By Ashlynne Laynne
“No fate other than the one I choose.” The timeless creed, and tattoo, bore by the Rousseau’s— a vampire clan with the purest bloodline of any vampire family. Out of this clandestine group came one who was different, yet the same: Ascher - a half-bloodling— half- human, half vampire. Ascher questions the purpose for his existence and which world he truly belongs to: the human world or the vampire world. Two months from sealing to Ursula— a prearranged union to a woman he abhors — he’s at his wit’s end. He knows if he calls off the sealing, the Romanian clan will strike with deadly force, but he cannot see eternity with a cold empty shell of a woman like Ursula. Just when he thought life was complicated enough, he meets Shauna— a beautiful, bi-racial human Wiccan — and immediately develops an unshakable attraction to her. She makes him feel alive and vital despite his origins and Ascher makes a decision that turns his immortal world upside down.
Ascher pulled Shauna behind him, his stance clearly a protective one. But why-? Surely, she didn’t need protection from her. His grip tightened around her arm, his knuckles straining with tension. Her mind finally registered his firm hold and sent messages to her heart and eyes.
She wiggled away from him. “Let go of me, Ash! What’s wrong with you? Who is she?”
“I’m fine and she’s nobody. Ursula was just leaving.” He spoke with little conviction.
“The hell I am…” the stranger mumbled, an unsavory smirk turning up the corners of her mouth. “Tell her, Ascher. Tell her who I really am!”
“Yeah, Ascher,” Shauna spoke in a mocking tone, her eyes becoming pieces of wet coal in narrow sockets. “Why don’t you tell me the truth…who is she?”
He froze, his youthful face chiseled with a mixture of shock, horror and anger. “There’s something you need to know.”
“Spit it out, Ascher. Tell her! Or I will!” Ursula growled, her hands flicking the shades away from her face.
Terror, worse than any horror movie Shauna had ever seen. More ghastly than any monster a mind could conjure.
Shauna clutched her chest, stepping away from both of them. “Her eyes!” she screamed. “Ascher…what’s wrong with her eyes?”
The stranger giggled and continued piercing her demonized stare into Shauna.
Ascher struggled to control his mounting anger. He clutched Shauna closer. “Do you trust me?”
The floor vibrated underneath their feet. Shauna’s eyes became cold, the glare of distrust swimming in them.
“No. I don’t! Why are you so nervous?”
“You left Katy alone. You should go back up with her. I’ll be up there in a little while. Okay?”
“No. I want to know who she is. Right now, Ascher! Who…is…she?”
“Please, Shauna,”— he huffed with impatience— “just do it.”
“For cryin’ out loud…” Ursula groaned.
“I warned you, Ursula,” he growled, every part of him aching to rip her to shreds. She had nerve. Were he not a gentleman, he’d finish her and be done with it.
“You don’t warn me. Looks like you’ve been keeping a lot from her. Afraid she might not want you if she knows the real you?”
His lips strained against clenched teeth, begging to curl up and release a menacing snarl. Control— He had to stay in control. Push the anger back down. Stem the raging desire to lash out at Ursula.
Her red eyes narrowed, the smirk taunting him, daring him to expose himself. He was strong in his gifts, but rage made her stronger. Her mind turned, fighting off the subliminals he hurled at her.
She cackled, “That won’t work, dearest. It’s time she knows everything.”
“Dearest?” Shauna questioned, her tiny fists balling.
Ascher reached for Shauna but she moved away from him.
“Don’t touch me!”
“Ursula, doing this won’t change things between us,” he uttered, knowing she’d never listen to reason.
“No! She deserves to know the truth, Ascher,” Ursula responded.
“Ursula, please—” He couldn’t believe he was begging her for anything.
Ignoring his pleading, she continued, “My name is Ursula. Ascher and I are to seal in two days.”
Shauna drew in a staggered breath. “Seal— as in marriage?”
“Is this true?” Shauna demanded.
His head dropped in shame. “Yes, but…”
“So she is your fiancée? And let me guess, she’s the first.”
“Shauna, I can explain.”
Shauna clutched her head with both hands screaming, “No!” The window, behind her, cracked. She ran towards the door, fresh tears flooding her face. Ascher grabbed at her, missing. “No!” she shouted again. The ceiling rumbled, water raining down from the sprinklers. “Move!” she shouted, pointing towards the door. It flew open, nearly ripping off its hinges. Ascher appeared in front of her. She scowled then pushed him back. “Go away!” she yelled then watched as an unseen force moved him from her path. She turned, backing away from both of them, her eyes fixated on the two. Her finger twirled then pointed at each of them. “Stay!”
“I hope you’re happy now,” he growled at Ursula then sprinted after Shauna, catching her before she hit the stairs. He clutched her, turning her to him. Distress blanketed her face. “Shauna please, just let me explain.”
A strange burn started in her legs. What’s happening to me? She’d had rage issues all her life but never anything like this. Her normally clear eyesight was now blurry and grey. The hall—she’d seen for three months and knew like the back of her hand—became an unfamiliar maze, veiled by her fuzzy vision.
She took a step, stumbled then regained her balance against the wall.
“I told you how important honesty was to me and you’ve been keeping this from me the whole time. You told me she was nobody… that it was only physical curiosity. It doesn’t look that way to me. She talks like she owns you. You told me it was over between the two of you. How were you going to cover up getting married to someone else?”
“I wasn’t, just listen to me...”
She shook her head. “I’ve listened enough. I can’t trust you. Without trust, we have nothing. All you’ve done is feed me lies. You’re a liar! I despise liars! I can’t believe I was going to sleep with you—allow you to be my first.” She gripped her stomach and doubled over. “I’m going to be sick…”
He reached for her, again.
“Don’t touch me!” Every ounce of restraint left her body. Chaos now flooded her brain. She wanted to lash out. No, she needed to lash out.
“Shauna. Just let me take you home. I promise I’ll explain things to you.”
“What part of, ‘I don’t want to hear your lies’— don’t you understand?” she seethed through clenched teeth, her anger blazing directly into him. “Back…!” she barked, pushing her hands away from her body, towards him. He flew back against the wall. “I don’t want to hear it! Don’t touch me, Ascher,” she sobbed into her hands, “I hate you. I wish I’d never met you!”
“Shauna…?” he whispered, pain and disbelief creasing his face.
“Just leave me alone. I never want to see you again.”
“Shauna you don’t….”
“Oh yes I do— I mean it and I quit! I can’t work here anymore.”
She ran out the emergency exit, setting off the door alarm, sprinting—into the night.
Ashlynne Laynne has always had a soft spot in her heart for vampires but grew tired of the garlic fearing, sun loathing creatures of old. An avid horror movie fan, she tends to enjoy media and music that is of a younger, more eclectic nature. This was the catalyst for her writing The Progeny. The vampire/witch pairing is unique and different when most books pair vampires with werewolves.
The infinite possibilities, for such a wickedly unique couple, intrigued her. There is no shortage of romance, steam and surprises in The Progeny. These books are for adults and contain adult sensuality and themes, but minimal profanity. She loves writing on the edge and teetering between the erotica and romance genres. She thinks of Ascher and Shauna as the damned version of Romeo and Juliet.
She’s currently working on book two of the series entitled Blood Bonds. In her spare time, Ashlynne enjoys cooking, reading and spending time with her family. Ashlynne juggles the hats of wife, mother, full time employee and part-time writer, hoping to write full time one day soon.
Ashlynne lives in North Carolina with her husband and teenage son.
Ashlynne appreciates and loves to hear from her readers. You can connect with her at the following places:
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