Katie MacAlister

Desperately Seeking Vampire

Desperately Seeking Vampire

Dark Ones, Book 14

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Fat Cat Books (August 9, 2022)
ISBN-13: 9781952737657 • ISBN-10: 1952737656

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And you thought your emo teenage poetry was bad…

When tarot reader Minerva finds herself in a foreign country without friends or money, and hunted by a pair of thief takers, the last thing she expects to find is a near dead vampire. A familiar near dead vampire.

Ivo Zeman thought he found the love of his life on a battlefield in 1916–just after he’d been blown apart. But then the woman disappeared, sending him into a spiral of despair and hopelessness that lasted more than eighty years.

When he finally finds her again, she’s thrown into peril by a madman, and Ivo must think fast or else he’ll lose her a second time. Tarot readings, a malicious thief, some of the worst poetry you will ever read, and the wrath of a powerful enemy…can Ivo save his love in time, or will fate destroy their last hope for a future together?

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

Christian Dante
Drahanská Castle
2 July 1916

Uncle Christian,
I have no heart to tell you of the events of today. It seems as if everyone is gone, blood soaking the earth beneath smoking skies. I know that you as well as my father have witnessed many wars between mortals, but this … this is insanity. Rabid dogs set upon each other could not be worse than the atrocities I’ve seen committed on this day.
If I could escape this hell on earth, I would, but I promised my sainted mother that I would always aid those in need, and I will not risk disturbing her spirit because I left the mortals to massacre themselves.
Do you remember Ivo Zeman? I met him some twenty years ago when we were both in Heidelberg. He has been here at the Somme in the VII Corps for the last two weeks, also as a doctor. He seems to have more of an affinity to it than me, but nonetheless, both his unit and mine have been patching up the shattered remains of mortals as best we could. Then, yesterday, the Germans decimated the British and French ranks. I won’t go into details other than to say that Ivo was caught in the middle of it, and wounded grievously.
Naturally, I couldn’t tell the other doctors at the regimental aid post or the dressing station that he would recover, given time (and blood). I’ve done what I can to guard him from too much attention, but a fresh corps of nurses have just arrived from England and Australia. Martinson, the medical officer, has agreed to allow me to attend Ivo since I told him we are old friends. If I can’t find someone from whom Ivo can feed tonight, I will let him feed from me. It is not an ideal solution, since I have to go several days between feedings, myself, but such is the situation.
I wish I had better news for my weekly letter, but there is nothing here but suffering, blood, and chaos.
Yours,
Finch

Royal Army Medical Corps, 8th Division
Lieutenant F. T. Dante
France

My dear Finch—I am, naturally, distressed that you are seeing more action than anyone could desire. Were your father still alive, he would be very proud—as am I—that you are remaining to provide what aid you can, despite your desire to be well away from the affairs of mortals.
As for your friend Ivo, did you not bring him to the castle around 1912? I have a memory of Tobar telling me that your mother was worried about the influence of a student who was encouraging you, cognizant that you need not find a Beloved, to cut a swath through the local female population. If this is not the same friend, then I apologize; regardless, I hope he recovers without attracting attention from others. If you have not yet done so, you might try to remove him from the dressing station to your own digs to keep him from garnering too much attention.
I am sending a package containing such supplies as I hope will provide you and your friend with some comfort—books, a gramophone, cigarettes and chocolate for you to pass out amongst the mortals, and several pairs of socks and underclothing. Please let me know if there is anything else you and Ivo can use.
Your devoted uncle,
C. J. Dante

Christian Dante
Drahanská Castle
18 July 1916

Uncle Christian,
Things have gone from bad to worse for Ivo. The day following his injury, I was called out to help at the main trench with the MO. Somehow, Ivo fed. Normally, this would not be a bad thing unless he was caught in the act, but apparently, he fed from one of the field nurses whom the MO had asked to check on him since I was at the front. Ivo doesn’t know which one, as he was mostly insensible, having lost a great deal of blood due to the explosion, but he claims he had a dream in which a woman was tending to the wounds, and the next thing he knew, he was feeding from her.
We could probably hush up any complaint the nurse made about him, should she do so, but the situation is much more dire. Although he claims he wasn’t aware of it at the time—and given the extreme damage the mortar fire did to him, it is understandable that he was not aware of his surroundings while his body was focused on healing—the woman he fed from was actually his Beloved. He had no sense of her being such, and thus didn’t identify himself to her. In fact, he said that as soon as he fed, he fell into an unconscious state, and when he next awoke, different nurses were present. The best description he can give is that she had dark copper red hair, wore spectacles, and was possibly American—Ivo can’t remember any distinct accent, but thought she might be American. I don’t see how she could be, since the States have thus far refused to join us, but that is what Ivo has told me.
This would be nothing but an interesting side note except now Ivo can’t take any blood; evidently it all is as poison to him. I tried feeding him myself despite the fact that hunger gnawing at my vitals has been my constant companion, but he could not tolerate even that.
He has regained enough health that I was able to move him to my tent in order to keep his accelerated healing prowess from attracting notice, but I fear that if we do not locate this nurse who has bound his life to hers, he may perish of starvation. I hate to involve you in my troubles, but I have little time to devote to Ivo with the onslaught of injured and dying men, and he is weak and racked with hunger.
Finch

Royal Army Medical Corps, 8th Division
Lieutenant F. T. Dante
France

My dearest Finch,
The situation is not as dire as you might believe from seeing your friend suffer. While Dark Ones can be killed, as we both know to our sorrow, it is not easy for us to die of hunger. I will do what I can from here to locate all the field nurses in your area, but I fear your attention to this detail will have more potential for success. Turn your efforts—in your free time—to locating the woman. Until such time as you find her, Ivo may find relief for his hunger in whatever animals he can access. I will not detail the many times I was unable to find human sources and had to resort to horses, cattle, and, in particularly distressing times that I do not care to recall, vermin, but nonetheless, all are viable sources when others are not available.
Do not hesitate to tell me if there is anything else I can do. Although I don’t hold with mortal religion, I have ordered the local priest to light candles not only for the spirits of your father and mother, but for you and Ivo, as well. Stay safe, and do not lose hope. Beloveds may be rare, but I’m told they have a way of finding their Dark One when all hope is gone.
Your devoted uncle,
C. J. Dante

Christian Dante
Drahanská Castle
1 August 1916

Uncle Christian,
The last three weeks have been a blur of blood, death, and incompetence. Our hospitals are naught more than charnel houses of pain and misery, filled with a daily influx of fresh inmates, but of that, I will refrain from detailing. Suffice it to say that the package you sent, which arrived last week, was most heartily greeted by Ivo, myself, and the men in my division.
Ivo continues, although he is gaunt and weak. I will draw a veil over the sources of his nourishment, as they are of the rodent variety. Since the horses are as overworked and underfed as the rest of the mortals, neither Ivo nor I have the heart to feed from them. I’ve managed to slip into a nearby town on those occasions when the hunger has become a detriment to doing my job, but other than that, our surroundings, work, and life in general are a never-ending hellscape.
I have managed to steal a list of personnel who were present at the dressing station when Ivo arrived. As you can see, there are fourteen field nurses listed. Most are from Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service, but there are also a handful from the Australian Army Nursing Service. None are American, as I fully expected. Of those fourteen, I’ve met with nine, none of whom manifested any signs of being a Beloved. A tenth one was sent to a casualty clearing station with pneumonia right after Ivo was injured, so she could not be the woman we seek. I have not yet been able to locate the four remaining women noted on the list—the Australians were moved shortly after Ivo’s wounding to regiments of their countrymen, and the two others sent to a nearby field hospital. If you could use your resources to examine them for signs of rampant Belovedhood, I would be grateful.

Royal Army Medical Corps, 8th Division
Lieutenant F. T. Dante
France

My dear Finch,
I have done what I could to track down the women you think might be your friend’s Beloved. Of them, the two British nurses were cleared by me personally. The remaining two Australians were located near Paris, and were checked by my friend Sebastian, but he said they were not Beloveds. Might the woman in question not have been a nurse? I understand that civilians in that area provide what help they can to the armed forces, and it occurred to me that some such woman, seeing Ivo injured, may have attempted to help him and, in doing so, allowed him to feed from her.
Please press Ivo for what details he can reclaim. I don’t relish attempting to interview every woman of a suitable age in the area surrounding the front, but naturally, I will do what I can. If you can get Ivo to remember any more information, I assure you I will put it to the best of use.
Your devoted uncle,
C. J. Dante

Christian Dante
Drahanská Castle
15 September 1916

Uncle: I fear for Ivo. He has not been able to eat in over three weeks. He talks of falling into some sort of death sleep. I am at my wit’s end as to what I can do for him. His mental state is fading along with his general health. I’ve repeatedly asked him for more information about the woman from his “dream,” but he has nothing more to add. He talks of nothing but death now, having given up all hope. Considering the stupidity of the battles around us, and the death and destruction that fill our days, I have lost hope, myself.
I don’t know what aid you can render us, but if there is anything you can think of, any way for us to locate this woman, please tell me. I am not one to give in to emotion, but I dislike seeing my friends fade away.
Finch

2 October
My dear nephew:
Expect transport for Ivo to arrive as soon as I can receive clearance for the ambulance, hopefully shortly after you receive this note, which I have sent by messenger so that you might receive it promptly.
Did your father never tell you of noctambul? It is the state of, for lack of a better phrase, suspended animation. All Dark Ones can enter noctambul, but it must be conducted at a safe location where protection can be provided for as long as is needed. I will have one of the crypts at Drahanská cleared for Ivo until such time as we can locate his Beloved.
Until that time, assure him that he can rest safely.
Yours in haste,
C. J. Dante

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