Betrothed, p.32
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       Betrothed, p.32

         Part #6 of The Vampire Journals series by Morgan Rice

  Caitlin flew from St. Michael's Mount, holding the third key in her hand, the vampire's final words still ringing in her head. She felt a sense of ominousness as she flew through the morning, through thick, black storm clouds, racing to find Violet.

  Aiden had told her about Violet's castle - Bodium Castle - located in the far northern corner of England, and she raced towards it with all she had. Thunder erupted in the warm September sky, as she flew right into thick, black storm clouds. But she didn't slow. She had to get there, for all she was worth.

  Caitlin felt her father's three keys in her pocket, and felt so torn. On the one hand, she felt as if she were shirking her duties to him, and to her race. On the other hand, she knew there was no way she could go back in time without Caleb and Scarlet. She would rather forgo the mission than do that.

  Caitlin would do whatever it took to get the antidote. But her heart was pounding at the thought of having to go and meet Caleb's ex-lover and ask for her help. Caitlin was proud and jealous, and she would have given anything to never have to see Violet's face again. To have to seek her out, and to have to humble herself before her and ask for her help, was almost more than Caitlin could bear.

  But for Caleb, and for Scarlet, she would do it.

  Caitlin swallowed her pride and dove down lower, as she finally sensed she was close. As she dipped down beneath the clouds, she was taken aback by the sight: there, on the horizon, was a castle that could only be Bodium. It was a small castle, but one of the most dramatic she had ever seen. Built in the middle of a lake, completely surrounded by water, accessible only by a narrow, wooden bridge that reached out for hundreds of yards from the mainland, the small castle was built in a perfect circle. It had ancient parapets in every direction, and lying perfectly still in the water, it looked as if it were one with nature, as if it had been there since the beginning of time.

  It was the perfect setting, Caitlin realized, for a vampire home, secluded, surrounded by water for protection against one's enemies, and barely accessible.

  This time, Caitlin decided to forego approaching formally. There wasn't time. Instead, she dove straight down, swooping in unannounced to the interior courtyard.

  She landed and looked around, and was surprised to see that it seemed much bigger from down here. It was large enough to hold to a small coven of vampires. As a home for just one, it must be, she realized, a very lonely place. A place for a true loner. It made her wonder what Violet was really like.

  "HELLO!" Caitlin screamed out.

  Her voice echoed off the empty stone walls.

  "KEIRA!" Caitlin called out.

  Her voice echoed again and again, coming back, as if mocking her. It was so empty and desolate here, Caitlin felt as if she were the last person on earth.

  She suddenly heard a noise, a faint musical noise, in the distance. She listened closely, and could just begin to hear it. She couldn't believe it. It was organ music, coming from somewhere inside the castle.

  Caitlin crossed the courtyard and entered through one of the large, arched doors.

  Inside, in the dark stone corridor, the music was louder. It was definitely an organ, filling the halls, reverberating off of them. It was creepy, and all-encompassing, and magical.

  Caitlin followed it, as if in a trance, trying to find the source. As she turned down corridor after corridor, it finally became louder, more intense.

  Finally, she came to a large, open room which looked like a chapel, all stone, with high ceilings and arched windows made of stained glass. The room was completely empty save for a single organ, placed against the far wall. And there, seated before it, her back to her, playing, was Violet.

  She was in the middle of a song, and Caitlin stood and listened, not wanting to interrupt her. It was the most beautiful - and darkest - music that Caitlin had ever heard. It was mesmerizing, haunting. It was the sound of death coming, and yet of new life being reborn at the same time.

  Caitlin felt it go through every bone in her body. It went on for she didn't know how long, and then finally, dramatically, it ended.

  Violet slowly turned and faced Caitlin, standing. She was exactly as Caitlin had remembered: tall, aloof, proud, and beautiful.

  "Did Caleb send you?" Violet asked flatly.

  Caitlin swallowed hard, not sure how to phrase it.

  "No, he didn't," she answered. "I came on my own. "

  "What is it, then?" Violet asked, abrupt. "I don't like receiving visitors, especially unannounced.

  Have you come to tell me how jealous you are? If so, you're wasting your time. Caleb and I have no interest in each other. He's all yours. I'm happy for you both. "

  Caitlin shook her head. "That's not why I'm here," she said.

  Caitlin breathed deep, feeling overwhelmed with sadness. She felt as if she wanted to cry, but held back her tears.

  "Caleb. . . " she began. "He's. . . deathly ill," she said, looking down at the ground. She looked up.

  "He's been poisoned. Aiden says he hasn't long to live. " Violet's eyes opened wide, and Caitlin could see how shocked she was. She visibly relaxed her guard.

  "Who did this?" she asked.

  Caitlin shook her head. "I don't know. But I am guessing it was Kyle, of the Blacktide Coven.

  And that he came back in time to do this. "

  Violet's eyes narrowed. "Kyle. Yes, I know of him. That is exactly the sort of thing he would do.

  But why Caleb?"

  "Kyle was after me. I think Caleb got in the way. "

  Violet glowered at her, and Caitlin felt overwhelmed with guilt.

  "Can you help me?" Caitlin finally asked. "Can you help Caleb?"

  "How? I'm not a doctor. "

  "Aiden said there was one chance for him. If I had blood. From his maker. That that might save him. "

  Violet snorted. "You're wasting your time. That's an old wives' tale. I've never seen that work. " Caitlin was determined. "It's the only chance we have. Please. I have nothing else to try. "

  Violet stared at Caitlin, and several moments of silence followed.

  "You really love him, don't you?" Violet asked.

  Caitlin felt tears welling up, this time rolling down her cheeks.

  "Yes, I do," she answered. "Very much. We are engaged to be married. We are going to be married. "

  Violet stared at her, and Caitlin felt as if she were summing her up, staring through her soul.

  "Very well, then. I'll do it for you. To humor you. But you are wasting your time. You have to let him go. "

  She turned and strutted away.

  Caitlin followed her through the castle, down a dark corridor, twisting and turning.

  "What was it?" Caitlin asked. "That music you were playing?"

  "Bach," Violet answered flatly. "His Toccata and Fugue in D minor. "

  "It was beautiful," Caitlin said. "But very dark. "

  "So am I," Violet answered.

  They finally entered an alcove area with a small counter, on top of which sat several vials.

  Violet suddenly reached out, took a small knife from her waistband, and sliced her wrist.

  She then reached over, grabbed a vial, and let her blood drip into it. When it was filled, she sealed it with a stopper.

  She bandaged her wrist with a rag, then held up the vial, examining it in the fading afternoon light.

  "You are putting your faith for his entire life in this one vial," Violet said. "And if it doesn't work?"

  Caitlin reached out, took it, and examined it.

  "If it doesn't work," she said, sadly, "then I have nothing left to live for. "

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