Home > The Lost Vampire (Last True Vampire #5)

The Lost Vampire (Last True Vampire #5)
Author: Kate Baxter

CHAPTER

1

The bright lights of the Seattle cityscape appeared like stars in a vast universe as the 747 made its descent. The Space Needle jutted into the skyline like a sentinel, alien in its shape and form in comparison to the structures surrounding it. As alien as Saeed Almasi felt now, surrounded by humans who might have looked like him but, in truth, couldn’t be more different.

A woman watched him from across the aisle. The scent of her anxiety and fear reached his nostrils. The color of his skin, his features that so clearly identified him as someone from the Middle East, put her on edge. He didn’t have to hear her thoughts to know what worried her. Saeed turned toward her with a tight-lipped smile. The urge to grin and flash the dual points of his fangs overwhelmed him. She feared the color of his skin, his dark eyes and hair, and the possibility of his intentions. What Saeed wanted to tell her was that there were far more dangerous things in this world than a man from another country or a man who spoke another language. She sat across from a vampire, not a terrorist. And had his thirst been overwhelming, the scent of her blood would have awakened the predator in him.

Luckily for the woman who continued to watch him, and every other person on the flight, he’d fed before takeoff, glutting himself on Sasha’s blood in an effort to keep his thirst at bay. Closed up in a metal tube with little ventilation, he might as well have been trapped within the confines of an all-you-can-eat buffet with strict orders not to eat.

Saeed turned his attention from the woman and her judgment and focused his gaze on the city beyond his window. The two and a half hour flight hadn’t been long, but to Saeed, centuries had passed. He’d taken enough of Sasha’s blood to manage his thirst, but it seemed that lately no amount of blood could keep him from the memories that plagued him. For months, Saeed had given himself over to the Collective, the memories of every vampire that had ever existed, transferred through blood at the moment of a vampire’s turning. With practice, and regular feeding, the memories became nothing more than white noise in the back of a vampire’s mind. No more distracting than music in an elevator or the chatter of small talk in a crowded restaurant. To Saeed, the Collective had become a lifeline that connected him to the only thing on earth that could save him.

Through the memories of vampires long since dead, the Collective had shown him the female that would tether his soul.

The members of his coven thought him mad. Sasha and Diego, his most trusted advisors and friends, considered him lost. He’d made them vampires, just as he’d promised Mikhail he would, and when he’d been assured of their stability, he turned the leadership of his coven over to them. It was a decision Mikhail still wasn’t happy about. The vampire king wasn’t burdened with the matter of Saeed’s soul, however. Mikhail Aristov’s singular concern was that of replenishing the vampire race. As far as Saeed was concerned, Mikhail could turn every dhampir in Los Angeles. He certainly didn’t need Saeed’s help for that.

The plane touched down and Saeed said a silent prayer of thanks. He could remember a time when the only modes of transportation were horses, camels, or boats. The modern world moved much too quickly. Jets, sports cars, bullet trains all designed to get you from point A to point B in the shortest amount of time. He supposed humans had no choice but to move quickly. After all, their lives were so short. They had so little time on this earth, it seemed foolish to waste even a single second.

Saeed’s life had spanned millennia. Before his turning, he’d been one of the oldest dhampirs in existence. Now, he was nothing more than a fledgling vampire. As new in this world as a child. Perhaps it was his soulless state that kept him from feeling even an ounce of wonder over any of it. He was empty. Hollow. As void and black as the night that stretched out before him. It seemed odd he’d be concerned at all for the return of his soul in his seemingly apathetic state. But Saeed wasn’t simply concerned, he was obsessed. So obsessed, he’d relinquished control of his coven and flown to Seattle to reclaim what had been taken from him. He wasn’t even sure if he’d find what he was looking for in the Emerald City. But he had to start somewhere, even if he was following the inarticulate ramblings of a child Oracle.

The plane taxied slowly down the runway and came to a stop at its gate. Impatient to get on with their very short lives, the people around him hustled to retrieve their carry-on bags from the overhead compartments, only to waste more of those precious minutes standing in a line. Saeed sat, hands folded neatly in his lap, gaze cast straight ahead. He’d waited this long to begin his search, what was ten more minutes when compared to the eternal soul?

“Excuse me? Would you mind if I stepped past you?”

Saeed looked up to find a woman no more than twenty-four or twenty-five years of age staring down at him. Young. Pretty. Her expression pleasant. Her dark auburn hair was piled in a haphazard mass on top of her head, and the thin white cords of her earbuds dangled from either side of her head.

“Of course.” Saeed held out his hand in invitation and scooted his legs to the left. She gave him a sweet smile, her dark brown eyes sparking with interest as she looked him over one last time before sidling past.

Humans were such easy prey. Drawn to predators like Saeed. It really was a shame their blood didn’t offer more sustenance. In reality, vampires needed dhampirs to survive and vice versa. Like the delicate threads of a spider web, their existences were intertwined. Dhampirs couldn’t thrive without drawing from a vampire’s life essence and likewise, vampires often fed from dhampirs to keep their organs and bodily functions from going dormant. The stronger the creature, the more powerful their blood. Because Saeed had fed from Sasha—a vampire—before leaving, it would be at least a couple of weeks before he would need to feed again. With any luck, he’d find his mate before then.

The fae with hair like fire.

Saeed had seen her in the Collective so many times her features were ingrained in his memory. Throughout time and history, from memory to memory, he’d tracked her. Italy, Spain, England, and Mongolia. Australia, China, Russia, and Africa. There wasn’t a corner of the earth she hadn’t occupied, nor a space of time when she hadn’t been present. Sasha doubted her existence and thought her dead but Saeed knew better. The fae would tether Saeed’s soul. He needed only to find her to prove it.

As the last human shuffled down the narrow aisle to exit the plane, Saeed rose from his seat and retrieved his bag. A thrill raced through him. He was a predator after all, and this was the ultimate hunt. Seattle was a vast city, nearly as large as L.A. But the supernatural community was much smaller, narrowing the scope of Saeed’s hunting grounds. He would find her. Because he had to. His soul, his very sanity, depended on it.

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