Friday, September 5, 2008

The Collettes: Sola by Dahlia Rose

France, 1707

In a castle in the French countryside, her screams rang out. With each one, the servants quivered in fear. This was the most unholy of nights. Something not of man, or of anything good or pure, was happening upstairs in the mistress's chambers. The few humans who were in the castle, whether as food or familiars, prayed to whatever higher power they believed in to save the world from this fate. The vampires who lived there looked at it as a curse as well. An undead giving birth to a child was no blessing. All Vampira across the world would be damned and the prophecy would come to pass.

For months, they all watched as Helena Collette's belly grew and so did her thirst for blood. She could drain three or four humans a night to feed the life growing inside her, the life the doctors said had a heartbeat. They urged David Collette, her immortal husband, to make her end the pregnancy, but he would not hear of it. He would bring his child into the world, and it would herald a new age for the vampire race.

Because of the danger to her from other covens who wanted to kill her, the castle was declared off-limits to all visitors. Only a trusted few were allowed to leave to hunt and bring back humans. Those who did not wish to be there sneaked away when they could. Their fear of what was coming even caused some to try to flee in the daylight, which led to piles of ash in the courtyard.

Her screams echoed through the stone halls once again, and they all cowered in terror. Outside the castle walls, an army of the undead beat at the heavy doors with battering rams. They would see the child dead before they let the prophecy come true. David Collette looked down at the mob that had formed with torches in hand and thought of the poetic justice of it all. Vampires who were always chased into the night were now doing the same to him. He turned as his wife's wail of agony became even louder. He watched as the life inside her pushed free of her body, but Helena had more to give. In a matter of minutes, she bore three girls. David heard the crack of splintering wood as the mob breached the castle. The sound of vampires running across the courtyard filled the night. Those still loyal to the Collette name fought against the intruders trying to give their leader, the one they all called Father, time to escape.

The doctor listened to each child's heart give one soft beat and then still. Their eyes were closed when he turned to David and said, "All three are dead, sire. This was not meant to be."

David took all three small bundles into his arms and walked over to his wife who sat in bed. She looked serenely beautiful, as she always did. No one would think she'd just given birth only a few minutes earlier. "My love, they are not of this world any longer. They are dead." He sat next to his mate. She took the precious bundles from his arms, placed them in front of her on the bed in a row, and uncovered their faces. With a battle raging below, they looked at their daughters, who had not even taken a breath of life.

"Look, David! Their eyes open!" Helena Collette's words brought the doctor to the bed, and the trio looked on as each child's eyes opened to the world around them. The children did not cry as they stared into the eyes of their parents as if knowing their cry would bring down more doom.

"Children born to the undead and who are now undead. It is the prophecy!" the doctor said in a breathless tone.

"Take them, Jarrod! Take them and flee France!" Helena blurted. She bundled the children up tight. "David, give him the scrolls. It is the only way to save them. I am too weak to go."

David nodded and walked over to a stone chest from which he took three small tubes made of silver and handed them to Jarrod. He would not leave his mate. He would leave it to his trusted friend to keep his children safe.

"She will be Sola, sun of my life and born first." Helena smiled when her daughter's tiny fist waved in the air as if ready for a fight. "She will be Luna, my daughter of the moon and the night and the littlest one." She looked at the baby who stared back as if knowing exactly what was going on. "You, little one, shall be Willa, my earth child." She kissed them each and nuzzled them. "Make me proud, my children," she whispered before handing them to her husband.

David in turn whispered something to each child, unheard by anyone but them. He gave them to Jarrod, his friend for more years than he could count, and the one who took care of Helena throughout her pregnancy. "I am entrusting my children to you. Take care of them as if they were your own. You will be both father and mother to them now. They will need you when the time comes for their destiny to be fulfilled."

"With my life, I swear they will be protected," Jarrod said.

David helped him slip out of the room through the secret entrance and then he pushed a heavy armoire to hide its existence. He stood ready for battle as the horde broke through the doors of Helena's chambers. He and Helena were struck down on the very bed where she'd just given birth. Two piles of ash remained for a moment before blending together when a breeze came through the window.

* * * *

Chapter One

Albany, New York, 2007

Darkness blanketed the sky as a lone car zipped along a winding road in upstate New York. Sola Collette drove like a madwoman, partly because she was late and partly because she liked the speed of the black Corvette. She found as time passed, she loved the different things that came about with the advancement of man. Cars and driving were her favorite. The purr of the engine was almost like a sleek cat under her hands on the wheel. Being two hundred and ninety-nine years old and immortal brought her the luxury of getting whatever she wanted and doing as she pleased. She pressed her foot firmly against the gas pedal, and the car leapt forward with more speed.

Sola glanced at the glowing digital clock. It read after nine in the evening. She pursed her lips knowing that she would hear from Jarrod. Her sisters were probably already at the house, and nothing could start until she got there. Born first out of the triplets, Sola always felt as if she had to protect her sisters. They were the only children ever born in the vampire coven their parents had belonged to, the same coven that had killed both her mother and father. Now the date of the sisters' three hundredth birthday loomed on the horizon, and so did their destiny waiting to be fulfilled.

The big house came into view as she passed the tall hedges lining the driveway. She remembered jumping those hedges as she grew up and her strength increased. She'd been raised hidden from the coven who wanted her and her sisters dead. Sola felt the familiar anger rise in her chest when she thought of how they were hunted. For a fucking prophecy, they had to run over and over again, hiding from their own kind and humans alike, who all hated them just because they'd been born.

She pulled up to the gate and punched in the familiar code, watching the black metal barriers slide open to give her entry to the one place she called sanctuary. She drove inside, made sure they closed behind her and no one had snuck in, a caution built into her subconscious from years of repetition. Make sure no one gains entry onto the property, always watch for the coven and hunters ... always. It was a home of sorts. They had not run in almost a hundred years, and she vowed she would never run again. She was Sola, strong and fierce, and she would fight to the death to protect her sisters and herself.

She parked her car next to the two vehicles already there. Her sisters and Jarrod were waiting. A rush of anticipation filled her at seeing all of them again. She was ready for this fight; it was a long time coming and she had payback to dispense.