Dear All

Before you shoot me, please let me get my apology in first. I'm sorry, this is not an update to What Happened in Vegas – it's not even a sequel, so I've got you here under false pretences. I have started a new story, and one of my friends suggested that I should put a note at the end of this one to let anyone who had put WHIV on Story Alert know that I was trying again.

I was a bit worried that you'd all get really p****d off with me for getting your hopes up, and someone else told me it wasn't good protocol to post just a message without any new material, so I thought it might be the best thing if I include just the first few paragraphs of my new story to give you an idea of it, and so that at least you've got something to read.

If you like it, and want to read any more, it's called Immortal Beloved.

Please don't be too cross.


Hope you don't mind.


Chapter 1

I'll never forget the first time I saw the king.

I was seven years old, and standing against the side wall in the great hall of the palace, holding real tight to my grandmother's hand, waiting to be ID'd.

I'd only recently come to live with my Gran, who was a housekeeper in the palace, after my parents were killed in a flash flood. Jason, my older brother, had gone to live with Gran's brother. Jason didn't mind; he and Uncle Bartlett had always got on very well, and Gran felt that a boy really needed a male role model, and her own husband was long dead. I had my own reasons for being glad it was Jason and not me who'd ended up going to live in Monroe. I missed Jason, but knew he'd be fine; Uncle Bartlett's tastes didn't run that way. For as long as I can remember, I'd known how my great-uncle felt about me, even though he'd never said anything out loud. He'd never had to. His mind just had a nasty feel to it.

The group of adults around me shifted slightly, and I tried to peep under the arm of the guy in front of me, but I couldn't see much at all. I was more curious than anything. Even though the vampires had taken over America years ago, I'd very rarely seen one. My parents had always been very careful to keep me in at night, and our house was well off the beaten track outside an obscure town in Louisiana, and there was no real reason for the vamps ever to come calling. Sure, I'd seen them on TV, but in the flesh was sure to be way more interesting. Since my arrival two days ago, I'd been on the lookout for one, but Gran hadn't let me leave the room once dusk had fallen.

Just then the man in front of me moved sideways, and left me a clear view. There was a young man from our group walking forward into the middle of the great hall and into the brilliance of a single spotlight. He looked nervous but he knew what to do (we'd all been briefed very carefully) and first he bowed and then turned slowly in a circle, letting the whole court get a good look at him. There was a faint sound as all the vamps inhaled, registering his scent, as the Head of Personnel read out his name and his position on staff. With their near-perfect memories, he was now logged in the mind of every vampire present as off-limits. I knew vaguely that this was why I'd come to live with Gran; she had explained that even though there were lots and lots of vampires in the palace, I would be much safer here than almost anywhere else, because the king had decreed that vampires who worked, lived or visited in the palace were not to feed on anyone in Domestic Services; it was disruptive to morale and completely unnecessary; there were plenty of willing donors. This was why, every Tuesday night, any additions or alterations to the servant population had to be brought to what they all referred to as ID parade, and it was my turn tonight.

The Head of Personnel gave the man in the spotlight a stainless steel bracelet with a blue enamel insert, which was another safety feature; again it meant 'don't touch', and any vampire who hadn't been present at the ID parade would still recognise and respect the bracelet. Wearing it was not compulsory, but anyone who didn't had only themselves to blame. Gran always wore hers, but the insert was yellow, indicating she was senior staff. The young man bowed again and moved out of the light and another man stepped forward and so it went on. And on. And on. I was soon bored. I checked the minds of the people round me, but nobody was thinking anything interesting; at least, not interesting to a seven-year-old. Then I looked to my left, and suddenly I was interested. To Be Continued...