(A courtroom that is oddly empty, save for a tall brunette woman in a tailored suit and heels as plaintiff, a tall handsome blond man in an Armani grey suit as defendant, an older woman judge, a mixed jury, and a short man in black near the door. The plaintiff’s expression is venomous, as is the countenance of the man in black. The blond defendant’s face carries an easy smile, but his eyes glitter with anger. The judge’s face is stern as she picks up her paper.)
Judge: Mr. Devlin Dalcon, you have been summoned here to stand trial for your actions in the latest Promise Me book, Taken for His Own. Now that the District Attorney of Supernatural Affairs has presented all her evidence, do you have anything to say for yourself?
Devlin: <stands, with hands in pockets> Of course. This is all a farce. You have no case.
Judge: Sustained. Mr. Dalcon, if you have any witnesses to call or any evidence to present, please do so now.
Devlin: There is no evidence; how could there be? The only ones who really know what happened are Sar and myself. <sneers> You were put up to this by Sar’s doctor, weren’t you? His examination found nothing—
DA: Objection! Who reported the violation is not relevant. We’ve already clearly established that Sar was very anemic after her encounter with Devlin—
Devlin: Of course she was. I drank some of her blood, as she asked me to. <looks over with a seductive smile at DA> I always aim to please my lovers.
Judge: Enough, Mr. Dalcon. Now do you have anything to say in your defense or not?
Devlin: <stands> Yes. <he walks out from behind the desk and then leans back on it, facing the jury> You have charged me with coercing Sar into a relationship—
DA: A sexual encounter.
Devlin: <glaring at DA> A sexual relationship, admittedly, but one we both desired. And yes, I do have evidence to that. <motions to the man in black> Lash, please take the stand. <The man in black narrows his eyes, but does as requested, including swearing to tell the truth>
Devlin: Tell them what you made me agree to close to a hundred years ago, as a condition of our friendship and working relationship.
Lash: I told you I wouldn’t have any part of hurting women. And I told you if you ever did it again, I’d quit our friendship and your employ.
DA: <incredulous> You expect us to believe the word of a weresnake?
Lash: <hisses, his eyes shifting briefly to snake then back to human> It’s the truth, lady. And as far as I know, Devlin never broke his word on that. <smiles nastily> He never has to. Your sex falls all over yourselves trying to get into his pants.
Judge: <bangs gavel> Enough! Please step down, Mr. Lash. <looks to Devlin> The word of your best friend and a known assassin is not sufficient evidence.
Devlin: Then how about from Sar herself? Read page 189 of Taken for His Own. It’s all there, that she’s not sorry we took our relationship to the next level. Hell, read the series! It’s all there in the pages, how she wanted me all along! That woman reeked of her desire every time I was around her!
DA: <jumps up> Objection! A woman can desire a man and retain her right to refuse his advances. We are not in the 1900’s, Mr. Dalcon.
Devlin: <smiles> Alas, as you are definitely a shrew that needs taming—
Judge: <strident and angry> Mr. Dalcon, one more comment like that and you’ll be held in contempt. Am I making myself clear?
Devlin: Of course.
Judge: Your rebuttal that she wanted you cannot be proven. The law says that a woman reserves the right to change her mind.
Devlin: Very well. Then I offer you the hard data that my brother Danial used to show Sar that her actions were not coerced at all. Pages 219-220. Firstly, Sar has some special feature about her that allowed her to bear a vampire’s child for my brother. Dr. Camlyn is researching the data he collected now. We believe that the cause is something rare in her blood: whatever causes it to be so unnaturally fresh and sweet compared to usual human blood—
DA: Objection. We do not need to hear about the virtues of the victim’s blood—
Devlin: <suddenly angry> I tell you there is something different about her blood, and about her! My point here is that making her a vampire would destroy that forever. There is no way I would logically do that, not for any reason! Well, unless Sar were dying and I had to turn her into a vampire to save her from certain death.
DA: Objection, counsel just perjured himself.
Devlin: <very angry> I care about her. I know how she feels about being mortal. No one responsible makes vampires on a whim. <Brings a thick book up to the judge> This is the vampire handbook. I was one of its coauthors close to 200 years ago. It is forbidden worldwide to make someone vampire against their will. I’ve enforced that rule since its enactment. I, along with my brother Danial, was forced to become a vampire.
DA: <sifting through her papers> Isn’t turning something you’ve done as punishment to vampire hunters in the past? <gives Devlin a malicious look> And to their families?
Devlin: Yes, on occasion. But you’re taking the rule out of context. That rule was meant to protect innocent humans from being turned by irresponsible vampires. Hunters who attack vampires are fair game for reprisal. I don’t need to be wounded first to strike a fatal return blow, if I see someone is intent on killing me.
Judge: Understandable if not exactly something I can empathize with, Mr. Dalcon. Do you have anything else to offer?
Devlin: One final argument: that all of the Promise Me books to date are from Sar’s point of view alone. We don’t know anything that she does not, at this point in the series. Therefore, if she chooses to exclude something, readers don’t know about it.
Judge: What exactly are you saying?
Devlin: That Sar is bound by mortal laws, and she wants readers to like her. She is also married to Theo. Admitting that she wanted me and we made love immediately jeopardizes her standing with readers. That is why she has no answer for all of the logical arguments about why she didn’t find a way not to give into my desire. <tone softens> The real reason is that she had desire of her own, and it was to be with me.
Judge: This might be the most logical thing you’ve said so far, Mr. Dalcon. However, like your previous evidence, this also cannot be proved.
Devlin: The only truth here, Your Honor, is that your court has no power over me. As a vampire, I am subject to my brother’s rule, not yours. He is a Vampire Lord. If punishment is given, it will come from his hand. And his assessment of the situation is that I am blameless. <sits down> As I’ve said, this trial is a farce.
Judge: <grimaces> I declare this a mistrial. <bangs gavel>
DA: <jumps to her feet> Your Honor, you can’t believe that this vampire—
Judge: What I believe is that of all Sar’s romantic interests, Danial both loves her best and understands her the most. He also likely knows his brother better than we do. Mr. Dalcon is right, that his brother has declined to punish him. That evidence is known as the truth to anyone who follows the series, and it does cast light that there is much more to this situation than we have been made aware of. <turns to Devlin> I understand that Sar is experiencing the symptoms of turning at the close of Taken for His Own. Would you say that this is the cause for her behavior?
<DA glares at judge, gathers her papers, and leaves. Jury files out, some of them arguing Devlin’s and Sar’s guilt and innocence>
Devlin: <worried> Possibly. If that’s the case Sar has a real battle in front of her. Almost all humans that begin to turn into vampires complete the transformation eventually. I’ve been consulting with my brother on how best to handle the situation. Danial and his sorcerer Terian have come up with a daring solution, but it’s got to have Theo’s approval, which Danial is still waiting for.
Judge: Then I suppose I should offer your brother and Sar good luck. <sternly> And I don’t want to see you back here again, Mr. Dalcon. Understand?
Devlin: <bows> It is much appreciated. And yes, I’ll do my best not to return to see you too soon. <grins> Adieu. <turns and strides toward Lash as set fades to black>
Read the 5th installment of the Promise Me Series, Her Secret:
Blurb: In a desperate effort to halt her transformation to vampire, and stop her longing for the sultry Devlin, Sarelle willingly takes a drug to kill her desire, even as Danial prepares for the introduction of their son Theoron at a Vampire Gathering on New Years Eve. Faced with Theo’s betrayal at the eleventh hour, Sarelle must either trust in Danial to save her, or join forces with Devlin, revealing her secret desire for him.
Excerpt: The clock chimed eleven. Worried, I glanced outside, wondering if Aran would call to cancel. He’d said he’d be going by on an errand for Cia, but the sky was dull white now. The impending storm forecasted for noon might begin at any moment.
There was no sign of him.
We were supposed to get a foot or more, something that irritated me. We’d gotten three feet so far this season. With no warm days to melt any of it, the drifts were huge, surrounding the plowed driveway like tall mountains.
I let out a yawn, blinking my eyes. With the completion of the cookies, despite my eagerness earlier, my utmost desire was a long nap under a warm blanket. Grinning, I made a deal with myself that as soon as the snow flew, the couch was where I was headed. Until then, I needed to keep on track. I hurriedly did some light cleaning and laundry. I was just putting the vacuum cleaner away when the clock chimed twelve.
I cast a look outside. Snowflakes had begun to fall. Soon, they were falling fast and furiously, obscuring my view of the barn.
“C’mon, Aran,” I said, scanning the drive. “You don’t get here shortly, I’m walking down those cookies to the mailbox and you can eat them frozen.”
All of a sudden, the snow-dampened roar of a motorcycle was heard in the silence. Aran drove down the driveway, his lone headlight catching the snowflakes in its circular light as they fell. He was dressed in his usual black leather.
“You’re crazy,” I muttered, throwing cookies into a plastic bag quickly. “Maybe werefoxes don’t get as cold as normal humans did, but you still have to be cold in that.” I closed the bag, then headed for the front door. “At least it’s something between you and the pavement.”
Aran pulled up in front of the deck and parked the bike, but didn’t turn it off. He faced the house for a moment. As I opened the door, he gestured around him, then pointed to my house.
I opened the door and yelled to him, “Sure, you can stay ‘til it stops. I’m glad of the company. Go to the bottom garage, I’ll let you in!”
He nodded, the visor of his helmet and his shoulders already covered in snow. He drove on as I shut the front door and ran downstairs. Pressing the button, I raised the overhead door and he drove in.
Shivering in the cold blast from the door, I quickly shut it as he parked his Harley and shut off the engine. He began brushing the snow off himself.
“Why’d you bring the bike today of all days?” I said, giving him a sarcastic smile. “I told you it was going to storm. Now you’re stuck here. Cia’s not going to be happy.”
Aran got off his bike and continued to brush him and it off, melting snow creating puddles on the concrete floor.
“Why don’t you give me your coat, and I’ll put it near the fire. If you want, we can watch a movie or something. I was planning to head to the couch any—”
Aran unbuckled his helmet and in one smooth motion pulled it off his head. Gold curls and waves fell almost to his shoulders.
This was not Aran.
This was Devlin.
He stepped off the bike, and came toward me. I was lost from the moment I looked into his golden eyes.
Melange Books (PDF, print-Lulu, and HTML): http://www.melange-books.com/authors/tarafoxhall/hersecret.html
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/her-secret-tara-fox-hall/1118025878?ean=2940148276654