Beyond the Veil – Book Excerpt: Blood of the Dark Moon
“Jesse, this is most puzzling. There are a lot of references to blood in here, and it’s clear that they’re not necessarily talking about some form of sacrifice. Do you have any light to shed on this?”
He blinked but kept his expression steady. “Well, I, um —”
Amanda laughed. “It’s okay; I don’t think that this text is talking about ancient vampires or whatever. I’m in fact wondering if it’s a symbolic allusion to some kind of ancient Eucharist. But still, it’s quite strange. Any chance that I could borrow this from you?” She looked up at him hopefully. She was clearly both enthralled and intrigued with the book.
Jesse found it difficult to refuse her — in spite of the little voice in his head reminding him that if the Clan elders discovered the text missing and in the hands of a mortal, he’d most likely be staked. “I — perhaps, yes. Was there something you wanted to look into further?” As he gazed into her liquid, dark brown eyes, he tried desperately to remember why he gave her the text to begin with. Ah, yes, to impress her. And certainly she was impressed — and perhaps was also more observant and skilled in Latin than he had originally anticipated. Her translation proceeded at a rate even Amaltheia would’ve found proficient.
Finally, she stopped scribbling and took an additional sip from her glass. “Hold on one moment,” she requested, grabbing her purse, “I’ll be right back.” She smiled at him and ran to the women’s restroom.
He started to speak but thought better of it, gazing at her half-finished wine. What a lightweight she is, he mused. And how incredibly competent at Latin. Not to mention, he thought with a frown, very . . . intuitive . . . when intoxicated.
Idly, Jesse wondered how a few drops of blood mixed with her drink might aid her psychic skills. You idiot. You do that and there’s no turning back. Having her ingest his blood as a mortal would give him a light psychic connection to her, enough to know her location, or perhaps read her thoughts. That connection also would be very difficult to get rid of if he later desired to do so.
Glancing out of the corner of his eye, he watched Amanda standing by the women’s restroom, engaged in what looked to be friendly banter with another male patron. Perhaps a little . . . too friendly for his tastes.
Eyes narrowing, he quickly stuck his finger into his mouth, nicked it with his teeth, and deposited a few drops of his blood into her wine.
She’ll never notice, he thought smugly.
She returned some moments later to find him sitting calmly, sipping his wine. “Hi, I’m back,” she declared with a grin. “Now, where was I? Ah, yes . . . how old did you say this text was? And where did it come from?”
“I’m . . . not certain,” he admitted. “At least a thousand years or so ago it was written, I am guessing.” More like two thousand, but he didn’t want to admit to that. Not just yet.
He watched her carefully as she took a sip of her wine, slowly placed the glass back on the table, and made scribbles in her notebook. At one point she stopped reading and looked up, her finger on her mouth. Jesse couldn’t tell if she was confused or deep in thought — or both.
“Is there something wrong?” he asked her, inwardly cringing with anxiety. Did she taste the blood? Did she perhaps sense something wrong with the wine?
“Oh, um, no, no, nothing at all.” She shook her head as if dispelling something. Then she shrugged and laughed. “Was just wondering something.”
Amanda put her head back down in the book and took notes while Jesse observed her, fascinated. While her focus was still on the Latin writings, she reached out her left hand to the wine glass, which slid, of its own accord, a few inches closer to her hand.
It took Jesse a few moments to register what he had seen. By the Blood, she’s a natural. Dazed, he kept watching her, but she gave no appearance of having noticed what she had apparently done while under the influence of a glass or two of wine. It occurred to him that perhaps she had always been telekinetic and didn’t think much of using it while intoxicated. Either that or the blood he had slipped into her drink had temporarily — or perhaps permanently — increased her abilities. He suspected, given her keen interest in occult Latin texts, that he would be seeing much of this young woman in the days to come.
Not that I would mind, he figured, observing the way the folds of her sweater fell over her breasts and hips.
Some minutes later, she finally put down her pen. An animated dialogue ensued about various other occult texts that she had read while working on her thesis, mostly medieval and modern derivations of Ancient Greek and Roman magick. Amanda spoke of how they related and were also altogether, unlike this work, part of which she had translated. While she conversed with him, he couldn’t help but wonder whether or not she guessed his real purpose in showing her this text and taking her out for dinner. Perhaps she might realize that maybe he was interested in her?
Hours later, he walked Amanda to the subway station, smiling and nodding along as she rambled about various Greek and Latin texts, responding when he could to some of her statements and answering vaguely to others.
Amanda, be careful, she heard in that small but clear male voice which sometimes spoke in her mind.
Apollo? she thought back, but heard nothing afterwards. Maybe it was my Agathos Daimon. Her guardian spirit.
They stopped at the entranceway, and she turned to thank him for the wonderful evening and for tolerating her rather fanatical interest on some subjects and for a lovely dinner, but was interrupted by Jesse leaning in so fast she almost didn’t see him move. Before she could utter another word his lips were on hers. Everything at that moment stopped except for her heart, which she heard in her ears. Upon finally pulling apart, she realized that she wasn’t breathing and an electric current ran through her skin. Amanda was on fire, and she was alive, so alive, in that moment.
He left shortly after that. Amanda stared after him, agape. She turned to look up at the sky, but all she saw was light, endless light from the buildings, the faint traces of stars in the moonless sky, and all of it swirling around her.
©2008-2009 Adrianne Brennan
Excerpted from the book Blood of the Dark Moon.