Emily's search for Uriah finally pays off, but at a devastating price. With misery, heartache, and death hanging around at every turn, will she survive round two of her enemy's games?
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The Ties That Bind
an As I Lay Dying novel
By KATIE MILLER
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2013 Katie Miller
All rights reserved.
Emily pulled out the journal that she had stashed in the bottom drawer of her nightstand. When her mom discovered she had been writing again, she bought her a fresh journal from a stationary store up in New York. The day she received the new journal, Emily hid the previous one in a small box behind the air vent in her closet. The vent was well hidden behind a rack of clothes and it was only accessible by prying off the cover plate with a flat head screwdriver. Anything of any importance to her was hidden in that place, and the journal was no different. Many secrets were buried deep within, not just of her own, but of Dante's and Damien's as well. She wasn't about to let the journal, or anything else she stashed inside the vent, be found.
Emily hadn't written in a journal—except for the few times after the three guys in her life had kissed (or almost kissed) her—for several years, almost ten to be exact; but after she met Dante it seemed necessary. When she had no one else to talk to, she'd spill everything in writing. She couldn't confide in her best friend, Beth, because she didn't know a thing about vampires; and second, without her escape into her hours of writing, she'd have gone crazy those days she and Dante weren't fully together.
Over the past couple months, her head had been in such a fog that if she hadn't written in her journal, she wouldn't have remembered much of it. Her mother always said that love seemed to cloud one's mind. Her dad always said she was nuts, but Emily was beginning to think that maybe she was right all along.
Emily opened up the front cover of the small, black, leather-bound book and wrote 'Emily Hampton' on the inside cover. She turned to the first blank page and started writing her first entry.
It's been a few days since I've written and much has happened. First, Uriah turned out to be evil—who would have thought that? I thought he was my guardian angel, but as it turns out, he was just lying to me the whole time; and of course, trying to blame me for it. He said I assumed him to be good; but truthfully, a guardian is good! I don't know what I was thinking. I guess I should have been more open to the idea of Uriah being one of the bad guys. I was too trusting. Looking back, I let him into my life way too easily. Well, what can I do about it now? Nothing. Well, maybe there is one thing ...
I can't just sit here and waste my time thinking about what I should or should not have done. What's done is done, right?
In the end, Dante and Damien killed Uriah. Well, we all thought they did anyway. After we thought he was dead, we double-checked the body and it wasn't Uriah, it was a shape-shifter that went by the name of Yuri. And you can imagine my surprise when I learned that Yuri was Damien's grandson! Shocker, I know! Oh, and the reason I went after Uriah was because he murdered my brother Chris. Chris was tailing him because Uriah murdered a lot of people in New York. Unfortunately, Chris didn't know he was after a half-demon, half-vampire lunatic and that he didn't have much of a chance. Uriah killed Chris because Chris was getting too close to him, and then he came after me. Well, technically he still IS after me.
Uriah almost succeeded in killing me before he vanished. He stabbed me, bringing me really close to death, but when I kissed Damien, he turned me into a vampire (kissing him was my "price" for him to turn me). Then something totally unexpected happened. When I kissed Damien, I felt something even stronger for him than I expected. Talk about your turn of events.
As for what happened with Damien—well, I knew my feelings of hate toward him had left long ago, and that over the past several weeks he'd been amazing, but I didn't expect that my tolerance of him would turn into having actual feelings for him. And during the blood exchange, I told him I loved him.
I said that.
I've never said that to anyone outside my immediate family. Not even Alex whom I've been with for six years, nor Dante, who I've been dating for a few months now. I said it to Damien, who I've never even dated one single day of my life.
True, I was dying and it felt like my last moment to say anything. But my blood was almost completely drained from my body. I was delusional. Right? I mean, I couldn't have fallen in love with someone in such a short time period of time. Could I?
I guess it doesn't really matter. I just had a long talk with Dante a few minutes ago. I told him I wanted to get back together. I know it doesn't make any sense, but after telling Damien I was falling in love with him, it made me think of Dante. And that part makes complete sense. I'm running away from my feelings for Damien. Just running the opposite direction. I'm terrified of commitment. I care about Dante, a lot, but I haven't told him I loved him. It kept things uncomplicated and that works well for me. So I've pushed Damien to the back burner, at least I'll try to, and Dante and I will pick up where we left off. Now there's just the issue of telling Damien ...
I'm confused on my feelings, but that's not a shocker. I've never been able to commit to anything of this nature before.
Speaking of shockers—Damien's mother showed up. He thought she was dead. Well technically, she is dead, she's a vampire too. I have to admit, I was jealous of her at first. Damien was obviously connected to her, and I thought she was his wife. I shouldn't have been jealous, he's not my boyfriend. Oh! And then guess what his mom told me? Damien's dad is supposedly looking for me and won't stop until I'm dead.
Why is it I bring trouble with me no matter where I go? Oh well, I'm over it. I may attract trouble, but ultimately I got what I wanted. I'm a vampire. Unfortunately, there's one thing out of all this I didn't accomplish, but I'll be damned if anybody stops me. I will have my revenge.
Emily stopped writing and placed the pen down on her desk. She heard Damien and Mina still talking downstairs, so she shut the journal and walked over to her bed. She planned on picking it back up where she left off, so instead of putting her journal away in the vent's permanent hiding place, she looked for a temporary one. Looking all around her room, her eyes shifted down to her bed. She lifted up the comforter on the right side, lifted the mattress, and pushed the journal as far as she could toward the middle, ensuring she would be able to reach it the next time she wanted to write. She pulled her arm out and fixed the sheets, tucking them neatly back under her mattress.
When she got downstairs, she noticed Damien still trying to pry information out of his mother, subtlely of course.
The woman, Mina, had just arrived a couple hours prior. She was the only female vampire Emily had ever come into contact with and she was even more beautiful now than she was even an hour ago. "I am honestly not sure, but I will protect you as much as I can. You're my son," she said as she reached her hand out to him.
He took her hand and hugged her. He whispered in her ear, "Mother, I have to get Emily away from here—far away from him."
"He doesn't know where you are," she said, the lines in her forehead creasing to show her concern. "You're safe here."
Damien broke the hold he had on his mother and took a step away. "Then how did you find us?" he asked sharply. It was easy to tell he was suspicious of her. You could tell by the look on his face—furrowed brows, narrowed eyes. But Damien could shield his mind so effectively that no one knew even an inkling of what he was truly thinking or feeling.
Mina hadn't noticed, and if she had, she didn't show it. She answered her son freely and without hesitation. "I followed Yuri here. He got a call from Hiru stating that he was here, in Lakeshore. Hiru told him that he should come when he could, but to not let your father know. Yuri left a couple weeks after the call, arriving here two days ago."
She placed her hand on the side of her head and closed her eyes. She concentrated on all her surroundings, trying to pinpoint the two voices she was searching for, but when she couldn't locate them, the look on her face was one of utter confusion. She glanced around the house and out the window. It suddenly dawned on Emily who Mina was searching for. "Where are they anyhow?" Mina asked.
"Hiru and Yuri are dead," Damien said rather bluntly. He never was one to skirt around the truth.
Mina paused in thought, like she hadn't heard him at first, and then said, "What did you say?"
"You heard me."
"I don't understand. They're part of the Old Coven. Not just anybody could have taken them out. Who could have possibly done such a thing?" Mina was rattled, clearly unnerved by the information Damien tossed ever so callously at her.
"Me. I killed them," Damien said nonchalantly. He had always been very forward. It was something even Emily had to get used to, and she grew up with Beth for a best friend.
Hiru was Mina's grandson, Yuri her great-grandson. She turned away from him and faced the window to look outside. Emily expected her to fly off the handle with emotion, but she didn't. Despite everything, she remained calm. "Why? How could you kill your own flesh and blood?" she demanded to know from him.
"They tried to kill Emily," he explained. "Hiru attacked her in my home, leaving her paralyzed. I had to heal her with my blood. The second time, when Yuri attacked and stabbed her, her injuries were too vast, my blood would not have healed her completely. The only choice I had was to turn her. And I didn't know it was Yuri that I killed. He had shape-shifted into an enemy of ours and his true form didn't surface until after he was decapitated."
Mina turned to look at Emily, causing her to shudder. Emily knew it was her fault that Mina and Damien had lost their family. Mina was one of the Old Coven; she could obliterate Emily if she chose. But the look on Mina's face didn't portray one of anger; instead, she simply hung her head. "I did notice the two had turned dark, probably because of your father," she replied, her voice quivering and her face saddened by what looked like years of pain.
Seeing Mina reminded Emily of her own mother after Chris and Summer were both killed, and because of that, she wanted to reach out to her. Emily crossed the room and gently laid her hand on Mina's arm. "Stay," she spoke softly, as if trying to soothe a broken child. "Please, there is plenty of room. We would love to have you."
Mina sighed, "I need to return before he suspects that I left. You are such a sweet girl and Damien is very lucky to have you." She leaned in and kissed Emily on both cheeks before turning to look at her son. "Take care of yourself." Damien simply nodded and then Mina disappeared out the front door and into the night.
"Well?" Emily asked after a few minutes of silence.
"I don't trust her."
"Damien, she's your mother."
"Your point? We may very well share a bloodline but that does not mean I have to trust her," he said irritably.
"Okay, I'm sorry," she said, throwing her hands up in defeat. She knew there wasn't any point in arguing with him. It would take her absolutely nowhere. She looked out the large bay window and tried to focus her thoughts on anything other than their visit with Mina. She could sense Damien's anger cool down to an acceptable level almost immediately. Then as if a switch had flipped inside of him, he was light-hearted and happy. There was no doubt in her mind that he was thinking of his mother's words.
She didn't even have to look at him to know what he was thinking. And when she finally turned to face him, he was grinning from ear to ear like a kid on Christmas morning. "Damien, we're not really together, you know that," she had to remind him.
"Yeah, but it looks like we are."
"Why did your mother take the news of Hiru and Yuri's deaths so well?" Emily changed the subject, the question just popping into her mind. "When Summer and Chris died, my mom was hysterical for the first few weeks, and then she became numb and started drinking a lot. I know she seems put together, like she doesn't mourn them anymore, but she completely falls apart when she's alone. But never once has she been as calm as Mina was just then."
"Your mother is human. Humans cry, grieve, and get angry. They have all this emotion that they can't always control. A vampire can turn off their emotions, feel nothing but emptiness. It's easy to do, sometimes much easier than to deal with the rawness of emotions. Not only is it easier, it's useful. You watched my mother do just that. She turned it off." Damien slipped behind Emily and wrapped his arms around her waist. Pulling the hair away from her neck, he tenderly kissed the spot where he bit into her earlier. Emily felt the quickness of her heart. "Damien, there's something I need to tell you."
"Shh. Less talking," he whispered as he spun her around to face him. He leaned in to kiss her on the mouth but she dodged his approaching lips and spun out of his arms to put distance between them. He looked at her questioningly. "Okay, we can talk. What's on your mind?"
She shook her head. "I can't do this right now."
Dante's words suddenly entered her mind, putting her in a trance-like state. "You will not remember tonight. You will cover your wrists for the next twenty-four hours until the bite marks have healed." Dante was a short distance away, manipulating the human he had fed off of. "Put on your brown sweater, it will cover your marks."
"Dante's coming soon," Emily said aloud. She couldn't help but wonder why Dante was feeding on a human. He told her he always preferred an animal because he couldn't live with the guilt of forcefully taking blood from a human, especially if they died because of it.
When she pushed the thought of Dante away, she became aware of something new—her throat. It was really rather dry, as if she had eaten a bunch of cotton. It quickly intensified and it soon felt as if the inside of her throat was on fire. The pain was so intense that she couldn't concentrate on anything else. She wanted relief and fast. She started to head for the kitchen for a glass of water when Damien's voice stopped her.
"Emily," he called out. "Can you do something for me?"
She looked back at him. "Of course."
"I need you to feed."
"You've been a vampire for several hours now. Most newly-born vampires need to feed within minutes of turning," he explained. "That burning sensation you have in your throat right now is hunger. Your body is in need of blood and the sooner the better." He saw the questioning look on her face and added, "Since you drank my blood, and I drank yours, I have a deep connection with you. I feel everything you feel, remember?"
She nodded, she did remember. "Okay," she said, feeling more than nervous. "I'll feed." She had known he was right, she hadn't felt the hunger until she thought of the blood. She knew she needed to feed, she would die without it, but she just couldn't bear to bite into anyone.
The moment she started to feel uneasy, Damien was quick to help, "I know you're nervous to bite a human, but they will give you the much needed strength your body needs right now. And I've actually already got a human for you to feed off of."
"You do? Where?" Emily asked with much excitement. Her anxiousness had quickly passed and she badly yearned for something to eat. She could feel her throat burning more and more as each second passed.
"I'll bring him in to you. Control your impulses as much as you can, I'll help you if you need it," he assured her. "Oh, and Emily?" Damien stopped himself halfway out of the room.
"The human is willing."
What did he mean by "the human is willing?" Does that mean the human knows about me? she wondered.
When he left the room, it seemed as if he had left for days. Emily's hunger overpowered her thoughts, making them disappear altogether. Nothing else mattered but the blood. Her throat felt as if it were coated with hot lava. She became quite anxious and restless the longer she waited. She let out an impatient groan.
Damien strolled back in the room and stood beside Emily. "Are you ready?"
"Yes," she said rather eagerly. She started to fidget as she waited for the person to enter.
"Come on in," Damien called out.
Excerpted from The Ties That Bind by KATIE MILLER. Copyright © 2013 Katie Miller. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a great book! Starts off where "As I Lay Dying" ended and flows beautifully! Great story lines with new characters coming in throughout the book. Great read!