Home > After Darkness Falls (After Darkness Falls #1)(8)

After Darkness Falls (After Darkness Falls #1)(8)
Author: May Sage

Chloe did, in fact, like blue. But she shook her head. "No, that's absolutely perfect. Thanks again. You've been amazing."

"And now you want to rest," Blair guessed. "All right, so Intro is at ten tomorrow morning—mandatory for all newbies, be they freshmen or postgrad. Head over to the main court. You need to choose your courses by the end of the month—between now and then, you're welcome in any classroom. As long as you don't piss off the teacher."

Chloe chuckled. "Levi said that too. Do teachers ban students when they don't like them?"

Blair was too busy staring at her in horror, as if she'd sprouted a second head, to bother answering.

"Blair?"

"Did you just say Levi? You spoke to him? As in, the Leviathan? Or do you just know a random Levi? Like, Levi Smith or something."

Chloe rolled her eyes. "Levi De Villier. I totally thought it was some sort of a nickname, by the way."

Blair resumed her silent, horrified stare.

Well, as her mentor didn't seem to be leaving yet, Chloe went to the wardrobe and found a duvet on a top shelf, as promised. She pulled it down, grabbed some sheets, and started to make her bed.

"All right. Spill. Details."

"There's nothing to say."

Wasn't there, though?

Chloe wasn't inclined to share the things she'd put behind her. The bounty hunters, the witches, the bodies.

"We traveled together from London, that's all."

"You traveled from London with the fucking Leviathan?"

Chloe shrugged. "So what? And what's with that stupid name?"

"That's his name, and whether or not he was born with it, trust me when I say he's earned it. Whatever you heard about the demon of the abyss? That was Levi, having fun with sea familiars in the seventh century."

"Seventh century," Chloe repeated, slowly.

How old did that even make him? They were in the year forty-three of the Age of Blood, so…

"He's over fifteen hundred years old?"

"No," said Blair.

Chloe sighed in relief. The thought of having met something quite that ancient was terrifying.

"He's over two thousand years old. Did you pay attention when I was talking about the first generation of vampires? Well, he's the firstborn son of Arthur Davell, founder of those we now call De Villier."

Chloe thought about how she'd recognized his otherness. She'd pretty much said that she didn't think he was a run-of-the-mill vampire, and he hadn't denied it. The revelation still blew her mind.

"So, he was turned…"

"He wasn’t turned at all. He was born, and then changed," Blair amended. "Most vampires have been turned from human to immortal at some point. But somehow, those who were turned by Ariadne directly are different. They can give birth to children—born vampires. They're extremely rare."

"Born," Chloe repeated, trying to take it all in. "Sometime during the first century of the last era."

"Winter, year ninety-nine. Well, he isn't sure whether it was early in the year one hundred or year ninety-nine. They didn't keep close records in those days. We learn that in Advanced—"

"Immortal History?" Chloe guessed.

She was starting to feel like she should take that class if she wanted to get to know the neighborhood. Which was a crazy notion.

"Right. But my point is, he lives on the hill, comes and goes from Oldcrest as he pleases, and occasionally pops by the Institute's research facility…but he doesn't talk to us. It's like…" Blair attempted to find an equivalent that Chloe would understand but fell short.

"Meeting the president?"

"The president is a lot more accessible than the Leviathan, Chloe."

She was starting to get it.

"So, he's vampire royalty."

"Technically, yes. The vamp queen who rules the northern half of Europe is one of his nieces, Bella De Villier. But even she defers to him. Very few things as old as him are alive in this world."

Chloe grinned. "Do I detect a crush?"

"No." Blair was adamant. "I have a crush on a history and a combat teacher, on a bunch of actors, and the prince of Spain. Levi is practically a god. I'm fucking terrified of him."

Chloe could tell she wasn’t kidding.

She paused, wondering about her own sense of self-preservation, because after the first moment in front of Rose’s Coven, when she'd rightfully believed he might want to harm her…she hadn't been afraid of him.

Not at all.

"Interesting," was the only reply she could bring herself to make.

A Stranger in the Night

Before departing, Blair told Chloe she'd better avoid casually mentioning Levi around the school. As she definitely didn't want a repeat of her mentor's reaction, Chloe decided to heed the advice. She wasn’t one to purposely bring attention upon herself.

Chloe thanked her mentor for the beautiful flowers on her wall, and they wished each other goodnight.

The moment the witch left, Chloe's smile disappeared. A good night wasn't likely, now that she was alone with her thoughts.

First things first. The temperature was warmer inside the dorm, but she was still feeling cold. Chloe finished making her bed, then went to draw a bath in her small en-suite.

Small but delightful, with a cast iron sink and a clawfoot bathtub. She wished she had a bubble bath soak, but she’d only traveled with a small shower gel. She’d have to see if the handful of Adairford shops stocked any. She had a notepad in her backpack she should use to start writing down everything Blair had said, along with a shopping list. First item: decent outerwear.

Fresh towels had been left on a rack. She got undressed, dropping her clothes on top of the toilet, and wrapped the towel around her chest before returning to her bedroom.

She would have sworn she'd left her bedroom light on, but the room was now dark. Frowning, she reached for the light and turned it back on.

Chloe's heart jumped, and an uncontrollable spasm made her shiver from head to toes. A dark figure was standing right in front of her, his back to her.

He was dressed all in black with a leather duster—the sorts of things a bounty hunter would wear. Chloe wished she could scream, but she was frozen in alarm.

Then he turned.

Recognizing him, she yelled at the top of her voice, "You fucking moron! You could have given me a heart attack."

She wasn't sure he hadn't.

Levi just seemed amused, as was apparently his way. He lifted a small object in his hand.

"I promised, I deliver. I'm nothing if not a man of my word."

On closer inspection, the object was a flask containing a clear liquid.

"What the hell?"

Chloe had no clue what it was.

"Sleeping draught," he said. "After this morning’s unpleasantness, I promised I'd have my alchemist concoct something so you can sleep."

Right. Now that her heart wasn't beating at a billion miles an hour, she remembered something to that effect.

"Cool. Next time, knock like a normal person."

Only he wasn't a normal person. Everything Blair had just shared came back to her.

Two thousand years old. Frightening. God.

She didn't see it. Oh, he was intimidating enough, and if power were a scent, he’d be wearing it in spades, but he just seemed…

"Yeah," he said with a laugh. "I wonder how that'd go down with your dormmates."

If they were anything like Blair, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea.

"Right, of course. I heard the whole 'Leviathan is the Big Bad Wolf' thing."

"Oh no. Plenty of big bad wolves in the woods. I'm a step or two above that."

He seemed downright smug about it.

"And no doubt you enjoy it," she said, rolling her eyes. "Well, thanks for the…draught thing. I was about to take a bath so I don't freeze to death."

"Is it cold?" he wondered. "Very well. Enjoy your ablution. The draught is to be taken when you're quite ready to sleep, and I recommend you set two or three alarm clocks, to be safe."

"I will. Thanks ag—"

She never finished that sentence. One instant, he was right there in front of her. The next, there was shadowy smoke, and then nothing at all.

Well, he certainly knew how to make an entrance. And a departure.

One Step at a Time

The hot water was delightful, breathing life back into her frozen limbs. Chloe remained in the tub long after her skin had begun to wrinkle, until the scalding hot bath was lukewarm. Finally, she forced herself to get out. The bedroom's temperature seemed quite adequate now that she wasn't in danger of frostbite. She sat on her bed and took the translucent flask in her hands, eyeing it mistrustfully.

She'd tried melatonin, valerian, and various sleeping aids in the past. After her father's arrest, her doctor had even prescribed her the stronger stuff. Nothing had worked.

"Oh well."

There was no harm in trying. Already, she was replaying the events of the day, and she could feel it happening. The trembling hands, the flashes through her mind. Her brain was an asshole. It always replayed traumatic events so accurately, as if trying to show her things she should have done, details she'd missed the first time.

Like the smell. The corpse's smell had been heady and sickening, but also strangely…intriguing.

Chloe uncapped the flask and drank it in one go, throwing her head back. It either would work, or it—

She groaned, feeling around herself for the offending device screaming in her ear. Opening her eyes to see what she was doing might have helped, but she did her best to keep them closed as long as possible.

Finally, fingers closing around her phone, she peeked at it with one squinted eye.

An unknown number was calling. Chloe sighed. This was a brand-new phone with a sim card from the UK. Surely, spammers hadn't gotten their hands on the number yet.

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