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Book Two in the Rag & Bones Vampire Series
Story Sample

Chapter 1

“PLEASE, DON’T do this.” Adana knelt on the floor, cowering beneath the menacing figure before her. Her hands shook and her teeth chattered as if she felt icy cold, but beads of sweat were also forming on her brow. A few moments earlier she had felt safe and protected, now she felt vulnerable and alone.

“You shouldn’t beg like that. It makes you look pathetic. Didn’t your Mother teach you anything? Oh, no, I forgot, you haven’t seen her since you were five. Dear, dear, dear. That was rather neglectful of her, wasn’t it? What a bad Mother you have.”

Adana gritted her teeth.

“I did not have a bad Mother. She saved me.”

“If that’s what you want to believe.”

“I’ll do anything you want. I’ll go with you. Just don’t hurt them. They’re innocent.”

“Ha! And don’t lie to me. You won’t willingly do what I want. You’ve already proven your strength. I’ll bet you think you can beat me. You know, I never thought you’d get out of that cage after I enhanced the fortifications, but you did, and you brought that vile vampire Rag along with you. Of all the vampires for you to choose, you chose him. It couldn’t have worked out better.”

“I don’t understand. He’s just a vampire. He’s nothing to you.”

“No, you wouldn’t. You’ve been living in your own little make-believe land where everything works out fine. You know nothing of the real world. I’ll let you in on a secret – he isn’t nothing to me.”

Adana tried to push the feeling of dread right down into the depths of her stomach, but nausea was beginning to take hold. What did Adrielle know of Rag? What did Rag know of Adrielle? From the way her mouth curled when she spoke of him, it didn’t seem like the connection was the type where they’d send each other Christmas cards.

“I thought Rag was the best person for the job.”

“Yes, and I thought he was cleverer than that. Seems not. Tell me, does he know exactly who you are? Hmm?”

“He knows enough.” Adana was beginning to regret having told Ellie so much about her past. She was bound to tell Rag at some point. What then?

“Ha! I thought not. What do you think he’ll say when he finds out the whole truth? Do you think he’ll be happy? Maybe he’ll throw a party to celebrate. No? Actually, you know what I think will happen? I think he’ll be angrier than he’s ever been before. The kind of anger you can’t imagine until you’ve seen it. Have fun with that.”

“He doesn’t need to know everything.”

“You think? Rag’s very set in his ways. He doesn’t like surprises.”

“I can’t be held responsible for what you did. Whatever it was.”

“Oh, no? Haven’t you ever heard the phrase ‘blood runs thicker than water’? You might not believe it, but I can assure you that he does.”


Chapter 2

“WELL, I never knew that,” said Ellie. Her expression was a mixture of mild shock and extreme, childish glee – the type of look that might be described as wicked. It wasn’t the kind of look he liked. She leaned over a little further where he sat at the kitchen table, stomach full of a hearty breakfast and body just about ready for a morning snooze. She poked at his hair as if it were an alien life form that should be handled with extreme care. Annoying didn’t cover it. He brushed her off, leaned forward and shook his head.

“What is it? Dandruff?” A shiver travelled down his spine at the mere thought of it.

“Oh, no. Nothing like that.”

“Then, what?”

“It’s just,” she paused, clearly for effect, but the effect it was having on him probably wasn’t what she was expecting. His eyes flashed a cold black with the frustration that was building up inside him. She smiled and then, she dropped the bombshell. “I never knew vampires could go grey.”

Rag blinked. He wasn’t sure he’d heard her right.

“Grey?” He let the word sink into his brain. “You’re saying I’ve got grey hair? No.” Panic set in. The level of panic that would’ve been commensurate with a horde of creatures surrounding the house. Rag tugged at handfuls of his hair, pulling them round from both sides of his face as far as he could, which wasn’t anywhere near far enough to examine the evidence. He stared at the tips with a level of intensity that made him feel woozy and made him look cross-eyed. He grunted. He looked up at Ellie. She shrugged. There was nothing else for it. “Pull one out. I want to see.”

Ellie tapped the biro she was holding against her teeth, stretching the moment to breaking point. “Are you serious?”

His frustration rocketed.

“Of course, I’m serious. I can’t exactly use a mirror, can I?”

“And you won’t get mad if I’m proved right?”

Well, he couldn’t guarantee that. That was like having asked him to stay calm on the day he’d been turned. “I asked, didn’t I?”

He faced towards Ellie and lowered his head. She began to pick between the hairs. “Hmm. Ready?”

“Ready.”

He bit down on his teeth to stop himself from transforming as Ellie, her face no doubt filled with vindictive delight, wound a hair around her finger and tugged hard. She let the solitary strand drop onto the table beside him. Even against the light, natural pine he could see it. White. It was definitely white.

“But that’s impossible.”

“Well, clearly, it isn’t,” she said, showcasing the evidence with a flourish of her hand, “You can’t deny what’s in front of your eyes.”

“Yes, I can. Vampires don’t go grey. They stay exactly as they were when they were turned. Everyone knows that. Everyone.”

“Don’t you mean creatures? Anyway, who says they don’t? Is it written somewhere in an ancient text? Because if it is, I haven’t seen it. Maybe it just takes longer for the ageing process to happen. I don’t suppose many vampires live as many years as you.”

“Longer?”

“Like, you start going grey when you’re over a hundred years old.”

“Don’t be ridiculous.” It was the most preposterous theory he had ever heard. Creatures were well known for being stuck in time, a mirror image of the exact moment they became something more than human. He wasn’t having it.

“Why is it ridiculous? I’m sure there are lots of things you don’t know about your own kind. It’s not like you socialise a lot. Knowledge moves on. I mean, look at the mobile phone.”

That wasn’t worth an answer. Comparing a creature to a mobile phone was like comparing a human to … a mobile phone. She’d studied enough of their history to know that what she was suggesting was as much a fantasy as creatures being able to go out in the sunlight.

“Guys. Chill.”

Flynn stood in the doorway. In the few weeks since she’d made The Old Bakery her home, she’d blossomed into a typical teenager, with all the annoying traits that involved. She’d certainly lost that initial sense of awe at everything around her, and her ability to aggravate him without even trying seemed to be something she was honing to perfection. She was clearly finding his conversation with Ellie extremely amusing, which riled him even more. He didn’t need to chill. His blood ran cold enough already.

Flynn walked into the room in a nonchalant fashion, picked up a piece of dry toast from the plate in the centre of the table and bit off the corner.

“I was only experimenting.”

Rag felt a ball of rage begin to form inside him. Flynn had just showcased another of her undesirable traits. The ‘I can do anything I want and you can’t touch me because I’m just a kid’ one. Well, that certainly couldn’t be allowed to continue. Rag grabbed her arm as he stood and gave her one of his most serious stares. The type he usually reserved for when he was involved in a fight and wanted to freak his opponent out. He’d been told it was a little like facing Medusa – it paralysed every muscle in your body – but it didn’t seem to be working on her.

“Let me get this right. You made my hair grey?” Flynn nodded. “And who was it who gave you permission to experiment on me? I’m not some shop window dummy.” Flynn giggled. “It isn’t funny.”

She looked up into his face. “It wasn’t meant to be funny.” His hand tightened so much around her wrist that the white of his knuckles almost matched the colour of that solitary hair. “Ouch.”

“Rag, don’t do that. You’re hurting her. You can change it back, right?” said Ellie.

“Oh, do I have to? I thought it might be more convincing to say you were my uncle if you had grey hair like Ellie and, anyway, I think it looks cute.”

Cute? That was the last thing he wanted to look.

“She’s right, you know.”

Rag’s head shot round towards Ellie. “Don’t you start.”

“No, I don’t mean cute, but you do look far too young to be responsible for a teenager, or to be my brother. If we start getting into the territory of different fathers, we’re complicating the story. That’s the last thing we want to do.”

“But no-one’s ever going to see me with her, are they? I can’t go out with her during the day and I’m hardly likely to take her down one of the bars in town in the evening, am I? Not for a couple of years, if ever. Anyway, you’re officially her guardian.”

That was what it said on all the paperwork they’d faked. Mother, Ellie Scarth.

Ellie shook her head and picked up her half-written shopping list. “Oh, change it back, Flynn, or he’ll be even more moody than usual. I’m not sure I can cope with that today.”

“I am not moody.”

Ellie raised her eyebrows.

“Right, then. I’ll forget about that other spell I was working on. If you want to stay cooped up in here all day, every day, then what do I care?”

Flynn turned to leave the room. Before she’d reached the door, Rag was in front of her. He was annoyed with himself for his own curiosity being piqued, but he had to know what she was talking about.

“Wait. What do you mean? What other spell?”

“Oh, it’s just a little protection spell I’ve been working on. I suppose you could describe it as a bit like an umbrella that would be able to follow someone around during the day and protect them from the damaging rays of the sun.”

Rag almost couldn’t speak. If he was any good at reading people, the glint in Flynn’s eyes had to mean the assumption he was making was correct.

“You mean, I’d be able to go out in sunlight?”

Flynn shrugged. “Yes, but you’re not interested in my spells, so we’ll forget about it. I can practise on more mundane stuff.” She pointed to the hallway floor. “That rug would make a good magic carpet, I reckon. That’s the type of thing us witches should be doing, isn’t it? We’re into fairy tales big time.”

Ellie stepped forward.

“Are you serious? You can create a spell that does that? And Bones? He could go out too?”

Flynn seemed to be in her element. Relishing the rapt attention she now had from all three of them.

“Actually, it’s not that difficult. I found a spell in one of those old books you gave me, Ellie. It was originally designed to protect someone from a raging fire – you know, the type of things that demons tend to throw at you – I was going to adapt it. I suppose it would be more like wearing an extremely high factor sun cream than holding an umbrella. All I need to do is get the strength right. Of course, that would involve some proper testing, not just theory, which would take a lot of time and effort. But you’re not interested. I get that. You don’t really like witches. I won’t bother you with my worthless magic any more.”

She pushed past him and walked ever-so slowly towards the stairs. He felt certain there would be a catch, there was always a catch, but he couldn’t let this opportunity pass.

“Okay,” said Rag.

“Okay, what?”

“When do we start this testing?”

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