A Vampire's Soul

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Authors: Carla Susan Smith
level-headed. In all fairness, I had no idea what her personality had been like as a human, but I was willing to bet the basic fundamentals hadn’t really changed. Still, I felt like Aleksei was leaving something out.
    â€œCan a person change their mind? Do they have any say in this?”
    â€œOf course.” The big guy looked faintly annoyed with me. “They can always refuse, but I have never heard it happening.”
    No, I just bet he hadn’t. Saying no to a vampire didn’t seem like much of a choice at all. I sat for a few minutes, toying with my rapidly cooling mug of coffee, as my mind ran through everything I’d just been told. I wanted to be certain I had the order of events straight.
    â€œSo only a human with the proper recessive gene, and who wants to be turned, can be made into a vampire.” Aleksei nodded and seemed quite pleased that I’d caught on fairly quickly. “But they can be turned only by an Original Vampire, one of the Fallen, right? And Gabriel and this other vampire—Ryiel—they’re both Fallen . . . so how many are there?”
    â€œHow many what?” Anasztaizia asked, her eyes shining brightly.
    â€œHow many Fallen?”
    â€œWhat happened to the rest of them?”
    â€œThe rest of who?” Now it was Aleksei’s turn to ask.
    â€œThe Fallen. Nine doesn’t seem like an awful lot. Weren’t there more of them?”
    He shook his head and looked puzzled. I was guessing no one had ever considered this before. “No. There have only ever been nine,” he stated emphatically.
    My life was rolling down a path where everything was a lot more complicated than what I’d known before. I had no idea where exactly a Fallen existed within the vampire hierarchy, but it seemed to me that it was pretty high up. I hadn’t failed to catch the reverence in Aleksei’s voice when he said the word “Fallen.”
    I fixed my gaze on the Santa and Mrs. Claus salt and pepper shakers, standing guard on either side of a wedge of holly-printed paper napkins. Time passed. It could have been a minute or fifteen or fifty before Anasztaizia’s gentle voice broke the silence.
    â€œRowan, is there anything else we can tell you?”
    Breaking my trance, I smiled at her before bringing my gaze back to Aleksei’s scarred face. “Yeah,” I said slowly, “how do you kill a vampire?”

    I f revealing vampire secrets made Aleksei uncomfortable, then the idea of sharing information on this particular topic turned him downright prickly. I couldn’t really blame him, I suppose, but it did make me wonder just how broad a directive Gabriel had given him. From the look on his face, if I hadn’t crossed a line yet, then my toes were dangerously close to the edge.
    The vampire’s face turned cold, his eyes steely, and I felt a shiver go down my back, the kind my father always said meant someone was walking over your grave. As a smart-mouthed teenager I’d been quite scornful of all my father’s favorite sayings, and this one was no exception. How would anyone know where I was going to be buried? What if I decided on being cremated instead, with my ashes scattered at sea? Did that mean instead of people walking over my grave, a school of dolphins was now swimming through the area? Such a possibility still ranks very high on my Way Cool chart.
    I’m pretty sure the temperature in the kitchen dropped a few degrees as Aleksei asked, “You want to know how to kill a vampire?”
    Not trusting my voice, I nodded. The sudden warmth of his smile took me completely by surprise. All I could assume was that he had forgotten I was human and, to his mind, a physically inferior species. Perhaps my sudden inability to speak had reminded him. At any rate he obviously decided there was no harm in telling me. What was I going to do with the information? It wasn’t like I was

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