitting next to him. "But now I'm wondering if the reason why there is no record is because the records were destroyed."
"Destroyed?" Requiem turned in his seat to gawk at Stealth. "You don't really think that the Council would purposely destroy records of one of their own, do you?"
Stealth nodded his head before setting his own glass down. "I do. The legend states that Addalynne had to be killed because she was a threat to other vampires. Why would they keep a written record of such a horrible event around? The legend is suppose to warn against vampires trying to save mortal lives with their own blood instead of embracing them. But what if there was a written record of how Tao changed Addalynne into La Ragazza Vivente Morta ? That type of information, especially in the wrong hands, would be disastrous for vampires. One of our own kind killing us off for food?" Stealth shuddered in apparent disgust. "Think of what a perfect weapon that would be."
"Yes, it would make sense," Requiem agreed.
Ethereal sat for a moment before she sat up. "Wait, hold the phone!" She held up her hands while shaking her head. "Did you just say that there could only ever be one vampire with a specific name?" She turned in her seat to look at Requiem.
"Yes, mi amour. Why?"
"As in, you are the only vampire that has had the name, or who ever will be named, Requiem?"
The two vampires laughed. "Of course, Ethy. It's vampire law. I would think that you would have figured that out long ago."
"Not only that," Stealth said with a chuckle, "don't you think that 'Requiem' and 'Stealth' are very strange names?"
Ethereal turned from one amused vampire face to the other. "Well, yeah, I guess. But all vampires have really poetic names. I just figured you all had over imaginative parents, like mine."
"Oh, no, no, my dear," Requiem said, turning in his seat to face Ethereal. Stealth had done the same as the little red head talked.
"You see, Ethereal, once a human is embraced, the new fledgling is taken to the Council. At one time it was law that a new childer had to spend the first century of his or her life with the Council members. It was they who named the vampires."
"Or at least they use to," Stealth interjected.
"Yes, back in our day, that is. Your name was dependent upon what job you were given with the council. Back at the turn of the century, however, a group of childers petitioned the Council to let them start picking out their own names. Since the Council no longer required fledglings to apprentice with them, they agreed."
Stealth laughed. "Yes, long gone are the days of the vampires named after poetry and literature. Now we have fledglings taking their names after rock stars, rock bands, and emo song lyrics."
Requiem let out a snort of laughter. "Like those two boneheads who came in The Red Fang last summer. Punk and Rocker."
Stealth groaned. "Are you kidding?" Requiem shook his head.
"Oh, yeah, I remember those two," Ethereal said. "They were the ones with the multi-colored hair and fishnet stockings! They kept heckling the DJ wanting to know why we didn't carry any '28 Days.'"
Stealth groaned again. "Good heavens! That was the one good thing about letting the Council name you. You at least had someone to blame for the goofy name you ended up with."
"What were your names before you were embraced?" Ethereal asked. She was curious to find out if they had had such boring names as William or Fred or something equally as moronic.
The two vampires sobered up very quickly. "On, no, mi amour. It is another law. Once you are embraced and receive your vampire name, you are to never speak your mortal name again. It is to protect your mortal family and any assets that you may have had as a mortal."
"Wow," Ethereal said. "They think of everything."
"Well, they have to, mi amour," Requiem explained. "It is their job to protect not only the vampires, but humans as well. Of course, there have always been exceptions to the rule."
"More like these rules have been broken," Stealth muttered.
Requiem only smiled. "Yes, that to."
"Can you at least tell me how you got saddled with the names you have now?" she asked.
"Ah, now that I can do," Requiem said. "But to fully understand my name, you should know how Stealth got his first."
Ethereal turned to the other vampire and looked at him expectantly. Stealth cleared his throat. "I was embraced in the year 1784 in Japan. Before I became a vampire, however, I was part of a small group of humans who worked with the Council. It was our job to hunt down rogue vampires and kill them."
"You mean you were an assassin?"
"Yes," Stealth said, "I was an assassin."
"But you were an assassin before you became a vampire?"
Stealth nodded his head. "And you not only knew about vampires, but you hunted down the ones who had gone crazy and killed them?" Again the vampire nodded his head. "But I thought humans weren't suppose to know about vampires back then!"
"Ethy," Requiem said, "there have always been humans who knew about vampires. Granted it was law that you didn't go around announcing that you were the undead. Well, not until that law got passed a few years back at least. Humans and vampires have often worked together...in secret mind you."
"But anyway," Stealth said, "getting back to my story?"
"Sorry," Ethereal blushed. "I get side-tracked easily. Go ahead."
Stealth chuckled before continuing, "I was nicknamed 'Stealth' by my fellow assassins while I was still human because I could move around in absolute silence. Once I was embraced, the Council kept me on as an assassin for the first century of my immortal life. They liked the name and thought it suited me well, so it became my vampire name as well. Up until about eighty years ago, I was still training vampire assassins for the Council."
She sat there for a few moments and let the story sink in. Nodding her head, she turned to Requiem. "Okay, now your turn."
Requiem grinned at her before he began his story. "First, I must give you a history lesson of the Council. I have already said that there are records kept of every vampire that has ever existed, both living and dead. We mourn our dead, just like the living do. Sometimes we hold official memorial services, especially if the vampire was very old and distinguished."
Requiem picked up his glass and went to take a sip. Noticing the congealed mess in the bottom of the glass, he made a face and put the glass back down before he continued his story. "I was first embraced in the year of 1431. I was a poet during my human life. After I was embraced, the Council appointed me the job of writing the requiems that were spoken at the memorial services. So my namesake is taken after the prayers that I wrote for the deceased."
"I suppose we should be thankful for small favors," Stealth said as he pulled Ethereal back against him.
She laughed as she settled in his arms. "And what's that?" she asked.
"The council held firm to the traditional law that a name can only ever be held by one vampire. I don't think I could handle more than one Punk vampire in this immortal life."