It was never a good idea to steal from a vampire, but bad choices made great stories. It said so on my t-shirt.
In keeping with my trouble-making wild child reputation, I was creeping through the home of one of the highest-ranking vampires in Madrid. Under normal circumstances, getting caught would be another story that would be added to the long list of Isabella’s Bad Ideas. The Queen would punish me, but just for show. She enjoyed my shenanigans almost as much as her entourage hated them. Maybe more. But even she wouldn’t be able to ignore that I was creeping around the home of the courtier that despised me the most – Pierot Prendre.
As chief member of the Queen’s entourage, Pierot could make my undead life a nightmare.
My lips turned up in a smirk at the thought of the outrage he’d express once he discovered someone had stolen his precious relic from under his pointy nose. And it was his fault, really. Only he, among the court’s crawlers, was arrogant enough to brag loudly at the court about the artifact being in his possession, and not expect to be robbed. He deserved to be taught a lesson for that smugness.
Pierot had located the Cup of Restoration, a long-lost remnant of bygone times when magic had been more abundant and powerful. It restored the vitality of anyone who drank from it. It couldn’t work complete miracles, but came close enough. Vampires like me wouldn’t suddenly become mortal again, but the Cup had performed some phenomenal wonders.
I had to have it.
The Cup of Restoration was priceless, but I wasn’t greedy. All I wanted was enough money to get out of the city and make a fresh start somewhere else, where nobody knew who I was.
Pierot had brashly said the Cup was sitting in his office. I crept through the hallway, my light steps barely touching the floor. Security systems and wards usually kept out undesirables from breaking into secure premises. Centuries of boredom during long nights had turned my hobby of breaking and entering into an art form, and I was an adept thief.
Light streamed from under the closed door. I wondered if there was anyone inside the room. The premises had been empty so far but it didn’t hurt to be careful. I gently turned the doorknob and stepped into the office. I clapped a hand over my mouth before a laugh broke free.
I couldn’t believe it. In typical vampiric overconfidence, Pierot had placed the Cup on the mantle in full view of anyone that walked in. The arrogant fool. My incisors tugged at my lower lip in delight.
Two armchairs were lined in front of a dark fireplace to my right. A lit lamp on a side table illuminated the area and provided the glow I’d seen under the door. The Cup was the only thing on the mantle above the fireplace.
Having spotted my prize, I gave the rest of the empty office a cursory glance. Priceless paintings covered the wall across from me. To my left was Pierot’s desk, with a small unlit lamp and stationery. A row of bookshelves continued around the corner beyond my sight in the L-shaped room.
With renewed confidence, I padded over to the mantle and picked up the Cup. It was made of a hefty metal I couldn’t identify. I lifted it effortlessly with my vampiric strength, a human would struggle if they attempted the same thing.
My fingers traced the runes etched into the sides. I could almost feel a pulse of magic emanating from the relic. No question about it, this was the real thing, which meant it would fetch a pretty price. My smile widened. I couldn’t wait to leave the city.
“Come here,” a rough voice said behind me.
I whirled in surprise, my fangs out and the Cup raised over my head like a weapon. The voice had emanated from the direction of Pierot’s desk. I squinted. Even with my enhanced night vision, I didn’t see anyone sitting at the desk.
“Get me out of this cage,” the masculine voice demanded.
It came from around the corner.
Intrigued by someone issuing orders at me, I moved closer to the voice. I reached the desk and peered into the darkness. Tucked around the bend, at the end of the row of bookshelves was a cage.
I leaned forward and flipped on the lamp on Pierot’s desk. Light bounced off metal bars. Inside the cage stood a tall muscular man. The enclosure was only a little wider than him. He stood at an unnatural angle. My brain tried to figure out what was wrong with the way he was standing, and I realized he wasn’t leaning against the bars. He was standing completely straight in the center of the narrow cage, as if he was avoiding touching the sides.
My eyes widened. They must be silver bars. Well, well, well, Pierot certainly had been busy. First, he had retrieved the Cup of Restoration, and then he had caged a shifter. Or was it the other way around?
“Who are you?” I asked the shifter.
Continue reading the story in SUMMER BITES, available now on Amazon.