When Darkness Falls
The First Vampire Redemption Story
by Ellen Chauvet
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Plunged into a two-thousand year old war between good and evil, she is propelled into a world of blood, lust and dark secrets. She must embrace her birthright to fight an ancient threat to humanity. Bequeathed with the dubious gift of being the “Chosen One,” Lexie meets the enigmatic Etienne Benoit. She falls hard for him and when he betrays her, she vows to get revenge. After all, she is a vampire executioner and killing vampire is what she does.
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Lexie sat waiting for her best friend Emma Gunther to join her at their favorite French bistro, the Boeuf sur la Toit, off the Champs Elysees. Emma had been away for two weeks and Lexie was looking forward to their reunion.
Her thoughts drifted to the latest vampire novel Emma had given her to read. It contained hot, juicy sex scenes. Her gaze settled on a handsome man who had entered the restaurant. His wool coat outlined broad shoulders and chest, and tapered to a slim waist and hips. Dark eyes caught hers for a moment before shifting on. He sauntered to a single table radiating sex and passion. Lexie’s imagination took over. In her fantasy he was a vampire and she was his lover. She undressed him and heat rose in her groin as she pictured him naked. Lost in her fantasy, she jumped when a hand touched her shoulder.
“Earth to Lexie,” Emma’s familiar voice intruded.
“Shit you scared the be-jesus out of me.” Lexie rose and hugged her friend, then stood back. “Darlin’ I’m so happy you’re back,” she said slipping comfortably into her native Atlanta drawl. The accent she had to clip when speaking French or the Parisian’s would look at her with disdain.
“It’s good to be back,” Emma said, removing her coat before sitting at their table. Emma was tall, had long brown hair which she pulled back in a severe bun and thick glasses. They worked together as translators for the United Nations and their friendship had flourished over the past three years. Emma was the science translator as well as a chemist and math whizz. They were a strange combination: a pretty Southern belle from Georgia and a stodgy but brilliant German fraulein, but the friendship worked. Rather than going home to Atlanta, Lexie had spent summer vacations at the Gunther’s cottage in the Taunus Mountains, and Christmas holidays with Emma and her father in Frankfurt.
Too cold in late November to sit outside, Lexie and Emma enjoyed the warmth and coziness of the restaurant as they waited for their meals.
“What were you thinking about when I came in?” Emma said. “You were a million miles away.”
Lexie felt her cheeks redden and dipped her head to avoid Emma’s stare. “I was thinkin’ about some stuff at work. How was your trip?” Lexie steered the conversation to a safer topic.
“It was good. Saw some friends from university and had a good visit with my father.”
Lexie noticed that Emma’s response was vague, and wondered what she wasn’t saying. Before she could ask, the waiter arrived with their food. They ate in silence, the awkwardness between them increasing.
Puzzled by her friend’s reticence, Lexie leaned back and said, “How come the subject of men and vampires hasn‘t come up yet?”
“You always make fun of me when I talk about vampires,” Emma replied. “And as for men…” she left the statement hanging. Lexie did think that Emma’s fascination with the undead was odd so she steered the conversation toward men.
Lexie felt a twinge of remorse that Emma was reluctant to mention vampires around her, so she chose to bring a bit of humor to the conversation.
“We’re not spring chickens anymore,” Lexie said.
“Don’t be silly, we’re only 29.” Emma replied. “Besides, you tried a committed relationship, and we both know how that went.”
“Don’t remind me,” Lexie said as Justin’s handsome face flashed through her mind. “I still get my panties in a wad when I think of findin’ him with that bitch. That still hurts.”
“Ach, let’s not rehash that one again.” Just like Lexie’s drawl, Emma’s German accent was always more evident when it was just the two of them.
“At least I have one to rehash. How much longer are you gonna to pine over Tom?”
“That’s not fair.”
Lexie could see the hurt in her friend’s eyes. “I’m sorry. I just get frustrated that you waste your time longin’ for our unapproachable boss.” The truth was Lexie also had a little crush on their brawny, Daniel Craig like English boss. But of the two of them, she had the role of being the one who was worldly about men, and she enjoyed that. Since the disaster with Justin, she had shied away from any long term relationships. One night stands were exciting and safe. Never mind that they left her feeling empty and lonely.
Emma smiled at her. “I know you worry about me. Maybe my destiny is to find a ’good’ vampire like in the books we’ve been reading. Then I could live a life of adventure and hot, juicy, passionate sex.” Emma purred.
“Girl they are just myths. Besides, I don’t believe in good and evil.” Lexie usually saw Emma’s eyes twinkling in amusement through her thick glasses at their ongoing debate.
But this time Emma’s eyes held no sparkle and she said with a serious tone. “All myths have some truth in the background.”
“I guess everyone needs to believe in somethin’.” Lexie said. Especially when you’re a mousy nerd. She experienced a twinge of guilt at her unkind thought. Lexie loved Emma like a sister and her attempts to improve her appearance came from a place of caring.
“Hon you are barkin’ up the wrong tree if you think I’ll ever believe vampires are real. There isn’t any ‘truth’ in the background. Although I must admit, I enjoy the erotica. The scenes give me wonderful ideas for my own flings.” She winked at her friend. “C’mon let’s get out of here and go for a walk.”
Even Lexie noticed that male heads turned to ogle her as she exited. She and Emma walked the Champs Elysees, wandering in and out of the fashionable stores that were still open.
“This would look wonderful on you,” Lexie said. She held up a deep purple sweater for Emma’s approval. Lexie felt it was her mission in life to break Em out of her dowdy wardrobe.
“It would look better on you.” Emma replied. “This is more my style.” She held up a mustard yellow sweater and Lexie cringed at the sight.
“The color is awful. It makes you look dead. Will you at least try this purple one on?
Emma took the sweater and slipped it over her head. Lexie smiled. It was stunning and brought out Em’s chocolate brown eyes.
It’s too….bright.” Emma said and yanked the sweater off.
“I love it on you.”
Emma regarded the sweater and Lexie could sense that she wavered.
“Won’t you at least give it a try?”
“I don’t know….I have plenty of clothes.”
“C’mon hon, it’s sexy.”
“I never think of myself that way.”
Lexie grabbed Emma’s arm and pulled her in front one of the store mirrors. “Hold it up in front of you.”
“Does it really make me look sexy?” Lexie could tell the idea of sexy appealed to her.
“Absofrigginlutely, you have to have it.” Lexie smiled to herself as Emma walked to the cashier and paid for the item.
Will wonders never cease?
They stepped back out on the boulevard and Lexie linked arms with Emma as they walked. In soft whispers they commented on the men that they passed on the street. It was their usual game of imagining whether or not certain ones could be good vampires or bad vampires and then laughed at their silliness.
Lexie pointed to a couple approaching. “Now he’s someone I could take to bed in a heartbeat,” she whispered into Emma’s ear.
They were passing the Cartier store and Emma grabbed her arm and pulled.
“Look at that diamond necklace. Isn’t that the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?”
“I guess so.” Lexie stumbled after her.
Startled by Emma’s sudden interest in the incredibly expensive item in the window, Lexie started to say something when Emma tensed holding her arm so tight it hurt.
“Em, you’re hurtin’ me.” She tugged at her friend’s grip but Emma held on tighter. “What’s going on with you? The necklace is gorgeous, and way out of our price range.”
Lexie felt a presence behind her. Her scalp prickled and her heart rate accelerated. She scratched her head wondering if she’d picked up lice. The scratching didn’t help.
“Oui, that is a most delightful piece,” said a tinkling female voice with a heavy French accent. “It would look stunning on you.”
Lexie turned and the petite young woman who had spoken was too gorgeous for words. Her hair was blond almost white in the soft light of the Cartier window. Blue eyes twinkled from her heart shaped face. Her skin was translucent and flawless. The woman extended her hand and as Lexie shook it she noticed delicate blue veins on the back.
“My name is Marielle,” she said. “And this is my husband Francois.”
Lexie looked up into eyes so dark brown they appeared black. High cheekbones that any model would kill for were framed by lustrous brown hair. His broad chest and shoulders filled out the suede jacket he wore, and tight fitting designer jeans revealed a slim waist and long legs.
So young to be married.
“Enchanté” Lexie replied taking the man’s outstretched hand. “Je m’apelle Lexie.” Again her scalp prickled. It was annoying.
She looked at Emma who still clutched her arm. Emma stared at the couple in a way that was not friendly but as if she knew these strangers.
“Do y’all know each other?” Lexie asked puzzled by Emma’s demeanor.
“Ah no, mademoiselle.” Francois spoke for the first time and reached out his hand toward Emma.
Emma released the death grip she had on Lexie’s arm. In slow motion Emma raised her hand and when Lexie looked into her eyes the pupils were dilated and fixed. Her mouth opened but no sound came out. Lexie could see that Francois had captured Emma’s eyes with his own and the intensity of his gaze reminded Lexie of a hypnotist.
“This is my friend Emma.” Lexie was pleased to introduce her friend but for the first time felt the male attention was being stolen by Emma.
Francois raised Emma’s hand to his lips and kissed the back of it. When he released it, it hung in the air like some disembodied prosthetic. Before Lexie could say anything, Francois turned to Lexie.
“We were just passing by and noticed you admiring the necklace. We were both struck by your good looks and Marielle couldn’t resist saying hello. Are you perhaps a fashion model?”
“Oh, well it’s nice to meet you both and no, I am not a fashion model. But thank you kindly for the compliment,” Lexie replied, her ego soothed.
“C’mon, we need to go,” Emma said. “It’s getting late and I have a lot to do tomorrow.”
Rude much? “It was nice meeting you both,” Lexie said.
“It was our pleasure mademoiselle,” Francois replied. “Perhaps we will bump into each other again soon.” He smiled at Emma and Lexie noticed that the smile never reached his eyes.
“I would enjoy that,” Emma responded and then blushed to her roots. “We need to go.” Emma hustled Lexie to the curb. She waved her arm to hail a cab.
“Em, what are you doing? You just live a few blocks away, and I can take the train to Montmartre.” Emma didn’t respond, and as a cab pulled alongside, she jerked open the door and climbed in.
“Get in,” she demanded. Lexie hesitated. Emma reached out and yanked Lexie’s arm and she stumbled into the cab.
“Em, what’s wrong with you? You’re acting very strange.”
“There was just something about that couple that I didn’t trust. Especially the woman. They just - how do you say it in English ‘bugged me’.
“But, honey, what’s with the cab? Aren’t we going to the Bus Palladium for dancing?”
“I’m too tired to go dancing tonight.” Emma replied. “Besides I want to make sure that you get home safe.”
Still puzzled at her friend’s strange behavior, Lexie sat quietly for several minutes hoping she would explain further. When she didn’t, she decided to change the topic.
“Are we getting together tomorrow?
“Not tomorrow,” Emma replied.
“We could go shopping at the Gallerie Lafayette and Printemps. Have a late lunch at Café du Margot and finalize our plans for Christmas. It’ll be here before you know it.”
“I have some things I need to take care of. But I will call you on Sunday morning and we can get together then, okay?”
“Sounds good. Don’t forget my Mom arrives in the afternoon.” Lexie said wondering what things Emma needed to take care of. On occasion her friend could be aloof.
“I haven’t forgotten. I’m looking forward to meeting her.” The cab pulled up in front of Lexie’s apartment. She was surprised when Emma leaned over and grabbed her arm.
“Be careful, Paris is not as safe as you think. Lock your door and check your windows.”
“I promise I’ll be careful,” Lexie replied. “Are you sure you’re okay?
“I’m fine. I’ll talk to you Sunday.”
Lexie waved as the taxi pulled away from the curb. Emma’s eyes stared at her, but she didn’t wave back. So strange. She entered her apartment unable to shake off the sense of unease brought on by Emma’s behavior.
Large by Paris standards, Lexie’s home reflected her eclectic taste. Deep red drapes covered the French doors that led to her balcony, and the pieces of furniture she’d acquired were ultra-modern in design. She took a moment to review her to do list in preparation for her mother’s visit. Most of them were ticked off. She would clean the next day.
In contrast to the rest of the apartment, her bedroom was romantic with wooden shutters painted a robin’s egg blue, a bedspread to match and big fluffy pillows tossed casually about. Her bed was wrought iron with gauzy soft blue drapes. Lexie changed into her pajamas and her eyes locked on to the most recent vampire book she was reading. Her thoughts returned to Emma and the discomfort she’d experienced earlier returned. She picked up the phone to call her then smiled at her concern. I’ll worry about that tomorrow.
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